Chapter One

When Cassie Mills decided to moonlight, she was thinking of something along the lines of taking in typing or writing resumes. Demonstrating Purple Plumes of Passion didn’t even cross her mind.

“Come on, Cassie. At least give it a try,” her best friend Julia Sorenson pleaded. “I’m making so much money, I’m thinking about quitting my day job.”

“My mother would kill me.” That was an understatement. Sarah Jane Mills was the queen of appearances. If company came to visit, the house underwent a full, rigorous cleaning. It didn’t matter if the visitor was the preacher, family, or the Orkin man. Shoot, if her mother had a housekeeper, she’d make sure the house was spotless before the woman arrived to clean.

“Damn it, Cassie. When are you going to quit worrying about what your mother thinks? You’re an adult, entitled to live your own life. Your mother isn’t worth all the angst you go through. It’s time to cut those apron strings.”

Julia arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, reminding Cassie that her own brows were way past due for a wax. And she needed a manicure and pedicure, too. Damn, there went this week’s deposit to her savings account. “I know, I know. But now’s not the time to push her buttons. I just need to find a part-time job checking groceries or something.”

Julia pushed a piece of paper across the Formica-topped table. “Read that and I’ll bet you change your mind.”

Cassie scooted her breakfast plate out of the way and picked up her coffee cup. The Lone Star Diner, famous for its cheap, home-style bacon-and-eggs breakfast, was their favorite Saturday morning meeting place. It hadn’t changed a bit since 1970, when her mom and dad had carved their initials into the tabletop over milkshakes one Saturday afternoon. The initials were still there, right under her saucer.

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