Spooked--the latest Lacey Luzzi novel by Gina LaManna--is out!
I love this series, and of course I couldn't resist a Halloween-themed mystery with a candy corn cupcake on the front!
I was so excited when Gina gave me an excerpt to run on my blog!
Get the latest Lacey Luzzi book HERE!
“Meg, there are children here,” I whispered, glancing around the Halloween costume store. “You’ll scare them.”
“C’mon, Lacey. The way you’re talking, Halloween is a kid’s holiday, which is just ridiculous.” Meg turned towards me, flaunting a mask with fangs as large as my forearm. “Relax.”
“It is a kid’s holiday.” I ducked down an aisle in the opposite direction, pretending we didn’t know each other.
Meg chased after me. She caught up and attempted to sink her fangs into my arm. “No, it’s not, that’s just marketing. Halloween is really an excuse for adults to dress up in redonkulous outfits and overdose on candy.”
The vampire before me – also known as Meg – was a former cop, as well as my best friend since childhood. Though I loved her to death, at the moment she had me wondering how close we were to getting arrested. It wasn’t the scary mask that had me nervous, or the strange clown wig plopped on her head. It wasn’t the fake blood she held in one hand, or the fake knife she brandished in the other.
No, it was the fact that Meg had decided to try on the sexy French maid outfit in the middle of the store, while mothers bustled by, doling out scathing looks like Twix Bars on October 31st.
“Oh Lacey, I don’t want to hear your lies.” Meg turned to me, extending her feather duster and tickling my nose. “You hoard candy worse than any child.”
“Not true.” I sneezed. “Not usually true.”
“I saw your stash last year, you little liar. You bought king-sized candy bars, Rolos, all sorts of delicious things. Then when kids came aknockin’ on your door, you put those treats back in the pantry and handed out pre-wrapped bags of carrots.”
“That’s not totally true. I threw some Smarties in with the carrots.” I tried hard to keep the guilt out of my expression. “The parents appreciated it, just not the kids.”
“Don’t try to pretend you’re doing a holy thing by giving out carrots; no parent likes getting veggies on Halloween.” Meg put a hand on her hip. “Every mom picks her favorite candy out of her kid’s bucket. How many do you think pick out the carrots?”
“Your mom always took the Almond Joys from you,” Meg said. “But I think that’s only because she knew they were your least favorite. Remember that time when you were like, fifteen years old? She tried to steal one of your Twix bars and you burst into tears.”
I grabbed Meg’s arm and pulled her into a deserted aisle. “Yeah, yeah, Ms. Honesty. Like you haven’t nabbed your fair share of my goodies.”
“I’m not into Halloween for the candy.” Meg gestured to her curvy figure, focusing on the tiny little skirt that didn’t quite cover her spandex shorts. “I’m in it for the costumes. It’s a chance to look racy in public.”
“How about we race-ify you at home?” I squinted at her costume. “People are staring.”
“That’s the point, chickadee.”
I looked up at the ceiling, struggling to find a way out of the situation. We’d arrived at the costume store well over an hour ago, and by now we were on the verge of getting kicked out. The manager had walked by more times than I could count, though he seemed afraid to get too close to Meg. The French maid outfit didn’t do much to hide the gun she had holstered around her thigh.
“You could get in trouble for having a weapon in here, Meg,” I said, as she bent down to slip on a pair of clown shoes.
“I’m not concealing anything, am I?” Meg asked, gesturing to her legs. “I got a permit to carry, even if this gun is just borrowed from an old friend.”
“Are you calling the evidence locker an old friend, now?”
Meg didn’t answer. At least, she didn’t answer my question. “Or – I was also thinking I could be Jasmine. You could be Aladdin. I think we’d be a great combo.”
I didn’t have a ready response. I’d sort of want to do a couple dress-up with Anthony, if he’d do it. But now was not the time to argue. Meg had stuffed me into an Albert Einstein wig, a witch’s hat, and platform sandals a foot high. I wasn’t a quick runner normally, but I’d have a hard time racing a slug right now, and Meg had a gun. If I said no, it wouldn’t be a competition.
“What do you say, Aladdin?” Meg eyed a Pretty, Pretty Princess crown made of plastic. “I think I’d make an excellent Jasmine. Maybe Clay can be the Genie. We could do a three-way.”
“Let’s not reference Clay, Lacey, and three-way in the same sentence, please.” I choked back a gag at the thought of my sweet, awkward, computer genius cousin. “That’s just wrong.”
“Look at these pants, all see-through and billowing around. I’ll look fabulous.” Meg held up gauzy material that might be pants, and might be first aid supplies. To complete her Disney costume, she selected a light green, diamond-studded bra, holding it out for me to examine. “I’ll outshine all the other munchkins dressing up.”
“It’s not a competition.” I smiled at a mother pushing a stroller past us, eyeing Meg up and down with a confused expression.
“They’re just jealous,” Meg waved a hand.
“I don’t think that’s the case, but regardless, we have to swing by Nora’s house sometime today. We’ve been here so long my hair – my actual hair follicles – are sweating under this wig.”
“On my scalp?” I gestured towards the pile of costumes surrounding Meg. “Let’s pick a costume. Which one you want? Let’s get going.”
“You never confirmed if you’ll be my Aladdin.”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“You’re thinking of ditching me for Anthony.” Meg narrowed her eyes at me. “I can sense it.”
“No, I just haven’t picked out a costume.” Which was mostly true. I also hadn’t asked Anthony if he’d even be the second half of a costume with me, yet.
But I had, in secret, been putting together something he might agree to wear. It was a two-partner costume, and when I’d seen it done online, the photos looked adorable. Mine didn’t look quite as adorable as the pictures yet, since I was making it by hand, and art was not my forte. No, at present it looked more like a ball of garbage glued together, but there was still time.
“Fine, Disney themed it is,” Meg said, selecting the Jasmine costume and heading towards the register. “They don’t got a good Aladdin here, but I can make you one.”
“No, please don’t worry about it—”
“I’m not worried.” Meg grinned. “I love Halloween! Hopefully Clay will agree to be the Genie. Oh shoot, suppose I gotta get rid of this French maid thing, huh? Or maybe I can be Jasmine-the-French-Maid.”
“Let’s stick with just Jasmine.” I trailed behind Meg as she discarded one item of clothing after the other.
By the time she reached the checkout, she’d straightened her black halter top and adjusted a skirt over her spandi-shorts. Meanwhile, I retraced her steps and picked up the pieces of the maid outfit, stuffing them back into the bag, all the while thinking that Clay would be more likely to start dating a girl than he would be to dress up as a big, blue cartoon character.