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Book 2

Four months have passed since Dakota Maddison opened her new tattoo shop. Being accused of murder three days after she moved to town wasn't the welcome she had expected but after finding the real killer, her life fell into place exactly as she expected it would.

She made some friends and had more of a social life than she ever had in the city. After their initial resistance to her opening her business in their town, the locals started to accept her as one of their own. Even the detective who targeted her as a murderer was now cordial.

The fourth of July celebrations were coming up and Dakota had invited her friends from back home to stay for the weekend. Looking forward to celebrating her favorite holiday with her favorite people, the last thing she expected was to find a body on the floor of her shop the day after they arrived.

Will Dakota be able to clear her name of murder a second time or has her reputation been left with a permanent black mark?

Chapter 1

I stayed up way too late enjoying the barbecue and bonfire with my friends. I hadn't seen any of them, except Falcon, since the week of my grand opening. This coming weekend is the fourth of July and all the guys came out to celebrate the holiday with me. Last time they were all here, I was under suspicion of murder and all my attention was focused on that and the shop's opening going smoothly. I'm looking forward to being able to spend quality time with them over the next few days.

I have one tattoo appointment scheduled for later this afternoon. Because the shop has been closed for the last two days, I'm going in early to give it a thorough cleaning. Every time I close for more than a day, I find it necessary to scour every surface, the doorknobs, chairs, floor, counters, to ensure the sanitary conditions. I put my windows down to enjoy the breeze on my drive over. The sun already sat high and the air hung thick with humidity. After four months, it still brought me great joy driving over and seeing my shop, knowing how much effort I put into it. All traces of the spray paint someone used to brand me a murderer, just a few months ago, were gone and from the outside, it looked professional and welcoming. I sighed looking at the camera mounted to the outside. I put it up for safety when I first arrived in town, but it felt out of place now.

I dropped my keys and bag on the counter and started toward the back of the shop to turn the lights on. Despite being late morning, the shop remained dark without help from artificial lights. My foot connected with something on the floor, sending it rolling away. I stopped and looked down. Bottles of ink were scattered all across the floor, the organizer that had previously been fastened to the wall, now lay in pieces; shards of the thick plastic had been flung in all directions.

"What the…" I stepped over a few bottles, still wanting the light so I could see what happened. Right before walking into the back room, I froze. A body lay motionless in the doorway, their head pointing toward me. "Not again." I pulled my phone from my pocket and turned on the flashlight. It gleamed off a large knife protruded from the victim's back and a puddle of what appeared to be blue and purple ink and blood mixed in a nauseating form reminiscent of a painter's pallet on the floor.

So much for enjoying the festivities and quality time with my friends.