Romancing the Gravestone (A Jane Ladling Mystery #1) Read Online Gena Showalter

Categories Genre: Crime, Romance, Suspense Tags Authors: Series: A Jane Ladling Mystery Series by Gena Showalter

Total pages in book: 61
Estimated words: 56359 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 282(@200wpm)___ 225(@250wpm)___ 188(@300wpm)

Read Online Books/Novels:

(A Jane Ladling Mystery #1) Romancing the Gravestone

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Gena Showalter

Book Information:

She suspects everyone of everything. Sometimes she gets it right.

Jane Ladling is the sole proprietor of her family's landlocked cemetery, Garden of Memories. She's responsible for the, er, guests, but there's a slight problem. Well, besides her moody cat, Rolex, and her sixty-two-year-old best friend's unrequited crush on the sheriff. An extra body now rests in Plot #39.

Enter Special Agent Conrad Ryan. He's gruff, he's gorgeous, and oh, yes, he kind of suspects her of murder. What's an innocent—and very single, not that it matters—girl to do? Solve the crime herself. Even if she must turn the small town of Aurelian Hills, Georgia upside down.

The only line she won't cross? Falling for the first man to make her heart flutter. Nope, not happening. Not even a little.
Books in Series:

A Jane Ladling Mystery Series by Gena Showalter

Books by Author:

Gena Showalter

Chapter One

Edward Jacobs

I don’t have time for death. I’ll be back soon.

Plot 47, Garden of Memories

Jane Ladling brushed her bangs aside and peered into the fresh grave. Her mind whirled, different observations hitting her. Plot 39. Six-foot hole. Open casket. Pretty standard for the Garden of Memories, a private cemetery she’d inherited from her mother’s side of the family. Except this resident had been underground for the better part of a century, in a closed casket, alone. Someone—or someones—had redug the pit, unsealed his final resting place and given him a friend.

Two of the dead pressed chest to chest. It was almost…beautiful. Should I make couples coffins a new thing?

They just looked so peaceful together. If you ignored the fact that Rhonda Burgundy, the older resident, was nothing but hair and bone. Honestly? She looked better than the new guy who still had flesh and blood.

Was this the afterlife’s version of robbing the cradle?

Bad Jane. Bad! Focus. How had this happened? Accident? Foul play? She’d been walking the grounds, doing her morning chores, when she’d noticed an unauthorized pile of dirt and hurried over.

Now, she rocked back on her heels and cast her gaze over the surrounding plots, trying to make sense of everything. Morning sunshine drenched plush green grass. Shade cast by a full-figured magnolia tree and a scattering of cypresses bathed different headstones. A row of smaller, moss-covered cypresses lined a babbling brook. Flowers bloomed here and there, drawing a handful of bees. Nothing appeared disturbed, but honestly, Jane doubted the newcomer had died of natural causes.

She had a perfect view of his back. Droplets of crimson matted his hair. A cap of blond curls she thought she might recognize. Maybe? Possibly? So familiar.

Her coworker, Rolex, weaved through her feet. Rolex-speak for Feed me, peasant. In exchange for room and board, he deigned to watch over Jane and the property. He also worked as the resident meal inspector.

Two years ago, the little house panther had wandered into the cemetery and promptly declared his ownership of it, as well as of Jane. They’d been together ever since.

“Breakfast needs to wait, baby. For the both of us. I’ve got to tell the sheriff about our squatter.”

Jane, who’d been compiling her to-do list for the day, had to quit halfway for the first time. She turned on the heels of her black flats and headed home. A two-story caretaker’s cottage, aka ancestral estate, that dated back multiple generations and bordered the cemetery.

Having spent the bulk of her twenty-six years here, tending gravesites, she’d developed what the good folks of Aurelian Hills, Georgia called “an inability to grasp the gravity of death.” Perhaps they were right. But why mourn the dead? Most times, they made better friends than the living.

As Jane trekked over the rolling hills and beautiful grounds she preserved in pristine condition, Rolex kept pace at her side. A fragrant bouquet of magnolia, gardenia and rose blossoms perfumed the warm spring air. Her favorite collection of scents in the world. All too soon, new aromas would weave into the mix. Car exhaust. A plethora of colognes and perfumes. Stale coffee, probably. And the sounds! The damage! Law enforcement—or rather, the living, the bane of Rolex’s existence—would trek all over the place.

“On second thought, breakfast should not be delayed. You’ll be too busy hissing and swiping your murder mittens at everyone to eat.” His way of letting visitors know they had no right to breathe his air in his kingdom without his permission.

Boards groaned as she ascended the porch steps, and hinges creaked as she opened the door. A familiar symphony. She kept the cottage updated as much as possible, but funds were tight, and the biggest, most needful repairs had yet to be completed. Or started. One day!

In the foyer, she paused as she always paused when faced with Grandma Lily’s furnishings. The orange velvet sofa, with a hand-knitted blanket draped over the side. The floral print chairs flanking the unlit hearth, where all that knitting had taken place. The coffee table with hundreds of Jane’s accidental nicks. Love spots, according to her grandmother.

Three years had passed since the cancer had taken Grandma Lily. With every fiber of Jane’s being, she missed the dear woman who’d raised her. No one had been kinder, or more encouraging.

Rolex meowed at her feet, pulling her from her reverie.

“All right, all right. Let’s make you less inclined to commit a felony today. One a day is enough.” In the kitchen, she opened a new tube of chicken pâté and squeezed the disgusting blob onto the cat’s dish.

Rolex dove in. He loved the stuff and refused to approve of anything else.

When she’d first found him, he’d been outside, half starved, sitting atop a jar of pickles she’d tossed out the day before. The jar had fallen to the ground right side up and he’d perched on the lid, reminding her of a gargoyle atop a castle, guarding his territory. Her initial thought—watch cat. Her second—Rolex. She barely remembered her grandpa, but she’d never forgotten his obsession with the wristwatch he’d touted as “pure luxury.”