Talent agent Carrie Salvetti has been given a free vacation at Utopia, an upscale spa in Aspen. Anyone so much as opens a window and they all die. She has some vacation time coming to her and agrees to join her Aunt Carrie at Utopia, only to arrive and find her reservation cancelled and her aunt missing. The situation becomes more puzzling when John Paul Renard shows up looking for Carrie, claiming the credit card used to book the spa stay is owned by a known hitman named Monk. Avery believes him because she had a voice mail message from her aunt talking about a chauffeur named Monk supposedly sent by Utopia to pick up spa guests from the airport.

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For Mary K. Wahlstedt Murphy, my sister and my friend. With your steady strength, your quiet grace, and your wonderful sense of humor, you make the world a better place. Fortunately her mother, Jilly, left for parts unknown just three days after Avery was born. Avery was raised by her grandmother Lola and her aunt Carrie. The three generations of females lived quietly and modestly in a two-story frame house on Barnett Street just two blocks from the city square in Sheldon Beach, Florida.

The atmosphere on Barnett Street was vastly different after Jilly left home. The household, which had once been in a constant uproar, was now peaceful. Carrie even learned to laugh again, and for five wonderful years, life was very nearly idyllic. The previous years with Jilly had taken their toll on Grandma Lola, however. The day Avery turned five, Lola began having chest pains. He might just take it upon himself to tell Carrie about her illness.

She made an appointment with a cardiologist in Savannah and drove all the way there to see him. After giving her a complete physical, his diagnosis was grim. He prescribed medication that would ease the pain and help her heart, told her she had to slow down, and also, as gently as he could, suggested that she get her affairs in order.

Lola disregarded his advice. What did that quack of a doctor know about anything? She may have one foot in the grave but, by God, she was going to keep the other firmly planted on the ground.

Lola was an expert at pretending everything was fine. By the time she got home from Savannah, she had convinced herself that she was as healthy as an ox. And that was that. Grandma Lola refused to talk about Jilly, but Avery wanted to know everything she could about the woman. Whenever she asked a question about her mother, her grandmother would pucker her lips and always answer the same way. We wish her well away. The only way Avery could find out anything about her mother was to ask her aunt.

Carrie loved to talk about Jilly, and she never forgot a single one of the bad things her sister had ever done, which, as it turned out, added up to a considerable number. Avery idolized her aunt. She thought she was the most beautiful woman in the whole world, and she wished more than anything that she looked like her instead of her no-good mama.

Carrie was constantly on a diet to lose twenty pounds, but Avery thought she was perfect just the way she was. At five feet six inches, Carrie was tall and glamorous, and when she put on one of her glittery barrettes to keep her hair out of her eyes while she was studying or working around the house, she looked just like a princess. Avery loved the way her aunt smelled too, like gardenias. Carrie told Avery it was her signature fragrance, which Avery knew had to be special.

When Carrie was away from home and Avery was feeling lonely, she would sneak into her bedroom and squirt some of the special perfume on her arms and legs and pretend her aunt was there in the next room. What Avery loved most about Carrie, though, was that she talked to her like she was a big person. She kept getting in the way, and when Carrie had had enough, she sat her niece down at her vanity table and placed a shoe box filled with cheap costume jewelry in front of her.

The little girl was thrilled with the sparkling treasures and immediately began to primp in front of the oval mirror. After folding her favorite, baby blue, angora sweater and placing it inside the suitcase, Carrie once again tried to explain why she was leaving. I have to go, Avery. You could take karate lessons there too. Do you want to be a movie star too, Carrie? Then she untangled the matching necklace and put it around her neck.

She pulled out her sock drawer, dumped the contents on the bed, and began to match the pairs. How come she should know better?

Carrie picked it up and slid it into the dresser, then went back to the chore of sorting through the pile of socks.

She was making faces at herself in the mirror as she put on the second necklace. Carrie ignored the question. Avery was too young to hear about all that now. If she had put all that garbage inside her, you would have been born with serious problems. Put that jewelry away and come sit on this suitcase so I can get it closed. She climbed up on the canopy bed. She closed the suitcase and Avery scooted on top. Leaning on it with all her weight, Carrie finally got the latches to lock.

This way, my things will be out of the way, and we can get you all set up in your new room before I leave. Tomorrow, you and I will go to the paint store and pick out the color. You already told me I could pick the color.

Would it never end? Carrie remembered, as though it had happened yesterday, the night she found out her sister was going to have a baby.

Jilly had graduated from high school on a balmy Friday evening in May. She then came home and ruined the celebration by announcing that she was almost six months pregnant. She was just barely showing. Reeling from the shock, Lola at first thought about the embarrassment and shame the family would have to endure, then came to her senses.

She went into the living room, plopped down on the sofa, grabbed the channel changer, and turned on the television. How typical.

She has you to clean up her mistakes. She got up from the table and went into the kitchen to do the dishes. Your sister needs our moral support. The rest of that summer was an awful memory.

Jilly was her usual demanding nightmare, and their mother was run ragged waiting on her hand and foot. Jilly went into labor at the end of August. Not now, not ever. If the doctors had agreed, she would have had her uterus yanked out or her tubes tied that very day. Lola dragged Carrie to the hospital to see her sister. There was a big world outside of Sheldon Beach, Florida, just waiting to pay her some attention, but no man with any money would ever notice her if she was lugging a baby around on her hip.

Besides, she had her heart set on becoming a famous movie star. She would get her start by being crowned Miss America. She had it all figured out, she told them.

Boasting that she was much prettier than those cows she had seen on television last year marching around the stage in their swimsuits, she was positive that, as soon as the judges got a good look at her, they would give her the crown. Mortified, Lola pulled Carrie into the room and told her to shut the door. Carrie was annoyed that she was being forced to be supportive.

She leaned against the door and glared at her sister. Carrie perked up and began to pay attention to the conversation. Her voice turned earnest as she moved toward the bed.

It will all work out. Always trying to make me behave and act the way you think I should act. Really, Mother. You want me to tell you the truth? Fine, I will. The father could have been a dozen other men. She refused to believe her daughter. Tell me the truth.


Desert Isle Keeper

Overview In this breathless new novel, Julie Garwood has written her most electrifying thriller to date. Avery Delaney has always tried to put the past far behind her. Abandoned by her rapacious, conniving mother when she was only three days old, Avery was raised by her grandmother and beloved aunt Carolyn. Miraculously she survived.


Julie Garwood

About Killjoy In this breathless new novel, Julie Garwood has written her most electrifying thriller to date. Avery Delaney has always tried to put the past far behind her. Abandoned by her rapacious, conniving mother when she was only three days old, Avery was raised by her grandmother and beloved aunt Carolyn. Miraculously she survived. The man responsible is serving time in a Florida prison. This traumatic experience propels Avery into a life of law and order. Her razor-sharp mind and ability to gather data and decipher evidence has made Avery an expert crime analyst for the FBI.


Buchanan-Renard Series

Biography[ edit ] Julie Garwood was raised in Kansas City, Missouri , the sixth of seven children in a large Irish family. After having a tonsillectomy at age six, because she missed so much school, she did not learn to read as the other children her age did. She was eleven before her mother realized Garwood was unable to read. A math teacher, Sister Elizabeth, devoted the entire summer that year to teaching Garwood how to read, and how to enjoy the stories she was reading. A professor, impressed by the quality of her essays, convinced Garwood to write. The family resides in Leawood, Kansas. Although Garwood enjoyed her writing, she was not intending to pursue a career as an author.

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