She had a lot of enemies, and they were all at the dinner Chef Dani catered at JoJo's partner's spectacular waterfront home. And how fitting she was poisoned using her grandmother's antique atomizer, the very grandmother who had groomed her to rise to the top of the fashion industry.
The local police detective assigned to the case has to suddenly leave to handle another case. He asks Arthur, Dani's catering sous-chef, to take over the case, since Arthur is the owner of a private investigation company. Cooking is his avocation, but finding murderers is his vocation.
It seems like everyone had a motive to murder JoJo, from her philandering husband, to the top fashion editors in the world. But when all of them have airtight alibis for where they were when the murder occurred, now what?
This is the 5th book in the Chef Dani Rosetti Cozy Mystery Series by a USA Today Bestselling Author.
Release date: September 15, 2021
Print pages: 172
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Murder on Jupiter Island
JoJo Morales looked out the window of the Jupiter Island, Florida, mansion of her business partner, Pierre LeGras, and knew exactly where some of the money he’d earned from the most successful women’s fashion magazine in the world was being spent.
She couldn’t miss the enormous boat that was docked in front of his waterfront mansion. She sighed and turned back to get ready for the meeting he was hosting at his home today. JoJo thought it was unnecessary, but Pierre felt very strongly that the other three fashion magazine owners he’d invited to his lavish home needed to form some sort of a working alliance with JoJo and him.
Pierre had been very upset for the last few years at the animosity of the owners towards one another. Plus, he was well aware, as was JoJo, that in their constant attempts to outdo each other, the exorbitant amounts of money they were paying for the models they hired had driven their costs up to such an extent that sooner or later it would cause at least one, or more of them, to go bankrupt. He felt they needed to have some kind of an informal agreement on fees paid to the models, as well as come up with a mutual working relationship that would benefit all of them.
Over the years, JoJo had met the women who owned the magazines, and she hated them as much as they hated her for the success of Chic, the largest of the magazines with monthly editions published in twenty-seven different countries.
The three people Pierre had targeted for this meeting were Simone Cotillard from France, Isabella Lucchese from Italy, and Morgan Zarini from the United States, whose magazine was Chic’s main competitor in the United States.
They had all flown into West Palm Beach yesterday. Pierre’s driver, Julio, had met them at the private airport, and Pierre had been very careful to make sure that each of them was picked up individually, as their hatred and jealousy of one another was well known. Spending time together, even in a limousine, would not be appropriate.
Fortunately, the airport was only a quick twenty-mile drive from Pierre’s mansion, so the scheduling had not been that difficult. The women had met for a catered dinner last night by a celebrity chef that Pierre had flown in for the event from California.
The food had been outstanding, and coupled with wines from Pierre’s private collection, the evening had gone smoothly.
It was a very private party attended by Pierre, Isabella, Morgan, Simone, and JoJo. JoJo’s husband, Alejandro, had also attended as had Celeste, Simone’s top model, who went everywhere with Simone. There was a lot of talk in the fashion industry about their relationship, but nothing had ever been confirmed. Celeste’s face was known to every woman who had ever thumbed through Simone’s magazine, and long ago she’d dispensed with her surname and simply went by one name, Celeste.
When Pierre had brought up the idea of hosting this meeting, JoJo had been less than enthusiastic. Pierre came from a background of business, not fashion, and thought the same rules for getting along with one’s competitors would be applicable to Chic and the other top fashion magazines.
As soon as he’d suggested it, JoJo knew this meeting was not going to end with everyone singing kumbaya and hugging each other in a spirit of harmony and good will when they left. No, the animosities that ran between them were too deep and few industries were more cutthroat than the fashion industry.
JoJo had learned early on that if one wanted to make it big in the world of fashion, you better have a knife ready at all times and know how to use it. Perhaps not literally, but certainly figuratively.
Over the years, JoJo had wielded hers with a great deal of success. Although her magazine (and technically, Pierre’s) was the most successful women’s magazine in the world of fashion, it had come with a price. A price of hatred. JoJo knew she had no friends in the industry, other than possibly Pierre, and that was only because she made a great deal of money for him, money that had often come from her ability to know when to use her knife.
The only person she felt safe with was her husband Alejandro, and there were times she wasn’t even sure about him. As attractive as he was, and with her very busy schedule, she often wondered if the whispers of infidelity she’d heard from time to time about him were true, or if they’d been whispered by people who would love to see her hurt.
When Alejandro had been a young male model, she’d brought him into her world, a world where anything was available for a price, and she had the money to pay the price. She overlooked the fifteen-year age difference, as did he, because she looked far younger than her actual age.
But JoJo was finding as she got older, not only was the price for all of her treatments higher, but so was the time involved in getting them. She was fending off the years with little nips and tucks here and there, as well as a number of treatments required for her to look like she did. But there were times that she had to spend away from her office and home when the treatments required that she spend some extended period of time in a private treatment center, and when she was gone, she wondered where Alejandro was spending his time. Maybe the whispers were true.
JoJo sat down at the glass and gilt dressing table and looked at herself in the mirror. One of JoJo’s assets was being able to deal with reality, and she realized that the image that was looking back at her required some work as soon as she returned to New York. She made a mental note to call her dermatologist for a botox treatment. There were a few more lines on her face than she liked to see or wanted a camera to see.
She sighed as she began to apply her makeup. This really is an utter waste of time. We will never get along. I mean, this meeting is just stupid. I’m promising a bundle to try and get the people I consider to be the most important in this industry to work for Chic, while Pierre is trying to get all of us to make nicey-nice. What a joke! she thought.
Thank heavens Pierre has other businesses that require his attention, and he pretty much leaves Chic alone and allows me to run it on my own. If he was someone who had to know everything about the business, some of the things I’ve done over the years would probably come to light. He’s never questioned how Chic became so popular, so he probably doesn’t want to know about the threats and occasional physical things I’ve had to oversee. Thank heavens I have enough leeway financially that the payments to the men I’ve hired are never seen by him.
I wonder if Simone ever found out why her Executive Director left so suddenly. Might have been the threat of something happening to her husband and children.
And Morgan. It really was a shame about her top model. I tried to get her to come to work for Chic. I certainly offered her enough money, but when that didn’t work, it was nice to know that my men could take care of her. Too bad she’ll never be able to work as a model again. Broken noses and cheekbones are pretty hard to disguise, and there’s no way to reconstruct them in exactly the same configuration they’d been in before they were broken.
And then there’s Isabella. I shudder every time I think about how much money I had to pay my computer expert to hack into her system. I wonder if she ever figured out who was responsible for all of her models and advertisers pulling out of that recent issue of her magazine after they’d been told that her magazine was no longer going to be published.
When I called to give her my condolences, I could tell she wondered if I was behind it, but I’ve learned to cover my tracks well, so there’s no way she could ever find out. And Pierre still thinks our magazine is the best because of our models, advertisers, and writers. Poor innocent Pierre. He knows so little about the way the fashion industry works.
To say there aren’t any virgins in this industry above an entry-level writer is kind of like saying there aren’t any virgins in the political world beyond winning a school board election. No, in this world, you stick your knife in and twist it before anyone can stick one in you.
She finished applying her makeup and stood up, her eyes falling on her favorite possession, the crystal René Lalique perfume atomizer that had belonged to her grandmother. Every time she used it, and it went everywhere she went, she thought of the special bond she’d had with her grandmother.
Her grandmother was the one responsible for her starting to work in the world of fashion. Although her grandmother had been a top model when she was younger, she knew that at 5 feet 2 inches tall, JoJo would never be a model, even as attractive as she was. But there was no reason she couldn’t be the person who made the models famous.
And her grandmother had carefully schooled her in the world of fashion. Even though her grandmother had died many years ago, she was the reason JoJo was a success, and each morning JoJo silently paid homage to her when she sprayed on the special blend of perfume JoJo had made just for herself, using her grandmother’s atomizer.
She decided to dress before putting on her perfume and chose an off-white three-piece Fendi suit. It would be business appropriate for the meeting today, and the sleeveless long vest would be perfect when she took off the jacket at the dinner she was going to in Palm Beach tonight. She took her jewelry case out of the large walk-in closet and chose a Tiffany gold and diamond bracelet with matching earrings.
JoJo smiled, thinking that people thought she was one of the most well-dressed women in the world, but she rather imagined they didn’t know that everything she wore or carried, including her briefcase and purses, were given to her in the hope that they would be seen by people who wanted to emulate JoJo. She never spent a penny for her clothing or accessories. After all, what better advertising was there than having the reigning queen of the fashion world wear or carry your brand?
She looked at herself one last time as she got ready to leave her spacious suite, Alejandro having left earlier to go have breakfast in West Palm Beach and interview some models. She smiled at her reflection in the full-length mirror. Satisfied, she picked up her grandmother’s Lalique perfume atomizer and squeezed the bulb twice, enveloping herself in a mist of perfume.
But something is terribly wrong, JoJo thought as she keeled over and crashed onto the floor. It was the last thought she ever had.
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