A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram #2) - Darynda Jones


Welcome to Del Sol,

Home of Something …

Or Somebody Famous …

Someday …

Maybe …

Sunshine stared into her cup of coffee as though it were a witch’s cauldron, a window revealing all the ways she could kill her parents. Their deaths would be slow and methodical and painful. Much like the date she was on now.

She looked across the table at said date—the third one her parents had set her up with in as many weeks—and feigned interest by lifting a brow in dire need of professional attention.

“There’s a lot more to pest control than people realize.”

She’d tried to wax her own brows once.

“Our work can get pretty dangerous.”

Ripping out one’s facial hair took nerve.

“Last year I was attacked by a swarm of carnivorous beetles.”

And painkillers.

“Another time, I thought I’d been bitten by a copperhead and fell down three flights of stairs.”

And possibly a blood coagulant.

“Turns out I was just electrocuted.”

If Sun were totally honest with herself—

“I will never stick my hand inside an RV’s plumbing system again.”

—and she liked to think she was—

“I don’t care what the literature says.”

—Carver wasn’t the worst date she’d ever had.

“Then there was the time I tried to tame a jellyfish.”

His height alone was enough to turn heads.

“Its name was Loki.”

And he’d been graced with thick muddy curls.

“He glowed in the dark.”

Ashen-gray eyes.

“Not that Loki had anything to do with my job.”

And a sharp angular face.

“It’s just, in case you’ve ever wondered—”

On a scale of one to Ferrari, Carver was a solid Ford Explorer.

“—jellyfish cannot be domesticated.”

He’d make some lucky girl a fine ex-husband one day.

“I have the doctor’s bills to prove it.”

Still, there was something off about him.

“They don’t have brains.”

Something Sun couldn’t quite put her finger on.

“Jellyfish. Not doctors.”

He was handsome but not in a charming way.

“Insects do, though.”

Smart but not in a clever way.

“Did you know there are over five million species of insects in the world?”

Nice but not in a genuine way.

“And thirty-five thousand species of spiders.”

In a word, he was not Levi Ravinder.

“Thankfully, they rarely bother humans.”

But so few men were.

“Even ones as pretty as you.”

True, Carver paled in comparison to Levi, but so did every other man Sun had ever met. The fact that she’d been in love with the guy since she was a kid didn’t help. No one stood a chance against the bad boy from a crime-ridden family who’d done good.

And now, instead of being with the man of her dreams, she was stuck with bug guy. She could only hope her parents’d had the foresight to buy side-by-side burial plots before setting her up.

“Is that your phone?”

Sunshine snapped out of her musings and dug through her bag for her phone like it was a life preserver on the Titanic. “Hello?” she said, sounding more desperate than she’d intended. She cleared her throat and began again. “Sheriff Vicram.”

A male voice eerily resembling her BFF’s spoke in hushed tones. “You told me to call if he came back.”

Sun froze. Her sidekick since kindergarten, who also happened to be her chief deputy, sounded panicked. Though he did seem to panic more often than most men, Sun fought a wave of anxiety.

“Randy,” he added.

“He didn’t.”

“Did too,” he said defensively.

“Okay, look, stay calm, Quince.”

Quincy Cooper had been her bestie since she’d throat-punched Peter Bailey for knocking him down on the playground. Quince had grown since then. Now he looked roughly like an industrial freezer with a grin that could melt the panties off a comatose nun.

Peter Bailey eventually got throat cancer, but Sun liked to think it had less to do with her throat punch and more to do with his three-pack-a-day habit.

“Stay calm?” he mimicked, incredulous. “You stay calm. Have you seen the size of this guy?”

“Quince, we’ve got this.” She grabbed her bag and stood. “Call for backup. Everyone. Get Zee and Salazar there ay-sap. I’ll be there in five. By the way, who’s Randy?”

He released an annoyed sigh, drawing it out as though he were competing for Miss Drama Queen, USA. “The raccoon.”

She stopped, slammed her eyes shut, and spun to face away from her date. When she spoke, she spoke softly so Carver the pest-preneur wouldn’t overhear. “You called me about a raccoon?”

“Yes, I called you about a raccoon. You told me to. He’s wreaking havoc all over town.”

“All over town as in your house.”

“There, too.”

She took a deep breath and turned back to Carver. “I’m so sorry. I’ve been called in. Power outages on the other side of town. People running into walls. It’s utter chaos.”

He shot out