The Hunger Pains

A fun-packed, romantic sequel to Eat, Pray, Die.

Isobel Avery is on her second assignment as an undercover poison taster for Los Angeles's rich and famous…

And she’s actually enjoying herself. Until her sweet, agoraphobic client mysteriously leaves the safety of his apartment and winds up dead.

When crucial evidence goes missing, investigator Connor Stiles will need Izzy's inside knowledge to help track down the killer. But despite three months of absence to make Connor’s heart grow fonder, he doesn't seem pleased to be working with her again. The LAPD commander is even less pleased to have Izzy on the case since he considers her a suspect and, even worse, a mere civilian. To top it all off, her least favorite relative in the whole wide world drops by for an unexpected visit.

Meanwhile, the killer is destroying anything that might link back to them. Including Izzy if she's not careful.

In this fun-packed romantic sequel to Eat, Pray, Die, join Izzy as she learns where she stands with the enigmatic Connor and tries to put another bad guy behind bars.

Chapter One

No way was I going to let them win. I sucked in a deep breath and fought the denim fabric straining against my hips. With white-knuckled fingers and the power of positive thinking, I managed to do up the top button. Aha!

I straightened to survey myself in the mirror and got a glimpse of short copper-brown hair, blue eyes, and an oxygen-starved face before the aforementioned button launched itself free of my jeans and rolled under the bed. My housemate’s cat, Meow, who had been fast asleep on my pillow, dived after it like it was a cockroach. Her favorite prey.

Jeans: one. Izzy: zero. I stripped them off and left them discarded on the floor in disgust. My client, Earnest, sat in front of his computer all day eating snack food, which meant I sat around all day eating the same. His metabolism allowed him to get away with it. Mine, not so much. Three months in, that button was a message. A message I didn’t have time for right now. I was running late, and while Earnest Dunst was in some ways the most easygoing client in the world, he didn’t deal well with a disrupted routine.

My phone buzzed with an alert.

That outfit is perfect. You look wonderful. Now hurry up and leave.

I looked down at myself and snorted. I was wearing a pair of hipster briefs that had once been red, a white sports bra, and gray socks that had a hole in each heel. Not the best outfit for fighting my way through Los Angeles’s morning traffic.

After I’d arrived late a couple of times, Earnest, in his infinite geekiness, had designed a phone app to help me be on time. It sent motivational text messages until my phone’s GPS proved I’d left the house. The texts were selected by some algorithm that meant I never had the same sequence twice. Almost all of them made me laugh. None of them made me on time.

I snatched a pair of black sweats off the floor. They were more presentable than most, with a slim fit that could pass for real pants if no one looked too closely. They also had an elastic waistband. And were covered in Meow’s hair. I threw my legs into them, pulled on a loose-fitting top to cover my extra pounds and the telltale drawstrings, then grabbed my phone, bag, and keys.

My phone told me I should’ve left four minutes ago. Not long by most people’s standards, but time stretches differently for anxious, routine-reliant agoraphobics. Still, I couldn’t resist reaching under the bed for the button and sending it spinning across the room for Meow.

She pounced, and my phone buzzed.

Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn sheep (that’s a Bible verse I read once. I think it’s supposed to be a compliment). The point is you can skip brushing them this morning.

I ran out to the kitchen and started transferring the white-chocolate-and-raspberry muffins from the cooling rack into a container. My phone rang, and I answered without looking at the number. “Hello?”

“Izzy, I’m glad you picked up.” It was Etta, my septuagenarian neighbor who far surpassed me in both style and sexual conquests. Not that either was hard to do. “You like me, right?”

“Uh, yes. Of course.” No one would call Etta insecure. Something was up.

“And you owe me since you had that last adventure without me.”

“You mean the adventure where I got shot?” My weight gain had started when I was forced into a sedentary routine after a bullet ripped through my leg. No one had forced me to eat all the cookies though.

“That’s the one.”

“What do you want?”

“I need your help moving a body.”

Oh boy. I so did not have time for this. I stuffed the last muffin in the container and unlocked the deadbolt and chain on the front door. A small layer of safety I’d added to the apartment after an unwanted guest broke in. Twice. “Where are you?”

“At the bottom of the stairs.”

Our 1960s concrete box of a three-story apartment building in Palms, Los Angeles, shared the external set of stairs I was standing on. So I could’ve leaned over the railing and looked, but I wasn’t quite ready to face it.

Instead, I locked the door behind me. Christmas was just nine days away, and my housemate, Oliver, had eschewed the traditional wreath and stuck up a poster. It said Merry Chrismyass and featured a picture of Santa bending over to bare his second set of rosy cheeks.

I sniggered as I did every time I saw it, then asked Etta the question I’d been avoiding. “Is this body dead or alive?”

“You’ll laugh & won’t want to stop reading—Recommended!”

– Dachshund Fan, Amazon reviewer

“Another winner! … I love books like this, with a quirky heroine who is warm and loving and smart enough to puzzle a case and follow hunches.”

– Bookgyrl, Blogger at Happily Ever After Novel Thoughts

“Izzy is the Stephanie Plum of Los Angeles … Fun, entertaining, and engaging reading.”

– Barbara Tobey, Amazon reviewer

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