Home > Lost in Las Vegas (Frost & Crowe Mystery #1)

Lost in Las Vegas (Frost & Crowe Mystery #1)
Author: Kristen Painter

Chapter One




Was there a more beautiful woman in the world than my Jayne?

Not possible. At least not to me. Over my second cup of coffee, I watched her as she got another helping of blueberry pancakes from the breakfast buffet set up by palace staff.

She still had that half-awake thing going on where her hair was a little rumpled and her eyes were only half-opened, but it charmed me to no end. And while I would have been fine still being in bed with her, starting the day with her parents had become our new routine.

I didn’t mind it. I didn’t mind any of this new life. I loved it, actually.

Marrying her was the best thing I’d ever done. Of course, it might also be argued that my decision to move to Nocturne Falls and open up a doughnut shop could actually be the best thing I’d ever done because that’s what led to meeting her. Either way, Jayne was definitely the most incredible person I’d ever known. Beautiful, talented, funny, sweet, and mine.

Not to diminish my parents in any way. My parents were great people. Wonderful, loving, supportive. Everything you could want in a mother and father. Just like Jayne’s parents were everything I could have hoped for as in-laws. They’d welcomed me in with such love and warmth that I’d never for one moment felt like I wasn’t a part of the family.

I guess I just never imagined married life would be so cool. Not to make a winter elf pun or anything, seeing as how that’s what she was. She was also heir to the Winter Throne, which could not be overlooked since it made her an actual princess.

Technically, marrying her had made me royal too. Prince Consort. That was my title. Me, a necromancer, actual royalty. Sure, it was by marriage, but still. How crazy was that? Even more amazing was that Jack Frost, her father and the Winter King, had made a special decree giving my parents the titles of Lord and Lady.

If that wasn’t a gracious gesture, then such things didn’t exist. I don’t believe my mother has ever been so tickled by anything in her life. But then if marriage could make a necromancer into a Prince Consort, it wasn’t much of a stretch that a royal decree could make a zombie into a Lady. Lady Lila Crowe. It did have a nice ring to it.

I sipped my coffee, watching as Jayne poured blueberry syrup over those blueberry pancakes. A lot of syrup. So Jayne. If a little was good, a lot was better. Death and ruin, I loved that woman. There was no way not to smile.

About everything, really.

Life in the palace was incredibly good. Our new apartment within the palace had been finished while we’d been on our three-week honeymoon (one week on an Alaskan cruise, one week in Vegas with my folks, then a week in Hawaii) and the place was great.

We wanted for nothing. Part of being royalty, I suppose. No one would expect to live in a palace and be miserable. At least not because of lack of creature comforts. Even our cats, Spider and Sugar, had a big, brand-new, custom cat condo for them to lounge around on and look out the windows.

But despite all that goodness, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bored. I hated to even think that way. To even let that word enter my brain. It felt wrong. Like I wasn’t appreciating all the wonderful stuff around me. But life felt a little too easy. And maybe, if I was really being honest, part of me felt like I was getting away with something. Like I didn’t quite deserve all this luxury and poshness that I’d fallen into.

Many times I’d mulled the idea of opening up a new doughnut shop. It would be great to get my hands in dough again and put the old brain to work on creating new flavor combinations. But I wasn’t sure how that idea would fly. Royals lived by a different set of standards.

They didn’t seem to work unless it was directly related to running the kingdom or some kind of charitable pursuit. Now, of course, in the case of Jayne’s uncle, things were different. He definitely worked.

But then he was Santa Claus. Toys and all that were his business. I supposed if I did something adjacent to that aspect of things, it would be okay. His wife, Martha, was making a name for herself with her eggnog fudge now that it was being sold in the Santa’s Workshop Toy Stores. But how did I make doughnuts work with toys?

It didn’t really compute.

So as much as I would have loved having another doughnut shop, I didn’t want to rock the boat either. Not with how wonderful things were. I was not going to be the fly in the ointment, so to speak. But I knew I was going to have to find something to keep my brain more active. I needed the daily challenge the doughnut shop had provided.

And I had to figure out how to get that challenge without letting Jayne know what was going on. Not yet, anyway. I twisted my wedding ring around my finger.

I hated that she might think I didn’t like it here because that wasn’t the truth. I loved the North Pole. It was the most magical place I’d ever lived. Second only to Las Vegas, which was a very different kind of magic. Okay and third to Nocturne Falls, also a very different kind of magic.

Maybe what it all boiled down to was that I just wasn’t used to working so little to get so much. It felt unbalanced. Which led me back to feeling not quite deserving and a touch guilty. Clearly, I had some issues to deal with.

But how did I deal with them without making everyone else around me suffer? Maybe I should call my dad. He was a great sounding board and had never steered me wrong. Same thing with my mom, really. She was more of a listener and a soother, which I loved, but my dad was always happy to make suggestions. Usually very good ones.

Jayne came back with her plate, smiling at me. “You look pensive.”

I smiled back. “Just trying to decide if I should have a second apple-cranberry turnover.”

She leaned in and kissed me. “You definitely should. They’re one of the kitchen’s best pastries.” She took her seat, flicking her napkin out over her lap. “But that’s not really what you were thinking about, was it?”

Did she know me that well? “I might have had a few other things on my mind.”

She cut a bite of pancake, delicately stabbing her fork into it. She yawned and blinked a few times. “Like what?”

I leaned in. “Like how adorable you are before you’re fully awake.”

She laughed. “Sure.”

I pretended to be aghast. “You don’t believe me?”

She ate her pancakes. “I just know that look, and it means there’s something else going on in your head.”

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