When orphaned Trip Jackson’s granny dies, leaving most of her extensive estate to him and a puzzling stranger, the mysteries start piling on from there. How did Trip’s parents really die? What’s the deal with the conservative senator who shares the stranger’s last name? What’s with all the blackmail? And does Billy Ray really have the hottest, saltiest boiled nuts this side of the Mason-Dixon? Only Trip and his hot stable boy-boyfriend Zeb know for sure, and how they come by the answers makes for one erotically charged and funny whodunit.
Southern Fried, at its core, is about the love of family, the love of one’s heritage, and the love between friends, both old and new. Though not all is as it appears to be, and sometimes life can get turned upside down when you least expect it. Especially when lip-smacking romance, deep-fried humor, and a heaping side of mystery fall on your plate, all served up Southern style.
Anyway, the shit already hit the fan -- fuck it, fans, plural -- and damn if I didn’t leave my shit-smock back in New York. Who knew it would come in handy, right? I mean, funerals are sad and all, but they’re not supposed to be friggin’ deadly. Least not for those of us still around to witness them, that is. Granny, on the other hand, well now, it couldn’t have been more deadly for her, I suppose. Still, from what those nice people down at the mortuary told me, she was the prettiest corpse you ever laid eyes on, which, considering she was ninety when she kicked that proverbial bucket, that’s really saying something. Heck, they said that by the time they were done with her, she didn’t look a day over sixty. Kind of bitter irony, I suppose: looking your best and never getting a chance to see it. Though with Granny, I wouldn’t put it past her. She was probably hovering over the service the entire time.
“Wait a darn minute,” I bet she was hollering over to that angel, Gabriel. “Yeah, yeah, I see your damn light; just hold your horses. Gotta find out what these folks really thought of me.”
Truth was, it wasn’t a whole hell of a lot. People respected her, for sure, but love is such a strong word. And so is hate. Oh, I certainly loved her, of course, but she was my granny. Only family I ever really had. But she was more of an acquired taste. Sort of like escargot. I mean, you can cover it up with rich sauces and charge a pretty penny for it, but when it comes right down to it, you’re still just eating a bunch of snails. That was Granny, all right: a bit of a slug with one damn fine, pretty shell.
Sorry, Granny, but I’m not saying anything that anyone couldn’t easily find out for themselves. I mean, you just had to listen to the scuttlebutt outside the funeral home if you wanted to get yourself an earful. Not that they weren’t trying to keep it from me, her only living relative and supposed heir to her fortune, though. Except, I heard it just the same. Loud and clear.
Wait, wait. You caught that supposed heir, huh? Well, and rightly so. See, I assumed everything was coming to me, too. Like I said, we were all each other had, in terms of blood. My parents, my mom being Granny’s only daughter, see, both of them were killed in a car accident when I was just a baby. No other family from what I’d been told. No aunts or uncles, maybe some distant cousins nobody ever talked about. No one sending Christmas cards who wasn’t on the payroll, though. So the estate should’ve come to me. Lock, stock, and barrel.
Smoking barrel, as it turned out.
Cue the doom and gloom music.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I mean, you have to be wondering why this is the first time I’d been back home in nearly ten years, right? Well, that was Granny’s doing, too. Come to think of it, everything was Granny’s doing. Always was. And based on the reading of her will, would be for quite some time to come.
“Nothing for you down here, Trip,” she told me, way back when, a week shy of my eighteenth birthday as she packed me up and shipped me off, first and last time she ever stepped foot inside an airport. “Just me and a bunch of pissy servants out in the middle of nowhere. Best for you to go up North, get yourself a decent education.”
Not that I had a choice, really. Once she made up her mind, that was all she wrote. Besides, she was right. Granny lived deep, deep inside the South Carolina low country, and that’s about as deep as a fellow can get, the nearest neighbor a good several miles away down a barely paved road. More alligators than people in those parts. Still, it was the first time I’d been away, and I was pretty near terrified. And the North? Granny was a die-hard southerner. Most I heard about the North was that it was full of people who talked too loud, too fast, and ate with their mouths open. Meaning, about all I could picture were folks with really strong jaws. Plus, there wasn’t a Baptist in the bunch. Least not her kind of Baptist. But, like I said, that’s what she wanted for me and that’s what I got. A kiss and a hug and a wallet full of cash, and I was on my merry way.
New York City.
And, man, did I ever take a bite out of that apple. Sucked it dry, seeds and all. Two college degrees, a handful of ex boyfriends, and a closet full of Marc Jacobs later, and, wham, you got yourself the man standing before you today. All traces of the South were wiped clean the hell away. Mostly. Which is why, getting off that plane in Savannah, I felt like a fish out of water. Catfish, if I had my way. Southern fried.
Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?