Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Madison Knight is Back! Just Cause, Available for Pre-order

Madison Knight is back and things are about to get shaken up!

A cold case pits Madison against the Russian Mafia, but things take a swift turn when the unthinkable happens—a new threat arises and has Madison hunting down an unknown killer.

While trying to make sense of the clues, bodies are piling up, and the brass is hungry for explanations. In addition, Madison must balance all of this while nursing an injury, talking out her emotions with a therapist—a bureaucratic necessity—answering to an eager journalist, and facing an internal affairs investigation.

As the answers come together, Madison narrows in on a possible link between the Russian Mafia and someone within the Stiles PD.

Will she have the courage to confront the person she believes is playing both sides, even though they hold a position of great power?

Things are about to be shaken up, and, for Madison, that means she just might have to let go of the past to embrace her future.

The official release date is October 16th, but you can pre-order your copy of JUST CAUSE from the following retailers:

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
Apple
Kobo 


Keep an eye on this blog and my website for a sneak peek inside! Coming soon!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In the Morgue, #SampleSunday from Sacrifice (A Madison Knight Novel)

Don't have time to read the excerpt now? 
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Excerpt from Sacrifice, Chapter 1


The pungent odor hit Madison instantly upon opening the morgue doors.  She pinched the tip of her nose, but it did little to save her from the smell of decomp becoming embedded in her lungs and sinus cavities.
“Whoa, he’s a ripe one.”  Terry, her partner, stepped through the doorway behind her.  He grabbed for a cloth mask from the dispenser mounted on the wall, and handed her one.
Cole Richards, the ME, stood by the body as a tall, dark guardian.  He kept his eyes on the body as he spoke.  “It’s the exposure to the air accelerating the putrefaction process.  This is why the autopsy must be done tonight.”
Madison noted Richards spoke with his eyes on the dead, an unusual thing for him.  Maybe something about this death touched him on a personal level?  She looked from Richards to the body.
The male victim, estimated in his early twenties, lay on the metal slab, a white sheet draped over his extended abdomen to his shoulders.  His skin was almost black, and appeared separated from the bone as if one could peel it off like the rind of an orange.  His face, as the rest of him, was distorted and bloated beyond recognition.  His eyes were open and vacant, clouded by death.  His arms lay above the sheet to his sides.  Some of his fingers were missing nails.  The skin of one fingertip had been removed.  Madison deduced Richards had taken it for identification purposes and forwarded it to the lab.
There was no wallet found on the body, nor any identifying marks to flag him in the missing persons database. The only things on him were a napkin with a woman’s name and number, a wad of cash, and a prepaid, untraceable cell phone.  He wore a gold chain with a pendant that had the letters CC engraved.
The body had washed up on the shore of the Bradshaw River, which ran through the city of Stiles and fed from a lake an hour away.  The property belonged to a middle-aged couple, without children, by the last name of Walker.  The wife had found the body when she went to get wood for their woodstove.  She said he hadn’t been there the day before.  They had interviewed the couple at length and obtained their backgrounds, which came up with nothing noteworthy.
“How long do you estimate he was in the water?”  Madison asked.
“As simply a deduction from what is before me, at least two to three weeks.”  Richards pulled his eyes from the body to look at Madison.
Was there pain buried there?  It was as if he read her silent inquiry.  He returned his attention to the body.
Richards continued, “I’m basing this on when he surfaced.  In cooler water, bacteria causing decomp multiplies more sluggishly.  If this was a warmer season, and it was three weeks later, we’d have a skeleton.  Stomach contents will pinpoint the time period of his last meal.  I’ll also be consulting with a friend of mine, Wayne McDermott.  He’s a forensic climatologist.  He can provide us with recent temperatures so we can get a closer estimate for TOD.”
“So what are your thoughts?  Dead when he went in, or did he drown?”
“This is still to be determined.  He is young and appears to have been in excellent shape.”
Madison’s eyes diverted to the body.  The currents of the Bradshaw River had swept anyway any trace of a fit male adult.  His bloated features made him appear more like a character from a sci-fi movie than a once living human being.
“It is unlikely he had a heart attack on entry into the water—assuming he was alive at the time.  Quick results would show frothy liquid in the lungs, but because he was submerged for a considerable time, any trace of this would be gone.  Tissue samples from his lungs, however, will be taken and sent to the lab for further analysis.  We’ll also extract bone marrow in search of diatoms.”  He must have noticed the expression on their faces.  “These are microscopic organisms which are specific to a region.  If it made it to his bone marrow, he was alive when he went in the water.  We could also find evidence of this in his kidneys, should this be the case.  This will prove whether he drowned in the Bradshaw or was dumped in the river.”  His eyes went to the body.  “We’re not going to get these answers just by looking at him.”  Richards’ words impressed the urgency he felt to commence with the full autopsy and open the body.
“Anything else you can tell us?”  Terry asked.
“His neck is broken but, it might simply be the trauma the body experienced as it went down the Bradshaw.  I will require a full tox panel be run on him.  We’ll find out if he had any drugs or alcohol in his system.  As you know, that will take at least a week.”
Madison latched eyes with the ME.  “Well, let’s assume he did drown.  How would we know it was homicide?”
A faint smile touched Richards’ lips, exposing a slit of white teeth.  “It is dubbed the perfect murder.  But until we can establish his identity, concrete his background, and get the tox results back, I will not be finalizing COD on paper.”
“He could have jumped in.  Suicide?”  Terry rubbed at the back of his neck.
“Possibly, but unlikely.  The reason for this is the natural tendency to surface.  Suicides involving drowning normally involve the use of a heavy object to counteract that instinct.”
“Maybe he didn’t think things through and acted on impulse.  Most suicides are executed in the moment.  He could have got caught in the current and pulled under the ice.  His restraint could have broken free from the body.”
“I prefer not to speculate.”  Richards’ eye contact scolded Terry.  “But at this point, I would treat this case as suspicious leaning toward homicide.  Look at this.”  Richards lifted the left hand of the victim.
Madison noticed the circular impression on the backside of the hand.  “Cigarette burn, or possibly something larger.”  She studied it more closely, and a few seconds later looked at Richards.  “It’s almost large enough to be a car lighter or a cigar.”
Richards’ eyes narrowed, pinching the dark skin around his eyes.
“So our vic was definitely in some sort of struggle before ending up in the river.  But intention is going to be hard to prove.” 
Madison glanced at her skeptical partner.  “Hard, but not impossible.”  She went back to Richards.  “So, you don’t have an ID and only a speculative conclusion as to cause of death. Why did you call us down here?”
Richards pulled back the sheet and pointed to the victim’s shoulders.  “This.” 
There were darkened lines, a subtle contrast, two widths, mirror image to each other, and one on each shoulder close to the neck.
“Bruising.”
“Yes, contusions.”
“From what?  What would cause something like that?”

“That I’ll leave for you to figure out.”  Richards placed the sheet back over the body.  “But if our guy did drown due to forcible action, these marks could have come from our murder weapon.”

Want to read more? Sacrifice is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Letter of Gratitude

As recently shared on my Facebook Author Page, the reason I write is two-fold. One, not only is it my passion, but to know that I can touch people with my words, that I can provide a temporary escape, either from stress or pain, that touches me on an immense spiritual level that nothing else can even come close to. Thank you for choosing me and letting me into your world.
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Excerpt from Family is Murder, The Unexpected #SampleSunday


Excerpt from Family is Murder, Chapter 1:

THE BRUNETTE CAME INTO THE coffee shop, clutching her purse to her chest and staggering along at a fast pace. She wasn’t heavy-set, by any means, but her ankles seemed to have the tendency to buckle, telling Sara that, despite being in her late forties to early fifties, she didn’t have much experience walking in high heels. The woman spotted them, and Sara smiled, doing her best to put the woman at ease.

She and Sean had decided upon a local Starbucks as the meeting place to conduct interviews for a live-in maid. They had been in their new house for a week and the basic upkeep took time they’d rather spend elsewhere. One example was Sara still hadn’t taken cooking lessons and she knew Sean wasn’t impressed by her existing culinary skills, judging by the way he’d fill his mouth and expel the sentiment, yum. He was trying to appease her.

“Hello? Mrs. and Mrs. McKinley?” The woman didn’t seem to pass Sean a second’s glance but kept her eyes glued to Sara.

“Please, Sara and Sean.” She gestured toward him then turned back to the woman. “You’re Angela?”

“Yes.” Angela shook Sara’s hand, but took a seat without reaching for Sean’s. As she sat, Angela ran a hand along the back of her skirt, her eyes never leaving Sara.

Sara smiled to suppress her uncomfortable feeling. “Tell us about yourself.”

“Oh, yes, I’m from Maine. Augusta.”

“Such a coincidence. I was born there.”

Angela didn’t say anything. Her eyes now drifted to Sean, but flicked back to the table.

Sara glanced at Sean, back to Angela. “So, I take it you have experience with keeping a house?” She had the resume in front of her but preferred to have all the candidates say it in their own words.

“Absolutely.” Angela threw in a brief smile that didn’t touch her eyes. “As you can tell, I’ve been around a bit. This year will mark my forty-eighth birthday.”

“Well, happy birthday.”

Angela’s eyes dropped to the table and lifted back up a few seconds later. “The last family I cleaned for was many years ago. What is it you want me to do for you?”

Sara thought back to their ad—was it not clear enough? She and Sean had gone over the details and had decided to sum up the responsibilities under the title house manager. Basically, they required someone to maintain the interior and to oversee other things that would need organizing on the property, such as pool and lawn maintenance.

“We need someone who’s good with everything,” Sean said. “We need a cook, a cleaner—ideally, someone who can handle all aspects of running a household.”

“Yes, well, I have that. I even had a child.” Angela glanced quickly at Sean.

“Very nice.” Sara’s tendency was to sympathize with people and relate to them, but Sean had told her that when it came to something like this, she had to distance herself. While she didn’t need to think of herself as above anyone, for a healthy work environment, their employee couldn’t feel they were best friends either. It could lead to problems down the road.

She looked at the resume that Angela had submitted and took an aspect from it. “It says here that you worked as a tutor for a couple years with a family in New York City.”

“Yes.” Angela’s eyes were flitting about the Starbucks, not resting on anyone, or anything, longer than a half a second. Her aura had escalated from uneasiness to jitteriness.

Sara glanced at Sean. She could tell by his eyes that he’d noticed the odd behavior as well. “Is today a good time?” Sara asked.

“Uh-huh.” Angela ran a quaking hand down her cheek, and let her arm return to her lap. She looked Sara in the eyes. “You’re so beautiful.”

The entire scenario should have had Sara asking their guest to leave, but there was something about this woman, but what, exactly, Sara didn’t know.

Sean went to get up, but Sara held her arm out.

Angela’s eyes shot to him, and then went back to Sara. “I lied.”

“You—”

The woman siphoned her bottom lip through her teeth and shook her head. “I’m not who you think I am. You’re here to meet someone to interview I take it. I just played along to get close to you. See, I need to talk to you.”

The current swirling in the woman’s eyes was electric—Sara couldn’t effectively read her.

Sean put a hand on Sara’s knee and she knew that he was about to step in and ask this woman, whoever she was, to leave.

“Why would you need to talk to me?” Sara asked. For some reason, this woman’s energy had Sara’s heart speeding up.

“Because my real name is Leslie Summers.”

“I’m still not sure what—”

“I’m your mother.”

Want to read more? You can download your copy from any of the following retailers:
Amazon
Amazon Universal Link
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Inktera

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Release - Family is Murder


I'm excited to announce the release of Family is Murder, the 5th episode in the McKinley Mysteries.

Here's the overview:

The search for a maid results in a mess.
When a woman shows up and claims to be Sara’s birth mother, it pits Sara and Sean against each other. Sara opens her heart and wants to believe the woman, but Sean is suspicious of her true identity and motive. After all, there are billions at stake. But when the woman goes missing and a dead body turns up, they both start to question the truth.
Led by Sara’s intuition, they pursue all possible leads and soon realize they may have welcomed a killer into their home.


You can download it in print, or in eBook from the following retailers:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Past Catches Up When the Mob Asks for One, Final Favor #SampleSunday

Excerpt from Assassination of a Dignitary, Chapter 1

Detroit, Michigan
Thursday, June 3rd, 3:50 p.m.
THEY SAY THE PAST HAS A way of catching up with you.  Mine was in my living room when I came home. 
Christian Russo, son of the Italian Mafia Don, Pietro Russo, sat on my sofa making himself comfortable.  The side table had a glass of amber liquid sitting on it.  He raised it for a sip.
The clock read three fifty.  Brenda would be home with the kids soon.  I hadn’t seen the man in fifteen years. 
“What are you doing here?”
“Now is that any way to greet an old friend?”  His Italian accent laced each word.
I couldn’t show the man fear.  This is what he wanted.  He craved a reaction.  He always had.  “If I saw one before me, I may greet him differently.”
“Oh.” A fake pout had his lips pinched together only a second.  He put the drink down and placed a hand over his heart.  He laughed when it touched the silk of his silver jacket.  “If only I had feelings, Hunter.  Maybe you’d hurt mine.”  Silence fell between us like a cloak.  I stood in front of him.  He studied my face.  “Sit.”
“Get out of my house, Christian.”
“Sit!” His voice rose, and he straightened his posture as he barked the command. 
I sat.  I wanted to stretch my leg, one over the other, but didn’t want to appear too comfortable either.  I kept myself leaning slightly forward, apprehensive this would give the impression I was eager to hear what he would say. 
“We have a job for you,” he continued.
“I don’t do this anymore.”
“Tsk. Tsk.”  He raised a finger to his lips.  “You don’t interrupt me.”
“But, I don’t…”  I let my words trail off into non-existence based on the reflection in his eyes.  I wasn’t the type who could take a life for a wad of cash anymore.  I had too much to lose, too much to live for.
“Pays one hundred k.  Half up front.”
“I’m doing fine.  I have been—”
He dropped a wad of cash on the table between us.  I knew from the banding it was ten thousand.
“How can you be fine?  After you turn your back on The Family?  Surely you must miss us.”
I missed the pay check, the one that padded my bank account with thousands at regular intervals, but not the control they held over me.
“Seriously, there must still be fire in you.”  Christian’s mouth lifted, slightly to the left as it always did when he schemed manipulation.
His eyes contained more evil than had been there the better part of two decades ago.  In all honesty, I was shocked to see that he was the one the Don sent to me.  Christian was more hurt than Pietro when I turned my back on The Family. 
My eyes scanned my living room, settling only briefly on the family photographs, on the children’s school portraits.  My eyes came back to Christian.  “Like I said, I don’t do that anymore.  I wouldn’t even know how to—”
“Fire a gun.”  Christian finished my sentence and cocked his head to the side.  “You should know better than to lie to me.  Want to try again?”
When I was offered a permanent role in The Family’s business, I had declined.  I saw my way out and took it.  There were times the nightmares of what I had done would slither back into the darkness of night, but I worked to shutter them out.  I justified my actions as responding to directions.  It was nothing personal.  A kill never was.  I reminded myself they were marks, not individuals.  But over the years I had never lost the love for firing a gun.  The fall of the hammer and the slight kickback as the bullet exited the chamber.
“I know you go to the gun range.”  Christian took another sip of what looked to be my scotch.
I pointed a finger at him.  Many men would not dare to.  “Don’t follow me.”
“You tell me what to do now?  Things changed, yes?”  Christian laughed.  “I believe every Thursday afternoon.  I trust that’s why you’re home now and not at the office.”
How closely had he been watching me?  In fact in such an economy, I was fortunate not only to have a job but to own a modest accounting practice.  I chose the career hoping the rumors were true; accountants lead uneventful lives.  I looked at the clock.  Within fifteen minutes, my family would be walking through the door.  My eyes went back to the cash on the table.
“How does it pay you Hunter?”
“I’m not that person anymore.”  My last name improvised as my nickname among the Russos.  They viewed it as evidence of a life calling.  I was predestined to be their hitman.
“You always will be to me.”  Christian reached into a jacket pocket and pulled out a cell phone.  His eyes were on me.  “Disappointing.”
“Why me?”  I didn’t know the details yet, but wasn’t sure I wanted to.
Christian leaned forward and appeared more comfortable than I was, at this moment, in my own home.  “You’re close to her.  You can make this happen.”
“Who?”
Christian smirked.  “The Governor of Michigan, of course.  Marian Behler.”  He leaned back into the sofa.
My heart beat as a piston in a chamber.  It felt ready to explode. 
Governor Behler was a client of mine at the firm.  Christian obviously knew this just as he knew my whereabouts on Thursday afternoons and my active fascination with guns.  “I didn’t think you killed dignitaries.”
“An exception has been made.”
My last kill was over fifteen years ago; it may as well have been a lifetime.  But when I had been at my finest, I excelled both at close range and sniper hits.  The versatility made me a valuable asset.   “Pietro Russo ordered this hit?”  I knew I was being arrogant, and even courageously stupid, questioning Christian’s authority but the directive was hard to believe.
“You used to call him Pops.”  Christian didn’t react the way I had expected, but that was partially what was frightening about the man.  He had always been unpredictable.
“My life is different now.” I had to stop staring at the clock, but my eyes kept drifting there. 
“Different, good?  Different, bad?”
I owed him no explanation for the direction my life took or an assessment on its fulfillment.
“We used to be close, you and I.  We can be again.”
“Did Pietro Russo order this hit?”  I repeated my question.
“Why else would I be here?”  He held out his cell phone.  “Want to speak to him yourself?”
My stomach tossed.  One normally didn’t leave the Italians without there being recompense.  I seemed to have been an exception to the rule.  Now I wondered if the smooth transition had been afforded me because of the service I had offered and could possibly again.
“I can dial the number for you.”
“Why her?”  Behler was the first female to serve as Governor in the state of Michigan.
Christian laughed.  He lifted the glass to his lips but lowered his arm again.  He rested it on the sofa arm.  “You know we don’t answer those questions.  Yet she must know where her death is coming from.  And, to the media it must appear as an assassination.”
“So you want it to take place from a distance, or close range?”  I asked for clarity.  His words seemed to contradict each other, know where her death is coming from, yet it must appear as an assassination.
“A statement must be made.”
“In-her-face-personal then?  And you want the last words she hears to be—”
“From Pietro Russo.”
“From Pietro Russo?”  The woman must have wronged the man on a personal level.  For all of my past close range kills, they would know where their fate came from, but the Don was never explicitly named.  My thoughts were on my wife and the kids.  I couldn’t risk their lives being caught up in this vortex.  My wife, my parents, no one knew about my past.  While I preferred it stay buried there, it might not be an option.
“So what will it be? One hundred thou richer or—” Christian stopped talking as he exchanged his drink for a nearby family portrait.  “You have a nice family.”
“Don’t even think of hurting them.”  My jaw tightened, the familiar adrenaline rush surged through my blood stream.
“It’s not a threat, Hunter.”  His calm voice conflicted with his words.  “If you don’t do this, it will be more than that.”  Christian rose to his feet.  “You have until tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m., to decide.  After that, I can’t answer for what happens.”
“You son of a bitch!”  I rose to my feet and came at him fast. 
Christian turned.  The barrel of a .38 was pointed at my abdomen.  “Don’t think I won’t kill you just because you’re a friend.  I can get new friends.”
I wanted to tell him to find a new one for this mission, but with the wildfire in the man’s eyes I needed to back down from the confrontation.  I put my hands up in surrender and slowly took a step back.
“Smart, Hunter.  It would be a shame to lose you.  I want her dead within the week.”
“The week?”  Just when I didn’t think my heart could pump faster, or the adrenaline provide more of a high, it exceeded on both counts.  I glanced at the clock.  Brenda and the kids.  “If I do this—”
“You’re out for good.”
“I heard that fifteen years ago.”
Christian laughed and finally retracted his gun and placed it inside his jacket pocket.  “You have no reason to trust us.  Keep that in mind.”  He stopped at the door, his hand on the knob, and spoke facing it.  “The clock’s ticking Hunter.  Say hi to the family for me.”
With him gone, I felt violated.  He had been inside my house, my home that I shared with my family.  They could know nothing about this.  They would know nothing of it. 
The clock read four ten.  I had about seventeen hours to let Christian know what I decided, but did I really have an option?  It was either kill or be killed.  I knew too much now.  Christian had seen to that.  I scooped the wad of cash from the table and fanned it.  The smell of money lodged up my nose as nostalgia.  I tucked it into a pant pocket causing it to visibly bulge.
I poured myself a few shots of single malt and swigged it back in a couple mouthfuls.  As the alcohol started to work, my mind assessed the situation.  It recalled my past life in detail, the people, the blood, the locations, the intensity I would feel every time I took a life.  In a way, it was the type of rush I hadn’t experienced since.  I wouldn’t dare say I missed it, but as the vague recollections transformed to shape, I knew I was capable of doing it again.
The directions were simple:  kill the Governor.
But I wasn’t that man anymore, and this was different.  Governor Behler was my client.  I was her accountant.  We had grown close.  Brenda and I had even been to her house for dinner before. 
As the alcohol soothed me, I remembered that Behler had mentioned something about an upcoming trip to Niagara Falls, New York.  I looked at my watch for the date.  Next weekend I believe.  I needed to get downtown to the office.
The front door opened.  Yvonne, my fourteen year old daughter was the first one through it.  “You don’t understand!” 
She closed the door on her mother who came in behind her.  “Get back here young lady!”  Brenda cast me a passing glance as she went down the hallway after our daughter.  “I told you not to skip anymore classes.”
“You don’t understand!” 
Another door slammed and Brenda returned to me with anger brimming in her eyes.  “That girl needs to be disciplined, Ray.  She can’t go on talking to me like that…”  Her words paused as her eyes went to the glass on the side table.  “Speak to her.”
Max, our ten year old, walked through the room carrying a backpack that looked like it would tip him over backwards.  He waved at me on the way by.
“Ray, are you listening to me?”  Brenda’s eyes darted from the bar cart to the glass in my hand and back to the table.  “You’re drinking?  And you had someone over?”
I just nodded.  To say I had an old friend drop by would be a lie.  And, if she didn’t like the afternoon drink, she really wouldn’t like what I had to say next.  “I’ll need to go back to the office later tonight.”

Want to read more? Assassination of a Dignitary is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Scribd.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Swimming with the Dolphins #SampleSunday


Excerpt from Vacation is Murder, Chapter 4:

THE PLACE WAS LARGER THAN Sean had expected. A huge section of sea was fenced off and dolphins were jumping and performing as nature would dictate, but there weren’t any tourists in the water at this point. There was also a pen with a shark, as well as separate areas for seals and manatees.
Signs located near the change rooms announced bicycle rentals were available for riding around the island.
They were directed to a counter to get a life jacket and then separated into teams of six to eight and each group was assigned a trainer. A Canadian couple, William and Ann Bolder, joined them.
Sara slipped her jacket on and zipped it up. “What was the weather like when you left home?”
“It was minus twenty-five with a wind chill that made it feel like minus forty.” Ann looked at William, his face contorting as he did the conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
“That would be minus thirteen for you guys.”
“And you probably have lots of snow, eh.” Earl bumped his shoulder into his wife’s.
Catherine shot him a glare and moved a few steps away. “Never mind him. He thinks he’s funny.”
Both Canadians were smiling but didn’t seem to be too engaged in the interaction and turned around to watch the marine life.
Earl crossed his arms. “I am funny. You just don’t appreciate my sense of humor.”
Ever since Earl downed a couple cocktails, his awkward nature had transformed to irritating. Sean wouldn’t verbalize his feelings to Sara, as he didn’t want any negativity to dampen the enjoyment of the day. Instead, he asked, “Are you ready?”
“Yes, this is so exciting, Sean. To think, just weeks ago, we were at work.” Her voice rose in volume with each word.
Earl stood with his hands on his hips, legs about twelve inches apart. “You want to talk about business, Mr. McKinley. What about you and the Mrs.?”
“Oh.” Sara looked at him.
“We’re in between occupations currently.”
Sara touched Sean’s arm and her energy read, good save.
“Whoa, and you’re on vacation. Nice.”
“Mr. Spencer,” he mimicked Earl’s formal address, “there must be some mystery to us.”
A tanned man of about five-five came over and garnered the group’s attention, including the Bolders. “My name is Alejandro. I’ll be your trainer today.” He paused to insert a sincere-looking smile. “Have any of you ever swam with dolphins before?”
The Bolders put their hands up and accompanied it with a verbal chorus. “We have.”
“Excellent. Was it here?”
Ann Bolder was smiling. “Yes, one year ago.”
“Welcome back.”
“Gracias.”
Alejandro bobbed his head. “You’ve all got your life jackets on, I see.” He inspected them. “You all look good. All right, follow me.”
“Look!” Sara stopped walking and pointed at three dolphins racing through the water. They came up together and jumped in the air. “They’re so beautiful I’m going to cry.”
“I left my handkerchiefs in the locker, darling, but I’m willing to kiss your tears away.”
“Aw.”
The expression slipped from Ann Bolder, and Sean broke eye contact from Sara for a second to smile at her. Most women were the same. They loved romantic gestures.
They walked a few more steps and Sara’s feet grounded to the deck again. She pulled back on Sean’s arm. “I’m not sure I can do this.”
The rest of the group slowed their pace and Alejandro came over. “Is everything all right, miss?”
“It’s Mrs. McKinley.”
Alejandro hitched his brows at Sean, not seeming to care if Sara saw the gesture or its implication. “You have no need to worry. They are like dogs of the sea.”
Sara snickered and then it grew into a full laugh, drawing Alejandro’s attention further to her, while Sean kept a close eye on him.
“Did you hear what he said, Sean? Dogs of the sea.”
“Well, they’re certainly a little larger than a dog, aren’t they?” Sean cocked his head.
“Yes, but they are gentle. They won’t hurt you.” Alejandro traced his hand down Sara’s arm.
She stepped back, nodded, and smiled pleasantly, but tucked into Sean’s side. “I’ll be fine.”
“You will, darling.” Sean kissed her forehead.

Want to read more? Vacation is Murder is the 2nd installment in the McKinley Mystery Series. It's available in print and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Inktera, and Scribd