Title: Murder in Mariposa Beach
Author: Teresa Michael
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Libby Marshall has one rule. She doesn’t date lawyers or cops.
A former prosecutor, Libby was once married to a lawyer, which about got her killed. . . literally. Self-imposed Witness Protection provided her with a new life, a new home and a new career as a café owner in Southwest Florida. Instead of focusing on her espresso machine and scones, however, Libby finds herself in the middle of yet another investigation and involved with super-hot detective Jack Seiler. Will Jack make her consider breaking her rule a second time, and if she does, will she live through the consequences?
Libby was officially more than worried.
She removed an elastic hair band from around the gear shift of her Jeep and secured her long, curly, red locks into a high ponytail. Then she slipped out of her vehicle.
The sun was beginning to sink fast as she locked the door and put her keys and phone in her pants pockets. She hesitated for a moment as the fleeting thought of a night in an old warehouse when similar feelings of fear and anxiety overwhelmed her and shook her to her core. It was that night three years ago when, at the age of thirty-one, the course of her life changed and pointed her toward Florida.
Pushing those thoughts aside, she slipped around the side of the garage. She checked the car before trying the front door. Just like the car, she found the door locked. Instinctively, she pressed her back against the wall just in case there was someone inside. She turned on her flashlight and directed it toward the garage window. She stood on tiptoes and quickly leaned slightly forward to peek inside. Empty, and nothing of interest inside.
The humidity of the August evening was high, and she could feel sweat beading up on her forehead, upper lip and between her breasts. Her heart was racing as flashes of that similarly hot night years ago flooded her consciousness.
She leaned against the wall and thought about going back to her car and calling the police, but the image of Pilar lying inside, injured or worse, played through her mind and pushed her forward. She would call the police as soon as she had a look inside.
As the sun dropped below the horizon, she slipped around the side of the house where, inside the covered lanai, the swimming pool almost entirely consumed the small yard. Immediately to her left were sliding doors that led to the master bedroom suite. Libby had visited Pilar several times over the past few weeks and remembered how the house was laid out.
Inside the screen door, she swept her flashlight along the edges of the sliding doors. In the lower right corner, she noticed the blinds were bent and there appeared to be a dark streak on the glass. Blood?!
She focused the light on the gap in the blinds, but couldn’t see into the darkened room. Libby stood and jerked on the sliding door. Finding it locked, she moved on to the French doors that opened from the lanai into the living room. They were also locked.
Hoping that Pilar had taken the time to hide an extra key, Libby yanked up the doormats and chair cushions. She expanded her search to the flower pots on the far side of the pool, finally locating a key under a pot stuck in the furthest corner of the small garden. She inserted the key into the slot and felt the tumblers fall into place. Thank God.
As she stepped into Pilar’s home a blast of cold air hit her face as if opening the door to a meat locker. The living room was to her left. A wooden entertainment center flanked by bookshelves contained a large, flat-screen television. A stereo system played the soulful sax of light jazz. She felt for the light switch she thought was in the dining area to her right. Her fingers brushed against it, illuminating the room.
She found Pilar’s cell phone lying on top of a notepad on the corner of the bar that divided the kitchen from the living room. She pushed the button, lighting up the screen. There were eight missed calls and nine text messages. Apparently, a good number of people were trying to reach her.
She noticed handwriting on the notepad, so she carefully scooted the cell phone aside and saw 12:00 Sat written in what she thought was Pilar’s handwriting.
Glancing around the room, she saw pictures knocked over, books lying on the floor, some open and some upside down, as if they had been pulled off the shelves in a hurry. There were papers strewn across the floor, and a broken framed photograph of Pilar and two older adults lying face-up next to a chair. She assumed they were Pilar’s parents.
Someone must have been searching for something, she thought.
She noticed the bedroom door ajar and covered the space between the living room and bedroom in just a few steps. As she used her forefinger to push the door open a little wider, her heart was pounding.
With the blinds closed, the room was dark, so she stood in the doorway and shined her flashlight on the wall to her right looking for a light switch. With the dining room light at her back, she could see the unmade, queen-sized bed in shadow to her right.
She found the light switch and flipped it on. The low light on the nightstand dimly illuminated the room. Seeing blood spatter on the walls, vertical blinds and across the rumpled bed covers, she gasped. “What the hell?”
Her gaze came to rest on the bare feet of a body on the floor on the opposite side of the bed. Holy Mother of God.
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
Murder in Mariposa Beach is the first book in the Mariposa Café Mystery Series. It is a fun, easy read that features a spunky heroine with a mysterious backstory, a handsome detective, and quirky characters set against the tropical paradise of South Florida and the Florida Keys. There’s murder, kidnapping, money laundering, vandalism, computer crimes, a bit of romance and musical theater thrown in for good measure.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 42 books featured in the Cozy Mystery Bookish Event: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775081
Open Internationally. Runs October 13 – 19, 2020. Winner will be drawn on October 23, 2020.
Teresa Michael has always loved a good mystery and has turned her love of writing and mystery stories into the Mariposa Café mystery series. She likes to read and belongs to a book club whose members have pushed her out of her comfort zone into enjoying all genres, though a good mystery or thriller is still her first choice.
She loves to travel and has visited forty-nine states having spent nine years on the road working for a healthcare software vendor. She also spent many years as the Team Manager of the U.S. Archery team for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, as well as other international tournaments all over the world.
She recently retired from a career in healthcare and lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband and two cats, Lily and Lido. She enjoys visiting her children and grandchildren and spending time with her family creating new memories. She’s busy on the next Mariposa Café mystery, developing a new mystery series, planning the next trip, and still trying to get to that fiftieth state.
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