Title Penthouse, Pools, & Poison
Author Louise Stevens
Genre Cozy Mystery
I’m Millie Wentworth, Assistant General Manager of the swanky Gulf Palms Resort and Spa, and sleuthing is not part of my job description. But when the obnoxious guest in the penthouse is poisoned beside his private pool, my daily planner is turned upside down.
Solving the murder shouldn’t be my job, but the only food found near the body is a charcuterie board sent to the victim by yours truly. The Port Sunset Police are looking my way until a shocking revelation shifts their attention to a friend. Suddenly, cracking the case moves to the top of my to-do list.
It’s up to me to find the real killer and clear my friend’s name. Uncovering the truth should be a breeze with me, my pink-haired grandmother, her rescue corgi, and her crew of fun-loving septuagenarian beach bunnies on the case. What could possibly go wrong?
My grandmother stood up and enveloped me in a hug. I noticed Lulu’s white bob had pink streaks in it today, to frame her face. If you looked quickly, and didn’t notice the laugh lines around her eyes, you might think Lulu was a twenty-something. I might be biased by my extreme love for her, but my gram was cute as a bug. “Hello, my darling granddaughter. How is your day going?”
I squeezed my petite grandmother back. Her daily yoga sessions really kept Lulu fit and strong. I’m ashamed to say she was more muscular than me, but the aforementioned clumsiness kept me from most forms of athletic endeavor. “Don’t ask, Lulu.”
Hannah pulled a chair over from a neighboring table, “Take a load off, doll. You look beat.”
“Thanks. I think.” I sat down in the seat with a deep sigh. “Oh, it feels good to sit down. We had a leaky pipe issue in the gift shop backroom, and it sort of rolled right into problems with our guests in the penthouse. But enough about my troubles––Maria tells me you have a hot date tonight.”
Valeria Rodriguez was a plump seventy-five-year-old and the most maternal of Lulu’s crew. She’d been a housewife and mother her whole adult life, and she liked nothing better than cooking to feed a crowd. Although, with her kids scattered around Florida, and her husband passed away, she didn’t get too many opportunities to do so anymore. She shoved a tray of nachos toward me. “Here. Eat. Have you had lunch yet?”
“No, I haven’t had time,” I replied, as I lifted a cheesy chip to my mouth and crunched into it. I closed my eyes in bliss and hummed. “Mmm...this is so good.”
The waitress appeared behind Nancy Johnson. The youngest of Lulu’s Crew at seventy-three, Nancy was a Port Sunset native, who had married and had her son right out of high school. Now that she was divorced, she enjoyed living her life to the hilt with Lulu’s Crew. “That’s not a very healthy lunch, Millie,” Nancy said.
“She’s right,” the waitress said. “Can I bring you something, Millie?”
I pulled out my phone and frowned at the time. My grandmother snatched it out of my hand and put it on the table, face down. “Everyone deserves a lunch break. Why not spend it here with us? It’s a little late, but better late than never.” She wagged her finger at me. “And no looking at the darned phone while you’re at lunch. Got it?”
“Okay, you sold me, Lulu.” I looked over at the waitress and said, “I’d like the turkey club wrap, and an iced tea, please.”
“A Long Island Iced Tea, I hope.” Hannah chortled.
“Nope. I’m on duty here, just a plain old iced tea.”
“You got it, Millie.” The waitress saluted me with the pen she’d written my order with and walked straight to the bar to place my order.
“Don’t think I didn’t notice how you dodged the question about your date tonight. Who’s the lucky guy?” I reached for another nacho chip.
Lulu studied the domino game, and then placed her tile on the table with a click. “I’m going dancing with Eduardo Sanchez. He’s the most amazing salsa dancer. He’s teaching me.”
Nancy hooted with laughter. “I bet you’re teaching him plenty too, Lulu.”
I covered my ears. “Please. You’re talking about my grandmother. La la la. I can’t hear you.” I finished in a singsong voice, to the laughter of all four of the ladies.
“Get over it,” Hannah swatted at my hand. “We might be old, but we ain’t dead.”
The waitress brought back my iced tea and placed it on the table in front of me. “Here you go, sweetie. And Justin said to tell you the room service order is on its way to the penthouse.”
“That was fast! Thank him for me.”
“He told them it was top priority, because of the problems you had earlier with the guest.” The waitress said as she turned to go to another table.
I took a sip of my cool beverage, and swiped the condensation from the glass off on my slacks. Nothing like good old Florida humidity. I looked toward the beach beyond the pool area and wished I could go sit on a lounger in the powdery white sand, and let the blue-green waters of the Gulf wash away my worries. Maybe after work, I’d head down to watch the sunset before I went home. The beach is my happy place, and I considered myself lucky to work in such a gorgeous location. It almost made the aggravation of occasionally having to deal with people like Eugene Tarkington worth it. Almost.
The sun was blinding today, and I was grateful for the pink, green, and white striped umbrella over the poolside table, for providing a little shade. I watched as Hannah studied the domino layout, and then placed her tile with a triumphant flourish, and the other ladies groaned.
“I won again!” Hannah crowed. “You all owe me a dollar.”
“Put it on my tab,” Lulu said. She leaned back in her chair and looked at me. “Would you be able to watch Spud for me tonight, Millie? Who knows where the night might go with Eduardo? I might not be home until morning.”
“God willing,” Nancy replied with a lascivious wink.
I held up my hand. “Please. My grandmother...remember? I do not want to think about her being out all night with the salsa dancing Eduardo.”
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Louise Stevens is the pen name of contemporary romance author Donna Simonetta. A lover of mysteries since her discovery of Nancy Drew many years ago, she is thrilled to be writing cozy mysteries now. Being the author of the Port Sunset Mysteries series is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.
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