- N. N. Light
New Release | Sunshine, Selfies, & Smugglers by @donna_simonetta #cozymystery #newrelease #bookboost
Title Sunshine, Selfies, & Smugglers
Author Louise Stevens
Genre Cozy Mystery
Solving mysteries with my fun-loving grandmother Lulu, her friends, and Spud the corgi is my side hustle. By day I’m Millie Wentworth the assistant general manager of the swanky Gulf Palms Resort, so you wouldn’t think sleuthing would be in my skill set. But lately it has been, and since summer is our busy season in Port Sunset I’d hoped it would be murder-free. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently so, because when social influencer Merry Marissa’s yacht cruises into town, we’re suddenly up to our necks in smuggling, stalkers, and slaughter. I have more suspects than the Tipsy Turtle has mai tais. And I’m without my sleuthing team, because Lulu’s Crew are busy going viral to raise money for animal charities.
Can I unravel the mystery and find the killer before Lulu’s Crew and I become the next victims?
The ballroom chandeliers twinkled and the light gleamed off the ebony skin of our Security Director Ronald Gaines’ shaved head, while he watched the Merry Marissa show. Turns out she mainly wanted this meeting as an opportunity to film a video to post online. She was dressed in a hot pink jump suit with short shorts and the high wedge-heeled sandals again. Her brown hair flowed around her shoulders and her makeup was done to perfection. She was beautiful to look at, if not to talk to. Nicky, her poor put-upon fiancé, trailed behind her, dressed in fitted khaki slacks which ended just short of his feet to show off their sockless state and his wildly expensive shoes. They were both totally on trend, which I guess is no surprise for a woman who makes her living as an influencer. Nicky’s friend Troy was dressed in a similar manner, but looked a little more understated, as he filmed the whole scene.
“Jennifer, the room needs to be festooned with pink roses. They’re my signature flower. It’s non-negotiable.” Marissa stated.
To her credit Jennifer Davis, our conference and events manager, maintained a demeanor as cool as her elegant appearance in light of the five-hundredth over-the top request of the meeting. “Anything is possible. For a price.”
Marissa turned her back to the camera and scowled at Jennifer, before whirling back to the camera with abandon. “Price is no object for Merry Marissa. Right, Merry Maniacs?”
Under the guise of surveying the room, Ronald turned to me and mouthed, “Wow.”
A laugh bubbled in my chest and I smothered it with a fake cough. I really wasn’t sure why I had to be an extra in this Merry Marissa production and longed to be anywhere else right now.
As if we shared the thought Ronald said, “Excuse me, Ms. Merriweather––”
“Merry Marissa,” she interrupted in a singsong voice.
“Riiiight,” Ronald dragged out the word. “Merry Marissa, I’m not quite sure what my purpose is in this meeting?”
Marissa pivoted to glare at him. Her hands on her hips. Nicky held up his hand to Troy, who stopped the video and lowered his phone.
“Tell me you didn’t just speak without being spoken to first?” She held out her hands palms up and looked at each of us in turn. “Did he seriously just speak without being spoken to? Don’t you people know anything about how this works? Tell them, Nicky.”
Nicky cleared his throat and recited as if he’d said it a million times, “When filming a Merry Marissa video, Marissa is the star and focus of everything. No one speaks unless she speaks to them first.”
Ronald bobbed his head. The retired Tampa cop was cool-personified in every situation. “Got it. But while the filming is interrupted, do you mind telling me what my role in this production is?”
Marissa’s eyes widened and her rosebud mouth formed a perfect ‘O’. She held her hands over her heart. “Don’t you know? I have a stalker. You’re here to be sure I have the best possible security available at our engagement party.” She paused and looked him up and down. “And because you look good.”
“And me? What is my role?” I asked.
“It’s not because you look good, that’s for sure,” Marissa scoffed.
Okay. I’m not supermodel material, but I’m not Quasimodo either. I was an attractive woman and my spine straightened and I lifted my chin.
Marissa waved her hands. “Don’t get all outraged. You’re cute enough, but not in Merry Marissa’s league. And you’re here because I want to show my followers how important I am. Three members of upper management at a five-star resort are needed to keep Merry Marissa happy. Got it? Good. Can we get back to filming now, puhleez?” She rolled her eyes.
Ronald held up one finger. “One moment. Can we get back to your stalker? Is that true? And if so, why am I just learning of it now?”
“Because this is the first I’m hearing of it too,” I said and couldn’t quite keep the exasperation out of my voice. I solved two murders and a diamond heist this year so far and wasn’t thrilled this woman might be bringing the criminal element back to the Gulf Palms.
“When you’re as wildly famous and beloved as Merry Marissa, it comes with the territory,” she said and then shivered. “Lately the stalker has been posting things that make me think he’s closer to me than I thought he was. As if he could see me in moments unavailable for public viewing.”
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Louise Stevens is the author of the Port Sunset Mysteries series. A lover of mysteries since her discovery of Nancy Drew many years ago, she is thrilled to be writing cozy mysteries now. She lives in Maryland with her husband, who also loves a good mystery, in a house packed with books.
Louise Stevens is the pen name of contemporary romance author Donna Simonetta.
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