Whirlwind Romance

A rush of emotion dropped a veil over all but the tiny world of the two people in seats 11A and 11B, in a jet plane floating somewhere over the Atlantic, in a still moment in time.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dear Philomena--Love, Lust and Murder on Chincoteague Island

Something crashed in the woods.  Was it a deer?  Or something more dangerous? Dagne didn’t care; she just kept running…

Today I’m talking about my murder mystery/romantic suspense, Dear Philomena: Love, Lust & Murder on Chincoteague Island.
  



Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice columnist, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague would extinguish any feelings she had left for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that in her first week on the island she’s entangled in a murder.  Only she doesn’t know it.  Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know.  Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, disrupting her new romance with Aidan Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  As if that weren’t enough, Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or risk falling back into the arms of the man who broke her heart?

 
Chincoteague

Excerpt (G): The Sniper

 The afternoon sun beat down. Before long, perspiration dripped unpleasantly down her back and her neck began to burn. She reached a curve in the loop where a service road angled off. The cool shade of the evergreen alley beckoned, and she opened the gate and went through. Gravel popped beneath her sneakers and yellow-rumped warblers skipped from branch to branch, moving just ahead of her. She swung along, loving the feel of stretching her muscles, thinking of nothing.
At the end of the pines, the landscape opened out. Ponds choked with cordgrass lay on either side of the road, flanked by dunes on her right and scrub forest on her left. Ducks crowded the shallow water—mergansers, American wigeons, gadwalls. She stopped to watch a pair of diminutive black and white buffleheads putter around at the water’s edge. A cloud passed overhead, blotting out the sun. When it moved on, the light had changed to the desperate gold of a late afternoon teetering on the threshold of twilight. Time to go.
As she stood in the path, not yet willing to give up her afternoon off, she heard a loud crack. Woodpecker? Another bang rent the air, but this time the noise sounded much closer. Oh my God, that’s a rifle. Someone’s hunting out here! A surge of impractical outrage washed over Dagne. How dare they? This is a refuge for God’s sake! Nonetheless, prudence suggested she turn back.
She began with a walk, but some primitive instinct told her to accelerate. Directly over her head something zinged and a chunk of bark plopped at her feet. Her trot turned into a canter. Another shot hit the road, spraying pebbles into the air. They can’t be shooting at me. Can they? What should I do? Duck? Throw myself on the ground? Run into the trees? Instead, like some hapless cartoon character racing down the tracks ahead of the train, she ran straight down the road. By the time she reached the loop, her lungs were clawing for air. Stabbing pains scraped her chest and side. She’d heard no more shots, and after a few minutes’ rest, walked as fast as she could back to the parking lot, slowing every few steps to take a quick check of her surroundings.
She jumped into the car, locked the doors, and roared out onto the park road. At the Chamber of Commerce circle she slowed down, which gave her time to notice that the gas gauge read empty. She pulled into Ivan’s service station, Ivan II. She’d met the owner—a Belarusan native who had defected in the fifties—when he fixed a flat tire for her some years before. Despite his penchant for naming every store he owned after himself, she knew him to be a warm and generous man. He stopped polishing his vintage Morgan and came over. “Dagne, you’re shaking like a leaf! What’s wrong?”
It came pouring out. “Ivan, someone shot at me!”
Instead of reacting with shock, he chuckled, and wiped his hands on a towel. “Well, Milaya—I mean—my dear. It is hunting season. What were you doing—flitting around, doe-like?”
“No! I was on the wildlife loop!”
Hmm. Last I checked hunting is illegal on the refuge. Now poaching…”
“It’s not funny, Ivan. I heard three—no, four—shots! Someone was trying to kill me.”
“Now, now, Dagne, calm down. Tell me, where on the loop did this happen?”
She took a deep breath. “Well, I’d actually gone up the service road—as far as the Farm Fields impoundment. You know, beyond the pine woods?”
He nodded. “That explains it.” He removed the gasoline cap and inserted the nozzle. “I think they allow hunting up there on certain days. Did you see a sign?”
“No.”
“Well, check at the visitor’s center. If it’s not an authorized hunting day, you most likely ran into a poacher. The ranger should be informed.”
Dagne wasn’t about to go back to the refuge alone, but another idea had insinuated itself while Ivan talked. She paid, headed down to Main Street, and parked next to Lance’s car behind the decoy shop. As she passed it, the sun glinted on something in the rear seat. She peered in. A rifle. The back door opened. “Dagne? What are you doing here?”

I Heart Book Publishing, October 12, 2015
EBook, 72,000 words, Print 209 pp
Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery Romance
M/F, 3 flames

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