The Pit and the Passion

She held her gaze steady, mainly so she could delve deep, deep into those chocolate eyes. Together with his sharp, angular nose and intense, almost predatory, expression, he reminded her of a peregrine falcon on the hunt.

The Pit & the Passion

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mai Tais and Mayhem: Wedding Bloopers

So many romances, so many crooks: can Tessa Diamond, turtle protector and amateur sleuth, keep them straight and still find true love?

I’d like to talk about my romantic suspense/murder mystery set on the Gulf coast of Florida, Mai Tais and Mayhem: Murder at Mote Marine.

When Tessa Diamond rescued a baby pufferfish from a hungry gull, her good deed led her into a shady world of smuggling, Russian gangsters, and coded messages, confronting murder, attempted ravishment, parrots, sea turtles and big fish, only to encounter blossoming romances at every turn, including one of her own.

I Heart Publishing, 12/7/2015
Contemporary romantic suspense, M/F, 2 flames, Mystery
eBook 68,840 words; print 208 pp.

Tessa’s best friend Esther Williams is the unlikely namesake of the great Olympic swimmer and star of many beautiful synchronized swimming movie scenes. She is also not a person one would expect to find love and romance, but she does. This scene takes place at her wedding and the dramatic finish comes as no surprise to Tessa.

Excerpt (G): Synchronized Swimming

“You look absolutely stunning, Esther.”
The bride fluffed a nonexistent train and did a little skip. “You were right—the scoop neck is perfect. It really sets off the pearls that Noah’s mother gave me.”
Tessa smiled affectionately and took a covert glance at her own reflection in the full-length mirror. The brilliant green silk sheath and the peacock feather in her gleaming black chignon gave her an exotic look. Tessa worried only slightly that she would outshine the bride, but gave her hand an imaginary slap anyway. This is Esther’s day, remember that.
Molly opened the door. “The guests are here and the music has started. Where’s your escort, Miss Williams?”
“I’m right here.” Peter Plaice peeked in behind Molly, his hands on her shoulders. He scooted around her. “May I have the honor?” He crooked his arm. Esther took it, her blush adding a spot of rose to her pale face. He gestured at Tessa, who took a deep breath and stepped through the door.
A walkway between two banks of folding chairs led to a small, bougainvillea-covered cupola. Noah stood there, nervously twisting his hands. To his left hovered five beefy cops in full uniform, trying not to stamp their feet. Tessa had a fleeting vision of them rampaging through the crowd, slapping handcuffs on wayward guests. As the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon started, she began her slow march.
The sun blazed, resplendent in a cloudless sky. A slight breeze ruffled the ladies’ hats and lace collars. Beyond the pool, a great blue heron watched sedately from the edge of the marsh, while an anhinga spread his wings and basked in the late afternoon warmth.
As she passed down the aisle, she recognized Elver Johnson with his wife and Leslie Pilchard. She noted with surprise that Semele, perched demurely at Pilchard’s right, had cleaned up reasonably well in a long granny skirt and peasant top. Behind them sat Henry Stillwater next to a young girl, whose fine blonde hair and skittish expression betrayed a close genetic bond to the dolphin director. On the bride’s side Greg, Phil, and Sue Conger sat next to Molly. Josiah sat alone, a few chairs away. Angus took up a back row with a group she didn’t recognize, including a tiny white-haired lady in shades of mauve. Must be his mother. She gave Tessa an impish grin and waved a satin-gloved hand. Tessa wondered if Angus had told her about Fiona. Or about Molly.
Cameron was nowhere in sight. She took a deep, sad breath and kept walking.
The ceremony went smoothly. Tessa kept her eyes fastened on the happy couple, refusing to check the congregation for a head of golden hair. When Esther and Noah broke apart from an embarrassed kiss, Tommy took over. He supervised a bevy of waiters as they passed among the crowd bearing large trays and flutes filled with champagne.
“Oh, my dear, what a beautiful wedding. I can’t believe how young Esther looks!”
“And not too thin! She used to be such a stick.”
This, thought Tessa uncharitably, coming from one woman whose blonde wig barely hid the wispy blue hair and another whose bulk had taken up two wobbly chairs. “Yes, happiness will do that.” She smiled and moved on.
The photographer had insisted that the formal wedding party pictures be taken poolside, so Tessa, Esther and Noah, together with five gargantuan policemen, crowded together on the narrow coping. As the sun began to set, the tree swallows came out to feed, swooping acrobatically around and over their heads. The sight of all those brawny men ducking and cursing as the tiny aviators dive-bombed their heads set Tessa off. A minute later she was no longer amused, as the water closed over her head. She rose, spluttering, to see Esther, her little tiara askew, surface next to her. Noah, with his men behind him making encouraging noises, leaned as far out as he could to catch his bride’s hand. Suddenly, like a scene from Keystone Kops, the entire brigade toppled domino style into the pool.
The cops scrambled out, mumbling curses, but it took Noah three tries to propel Esther up the pool ladder. The minister helped Tessa to a lounge chair, where she sat, wringing out her sopping dress. She swung around at a noise behind her. Cameron stood there, his mouth working. “I should have known Esther would insist on a synchronized swimming event at her wedding.”
Esther burst out laughing. She turned to her new husband. “And here I expected that marrying a Noah would protect me from deep water!”

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