Cover reveal and sneak peek! This is the first book in a series of cozy mysteries I have planned for 2019.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” –The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Edna Baines had lived on the Island all her life. She knew the people who lived here and she also knew which ones were descended from magic…and which ones had no idea it existed.
Sitka Spruce Island had a unique location, on the edge of the United States border with Canada that ran through the San Juan Islands. As her father used to joke, it was a short hop and a swim to Canada. This made the Island a popular stop on ferry rides from Seattle and Anacortes, Washington to Victoria, B.C.
Of course, there were local legends of pirates, bootleggers and other adventurers, who had made use of the many coves along the south and east ends of the Island over the years. This became more difficult as people started buying up the large tracts of undeveloped land in the 1960s. Unlike many of the San Juan Islands, this had more open spaces than most.
After a meteor hit the east end of Sitka Spruce Island a few hundred years ago, the Native-Americans had treated the entire island as a sacred place. Many still believed there were forces beyond their understanding…and these spirits had made their home here. After almost 55 years, Edna had to agree. She’d seen too much in her lifetime to believe it was all coincidence any more.
The families who had first settled on the east side of the Island had found they lived longer and had more ‘luck’ with everything they tried than the rest of the inhabitants. At first, there were some concerns about magic and even witchcraft…then the scientists who came to research the island in the 1920s explained it was just better mineral elements in the soil. Probably from the meteor that had hit long before.
The town of Sitka Spruce Harbor grew up along the middle of the northwest end of the Island. Popular with day visitors, campers and tourists, the town offered all sorts of shops and recreational opportunities, making east end relatively less desirable. Unless, of course, you had a mansion built in the 1900s, which attracted visitors from all over the world.
Edna had worked at just such a mansion for the past thirty years. She’s started as an upstairs maid back when it was a private home, ten years before they’d made it into a retreat for wealthy tourists. Now, she oversaw the entire estate including the gardens. There had been a lot of changes in that time, but she was glad the family had managed to keep it going after Mr. Hawkins Sr. died.
His daughter and two sons had remodeled the house and incorporated a professional kitchen, where the old work rooms had been at the back of the mansion. Now that the house was updated, they’d turned their attention to the gardens. The rose and perennial gardens still needed some work, but the annual garden was being transformed into an organic vegetable and herb space. They planned to bring in a new chef for the summer season, which started day after tomorrow. It was going to be a hectic few days, so Edna was having her morning coffee a little early.
Enjoying a cup of coffee, while she walked past the roses was one of the perks of her job. As she made her way towards the bench under the west arbor, she heard voices. Too muffled to make out who was talking, she sensed an undercurrent of anger or impatience. When she got closer, she realized who was speaking and was surprised to find them in the garden. As she started to say something, she felt a sharp pain in the back of her head, then nothing. Everything went black as Edna slumped to the ground.
Emily Bryce shook her head and smiled. “Miranda, I don’t know why I even ask anymore.”
“Because you enjoy living vicariously through my romantic adventures,” Miranda replied, smiling. “They may not be very successful, but at least I’m out there. You haven’t dated at all since you came back to the Island.”
“I’ve been too busy,” Emily said, realizing that wasn’t actually true, but she had too much on her mind to worry about romance. Every since her father had suffered a heart attack six months ago, she’d come home to help her mom with her dad’s hospital stay, rehab and then his recovery at home.
“I know you’ve been busy,” Miranda acknowledged with a nod, “but you can’t put your life on hold forever.”
Emily brushed the dirt off her gardening gloves, then adjusted her ponytail to keep her long, blonde hair out of the way as she worked. “It’s not on hold. I told Mitch I wasn’t coming back. I’m sure he’s moved on with his life just as I have.”
Miranda shook her head, the short spirals bouncing as she grinned. “I doubt any man would get over you that quickly, especially one who asked you to marry him.”
“Can we change the subject please?” Emily asked, giving Miranda ‘the look’ she knew all too well. Friends since grade school, they were as close as sisters…even when Emily had moved to Seattle for three years. They’d kept in touch and knew everything about each other including Miranda’s failed marriage and the recent end to Emily’s engagement.
“Fine,” Miranda replied. “I’ll give you some space. In fact, why don’t you check on that delivery that was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago.” Miranda glanced at her watch. “If they’re not here soon, we’ll break for lunch in an hour.”
“Now that sounds like a wonderful idea,” Emily said, standing up and stretching. “You know,” she added looking around, “this bed is going to look really nice.”
“It’s what I do,” Miranda replied smiling. “The one good thing I got out of the divorce…besides Hannah of course.”
Emily nodded. “Hannah is a sweet kid,” she agreed, referring to Miranda’s nine year-old daughter. “Good thing she takes after your mother,” Emily added with an evil smile.
“Very funny,” Miranda replied. “How about bringing us some tea?”
“I’m on it,” Emily said as she headed towards the main entrance. “I’ll stop by the kitchen on my way back…
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