Normally I take the first week or two of July off from commitments (and the internet), but this year I’ve got a short story coming out on the 16th, in the anthology KILLER BEACH READS, so I’m a little bit more connected than usual.
My contribution to the anthology is “A Killing in the Market.” I figured that juggling two different series (Helen Binney and the Danger Cove Quilting Mysteries) wasn’t enough of a challenge (to say nothing of various projects I’ve got on the back burner!), so I decided to start yet another series.
I didn’t start it completely from scratch. It’s set in Danger Cove and features the great-great-great-granddaughter of the first lighthouse keeper there. If you’ve read FOUR-PATCH OF TROUBLE, you’ll recognize the lighthouse keeper, Maria Dolores, who made the quilt that’s being appraised in that story. The descendant is also named Maria Dolores, and she’s been invited to be the guest of honor at the opening of the Lighthouse Farmers’ Market.
Here’s the first page of “A Killing in the Market” (A Danger Cove Farmers’ Market Mystery):
“It was a dark and stormy night,” intoned a serious-faced fifth-grade boy seated with his legs danging over the edge of the temporary stage. Behind him, the backdrop portrayed that dark and stormy night, with equally dark and stormy ocean waves below. Rising above the backdrop, a couple of hundred feet behind the stage, was a real lighthouse at the very edge of a rocky cliff overlooking the harbor.
The boy stared at me, possibly because I was the front-row guest of honor for the play, but judging from the slightly panicked look on his face, more likely because someone had told him he should concentrate on just one person if he was nervous about speaking to an audience of about a hundred people.
I’d been told that I have a reassuring presence. Apparently, everyone who’d ever met me shared the same first impression: I was solid, take-charge and unflappable. Not really the sort of description a woman in her thirties dreams of inspiring, but it was reasonably accurate. I was a little over average height and large-boned, and I worked hard to keep the “solid” from becoming flabby. The take-charge trait came naturally to me, as the oldest of five children, and from what I’d heard about my ancestors, the unflappability was just as much due to my DNA as the large bones were.
I nodded at the boy on the stage, willing him to conquer his stage fright. Snap out of it!
A moment later, I heard those exact words coming from behind the curtains to the boy’s left, probably spoken by the teacher who’d sponsored and directed the play that the children had written.
The boy started and brushed his hand over the script lying on the stage beside him for reassurance, but didn’t pick it up.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” he repeated, this time with all the composure and clear enunciation of a television news anchor three times his age. “And Nana Dolores, whose real name was Maria Dolores, worried about the ships sailing near Danger Cove.”