Authors: kathi daley
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Katherine Daley
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
This book is dedicated to Tj fans who have been waiting patiently for a new story.
I also want to thank the very talented Jessica Fischer for the cover art.
I so appreciate Bruce Curran, who is always ready and willing to answer my cyber questions.
And, of course, thanks to the readers and bloggers in my life, who make doing what I do possible.
Thank you to Randy Ladenheim-Gil for the editing.
Special thanks to Donna Walo-Clancy, Vivian Shane, Jeannie Daniel, Janel Flynn, Nancy Farris, and Wanda Philmon Downs for submitting recipes.
And finally I want to thank my sister Christy for always lending an ear and my husband Ken for allowing me time to write by taking care of everything else.
Books by Kathi Daley
Come for the murder, stay for the romance.
Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery:
The Trouble With Turkeys
Big Bunny Bump-off
Beach Blanket Barbie
Turkeys, Tuxes, and Tabbies
Kitten Kaboodle –
Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery:
Romeow and Juliet
The Mad Catter
Grimm’s Furry Tail
Much Ado About Felines
Legend of Tabby Hollow
Cat of Christmas Past
A Tale of Two Tabbies
The Great Catsby –
Seacliff High Mystery:
Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mystery:
Murder at Dolphin Bay
Road to Christmas Romance:
Road to Christmas Past
Monday, June 13
There is magic in beginnings. Some beginnings come as a rite of passage, such as a graduation from college, the birth of a child, or a wedding day. Other beginnings start off more subtly, as nothing more than an ordinary moment that evolves into a crucial event
that, in the end, helps define who you are and who you will become. And then there are the beginnings that arrive on the heels of change. At times we welcome this change with joyful anticipation, while at others we fight to maintain that which we feel we’ve lost. Change can come in gentle waves that shepherd us into a new reality, or it can come in a tornado of destruction that tears apart everything we hold dear to our hearts.
My own new beginning occurred when I packed up two sisters, a grandpa, two very dear friends, four cats, and three dogs, and traveled across the country to help an old friend of my father’s renovate the oceanfront resort he’d been forced to sell. The resort, which consisted of a resident’s home and twenty cabins nestled artfully on a long stretch of beach on the southeastern corner of Gull Island, had been in Garrett Hanford’s family for four generations. Garrett was an only child who’d never married or had children of his own, so when his health began to fail he’d decided he had no choice other than to sell the property he was no longer capable of managing.
The problem was that the resort had fallen into disrepair, and the only buyers interested in the large slice of oceanfront land were developers who didn’t care about the cabins because they planned to tear them down and build a new infrastructure from the ground up. Garrett didn’t want to sell to those large corporations, so he’d decided to put some money into the resort and renovate the buildings prior to looking for a buyer who would maintain the integrity of the property he loved. When I learned Garrett needed someone to oversee the renovations, I jumped at the chance to take a step away from a life that had undergone so many changes in the past few months that I no longer recognized it. What I didn’t expect was that by agreeing to spend the summer on Gull Island, I would be trading one set of problems for another.
“Someone from the sheriff’s office should be here in a few minutes,” my best friend, Kyle Donovan, informed me as he joined me in the attic of the three-story house where the two of us, along with my two half sisters, Ashley, eleven, and Gracie, eight, my Grandpa Ben, and a dear friend, Stan Griffin, planned to live that summer. “He said he’d have his office notify the coroner.”
I glanced in Kyle’s direction with what I was sure was a look of resignation on my face. “What do you think happened to him?”
Kyle’s sandy blond hair had grown long over the past few months and touched his collar as he shrugged. “I’m sure the deputy who shows up will be able to tell us. It looks like he’s been dead for a while.”
“Two weeks at least,” Stan, more commonly known as Doc, agreed. Doc was not only my grandfather Ben Jensen’s best friend but was also a retired coroner, so I imagined he knew what he was talking about. “I can’t say for certain without a closer examination of the remains, but based on the fractures on the man’s left temple, I’m going to say the cause of death was blunt force trauma.”
I grimaced. I don’t know exactly what I expected to find on my first day at Turtle Cove Resort, but in spite of my reputation as an amateur sleuth, I certainly didn’t think I’d be thrust into a murder investigation before I’d even had a chance to unpack.
Kyle took my hand and led me over to the small window that had been open when we arrived. Not only was the fresh air welcome, but the view did a lot to soothe my jangled nerves. Doc slipped on the latex glove he carried in his wallet and took a closer look at the body while I focused on the neglected lawn that grew on a gentle slope that led onto the beach. Kyle put his arm around my shoulders as he tried to distract me from what remained of the man who most likely had died a violent death.
“And you thought you were going to be bored when Garrett told you Gull Island provided a peaceful way of life where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens,” Kyle teased.
I couldn’t help but smile in spite of my fatigue. “I guess this is a case of be careful what you wish for.”
“Other than the fact that there’s a dead man in the attic, the resort really is beautiful. I think we’re going to have a totally awesome summer.”
“Do you think I made the right decision?” I had to ask. I mean, if I were honest with myself it wasn’t just about me. Ashley was beyond mad that I’d uprooted her social life by making her spend the entire summer in the middle of nowhere, and although Gracie never complained, I could see a certain level of fear and uncertainty in her eyes.
“I think you made the right decision,” Kyle said supportively. “You’ve had a tough couple of months and the change in scenery will do you good. I know it’s been hard on the girls, but I’m here, Ben’s here, and Doc’s here. We’re all committed to making things as easy for you as we possibly can.”
I lay my head on Kyle’s shoulder as I silently gave thanks for the friend who’d not only helped me through the past couple of months but who had willingly and with enthusiasm given up his own life to follow me across the country for the summer. Kyle had inherited enough money that he didn’t need to worry about a job, but he did have friends and community commitments that he hadn’t seemed to think twice about leaving behind when I announced I’d taken a job in Georgia and could really use some help if he was willing.
“Shouldn’t the deputy be here by now?” I asked.
“It’s hasn’t been that long and it’s not like this is an emergency. The man has been dead for quite some time, so a few more minutes won’t matter a bit.”
“I wonder who he is.”
“Buck Barnes,” Doc said from his position behind us.
I turned and looked at the man who was standing over the body. “You know him?”
“No. He had a business card in his shirt pocket.”
“Business card? What sort of business was he in?”
Okay, that got my attention. “Treasure hunting as in a person who hunts for buried treasure?”
Doc shrugged. “I suppose. The card is the type printed on a computer. It simply has the man’s name printed under the words
. There’s a small treasure chest in the corner, but that’s it. The card doesn’t even have a phone number or address on it.”
“I wonder what a treasure hunter would be doing in Garrett’s attic.” I looked around the large room that was cluttered with discarded objects from generations past. It was obvious someone had been looking for something specific, given the fact that boxes had been upended to reveal the treasures that most likely only held value for the person who had stored them here.
“From where I’m standing, it looks like a lot of junk,” Kyle said, mirroring my own thoughts. “Discarded clothing, old photo albums, an abandoned cane, various knickknacks that appear to have sentimental rather than monetary value. I suppose there could have been something of value that was found and removed by whoever killed the treasure hunter.”
I was about to respond when I heard a sound behind me. I turned to find a tall man with short dark hair, dressed in a brown uniform, standing in the doorway that led to the stairway. He frowned as he looked around the room, which had obviously been ransacked.
“My name is Deputy Savage. Are you Tj Jensen?”
“I see you solved the mystery of where Buck Barnes has been for the past eighteen days.”
“Eighteen days. Garrett had his stroke almost six weeks ago. Any idea what Buck Barnes was doing up here when Garrett wasn’t even on the island?”
“Guess he must have come up here looking for the map Garrett’s grandfather left him. Buck’s been after that map for years.”
“Garrett’s grandfather left him a map?”
“A treasure map. Or so he claimed. I never did buy into the whole thing.”
“You don’t think the map was real?”
“I don’t think the treasure was real. The legend of Barkley’s treasure has been around for more than a century, and while many have searched for it, as far as I know, no one has found it.”
I looked toward Kyle. He shrugged. This whole thing was beginning to take on a surreal quality; still, my curiosity had been ignited. “Who’s Barkley?”
I wouldn’t swear to it, but I was pretty sure the deputy rolled his eyes. It was obvious he didn’t believe in the existence of the treasure and most likely viewed those who did with a degree of disdain. Surprisingly, he answered anyway. “According to legend, John Barkley was a pirate who lived on the island before it was populated by other Europeans. If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of the island, talk to Meg at the museum. She loves to chat with anyone who will listen about the legend and the history behind it.”
“I’ll do that.”
Deputy Savage bent down to take a closer look at the body. He pulled on gloves before carefully turning the skull to one side. He must have been satisfied, or perhaps dissatisfied by what he found, because he stood back up, tugged off his gloves, and looked directly at me. “When exactly did you arrive on the island?”
“Just a couple of hours ago. When we arrived at the resort we realized the front door had been left unlocked. Garrett had specifically told me that he’d locked the place up before he left, so we suspected there might have been a break-in. Kyle and I decided to take a look around while Doc and my grandpa helped my sisters unload the animals. When we came upstairs we found the body. Kyle asked Doc to come up and then he called you right away.”
The deputy looked at Doc. “You’re a doctor?”
“I see.” The man turned back to me. “Where are your sisters and your grandfather now?”
“Walking the dogs.”
Deputy Savage made a couple of notes on the clipboard he carried. “I’ll need to verify with Garrett that you’re authorized to be here, but given you have a key I’ll take your word for it for the time being.”