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Write On The Water Books

A Wes Darling Sailing Mystery/Thriller - Book 4

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Murder in the Sunshine State.

When Wes Darling agrees to rescue a kidnapped girl from a small army of white supremacists, he has his doubts. But with the help of his Uncle Roy, a newfound brother, and an intriguing woman, he’s determined to try. A gripping mystery with a splash of humor and romance.

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I was sitting at a table in Dirty Alvin’s waiting for my on-again, off-again girlfriend, Cat, and nursing a Miller Lite. Dirty Alvin’s is the kind of bar where you can get a burger at a reasonable price along with a frosty mug of beer and a slice of the best key lime pie in Key West.

It was six on a Tuesday evening and Tanya, the owner of Dirty Alvin’s, stood behind the bar. She’s an ebony skinned, hot-tempered woman with green eyes that stressed her mixed heritage and highlighted her short, spiked hair. I find her attractive and annoying as hell. About what you’d expect a guy to feel about an ex-boss/ex-girlfriend who had dumped him.

The only other customers besides myself were a young couple in matching beige shorts and t-shirts that read Mile Marker 0 who were sitting off in the corner holding hands and playing goo-goo eyes with each other and an old geezer dressed in sandals, torn jeans, and a faded Hawaiian shirt.

Around town they knew him as Tommy Two-Bits because he wandered up and down Duval Street most days begging for two-bits for a cup of coffee. To my knowledge, it’s impossible to find a cup of coffee for a quarter in Key West, but his spiel must work well on the tourists because every night he seems to have enough money for a couple of boilermakers and a burger.

Tommy’s gray beard had an unkempt look about it, and he tied what little hair he had in a ponytail. He stood hunched over the bar, staring into an empty beer glass, and talking to Tanya.

I watched as Tommy pointed behind the bar at the shelves lined with bottles of booze. Tanya shook her head no. Occasionally, she glanced over to where I was sitting and glared at me. I wasn’t sure if she was mad at me or the old man, and I was relieved when the front door opened. I looked over and smiled when Cat walked through the door.

My joy turned to apprehension, and I groaned when a tall African American woman and my friend Elvis followed Cat into Dirty Alvin’s. The woman wore a tight yellow sundress that showed off all her plentiful curves, while Elvis wore one of his trademark blue suits and white gloves.

Elvis is the best friend I have in Key West, but he’s also a phobic psychic who talks to dead people. Worst of all, he seems to specialize in murdered dead people. This doesn’t bother me, but Cat had lured me to Dirty Alvin’s by hinting at an evening of fun out on my sailboat, Rough Draft, which was moored in the Garrison Bight mooring field. When I’d talked to her on the phone earlier that day, there had been no mention of Elvis or the other woman.

I stood and took a moment to study the woman as the small group approached my table. She was younger than I’d thought when she first walked through the door. Early to mid-twenties I figured, with sad, worried eyes. She walked with an attitude and wore enough perfume to overwhelm the pleasant scent of grilled burgers and fries that permeated throughout Dirty Alvin’s. Cat introduced her as Vanetta King and when I shook her hand, the strength behind her grip surprised me.

“I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Darling, but Cat and Mister Elvis seem to think you could help me.”

The corner of her mouth curled a little when she said my last name, and although I’ve grown immune to the smirks and giggles the name elicits, I responded, “Call me Wes.” I nodded to Elvis and Cat and waited until everyone settled into their chairs before sitting down myself. Before I could ask Elvis what he was doing here, Tanya walked up to the table.

Ignoring me, she asked, “Can I get anyone a drink or something to eat?” I sat patiently waiting until everyone had ordered before ordering another Miller Lite for myself. As Tanya turned away and made her way back to the bar, I looked at Elvis.

“Isn’t this past your bedtime?” I asked. Elvis is a phobic psychic and one of his biggest fears is the dark. He refuses to be trapped outside after the sun goes down. Hell, maybe it’s because he’s afraid of vampires.

Elvis glanced at his watch and then out the front window. “I have a little while yet before I have to be in bed, smart ass. Vanetta here has a problem, and Cat and I were hoping you’d listen to what Vanetta has to say with an open mind.”

I glared across the table at Cat but addressed my comments to my phobic friend. “Elvis, I’m not a detective anymore, and I’m not licensed in Florida,” I said.

I didn’t bother to remind him I had no desire to be an investigator any longer. He was well aware of that, but here Elvis and Cat were, trying to hire me out.

Cat and Elvis know I’m a sucker for a woman in distress, and I understood why they’d brought the girl along. As I looked her way she started bawling. Tears gushed. Her shoulders shook, and without even knowing what she wanted, I felt my resolve weakening.

“Hear her out Wes,” Cat said. “Please. If you don’t feel you can help her after listening to her story, we’ll understand.”

“Can’t hurt to listen, can it?” Elvis asked. “She’s willing to pay cash, and I suspect you can use the money. We’re talking ten thousand dollars, and all you need to do is spend a couple of days working for the lady.”

I shook my head. “How do I explain that kind of money to the IRS? I’m not licensed to practice as a PI down here, and I can’t run it through my mother’s business.”

“Come on, Wes,” Cat said. “It’s cash. No taxes. Paid up front.”

I looked across the table and studied Vanetta King. “How does someone your age come up with ten g’s cash?”

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