Hannah Kline Mystery Series Book 6
It was supposed to be the perfect romantic honeymoon for Obstetrician Hannah Kline and her new husband, Los Angeles Police Detective Daniel Ross: a week of complete relaxation on isolated Oriole Island, at a charming B&B, famous for its celebrity chef.
No sooner do they arrive, then the chef is found dead in the kitchen and they encounter a woman from Daniel’s past who threatens their new marriage. The killer has used a clever murder method requiring insider knowledge and culinary expertise. The local police are suspicious of everyone, including Daniel.
There are only seven other guests and three staff at the B&B, and one of them has to be the killer. As Daniel and Hannah marshal their resources, they discover unexpected connections, and uncover more motives than they anticipated. Can they solve this convoluted murder before someone else becomes a victim?
Dr. Hannah Kline leaned on the railing as the ferry moved away from the dock, glancing at her new husband, Detective Daniel Ross.
“Nothing makes me happier than the prospect of an entire week without midnight phone calls, births, or murders,” she said.
Daniel drew her close. “Ready for our honeymoon?”
“More than ready. I can’t believe we’re married. How did you hear about this place?”
“When I was in the military I was stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma. The San Juan Islands were a favorite spot when I had a weekend off. This island, Oriole, was off the beaten track. Nice beaches. Great hiking trails, and back then no tourists.”
“The major change is that a famous chef opened a B&B and began serving fabulous farm to table food. People from Bellingham and Seattle take the ferry over just for dinner. We can spend an entire week doing nothing but reading, sleeping, taking walks along the beach, eating, and making love.”
“That sounds like a perfect honeymoon. I hope it doesn’t rain.”Daniel grinned. “I think I mentioned several indoor activities in case it rains.”
He drew her into the protection of his chest and they watched as the hills of Oriole Island drew closer. Daniel leaned down and kissed her.
“I’m so happy that we’re having a baby together. I promise to be the best father ever.”
“You already are. Zoe adores you and she still doesn’t understand why we aren’t taking her on our honeymoon.”
Hannah heard the ferry loudspeaker giving them a five minute warning to return to their cars. They climbed down the narrow stairs and waited as the ship maneuvered into its berth. The short line of cars proceeded in an orderly fashion down the ramp and up a dirt road to the town’s main drag. A sign said “Welcome to Oriole Island Population 242.”
“Who lives here?” Hannah asked.
“Farmers, artists, retirees, and people who service the vacationers. It’s too long a commute to live here and work in Bellingham.”
She examined the map on her phone. A two-lane highway circled the island and two roads cut across it. Everything else looked like dirt driveways.
Daniel drove through the main part of town. Once they passed the small commercial center, rustic wood cottages were tucked among the tall evergreens or occupied beachfront property on the other side of the road. The beaches were rocky with dark sand and driftwood. The evergreens alternated with groves of alder trees, their leaves an autumn yellow, and their white birch trunks standing out among the shadows. There were occasional maples, leaves now a deep red. Where the trees thinned, one could catch a glimpse of cultivated fields, gentle hills and occasional cows.
He turned a corner to a beautiful view of sparkling water and the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. Hannah took a deep breath. She could feel her heart rate slowing, her muscles relaxing and imagined her blood pressure dropping twenty points. This was what she’d needed; perfect tranquility, even if only for a week.
A few minutes more brought them to a turnoff, where a meandering driveway led up to a white Victorian house on a hill. There was a view in all directions and an expansive front porch furnished with white Adirondack chairs.
“Welcome to Alder House, Sweetheart,” Daniel said.
Daniel parked the car close to the front door and they entered the foyer. It had a high ceiling and polished dark wood floors. A young woman sat behind an old fashioned mahogany desk, her attention on a computer terminal. She raised her head as the door opened.
As they approached Daniel realized the receptionist was older than his first impression, closer to forty than twenty. She had a thin white face and wore no makeup. Her eyes were blue with pale brows and lashes, and fine lines at the corners. Her nose was small and pert, her lips slightly chapped, and when she spoke he could see a midline space between her front teeth. Straight blonde hair was cut into a chin length bob and was beginning to show a few strands of silver. Her only adornment was a dangling pair of bright green feather earrings. Something about her was vaguely familiar.
“Can I help you?” Her eyes scanned him, head to toe.
“I’m Daniel Ross. We have reservations for the week.”
“Oh yes. You have our largest room, the Empire. You mentioned you were on your honeymoon when you made the reservation.” She made a computer entry with her keyboard and handed him an old fashioned brass key. Retrieving a second one from the desk drawer, she held it out to Hannah.
Hannah startled, clearly unused to being addressed by that name. Daniel wondered if she’d say something, but she just extended her hand for the key.
“Let me show you around.” The woman stood up. Daniel noticed she was wearing a black turtleneck underneath a shapeless denim jumper that fell to mid-calf and a pair of sturdy boots.
They followed her to the living room, anchored by an ornate Victorian fireplace. “We serve wine and appetizers here at 5:30 in the afternoon,” she said.
Adjacent to the living room was a dining area furnished with a long table.
“Buffet breakfast is from 7:30 to 9:00 in the morning and you’ll be having dinner here as well during the week. We eat family style so our guests have a chance to get to know one another. Our restaurant is in an annex at the back of the house. We open to the public only on weekends now that the summer season is over.”
“No ten-course tasting menus during the week?” Daniel asked.
“I’m afraid not, but the food will be prepared by our chef and I promise it will be the same quality as you’ll have this coming weekend. Let’s go upstairs. I’ll have your luggage brought to your room.”
They climbed a curved staircase with an ornate wood handrail and were escorted to a door at the end of the second floor hall.
“Here you are.” The woman turned to go.
“Thank you,” Hannah said. “By the way, I didn’t get your name.”
“It’s Melanie,” she said. “Melanie Wells.”
Daniel watched her as she walked down the hall. The name had jarred a memory loose. He had a sudden image of a young smiling face, eyes emphasized by blue eye shadow and dark mascara, pink cheeks and cherry lip gloss, hip length golden hair cascading over naked breasts. He remembered now, lying beneath her as she rode him to climax. He flushed. How could he have failed to recognize her and how could she possibly be here, haunting his honeymoon?
Excerpt from Honeymoon, by Paula Bernstein
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