AVAILABLE NOW (long story) THROUGH AMAZON AND SMASHWORDS. All other sites are still Sunday.
Love is in the Salt Sea Air—and So is Murder!
Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley, a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood.
Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out, does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian, wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich, and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out.
As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery.
Julian wrapped his arm around Ellery’s shoulders and gave him a quick hug. He whispered, “You want to see the family crypt?”
Ellery laughed. As romantic invitations went, Julian could afford to brush up on his technique. “Um, well… Don’t you want to look for some ghosts?”
“We can look up there.” Julian pointed to the small marble structure atop the hillock. “There’s a bench with a perfect view of the cove. If Captain Blood should decide to make an appearance tonight, we’ll have a front row view.”
“Wouldn’t that mean someone in the Bloodworth clan has to die?”
Julian said bleakly, “I can think of someone I wouldn’t mind not seeing at breakfast tomorrow. Not that he’s ever up for breakfast.”
Ellery had no response to that, and he didn’t resist the gentle tug Julian gave him.
They wandered through the headstones, not speaking. Julian seemed to know his way even in the dark. That wasn’t exactly amazing. Not only was his family buried here, he had probably played in the old cemetery growing up. Kids would find it a cool place, with all the old statues of marble angels and robed mourners and tall stone crosses.
“What’s that?” someone called from a few yards away.
“It’s just the mist.”
“No. No, look. It’s a figure. By that stone coffin. It’s
moving. It’s trying to hide!”
Ellery began, “I think they mean us—”
But his words were cut off as Julian kissed him.
It wasn’t totally a surprise. He could hardly have missed Julian’s continued efforts to position himself, the octopusian meanderings of his arm, the way he leaned in and out as he tried to decide between whispering sweet nothings or just going for it. Inevitably, he was going to go for it, and Ellery was okay with that. They were in a pretty good place for it, sheltered as they were between a stalwart bronze of one of Pirate Cove’s founding fathers and a narrow tomb about the size of a small toolshed.
Ellery liked Julian and found him attractive, but he had pretty much already made up his mind that Julian was not for him. The last half hour of wandering through the graveyard while Julian made cryptic pronouncements had cemented his feelings.
However, he was curious, so he let Julian kiss him—and he kissed Julian back.
It was nice. A sweet kiss. Julian was eager but tentative, and even when he got encouragement, he was very gentle, maybe a little shy. There was nothing not to like in that warm, diffident press of mouth to mouth.
“I can’t believe you’re really here,” Julian whispered when their lips parted.
Which, frankly, neither could Ellery. Not that he hadn’t done plenty of kissing in graveyards—those scenes were a staple of the Happy Halloween! You’re Dead flicks—but it was definitely different with lights and reflectors and cameras and crew.
He opened his mouth to say something tactful when, just like in the Happy Halloween! You’re Dead movies, a figure seemed to materialize from the shadows. However, unlike in the movies, it was not a vengeful ghost or an ax-wielding maniac. Oh no, it was much worse.
It was Jack.