Date Published: November 20, 2020
Champagne Shores, Florida, is a beach town in need of a paint job.
What it doesn’t need…is a murder.
Champagne Shores, Florida, is poised to become a tourist magnet, but a murder in the marina threatens the town’s sunny reputation. Sure, the marina’s owner had been a thorn in the local chamber of commerce’s side, but he hadn’t really made serious enemies…had he?
Millie Silver wants her True Colors Paint Store to inspire a makeover for her hometown, and she’s busy leading the Champagne Shores Revitalization Committee. But when she and her dog Sunshine discover the body of the marina’s owner, they find themselves on the trail of a murderer. The clues and suspects stack up and include an estranged wife, surly fishermen, and a flashy group of treasure hunters flaunting the Spanish gold they find offshore.
While the town repaints and reinvents itself using Millie’s color inspiration, Millie recruits her family and friends to help the police chief uncover secrets, grudges, and even sunken treasure along the Florida coast.
Excerpt from chapter 3
Chief Parker propped his elbows on my paint counter and waited. I knew he was a patient man, but if he was expecting me to blow his case wide open, there was disappointment in his near future.
“I didn’t see anything,” I said. “No crazed killer rushing from the scene, no one lurking about to see if anyone noticed his handiwork.”
“Or hers,” my sister put in.
I gave her a raised eyebrow. “Do you really think Lisa would murder him instead of just divorcing him? How would that benefit her?”
The chief frowned. “Haven’t gotten to beneficiaries, but money is a common motivator. And secrets.”
“Could be both,” Tiffany suggested. I knew she heard a lot of secrets in her line of work, but the morning’s events were too raw for me to want to inquire.
“This is going to get more complicated before it’s over. Probably before the day’s over,” Chief Parker said.
“I feel bad for Richard,” I said. “We’re talking about his death as a complication, but it hardly seems fair to him.”
Tiffany slipped an arm around me in a half-hug. “I know it’s upsetting.”
“I wish I could have seen his reaction to Ocean Sunrise Blue at sunrise,” I said. It seemed so unjust that he never got to see it. Paint colors are a living thing and appreciating them is a rare and beautiful pleasure life offers. Sharing it is my gift. And so is finding dead bodies in Champagne Shores, it seems.
“I thought lightning didn’t strike twice in the same place.”
We all looked to the shop door where Aunt Minerva stood, hands on hips. She wore her red knitting glasses and at least two different strands of yarn were stuck to her blouse. She had obviously left the house in a hurry.
“Lightning can strike anywhere in the right atmospheric conditions,” Darwin said.
My aunt’s worried expression softened for a moment and then returned to full-on flustered. “I’m not even going to ask if it’s true that you discovered another body. You all look serious and I’m guessing there’s a reason the chief’s got his antacids out this early.”
Chief Parker thumbed a white disc from the roll in his hand and closed his eyes for a moment as he chewed.
“Well?” Aunt Minerva asked.
I sighed. “I went to see Richard Croy about the paint color, but his shop was still locked. Sunshine drew my attention to a boat where we found Richard dead on the deck.”
“Poor Sunshine,” Aunt Minerva said, giving my dog a kiss on the nose before coming over to me and giving me a warm hug. She’d been a mother to me, Tiffany, and Darwin ever since our own parents died in an accident when we were almost too young to remember them. “Have you already figured out who did it?” she asked as she drew back and patted my cheek.
“What? No. And I’m not getting involved.”
“You’re already involved,” Aunt Minerva said.
I shook my head. No way was I getting dragged into another murder investigation.
“Sunshine didn’t touch the body this time,” I said, feeling that I’d found a particularly strong piece of exonerating evidence. “So I’m not directly involved.”
Everyone—even Darwin—gave me a skeptical look.
“Well, she didn’t,” I said, hearing the note of petulance in my own voice.
Silence prevailed for a moment, and then the chief’s chair creaked as he put his antacids in his chest pocket and got up. “We’ll wait for time of death from the medical examiner, and maybe that will give us a starting point. I probably don’t need to ask when the last time was you saw him.” He paused and waited. “Alive, I mean.”
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