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Storm of Secrets by Loretta Marion
A Haunted Bluffs Mystery Book 2
Crooked Lane Books • November 12, 2019
A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a grisly murder, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of the killer.
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EXCERPT ONE – Prologue
Cape Cod Bay
“The wind is with us today.” The skipper took the red bandana from his neck to wipe his weathered face as a stiff breeze whipped up, though it did nothing to relieve the stickiness of the heavy August air. His love of sailing had cost him his youthful looks, but he thought it a fair trade. “We’re making good time.”
“I don’t like the look of those clouds.” His mate gulped from the water jug and jutted his chin toward the darkening westward sky.
The man at the helm frowned. Though the forecast hadn’t called for rain, it wasn’t unusual for a storm to pop up in the heat of the summer. Checking their position, he did a rough calculation of the distance to shore before calling out, “Reef the sails.”
“Think we should turn back?” His friend jumped to action. “Or head for shore?”
Another glance toward the fast-approaching hostile clouds and the skipper knew they couldn’t beat the storm to shore. Being unfamiliar with this stretch of coast and worried about the danger of getting caught in shallow channels, he made the decision to maneuver through. “It’ll be over quick enough. We can ride it out.”
His friend frowned, looking unconvinced as fat raindrops began to pelt loudly against the deck.
“We’ve seen and handled worse.” But whom was he trying to reassure? Too late for regrets now. He shook himself free of all thoughts that this might have been a bad idea, and called out, “Take a look below.”
After rolling back the mainsail, his mate opened the hatch to the cabin to check on their precious cargo. He gave the thumbs-up moments later as he hoisted himself back up on deck only to be knocked to his butt by a rolling wave. “I need the storm jib and trysail,” he shouted, to be heard over the wind and rain.
The skipper tossed the sails to his friend, who wrestled with the gusts to get them secured in place. Each wave seemed larger than the next, and the rain was now coming down so hard he could barely see the prow of the boat as he worked to position the rocking craft against the raging winds. The men had been fighting the storm for longer than expected, and their muscles were aching from the effort. They’d need to rest soon.
“After this next wave we’re going to heave-to,” he yelled. “Be ready to trim the jib.”
They were so focused on keeping the sailboat afloat, neither saw that the hatch had swung open from the rough seas. They also failed to notice the little boy, who’d slipped free of his life preserver, struggling up the steps from the cabin. Nor could his shrieking cries be heard over the storm’s roar.
“Hold on!” The skipper shouted as they prepared to ride a large wave. Just then a movement on deck caught his eye. He cursed under his breath and waved a panicked arm at his friend as he screamed, “Grab him! Grab the boy!”
But it was too late.
About the Author
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
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