Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow the first day of autumn. I love this time of year with its cooler temperatures. Recently, I spent a few days in Annapolis, MD. I enjoy hanging out in the historic section of town and taking in the sights. Kimberly and Robert from my paranormal romance, Sea Panther, visited Annapolis during their December cruise along the coast headed for Florida and Robert’s Florida panther refuge in the Everglades.
They traveled on a 90-foot sailing yacht named Sea Panther (also Robert’s nickname) and harbored in Annapolis while Robert was to meet with a boat builder to discuss the renovation of the yacht. Much, much more happened.
While there, Kimberly shopped along the cobblestone streets and visited a shop with mostly wool merchandise based on an actual store on West street.
An Excerpt from Sea Panther:
After dinner, the boys headed farther into town to hit the bars. Not inclined to join them in the carousing, Kimberly strolled the main drag where stores were open late for holiday shopping.
Glitzy seasonal decorations sparkled everywhere. The sight of animated Santa’s elves plying their trade on high tech electronic toys behind the plate-glass storefront of a hardware shop made her chuckle.
Kimberly suppressed the urge to enter a brightly lit jewelry store. She couldn’t afford to feed her fetish. But on approaching one of the trendy boutiques, the wintry window display drew her in. It was love-at-first-sight with the wool merchandise. While admiring a red cashmere sweater dress, her cell phone rang. Darn. She’d lost track of time.
Sarah’s number lit the screen. Her sister’s phone batteries must be good for a change.
“Hey,” she whispered into the phone not wanting to disturb the other shoppers.
“Are you okay? I went to pick up your car. One of my guy friends went with me. Thank God. ’Cause someone broke into the car. And the cops—”
“Slow down. What happened?” Kimberly’s pulse raced.
“I’m trying to tell you. Someone shot out the light on the lamppost over your car at the marina and smashed the passenger side window.”
“You’re kidding. Right?”
“I wouldn’t kid about a thing like this.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. Why would someone break into her car? She’d only left clothes in it.
“Kim? What where they looking for?”
“No idea. Tell me the whole story.”
“The police searched the car. Lifted some prints. They’re checking to see if any match the ones found in your room at the B&B. I told them about the hit man. They questioned Mr. Romano. Of course, he denies involvement.”
“Oh, Sarah, you didn’t. He’ll never forgive me.”
“What does it matter? He’s not your client anymore.”
Kimberly looked heavenward. Her sister didn’t get it. Sarah didn’t understand the importance of maintaining professional contacts.
“What else did the cops say?”
“They’ll let me know if they learn anything from the prints.”
“Was my car damaged?” The darn thing would probably cost a fortune to fix.
“Only the window and I had it repaired. And hey, all my friends think I look really cool driving around in a shiny black Beemer.”
“Be careful. That car is the only valuable possession I have left.”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing you paid it off before Jerky Jason came into your life.”
“I don’t want to go there,” Kimberly murmured, tired of Sarah’s constant reminders of how rotten her ex had been.
“Gotta hang up. Boss is calling for me. Be careful. Love you.”
“Love you too.” Kimberly pressed the End button and returned the cell phone to her purse. She glanced through the large plate-glass window into the street at the holiday shoppers strolling by. Unease tightened the muscles across her chest.
Just how much danger was she in? Was someone trying to scare her or was someone out to hurt her?
Needing a distraction from the mounting fear, she wandered to the next clothing rack and fingered the soft weave of a mohair cape. The tactile sensation soothed. Suddenly the hairs on her arms rose. Someone stood behind her. Heart pounding too fast, she spun to meet the captain’s intense gaze.
“Ach, lass, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He stepped closer.
Kimberly released the breath she held and willed her pulse to slow to a normal pace. “It’s okay. I’m not usually the nervous type. You must have caught me during a rare moment.” She didn’t want him to think she jumped every time a man came near.
The captain fondled the forest green cape she’d been admiring, and a delicious chill shivered along her spine. For a man with large hands, he had a gentle touch. What would those long fingers feel like caressing her skin? The thought of him massaging her breasts the way he did the wool caused a shot of lust to rush through her system.
Chills and fever. What a potent mix.
“This garment would look beautiful on you,” he said.
“Thank you.” She lowered her head to hide a flushed face. “I’m afraid I can’t afford it.”
“Will you tell me why a woman with a quick mind like yours is out of work and homeless?”
His question was blunt and to the point—a splash of cold water to raging hormones. How she’d landed in the current situation was the last thing she wanted to explain. She raised a wary gaze to meet his. “Captain MacLachlan, I—”
“Never mind.” He waved an arm as if to erase his words. “I did not mean to put such deep sadness into your eyes.”
“Excuse me. We’re closing,” one of the shop’s employees interrupted. Her gaze lingered on Robert as if to say, you’re welcome to stay.
“We are leaving,” he said to the woman then smiled at Kimberly. “Come. Walk with me.”
She followed him out onto the sidewalk. Cars slowly drove by on the one-way street. If a hit man was after her, in truth, he could be anywhere. She tamped down on her nerves, feeling foolish, refusing to believe someone wanted to harm her. It didn’t make sense. Her ex-clients were respectable businessmen. The burglaries had to be a bizarre coincidence. After all, she’d left the car in a nearly deserted marina. No wonder someone broke into it.
“I’m on my way to a jazz club. Care to join me?”
The invitation surprised Kimberly and she nodded.
* * *
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Sea Panther.