Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cover Release - MURDER AND A WEDDING : Cold Creek Series Book 5

Now available for pre-order, with release on August 10, 2017! 
Special Price through August 15th $0.99

Solving a murder wasn't on the wedding planner's checklist.

Professor Hendley can’t seem to stay away from murder even on a morning run. With so many changes in her life, sleuthing is the last thing on the mind of Cold Creek College’s amateur sleuth. Unbeknownst to her, the victim was the manager of Hidden Oaks, a picturesque wedding venue – the precise location the wedding planner had suggested for her upcoming nuptials. When Sheridan visits Hidden Oaks, she senses there is more underfoot than meets the eye. Can she put the pieces together and have her wedding, too?

The Series:

Murder at Cold Creek College
Murder in the Arboretum
Murder at the Grill
Murder in the Theater

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

... The four of us took off down the popular trail. Surrounded by pine and maple trees, a recent spell of warm weather had spurred the onset of renewed growth after the long winter. We saw several runners ahead of us, and encountered others jogging or walking back to the parking lot. People smiled as they passed us, content to enjoy the fresh air and exercise. 

We left the trail at my usual stopping place with Charlie. Our favorite bench was occupied by two older ladies, so we moved toward the bench farthest from the trail. Before Brett could get the water bottles out of his pack, Charlie pulled toward the tree line and growled. I tried to soothe her and we all looked around to see what triggered her reaction. 

“I can barely hold her. Should we see where she wants to go?” 

Brett peered toward the dense woods before he answered. “Maddie, can you stay here with the backpack while we check it out?” 

Maddie glanced at Charlie and nodded. I let Charlie pull me. The closer we got to the trees, the harder she dragged me along. She turned back to look at me, just before she tried to dive into the woods. Brett caught me before I fell over. 

“Stay here and keep hold of Charlie. I’ll see if I can find what has her so excited.” 

I nodded and shortened the leash, holding my dog. She shook like never before. She stopped growling but whimpered, and tried to pull away. Brett came back out a few minutes later, already talking on his phone. 

“We’re at Plantation Park. The GPS says the nearest cross street is Shenandoah. We came in from the South entrance, the main trail. I’m not sure which way has easiest access for emergency vehicles.” 

After a pause, Brett continued. “No ambulance needed. Coroner.” 

Another pause. “We’ll stay here and wait for you. I think Sheridan’s dog scared off anyone or any animals that might have been here. She’s stopped growling now.” 

He clicked off his phone and nodded toward the bench and Maddie. “There’s a body back there. I don’t know who or what Charlie scared off. As long as she’s not growling, we can go wait with Maddie until Hirsch gets here to secure the area.” 

We walked to the bench and gave Charlie some water. She stretched out under the bench panting. 

“What was making Charlie go crazy?” Maddie asked. 

“There’s someone back in the woods and he’s hurt. I think Charlie sensed that. I’m going to go back and make sure no one bothers him. You and Sheridan need to stay here and wait for the police to get here. Okay?” 

We both nodded, and Brett walked back to guard the body. 

“Charlie sensed there was a bad person back there, didn’t she? She was protecting us and the person who’s hurt.” 

“Yes, Maddie that’s right. Now she’s calm, so we’re safe.” 

We heard the sirens in the distance and then from behind us. Chief Hirsch and Officer Matthews were the first to arrive. Maddie and I stood and waited for them to reach us. Charlie recognized them and pulled at the leash, tail wagging. I texted Brett the cavalry had arrived. 

“Morning, Sheridan. Brett called.” Hirsch looked at Maddie and raised an eyebrow. 

“Chief Hirsch, Officer Matthews, I’d like to introduce Madison, Brett’s daughter. You may have met her at Brett’s birthday celebration in July.” They nodded and Maddie nodded back. 

“Let me show you where Brett entered the woods.” 

I led them to the edge of the woods, and they disappeared. I was back at the bench with Maddie when Brett texted “Watch for the ambulance – they should be coming across the grass from the North.” 

“Look, Sheridan. They’re here.” 

I approached the ambulance and explained what I could to the responders. They grabbed their gear and the stretcher and disappeared into the woods. We waited. 

It seemed like forever before Brett and Hirsch emerged, followed by the two ambulance attendants with the stretcher, and Matthews pulling up the rear. Maddie and I watched as they loaded the stretcher and the ambulance left. As Brett, Hirsch, and Matthews walked toward us, I caught the end of the conversation. 

“…too bad Charlie didn’t get a piece of whoever did this. Nasty business.” Matthews mouth opened again, like he was going to continue. I cleared my throat and pasted a smile on my face. 

Brett interrupted whatever his next comment might have been. “Have you met my daughter?” 

“Yes, Sheridan introduced us. You were all out here for a walk?” Hirsch slipped back into Chief mode and Matthews studied the ground. 

“We went for a run to celebrate, but Charlie needed a rest. Then she started growling and barking and almost dragged Sheridan into the woods.” Maddie explained. 

“Did you see anyone else?” 

Maddie shook her head. I clarified, “Not once we left the trail. We passed a bunch of other runners and walkers on the trail. There were two older ladies on the bench closer to the trail when we got here. I didn’t recognize them. They left – I didn’t notice when.” I shrugged, sorry I hadn’t paid more attention. 

“Once Charlie started barking and we got closer, she suddenly settled down. I think she scared them off. You saw the markings like someone had cut through the woods before. I’d guess that’s how they left the park. Any idea where it comes out?” “Afraid not. Matthews and I’ll go back, get more pictures, and find out though. You folks enjoy the rest of the day. I’ll give you a call later on and come by with statements for you to sign.”

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