Read Linda Lovely - Marley Clark 02 - No Wake Zone Online

Authors: Linda Lovely

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Security Officer - Widow - Iowa

Linda Lovely - Marley Clark 02 - No Wake Zone

BOOK: Linda Lovely - Marley Clark 02 - No Wake Zone
9.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Linda Lovely - Marley Clark 02 - No Wake Zone
Marley Clark [2]
Linda Lovely
L Dreamspell (2012)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Security Officer - Widow - Iowa
Mystery: Cozy - Security Officer - Widow - Iowattt
Visiting her crusty 79-year-old aunt in northern Iowa, Marley Clark tries to save a billionaire when he tumbles from an excursion boat captained by Marley's cousin. But the victim—founder of a biotech empire—is dead before his body hits the water. Soon Marley is consoling the widow, an old college friend and prime murder suspect.
As Marley becomes embroiled in the investigation, members of the tycoon's family perish faster than overripe fruit, and the arrogant head of a security firm renews a vendetta. Once the murder spree is linked to biological weapons, Marley's former Pentagon boss joins the probe. To unmask the villains and protect her kin, Marley taps homegrown resources and debates the wisdom of trusting a handsome attorney with a suspicious past and a killer smile.
No Wake Zone

Linda Lovely

Published
by

 

LHI

Seneca
, South Carolina

 

***

 

2
nd
Digital & Trade Paperback Edition, 2013

Cover and Interior Design by LHI

 

1st Digital & Trade Paperback Edition, 2012, L&L
Dreamspell

 

Copyright © 2012 Linda Lovely. All rights reserved. No part
of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the copyright
holder, except for brief quotations used in a review.

This is a work of fiction, and is produced from the author’s
imagination. People, places and things mentioned in this novel are used in a
fictional manner.

Reviews

A Roller Coaster Ride

A master at combining suspense and romance, Linda Lovely has once again created a killer thriller in NO WAKE ZONE. The twists and turns of
her cleverly plotted story offered a roller coaster ride I didn’t want to end.
Lovely’s vivid descriptions whisked me to the Midwest and tree-lined lake
shores, where sheltered coves harbor long-hidden secrets. Marley Clark is one
of my favorite protagonists, an intelligent, energetic 52-year-old who never
hesitates to chase after a killer or romance.

Author Cindy Sample,

2012 Lefty
Award Finalist Best Humorous mystery,

Dying for a
Date

Dying for a
Dance

 

Smart, Sexy and Nobody’s Fool

Hurray for Linda Lovely for embracing a protagonist Baby
Boomers and Generation Xers can relate to. Marley Clark proves that women
aren’t dead after 50. As for Marley, she’s just getting started—smart, sexy and
nobody’s fool. Lovely produces vivid settings and intelligent writing all
around. Characters so real you’ll swear they’re standing beside
you. The author of Dear Killer has done it again. Readers will love
diving into No Wake Zone.

Donnell Ann
Bell, Bestselling Author

The Past Came
Hunting

Deadly Recall

 

 

Dedication

To

—Son & Mother—

Stephen Ross Kennedy, 1st Captain of
the Queen II,

& Mary Deck Kennedy, Nurse &
Storyteller Extraordinaire

Thank you for your gifts of laughter,
courage and love, and for the fond memories that kept me company while writing
No Wake Zone.

 

Acknowledgements

I’ll start with family. A special
thanks to Mary Eunice Kennedy, curator, Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum, for help with Spirit Lake research. Lay any inaccuracies at my doorstep, not Mary’s. Brenda Mann and Tammy Nowling, my Ph.D. nieces, deserve star billing for their attempts to
explain complex biotech subjects. I hope enough of their wisdom rubbed off to
sidestep major science gaffs. Thanks to my great nephew Duncan James Nowling
for letting me attach his first and middle names to a main character. As usual,
I’m grateful to my husband, Tom Hooker, and sister, Rita Mann, for suggestions
on early drafts.

Major (Retired) Arlene Underwood, a dear friend since
kindergarten, continues to provide anecdotes to help flesh out my heroine’s
Army experience. My long-distance critique partners—Maya Reynolds and Robin Weaver—and local critiquers—Donna Campbell, Danielle Dahl, Polly Iyer, Howard Lewis, Jean Robbins, Helen Turnage and Ellis Vidler—help me hone my craft and inspire me
with their creativity. Thanks a million.

***

 

Note to Readers

 

While this is a work of fiction and all characters and
events are fictional, Spirit Lake, Iowa, and the Iowa Great Lakes are very real
and every bit as enticing as No Wake Zone suggests. Arnolds Park, a century-old
amusement park; the Queen II, a classy double-decker tour boat; the Iowa Great
Lakes Maritime Museum, located inside Arnolds Park, and the Tipsy House are
honest-to-goodness, real-life entertainments. I love and highly recommend every
one of them.

My thanks to Historic Arnolds Park Inc., the nonprofit
umbrella encompassing Arnolds Park, the Queen II, and the Maritime Museum, for allowing me to use these settings as a backdrop for my mystery. For plotting
purposes, I invented security routines and emergency procedures, law
enforcement and medical examiner responses, and carved out jurisdictional
boundaries. I know nothing about real-world security at Arnolds Park or the operations of the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department or the Medical Examiner’s
Office. I hope the true professionals in these organizations will smile at my
follies and the fictional characters I’ve added to their staffs.

I cheated some descriptions of physical locations as well.
For example, I lent Arnolds Park’s Tipsy House distorting mirrors. The mirrors
actually were part of Arnolds Park’s old Fun House, torn down decades ago.
While the Tipsy House has probably been remodeled during its life, the
renovation described in the novel is purely a plot device. I also changed the
dates and format of the annual Antique and Classic Boat Show. Don’t go hunting
for a Spirit Resort either, though it’s evocative of many grand old resorts
that have since passed into legend.

If you want to catch me in any other prevarications, come
visit the Iowa Great Lakes and Arnolds Park. It’s a trip worth making.

A huge thank you to Mary Eunice Kennedy and John and J.D.
Kennedy for permitting me to borrow endearing traits, sayings and folklore
associated with family members no longer with us. They give my characters
humor, depth and spirit. If you find something likable in one of my composite
characters, hats off to my kin. If you find something objectionable, hand me
full blame.

 

With
love to the Iowa Great Lakes.

Linda Lovely

***

ONE

“Miss, Miss—are the crab puffs all gone?”

I tightened my grip on the tray, wishing I held my Glock
instead of a platter of tricked-out wieners. At the rate these folks snarfed
hors d’oeuvres and champagne, they’d empty the galley before the midpoint in
our afternoon lake cruise.

“I’ll check, sir.”

While answering the portly merrymaker, I spotted my cousin
Ross in his crisp captain whites. His blue eyes twinkled, and his moustache
quivered like a frightened chinchilla. What nerve. I’d tell him where to stuff
his chuckle—and my frilly apron—the minute we docked.

Ross grinned. He’d shanghaied a junior helmsman for backup
so he could kibitz now and again with the well-heeled guests. “Having fun,
Marley?” he whispered as he slid by me.

He tossed off a two-finger salute and headed back to the
wheelhouse. While Ross only pilots the Queen on special outings, today
qualified. Jake Olsen, a tycoon the locals claim as one of their own, had
chartered the double-decker excursion boat for a post-wedding reception.

When a waiter called in sick at the last minute, I agreed to
fill in, never dreaming Olsen’s newest wife—number three—would turn out to be
Darlene Sherbert, an old college friend.

As I trotted down the metal stairs to restock my tray a blur
of red and black snagged my attention. Windmilling arms. Splayed legs. A body
thudded against the lower deck railing a few feet to my left and ricocheted. My
mind flashed on the image of a limp rag doll. A geyser sprayed me with cold
rain as the body tumbled into the lake.

Sweet Jesus. How long would it take Ross to stop the Queen?

Please, God. Not another drowning. Could I save him?

I threw down my tray, toed off my deck shoes, and clambered
over the railing. The water rushed by three feet below. I pushed hard with my
feet for distance and dove.

Knifing into what felt like an ice bath, I gasped. Big
mistake. Water flooded my throat. I fought to the surface, and coughed up some
of the inhaled water. Tremors shook my body. Screams from the Queen’s
passengers blended with the seagulls’ raucous cries.

I scanned the churning lake for a head breaking the surface,
for a body, for anything human. Sunlight sparkling on the water blinded me. Was
it a man or woman? The Queen’s wake flung me upward, and I spotted the victim a
few yards away. The floater vanished as I descended into the wave’s trough.
Head down, I swam toward the spot where a flash of red clothing last appeared.

When my hand touched skin, I stopped mid-crawl and raised my
head. The Queen’s wake made it tough to tread water. Had I gotten turned
around? No. There he was. The man floated face down and bobbled like a cork.
Well-toned arms stretched wide. A red silk shirt clung to his back, as
revealing as plastic wrap. A swell flung him against me, and I seized a thick
mat of white hair. My desperate yank flipped the body.

Heaven almighty. Jake Olsen.

Empty eyes told me I was too late. The man’s eyelids drooped
at half-mast as though he could no longer resist sleep. A thin rim of faded china
blue circled dilated pupils—black, lifeless holes. Disconcertingly the eyes had
pin-balled in opposite directions. It didn’t matter. Jake’s vision of this
world was gone.

With an arm tucked across his chest, I cradled his head to
keep his lips above water. Lifesaving 101. Though I hadn’t been a lifeguard for
thirty-plus years, it’s something you don’t forget.

Wasted effort. Jake wouldn’t be organizing any more cruises
or have a chance to introduce wife number four.

My scissor kicks and feeble one-armed sidestroke kept us
afloat. I pivoted to keep an eye on the Queen. A low growl escaped the engines.
How long would it take Ross to slow and make the seventy-five-ton vessel heel?

A lifeline ring shot across the waves and skipped over the
surface just out of reach. I kicked harder. Though I wore only thin slacks, a
blouse and that damnable apron, the waterlogged apparel felt like chain mail. A
desperate lunge brought the nautical ring within inches. Once my fingers
snagged the rope netting, I looped my free arm through the buoy.

Now I simply needed to hang on and prop up Jake’s head until
help arrived. The frantic crew lowered a lifeboat. The dinghy swayed several
feet above the lake’s surface before it plopped down with a theatrical splash.
After what seemed an hour, but was more likely two minutes, the lifeboat pulled
alongside.

“We’ll take him, Marley,” shouted Carlos, a carnival
roustabout Ross befriended years before.

“Are you okay?” he asked as he hoisted the body. “We’ll pull
you in next.”

“I’m fine.” My teeth clattered like castanets. I clung to
the gunnels while Carlos and another crewman checked Jake’s pulse and attempted
to revive him. No dice. Carlos shook his head, then grabbed me under the
armpits and hefted my body like a sack of potatoes.

Panting. I collapsed. As the rescuers rowed, I managed a
final look at Jake’s haunting visage before shifting my gaze to the idling
Queen. A knot of nattily attired partygoers crowded the lower railing, while a
parallel flock of wealthy gawkers elbowed each other for good balcony seats.
Cell phones bristled like antlers among the herd.

Who are they calling—their brokers?

Then the realization hit—they were using the phones as cameras.
I turned away. But not before I spotted my friend Darlene. Standing alone. Arms
crossed as she hugged herself.

My God. Her marriage had lasted one whole week. A sob caught
in my throat. I knew too well how it felt to lose a husband. At least, I’d had
sixteen years with Jeff.

I’m so sorry, Darlene.

As soon as the crew hoisted my soggy butt aboard the Queen,
May claimed jurisdiction.

“You’re a damned fool.” May shook her head as she tightened
the blanket around my quivering body. “Only an idiot would do a swan dive off
the Queen. What if you’d hit the side of the boat or a log? We’d have two
corpses instead of one. Damned fool.”

My seventy-nine-year-old aunt talked tough, but after
decades on the receiving end, I knew her fierce bark to be colorful bluff. The
tremble in her fingers and warble in her voice said fear for my safety, not
pique over my idiocy, prompted her latest tirade.

She loved me like a daughter. When Mom was alive, May
offered to swap one of her three sons for my sister or me. That was Irish
bluster. May Carr would do anything for her “boys”—now men creeping up on
Social Security eligibility.

May shepherded me to the wheelhouse, away from the morbid
circus surrounding Jake. I let my aunt fuss. Arguing took too much energy,
though I didn’t feel especially traumatized. Sitting around in wet clothes
seemed a cakewalk compared to all too many of my experiences in the Army.

Though I’d retired from the military, I still worked, sort
of. My part-time gig as a security officer let me travel when the spirit moved
me. This tenth day of June, the spirit—an impressive one in the form of Aunt
May—had moved me to Iowa and the haunts of my youth to help arrange a combo
birthday party/family reunion. May took the opportunity to observe that I’d had
ample time to recuperate from my tangle with Dear Island’s psycho killer and my
backside would spread to the size of Alaska, if I didn’t get off it and do
something.

When asked so sweetly, how could I refuse?

I glanced at my aunt. White hair as wispy as cotton candy
and deep crinkles around her blue eyes reminded me she’d turn eighty in two
weeks. That fact dismayed me as much as it amused her. A two-time veteran of
open-heart surgery, she’d outlived four siblings and her own longevity
expectations.

“Hell, people have tried to kiss me goodbye so often,
they’ve got chapped lips,” she quipped.

A cold bead of water meandered from my hairline down my
back. I used the towel May had commandeered to give my short hair a vigorous
scrub.

Jeez. My mind pattered about like an insomniac tap dancer.
Guess it balked at focusing on the present. Who wouldn’t want to block out Jake
Olsen’s walleyed death mask or Darlene’s sobs? Yet Jake’s death hadn’t brought
on the bone-rattling shakes I’d experienced two months before when I’d found a
friend dead in a Jacuzzi.

Two big differences between the corpses. It appeared the
Grim Reaper claimed Jake without a killer’s helping hand, and the tycoon was
almost a stranger. We’d shared one quick handshake at a gala event at the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum after Jake praised Ross as the nonprofit’s amiable leader.
I’d instantly liked the philanthropist for that.

Still the image of Darlene standing alone at the Queen’s
railing made me shudder. Once we reached port I’d ask how I could help. We
hadn’t spoken since our brief reunion at the start of the cruise. After
whooping with delight at seeing me, she’d whispered, “Some wedding reception.
These people are all Jake’s business cronies. You’re my only friend here.”

With a shake of my head, I tuned back into the conversations
swirling around me. Radio in hand, Ross alerted various authorities about the
accident. May pasted her cell phone to her ear and issued marching orders to
her daughter-in-law, Eunice.

“Find some dry clothes, too,” she suggested. “Marley looks
like a drowned squirrel. Maybe sweats from Ross’s locker. She’d never fit in
your clothes.”

Unfortunately, May was right. She called them like she saw
them.

My aunt toyed with a clip-on pearl earring as she talked.
“We need to keep the bulls separated from the cows. Let’s set up the museum
theater for Jake’s guests and try to corral the reporters in the museum proper
until we see what’s what.”

She paused, her forehead wrinkled in concentration. “Imagine
the authorities will need a space, too. Maybe the boardroom? Oh, better order
sandwiches from Yesterdays, and start some coffee.”

May stuffed her cell phone back in a pocketbook large enough
to double as a body bag and patted my hand as the Queen made stately progress
across a six-mile stretch of West Okoboji. High speed isn’t an option for a
double-decker tour boat ferrying more than a hundred passengers.

“Do you honestly expect a reporter stampede?” I asked. “The
local paper has what, a five-person staff?”

She speared me with a look. “You didn’t see the vultures
descend when that plane crashed over in Clear Lake with Buddy Holly, Ritchie
Valens and The Big Bopper aboard. I was visiting folks over there at the time.
Believe me, reporters will swarm out of the woodwork like termites. Jake’s
worth a billion.”

I choked. “Holy kamole.” I tried to watch my language around
May. “After I met the man at that museum benefit, Ross told me Jake was
wealthy. But he never mentioned Jake’s bank account boasted that many zeroes.”

Having set foot in Iowa twenty-four hours ago, I was way
behind on lake gossip.

“Jake founded Jolbiogen and made fifty million when he took
it public,” May said. “Just the beginning.”

I slipped off my wet socks and wrung them, creating a
miniature waterfall. “A billion dollars. Wow. I’d be hard-pressed to spend a
million.”

“Well, kid, I hear Jake’s family rolls up their sleeves to
help.”

My aunt often calls me “kid.” While it may not be the most
accurate handle for a Midwestern-bred baby boomer, May’s use of the moniker
makes me smile.

When Ross put down his radio, my aunt tapped him on the
shoulder. “D’you hear me talking with your bride? You need to radio Carlos.
Tell the sheriff, we’ll shepherd the passengers into the theater and attempt to
bottle the reporter vultures in the museum proper.”

“Already done,” Ross said. “I also told Sheriff Delaney the
boardroom was his. He wants to hold our passengers until he can get statements
from everyone.”

Beyond the wheelhouse window, Arnolds Park’s signature
roller coaster steadily grew taller. The amusement complex over a century old
provided a home to both the Maritime Museum and the Queen II, a replica of a
famed steamboat that plied the lake in the 1800s.

As Ross slid the Queen into her slip with studied grace, I
surveyed the reception committee gathered on the pier.

“There’s Gertie’s ride.” May pointed at a battered
four-wheel drive truck. “She’s parked beside the ambulance.”

I knew Gertie. The county medical examiner played bridge
every Thursday with my aunt. When May was Dickinson County Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Gertie was a new hire, my aunt took the young nurse under
her wing. Later, May encouraged her protégé to return to medical school. The
addition of “Doctor” to Gertie Fuerst’s name hadn’t altered their friendship.

May chuckled at the assembly of official vehicles parked
catawampus along the pier. “It’ll be interesting to see who wins this pissing
contest. My bet’s on Sheriff Delaney. He’s that string bean who looks like he
withered on the vine. Not a man to underestimate.”

A rangy six-footer stood beside an SUV with Dickinson County
Sheriff emblazoned on the side. I watched as the sheriff shook a finger in the
face of a state trooper who’d just climbed off his motorcycle. In the
background, a cop leaned against a City of Arnolds Park cruiser. He’d
apparently conceded jurisdiction and was content to observe the fuss.

“We don’t get much excitement,” May said. “Guess that
trooper figured to get his mug on TV by responding to the death of a
celebrity.”

“What do you suppose killed Jake?” I asked. “A heart
attack?”

“Doubt it was a heart attack.” Having completed his docking
duties, Ross joined in the speculation. “At our museum board meeting last week,
Jake told me he’d just had a physical—EKG, cardiac scoring, the works. Passed
with flying colors.”

He turned toward May. “Yes, Mom, I know—some doctors don’t
know a stethoscope from an enema tube.” Ross and I grew up listening to Nurse
May grumble about know-it-all interns with book learning but no horse sense. In
other words, idiots who paid nurses no heed.

BOOK: Linda Lovely - Marley Clark 02 - No Wake Zone
9.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
Blame it on Cupid by Jennifer Greene
Sun Kissed by Joann Ross
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger