A CORPSE FOR COZUMEL
“If you like your reading vacations to include hot sexy men along with some thrilling suspense this is a book you should check out. Hold on to your hat and keep looking over your shoulder. You won’t guess who the killer is until it’s too late.” —nightowlromance
“Adie is all set for a much needed vacation in Cozumel, but two murders and a best friend, Marg, who is a prime suspect, take relaxation out of the picture. In A Corpse for Cozumel, an Adie Sturm Mystery by Anastasia Amor, intrigue, mystery and murder follow Adie to the beautiful Mexican resort area where she has to find the killer or become a victim herself. With several attempts on her own life, Adie goes into hiding with a handsome former love interest she has trouble resisting. To get information about shady money deals that may have led to the two murders, she plays with fire with another wealthy, sexy man who wants more from Adie than she is ready to give. In the meantime, Adie shares clues and receives updates from a reporter and a police detective back in her home town near Toronto … only to discover that Marg may have more to do with the crimes than anyone suspected. Will the pieces fit together in time to save her own life or will the killer succeed in eliminating the threat that Adie poses?
Detailed local color and flavor combine with intense mystery and intrigue as well as steamy romance in A Corpse for Cozumel, an Adie Sturm Mystery by Anastasia Amor. Excellent descriptions, well-developed characters, and great action keep you right in the story, turning page after page to see what happens next. Sexual tension is high as Adie yearns to experience love but actual intimacy is limited. Adie Sturm is a wonderful character to help you enjoy another world from the comfort of your own home or beach chair. Gripping story, hot characters, realistic dialogue and fantastic action!” — Melinda Hills /Readers’ Favorite
4 Stars!!! “Our heroine, Adie Sturm, accidentally finds herself in the middle of a double murder mystery. After her best friend, Marg Beige, becomes the prime suspect, Adie is determined to prove her friend’s innocence at any cost. The clues and Marg lead Adie to Cozumel, Mexico where she just happens to be headed for a “working” vacation.
While in Cozumel, Adie runs into Wolf Du Lac, a romantic blast from the past. Wolf has a knack for arriving in the knick of time to save Adie. Not to mention a knack for turning up the heat. Wolf volunteers to help Adie and Marg solve this mystery, but is he really just trying to get in Adie’s bed?
Of course, no foreign adventure could be complete without a sexy, potentially villainous, exotic heartthrob. Santiago “Diego” Alvarez is the reason Marg came to Cozumel and may be behind the attacks on Adie and Marg. When they first meet, Diego has no idea that Adie is connected to Marg. All he knows is that he’s instantly smitten with her. Can Adie use this attraction to determine if he is behind all of Marg’s troubles?
If you like a good whodunit that keeps you guessing, grab a glass of wine and put on your detective’s hat, because Anastasia Amor’s A Corpse for Cozumel is the book for you. “—Yolanda Twolipsreviews
4 Stars! “… I had no idea who the murderer was until the end of the story and in my opinion that is a good suspense. Ms. Amor surprised me with her expanse of detail of the locations and the plot, creating a vivid world for all who read her work. —Contessica Enchantingreviews
Smart, sexy tour guide Adie Sturm packs a hard kick. With her best friend ‘suspect numero uno’ Adie takes on hired killers as she tracks a double murder to Cozumel. SEDUCTION… GREED… MURDER…in steamy-Cozumel. The dots connect straight to billionaire Diego Alvarez. When Adie becomes the killer’s target she enlists Wolf Du Lac, a man like chocolate—creamy-rich and sinfully delicious. His expertise on the computer and in the bedroom is one thing, but she follows her own instincts when it comes to devastatingly handsome Diego. What she’s not prepared for is the intricate web of seduction he spins for her. Adie Sturm is brutally tested as she uncovers the truth. The Caymans, Mayan ruins and devious deals. Delicious men want a piece of this chocoholic. Adie Sturm, a martial artist with moxy fights for her life. Will she find love or will the killer find her first?
#1 book in the five book series.
Rancid sweat and stale cigarette smoke. Darkness. I wasn’t alone.
A few minutes ago, a rosy-hued sky reflected on shimmering Caribbean waters. Now the hotel drapes were shut. I stared into the blackness. A flash of steel. Wrapping my wet towel around my hand, I whipped it at my target and heard the satisfying clatter of a knife, followed by a guttural curse. I screamed, kicked him and ran, but he didn’t want to let me off easy. He came at me from behind, his arm tightening around my throat. I was losing consciousness, but at the last minute I thrust my hand out behind me over my shoulder, making contact with something wet and slippery. Jerking back in pain, he withdrew but was pumped and wouldn’t be stopped. He was enormous and wanted me dead.
This was not my idea of a fun vacation. Instead of a romantic evening out, I was fighting a losing battle for my life.
A couple days back…I was home resting on the couch, eyes closed, day-dreaming. A white powdery beach, a frothy strawberry daiquiri and a cool guy beside me—buff and tanned with incredibly sexy eyes. Magichands soothe my skin, massaging in slippery suntan oil, sending pleasurable tingles down my body until I’m aching for more.
Escape. That’s what I needed. My Christmas reality was too much for anyone to handle, what with my overbearing brother, his tactless wife, not to mention snotty little Tasha. When the phone rang, I let it. I felt comfortably relaxed, my cat curled on my lap. I had another sip of red wine, a soft-in-the mouth shiraz, and ignored the noise. Let the answering machine deal with it.
My fantasy man slowly brushes my hair aside, his fingers lightly stroking my neck before he kisses my throat, capturing my skin with his lips. His tongue trails to my shoulder and flicks over to the rise of my breast—silken and hot, feathering downwards to the flimsy fabric of my bikini. I thread my fingers through thick clean hair, smelling of soap and balmy ocean breeze. My hands glide over his broad shoulders to his muscular arms. He’s firm and powerful, yet he’s all natural, untamed and wild. The intense passion in his eyes fills me with longing. He wants me as much as I want him.
The phone trilled sharply. Closing my eyes, I drifted away again.
He lowers my strap to caress my breast, tracing the contours of my nipple with his tongue. Like a bird flying too close to the sun his lips sear my skin with their heat. Lightly his hand slides along my thigh and hesitates before teasing me with his lingering touch. My hips move in response—every nerve ending sparks, igniting into flames.
“Adie, pick up—hear me? Where’s that slut? Bitch owes me an f’n grand.” His voice grated in my ears. “Tell her to pay up or she’ll be dog meat by the time I get through with her. Adie! Where is she?” He growled, “ Friggin’ bitches—” The tape cut him off.
Loser! If Boris was here, I would have smacked him good. Better yet, a whack to the groin would have given him something to think about.
When the phone rang again, I was sure it was Boris. He can’t just let off like a normal person, maybe because he wasn’t one. As leave the message after the tone, came on, I heard a beep and Marg’s quiet voice.
Pushing my furry friend aside, I rushed over to the phone. “Hello, Marg. Sorry, didn’t hear what you were saying.”
“Adie,” Marg murmured, “it’s Libby—” she coughed and muttered haltingly, “she’s skippin’ school, smokin’ and there’s a boy.”
Libby the thirteen-year old computer geek?
“And my mom’s senility is worse.” Marg’s voice wavered as if she was losing her grip on the phone.
“Marg?” I waited, but she didn’t say anything more. Could she be ill? “Marg? Are you there?”
“She’s practically given away our cottage, and my new supervisor—” Marg yawned, before she went on, “—is a nurse. My boss says Uma doesn’t have to sign in like us. She comes and goes whenever she wants.”
“Sleeping with her, is he?”
“For sure, someone is,” she murmured faintly. “That woman owns a Mercedes and a house with a pool.”
Her voice was so odd, I thought. Was she on something? No-oo. Marg was definitely not a pot-head. She wouldn’t even recognize the smell. With the phone between my head and shoulder, I made my way over to the counter and switched on the kettle. When the phone slipped, I lost some of the drift before I placed it up to my ear again.
“…swore at me, and called me a ho,” Marg whispered. Was it formerly sweet teenage Libby or the nurse-slut-supervisor she was talking about? Marg continued distractedly, “Boris came by to pick her up when I wasn’t here, took all her things, the furniture, and left me a nasty letter from his lawyer.”
Whoa! This blew me away. Boris hadn’t taken an interest in Libby in years and now he wanted her to live with him? A teenager with hormone problems? I knew he was a nutcase but this was downright bizarre. “Why?”
“Three thousand-a-month support payment. Two thousand I now have to scrounge up somehow.”
“Marg, Boris phoned. You need to be careful. He’s looking for you.”
“Never mind that noodle-brain. I have a plan, Adie. There’s this deal I’m handling for my patient. He’s paying me ten thousand dollars to pick up a check but I have to…” I heard the doorbell ring. She mumbled, “We’re making the final arrangements. Ah, got to go, Adie.”
“I’m coming over,” I said quickly, but there was silence from Marg’s end. Her phone clanged as if the receiver had been dropped abruptly. I could hear distant voices, a man and a woman’s. Boris. It had to be him. I needed to get there fast!
Shrugging on a coat, I grabbed my purse on the way out. Large snowflakes whirled about in the cold breeze as I got into my car. Turning on my windshield wipers, I backed out of my driveway and drove through the snow-covered streets of Kitchener, ABS brakes flipping on and off, my car hitting ice patches. At Ottawa Street South, I veered left and headed out of town to Marg’s.
The evening sky was dark with angry gray clouds. The wind whipped snow on my windshield, the visibility getting worse as I drove further out of the city, forcing me to switch on the fog lights. Snowflakes danced wickedly in the yellow beams of my lights. My eyes grew heavy from the hypnotic rhythm of a million white specks lightly tapping on my windshield. I clutched the steering wheel tightly, watching the car ahead of me lose traction, swerving unsteadily as it turned onto an intersecting farm road.
Boris losing control, feeling resentful that Marg left him, could only mean that she could be in danger. And she was strangely out of it. What was wrong with her?
The upcoming street lights and a white sign that read Mannheim warned me to let off on the speed and slow down before entering Schulman Road, the major street in the subdivision. Single-dwelling brick houses stood close together, on both sides of the road. I headed down a narrow street bordered by tall pines, past houses lit up with strings of colored lights. Arriving at Marg’s modest townhouse, I eased into her driveway and parked behind her rusty grey Corolla. Hers was one of many houses in beige brick with russet trim—one monotonous row, each house resembling the last, varying only by the type of glowing Santa and reindeer decorations on the snow-covered properties. The street was crowded with cars parked in the road, a modern version of Jingle Bells blasting loudly from a nearby house. A party well underway. Shutting the door of my VW sparked off a frenzy of barking from the neighbor’s backyard—pit bulls behind a wire fence.
In my high-heeled boots, I kept contact with the sidewalk, sliding rather than walking to Marg’s door. I pressed the ringer. Oddly, Marg’s bad tempered Doberman, Demo, was quiet. I listened. Ringing it again, I looked around as I waited to hear some activity from within. The neighbors on either side weren’t home, or at least their driveways were empty. Should I leave? She’d been there twenty minutes ago with a man, but now she didn’t hear the bell or couldn’t come to the door.
I tried the handle. The knob turned. Marg would be the last one to leave a door unlocked and chance a break-in. But she’d had quite a shock—her daughter taken by the crazy ex, a mother whose elevator didn’t reach the top floor, and a slut boss who’d slept her way to the executive suite. I stood there, hesitant to go in.
But what if she was in trouble? I pushed the door open, holding my purse as a shield in case Demo bounded out. On tiptoes I worked my way over the tiles listening for the clicking of dog toenails but heard nothing.
“Marg?” I called out climbing the stairs. My only reply was the hum of the fridge and the dripping tap in the nearby bathroom. Things didn’t seem right. When the hairs on the back of my neck stood up I retreated outdoors to my VW. I knew better than to ignore my instincts.
With my purse planted on the passenger seat, I unzipped my karate bag and pulled out a dragon-embellished broomstick two feet long. A Filipino weapon—an escrima. It packed a wallop. Demo had large teeth and an ugly disposition, and then, of course, there was Boris.
Inside there was no sign of Marg. From next door the growling grew irritatingly loud. I glanced over to the tiny living room. Near the kitchen, a floral peach couch and wing chair was grouped with a square pine table. A hammer along with a framed print of a horse lay on the table.
A door opened onto a miniscule deck with steps down to the back of the property. Frenzied frantic barking brought me to the west window. Where a low fence separated Marg’s place from the pit bulls, a leafless oak allowed me to see into the neighbor’s yard. There was a different sort of Christmas bash going on out there. A porch light illuminated shadowy figures of black beasts grappling and snarling over a lumpy blanket, partially buried in powdery snow.
Imagine coming home after a stressful day to that noise? I thanked my lucky stars my neighbor, a retired dentist, had indoor cats. And I never saw the weirdo plumber guy with the ferret.
Rounding the corner, I looked around for anything to give me a clue as to where she was. The kitchen was immaculate. This was no surprise. A stove was a mystery to Marg. She’s a salad-type woman. Not much mess that way, either, unless she spills the mayonnaise.
A note lay on the kitchen table.
Marg, I took Tia to Darlene’s. Demo is at the kennel. Have a great trip! Jeannette.
My eyes lit on a small pad on her kitchen counter next to the phone. I studied it and seeing some indentations in the pad, tore the top sheet off, folded it, and stuck it in my jean pocket. Picking up my escrima again, I prepared to search the rest of the house.
“Marg!” I yelled at the top of my voice, in case she was asleep. I wasn’t about to scare her in the state she was in. Worried, I crept slowly up the carpeted stairs to her bedroom.
At her closed door, I listened, my ear to the wood. It was disquietingly still in the condo. Strangely, the pit bulls had stopped barking. My shoulders tightened. Perspiration dampened my armpits.
“Pull yourself together,” my Logical Voice ordered. “Nothing’s wrong. It’s your imagination. She’s probably doing some last minute shopping.”
My Emotional Voice broke in. “Yup, for the trip she never mentioned. Some gff!”
I shut down my overactive brain and knocked. Not hearing any sounds from inside, I turned the knob slowly, shoving the door open with my foot. The hinges creaked. I froze.
The single bed was rumpled, the floral duvet draped off the bed, a ruffled pillow lay on the hardwood, and the closet door was ajar. A wooly gray sweater had been haphazardly thrown on a rocking chair near the window. This wasn’t like Marg. She was obsessively neat—OCD if ever anyone was.
Thinking that Boris could be somewhere in the house, I clutched my escrima tighter and crept to the next bedroom. Libby’s door was wide open—void of all teenage life. The furniture was gone. A Beyonce poster ripped on the bottom end, hung forlornly on the wall. One dingy white sports sock was buried in the corner with dust balls and cat fur. Scrapes and gouges on shiny yellow laminate. Someone had dragged heavy furniture across the floor with a don’t-give-a-damn attitude.
The screech of sirens. One and then a second, further away. They were getting louder by the time I raced down the stairs to the front entrance window. An ambulance, lights flashing, was pulling up behind a parked pickup truck at the pit bull residence. Another demanding siren wailed loudly—a white police car with rotating red lights approached from the far end of the street. Suburbanites gaped out their windows. Partygoers plodded through the snow up the street, some jacketless, to see what the commotion was all about.
“Get the hell out of here!” my Logical Voice screamed. “Something big is happening. You don’t want any part of this.”
Hurriedly, I zipped up my jacket, clicked the door shut behind me, and paused momentarily to watch the crowd gathering. A gust of winter wind swept grainy snow pellets into my eyes. Brushing the icy grit off my face, I focused on a guy in a brown wool coat, standing apart from the chattering neighbors, huddled behind the ambulance. He eyed me curiously as I joined the throng in their sweaters, ski jackets and sneakers. In my black leather jacket and high-heeled boots, I stood out like a sore thumb. I needed to go before someone noticed and pointed a finger at me.
An un-marked white Ford, lights flashing, manoeuvred its way up to the pit bull house and parked. Two men in winter coats got out—one trim and dark, the other bear-like and tall. They seemed to know what they were doing, heading straight to the front door. Halfway up the sidewalk, the man in brown intercepted them, pulled out his notebook, and struck up a conversation with the big guy. Brushing past them, the slim man strode into the house without bothering to ring the doorbell.
The ham-faced blonde beside me started babbling, hands gesturing wildly to a bald beanpole. “I tell you, it’s Karl! He should’ve taken it easy after bein’ sick like that!”
“No way, Dagmar!” Baldy glared in my direction. “It’s a robbery. There’ve been enough cars comin’ and goin’ around here. People waitin’ to rip us off. Karl’s dogs…” His attention riveted on the police officer coming out of the house.
I had a sick feeling about this. Time to hit the road. I was about to when I saw the man in the brown coat sidling up to the pit bull house, scribbling away in his notebook. He stared into the neighbor’s window until a cop came over and told him to leave. He traipsed over to Marg’s property and leaning against the siding, went back to the note taking.
Reporter was written all over him. Edging through a couple of women, I crept close enough to peer over his shoulder. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed me. Abruptly he shut his notepad and swung around.
Slick, maybe too slick. He reminded me of the smarmy TV show investigator with the dark gelled hair and mustache. He smirked, his eyes crinkling at the corners in a practiced manner. “Hey, honey! You were next door. See what happened?”
I swiveled about and started towards my car without replying.
Slick grabbed my arm. His eyes shot over to my VW parked behind Marg’s Corolla. “Got time for a coffee? I’m buyin’.”
“No, thanks.” Shaking his hand off, I headed to the driveway.
“Lemme introduce myself,” he said smoothly, at my heels. “Bernie Scharf, Kitchener Today.” How about it—can we talk?” He rubbed his frost-nipped hands together, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet, his attention wandering to the cops. “I hafta finish up but let’s say thirty minutes?”
A uniformed officer shouted out to the crowd.“Let’s go, folks! It’s all over—go home!”
Thick snow landed on my hair and a chilly wind froze the exposed skin on my cheek. What was going on and where was Marg? Slick must know something. “Okay, Whale & Ale. You know it?”
“On Victoria Street. ” He grinned gleefully, despite the snow flicking into his eyes.
I strode over to my car, swung the door open and climbed in. Checking my rear-view mirror, I backed out the driveway, barely missing Baldy with the attitude.
Home—at last. The shepherd’s pie had hit the spot but Slick was a little much to stomach. It was trivia night at the Whale & Ale and that was what I got from the big hot-shot reporter. I kicked off my boots and turned on the lights. I felt depressed. Maybe it was winter blues but more likely Marg and the mess she was in.
In the pub, I’d watched Slick gobble down mouthful after mouthful of delectable chocolate—an eruption of chocolate curls in cream, studded with nuts over a chocolate base. Sharing wasn’t Slick’s thing. Can’t say I wanted anything from his spoon, either. There was no denying a sacrifice was involved for a bikini trim body. Consuming something that tantalizing in front of a pleasure-addicted chocoholic is a recipe for disaster—the image burned into my brain.
Thirty minutes later, I had a melt-down. I needed Mayan Magic—now! To me nothing was better, except maybe some afternoon delight. I sighed. A warm tropical beach with a sensuous man with needs as powerful as my own, whose touch drove me insane with desire. Chocolate would give me that feeling.
Knowing the powerful pull of my addiction, I had the foresight to order a chocolate eruption to go. Five seconds in the microwave and it was perfection. An orgasmic feast. My tongue caressed it, savoring the smooth texture, letting it dissolve slowly in my mouth. Pure bliss. I closed my eyes a moment and made myself a promise. I would find that man in Cozumel.
I mulled over my meeting with Slick. In the Whale & Ale, he finally gave me the goods. One dead white male—Tim Reich. On my computer I Googled Reich. University of Waterloo professor appeared, with a description of various research papers published.
I had this visual—snarling dogs gnawing on a lumpy coat, lying in the snow. Slick was convinced Marg knew the guy. He wanted me to spill the beans. Little did he know that I didn’t have any beans to spill, or let’s say my beans were limited to that little piece of paper I’d picked up at Marg’s.
From my jacket pocket I took out it out and laid it flat on my kitchen table. The information was guess work until I lightly scribbled over with a pencil. The words popped out.
Dr. Reich, UW-ex 2134-paranoid personality? Contact: Alvarez: Royal Investments, Cozumel flights: 1-900-555-9359, North Jet. Caravan Tours.
Was Marg in Cozumel? I thought back to the note I’d found on the table. Darlene was my cat sitter. On my cell, I scrolled through my contacts and pressed her number. No answer.
Before I got into bed, I tried Marg’s land line. It rang and rang. I let it, feeling the emptiness of the house, deserted by Marg and Libby. And a dead man next door—Reich. A chill ran down my body.
Where was Marg? Boris couldn’t have done something to her, could he? I remembered his fun party personality. True, he could be nasty, but a killer? Marg had to be all right. She was in Cozumel, listening to the rush of the surf, a warm salty breeze softly tousling her hair.
In bed, I pulled the covers up closer, covering my shivering shoulders, trying to focus on reading. When the words finally blurred, I dropped my book and fell into a restless sleep—ghostly images of pit bulls darting out at me.