SINFUL AND DEAD: Adie Sturm Mystery #7

A brutal murder. Heart pounding thrilling action! From the first riveting page Amor pulls you in as martial artist Adie hunts down the killer in this danger-filled mystery. Gripping suspense in an exhilarating ride as smart sexy Adie Sturm returns to steamy Cozumel. Strong characters and action-packed twists make for an addictive read. Sexual tension rises as sinfully delicious men, like chocolate, vie for Adie. Adie investigates a prostitution ring, Mafia threats and explosions. Someone is gunning for her! Dangerous suspects, a crocodile ridden cenote, and billionaire debts are hazardous for a detective eager to disregard police warnings and catch the murderers herself. But look out spunky girl—someone wants you dead!

Chapter 1-2

Her body undulated rhythmically to the band’s sensuous salsa pulse. His long fingers slid smoothly over her turquoise silk dress caressing her abundant hips as he discreetly made his way down over her curves. He was handsome—an oval face, a straight nose and dark intense eyes.  He was blessed with a symmetrical profile. Wavy hair framed a sculpted face; a short beard covered his chin and cheeks, enhancing his look. His tall fit body enticed the women around him dancing to check him out while his partner focused a steamy gaze on him. The blond’s young male salsa partner smiled back before he turned away to catch the eye of a pretty girl in the crowd. The woman stopped swaying a moment waiting for his attention to revert back to her. After a long knowing gaze at the blond, he placed his hands back on her hips and swayed to the beat. I stared at the couple. I couldn’t tell how serious they were but it definitely meant something to the blond. She turned slightly towards me and I saw the downward play of her lips as our eyes swept the table. She was on the lookout for marauding females and I was a possible Big White.
To be honest I didn’t feel the attraction she did. I had Wolf. He was a ten plus on the scale. Diego was just as alluring. It was possible Diego liked me just as much or more so. He had told me so time after time. It wasn’t a game for me to keep a fish on the hook—someone as desirable as Diego.
I had to put a stop to that. It wasn’t fair to both of us. I had to be decisive and choose but for now, I would enjoy being at “the Peso” and not choosing. My fingers tapped along with the beat of the song. It was catchy and familiar. I’d heard it before in Cuba on my tour. The band was popular judging from the crowd dancing enthusiastically. Covid didn’t stop these people from having a good time. It seemed like nothing ever would. We were on the west coast on a Friday night at a hot spot called “The Peso”. This island was Cozumel. In the Mayan language it meant “Island of Swallows”. Some would call it small with its dimensions thirty miles long and ten miles wide. It was easy to navigate since a round road connected west and east coasts as well as a transversal road running across the island. In my dreams I saw the north coast’s unoccupied white sandy beaches. Driving there was not covered by insurance companies unless the drivers were on an ATV or taking a Jeep tour. The roads were coral making for an extremely rough bumpy ride. On an ATV tour, I found staying on the road was virtually impossible. Repeatedly, I drove into bushes. Did I say how narrow it was?
A group of teen tourists were crazy driving south in Jeeps when we attempted to pass them going north. There had been no room for us so we parked in a bush until they went screaming by elatedly as only teens can do, the kids drunk as skunks. I sighed. Road bullies. They were everywhere. I can only say if Jeeps and ATVs were hard to drive, the best advice I can give you is that moped accidents were far worse. It’s not only driving the vehicle it’s the other reckless tourists usually distracted or drunk who made for bad accidents and deaths. I like to have fun as much as the next person but I want to make sure I stay alive. The big attraction of Cozumel was the diving. The second biggest coral reef in the world drew in scuba divers, snorkelers, fishing boats and even surfers here. All of this happened on the west coast. The east coast was called the “Wild Side” because of its unpredictable currents and tremendous waves; although there were times it was possible to enter the water without the danger of being swept out to sea. The only place I could think of without a current was Chen Rio. Here the coast was shallow and sheltered by a coral reef. People enjoyed wading in the clear water searching for coral shells. There was a large population of expats from the USA, Canada and Germany living on the island. Many of them were environmentalists, doing their bit to save the turtles and help abandoned pets wandering the streets. Carmilita nudged my arm jerking me out of my reverie. “See that blond dancing?” She smirked. “That woman is married to my cousin, Larry. The fit guy is her boytoy.” I stared again at the couple. I detected a note of jealousy in Carmilita’s words. Did she know the man? “You’ve met them?” “Sí, I don’t know her well but I’ve seen her. Him, ay Caramba, I picked him up at Hemingway’s once. You know that cool place where we sat outside looking at the cruise ship at sunset—they make those fantastic margaritas? There was a great local band playing.” She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes as if to remember more than the margaritas. Carmilita had been married once and engaged but had plenty of men during and in between. She tended to drink too much and stopped thinking clearly after a potent cocktail. She would get in any exciting man’s bed. “Girlfriend?” “Oh, yes, Hemingway’s. It was awesome!” I glanced back at the salsa dancers. The blond shimmied up to the skillful slim-hipped dancer trying to keep him focused on her. She turned slightly towards me. I saw her scowl when she noticed Carmilita but she kept on moving to the beat of the music. The band was popular judging from the crowd dancing enthusiastically. The mask mandate was in effect but here people were up close and personal and dangerously maskless. Carmilita pointed with her chin. “See the guy?” He was younger—way younger. “Such a hottie, right? It’s common to see women of a certain age with boytoys.” She tossed away a strand of hair holding her head high. “Money has power.” “I suppose.” “Money exchanged for youth—that’s the tradeoff.” I lifted an eyebrow. “Looks don’t matter to the boytoy?” “It’s a bonus if she’s halfway decent.” “In Cozumel I’ve seen older men with young girls quite a lot. The girls are always attractive.” I thought back to the Latinas escorted by stooped gray-haired guys or cranky pot-bellied men but on the other hand I remembered seeing a very tall muscular decent dude with a much younger pretty petite Latina. Men and women here had money to throw away. It’s was an ego trip for them. Who knew if they were able to have sex anymore? The girl provides for his needs because he pays for her clothes, food, entertainment, jewelry and maybe offers extra for the girl’s family or money to pay for college. The same applied to the older woman and her younger man. Carmilita straightened the strap on her green dress as she mused. “When an old guy with a young señorita hooks up, he usually does next to nothing to make himself attractive, although some older hombres like to get their abs done and improve their features. I’ve noticed plastic surgery is being replaced by fillers. So many get Botox starting at age twenty-five around here.” “Is it the women who get work done?” “It’s a lot more common for women. Mostly they get fillers but some get plastic surgery and augmentation of the,” Carmilita motioned to her breasts in a scoop motion, “tatas. They don’t usually go full Hollywood with butt implants unless the woman is young and wants a rich husband.” “What about the blond’s husband?” She frowned. “Larry? He’s too involved with the business and of course himself. He’s not concerned about how he looks. Larry could do with work—a nose job, lip and chin augmentation, plus tightening for the Beagle dog hanging skin on his neck and jaw line—or maybe even plastic surgery.” She ran two fingers down her beautiful face causing parallel lines. “He looks sad.” “You know Larry?” “Not well. My cousin’s gross. The man has bad breath.” She frowned. “My brother dislikes him but not for the same reasons I do. He is suing him for ownership of the pharmaceutical company—Boli Pharma.” She shook her long locks. “I shouldn’t say anymore.” “Larry is related to your mother?” “No. Larry is from papa’s side. He’s a Bolivar. He shortened his name to Boli. He is Larry Boli of Imports and Exports but mostly his assets are in pharmaceuticals. He’s from Hamilton—Canada. Ever heard of him?” I shook my head. “I haven’t. I only live an hour away from Hamilton—I should have. It’s my neck of the woods for sure although Kitchener is the working-class part of Waterloo Region so I doubt if he knows any lowly tour guides living there, especially me. I gather he’s swimming in money?” “Umm, true. If each of my fingers and toes was a zero, it wouldn’t match his financial worth.” So, Larry Boli was just as wealthy as Diego. Born into money. “And the wife?” “I don’t know if she comes from money. They’ve been married forever. Honey and Larry.” Carmelita stared at Honey. “She’s an okay person, although Diego doesn’t like either of them.” “What do you know of Honey?” “She’s fickle when it comes to men. In Diego’s words a puta.” A slut? Carmilita knew how to flirt and did her share of sleeping around but she was more of a free spirit. She didn’t need a man’s wallet but it was true she had a wandering eye. I didn’t disapprove. Carmilita stayed true to herself—marched to her own drummer. Carmilita’s family was part of the island’s elite. Her family owned more than half of the island. I met her on the yacht belonging to her brother Santiago Francisco Bolivar Alvarez, of Bolivar Imports and Exports as well as Reality Bolivar. He liked me to call him Diego. He was a lawyer, graduated with honors from Oxford. When we met, we connected instantly, even though I had doubts about his honesty. Still, he interested me. He’d asked me to marry him but I decided to turn him down mainly because I trusted Wolf Du Lac more. Carmilita nudged me. “I’m a normal woman with needs. And if the guy is no good in the sack, I have no use for him. I can’t waste my time. And another thing, I don’t need a man’s money. I have a job.” “And talent.” I pointed my forefinger in the air. “You are a gifted designer.” I might have added something about the huge amount of family money she had at her disposal which had made her path easy but Carmilita was sensitive about that. Had she been a regular person, running a design house may not have been an attainable goal no matter how much talent she had. “And don’t forget I was a successful model before I started designing. I like having a man but I sure don’t need one.” It was true. She was raking it in with her designs but again it might have been a plan gone wrong if she was a regular Jane off the streets. Money buys attention. Carmilita smiled. “Ok, you’re right. Don’t say it. I have made a fool of myself more than once over a no-good man.” She made a wide-open gesture with both hands and sighed. “I need an exciting male like your Wolf.” Carmilita smirked. “He’s as delicious as a chocolate truffle. If you ever get tired of him, send him to me.” I stroked my lip with my forefinger, thinking about the man and his magnetism—like creamy sinful chocolate. I longed for his touch. When his lips caressed my neck, his hands would slide down my body lighting a fire in my core and I would melt in a puddle of desire. I stared at Carmilita and smiled dangerously. My Hormone Voice screamed, “No, way, Carmilita! Wolf is mine—all mine."
It was a spectacular evening, red lights reflected from the azure waters filtering through the cerulean sky filled with shifting fluffy white clouds like floating cotton balls edged with pink. A perfect sunset only seen in Cozumel. The west wing of the mansion was constructed to look like a lighthouse. It overlooked the shimmering Caribbean. In the distance the lights of Playa del Carmen sparkled like the diamonds on her ring finger. Honey’s outfit was a lacy red number with underwire that kept her breasts high and exposed. Jorge would love it. Honey couldn’t wait for her lover to enjoy the evening with her, hopefully pleasuring her in the massive king bed. Where was that handsome devil? She smiled lustfully as she imagined his fit body against hers. She thought Jorge would have texted her by now but she hadn’t heard anything from him. Surely, he didn’t expect her to go to his little hovel in the town? It wasn’t more than a few tiny dark rooms in a grubby area of San Miguel. Jorge rarely ate so there was no food or even a stove in his apartment. That suited him nicely as he wanted to maintain his six pack and dine in restaurants. A text buzzed. She snatched it up frantically hoping it was from her lover. She read the message. Sorry. Can’t come xx. “Shoot!” Honey tossed her phone fitfully on the bed. She had dressed or should she say undressed for nothing. A moment later another text came in. I’m here. Of course, it was from Larry. Freaking loser wouldn’t bother to say when he’d be here exactly. She was to drop everything she was doing to greet her husband home from his Houston business trip. No doubt he’d stop at the Moray Eel Bar for a quick drink and chat with Mike, the owner. How selfish! Larry had the vacation while she stayed on the island as usual. Sometimes, she wished she could divorce the dick. He cared nothing for her anyway. Larry might not care about her affairs but he would not be pleased if he caught her in flagrante delicto, not that it was likely to happen now. Luckily, Jorge knew enough to always text her first. Hopefully, this didn’t mean he was out with another woman. Blood rushed to her cheeks thinking about it. Honey was so angry with the way this evening had turned out. Forget this frigging sunset! Honey hurried to the far end of the bedroom where she saw some of Jorge’s clothes. This would not do. She decided to bag them and store them in a cupboard downstairs, locking them away—all evidence of her affair gone! In her fashionable strappy Versace stilettos, she sauntered down the three flights of stairs carrying Jorge’s thong and socks he had left behind after rushing off. They fit nicely in the small tote she carried. There were several flights of stairs before she was down on the lowest level. She opened a cupboard to insert Jorge’s things in the heavy oak Breakwater Bay credenza outfitted with an eighty-five-inch Sony Bravia television. On either side there were drawers from ceiling to floor. Larry rarely looked in these cupboards. Jorge could have a large screen television too if he performed well but she would make him work for it. Honey knew how to excite Jorge. This sexy red lace outfit, underwire bra built in to make the most of her breast augmentation was cut high on her legs to make them look longer. It would do the trick. Too bad that it didn’t hide the underarm tricep flaps that came from avoiding a workout. Before she closed the drawer, she tossed her cell phone in under some lingerie she held for special occasions. It wouldn’t do for Larry to see texts from her boytoy. She would delete them later. Larry was a fool. He couldn’t see what was before his eyes. She had her facelift when he was in Dallas on business the last time and all he said when he returned was that she looked rested. He was blind to everything she did to improve her looks. What a huge mistake he was. On the lowest level the large room was centered around an L-shaped gray couch. On top of a glazed copper coffee table a fruit bowl sat loaded with mangos and bananas. Against the white walls stood a wine refrigerator and a regular fridge loaded with beer. There was also a microwave to heat up snacks. It was a cozy retreat. Perfect for her and a lover. Too bad it would be just her and Larry. Honey slouched down on the leather couch staring at the statue on the coffee table. She had commissioned a local artist to replicate her and Larry holding each other and smiling. They looked great. She laughed at the irony of it all. Larry was an ugly fat man who cared only for poker and craps, not her. From above she heard footsteps on the landing. It could be the realtor stopping by. The man had said he just wanted to check out the kitchen again for his client. Still, Honey tossed on the matching wrap just in case he wandered downstairs. The realtor was taking his time. She wondered if he wanted to talk and was looking for her. She left the door unlocked for the various agents to access the premises because Larry wanted to sell it in a hurry. Honey opened a bottle of Chateau de Neuf champagne and poured herself a full glass. She took a long sip and savored the flavors—sweet yet powerful. It drove her nuts to think of Larry having a good time in Texas while she stayed here. Sometimes she hated him. He had no understanding of her needs because he had no excitement for sex any more. The man’s only pleasure was gambling. She didn’t want a divorce. To heck with that. That would mean losing out on the perks of being a billionaire’s wife. Honey loved spending money on designer clothes, shoes, pricey restaurants and of course, Jorge. Honey heard footsteps above her—heavy feet of a man with a significant mass. It must be Larry. He had put on weight lately. He was two hundred and fifty pounds with a substantial paunch. Larry, the old coot, insisted on selling this beautiful home. He was eager to get rid of her favorite dream house.  It was prime property, located next to the ocean and had a magnificent view. That’s what she loved and the goof wanted to sell it? It aggravated her to no end. “Hello? Is that you, Larry?” Honey heard the footsteps going across the main floor falter. “Larry?” Still, no answer. This was maddening! A realtor should announce themself. How rude! She should complain to RE/MAX. What if she had decided Jorge would be there for her today? He was always willing. Buying him gifts was a small price to pay for such a fun time in bed and having him available whenever. This person was outrageous! Honey glanced at the clay statue of the tired man and woman slumped together on a couch. The thing might be art but it was too depressing and real. It was too much like Larry and her. She should give it away to charity. The footsteps were nearer now. Honey heard the creak of the door above the steps. “I’m down here, Larry!” She took another long drag of the wine. It was dry and crisp. She mused that Jorge was so perfect and pleasing. He always made sure she was satisfied. Larry was a few minutes if he ever got around to it. She sat herself down on the gray suede couch. It was a comfy place to have a glass of wine and reflect. “Boli!” a deep male voice roared as he proceeded to the stairway. This guy was definitely not Larry and he was insolent. “Yup, that’s me but that’s Mrs. Boli to you, buster.” From there the man could see a blond’s head. She was sitting on a couch relaxing with a fizzy drink in hand. “I’m downstairs!” Why was the agent traipsing around? It made her feel violated, a stranger checking everything out. He made his way down, thudding heavily. She didn’t look up until he trekked to the bottom of the stairs. Honey saw a large husky man wearing a black suit jacket and matching trousers appear. All this was covered by a clear raincoat. His heavy black shoes thumping as he made his way. Honey was surprised. He was well-dressed but somewhat hefty for a sophisticated realtor. And what’s with the plastic? It wasn’t raining, or was it? “Are you the agent showing the house for RE/MAX?” “It is a great place but I’m not here for that.” “Oh? Why then?” He took out the revolver tucked in his pants. Honey shrank back in the couch. For the first time Honey wished that Larry would come home and rescue her from this dangerous looking man carrying a gun. Her eyelash extensions fluttered as her brown eyes widened. She dropped her glass, spilling it on the gray rug. The glass rolled on the thick rug with hardly a sound. Quickly, she covered up her cleavage revealed by the lacy lingerie wrap. She squawked, “Who are you?” her eyes taking in the weapon he held with the long barrel. Larry must be in trouble. “What do you want?” The intruder looked her up and down. Not bad for an old broad. Those puppies were impressive. Too bad he wasn’t here for fun. Honey had a quick image of Jorge making love to her before the bullet hit the frontal lobe of her brain and everything went black. Brains and particles of bone matter splattered out on the couch and behind her. Rivulets of blood shot in the air. Her silk lingerie was tainted, sadly ruined.  Streaks of red rain ran down the wall. Her body twitched and then slumped back against the couch. The stranger let out a deep breath and sighed before he took a seat in the comfy wingchair and waited for Larry.