Book 3: PUSHES UP DAISIES--Sedona West Mystery (excerpt PG)

PUSHES UP DAISIES Book 3 Sedona West Mystery Series

Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Murder Mystery Romance

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Sedona finds herself in the thick of things with more murder and mayhem. And, oh yes, a decision on which candy store flavor to call her own!


Cozy Haven’s summer is heating up. A bar fight concerning a past date rape; a missing tourist found; villagers complaining about extortion; several people bashed on the head; a daylight abduction... it’s no wonder that tempers are exploding. Folks are at each other’s throats, and that leads to yet another murder to investigate. Sedona West can’t catch a break. Playing host to her sister and baby niece, she has to change her plans and help solve these crimes. The temperature is rising with her would-be suitors as well. These two hunky men are getting impatient for her decision. Should she choose Harrison Oakdale, the celebrity psychologist? Or does she prefer Doug Marino, Cozy Haven’s sheriff? What to do? What to do? Or maybe, when her own head is bashed by the killer, she’ll no longer have a choice... 

Scene Set-Up:
Sedona finally gets her dinner date with sheriff Doug Marino. At an Italian restaurant, they catch up on the latest news.

“This is a lovely place, Doug. I haven’t had Italian food in such a long time. The last ethnic meal I had was Thai.”

Sedona took a sip of wine and glanced around the busy room. Round and square tables covered in white tablecloths were interspersed over the parquet wood flooring, giving diners a sense of confidentiality. But everyone was still out in the open, so if conversations became too animated, there’d be no privacy whatsoever. 

Fortunately their table was situated in a corner, in between two long windows. If they kept their voices low, the table next to them probably wouldn’t be able to make out the words.

Doug buttered a slice of Italian bread. “Yeah, I remember. That was with the other guy, wasn’t it? You’d said you couldn’t resist Thai food. Obviously the way to your heart is a good meal, so eat up, Sedona.”

The other guy. Harrison. She smiled. Harrison and Doug. How strange to have two hunks interested in her. But then what Doug said hit her hard. “Hey, I’m not that easy!”

His slow smile sizzled her insides. “I agree, Sedona. You’re not.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page about that,” she huffed. After making her point, she took another drink, but then set her wine glass down.

With Doug looking devastatingly dreamy in his form-fitting blazer jacket and slacks, she didn’t need the heat from alcohol to course through her veins. She was plenty warm already.

While they waited for their main entrée--ravioli for her and prime rib for him--she nibbled on her Caesar salad. She thought about seeing Doug in his office and the middle initial on his nameplate.

“So, tell me, what does the T. stand for in Dugan T. Marino?”

When he grinned, her stomach did flip-flops. “I wish I could say T. stands for Tiberius, but I can’t. It’s Thomas.”

“I like Thomas. But it’s too bad you can’t be an emperor of Rome. Or even Admiral James T. Kirk.” She shrugged. My middle name is Iris.”

Doug nodded. “I know. That’s why I got you those flowers, Sedona.”

Her mouth dropped open. “What? You’re kidding. How did you find that out?”

“I have connections.” He waited until their plates were placed on the table, and then refilled their glasses. “First, a toast. To many more dinners together.”

She agreed so they clinked glasses, and then took a sip. Fruity merlot wine made her feel so very fine.

Ha! That thought rhymed.

Noticing her spaghetti strap had slipped down her arm, she righted it. “What’s the second then? And by-the-way, I’m not all about food, you know.”

His chocolate brown eyes were riveted on her shoulder. “Hmmn. No, you’re not.” With a sigh, he raised his gaze. “Second, to finding the happiness you deserve.”

Another clink.

“That’s so sweet, Doug. Thank you. And the same for you, too.” Spearing a piece of cheese ravioli, she then tasted it. “Mmm, omigosh, this is so delicious.” She washed the pasta down with more wine.

He raised an eyebrow. “You’re not all about food?”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “You think you’re so smart, don’t you?”

“Well, I am the sheriff.”

“A tough job, for sure. I sure hope Cozy Haven is done with dead bodies... murdered ones at any rate.”

“Hmmn.” He chewed on that thought and his prime rib. “I have to say, frankly, I won’t be sorry to see the seasonal folks leave Cozy Haven and go back to wherever they live the rest of the time. They’ve been particularly troublesome this year--the Cozy Cottage renters and the motel mob, for example. After Labor Day, they’re gone and life can get back to normal.”

Sedona finished her wine. Once Labor Day came, Harrison would be packing his things and heading back to Los Angeles. Somehow, though, that thought didn’t bother her as much as she thought it would.

Doug picked up the wine bottle. “More?”

“No thanks. I had enough.” She giggled. “If I drink too much, the sheriff might decide to arrest me.”

Her sundress strap decided to fall off her shoulder again.

“If you keep looking like that, the sheriff might decide to ravish you all night,” he muttered.


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