Life Is Full Of Surprises is a romantic mystery.
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Life Is Full Of Surprises
Life Is Full Of Surprises
What do industrial espionage, an unsolved hit and run and a bloody knife in an ice cream carton have in common? They’re all elements in the romantic mystery Life Is Full Of Surprises.
Barbara Orlock and Judy Langdon have both sworn off falling in love. They agree their relationship will be no strings attached, just fun and games.
Judy’s ex-lover, Carol Engram, is found dead in Judy’s apartment. Acting on an anonymous tip police search Barbara’s freezer and find the murder weapon, a bloody knife, hidden in an ice cream carton.
Will Barbara’s faith in her business associate Gerald be her undoing? Was the death of Barbara’s previous lover, Linda, really an accident? Who has the most to gain by Carol’s death? Or maybe the question should be who has the most to gain if Barbara is convicted of Carol’s murder? Can Judy unravel the mystery and clear Barbara of murder?
The full moon rose out of the sea, a giant white pearl surrounded by diamonds against a black velvet backdrop.
Barbara sat on the beach and watched another long, lonely night begin as she contemplated life and death. The sand radiated the heat it had collected from the day’s sun. The warmth beneath her was in conflict with the cool night breeze that blew in off the water – a conflict similar to her warring emotions.
She was tired - tired of the emptiness she felt. Tired of being alone. She examined the razor sharp edge of her knife. Someone plopped down next to her and Barbara nearly jumped to her feet.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you, are you all right?” Moonlight reflected off the knife blade and drew the woman’s eyes.
“Oh! You’re bleeding!”
The soft white light of the sky pearl showed a splash of red on the end of Barbara’s finger. Barbara looked at the tiny cut inflicted on her left index finger and smiled. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll live.” In a much softer voice, as if speaking to herself, she said, “Unfortunately.”
“Unfortunately?” The intruder’s voice was full of concern and tenderness.
“What do you want? It’s a big beach. Why sit by me?” An apologetic look replaced the expression of concern on the woman’s face. Barbara wanted to be alone. The last thing she needed or wanted was the pity of some stranger.
“I just, well, the truth is I thought you were a guy. You know, from the back, the short hair, and you have such broad shoulders.” The woman glanced up and down the beach.
Barbara slipped the knife into the sheath strapped to her leg and pulled her blue jeans leg down over it. Maybe fate has stepped in and this distraction was designed to keep me from killing myself. She sighed. Though I doubt I’d have actually done anything anyway. But then you never know.
The woman turned back to Barbara. “Besides, you’re the only person out here and an ex-lover was harassing me. I figured that if I was with someone else - ” her voice trailed off. She started to rise. “I’m sorry I disturbed your solitude.”
Barbara placed a hand on the intruder’s arm. “Wait, please. I’m sorry I growled at you.” The woman sat back down. “Is this ex-lover of yours likely to be put off in his pursuit by a woman?” Barbara felt her tense at the question, but there was no hesitation in her response.
“Sarah” she emphasized the name “would consider another woman - acceptable.”
“Acceptable?” Barbara removed her hand from the other’s arm.
“Yes, actually if you were male she would probably take that as, well, as a challenge.” She took a deep breath and plunged ahead. “In case you haven’t figured it out – I’m a lesbian. The person I was running from, Sarah, is an ex-lover who feels I should jump into bed with her now that,” she sighed, “now that I’m no longer attached.”
The irony of the situation was too much. Barbara couldn’t control herself. She started laughing. It began as a soft chuckle and grew to a belly laugh.
“I’m . . . sorry . . . really . . . not laughing . . . at . . . you.”
Barbara’s merriment proved contagious. Soon, the woman was chuckling with her. Their laughter soon subsided and then faded into an awkward silence broken only by the sounds of breathing.
Still trying to catch her breath, the stranger introduced herself. “My name is Judy Langdon.”
“Hello, Judy Langdon. I’m Barbara Orlock.” She paused and looked in the direction Judy had come from. “Looks like your friend isn’t into pursuit.”
Judy glanced over her shoulder. Smiling at Barbara she said, “Sarah never was one to work for anything. Everything comes easy for her.”
“Yes. I’ve known women like that.”
They sat in silence looking out to sea as the incoming tide brought the waves closer and closer. The sound of the water rushing across the sand and then retreating was a balm for Barbara’s soul. The moonlight on the undulating ocean combined with the smell and sound of the sea created a center of calm in her being.
She felt Judy’s eyes on her. Barbara turned and held Judy’s gaze. “What do you see?” The question elicited a surprised expression from Judy. Shit! What the hell possessed me to ask her that? Of all the things I could have said, why that?
Judy took a deep breath and looked away for a moment. Barbara’s mind catapulted over idea after idea searching for an escape from the inevitable answer.
“Do you really want to know?”
Trying not to look relieved Barbara responded, “No.” She stood and brushed sand from her seat with one hand. She held out her other hand to help Judy up.
Judy took the proffered hand and Barbara pulled her to her feet. Momentum brought Judy within inches of Barbara. A wave of heat coursed through Barbara like lava down a hillside. I wonder what she tastes like. Her lips look so kissable. She released Judy’s hand and stepped back. Where did those thoughts come from? I should leave – now. Instead she said, “Come on. I’ll buy you a drink.”
“My car’s parked in the hotel lot.” Judy indicated The Surfside Hotel. “I noticed a sign about unauthorized vehicles being towed.”
Barbara smiled. “Yeah, that’s to keep the locals from using the hotel parking lot when they come to the beach.” Her shoes created a squeaking sound as they walked through the soft white sand. “If your friend is the vindictive type you might want to move your car.”
Barbara enjoyed the view as she followed Judy up the stairs to the hotel parking lot. Judy’s tight little behind at eye level brought to mind the lyrics of an old country western song about a woman wreaking havoc simply because she looked so good in a pair of blue jeans.
At the edge of the paved concrete slab Judy asked, “So where are you parked? I didn’t notice a car on the beach.”
“You see the dark green car over there next to the white pickup truck?” Judy nodded. “That’s mine.”
“Are you staying at the hotel?”
“No. I’m a local.”
“Risky parking here while you’re down at the beach, isn’t it?”
“Why were you down there toying with a knife anyway?”
“Which one’s yours?” Barbara swept the nearly full parking lot with her hand.
“The little silver job over there.” Judy pointed across the lot.
Barbara began to walk toward Judy’s car. “How about if I follow you to your place? You can leave your car there and ride with me.” Barbara smiled. “I don’t bite. I promise.” She tried to get a good look at Judy without being obvious. The pools of light in the parking lot were like trying to look at someone using a strobe light.
“I don’t know maybe I should be concerned about getting into a vehicle with a woman who sits alone on the beach in the middle of the night playing with a knife.”
“Maybe you should.” Barbara paused. “And maybe I should be worried about a woman who picks me up on the beach claiming to be running from an ex-lover but there’s no sign of anyone pursuing her.”
“Touché.” Judy stared into Barbara’s eyes as if looking for answers to questions she hadn’t even asked yet.
“So what’ll it be? We can go our separate ways or we can go get that drink I offered you.”
“If I lose you in traffic I live at the Water Oak Villas.” Judy unlocked her car and climbed in. She started the engine and asked, “Do you know where that is?”
“Yes, I know where it is.”