Sunday sample: Wildfire—a Wine Country Mystery

Enjoy a taste of California wine … country mystery. Wildfire is the first in a series!

Chapter 3: Orientation

California vineyard from Pexels for WildfireTara sipped from a steaming mug and stepped out the door. Greg and Alex were still sleeping, or at least quiet behind their closed bedroom doors.

They don’t have to start work until afternoon. I guess I’ll have to adjust to a later schedule if I’m going to work until 11 p.m.

She strolled toward the winery barn, trying to get a better idea of the layout of the place.

Nine o’clock and it’s already hot. Maybe I should switch to iced coffee in the morning. At least until the weather changes.

She decided to call her parents before noon, so that she could at least see Roxanne and hear her little voice. The thought of her baby daughter kindled an ache deep inside.

I’ll have to get my own place soon. This guest house is nice, but it’s no place for a baby. Then I’ll have to find day-care. So I’ll need a job that pays more than this. Dad’s right. Keep looking at law firms. Maybe the state. Or a municipality. 

She passed the winery as Alan DaSilva came out the door, Charlie at his heel. “Good morning, Tara. Hot enough for you?”

Tail wagging fast, Charlie nosed Tara’s thigh. She bent to pat his wooly head. “You could say that. Is it normally this warm here, this time of the year?”

“Not at all,” Alan said, his eyes sweeping across the grounds. “This is the hottest late summer or early fall I can remember in Sonoma. Not to mention the driest. But it’s good for the grapes.” Charlie flopped to the ground, tongue lolling. “So, did you sleep well?”

Is Dad right about this guy, she wondered. “I never sleep well the first night in a new place.”

Alan nodded. “Neither do I. I hope you’re feeling okay. Not too tired?”

No, I’m just being paranoid. “I guess I’ve gotten used to moving around a lot over the past couple of months.”

“First day on the job went okay? I hope Chef wasn’t too tough on you.”

Tara laughed. “No, it was fine.”

“I heard you made a good impression on him.”

That puzzled Tara. “You heard that?”

“Well, he didn’t yell at you, and he told Veronica you made a good cake.”

“He said that? He looked to me like he barely tolerated it.”

Alan laughed. “That’s high praise from Chef Gordon. Don’t get used to it. He’s a tough taskmaster.”

“So, where is Mrs. DaSilva? Veronica? I barely had a chance to talk to her last night before she went out.”

Tara thought a dark cloud passed over Alan’s face. “Oh, she just went to … visit a friend of hers. He clapped Tara on the shoulder. “Look, I gotta go up to the vineyard. But if there’s anything you need, you just let me or Veronica know. Ciao.”

He strode to a dusty, battered old pickup. Charlie jumped inside as he opened the door, crossing to sit in the passenger seat. Alan slammed the door and drove out a gate behind the winery that Tara had not noticed before. It led to a dirt road that went down a slope. In the distance, Tara saw rows of grapevines.

But where is Veronica?

She tried a sip of coffee. It was finally cool enough to drink, but the sun was cruelly hot on her forehead. She walked around the winery into the shade and nearly stepped on a dark-haired man who was crouching against the wall, smoking a cigarette. “Oh, I’m sorry.”

The man rose to full height of about six feet, flicking the half-smoked cigarette into the dust. “That’s all right. You must be Tara.”

“You already know who I am. People sure talk about other people around here.”

The man’s smile was like a movie star’s, full and bright white against his dark skin. He had thick black hair with one full wave over his forehead, thick eyebrows and large, dark eyes.

Wow—this guy is hot. Those eyes, and that full mouth—

Focus, Tara. Thinking like that cost you a year’s delay in your education. 

But it gave me Roxanne. 


Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Now available for pre-order on on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers).

Get to know Tara Rezeck better at this post.

You can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad.



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