Sunday sample: Room service on Maui

Enjoy a flavourful sample from Dead Man Lying: Hawaiian Storm mystery #3

Exactly one hour after Vanessa started, there was a knock on the door. Perry opened it for the room-service waiter, who pushed in a cart covered with silver domes, glasses, cutlery and a candle. Vanessa didn’t look up as Perry tipped the waiter and closed the door, not even when he uncorked one of the bottles and put a full glass in front of her.

“Quitting time,” he said, holding a glass of his own.

Vanessa looked up at him, then tore her eyes from his before he could work that old spell again. “Thanks, but I’m not quite done.”

“Five more minutes, to make up for the distractions I’ve caused.” He went to the balcony to look at the ocean under the dark, but clear sky.

Vanessa kept typing, but her concentration was broken. She typed in a completely uninspired closing and only after hitting “Send” did she realize she had copied it from the one Alan Terakawa had contributed to their last joint report. “Damn,” she muttered.

Perry took the tablet away and closed the cover. “You’re done. The sun is down and you’re now off the clock.”

Vanessa stood. “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m a federal agent.” She reached not for the tablet, but for the glass of wine. She sipped, her eyes closing. “That’s wonderful. What is it?”

“It’s a Chablis. About the only good French wine I could find in Hawaii. It was unbelievably overpriced, too.”

“You know, there are good wines from California and Australia that probably cost less because they don’t have to be shipped so far.”

“Yah, but no one makes wine like the French. Am I wrong?”

Vanessa closed her eyes and sipped again. He wasn’t wrong.

“Come sit down,” he said, gesturing to the miniature hotel dining table he had set with two places, the bottle of wine and a burning candle. 

Vanessa sat as Perry removed the chrome platters. Under each was a thick salmon steak on a bed of vegetables. “Looks great.” They dug in to a symphony of seafood, Asian and local Hawaiian flavors.

They chatted about the food, the wine, the beauty of Maui and the comfort of the hotel, about their parents. Finally, though, Vanessa had to move the conversation to the serious level.

“Look, I appreciate that you came to see me. I really do,” she began. “And I appreciate your help on this case. And of course, I know you’ll keep everything you saw and heard about this case confidential. But if you’re trying to rekindle a romance, it’s going to take more than a surprise visit every couple of months.”

“What—are you asking me to move in with you?” Perry paused, fork in hand, leaning across the table to lock those rich, soft brown eyes on her again.

Vanessa took another swallow of wine and choked a little. When she recovered, she carefully looked at him, but not into his eyes.

About Dead Man Lying

FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm returns to Maui’s rain-soaked coast and teams up with local police to investigate the death of a once-famous singer. She uncovers drug trafficking, stolen music and a string of mysterious deaths. As a savage tropical storm traps every witness, and suspect, in the singer’s rambling home, Vanessa learns that they’re all lying.But the biggest liar of all may just be the victim—the dead man, lying.

Launching March 15.

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