Authors: Sherryl Woods
|Molly Dewitt |
Here in the fourth of the Molly DeWitt Romantic Mystery series, Molly and her handsome partner Michael O’Hara are resolved to find out what has happened to Michael’s favorite uncle when, on the eve of the Cuban revolution, his boat floats into Miami Bay only without the uncle and--more alarmingly--booby-trapped. Here you’ll find an intriguing murder mystery and more as the romance develops between Molly and Michael (where there has always been chemistry). Through intriguing descriptions of the lives of Cuban exiles, readers here also get a glimpse into the problems faced by this community and their heritage. All are woven together to form an engaging tale with all the right ingredients of murder, romance, and intrigue.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sherryl Woods is the creator of two mystery book series, the Molly DeWitt Romantic Mystery series and the Amanda Roberts Mysteries. Each of these was optioned for television. Woods first began publishing in 1982 under the names Alexandra Kirk and Suzanne Sherrill. Since 1985 she has published under her name Sherryl Woods and has more than 110 romance and mystery novels to her credit.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Molly DeWitt and Michael O’Hara series of books present an excellent and intriguing series of detective stories that also weave in elements of romance and intrigue for the curious reader. Here you’ll find plots that are relevant to the modern world ranging from the Cuban Revolution to Hollywood stars and rehab to simple murder to Save the Environment affairs where murder occurs and the detective duo must solve the case. The chemistry between DeWitt and O’Hara works for not only are the two complimentary “brains” but also the sexual tension between the two creates a third element that keeps us on our toes and keeps us turning the pages to see how they manage all elements combined. Woods is a skilled writer, deftly managing to weave elements of romance and crime fiction in a single source plot.
Copyright © 1994 by Sherryl Woods
Cover art to the electronic edition copyright © 2011 by RosettaBooks, LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted
In any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
Electronic edition published 2011 by RosettaBooks LLC, New York.
ISBN e-Pub edition: 9780795317330
A very special thanks to Isaura Pino and Susana Betancourt for speaking Spanish far better than I do and for keeping the emotions in this book honest. And to Heather Graham, Joan Johnston, Carla Neggers, Meg O’Brien, and Sally Schoeneweiss—all of whom know how to turn a phrase—for listening to me yell when my words aren’t flowing exactly right. And last, but definitely not least, to Damaris Rowland—an extraordinary editor—for her unsinkable faith in Molly and Michael.
One of the joys—and challenges—of living in Miami is its multiethnic nature. After living in Miami for a few years, I took Spanish at Miami-Dade Community College. Other than speaking with a French accent leftover from college, I thought I was beginning to grasp the vocabulary at least, rather well. I quickly learned, however, that admitting to speaking Spanish even a little—
—was a mistake. Inevitably those to whom I made this admission chattered at a pace that left me reeling. I adapted much more quickly to Cuban food, which I love.
The sorrow and anger of Cuban exile, though, were much more difficult to comprehend. As a newspaper columnist who wrote about television and radio, I was quickly plunged into this world when Cuban radio commentator Emilio Milian’s car was bombed, very nearly killing him. Other bombings followed during the seventies, protests of a business’s dealings with Cuba or of a gallery’s showing of works by artists still living in Cuba. The controversy over Castr’s stranglehold on Cuba continues to be hotly debated today, but it has become more a matter of passionate beliefs, than violent acts.
I hope through Molly and Michael, you are able to experience just some for the emotions felt by Miami’s Cuban exiles and their Anglo neighbors. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me via email at
or via my website
My best, as always,
The deafening music pulsed to a Latin beat at Sundays by the Bay, a favorite weekend watering hole of Miami boaters and the singles crowd. Molly DeWitt had long since given up any attempts to carry on a conversation with Detective Michael O’Hara, whose attention seemed to be focused more on the horizon than on her anyway. His beer sat untouched, warming in the sun. As near as she could tell with his eyes shaded by his favorite reflective sunglasses, he hadn’t even noticed the five scantily clad women at the next table. That was how she knew he was far more worried than he was letting on.
“Still no sign of your uncle’s boat?” she shouted over the music.
He glanced at her briefly, shook his head, then turned his attention back to the water. His expression was more somber than she’d ever seen it, even in the midst of some particularly gruesome homicide investigations.
Molly understood his concern. It was now after noon. Tío Miguel should have been back by eleven o’clock, noon at the latest, from his regular Sunday fishing trip. On days he took out charters, he might stay out longer, but Sundays were personal. On Sundays he stayed only long enough to catch enough snapper or grouper for the family’s dinner, plus extra to share with friends up and down the block in their Little Havana neighborhood.
The rest of the week Tío Miguel worked nights delivering the morning newspaper door-to-door, then took out his occasional small fishing charters, usually wealthy Latin Americans and their Miami business associates. One or two days a week he worked on the boat, fiddling with the engine to assure top performance, polishing the trim, cleaning it from stem to stern. Though the charter boat wasn’t new or top of the line, it was his most prized possession and he cared for it with passionate devotion.
A small, olive-complexioned man with a deep tan and dark-as-midnight eyes, Miguel Garcia had an unmistakable wiry strength even though he was about to turn sixty-five. Molly had met him several months earlier at dinner at Tío Pedro’s, yet another of Michael’s uncles. She had been instantly charmed by his awkward, soft-spoken blending of English and Spanish and the pride in his voice as he talked of Michael’s accomplishments in Miami.
Tío Miguel and Tío Pedro and their wives—both sisters of Michael’s mother—had preceded Michael to Miami when Fidel Castro succeeded Batista in Cuba. They had left behind homes, family, and once-thriving careers in the hope of regaining freedom. It was to them, via one of the famed Pedro Pan airlifts, that Michael’s mother had sent him, alone, at the age of five.
Though Molly had known many other exiles, some successful, some barely making it, none had touched her quite the way Tío Miguel had. When he talked of his native land, there had been such sadness in his eyes and something more, an anger perhaps, that his homeland was out of reach to him now. Unlike his brother-in-law Pedro, who owned a flourishing Cuban restaurant and whose children were now involved in careers of their own, Tío Miguel had never fully adapted to his new land.
Like so many other Cuban exiles who had come to Miami in the sixties and who had expected to go back at any moment, Tío Miguel had struggled with English. Fortunately, he lived in a community where shopkeepers spoke Spanish, where parish priests and government officials spoke his language. He had settled for taking menial jobs to support his family, always with the fragile hope that he would return home to a free Cuba someday. As time passed, hope had faded, replaced now by sorrow and the faintest traces of anger and bitterness.
Molly glanced at Michael and saw that his attention was still avidly focused on Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic beyond.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” she said.
“He’s never been this late before, not on Sunday when he knows Tía Pilar will be waiting and the family will be gathering after Mass.”
“Does he have a radio on the boat?”
“Then he can call the Coast Guard if he’s in trouble. I’m sure he’s okay. He probably found a hot spot where the fish were really biting and didn’t want to come in yet.”
“Maybe,” he said tersely. He stood up. “I’m going inside to make a call. Keep an eye out for him, will you?”
Though Tío Miguel had invited Michael, Molly, and her son, Brian, to come fishing with him some Sunday, they had never taken him up on it. Brian had brought it up once or twice, but Molly had discouraged him from pressing Michael about it. Now as she watched the endless rows of sailboats, yachts, and fishing boats dotting the water beyond the marina, she realized she had no idea what his boat was named, much less what it looked like. Except for those with billowing sails, they all looked pretty much alike to her, especially from this distance.
When Michael finally returned, he looked more tense than he had before.
“What did you find out?”
“Nothing. Tía Pilar said she was expecting him home by now, that he’d said nothing about being later than usual. There was something else in her voice, though, that convinced me I’m right to be worried. I called the Coast Guard. They haven’t had any distress calls, but they’re going out to take a look.” He didn’t have to say that he’d called in a favor to accomplish that. He drummed his fingers nervously on the table and took another sip of beer. “Damn, I can’t stand this. Come on.”
“I’ll run you home, then come back and rent a boat. I’m going out myself. I’ve been fishing with him enough. I probably know better than the Coast Guard does where to start looking.” He threw some money on the table, then slipped between the tightly packed tables along the edge of the marina.
They were nearly at the car when Molly touched his arm. “Michael, I want to go with you,” she said, unable to ignore his anxiety. She’d learned long ago that Michael was incapable of asking for help, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t use a little support from a friend once in a while. Predictably, though, he was already shaking his stubborn Cuban-Irish head.
“No. If there’s trouble, I don’t want you involved.”
“What sort of trouble?” she said, puzzled by the implication that something other than an engine breakdown might have delayed Tío Miguel.
He just shook his head again, his expression more tight-lipped and obstinate than usual. “You’re going home.”
Molly made up in determination what she lacked in stature. And when someone she cared about was in trouble, she didn’t want to waste time debating her right to help. She planted herself in front of him, eyes blazing.
“Dammit, Michael O’Hara, don’t you pull any of this Latin machismo stuff with me. Two pairs of eyes will be better than one out there. If your uncle is hurt, I might be able to help. You won’t be able to manage him and the boat at the same time.”