We're all just one pain away from lunacy

A seaside inn. An elegant party. A black dress. What could go wrong? For Delilah Duffy, expert mistake-maker and trauma magnet, just about anything. With her bookstore failing and the side effects of her recent crime-solving adventures still plaguing her, the last thing she needs is a party or another mystery to solve. But, her curious-to-a-fault nature propels her into both. And with nightmares, anxiety, and panic intensifying, Delilah doesn’t know what’s real and what’s in her head. Convinced something sinister is at work, Delilah searches for answers, if only to prove that she isn’t crazy. With her bookstore and her relationship with Sam at risk, Delilah discovers what’s worse… becoming a lunatic or facing one.

Excerpt from Chapter One... Atlas

      My feet teetered on the wooden planks of the boardwalk overlooking the beach and the great Atlantic, dipping into the sand like toes into cold water. Unsure. Heart pumping wildly. Stomach churning like the waves. My golden retriever, Willie, sat patiently beside me.

Daylight hung on stubbornly. The sun spewed its last hues across the mighty ocean, warming my skin and giving me and everything else an orange glow, a blanket of comfort. Still, I couldn’t move off the wood planks to the sand. Willie whined.  My name is Delilah Duffy, and I am an expert mistake-maker, working myself into something like recovery. I moved to Tipee Island at the end of June, leaving behind a plethora of professional and personal mistakes, only to topple headfirst into a web of new ones. I became embattled in a fight to save my business - my late-great-aunt’s bookstore - solve a murder, and keep myself alive, while vainly attempting to keep the past where it belonged... behind me... while a mob of nosey-nelly “concerned” citizens and store owners came after me with torches and pitchforks convinced the earth had opened up, and hell had coughed me out to ruin their perfect little town.... Well, I’m kidding about the pitchforks, but the we-don’t-want-you-here climate felt just as tangible. I muddled through, but only by God’s good graces and the love of a man I thought I’d lost forever. 

      A month has passed since the grand re-opening of Beach Read Books, Gifts, and More, and I find myself still fighting to save my business and battling the demons that were stirred to life in all the chaos.       

      Every sunset is a fingerprint. I let my eyes dance across the seascape and breathed in the salty air. I came here for this... beauty, everywhere you look, and now, I can’t even move closer to enjoy it.

Excerpt from Chapter Six... Sea Smoke

      I was alone, but strangely it didn’t feel that way. Voices followed me. Turn Turtle... turn turtle. He had her sent away... then, he moved back here like nothin’ ever happened. I’m not done with you yet, you bitch!       

      I gripped the railing. Calm down. Breathe. In the distance between the fog hands, the moon glittered off the cape. To the left, I spied the shadow of a lighthouse that wasn’t holding true to its name. In between here and there was an expanse of thickets and sand, patched with grasses, and blanketed with fog. My heart faded back into a normal rhythm. Everything’s okay.       

      I ran my fingers through my hair, trying not to let the panic have me again. My eyes drifted out to the sea smoke. Something moved. Twitched. Something unnatural. I squinted to see it better, though it was no use. I heard shuffling, a rustling of branches, and spied movement again. A voice cut through the fog, a voice without words... Was I hearing Mavis again?       

      I thought of Sam, simultaneously wanting him there, while fearing what he’d think of me. He had her sent away.       

      “Hide,” the voice whispered. “Hide.”       

      Then, the fog parted.