Murder In Her Mind

Murder In The Shadows #3

by Nell DuVall

Suffering from the recent break up of a romance, Tula Mohr, the daughter of an Irish man and a wealthy Somali woman, finds her confidence at low ebb when her latest conquest ditches her for another woman. With her parents dead and no other family, she relies on her two closest friends for comfort. At their insistence, she travels to Ireland to seek her father’s birthplace and any surviving relatives. Little does she expect to find a new love and cousins. However, someone is determined to kill the Irish Somali woman.


Chapter One


Sean Rivers woke up with a jerk from his dream. In his room above Jerry’s Pub, the early sun made the yellow curtains glow. The rest of Cartagena was still asleep. He wiped a hand over his sweat-ridden face and cursed his Scottish bones for waking every morning.

He didn’t deserve to wake.

He didn’t deserve to breathe.

In his dream, Maddy died all over again. He watched helplessly, night after night, as the earth cracked and swallowed her whole. Her dark blue eyes, a mirror image of his own, pleaded with him, even as her fingers slipped from his slick grip. He didn’t break eye contact. He saw terror and death in her gaze. Down and down she went with flailing arms and a red billowing skirt ... and then the terrible thump.

A shudder tingled down his spine. The nausea he woke with every morning had become as familiar to him as eating and pissing. He had learned to live with the discomfort, as one would tolerate a persistent flu. He swallowed back the acid in his throat and let his stomach settle. The urge to throw up left him with a queasiness that locked his teeth together.

He needed a shower and a shave. The smoke from the bar clung to his damp skin and hair. He massaged his jaw in an effort to release some of the tension that made the joints ache and welcomed the sharp pricks of his stubble in his palm. It reminded him that he had crossed the border from subconscious suffering to wakeful torture. The real nightmare, the one of facing another day, had just begun.

He sat up and pressed his thumbs hard into his eyes, exorcising the mental image of the dream that lingered Sparks popped across his black vision. Wiping the guilt away wasn’t as easy. The only thing that gave him enough motivation to battle on was finishing what he and Maddy had started. Opening a cocktail bar in Colombia had been her dream. They’d made a great team, the best mixologists in the country, but she had always been a better performer than him.

Another month or so and he’d have enough money to make it happen. Jerry promised he’d wait until Sean could afford to take over the rent. The plan was to convert the sleazy bar into a classy cocktail lounge and to open in six months, on Maddy’s birthday. Until then, he was content to tend in Jerry’s bar.

Every bone in his body felt battered. The pub had closed at two in the morning when the die-hard bikers had left. He’d spent the next two hours stacking chairs and tables, scrubbing floors, washing glasses, cleaning windows, carrying crates of empty bottles outside, and hauling full ones in. Jerry had people for those chores, but it put off wrestling with his dream for another couple of hours. Even if physical exhaustion never delivered the redemption he was after, he still tried. The mind with its built-in survival instinct was a fucked-up thing. Even if the heart had given up, the mind carried on, poking sticks into the wheels, trying to find coping mechanisms and defenses. In his case, physical labor had become his outlet.

Knowing there was no way he’d go back to sleep, he swung his legs from the bed. His hand habitually went to his throat to touch the crystal pendant Maddy had given him for their twenty-seventh birthday, the last one she ever celebrated. The heavy weight was strangely absent. He felt around his collarbone and gripped nothing but skin. Though he knew the leather string wasn’t there, he jumped up and stalked to the mirror on the wall. The only image reflecting back at him was the formula tattooed on his left pec–Newton’s law of gravity.

He turned back to the bed with a feeling of dread. He had not taken it off since the day Maddy put it around his neck, not because as a geomancist he knew the significance of the stone—he had long since given up on the hope that it could save him—but because it was the last thing she’d given him.

“Crystal,” she’d said, “to purify and protect.” It had become his reminder of the promise he had made himself not to let her dream die with the body that had been lowered into the Highland soil of their homeland. The dream was the only part of her he could keep alive.

He walked back to the bed, ripped the sheets down, and turned the pillow over. It had to have come off in the night. There was no sign of it. Going down on his knees, he checked under the bed. Nothing. Had he lost it last night, while he was mixing mood cocktails for the bar’s clientele? Had it dropped off on the way to the Turkish grub joint up the road where he had dinner?

 Grabbing the T-shirt he had worn the night before, he marched to the open window and plucked the curtains aside. The air was already humid. Not a breeze blew in from the sea. Today, the ocean view failed to catch his attention. He pushed his palms on the windowsill and peered down at the cobblestone street in the hope of spotting the lost necklace. If he’d dropped it outside, the chances of finding it were slim. Someone could have picked it up by now. He scrutinized the length of the street, but nothing glittered in the sun. He’d have to go down to look for it. It was a ridiculous notion, but he felt incomplete. It was as if Maddy’s dream had been ripped from his body, out of his reach.

Nobody was moving around yet. The shops below were shuttered. The bustle of brooms sweeping the pavements would only start in a couple of hours. Restaurants and stores wouldn’t open until much later. He was about to pull the smoke drenched T-shirt over his head when a woman turned the corner and strutted down the street. Something about her made Sean pause.

She was a delicate, young-looking lass, on the short side. Her steps were purposeful, as if she did everything with a predetermined focus. Her head was held high and her back straight. She made a good deal of noise with glittery, platform flip-flops that beat the pavement. She wore a bright blue bikini with white, see-through pants and over-sized sunglasses with pink lenses. A white silk scarf was twisted around her neck. No blouse or T-shirt, just the bikini top stretching over the firm mounds of her chest. Her breasts were almost too big for her tiny body. In a city like Cartagena, it wasn’t wise for a woman walking alone to flaunt tits like that. Dark blonde curls that reached her jawline bobbed energetically to the rhythm of her feet.

She was a looker, all right, but what halted him wasn’t her beauty. It was her lust for life; a hopeful determination that bounced off the pavement with every clack of her heels. He knew it couldn’t last. Life’s cruelties would find her. She reminded him of what he had once been and of all he had lost.

She carried a canvas beach bag the size of a suitcase over her shoulder. It was too early for the beach. Not even the umbrella and chair vendors would be out yet. Instead of turning for the stairs on the beach side, she stopped right in front of Jerry’s Pub and banged on the door.

What the hell? She knocked a second time before he had gathered himself enough to lean from the window and call down, “Can I help you?”

The female lifted her heart-shaped face and pushed her sunglasses over her hair. She had green eyes with brown specs and freckles running over her nose and cheeks. On closer inspection, he noticed she wasn’t as young as her figure had first made him think. Definitely not a teenager. Late twenties maybe. There were fine creases around the corners of her eyes, suggesting someone who smiled a lot.

Her gaze traveled up and down his naked chest and finally ended on his face. “Is this the premises that’s for rent?”


She turned in a semi-circle with outstretched arms. “This is perfect—sea view, busy street, prime spot. Say, how many customers do you have on a weekend night?”

Believing Jerry would never go back on his word, he told her, “You’ve got the wrong address.”

She squinted at the number on the wall. “Nope. Number eight.”

“Hold on just a wee sec. I don’t—”

“Can I see the inside?”

He lifted a finger. “Wait right there.”

She didn’t answer, only started tapping her foot on the concrete.

Sean jerked the T-shirt over his head and pulled on a pair of more or less clean jeans over his boxer shorts. He took the stairs two by two down to the bar. When he opened the door, his visitor cocked her head and blew out a puff of air. He was going to tell her she was lost, but she moved around him, light as a pussycat on her feet. She swirled through the room toward the bar. A whiff of green apples and something fresh and lively, like daisies, followed in her wake.

“Perfect.” White plastic bangles clanked together as she swept her arm over the lounge area. “The reception can be here.” Her head turned to the bar counter. “And the refreshments will be over there.”

She tapped a pretty bow-shaped mouth with an index finger. Sean’s attention was rivetedby the blue varnish and miniscule white flower with which her nail was decorated. She might as well have tackled him to the floor and gagged him from the way his body remained immobile and his mouth useless. He was too dumbfounded to speak.

“The massage room will have to be upstairs, to profit from the view.”

The only thing upstairs was his bedroom. At last, with the threat to his private sanctuary, he managed to find his voice again. “Hold it right there, pussycat. What are you talking about? This is Jerry’s bar.” Soon to be his.

She cocked an eyebrow, as if to say, ‘So?’ and untied the scarf around her neck. To add insult to injury, she wore his pendant around her neck.

Sean’s jaw dropped and then clenched. “What the...?”

Was this some cruel joke? He reached for the necklace, but she took a step back, her hand covering her throat.
Murder In The Cards


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