Serial Excerpt– Delia Daugherty, 1: Menace at Mistwood
The flights proved to be uneventful, and she arrived in Portland in late afternoon. Delia got out her compact and lipstick as they taxied in.
Yep, same too bushy eyebrows and black hair with the annoying silvery streak. She sighed and put red lipstick on lips she had always thought too full. Her brown eyes sparkled back at her in the little mirror.
Here goes nothing.
She deplaned, walking slower than usual, letting other passengers pass her. Her hands slipped against the suitcase handle as she made her way to baggage claim. Her other suitcase came out quickly, and she grabbed it.
“Excuse me… Ms. Daugherty?”
She whirled to find a tall, imposing man behind her, late twenties she would guess. Nolan Stanford III? He’s nothing like I pictured… I can’t believe he picked me out. Not that the crowd is huge but still…
White-blond hair flowed halfway down his back, and wide, eyes like clear green pools in blinding sunlight met hers. A snub nose and sprinkling of freckles softened his strong jawline.
“Yes. Call me Delia.” She tripped over her tongue as she often did with handsome men.
“Of course… Delia. I’m Nolan. How was the flight?” He raised one blond brow.
“Glad to hear it. Let me take your bags.” He took them both in hand, pulling them behind him. She admired his rear view– tan slacks filled out to perfection and immaculate white shirt encasing strong shoulders.
Geez. I shouldn’t be checking the boss out. I just got here. She hurried to join him as they walked. He sets a good pace.
“Sorry I’m rushing. I’m going to take you to House Island and Mistwood, and then I have to get back to town for a late dinner with a client.”
“Oh, I see.”
“I run the family business these days basically. It keeps me busy.” He flashed a smile her way.
“I would think so.”
They climbed in to his car after the short trek out of the airport. Again, Delia hid her surprise. A modest silver model, higher end, but no sports car.
They drove for a bit out of city traffic. Dusk gathered as they made their way through the city and to the waterfront.
“We’ll be taking a boat.”
“I didn’t realize you lived on an island.” Excitement coursed through her at the thought of a boat ride with him.
He smiled, teeth glowing in the dusk. “Yes, there’s just my estate, Mistwood, and a couple other homes and some public attractions, but House Island isn’t open year round. It’s quiet, and a little mysterious.”
Nolan pulled up to the dock in front of a shining white vessel.
“Welcome aboard the Lady of the Mist.” They unloaded her luggage, and he helped her on to the small but well appointed boat.
“Thank you.” Delia caught her breath at the beauty of the harbor and the bay stretching out before them.
“Want to sit up here with me?” He pointed to the wheel and two seats.
“Sure.” She relaxed at his side. I wish mom could see me now. She would have loved this. A pang of sadness ran through her.
He started the engine and sat back. “I meant to tell you, I’m sorry about your mother. What a tragedy.”
She swallowed. It’s like he read my mind. “Yes, it was. She was too young, and I feel a bit inadequate filling her shoes.”
“I’m sure you’re well prepared for it.” He paused, flipping switches. “I feel the same way about my parents. They died a few months ago.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Delia clasped her hands together, the clean scent of him and the water overwhelming her.
“In their case, though, it wasn’t the same.” He turned to her as the boat shot away from the dock. “I believe they were murdered.”