I usually awaken early each morning to the gentle sound of rain prancing on my rooftop, assuring me that my cistern will be replenished with water. Life on an island makes you think about survival and survival is pretty much what my life has been about.
But I’m getting ahead of myself and forgetting my manners. My name is Sabrina Salter. Welcome to my island home: St. John, the smallest of the American Virgin Islands. When people ask me to describe St. John, I tell them, if someone picked up the gorgeous green mountainous state of Vermont and plunked it down in the Caribbean, you’d have St. John.
Lots of people come to St. John for a vacation and never leave, or leave only after their dreams of living in Paradise have faded in the searing tropical sun. Others come to escape, which is how my partner, Henry Whitman, and I came to St. John. Henry, a former flight attendant, was betrayed by the pilot he loved and then dishonored by the airline he had served so faithfully. I had been acquitted of murdering my husband by a jury of twelve, but convicted by the national media, toppling my career as a television meteorologist in Boston harder than a fallen meteor. I hadn’t known it was my husband climbing the dark stairs in our Nantucket home when I pressed the trigger, yet some nights, long before the morning shower arrives, I awaken and see Ben’s face anguished in surprise when I shot him.
Henry and I decided to start a villa rental management business on St. John, which would provide us with income and allow us to escape the demons from our pasts. I know what you’re thinking, quite a comedown for a woman who was a television celebrity. But my beginnings were humble, having been raised in a motel cabin in Allerton, a small peninsula south of Boston, by a drunken father who never recovered from my mother abandoning us when I was only two. The owner of the motel became my rock. I had helped her clean the motel toilets in my youth. I figured cleaning villa toilets was a step up.
Okay, so it wasn’t the life I had scrambled to build, but I did live on an island with the same puffy clouds that had inspired me to study meteorology. I had bought a tiny house. Henry had even given me a dog. “Girlfriend’s her name,” he told me because I had shared I really hadn’t had girlfriends in my childhood. Each evening, Girlfriend and I got to go to the beach and swim in the silky turquoise water from Hawksnest Beach over to Gibney and back. Sometimes, my new friend, Neil Perry, owner of Bar None joined us. Neil left L.A. and the practice of law around the same time Henry and I defected from our respective debacles. He’s got a story all of his own, but I’ll let him be the one to tell it.
So life has been pretty good here for us. Henry and I get along swimmingly and often cover for one another. Last night, Henry had a hot date and asked me if I’d take the villa he was scheduled to clean this morning and swap. “Of course,” I’d said. Why not?
I got up once the rain shower abated and let Girlfriend out. I did a little yoga on my mat on my porch while I waited to let her back in. I had a mug of black French roast. I mean, how can you be a tough island woman if you put cream and sugar in your coffee? Girlfriend nibbled at her kibble. I packed up my cleaning caddy, making sure I had the right supplies to make Villa Mascarpone shiny for the new people arriving this afternoon. I hoped the lone male guest who was departing hadn’t made too much of a mess. From what I knew about him, which was a lot more than I should have, he would be on the neat side.
I toyed with having a second cup of coffee and just chilling on my porch a little longer. I wasn’t feeling quite in gear, but jumped in my jeep anyway.
The blazing sun scorched the hairs on my left arm, which I had propped out the jeep window as I drove. No wonder it was so much tanner than my right. The cliff below me to the left was steep, unpaved and had no guardrail. Hundreds of feet below, the waves splashed onto jagged rocks just waiting to carve a distracted driver a different future.
Arriving at the villa, I was surprised to see the jeep of the departing guest. What the heck? I got out, hoping I could move Mr. Slowpoke along. I approached the gate to the pool area, calling out the traditional greeting, “Inside,” but no answer.
Opening the periwinkle blue gate, I saw that my guest, who was lying on the hammock, blood oozing from his belly, had indeed already checked out.
You can read more about Sabrina in No Virgin Island, the first book in the NEW “Sabrina Salter” mystery series, published by Crooked Lane Books.
About No Virgin Island
Sabrina Salter traded a high-pressure job as a Boston meteorologist for life as an innkeeper on sun-soaked St. John. But storm clouds roll in when Sabrina finds Carter Johnson, her most attractive guest, tucked up in a hammock way past check-out time…and he’s not just dead to the world, he’s just plain dead, with a bullet hole in his chest.
This isn’t the first time Sabrina has seen a dead body, and the island police are well aware of that. Thanks to her checkered history, not to mention the fact that she was the last person who saw Carter alive and far from entirely clothed, she finds herself marked as the prime suspect.
The U.S. Virgin Islands may be the sort of place where even defense attorneys wear flip-flops, but the laid-back life is over for Sabrina unless she can clear her name. So, she sets out to solve the crime, only to find herself caught in a tidal wave of adultery, kidnapping, identity fraud and murder in No Virgin Island, C. Michele Dorsey’s outstanding mystery debut.
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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 20 for the chance to win a print copy of No Virgin Island. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.
Meet the author
C. Michele Dorsey, three-time finalist in St. Martin’s Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Competition, is a lawyer, mediator and adjunct law professor. When she’s not visiting St. John, her favorite island in the Caribbean, she lives in Massachusetts with her family. No Virgin Island is her first novel. Visit C. Michele at cmicheledorsey.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.