Happy HomicidesSince moving to Jupiter Island on the Treasure Coast of Florida, I’ve adopted a new habit. Every morning my rescue Chihuahua, Jack, and off we go for a long walk on the beach. Not only does it give us both great exercise, but it also affords me ample time to think. With all the information coming at me from my phone and computer, I need to disconnect to re-connect with my brain.

At first, it seemed as if the beach was never changing. I mean, there are tons and tons of sand, extending as far as the eye can see. But over the course of time, I’ve noticed subtle changes in what’s tossed up by the waves. Some days there’s more stuff. Some days less.

On this particular morning, as Jack pranced along, I spotted a plastic water bottle with a piece of paper stuffed inside. After removing the cap, I opened the paper and read the message:

To whom it may concern,

I’m a new Coast Guard recruit. Call me crazy, but I’m also a romantic type of guy. So I’m tossing this bottle overboard in the hopes that it’ll find the right girl. How would I describe her? She’s kind, loves to laugh, enjoys Thai food, and likes the beach. If you’re “that” girl, you can get in touch with me at the Coast Guard Station in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Have a great day,
J. R. Logan

Turning the paper over and over in my hands, I debated about what to do. I could stuff it back into the bottle and toss it out to sea. But more than likely, thanks to the Gulf Stream that runs along our coastline, the bottle would wash up here again.

With a sigh, I tucked the message into the bottle, the bottle under my arm, and finished my walk.

When I got to work, I showed the paper to Skye and MJ, my friends and employees at The Treasure Chest, the shop I own. I knew my pals would get a kick out of the bottle on the beach, because it’s right up our alley. We specialize in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed décor items with a beachy theme.

“It’s, too, too, romantic,” said Skye with a squeal of joy. “He just has to find his true love!”

MJ is much more practical. “Maybe, but he’s never going to find someone that way. He should have joined Match.com or E-Harmony! And he didn’t even include a photo. What a dope.”

I bit back a snicker. MJ has dated every man in Martin County and some of them twice.

“He does need to know that the current carried his note back to shore,” said Skye. “It’s only polite that you tell him, Cara.”

“Maybe,” I agreed. When lunchtime rolled around, I hopped into my Camry and drove up I-95 to Fort Pierce. “Well, Black Beauty,” I said, as I patted the dashboard of my car. “We’ll just see what happens when I try to return this love letter.”

First I passed the Old Coast Guard Station, which I later learned was one of the few such places leftover from WWII. A quick tour inside proved interesting, as the place was now a small museum. I would have spent longer, but I was on a mission. So I typed “new Coast Guard station” into my cell phone, and soon I arrived at a modern complex of buildings behind a broad security fence. I slowly pulled up to the guardhouse and explained the purpose of my visit.

The young woman in uniform listened carefully. A spray of freckles across her nose added to her fresh-faced good looks. Most of all, her intense gray eyes hung on my every word. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll see that it’s returned to the seaman who wrote it. I’ll explain to him about the Gulf Stream. He must have just forgotten.” Then she smiled, and I smiled back, because she had the cutest grin. “Or maybe he didn’t care about how far it went. You know guys. They can be impatient.”

“I do indeed. I have an eighteen-year-old son,” I said. After handing her my business card, I thanked her and pulled away.

Two weeks passed. Skye was fixing a cup of tea when the mail came. “Oh, look, Cara! There’s a handwritten letter for you. It’s got the Coast Guard insignia on it.”

I eagerly opened the note.

“Come on,” said MJ, as she poured cream into her coffee. “Don’t be mean. Share it with us.”

I cleared my throat and read:

Dear Ms. Delgatto,

Thank you so much for returning my message. I thought you might be interested in knowing that tonight I’m going on my third date with Tanya, the seaman who intercepted you at the guardhouse. She’s absolutely terrific, and I think I’m falling in love! Thanks again for your help.
J.R. Logan

P.S. If everything keeps going like this, I’ll be sending you an invitation to our wedding!

–The End–

Cara Mia Delgatto is one of the characters who will be appearing in Happy Homicides: Thirteen Cozy Holiday Mysteries, a new anthology by 13 cozy authors (Joanna Campbell Slan, Neil Plakcy, Lois Winston, Annie Adams, Teresa Trent, Jenna Bennett/Jennie Bentley, Nancy Warren, Sara Rosett, Camille Minichino, Nancy Jill Thames, Linda Gordon Hengerer, and Joyce and Jim Lavene). At 213,000-words long and only 99 cents, it’s a real bargain! For more information, click HERE.

About the author
Joanna Campbell Slan is the national bestselling and award-winning author of thirty books, as well as being a contributor to many of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. When she isn’t walking the beach with her Havanese pup, Jax, she’s writing books for one of her three mysteries series. Joanna lives on Jupiter Island, Florida, where she was almost run over by her neighbor Celine Dion. Visit her at www.JoannaSlan.com.

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