It looks like a seaside cottage—probably a hundred years old—and has to be the friendliest looking shop I’ve ever seen.
The front window is filled with amazing yarn, some draped over branches, some floating on a pile of autumn leaves. The whole thing teasing, coaxing, beckoning you to come inside. And to make it perfect, there’s a cat sitting on top of a pile of ruby red merino yarn. As I soak in the luscious yarn, she stands up, stretches, and stares at me through the window.
What is that sweet calico kitten seeing? A flushed woman in running shorts, her tee-shirt rimmed with sweat, dots of perspiration lining her brow and a Chicago Cubs’ hat working overtime to keep a mass of dark hair in place? Not a pretty sight to a cat, no doubt. I smile at her—the cat—and I swear she smiles back. An invitation to come in?
Several women pass me by, talking yarn and needles, and push open the green door. Without a second thought, I follow.
A woman with streaked blonde hair and perfect bones walks toward me from behind the counter. “I’m Izzy Perry,” she says. “Welcome to the Seaside Yarn Studio.”
“Julia,” I say, my eyes now taking in walls lined from floor to ceiling with cubicles holding every kind of fiber imaginable. I finally look back into her smile and return it. “Friends call me Jules.”
“Yes, I know. Jules Ainsley.” Then she warms her words with a gusty laugh that floats all the way up to the tin ceiling.
“I guess in a small town…” I begin, trying to explain how she knows my name.
“Yes,” she says. “No secrets in small towns. Sea Harbor gossip tells me you’re staying at Mary Pisano’s B&B. And Mary loves having you. She’s intent on keeping you here as long as possible, so be aware of that. Are you having a good time in our town?”
“Good time?” I try not to show surprise at the question. I haven’t come for a good time, not really. “It’s a great little town,” I say carefully.
I can tell there are questions hidden politely in Izzy’s words. Am I a tourist. A visitor or someone’s relative? Or on vacation—here for a few days, a week of fun.
What will I say if she presses me further?
But she changes the subject, perhaps sensing my discomfort. “You’re a knitter,” she says. “I can see it in your eyes. And you’re clearly a runner. I hear you have pretty much toured our entire cape on foot.”
“I’m a little obsessed. It’s the best way to see a town, to discover what makes it special. And it helps me sleep.”
Izzy agrees. She’s a runner too, she says, and suggests a new route I might want to explore. “It meanders along the beach and eventually you’ll find your way back to Ravenswood by the Sea and Mary’s famous lemon mint iced tea.”
I feel the need to run a few more miles so thank her for the suggestion, mentally recording the directions and promising aloud to return to the shop later to spend a healthy portion of my life’s savings on some of her luscious yarns.
As directed, I run down Harbor Road, then detour east along the access road to a stretch of beach as smooth and silky as some of the yarn I’d coveted in Izzy’s shop. How had I missed this spot? It was perfect for the time of day. In seconds the sounds of the sea are filling my mind and lifting my spirit.
No secrets in this town, Izzy had said. It had simply been a conversation piece—one you toss out without thought.
Izzy was wrong. There are secrets here. Every town has secrets. And especially Sea Harbor, at least in my mind—and in my heart.
I pick up my pace, waving to a ruddy-faced fisherman pushing his boat off shore, and close my eyes, letting the wind whip my hair against my cheeks, the salty spray stinging my bare arms and legs.
When I open my eyes again, I’m nearly at the end of the beach. A pile of granite boulders is strewn haphazardly into the sea, bringing the stretch of beach to an end. To my left a narrow road meanders up a low hill, bordered by a jungle of unkempt bushes and trees that anchor the hill’s soil. I head up the road, noticing a line of houses on the side, their roofs peeking out above the trees and bushes.
And then I stop.
Frozen in place. A car honks, urging me to the side.
I walk to the edge of the road, staring up at the houses. No. Staring at one house. I stand there forever, my mind digging into the past.
And the present.
And then I know with utter certainty that Izzy Perry is wrong. Sea Harbor does have secrets.
And I am about to uncover one of them.
One that may change my life forever.
When Jules Ainsley is implicated in the murderer of a well-loved bartender in Murder in Merino, the seaside knitters temporarily put aside the planning of Nell and Ben’s fortieth anniversary party to find the truth behind the murder that shakes the whole town. In their search, Nell, Birdie, Cass, and Izzy spare no one—not neighbors or friends, not visitors or shopkeepers—as they probe into a past long buried, seeking a murderer who may be walking right alongside them on Harbor Road.
You can read more about Jules in Murder in Merino, the eighth book in the “Seaside Knitters” mystery series, published by Penguin. The first book in the series is Death by Cashmere. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on May 8, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of MURDER IN MERINO or ANGORA ALIBI. Two winners will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.
Meet the author
Sally Goldenbaum is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Sally became more serious about knitting with the creation of the Seaside Knitters mystery series and the birth of her first grandchild. Her fictional seaside friends are helping her probe the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries, heartaches and joys of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.
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