You know, being an academic, you really look forward to summer. At least I did, especially since finally landing tenure at Agawam College meant I didn’t need to teach this summer. And after the murder of my student in the spring, I was looking forward to some peaceful down time. Running on Holt Beach. Hanging with my baker buddy, Iris. Walking my little cockapoo, Wulu.
But when I ran, almost literally, across the dead body of my real-estate agent on the bluffs above the beach, my summer turned dark and complicated. That was one day, but maybe not the one you wanted to hear about.
A more typical summer day includes a morning run out to the salt marshes on Toil in Vain Road, then heading down to Iris’ bakery, getting my usual double espresso with steamed milk and a scone, and reading the New Yorker. Later I’ll work on my paper for a conference on East Asian phonology that I’m attending in Tokyo in August, and then suit up for karate class. After that incident with my student’s murderer, where I managed to dredge up a roundhouse kick from my lessons in Japan long ago, I decided to brush up on my skills. A local carpenter, a tall handsome guy named Dan Talbot, turned out to be the sensei.
Here’s a scene from one of our classes.
Ten minutes before the end of the session, after a final demonstration featured Sensei sparring with an aspiring brown belt, the teacher called us all to sit. He took his place facing the class. He placed his hands on his knees and murmured words in Japanese that I didn’t catch. The room fell silent. Oh. Meditation. That I could do. The energy of thirty students winding down from an hour and a half of learning to fight was very different from Sunday mornings sitting in silent worship with Friends. My previous sensei had been all business, all about fighting. I’d had trouble integrating that with my Quaker belief in non-violence. I loved the discipline, the exercise, the self-defense readiness that karate gave me. It spoke to me. But this sensei’s more spiritual approach to the martial arts was welcome.
After class, Sensei approached me as I shrugged into my jacket.
“And?” He smiled, gesturing with arms open.
I looked into hazel eyes. He had been a treat to watch. Long fluid legs in loose white pants. Strong forearms sliding out from the sleeves. A black belt cinched around a slim waist. His neck and chest now glistened with exertion, or what I could see of his chest under the V of the quilted gi top. When sensations fluttered inside, I admonished them with a deep breath.
I was surprised to overhear Dan speaking Farsi one day, and to discover his mother was Iranian. That wasn’t all that surprised me about him, unfortunately.
After I clean up from karate, sometimes I walk down to the Dodd Bridge Pub for dinner, since I’m not one of the teetotaler types of Quakers and I don’t care for cooking. Heating up a can of lentil soup is about the extent of my repertoire. The breeze brings the tang of salt air into the mild summer evening, but when I get close to the pub, all I can smell is the best french fries and fried clams in the state. Heck, probably in the universe. Sitting at the bar is also a great place to pick up gossip, even about murder.
You can read more about Lauren in Bluffing Is Murder, the second book in the “Lauren Rousseau” mystery series, published by Barking Rain Press. The first book in the series is Speaking of Murder.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 19 for the chance to win a copy of BLUFFING IS MURDER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Edith Maxwell writes the Lauren Rousseau mysteries under the pseudonym Tace Baker, in which Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau solves small-town murders (Barking Rain Press). The second book in the series, Bluffing is Murder, released in November, 2014. Edith holds a doctorate in linguistics and is a long-time member of Amesbury Friends Meeting.
‘Til Dirt Do Us Part is the latest in Maxwell’s Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing, 2014). Her new Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in fall, 2015.
Maxwell’s Carriagetown Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help, as portrayed in “A Questionable Death.” The series is in search of a publisher.
Maxwell’s most recent short story of murderous revenge, “Breaking the Silence,” appeared in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold (Level Best Books), also featuring characters from the Carriagetown Mysteries.
A former tech writer and doula, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (wickedcozyauthors.com), and you can find her at www.edithmaxwell.com, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest, and at www.facebook.com/EdithMaxwellAuthor.