The EMTs were missing.
Two weeks earlier, on my first day as the farmers’ market’s manager, I’d thought the size of the first aid tent, easily twice the size of the individual market stalls, was overkill. What could go wrong in the buying and selling of locally produced fruits, vegetables and art? Maybe a bit of dehydration, a bug bite or perhaps an allergic reaction, but nothing that would require such a large and fully stocked medical-emergency area.
That just showed how little I really knew about my new job. We’d experienced both an earthquake and murder over the Independence Day weekend. The EMTs—collectively known as the Baxter twins, since apparently I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t tell the brothers apart—had been every bit as much in demand as my sling bag filled with non-medical-emergency supplies.
Their absence on this drizzly July Saturday was worrisome. Usually they could be found loitering outside their tent. When I’d arrived shortly before opening time, the tent and all their equipment had been set up, but the two men were gone. Not a good way to start the day, if someone had been injured enough to need not just one but two EMTs.
I could have called them, but I didn’t want to interrupt if they were responding to an emergency. Instead, I checked with all the vendors near the first aid tent. As I left the last vendor, who like the others hadn’t seen the EMTs leave, I gave silent thanks for the unflappability I’d inherited from my great-great-great-grandmother, the town’s first lighthouse keeper.
Officer Fred Fields was hurrying up from the parking lot. I intercepted him before he reached the beginning of the market stalls. “Do you know where the Baxter twins are?”
Fields’s face tightened with worry. “They should be at their station. Too bad the quilters aren’t here this week. They’d know exactly where the Baxter twins and every other town resident was.”
On major holidays, like July 4th, Labor Day and Halloween, the market expanded into an all-weekend affair and brought in additional vendors, like the quilt guild and the Second Chance Animal Rescue. But not for this Saturday-only event.
“The quilters do have one of the best grapevines in town,” I said. “But we’re on our own today. I’ll take the parking lot and historical garden, if you’ll check Two Mile Beach.”
Fred left, and I trotted around the parking lot, coming up empty. As I was leaving for the historical garden, I was stopped by Henry Atwell, an elderly and curmudgeonly woodworker.
“It’s all your fault,” he said. “My granddaughter put me on a time-out from my very own stall. She never would have done that if she hadn’t seen you do it to me two weeks ago.”
“I’ll have a chat with her later.” I continued past Henry, planning to congratulate Etta on her good sense. Henry would probably make more money while he was away than when he was in the stall, as people rushed to buy his wooden kitchenware without having to deal with his cranky attitude.
The historical garden was tucked into the space between the market and some low, rocky cliffs that sloped down to the beginning of the beach. Garden club volunteers could sometimes get a little over-zealous while protecting the heirloom vegetables there.
I caught a glimpse of movement in the rocky cliff wall near the far corner of the garden. A moment later, one of the Baxter twins emerged sideways from a crevice. His brother became partially visible as I quickly texted their location to Officer Fields.
By the time I arrived, a pair of sheepish-looking teens had also slid out, given their rescuers a quick thank you, and raced off to the beach.
“Poor kids,” one of the EMTs said with a chuckle he couldn’t hold back any longer. “They were looking for a little privacy and got stuck.”
“They’d probably still be in there if I hadn’t noticed them go in,” the other one said. “We’ve responded to a few calls there in the past. It’s a funnel-shaped formation with a number of sharp rocks pointing away from the entrance. Easy to get into, but hard to get out again. They were expecting a long lecture on safety when we showed up.”
“They won’t get one from me,” I said. “They seem to have learned their lesson, and as long as no one was hurt, I’m satisfied with how it turned out.”
That wasn’t entirely true. I wouldn’t be entirely satisfied until the rest of today and the next six Saturdays proved to be uneventful. Then I might start to believe we’d also be able to get through the next weekend-long event on Labor Day without any mischief, mayhem or murder.
You can read more about Maria in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the “Danger Cove Farmers’ Market” Mysteries, available now, and the sequels, A Slaying in the Orchard (August 22) and A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October).
It’s Independence Day weekend, and Maria Dolores, the descendant of Danger Cove’s first lighthouse keeper, is the new manager of the Lighthouse Farmers’ Market. While she may be a bit uncertain about her career change—trading financial planning for flower stalls and farm fresh produce—she’s still determined to get the market into shape and onto one of the region’s “best of” lists.
From the very beginning, though, events conspire against her. Her mentor and attractive local farmer, Merle Curtis, fails to show up to introduce her to the vendors, the stalls are all in the wrong place, and an earthquake shakes up everyone in the market! In its aftermath, Maria realizes the flower vendor is more than shaken up. . . she’s dead. Maria suddenly finds herself embroiled in a small town mystery that’s got everyone on edge. Will it all lead to the end of Maria’s new career? Or worse yet. . . her life?
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About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win either a Kindle/Nook copy of A Death in the Flower Garden or a Kindle/Nook E-ARC of A Slaying in the Orchard, winner’s choice. The giveaway ends August 2, 2017. Good luck everyone!