Underwater Secrets & Fishing For Bones – Sneak Peek

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Yaasss, I am glad to see you here! Tap the image and enjoy the cover reveal!

Scroll below – enjoy a VERY rough draft of the work-in-progress book 2 of the Alaskan Cozy series.

^_^ Flick can’t wait to entertain you once again!

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Sneak Peek – Chapter 1 of Underwater Secrets & Fishing for Bones

Chapter 1

 

“Whoa… I think I got one,” squeaked Nellie as the boat floated on the tranquil Alaskan waters. Hues of orange, pink, and purple painted the late afternoon sky, creating a breathtaking backdrop. The soft glow illuminated the frost-kissed landscape, reflecting exquisite hues of blue and purple on the mirror-like water. Lurking beneath the surface, Nellie’s captive disrupted the serene beauty.

The shortened daylight hours kept the sun at bay, peaking at the tip of the horizon. Abigail Stone and Tucker Glen had brought Nellie to one of their favorite spots on his boat, the Wave Ryder Retreat, to a tiny bay tucked near the rocky shore, hoping to win Nellie over to their love for fishing. In the past, when they asked, she never wanted to go. She came up with the most ridiculous excuses to avoid going. To their chagrin, Nellie almost seemed to be enjoying herself. 

Almost.

“Remember to keep the tip of your rod up, Nellie,” Abigail instructed, tilting her head toward Nellie’s hands. Abigail and Nellie Wright have been inseparable ever since Nellie stepped foot into Sweet Street five years ago. Born and raised in Shelter Mountain, Nellie left for a spell after high school to pursue a modeling career.

Unlike most cat-walk seekers, she accomplished her dream and made it big, gracing the covers of Harper’s Bazaar and California Style Magazine. They had lost touch during that time until one day, she walked into Abigail’s cozy, idyllic ice cream shop, red-eyed and still dangerously drop-dead gorgeous. That’s when Nellie received the notification that her mother had passed away.

At 5’10”, Nellie could control a room with her legs alone. She knew it, too but didn’t flaunt it one bit. Seeing Nellie’s transformation from a sought-after runway model to a county clerk finally joining her and Tucker on fishing trips, Abigail’s face lit up with a giddy, lighthearted smile.

“Keep your tension steady. Steady, Nellie, you’ve almost got it. Now! Heave ho, Nellie. Keep at it, heave ho!” shouted Tucker. Abigail shook her head. Ever since they were kids, Tucker thought he knew everything about fishing—the best rod and reel, bait, and time of day to go out. Usually, he was right. Abigail, however, was always spot on.

“I’m heaving! I just can’t see anything. Why in the world did I agree to this?” Nellie chortled. A school-girl giggle, and a squeal escaped past her full lips as another tug lurched her forward. “Have you heard about the weather in California? The sun does this weird thing and comes up—all the way up, even in the winter. You’ve got me out here in the dark trying to fight with some fish I can’t even see! I’m tellin’ ya, I should move back.”

“Oh, c’mon that’s stretching it a bit, isn’t it?” Tucker questioned with a grin, raising a hooded eyebrow. He stepped to her side, leaned onto the ledge, and looked down at the water. Though brutal storms battered the coast for weeks, the sea sat eerily still and clear in the midnight sun as the mysterious creature slipped silently below the glassy surface.

“You’ll just regret it like last time.” Abigail chimed in. “Arrgh, she’s got a big one, Tuck,” Abigail growled over at Tucker, mimicking a pirate as she watched Nellie strain against the force of the beast on the line. After 20-some odd years as his best friend, Abigail was the only one in Shelter Mountain, Alaska, who dared call him ‘Tuck’. Anyone else would’ve wished that they had been eaten by a bear rather than face Tucker Glen’s disdain for that nickname. Truth be told, she thought he kind of liked it when she called him that. Not that he’d ever admit that to anyone, least of all her.

Nellie rolled her almond-hued eyes but didn’t argue. Instead, another squeal of delight overcame her as she continued to reel and exclaimed, “Flick is going to love me even more after he gets his treat from this catch. Who knows, Abs, he may become my next living scarf.”

“Pffft, never,” Abigail mumbled under her chocolate merino scarf that she had pulled up as a light breeze of icy air caressed her face. Right on cue, she felt the comforting, warm body of her beloved Angora ferret, Flick, readjusting himself in his cushioned, weatherproof sling she had strapped against her body underneath a soft gray puffer coat. Abigail side-eyed her friend, still amazed at how gracefully the woman could reel in a fishing line, having never done it before. 

Nellie stood back on the heels of her Subzero Alasklein boots, exhibiting the charm and poise of the catwalk model she once was. She gave the rod another big yank as she continued to reel in the creature, now completely at her mercy. Abigail took her pole out of the outrigger and began to reel it in when it abruptly caught on something. She grimaced and toiled with the obstinate piece of twine, trying to keep the tension steady. She worked around a snag, avoiding snapping the line. 

“Keep your tension steady, Nellie. Heave ho more slowly now,” advised Tucker.  “Yes! Just like that, Nellie! Give no quarter, yo ho ho ho,” laughed Tucker, shaking his fists in the air.

“You know I don’t understand that pirate speak,” quipped Nellie as she continued to handle the quivering rod.  

Tucker ignored her and poised the landing net over the boat’s edge. The king salmon skimmed the surface, teasing them. “Lift the tip!” 

Nellie reeled faster, biting her lower lip. She grunted against the weight as she brought the king in closer, breaking the water’s surface. In one deft motion, Tucker scooped the fish into his net. “Yep, you got a nice winter king, Nellie.” Tucker removed the hook from the inner gill as he picked up the fish with his other gloved hand. 

Abigail, holding onto her rod, strained her neck forward and peered over Nellie’s shoulder to see the prized creature. “See the black tongue, the black gums? That’s how you know this is a winter king,” Tucker explained to Nellie. She nodded, a sly smirk playing on her lips, getting sucked into the magic of it all. 

 “Woo hoo!” Nellie screeched, unable to contain herself any longer. Tucker lowered the net onto the boat’s deck, holding the writhing silvery creature down. Her burnished curls, peeking out from under the black “Get Hōōked On Alaska” fishing cap she’d donned for the occasion, bounced as she hopped excitedly.

Abigail and Tucker had been fishing these waters since before they could crawl. It had taken a small miracle to finally convince Nellie to come along. The day prior, when Nellie came by Abigail’s ice cream parlor, Sweet Street, for her daily dose, Nellie finally gave in.

Abby half-jokingly promised, “If you come fishing with Tucker and me tomorrow, I’ll name an ice cream flavor after you, and I’ll even feature it here at Sweet Street.”

“So, what’s my new ice cream flavor gonna be?” Nellie asked coyly, crossing her arms and facing Abigail.

Now, it was time to pay up.

Abigail thought she heard Tucker snicker. Flick made a giggly little dooking sound, ferret for laughter, and peeked his head out from under Abigail’s coat, watching Nellie’s reaction. Abigail’s Flick was quite the perceptive young sport.

“Are you sure that’s what you want? It’s still going to be a murderous flavor, you know; which you always make fun of, so I’m not making any exceptions,” Abigail said, crossing her arms.

 “Of course. Besides, if my flavor goes viral, I’ll be immortalized in ice cream. And I’ll retire from the clerk’s office with my share of the royalties,” Nellie sang back.

“I don’t think getting royalties is a thing with ice cream,” Tucker said flatly.

“Whatever. I consider this an investment in my future,” Nellie replied, eyeballing the lifeless king salmon.

“Hey, Abs,” called Tucker, interrupting Nellie’s future millionaire plans. “Care to measure this puppy?”

Abigail racked her pole, pulled out her tape from an inner hidden pocket, and knelt beside the king. “Twenty-nine inches, me hearties!” She cheered. King salmon under 28 inches were always released back into the waterway.

 “Yes!” yelled Nellie. “Not bad for my first fishing trip. This actually qualifies as fun. Huh…I always thought you did it to show off, Abby,” Nellie smiled, tilting her head down toward her with a wink. 

 “Why, you scallywag!” Abigail narrowed one hazel eye at her. “Let me measure that again,” whispered Abigail, slowly peeling her one-eyed gaze off of her friend and back to the king. 

Tucker stood and rolled his eyes as he stretched. 

Pulling the measuring tape across the lustrous body, Abigail stopped short and said with a pout, “Oops. Sorry, Nellie. Only 27 inches. VSO Tucker Glen here will report us to Fish and Wildlife if we keep this.” She grabbed Tucker’s net to toss Nellie’s fish overboard.

 “Hey, give me that ruler! And unhand my fish, Abigail Stone!” Nellie dashed to grab the tape measurer and the net. Abigail, laughing as she jerked away, had two left feet, tripped and teetered back, and dropped the net and the prized king.

 “I got you, wench!” Tucker huffed, side-stepping and maneuvering behind her as he tried to stop the inevitable. She toppled backward, landing squarely on him at Nellie’s feet. Tucker’s arms tightly wrapped around Abigail, taking the brunt of the fall as his chest cushioned the back of her head. For several heartbeats, the world around them stilled before Tucker lifted her to sit on his legs with one of his trademark grins—mesmerizing and charming at the same time.

“Thanks, Tuck,” Abigail mumbled, a soft smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

Dooking, Flick, who had popped out at the last moment, added in his excitement. He scampered up Abigail’s chest and gave her lip a nibble, chittering away.

 “You’re awake, Buddy!” Flick leaped and bounded over to Tucker, still dooking his excitement. Tucker released his hold on Abigail and gave Flick some head scratches.

“Come here, wench,” interjected Nellie, extending her hand to Abigail. Abigail grabbed Flick with one hand, grabbed Nellie with the other, and hoisted herself up. 

“I thought you didn’t speak pirate,” breathed Abigail.

“Oh, I guess I’ve picked up a word or two here and there,” Nellie said, lifting her chin.

Flick crawled up Abigail’s arm and draped himself across her shoulders, his little snow-white head poking out from beneath her hair.

“You’re not getting off that easy, Missy.  Have you designed my flavor yet?” Nellie asked.

“Still working on it. I’ve got Nellie’s Neapolitan Nightmare, Neck-Snappin’ Nellie Fudge, Nellie’s Off Her Nut, Death by Nectarines, and Nellie…”

 Nellie wrinkled her nose in distaste.

 “Nellie is not the easiest name to turn into a criminally delicious ice cream flavor,” Abigail shrugged.

Tucker, ignoring the two women, took care of storing the fish and got Nellie’s hook rigged up again as Abigail turned toward the open sea and breathed in the frigid, mid-December air that was now churning out drifting wisps of fog. 

Grimacing slightly, she eyed her bowing rod. Flick, no longer content across her shoulders, scampered down, and Abigail lifted her coat as he made his way into his sling. Instinctively reaching after him, Abigail gently stroked the crown of his tiny head with her free hand. The ever-changing weather, the camaraderie, the solitude, and the thrill of the catch made her love doing this over and over again through the years and every Alaskan season.

Abigail smiled as she glanced at Tucker patiently and animatedly, explaining a blind cast to Nellie. She couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t known Tucker. He wasn’t just her best friend for life; he had become her partner in crime-solving. They had stumbled over a body upon arriving at one of their coveted fishing spots. A real-life crime, like the ones in her beloved mystery books, had literally thrown Abigail into the middle of an investigation. Abigail and Tucker, with a little help from Flick, solved the murder of Frank Harper. Even though no other excitement ever happened in the small town of Shelter Mountain, she wasn’t about to let Tucker forget it the next time he tried to shoo her away from a case that would threaten their quaint little town.

“Whoa. Hold on, guys, I’ve got a bite,” Abigail uttered. She snapped back her line when she felt a tug on the other end. I thought it was stuck, she thought as she angled the tip and started reeling. She heaved ho as she thought about Tucker’s words to Nellie, a smile forming on her lips. “I think this is a big one.” She quickened her pace, the loosened line now at her mercy.

Abigail felt a sudden jerk. Nellie leaned toward her, a questioning look on her soft features. Tucker’s eyes tracked her line into the water. Delicate waves caressed the once glassy, reflective surface with every tug. Without warning, a loud crack, followed by a splash, echoed through the air. Abigail tugged on the fishing line again, realizing that her catch was no ordinary fish, certainly not a king salmon. 

They gasped.

A tale known by all who lived in Shelter Mountain, woven into the history books of the town’s myths from the great-great-great grandparents down to the new babes’ lullabies, floated right there before them.

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