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Lucky Punch: A Kira Brightwell Short Story

Lucky Punch: A Kira Brightwell Short Story

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A nice, relaxing vacation. After all the mystery and mayhem over the past several months, a tropical getaway seems like just what Kira Brightwell needs.

With only her best friend for company and no one back home aware of their location (detective friend, persistent sidekick, and nosy reporters included), Kira can finally unwind and try to forget. Maybe enjoy a cool, refreshing cocktail on the beach.

But wherever Kira goes, trouble always follows only a step behind.

A stand-alone story from the Kira Brightwell Quick Cases mystery series. If you enjoy a fun, tropical escapade, grab this book.

(This adventure takes place after the Kira Brightwell novel Cornered.)


I guess some things never change…

Kira Brightwell’s lips twisted in a wry smile as she took in the sight of her best friend Rob seated at the marble-top table with his laptop open. The blackout drapes had been pulled shut to conceal the sliding, glass door beside him that led to the main-floor terrace, which meant his ruddy features were lit by the eerie glow of his laptop screen.

His fingers danced across the keyboard in a familiar clatter. His brown curls were matted and looked like they hadn’t been brushed in at least a few days, and he wore his favorite, food-stained, maroon hoodie against the chill of the blasting air conditioning. An open bag of nacho chips sat by his elbow. Even though they were some Mexican brand Kira didn’t recognize, they filled the living room of their suite with a spicy, chemical-cheese tang that smelled just like Doritos.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come to breakfast with me?” she asked in a hopeful tone, even though she knew what the answer would be.

“Already ordered room service,” Rob grunted without looking up from his keyboard.

Kira sighed and shook her head, setting her long, dark ponytail swishing around her shoulders. She marched across the cool, tiled floor on bare feet to yank the curtains open with a metallic hiss. Rob winced against the sudden flood of tropical sunlight like some kind of vampire.

“What’s the point in staying at a beautiful, five-star resort if you’re going to stay cooped up inside all day?” she demanded. “This was your idea, remember?”

He had been the one to suggest getting away from La Valentia—just the two of them. He had even arranged the trip. They had stolen away from their suburban hometown a few days ago in the dead of night to take a cab to LAX. From there, they had flown to Cancun, before taking a shuttle to their resort in Playa del Carmen.

Rob snorted. “You think this isn’t a vacation?”

He made a gesture to encompass their suite of rooms as he continued to squint. (Which was probably the only reason he hadn’t noticed her bare feet yet. Kira was used to his foot phobia and did her best to work around it, but there was no way she was going to wear socks and shoes day and night when they were supposed to be relaxing.)

“Let’s see…” Rob continued, raising his hand to tick off an item with each finger. “No cops or FBI asking questions about any cases, no reporters lurking outside, and oh, yeah. No Trevor Wright.

Kira pursed her lips. She hated to admit it, but he had a point. Neither of them had told anyone where they were going, or even that they were leaving town, other than the note Rob had left for his sisters, along with his key, asking them to take care of Kira’s cat, Hathor, while they were away. Kira had made him sneak into his parents’ house to leave it before they had driven to the airport.

Their friends and family had tried calling and texting to find out where they were in the days since their departure, but both Kira and Rob had refused to offer any details, other than to let everyone know they were safe. Kira had desperately needed a getaway after everything she had gone through over the past several months.

She stifled a twinge of guilt. She felt bad for not telling anyone where they were, but she knew if Trevor found out, he would probably just hop on the next plane and join them. And if he had any time off to use, Detective Nick Foster might even do the same.

In some ways, Kira would be happy to see either of her friends (especially after spending a few days with only Rob and his laptop, Leia, for company). But she knew that taking some space to process everything that had happened since she first stumbled across the trail of the serial abductor known as the Procurer would be better for her in the long run.

Besides, if Trevor showed up, Rob would probably kill her.

“You only want me to come to breakfast with you because you don’t want to eat alone,” Rob said with a smirk before returning to his typing when Kira made no comeback.

Kira rolled her green eyes. “That guy keeps trying to sit with me.”

“So? He’s good looking, right?”

Kira made a face. “I guess, but I’m not really interested in some kind of resort fling. And he’s almost too good looking, if you know what I mean.”

She couldn’t exactly put it into words, but something about the man who dogged her steps at every meal put her off somehow, even though he hadn’t actually said or done anything inappropriate. She had even taken to bringing a book with her to the resort’s restaurants to avoid his gaze.

“Yeah, I feel really sorry for you, getting ogled by some guy who’s ‘too good looking’.” Rob raised his fingers to make sarcastic air quotes around the words.

“Well, if you want a shot at him, you should come to breakfast with me,” Kira retorted. “Because you’re not going to find any hot guys sitting in here.”

“Some of the room service guys are pretty decent…” Rob ducked in mock fear as Kira shied a menacing fist in his direction. “If you don’t want to deal with your restaurant stalker, just get room service like me.”

Kira’s stomach rumbled from beneath her Nine Inch Nails T-shirt and shorts. She had already gotten up early and gone to the gym to get a workout in, and now that she had showered, she was starving. Breakfast at the resort was served buffet style, complete with stations for omelets and waffles. No one gave you a second glance when you went up for multiple helpings. If she got room service, she would never order as much, at the risk of feeling like a pig. (Rob had no such scruples.) Plus, she would have to wait for the food to be made and delivered.

Her stomach rumbled again.

“Whatever. I’m going.” She slipped a pair of sandals on her bare feet, scooped up her key card from a marble side table and headed for the door.

“Say ‘hi’ to the hot guy for me!” Rob called after her as she stepped out into the open-air corridor that ran the length of the wing where they were staying.

Kira ignored him. The door swung closed behind her with a click. She took a deep breath of the warm, humid air, which carried the scent of tropical flowers and the faint tang of the ocean. Birds called out over the low background noise of rumbling carts as women from the housekeeping department moved from room to room somewhere in the distance, and the occasional clatter of cutlery as room service platters were distributed and collected. The morning sun glimmered from behind the fronds of towering palm trees planted in the nearby courtyard.

Kira squinted against the glare. She hadn’t thought to grab her sunglasses.

She turned toward the door again with her key card held ready when a flicker of movement along the tiled corridor caught her eye. She turned.

A woman was stumbling toward her. Her long, platinum-blond hair was disheveled and her eyes were glassy. Her face was chalk-white, but the rest of her bore an even, golden tan. Her fingers and toes had been done in a French manicure. She was tall—taller that Kira, even—with soft curves and a slender waist.

She was completely naked.

Kira gaped for a moment before recovering her wits and rushing to the woman’s side. She eased her arm beneath her shoulder for support.

“Are you OK?” Kira blurted, belatedly wondering whether the woman spoke English. Guests at the resort came from all over the world.

“I woke up…” Kira leaned her head closer to listen as the naked woman spoke. Her voice was weak, but Kira thought she detected a Southern drawl. “They took me. I—”

The woman’s eyes rolled back and she collapsed into Kira’s arms.

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