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Airy Allies and Enemies (EBOOK)

Airy Allies and Enemies (EBOOK)

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Raina Sun Mystery #11 

You can also purchase this book direct at Anne's PayHip store (international readers).

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And they might also be available at your local library through Overdrive, Hoopla, Libby, etc (or you can recommend my books to your library). They are also available in paperbacks and large print.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A free honeymoon, an old ally, and a kidnapping.

Raina Sun is enjoying her belated honeymoon with her husband, far away from her nosy family. When her grandma shows up to help a friend on a kidnapping case, it's bye-bye smooching time. Her husband gets volunteered to do the ransom drop, and an old ally from the Nine Dragons Triad, a multi-generational criminal organization, barges in for a visit.

Things go from bad to worse when a body is found at the luau. Her husband is right. There's no such thing as a free honeymoon. Someone has to pay the piper one way or another. Will Raina find the devious killer, or will she become the next victim?

Don’t miss out on the fun. Grab your copy now.

Read the sample chapter.

SAMPLE CHAPTER - Click here

In the audience, Raina Sun Louie watched in horror as her grandma’s coconut bra fell onto the open-air stage. Her grandma continued to gyrate the grass skirt and flung her arms about in the Hawaiian dance. The flickering tiki torches and spotlight followed her every move. Knowing her grandma, Po Po probably had on a beige-colored tank top, but to the audience at the luau, she looked topless.

The other four couples at the table gasped at the performance. This probably wasn’t the dinner show they thought they paid for. Raina glanced around the outdoor dining patio. Everyone in the audience was staring at the stage with equal parts curiosity and disbelief.

Next to Raina, her husband, Matthew Louie, coughed and squirted the Mai Tai drink out of his nose. “Oh, sh—”

“No, no, no,” Raina cut in, shaking her head in disbelief. “We’re on our honeymoon. Po Po is not here. That’s not her. All little old Chinese grannies look the same.” 

On stage, a shirtless young Asian man in a grass skirt danced over to the coconut bra, flipped it up in the air with his foot, and caught it in one hand with a flourish. Still gyrating his hip, the man whirled around Po Po and tied on the bra. 


“And that’s your brother, Winter Sun,” Matthew said, setting his glass down with a thud on the table.

Raina closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. Why were her grandma and baby brother in Kauai? Didn’t they understand a honeymoon meant alone time with her husband? It was bad enough the humidity had turned her curly black hair into a cotton candy puff, but uninvited family members at her honeymoon? No, this was not happening. Not on her watch.

She opened her eyes and threw her napkin onto the table. “Let’s go. If we duck out of here now, we can avoid them. Then we’re flying to another island. They can’t do this to me.”


Matthew shook his head and pointed to the stage. “Too late.”

On stage, Po Po held a microphone and waved in the Louies’ direction. “Yoo-hoo! Love birds! We have a surprise for you, Rainy.”


The other four couples at the table swiveled their heads to stare at the Louies. Raina slid an inch lower in her seat and avoided eye contact. 


Matthew chuckled. “I knew a free trip was too good to be true.”

Raina smacked her husband’s forearm. If only a hole would open in the ground. She would gladly jump in it. “Seriously? You think this is funny?” she whispered.
“

This morning, you were complaining about the slow pace around here,” Matthew whispered back. His gold-flecked brown eyes twinkled with laughter. He pointed at the evening sky. “The ancestors are listening.”

The cool breeze shifted, and Raina smelled her husband’s sage and clean water scent, a tantalizing combination from his hair product, soap, and aftershave. “This is all your fault. We’ve been here three days, and this is our third luau.”


“What man can turn down meat cooked in a sandpit? Besides”—Matthew held up his right wrist to show off the black wristband—“we can’t turn down a free dinner show. Everyone else has to pay a hundred bucks to be here. We have gotten six hundred dollars’ worth of food and entertainment.”


The black wristband from the resort gave them VIP access to the nightly dinner show, and Matthew intended to take full advantage of this perk. Her husband’s Chinese frugality had gotten them into trouble before, like when they purchased a foreclosed house with a body in the wall.


“If we had gone somewhere else for dinner, my grandma wouldn’t have been able to track us down,” Raina said. She sounded like a petulant child, but this was her belated honeymoon. After a yearlong home remodel and a stressful new job, she deserved a vacation. A real vacation—where there were no dead bodies and kooky relatives. 


Matthew shrugged. “Hey, I’m Chinese. Frugality is in my blood.”


Raina harrumphed and crossed her arms. She might have turned out the same if her family had lost all their wealth in the dot-com bust like his family. And her husband’s frugality was also wrapped up in his hang-up about being the provider. Asian males. They were a different beast. 

On stage, the Hawaiian dancers finished their act. Po Po and Win gave the Louies one final wave and exited. The emcee appeared and introduced the next act. 


“Let’s go back to our room and bar the door,” Raina said. “They will come looking for us any minute now.”

Matthew glanced at a spot over Raina’s shoulder. “Too late.” He shoved another bite of the kalua pork into his mouth. He probably wanted to get as much food in his stomach before their dinner got interrupted further. 

Raina glanced over her shoulder. Her eyes widened at the sight of her grandma, baby brother, and a Polynesian woman in a muumuu dress making a beeline toward her table. She jerked up, knocking over her chair. “If you love me, you will stall them.” She took off for their hotel room, her flip-flop sandals slapping against her feet. 


“Yoo-hoo! Rainy! I gotta business proposition for you,” Po Po called out. Since her grandma was a regular at the senior exercise classes, she had no problem keeping up with Raina. 


“I don’t know you, you crazy old coot,” Raina shouted back. A small flash of amusement shot through her. She had always wanted to call her grandma an old coot. She wasn’t sure why she put up this show of resistance and prolonged this embarrassing trek across the beach toward the resort. Maybe she had also inherited some of her grandma’s love for theatrics. 

Her foot slipped off the foam flip-flop, and Raina crashed headfirst onto the sand. Great. She lay on the warm sand for a long moment, waiting for her heart rate to calm down. Her husband belly laughed in the background. She spat out sand from her mouth. Her tongue traced her teeth, dislodging the remaining grit, and she spat again. The corners of her mouth twitched, but she forced her smile away. It would only encourage her grandma. 

Footsteps approached Raina. Someone grabbed Raina’s arm and hauled her into a sitting position. 


Po Po squatted down until she was face-to-face with Raina. In Chinese, Po Po was the formal title for a maternal grandmother and also a term of respect for elderly ladies. Her legal name was Bonnie Wong.


Her grandma’s silvery-white hair had grown from a pixie cut to a shaggy bob with bangs that highlighted her warm, brown eyes. Though barely over five feet tall, Po Po wasn’t someone who understood “no” or “later,” much like a toddler.

“I don’t know why you ran, but we both know you can’t escape me,” Po Po said. Her grandma’s other favorite word was “mine” when it came to family. There was no fleeing the matriarch of the Wong family. Once you were in, it was for life.

“I have to try,” Raina said in a pretend stern voice. “I can’t just roll over and let you walk all over me.” 


Po Po gave Raina a deadpan stare. “I can see how a faceplant would be more appealing.”


Raina shifted her gaze to her brother. “I blame you for this fiasco. I will remember this, buddy. Some day, I will have my vengeance.”


Win held up both hands and gave her a cheeky grin. “She would have come with or without me. I’m just here for the beach and girls in bikinis.”


Raina rolled her eyes. Trust a twenty-year-old to focus on the important things in life. 


Win had grown since the last time she saw him, filling out so that he looked more like an adult than a man-child. All traces of his former geeky high school years were gone. Instead, he appeared to be going for the beach bum look with his black hair in a man bun, and his face looked scruffy, like he was failing at growing a beard. Raina much preferred her husband’s close-cropped black hair, a remnant from his Marine days. Both men were of the same height, with a runner’s physique and appetite.


Matthew sauntered over and stood next to Win, rubbing his stomach. “I don’t know what’s in the pork, but I can eat it at every meal.” He stifled a burp. “Are we having the powwow right here? Or do we need more privacy?” 


Her stoic husband had changed since their marriage, but this was the first time she saw him this relaxed in front of strangers. Normally, his piercing cop eyes roamed the scene, evaluating its hidden threat. Maybe there was something in the pork. Or maybe it was the free Mai Tai drinks. 

“Auntie May needs a small favor,” Po Po said. “Her family owns the resort and gave us a good discount for your stay.” She arched an eyebrow, asking if Raina understood her obligation for the family discount. 
Raina sighed inwardly.

Auntie May was married to her grandpa’s older brother. During Raina’s childhood, she had met Auntie May a few times when her great-aunt visited San Francisco. Why did free always come with hidden strings? The six hundred dollars’ worth of free food and entertainment that her husband had bragged about a few minutes earlier now felt cheap in comparison. She gave her grandma a slight nod. Oh, she understood the hidden obligation behind the family discount all right.


Po Po gestured at the woman in the muumuu dress standing next to her. “This is Leilani Wong, Auntie May’s granddaughter and your second cousin.”


The last time Raina had seen her cousin was over a decade ago. “I thought you were on a business trip,” Raina said.

“I had to cut it short because a situation came up,” Leilani said. “I just got back to the resort this afternoon.”


Her cousin was half Polynesian and half Chinese. She was in her late twenties but going on forty. It might be the sun or stress. Raina wasn’t a fashionista, but even she knew a bright-red Hawaiian muumuu dress made a stocky figure look even wider. Her cousin’s brown eyes were worried, but her smile was welcoming. 


“I am so happy to see you again, Sherlock Holmes,” Leilani continued. “Your grandma has told me so much about your adventures together.”


Raina shifted her gaze to Po Po and back to her cousin. “Don’t believe half the stuff that comes out of my grandma’s mouth.” She raised a hand to her mouth and pretended to whisper. “She reads too many mystery books.”


Matthew opened his mouth, but Raina gave him a pointed look. The smart man promptly closed his mouth and reached down to help Raina off the ground.


Raina brushed the sand off her tank top and shorts. “I am happy to help.” And she was. Having grown up in San Francisco, she wasn’t used to the slow pace on the island. It had only been three days, and—while she would never admit it out loud—she was slightly bored with relaxing. 


“That’s great, Rainy, but we need Matthew, too,” Po Po said.


“How can I be of service?” Matthew said with a tight smile. 


Raina bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. Wasn’t gluttony a sin? Now her husband had to work for his free pork. 


“I need someone to do a ransom drop,” Leilani said. “A few days ago, someone kidnapped my younger sister.”

Don't miss out on the fun. Join Rainy and Po Po in their Hawaiian adventure. Buy now.

 WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

"Love this new series! It has everything! Wacky family, pets, starting over after divorce, small town, love interest and murder! Can’t wait for the next one!" ~ Debi Paglia

"As with all of her books it reflects the Chinese American culture and is delightful. Aunt Coco is a quirky character who provides a lot of fun for the reader. The book is full of fun characters, humor, great character development, a well-developed plot, and a colorful setting that is well described." ~ Yingko

"This is a fun cozy mystery that includes your favorite kind of crazy… the crazy Aunt trying to make the niece come and stay for a while...It would make a GREAT MOVIE, just saying!" ~Stephanie Villere 

FROM INSIDE THE BOOK

A vehicle pulled up, and a man got out with a lanyard name badge hanging around his neck. I couldn’t make out his name. Even with my contact lenses, I didn’t have 20/20 vision. He was in his early thirties, tall, dark, and handsome. These days, most young men were handsome in a nonsexual way. Actually, younger people in general made me miss my youth. I didn’t know if this was a byproduct of my divorce. Sometimes I felt like I had fallen asleep and woken up a middle-aged woman. I prayed that I’d snap out of this soon. It was exhausting to live with regrets.

The man opened the compartment in his clipboard and pulled out an official document, probably a citation notice. Code enforcement was here. Oh, joy. I wondered if the cops were also on their way.

“Hi, Duncan,” Aunt Coco said, waving at him like they were old friends. “Have you met my niece?” She gestured at me. “Cedar, this is Duncan Spencer.”

Duncan tipped his chin at me and glanced at the pile of lumber on the street. “Now look here, Coco. You know you can’t block the parking spots. I suggest you get someone to move this, or I will have to give you a citation.” His voice was deep and booming like an announcer at a ballgame with a bad microphone.

“I got someone coming over with a forklift,” Aunt Coco said. “We’ll put the lumber in the alley behind the shops.”

Duncan sighed and glanced at the coffee shop. He gave Aunt Coco a long-suffering look. “I’m tired of coming out here every day since you bought this place. Next time, you’ll definitely get a citation. Someone has to pay for my time.”

Aunt Coco bristled. “Then you should give a citation to your aunt for all these false alarms.”

My eyes widened. “Wait a minute. You’re related to Fiona? Isn’t this like nepotism or a conflict of interest?”

Duncan glanced at the overcast gray sky and sighed. He ignored my questions, probably because he knew there was a conflict of interest with his aunt asking him to harass her new business rival. “Coco, you and my aunt need to figure this out. This feud between the two of you is getting ridiculous. Even Everly was complaining about it.” 

A police cruiser pulled up behind the code enforcement vehicle. A uniformed officer got out, and from the body shape, I could tell this person was a woman. I didn’t bother squinting at the name badge. It would take a miracle for me to make out the letters.

“Speak of the devil.” Duncan tucked the clipboard underneath an arm and stepped back like he was getting ready to watch a show. He didn’t even need a bowl of popcorn to make it obvious.

The officer stomped over with a scowl that twisted her heart-shaped face. She was about my age, but powerfully built. She probably trained daily like an athlete. Her uniform was crisp, clean and pressed, and the badge clipped to her belt glinted in the sunlight. Her dark brown hair was showing signs of gray at the temples and pulled back in a no-nonsense bun.

“Hi, Everly,” Aunt Coco said, smiling serenely like this was a routine visit. Maybe it was. “Do you remember Cedar?” She gestured at me. “The two of you were in elementary school together.”

“It’s Chief Blunt, ma’am,” the woman said.

I didn’t remember having a friend called Everly Blunt. The only person I knew who came close was Evil Bun, but she was the school bully. What was the bully’s real name? I squinted at the police chief. Who cared? It was a long time ago. And I didn’t believe Evil Bun had what it took to become a cop anyway. That girl was trouble and got suspended more times than I had fingers. She probably continued to travel down the wrong side of the law and stayed there.

Chief Blunt turned to look me in the eye, and I shifted my gaze to the faint line of a long-ago scar on her chin. Shifting my gaze probably made me look guilty, but cop eyes always felt like they could see into my soul. I peeked up, and the chief was still staring at me, unblinking. This was getting creepy.

I studied her chin, and something tingled in the back of my mind. That scar looked mighty familiar. I had seen it before. And it hit me. The scar was a keepsake from my charging head butt. My heart sank, and my grip on the column loosened. I tumbled off the boardwalk and fell onto the road. Luckily, it was only a twelve-inch drop. I stumbled and bumped into Duncan.

Oh no. Maybe Evil Bun didn’t remember me. After all, the fight had happened more than thirty-five years ago.

Duncan grabbed my arm and hauled me up. For a skinny guy, he had a lot of strength. “Are you okay?”

I nodded. “Just feeling a little lightheaded.” Which was true. I didn’t think Evil Bun would frame me for anything, but she might detain me for amusement. I jerked my thumb towards the tea shop. “I should probably go inside and sit down for a bit.” And hopefully, Evil Bun would be gone by the time I “felt better.”

“I’ll come with,” Chief Blunt said. “I have some questions for you, Weird Wood.”

My answering smile wobbled. I didn’t know why I expected to blend into the background. In my childhood, folks in town adopted children from the same county. Whereas, I was the Chinese orphan from China, and I stuck out no matter how much I twisted myself into a pretzel to fit in. I cocked a hip and planted a hand on it. “It’s Cedar Woods. Come on. You’re a professional now, so act like one.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I wanted to kick myself. Aunt Coco’s grin grew even wider. Duncan’s jaw dropped, just like the kids in the playground did on that fateful day when I’d dared to stand up to the school bully. Sure, I had gotten beat up, but I didn’t make it easy for Evil Bun.

Chief Blunt gave me a tight-lipped smile. “Sorry, ma’am. That slipped out.” She rubbed the side of her chin where the scar was located.

The hair on the back of my neck stiffened. A fake polite Evil Bun meant she had learned to hide her evil ways. If I were to stay in town, there would be payback. Luckily, I wasn’t staying.

Chief Blunt continued to stare at me. “Duncan, can you get your aunt? I need to take her statement.” She rested her hand next to the holster on her hip, the fingers brushing the handle of her gun.

I shivered at the gesture. If this wasn’t a threat, I didn’t know what was.

“It’s a good thing we’re out in the middle of the street,” Aunt Coco said, crossing her arms. “If you plan to shoot us, I’m glad there will be witnesses.” 

“The generosity of the annual budget gets me one box of bullets,” Chief Blunt said. “And you two are not bullet worthy.” She pulled out a notebook and flipped to a blank page. “Let’s hear your side of the story, Cedar. Why are you threatening Fiona with a hammer?”

I explained what had happened. “It’s a misunderstanding.” 

Chief Blunt scribbled on her notepad. “So your aunt was having a yelling match with Fiona?” she read from her notes.

From what I had gathered so far, this sounded like a regular occurrence between my aunt and the coffee shop owner. Why was Evil Bun making it sound like I had the motivation to threaten Fiona? Was she trying to invent a reason to haul me into jail? That would be so unethical...so evil.

“Voices were raised, but I wouldn’t call this a yelling match,” I said, glancing at my aunt. 

Aunt Coco came over and stood next to me, so now we were both flanking Chief Blunt. With both hands on her hips, my aunt said, “There was no yelling match. Fiona is looking for any excuse to make trouble for me. You’ve been called out here for one thing or another several times a week. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of this harassment. Can this be considered a hate crime?”

Chief Blunt paused, her pen poised over her notebook. “What do you mean?” 

“I’m Chinese,” Aunt Coco said.

“Are you playing the race card?” Chief Blunt said.

“Will it work?” Aunt Coco said.

Chief Blunt rubbed her temple. “Since Fiona also harasses the other coffee shop owners in town, I don’t think she’s targeting you because you’re Chinese. This is an equal opportunity harassment.”

“Oh.” Aunt Coco looked crestfallen. “I was hoping to get to play the sympathy card in my next Survivors Club meeting.”

The Survivors Club was my aunt’s book club. The ladies discussed self-help books to help them overcome their grief. Apparently, it worked better than therapy.

Chief Blunt glanced at me, then at my aunt, and back to me again as if to say it was my responsibility to control my aunt.

I blinked back at Evil Bun and gave her a blank expression. Fat chance I would rein in my aunt. If I had to deal with my aunt’s circular logic, then everyone should have their share of the frustration too.

Someone screamed, and something crashed to the ground. The noise came from the coffee shop. Chief Blunt drew her gun, leaped up on the boardwalk, and dashed inside the shop.

I gaped in shock at the police chief’s rapid movements, and the shop door slamming shut behind her. The last time I had moved that fast was when I was in high school. Mental note to self—do not get into any kind of physical altercation with Evil Bun. She was definitely out of my weight class.

Aunt Coco was already at the coffee shop door when I finally stopped gathering wool. “Are you coming, girl, or are you planning to catch flies with your open mouth?”

I joined my aunt, and the two of us stepped inside. The coffee shop had wood-paneled walls and dim lighting with a bar up against one wall, giving it an old-fashioned saloon vibe, which felt strange for a coffee shop. 

The scent of burned coffee—the scent you would find in the middle of the night at a diner off the highway—was overpowering. Fine coffee was more of a hope and prayer in this establishment. There were a number of tables and chairs, but the shop was empty. No customers. No wonder Fiona was afraid of competition.

We stepped through the double saloon doors to the kitchen. Both Chief Blunt and Duncan had their backs to us.

“Everything okay?” Aunt Coco called out.

My gaze dropped to the floor, and I gasped in horror, covering my mouth with my hands. Fiona was stretched out on the floor, her eyes closed. If it weren’t for the puddle of blood, I would think she was sleeping. Next to her motionless body was a bloody hammer.

 

Don't miss the fun. Grab your copy now.

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BUY FROM RETAILERS

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Amazon

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BORROW FROM LIBRARY

And they might also be available at your local library through Overdrive, Hoopla, Libby, etc (or you can recommend my books to your library). They are also available in paperbacks and large print.

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