The decision was an extremely tough one for me, my husband, and our daughter, Lexi.
Spend February vacation in Mexico, Maine (gateway to the Western mountains) or Mexico, Mexico? After some soul searching, we fell back on our superior parenting skills, and picked the place where Lexi could best practice her twelve years of Spanish. Before you could utter adios, I’d booked our flights and a thatched cabana, and south of the border we flew.
The timing could not have been more perfect. Last week, I finished writing the fourth Darby Farr Mystery, FINAL SETTLEMENT, and my beta readers had their copies in hand. It being a leap year, I figured I’d have enough time to incorporate any changes when we returned, and still make my March 1st deadline. With any luck, I could think about Darby #5 and get some plot ideas down on paper, too.
And I could relax. Jump off the crazy gerbil wheel of the past two months, soak up a little sun, and enjoy our youngest child — now a beautiful seventeen-year-old — before she flies the coop for college like her brothers before her.
A good plan, with one problem: murder stalked my thoughts each sunny day like silver-studded Mariachis at a restaurant.
Here, amigo, is how it went.
Morning Number One: I wake before sunrise to walk the beach. Immediately I see a man digging a hole. An enormous hole.
A hole big enough to hide a body — or two, if they are of Mayan descent.
Get a grip, I tell myself, and stroll farther down the beach. What’s that shiny object? A cell phone? I bend over, pick it up. Who carries a cell phone at 6 am? A drug dealer? What if it rings? Do I say Buenos Dias (about the limit of my Spanish) or just ignore it? I open it up and it vibrates in my palm like a rattler about to strike.
Then there are the ruins.
They rise like tombs from the dusty earth, silent and sinister. How many people perished under the hot Yucatan sun while stacking those limestone blocks? Whose skull was used as the soccer ball for the pick-up games in the square? Perched on a jagged cliff, these temples of Tulum terrifiy me. I peer over the cliff’s edge, watch as waves crash below. So easy to push someone… an unsuspecting tourist, an annoying mother-in-law, the little kid who won’t stop whining…
I shake my head. It’s a sunny day, no sign of anything sinister. Relax, I tell myself. And then a creature stirs in the sand, rearing his ancient reptilian head…
I need a cerveza. Or two. After all, it’s hot, and I’m from Maine. Not even Mexico, Maine, but Camden, Maine. Chances are I’m thirsty and a couple of cool drinks will restore my natural good humor.
Back at the beach, I hydrate and try to settle my jangled nerves.
I go for a stroll, go for a swim, go for another stroll, another swim. It’s working. I’m relaxing! And then I glance over at my husband, hard at work in his role as one of my beta readers….
What’s that he’s holding? A pen? A RED pen? Terror strikes as he lifts it, brings it toward the paper, and crosses something out…
I will get through this, I tell myself. I will get back to Maine, get my book in on time, and prepare myself for the release of DEADLY OFFER in April.