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Buried by the Beach - Mollie McGhie #3.5

Buried by the Beach - Mollie McGhie #3.5

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Mollie McGhie Cozy Mystery - Book #3.5 (Short Story)

If you like quirky characters, pirate humor, and loads of chocolate, you’ll love this standalone cozy mystery.

Why You'll Love This Book!

  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Quirky Characters
  • Small Town Florida Setting
  • Pirate Treasure
  • Way Too Much Chocolate
  • Clean Read - No Swearing, Violence, or Sex on the Page


When Mollie McGhie agreed to help out at a charity event, she thought her biggest worry would be having to wear a ridiculous pirate costume.

But when she finds a mysterious envelope addressed to her, she realizes that she has a bigger problem to deal with—figuring out what the clues inside mean and clearing an elderly woman’s name.

Will Mollie be able to solve the mystery and find the hidden treasure before someone else does?

Chapter 1 Look Inside

Chapter 1 - A Middle-Aged Pirate

“I can’t believe you convinced me to wear this ridiculous outfit,” I said to my friend, Ben Moretti, as I pulled up to the waterfront park. “I’m a middle-aged woman, not some kid going to a costume party.”

“You look great, Mollie,” he said. “That pirate wench look really suits you.”

I scowled, inspecting the ludicrous get-up I was wearing—an off-the-shoulder white blouse, a red corset, and a dark purple full skirt over a petticoat. Even though the temperatures aren’t as high during May in Florida as they are during the height of summer, my feet were still going to sweat to death in the black boots I had on to complete the look.

Ben was in heaven, dressed in full pirate regalia. The young man had always wished to have been born in earlier times, fancying himself as some sort of Jack Sparrow, sailing the high seas in search of plunder, rum, and women.

Instead, he had to settle for living on his rundown sailboat at the Palm Tree Marina, eking out a meager existence repairing boats, and searching for the perfect woman to share his dream of sailing around the world.

My husband and I also live on a sailboat at the marina, which is where we had met Ben.

Thankfully, Scooter was out of town on business. If he had seen me dressed up like this, I’m sure he would have come up with a new pirate-themed pet name for me, like Barnacle Babe or Fish Face McGhie.

Ben flipped down the visor and inspected his appearance in the mirror. “What do you think? Should I wear the patch on my right eye or my left? Which do you think the ladies would prefer?”

“Definitely the left,” I said. “It makes you look more mysterious.”

He switched the patch to his left eye, then adjusted the stuffed parrot perched on his shoulder. “There, that should do it. Do you mind popping the trunk so that I can get my sword out?”

After rummaging through the back, he tapped on the car. “Hurry up, Mollie. We’re going to be late.”

I rolled down the window. “I’m not getting out looking like this. Tell you what, I’ll run back to the boat, change into something less flamboyant and meet you back here.”

Before I could lock the car door, Ben opened it and pulled me out. “No way. You look the part. Besides, it’s for a good cause. All the proceeds from the Pirate Day Treasure Hunt are going to the animal shelter. Mrs. Moto would even approve of what you’re doing.”

I smiled, thinking about our Japanese bobtail cat and how she had won first prize at the pet costume competition earlier in the year. “Mrs. Moto would look cute dressed as a pirate.” I shook my head. “But I don’t.”

“Smile,” Ben said as he whipped his phone out.

“Wait a minute, did you just take a picture of me?”

“Uh-huh. I promised Scooter I would.”

I lunged at Ben, trying unsuccessfully to grab the phone. “Please, don’t.”

He grinned. “Too late.”

“Fine. But I’d watch your back if I were you.”

“Me? You should be the one to watch your back with all the dead bodies you keep finding around town.”

“That’s not fair. It’s not like I go out searching for dead bodies. I just happen to ...” My voice trailed off as I recalled all the investigations that I had become embroiled in since I moved to Coconut Cove.

“Stumble across them?” Ben suggested.

“Stumble.” I nodded. “Yes, that’s it exactly. Finding them is merely accidental.”

Ben swung his sword from side-to-side. “If there are any murderers out and about today, I’ll protect you.”

“Thanks, but I don’t need—”

A shrill voice interrupted. “Stop goofing around, Ben. Put that thing away before you end up hurting yourself.”

I turned and saw Nancy Schneider, who owned the Palm Tree Marina along with her husband, Ned. Her arms were folded across her chest and her lips pressed firmly together.

“It’s made of plastic,” I said to the older woman. “And before you say anything, no, we’re not late.”
She looked at her watch. “Yes, actually you are.”

I held up my phone and pointed at the time on it. “No, we’re not.”
“That’s not the correct time. It must be broken.”

“No, it’s not. Ben, show her your phone.” He reluctantly pulled it out of his pocket. “See, his has the same time as mine. Your watch is running fast.”

Her eyes narrowed as she peered at me over her reading glasses. “You’re mistaken.”

Before I could respond, Ben grabbed my elbow. “It’s not worth it,” he whispered to me. Then he turned to Nancy. “Do you want me to make her walk the plank for getting us here late?”

“Suck-up,” I said under my breath.

She ignored both of us, pointing instead at a cardboard box on the table behind her. “Take that and go man your booth. The treasure hunt is going to start soon.”

“What’s inside?” I asked.

Ben scratched his head. “What are we supposed to do again?”

“Didn’t either of you read the instructions I emailed last week?” Nancy asked. “It clearly stated the rules for the event, and what your roles and responsibilities are.”

Fortunately, I was wearing sunglasses so Nancy couldn’t see me roll my eyes. There’s nothing she loves more than bureaucratic rules and regulations, instruction manuals, and overly complicated spreadsheets. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a three-ring binder in her kitchen detailing the health and safety protocol for operating her toaster. So, when I received Nancy’s email, I did what I had always done—deleted it and feigned ignorance.

“Email? Um, I don’t think so,” I said. “Maybe you could summarize the key points for us.”

“Humph.” She yanked the lid off the box, pulled out a rolled-up piece of parchment paper with burnt edges, and thrust it into my hands. “Start with this.”

Ben peered over my shoulders while I unfurled the document and laid it on the table. “Cool,” he said. “That looks just like a treasure map. It’s got a pirate ship, and a skull with crossbones on it.”

“That’s because it is a treasure map,” Nancy snapped. “You’re here for the treasure hunt, aren’t you?” She pointed at the bottom of the map. “See this star here? It marks the starting point. The kids register here. We hand them a copy of this map, then they follow the trail through the park. At each of the stations, they have to complete a pirate-themed challenge. For each challenge they complete, they get a clue.”

Ben grinned. “And the clues lead them to the treasure, right?”

“Correct.” Nancy indicated a large red ‘X’ on the map. “The trail takes them through the waterfront park. There will be a treasure chest set up in the gazebo. If they’ve solved the clues, they can exchange them for treasure.”

“What’s the treasure?” I asked.

“Melvin’s Marine Emporium has donated these.” Nancy reached into the box and pulled out a black t-shirt featuring an image of a pirate with the words, “To err is human, to arr is pirate,” underneath it.

“Ooh, these are cool,” Ben said. “I want one.”

Nancy glared at Ben. “If you had read my email ...” She looked off into the distance as her voice trailed off, her mouth agape. “Oh, my word ... is that who I think it is? What in the world is she doing back here?”

I peered in the direction Nancy was looking. “Who are you talking about?”

She pointed at a woman pushing a walker across the parking lot. “That’s Cora Goodwin.”

“That name sounds familiar,” Ben said.

“Well it should,” Nancy replied. “She’s Coconut Cove’s most illustrious criminal.”

“You mean it’s the Cora Goodwin?” Ben furrowed his brow. “But I thought she was dead.”
“She doesn’t look dead to me,” Nancy said. After a beat, she added, “But I bet there are some people who wish she was.”

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