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Shooting by the Sea - Mollie McGhie #5

Shooting by the Sea - Mollie McGhie #5

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Mollie McGhie Cozy Mystery - Book #5

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, 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
  • Adorable Cat
  • Way Too Much Chocolate
  • Clean Read - No Swearing, Violence, or Sex on the Page



Chapter 1 Look Inside

Chapter 1 - Celebrity Crush

What would you do if your husband had a crush on a television game show host?

Would you:
(a) hide the remote control so that he couldn’t watch her show;
(b) sign him up for ballroom dancing lessons to distract him;
(c) talk about your own celebrity crush; or
(d) have a rational conversation about how ridiculous his latest obsession is?

Option (a) might have worked if we lived like normal people in a house. We’re far from normal though. We live on a sailboat at the Palm Tree Marina in Florida. There’s barely room on our boat for two people and a cat, let alone a television. So my husband, Scooter, went to the marina lounge when Cassie Newton’s show was on. Unfortunately, there are way too many witnesses there for me to hide the remote.

I had mixed feelings about option (b). The Coconut Cove Community Center held ballroom dancing classes, which just happened to be scheduled at the same time as when Cassie Newton’s Triviamania show aired. The timing was perfect. After our disastrous first dance at our wedding reception, Scooter has always wanted to take lessons, but I’ve resisted. Klutzes like me don’t belong on the dance floor. There are way too many embarrassing photos of me doing a face plant in our wedding cake to prove it.

Instead of ballroom dancing, I could have tried option (c) and raved about how amazing Jason Momoa looked in Aquaman. Except knowing Scooter, it wouldn’t have occurred to him to be jealous. My husband has an extensive collection of Aquaman comic books and the minute I mentioned Jason Momoa, he would have taken it as an opportunity to talk about what it would be like to live underwater. Mr. Oblivious wouldn’t even have considered the fact that I could have had a crush of my own.

Which leads me to option (d)—have a rational conversation with him about his obsession. Though obsessions aren’t rational, especially Scooter’s. Take, for example, the time he was convinced that we needed not just one ant farm, but twenty-seven of them. It was a total nightmare when they escaped. Or the time he went through a pickled food phase. That one was gross. Have you ever had a pickled marshmallow? I don’t recommend it.

Upon reflection, I guess his current obsession with Cassie Newton wasn’t so bad. He didn’t spend our savings on it, a call to a pest control specialist wasn’t required, and he didn’t try to serve me pickled Cheerios for breakfast. Rational conversations with him are best saved for more serious issues, like whether we should get a composting toilet on our boat. Scooter thinks we should. I’m really dubious—the whole idea sounds pretty disgusting. They’re basically litter boxes for humans.

See, I told you; we don’t live like normal people in a normal house on land with a television and a flushing toilet. Nope, life on a boat can be pretty weird at times. Also, the people who live on boats can be pretty weird too. Especially the ones who are obsessed with Cassie Newton.
So you can only imagine how crazy it got when Cassie Newton herself made an appearance in our small town of Coconut Cove. Are you curious as to how bizarre it got? Why don’t you grab yourself a beverage and some sort of chocolaty treat? Then I’ll tell you exactly what happened.

* * *

“We’re going to be late.” Scooter looked at me sideways as he turned into the parking lot at the Tipsy Pirate.

I frowned. “Well, it’s not my fault that Mrs. Moto got into the cupboard and knocked the container of cat food onto the floor. I had to clean it up or else she would have eaten it all while we were gone and then gotten sick.”

“We might need to get childproof locks.”

“Mrs. Moto is too clever for those,” I said. “She’d figure them out in a minute. What we need are cat proof locks.”

“Something you need opposable thumbs to operate,” Scooter suggested, as he pulled into an empty parking spot.

“I’m not even sure that would stop her. Honestly, she’s so smart that she should be on the trivia team instead of me.”

“Yeah, she’d ace the ‘how to outsmart your humans’ category, for sure.” Scooter laughed as he turned off the engine. Then he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “But I’d much rather have you by my side.”

“That’s only because I nailed the Star Wars question last week.”

“Well, that did get us into the semi-finals.” His eyes sparkled. “I have a good feeling about our chances. I think we’ll be heading to the finals after tonight.”

As we walked into the bar, I looked around the room incredulously. The place was jam-packed, even for a Friday night. Were there this many folks interested in watching people answer trivia questions? I shook my head. Probably not. They must be running some sort of special. I rubbed my hands together. Maybe drinks were two for one and they were handing out free appetizers.

Scooter tugged my arm, interrupting my thoughts about whether I should order egg rolls with pineapple dipping sauce or fried cheese balls.

“They’re over there,” he said, pointing at the center of the room where six tables were cordoned off in front of a small stage.

As we walked over to our table, I nudged Scooter. “Did you see that? People are holding up signs with our team name on them.”
He grinned. “There are a lot of folks who want to see the Savvy Sailing Squad emerge victorious.”
“And I thought everyone was just here for the free egg rolls.”

Ben Moretti and Penny Chadwick—two of our teammates—were sitting at the table closest to the stage. I scanned the room, but didn’t see our other team member, Alejandra Lopez.

Penny let out a huge sigh of relief when we sat down. “Boy, am I glad to see y’all. I was starting to worry that you wouldn’t make it,” she admitted with that adorable Texan twang of hers.

“Sorry, we’re late,” Scooter said. “Mrs. Moto had a bit of a feeding frenzy.”

“She’s been eating a lot lately,” Ben said. “Maybe she’s pregnant.”

“She’s not pregnant,” I said. “She’s just greedy. Besides, she’s been spayed. There won’t be any miniature Mrs. Motos running around. One is more than enough.”

“That’s too bad,” Ben said. “I bet she would have had cute kittens. Calico bobtails, just like her.”

“Maybe we should go to the animal shelter and get you a cat of your own,” I said.

“No way.” The young man held his hands up. “That’s way too much responsibility for me.”

“Where’s Alejandra?” Scooter asked as he adjusted his tortoiseshell glasses.

“She texted to say that she’s running late,” Penny said. “Last-minute problems getting the nail salon ready for the grand opening next week.”

Scooter blanched. “What are we going to do if she doesn’t make it? She’s our pop culture expert.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket. “I should call her.”

I put my hand on Scooter’s arm. “Alejandra’s probably really stressed out right now. She’s been working hard to get everything ready. If she can make it, she will.”

“You’re right,” Scooter said slowly. “It’s just that I want the Savvy Sailing Squad to make it through to the finals.”

“I know you do. I want us to win too.”

Ben snorted. “You don’t care if we win, Mollie. You just want to make sure they lose.” He pointed at our rivals, the Barnacle Babes Brigade.

I suppressed a smile. “Well, that might have something to do with it.”

“Can I have everyone’s attention, please?” a voice boomed out over the speakers.

A woman, probably in her early thirties, was standing on stage holding a microphone and waiting for the audience to quiet down. She wore her dark hair in a tousled bob. It was the kind of look which gives the illusion that you’ve just ran your fingers through it when you’ve woken up. Although, in reality, probably took hours to style. Her outfit had the same messy chic look about it, including a cream scarf with a beaded fringe that looked like it had been purposefully wrinkled.

“Hello, my name is Brittany Abernethy,” she said. “I’m the executive producer of a little show called Triviamania. Maybe some of you have heard of it.”

While the crowd cheered and clapped, Scooter’s eyes grew wide. “Can you believe it? The executive producer of Triviamania is here, in Coconut Cove.”

“This is awesome,” Ben said, clapping Scooter on the back.

Brittany grinned. “From that reaction, I’m guessing some of you watch the show.” After another round of applause, she added, “How many of you are Cassie Newton fans?”

Ben let out a whoot-whoot sound. Scooter whistled appreciatively. Penny and I both shrugged.

“Well, then have I got a treat in store for you. Cassie Newton herself is here tonight to emcee the semi-finals.”

The crowd went wild. I put my fingers in my ears when Scooter shrieked like a teenage girl in the presence of a favorite pop idol.

When the noise finally died down, Penny furrowed her brow. “Why is everyone making such a big deal over Cassie Newton?”

I shook my head. “No idea. It’s just a TV show.”

Triviamania isn’t just a TV show,” Scooter spluttered. “It’s the best thing since—”

Fortunately, Brittany interrupted before Scooter could explain to Penny in detail how wonderful Cassie and her show were. A subject I had been getting tired of hearing about.

“Please join me in giving Cassie a warm welcome to the stage.”

The Triviamania theme music blared over the loudspeakers while the crowd got to their feet. When the music ended, Brittany smiled and pointed at the stairs to the stage, expecting Cassie to run up them. When the TV host didn’t appear, the executive producer’s smile faded. Then she turned to the audience, a bright smile plastered back on her face. “Maybe she’s shy,” she said. “Should we try this again?”

The music started again, the crowd continued to cheer, and I wondered if it was too late to feign a headache and sneak back home.

When the music ended this time and Cassie still hadn’t appeared, Brittany frowned. She motioned a man over and whispered something in his ear. Then she turned back to the audience. “Sorry, folks. She’ll be right with us.”

The man bustled off to the kitchen. After poking his head inside, he turned back and gave Brittany a thumbs up sign.
She breathed a sigh of relief, and the music started playing again. The man walked back toward the stage, Cassie Newton trailing behind him. She seemed oblivious to where she was, her cell phone pressed against her ear. She must not have liked what the person on the other end said, because her expression darkened as she walked up the steps.

As the last notes of the Triviamania theme song played, Brittany tried to get Cassie’s attention, but she waved her away. As the music ended, the crowd waited with bated breath to hear from their TV idol.

Cassie held the phone away from her and glared at it. Then she pressed it against her ear again and shrieked loudly enough for people at the rear of the bar to hear clearly, “Don’t you dare even think about it. The only way that’s going to happen is over your dead body!”

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