One Woman’s Junk
Psychic Consignment Mystery Book 1
Letty wanted her ashes scattered under a full moon at the beach, but she couldn’t have known about the lightning strike….or did she?
When their beloved godmother dies suddenly, the Concordia sisters converge on the beach town of Sarasota, Florida to mourn the passing of the woman who raised them. While there, they must scatter her ashes as instructed and decide what to do with her consignment shop, One Woman’s Junk.
Navigating her relationships with her older sisters is hard enough for Beatrice, but after they’re all struck by lightning, things get more complicated in the land of sun and sand. With the power of a newly inherited crystal ring, Bea is suddenly assailed by psychic visions when she touches certain objects.
When her godmother is posthumously accused of having stolen a designer purse (which Bea knows darn well is a knock-off – thank you very much), Bea becomes obsessed with proving her innocence.
Contending with a physical injury, challenging family dynamics, and business headaches, Bea struggles to harness and understand her visions.
With the help of an unusual new “friend” and the sexy carpenter next door, she’s determined to clear Letty’s good name.
But doing so may be a bad decision.
One that could cost her not only her relationship with her sisters…but her life.
“I don’t think she would have wanted us to die doing this!”
Beatrice Concordia fought the inappropriate urge to laugh as her thirty-five-year-old sister, Edwina, shouted into the wind.
Overhead, the Siesta Key Beach sky was ominously dark as huge storm clouds approached over the Gulf of Mexico. Thunder boomed in the distance as the wind gathered strength. The air crackled as lightning lit up the night sky.
Bea, stuck in a wheelchair, huddled with Winnie and her other sister, Amanda, against the approaching storm. Her leg encased in a cast and jutting out at a ninety-degree angle, she clutched a cardboard box to her chest as she assured them, “Nobody’s going to die.”
Neither of her older sisters looked like they believed her.
“Florida is the lightning strike capital of the United States,” Amanda, the oldest at forty, informed them. “We should take cover.”
“But we’ve got the beach to ourselves,” Beatrice argued.
It was an accurate assessment considering that, except for a flock of seagulls that were clustered together against the wind, they were the only ones on the white sand beach frequently touted as the best in the United States.
“That’s because nobody else is stupid enough to be out here, Bea,” Winnie shouted.
As though to prove her wrong, a small scruffy brown dog charged toward them, barking excitedly.
“That’s it,” Amanda growled. “I’m making an executive decision. Even the dog is telling us to get out of here. We’re going back.”
“But Letty wanted—” Bea protested as her older sister grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and slowly began to turn her away from the crashing waves.
Large raindrops began to lazily pelt them.
“Help me,” Amanda urged Winnie. Even though they were on a mat designed so wheelchairs could be brought out to the beach, she was having a tough time maneuvering against the wind.
“Letty didn’t ask for much,” Bea reminded their middle sister.
Winnie hesitated, snatched the box from Beatrice’s arms, and started running toward the water’s edge.
“Come back,” Amanda yelled, chasing her until the end of the mat. Then she stopped, like a dog that’s reached the perimeter of its electric fence. “You’re going to get yourself killed, Edwina.”
Beatrice sat alone in her chair, farther away from the water. The dog stopped beside her, lifted his head to the side, and looked at her curiously.
“Letty wanted her ashes spread at the full moon,” Beatrice explained. “She didn’t ask for much.”
Leticia “Letty” Gould never asked for much, not even when she unexpectedly became guardian to the Concordia sisters on Amanda’s tenth birthday, just three months after Beatrice had been born. Letty had taken her godmother duties seriously when the girls’ parents had died in a boating accident witnessed by the two older sisters.
She’d put her own life on hold for more than twenty years and she’d raised the girls, but once they’d all moved out, she quit her practical secretarial job, packed up all of her earthly belongings, and moved from the brutal winters of Syracuse, New York to the tropical shores of Sarasota, Florida to open a consignment store.
Beatrice regretted that she hadn’t visited her godmother more often, but she’d been enjoying her freedom. Jumping from job to job where all the beautiful people were—ski slopes, and private yachts, and parties, oh the parties. Until her fall, she’d thought she had a good life. Now, she realized she didn’t have much of anything.
Unlike Amanda, who’d opted for a marriage and stable, if unfulfilling, suburban life, and Winnie, who’d gone after her business, building big city dreams, Bea had decided to live a “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” motto. She’d never seen the importance of committed relationships or a career when there was a party to be joined somewhere.
But lately, in the months before her accident, she’d started to think that maybe that wasn’t enough for her. She’d realized she wanted something more out of life. She’d grown disillusioned of the life of a leaf drifting on the wind. She’d started to entertain the idea that it was time for her to put down roots.
She’d thought she’d be the one to determine where and with whom she’d do that, but fate had other plans. Her accident had brought her last job to an unexpected end and Letty’s death had brought her to Sarasota with her sisters.
She blinked, telling herself her eyes were tearing from the whipping sand, not because she was feeling sorry for herself being stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, dislocated middle finger in a splint, and a fractured family.
As though he sensed she needed comfort, the dog jumped into her lap and stared at her intently with his dark eyes.
She blinked away her tears and told him, “Amanda is terrified of the water. If she didn’t love Letty so much, she would never even have come out on the beach. I don’t think she’s stepped on sand since she was ten.”
She watched her sister, hovering at the edge of the mat, peer worriedly at Winnie who had reached the shoreline and was struggling to open the box.
Amanda had been the only one to make it to Sarasota before Letty died, maybe that’s why she seemed sadder. She’d held their godmother’s hand as she slipped away. Maybe it intensified her grief. Or maybe it was like Letty had told Beatrice during their last phone call—Amanda was slowly dying of a broken heart.
Beatrice felt a surge of hatred for Ronald, the cheating husband who’d hurt her sister. She didn’t really know the man well, having only met him a handful of times over the last ten years, but she despised him anyway. Always had. Part of her had always blamed him for keeping the sisters from bonding as adults. He’d discouraged Amanda from going on any of the girls trips Bea had tried to arrange.
Winnie let out a whoop of satisfaction as she won her battle with the box and pulled out the plastic bag that contained their godmother’s cremated remains. If Amanda seemed heartbroken and depressed, Winnie, had seemed downright aggressive. She’d always been the most driven of the three sisters, but now she sported an attitude that she brandished like a sharpened sword, taking no prisoners. Beatrice wondered if Winnie ran her business the way she was trying to run their lives since they’d arrived in Florida, with an annoying combination of know-it-allness and bullying that left no room for compromise or empathy.
The dog on Beatrice’s lap sniffed at the moss agate ring on her finger. The green crystal jewelry had been bequeathed to her by Letty. She’d gotten the ring, Winnie received the amethyst bracelet, and Amanda inherited the rose quartz earrings. Letty’s Last Will and Testament had not specified who should get her prized fluorite necklace, and none of the sisters had been willing to claim the keepsake.
For a moment, the rain ceased, the wind eased, and there was a break in the clouds. The moon shone on Winnie as she waded into the pounding surf.
“You go, Winnie,” Bea yelled.
“Be careful!” Amanda warned, daring to venture off the mat a few steps, but unable to move more than a yard closer to the shore.
“We love you, Letty!” Winnie yelled. She ripped open the bag and spilled the contents into the swirling Gulf waters.
“Love you, Letty,” Beatrice murmured as her tears started anew.
The wind ripped the bag from Winnie’s grip, almost knocking her over in the process as she staggered out of the water.
“Can we go now?” Amanda begged, her voice cracking with panic.
Winnie nodded and stumbled up the beach toward her. Together, the two older sisters, arms linked, marched back to Beatrice.
She held out her uninjured hand, and they both grabbed it. “Concordia sisters!” they chanted in unison, just as their godmother had taught them to do so many years before.
For a brief moment, for the first time in what seemed like forever, it felt like they were connected. Despite the solemn occasion, Bea’s heart soared. But it didn’t last.
Amanda broke first, grabbing a handle bar of the wheelchair and starting to push. Winnie quickly joined her. The thunder boomed closer, so loud that their bodies vibrated.
“Okay,” Beatrice agreed. “Maybe this wasn’t the best idea.” She leaned forward as though that would help them move faster.
Together, Amanda and Winnie struggled to push the loaner wheelchair across the expanse of sand as they were all quickly soaked to the skin by the now pouring rain. The wind changed direction, almost knocking them off their feet from the side. The world-renowned soft sand pelted their skin.
Lightning struck the beach thirty yards away and the sisters all screamed in unison at the explosion. The dog yelped and burrowed deeper into Beatrice’s lap.
“We’ve got to get out of here,” Amanda warned as another gust of wind buffeted them.
But it was too late.
The sky spilt open above. A bolt of lightning struck.