Swimsuit Body

Swimsuit Body

4.5 11
by Eileen Goudge
     
 

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New York Times–bestselling author Eileen Goudge blends mystery and romance in a captivating new novel featuring intrepid property manager Tish Ballard, whose client’s beachfront home becomes a headline-making homicide scene

With a Hollywood movie about to start filming in the California seaside town of Cypress Bay, Tish

Overview


New York Times–bestselling author Eileen Goudge blends mystery and romance in a captivating new novel featuring intrepid property manager Tish Ballard, whose client’s beachfront home becomes a headline-making homicide scene

With a Hollywood movie about to start filming in the California seaside town of Cypress Bay, Tish Ballard, owner of Rest Easy Property Management, welcomes her first celebrity tenant. Delilah Ward isn’t your typical beautiful, spoiled actress; she’s America’s sweetheart. Even Tish is charmed by the young star, which makes her gruesome discovery of Delilah’s bloodied corpse all the more gut-wrenching.

When someone near and dear to Tish is named a person of interest, the fearless property manager defies the wishes of her former heartthrob, homicide detective Spence Breedlove, and launches her own investigation—with help from her best friend, Ivy, and her erstwhile sidekick, McGee. But no sooner than she starts rubbing elbows with the movie cast and crew—including Delilah’s eerily efficient personal assistant, the starlet’s sexy costar, and the film’s predatory director—is her own life threatened. With so much at stake, Tish has no choice but to do whatever it takes to lure a crafty killer out of hiding.

Swimsuit Body is the 2nd novel in the Cypress Bay Mysteries, which began with Bones and Roses, but the books can be read and enjoyed in any order.
 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/25/2016
In bestseller Goudge’s suspenseful sequel to 2014’s Bones and Roses, movie megastar Delilah Ward rents a beachfront villa in an exclusive gated community in the Northern California town of Cypress Bay. Tish Ballard, the property manager, thinks that the actress is a spoiled brat when Delilah shows up a day early, unannounced, and trashes the place. Tish views the celebrity more favorably after she unleashes a charm offensive. On a later visit to the villa, Tish discovers Delilah lying on a poolside chaise with a bullet in the back of her head. The grim find is especially traumatic for Tish, who the previous summer stumbled on her own mother’s decomposing body in a storage facility. When Tish’s brother becomes a person of interest in the police investigation, due in part to his history of mental illness, she has added incentive to find Delilah’s killer. Goudge tosses in some romance for her amateur sleuth. This mystery is sure to make fans of darker cozies feel right at home. (June)
From the Publisher

Praise for the Cypress Bay Mysteries
“Eileen Goudge’s first book in the Cypress Bay mystery series catches the reader in a strong undertow of a plot. Before you know it, you’re being drawn in, out, and under. Expect to become immersed with the indomitable heroine, Tish Ballard, the cast of colorful secondary characters, and Eileen Goudge’s trademark storytelling.” —Sandra Brown, New York Times–bestselling author, on Bones and Roses
 
“A sophisticated, cleverly crafted mystery with complex, intricately drawn characters . . . I was fascinated by everyone in this story, and never saw the ending coming.” —Donna Ball, author of Dog Days, on Bones and Roses
 
Praise for Eileen Goudge
“Eileen Goudge writes like a house on fire, creating characters you come to love and hate to leave.” —Nora Roberts, New York Times–bestselling author

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781504028738
Publisher:
Open Road Integrated Media LLC
Publication date:
06/07/2016
Series:
Cypress Bay Mysteries Series
Edition description:
Digital Original
Pages:
250
Sales rank:
224,658
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Swimsuit Body

A Cypress Bay Mystery


By Eileen Goudge

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2016 Eileen Goudge
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-2873-8


CHAPTER 1

In my line of work, surprises are never good. That's why, as I'm unlocking the door to the Mediterranean-style beachfront villa on Sand Dollar Lane, I freeze at the sound of movement from inside. It's midmorning, so I'm not expecting company. My last guests checked out yesterday, and the next one isn't due until later today. Whoever they are, they have no business being here.

Suddenly, I'm wide awake, where a minute ago I'd been yawning after another late-night Skype session with my boyfriend. I lower my black Tumi messenger bag and the wicker basket laden with goodies that I'm toting onto the Saltillo-tiled porch. I bend down and pull out my iPad and the .38-caliber Smith and Wesson I'm licensed to carry. I slide the revolver into the waistband of my size-ten Jag jeans. I use the iPad to access the Excel spreadsheet in which I keep track of arrival and departure dates and the maintenance and housekeeping schedules at the dozen properties I manage.

Casa Blanca, in the exclusive gated community of Casa Linda Estates, is the largest and most luxe of my vacation rentals. It sleeps fifteen, so bookings to date have been large parties. The current one is my first single. Also, my first celebrity guest. I consult the spreadsheet, which shows her arriving today, June 1, well after the 3 p.m. check-in time. I return the iPad to my bag. Now the only sound is that of breaking waves from the beach below. The noise I'd heard a minute ago was probably nothing, a mouse skittering or a breeze blowing through a window that had been left open a crack. I tend to spook easily, a holdover from my near death at the hands of an assailant last summer. Now, anytime I hear a car backfire, I think it's a gunshot. So I keep my gun on me just in case and ease the door open as I enter.

No sooner do I step inside does it come flying at me like a projectile-vomited hairball, startling me into almost dropping the basket. A blur of black-and-tan fur materializes into a small dog, a Yorkshire terrier I see when it launches itself at me, pawing at my pant leg and yapping maniacally. I recognize it from the cover story on Delilah Ward in the current issue of People magazine. There's a photo of the dog curled on her lap, wearing the same rhinestone-studded collar.

The bitch has arrived. And I don't mean the dog.

I knew she would be trouble from my dealings with her personal assistant, Brianna Sweeny, a scarily efficient young woman with whom I'd spoken over the phone. I'd envisioned Brianna as the secretarial equivalent of a hired gun, packing weaponry in the form of a laptop and multiple handhelds synced to a Bluetooth device glowing evilly in her ear as she bedeviled me with her employer's endless list of requirements, which included her desired brand of toilet paper (Quilted Northern), pillow (down, medium-firm), and coffeemaker (a Jura Capresso I'd had to order from Williams-Sonoma to replace the Mr. Coffee). To add insult to injury, Brianna had told me I was expected to sign a legal document agreeing not to reveal the location of Miss Ward or so much as breathe her name. I almost called it quits at that point, but in the end I couldn't refuse. I owed it to my clients, the Blankenships. The booking was through the end of August, which amounted to a tidy sum.

After payment had been made in full, I emailed the set of instructions with passcodes for the key lockbox and house alarm. Standard operating procedure. I expect guests to show me the courtesy of arriving and departing on schedule. Occasionally, there's overlap at either end, but never had a guest shown up an entire day in advance. Why hadn't Brianna or her boss requested an early check-in? Did they think I existed solely to serve at the whim of Her Royal Highness?

I shake the Yorkie loose from my leg. "Down, Cujo. I come in peace." My soothing tone has no effect. He continues to boing up and down like a kid in a bouncy castle, barking his furry little head off.

Normally, I carry treats in my pocket — dogs frequently mistake me for an intruder, an occupational hazard — but I'm fresh out on account of the Rottweiler that nearly took a chunk out of my leg at the Andersons' Cape Cod on Cliff Street earlier in the day. At the moment, however, I'm less concerned with any threat posed by Cujo's Mini Me than I am with the beeping sound emanating from the alarm console. I dart over and punch in the passcode, breathing a sigh of relief when the blinking light goes from red to green. The last thing I need is for the cops to show. As it is, I'm on thin ice with Detective Breedlove after my arrest for breaking and entering last summer. (I'd been after clues in my mom's murder investigation, not valuables, but try telling him that.) But that shouldn't have surprised me given our history. When you've lived in a small town your entire life, you don't need class reunions to remind you of bad shit that happened way back when — your former classmates are the folks with whom you do business or serve on committees or vote for (or against) in local elections. Or, as in my case, who are arresting you.

"Hello! Anyone home?" I call in my loudest voice. No answer. She must have stepped out. Fine. I'll leave the goodie basket and be on my way. Filled with locally sourced comestibles — coffee beans from the Daily Grind, blueberry muffins from Paradise Bakery, a selection of cheeses from Fog City Dairy — the basket is my way of welcoming new guests, and I make sure it's the first thing to greet them when they arrive. The bottle of Bonny Doon chardonnay I normally provide is the only item missing from this one. I don't want to tempt Delilah, who is fresh out of rehab, into falling off the wagon. From the stories I hear in AA, I know that it's a short fall.

I head deeper into the house, Mini Me trotting docilely at my heels, having apparently decided I'm friend and not foe. I'm nearing the end of the hallway when I spot a figure lurking in the shadows up ahead. I let out a yelp before I realize it isn't human. It's a foam-core cutout of Delilah, part of a freestanding lobby display advertising her soon-to-be-released action flick, Category Five. I gaze upon her doppelgänger — sultry eyed and pouty lipped, butter-blond tresses blown back as if by hurricane winds — and wonder if she could possibly be that gorgeous in person.

She's more than a pretty face. From humble beginnings — she grew up in foster care — Delilah Ward skyrocketed to fame at age nineteen with the low-budget slasher flick They Come Out at Night, which grossed over two hundred million worldwide and went on to become a cult classic. She costarred in several more pictures after that, before her life and career were derailed by personal tragedy. Ten months ago, she lost her husband, former stuntman Eric Nyland, when his private plane went down in the ocean off Catalina Island. She went into seclusion following reports of a breakdown, resurfacing a couple months later to confirm in a press conference that she had been in rehab, after the tabloids ran a blurry shot of her outside the Betty Ford Center. Since then, she'd gone on to make another picture. Now she's here in Cypress Bay, where her next picture is being filmed.

It's a big deal in our small community. Excitement has been building since the film crew set up camp along the coast twenty miles north of town. Our sleepy Northern California seaside town hasn't seen this much buzz since Brad and Angelina were here to look at a property a few years back.

I step from the hallway into the great room. Usually, the ocean view showcased by twelve-foot floor-to-ceiling windows is the first thing I notice when I walk in. But that's not what draws my attention now. I come to an abrupt halt and look around in disbelief. The room is in shambles. Dirty plates and glasses litter every surface. Cigarette butts overflow from saucers used as makeshift ashtrays — never mind this is a nonsmoking residence. A red-wine stain mars a fawn sofa cushion, and the residue of white powder on the glass surface of the wrought-iron coffee table tells me booze wasn't the only substance abused. Delilah Ward didn't just arrive a day early; she partied all night.

I've spilled more alcohol than the average person drinks in a lifetime, so normally I don't judge. I've been sober four years but still have dreams from which I awake disoriented and drenched in sweat, wondering where I was the night before and who I had sex with, verbally abused, or inflicted bodily harm to. But this is beyond the pale. Typical of a drunk, Delilah has trashed the place when she wasn't even supposed to be here.

I make my way into the open-plan kitchen where the granite countertops and butcher-block island are awash with empties and half-eaten deli platters. There's wet garbage in the recycling bin and, inexplicably, a man's wallet. The soles of my sneakers stick to the tiled floor where spills had been left to dry. My disgust mounts as I move from room to room surveying the wreckage that extends throughout the house. The master bedroom looks like the post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Astrodome, bedcovers torn apart and the cream carpet strewn with items of clothing. Beer bottles sit in pools of moisture on the cherry night tables. Towels are heaped on the travertine floor of the en suite bathroom, and in one of the double sinks, an upended container spills lavender-scented lotion. A close look shows it to be from the set of Molton Brown toiletries I'd supplied upon Delilah's request. I'm mad enough to wring her pretty little neck.

Mini Me whines piteously as if to say, It wasn't me. I'm bending to give him a reassuring pat when I see what he left on the Turkish runner in the hallway. "Bitch," I growl. "Not you," I say when the Yorkie yips in response. It's not his fault that his owner didn't let him out to do his business.

I so do not need this. I have two more stops on my morning rounds, one of which involves an ant invasion, the other a dead tree limb. I could leave this for Esmeralda, my housecleaner who was hired by Delilah to come in every day, but I don't. With a sigh, I push up the sleeves of my turquoise Hang Ten Surf Shop sweatshirt to tackle the worst of the mess. I'm itching to phone Brianna — her Bluetooth device will be buzzing like an angry hornet in her ear when I do — but it can wait.


Dripping with sweat, I dump the last of the three large garbage bags I've filled in the trash bins. I'm heading out the door when I remember the goodie basket that I left on the kitchen counter. I retrace my steps, mentally scratching out the words Compliments of the Management on the handwritten card tucked inside and substituting Bite me as I retrieve it. I'd sooner give it to a stranger on the street.

If I were nicer, I'd cut Delilah some slack, if only because she was recently widowed. But I'm not nice, so to hell with it. I'm headed to my SUV with the basket tucked under my arm when a midnight-blue Lexus sports coupe pulls into the driveway. A blond woman, dressed in short-shorts and a tank top, climbs from the driver's side. A jolt of recognition has me halting in my tracks. I stare at her as she walks toward me. Even with the huge designer sunglasses that partially cover her face, I instantly know who — or rather what — I'm looking at.

The supernova that is Delilah Ward.

She really is that gorgeous in person. Slender and perfectly proportioned, she has legs that go on forever and boobs that bounce in a way that tells me they're not the store-bought kind. Her hair is naturally blond — I know from the pictures I've seen of her as a child — and falls in loose curls around her shoulders. If someone told me she was from another planet, it would make sense. A planet where there is no such thing as cellulite, and you can party hard without appearing the least bit hungover the morning after.

She smiles, dazzling me with the whiteness of her teeth as she extends her hand to shake mine. "Hi, I'm Delilah! And you must be ..." She frowns as though trying to remember my name.

"Tish." It's short for Leticia, my grandmother's name. It's a moment before I remember I'm mad at the woman with whom I'm shaking hands. "I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow."

"Oh, God." Her smile gives way to a rueful grimace. "I knew I was forgetting something. I promised Brianna I'd call and it totally slipped my mind. Karol" — she names the director of the picture — "wanted us to meet to go over some script changes, so I flew in a day early. I'm sorry. My bad." Her gaze drops to the goodie basket. "For me? Oh, now I feel even worse. I'm such an idiot!"

"It happens." I can overlook the fact that she failed to inform me of her change in plans, which seems minor compared to her having trashed the place. "But I have to charge you for the extra day."

"No problem. I'll have Brianna take care of it," she says blithely.

"There's something else we need to discuss." I say, adopting a firmer tone.

She pushes her sunglasses onto her head. Her eyes are the blue of a tropical lagoon fringed with dark lashes. I become transfixed as I gaze into them. "Is this about the neighbor lady who complained? She calmed down after I explained we were rehearsing. I'm surprised she said anything."

Mrs. Cooley is the closest neighbor. She's in her eighties and hard of hearing, so it was more than loud talking if she'd called to complain. "From the looks of it, you were doing more than rehearsing."

"Oh. Right. About that," she says, catching my meaning. "I was going to tidy up, but it was late by the time everyone left, and ..." She trails off at the stony look on my face, and I brace myself for a blast of who-do-you-think-you-are star displeasure. But she smiles instead, a dimple forming in one cheek — the dimple that fixed her place in the Hollywood firmament from frame one. "I bet you think I'm one of those Hollywood types. I'm not, I promise. I'm usually very considerate."

I soften toward her. "Well, you might want to review the rental agreement. I wouldn't want your stay spoiled by any ... unpleasantness. Also, keep in mind the housekeeper, Esmeralda, works a tight schedule. If you need full-time help, I can recommend a service."

Delilah waves her hand in an airy gesture, the diamond engagement ring she wears on her right hand, signifying her widowhood, flashing in the sunlight. "That won't be necessary. I can manage. Between you and me" — she drops her voice to confide — "I'm no stranger to scrubbing toilets."

"It'll be our secret," I reply with a smile. She glances down at the basket that's tucked under my arm. Am I forgiven? her plaintive gaze seems to say. I relent as I had earlier with Mini Me when he licked my hand. I hand her the basket. "Enjoy."

She beams as if I'd just awarded her an Oscar. "Thank you, I will." She plucks the card from the basket, scribbles something on the back with a pen she produced from her teal Prada bag, and hands it to me. "My cell number," she says casually, as though it hadn't been as tightly guarded by her assistant as the pin number for her bank account. "Call me if Brianna gives you a hard time. I pay her to be scary because I'm the world's biggest softie," she adds in a hushed voice, eyes sparkling like those of a naughty but adorable child who pulled one over on the adults.

I walk away confused. Was that the spoiled creature who'd insisted on two-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and who couldn't possibly drink coffee that wasn't brewed in a machine that cost more than what I make in a week? The woman I'd just encountered had seemed ... sweet. A word I never thought I would use to describe Delilah Ward.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Swimsuit Body by Eileen Goudge. Copyright © 2016 Eileen Goudge. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Eileen Goudge is one of the nation’s most successful authors of women’s fiction. She began as a young adult writer, helping to launch the phenomenally successful Sweet Valley High series, and in 1986 she published her first adult novel, the New York Times bestseller Garden of Lies.
 
She has published fifteen novels in all, including the three-book saga of Carson Springs, Thorns of Truth—a sequel to Gardens of Lies—and 2012’s The Replacement Wife. She lives and works in New York City.

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Swimsuit Body 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
BuckeyeAngel 6 months ago
Letricea/Tish owns Rest Easy Property management. Tish has a dozen properties she manages. Delilah Ward is Tish’s first celebrity guest. Went Tish checked the property her largest Delilah had already been there even though she was not due until 3 pm today. But Tish found a mess and went about cleaning it . As Tish was preparing to leave Delilah showed up and apologized for being early as well as the mess. Tish found herself actually liking Delilah and that surprised her as she figured Delilah would be trouble. Tish had been given a list of requirements for Delilah including signing a document agreeing not to reveal where Delilah was. The booking went through the end of August. Delilah was fresh out of rehab .Delilah has a soon to be released action movie called Category 5. Delilah had grown up in foster care. At nineteen became famous in They Come out At Night which became a cult classic.Her life and career derailed when Delilah’s husband stuntman Eric Nyland ‘s plane went down in the ocean. Her next film was to be made there in Cyprus Bay. After several days Tish decided to check on Delilah and found her body with a bullet in the back of her head. Tish decides to start an investigation of her own with help from her best friend Ivy. Tish and Ivy had been friends since grade school. Tish’s mentally ill brother had become a person of interest. I liked this story alot. It was a bit slow at first but then it started going and grabbed you and you didn’t want to put this down. It had a good plot as well as good writing. The story had action, murder, murder, suspense, and so much more. I really did enjoy this. I liked the ins and outs of this story especially the ones including Tish. i recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
sandrabrazier 8 months ago
Tish Ballard has her own company. She manages properties for people, usually the very wealthy. She has super-star Delilah Ward staying in one of her most exclusive properties. Because the starlet arrived a day early and had trashed the house with a party, Tish felt compelled to risk complaints about intruding on the star privacy and check up on things there. Upon her arrival, she finds the star murdered! I really liked some of the characters in this story. Ms Goudge creates realistic characters that can be both dramatic and humorous at the same time. However, although this book was entertaining, I did not feel the mystery presented any challenge. If you want something light, this is for you. But if you are looking for a serious mystery, keep looking.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book. It is well written and the characters have depth. Ms Goudge provides us with many plausible suspects and some good twists. I had a hard time putting it down after the first few chapters. Can't wait to read other books by her. Tish Ballard not only finds the body but must find out who did commit the murder because she is convinced her brother did not do it. Can't wait to try first in the series.
MBurton 9 months ago
First let met just say this book is labeled a mystery novel and this is not something I normally read. I read primarily romance novels. I actually got this ARC by accident, but what a great accident it turned out to be. I have to say, I really liked this book. I loved the characters, storyline, the style of writing and it had a touch of romance! I was completely entertained through the whole book and read it in one sitting! I highly recommend this book and I will definately be checking out more of this author's work. ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Yo
Anonymous 8 months ago
Yo
Anonymous 8 months ago
What do you have to tell me?
Anonymous 9 months ago
Walks in wearing a sky blue bikini.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Reserved
Anonymous 9 months ago
Walks in
Anonymous 9 months ago
Hey kelsey.(reserved)