the check in
Taylor Burns checks in to the spa for a massage. Who’s this? She’s not his regular masseuse. Her name is Cammie, and she’s got a secret.
BARE FOOT ADVICE
Taylor’s a practical guy. Cammie seems a bit dreamy. She advises him to remove his shoes so he can “feel in touch with the earth.” Taylor gets the feeling she hasn’t got a lot of experience at massage.
INTO THE TUB
Cammie steps out of her sweatpants as Taylor relaxes in the tub. Taylor’s been treated to a spa afternoon by a mysterious stranger. He or she left a gift certificate at Taylor’s condo. Whoever left it must have known that this day was a sad day for Taylor — the one-year anniversary of his mom’s disappearance.
Anniversary of a very bad day
Taylor’s mother, Elizabeth Powell Burns, was not quite 46 when she disappeared while surfing in the Atlantic off Shipwreck Bay. The town’s gossips believe she was murdered. So do the police. But her body was never found, and the suspect list is long and the motivations are many. The investigation has gone cold.
Maybe a massage will help
Taylor is desperate to believe that his mom simply drowned. She had taken to surfing while Taylor’s dad was serving in the Air Force in Hawaii, and catching waves had become her life’s passion. As Cammie lets in the daylight, he lies face down on the table, hoping to relax and leave his grief behind.
When Taylor rolls over on his back, he sees that Cammie’s flashing him. While his head was surrounded by the face cradle, she’d been shedding clothes.
Cammie slips off the draping cloth, leaving Taylor exposed. He’s turned on. And he’s embarrassed. And puzzled. What the hell? The Inno-Scents Spa is a high-class operation, not some cheap happy ending joint.
Steffie steps in
As Taylor’s lying there naked, the door opens and Steffie Voss looks in. “Oh, my,” she says. “I do hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Taylor explains, cammie peeks
Well, she certainly did interrupt. Cammie retreats to the privacy screen to change back into her sweats. Taylor had known Steffie for many years, and now he tries to explain away the scene she just saw.
a mystery solved
Steffie has been hopelessly in love with Taylor since they were both 12. And now she reveals that she’s the one who sent him the spa gift card. “I know how much you miss your mom,” she says.
a plea by text
Taylor retreats to a coffee house to try and figure it all out. His cell phone buzzes with a message from Cammie. It contains only one word: HELP!