USA Today Bestselling Author
A murder at a costume party. A boat full of suspects. What will she do when a body drops and the masks stay up?
Pet psychic Jolene could use a break from hiding her flawed powers. So when her cop crush and his lie-detecting dog invite her to a masked Policeman’s Ball on a boat, she dives in head-first. But the problems from her past return when the officer of the year turns up dead.
Working to lay bare the murderer, Jolene discovers both the man who broke her heart and the woman who cursed her are onboard… and engaged to be married. But her troubled history threatens to blow her cover as she combs through a conga line of potential culprits — including the ghost of a deceased sea captain.
Can Jolene expose the cop’s killer when she’s still under a crippling curse?
The Policeman’s Ball is a masquerade and that is the only reason Jolene has decided to accompany Peter. She has no desire to run into the people she’s sure will be there. Those like her former Boss, her ex-fiancé and the person who cursed her.
Peter doesn’t seem very happy to be in attendance either, he doesn’t particularly care for the Officer of the Year or his cronies. He catches them harrassing a rookie before the dinner.
Things were going fine for Jolene until she runs into Eve in the ladies room. That could have been a disaster, but it was avoided when a woman gushed over Eve’s engagement ring. Seems Eve not only took Jolene’s job but also her fiancé.
Now we’ve got two people who really don’t want to be at this function, and then things fall apart when said Officer of the Year fails to show at the podium, and the Rookie says someone’s been murdered. There’s a bit of a difference in location when the body is found in the water.
This is a favorite scene.
Chief Taylor stepped forward, and the crowd quieted. His dark eyes looked out, scanning everyone present. When his gaze swept over me, I stepped closer to Peter, suddenly uneasy. It was like he could see right through me.
“Until we determine the cause of death, we’ll be asking questions of everyone present.”
“But, sir.” The rookie, Russo, stepped forward, one of the lenses of his glasses still cracked. “We already know the cause of death—it must have been the ghost captain!”
A mixture of snickers and gasps rose from the watching crowd. I glanced down at Daisy, who stood on Peter’s other side. Her tail wagged.
I shivered. Was there really a murderous pirate ghost on the loose?
Russo continued, his eyes big and round behind his thick glasses. “It’s true! I tell you, I saw the ghost pirate kill an officer with his hook. It must’ve been Davies!” He drug his finger across his throat.
Chief Taylor pointed down at the dead officer. “Son, Davies isn’t bloodied is he? Look at his throat.”
Russo blinked down at the body, then turned quickly away. “No.” His chest heaved. “That’s true.”
Chief Taylor raised his voice. “Anyone else see the ghost pirate tonight?”
We all looked around at each other, but no one spoke.
Chief Taylor clapped a hand on Russo’s shoulder. “You were probably the target of a prank, alright? We’ll get to the bottom of this.” He turned back to the crowd. “We’ll break into teams, interrogate all the witnesses. No one is to leave this ship until they’ve been cleared by another officer to go.”
I frowned, my tipsy brain struggling to keep up. “But who’s going to interrogate the officers? Half the people here are in uniform.” I scoffed, which earned me a couple of disapproving looks from two men in uniform who stood in front of me. I lowered my voice and turned to Peter. “Are we not going to acknowledge that another cop could’ve done it?”
He looked down at me. “I don’t disagree.” His expression softened, and a grin played at the corner of his mouth. “Want to help me make sure justice is done? We do make a pretty good team.”
I opened my mouth, unsure how I felt about that. On one hand, I’d loved that he called us a team and my natural snoopiness made me want to get to the bottom of this. But what if I had to ask questions of Zale or Eve or any of my former coworkers?
Bon shouldered his way back to the middle of the circle and stood over the distraught singer and Davies’s body. “And masks off, everybody.” He snapped his fingers a few times. “Pronto!” He ripped his own off and shoved it in his trousers pocket.
Come again? My heart pounded against my ribs as all around me partygoers removed their masks. I took a step back, looking for the exit. No way could mine come off.
Chief Taylor’s lip curled, and his cheeks flushed a shade of purple. “Have you forgotten that you’re not the commanding officer, Inspector Bon?”
The muttering around the group of officers and their dates quieted, and eyes dropped to the deck.
I grimaced. Yeesh. If I were Bon, I’d be quaking in my loafers right about now.
The inspector’s shoulders hunched up into his large ears, and he slowly backed out of the center, grumbling apologies as he went.
Chief Taylor sniffed and adjusted the neck of his uniform. He glared at the group of several hundred guests, his bushy brows casting his deepset eyes into even darker shadow. “Everyone, remove your masks!” His gravelly voice carried over the crowd. “Now!”
My stomach twisted. I was torn between smirking about the fact that he’d essentially said “ditto” to Bon’s order and absolute terror that I was about to be exposed and my worlds were about to collide.
Peter pulled his mask back over his head as everyone around me who still wore theirs followed suit. I took a step back, and Daisy’s penetrating gaze swiveled my way. I was at a party with people who knew the secret of my shifterhood, in the midst of a bunch of cops who I was trying to keep my secret from, and a dog who could sniff lies. Was this a nightmare? I pinched the back of my arm. Ow!
A crease formed between Peter’s brows as he watched me.
I scrunched my nose up in an exaggerated smile and waved a hand. “Mosquito.”
Daisy let out a low growl.
All around us, cops and guests dispersed, unmasked, and began to form small groups. Chatter and questioning filled the air, dampening the sound of the creaking ship and the lapping waves. A few officers escorted the teary singer away from Davies’s body and covered it with a heavy canvas tarp.
My heart thundered in my chest, and I sniffed, though my chest felt too tight to get a good breath. I looked around for a waiter with a tray of drinks. Where was a stiff potion when you needed it?
I thumbed over my shoulder and took another step back. “So, I was with you all night, and you know I wasn’t involved, right?”
Confusion flashed over Peter’s features, but I ignored it and pressed on.
“So, I can just… skedaddle?”
Peter shifted on his feet. “You uh—you don’t want to help me question guests?” He pointed at my face. “You’ve still got your mask on.”
Yep, and that’s where it was staying. And normally, yes. I’d love to be in the thick of things with him. But considering how very badly this could turn out if I did….
I covered my mouth and pretended to yawn. “Aw, man, normally for sure, but I am beat.”
He lifted a thick brow. “You’re normally such a night owl.” His tone was playful, but he watched me intently.
My stomach lurched, and I chanced a glance around, as if someone might have overheard and known that I was, indeed, an owl shifter. I forced a smile, though my legs felt as wobbly as if I had sea legs.
Peter blinked and shook himself. “Oh, duh.” He scratched the back of his neck and stared down at his shoes. “Sorry, I didn’t even think about the pay aspect. Since this hasn’t officially been deemed a crime, I suppose I can’t officially hire you.” He lifted his eyes back to me and grinned. “But maybe there’s a seagull or a crab who saw something?” His eyes softened. “I’d appreciate your help on this one… and your company.”
Oh for sand’s sake, just stab me in the heart already. If he knew what a street rat I was, he’d never be looking at me with such kindness and… I bit my lip. And there was something else in that look, too… a wanting. I gulped and reminded myself that I had nothing to give.
“Heh.” I tried for a light chuckle. “Good one, yeah a seagull or—” My breath caught as the intimidating Chief Taylor, flanked by officers on either shoulder, moved toward us, his narrowed gaze sweeping the crowd. I had to get out of here before he forced me to take my mask off.
An idea suddenly occurred to me, and I snapped my gaze back to Peter, grinning. “You’re right!”
He straightened and smiled. “I am?” “Yep.” I pointed toward the cabin. “There was a giant fish tank in there. Maybe one of them saw something.”
Chief Taylor stepped closer, right behind Peter. I gasped in a breath. “I’m going to go check it out—now! Catch you later!”
Peter’s face fell, but I didn’t have time to mentally berate myself just then. I gathered up my skirt in both hands and spun away, then dashed through the crowd, back into the ballroom.
Johnson, Erin. Game of Bones: A fresh, funny magic mystery with a dash of romance! (Pet Psychic Magical Mysteries Book 3). Kindle Locations (672-733). Kindle Edition.
Jolene doesn’t get away with this tactic for long, and she actually does have a conversation with her ex and Eve. The interaction only serves to raise questions in Peter’s mind.
Although she gets some time away from him, Peter once again enlists her aid in his investigation. Unfortunately, it isn’t an official one.
Jolene’s past is coming out in pieces and she really needs to deal with both parties and find it in her heart to tell Peter the truth.
There are more than a few surprises in this one including a summons to the Shifter King.
Plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns as Jolene figures a good part of the mystery out.
I am already reading the next book.
5 Contented Purrs for Erin!
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A native of Arizona, Erin loves her new home in the Pacific Northwest! She writes paranormal cozy novels– stories that are mysterious, magical, and will hopefully make you laugh.
When not writing, she’s hiking, napping with her dogs, and losing at trivia night.
Erin’s had a ton of different jobs, from blackjack dealer to PA on a horror movie to Pilates instructor but has finally embraced her true calling as a writer. Thanks so much for your interest and for supporting her!