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One of Her Own - A Gemi Kittredge Mystery, Book 1 (PAPERBACK)

One of Her Own - A Gemi Kittredge Mystery, Book 1 (PAPERBACK)

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During an early morning run on the beach along Maui’s Kahului Bay, Gemi Kittredge discovers the body of a young woman. As though that wasn’t upsetting enough, she knows her. Heleena was a member of her gym.

Gemi doesn’t trust cops. They failed to help her in the past. So even though they assure her they’re on the case now, she’s not so sure. Armed with physical ability from being the top ranked MMA fighter on the island and a passion for helping vulnerable women and children, Gemi sets out on her own to hunt down Heleena’s killer.

But as she gets closer to uncovering the truth, Gemi’s deepest fears rise to the surface. If she’s right about who the killer is, nowhere in her world is safe.

ONE OF HER OWN is the first book in the Gemi Kittredge Mysteries series.

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My sister was planning to leave again. It wouldn’t be for very long this time. I knew because she asked to go for a run with me. A small chunk of time for us to connect before business took her off the island. If the trip would be longer than four days, she would have asked me to block out the entire night. Then we’d crawl into her bed like teenagers having a sleepover and watch whatever was playing on Hallmark. I swear Ashlyn’s television was stuck on that channel.
“I’ll wait for you outside,” I shouted up the condo stairs, running shoes in hand.
“Be right there,” she called in reply.
That was fifteen minutes ago. So while I waited . . . and waited, I loosened up. A few gentle squats and quad stretches. Then I balanced on my left leg, right leg straight out behind me parallel to the ground, arms stretched forward. Warrior 3 pose. To maintain balance, I locked my focus on the creamy-white and bluish-purple orchid planted next to the sidewalk. Our gardening-crazy neighbor told me it was called a “Blue Fairy.” All I knew was that it was pretty and smelled good.
I was in the middle of doing warrior pose on the other side when the door opened.
“Finally,” I groaned. “I could’ve done two miles by now.”
Ashlyn, looking gorgeous as always, pulled the door shut behind her, took one step toward me, then went back inside, returning two seconds later.
“Forgot my water bottle.” She went back in again and came out with a baseball cap. “Gotta be careful about the sun. Don’t want wrinkles.” She patted her cheeks with the tips of her fingers.
I pulled my short hair into a stubby ponytail and added a headband to keep the wisps in place. “You remembered sunscreen?”
“What did I just say about the sun?”
My concern was skin cancer, not wrinkles.
“Where are we going?” Ashlyn asked, pulling her left foot up, heel to her butt for a count of two. Then the right foot. And that was the extent of her warmup.
“Down to Kahului Bay. We’ll take Kuikahi Drive to Maui Lani Parkway then to Kamehameha Avenue.”
Her jaw went slack. “How far is that?”
“Seven miles.” She didn’t have to say a word for me to hear her complaint. A fourteen-mile round trip was too much. “That’s two miles less than I usually do. You can make it. I’ll go slow.”
She swatted my shoulder with the back of her hand. “Brat. All right, let’s do this.”
We took a right out of the driveway, crossed the street, and jogged on the sidewalk. Mrs. Ly, the gardening-crazy neighbor, was on her front porch tending to one of three massive hanging baskets. She waved with both hands and smiled with her whole face.
“Good morning, Kittredge girls.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Ly,” we answered in unison.
Ash and I had lived on Maui for fifteen years, half my life, and I still didn’t know the names of more than a handful of plants. The Blue Fairy orchid being one, thanks to Mrs. Ly. I should let her give me a lesson sometime. We could take a stroll around the neighborhood, and she could share her knowledge. My mind instantly scanned my jam-packed schedule for an empty hour where I could squeeze in a walk. There wasn’t one. Not until the schoolyear concluded in about six weeks.
Speaking of schedules, Ashlyn had already put me behind by ten minutes today. After the first mile, I was good and loose and had to stop myself from increasing to my normal speed. Along with shortening the route, running at Ashlyn’s pace was okay today too. We were enjoying sister time.
At an intersection, we jogged in place and waited for a car to turn. I looked left and noticed a couple standing by a car a few yards down the street. They were young, high schoolers or possibly college students. The girl had her back to the Corolla. He stood in front of her with his arms on either side of her shoulders. He leaned in, talking close to her face. If I’d looked away at that moment, I would have dismissed the scene as a boyfriend and girlfriend having an intimate discussion. But a blink before I did, the girl turned away from him and looked directly at us. Her eyes went wide, and her back straightened. The boy turned, too, and gave me a grin that made my skin crawl.

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