An unidentified man clutching a scrap of paper…
A nuclear engineering professor flirting with danger in more ways than one…
Email messages that appear to be coming from a program that was junked in the 60s…
Julia Fairchild and her sister Carly stumble onto a near-dead John Doe while enjoying a week in Seattle. Despite Julia’s resolve to avoid playing detective while on vacation, she is drawn into a web of mysterious emails and modern-day subterfuge.
After she runs into an old friend from her college days, she becomes an unsuspecting pivotal player in an undercover investigation. Fueled by her innate curiosity and sense of integrity, she searches for the answers to her questions.
And learns more than she bargained for.
Played in Seattle by PJ Peterson
SERIES Julia Fairchild | GENRE Adult Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER Independent | PUBLICATION DATE November 28, 2022
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PLAYED IN SEATTLE
A Julia Fairchild Novel
© 2022 PJ Peterson
Traces of snow on the highest peaks of the Olympic Mountains stood out against brilliant blue skies as Julia and Carly traveled north on Interstate 5 to Seattle.
Julia and Carly had just passed the multiple entrances to JBLM, officially known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which was the home of the United States Army I Corps and the 62nd Airlift Wing. The traffic along this part of I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma was brutal during weekdays when the commuters added their numbers to the thousands of military and civilian personnel who worked at the base itself. On this beautiful Saturday in May, Julia was able to cruise along at a comfortable seventy miles per hour, and had thus far not encountered any delays due to accidents or other mishaps.
“We should be pulling up at the hotel shortly after two o’clock,” said Julia.
“I don’t understand why you decided to visit Seattle for a whole week,” said Carly. “It’s not like you’ve never been here.”
“Like I told you last week, Josh and I had planned to do all the things normal tourists do when they come here for the first time. Even though he’s not coming, after all, I decided to take the week off anyway and play tourist. When I was getting my bachelor’s degree here at the U of Washington, I didn’t have the time or the money to do half the things you and I are going to do.” She smiled at her sister.
“I’ve been hesitant to ask about Josh,” said Carly, giving Julia a little sideways look. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Julia sighed wistfully. “His company decided to open an office in New York City instead of on the west coast. Josh was asked to be in charge of setting it up, and he couldn’t turn it down. He’s entrenched on the east coast and loves what he does there as much as I’m happy to stay on this side of the country.” She sighed again. “It’s so difficult to have a serious relationship from 2,500 miles away, so we agreed to call it a day. Maybe I’ll be sorry in the future, but his heart is somewhere else right now. And I really don’t want to move to New York and start all over with a new medical practice.”
“I get it. And I’m so sorry it worked out like that.” Carly patted her sister’s arm. “Someday, you’ll meet the right guy. Be patient.”
“The perennial optimist,” replied Julia. “But thanks for the encouragement. And thank you for joining me. It’s always more fun to share experiences with someone.”
“As long as you feed me and let me have cookies now and then, I think it’ll be great,” said Carly. “And no dead bodies.”
Julia laughed. “I promise.”
“I’ve heard that before, sis.”
Julia could only shrug. Carly was right: she’d been with her sister previously, and either from being in the wrong place at the wrong time or needing to help with her medical expertise, they had, in fact, ended up with a dead body to deal with. But this was going to be a whole week to just have fun and explore the Emerald City.
The sisters leaned on the rail of their balcony overlooking Elliot Bay and watched the harbor traffic. The mid-May day was sunny and full of promise for decent weather for the “Spooked in Seattle” tour Julia had reserved for their Saturday evening. They watched the ships and boats and ferries in silence for another while.
“That’s the third cruise ship I’ve seen heading out of the harbor,” said Carly. “I didn’t realize there were so many options from Seattle. Are they all going to Alaska?”
“When I stayed here for a conference last fall, one of the desk clerks told me that two or three cruises leave from the docks from downtown and Elliott Bay almost daily. They may be going to Hawaii, or to Asia, or down the coast toward California or Mexico, in addition to the Inland Passage to Alaska. ”
“So it’s not just a Saturday departure anymore, as it was when Dad and I rode one of the cruise ships to Alaska,” said Carly. “Of course, that was a few years ago now.”
“He loved that trip. Cheers to Dad!” Julia and Carly smiled at each other. Their father had been a wonderful man, and they both missed him.
Julia Fairchild, M.D. and her younger sister Carly Pedersen had grown up with their four sibs on a small farm in southwest Washington state, four miles from the nearest town, as had their dad. Julia had always wanted to be a doctor and “help people” and had been practicing internal medicine for nearly ten years in Parkview. Though she’d planned to live and work any place other than where she’d been born, she was glad now that it had worked out that way.
Her workaholic nature made it a challenge to take time away from work, so she was determined to make the most of the week, despite her disappointment in breaking up with Josh. She was still single in her mid-thirties, although she had briefly been married right out of college. She wasn’t unhappy or really lonely, she reminded herself. After all, she had a rewarding career and a great dog, Trixie, a rescue beagle mix, as her companion. Trixie seemed to enjoy her own vacations at a dear friend’s kennel, where she became part of the household with the other resident dogs.
Carly, the youngest of the clan and four years younger than Julia, had finished college before returning to live on ten acres of their father’s parents’ homestead while also working in Parkview. She was married to a local guy, Rob, who congenially went along with his wife’s need for “girl time” with her sister Julia. She had inherited the golden blonde curls of their mom, along with hazel eyes and an electric smile, while Julia, at two inches taller, resembled their dad, with her brunette bob and blue eyes. Although different in appearance, the sisters were similar in interests, as well as fast friends. One thing they both enjoyed was a spooky mystery.
“What is this tour you’ve lined up for tonight? I’ve never heard of it,” said Carly.
“One of my friends told me about “Spooked in Seattle.” She said it was spookier than all get-out.”
“So, it’s not the same as the “Underground Seattle” tour?”
“No, although there apparently is some crossover, from what I’ve read. I’ve done the other tour several times, but not in at least ten years. This one sounded like it was worth trying.”
“With your luck, we’ll probably see a real ghost,” said Carly.
“At least a ghost would be dead already.” Julia grinned at her sister.
That night, the pair of tour leaders told numerous stories of paranormal experiences that couldn’t be explained in any rational manner. Julia’s skin prickled as she listened to the believable tales that had been reported by multiple observers. She recalled that one of her neighbors told her of seeing the upstairs curtains being moved aside in her own home at a time when it was totally vacant. For that very reason, she always turned the lights on when she went upstairs, just in case Mrs. Weedman was still hanging about doing ghostly things. Since older homes had their share of creaks and squeaks, she wasn’t convinced those in her own home were caused by real ghosts. But turning the light on couldn’t hurt.
She had to chuckle when she thought of her neighbor using sage to rid her bedroom of the ghosts of its previous owners. Hayley, the dog, had started growling at one corner every night, so she went to a local mystic’s shop and learned about the sage-burning method. It seemed to work, and the ghostly inhabitants moved out. Or, at least, her dog quit barking at the corner. She and Carly had also encountered the local spirit woman on Virgin Gorda using sage the previous fall. She had been burning the herb to exorcise the bad spirits from the area of the beach where the sisters had found a young woman dead a day or so earlier.
Julia and Carly sipped their glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon as they sat in the lounge after the final stop on the tour. A dozen or so of the other tour guests joined them in the darkened room.
“My skin is crawling,” said Carly. “I’m not sure I want to go back outside after this tour.”
“It was scary, to be sure,” said Julia. “I’ve never experienced paranormal activity myself, or I don’t think I have. Now I wonder.”
“Let’s get out of here and grab a taxi,” said Carly. “It’s almost the witching hour. And I want to be at the hotel before midnight.”
Several small groups stood in front of the pub while waiting for a cab to pull up. Julia observed a quartet of men who emerged from an adjacent alley. One of them turned toward her and locked eyes. His eyes were wide and his face pale in the streetlight, as if he were terrorized, she thought.
“That man looks like he’s seen a ghost,” she said, pointing a finger in his direction. “I’ve never seen such a frightened look. Do you remember seeing him on the tour?”
The man had turned his face away and was being helped into a taxi by the time Carly spotted him. “I’m not sure. All I saw was the side of this face.”
P.J. PETERSON‘s first dream at the age of seven was to grow up to be a doctor and “help” people. After 37 years of practicing internal medicine, she published a mystery that had lain dormant on a floppy disc for almost 40 years. She discovered the thrill of pressing that “publish” button and found a whole new world.
Writing mysteries is her way of using her diagnostic skills in a different way–burying puzzles to solve inside a story with snippets of real life. And it keeps her out of trouble, more or less.
PJ’s passions, when she’s not writing, are health care and education. She donates time to the local free medical clinic and shares a portion of her royalties with St. Rose Catholic School and Seton High College Prep, both of which are close to her heart.