Murder & Mayhem on Leper Colony

Burned Beyond Recognition

by Becka L. Jones

Murder & Mayhem on Leper Colony by Becka L. Jones “I’m sorry to report there was a body found at the north end of Molokai last night. It was burned beyond recognition,” the news reporter said. “Please check to make sure your family is accounted for.”

Captain Randy Savo put Cinnamon Anderson on the case. She would be their best detective to solve this crime. Cinnamon befriends a family, hoping for clues to crack the case.

Joanne Tansley’s kids, Kirra and Koa decide they want to become detectives. Cinnamon needs to find the man or men who committed such a gruesome crime before they kill again, but the kids keep getting in the way.

The killers are onto the detective, and Cinnamon, Kirra and Koa are in danger. Leilani, Joanne’s sister, falls head over heels for a man without knowing he’s one of the killers. Is their love true, or does he want something from her?

On a small island in the South Pacific, this is the first time there has ever been a murder. The islanders are panicked. Cinnamon will crack this case one way or another.

There are many twists and turns in this story to keep you in suspense. Find out what happens in this ‘edge of your seat’ kind of novel.

KindleSmashwordsNookAppleKoboGoogle PlayPRINT

Release Date: November 14, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Mystery Romance

~ A White Satin Romance ~


Chapter One

The TV turned on at exactly 6:00 a.m. Joanne groaned, turned over in her comfortable bed and pulled the sheets up over her head. As she was dozing off, the news reporter on the TV stumbled with his words as he read a script, “I’m sorry to report, but there was a body found at the north end of Molokai last night. It was burned so badly that it was unrecognizable. Please report any missing family member to the police. This is not a joke. This would be male or female. Maybe even a teen. There was no identification on the body.” Then a commercial came on.

Joanne sat straight up. Did she hear that right, or was she dreaming? With her hair going every which way, she stared at the TV and then looked at the clock. She had to get ready for her big day! She kissed her husband on the cheek as he slept. Then she hopped out of bed, turned off the TV, and ran to the bathroom to take a shower and get dressed.

She looked at the time and opened the closet door to see what kind of outfit she could put together for the big day. She groaned as she skimmed the shirts and dresses. She had nothing presentable.

She thought back to last week when her sister asked if she wanted to shop for a nice outfit for this very day. She breathed in deeply, kicking herself for not shopping with her sister, and then grabbed a dress with yellow hibiscus flowers on it. She pulled it up over her hips and wrapped the sarong style strap around her neck that buttoned with a large cone shell. She looked in the mirror. This would have to do. Her jet-black hair was frizzy, but she couldn’t help the humid weather made it that way. She added a darker shade of lipstick to her lips, brushed some makeup on her light brown skin, and breathed in deeply as she thought about how this day would go. She smiled big, as she was optimistic.

Her husband was wrapped up in the sheets as he said, “Honey, you look a little too…hot! Why don’t you come back to bed, and we can try making another baby?” She turned around and looked at her handsome husband. He was big and burly with brown hair, big brown eyes, dark skin, and his arms and chest were defined from him working out at the fitness center on the beach.

She smiled at him sweetly and slowly walked toward him as she shook her hips from side to side. His eyes widened in excitement when she crawled into bed and kissed him, “Sorry, Babe, but I need to be at the boutique in less than an hour, and I have to pick up more flour for the cupcakes in case we run out.”

Kalani lay back on the bed and groaned as he looked up at the ceiling.

“Tell you what,” Joanne said. “As soon as I come home tonight…it’s a date! We can cuddle up to watch a Hallmark movie with beer and popcorn, and you never know what might happen afterward.”

Kalani smiled. “I wish you luck today at your big event,” he said.

“I’m really excited to see what happens,” Joanne said. “We’ve been working hard all week to prepare for today. We’ve been advertising this grand opening for weeks, and I’m positive almost everyone will be there.”

“I’m in support 100%, but Honey, there really aren’t a lot of people on the island, so don’t expect a full house,” Kalani warned.

“Everyone we know, and love is here on Molokai,” Joanne said. “There are 423 adults, forty-five kids, and two babies. If they all showed up, it would make my day!”

Kalani took her hand in his and kissed it. “Just don’t be disappointed if you don’t get everyone over there on your big day.”

Joanne smiled big, but her heart felt a twang of disappointment. What if he was right? She breathed in slowly and breathed out any negativity. “No, Babe. This day will be fantastic! It will be a full house. I just know it,” she exclaimed as she grabbed her purse, phone, and keys and headed for the door. She asked, “Will you get the kids off to school?”

“Yes, I will.”

Joanne blew him a kiss. “Have a wonderful day at work. I love you.”

“I love you more, Buttercup. Oh, one more thing, after I’m done at the construction site, I’ll need to pick up some lumber they shipped from the main island. Do you think the kids would want to come with after school?”

Joanne thought about it for a moment. “I bet they would love it. See you later tonight.”

Her kids were sitting at the table eating cereal. She flew down the stairs and kissed them on top of their heads. “Be good at school today. I love you both so much.” Kirra, age five and Koa, age eight, said goodbye to their mom between bites. Then she flew out the door and drove to the store to pick up big bags of flour and extra ingredients before she headed to work.

As Joanne breezed through the door at the cupcake shop, her sister ran up to her to give her a big hug as she sniffled on her shoulder. It was 5:30 a.m. and Joanne couldn’t imagine her sister was anxious yet about the grand opening, since the doors wouldn’t open until 8:00 a.m.

“What happened? Are you okay?”

Leilani teared up and her lip quivered. “You didn’t hear?” Joanne shook her head no. Leilani continued, “Someone was burned to a crisp,” she said, then started crying. “And...and…no one knows who it is! It could be...” she whispered, “someone we know!”

Joanne was taken aback. So, it wasn’t a dream like she thought. There really was someone killed on the island. She stifled a sigh as she told her sister, “Listen, it is a terrible thing that has happened, and we’ll talk about this later. Right now, we have a grand opening to prepare for!” 

Her sister nodded her head and wiped away her tears as Joanne asked, “How many cupcakes are ready to put out on display?”

“I was here all night,” Leilani replied. “I finished every last bit of ingredients to make all that you wanted me to.”

Joanne added up the numbers. “Perfect! Thank you. I bought some extra flour in case we need to make more.”

Leilani had tears falling down her face. “Sis, this could have been me!”

Joanne was crunching the numbers to make sure they had enough cupcakes for the mob she expected to come through the front door. She stared at her sister a moment. “What are you talking about?”

Leilani sobbed, “I was here all night...alone. It could have been me that someone burned to death.”

Joanne sympathized with her sister. She was single, not dating anyone, and lived alone in a small farmhouse their parents had given them years ago.

“I’m sorry! I don’t mean to take away from your feelings. This was a big deal what happened last night.” Lei nodded. “...but we need to stay focused on this big day. We have been preparing for weeks, and my hope is the entire town will show up. I can’t have my sister weeping all over the cupcakes that customers want to buy. Please, for me. Just focus on this special day until one minute after those doors close at 6:00 p.m., and then we can sit down and discuss what has happened.”

Leilani wiped away her tears once more. “You’re right. I need to focus on today. What do you need me to do right now?”

Joanne looked at the clock. “We have two hours to bake more cupcakes with this flour and make sure everything looks just right when the customers walk through those doors. Last night, I found a recipe to make cheesecake cups and I can’t wait to put out samples for the customers to try.”

“Okay, I’m on it.” Lei said. “Let’s get this done!”

They worked hard rushing around the small kitchen to bake as much as they could until the very last minute when they looked toward the big glass doors to see a line of people. There must have been at least one hundred people waiting out front.

With flour on Lei’s pants and covering her face, she asked for a hand towel to clean herself off. Joanne laughed as she reached for the towel to give Lei. Then she looked at the line of people excitedly chatting outside the front door. Little kids were peeking through the glass and putting their grubby hands on the window that not five seconds before looked almost transparent because it was so clean. One little boy had his eyes on a chocolate-covered cupcake, and he was licking his lips in hopes to grab that cupcake.

Joanne walked to the doors and opened them. “Welcome everyone! Come in and look around. This is the very first cupcake boutique on our island, and I can’t thank you all enough for your love and support. Come in.”

She stepped aside, for fear of being trampled, as a flood of people came through the doors. She counted and there were about two dozen of her family and friends testing cupcake samples, buying large boxfuls of assorted cupcakes.

Hours flew by and by noon, Joanne and Lei were using up the last large bag of flour and the rest of their ingredients to make as many cupcakes as they could. Leilani called her best friend to come and help. They had not anticipated selling so many sweets on the first day, but they were very pleased. There wasn’t a lull until they ran out of chocolate and hazelnut, vanilla, and cheesecake cups. A tall, thin woman, bought the last cheesecake when the robust woman behind her shouted, “Hey, I’ll buy that for double the price!”

The other lady walked toward the front doors with her bag of goodies as she said, “No way!”

Suddenly, the robust woman who was about to order turned toward the door and ran after the lady with the cheesecake and jumped on her back. “I want that cheesecake!” she screamed.

Joanne stared in disbelief. She couldn’t believe a fight would break out over her sweets. She ran over and yelled, “Please stop! Ladies, I can make more!” The large lady was still screaming at the victim and practically jumped on top of her to grab at the bag of sweets.

The lady under her hollered, “Get off me, you fat pig!”

Joanne turned around to ask for help from her sister, but Lei just stood there stunned. Suddenly, her husband flew through the door like a knight in shining armor. He jumped on the crazy lady and pulled her off the other lady sprawled across the floor with her smooshed cupcakes oozing out of the bag.

“What are you doing?” the angry, robust lady screamed at Kalani.

“I’m security here and you’re banned from the cupcake boutique,” Kalani yelled. “Get out!” He shoved her through the front door and added, “Don’t ever come back!”

The crowd of people clapped as if it was a comedy act. The lady on the floor looked embarrassed. She softly cried and tried to pull herself up to a sitting position. Joanne kneeled down to help her. “I’m so sorry about that. Are you okay?”

The lady sat on the floor to assess her scratches and make sure she was okay. They were minor, and Joanne pulled the lady off the floor and brushed her off as best she could. She looked like she’d been in a colorful food fight. She looked into Joanne’s eyes and tearfully asked, “Why would that lady do such a thing?”

Joanne sighed. “I don’t know, but I’m so sorry! Your next order is on us. Whatever you want, you can have.”

“Really? I’ll hold you to it.” She smiled with smudges of cupcake still on her face that she tried to wipe off with the collar of her T-shirt.

Joanne said, “Absolutely!”

Lei came over with a wet towel to hand to the lady to wipe herself as best she could. Then she walked away mumbling what a day it had been.

Joanne noticed her two kids standing in the corner watching the whole thing. She ran over to hug her kids. “Oh! I wish you hadn’t seen that!”

“Why was that lady so mean to the other lady?” Koa asked.

Joanne said, “I think she was just having a very bad day, and she took it out on someone else.” The kids nodded their heads.

Kalani and the kids helped Joanne and Lei clean up the mess on the floor. Joanne insisted the injured lady go to the hospital, but she was adamant that she was all right. After the customer left, Joanne asked her husband, “What are you doing here?”

“We wanted to surprise you,” Kalani said lovingly.

“You couldn’t have come at a better time,” Joanne said.

“Glad to be of help!” He smiled.

“Mom!” Kirra piped up, “Dad took us out of school early so we could support you on your very important day.”

Joanne teared up. “Thank you, guys. I love you all so much!” She kissed her kids on the head and kissed her amazing husband sweetly on the lips.

“I love you more,” Kalani said.

“So, how can we help?” Koa asked.

Joanne gave the kids and her husband specific cooking instructions, and soon Lei’s friend came through the door with more ingredients to make cupcakes. Joanne thought how ‘many hands make light work’ and it was so true! Everything went well, with all six of them working together. How could she have thought she and her sister could do this alone?

Four minutes after 6:00 p.m., the last customer left with a boxful of cupcakes. Joanne stared at the mess in the kitchen, but she was thankful they sold out.

Lei said, “Sis, I’m exhausted. Can I sleep at your house tonight? I don’t want to be alone at the farm with a crazy murderer on the loose.”

Joanne smiled sympathetically. “Yes, of course.”

Her husband looked over from mopping the floor. He looked fairly disappointed that their romantic evening just went down the drain along with the soapy water.

She mouthed, “Sorry,” to him. He nodded and went back to mopping. Family was important. She would protect her sister at all costs, and her husband knew it.


↑ Return to Top ↑