Home might only have a single definition, but it has several meanings. Some people consider it a physical space. For others, home is more of a state of mind.

I’ve changed addresses so many times that the agent assigned the background investigation for my security clearance paled when I provided the list. Without looking at my records, I can’t recall the number of towns where I’ve lived, but so far, I’ve tallied two countries and four states (five if you count an eleven-week stint in the FBI National Academy dorms at Quantico). I’m consumed by wanderlust—and happen to like taking my home with me.

I moved to Key Largo, Florida, after eight years in Colorado. The difference in latitude, attitude, and snow levels was dramatic. Even the ocean was different from what I’d grown accustomed to during my years in California.

Tropical climes are often dubbed a paradise simply because they possess gin-clear water and coconut palms. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll still find dirt—sometimes even closely guarded secrets.

When I began writing the Mer Cavallo Mysteries, I wanted to present Key Largo through the eyes of an outsider; someone who likes life orderly and structured in contrast to the informality of the Keys. Mer, a marine biologist, thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze after the regimented schedule of an Arctic research vessel. Yeah, not so much.

Outsiders often wonder if they’ll ever fit in, but their reasons for staying often speak more about themselves than the area.

Chapter One~

Meredith Cavallo had questioned her decision to stay in the Florida Keys plenty of times over the past few months, but never while standing on the deck of the LunaSea.