A Mouthful of Murder: A Frosted Love Cozy Mystery Book 4 (Frosted Love Mysteries)

BOOK: A Mouthful of Murder: A Frosted Love Cozy Mystery Book 4 (Frosted Love Mysteries)
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Disclaimer:
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either
the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely
coincidental.

Copyright 2015 by Maven Publishing - All rights reserved.

All rights Reserved. No part of this publication or the information in
it may be quoted from or reproduced in any form by means such as printing,
scanning, photocopying or otherwise without prior written permission of the
copyright holder.

Chapter 1

 

Melissa
Gladstone nodded appreciatively from her safe spot on the sidewalk. The sweet
little cupcake, cookie and muffin shop, Missy’s Muffins and More that she had
inherited upon the untimely death of her parents was being rebuilt after a
devastating fire, and seeing it rising from the ashes was a profound relief.
Her second shop, Crème de la Cupcake, in the nearby town of Dellville, had
opened shortly after the fire, and was doing very well, with early morning
customers lining up before the 6 a.m. opening time for coffee and a cupcake on
the way to work.

The
Dellville shop was thriving under the watchful eye of Ben Radigan, Missy’s
former assistant, who had been promoted to Manager. The new girl, Cheryl, that
she had hired was working out well too, not just as an assistant, but as a
sweet addition to the painfully introverted Ben’s dating life. Things had
finally settled down for Missy, after a couple of hair-raising adventures, and
she looked forward to a peaceful time of ‘business as usual’.

Satisfied
that work was progressing well in LaChance, she guided her little blue car to
the two lane highway that led to Dellville to check in with Ben and Cheryl.

“Hi,
Ms. G.!” Cheryl called out upon her arrival at Crème de la Cupcake. “You just
missed the tail end of the morning rush. Ben’s in the back, loading up trays,
because we sold out of almost everything that we had up here,” the bubbly
brunette reported happily.

“Well,
that’s certainly good to hear,” Missy smiled at her enthusiasm.

The
bell jangled behind her and she turned to see Clara Clements, the elderly owner
of the ice cream shop across the street, shuffling in.

“I
saw your car pull up and decided to come over and say hello,” Clara announced
with a cheery wave and broad smile.

“I’m
glad you did! You look like you’re in good spirits today,” Missy observed,
going over to give the tiny woman a hug.

“Oh
yes dear, I really, really am,” she nodded. “I have a buyer for the ice cream
store! She’s coming in from California this week, so I’ll show her how everything
works, then I’ll be headed to Florida at the end of the month.”

“Oh
wow, congratulations, Clara!” Missy exclaimed. “That’s great! If the new owner
needs anything, you be sure to tell her to come over and see me.”

“You
know I will, dear. I think you two will hit it off immediately. She’s about
your age, single, no family that I know of.”

“Hmm…that’s
interesting. What on earth brings her from California to Dellville, Louisiana
if she doesn’t even have family here?”

Clara
edged closer and lowered her voice. “Well, I couldn’t figure that out either,
but I’m thinking that there’s something…or someone, that she was definitely
ready to leave behind.”

Missy
nodded thoughtfully. “Well, if that’s the case, I hope she makes a wonderful
new start here. This town may be small, but it’s friendly.”

“Exactly
my thought!” the kindly woman agreed. “I’d better get back across the street –
just wanted to share my good news.”

“I’m
glad you did, I’m happy for you.” They hugged again and Clara shuffled back
across the street.

Missy
went to the back to check on Ben, and when she came back out to the front of
the shop, satisfied that he had things well under control, she was delighted to
see Detective Chas Beckett coming in the door.

“What
great timing!” she beamed at the handsome detective, standing on tiptoe to give
him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I was just about to go to lunch. Join me?”

“Yes,
I’m starving,” Chas agreed, holding the door open for her. “I can tell you
about Cora Nesbitt’s mystery while we eat.”

“Oh
good, I’m looking forward to that, the poor dear.” Cora Nesbitt provided Missy
with fresh peaches every summer, and the muffins and cupcakes that she made
from them were legendary. A few weeks ago, shortly after the shop in LaChance
had burned down, Cora had come to her with a bizarre story, hoping that she
might be able to help. Missy had immediately called in Chas, and the two of
them were trying to figure out how to help the frightened woman.

The
couple sat down at a bistro table, in the shade under a green and white striped
awning and ordered their lunch.

“So,
what’s going on with Cora?” Missy asked, anxious for news.

“The
unfortunate reality is that she’s definitely not imagining things. There really
is someone coming into her house at night, there are items disappearing from
her home, and there are absolutely no leads as to who might be doing such
things. I advised her to take photos of all of her belongings so that she would
know if anything went missing, and several items have, both inside and
outside.” Chas shook his head, frustrated. “I haven’t come up with a single
lead after talking with neighbors and family members.”

“You
don’t suppose she’s in danger, do you?” Missy frowned.

“At
this point, there doesn’t seem to be any indication of a threat to her personally,
but any time there is an intruder in a residence, the potential for danger
exists,” he said grimly.

“I
wish she had someone who could stay with her.”

“Well,
I have patrol cars doing surveillance several times a night. If the intruder
keeps returning, we’ll get them eventually,” Chas assured her.

They
dug into their lunches with gusto, talking about everything and nothing, simply
enjoying each other’s company, until Chas pushed back his plate. “As much as
I’d love to spend the afternoon in your most pleasant company, duty calls,” he
grinned at her fondly.

“I
understand. I need to get back to the shop anyway.”

The
busy detective dropped Missy off at Crème de la Cupcake with a kiss on the
cheek and a dinner invitation for later in the week. “Stay out of trouble,” he
teased.

“Always!”
Missy winked.

Chapter
2

 

Missy
knew before she went into the shop this morning that it would be a busy day.
Ben had come up with the idea of posting the Cupcake Flavor of the Day on a
signboard in the front of the shop every Monday, for the entire week. Some
varieties were more popular than others, and today’s flavor, Mochaccino with
Caramel Fluff, seemed to be a particular favorite. Just as she had anticipated,
patrons were lined up in front of the store before Ben unlocked the front door,
so Missy mingled and chatted with them while they waited. Once inside, time
seemed to move in fast forward as one customer after another came in, made
their selection, paid and left. A few sat at tables to enjoy their early
morning treat, but most just passed thru on their way to work. When the last
few in line had been served, it was nearly lunch time. Cheryl and Ben had just
finished restocking the glass cases up front, when the bell above the door
jangled again. Missy looked up to see Clara Clements coming in with a woman who
could only be the new owner of the ice cream store that she had mentioned.

“You’ve
had quite the rush over here this morning,” Clara observed.

“Yes,
it was a little overwhelming, but the time just flew by,” Missy agreed.

“This
is the gal who is buying my store. Echo Willis, meet Melissa Gladstone. Missy,
Echo,” Clara introduced the woman who had come in with her. She had an
abundance of coppery-red hair, and wore a gauzy taupe-colored camisole with a
faded gingham skirt and brown leather sandals, looking very California.

Missy
held out her hand, “Hi, I’m Missy. It’s great to meet you. Congratulations and
welcome to the neighborhood.”

“Nice
to meet you too, thanks,” the woman smiled, and Missy noticed that she had the
most beautiful jade-green eyes.

“Let
me get you two a muffin and some coffee and we can sit down and chat for a
bit,” she offered, extending the hospitality for which her home state was
known.

“Oh,
no, thank you,” Echo demurred quickly. “We have to get back across the street,
the attorneys will be there with paperwork soon, we just wanted to come say
hello,” she explained. “I’ll definitely come back by later this week though, so
we can get to know each other better.”

“That
sounds great,” Missy agreed, wondering what had suddenly made the new woman
seem so nervous. Chalking it up to her being in an entirely new world with a
whole new set of responsibilities, she dismissed her concerns and saw Clara and
Echo to the door, wishing them well.

Missy
had been working for a while on a new recipe for fluffy lemon cupcakes with a
cream cheese frosting and a decorative drizzle of raspberry. Since Ben and
Cheryl were doing a fantastic job of running the shop, she decided to head back
to the kitchen to whip up a batch and see how they turned out. While the
cupcakes were baking, she prepared the cream cheese frosting, which turned out
lighter and fluffier than she had imagined, and when the light yellow cakes
were cooling on the rack, she pureed luscious, ripe raspberries, combining them
with the raw sugar and her secret blend of flavors. After frosting and
drizzling one of the moist lemon cupcakes, she took a huge bite, delighted to
find that they had turned out even better than she had expected.

Frosting
the rest of the batch, Missy decided to take two of her delightful creations up
front for Ben and Cheryl to try. The combination of cream cheese, lemon and
raspberry flavors was one of her favorites, so she wanted to get an unbiased
opinion.

“Hey,
you two,” she called out, carrying a tray with the cupcakes to the front with
her. “You have to try these and let me know what you think. They’re my new
lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and raspberry,” she finished, coming
up to the counter and noticing that a rather scruffy looking customer was
staring at her as she put down the tray. “Oh, hello, I didn’t know that there
was anyone in the shop. How are you today?”

“Pretty
good,” the shaggy haired, bearded man in a rainbow t-shirt, faded jeans and
leather sandals said. “Those cupcakes sound good, do you have any more of that
kind?” he peered over the counter curiously.

“Oh,
sure,” Missy said, caught off guard. “You can have one of these, and I’ll get
another one from the back.”

“Thanks.”
The man accepted the cupcake and took a large bite, making a face as he chewed.

“Oh
dear, don’t you like it?” she asked, worried.

“I’m
not much of one for sweets,” the man shrugged, swallowing hard.

Missy
thought that his response was a bit strange. Why on earth would he come into a
cupcake shop if he didn’t like sweets? “Well, then, I won’t charge you for the
cupcake, since you didn’t care for it,” she offered generously. The man looked
as though he was in need of a good meal, and perhaps couldn’t have one, so she
couldn’t, in good conscience, charge him for a cupcake that he didn’t even
like.

“That’s
cool,” he nodded. “My mom would really be into this though…can I have one for
her?”

Thinking
that this was the oddest person that she’d met in a while, Missy told him that
of course he could, and handed him a white paper bag with his mom’s treat
inside. Thanking her again, he pulled a piece of lime-green paper out of his
pocket that he had torn from an advertisement on her bulletin board. Cora
Nesbitt was looking for peach pickers, and had put up the flyer with tear-away
tabs that had her phone number on it.

“Hey,
can I borrow your phone to call this lady? I’m looking for work,” he explained.

“Certainly,”
Missy agreed, thinking that this strange stranger was really beginning to wear
out his welcome. She directed him to where Cheryl stood behind the counter, and
asked the hesitant young lady to hand him the phone. He got directions from
Cora and headed over the pick peaches. Missy shook her head in disbelief when
he popped the rest of his cupcake in his mouth as soon as he reached the
sidewalk. Cheryl and Ben both gave her new creations a profound ‘thumbs up,’ so
she made a large batch for the next day before going home to have a relaxing
romp in the park with Toffee, her devoted Golden Retriever.

BOOK: A Mouthful of Murder: A Frosted Love Cozy Mystery Book 4 (Frosted Love Mysteries)
3.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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