Read Bake, Battle & Roll Online
Authors: Leighann Dobbs
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Bakery - Amateur Sleuths
This is a work of fiction.
None of it is real. All names, places, and events are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real names, places, or events are purely coincidental, and should not be construed as being real.
Bake, Battle & Roll
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner, except as allowable under “fair use,” without the express written permission of the author.
Cover art by:
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“According to Chef Dugasse, your pie crust is too thick,” Lexy’s assistant Deena said as she fitted a sheet of dough into a pie pan taking care to flute the edges the way Lexy had shown her.
Lexy glanced up at her as she worked the marble rolling pin over the dough, pounding it a little harder than necessary.
“I don’t think
Dugasse knows his pie crusts,” Lexy replied pushing down the anger she felt and wondering for the umpteenth time why she had agreed to fill in as pastry chef at the rustic lakeside resort.
When her grandmother Mona Baker, or Nans as Lexy called her, had phoned with the offer, it
sounded like fun … at first. The current pastry chef had been taken ill, they were desperate for a temporary replacement—and they were willing to pay very well for it.
Still, Lexy wasn’t sure why she had accepted. She had her own bakery to run where
was the boss and didn’t have to listen to a pompous overpaid head chef berate her baking. But the promise of a free two week vacation in a rustic cabin with her fiancé, Jack, had won her over …
… And she had regretted it every day since.
“How’s this?” Deena stood back, indicating the pie plate.
Lexy tilted her head, inspecting the work. Deena had a part time job in the kitchen for the summer and Lexy had been training the enthusiastic teen on various baking techniques. Deena reminded Lexy of herself at that age—full of energy and eager to learn everything about baking. Training her was one of the few things she’d enjoyed about the temporary job and Deena was turning out to be a quick study.
“That looks great.” Lexy squatted down so that her eyes were level with the table, then turned the pie plate and pointed to one section. “It’s a teeny bit higher here.”
Deena looked at the pie plate from table level and nodded. “Oh yeah. I can see that from this angle.”
Lexy shrugged. “It just takes practice. You did a really good job for your first try.”
Deena beamed with pride. “Thanks. If you ask me, Chef Dugasse is just being a jerk. Your pie crust is delicious.”
Lexy agreed. Chef Dugasse
a jerk. He had been a thorn in her side since she took the position. She wasn’t the only one that thought so, either. Most of the staff was at odds with him and it was no wonder with the way he was always yelling and screaming at them.
But he was world renowned, and his food was excellent, so he could do as he pleased and the resort kept him on.
Lexy glanced around the kitchen. The resort itself dated to the 1940s, but the kitchen had been recently renovated. Billed as a rustic-campy get away with five star dining, the meals had to be cooked to perfection so the kitchen, which sat inside a gigantic antique log cabin structure, was top notch.
It would be a pleasure to work in it … if it wasn’t for the domineering presence of Chef Dugasse.
Dugasse’s voice thundered from the other side of the kitchen as if sensing Lexy’s thoughts. “Theeze eggs are not up to our standards! You vill throw them out and start over!”
Lexy turned in the direction of the screaming. Dugasse was in a white chef’s outfit complete with a tall hat. His six foot frame carried a three foot wide body, his gigantic bulk towering over a terrified first year cook, Thomas, who cowered in the corner. She watched as the head chef picked up the warming tray full of scrambled eggs and dumped them in the trash, then stormed off toward the back door that led outside.
Lexy saw Silvia Spicer, Dugasse’s long suffering sous-chef, rush over to soothe the cook’s ruffled feathers. Silvia’s eyes shot daggers at the retreating back of the head chef before she started toward the door after him.
Lexy turned back to Deena who was still looking in the direction of the cook, wide-eyed with terror and her heart clenched for the poor girl. Lexy didn’t see why Dugasse had to run the kitchen this way, almost everyone was terrified of him and it created an unpleasant work environment.
“Uh hum …”
Lexy turned toward the throat clearing noise to find one of the chefs, Brad Meltzer, standing next to her. Brad worshipped Dugasse and the head chef often took advantage of that by sending Brad to do his dirty work, which Brad appeared to delight in.
Brad was as thin as Dugasse was wide. He had narrow, beady eyes and a pointed face which made Lexy think of a weasel. He didn’t seem to like Lexy very much, which was fine with her since the feeling was mutual. Lexy raised an eyebrow at him.
“Dugasse says you have to make the cornbread for the
.” Brad jerked his head toward the back of the room where Dugasse had just disappeared.
. They have it every year and it’s a huge deal. The winner gets their own chili label to be sold nationally in grocery stores. Everyone knows Dugasse has a prize winning chili recipe so he’s a shoe in. But he needs a cornbread side and that’s where you come in.”
Lexy felt her cheeks growing warm, anger causing her pulse to pick up speed. Having your own chili label was worth a lot of money, not to mention the branding opportunities for the chef. But she didn’t see why
should have to put in extra hours to help make
rich and popular—not someone as mean spirited as Dugasse. She was sure he wouldn’t do the same to help her if the tables were turned.
“That’s not part of my job. I’m up to my eyeballs in pies and desserts here. I don’t have time to make cornbread so that Dugasse can win some contest.” She punctuated the chef’s name by slamming her palm on the counter a little bit harder than she probably should have.
Brad’s eyes grew wide. He took a step backwards and spread his hands at his sides. “Hey, I’m just the messenger.”
Lexy swiveled her head toward the back of the room. Dugasse wasn’t there—he must still be outside.
“Sorry, Brad. I know that. But I’m sick and tired of being bossed around by Chef Dugasse.” She spun on her heels and started toward the kitchen door. “And I’m going to put a stop to it once and for all.”
Lexy felt the eyes of the entire kitchen staff drilling into her back as she stormed over to the door. A blast of cold air from the giant freezer that stood next to it did nothing to cool her anger as she ripped the screen door open and stepped outside.
It was still early in the morning, but the heat of the day was starting. Lexy’s hands clenched at her sides as she stood just outside the door ready to lay into the head chef.
Where was he?
Her eyes darted around the area, her heart pounding with anger. Straight ahead the woods full of tall pines was empty except for birds and squirrels. Normally, Lexy would delight in watching them scamper and fly about, but this morning she was too mad to notice.
To her left was a short path that led to the parking lot, to her right the dumpster, surrounded by the stench of rotting food.
Did he go somewhere with Silvia? She’d thought she had seen the sous-chef head out here after him, but where could they be? Lexy cocked an ear to listen for their voices but didn’t hear anything except the flies buzzing around the dumpster.
Tentatively, she picked her way around the end of the large metal container. She peered around to see if they were on the other side, her breath catching when she saw a pair of chef’s clogs. But instead of the soles lying flat on the ground, they were sticking up as if the person were lying down.
Lexy raced to the other side of the dumpster. Her heart lurched up into her throat when she saw what lay on the other side. Chef Dugasse, lay on the ground—a big, shiny mahogany handled chef’s knife sticking straight up out of his chest.
Lexy threw herself down beside him, her anger at the chef forgotten. “Chef Dugasse?”
Her mind whirled. What should she do? Should she pull the knife out and try to stop the bleeding?
Lexy realized she should check for a pulse. She placed her fingers on his neck.
She bent over him, putting her ear to his mouth to see if she could hear him breathing.
She tried his wrist.
Lexy sat back on her heels with a sigh, realizing there was nothing she could do.
Chef Alain Dugasse was dead.
A scream pierced the air, interrupting Lexy from digging her cell phone out of her pocket. She whipped her head around to see Silvia Spicer standing just behind her, hands over her mouth, eyes wide.
“You killed him!” Silvia rushed over to Dugasse’s other side, slapping his face and lifting his arm.
“What? I did
kill him. I found him like this.” Lexy narrowed her eyes at Silvia who had given up on the face slapping and arm lifting and was now staring at her over the chef’s body.
“Where were you?” Lexy asked.
“Me? I was in the kitchen.” Silvia turned her attention back to the chef. “Should we hide the body?”
Lexy stared at the sous-chef as she pulled out her cell phone. “Hide the body? We can’t do that. We have to call the police.”
“Right, of course, I don’t know what I’m saying.” Silvia pushed herself up and backed away from the body as if she just realized what it was.
Lexy made the 911 call while Silvia paced back and forth, a whiff of musky perfume teased Lexy’s nose every time the sous-chef walked by.
“Did you kill him?” Silvia asked after she had hung up the phone.
“No. Of course not.” Lexy studied Silvia’s worried face as she paced back and forth, wringing her hands. “Did you?”
Silvia stopped and looked at Lexy. “Me? I wasn’t even here.”
“But I saw you come out after him.” Lexy gestured toward the dead chef. “Right after he reamed out Thomas about the eggs.”
Silvia’s brow wrinkled and she shook her head. “No, I didn’t. I was in the freezer, cooling off. I was really mad so I went in there otherwise I
have killed him.”
Lexy’s teeth worked her bottom lip. She
have gone into the freezer, it was next to the door. And Lexy hadn’t actually seen her come outside.