Death by Chocolate Cake: A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery

BOOK: Death by Chocolate Cake: A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery
2.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Death by Chocolate Cake
A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery
Death by Chocolate Cake
A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery
Stacey Alabaster

2016 Fairfield Publishing

. Except for review quotes, this book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author.

his story is
a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is purely coincidental.

you so much for buying my book. I am excited to share my stories with you and hope that you are just as thrilled to read them.

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Chapter 1

, Summer Time

you ready for your close-up, Rach?"

"Huh?" I asked, leaning closer to the camera. "I thought this was just a test run! I haven't even got my makeup on yet! Don't tell me this is actually going to go to air?"

"Relax," Justin, the producer of
Baking Warriors
, said as he rolled his eyes at me. "I'm just teasing you. We'll shoot the proper intros tomorrow. This is just to test the lighting."

I let out a sigh of relief. Not only was my make-up not 'reality TV star ready', I hadn't even memorized the script. Yes, reality shows have a script. And even though I hadn't been officially cast yet, I still had to shoot the dreaded intro shot where I gave my name, age, and some pithy quote about how the other contestants needed to watch out for me and my supreme baking talents.

Justin ushered me away from the cameras and placed his arm around my shoulders. "Rach," he whispered, "about the age thing."

I stopped. "About what age thing?"

He peered at me through his thick-rimmed glasses with his hand perched on his hips. "Your age thing. We're thinking...instead of saying that you're twenty-six, we go with twenty-two. Hmm?" He looked me up and down. "You could just about pass. For a 'TV' twenty-two anyway. Not in real life."

I just stared at him. "Twenty-six is old now?"

Justin shrugged. "Twenty-two just sounds better, doesn't it?" He waved his hand. "That way we can showcase you as the young contestant, the wunderkind that runs her own bakery at just twenty-two." He glanced down at his tablet like it held more interesting content to him than the conversation. "After all, twenty-six is not all that impressive, is it?"

I thought it was. And if he really wanted some kind of interesting angle to my on-screen personality, well, there were always the recent murders I had solved. For just a second I considered telling him everything, but there was a reason I had left out my history as an amateur sleuth when I'd auditioned. I had to remember that was not what I wanted to be known for if I did end up being cast on the show. "Why not just shave off a few more years then? Why don't we just tell the viewers I'm eighteen, go all the way with it?"

Justin glanced up from his tablet. "Oh, honey, we've got to be realistic here."

I'd only sent in my audition tape to
Baking Warriors
on my best friend Pippa's insistence last year. When I hadn't heard anything back eight months later, I'd totally forgotten about it. Then I got the call: the show was doing 'round the country auditions for its fourth season and they were coming to Belldale to film an audition episode. Of course, the producers had already whittled down the auditionee list to a final ten but they were still putting on the pretense of an open cattle-call style audition the following day, where any amateur baker in Belldale could come along and ‘audition' to be on the show.

"You'll be here at 5:00 AM tomorrow, right?" Justin called out to me, temporarily removing the earpiece that I thought was a permanent addition to his head.

I nodded. "5:00 AM. I really need to get out of here now though." I stopped, my hand poised on the studio door as Justin listened to something in his earpiece. He held his hand up, a sign that I was to stay put.

"We just need to do one last test."

"Justin!" I double-checked the time on my phone. Yep, I was already late. Pippa was going to kill me if I left her stranded. "I really, really have to go."

He ushered me back over to chair. "We must leave nothing to chance. Trust me, honey, it is my neck on the line here."

I sat back in my chair and groaned inwardly. Was the chance of becoming a reality TV star really worth all this hassle? We hadn't even started shooting yet—heck, I hadn't even gotten
yet—and it had already taken over my life.

I sat there for a few minutes then jumped to my feet. "All right, is that it?" I grabbed my purse and ran for the door before Justin even had the chance to look at me again, let along drag me back to that chair.

"5:00 AM!" I heard him calling through the swinging doors as I bolted for my car. "5:00 AM, Rachael, and not a moment later!"

* * *

he 10
:10 flight from Oregon has been delayed."

Groans came from the arrivals lounge. Personally, I couldn't decide whether I was relieved or annoyed. A small delay I would have been pleased with, as I was already twenty minutes late, but an hour's delay? I kept looking at the time, trying to figure out how much sleep I could get before my call time. "If the flight gets in at 11:10, and it takes twenty minutes for Pippa to find her luggage, and it takes an hour to drive back to Belldale, and Pippa and I take a half-hour catching up, and I need a half-hour to get ready in the morning, and there's a forty-five minute drive to the studio..."

Great, that was about two and a half hours of sleep.

I tapped my foot nervously as I waited for the check-in list to finally light up yellow over the delayed flight's name to show that the plane from Oregon had touched down. I wasn’t even sure why I was so nervous. I was acting more like I was waiting for a long lost lover than a long lost best friend. It was just that Pippa always had a habit of surprising me.

But in her last email, she had promised me that there were no great shocks awaiting me when she stepped off the plane. "Honestly, Rach, no new piercings, no crazy new hair style. I'm not pregnant and I haven't adopted a kid! I've just had a nice, boring vacation chasing paranormal entities."

Well, we would see about that. There were plenty of things that she could have left off that list.

But her not having any big news suited me at that moment because I couldn't
to tell her about
Baking Warriors
. I'd managed to keep the news of the audition quiet, even though Pippa had always told me she'd kill me if I ever kept a secret from her.

She was going to practically wet herself when she heard the news. I'd been reluctant to even audition, but Pippa was convinced that I would make the perfect contestant on her second favorite television show, behind Criminal Point.

I wanted to see her face when I finally told her.

I just hoped she wasn't going to shock me before I had a chance to surprise her.

* * *

." An elbow dug into my side. "Flight's here."

I sat up and apologized for falling asleep on the strange guy's shoulder. "Don't worry about it," he said as I zipped up my jacket, sinking into it as I tried to hide my reddening face. I glanced at the time on the arrivals list. At least I'd managed to sneak in an extra half-hour's sleep.

Everyone pushed and jostled for position as I tried to spot Pippa in the crowd. She'd promised no crazy hairstyles but I'd seen her most recent photos and knew her present hair color was purple. In Pippa's world, though, that is not crazy. That is normal. Crazy for her would be, like...shaving an obscene word into an otherwise baldhead, or something. I hoped she hadn't done that. Especially if she was going to work at my bakery while I was away shooting the show.

There she was. The wild lavender hair made her stand out in the crowd.

But she was not alone as she walked, practically skipped, up the long hall of the arrival’s lounge. I tried to push to get to her, but the crowd was too thick and I ended up with a sharp heel in my foot as a lady with a large bouffant stepped back on me.

I guess I'll wait my turn then.

"Who is that?" I whispered, looking at the handsome stranger walking far too close to Pippa. "Please tell me it's just someone she met on the plane, a new friend." They moved closer to each other and Pippa had a gross love-struck look on her face. "Oh no, don't do that!" I said as the man reached for Pippa's hand and gripped it in his before giving it a kiss.

They remained linked like that until they reached me, standing there with an expression that was frozen into a wide-eyed grin.

Pippa turned her grin towards me and started bouncing up and down. "Rach," she said, sucking in a breath of excitement. "Don't get mad at me, okay, but I have a little surprise for you." She turned back towards the mysterious stranger and started bouncing higher.

Who is this
?" I asked through gritted teeth, though I was still smiling. I tried not to panic.

"This," Pippa said dramatically, like she was about to announce the winner of a reality show competition, "is Marcello!" She dropped his hand and shoved hers in my face, pointing to a gigantic bauble on her ring finger.

"Rach!" she said, jumping up and down. "We got married!"


She shoved the ring further into my face. Yep. It was a ring.

"When...when did this happen?"

Pippa snuggled into this so-called Marcello, who reached for my hand and kissed it. "It is wonderful to meet you," he said with an accent I couldn't quite place.

I gulped. "You too. Pippa...can I just...have a quick word with you."

"Wait here for a moment, sweetheart," Pippa said to Marcello before smothering his face with kisses. "Just a bit of girl talk."

I ushered her off to the side.

"What is it?"

"Pippa, how long have you know him?" I whispered.

"Oh, Rach, it doesn't matter how long we’ve known each other! It only matters how in love we are!"

"How long?"

Pippa looked sheepish. "Three weeks."


She looked up at me and pouted. "Aren't you happy for me?"

I sighed. "Yes," I said, reaching over to give her a hug. "I just can't believe my best friend got married without even telling me!" I leaned back and gave her a playful hit with my purse. "I wasn't even invited!"

Pippa shrugged as she moved back towards Marcello, like he was a magnet and she was a big piece of metal. "Don't worry, we haven't had the reception yet. I'm planning a big party in Belldale next week!" Snuggled under Marcello's arm, she turned back to me and asked, "You don't have anything big going on next week, do you?"

"Umm, actually..."

BOOK: Death by Chocolate Cake: A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery
2.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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