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Authors: Jessica Beck

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A Killer Cake

BOOK: A Killer Cake
13.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The First Time Ever Published!


The Third Book in the Brand New Classic Diner
Mystery Series from Jessica Beck, the

New York Times
Bestselling Author of
The Donut Shop Mysteries!



The Classic Diner Mystery Series


Book 3






Jessica Beck



Books by Jessica Beck


The Classic Diner Mysteries

A Chili Death

A Deadly Beef

A Killer Cake

A Baked Ham (coming 2013)


The Donut Shop Mysteries

Glazed Murder

Fatally Frosted

Sinister Sprinkles

Evil Éclairs

Tragic Toppings

Killer Crullers

Drop Dead Chocolate

Powdered Peril

Illegally Iced





To all the waitresses who have ever called me
Honey, Sweetie, or Dear!





A KILLER CAKE: Copyright © 2012


All rights reserved.


Smashwords Edition


Cozy Publishing


No part of this book may be reproduced,
scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. This is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely


Recipes included in this book are to be
recreated at the reader’s own risk. The author is not responsible
for any damage, medical or otherwise, created as a result of
reproducing these recipes. It is the responsibility of the reader
to ensure that none of the ingredients are detrimental to their
health, and the author will not be held liable in any way for any
problems that might arise from following the included recipes.



Chapter 1



The instant the cannon went off, everybody
gathered in the town square for Jasper Fork’s bicentennial
celebration believed that the Civil War weapon was responsible for
killing Roy Thompson. After all, his seat at the long table filled
with folks eating lunch and having dessert was in the direct line
of fire of the old weaponry.

However, it turned out that the chamber was
indeed empty when it had been fired, and though either the noise or
the ensuing shock wave of the explosion could have been enough to
stop his heart, neither had been the cause of his death.

It wasn’t long before I found myself wishing
that the cannon had indeed been the reason for Roy’s demise. Soon
enough, word spread through town like a hurricane that what really
did him in was the Jasper Fork bicentennial cake. The fact that my
diner had provided it for the festivities meant that once again, my
family was in the crosshairs of another murder investigation.

My name is Victoria Nelson, and along with my
sometimes dysfunctional but always loving family, I run The
Charming Moose Diner. The place was named after my grandfather a
long time ago, and I loved the distinctive moniker. It’s easy
enough to explain how we ended up volunteering to bake the murder
weapon for our town’s celebration, but it might be better to go
back to the day before Roy collapsed after taking his first bite of
our cake.


“Moose, we’re going to do this free of
charge, and that’s final,” I told my grandfather during the lull
between lunch and dinner as we brainstormed about what kind of cake
Greg should make as our donation to the celebration. “Even if it
good for our image, which we both know it is, I feel
as though we owe it to the community.”

“Victoria, I’m as civic-minded as the next
man, but would it hurt for the Celebration Fund to at least cover
our expenses? We’re talking about a great deal of materials to make
as much cake as they’re asking us to provide, and I’m willing to
bet that not
in town is doing something for

I looked over at my husband, who was at his
regular station working the grill in the kitchen of The Charming
Moose. “Greg, I’m getting hoarse. Why don’t you try talking to

My husband grinned at me happily as he said,
“Oh, no. Not me. I’m not about to get between the two of you. You
can handle the executive decisions around here on your own. I’m
just a fry cook.”

“You’re a great deal more than that, and you
know it,” I said. I owned the place on paper these days, but I
couldn’t run it without Greg and my mother, who also worked the
grill, not to mention the two women we had on staff who came in to
waitress. Even Moose and my grandmother, Martha, helped out on
occasion, and if the circumstances were dire enough, my father
would pitch in, though he’d had his turn running the diner before
I’d taken over, and everyone agreed that hadn’t been a good match
at all.

“Sure, I know that I’m handy back here,” Greg
said as he flipped a burger, “but I have no desire to get involved
in your discussion. I’m happy to bake whatever you ask me to, but
that’s the extent of how much I’m willing to get involved.”

“Victoria, let’s be reasonable,” my
grandfather said in that calming voice he sometimes used to try to
get his way. “What would it hurt to ask the committee for a few
dollars so that we at least meet our expenses?”

I shook my head. “You don’t get it, Moose.
You know as well as I do that we’ve had some trouble lately with
our reputation in Jasper Fork. I don’t know
why we
were cursed, but murder has been finding its way to our doorstep
much too much over the past several months, and I’m beginning to
wonder what folks are starting to say about us. Wouldn’t it be nice
if, for once, they were openly complimenting our contribution to
the celebration, instead of whispering behind our backs that
there’s a dark shadow over our threshold these days?”

“Who’s saying that?” Moose asked a little
heatedly, and there was no doubt in my mind that he was ready to go
out and confront whoever I named. What my grandfather lacked in
subtlety, he made up for with a blunt force that was nearly
unstoppable. I liked to think that I was a little more gifted in
the finesse department, but that was what made us such a good team.
We’d solved the murders that had come our way in the past, or at
least survived them, which was saying something, but what I really
loved doing was running The Charming Moose. Sure, my hours were
crazy, and the demands could be overwhelming at times, but there
was nowhere else I’d rather be than at the register or behind the
counter serving our customers.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t
have a list of names for you,” I said with a smile as I patted his
shoulder. “I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be that hard to believe
that it’s happening, would it, given our recent history?”

“I don’t know,” Moose said after a moment’s
pause. “Maybe you’re right.”

It took me a full second to realize that he’d
just agreed with me. “Pardon me? Would you mind saying that one
more time?”

“Don’t ask me to repeat it,” my grandfather
said with a grin. “I’m not sure that I can bring myself to do

I kissed his cheek. “Thanks for saying it
even once. I won’t ask you to say it again. Moose, don’t worry so
much. We can afford to do this on the house, and the goodwill we’re
going to get out of it will be totally worth it. Now, what kind of
cake should we make?”

“I don’t know; what’s the cheapest one we can
do, Greg?” he asked my husband.

Greg just laughed at the question and
continued to work on the meal orders that were in line. Sometimes
it drove me crazy when he acted that way, but there were definitely
times when I admired my husband’s ability to gleefully ignore any
and all questions he didn’t want to answer.

There were moments when I wished that I knew
how to do it myself.

“Forget about what it costs,” I told Greg.
“Just make something that we’ll be proud to contribute.”

“You’re both in luck. I might be able to
satisfy your requests with one cake,” he said as he plated some
meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. It was our daily
special today, and Greg was always ready to serve an army when it
came up in the rotation. It was that popular. “I could always make
my famous Lemon Drop cake with cream cheese icing. Would that be

“It’s perfect,” Moose and I said in unison,
and then we all shared a smile. It appeared that The Charming
Moose’s contribution was going to put our best foot forward to the
community again. I just hoped it made folks forget how often murder
had played a part in our lives recently.


“What a jerk,” Jenny Hollister said as she
stormed into the kitchen a little after six. “I’ll tell you one
thing. He’s lucky I didn’t slam that pie into his face.”

Jenny was our late-afternoon to early-evening
waitress at the diner, a sweet and good-natured college student who
normally didn’t have a cross word for anyone.

“Who are you talking about?” I asked as
stood. I’d been keeping Greg company for a few minutes in the
kitchen, something I tried to do at least once every evening. From
where I sat, I could see the cash register through the pickup
window, and the front door as well, so if Jenny ever needed me, I’d
be right there.

“Roy Thompson,” she said, saying his name as
though it were something bad that might be contagious.

“What did he do this time?” I asked. Roy was
an older man, somewhere in his early seventies, who owned quite a
bit of land around town. Rumor was that he’d never been all that
pleasant to be around, and clearly, age had done nothing to mellow
him. It had been my experience that some older men grew older with
grace and became a joy to have at our diner with their pleasant
demeanors, but others didn’t take to the aging process nearly as
well. Roy was definitely in that camp. Not a week went by that he
didn’t complain about something he ordered at the diner, and
apparently, today was no exception.

“He said that the only thing worse here than
the food was my service. I saw the money he put beside his ticket,
and it’s pretty clear that he’s leaving me a grand total of seven
cents as a tip.”

“We’ll just see about that,” Greg said as his
smile disappeared and he reached for a nearby meat cleaver. “I’m
fed up with that man, and I’m going to settle things once and for

“Hang on just a second,” I said as I stood
between my husband and the door to the dining room. “I know how
protective you are of Jenny and Ellen, but I’ll handle this. After
all, it’s my responsibility, remember? You deal with the kitchen,
and everything else is mine.”

Greg frowned as the cleaver bobbed up and
down in his hand. “Victoria, why don’t you let me take a swing at
it myself just this once?”

“With that?” I asked with a smile as I took
the cleaver out of his hand and put it on the counter. “Greg, I
don’t need weapons to shred the man. I happen to agree with you,
though. Enough is enough.”

Jenny spoke up in Roy’s defense, to my
amazement. “Listen, maybe I overreacted. He’s not that bad. It just
hit me wrong tonight. There’s no need for either one of you to say
anything to him. I’m fine, really.”

I shook my head. “You’re not the only one
he’s antagonized here,” I said. “I appreciate the sentiment, but we
don’t need that man’s business any more if he can’t learn to behave
himself.” I walked out of the kitchen and headed straight for Roy’s
table. It was remarkable how well the man had aged; he was still as
handsome as ever. It was just a shame that what was on the inside
didn’t match the exterior. The diner had half a dozen other diners
there enjoying a meal, and the second they saw the expression on my
face, all the other conversations shut down instantly. It was
pretty clear that we were going to have an audience, but frankly,
at that point I didn’t care.

“I understand that you have a problem with
the food
the service at The Charming Moose this
evening,” I said firmly.

He grinned at me with a wicked smile.
Evidently this was better than he’d been hoping for. “As a matter
of fact, I’m not sure which is worse. The food is swill, and the
service is virtually nonexistent. What’s the matter? Did Jenny come
crying to you about me airing a few legitimate complaints?”

I did my best to keep my temper in check as I
said, “Roy, we’ve had this conversation before, and frankly, I’m
tired of having it. If you don’t like the food or the service here,
why do you insist on coming back week after week?”

BOOK: A Killer Cake
13.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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