Authors: Ann S. Marie
BLUEBERRY CREAM CUPCAKE & MURDER
(A Dana Sweet Cozy Mystery, Book 2)
Copyright 2015 Ann S. Marie
All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Thanks to my Father above for every blessing.
***BONUS RECIPE INCLUDED***
Reverse your stress at the Cozy Cupcakes Café. Remember, ‘stressed’ is ‘desserts’ spelled backwards!
(A Dana Sweet Cozy Mystery, Book 2)
Murder strikes again in the small town of Berry Cove. Dana Sweet, part time mystery riddles blogger who has inherited the Cozy Cupcakes Café from her late grandmother, is once again drawn into a strange murder with a bizarre twist.
Her beloved Uncle Max has been charged with two murders he couldn’t have possibly committed, or could he? Dana’s super instincts tell her that he’s being framed. Together with her Persian ginger haired fluffy kitty, Truffles, and her cousin Katie and Uncle Merv and Aunt Nia, Dana is determined to get down to the real truth. Will she solve the murder in time before it’s too late?
A Dana Sweet Cozy Mystery series:
Strawberry Cream Cupcake & Murder (Book 1)
Blueberry Cream Cupcake & Murder (Book 2)
Chocolate Cream Cupcake & Murder (Book 3)
The cloudless sky was as blue as the ocean on this Saturday morning. Unusual for October in the tourist coastal town of Berry Cove, which had more than its share of overcast days. Berry Cove was known for its sandy and rocky beaches, nature trails and berry farmlands. Tourists flocked to it during the summer season and all year round for its rich history and historic homes and landmark sites.
The sounds of birds chirping and the waves rolling against the shore and the aroma of berries in the air lifted Dana Sweet’s mood as she went for her morning walk into the Town Square.
Dana loved the small town life. What a huge change from the bustling big city life and her high-powered advertising job she’d left behind.
This was all she needed, especially after her frightening experience recently in this small town after her move from New York.
Just last month, she’d been suspected of murder—of all things! When all sticky fingers pointed to her after a restaurant critic mysteriously died with one of her café’s strawberry cream cupcake in his hand. Then the café that she’d inherited from her late beloved grandmother had been faced with closing down after the scandalous accusations.
“You’re in a good mood today, Ms. Sweet,” Rocko, the store owner, said as the door chime sounded when Dana walked in. He had just finished sweeping the front at the Farmer’s Market store. They’d just opened up for the morning.
“Yes, and why shouldn’t I be?” Dana said, inhaling the sweet scent of the fruit section.
She couldn’t wait to pick out some fresh blueberries for the new recipe she was trying at the café, the week’s special Blueberry Cream Cupcakes filled with fresh fruit and tasty buttercream frosting.
Because of the healthy antioxidants in blueberries, it had become a timeless favorite. She was also going to add a secret ingredient to give it even more pizazz! Though her nans had left a huge recipe book behind with the café’s favorites, Dana often liked to experiment with a few tasty treats of her own to add to the menu specials from time to time.
She decided to do a run today and get some hands on experience with running every facet of the business, even though her cousin Katie who had worked with her grandmother all these years worked the business hands-on. Dana was more the management of the Cozy Cupcakes Café. She used up most of her savings from her advertising job to help save her nana’s failing business after her sudden death. She was determined to keep her legacy going.
“Well, I’m very proud of you and I know that your grandmother Ma Rae would be proud of you, too, if she could see you now. You’ve done a great job in saving that café there and renaming it and everything. Everyone is talking about your Cozy cupcakes and smoothies.”
“Thanks,” Dana flushed. “But all the recipes are Grandma Rae’s. I only added a few.”
“And those nice sayings you have along with the morning tea and cupcakes. How unique is that. I guess that copywriting job really paid off then.”
“Well, I’ll be honest,” Dana said, perusing the fruits and the berries. “You know my nana was one for her words of wisdom. She would always leave her customers feeling good no matter what type of day they were having. Well, it wasn’t that hard to come up with a few nice words to print on the cupcake wrappers. A few sweet uplifting words to start the day with a sweet treat.” Dana smiled warmly. “And thanks so much for your support, too, Rocko.”
Rocko had been so sweet to come to Dana’s defense. Along with Katie and Dana’s eccentric Aunt Nia, of course, and her Uncle Merv, Aunt Nia’s penny-saving husband of thirty-years, who was such a darling sweetheart and helped Dana crack the case.
“Hey, there’s nothing to it. In this small town, we all stick together. Unless, you’re an outsider, of course, trying to stir up some trouble.” He winked. “Then we’ll all stick together against you,” he said. He then let out a hearty peal laughter.
Rocko was a friendly gentleman. A gentle giant in his mid forties who had a bit of a speech impairment that wasn’t immediately noticeable. He stood around six foot four and was quite round in the mid section and had dark mid-length hair and side-burns and lovely dark caramel eyes. He always shared a warm smile. He had inherited the Farmer’s Market Store from his grandfather. His parents lived on the west side but also helped out at the store while tending to their own business, running a retail store. Though he was often called Rocko, it was actually his surname. His first name was Steve, but people rarely called him that.
“So what can I get you today?” Rocko asked politely.
“Well, I’m just picking up a few more blueberries to try out a new recipe and I’m also bringing some over to my Uncle Merv’s house. I’m picking up a few fruits and veggies for him.”
Rocko scratched his head, a shadow of curiosity slid across his face. “Hmm, that’s odd.”
“Old Merv always comes in himself to pick out his own fruits. You know how he feels about squeezing his own peaches to make sure they’re just right. Is he not well today?”
everyone really looked out for each other here.
There were no secrets kept from each other, Dana noticed.
And that was a good thing, wasn’t it?
When her grandmother hadn’t showed up for her morning walk, her neighbor was on his way over there but then Truffles the cat beat him to it and was clawing at his side door. That was how they’d found her in time. Sadly, after she collapsed, she later died in the hospital. But she wasn’t alone and that was important. In big cities, you here all the time of some elders who are not checked up on a regular basis go missing for days before anyone notices.
Dana loved the small town vibe she was getting from Berry Cove. People paid attention and looked out for each other.
“Well, his ankle was acting up today. So I offered to help him out.”
“Oh, well, that’s awfully sweet of you, Ms. Sweet.” He smiled at his own pun.
“Oh, and how is Truffles doing?”
“Oh, she’s very well, thanks for asking. She’s my new partner in crime you know. She helps me solves the mysteries on my web site.” When Dana had the time, she created puzzles and riddles she posted to a blog she called the Mystery Fox, inspired by her nans who loved to solve complex puzzles and mysteries. It was something that she enjoyed doing too from time to time. She didn’t get too many hits but just a few eager readers, one of whom was her Uncle Merv, kept it going. She also gleamed some real life inspiration from some of her surroundings, too.
Rocko smiled. “Don’t tell me. Truffles loves jumping on your lap.”
“Yes. On my lap and on my
.” Dana didn’t want to add anything more, but she was beginning to wonder if Truffles had some sort of insight or psychic abilities.
It was weird how she was insightful and would respond to warn Dana if something was not quite right. Just as when she’d jumped on her laptop when she was looking at suspects for the murder of that restaurant critic, Brad. Truffles had reacted strongly and pressed on some keys and practically erased some of the wrong information that was up on the screen, which then led Dana to who the real killer was.
But Dana didn’t want Rocko or anyone for that matter to think she was crazy so she decided to keep it to herself. For now, anyway.
“Well, things should be nice and quiet for you now, eh?” Rocko asked as he weighed her berries on the scale and rang up a price. “This one’s on me today.”
“Oh, no. Rocko, I can’t!”
“Of course you can, Ms. Sweet. Your grandma was a really sweet lady and helped me out a few times. And well, I kind of like what you’re doing. You know them sweet words with sweet treats to start the day. You can get me one of those blueberry cupcakes and I’ll call it even.”
Dana smiled. “You’re really sweet, you know that?”
He blushed. “Thanks. So are you.”
Dana smiled and shook her head grinning. “I’ll be back later with the Blueberry Cream Cupcake of the day!”
She then grabbed her groceries and left the store. She couldn’t believe how sweet everyone was to her in Berry Cove. Yep, she really made a good decision to…
Wait a minute.
Dana’s heart plummeted in her chest as she walked on the cobbled road across the Town Square courtyard.
There was that sinking feeling again.
She really needed to have herself checked out. Every time when she felt something was going great, she would get this weird feeling in the pit of her stomach or in her heart. She just couldn’t explain it, but then it was as if she had some sort of sixth or seventh sense. It was as if she was being warned about something. Just as she’d found out her ex-fiancé had been double dealing her, even though he tried to keep it a secret. And just as she’d had that feeling earlier in the year that something wasn’t quite right in Berry Cove when she was in New York, only to receive a phone call from her cousin Katie who had worked at the Café with Grandma Rae.
But Dana knew something was wrong.
What was it?
Why couldn’t everything just be okay for once without a shadow of a doubt looming over her like a dark cloud on a warm summer day?
Nah, it’s nothing
, she tried to console herself.
Maybe you’re wrong this time, Dana. You know, you’re not always spot on with this stuff. No one is spot on with stuff a hundred percent of the time. Nobody’s perfect.
Which was true, she had narrowed down two suspects last month in the restaurant critic’s murder but her senses were wavering until finally, her energies zapped in on the right suspect.
When she finally arrived at Uncle Merv and Aunt Nia’s house, that feeling only intensified.
Oh, no. Please tell me Uncle Merv is all right
, she pleaded quietly with the universe.
Dana knocked on the door, with the bag of groceries in one hand.
Nothing. Not a sound. Not even the sound of her uncle’s cane against the wooden hardwood floor to tell her that he was coming.
She knocked again. Still nothing.
She drew in a deep breath. Her heart fluttering inside her chest.
She then placed the groceries down and pulled out her spare set of keys for the house that was in her Michael Kors satchel bag. The gift she’d received from her auntie when things were financially good for them back in the day before Uncle Merv lost his high-profile accounting job with the Fortune 500 company after a scandal broke out with the top executives at the job.
Dana opened the door slowly and was stunned.
“Uncle Merv, are you all right?” Dana said as she walked closer to her elderly uncle as he held his cane in the hallway of his house.
She dropped the bag of groceries by the door as she went over to him. He was standing holding his cane in one hand as he placed the phone receiver down with his other hand. He looked as if someone had died.
Didn’t Uncle Merv hear her knock?
He looked as if he was paralyzed with shock about something. He looked frozen.
“Are you all right, Uncle? You don’t look too well,” Dana continued, hugging him.
“Hmm? Oh, sorry, Pumpkin. You’re here. I didn’t even hear the door.”
“It’s all right, Uncle. “Where’s Aunt Nia?”
“She’s at Bea’s Salon, getting her monthly manicure and pedicure. You know how much she never misses a chance to pamper them expensive nails of hers. God, I hope she’s not getting the full mani-pedi today. We’re on a tight budget these days, you know.”
“I know.” Dana said quietly. She couldn’t wait until things really picked up at the café and the store was no longer in the red. She would help them out, just as they’d done when she was growing up after she’d lost her own parents.
“Oh, dear. Are you all right?” Dana helped him into the kitchen and sat him down by the kitchen table on a wooden oak chair.
“Oh, pumpkin. It’s my dear older sister,” Uncle Merv said, sobbing. “She’s back in the nursing home again.”
“Oh, no. Not Aunt Mary!”
“Yes, you’re grand-aunt Mary, pumpkin. She’s not too well. I don’t know if she’ll make it this time.”
“What is it?”
“Well, you know that she’s an invalid, right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Well, her son Max has been taking care of her at the estate but…but my dear nephew won’t be able to any longer.”
“Oh, no. Why?”
“He’s been arrested.”
“Arrested? But why?”
“Murder? That’s awful. What on earth happened?”
“His wife was found poisoned?”
Dana gasped. “Poisoned?”
“Yes, poisoned, pumpkin.”
“Oh, no! But uncle Max was always fond of his wife. He always spoke so highly of her, didn’t he? Why would he do that? Was it a crime of passion? Were they having a heated argument?”
“Well, I’m not going to lie to you, pumpkin. He was my nephew, but the guy liked to get around, you know. He was a bit of a lady’s man. And he had stolen that wife from a friend of his. Well, an ex-friend and business associate.”