Read Chocolate Most Deadly (Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries Book 2) Online

Authors: Mary Maxwell

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Cozy, #Women Sleuths

Chocolate Most Deadly (Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries Book 2)

BOOK: Chocolate Most Deadly (Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries Book 2)
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

Chocolate Most Deadly

 

 

Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries / 2

 

 

 

Mary Maxwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and
incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and
any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments,
events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

© 2015 Mary Maxwell

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means
electronic, mechanical, recorded or otherwise, without the prior permission of
the author except for the use of brief quotations in a review.

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

CHAPTER 40

CHAPTER 41

CHAPTER 42

CHAPTER 43

CHAPTER 44

CHAPTER 45

CHAPTER 46

CHAPTER 47

CHAPTER 48

CHAPTER 49

 

NANA REED’S SKY HIGH RECIPES

CHAPTER 1

 

 

“Can you save me, Kate?” Eliza
Wells pleaded from beneath a faded Denver Broncos cap. “I know it’s late, but
please
save me!”

Trapped in the harsh glare of the light
above my front door, she looked pale and frantic. Her mascara was smudged, her
eyes were watery and tangled brunette tufts spilled from beneath the hat like
tumbleweeds bouncing in the breeze.

“Please, Kate!” she cried again. “I
really
need something scrumptious for the Civic Circle meeting. If I
don’t impress the other ladies, they’ll think that I’m a slacker in the
domestic arts.” She dabbed her eyes with the sleeve of her sweatshirt. “And you
know what I think would be just perfect?” Her pearly whites glowed in the
bright lamplight. “Two large platters of those cute bite-sized cupcakes,
cookies and pies that you sell!”

It was ten o’clock on a Monday night in early September. Before Eliza began pounding on the door, I was
seconds away from crawling into bed with a good book and cup of chamomile tea.
I’d been up since before dawn juggling a million hectic moments at Sky High
Pies, the bakery café that I run in tiny Crescent Creek, Colorado. The last
thing I needed was an emergency order from a frenzied fan. But I live in a cozy
apartment on the second floor of the Victorian that houses our family business,
so it’s hard to hide from someone as persistent as Eliza Wells. While most
people would pick up the phone with such an urgent request, Eliza was more of a
face-to-face communicator—especially when her reputation was on the line. I’d
already seen it a couple of times since I moved back from Chicago to take over
the business.

“I just
adore
everything you
make!” Eliza gushed as I motioned for her to step inside. “And there’s such
history between us. I mean, our grandmothers were at school together. Our
parents went on double dates when they were teenagers. And all of my brothers
and sisters think you can do no wrong in the kitchen, Kate!”

“But if you serve our goodies,” I
said, stifling a yawn, “isn’t that cheating? I mean, if your friends are
expecting something homemade, won’t they be disappointed if they discover that
you tricked them?”

Eliza scowled. “Can’t you keep a
secret? I’ll pay double the special order rate, okay? And I’ll
never
ask
you for another favor again as long as this fresh Rocky Mountain air fills my
lungs.”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes
at her theatrical expression and choice of words. When I took over Sky High
from my parents, they’d provided a list of local residents who often requested
last-minute favors. Eliza had been at the top of the roster—in bold type with
several exclamation points. “She’s a pickle,” my mother had said graciously.
“Oh, really?” my father had chuckled. “Is that what we’re calling professional
procrastinators these days?”

As I stood in my living room,
listening to Eliza fervently promise to never again ask for special treatment,
my father’s booming voice and vigorous laughter echoed in my mind. If it wasn’t
two hours later in Florida, I’d call their cozy retirement condo as soon as
Eliza left to entertain them with her most recent eleventh-hour request.

“Well?” she squeaked as tears
trickled from her eyes. “Can you do it, Kate? Will you spare me from certain humiliation
in front of the group?”

I spun around, grabbed a box of
tissues and held it toward her. After she’d dried her cheeks and stuffed the
crumpled tissue under one cuff, I promised to prepare an assortment of
miniature goodies for the meeting. Then I complimented her on how nicely the
paint-spattered sweatshirt looked with her bright pink-and-yellow nightgown,
fuchsia socks and hiking boots.

“This old thing?” She glanced down
at the oversized pullover, flecked with drops of blue, green and teal. “My husband
wears it to work around the house. I was in such a panic—you know,
after
the cookies I was making for the meeting burned to a crisp—that I grabbed the
first thing I saw to wear over my nightie.”

I nodded at the breathless
explanation. “Well, you look cute and comfortable, Eliza.”

She beamed a dazzling smile. “Thank
you, Kate.”

“Okay, back to business,” I said.
“When is your meeting?”

“In two days,” she said. “I’m
expecting twenty women, the leading movers and shakers of Crescent Creek.”

I bit my lower lip to refrain from
saying anything unseemly about the Civic Circle crowd. I was well aware that
the group’s members—a select coven of bitter, malicious and judgmental
bellyachers—had been spreading rumors about the reasons my parents left
Crescent Creek and moved to Florida. “Her father’s a womanizer,” they’d jeered.
“And her mother’s addicted to online poker.” Of course, both claims were wrong;
my parents were deeply devoted to one another and my mother’s idea of a wild
time online involved Google searches for culinary trivia. I’d also learned that
one member of the group—a former Las Vegas showgirl named Colette
Coscarelli—started the rumors after my parents declined her attempts to buy Sky
High Pies. “Family business my derrière!” she’d allegedly snarked. “Their
daughter Kate doesn’t know a first-rate pâte sucrée from a hole in the ground.”
Since Nana Reed taught me to make sweet tart dough when I was seven and I’d
helped my Uncle Buzz build a fence on his property near Leadville at the age of
ten—involving countless holes and plenty of ground—I’d overlooked the rumors.

I was chuckling quietly about the
ridiculous tittle-tattle and Colette’s nasty remark when I realized Eliza was
still going on about her upcoming witches’ summit.

“…but a cheese tray isn’t an option
because Tipper Hedge is lactose intolerant and Frenchie King apparently has a
fear of cows.” She paused to giggle. “Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Someone who’s afraid of cows and gets hives if they’re in the same room as
dairy products?”

I shook my head. “Sounds
heartbreaking.”

“Ha!” Eliza hissed. “It sounds
positively
fabricated
to me, like the kind of gibberish you tell someone
if you’re desperate for attention or—”

“Sorry to interrupt,” I said with
another yawn. “But it’s late. And I’m exhausted.” I paused long enough to let
the concept register in her frantic brain. “Don’t worry about the treats for
your group, okay? Julia and I will take care of everything.”

“Are you sure?” Her mouth fell open
and her eyelashes fluttered like a swarm of overexcited moths. “I don’t want to
be any trouble, Kate.”

Too late for that
, I
thought, pressing my lips into a cordial smile. “Oh, I’m absolutely sure,” I
said. “It’s no trouble at all. What time is your meeting?”

“Seven o’clock,” Eliza said. “On
Wednesday evening.”

I took her elbow and gently guided
her toward the door. “Sounds good,” I said. “We’ll have everything delivered by
five that afternoon.”

Before I knew what was happening,
she’d trapped me in a powerful hug, planted a big kiss on my cheek and flooded
the room with a high-pitched squeal.

“You are
too
amazing, Kate!”

I wiggled out of her death grip,
blushed a little and mumbled a few words of appreciation.

“See you on Wednesday!” she called,
slowly clomping down the exterior staircase in her hiking boots. “You’re a real
life saver, that’s for sure!”

As soon as I was alone again, I
grabbed my phone and crawled into bed. I zipped through my contacts, found
Julia’s name and sent her a quick text:
Special rush order for Eliza Wells—two
SHP Mixed Mini Samplers. Deliver on Wed afternoon. See you in the AM!
The
Mixed Mini Sampler featured diminutive versions of our best-selling goodies.
Some customers ordered nothing but pies, while others blended bite-sized
versions of our renowned cakes, cookies and scones into the mix. Since Sky High
first opened forty years earlier, my Nana Reed’s recipes had earned a sterling
reputation among local residents as well as tourists who passed through
Crescent Creek on their way to Aspen, Vail, Boulder, Telluride or any of our
state’s other famous destinations. The Mixed Mini was a perfect way for them to
indulge in petite nibbles of our top sellers.

After sending a second text to my
sister in Denver
—Will call soon! Love you!—
I dropped my phone on the
bed, sipped the lukewarm tea and opened the Agatha Christie novel that I’d been
reading for the past few nights. Nana Reed had introduced me to the pleasures
of mysteries and detective stories when I was young. During the decade that I
spent working as a private investigator in Chicago before returning to Crescent
Creek, the books had seemed a strange counterpart to my daily life. But now
that I’d left behind my work as a PI, I cherished the time I could spend with
my favorite fictional sleuths. Even if I only read a few pages before falling
asleep, it was my treasured respite from the world and a cherished connection
to my beloved grandmother.

I’d just opened
The Body in the
Library
when my phone vibrated. A quick glance answered the question that I
was muttering softly under my breath:
Who thinks
now
is a good time
to call?
It was my sister, undoubtedly responding to my message.

“Olivia!” I said brightly after
swiping the screen. “What are you doing up so late?”

“It’s barely past ten,” she
answered. “That’s not really so late, is it?”

“Speak for yourself, sis. I get up
at four-thirty every morning. Remember?”

“Well, you just texted me. I
figured you were still awake.”

I decided to skim past the
rhetorical chatter. “What’s on your mind?”

“I wanted to see how your dinner
went with Trent,” she said, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial hush.
“Where’d you go? What did you have? And was it as incredibly romantic as I
hoped it would be?”

I flopped back against the pillows
and closed my eyes. Despite telling Olivia that I wasn’t interested in
rekindling a romance with the hometown boyfriend who’d unceremoniously dumped
me in high school, she kept needling me to give Trent a second chance. It was
true he was still handsome. And it was also true that he was once again single.
But I’d returned to Crescent Creek for Sky High Pies, not to reconnect with the
boy who broke my heart all those years ago.

“Kate?” my sister whispered. “Are
you still there?”

“Yes, Liv. I’m still here. Why are
you muttering like that?”

“I’m not muttering,” she muttered.
“I’m trying to be discrete. I don’t want Cooper to know that I’m prying into
your love life. He thinks I should mind my own beeswax.”

I smiled. My brother-in-law was the
strong, stoic type. But when he did have something to say, it was usually
meaningful and wise.

“Well, you can tell Coop that you
weren’t being nosy,” I said. “Even though you are. Sort of. But it’s okay
because I don’t
have
a love life.” I pictured Will, my ex in Chicago, on
the night he announced that he’d fallen in love with my upstairs neighbor. “I
mean, you can’t pry into something that doesn’t exist, Olivia,” I added. “So
there’s no need to whisper like that.”

“Okay,” she whispered. “But what
about Trent? How’d your date go?”

I groaned and opened my eyes. “First
of all, we’re having dinner
tomorrow
, okay? And, second of all, it’s not
a date. He wanted to get together and hear more about my work in Chicago.”

“Eew,” Olivia said. “There’s
nothing romantic about being a PI.”

“Some people would disagree with
you,” I said, closing the Agatha Christie and putting it on the nightstand.
“But I’ve already told you—my dinner tomorrow with Trent isn’t going to be
romantic, okay?”

She huffed and sighed before
launching into a monologue about why I should give him another chance. Since
Olivia’s stubborn streak is several miles wider than mine, it took a few
minutes to convince her that my dinner plans with Trent Walsh were as far from
romantic as possible. When she finally said she believed me and I promised to
text her with a full report in a couple of days, we said good night and I
shuffled to the kitchen to make another cup of tea. The alarm would scream at
me in a few short hours, but I wanted to enjoy at least two pages of Agatha
Christie and one cup of chamomile before turning off the light.

BOOK: Chocolate Most Deadly (Sky High Pies Cozy Mysteries Book 2)
9.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Young Love (Bloomfield #4) by Janelle Stalder
Duckling Ugly by Neal Shusterman
The Robber Bride by Jerrica Knight-Catania
The Licence of War by Claire Letemendia
The Shadow Patrol by Alex Berenson
Candide by Voltaire
All the Dead Are Here by Pete Bevan
Not Another Soldier by Samantha Holt