The Lime and the Dead: A Key West Culinary Cozy - Book 3

BOOK: The Lime and the Dead: A Key West Culinary Cozy - Book 3
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Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents
are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is
purely coincidental.

Copyright 2015
by Maven Publishing - All rights reserved.

All rights
Reserved. No part of this publication or the information in it may be quoted
from or reproduced in any form by means such as printing, scanning,
photocopying or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright
holder.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Petite,
dark-haired, Marilyn Hayes waved goodbye to her neighbor of more than two
years. Standing at the end of her driveway, watching Madge Prentiss’s
heavily-laden little silver car follow the moving truck out of sight, she took
a deep breath, holding back the tears that threatened. The widow was getting on
in years, and had recently decided to rent out her charming little Key West
cottage and move in with her daughter in California. She and Marilyn had shared
stories over cups of tea, and slices of Key Lime pie, at least every couple of
weeks or so, and Marilyn teared up at the thought of losing the sweet woman’s
company. When the last glimmer of the silver car was out of sight, she wiped
her eyes and headed back into her own cozy cottage to make a bracing cup of Columbian
coffee.

Soon,
the coffee maker was burbling merrily, and Marilyn sat, chin in hand, at her
breakfast bar waiting for it to finish, lost in thought. Madge had been one of
her few friends on the island. Since Marilyn had moved to Florida with her
daughter Tiara in tow, after an excruciatingly painful divorce, she had worked
so hard to make ends meet – first selling pies from her very own kitchen, then
expanding to a rented space, and finally buying a cute and comfortable shop of
her own on one of the island’s main streets – that she’d had precious little
time to socialize. She’d been so busy as a single mom to her lovely daughter,
(who worked for her after graduating college, while waiting for her “dream job”
to come along), and starting her own business, that, she knew practically
everyone on the island, but hadn’t been able to form close friendships. Down in
the dumps at the loss of her neighbor, she vowed on the spot to make more of an
effort to be more involved with people, not just pies.

Marilyn
had just finished pouring her first cup of coffee, when the front door burst
open and her beautifully statuesque blonde daughter lit up the morning with her
youthful energy and enthusiasm.

“Hey,
Mom!” she called out on her way to the coffee pot. “I have some new marketing
ideas that  I want to go over with you when we get to the store this morning,”
she started to chatter, then looked over and saw her mother’s red-rimmed eyes.

“What
happened?” she asked, setting down her cup. With the strange misadventures that
had occurred on the island in the past few months, her mother’s tears raised an
immediate sense of alarm.

Marilyn
sniffed and laughed at Tiara’s wide-eyed reaction. “Nothing, I’m fine,” she
assured her daughter. “Madge left a few minutes ago to head to her daughter’s
in California.”

“Ah,
gotcha,” her concern melted away. She picked up her cup and went to the
refrigerator to forage for breakfast, relieved. “Well, you do realize that all work
and no play makes Marilyn a dull girl, right?” she teased. “Seriously, Mom, you
really need to get out more – meet people, do stuff. You’re young and single
and need to mingle.” The slim young girl took a Key Lime pie out of the fridge
and cut herself a sumptuous slice.

Marilyn
cracked an amused smile. “Well, I don’t know about all of that, but you’re
right…I do need to make friends and have a life outside of the shop. I just
don’t know how to go about it at my age,” she shrugged.

“Well,
no worries, I’ll do some research and hook you up…with some
friends
,”
Tiara quickly amended, after being on the receiving end of a very pointed look
from her mother. She plated her pie and sat down at the breakfast bar with her
mom, digging into the gooey sweetness with gusto.

“Just
make sure you run it by me before committing me to anything,” she warned,
sipping her coffee.

“Of
course,” her daughter blinked innocently, popping a huge bit of pie in her
mouth. “So, what’s on the agenda for today?” she asked, swallowing the silky
sweet perfection.

“I’m
going to be working on creating some new recipes to drum up more business, we
have some party orders to prepare for delivery, and I’ll need you to man the
front. I figured that you could work on the computer by the register when
you’re not busy with customers,” Marilyn ticked the to-do items off on her
fingers.

“We
also need to hire an extra set of hands to free me up to do the business
planning, accounting and marketing,” Tiara reminded her mother sternly.

“Right.
Yeah, that too,” Marilyn sighed. “I just hate the thought of it, because it
didn’t work out so well last time.”

“Once
burned, twice shy, I get it,” her daughter nodded. “But that doesn’t change the
fact that we can’t move forward with the business if I have to use the cash
register and wipe down tables all day,” she stared hard at her reluctant
mother.

“I
know, I know…get things started for me, and I’ll meet with the prospective
candidates that you choose,” she agreed, giving in because she knew that Tiara
was right – she had to stop dragging her feet if she wanted to grow her
business.

“You
got it,” her lovely daughter nodded enthusiastically, mouth full of pie.

Chapter 2

When
Marilyn returned home after an incredibly busy day, she was shocked, and a
little bit sad, to see that there was a rented truck in front of Madge’s
cottage. Someone was moving in already. It seemed as though life just plowed
right along, whether one was ready for change or not. The new tenant must have
been taking a break or something, there were boxes filling the open garage, and
a few furniture items as well, but other than belongings, there was no sign of
the new occupant. Marilyn hoped that whoever it was would turn out to be as
lovely as Madge had been. She would take a pie over later this evening or
tomorrow to welcome the newcomer and introduce herself.

Still
feeling a bit sad, even after a very creative and busy day at the shop, she
decided to treat herself to an indulgent evening in, ordering a combination
pizza with extra cheese. She opened a bottle of red wine to accompany her
“Italian” treat, and started flipping through the Netflix selection screens for
a good movie. Skipping the Adventure and Drama categories, she went  straight
to the Romantic Comedies, looking to live vicariously through the young, sweet
onscreen lovers. Truthfully, she just didn’t want to watch anything that
required any thought, so light and sweet seemed to be the logical choice.

The
doorbell rang a mere ten minutes after she ordered, and Marilyn looked at her
watch, astonished and impressed by the extreme efficiency of her pizza delivery
service. Tossing the remote onto the couch, without yet having selected a
movie, she went to the door and opened it, surprised that the frumpy,
middle-aged man standing on the other side of it didn’t have a pizza in his
hands.

“Hello,”
Marilyn smiled, confused,

“Hi!”
the somewhat timid, sandy-haired man with wire-rimmed glasses replied. “I’m
your new neighbor, Tim Eckels,” he stuck out his hand and she shook it.

“Oh!
Well, welcome to the neighborhood,” she smiled, thinking that his timing
couldn’t have been worse, her pizza was on the way, she was tired, and she just
wanted to zone out on a mindless movie.

“Thanks.
I hate to be a bother, but do you happen to have any twine? There are some
bushes in the back yard that are a little top-heavy, so I wanted to give them
some support, and my garden supplies are all packed away in a box somewhere,”
he explained, glancing about as though he had forgotten something. The twitchy
movement of his eyes unsettled her a bit, and she’d never heard of tying up
plants with twine before, but she nodded nonetheless.

“Sure,
hang on just a second, I’ll be right back,” she promised, leaving the front
door open with Tim standing awkwardly on the porch.

Marilyn
went to the kitchen drawer that held office and craft supplies, and pulled out
a ball of twine, then went to the refrigerator to retrieve the pie that she had
been planning to take to the new neighbor, figuring that since he was here, she
could just give it to him now, and save herself a trip next door later.

“Great!
Thanks so much,” Tim said, accepting the twine and the pie. “This’ll be dinner
for me,” he shrugged. “It’s been a long day.”

“I
bet,” Marilyn replied, putting on a suitably sympathetic face. “Good luck
getting settled,” she smiled brightly, starting to shut the door, but seeing
the pizza truck pull into her driveway. She wanted to get rid of her neighbor
quickly, before he noticed the pizza delivery and gave her a pitiful look,
indicating a desire to share her dinner. “I’ll check on you in the morning to
see how things are coming along,” she promised with a wave, and shut the door
before he could reply. She leaned against it, thinking that she should have
said something to get rid of her nice but slightly creepy neighbor without
having to promise to see him again.

Hearing
a soft knock just two minutes later, Marilyn opened the door again, hoping it
was the pizza guy and not her well-intended but strangely off-putting neighbor.

“Wow,
am I glad to see you!” she laughed upon seeing the red and blue uniform of the
local pizza delivery person.

“Yeah,
I get that a lot,” the easygoing youth joked. “That’ll be $14.75, please,” he
said, reading the receipt. She handed him a twenty and told him to keep the
change, anxious to get back to the couch and immerse herself in Netflix
nirvana.

Marilyn
put the pizza box on the coffee table alongside her wineglass, napkins, and
bottle of Zinfandel,
and picked up the remote again.
She’d find the movie first, get it started, then fix her plate. She finally
landed on what looked to be like an hour and a half of harmless fluff to watch,
and put two slices of ooey gooey loaded pizza on her plate. Halfway through her
shamelessly indulgent dinner, the front door opened, admitting Tiara, who was
carrying a stack of papers.

“Hey,
Mom,” she called out her typical greeting and leaned over to give Marilyn a
kiss on the cheek.

“Hey,
sweetie,” she replied, not allowing her disappointment at the interruption of
her quiet time to show. She always loved Tiara’s visits, so she’d never do
anything to discourage them.

“Ooooh…pizza!”
the young woman exclaimed with delight, putting her paperwork on the coffee
table beside the pizza box and heading to the kitchen for a plate. “Whatcha
watching?”

“I
forget the title,” Marilyn confessed. “It’s one of those movies that I can just
zone out during it and never lose my place.”

“Rough
day?” her daughter grinned, plopping down beside her on the couch with a plate
and a handful of napkins.

“Nope,
just powering down for a bit. What brings you over here, besides the pizza?”
she teased.

Tiara
bit the triangle at the tip of her slice and chewed for a moment before
answering. “I have resumes for you to take a look at,” she said, then took
another large bite. “Oh my, this is good.”

Marilyn
nodded, smiling at her daughter’s extreme pleasure in the simple treat. “Wow,
that was fast – when did you place the ad?”

“Before
I spoke to you about it yesterday,” she ‘fessed up sheepishly, maintaining eye
contact with her slice of pizza, rather than looking at her mother.

“Well,
you sneaky thing,” she accused playfully. “I should’ve known that you talking
to me about it had been a mere formality,” she shook her head. “I guess that’s
why I pay you the big bucks.”

Tiara
rolled her eyes and took another bite. “I think you’ll find some interesting
ones in there,” she pointed her slice of pizza at the stack of papers.

“I’ll
be happy to look through them in the morning, sweetie, I’m pretty brain-dead at
the moment,” Marilyn sighed.

“No
prob, but we need to start interviews ASAP. Gotta stick to the business plan,
Mom,” she reminded her mother.

“I don’t
know what I’d do without you,” she looked fondly at Tiara.

“Watch
movies and eat pizza by yourself, that’s what,” was the mischievous reply as
her lovely daughter reached for another slice. Marilyn was glad to see her
eating heartily. For a while, the willowy blonde had tried every fad diet and
miracle pill available to try and lose weight, and her mother had been
justifiably concerned. Thankfully though, she seemed to be past that phase and
now relied upon eating mostly healthy food, swimming laps in the ocean, and
participating in yoga, to stay slim and trim. She even tended to indulge in her
mother’s amazing Key Lime pie whenever the urge struck, which pleased Marilyn
to no end.

After
their hunger was satiated, mother and daughter snuggled up on the couch to
watch the inane RomCom and ended up falling asleep before the end of the movie.
Tiara startled awake just after midnight, and slipped out after covering
Marilyn with a blanket, locking the door behind her.

 

BOOK: The Lime and the Dead: A Key West Culinary Cozy - Book 3
4.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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