Authors: J A Whiting
A Sweet Cove, Massachusetts Cozy Mystery
Copyright 2015 J.A. Whiting
Cover copyright 2015 Susan Coils at
Proofreading by Donna Rich
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, or incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to locales, actual events, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from J. A. Whiting.
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For my family, with love
Angie Roseland loved this time of morning when the streets and sidewalks were quiet, the air was fresh, and the daylight filtering through puffy white clouds was bright and new. The air was unusually warm for mid-April and the change in the weather lifted Angie’s spirits. It had been a harsh winter and a wet spring, so a warm sunny day was especially welcome.
Angie had her shoulder-length, honey blonde hair piled on top of her head and held there with a clip. She adjusted the canvas bag on her shoulder as she bent to insert the key into the lock of the shop’s blue door. Swinging it open, she flicked the switch to turn on the overhead lights of the cozy café.
The words “overhead lights” didn’t really do justice when describing the lighting in Angie’s bake shop. Those words conjured an image of harsh banks of fluorescent bulbs stuck inside of a plastic cover. Angie had spent many hours searching for just the right pieces to illuminate her small coffee and desserts shop. She wanted her bake shop to be a welcoming and comfortable spot for her patrons and she believed that lighting was an important aspect of creating a cozy café.
Two medium-sized cut glass, crystal, and pewter chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and the small pieces of glass and crystal caught the light of the bulbs and softly bounced the rays off of the ivory ceiling and the light mocha walls. The shimmering lights always made Angie happy when she arrived for work each early morning.
She hummed to herself as she tucked her purse under the counter and headed to the back room to put her lunch in the small fridge she kept to one side of the preparation area. Slipping a pale pink apron over her head and tying the back straps, Angie returned to the front room of the café, turned on classical music, prepared coffee pots, heated water for tea, checked the supplies in the cabinets, and started the process of baking her breads, muffins, and tea cakes.
The door opened causing a little bell to tinkle.
“Hey, sis,” Courtney called to her older sister. “What’s cookin’?”
Angie looked up and smiled. “Ha. You need to come up with a new line.” She went to the bank of windows and opened one of them wide. Because of the long, freezing winter and the cool, wet spring, the windows hadn’t been open in months. “It’s like an early summer day. Let’s let in the fresh air.”
Twenty-one-year-old Courtney helped open two of the front windows, and then she headed to the back room to get her apron. She was a senior at a Boston university and she often returned to the town of Sweet Cove on weekends to help out at the bake shop. She called out from the back room. “You’re very cheerful for someone who is about to get kicked out of her shop.”
Angie sighed. “I’m just trying to enjoy my last few weeks here.” She moved to the work station and made two vanilla lattes. Courtney returned to the front room wearing her apron and accepted one of the lattes from Angie.
“Any news on your search for a new space?” Courtney took a small sip from her white cup.
Angie shook her head and frowned. “Any place that’s available, I can’t afford and anything I can afford isn’t available. The real estate agent is looking and listening for any possibilities, but it looks like I’m not going to be open anywhere in this town this summer.”
Angie had opened her Sweet Dreams Bake Shop in Sweet Cove, Massachusetts only a year ago. Now the building was being sold and the new owners had different plans and weren’t renewing Angie’s lease.
Sweet Cove was a perfect small town right on the Atlantic Ocean tucked on the North Shore only thirty minutes from Boston. A train station on the edge of town received several trains a day from the city and when the weather was good they carried droves of day-trippers to Sweet Cove. There were a number of bed and breakfasts, small inns, and quaint hotels, along with a variety of shops that lined the cozy streets selling books, jewelry, clothes, ice cream, and anything else anybody might need or want.
The town had an old-fashioned movie theatre, pharmacy, and small grocery store. Angie, her sisters, and mom had vacationed in Sweet Cove for years, and some of her ancestors, including her grandmother, had lived in the town all of their lives.
Angie had been searching for a place to start her café business and was thrilled when the small space in Sweet Cove came up for rent last year. The shop was doing well and Angie built a loyal following of regular customers drawn from the permanent residents in the area, in addition to the tourists who frequented her café. Now that she wouldn’t be able to stay in town, she would have to start from scratch wherever she ended up moving. Despite her heavy heart, Angie couldn’t spend time dwelling on her dilemma as the regulars would be arriving soon for their morning beverages and bakery treats.
The door opened and Angie’s employee, Lisa Barrows, entered the café and greeted Angie and Courtney. Lisa was in her early sixties, divorced, and had recently moved to Sweet Cove after living in central Massachusetts for over forty years. Lisa had been born one town over from Sweet Cove and spent the first years of her life in the area. She was now retired from a teaching position and, having lost her mother last year, Lisa decided to return to the seacoast. She wanted to keep busy and was happy to find a job at the bake shop. She worked three full days and three half days. Lisa, with her stylish, short silver hair, was energetic and efficient, and Angie was happy to have her help.
The women chatted amiably as they hurried about the shop getting ready for the first customers of the day.
The bake shop was in full swing with a line of customers waiting for their beverage orders. People stood in front of the bakery cases choosing treats for takeout and other customers were perched on the five counter stools sipping coffees and eating muffins and homemade donuts. The shop had ten café tables with four chairs around each one. Angie always had little glass vases filled with fresh flowers on the tables. All of the seats were taken by local residents who sat discussing the latest town news and gossip before heading out to their jobs or errands. The local real estate agent, Betty Hayes, a boisterous middle-aged woman who knew everything that was going on in Sweet Cove, was engaged in her daily schmoozing, always nosing around for a property to sell.
Angie was slightly annoyed with Betty because she didn’t seem to be putting much effort into finding a new place for the cafe. Angie realized that her need for a new space for the bake shop was probably at the bottom of the real estate agent’s priority list since finding a rental space wouldn’t provide much of a commission.
The door opened and a small older woman with nearly white hair pulled into a loose bun, leaned on her cane, and stepped into the café. Angie caught her eye and waved to her. The woman beamed a lovely smile at Angie. Lisa hurried over, took the woman’s arm and led her to a table that was opening up. “Good morning, Professor Linden. Here’s a table right here. Would you like your usual?”
“Yes, Lisa, thank you. I’ll wait for Angie to make it.” A fleeting scowl passed over Lisa’s face and then was gone. Professor Linden preferred that Angie make her first latte of the day. The professor took a seat at the small table near the window. A fresh breeze came through the screen and ruffled the petals of the flowers in the vase.
Courtney walked over to greet the professor. “Can I get you something to eat?”
“What did Angie bake today?” The professor would only eat the items that Angie baked. Some customers thought that Angie had a special talent for baking and they preferred to order the specialties that were prepared by her.
“She made almond cake, blueberry scones, and the Russian teacake cookies,” Courtney told the woman.
“I’d like a blueberry scone, please.” The professor smiled and opened her newspaper.
Professor Linden, a town selectman for many years, had retired from teaching mathematics at a university in Boston and she’d lived in Sweet Cove off and on since she was a little girl. Her house, a huge eighteen-room Victorian, was on Beach Street just around the corner from the Sweet Dreams Bake Shop. The professor and her late husband purchased the house many years ago and even though Professor Linden admitted that the place was much too large for her, she’d decided that she would never sell it.
Courtney brought a mocha latte to the table with a napkin and a scone on a pale blue plate. “Here you are. Angie just made the latte for you. Enjoy.”
The professor nibbled at her scone and sipped her drink as town residents stopped by her table to chat. A pleasant buzz of conversations filled the air of the café as people came and went. Betty, the real estate agent, joined the professor for several minutes and then some business people who were interested in building on some town wetlands stopped by to talk. Angie joked that it was like the professor held office hours every morning in the bake shop.
After she delivered some slices of banana bread and two coffees to the town’s police chief and patrol officer, Angie noticed a lull at the professor’s table, so she sat down with her for a few minutes.
“How’s your hip, Professor?” Angie asked.
“It’s a bit better. It gets sore after strolling here and back home again, but I think it’s certainly improving.” Professor Linden had a pacemaker and about a month ago she experienced a dizzy spell in the kitchen of her home, fell, and bruised her hip. Angie was walking past the house to deliver some muffins to one of the nearby restaurants when she heard the professor’s cat howling inside. It was pretty clear that something was wrong from the caterwauling coming through the open window.
Angie investigated and ended up calling an ambulance for Professor Linden. The Sweet Cove weekly newspaper did a story praising the feline for sounding the alarm. Quite a few of the locals teased Angie that the cat had received more attention than she did for helping Professor Linden.
Angie chatted with the professor for a little while, discussing recipes and gardening and travel. “I will surely miss you when you have to close this café.” The professor patted Angie’s hand. “And I will certainly miss all of your delightful treats. There’s something magical about them.”
Angie’s eyes sparkled at the professor’s compliment. “Thank you, Professor. You’ve always been so encouraging ever since I set up shop here in town. It means a lot to me. I’ll come back to Sweet Cove to visit,” Angie told her. “And, I’ll be sure to bring you a box of your favorite baked goods whenever I come to see you.”
The professor frowned at the thought of Angie leaving. “It just won’t be the same without you. I’ve grown quite fond of you, you know.”
Angie nodded and her blue eyes got misty. “I’m going to miss you, too. But we still have four weeks before I have to close. We’ll make the most of it.” She forced a smile.
Just then the shop door opened and two men in suits stepped in.
“So this is what’s on the other side of the wall.” The taller man pointed towards the café’s back room, and then he looked around the front space. “Who is running this shop?” His voice carried a tone of authority and he appeared to be someone who knew his way around a boardroom. He had blue eyes and dark brown hair showing some gray at the temples. He looked to be in his mid-forties. He glanced about looking for the person in charge of the café. Angie rose from her seat.
“I’m Angie Roseland.”
“Davis Williams.” He shifted his briefcase into his left hand and reached to shake with Angie.
The second man who entered the shop stepped from behind Davis Williams. He appeared to be in his early thirties, with sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He was trim, and his suit was well-cut and fitted. He smiled, showing a perfect row of white teeth. “Josh Williams. Davis’ brother.” He extended his hand to Angie and she shook with him.
“Your shop is great,” Josh said, looking around.
Angie wondered who these two men were and why they were looking for her.
The Professor placed her hands on the table in order to push herself up. She reached for her cane. “This shop
great. Maybe someday you’ll be sorry you drove this young woman from Sweet Cove.”