Authors: Anita Rodgers
DEATH OF THE FAMILY RECIPE
A Scotti Fitzgerald Murder Mystery – Book 3
Copyright © 2015 Anita Rodgers
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
First electronic edition published by Anita Rodgers
Death of the Family Recipe
Published in United States with international distribution.
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 coincidental.
Cover design by: Jessica Wright
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For every daughter looking for her mother.
Do you have to know where you came from to know where you’re going? Conventional wisdom says to let sleeping dogs lie, but that assumes mystery is a normal state of being. If you’re defined by an unanswered question, isn’t there some point at which you deserve the answer? Even if it’s the one you dread the most?
My name is Scotti Fitzgerald and I’ve been defined by the fact that my mother abandoned me when I was a baby and it has driven me in everything I’ve ever done. But not long ago, I discovered I was pregnant and the man I love proposed to me on the same day. The convergence of those two events set me on a path I never expected to walk.
Ted spoke softly. "Scotti, did you hear me? I asked you to marry me."
I looked away from the sparkle of the ring and up at Ted’s questioning face. His was the face I loved most. The face that promised I’d never be alone in the world. I smiled. "I have to tell you something first."
He glanced quickly behind him. "If it’s about my family. They understand, they won’t…"
I put my hand on his chest. "No, it’s not about your family." I chuckled. "Actually, it sort of is…" I looked into his eyes and the words stuck in my throat. I took his hand and placed it on my belly. "It’s about
Ted furrowed his brow, looked at his hand on my belly then at me then back again. "Our family?" Realization came into his eyes. "Really?"
I nodded. "Really."
He pulled me into his arms and lifted me off my feet. "We’re having a baby?"
I whispered into his ear, "We’re having a baby."
He kissed me softly then set me back on the ground. "So recruit, do I have to get out my shotgun to make you marry me?"
Giddy with nerves, I smiled at him. "Yes I’ll marry you, you big gorilla."
Ted slid the ring on my finger then kissed my hand and said, "Now you’re mine."
I slid my arms around his neck. "I’ve always been yours."
We kissed then stared into each other’s eyes. The moonlight, the scent of night-blooming jasmine and the stars that sparkled the sky held us there for a moment. Then he scooped me up in his arms. "How about we start practicing for the honeymoon now?"
I laughed and kicked my feet. "Now? In the parking lot? Put me down."
A chorus of happy murmurs sounded behind us and the Jordan clan stood clustered near the restaurant door.
Ted glanced at his family then back to me — pleading with his eyes. I sighed and whispered, "Okay, but not a word about the baby. Not yet."
Ted gave them a thumbs up then cranked a hand. "Okay troops, fall in."
In seconds we were surrounded.
Melinda took my hand and admired the ring — her green eyes gleaming in the moonlight. "It’s perfect. As though it was meant for you alone, Scotti."
I held out my hand and had to agree. "It is perfect, isn’t it? I love it." My voice cracked, "And I love your son."
Melinda hugged me. "Welcome to the family, darling." She released me, then clapped her hands. "All right, we’ve had our fun. Come on troops, mission accomplished." She winked at me and set the rest of her brood in motion. "See you Monday night at dinner."
Arms around each other, Ted and I watched them saunter toward the parking lot until they were gone from sight.
Ted pulled me close. "Want to try dinner again?"
Ted twisted his lips and frowned. "You barely ate."
I shrugged. "I could go for something chocolate."
Ted led me toward the lot. "I know just the place."
We made love. In a candle lit room scattered with rose petals. But with a different kind of urgency — not a race to the finish line, but a long walk down the path of desire. Our connection was sealed — we were now one unit, one force, one entity. That night, we became husband and wife in the truest sense — our vows to each other were made in each touch, kiss, and sigh. The ceremony was merely a formality that would come later for the benefit of friends and family.
Afterward, we lay entwined in his big comfortable bed, watching the candlelight dance shadows on the wall. Ted laced his fingers through mine. "I’m so glad you said yes."
I raised my head and grinned at him. "Was there any doubt?"
He looked into my eyes. "Plenty. Especially when you didn’t answer right away."
I reached up and kissed him. "I had to tell you about the baby first. And I was scared."
He lay his head on my breasts and traced circles on my belly with his finger. "I want our baby to look like you."
I giggled. "You want her to be plagued with crazy hair and a flat chest?"
He kissed my breast. "Definitely not flat from my perspective." He raised his head. "It’s a girl?" He smiled like that was the best thing since whiteboards. He murmured, "A little girl."
I ran my hand through his shiny black hair. "I don’t know — I feel like it’s a girl."
He pulled me on top of him, and I breathed in his scent. "Mother’s intuition?"
Being referred to as a mother caught me by surprise, but I liked it. "Maybe. Val said we might be able to tell at the sonogram. Unless you don’t want to know? We could let it be a surprise."
He reached up and played with my curls. "Whatever you want is what I want."
I laughed and rolled off him. "I want chocolate." I propped against the headboard and nudged him with my foot. "And you promised."
Ted rolled off the bed, grabbed a tray filled with chocolate truffles and fresh strawberries from the side table. Like a fancy maître d', he lay it before me. "Your wish is my command."
I pulled the tray close and scolded him. "It’s been sitting here the whole time and you didn’t tell me?" I snatched a truffle and popped it into my mouth. "Oh my God. So good."
Ted crawled back into the bed. "Can I help it if you distract me?" He popped a fat red strawberry into his mouth. "Tasty."
I swatted his hand away. "Hey, you already ate."
He propped back on his elbows. "Okay, have at it. We need to fatten you up anyway." He nudged me with his foot. "Can’t grow a baby with pie and coffee."
I popped another truffle into my mouth. "I’m going to have to give up coffee?" I stuck out my lower lip. "That’s really sad."
Ted rolled onto his back and lined up truffles on his naked body. "Small trade-off for such a big payoff." He rearranged the truffles to form a heart. "And I think we’ve got bigger challenges than that."
I removed the truffles from Ted’s chest and put them back on the tray. Then crawled on top of him and nibbled his ear. "Like what?"
"You can’t keep a baby secret for very long."
I rolled off him and sighed. "Damn, I just lost my erection." I got out of bed and snatched my underwear from the floor. I switched on the bedside lamp and looked lovingly at my left hand. "At least I have a pretty ring."
"You’re getting dressed?"
I pulled my dress over my head and tugged it down. "I am dressed."
Ted swiped his shorts from the floor and hopped into them. "Are we going somewhere that requires clothes?"
I went toward the door. "That chocolate made me hungry for real food."
He rolled his eyes. "Now she wants to eat."
I raced Ted to the kitchen. But what I found was a gaping hole in the back of his house. "What did you do?"
Ted caught up to me. "Damn, I wanted it to be a surprise."
I hugged myself against the chill. "Yeah, where there was a wall is now plastic sheeting covering a gaping hole in your house. That is a surprise. And I’m surprised."
What was once a perfectly good kitchen was now a mess of plaster, exposed beams, and unattached appliance hookups. The appliances were gone, along with half the cabinets and the walls that held them were stripped back to the studs. I sneezed.
Ted pulled me back toward the door and put his arms around me. "I told you I was going to remodel the kitchen for you."
I turned and faced him. "You’re doing it yourself?"
He nodded. "Me and my brothers." I cringed and made a face. Ted puffed up his chest. "You don’t think we can do it? We know what we’re doing. Dave is a licensed contractor."
I snorted. "For plants. He’s a landscaper." I frowned at the demolished room. "How do you eat? You don’t even have a fridge anymore."