Authors: Ginny Gold
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Café - Vermont
|Ginny Gold - Early Bird Café 05 - Smashed Potatoes and Gravy|
|Early Bird Café Mysteries |
|Ginny Gold Books (2014)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Cozy - Café - Vermont|
Smashed Potatoes and Gravy
The Early Bird Café Cozy Mystery Series
by Ginny Gold
Copyright © 2014 Ginny Gold
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author and/or publisher. No part of this publication may be sold or hired, without written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of
the writer’s imagination and/or have been used fictitiously in such a fashion it is not meant to serve the reader as actual fact and should not be considered as actual fact. Any resemblance to actual events, or persons, living or dead, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication / use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Kori took a deep breath, filling her lungs to capacity and held it in as she stepped through the café’s front door. It was just after four in the morning and she was taking Ibis for her morning walk. The weather had finally turned cooler as they headed into the final week of November in Hermit Cove and it instantly woke Kori up.
She exhaled slowly, watching the mist that her breath created
, and smiled. She absolutely loved this time of year. Thanksgiving fell late in the month and the holidays brought out the best in people. They also gave her extra reasons to cook for them. With many families having spent their entire lives in Hermit Cove, she had invited many of them to The Early Bird Café on Thursday for two early Thanksgiving dinners. They were basically her family and she was excited to be hosting such a large gathering.
But she had several days and events to get through before that was upon her. Today was only Monday and she was hosting Jenna Rhodes’ baby shower later
in the day. She was actually cutting into her normal business hours to do so, closing at ten for paying customers and starting the shower at eleven. She’d deliberated with herself about the lost revenue of three hours when there were plenty of visitors in town who would need brunch, but Jenna was an important person to her and she’d finally decided to close for her.
Kori followed Ibis up the sidewalk,
Kori really the one being taken for a walk. Ibis never pulled on the leash, but she liked to jog in front of Kori on the long leash so she had plenty of time to stop and smell everything.
They took their normal route up Main Street
, past the now closed ice cream shop of Scoop’s Scoops. Kori almost never checked for cars this early in the morning when she was ready to cross the street, but she heard one approaching and waited patiently. A big black SUV with out of state plates flew by and Kori wondered only briefly what the hurry was. There was plenty of time still before anything opened, and being a holiday week usually had people going at a more leisurely pace.
Kori led Ibis across Main Street and t
hey passed the recreation center where Kori knew her mother would later take a spin class with Anita Marks; the Hermit Market where long time father figure to Kori, Teddi West, worked; The Treasure Chest, Mel Styles’ pride and joy; and finally they crossed the street again in front of Furry Friends, the animal shelter where Ibis had landed before coming into Kori’s life.
The shelter’s owner, Vera Joy, had promised that Ibis would be a positive addition not only to Kori’s life, but to the café. And she’d been right. As a former unofficial service dog who spent
her puppyhood visiting retirement homes, Ibis was calm and collected in every situation and with every individual. And now that she had passed her Good Citizen Canine class, Ibis was allowed to freely wander throughout the café. Though she still chose to spend plenty of time on her dog bed tucked away in Kori’s back office off the kitchen.
Unlike the rest of their walk, Kori had to pull on the leash to get Ibis to cross the street. “Come on. We have to get to work,” Kori urged, but to no avail.
Ibis sat down on the sidewalk and refused to budge. “What’s going on?” Kori asked her, turning back around and giving her dog her full attention.
That was when she noticed the lights on in the shelter. Kori didn’t wear a watch and she’d left her phone in the café so she couldn’t check the time but she knew without a doubt that this was earlier than Vera usually got in.
Kori debated with herself about whether or not she should knock on the door that was likely locked. She started considering every possibility about why the lights might be on and the one that stuck out the most was that Vera had just forgotten to turn them off when she’d left yesterday.
“Come on Ibis,” Kori said again, giving the leash a gentl
e tug. But Ibis still refused to move, not even taking her eyes off the shelter to look at Kori. “You need to check it out?”
Ibis seemed to understand because she gave a short bark and stood with a wagging tail.
“Alright. Let’s go make sure Vera is okay.”
Ibis led Kori to the front door and waited while Kori peered through the glass window and knocked.
“I don’t see anyone,” Kori told Ibis.
But then movement caught her eye and she saw Vera wave in her direction. She wasn’t sure if it was a
welcoming wave or just an acknowledgement that they were there so Kori tried the door.
“Locked. Sorry Ibis. Vera looks busy. We’ll have to come back later and make sure everything is okay.”
Ibis must have given up because she turned around and headed back toward the café across the street. But not before Kori saw Vera wave again, this time noticing that her hand was bright red.
Kori decided not to think about what that could mean. Hermit Cove finally seemed to have returned to its normal state of quiet and safe. It had been over three months since there had been a murder and everyone seemed to have settled back into the slow pace of small town life.
Just after they crossed the street, a second car went speeding down Main Street; a bright red sports car. Kori turned around just in time to see that it was also an out of state car but she didn’t get a good view of the driver.
What is going on today?” she asked Ibis aloud but got no response.
Once back in the café, Kori started getting things ready for breakfast. Since she was closing early, she had decided yesterday to make only things that were made to order. Nothing in large batches that might not get finished with the shorter day. So instead of any popovers, frittatas or baked apple bread, she was offering omelets and toast, granola and yogurt, pancakes—both gluten free and non-gluten free—
homemade muffins from the freezer and a side of fresh fruit with any order.
But before getting any of that ready, she turned the coffee makers
on and unloaded the dishwasher. Then she set to work cutting various fruits, slicing bread into thick pieces for toast and mixing together two batches of pancake batter.
And unlike most other mornings, she was done way ahead of schedule so
she sat down with an omelet and toast and opened her phone to the Daily Maple newspaper app and started reading. But before she even took her first bite, the door swung open and she was showered with the still crisp morning air.
“Good morning,” her mother, Gale, crooned, arms held high as if she were being greeted by a huge crowd.
“Hi Mom,” Kori said, turning back away from the door and taking her first bite. The cheese threatened to ooze out of her mouth but she managed not to make a mess. “How was your weekend?”
Gale walked into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of orange juice before she answered, giving Kori a chance to take another two bites in peace. She loved the early morning quiet before Kiera, her only employee, arrived. Kori glanced at the clock on the wall and realized she’d be here any minute. She came in at five, a half hour before the café opened, but Kori had told her to come in at five fifteen today
since there was less prep work than usual, and it was already five fourteen.
Drinking from a glass, Gale sat across from Kori and finally answered. “Kori, I have big news,” her mother said, making slightly too intense eye contact.
Kori nodded. “Okay. What’s up?”
Gale paused and a smile spread on her face, lighting up all of her features. “I’m getting married!”
Kori put her fork down that had been halfway to her mouth and her mouth continued hanging open in shock, rather than in anticipation of the bite she was about to take. “You’re … what?” she finally asked.
“I’m getting married. I know it’s fast. But Lucas and I decided that at our age, why wait?”
“Lucas … who?” Kori still hadn’t managed to recover enough to take another bite of her breakfast.
“Lucas Wright. You remember him, don’t you? I went to Italy with him in August. And I’ve known him all my life.”
“So … are you moving out of Hermit Cove?” Kori asked, knowing she was focusing on all the wrong details.
Gale laughed, not noticing the question beneath Kori’s question.
“No, of course not. He’s from here too and he’s moving back. We thought we’d get married while he’s here for Thanksgiving. How’s Saturday? Can you make the cake? I’ll go back with him for a few weeks to help him sell his house and get everything in order and then we’ll live together in my house.”
“Wow.” Kori was nearly at a loss for words. “I can’t believe this.”
Just then, the front door opened again and Kori turned to see who the source of the breeze was. She should have known without looking but her brain was not at work right now after the bombshell of her mother’s news. Kiera walked in and closed the door behind her.
“Morning Kori. Hi Gale,” she said and waved as she walked toward the kitchen to hang up her coat. Kori knew she’d be back in less than a minute to get directions about what to do.
“So, Saturday then? I was thinking a cheesecake. Nothing fancy.”
Kori thought to herself. She knew her mother’s definition of nothing fancy was much different from her own. “How many people are you thinking of having?”
“No more than twenty. You can do it, right?”
“Yeah. Of course,” Kori said, hoping she was right. “But let’s talk about it this afternoon. I have to get to work.”
“Great. I’ve gotta get over
to the rec center for spin. Anita waits for no one. See you this afternoon. Oh, no, I’ll see you before then for Jenna’s baby shower. This sure is going to be a busy week for you with the shower, Thanksgiving and my wedding.”
Kori smiled to her mother’s back and thought,
Tell me about it.
She cleaned up her dishes with her half eaten breakfast and headed into the kitchen to work with Kiera on any last minute preparations before they opened in ten minutes.
“Hi Kiera. How was your weekend?” Kori asked. She gave her the weekends off so she wouldn’t burn out too quickly.
“Great. I actually had a chance to work on the logo. I was able to clean it up and make it much higher quality. I think I’m ready to place the orders for mugs, aprons and shirts. Was there anything else you wanted it on?”
Kori put Gale’s glass in the dishwasher and stood to face Kiera. “I give you the weekends off so you don’t have to work on those things. But thanks.” Kori chuckled. She knew Kiera was nearly as invested in the café as she was.
“What about napkins?” Kiera asked.
“I like that. Just a small one in the corner. On a variety of colors if you can. I like to keep things bright in here and switching to all white wouldn’t be very exciting. Or what if we just did iron on logos onto our existing napkins?”
Kiera thought about that before answering. “We could. But I don’t think the quality would be as good. And there would be a background.”
“Good point. Go ahead and get quotes for me this afternoon. And don’t forget, you get to leave early today too because of Jenna’s baby shower.”
“Perfect. I’ll work on it then. Can I stay and use your office so it’s all right here?”
“Sure. And then I can even rope you into working if I have to.”
Kori walked Kiera through each of the breakfast items and stressed the importance of keeping the two pancake batters separate even though Kiera was already perfectly competent in the kitchen. By the time she was finished, she headed out front and turned the closed sign to open and was ready for their first customers.
As usual, she didn’t have to wait long. Before she had even closed the door or brought her curious head back inside from peering up and down the sidewalk, she saw Lieutenant Zach
Gulch crossing the street and her heart leapt. Kori waited until he got to the door and then she gave him a quick hug and a kiss.
“Morning handsome,” she whispered in his ear. She could feel his cheek crinkle as he smiled.
He let go and she turned to head back inside before she got too cold. “Morning beautiful,” he said to her back and she felt the unstoppable smile spread across her own face.
“Coffee?” she asked, picking up two mugs because she was almost positive she knew the answer.
“Yes please.” Zach made his way to the counter in front of the window to the kitchen. “Hi Kiera,” he greeted and Kori heard Kiera’s quick reply.
Kori loved this part of the day. Ever since Kiera had started working for her, Kori almost always got to eat with Zach right when the café opened and before customers started pouring in. She placed the two mugs filled with coffee on the counter and Kiera handed Kori her unfinished omelet.
“What can I make you this morning?” Kiera asked Zach.
Zach looked toward the wall where the day’s menu was written on a chalkboard and paused while he read over the option. “What muffins do you have today?”
“Strawberry, coffee cake and pumpkin,” Kiera said before Kori even had a chance to respond.
“I’ll take a pumpkin. Thanks.”
Kiera headed away from the window and took a tray of muffins from the oven where they had been defrosting in low heat. “Cut in half and fried in butter?” she asked, holding up the as-good-as-fresh pumpkin muffin.