Authors: J A Whiting
MURDER SO SWEET
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
Twenty-seven year old Angie Roseland carried a platter of blueberry, carrot, and cinnamon raisin muffins to the dining room buffet table. Yogurts, fruit salad, boiled eggs, white and wheat toast, and a variety of different cereals were already displayed on the sideboard. Angie’s younger sister, Ellie, had a small stack of clean plates in her hands and she placed them at one end of the table.
The girls’ huge orange cat was perched high atop the China cabinet keeping watch over the morning tasks. Angie glanced up at him. “Euclid, be a good boy when the guests come down for breakfast. No hissing allowed.” He flicked his tail.
The dining table was set with China plates and cups, glass goblets, linen napkins, and silver settings. A vase of fresh flowers was in the center of the table. Angie returned to the kitchen for the sugar bowl and creamer.
Ellie turned when she heard footsteps on the front staircase. “Good morning.” She gave a cheerful smile to the first bed and breakfast guests to emerge from their room. “Breakfast is all ready for you.”
Mr. and Mrs. Foley, a couple in their sixties, returned Ellie’s greeting and headed to the dining table to take their seats. Mrs. Foley was retired from her job as a high school art teacher and Mr. Foley owned a company that installed security systems at large corporations.
“Did you sleep well?” Ellie filled their glasses with lemon water from a pitcher. The ice cubes clinked together as the water was poured.
“We slept very well,” Mrs. Foley told Ellie. She placed her reading glasses on the table.
Mr. Foley took a long drink from his water glass. “The beds are very comfortable.”
“I love how you’ve decorated the room.” Mrs. Foley’s eyes shined her approval. “We’ve stayed all over the world in different bed and breakfast inns and this one is right at the top of the list of our favorites.”
Ellie’s chest swelled with happiness. This was the first week that the Victorian was accepting guests and she was eager for everything to go well. She and her sisters had worked hard to prepare the rooms for maximum beauty, comfort, and relaxation. Four of the second floor bedrooms had been set aside for clients this summer so that Ellie could get her feet wet running the new enterprise.
Mrs. Foley eyed Euclid sitting high on the cabinet. “The only trouble is the cat. I’m allergic. There wasn’t a mention of a cat on the bed and breakfast website.”
Euclid scowled at the woman.
“Oh.” Ellie’s face clouded with concern. “I should have put that on there. I’ll be sure to update the website with that information. I’m so sorry.”
“No worries.” Mrs. Foley lifted her water goblet to her lips. “I always travel with my allergy medication.”
Angie winced at the mention of allergy medicine. The person who killed Professor Marion Linden, the former owner of the eighteen-room Victorian, had used allergy meds to poison her.
Angie greeted the retired couple as she set the sugar bowl and creamer on the table. She’d owned a bake shop in the small, seaside town of Sweet Cove until it closed just over three weeks ago. The building that housed Angie’s café had been sold to new owners and they had other plans for the space. She was unable to find a new location for her bake shop in Sweet Cove and was resigned to having to relocate to another town, until a stroke of fortune descended. When Professor Linden passed away, she left the Victorian home and property to Angie.
The estate was now in court probate proceedings and as soon as the legal paperwork was finished, Angie would have the deed to the Victorian and the seventy-five thousand dollars also left to her by the professor. For now, Angie was acting as caretaker for the house and she’d received permission from the estate’s legal representative for Ellie to run the small bed and breakfast enterprise out of the property.
“Angie.” Courtney hurried into the dining room looking for her older sister. She didn’t realize that two of the guests were already downstairs having their breakfast. “Oh. Good morning.” She smiled at the couple and then waved to Angie to come talk to her in the foyer.
“You’re up early. What’s up?” Angie carried an empty tea pot.
“I’m working at the candy store today.” Courtney slipped her arm around Angie to move her further away from the dining room so that they could talk privately. “Will you walk me to work? Mr. Finch is such an awful grouch he barely manages a few mutterings to me during the day. Yesterday, he made a quick comment that you were a good baker. I thought that if he saw me with you, he might be less of a sour puss to me.”
Courtney had arranged a part time job working customer service at the small boutique candy store in Sweet Cove owned by Mr. Thaddeus Finch, the town grump. The candies he made were well-known and were considered some of the finest confections on the east coast. They were in demand all over the United States and Europe. Mr. Finch was as famous in Sweet Cove as his chocolates were, but his reputation was that of a miserly, bad-tempered, old coot. Most people tried to steer clear of him.
Courtney was sure she was the only person who applied for the position at Mr. Finch’s store and, despite her misgivings, she accepted the job so that she would be able to contribute to the Victorian’s household expenses. Courtney had graduated from college just two weeks ago and was sending out resumes for full time work, but hadn’t heard anything back yet.
“I think Finch only hired me because he thinks you’re a talented baker which makes no sense at all because I just work the counter, I’m not making the candy.” Courtney rolled her blue eyes. “Anyway, will you walk me to work?”
Angie glanced over her shoulder at Ellie who was talking with the Foleys about sightseeing in the area. They wanted to see the museums, antique shops, and the historic district and needed recommendations for lunch and dinner at restaurants overlooking the ocean.
“Sure, I’ll walk you to work. Ellie doesn’t need me. I finished the morning baking. She can handle the other guests when they come down for breakfast.”
Angie told Ellie that she was going into town for a little while and Ellie asked her to pick up two gallons of milk while she was there. Courtney got her lunch bag and purse, and she and Angie walked through the foyer. Courtney opened the front door and stopped short, her eyes in a wide stare. Angie looked over her sister’s shoulder and stiffened.
“Hello.” Attorney Jack Ford stood at the door, his hand raised, about to ring the bell. He was dressed in his usual uniform of suit jacket, pressed shirt, and bow tie. Today the tie was forest green with flecks of blue in the fabric. It was one of his more understated choices of neckware.
“What are you doing here?” Angie didn’t mean for her words to sound so harsh, but she had made an agreement with the lawyer that he would always call before coming to the house. Ford had been the lawyer for the Victorian’s prior owner and he was handling the estate and transfer of the house to Angie.
Angie didn’t trust him. The night after Professor Linden was killed, Angie discovered that Ford was upstairs in the Victorian home searching for something in the professor’s file cabinets. He snuck out of the house when Angie arrived to feed the cat. Ford claimed he had been looking for an updated will, but Angie didn’t believe him. She wondered why he would sneak away if he had been in the house for any legitimate reason.
“Your sister asked me to come.” Ford adjusted the cuff of his shirt.
Angie stared at Courtney, thinking she was the one who had invited Ford to the house.
“Not me.” Courtney shook her head vigorously.
Ellie rushed over. “Attorney Ford. Come in.”
asked him here?” Angie questioned.
Ford entered the foyer.
“I think we need to incorporate the B and B business,” Ellie said. “I’ve read that it’s a smart business move. I asked Mr. Ford to come and speak to me about the pros and cons.”
Angie took Ellie’s arm and moved her over near the bottom of the staircase. “Why him? Why didn’t you find a different lawyer?”
Ellie answered in a hushed tone. “He’s the only lawyer in Sweet Cove. I looked up lawyers who specialize in this area of law. He was rated as one of the best.”
“Ellie, I don’t trust him.”
“Oh, I know. This is a free consultation. I just want to hear what he has to tell me. It slipped my mind to tell you. I just called him yesterday.” She leaned in closer to Angie. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep my guard up. Maybe I can get him to spill why he was in here the night the professor died.”
Attorney Ford cleared his throat.
“Don’t let him out of your sight.” Angie walked back to where Courtney and Ford stood near the front door.
Ellie smiled and gestured towards the breakfast buffet. “Please come in, Mr. Ford. We’re just serving breakfast. There’s coffee and tea.”
Ford moved into the dining room with Ellie. She looked back at her sisters and winked.
Angie let out an exasperated sigh as she and Courtney left the house and started up Beach Street to the center of town.
“I wasn’t expecting to see Ford at the door.” Courtney adjusted her purse’s strap on her shoulder.
Feelings of distrust and anxiety rushed through Angie’s body. “It was certainly a surprise for me. And, not a pleasant one.”
“Why is he so weird?” The question was unanswerable.
They walked along in silence until Courtney asked, “How does someone become as ill-tempered as Mr. Finch?” Her honey blonde ponytail bounced as she walked. “He’s famous at what he does. He must make tons of money. He’s won awards and contests. And still, he’s sour and unhappy and alone.”
Angie shrugged. “Maybe he was just born that way. He’s been a sour old goat since we were kids.” She smiled. “Remember how he’d always scowl at us when we went in to buy candy from him when we were little?”
“Yes. It was like he hated us. I think he thought his delicious creations were being wasted on kids.” Courtney chuckled. “I thought he was about a hundred years old back then.”
The girls turned the corner onto Main Street and walked by the small shops. The sun was shining and the morning air was warming up. Tourists had begun to return to the area and in another couple of weeks, the season would be in full swing with people coming to the seashore for their summer vacations.
Angie and Courtney crossed the street towards Finch Confectioners, and Courtney groaned. “Almost time to enter the grouchy old devil’s den.”
Angie laughed. “He can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, yeah? You spend eight hours with him and let me know what you think.”
As they got closer to the storefront, Courtney narrowed her eyes. “The lights aren’t on.” She stopped walking, a look of concern on her face.
“What?” Angie sensed the tension emanating from her sister. “What’s wrong? He just forgot to flick the front lights on, that’s all.”
Courtney shot her sister a look filled with anxiety. “He never forgets.” She bolted for the door of the candy shop. She reached for the knob, yanked the door open, and rushed inside with Angie hurrying after her.
“Mr. Finch?” Courtney held her breath as she inched towards the candy making room at the rear of the store.
Angie stood in the middle of the shop, the glass-fronted candy cases circling the space. It was dead quiet. Her heart started to hammer.
Courtney took a few steps forward and halted at the threshold to the back room. Angie could see her sister’s shoulders begin to shake.
“Angie, come here,” Courtney whispered. Her hand came up and covered her mouth.
Angie darted to her sister’s side and followed her gaze.
Mr. Finch was on the floor on his back, lying in a pool of blood, a knife sticking out from the middle of his chest just below the ribs.
Courtney’s breath came in gasps. She moved to Mr. Finch and knelt beside him. She reached out a trembling hand to touch his cheek. Her fingers held suspended an inch from his face. Courtney’s vision started to dim and she sat back hard on her butt.