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As Long As There's Cake: A Cookie and Cream Cozy Mystery, #6

As Long As There's Cake: A Cookie and Cream Cozy Mystery, #6

Автором K.J. Emrick

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As Long As There's Cake: A Cookie and Cream Cozy Mystery, #6

Автором K.J. Emrick

4/5 (1 оценка)
189 pages
4 hours
Jan 24, 2019


A New Marriage... A Desperate Granddaughter... And An Old Mystery...

When a man caught breaking and entering claims to have new information in a decades old mystery, Cookie can't help but get involved.

The new information seems to indicate that one of the town's residents was involved all those years ago and Cookie is having a difficult time believing it.

If that isn't enough to deal with Cookie's granddaughter, Clarissa, arrives unexpectedly on her doorstep with a very large problem.

Life has gotten more complicated than a Chocolate Soufflé for Cookie.Can she sort it all out before the lives of people she cares about are ruined? 

Jan 24, 2019

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As Long As There's Cake - K.J. Emrick


Chapter 1

One of these days, Cookie thought to herself, she would dearly love to go on a vacation that was actually restful. Where she could laze around in a hotel room, maybe, and rest her old bones. Where the most dangerous thing she would face was a sunburn. She was a grandmother, after all. She should be enjoying her golden years in peace.

Once upon a time, a very wise person told her that ‘old’ was just a state of mind. It seemed like good advice.

Then again, since the person who said that had been herself, maybe it wasn’t such wise advice after all.

She simply wasn’t sure she believed it any more. Old was… old. Old was creaky bones and being tired come ten o’clock at night and needing reading glasses for the fine print in the newspaper. Today, old was definitely a matter of age. Sixty-six, to be precise. That was the birthday Cookie was looking at, coming just around the corner. Yes, Karen Stansted was getting old.

Karen Stansted. My, but that new name of hers was going to take some getting used to. She’d been Karen Williams up until she got married to the most wonderful man in the world. She was Cookie to all of her friends. The nickname was easier. As the owner of the town bakery, it suited her pretty well.

She sighed as she dunked her teabag into her cup, waiting for the steaming water to turn a dark brown before adding two lumps of sugar. A yawn caught her by surprise. Maybe she was just tired. Perhaps that was why she felt so old. She had been so looking forward to her RV trip with her new husband, Jerry Stansted. They had gone travelling across the country in an RV, seeing the sights and spending time together. Married again—at her age, mind you—and acting like a schoolgirl who was falling in love for the first time. Who would have ever thought it?

Then they had gotten caught up in a murder mystery that had nearly derailed their whole trip, but instead, it brought them closer together. It might not have been a restful honeymoon, but it certainly had been an exciting one! She and Jerry were such a perfect pairing. They were like chocolate and peanut butter. Or fish and curry powder. The best things in life often came in pairs.

So that was their trip, and now that they were back home, she had been looking forward to a few days to recuperate. So of course, what was the first thing that happens? Jerry was called away to the police station to handle some case or another. Something serious that couldn’t wait.

Cookie was sure she was cursed. That’s what it had to be. All this bad stuff kept happening around her and rather than walk away she kept stepping into it all with both feet. Not that she didn’t enjoy a good mystery as much as the next sixty-something woman, but it was beginning to feel like everywhere she went bad things happened. She remembered a cruise that she had taken with Jerry, and how her own daughter had almost been arrested for murder. On a cruise ship, for the love of butter! Did things like that happen to normal people? Certainly not. Did that make her not normal, or special?

To put it another way, was she a tray of uncooked brownies, or a tray of fudge? Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.

With another sigh, she took a sip of her tea. Goodness, but she was upset this evening. Even her usual cooking references weren’t enough to cheer her up.

She hadn’t felt like this when her sixtieth birthday rolled around. When sixty-five came for her last year, she had shrugged it off and blown out the candles on her cake and enjoyed herself. Why couldn’t she just do that now? She was in a good place in life. Her bakery business was flourishing. Her family—meaning her daughter and granddaughter and her—were closer than ever. Her new grandson, too, although she hadn’t seen as much of him as she would like. She was in a relationship with a man who loved her. They had gotten married, in fact, which led her right back to their honeymoon trip, and the murder mystery that found them on the road, and now… this new case down at the police station taking up Jerry’s time.

Without a doubt, she’d be stepping into it with both of her feet soon enough.

She frowned over her teacup at the file folder laying on Jerry’s side of the table. It was just two days after their return from their honeymoon trip and here he was, up to his neck in file folders and police reports. This was the time they were supposed to be sharing together as newlyweds, enjoying a cup of tea and some freshly baked crumb cake, but no.

It must be a curse.

Cookie sipped at her tea. Jerry had just stepped out of the kitchen and into the sales area of the bakery to take a phone call from the police station. He would be back soon, she told herself. Then they could enjoy the rest of their evening like a married couple was supposed to.

Bored with her tea, Cookie patted at the tight white curls around her ear. She was trying something new with her hair. Sort of a perm, sort of an extravagant style that Mara Kelsey had promised was perfect for her… ahem… slightly pudgy body shape. Mara was the hairdresser in town. Her shop on Gorsey Avenue had been open for fifteen years now so Cookie supposed she knew what she was talking about. To tell the truth it felt like a bit too much to her. Like she was trying to pass herself off as a woman in the springtime of her life, rather than a gray-haired grandmother.

Still, Mara had suggested it, and she’d always trusted Mara with her haircare needs in the past. What could it hurt to spice things up, was how Mara had put it.

Look at what she was doing, she scolded herself. Worrying about her hair and whether Jerry was going to like her better this way, and how best to get her man in the bedroom, and all that nonsense, when there was a real problem at the police station with this decades’ old unsolved mystery.

Cookie tapped her pinky against the rim of her cup. Cursed or not, she couldn’t help but be curious. Widow’s Rest was an old town with a long history and plenty of secrets that seemed to rise to the surface at the worst possible times.

She glared at the folder on the table again. How was she supposed to compete with drama like that? She could doll herself up in a black dress and pearls, with the fanciest hairdo that Mara could create, and the work of a police chief was still going to demand Jerry’s time. It was his job, after all.

In the next moment she smiled at herself. Policing might be his job, but she was his wife. Besides. She hadn’t needed any help getting Jerry into bed before now. She doubted that having wedding bands on their fingers was going to change that.

Her first husband had bolted and ran when their marriage got too real for him. After that, Cookie had sworn off having a man in her life full-time. She dated, certainly. She had fun. She just hadn’t gone looking for a soulmate. Not until Jerry came along. Now she couldn’t imagine living her life without him.

Sipping her tea, she eyed that folder again. One little peek couldn’t hurt, could it…?

She heard Jerry’s voice getting closer a moment before he pushed through the swinging door from the bakery’s front room and into the kitchen. …I don’t care, Patrick. The FBI can hold their hat in their hand and wait. For now, he stays our prisoner. I know what they have on him but if he can actually give us information on this case then he’ll earn himself a pass on all of it. Order him one of those personal pizzas for dinner and tell him to get comfortable in that cell. He stopped in his tracks, halfway through the door, his expression becoming a mask of patience. It was the look he usually wore when he was talking with Officer Patrick Flanagan. Yes, Pat. If he wants olives, he can have olives on his pizza. Fine. Yes. Have Jason watch that cell all night long. I don’t want him to move for his entire shift. Nobody gets in to see our prisoner, got it?

Apparently Patrick got it, because Jerry finally hung up on the call. He tossed his phone carelessly onto the kitchen island where it landed and spun on the file folder. That’s it, he promised. I turned off the ringer. I’m yours for the rest of the evening.

Just the evening? she said with a suggestive look over the rim of her cup. I’d like it if my husband stayed the night in my bed.

He laughed, and it was the first time she’d seen him do more than crack a half-hearted smile since they got home. He was so handsome when he laughed. I plan on sleeping with my wife for the rest of my life. In fact, I expect she will get sick of my snoring soon enough and make me sleep on the couch.

Their eyes met, and Cookie felt the heat between them. I certainly don’t plan on kicking you out of bed for a little snoring. It took us a long time to get where we are. I don’t plan on missing out on a single moment with you.

Mmm, he hummed. Don’t know why I waited so long to ask you out. All that wasted time, you know?

I know we’re together now. That’s what matters.

It was true. They had been friends for years before he ever got the courage up to go on a real date with her. He would come into her bakery all the time, and they would flirt and kid around, but even though both of them felt the attraction they were slow to act on it. Finally they had thrown caution to the wind, taken the plunge, and gotten married. Life was too short, after all.

Which brought her back around to thinking about how old she was getting. Well, that was quite enough of that, she told herself. Jerry just said that she would have his undivided attention for the rest of the night and she wasn’t going to waste a moment of that over feeling sorry for herself.

How’s the crumb cake? she asked him, motioning to the untouched plate with his snack on it. I’m going to reopen the bakery tomorrow after our little vacation, remember. Better eat some now before I sell all of it. You know it’s going to go fast!

No doubt about that. He took a forkful of the moist cake and chewed it slowly before swallowing it back. This is wonderful. As always. Have you ever made a bad batch of anything?

Oh, certainly. Cookie chuckled at her memories. When I was first learning the business, before I took over the bakery, I burned countless batches of chocolate chip cookies and banana bread and blueberry muffins. You name it, I burned it to a crisp. Or I‘d put in too much salt. Or I’d add too much cinnamon. There’s a thousand different ways that a recipe can go wrong and I’m pretty sure I found each and every one of them. I still make mistakes that go into the garbage because they’re too horrible to sell.

I doubt that very much. He drank some of his tea, frowned, and then added more sugar to it. Isn’t that how fudge was invented? Some cook somewhere was trying to make cake but did the recipe wrong? That’s where the saying, ‘oh fudge,’ is from, I think.

That’s the common story, certainly.

It isn’t true?

No. In reality, the earliest versions of fudge were created from a competition among women’s colleges in New York state, near the end of the nineteenth century. Not quite as fun as the other story but that’s the truth.

Hmm, he mused. An American original.

"An American woman’s original, Cookie corrected him. Just one more innovation brought to you by female ingenuity."

True enough. To women, he toasted, lifting his cup.

To women, she agreed.

They drank and ate for a little while in comfortable silence. Cookie saw the way Jerry’s eyes kept shifting to that folder at his elbow, but to his credit he never picked it up once. Just like he’d promised, this time was all about them. She knew she’d married this man for a reason.

His looks weren’t too shabby, either. He was tall, with a body he kept lean and strong with a constant regimen of exercise. His hair might be as gray as hers, but it was thick and wavy, and she loved to run her fingers through it. His face held a soft masculinity that sort of reminded her of Ray Liotta, the actor. She’d never tell him that she thought of him that way. ‘Soft’ wasn’t a word guys liked to use to describe themselves.

From behind her, Cookie heard a soft little bark. The door back there was for the stairs leading up to her apartment. It was open, and her little Chihuahua had been lying there asleep for the past half hour or so. He was getting old, too, and he needed his rest. His once pure white coat was darker with age. Sometimes he didn’t have the spring in his step that he used to. In dog years, Cream must be close to a hundred by now.

Well, well, she thought to herself. When she looked at it that way, she didn’t feel so old herself.

She quickly glanced at the other door in the kitchen, the one that led down to her root cellar. They didn’t use it much. It was mostly full of bad memories.

Cream barked again, and she gladly brought her attention back to him.

I think our dog wants a bedtime snack too, Jerry said. We’ve got some treats upstairs for him still, don’t we? I suppose we could go up to the apartment now and get ready for bed. I have a feeling I’m going to have a full day tomorrow of dealing with the FBI and interviews and God alone knows what. A good night’s sleep might not be a bad idea.

Cookie chuckled and slid her teacup aside, so she could take ahold of his hand. I’m sure we can tire each other out if we try. Shall we?

Definitely. He jumped off his stool to collect their dishes and put them in the sink. You won’t have to ask me twice, Mrs. Stansted. The honeymoon’s not over yet, as they say. Tomorrow we have to start deciding what you want to bring from your apartment to my house, too. That’s going to take some time. Unless you want to just bring it all?

Cookie tried not to let him see her frown. They hadn’t ever really talked about her moving out of the upstairs

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