Skip to product information
1 of 1

Sue Hollowell

Coffee Cake and Calamities (PAPERBACK)

Coffee Cake and Calamities (PAPERBACK)

Regular price $10.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $10.99 USD
Sale Sold out


A mysteriously disappearing body, tipsy travelers, and the clickety-clack of steel wheels…

Tilly, her uncle, and their friends are escaping for a short getaway on the Coast Excursion train. Romance is in the air with Tilly’s uncle and her new assistant. As the train begins its journey to the vineyard, Tilly soon overhears whispers among the other guests about plans to dispose of a body.

Matters are further complicated as several of the guests over indulge at the wine tasting, returning to the train with even bigger tales of intrigue. When some of them are noticeably absent after the stop at the mystery mansion, Tilly is concerned whether she, her uncle and friends will all make it back to Belle Harbor alive.

Can Tilly find out the truth of the dead body and nab the suspect before the trip is over? Or will the killer escape from the ride, getting away with murder?


 Paperback 105 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
  • 979-8756659306
 Publication date September 2, 2021
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


The announcement from the loudspeaker instructed us to wait behind the yellow line while the train entered the station. The early morning marine layer was heavy enough to blot out the view of the ocean and any glimpse of sun. I had high hopes for the fog to lift by the time we were on our trip. The pictures of the view from the Coast Excursion were spectacular. On the east side of the train, lightly snow-capped mountain peaks bordered much of the trip. On the west side, the ocean ran as far as the eye could see. In many places along the route, the train ran high up on rocky cliffs.

The train squeaked to a stop in front of us, bellowing and moaning as it settled in to open the doors for passengers to embark.

I tightly gripped the handle on my overnight case with wheels by my side. Uncle Jack, Linda, Justin, and I planned this trip as a last hurrah before my dream come true of the grand opening of Luna’s Bakery and Cafe. Once we opened the doors, it would be quite some time before I would be able to venture out for more than a few hours at a time. Unkie and Linda huddled together, heads bowed toward each other. Those two had become almost inseparable since they had met.

How the universe had guided Uncle Jack to run Linda’s estate sale, I would never know. His Checkered Past Antiques shop occupied most of his waking time, when he wasn’t also looking out for me. But something in the air prompted him to agree, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. He did, however, vow to never do that again. And fate wasn’t done with Linda and our family, as she had quite the baking skills. She was more than my assistant. Our collaboration and strategy for running Luna’s elevated her position to that of an operations manager. I shook my head, still in awe that I had my own small business. With employees. The real deal. My persistence toward my vision, and a heavy and consistent dose of encouragement from Uncle Jack, had resulted in my very own place.

“Can I get that for you?” Justin asked, extending his arm to grab my bag. The crowd edged forward toward the conductor, checking tickets as we boarded the train. I stepped back and allowed Justin to hoist the bag up the steps. I held the handrail and followed him to the car on our left. He heaved my bag up to the overhead bin. “Did you bring a pile of bricks with you?” he asked as he huffed, shoving it back toward the wall. “You have quite the weapon if you need it.”

I chuckled, noticing Justin’s straining bicep as he placed his bag next to mine. His form-fitting T-shirt showed off his athletic body. Along with owning his own business, his passion was surfing. Or really any kind of water sports. One of my fondest memories was our kayak trip fiasco. His embarrassment at shoving me off by myself without paddles was still prevalent to this day. He did redeem himself with another trip. We spent a long afternoon paddling throughout the bay, observing the quaint, small town of Belle Harbor from the water.

Scanning the car, I saw that seats were filling fast. I quickly scooted to the last row and nabbed the only two remaining together. I moved to the window and patted the seat next to me for Justin to sit. He plopped down, his light blond curls bouncing just a smidgen.

My time since arriving in Belle Harbor had been consumed with starting my bakery and re-starting my life. To have a place to safely land after the disaster with my ex-husband was nothing short of a minor miracle. And the people surrounding me were becoming like family. Justin rented the room above Unkie’s antique shop and was a constant presence in our lives, along with his cat Willie, who became an unexpected father with the bookstore owner’s cat Gwinnie. Even more wonderful from that pairing was my unforeseen adoption of one of their kittens. My Peanut had become a constant companion.

“Don’t worry. I’m sure it’ll clear any minute now,” Justin said.

I turned my gaze from the window toward him. “Huh?”

“Wow, you were a million miles away,” he said.

The wall of windows on both sides of the train extended overhead. You could recline your seat and watch the sky pass by. I closed my eyes, imagining the night with twinkling stars and the moon overhead. The train jolted forward, launching us into our adventure.

“Thanks for coming,” I said.

Linda had convinced Uncle Jack to take this trip. But truth be told, it wasn’t much of a hard sell. They wouldn’t take no for an answer when they asked me to join them, knowing I wouldn’t have a break from my new cafe for quite some time. There was still so much to do before opening, I only hoped I could enjoy my time on this short jaunt. Not wanting to feel like a third wheel, I asked Justin along. He eagerly accepted. With his response I hoped he hadn’t gotten the wrong idea. I was nowhere near ready for a romantic relationship. He and I enjoyed a companionship in exploring and experiencing Belle Harbor and the surrounding areas, but that needed to be the extent of it.

The motion of the train settled into a gentle rocking as it got up to speed.

“I’ve always wanted to take this trip,” Justin said. He reached his arm across me to point out a rock formation in the water. “That’s called a sea stack.” Three rocks sat just offshore like tiny islands. Not much more was visible from the fog beyond them. “That particular location is also a national wildlife refuge to protect the nesting sea birds and sea lions.”

Squinting, I peered out the window to spot any of the creatures. A few birds circled the rocks, landing and taking off again. The train, now up to speed and rumbling along, could have lulled me to sleep. The early departure was necessary in order to fit in all of the stops along our trip.

“What do you say we go get some coffee?” I asked.

Justin stood and held his hand to guide me to the aisle. I took it briefly as I rose from my seat, pondering his intent with that gesture. He had a gentle and kind demeanor. But I wondered if he was secretly hoping for more in our relationship. Time would tell.

“Unkie, Linda, would you like something from the dining car?” I asked as Justin and I stood in the aisle next to the lovebirds.

Uncle Jack looked at Linda. She shook her head. “I’m OK for now. But thank you for asking,” she said.

“We’ll be back in a bit.” I led the way through the passenger cars to where I could smell the aroma of caffeine beckoning me.

We passed through four cars full of people on our way. Each car with the expansive windows provided the feeling of floating along the tracks above the ocean. The dining car had booths lining both sides with only a few tables occupied. Justin held out his hand to inquire if a table met my approval. We took a seat as the server arrived. “Welcome to the Coast Excursion. What can I get you?” She looked back and forth between Justin and me.

“I’ll start with coffee,” I said. “Black.”

“Same,” Justin said.

“You got it. I’ll have that right up for you.” She noted our order on her pad and put it in her pocket, tucking the pencil behind her ear.

“I can’t believe how beautiful the scenery is. And it looks so different from this vantage point,” I said, gazing out the window. This trip was just what I needed. A forced distance from my business for a bit. I was already starting to relax.

“Cathy, would you leave it alone?” a deep voice behind me hissed.

My head snapped up and my eyes widened. Justin leaned slightly to his right to see over my shoulder.
“I wish I could,” Cathy responded. “Every time I see that woman in the office, it comes back to me,” she replied.

“Seriously, you’ve made out pretty well with this deal,” the male voice said. “I’m the one who’s had to deal with disposing of the trash.”

“I guess. I’m just glad it’ll be gone before we get back from our trip,” Cathy replied.

View full details