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Sue Hollowell

Mousse and Mayhem (PAPERBACK)

Mousse and Mayhem (PAPERBACK)

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Frozen ravioli, a mountain resort wedding, and business burglars...

Tilly has one eye on the wedding plans for her adoring, quirky uncle while she is scouting clues in a rash of neighborhood business thefts.

Emotions run hot as shop owners point fingers while the thief’s daylight deeds become more brazen. Tensions escalate as a dead body appears, whacked by a bag of frozen ravioli.

Tilly is running out of time to locate the murderer before the wedding. Can she vindicate the long suspect list of family and friends or will she be led down the aisle of no return?


 Paperback 102 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8832530871
 Publication date June 7, 2022
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


The front door of the bakery swung open as my bestie Fiona breezed inside. The initial rush of customers who had retrieved their early morning coffee and treats had dissipated. I wiped down tables and straightened the white wrought-iron chairs, readying the space for the next crowd. People came in waves as the day progressed, supplying themselves for their beach activities.

“Hey there,” Fiona greeted, coming to give me a squeeze. She bounded in, her long blonde ponytail swinging behind her. Today was the day she officially began the renovations on her bar. The expansion was long overdue, as she was packed wall-to-wall most every day and night. Our weekend in Diamond Hills to research possibilities had given her a vision. Extending her dining room with outdoor seating to the front and side of her bar would almost double its capacity.

I tucked the towel into my apron pocket and held my arms out wide. I was incredibly blessed since my move to Belle Harbor with the most loving people surrounding me. A bestie, a quirky but fiercely protective uncle, and a boyfriend who supported me with all of my wacky ways. And to top it off, owning a thriving bakery in the legacy of my one-of-a-kind grandma Luna. I regularly pinched myself to believe it was all real, worlds away from my former life.

“Can you load me up an order of all the regulars for my crew?” Fiona asked, sweeping her arm toward the display case.

“You got it,” I said. I retrieved a box from the back counter and gathered several varieties of our pastries for her to-go package.

“Maybe I should make it a double batch for the construction team as well,” she added.

I closed the lid on box number one and retrieved a second. “How’s that going?” I asked. Fiona had taken out a pretty large loan to cover the cost of adding to her bar. A common business practice, but she was betting she could expand her customer base enough to cover the payments. Extending myself that much financially gave me hives. I knew I could make a similar expansion successful, but going that far into debt was too much for me at the moment.

“Can you get away for a quick peek?” she asked. “The plans are set, and I can’t wait. I only hope it goes quickly to minimize disruption for current customers.”

I handed Fiona both boxes and rang up the purchase. She fished her credit card out and handed it to me. I peered over her shoulder, not seeing anyone else headed into the bakery. Holding up a finger toward Fiona, I ducked my head through the door into the kitchen. My assistant Linda was almost done with the second batch of baking for the day. Now would be a good time for a quick break to speed down to Fiona’s and check out the plans.

I removed my apron, tucking it onto the shelf under the cash register. “I can come for a super short visit. I’m so excited to see what this is going to look like,” I said. I held the door for Fiona, and we exited onto the boardwalk for the short distance to her bar at the end of the row of beachfront shops.

“I’m surprised you have any time on your hands with the wedding planning,” Fiona said.

Chuckling, I said, “I would go without sleep to make it the perfect wedding for Unkie and Linda.” Serendipitously, Uncle Jack had agreed to run an estate sale for Linda, something he normally didn’t do. His Checkered Past Antiques shop kept him more than occupied, but a spark ignited between the two of them, and the flame has fanned hot ever since. Luckily for me, Linda was also an excellent baker and accepted my offer to join team Luna. Nobody was happier for Unkie than I was to finally see him receiving the happiness he deserved. His generosity to others in the community was legendary, and taking me in when I arrived on his doorstep . . . Well, I was beyond grateful.

“It’s going to be epic, as it should be,” Fiona said.

As we passed Mocha Joe’s Coffee Shop, I peered inside at the throng of customers, the lobby constantly full to receive their caffeine fix. My first business collaboration way back when I started now flourished with Joe, one of my biggest wholesale customers. He had shared with me on my early morning delivery the prolific burglar had finally hit his place. To date, my bakery had been spared, but if this person wasn’t caught, I believed it was only a matter of time. Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the thievery, and I hoped it stayed that way. They dedicated the town council agenda for their next meeting to business owners and how to stop the criminal.

“Any ideas on the culprit of these burglaries?” I asked. Fiona and I had paired up for multiple sleuthing sessions, her leading the way many times for our crime investigation.

The beach was sparsely populated as the sun had yet to burn off the low-lying fog hugging the shore. Ahead of us, beyond the boardwalk, the lighthouse poked out, a beacon for mariners. The predictable weather of Belle Harbor would certainly draw sizable crowds as the day wore on.

“A few things. But I don’t know how helpful they are,” she said.

“We need a bestie session at my place. Somehow, this person has to get caught before they do any more harm,” I said.

“Agreed. What I know is that they seem to take small stuff and just enough to carry. I can’t see a pattern in what they’ve nabbed. And it’s during a time when most people are asleep,” Fiona said.

“That window is pretty small,” I said. Fiona’s bar stayed open late and my bakery and Joe’s opened very early. How was it that someone had not caught them yet? “Well, Unkie and I will be at the council meeting. I’ll let you know if I learn anything.”

We neared the end of the boardwalk and stopped just short of Fiona’s. Pointing along the front of her bar and around the corner, she briefly described her vision of the outdoor area. Covered seating with strings of lights. Just enough to see in the dark but also provide a lovely ambiance. Her business would explode with this addition.

“Do you want to come in for a sec?” Fiona asked. “I can show you the architecture drawings.” She grinned widely like a kid who just got the best present in the world. How could I say no?

“Quickly. I can’t really leave Linda alone for long before the next rush,” I said.

I pushed the door open to the quiet of the room. Fiona stepped inside and looked around, brows furrowed. It appeared we were alone. Belle Harbor was safe enough to leave the door unlocked and the place unattended for a short amount of time. But not lately.

“Well, that’s weird,” Fiona said, gazing throughout the bar like she expected someone to jump out and yell surprise. After setting the boxes on a booth table, she walked behind the bar toward the back storage room.

I moved to the next booth where the architecture drawings sat for her expansion, and I flipped through the pages, marveling at how her dream was coming to life. I whipped my head around toward the blood-curdling scream coming from the direction of the room where Fiona had disappeared.

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