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Sue Hollowell

Sherbet and Shenanigans (PAPERBACK)

Sherbet and Shenanigans (PAPERBACK)

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Puppy pals, superstar power, and a vindictive newspaper reporter...

The charity auction to raise money to provide companion dogs for senior citizens is a highlight of Belle Harbor’s event calendar. With a collectible knife donated from her uncle’s antique shop expected to receive top dollar, Tilly hopes they will set new records.

Before the auctioneer’s first call for bids, he is found stabbed to death. The list of suspects is long enough to circle the block. And first in line is Tilly’s uncle. With all clues pointing to her uncle, the Belle Harbor police chief must arrest his best friend for the murder of the auctioneer.

As Tilly races against time to save her uncle, she discovers petty jealousy, long hidden town secrets, and an anonymous donor that cracks the case wide open. Will her uncle go down for the crime and put a wrench in his plans to marry the love of his life? Or can Tilly do his bidding and win the day?


 Paperback 99 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8756664775
 Publication date November 5, 2021
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


Folding tables covered in white tablecloths lined the outside of the room. The silent auction items donated from businesses all over Belle Harbor were organized in an orderly way, each one with a piece of paper next to it for attendees to write their bids. I strolled the room, perusing anything of interest, or not. The money would be used for a good cause, and anything I won could be gifted or donated to someone else if it wasn’t something for me.

Daffy Taffy donated five pounds of various flavors of salt-water taffy. I quickly moved on from that item, reminiscing about my brother’s recent visit and the handfuls of taffy we consumed during his time here. My heart clenched. Not willing to trade my new life in this town for anything, I had decided more frequent visits to my brother’s traveling baseball team and my parents in Boston would make me happy. That revelation surprised, or more accurately, shocked me.

Time was a barrier to making that happen. Opening my new bakery location had consumed every waking moment, forcing me to hire part-time help to keep some sanity. My baking partner Linda’s efficiency meant we could produce more than double what two people normally could do. As word of the bakery had traveled, we’d only gotten busier. The newest addition to our team was a part-timer, helping with many of the non-baking chores. Dexter had been a hoot, was an extremely hard worker, and ate his weight in baked goods every shift. I may have to give him a quota or teach him to bake his own.

Continuing to stroll the tables, I was pleased with the number of auction items donated. This charity was a passion project for Uncle Jack and had been for many years. The money raised was provided to a local farm who raised dogs as companions for single elderly people. Part of the funds were used to pay the ongoing food and veterinary bills for those adopted. I stopped and looked around at the growing crowd, milling about the silent part of the auction and bidding. The main event was scheduled to start shortly, the long-time auctioneer always pulling in record levels of donations.

Several getaways in nearby resorts tempted me to bid, and I considered a trip with Justin. He and I were getting serious, and although we had been on several adventures together, he had finally asked me out on our very first official date. It didn’t feel any different from previous outings with him, and then again, my heart said otherwise. I really enjoyed our relationship and was nervous for it to change but tried to focus on how it could be even better. I didn’t want to get my hopes to high. But was there a scenario where we ended up married?

Smiling big, I grabbed a pen next to the Paradise Hills Resort and wrote my name on the bid sheet. This round of items would expire soon, and it wouldn’t be long before I found out if there was a trip with Justin in my future.

“I hope you’ll take me if you win that.” Justin sidled up to me, giving me a quick hug.

Tilting my head, I kept silent. Justin’s presence calmed me, and he was so easy to be with. Was this my future husband? I shook my head, scattering my thoughts.

“No?” he asked, eyes big, stepping back, placing his hand on his chest as if I had severely wounded him with my response.

Grinning, I said, “I was thinking of something else.” Linking arms with him, we strolled through the growing crowd rushing around for the last-minute bids on their favorite items.

This event brought out almost the entire town. “See anything you can’t live without?” I asked Justin as we continued along the tables of silent auction items.

Lifting his arm toward the live auction items, he said, “A surfboard over there has my name on it.” We migrated in the direction he pointed: an ocean-blue colored board that stood at least a foot taller than Justin.

“No way you’re ever getting me on one of those things,” I said. “I need something more solid surrounding me.”

“Never say never.” He chuckled, rubbing his hand on the smooth resin surface.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” came the booming auctioneer’s voice over the speakers. “You have sixty seconds for round one in the silent auction. Hurry over to get your favorite items before someone else does.”

Looking at Justin, I grabbed his hand, pulling him across the room to the Paradise Hills Resort bid sheet. Dang! Someone outbid me. I looked around to see if the item was being stalked by the winning bidder. I certainly would not arm wrestle someone for it. The crowd sped around, following the auctioneer’s advice as he juiced up the excitement. Picking up the pen, I wrote my name on the next blank row.

“Time’s up! Pens down!” the auctioneer bellowed.

My arms prickled with goosebumps as I thought of another fun adventure for Justin and me. “Congratulations,” he said, his eyes practically sparkling.

“Can I get a picture of you two with your winning item?”

I swiveled around to see Robin Sullivan of the Belle Harbor Gazette, poised with her camera in front of her face, ready to capture the moment.

Looking at Justin, I shrugged, picking up the certificate and holding it in front of me, Justin gently leaning in as Robin snapped the picture.

“Thank you,” she said, letting the camera settle to her mid-section at the end of the strap, keeping it at the ready to capture other auction moments. She had done a beautiful piece on Uncle Jack and Linda’s engagement, telling a lovely story of their backgrounds and how they met.

Grateful for the attention, I was convinced her articles boosted business at the bakery. “You should come by the bakery again. We’ve always got new things we’re trying,” I suggested. It never hurt to ask.

Gazing around the room, she replied, “Yeah, sure,” distracted by the bustle of activity for the second round of silent auction items about to close. With a dismissive wave, she departed, speeding around the room, sticking her nose over several bid sheets.

“Why don’t we take a seat?” Justin suggested, holding up his bid paddle with number twenty-seven, ready to take that surfboard home as his own.

Meeting us mid-room, Uncle Jack beamed, rubbing his hands together. “Our best turnout yet,” he said. “If my calculations are correct, I’m hoping we raise enough to place another twenty dogs and continue the care for the fifty already placed.” The Dogs for Seniors program had received national attention, not just for providing companions to single elderly people, but for financing the continued care of the dogs after adoption, even transportation to veterinary appointments.

Justin and I sat in metal folding chairs near the front auctioneering podium.

“I need to do one last check to make sure Clint is ready,” Unkie said and disappeared from the room.

The clock on the wall had passed the deadline for bidding on items in the second round, but nobody had announced the closure. The volume of chatter from the crowd escalated as I heard sneers complaining of Clint’s inability to run a fair competition.

Linda approached from our left, bending so that we could hear. “I wonder what’s going on,” she said, looking at the confused faces surrounding us. “I better go find Jack.” She exited the main community center room.

I only hoped this blip on the radar didn’t diminish enthusiasm for bidding to support this noble cause.

“Where’s Clint?” someone yelled. Yes, indeed, where was Clint, and where was Unkie? Something wasn’t right, and I stood to go find out what it was before the crowd came any more unglued.

A blood-curdling scream emanated from the hallway to our left, from a voice very familiar. Linda.

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