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Sue Hollowell

Sugar Cookies and Scandal (PAPERBACK)

Sugar Cookies and Scandal (PAPERBACK)

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A mysterious collection of books, estate sale discoveries, and growing family drama 

Relations between Tilly, Uncle Jack and the antique shop’s bookstore neighbor were finally moving the right direction. That is, until a surprise addition arrives in town, putting them all in an awkward situation. As Tilly tries to unravel the new dynamic, matters are complicated by the death of the local veterinarian’s assistant.

With no time to spare for being the peacemaker, Tilly is on the hunt for a new location for her growing bakery business. Her recent inclusion of catering to her services sends her on the search for an assistant. No sooner does she find the perfect match, than the suspect list for the murder takes a turn for the worse.

As the cast of characters quickly grows to include several animals, Tilly wonders who among the barnyard culprits could have committed the dastardly deed. Can she solve the murder before it’s too late? Or will the chickens finally come home to roost?


 Paperback 104 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8756641349
 Publication date June 3, 2021
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


“Oh, where is that vet? This couldn’t get any worse.” Florence paced with Gwinnie in her arms in the lobby of the veterinarian’s office. Her mid-calf-length floral dress swished each time she made the turn at the end of the room and returned. She looked more like she was going to the Kentucky Derby than taking her cat to the vet. Florence tipped her head down and touched noses with her beloved feline.

I stood and joined Florence’s march. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. Cats have kittens all the time,” I said. “And Dr. Lester is a pro.” I had only heard that. I didn’t have firsthand knowledge myself.

“Not my Gwinnie!” Florence stopped and stared at me. She covered the cat’s ears with her hand. “What are we going to do with all of those kittens?” Florence plopped down onto one of the cushioned benches along the wall, making more noise than the pregnant cat. I sat next to them and attempted to pet Gwinnie. I secretly hoped it would calm Florence.

The receptionist appeared in front of us; her nametag said Wendy. “It shouldn’t be long now. I’m sorry for the wait. Dr. Lester is running a bit behind. Would you like me to take Gwinnie and make her comfortable in the back?” Wendy reached for Gwinnie, and Florence turned away, hugging the cat more snugly. She wrapped the blanket over her and tucked it in.

“No, only Dr. Lester,” Florence snipped.

I shrugged. What was Florence’s end game? Was she planning to stay by Gwinnie’s side during the birth? I wasn’t sure if the vet would allow that. I sincerely hoped not. That just didn’t seem like it would end well for Florence. Or maybe anyone.

I sat back on the bench. Not much to do right now except wait.

Gwinnie, for her part, was quite the trooper. A soft meow now and then for when she must have had a contraction. I reached again to pet Gwinnie and Florence allowed it this time.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Florence whined. She rocked as if soothing a child, the vinyl of the seat squeaking with each move. I had never seen someone so upset at their pet having babies. Florence stood to resume her walk.

I looked at my watch. Thankfully, I had completed my morning baking early today and Uncle Jack had agreed to deliver Mocha Joe’s order while I escorted Florence to the vet. This might be a long day waiting for those kittens to arrive.

The receptionist sat behind her computer, periodically glancing my way for guidance. Until the vet arrived and personally attended to Florence, we were stuck in the waiting room.

The door to the lobby opened with a whoosh. Barney, the Belle Harbor police chief, entered, followed by Uncle Jack’s upstairs tenant, Justin. Barney beelined to Florence with his eyebrows raised toward me, inquiring more detail about the situation. Florence stood and Barney gently enveloped her and Gwinnie in his arms. He took her elbow and they returned to pacing.

I followed them and directed my comment to Barney. “Dr. Lester is running behind. But she’ll be here soon.”

Barney nodded and continued escorting Florence.

Justin and I sat, the loud squeak of the seat startling Florence. She swung her head over to us, her mouth in a frown. Barney geared her back to the path they were walking. “What’s going on?” Justin whispered.

I whispered back. But with the quiet of the room, everyone heard the conversation. “Gwinnie is having her kittens.”

“Oh,” Justin replied.

“Oh is right.” Florence stood right in front of us. “I really hope that mangy cat of yours isn’t the father,” she said and quietly sniffled. “Oh, Barney. What am I going to do?” She plopped onto the seat and stroked Gwinnie’s head. The meows began to get louder and more frequent.

“Let’s take one step at a time, hon,” Barney said. He inserted himself between Florence and Justin.

To say Barney and Florence were opposites was an understatement. They had met when Florence rented the vacant space next to Uncle Jack’s Checkered Past Antiques store to open her book shop. Barney had come to investigate a dead body she had discovered as she was moving in. If not for Barney’s love of books, the classics specifically, they probably wouldn’t be together. He had joined her book club and the two had become inseparable.

Justin stood and motioned me to follow him outside. I closed the door behind me and looked through the window to see Florence and Barney huddled over the small bundle in Florence’s arms. If that vet didn’t arrive soon, we all might have to tag team the delivery of those kittens.

“Do you think Willie is the dad?” Justin asked, his face slack. Willie was Justin’s cat that somehow always found himself wandering the antique shop. Uncle Jack and I had bought three beds for Willie so he could lounge around the shop and watch me as I baked. Not long after Florence and Gwinnie had moved in, it was clear the two cats were hitting it off. If Gwinnie wasn’t at the bookstore, she was next door with us. Justin’s normally chill, surfer dude demeanor was replaced with wringing hands and beads of sweat on his brow. “Tilly, what are we going to do?”

I snickered. “Justin, they’re kittens. They’re going to be adorable.”

He flung his arms out like he was trying to flick off the tension, then breathed in slowly. “I know. She’ll never forgive me,” he said, tilting his head toward the door. Maybe.

“Let’s go back in. The vet’s probably here by now.” I held the door for Justin and he entered.

Barney and Florence looked up. They had resumed their walk up and down the hallway. “If they look like Willie, I just—” Florence started. She shook her head and Barney placed his hand on her back.

Justin dropped onto the bench, his head in his hands. The clock on the wall showed that we had been here almost half an hour by now. I approached the reception desk. “Any word yet?”

Wendy looked toward Florence and shook her head. “I’ll let you know as soon as she arrives.”

By now Uncle Jack was probably wondering what in the heck was happening. He hadn’t gotten along with Florence from the beginning of their relationship. His way of making friends was to be funny and kind. But that combination hadn’t worked with her. Through his persistence, and gifting her a tea set from the antique store for her book club, he had created a crack in her armor. No telling with the arrival of kittens what would happen next. I pulled out my phone, figuring I had a few minutes to give Unkie an update.

I couldn’t remember a time when I hadn’t been in Belle Harbor, though it really wasn’t all that long in the scheme of things. It was enough time to start my baking business that I had always wanted to open, just like my Grandma Luna. Uncle Jack had carved out a corner of the antique shop for my first kitchen, and I was off and running. Starting over at the age of forty wasn’t my plan. But my ex and his girlfriend had other ideas. My life was now becoming everything I wanted it to be.

I dialed the phone and waited for Uncle Jack to answer. If I couldn’t reach him, I would at least leave a voicemail update.

A scream echoed from down the hall. Justin sprung from his seat, and Barney and Florence wheeled around toward the source of the sound.

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