Murder Takes the Cake Text

BOOK: Murder Takes the Cake Text
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Murder Take the Cake

 

By

 

Gayle Trent

 

 

 

Bell Bridge Books

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead,) events or locations is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Bell Bridge Books

PO BOX 30921

Memphis, TN 38130

Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.

 

Copyright 2008 © by Gayle Trent

Ebook ISBN:
978-1-935661-05-4

 

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

We at BelleBooks enjoy hearing from readers. You can contact us at the address above or at [email protected]

 

Visit us at
www.bellbridgebooks.com

 

We like to hear from readers. Email us at [email protected]

 

Cover design: Debra Dixon

Cover Art Credits:

Cherry/icing - © terex - Fotolia.com

Texture - © Angela Cable - Fotolia.com

Knife - © Gary Woodard - Fotolia.com

Ebook layout and conversion:
jimandzetta.com

 

:F-01:

Contents

Cover Page

Title page

Copyright Page

AUTHOR’S NOTE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

Daphne’s Recipes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Coming Soon!

AUTHOR’S NOTE

 

The cat in
Murder Takes the Cake
is based on a stray cat that came to our house and had kittens under a storage building in our backyard. A large striped tabby kept coming around, and after watching the adult cats interact, we realized he was the dad. In fact, he would babysit the kittens so Mom could leave them. I started sitting a short distance away from the food bowl when I fed the cats, and they eventually became acclimated to my presence. Dad warmed up to me first, and then Mom finally began to brush against me. She does have only one eye.

Since the cats are feral, a neighbor who works at a spay/neuter clinic helped capture the cats in a cage and she took them to get them spayed and vaccinated. The first thing I asked was, “What did the doctor say about Mama Kitty’s eye?” The neighbor reported the doctor thought she might’ve been born that way. To me, that was a relief. It has been over a year now since we first discovered the little family.

The mother and two kittens are here full-time now. Dad comes and goes, but he always seems to make it home for the holidays. The first time I noticed this was when I heard him meowing on the front porch on Mother’s Day after everyone else had gone to bed. I’ve tried to talk him into staying, but he just rubs his head against me as if to say, “The open meadows call to me, baby.”

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

“Mrs. Watson?” I called, banging on the door again. I glanced up at the ever-blackening clouds. Although I had Mrs. Watson’s cake in a box, it would be my luck to get caught in a downpour with it. This was my third attempt to please her, and I couldn’t afford another mistake on the amount she was paying me. Whoever said, “the customer is always right,” had obviously never dealt with Yodel Watson.

I heard something from inside the house and pressed my ear against the door. A vision of my falling into the living room and dropping the cake when Mrs. Watson flung open the door made me rethink that decision.

“Mrs. Watson?” I called again.

“Come in! It’s open! Come in!”

I tried the knob and the door was indeed unlocked. I stepped inside but couldn’t see Mrs. Watson. “It’s me—Daphne Martin. I’m here with your cake.”

“Come in! It’s open!”

“I am in, Mrs. Watson. Where are you?”

“It’s open!”

“I know! I—” Gritting my teeth, I walked through the living room and placed the cake on the kitchen table. A quick glance around the kitchen told me Mrs. Watson wasn’t in there either.

“It’s open!”

Man, could this lady get on your nerves. I decided to follow the voice. It came from my left, so I eased down the hallway.

“Mrs. Watson?”

On my right, there was a den. I poked my head inside.

“Come in!”

I turned toward the voice. A gray parrot was sitting on its perch inside its cage.

“It’s open!” the bird squawked.

“I noticed.”
Great. She’s probably not home, and I’ll get arrested for breaking and entering . . . though technically, I didn’t break . . . .

It was then I saw Mrs. Watson lying on the sofa in a faded navy robe. There was a plaid blanket over her legs. She appeared to be sleeping, but I’d heard the parrot calling when I was outside. No way could Mrs. Watson be in the same room and sleep through that racket.

I stepped closer. “Are you okay?” Her pallor told me she was not okay. Then the foul odor hit me.

I backed away and took my cell phone out of my purse. “I’m calling 9-1-1, Mrs. Watson. Everything’s gonna be all right.” I don’t know if I was trying to reassure her or myself.

Everything’s gonna be all right.
I’d been telling myself that for the past month.

I lingered in the doorway in case Mrs. Watson would wake up and need something before the EMTs arrived.

I turned forty this year. Forty seems to be a sobering age for every woman, but it hit me especially hard. When most women get to be my age, they at least have some bragging rights: successful career, happy marriage, beautiful children, nice home. I had none of the above. My so-called bragging rights included a failed marriage, a dingy apartment, and twenty years’ service in a dead-end job. Cue violins.

When my sister Violet called and told me about a “charming little house” for sale near her neighborhood, I jumped at the chance to leave all the dead ends of middle Tennessee and come home to Brea Ridge, where I grew up in southwest Virginia. Surely, something better awaited me here.

So far, I’d moved into my house—which I recently learned came with a one-eyed stray cat—and started a cake decorating business. A great deal of my time had involved coming up with a name, a logo, getting business cards made up, setting up a web site and other “fun” administrative duties. The cake and cupcakes I’d made for my niece and nephew to take to school on Halloween had been a hit, though, and had led to some nice word-of-mouth advertising and a couple orders. Leslie’s puppy dog cake and Lucas’ black cat cupcakes were the first additions to my web site’s gallery.

Sadly, my first customer had been Yodel Watson. She’d considered herself a world-class baker in her hey-day, but no longer had the time or desire to engage in “such foolishness.”

“I want you to make me a cake for my Thanksgiving dinner,” she’d said. “Nothing too gaudy. I want my family to think I made it myself.”

My first two attempts had been refused: the first cake was too fancy; the second was too plain. I’d been hoping—
praying—
third time would be the charm. Now the laboriously prepared spice cake with cream cheese frosting decorated with orange and red satin ribbons for a bottom border and a red apple arranged in a flower petal pattern on top was on Mrs. Watson’s kitchen table. Mrs. Watson herself was lying on her den sofa as deflated as a December jack-o-lantern. Oh, yeah, things were looking up.

I was startled out of my reverie by a sharp rap.

“EMT!”

“Come in! It’s open!” the bird called.

I hurried to the living room to open the door, and two men with a stretcher brushed past me.

“Where’s the patient?” one asked.

“Back here.” I led the way to the den, and then got out of the way.

“Come in!”

I moved next to the bird cage. “Don’t you ever shut up? This is serious.”

“I’ll say,” agreed one of the EMTs. “Are you the next of kin?”

“Excuse me?” My hand flew to my throat. “She’s dead?”

“Yes, ma’am. Are you related to her?”

While the one EMT was questioning me, the other was on the radio asking dispatch to send the police and the coroner.

“I don’t know anything,” I said. “I just brought the cake.”

 

*

 

After calling in the reinforcements, the EMT’s sent me back to the living room. They didn’t get any argument from me. I sat down on the edge of a burgundy wingback chair and studied the room.

It was a formal living room; and on my previous visits, I’d only been just inside the front door. This room was a far cry from the den. The den was lived in.
Ugh. Bad choice of words.

This room seemed as sterile as an operating room. There was an elaborate Oriental rug over beige carpet, a pale blue sofa, a curio cabinet with all sorts of expensive-looking knick-knacks and dolls. The dolls were beautiful. They were so delicate I had a hard time imagining someone as gruff as Yodel Watson appreciating them. Unlike the den, this room was spotless.

Except for that.

Near my right foot was a small yellow stain. Parrot pee, I supposed. Still, even if Mrs. Watson had allowed the bird outside its cage, I’d have thought this room would’ve been off limits.

Maybe that’s what killed her. Maybe she came in here and saw bird pee in her perfect room and had a heart attack. Then she returned to the den to collapse so as not to further contaminate the room.

Funny thing, though; I didn’t even know Mrs. Watson had a bird until today.

“Ms. Martin?”

I looked up. It was one of the deputies.

“Yes?”

“I’m Officer Hayden, and I need to ask you some questions.”

“Um . . . sure.” This guy looked young enough to be my son—scratch that,
nephew
—and he still made me nervous.

“Tell me about your arrival, ma’am.”

Ma’am. Like I was seventy. Of course, when you’re twelve, everybody looks old.

BOOK: Murder Takes the Cake Text
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