Authors: J. Louise Powell
TABLE OF CONTENTS
One Cuppa Brew
Book One in The Thyme for Tea Series
J. Louise Powell
Copyright 2016 Summer Prescott Books
All Rights Reserved
. No part of this publication nor any of the information herein may be quoted from, nor reproduced, in any form, including but not limited to: printing, scanning, photocopying or any other printed, digital, or audio formats, without prior express written consent of the copyright holder.
**This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons, living or dead, places of business, or situations past or present, is completely unintentional.
On the next page, you’ll find out how to access all of my books easily, as well as locate books by best-selling author, Summer Prescott. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my books, the storylines, and anything else that you’d like to comment on – reader feedback is very important to me. Please see the following page for my publisher’s contact information. If you’d like to be on her list of “folks to contact” with updates, release and sales notifications, etc…just shoot her an email and let her know. Thanks for reading!
…if you’re looking for more great reads, from me and Summer, check out the Summer Prescott Publishing Book Catalog:
for some truly mysterious stories.
Contact Info for Summer Prescott Publishing:
Blog and Book Catalog:
And…look up The Summer Prescott Fan Page on Facebook – let’s be friends!
If you’re an author and are interested in publishing with Summer Prescott Books – please send Summer an email and she’ll send you submission guidelines.
ONE CUPPA BREW
By J. Louise Powell
Iris Potts glanced up as she heard “Have a Cuppa Tea,” the jaunty jingle signaling the door opening. Most of her customers didn’t recognize the chorus of the Kinks song, but the few that did were sure to stay and chat, others just thought the “Hallelujahs” were a nod to her former career. Have a Cuppa Brew and Books was her dream retirement business, well earned after a long career in the ministry. She had hoped to become a church elder here, in Florida or Alabama when she retired, but religious politics in the Southern states weren’t at the same level as the ones in the North, and she didn’t have the time or energy to focus there anymore. She found that by serving tea or suggesting books to customers she could lend an ear and offer a good bit of wisdom. Being a widow meant she didn’t have to be managing a home for anyone other than herself, so she enjoyed her unconventional ministry.
The bell probably meant her usual first customer, Mr. Winthrop, who came to the shop each day after his morning walk and before playing tennis. He generally arrived during the first morning break, so they had a chance to catch up. Due to his exercise schedule, he rarely ate anything at this time of day. But he was always sure to catch up on the newest titles and place his order for his post-tennis treat, which he would come back for in about an hour.
“William, how was the beach this morning?” she asked as he crossed the small space to the food and beverage area.
“Simply delightful, Pastor, I wish I could get you out there with me more often.” He blushed as he said the last part. “I mean, my words don’t do it justice, and you are simply steps away from the beauty.”
Pastor was as much a part of her as her given name of Iris. Born Iris Marsha Thompson, she was sure anyone who did official documents would laugh when they saw her married name of I.M. Potts. Becoming a minister had aided that, when people began addressing her as Reverend Potts. But Pastor Potts had come off the tongue more easily, and rather than argue with it, she just stuck to it. In fact, she had former parishioners who probably believed it was her name. Since her father-in-law had been one of the first big developers in Perdido Key, and she had begun vacationing here years before retirement and the bookstore, she was known to locals as Pastor. That was enough for her to keep it. Names carried weight. Luckily she didn’t think William wanted her to call him “Spy,” as she was pretty sure that was what he had been. “I take my moment every morning and evening, but someone has to be here, right?” she replied, neatly sidestepping his words.
“I know, Pastor, you like to be there to make sure the sun comes up and goes down, don’t you? How will you handle the beginning of daylight savings time?”
“I’m sure God will get the sun up without me for a few days, William, so I can be on time to open the shop,,” she said with a smile. “Is today doubles or singles?” She knew that he might barely break a sweat in doubles play, but on the days he played singles he always drank an extra glass of water as soon as he stopped by for his brunch.
“I’m not sure yet. Joe was talking about playing mixed doubles today, just for something different. But those women can be poor sports, always blaming us if they lose, even if we make every hit. It gets old, but I think he likes one of the new girls.”
“Well, maybe it will be good for him. I assume she’s unmarried and new to Oyster Creek?” Pastor replied.
“She’s newly widowed. I knew her husband years ago, and it’s hard to imagine him gone. His first wife died just a year after childbirth and she raised the twins, never had any kids of her own. They’re old enough to be on their own now. It was just a surprise to see her here, I guess.”
Pastor could hear the hesitation in his voice, “Was there something else, William? I assume your friend died of natural causes? We aren’t getting any younger, you know.”
“I think it was a car accident. Nothing suspicious, really. It’s just… I didn’t know she played tennis. I know that’s a little thing, but you think you know someone, then they surprise you. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other; of course, she’s a bit different. I guess Jack hadn’t mentioned that I moved down here, so she was surprised to see me when she got here. It’s probably nothing. But, when you can play tennis from a young age, you play differently, you know?”
Pastor did know. She had never played. She had taken it in high school gym class, and since she’d never had an affinity for sports involving chasing balls around small spaces, she had never taken to it. She wasn’t fond of sports or games involving chasing balls around big spaces for that matter; she wasn’t a fan of soccer or baseball, either. Maybe kickball. They taught kids how to play kickball while they were still young enough not to care about how well they did. Maybe they should teach all sports at younger ages, she thought briefly. Then again, kids were already overloaded with input. Maybe less was more. She was glad her boys hadn’t had any reserves about being comfortable with who they were. Two of the three had enjoyed most team sports; they had been above average but nothing great. Her thoughts had strayed again. She brushed a loose hair from her face and nodded at Mr. Winthrop, “Yes, I know all about not being able to play.”
William smiled a little, “Oh, Pastor, that wasn’t what I meant. I meant, if you had learned to play after your kids were gone, it wouldn’t have been the same as if you had played beforehand.” He looked at her face and winced. “Am I being completely insensitive? Perhaps I never married for a reason: no tact.”
Pastor smiled. “You’re fine. I was agreeing with you, and just needed to think about it. Was she naturally athletic? Maybe tennis just came to her? Would you have known her well enough to know?”
William thought for a minute, “Lois wasn’t a sports person. The girls were involved in Girl Scouts and all that, but I don’t remember them being involved with anything other than swimming at the beach during the summer. Not that they were fat, they just weren’t jocks. Jack did say he made sure they could defend themselves, so maybe they did martial arts, but no true team sports.”
“Like me,” Pastor teased him lightly.
William laughed, “Well, now that YOU say it, that’s it exactly!”
Pastor sighed a little. “Well, all jokes aside, I would tend to agree with you. People don’t generally change so radically as to become athletic when they’d never been before. At least, not generally. Good luck to you. This game sounds interesting.”
William chuckled, “You know me, always looking for mysteries that aren’t there. I should just follow Joe’s lead and relax while we play some tennis. It’s a bit creepy having your new friend go after your old friend’s widow though.”
Pastor nodded. “Relaxing sounds like a good plan. It’s healthier to have fun then to worry. I know you’re so used to overthinking every detail due to your former employment as a…” she trailed off as she spoke, and raised one eyebrow, hoping he would fill in the rest.
“Nice try, Pastor, I haven’t admitted to anything about my past career yet, and it won’t happen today.” William said with a smile. “I will be back in a bit, I’m looking forward to a nice turkey on rye today, but keep it light, since I won’t be working too hard!”
Pastor smiled as he walked out and she heard the Hallelujahs again. Somehow she always heard them when William was coming in and out, though when other customers were coming and going, they sometimes faded to the background. She smiled, because while William had not told her about his past career, she now knew that he had a friend named Jack with twin daughters and a second wife, and this friend had recently died in a car accident. A few more questions and she would find out more. Newcomers to the Osprey Creek tennis community were always discussed at book club on Thursday night, which was about 7 hours from now.
Pastor stepped into her condo on the beach, closed the door with a little sigh, and kicked off her shoes in the same step. She was glad her yoga routine kept her flexible. Yes, she might carry some weight around the middle, like many of her age, and especially, her former profession, but she didn’t suffer from the lack of mobility she had watched take hold of many of her peers. She was heading for the balcony to enjoy a few quiet moments listening to the Gulf’s waves, when her phone began ringing in her purse. Puzzled, she turned around, unable to imagine why anyone would call at this hour with anything other than bad news. Years of being always on-call made her fear the phone, she realized.
Picking up her phone, she was surprised to see William’s name on the caller ID. She answered, the remembered cheerful church voice returning to her easily. “Why, hello again, William. How are you?”
“Not doing so well here, Pastor. I know it’s late, but would you mind if I stopped in quickly?” William asked, sounding shaken.
“Of course, the address is….” Pastor began.
“No need, I’m outside.” William said and hung up. As Pastor stared at the phone, she heard a determined knock at the door. She let in an unusually discombobulated William. “I am so sorry to come at this hour, and in this shape,” William began, “But your book club just went on and on and on, and I didn’t want to be seen, so I thought I would stop here on my way out of town.”
“What do you mean ‘on your way out of town’? What’s going on?” Pastor asked.
“You heard a lot of crazy stuff during your years as a minister, right? Strange questions, confessions, guilt, all of that, right?” William asked.