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Authors: Lynn Cahoon

Tea Cups and Carnage

BOOK: Tea Cups and Carnage
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Cover Copy

 

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to nd out, there’s nothing cozy about murder . . .

 

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi’s sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi’s name—without getting herself in hot water.

 

Includes an excerpt from
A STORY TO KILL
, Lynn Cahoon’s BRAND NEW series!

 

Praise for The Tourist Trap Mysteries

 

“Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective:
Guidebook to Murder
has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” —Susan McBride, author of
The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

 

“Lynn Cahoon has created an absorbing, good fun mystery in
Mission to Murder
.”

—Fresh Fiction

 

Visit us at
www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

 

Books by Lynn Cahoon

 

The Tourist Trap Mysteries:

Tea Cups and Carnage

Murder on Wheels

Killer Run

Dressed to Kill

If the Shoe Kills

Mission to Murder

Guidebook to Murder

 

Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation

 

 

 

Tea Cups and Carnage

A Tourist Trap Mystery

 

Lynn Cahoon

 

LYRICAL PRESS

Kensington Publishing Corp.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

 

 

Copyright

 

Lyrical Press books are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 119 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

 

Copyright © 2016 by Lynn Cahoon

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

 

All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund- raising, and educational or institutional use.

 

To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

 

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager:

Kensington Publishing Corp.

119 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

 

Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

LYRICAL PRESS Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

Lyrical Press and the L logo are trademarks of Kensington Publishing Corp.

 

First Electronic Edition: June 2016

eISBN-13: 978-1-60183-631-1

eISBN-10: 1-60183-631-7

 

First Print Edition: April 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1-60183-632-8

ISBN-10: 1-60183-632-5

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

Dedication

 

To the Florida/Georgia line crew – Thanks for putting up with my murder plotting discussions.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

Imaginary friends are frowned upon once a child reaches a certain age. As a writer, I spend a lot of time with my imaginary friends. Jill, Aunt Jackie, Greg; they all inhabit my thoughts as I twist around a plot for a new book. Just as important as my imaginary gang is my work gang. These are the people who keep me sane during the day or, sometimes, acknowledge my craziness in a good way. I appreciate the way you see each problem as a challenge and face it with humor and fun.

 

Much thanks to the writing community. When meeting other authors online or in conferences, I’ve found out one true fact: We’re all the same. In love with storytelling and willing to do anything for a chance to write, one more tale.

 

As always, thanks to the Kensington crew for making me look good. You all rock.

 

Chapter 1

 

Is family defined by blood or is it more than that?

I looked around the table at the June Business-to-Business meeting as attendees started to gather. Aunt Jackie stood with Mary Sullivan, her best friend. I loved hearing them talking about the cruise my aunt and her new boyfriend, Harrold, would be taking in a few months. Bill Sullivan, the committee chair and Mary’s husband, stood at the counter, refilling his cup and glancing around the room, as he took stock of the attendance. Typically, these meetings had about ten to fifteen representatives, but summer was the busy season for our tourist town. Even with the busy schedules, we had almost a full house at twenty. I’d had to send Sasha into the back to pull out a couple of boxes of cookies to serve.

They were all here for one reason. Kathi Corbin, the newest member of our community and our committee was holding court over at the couch near the romance section. Kathi’s Texas drawl and infectious laugh had the men enthralled. I’d heard rumors the girl had been a Miss San Antonio and had been shortlisted to win Miss Texas, except something had gone awry. She hadn’t taken the crown home, ending the competition at the bottom of the top ten.

Having only been in one beauty contest in my entire life and that on a whim, I couldn’t imagine where she’d gone wrong. She seemed to play the role well. I walked over to the couch where she was holding court and handed her a cup of coffee. “I’m Jill Gardner, South Cove business liaison to the city council and owner/manager of Coffee, Books, and More.” Or at least my aunt lets me think I’m the manager of the shop, even though she makes most of the decisions and then tells me what she’s done.

She took the cup from me. “I love your place. I hope we can make some sort of agreement on you guys selling my products over here. If we partner, we’ll both increase our business.”

“Let’s talk next week. I’m sure we can carve out an agreement.” I tried to source locally-made product for the shop. The treats were all made by Pies on the Fly, a local bakery. To me it made good financial sense to help another South Cove business survive. I walked back to the table and surveyed the room.

Sasha paused next to me with a filled carafe of coffee. Sasha’s my newest employee and came to us as an intern through the Work First program last fall. The single mom had quickly fit into our small staff and Aunt Jackie and I decided to hire her after the ten-week program ended.

“She’s quite the charmer,” Sasha whispered. Her happiness made her soft brown skin glow. “Even Josh is offering to get her more coffee.”

I nodded. The room was separated into two groups. The women clustered around the table waiting for the meeting to start, and the men, except Bill, assembled around Kathi. An old Martina McBride song started going in my head about a woman out for fun but before I could answer Sasha, Bill clapped his hands above his head, trying to get everyone’s attention.

“It’s five past starting time, folks. I want to honor your busy schedules as well as our host’s kind offer of her space. I’m pretty sure Jill would rather be serving coffee and this amazing Apple Caramel Cheesecake to paying customers.” He smiled at me and waved the group over to the table. “Bring your coffee with you. We’ll pass around the carafes while we’re talking.”

Kathi sat. Josh Thomas and Dustin Austin jostled each other for the chair next to her. As they jockeyed for position, Mayor Baylor slimed into one of the chairs next to Kathi. Austin dodged and dove into the other, leaving Josh holding onto the back and steaming.

“There’s a chair next to Jill.” Bill called out to Josh, the portly owner of Antiques by Thomas and up until a few months ago, Aunt Jackie’s gentleman caller. I waved at him and pointed to the chair. For my trouble, I got the evil eye as his shoulders slumped and he let go of the chair. Dustin Austin, owner of the bike rental shop, grinned as he tilted his grey dreadlocks toward Kathi’s ear and whispered something that made her laugh.

Bill turned her way and Kathi shook her head. “Sorry, but you all are so entertaining. I can’t believe I didn’t move here years ago.”

“Glad you’re enjoying your first meeting. Now that we’ve all settled in, Mary, do you want to give a summary of the upcoming Summer Beach Blast?” As Bill looked at his wife, I saw the adoration he had for the woman even after so many years.

Mary smoothed her skirt as she stood. “As you know, summer traffic really picks up around the fourth of July, but June can be a little slow. So we’re sponsoring a festival starting tomorrow to bring in tourists and hopefully customers for your shops. Our bed and breakfast is already full for the weekend and we’re hearing that the others in town are nearing capacity.”

A loud motorcycle roared up Main Street and Mary, along with the rest of the committee members, switched their attention to the window. All I could see was a huge bike with an equally large rider in black leathers. I could see he wore a gang patch on his leather jacket, but couldn’t read the lettering in the short time before he disappeared out of my view.

“And that’s what worries me about these activities.” Pointing to the window and the now-vanished rider, Josh interrupted Mary’s presentation. “Are we sure this will bring in the right types? I don’t want to see any of those motorcycle gangs taking over South Cove. Let them stay in South Dakota where they can’t do any damage.”

“Not all motorcycle clubs are gangs.” Dustin had started renting scooters in addition to the bikes last month after he’d received a large inheritance from his recently passed wife, Kacey. Well, actually, recently murdered wife. But Austin had been cleared of her death even though I still thought he should be charged with being a royal jerk.

“That’s right. My cousin rides a motorcycle and he’s not in a gang at all.” Kathi added to the discussion. “He just can’t afford a real car right now. He’s kind of between jobs.”

“We bought advertising in upscale local publications, so we’re targeting a specific customer.” Mary looked around the room, trying to get back to her prepared notes.

“I don’t care who comes into town as long as they have money to spend.” Harrold held his coffee cup and toasted Mary. “I appreciate you setting up this program. Go ahead, tell us what we can expect.”

Mary smiled gratefully at Harrold and I saw my aunt pat his hand. On my left, I could feel the rage coming off Josh like Harrold had just stolen his last dollar. I tried to circumvent the upcoming blowup by diverting the attention back to Mary. “Be sure to mention the beach party on Saturday. That’s my favorite part.”

“Oh, there’s a beach party? I want to help. I’ve ran a snow cone machine before, do you all have a snow cone specialist?” Kathi clapped her hands together and actually bounced in her chair, gaining the attention of the men at the table. I heard a sharp gasp of air escape Josh’s lips.

Mary tapped her empty coffee cup on the table. “If I could have everyone’s attention.” She waited for the group to turn back toward the front.

Man, those guys must be getting cricks in their necks turning them so much.

“We’ll get to the party, Jill.” Mary considered Kathi. “I appreciate your enthusiasm for the festival. I’m sure we can find something for you to do to help. Let’s just go over the schedule first and maybe something will pop out at you.”

She took a breath and dove into the list of events happening starting the next day and running through mid-next week. Mary scheduled the celebration to start on a Wednesday to try to bring in traffic to our normally dead days. We were setting up the new Coffee, Books, and More mobile annex at the beach starting on Thursday. I’d scheduled Sasha and Aunt Jackie to man the main store, but Toby had to be at his real job as one of South Cove’s finest. He’d be doing security for the event when he wasn’t mixing coffee drinks. I didn’t know when the guy slept.

BOOK: Tea Cups and Carnage
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