Read The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2) Online

Authors: Alannah Rogers

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The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
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The Extortion Cat-astrophe

A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (#2)

Alannah Rogers

Copyright © 2015 Alannah Rogers

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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1

Beatrice Young paced impatiently in front of the pastry display case at the Cozy Cat Café. The 62-year-old owner had come up with so many great recipes over the year: white chocolate and dried cherry scones, salted caramel and chocolate tarts, crepe cake with whipped cream and raspberries, and much more.

Yet none of them was going to win her first place at the famed Ashbrook Fall Fair’s annual baking competition.

No, she needed something really spectacular. Something the judging committee had never seen the likes of before.

“Mraw!” Beatrice looked down to see her sleek black cat, Lucky, sitting anxiously at her feet.

“Do you want pets, love?” she asked, scooping him up and kissing his silky-soft head. “Or do you have a genius recipe idea? A tuna cake topped in caviar, perhaps?”

The little cat looked up at her with a loving expression and tried to butt her nose with his, all the while purring loudly. Beatrice planted another big smacker between his ears and then put him back on the floor.

Her big Maine Coon, Hamish, looked on jealously from his window seat. With his tabby markings, tan ruff, and tufts of black hair sticking from his ears, he was a very handsome cat indeed. At that moment though, his expression was decidedly sour.

Beatrice would have asked her pastry chef, Zoe Murphy, for help with her recipe but Zoe was sequestered away in the bathroom, whispering on the phone to the new guy she was dating—Hunter. As far as Beatrice could tell his only redeeming quality was that he had rough-around-the-edges good looks. Otherwise, he was way more zero than hero, what with the fact that he had no real job and lived in his cousin’s basement.

Beatrice sighed and wiped down the tables to distract herself. At least it was a gorgeous fall day. Honey-colored sunshine flooded through the almost floor-to-ceiling windows. Outside, orange-tinted sugar maples shivered in the breeze. A few leaves shook loose and spun lazily to the ground.

At least everything was right with the café. The place had been her pride and joy ever since she had opened it a good thirty years prior. A long wood farmer’s table sat in the center and snug groups of antique chairs and sofas upholstered in velvet were clustered around it, tucked next to bookshelves and beside the windows. Behind the counter were wall-mounted chalkboards plus an assortment of old tins and apothecary jars. Beatrice took a moment to look around with satisfaction.

The heavy wooden door banged open, making her start. It was Hannah Moore. They had struck up a friendship after the young lawyer had helped her out with her last mystery involving a local counterfeiting ring. Hannah regularly came into the café for a mid-afternoon almond milk latte.

Despite their age difference of forty years, they got along swimmingly. As someone who loved solving local mysteries as much as Beatrice, Hannah was the perfect person to teach her the basic ins-and-outs of criminal law.

“Afternoon,” Hannah said, plunking her big leather handbag down by her favorite table by the window.

Lucky ran up immediately and began winding through the chair legs, his green eyes looking up at her adoringly. Hamish jumped down from his window seat with a loud
thump
, trotted over, and pushed his bulk between Lucky and the chair.

“You look like you just ate a whole lemon,” Hannah said as she reached down to pat them both. “What’s up?”

Beatrice made a face at her and signaled to the barista to make Hannah’s usual drink. She sat down opposite Hannah and pulled her big white knit cardigan tighter against the crisp breeze coming through the windows.

“It’s the Ashbrook Fair next week. I’m wracking my brains about what I want to make. I haven’t won in two whole years because that Purple Lilac Café opened up and stole first place! I mean, who names their café after the state flower? What kind of serious operation is that?”

Hannah snorted. “Okay, Bee. Did you forget that your place is called the Cozy Cat Café? Anyway, the Purple Lilac is no competition for you. The space is cramped, they have nothing but rickety stools to sit on, and their coffee is bitter.”

Beatrice ran her fingers through her long gray hair. “Yes but they have that amazing owner and pastry chef, Abigail something or other. Her cakes are
miracles
and don’t get me started about her pies…”

Hannah held up her hands. “Okay enough. You’re just working yourself up. Do you have any ideas?”

Lucky meowed in distress, unhappy that Hamish was hogging Hannah’s attention. The big, fluffy Maine Coon ignored him pointedly, ran off, and stared down a large chocolate layer cake in the display case.

“Good idea, Hammy,” Beatrice said. “Everyone likes chocolate. I could make a double, no triple, no
quadruple
chocolate cake. I’ll just use every kind of chocolate I can buy. Layers and layers of chocolate. No? Why are you shaking your head?”

“Sorry Bee, but your plan reeks of desperation.” The barista came by and dropped off the almond latte. Hannah took a deep sip and sighed happily. “Well, at least they can’t make an almond latte to save their lives.”

“Does this mean you’ve actually
been
there?” Beatrice sputtered.

2

The doorbell rang again, saving Hannah the burden of replying. In came Nathan Moore, an insurance agent who was a good friend of Beatrice’s best friend (and ex-husband) Matthew Thompson. He was a stout little man with a pink balding head and an anxious disposition.

Beatrice didn’t see Nathan that often because cats made him nervous, the result of a childhood trauma she could never get to the bottom of. That said, Ashbrook was a small New Hampshire town of 2000 people, so it was hard not to run into the same people again and again. And again.

Hamish immediately leapt down from his window perch and trotted over to Nathan, fluffy striped tail held proudly aloft. He was the type of cat who was mainly affectionate with non-cat lovers. Nathan shrank back and clutched his tweed cap to his chest as if it could offer some kind of protection.

“Hamish, leave Mr. Moore alone,” Beatrice said, rising and shooing away the ornery cat. Hamish glared at her with his golden eyes and walked off in a huff.

She embraced Nathan, and only then realized that he was sweating despite the cool late October temperatures. His pudgy, ruddy face was shiny and his hands looked slick.

“Goodness, are you sick?” she asked, starting back. “You look awful.”

Nathan took out a tissue and mopped his forehead with it. “I’m peachy Bee, really. Just a little overheated from my walk over. I could actually do with a coffee. Something extra strong.”

“You’ve come to the right place,” she replied, guiding him by the arm over to a stool at the bar. “I’ll prepare you something special.”

Taking over from the barista, Beatrice ground espresso beans, scooped them into the portafilter, tamped them down, and then fit the filter into the machine to brew. As she did that, she kept a sharp eye on Nathan. They were friends but he was closer to Matthew, even though the three of them had been in the same grade all through school.

The two men had helped each other through some fairly heavy life stuff. They had kids of the same age, for one—all now grown-up and moved away. Nathan had gotten divorced the same that Matthew’s second wife, the one he had married after Beatrice, passed away from a brain aneurism. Since that time, Nathan had led a quiet bachelor life. Beatrice knew that he and Matthew still regularly went for pints together.

Nathan continued to mop his brow with the now-damp tissue as he looked over his shoulder, his eyes darting around the half-full café and then toward the street.

“Honestly,” Beatrice broke in. “I’m starting to feel like I’m in a bad spy movie. Whatever is the matter?” She slid his double Americano towards him and leaned her elbows on the counter. “C’mon Nathan. You can trust me.”

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” he muttered and then took a long sip of the potent coffee. “Ah, that’s the ticket Bee. Thank you. Alright, so I hear that you’re pretty good at solving cases...”

Beatrice immediately perked up. “I like to think so! You’ve come to the right place,” she said.

“…and that maybe you have some experience dealing with hardened criminals,” Nathan continued.

“Um well, I’m not so sure about that. Does this
issue
you’re dealing with perhaps merit a call to Sheriff Roy?”

Nathan broke out in a fresh sweat. “No, no!” he gasped and reached for Beatrice’s hand. “Promise me you won’t tell the sheriff about this.”

“Okay, okay, I promise.” She removed herself from his sweaty gasp.

He took a deep breath. “Have you ever had someone do you a favor? And then you felt so indebted to them that you didn’t mind helping them out with this or that? And then, well, they keep asking and you keep feeling indebted and then suddenly years go by and you can barely meet your own financial responsibilities…” He buried his head in his hands. “This isn’t normal at all, is it?”

Beatrice frowned. “I don’t really know what you’re talking about. But from what I do understand, no, this doesn’t sound normal at all. Nate, is someone taking advantage of you?”

The doorbell jangled again and a big, burly man Beatrice had never seen before strode inside. Nathan stiffened immediately, downed the rest of the Americano in one gulp, and scurried towards the bathroom. He must have found the back entrance because that was the last Beatrice saw of him that afternoon.

The stranger approached the cash, crossed his arms and frowned at the chalkboard. “You got one of those caramel latte things with lots of syrup and whipped cream?” he asked in a soft, whispery voice. “And maybe sprinkles?”

3

“I’m so nervous. What if someone recognizes me?” Beatrice asked as she adjusted her headscarf.

“Uh, they
will
recognize you,” Matthew replied, throwing her an amused look from the driver’s seat. His bright blue eyes sparkled in his tanned face. He was Beatrice’s age and aside from some weathering, he looked as healthy and vibrant as ever.

“Why? Should I wear sunglasses?”

“You could wear a burka and those two would still be a dead giveaway.” He jerked his head towards the back where Lucky was yowling unhappily in his cat carrier. Hamish was sitting pertly beside it, the black tufts at the ends of his ears sticking straight up.

“Oh right.” Bee began to nervously chew her lip. “ But I can’t leave them in the car. I mean, first of all, it’s not right. Second of all, Hammy might sniff out some kind of clue. Like a health violation that could shut down the café in time for the Fall Fair.”

Matthew’s thick eyebrows drew together. “Bee, it’s a baking competition not that game where the kids try to off each other … what was that called? The Killing Games?”


The Hunger Games
. C’mon Matthew, we
just
saw that movie together. Uh oh! Turn right. You’re going to miss it.”

Matthew piloted the car right and pulled onto a charming Ashbrook street lined with wrought iron lamps. He worked during the day as a ranger at the nearby White Mountain National Forest but he and Beatrice often spent time together in the evening cooking dinner, going for walks, or solving whatever mystery she was entangled in.

It may sound strange but after their divorce, and especially after the death of his second wife, they had become best friends.

Matthew paid for meter parking and then strolled down a pedestrian alley lined with red brick shops and their hand-carved signs. Lanterns shed a warm glow on the dim path. It was a popular tourist site filled with specialty wine stores, jewelers, and fancy restaurants.

Hamish and Lucky trotted in front of them, tails held high and noses sniffing the air. Two women passed by and followed Matthew with their eyes. Beatrice couldn’t help chuckling. In his jeans and navy pea coat he cut a fine figure, plus he was tall, good looking, and still had a full head of wavy silver hair.

The funny thing was that she didn’t see him the way they did. Maybe she did forty year ago when they were married, but now? No way.

The Purple Lilac Café had flocks of tourists sitting at rickety tables on the patio. A chalkboard easel announced “salted caramel tarts.”

“Look!” Beatrice hissed. “
We
had those tarts first.”

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
3.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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