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

Authors: Alannah Rogers

Tags: #cozy mysteries, #cozy mystery series, #cat mystery, #cozy mysteries new releases, #cozy mysteries women sleuths, #mystery series books, #mystery novels, #cozy cat mystery books, #cozy cat mysteries

The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2) (4 page)

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
2.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“That was
so much fun
,” Zoe enthused as she put on her seatbelt. “I mean originally I was like, why do I want to spend my day off with my old boss and her ex-husband when I could be going on a date with Hunter? But yeah now I totally want to spend every Sunday with you guys. I mean, how much fun did we have, right?”

Beatrice pressed her foot onto the gas a little too hard and the car lurched forward. Lucky yowled inconsolably in his carrier.

“Sorry buddy,” she said into the rearview mirror. “Zoe, how many times do I have to tell you not to use the “O” word?”

“Orgasm?”

“What? No!
Old
! Don’t call me old!”

Zoe frowned. “You think that’s, like, an insult? Because if I’m old I’ll know that I didn’t die young, which is a really, really good thing.”

Matthew, who was shaking and wiping tears of silent laughter from his eyes, gave up the ghost and began to wheeze.

“Oh great, now you’re going to kill Matt,” Beatrice said.

Zoe’s eyes went big and she covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh noooo…”

Hamish took this as his cue to tiptoe forward and sit in Matthew’s lap, which sobered him up immediately. “Bee, I told you to put this one in a carrier too. You’re going to get us all killed. Wait, where are we going? This isn’t the road to Ashbrook.”

Beatrice flashed him her brightest smile. “We’re going to pay a visit to Falls Road. Apparently Tony’s brother Rick lives out here with his mom.”

There was a moment of loaded silence. “I’m pretty sure you need to run this by us first,” Matthew said. “I mean, don’t you think you’re going to attract too much attention?”

Hamish meowed loudly from the back. “Hammy agrees with me.”

“I dunno Bee,” Zoe said. “Cats don’t even see color. I mean, how can he really have good judgment?”

“I’m not even going to respond to that. It’s okay Hammy. She didn’t mean it. Look guys, we’re just going to do some quick recon. Nothing serious, just a little drive-by seeing.”

In the end, Beatrice was driving and Zoe was in too good a mood to disagree with her so Matthew was overruled. She steered the pickup onto Falls Road, a humble street with neat little one-story homes coated in various shades of plastic siding. Beatrice’s truck crept along slowly as she eyeballed the mailboxes.

“White … Smith … Parsons! Bingo!” She stopped the car in front of a modest salmon-colored house. What became immediately apparent was that Rachel the Soap Lady had been telling the truth. What looked like a brand new pick-up truck was parked in the driveway. A bike, inflatable pool, electric pink car, and many more new toys were scattered on the raggedy grass.

“If Rick doesn’t work, then how can he afford all this stuff?” Beatrice asked. Just then, the screen door opened and a woman in her fifties stepped onto the porch.

“We’re caught! Let’s get out of here!” Zoe screeched.

It was all Beatrice could do to accelerate gracefully, as if she hadn’t just been stalking the Parson house.

“Remind me not to involve you in any more recon,” Beatrice grumbled. “You’ve got a low startle point.”

“Bee, my specialty is pastry, not being a spy,” Zoe said. “I thought that was pretty clear by now.”

Beatrice piloted the truck back onto the main road. “I’m sorry. I’m really grateful you both came today. Thanks for putting up with me.”

“Don’t worry, I had plenty of fun,” Matthew said, shaking his head. “None of your schemes have got us killed yet.”

“Well, if not being killed means fun, you’re setting the bar pretty low.”

“Bee, what did you think of the pies?” Zoe cut in. “I mean, white chocolate strawberry pie? Brilliant!”

“I’m actually more of a cake person,” Matthew said.

Beatrice was quiet for a moment. The silence was pregnant with expectation. “What if I took the two best things in the world and put them together?”

“Like beer and wine?” Zoe asked.

“Okay, no. Pie and cake! What if I created a pie-cake
hybrid
?”

Her companions were silent for a moment. Finally, a sly smile crept over Matthew’s face. He patted her knee. “Well, like most of your schemes, it might just be crazy enough to work.”

9

According to Rachel the Soap Lady, there was a lot wrong with Rick Parsons. But for Beatrice the problem centered around one thing: he was not Google-able.

Matthew had gone back to his house after the fair, which meant that Beatrice had all the time in the world to sleuth away without anyone looking over her shoulder. Unfortunately, Rick was not cooperating with her plan—meaning that she would have to actually ask a real human being about him.

That also meant leaving the comfort of her sofa, where she was curled up under an afghan with the two cats vying to sit on her feet. Beatrice took a long look at
Death Comes to Pemberley
, which sat on her coffee table. It could easily be combined with a lavender bubble bath and that excellent bottle of red wine she had stashed in her cupboard.

But Beatrice Young was not a person to take the easy way out. There was a mystery to be solved and a dear friend to be saved. Reading in the bath could wait.

Beatrice threw her navy field coat over her sweater, threw on a knit cap, pulled on her gumboots, and took a struggling Lucky out to the car as Hamish trotted alongside.

“Lucky, you were such a brave boy the other day, finding that clue. Now if you want to show Hamish that you’re made of sterner stuff you’re going to have to stop with this car nonsense.”

Lucky immediately stopped struggling, though he looked up at her with such a piteous look that her heart melted. Thankfully for him, the drive out to Johnny’s Place didn’t take too long. The place was packed for a Sunday night but it didn’t bother the cats in the least. Hanging around the Cozy Cat Café since their kittenhood had inured them to crowds and noise.

Beatrice wasn’t much of a drinker but Johnny’s Place was a cozy spot for a pint and a gab. It had a fancy new jukebox, pool tables, and lots of comfy booths with green velvet seats. Beatrice also personally knew the barman, Jeff Gagnon. He was a sweet young guy with those heavy-framed glasses everyone was wearing and a full beard.

“Jeff, give me a pint of dark ale. Whatever’s on tap,” Beatrice said as she sidled up to the bar.

Jeff raised a blonde eyebrow. “No spritzer for you? What’s the celebration?”

“Am I really that lame? I do party you know. Get down.” He continued looking at her in silence. “Okay, I’m here to pretend to accidently bump into Deputy Parker Smith and then pump him for information about a case I’m working on.”

Jeff plunked her beer down on a coaster. “Well then, this one is on me. We rely on you to keep things aboveboard around here.”

“Geez Jeff, thanks. That’s nice of you.”

“Don’t mention it. Deputy is over by the pool tables, watching the game.”

“And the sheriff?” she asked, leaning in anxiously.

“Had a beer and left already.”

Beatrice exhaled slowly. “Okey dokey.” Hamish suddenly leapt on the bar and began nonchalantly washing his paw. Jeff eyed him with round-eyed disbelief.

“Only for you would I allow this…”

“I know!” Beatrice replied, already moving away. “Can you keep an eye on them? I’ll be right back!”

Zipping to the back of the room, Beatrice casually strolled around the pool table as if fascinated by the game. Fortunately, most people in Ashbrook were used to her strange behavior so no one paid her any mind.

“Parker, how nice to run into you!” she exclaimed as she came upon the young deputy hanging out on the sidelines, a beer in his hands. He was a fine young man, a bit reedy, but a dedicated officer with an impeccable work ethic.

“You looking for the sheriff?” he asked, a crease forming between his eyebrows. “Because he just left…”

“Oh no, no, no,” Beatrice replied, waving her arms as she did so. “Nope, I just thought: it’s Sunday night, I’m a single woman, I should get out on the town…”

The false words died on her tongue as she said them. She sighed. “Alright, I need information. What do you know about Rick Parsons?”

Parker gave her an odd look. “From Waitsfield?”

“The very one. I know the town’s still in your jurisdiction.”

He looked around him, put his beer down on the ledge behind him, and then looked straight at her, concern in his hazel eyes. “Why’re you interested in him? He’s not somebody to mess with, Bee.”

“I’m not messing with him. I just want to know what he does for a living.”

“Sells drugs, as far as we know. He’s been arrested for possession before but we’ve never got him for dealing. Not yet.”

“Drugs,” Beatrice repeated slowly. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. We’ve collected plenty of accounts of him dealing, we just haven’t been able to nail him.”

Beatrice’s mind was whirling. So that was how Rick could afford all his new things. But where did extortion come into it? Would he really take that on too if he was so busy with his other illegal hustle?

The deputy put a gentle hand on Beatrice’s shoulder. “I’m not sure why you’re asking but be careful. His whole family is not the type you want to get involved with. They’re ruthless. I can’t tell you how many run-ins the sheriff and I have had with them…”

A chorus of meows broke out, like a fire truck wailing in the distance. The hair on the back of Beatrice’s neck stood up.

“How many run-ins you and I have had with whom?” Sheriff Jacob Roy said loudly as he moved to stand in front of them, arms crossed. “I forgot my hat here. And funnily enough, the first thing I see is Beatrice and you whispering in a corner. Now what could that mean?”

10

“Tell me why again you didn’t come straight to me?” the sheriff fumed as he sat down heavily behind his desk.

Beatrice perched uncomfortably on a chair opposite facing him. The cats, oblivious to any human-on-human tension, roamed the sheriff’s office, happily poking their noses into whatever they found interesting.

“Nate made me swear that I wouldn’t tell anyone…”

“I’m not anyone! This is my
job
, Bee. I track down criminals, which, funnily enough, include extortionists.”

“Listen, I’m sorry you had to find out this way…”

“Darn night you’re sorry!” He grabbed his hat off his head and threw it down on the desk. “What did you mean by going to Waitsfield all by yourself and asking questions? You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

“I am not the bad guy here!” she retorted. “I was simply trying to help a friend, Jake. Nate has been living in terror for a
decade
. I had to respect the fact that it would take a few days for him to relent to the idea of involving you. Of course it was on my mind.”

“Not soon enough,” the sheriff shot back. “Beatrice, when are you going to learn that this isn’t a game, that people’s lives are at risk here?”

“I’m pretty sure I understood the consequences when I was in that shoot-out with you the other day.”

Sheriff Roy took a deep breath and leaned back in his seat. He was a short man but stocky, with a rather forbidding expression that made almost everyone tremble in their boots. “I’m going to get Nathan in here first thing tomorrow morning. I’m taking over the case. You’re involvement ends here. I have nothing more to say to you right now, Bee.”

Normally, this would have been the time when Beatrice reminded him of how she used to babysit him and change his diapers. But he looked so angry that she decided it was best to let things lie.

She rounded up the cats and headed back into the truck. She really needed that bubble bath. Maybe the cats sensed her exhaustion, because Lucky went into his carrier without a fight and Hamish meekly curled up in the back. It was a quick ride home but for Beatrice, who couldn’t stop running the conversation with the sheriff through her head, it seemed like a lifetime. Had she finally gone too far?

11

The smell of cinnamon buns lifted Beatrice’s depressed spirits the next morning. It’s hard not to feel happy when you’re surrounded by butter, sugar, and flour—or at least that was her philosophy. The cats were still seemed tuckered out by the previous day’s dramas and were sleepily lazily on the floor in a patch of sun.

As soon as Zoe came in and saw her boss moping at the window seat, moodily scrolling through Simply Accounting, she gave her a big hug and got right to baking cinnamon buns.

Though Beatrice made a mean bun, Zoe had perfected the art. Hers were a little crispy on the outside and gooey in the center, spicy with cinnamon, laden with decadent cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with crunchy candied pecans. The result was nothing less than divine.

While the buns were baking, Zoe made a perfect latte with a heart in the foam and placed it in front of Beatrice, then sat down across from her.

“Bad night, boss?” she asked while tossing her dark bangs out of her eyes.

Beatrice cracked half a smile and then reached across and grasped the younger woman’s hand.

“You’re the best, Zoe. Really. Thanks.” She took a sip of the latte. “Oh and this is the
best
. I love how strong you make them. Listen hun, I think I did something stupid.”

Beatrice swept back her long gray hair into a clip and rested her cheeks in her fists. “Remember how you weren’t supposed to know why we were going to Waitsfield yesterday…”

“So that you could stalk some guy that you think is extorting Nathan Moore,” Zoe replied promptly.

Beatrice froze. “Uh, how do you know that?”

“You and Matthew whisper
really
loudly.”

“We really are the worst spies ever. Well, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. The thing is, Sheriff Roy found out that I knew about the extortion. What’s more, he realized I’d purposefully been
keeping
it from him. At Nate’s request of course.”

Zoe let out a long, slow breath. “You’re creamed.”

“I know. I know.” Beatrice rubbed her eyes. “I’ve never been so happy to lose myself in work. I know we’re not even supposed to open today but I figured, why not? You don’t have to be here though, Zoe. You should take the day off.”

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
2.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Top Gear Story by Martin Roach
Paws for Alarm by Marian Babson
The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth
The Rise of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju
Girl from Jussara by Hettie Ivers
Heartless by Catou Martine
White Piano by Nicole Brossard