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) (8 page)

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
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“Except that it’s illegal to intimidate and threaten people. And then destroy their property if they don’t go along with your wishes,” the sheriff said. “From what I’ve heard, Nate was more than generous with your Tony. The man works hard for his money and you have no right to pinch him. Now you’re coming with us, Leah, and you too, other guy.”

“Name’s Ron and I got nothing to do with all this,” he blustered, standing up.

“Hey thanks!” Leah said, scowling at him. “Cut me loose when it suits you, huh?”

“The minute you started firing shots at us you involved yourself in this situation,” Sheriff Roy said, putting first the man, then Leah, in cuffs. “Off we go. You’ve got a date with lock-up.”

18

“I’m so glad to finally be home,” Beatrice said, as she turned on the lights in the living room. The rustic chandeliers illuminated the cavernous space cozily.

“I’m glad to be back in
your
home,” Nathan said behind her.

“Nate, you’re staying here until we get a proper security system installed on your house. Just in case any of Leah’s sisters, parents, children, or casual acquaintances get the idea to go shaking you down for cash.”

Nathan grinned. “Okay by me. You’ve got a nice place here.”

“She’s always got a full fridge, too,” Matthew said from the kitchen. “You two hungry? I could whip us up a little something.”

Beatrice collapsed on the couch and put her feet up on the rustic wood coffee table. “Heavens yes. I’m
starving
.”

Which is how the three of them ended up devouring grilled cheese sandwiches at the breakfast bar. The cats chowed down beside them and then promptly disappeared. They looked completely tuckered out.

“I want to thank you guys so much for everything you did for me,” Nathan said after wiping ketchup off his lips. “There are no better friends out there.”

Beatrice grimaced. “I don’t know, Nate. I feel like I just made everything worse.”

He shook his head vigorously. “No way. You guys took my problem seriously, got me the help I needed, and stood by me one hundred percent. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“Tell me: why are we not clinking glasses to celebrate?” Matthew said. “This seems like the right moment for alcohol.”

Beatrice took a bottle of Beaujolais out of storage and poured it into three wine glasses. “To friendship!” she said, sneaking a little look at Matthew out of the corner of her eye.

He smiled back at her warmly. “To friendship.”

They toasted one another, consumed the rest of the sandwiches, and drank enough wine to send them all into a near coma. Nathan headed up to bed first. Beatrice found the two cats both on the window seat off the living room, eyeing each other as if considering a ceasefire.

She kissed and patted them both soundly, relieved that they were both in one piece. “Don’t you ever do something so crazy again!” she told both of them. “You’re going to give me a heart attack.”

Matthew sat down on the window seat, flushed from the wine. “Bee, those cats know how to take care of themselves. Don’t you worry.”

She sighed and sat across from him, the cats between their legs. “Worrying is my favorite hobby after sleuthing,” she joked. “What would I do without it?”

Matthew chuckled. “By the way, I wanted to thank
you
for helping out Nate. I mean, he’s always been closer to me but you went out of your way to help him. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”

Beatrice looked him up and down. “Who is this Matthew? This
nice
Matthew?”

“This is wine Matthew,” he replied, laughing. “Wine Matthew says thank you.”

“I should get you drunk more often.”

“Be my guest. But seriously Bee, you really put yourself on the line for him.”

Beatrice shrugged and studied her hands. Compliments always made her feel weird. “Matt, a friend of yours is a friend of mine. I’d like to think you’d do the same for Zoe, for example.”

“I just hope she doesn’t get mixed up with gun-toting extortionists.”

“No chance of that. It’s only her loser boyfriend we have to worry about.”

Matthew snorted, stretched his legs, and groaned contentedly. “You ever think of dating again, Bee?” he asked, looking directly into her eyes.

“Um.” This was not the question she was expecting. “No. Not really. I mean, I don’t feel I have anything lacking in my life. So why would I?”

Hamish stuck up his head. The fur was rumpled at his ruff and his golden eyes blinked at her sleepily. “Maw!” he declared forcefully.

Beatrice laughed. “Plus I don’t think the Hammy and Lucky are ready to share me. Are you, Ham?” She reached over to stroke his silky head and he began to purr contentedly.

Yet as Beatrice lay in the dark later, alone in her cushy Queen size bed, she began to wonder if there was something wrong with her.
Should
she want to date? Was she afraid of something? But as she had told Matthew, she didn’t feel incomplete.

Beatrice’s motto had always been: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And that’s exactly how she felt about her life.

19

The scent of maple-pumpkin pie filled the air the following morning at the Cozy Cat Café. Customers came in through the old wooden door—noses lifted, eyes bright—as they followed the delicious smell to its source.

Beatrice was busy reorganizing the paperback books that lined the exposed brick walls. People continually thwarted her attempts at alphabetization but she didn’t really mind. She found it calming to reorder her beloved mysteries, romances, and historical fiction—her favorite genres.

In fact, she was enjoying every minute of her day so far, from paying supplier invoices to updating the café’s Facebook page and Twitter stream to sweeping the rough, wide floor planks. While she enjoyed solving her mysteries, it was a relief to be able to completely focus on the café again.

The cats seemed content too. Hamish was busy stalking the premises and receiving pats and compliments from all the patrons. Lucky was chasing beams of sunshine that flickered over the floor. All of the craziness of the previous day seemed completely lost on them.

Yet, something kept niggling at her. The sheriff. She still felt uneasy at the idea that he was angry with her. Beatrice had never minded conflict overmuch but she didn’t like unfinished business.

She went into the kitchen to seek out Zoe. The gangly girl was in her chef whites with her dark hair tied up under a hairnet, operating the industrial mixer they used for dough. She dumped Pyrex measuring cups filled with dark chocolate chunks and dried cherries into metal basin and let the mixer do its magic. It was for their tried and true cookie recipe.

“Hey, it’s the town hero,” Zoe joked. “Everyone’s talking about how you took down some bad-ass ninja woman with your bare hands yesterday.”

“What?” Beatrice wrapped her long white knit cardigan closer around her. “How can anyone possibly know?”

Zoe pointed with a floury hand towards the newspaper sitting on a corner table. Beatrice snatched it up and put on her reading glasses. The front-page headline read: Extortionist Nabbed By Local Sleuth Lady and Cats.

“Sleuth lady?” she sputtered. “Who wrote this piece of trash? Oh, Brent. That little muckraker. I can’t even imagine who his source was.”

She tossed the paper down. “You know what? I’m not even that mad about being in the paper. What worries me is how
Jake
will react.”

Zoe began transferring batter onto a greased tray with a spoon. “The sheriff? He’s still mad at you?”

“Not sure. He was happy enough to make the arrest yesterday. Still, I think he’s feeling betrayed. I kept the case from him on purpose. That’s a big breach of trust.” Beatrice twisted a long piece gray of hair absently around her finger. “I should go see him.”

Zoe nodded. “Definitely. And you know what? Bring him
a lot
of food. I know he’s a sucker for your cooking.”

“You got it. Say, what’s up with Hunter?”

The slight pastry chef’s shoulders hunched forward protectively. “Okay, promise you won’t get mad?”

“Oh no, what happened?”

Zoe rolled her eyes. “He’s moving in to my place. It’s
just
a trial run. I like him, Bee. And I’m tired of being alone. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But you know, I really hope it does.”

Her boss took a deep breath. “I have to work on being happy for you, don’t I?”

“You have to at least try or I’m not going to let you take that entire pumpkin-maple pie to the sheriff. And then he’ll never forgive you.”

Beatrice put up her hands. “Point taken.”

“And don’t bring the cats either. You know how he gets about those cats.”

Less than half an hour later she strode into Sheriff Roy’s dingy office, bags balanced in both hands. The sheriff was pecking at his computer, his expression angry—as it usually was whenever he tackled anything involving technology. He turned in her direction as she came in but his expression didn’t become any less severe.

“Yes?” he said curtly.

“Lunch delivery.” She took containers out of her bags and the heavenly smell of butter, cream, and maple filled the room.

The sheriff began to sniff so hard that his moustache twitched. “That isn’t fish chowder, is it?”

“In a bread bowl. Made this morning with the finest cream, potatoes, onions, and cod. And a maple-pumpkin pie for you and the missus to enjoy with dinner tonight.”

The sheriff opened the container with the chowder and began to dig in eagerly.

Beatrice sat in the chair opposite him and folded her hands. “Jake, I came here to apologize. I know I did wrong by keeping such a serious case from you. I hope you know it’s not because I don’t believe in your abilities or doubt your right to have first dibs in these situations. I wanted to protect Nate, that’s all.”

The sheriff leaned back in his tatty office chair. “Bee, I get it. Honestly, I just worry about you. This was a dangerous business you got yourself involved in. I don’t want anyone to get hurt on my watch. Especially my old babysitter.”

She let out a long sigh of relief. “You had me in such a pickle this morning, worrying that you hated me.”

Roy straightened up and shook his finger at her. “I’m still going to be watching you closely. No more meddling in anything dicey without my input.”

“Okay, okay, enough with the lecture. I get it. We’re partners.”

“I don’t have a partner. You’re an unpaid contractor.”

“Good point. I really should be paid for this, shouldn’t I?”

The sheriff put a heaping spoonful of chowder into his mouth and chewed emphatically. Beatrice crossed her legs. “Well, now that we have that settled, tell me what’s next for Leah Moore?”

“We did the interview with her this morning. She’s accusing her boyfriend Ron of extorting Nathan and Ron’s accusing her. We sent her laptop to forensics to see if we can unearth any communication with Nathan.”

“Seems like a mess,” Beatrice said, frowning.

Roy looked up from his chowder. A sly smile spread across his face. “Well, I did a little old-fashioned police work and found Tony’s computer tucked in her house. He wasn’t as good about hiding his data. Deputy managed to find an outbox full of emails written to Nate, all of them read recently—after Tony went to prison. It’s only going to be a matter of time before we find evidence on Leah’s machine.”

“Well, I’m just happy this nightmare is over for Nate. Took a while for him to tell us about it. But now that he did, I hope he can really start living again.”

Beatrice left the sheriff to enjoy his extravagant lunch and got back in her car. It was a short drive back to the café and she took her time. It was an overcast day but still pretty with all the vibrant colors from the autumn leaves. She edged around the central town park with its white gazebo and soaring white oaks with their purplish-red leaves. A white church with a tall white spire and yellow-painted door sat on the edge.

Walking in front of the church, a newspaper in one hand and a jaunty red scarf tied around his neck, was portly Nathan Moore. He was swinging his arms as if he didn’t have a care in the world and there was a spring in his step Beatrice hadn’t seen in some time.

She parked just so that she could watch him almost bounce along the road, probably headed back to work. As he slipped out of view, she shook her head and chuckled.

“I’ll be darned,” she said under her breath.

Want More From Beatrice, Hamish, and Lucky?

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The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat
on Amazon.

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About the Author

Alannah Rogers is a retired librarian living in rural New Hampshire. She has three cats, all named after authors: Charlie, Wilkie, and Jane.

Alannah is an obsessive knitter and Scrabble player who loves a strong cup of English Breakfast tea. She makes a mean strawberry rhubarb pie and enjoys tinkering in her garden when time permits.

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Preview of
The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat
(A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery #1)

Prologue

The smell of ink was sharp in the air. Two hands cut the bills, four to a sheet, while another pair fed more paper into an inkjet printer. A naked bulb hung from the low basement ceiling. It barely provided enough light—the tiny above-ground windows were blacked out and the door that led outside was bolted firmly shut.

BOOK: The Extortion Cat-astrophe: A Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mystery (Beatrice Young Cozy Cat Mysteries Book 2)
3.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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