Authors: Kari Lee Townsend
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective
Granny emerged with more ingredients and an obvious grudge. Who in the world was this Fiona Atwater? If there was ever going to be peace in this house again, I needed to find out. Besides, I wanted my chipper Granny back.
“Granny, what did Fiona mean when she said you were the woman who ruined her life?”
life? Ha!” Granny waved her spoon around wildly as she ranted, with bits of cookie dough flying about. “That’s a fine fiddledeedee. We used to be best friends, until Frank Nichols came to town our senior year of high school. She liked him first, but he took a shine to me. After that, she turned into my nemesis, competing with me on virtually everything: grades, sewing, cooking,
“She liked Grandpa Frank?”
“Obsessed over him is more like it.” Granny rolled out another batch of dough and then attacked it with cookie cutters. “She married Phillip just because he and Frank were friends, and then she went and had three children and six grandchildren, knowing I was only blessed with one child and one grandchild. And then after Frank died, she up and left Phillip, proving me right. She never loved him; she was just out for revenge.”
“Granny, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I saw good in her, too, during her reading. And in the end, she really did come to love Phillip, but it was too late. He resented her. He was the one who left her.”
Granny blinked, looking surprised, but then she shrugged off her hesitation and continued attacking the cookie dough.
“She really did come here to get away and start over,” I went on. “She wants to have an adventure.”
“You must be mistaken, dearie. There’s no way she’s in Divinity with her Knitting Ninnies by coincidence. I find it hard to believe she didn’t know I had moved here. Mark my words, she has her ways. She came here
just to make my life miserable. I bet she even knew my Sewing Sisters and I were putting on the carnival. Your mother probably told her since they run in the same hoity-toity circle of society.”
“So that’s why you’re baking,” I mused aloud. “You think Fiona has come to outdo you in the bakeoff, and you’re trying to outdo yourself with some new cookie recipe that will win for sure.”
“That’s right.” Granny pointed her spoon at me. “This is my town, not hers.
“Granny, I don’t think—”
“I saw Mimi Pots this morning down at Pump up the Volume salon. I didn’t even recognize her,” Granny said, clearly ending the subject.
Too tired to argue with her, I let it go for the time being. “I’d heard that Abigail Brook’s cousin gave Mimi a makeover. I haven’t seen Mimi since she got back from Atlantic City for Abby and Chuck Webb’s wedding.”
Abby used to be smitten with Detective Stone, until his ex-girlfriend Isabel ran her out of town. She’d returned from her cousin’s, looking like a new woman, and had finally moved on to a new man—Divinity Hotel owner and ultimate bachelor Chuck Webb. A recovered alcoholic, he’d nearly lost everything and didn’t even have his own place anymore. Instead, he stayed in one of his hotel rooms, living the simple life with less to worry about losing if he slipped up again. But then Abby came along and saved him, whisking him away to
castle—a small trailer on the outskirts of town—while
Chuck vowed to stay clean and build her a real castle someday.
Mimi was Abby’s neighbor, like a mother to her, and fiercely protective of her. She lived in her own old trailer on the outskirts of town, right next door, and didn’t mix well with the folks in town.
The last time Mitch and I had shown up on her doorstep, she’d greeted us in her housecoat with a shotgun, no teeth, and a mouthful of chewing tobacco. I was glad to see she was finally starting to come around. Seeing folks happy will do that to you. I’d give anything for that same happiness right about now.
“Speaking of weddings, when’s Detective Stone due home?” Granny asked as though reading my mind.
“Any day now. I’m just waiting for him to call. And don’t jump the gun, Granny. We only agreed to start dating, not do anything crazy like get married. Not that I’m against getting married, but I know Mitch. I’ll be lucky just to get him to take me out.”
“You never know what can happen, dear, you just have to be open to it.” She placed the last tray of cookies in the oven and set the timer. “He’s such a good man.”
“I agree. I can’t wait to see him again. Two months has been a long time.”
After Mitch broke his leg in a car accident, he was assigned to desk duty until he recovered. A week of that was all he could take. He went stir-crazy. So when an old NYPD buddy of his called, asking for his help on a cold case, he’d jumped at the opportunity and had spent
the past two months in New York City. But his cast was off now, and he was cleared to resume his full activities back in Divinity.
Hopefully, those activities included dating me.
We’d never been on an “official” date, but we’d both agreed to give
a shot. I had hoped he’d come to believe in my abilities, but after nearly dying, I’d come to realize there were worse things. I knew he cared about me, and that he wanted a romantic relationship with me. After his sister’s death, it had been hard for him to open up. The fact that he was letting me into his life at all would have to be enough…for now.
Except, two months had gone by, and all we’d done is talk on the phone. I missed him—really missed him—which gave me high hopes for our relationship to progress to the next level. If only I could keep the drama at bay.
“He’ll be home soon, dear,” Granny said, as she finished cleaning up the kitchen. “I’m happy for you. You deserve this, you know. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have what Grandpa Frank and I had. Maybe then you’ll settle down.”
will settle down,” I added hopefully.
“Maybe when Fiona leaves town,” Granny firmly stated. “And I’ve got just the boot to help her on her way. That woman has me so worked up and stressed out, my leg cramps are back. Now I’m going to have to sleep with a bar of soap at the bottom of my bed between the sheets near my feet. She’d better pray it works,” she muttered, glancing around to make sure she hadn’t missed
a crumb, then hung up her apron and called for Morty. He appeared, wearing his usual nightcap and dressing gown, and they huffed off to bed.
Granny was into all the latest fads she read about every Friday when she was having her hair washed and set down at Pump up the Volume hair salon. It didn’t matter how bizarre or crazy the fad might sound. You’d swear those magazines were the gospel.
Maybe everything would settle down?
I thought. “Maybe not,” I mumbled to myself.
I sure hoped the soap worked, too. Something told me that settling down was the last thing that was about to happen with one stirred-up Granny Gert.
Look out Fiona Atwater…Karma really was an angry beast.
* * *
“With that Ace of Cups, you will be faced with an unexpected opportunity for an emotional experience filled with great promise. Since your question was about romance, I’d say be on the lookout. These opportunities don’t last long, so act quickly,” I said to Sean O’Malley as we sat inside the gazebo on Saturday afternoon.
Nothing major had happened on the drama front, just some minor occurrences like someone knocking the craft tent over. Of course the Sewing Sisters had blamed the Knitting Nanas and vice versa, but a few more minor oddities had occurred that made me wonder if someone really was up to a bit of mischief. I didn’t know who or why, but I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I
hadn’t seen Granny at all yet today, but Sean had shown up to support me.
The blond-haired, blue-eyed Irish hottie was one of my best friends and so much fun to be around. He worked as a bartender for my other best friend, Joanne Burnham, a buxom redhead who owned Smokey Jo’s tavern. When Sean wasn’t at Jo’s, he was a physical trainer for Wally down at Wally’s World gym and the biggest ladies’ man in town.
The weather was perfect. Bright blue skies and a balmy breeze. Sean rested his weight on his elbows, his biceps flexing beneath his tight, dry-fit, light blue T-shirt as he flashed his killer dimples.
“A romance opportunity you say? Well, then, let’s go, lass. When are you going to give up on the detective and go out with me?”
Morty chose that moment to make an appearance and rub up against his legs, purring loudly. Morty loved Sean—the detective, not so much. Sean reached down and scratched Morty between the ears.
“See, even Morty agrees with me.”
“Not a chance, Romeo. Besides, you’d get bored.” I laughed. “But seriously. You’re not getting any younger. Don’t you think it’s time you settled down?”
“Not a chance,” he threw my words back at me and winked. “And you’re right. I probably would get bored.” I smacked him playfully. “You want me to be serious? I can seriously say it will take one special woman to ever make me want to settle down for good. I love women.
“I know, and that’s the problem. But I am curious. Why did you ask that question?”
“I just wanted to know if I would have a date for this weekend.” He grinned.
“You are such a devil.” I shook my head and glanced to the side, then did a double take. “Wow, is that Mimi Pots?”
Sean squinted and looked in the same direction. “Sure is. Shocker, right? That makeover might have made her pretty on the outside, but she’s still just as sour on the inside.”
Now she sported a full set of gleaming white dentures, her hair neatly styled, and summer slacks and a blouse that took ten years off her appearance. She’d warmed up to me okay, but she hadn’t liked Mitch one bit. Hadn’t liked anyone in town, actually.
“I don’t know. Everyone has some good in them,” I said. “It looks like she even made a friend. Isn’t that Bernadette Baldwin of BB’s Baked Goods?”
“Doesn’t surprise me that those two became friends.” Sean scoffed. “Bernadette isn’t very well liked, either.”
“Be nice. They’re coming our way.” I smiled wide when Mimi and Bernadette stopped by the gazebo. I’d heard of Bernadette, but I didn’t really know her. But having been judged my whole life, I was always willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Bernadette was sharply dressed and well put together with neatly trimmed, short dark hair. She had to be in her fifties or sixties, but she wore her age well. My lips flattened when she didn’t even attempt to smile back.
Just like Mimi, I guess she didn’t feel the need to wear her “pretty” on the inside.
“Where’s your granny? Home baking?” Bernadette said smugly. “She should rest those old bones. She doesn’t have what it takes to beat me in the bakeoff. Isn’t that right, Mimi?”
Mimi gave me a slight wince, but then shrugged. “I predict a huge victory, Bernadette,” she said, glancing at my tarot cards.
“You tell your granny to leave my booth alone. Playing dirty won’t increase her chances of winning. Besides, I’m meaner, and that only means I fight dirtier.”
“Hey, isn’t that Sam?” Mimi pointed off in the distance.
Bernadette whirled around. “Why, that little cheater. He’s bringing pastries to the crew putting together the bakeoff booth. Come on.” She hustled off after him with Mimi hot on her heels.
I was suddenly reminded of Parks and Rec manager Quincy kicking Ozzie’s Animal Angels’ sign over by his booth, Trixie accusing the Knitting Nanas of tampering with the Sewing Sisters’ booth, and now Bernadette said someone had messed with her booth. Could it have been Sam since Sam’s Bakery was in direct competition with BB’s Baked Goods? Either they’d all gone crazy, or someone was trying to sabotage the entire carnival.
All of this mischief was making me dizzy. I shook my head, filing away the clues and list of possible suspects when my cell phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. What
on earth was Gretta Frey doing calling me at this time when I knew for a fact that she was working at her mini-mart? “Gretta, is anything wrong?” I asked as I answered.
“Yes, something’s wrong.” She sounded annoyed and out of breath. “There’s been a scuffle.”
“Why are you calling me instead of the police?”
“Because Granny is one of the people scuffling.”
“Excuse me?” I squeaked.
“I know it sounds crazy, but she and that Fiona Atwater woman are in a tussle over the last bag of flour on my shelves. I told them I have a truck coming in this afternoon, but neither one would listen. They’re fighting over that puppy like it was part of the crown jewels. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’d better get down here now before they do any more damage to my store.”
“I’m on my way.” I hung up and looked at Sean. “Can you hold down the fort? I have to go stop Granny before she lands herself in jail.”
“Granny? You’re kidding.”
“I wish I were.”
“Don’t worry. I can’t read tarot cards, but I know a thing or two about the human palm and what to do with it.”
“Behave.” I pointed my finger at him. “And for goodness’ sake, don’t do a reading of any kind for anyone. Just watch my stuff, and let anyone who stops by know that I’ll be back soon.” I glanced at Morty. “I’m counting on you to keep him out of trouble.”
Morty yawned, looking bored.
“Relax, I’m always good,” Sean said. “And, hey, I
hope everything is okay with your grandmother. She’s so sweet.”
“She’s something,” I mumbled and grabbed my purse as I jogged to my car.
Five minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of Gretta’s Mini-Mart. When I walked through the doors, I couldn’t believe the sight playing out before my eyes.
A lot of Divinity’s businesses chose to go with a theme when decorating. Many chose historical themes from Italy, Greece, and even the West. Gretta, however, had chosen flower power as her theme.
Her floor was green with yellow walls and flowers stenciled everywhere to the point of making one’s head spin. I blinked to focus but didn’t like what I saw one bit. A crowd had gathered in a circle around the scuffling women, filled with Knitting Nanas and Sewing Sisters front and center.
“Fiona has just as much of a right to that flour as Gertie does,” a Nana said.