Wendy Meadows Cozy Mystery Itsy Bitsy Murder (EBOOK)
Chocolate Cozy Mystery Book 2

Itsy Bitsy Murder (EBOOK)

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A  new shop. A new neighborhood. And, a brand new mystery.

In the quiet little town of Chester, Olivia Cloud, the proud proprietress of the Block-A-Choc Shoppe chocolaterie and bakery, delights in providing her customers with glorious, as well as delicious confections. Couple that with warm and fuzzy affections offered by the neighboring Cuddle Clinic, run and owned by Olivia’s dear friend, Jana Jujube.

Then, the unthinkable happens....

Poor Jana is brutally attacked and left in a coma. Shocked and devastated, Chester goes into a fervor over the horrible crime, and Olivia sets out to find the perpetrator. But, that may not be as easy as it seems.

Coupled with an inexperienced investigative partner Alvira, her shoppe’s assistant, Olivia initially coasts through the case, until the ladies stumble upon their first roadblock-Jessica Jujube, Jana’s often difficult and yet, mysterious sister.

Only a determined baker, her plucky assistant, a love struck gentleman and a host of other lovable and affable citizens can get justice for sweet Jana-by hook, crook and with plenty of cuddles.

Chapter One

Olivia Cloud examined the chocolate truffles in her glass case. Every shape, color and flavor imaginable sat nestled shoulder to shoulder in their trays. White chocolate drops swirled through with dark chocolate mousse. There were strawberry-filled delights and her newest creation: the sticky cherry truffle. Sinfully dark chocolate shrouded the sticky, sweet cherry beneath it. One bite and the cherry goodness exploded on the tongue. 

Olivia sighed and placed her fists on her hips. Gorgeous chocolates for a beautiful fall day, but she couldn’t shake her dissatisfaction. 

“What happened?” Alberta asked from behind the cash register. 

“Nothing,” Olivia said and waved her hand. 

“Oh, come on, dear. I wasn’t born yesterday. Far from it.” Alberta patted her gray hair, tinted pale blue today, and fluttered her eyelashes. “Something’s gotten under your skin.” 

Olivia glanced around the room at her customers. Folks sat at their tables munching on assortments of chocolate and sipping mochas. 

The Chester Fall Festival had paid off. They hadn’t had a quiet day in a week. 

“Olivia Cloud,” Alberta said. 

She jumped and looked over at her assistant. “What is it?” 

“Answer my question this instant. I don’t want you moping around in here, scaring off our customers.” Alberta folded her arms and stared Olivia down. 

Olivia couldn’t help but smile. “You always know how to cheer me up,” she said. 

Alberta giggled and dropped her arms to her sides. Concern flickered across her expression. “Why do you need cheering up?” 

“It’s nothing.” Olivia forced a smile. “I was supposed to have a date with Jake Morgan. Never heard from him.” 

Alberta’s jaw dropped. 

“It’s not that shocking,” Olivia said. “Sometimes these things don’t work out.” She wasn’t down about it. Sure, it had gotten to her, but she’d been alone too long to worry about a botched date, for heaven’s sakes. 

She had her Dodger, and she had her As and the Block-a-Choc Shoppe. Her son would come home to visit for Christmas, too. Nothing else really mattered. 

Olivia patted Alberta on the back. “Come on. Let’s focus on the chocolates.” She walked to the coffee machine and punched a few buttons, then placed two mugs beneath the silver spouts. 

“If you say so, dear,” Alberta replied, but she didn’t sound convinced. 

Olivia checked her watch. “Alvira should’ve been here ten minutes ago.” She frowned and scratched the lines on her forehead. 

It wasn’t like her soft-spoken and ever conscientious assistant to be late. 

The front door to the store opened, and the young woman rushed in, a newspaper tucked under her arm and her face as pale as a white chocolate truffle. 

“Alvira?” Olivia asked. “What’s wrong?” 

Her assistant hurried to the counter, whipped the newspaper out from underneath her arm and placed it face-up beside the register. 

“I’m so sorry, Olivia,” she whispered, then bit her thumbnail. 

“About what?” Olivia asked, and a few butterflies twirled around behind her bellybutton. What had happened? “You couldn’t get the organic butter?” 

“No, I didn’t,” Alvira said, then shook her head. “But I’m sorry about this.” She tapped the front page of the newspaper, then returned to her nail-biting. 

Olivia switched her gaze to the Chester Gazette, and her heart skipped a beat. 

Jana Jujube’s face stared up at her beneath the headline: 

Cuddle Clinic Owner Found Unconscious in Home: Police Investigate Attempted Homicide. 

“No,” Olivia said, and unfolded the newspaper. She scanned the words on the page, but they didn’t tell her much. 

Jana had been attacked sometime in the night. She’d been struck on the back of the head, and they’d taken her to the hospital downtown, where she still lay in a coma. 

This was horrible. Jana had been an incredible young woman. She’d opened the Cuddle Clinic in Chester to spread love and comfort, and although some of the residents viewed the business with suspicion, her business had begun to thrive. 

“I can’t believe it,” Olivia said and brushed her fingertips over the page. “Poor Jana.” 

Alberta leaned in and read over Olivia’s shoulder. “Oh dear,” she muttered, and the crow’s feet beside her eyes became more pronounced. “Poor girl. She seemed really nice.” 

“She was,” Olivia replied. “I spoke to her after, you know, that whole Lizzy Couture thing, and she just wanted everyone to be happy. Strange kid. Cute kid, though.” 

Even Dodger had liked Jana, and while he slobbered over almost everything and everyone, he didn’t pick the targets of his advanced affections lightly. 

Olivia sighed and shifted the newspaper to one side. She walked to the coffee machine and grabbed a mug, then handed it to Alberta. She took one herself and stared into its murky depths. 

“Who would want to hurt her?” Olivia asked, more to herself than to either of her assistants. 

The bustle of laughter and chatter inside her shop would’ve comforted her on any other day. 

“Why don’t you find out?” Alberta asked, and her eyes lit up like the fourth of July. “You could call Jake and ask him to help you.” 

“What?” Olivia looked up from her coffee. “No, Albie. It’s not my place. I—”

“But this is Jana. She’s your friend,” Alvira muttered. 

Olivia paused and drew in a deep breath. She sincerely didn’t want to phone Jake Morgan for anything, least of all help.

“You can’t tell me you don’t want to find out what happened,” Alberta said and tapped the side of her nose. “I know you, Miss Cloud. I know you won’t let this rest.” 

She had a point. 

Jana hadn’t exactly been her best friend, but she had been helpful and kind to Olivia during a trying time. She certainly hadn’t deserved to be beaten almost to death. 

And whoever had hurt her deserved justice. 

What if Detective Keene at the Chester Police Department was once again slow in identifying the killer? 

Alvira stared at Olivia and clasped her hands together under her chin. “It’s the right thing to do, Olivia. You were so good on the last case.” 

“And I know Jake will want to help you,” Alvira added. 

Olivia sighed and looked down at the image of Jana Jujube on the front page of the Chester Gazette. She put her coffee down, then brushed her palms off on her apron. 

“All right,” she said. “I’ll look into it.” 

It was the right thing to do. After all, the cops hadn’t been close to solving the last case. She had to show them the right path, with Jake’s help.

Olivia Cloud was on the case. Heaven help anyone who stood in her way.

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