Wendy Meadows Cozy Mystery Dropping Like Pies (EBOOK)
Twin Berry Bakery Book 12
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When twin detectives Rita and Rhonda Knight trade the secrets of Clovedale Falls for a remote Alaskan retreat, they never expected icy shadows to conceal heartwarming mysteries. Trapped by snow and surrounded by intrigue, the sisters' dream wedding hangs in the balance.

Can they decode the chilling clues with only their woman-led detective instincts and Billy's quirky wisdom?

Dive into this clean, cozy mystery and join the Knight sisters on their most gripping adventure yet. Perfect for fans of female sleuths and wholesome tales, "Dropping Like Pies" promises a thrilling whodunit you won't want to put down.

Chapter One

Rita Knight drifted off into an uncomfortable dream.

Billy Northfield sure didn’t want to attend no silly
wedding rehearsal. For crying out loud, he fussed to his fiancée, Rita, as they
sat in a room in a remote lodge, what was there to rehearse? There wasn’t much
to getting married. The preacher did all the talking, and all the bride and
groom had to do was say, “I do.” So why all the fuss?

“Because,” Rita fussed back, watching her soon-to-be
husband sitting in an old maroon chair in his overalls, “weddings have to be
perfect, and my wedding is going to be perfect. Is that clear?”

Rita’s tone made Billy sit up and wince. Suddenly, Rita
was out of her chair and standing over him like a hawk. “Aw, this is silly,” he
dared to speak. “First, we agree to let your folks talk us into getting married
in Alaska, of all places, and now I’m stuck having to wear a silly tuxedo.
About the best thing that’s come of this trip so far is you and this here
winter lodge.”

“Billy, I’m not in the mood to
argue,” Rita warned. “I’m also not in the mood to get married in the middle of
Alaska in the winter. But in order to make my parents happy—”

“Which is mighty important,”
Billy emphasized, grabbing a donut out of a box on the table next to him.

Rita sighed. “My parents bought Rhonda and me this lodge.
Why? I don’t know,” she said, exasperated. “All I know is that they insisted Rhonda
and I have our weddings here in order to, I guess, be a blessing somehow?” She
ran her hands through her hair, plopped down on a wooden chair, and stared at
Billy with desperate eyes. “I’m at my wits’ end with them.”

“Well, I reckon that’s why your
folks were so upset while you and Rhonda were dealing with that crazy old lady
a couple of months back,” Billy told Rita, munching on his donut. “This lodge
was supposed to be your wedding present. Well, more or less.”

“More or less is right.” Rita
threw her hands up into the air and gazed around the rugged room that was
actually quite nice. A lovely stone fireplace housed a warm fire, throwing a
cozy glow over the midnight-blue couch that sat next to a king-sized bed. “Billy,
this lodge is…well, it’s nice, but it’s in the middle of Alaska. Daddy, oh, he
is so sneaky!”

“Aw, now,” Billy tried to
soothe his upset wife-to-be. “We both know your daddy really bought this lodge
for himself. I doubt you’ll have any worry about this place once we get married
and all.”

Rita rolled her eyes. “He did buy this lodge for himself
and presented it as a wedding gift to get a nice tax break. I mean, of all the
nerve. And then what does he do? He forces Rhonda and me to get married here to
get back on his ‘good side.’”

“You could have said no,” Billy
pointed out as he polished off his donut.

“Are you insane?” Rita stared
at Billy as if he’d just suggested something awful. “Billy, I love my parents, but
you don’t know how Daddy can be. He has to be handled with kid gloves. Rhonda
and I learned long ago that he’s the master at giving someone the cold
shoulder.”

Billy rubbed his chin. “Let’s step back a bit and do some
reviewing. First, your folks show up at my farm without even telling me who
they were—in order to spy on me.”

“My parents liked you at first.”

Billy nodded. “Then your folks come over for supper—”

“Which ended in disaster.” Rita
sighed.

Billy nodded again. “And from that point forward, your
folks stayed madder than a wet hornet until last week.”

“That’s when Daddy called Rhonda
to tell her that he bought us this lodge. Rhonda said he was excited on the
phone,” Rita explained. “He also insisted we get married here. Rhonda—oh, that
sister of mine—opened her big mouth and agreed.”

“You would have done the same,”
Billy said, grinning at Rita.

Rita stuck her tongue out at Billy. Then she sighed. “I
know I would have. Rhonda saw a way to get back on Daddy’s good side and took
it. I guess I shouldn’t be too mad at her. It’s just that, Billy, we’re sitting
out in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. We’re getting married in less than
five days, my parents aren’t even on the scene yet, and we have a fussy
preacher insisting we rehearse for the wedding—”

“You’re the one who suggested a
wedding rehearsal,” Billy reminded her, reaching for another donut.

Rita slapped his hand.

“What was that for?”

“That’s your third donut. Save
some for me,” Rita complained. “The nearest town is twenty miles south of us,
and I don’t feel like watching you sneak out of this lodge to make a donut run.”

Billy rubbed his hand and made a sad face. “This lodge
ain’t all bad. As a matter of fact, I think this is a mighty nice place. All
the rooms are filled up with guests, and that’s always a good sign.”

Rita studied Billy’s sad face and sighed. “Get another
donut, Billy.”

Billy happily fetched the donut. “Yes, sir, when a place
like this has all its rooms filled up, that’s a mighty good sign.” He took a
bite of his donut. “Also, it’s a good sign that the preacher showed up.”

“The preacher is a sixty-eight-year-old
man who’s enjoying an all-expenses-paid vacation,” Rita pointed out. “Just in
case you have forgotten, Mr. Northfield, Rhonda and I are footing Pastor
Milkshaft’s bill. And may I remind you that the only reason Pastor Milkshaft
and his wife agreed to fly to Alaska is because the man loves to go ice fishing.
And speaking of ice fishing, if we don’t get to the rehearsal, the pastor may
leave this lodge and do just that.”

Before Billy could answer, Rhonda opened the door to his
room and walked in, glowering. “Pastor Milkshaft got tired of waiting. He went
ice fishing, and guess who went with him?”

“Zach?” Rita dared to ask.

Rhonda nodded and slammed the door shut. “My darling
husband-to-be,” she barked, pointing down at the lovely dark blue winter dress
she was wearing—a dress that made her look like a breathtaking princess. “I get
all dolled up for the rehearsal, and what does that jerk do? He goes ice
fishing.”

Rita glared at Billy, seeing his eyes wander over to the
window. “Don’t even think about it.”

“But why not?” Billy begged. “The
snow has let up. The lake is just right down the trail—”

“You’re the reason the
rehearsal failed,” Rita snapped at Billy, shaking her fist at him. “I should
slug you, Billy Northfield.”

Billy cowered a little. “Ain’t my fault that silly tuxedo
ain’t back yet.”

Rita lowered her fist and began rubbing the side of her
head. “How long does it take for someone to iron a tuxedo, anyway? Mrs. Ingles
promised—oh, forget it.”

Rhonda spotted the box of donuts and went for one. “It
gets even better,” she informed Rita.

Rita looked up into Rhonda’s face and grimaced. “Our
parents called?”

Rhonda nodded. “Flight delays all over. Our dear mother
and father will not be flying into Anchorage anytime soon.”

“Which means—”

“We may not be getting married
in five days,” Rhonda finished. She gobbled her donut and walked over to the
fireplace. “There’s more,” she continued.

“Somebody shoot me,” Rita
begged.

Billy folded his arms and focused on Rhonda. “Go on,” he
urged her. “We’re all ears.”

Rhonda reached out toward the fireplace and began warming
her hands. “My curiosity got the best of me,” she confessed. “I wanted to know
why Daddy bought this lodge. Rita, you and I both know he can’t even find his
way around his own backyard.”

Rita tensed. “Please tell me you didn’t interrogate Mr.
Ingles, Rhonda? That man is cranky enough without us bothering him.”

“I asked a few questions,” Rhonda
stated defensively.

Rita let out a miserable moan. “Why?”

“Because what Daddy did was
mean,” Rhonda announced. “He isn’t interested in getting to know Billy and Zach.
He just wanted to get on our good side so we would sign the deed to this lodge,
which we did.” She shook her head. “Daddy got a nice tax break, but Mr. Tight
Wad is always after a way to save a penny. That’s not the point, though.” She
tapped the side of her head. “We’re detectives, sis, and it’s our job to think.”

“And what did you come up with,
dare I ask?” Rita asked, curious.

“Daddy needed to sign over this
lodge to us. That’s why he was being so nice at first,” Rhonda explained. “But
we both know how he is. When Billy burned his steak, spilled food on Mom—”

“Daddy reverted back to his old
nature,” Rita finished, seeing her fiancé looking anywhere but at her.

Rhonda nodded. “Yep. And now that Mom is no longer
hanging out with her snobby friends and has come back down to Planet Earth, she
confessed to me that Daddy was pacing the floor, trying to figure out a way to
force us to sign this lodge over into our names. When he lost his cool in Georgia,
he feared we might get mad, so he pressured Mom into making us think they were
mad instead—”

“To make us be the ones to bow
down, right?” Rita scowled. “Oh, I should have known Daddy was up to something.”

“Mom said Daddy has been after
this lodge for the past two years like a hungry dog looking for a bone,” Rhonda
claimed.

“But why?” Rita asked. “Why buy
a lodge way out in the middle of nowhere?”

Rhonda stopped warming her hands and made a you’re-not-gonna-believe-this
face. “Gold.”

“Gold?” Rita repeated.

“Turns out there’s an old
legend around here,” Rhonda said. “The legend claims that this land is full of
hidden gold. And you know Daddy…”

“Money-hungry.”

Rhonda nodded. “You know Daddy, sis. He’s always been an
amateur treasure hunter. Remember when we were kids, he bought that old fishing
boat and began diving for treasure off Tybee Island?”

“We were ten years old, I
think,” Rita said, rolling her eyes. “The fishing boat was so old that it ended
up sinking—”

“And the Coast Guard had to
rescue us.” Rhonda couldn’t help but laugh.

“The Coast Guard?” Billy said,
chuckling. “You girls always made it sound like your old man was a square piece
of wood. Sounds to me like he’s got some color to him, and it also sounds like
he’s a bit sneaky.”

“Well, Daddy is living off his
retirement. He’s not a rich man,” Rhonda told Billy, shaking her head. “He just
found another way to get his money back by signing over this lodge to Rita and
me. But look, that’s not the point. My point is that all Daddy is really
interested in is finding gold.”

Rita felt a surge of anger. “And the whole time we were
dealing with that crazy old lady in Georgia, we were worried about Daddy being
mad at us. Oh, I could—”

“Fly back to Georgia?” Rhonda
asked, her brow furrowing with worry.

“Exactly!” Rita exclaimed. “We’re
going to fly back home and have ourselves a nice little church wedding right in
Clovedale Falls. That will show Daddy a thing or two.”

“And make him madder than a wet
chicken in a fox house?” Rhonda said. “Look, sis, maybe Daddy did pull an
underhanded trick, but he’s still our daddy. If we just up and leave, we’ll
never hear the end of it.”

Deep down, Rita knew her sister was right. However, she
was far too angry to be practical. “Billy, pack your bags. We’re flying back
home.”

“Rhonda just told us a whole
bunch of flights are being canceled,” Billy reminded Rita. “Unless you want to
just sit at the airport, we best stay right at this lodge until them there
flights get to flying again.”

“Oh, pooh,” Rita pouted,
stomping her foot. “Daddy always wins somehow.”

Rhonda sighed. “Sis, on a good note, Mom is back to her
old self now that she’s told all her snobby friends to take a hike. She’s
interested in getting to know Billy and Zach. And who knows, maybe Daddy will
leave crazy land and come to his senses.” She walked back to the wooden table
and took another donut. “Besides, a snowstorm is supposed to hit the lodge
later today. I’m guessing the power will go out. The best thing to do is drive
into North Snow, get a hotel room, and wait out the storm.”

“So that’s why Pastor Milkshaft
was being so fussy about the time.” Rita sighed. “He wanted to go ice fishing
before the snowstorm arrived.”

“Pretty much,” Rhonda agreed.

“Uh, speaking of snowstorms,
maybe old Billy could go and get in some ice fishing?” Billy asked in a hopeful
voice.

Rita rolled her eyes. “Go on, Billy. Go join your selfish
friends.”

Billy jumped up and ran to fetch a thick coat. “Look, don’t
matter how your old man feels about me and Zach. What matters is that there are
some mighty good-tasting fish out there under that ice covering that winter
lake. Old Billy intends to catch some of them fish for supper!”

Rita and Rhonda looked at each other. “This is our
wedding?” Rita asked with defeat. “We spend years dreaming of a beautiful,
romantic wedding, and what do we get?”

“Stuck in Alaska with two
self-centered men who love fish more than us,” Rhonda said with a sigh.

“Three self-centered men. Don’t
forget Daddy,” Rita reminded her. She watched Billy don a pair of snow boots
and a muffler hat, then snatch his fishing gear from the room’s small wooden
closet. “Yep. A nice, romantic wedding, marrying a farmer wearing overalls in
Alaska. I must be insane.”

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