“Have you met Kizzy Cutler?” My grandmother Birdie pursued me around my bedroom the same way her cat Banshee stalked a mouse. “Is she as pretty as the picture on her cupcake boxes?”
“The Cupcake Weekend committee had dinner with her last night at the Golden Dragon.” I turned my back on Gran, always dangerous, but I was busy getting ready for work. My dime store didn’t open until nine, but I liked to get there early to work on my sideline—personalized gift baskets. I couldn’t exactly create the naughty ones while I had customers in the store. “And she is extremely beautiful.”
“What did she have on?” Gran perched on the side of my bed “You know she only wears 1950s clothing.” As the owner of her own assortment of vintage outfits, Birdie appeared to be sure of her facts.
From the minute the Cutler Cupcake’s had announced they were holding their cupcake contest in my hometown Shadow Bend, had been abuzz with the excitement. The Cupcake Queen had grown up in the rural community, but moved away right after high school, and everyone was excited to see how she’d turned out.
“A light blue voile shirtwaist dress with a full circle skirt,” I answered when Gran popped off the mattress and poked me in the shoulder.
I knew the contest would rev up the town, but I hadn’t expected it to be quite so crazy. A serious error on my part. From the moment that I’d agreed to allow Kizzy’s company to remodel the empty second floor of my store, it had been one annoyance after another. It seemed as if everyone in Shadow Bend wanted something and they all were hell bent on tracking me down and lobbying for their requests.
“Why didn’t you take me to dinner with you?” Birdie complained. “I wanted to meet Kizzy and tell her about my prize winning cupcake recipe. Maybe she’d be interested in buying it for her company.”
“I don’t think that’s how it works.” I was beginning to worry that my grandmother would track down the Cupcake Queen and demand an audience. “This contest she’s holding is one thing, but I pretty sure her other varieties are her own creation.”
“Have you heard from Jake?” Gran turned her attention to the next thing on her to-nag list.
“Not since the last time you asked,” I said.
Jake Del Vecchio was one of the two guys that I was dating. He was a U.S. Marshal and contact with him when he was on the job was sporadic. His current case—tracking down a serial killer called the Doll Maker who had kidnapped Jake’s ex-wife Meg—was even more intense than his usual assignments so days went by without hearing from him.
“How about Noah?” She countered. Gran was not fond of the second man on my dance card.
“Not since he left for Haiti with Disaster Doctors.”
Noah was the town doctor and he’d recently volunteered to spend a week with a charitable organization. Which was admirable, but with both men out of town my quest to figure out which guy I was really in love with had suffered a severe setback.
“He’ll never put you first.” Gran crossed her arms as she lobbied against Noah. “It will always be his practice or his mother. You’ll be a distant third.”
“The same goes for Jake.” I countered.
“Once he retires and comes back to manage his uncle’s ranch, he will.”
Gran had dated Jake’s great-uncle before she married my grandfather and was determined to see me marry into that family. Jake was hotter than a branding iron and the chemistry between us sizzled so I sure wasn’t ruling him out. But I had a history with Noah that pulled me in his direction.
“Let’s forget about my love life.” I tied my tennis shoes and headed toward the front door. “The cupcake contest could really put my store in the black so let’s concentrate on that.”
“What I’m really nervous about is the town’s recent spate of homicides.” Gran wrinkled her brow. She was a rabid CSI fan and had been obsessed with the last couple of murders that I’d unfortunately been forced to solve. “As long as no one dies during the weekend, the rest will probably be okay.”
“At last, something we both agree on.” I hugged Gran and shook my head. She was such a worrywart. The odds that someone would be killed the weekend of the contest had to be astronomical. I frowned. Or were they? Had she just jinxed us?
You can read more about the cupcake contest in Dying for a Cupcake, the 4th book in the “Devereaux’s Dime Store” series, published by Obsidian and debuted March 3rd. The first book in the series is Little Shop of Homicide.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 13 for the chance to win a signed copy of Dying for a Cupcake or an audible download–winner’s choice. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
About the author
Denise Swanson is the New York Times Bestselling author of seventeen books in her Scumble River series and four books in her Devereaux’s Dime Store series both from Penguin. After Dying for a (March 3, 2015) comes the next Scumble River book, Murder of an Open Book (Sept. 2015)