Opening a new restaurant and bed-and-breakfast inn can be quite an undertaking. Luckily the places my benefactor Bryan Baker purchased in Nouvelle Vie were already constructed and in decent shape. All we had to do was gut them in order to transform them into Bistro Rousseau and Maison Rousseau.
All morning today, we have been tackling the bistro. Yesterday, the tile floor was laid in the kitchen. The wood floors are being installed in the dining room now. I love them. The grain is perfect. However, I can barely breathe or hear because I’ve got dust in every opening of my head—my ears, my nose, and my mouth—but it’s worth it. I can’t wait until we install the bar that we imported from France and to see the candelabra-style chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I’m as eager as a kid on Christmas Eve to serve our first meal and hear the raves from the customers. Oh, a girl can dream.
I glance at my watch and call out, “Break, everyone. Thirty minutes.” I don’t want anyone to complain about being overworked. The only way to make sure a building is completed on time, Bryan says, is to treat people like family.
For my break, I agreed to meet him and my best friend Jorianne “Jo” James who introduced me to Bryan, at Chocolate, an adorable café a few minutes walk from the bistro. When I arrive, I see he has already ordered my usual: a cup of hot chocolate and croissant. Jo is late.
I slip into the coffee-cup shaped chair and fold my arms on the table.
“How’s it going?” he asks as he takes a large bite of his bacon-egg sandwich. Bryan, who is in his late sixties, nearly twice my age, reminds me of Paul Newman, with brilliant blue eyes and an easy smile. Thanks to him, less than a year after my late husband left me with tremendous debt, I am back on my feet and feeling positive about life.
“Sorry!” Jo races into the café and slides to a halt, the skirt of her blue sheath twisted around her thighs. She shimmies it down and drinks in a gulp of air. “We had a last minute issue at the inn.” Jo, who graduated with an MBA from UC Berkeley, has agreed to manage Maison Rousseau for me. She’s a whiz with numbers. “Did you—” Her eyes go wide. “What’s wrong with Bryan?”
I turn and see Bryan gasping for air. His face is turning blue. Is he choking? I flash on a time at summer camp when we were roasting shish kebabs late at night. I swallowed too big a piece of meat and started to choke. My counselor tried the Heimlich maneuver, but it didn’t work. Then she. . .
I race to Bryan and whack him in the back with my palm. He shakes his head. “Raise your arms,” I command. He does. I wheedle myself between the chair and him and wrap my arms around his ribcage. My hands reach, but my fingers barely interlock. Even so, I tug. He continues to choke. “Can you get on your feet?” I ask. “I need a better angle.” He shakes his head. “Dang. Okay, I apologize, but. . .” I scramble to the front of him and, following my camp counselor’s lead, shove my fingers down his throat. I scoop out the offending sandwich—ugh—and hand Bryan a glass of water. “Drink.”
When Bryan is breathing normally, he says, “Thanks.”
I punch his arm. “Don’t scare me like that ever again. Take smaller bites from now on.”
“Yes, Mom.” He laughs good-naturedly. “In the meantime, why don’t you tell Jo to stop running in like there’s a disaster?”
“So it’s my fault?” she huffs, but I can see the sheer relief in her eyes.
Mine must look the same.
Have you ever had to save someone’s life?
You can read more about A Deadly Éclair, the first in the NEW “French Bistro” mystery series.
Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro has seemed beyond her grasp ever since she was chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Fortunately, her best friend Jorianne introduced her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker, who invested in the promising restaurateur’s project. So Mimi works the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own. Now, Mimi is throwing the inn’s very first wedding—the nuptials of famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison.
This wedding will be the talk of the town, but anxious Mimi is sure the bride’s puffed-up expectations will collapse, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the evening, things are looking sweet again. . .until the next morning, when Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth.
All the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven if Bryan dies. So it’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber’s scrumptious series debut.
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Daryl is giving away to two commenters, print books from her “Cookbook Nook” or “Cheese Shop” series, winner’s choice. Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends November 9, 2017. Good luck everyone!
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About the author
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling “Cookbook Nook Mysteries” and “Cheese Shop Mysteries”, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new “French Bistro Mysteries”. A Deadly Êclair comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: Day Of Secrets and Girl On The Run. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!
Connect with Daryl at darylwoodgerber.com
All comments are welcomed.