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Previous Confections (EBOOK)

Previous Confections (EBOOK)

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EBOOK. Book 2 in this delightful USA Today Bestselling cozy mystery series, Amish Cupcake Cozy Mysteries.

Jane’s ex-husband’s new young wife comes to town, and it’s all about murder.
The last thing Jane expected was to meet Cherri, her ex-husband’s new wife, but that’s exactly what happens. 
Jane’s Amish sister has a broken arm, so Jane has to run the cupcake store with dubious help from feisty octogenarians Matilda and Eleanor, and naughty little cat, Mr. Crumbles . . . but Cherri wants Jane’s help in solving a murder.
Will Jane be able to solve the murder, avoid her ex, keep the cupcake store from crumbling apart, and keep a level head around Detective Damon McCloud?
Or will it all end not so sweetly?

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Chapter 1.

I was sitting in a fancy French restaurant. I hadn’t been in a restaurant since my fiftieth birthday, when my then-husband Ted had told me he was going to divorce me and marry a college student named Cherri who was expecting his baby.
I never thought I would see Ted again, much less be invited to dinner with him in a restaurant. I no longer had feelings for him, but my stomach churned at the thought of seeing him again. Ted had called unexpectedly to demand I sign papers. I had called my divorce lawyer who had advised me not to sign and had given me the name of a local lawyer here in Lancaster. The local lawyer had also told me not to sign and advised me to take the papers to him.
I looked at my watch again. Ted was five minutes late. I looked around the restaurant. Ted had assured me he wouldn’t run out and leave me with the bill this time. That was just as well as I imagined the prices here were quite high. The wooden tables appeared to be of bur walnut or similar timber, and the walls were burnished copper with art installations made from copper and brass.
The lights were of unusual geometric designs, and the entire restaurant lighting was muted, no doubt in part due to the wall sconces which held real candles. I idly watched the flames playing along the walls as I snuggled into my chair. It was comfortable with a nicely padded back. Soft music settled my nerves, at least to a degree.
The entire ambience was delightful, and I wished I had been here on a date with a nice man, not waiting for my ex-husband who would no doubt turn nasty and demand I sign the papers. My mind drifted away to the person of Damon McCloud, the Scottish detective I had met recently.
I would have preferred lunch to dinner, but my twin sister Rebecca had broken her arm the previous day and had left me in charge of her Amish cupcake store.
My flatmates Eleanor and Matilda, ladies in their eighties, had offered their help, but Rebecca had suggested to me that they shouldn’t help too much. I had no idea why, only that it had something to do with a previous incident that no one wanted to tell me about.
I was looking at my watch once more when I heard someone clearing their throat. My blood ran cold. It was Ted.
At Ted’s shoulder was a tall, impossibly stick-thin woman who looked like a supermodel. Heavy musk perfume emanated from her in waves, and her dress was so tight I wondered how she had managed to pour herself into it.
“Jane, you’re here,” Ted said, stating the obvious.
“You’re late,” I said in the most accusatory tone I could muster.
“Well, I’m here on business of course,” Ted said. “I invited you along to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. I would like you to meet my wife, Cherri.”
I stared at Cherri, my mouth open. So this is what the other woman looked like! She was less than half my age, probably closer to one-third of my age. I shook my head to clear it, when I realized Cherri was speaking.
She extended her hand. “Lovely to meet you, Jane.”
I shook her hand, noticing the limp handshake. “Nice to meet you too,” I lied. I mean, what was I supposed to say to the woman who had been my husband’s mistress for several months while I was married to him? I supposed there was no etiquette book for that.
“Where’s the baby?” I asked her.
Cherri looked surprised. “Sunshine? Oh, she’s back in New York with our nanny.”
I wondered if the nanny was younger and better looking than Cherri. Maybe the nanny would be my ex-husband’s new conquest. If Cherri had any sense, she would have hired someone who was entirely unattractive.
Ted sat down. “Have you decided what you’re eating yet, Jane?” he asked, looking at his watch and then checking his phone. He turned to Cherri and spoke in a far different tone. “And what would you like to eat, Pumpkin? Take your time.”
Cherri giggled. “I already know what I’d like, Popsicle. I studied the menu online before we came. I’ll have the Beef Carpaccio, and for the main I’ll have the Pheasant Roulade.”
“What about you, Jane?” Ted snapped before looking at his watch again.
“I didn’t study the menu online first,” I said, casting a quick glance at the menu. “I’ll have the Oyster Crudo followed by the Lemon Sole Veronique.” I didn’t particularly like oysters and I didn’t know what the Lemon Sole Veronique was as the description was in French, but they were the most expensive things on the menu and Ted had said he was paying.
After we ordered, Ted said, “Excuse me. While we wait for our meals, I need to converse with my clients. You two can chat.” With that, he left the table and hurried away.
Could this be more awkward? I was sitting with my husband’s former mistress, now his wife, and I wanted the floor to open up swallow me, but Cherri did not appear awkward at all. “So Jane, have you turned Amish again?”
Was I imagining it, or was she staring at my clothes? Sure, I had made my own dress, but I thought it was quite nice, a far cry from a long plain dress, apron, prayer kapp and sensible shoes. I reminded myself that Cherri would not know what Amish women wore. I shook my head. “No, I left the Amish after my rumspringa when I was sixteen. My twin sister and her family are Amish.”
Cherri did not respond but posed another question. “Have you lived in Lancaster for long?”
“Since Ted and I separated,” I said, wondering if it would embarrass her. “Why are you both here in town?”
Cherri leaned forward and addressed me in a conspiratorial manner. “Melissa and Marcus Matheson own this restaurant. They’ve come here from New York to check on it.”
“Oh,” I said, although Cherri seemed to think I should be impressed.
Cherri pushed on. “Melissa and Marcus are ever so rich, you see. They’re rolling in it, if you get what I mean.” She broke off and giggled. “Ted has known them for many years. Surely you know the Mathesons?”
I had to admit that I didn’t.
Cherri was obviously surprised at my ignorance. “Why Jane darling, they’re ever so rich,” she said yet again. “They have a restaurant in New York as well. They’ve sent their top chef, Brendan Bowles, here a while ago to get the restaurant going. Have you heard of him?”
I said I hadn’t heard of him either.
Cherri’s hand flew to her throat. “Oh, he’s so good. He trained in France, and this is a French restaurant.” She gestured around the room expansively.
At that moment Ted appeared at the table. “Melissa and Marcus insist upon joining us with their business partners,” he said in a disapproving tone. He adjusted his tie with his right hand and his cheeks puffed up.
I could see he was embarrassed by my presence, but I really didn’t care.
“They’ll be joining us soon, Jane, so I’ll need you to sign these papers now.”
“What papers are they?” I asked him.
“Nothing you’d understand,” he said in a derogatory tone. “It’s about the family trust.” He handed me a bunch of papers.
I immediately put them in my purse.
“Why did you take them? You’re supposed to sign them and give them back to me.”
I shot him my best fake smile. “Oh Ted, you and I were married all those years and you’re a top lawyer. If there’s one thing I learned from you, it’s never to sign anything without a lawyer looking over it first. No, my lawyer will be having a good look at this.”
“And what is the name of your lawyer?” he asked through clenched teeth.
“Never you mind,” I said. I noticed Ted’s cheeks had puffed out even further and red splotches appeared on his face. Did he really think I was so stupid as to sign something without my lawyer looking at it first? Well, it appeared that he did. I thought he was about to say something nasty when Cherri said, “Here are Melissa and Marcus now.”
Ted shot me a nasty look and then hissed, “I’ll speak to you later.”
“No need,” I said with a dismissive wave of my hand. “I’ll contact you after my lawyer has viewed whatever you want me to sign.”
Two couples arrived at the table at that moment. All four appeared about the same age, although one displayed an inordinate amount of plastic surgery. Her hair extensions did not look at all realistic and she was covered with heavy and garish jewelry. Her plunging neckline left nothing to the imagination and her lace dress was altogether too short. The man with her looked old enough to be her grandfather and was rather portly, with a big, bulbous red nose and a flushed face. If he’d had a beard, he would look like Santa Claus.
The other couple appeared rather more distinguished. The lady was wearing a tasteful blue dress and her husband looked like a distinguished businessman.
Ted wasted no time in doing the introductions. “Melissa and Marcus, I’d like you to meet my ex-wife, Jane…” His voice trailed away. “Jane, do you still have my surname?” His tone was one of a child asking another child if they still had their toy.
I was embarrassed to admit I still did have his name. “Yes, I’m afraid I do,” I said with a sigh.
Ted looked quite put out. “Well then, Melissa and Marcus, I’d like you to meet my ex-wife, Jane Delight. Jane, this is Melissa and Marcus Matheson.” He turned to the other couple. “Candace and Rick, I’d like you to meet my ex-wife, Jane Delight. Jane, this is Candace and Rick Weatherspoon.”
We all exchanged pleasantries. All four of them were looking at me with curiosity plastered all over their faces.
As soon as they took their seats, Candace, the scantily dressed one, leaned forward and said, “How long have you two been divorced?”
“A long time,” Ted said before I could answer. “Jane is here tonight because I needed her to sign some papers for me and I very rarely come to Pennsylvania.”
Marcus smiled at me. “So how do you like our restaurant so far?”
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” I said honestly.
“Melissa and Marcus own the restaurant and Candace and Rick are their business partners,” Cherri supplied.
I shot her a grateful smile. At least someone had filled me in. The waiter arrived with champagne for everyone. “I hope you like Armand de Brignac,” Marcus said, indicating a golden champagne bottle.
I simply smiled at him. My nerves had made me go hot all over—or maybe I was having a hot flush?—and I wanted nothing more than to drink a gallon of iced water. Before anyone could drink the champagne, a man in chef whites appeared at the table. “Brendan,” Marcus said. “Everyone, I’d like you to meet the famous Brendan Bowles.”
A distinguished man, Brendan gave a half bow while Marcus made the introductions.
“Brendan, please join us for a toast,” Marcus said.
Just then, there was a loud sound of smashed glass. We all turned to look. The waiter who had brought our champagne was standing against a wall, looking shocked. Broken glass was lying shattered all over the floor. The customer who had knocked into the waiter hurried away without so much as an apology or a backward look.
Melissa and Marcus looked visibly annoyed, but Marcus recovered quickly.
“I’d like to propose a toast,” Marcus said. “To the success of our restaurant!”
They all raised their glasses. I set down my iced water and picked up my champagne glass.
Moments later, Marcus clutched his throat and fell to the ground.
Everyone jumped to their feet. Melissa ran over to her husband. “Call 911,” Melissa called out to Ted who wasted no time in doing so.
“What happened?” the waiter said. He was doing his best to shake off Candace, who was clinging to him, her jaw dropped open.
Melissa grabbed his arm and then collapsed into him. “My husband! He’s dead!”
Ted looked at me. “This is your fault, Jane!” he exclaimed.

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