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Wedding Cake Crush, ACB 19 paperback

Wedding Cake Crush, ACB 19 paperback

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Regular price Sale price $15.95 USD
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The more things change…

Erin did not find the body. In fact, she had nothing to do with the body. She wasn’t responsible for the stranger’s death, or for his body being discovered. But she would like to have it all sorted out by the time Mrs. Peach returns from her cruise.

Then life interferes. There are other things she needs to get done, including some baking for Melissa’s surprise wedding.

Then the wrong party ends up with wedding cake all over his face. His cold, dead face.

How does Erin always end up in these sticky situations? And how is she going to get out of it?

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The author has the ability to pull you into her story and keep you firmly rooted there until the end. Her characters are interest and have depth. She isn't afraid to explore the areas of our society that many would rather sweep under the rug.

Like baking mysteries? Cats, dogs, and other pets? Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author P.D. Workman brings readers back to small town Bald Eagle Falls for another culinary cozy mystery to be solved by gluten-free baker Erin Price and her friends.

Have your gluten-free cake and eat it too. Sink your teeth into this sweet treat now!

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Chapter 1

I’m getting cold feet!” Mrs. Peach said, clutching at Erin’s arm. “I’m too old to be doing something like this. I should just go home. What was I thinking, leaving when I am just starting to renovate? That’s when I need to be home the most.”

Erin looked at the big red “Departures” sign on the outside of the airport.

“You’ll be fine,” Erin assured her, patting her hand comfortingly. “You don’t want to be in the house while they’re renovating, so you’d end up having to be in a hotel anyway, and, since there are no hotels in Bald Eagle Falls, you wouldn’t even be able to be in town. Unless you took me up on my offer and used my guest room. Then you would be right next door.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t impose on you like that. You’re already doing far too much for me.”

“All I’m doing is dropping you off at the airport and keeping an eye on things while you’re gone. I’m sure nothing will happen that needs my attention, but I’ll be there if something comes up. So you won’t come home to… I don’t know, orange tiles or something like that.”

“Renovations are always more stressful than you think they should be and take longer…”

“All the more reason for you to be away enjoying yourself. Why put yourself through it?”

“And as far as cold feet go,” Vic chimed in, “be glad you’re going to Mexico instead of Alaska! I swear I was never warm on that whole cruise.”

Erin remembered it well. She didn’t think she would be going on another cruise ever again. Not even when she was Mrs. Peach’s age. But if she did, it wouldn’t be anywhere cold. It had been fun to see puffins and whales, but she’d rather go somewhere she could see a coral reef and colorful fish. If she ever went on another cruise. Which she wouldn’t.

“You are going to have such a nice time,” she told the older woman. Mrs. Peach would not have any of the experiences that Erin and Vic had with the seamy underbelly of the cruise industry. There would be no murders while she was aboard, and Erin was sure that what she had seen of the violence and human trafficking would not be duplicated for Mrs. Peach. Even if there were illegal practices going on aboard, Mrs. Peach would know nothing of them. She would be blissfully unaware as she played bingo and shuffleboard and ate at the endless buffets.

And she wouldn’t get seasick as Erin had. Erin had been told more than once how rare it was for anyone on such a large ship to experience more than some minor vertigo or nausea.

“And when you get back, everything will be done,” Vic agreed. “And it will be like you have a brand-new house.”

Mrs. Peach finally released her grip on Erin’s arm. “You must think me a very foolish old lady to be spending money like this. I should be more frugal.”

“You’ve spent your whole life being frugal while your husband went off and did whatever he felt like,” Erin chided. “Now that you have the money he left you, you should enjoy it while you still can. You don’t have any children expecting to inherit it. It’s yours to do with as you please.”

“I know; I just feel so guilty about it. Think of all the good I could be doing with it; instead, I’m just spending it on myself. That big screen TV? What was I thinking? The old one was just fine. And a cruise? It’s so frivolous, just throwing money away.”

“And adding on to your house,” Erin said. “That’s an excellent investment. It will make things more enjoyable and comfortable for you and will improve the house’s resale value. It’s not really spending; you make all that money back when you sell the house. Then you can give it to charity or do whatever you want to with it.”

“My estate will have to sell it. I plan to live there for the rest of my life.”

Erin nodded. “You should enjoy it. It’s your house.”

“But do I really need a hot tub? And a greenhouse?”

“Think of how good it will feel on your muscles and joints at the end of the day. It is therapy, not excess.”

“Exactly,” Vic agreed. “You’ll live a longer, happier life because of it. And plants and nature are supposed to be really good stress relievers and have all kinds of other benefits too.”

“And you girls will come over?” Mrs. Peach asked. “You may as well enjoy it too. Whenever you want. You must get sore after being on your feet all day long at the bakery.”

Erin saw a flash of doubt cross the face of her transgender employee, who might have some hesitation over wearing something as revealing as a swimsuit. She patted Mrs. Peach on the back. “You’d better be going in, you don’t want to miss your flight, and you’ll have to go through all those lineups and security first.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” Mrs. Peach agreed, turning toward the doors. She had a purse and a small carry-on bag on the shelf of her walker. Erin had been a little concerned about the management of Mrs. Peach’s luggage on her trip, but the cruise had been planned with seniors and mobility issues in mind, and the cruise line had picked up all of her heavy luggage ahead of time so Mrs. Peach did not have more than she could carry with her.

“Have a great trip!” Erin and Vic chorused.

“Don’t worry about anything,” Erin called after her neighbor as she walked away. “We’ll make sure that everything goes smoothly!”

Chapter 2

By the time Officer Terry Piper got off of his shift the next evening and they sat down to dinner, Erin had received confirmation that Mrs. Peach had made all of her connections and was on the cruise ship, unpacking and getting ready for a couple of weeks of relaxation and fun in the sun.

“I’m glad that she’s not here for this,” Erin said, rolling her eyes as they paused for another round of loud hammering and the whine of a power saw next door. Erin checked again to make sure the window was shut to muffle the noise, even though she already knew it was.

“Well…” Terry smiled, showing a dimple, “at least you can tell they’re working. They should have lots of time to complete everything before she comes back. It won’t end up lasting months and months like some renovation projects.”

“They’re motivated to get it done while she’s gone. I’m sure they don’t want her hovering over them supervising and asking questions while they’re working.”

“Exactly. So we shouldn’t have to put up with the noise for very long.”

Erin looked down at K9, lying by Terry’s feet looking miserable. It must have been even worse for him with his sensitive hearing. Erin had been worried that Orange Blossom, her cat, had somehow gotten outside and run away because she hadn’t been able to find him in any of his usual napping places. But then she had found him in the back of the closet, hiding from the noise of the renovations. Despite his long ears, Marshmallow the rabbit didn’t seem bothered by all the racket.

“I should be glad it doesn’t bother us as much as the animals. They can’t go anywhere to get away from it, either. Well, you can take K9 on patrol with you so that he gets away from it, but if I tried to take Blossom somewhere to escape the noise, he would be miserable in an unfamiliar place.”

“Yes. They’ll weather the storm. They’ll probably act like they don’t even hear it in a couple of days. They’ll adjust.”

“I hope so. I’d hate for them to be miserable the whole time.”

“Well, if there is anything you wanted to be able to do around here without a cat underfoot, now would be a good time.”

Erin laughed. If it had been December instead of July, she could have used the time to wrap presents. What else did she wish she could do without the cat getting into everything? Now that she was thinking about Blossom hiding, all she could picture was how much she enjoyed the cat cuddling with her on the couch or in bed during the night.

“So…” She looked for something else to distract her from her pets’ misery. “How did things go at work today? Any excitement?”

Terry shook his head and had a bite of his stew. “Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the normal, everyday crime of Bald Eagle Falls.”

“I always thought there wouldn’t be any crime in a little town like this. Or next to none. It’s the kind of place where people don’t bother to lock their doors. So that means it’s safe, right?”

Terry shrugged with one shoulder. “It is relatively safe. Tennessee actually has a pretty high crime rate compared to the national average, but we’ll blame that on Memphis and the big cities. I think you are still safer in these small mountain towns than in much of the rest of the country. But there is still crime.” He hesitated, making a face like he was trying to decide whether to say something like “as you have discovered.” But he closed his mouth and didn’t add the observation that Erin had been too involved in too many murders and other crimes around Bald Eagle Falls.

“But we still have thefts and domestic violence,” Erin agreed, steering away from murder and kidnapping, “Those things are always going to go along with poverty, and we have a lot of people around here who are just barely scraping by.”

“And drugs. A way to escape and flush the money that you do make down the toilet.” Terry sighed and shook his head. “As much as I would like to say that we don’t have any ‘big city’ problems, I’m not sure that would bear examination.”

“I do feel safe here most of the time,” Erin said, pretending she could not see the back door burglar alarm panel from where she sat. There had been threats on her life, even attempts on her life. But everyone involved in those incidents was now in prison or dead. She didn’t have anything to worry about.

Terry touched her hand briefly, smiling. “And most people here don’t have their own private security force.”

“It is nice having a law enforcement officer at my beck and call,” Erin admitted. “I know I never need to worry.”

“Two law enforcement officers,” Terry said, which confused her for a moment, until he nodded at K9 on the floor beside him.

“Oh, right. K9 too.”

K9 raised his head at the mention of his name but, when Erin didn’t appear to be speaking to him directly, he put it down again.

“I thought you were talking about the sheriff or Stayner and I couldn’t figure out why you would say that,” she said with a laugh.

Terry chuckled. “Neither of them had better be showing up on this beat,” he told her.

* * *

The contractors had worked far too late for Erin’s schedule. As a baker, she went to bed early and got up before dawn to start the baking at Auntie Clem’s Bakery so that it would be ready and on the display shelves by the time she opened the shop. The banging and power tools and equipment kept her tossing and turning long after her usual bedtime. By the time they left, she felt like it was nearly time to get up and was so wound up that it took still longer for her to get to sleep. She was headachy and foggy when she dragged herself out of bed and prepared a large cup of coffee, hoping it would help wake her up and keep her going for at least the morning shift. She might have to call in someone else for the afternoon, but it wasn’t like she’d be able to go home and sleep if she did. The construction crew would be hard at work once more.

It was a relief to get to the familiar surroundings of her Main Street bakery. It was quiet when she and Vic got there, and they were used to working together to prepare the morning’s breads and sweet treats, so not much conversation was required to keep them on track. Erin spotted Vic yawning a couple of times.

“Did the noise keep you up too? I thought you would just take a sleeping pill.”

“I did, but they’re not magic. Normally they work great but, apparently, they are less effective when there’s a fr—an almighty jackhammer operating next to your head.”

Vic’s apartment was in the loft over the garage in the back of Erin’s lot, so she was even farther away from Mrs. Peach’s house where the work was being done than Erin was. But apparently, that space had not muffled the noise any better than Erin’s walls. It had sounded to Erin like the jackhammer was operating two feet away from her.

“It was somewhat noisy,” she agreed.

“It was as noisy as drunks doing karaoke,” Vic countered sourly.

Erin smiled and kept working. As tempting as it was to spend the morning grousing about how noisy the construction was, it would just keep them both in a bad mood and they wouldn’t be at their best for the customers.

“It will be so nice for Mrs. Peach when she comes back. I just keep thinking about how pleased she’ll be with it when it’s done.”

“She’d better enjoy it,” Vic said. “And use it too!”

“I’m sure she will.”

“At least something good will come out of that no-good husband’s shenanigans.”

They had everything arranged in the display cases on time. Erin flipped the Closed sign to Open and unlocked the door for the before-work rush.

Erin was surprised that Melissa Lee was one of the first people through the door. She didn’t usually get there until later in the morning, often buying donuts or muffins for the police department where she worked. Her dark, tightly spiraled curls were in disarray and bounced around her face as she looked around to see who else was there. She was beaming, bursting to share something.

While Melissa would never admit to gossiping, she was notorious for spreading details she learned while working as a part-time administrator for the police department. She was never as happy as when she was in the middle of a big drama with everyone’s eager attention on her.

Erin exchanged glances with Vic, who also appeared to have noticed Melissa’s excitement.

“Well, good morning, ladies,” Vic greeted. “How are y’all this fine morning?”

There were various pleasant responses from the early-morning customers and a glower from Mr. Carlisle, the sole male customer so far.

“No offense, Mr. Carlisle,” Vic said quickly. “Good morning to you, too.”

He grunted and set down his cup of coffee on the top of the display case while he peered at the goods in the display case, eventually ordering a dozen assorted muffins. “It’s a shame that you don’t have any normal baking here,” he told Erin with a scowl. “Since there is no other bakery here in town and the only other option is to go and get something prepackaged at the grocery store.”

“I think you’ll be happy with our gluten-free goods.”

Erin kept a pleasant smile fixed on her face. People often disparaged gluten-free baking until they tested her products and admitted that Erin’s gluten-free fare was just as good as “the real thing.” If she let herself be offended by every customer who came into the shop grumbling about not being able to get conventional baking there, she would be miserable. She needed to keep her goal in front of her. People like Peter Foster or Carolyn whose choice was not “gluten or gluten-free,” but “life or death.” Those were the people she had set up the bakery for. Most of the Bald Eagle Falls population could choose whether they liked gluten-free or wanted to go to the city to get something else.

Mr. Carlisle muttered something indistinguishable and paid for the muffins. He was, Erin knew, on the construction crew working on Mrs. Peach’s house, so the dozen donuts were probably breakfast for the workers. Or a midmorning snack for when they had burned off the calories from breakfast.

Erin watched him head for the door and turned her attention to Melissa, watching her brightly, her generous mouth in what seemed to be an exaggerated smile. Erin blinked and cocked her head.

“You’re looking… cheerful this morning.”

Melissa’s grin got even wider, which Erin would not have thought possible. She covered her mouth briefly as if embarrassed by this show of emotion. “I am,” she admitted. She leaned closer to Erin, pressed right up against the display case. “I am getting married.”

Available Formats

Wedding Cake Crush, ACB 19 ebookWedding Cake Crush, ACB 19 paperbackWedding Cake Crush, ACB 19 accessibility pack

P.D. (Pamela) Workman is a USA Today Bestselling author, winner of several awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody and the InD’tale Magazine’s Crowned Heart award, and has published over 100 mystery/suspense/thriller and young adult books.

Workman loves writing about the underdog. She has been praised for her realistic details, deep characterization, and sensitive handling of the serious social issues that appear in her stories, from light cozy mysteries to darker, grittier young adult and mystery/suspense books.

P. D. Workman does not shy from probing the deep psychological scars of childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Also characteristic of this author, these extremely sensitive issues are explored with extensive empathy, described with incredible clarity, and portrayed with profound insight.
—Kim, Goodreads reviewer