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Rosie Books

Murderoni and Cheese (A Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery Book 4)

Murderoni and Cheese (A Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery Book 4)

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Look Inside Chapter 1

“Sunny, sweetheart, if I wasn’t such a pacifist, I would’ve wrung her neck,” Aunt Rita said, from behind the coffee bar in the Sunny Side Up Café. It was a lovely, warm afternoon—fall was never that cold in Parfait, Florida—and the café bustled with activity. 

Folks eating their lunches, servers rushing between the circular tables with their checked white and yellow tablecloths, and the low hum of chatter and occasional bursts of laughter from the customers. 

A perfect day. 

Barring my anxiety over having to interact with people in the café. And what Aunt Rita had said. 

“Wrung her neck?” I asked, shifting a tray to the side and leaning an elbow on the countertop. 

“Like a chicken.” Aunt Rita, with her gray bob and all-seeing gaze, made a swift wringing motion with her hands. “That’s how we did it back in my day.” 

“That’s… I don’t even know how to respond to that.” 

“With the chickens I mean, not people,” Aunt Rita continued, with a sly smile. She had a wicked sense of humor. “Anyway, my point is, Gwendoline Meyer is absolutely insufferable.” 

My aunt had arrived back in Parfait about a week ago, after a monthlong cruise, with a tan and her usual plucky personality. Naturally, she’d jumped at the chance to help me solve a little problem I was having with the local baking club, the Baking Biddies, and their leader, Gwendoline. 

“You didn’t have to go through all this trouble,” I said.  “I’m not even ready to audition for the Baking Biddies.” 

“They shouldn’t have banned you in the first place.” 

“They thought I left a box of inedible cookies on Gwendoline’s front step. With a piece of tooth inside.” 

Aunt Rita pulled a face. 

“In my defense,” I said, “I didn’t leave the cookies there myself, and the tooth was Nick’s. Long story.” 

“Good heavens,” Aunt Rita replied. “I could’ve used that information last night.” 

“What happened at the club?” 

Aunt Rita had gone to a meeting of the Baking Biddies to confront Gwendoline about my ban from auditioning. It was the most exclusive club in Parfait, and I’d hoped to join in an effort to boost my reputation, settle into my new town, and prove a point. That I could look after myself. A big step, since I’d been a kept woman until not too long ago. 

Of course, my aunt going to the club and trying to fight my battle for me kind of stepped on that point. But stopping Aunt Rita when she was on the warpath was like holding back a tsunami with telepathy. 

Futile. Impossible. 

“They tried to stop me at the door,” Aunt Rita said, breaking into the tale after a sip of coffee. “But I commanded them aside.” 


“Oh, Rachel who watches the front of the club has a few skeletons in her closet,” Rita said, pursing her lips. “Skeletons I happen to be well acquainted with. She knew better than to hold me back.” Rita stepped out from behind the coffee counter, sweeping her arms wide, her aptitude for the dramatic clear. “Once inside, I marched straight up to Gwendoline. Silence fell in the room. The attendees of the baking club meeting stared, paling before the impending altercation, and then I said to Gwendoline that she had better let you audition to enter the club or else.” 

“You shouldn’t have,” I said. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.” 

“Sunny, sweetheart, you looked after the café for over a month while I was on vacation. Do you really think I’m going to leave you high and dry?” 

Pride swelled in my chest. I had looked after the place for her—and nearly seen it closed down a few times as a result, but I’d made it through in the end. “Yeah, but I don’t want—”

Aunt Rita waved a hand, imperiously. “What’s Gwendoline going to do? Hit me? Attack me? She knows she can’t touch the Sunny Side Up. We’re the most popular café in town.” 

“Aren’t we the only café in town?” I asked. 

“Yes, but there are restaurants. You’re missing my point, Sunny, sweetheart. She couldn’t touch me if she tried.” 

“So, what happened when you confronted her?” 

Aunt Rita deflated a little—a strange effect on such a tall woman. “Well… she said no.” 


“Yes. But I’m going back there tonight. I won’t stop until I’ve gotten you an audition.” 

“It’s OK, Auntie. There’s no rush. I’m still learning how to bake,” I said. 

“With Nick’s help?” Aunt Rita winked at me, and I had the sudden urge to hurry off and check on the customers. I wasn’t working here full-time as a server, but Aunt Rita had decided to keep me on in a managerial role for the days she needed rest. 

“I should go check on the—”

“Don’t move.” Aunt Rita returned to a stool behind the coffee bar, right next to the cash register—my favorite spot. Her shrewd gaze cut through me. “Tell me what’s going on with Nick.” 

“What do you mean?” I asked, trying not to blush. 

This was dumb. Nick was the chef at the café, and though he was devilishly handsome, I wasn’t interested. My ex-husband had, first, left me for a mistress, second, left me to deal with Russian mobsters because of his criminal dealings and debt, and, third, had the cheek to get himself murdered right here in the café. I wasn’t interested in relationships. 

They brought complications. 

But there was that moment in the kitchen last week. When Nick touched your cheek and whispered your name, and—

“When I arrived last week, you and Nick were both pink-cheeked. Like two high school kids caught making out under the bleachers,” Aunt Rita said.  


“Don’t give me that. I know a connection when I see one, and you two have it. The spark.” 

“Auntie, no,” I replied, firmly. 

“Sunny, when you first married Damon, I kept my mouth shut about him.” 

“You did?” I asked. “On my wedding day, you told me he was spawned from the devil and that you hoped a portal opened up underneath his feet and sucked him back down from whence he came before he said his vows.” 

“I tried to keep my mouth shut.” Aunt Rita pointed at me. “That was my version of not telling you how much I hated him.” 

“Then I don’t want to know what the no-holds-barred opinion was.” 

“No, you don’t,” my aunt replied. “Regardless, I’m not keeping my trap shut this time. Nick likes you.”

“Nick is the chef. I’m his… well, not his boss, technically, because you’re the owner of the café, but at least his colleague now. And he’s been through a divorce. And—”

“You’re blushing,” Aunt Rita said. “Bright red. You wouldn’t be blushing if you didn’t like him.” 

I glanced around the inside of the café, desperately seeking help. But my friend Didi, a server at the café, was occupied with a table. 

“I should go…uh, check on the, uh—” I skedaddled off toward the kitchen’s swinging doors, pursued by my aunt’s delighted laughter.

Inside the kitchen, I stopped next to a silver counter and sighed. It was amazing having my aunt back, but, boy, she sure knew how to stir things up. First the confrontation with Gwendoline at the Baking Biddies, and now, matchmaking. 

“Sunny,” Nick said, grinning at me from behind a gas burner. “Nice to see you. You’re looking lovely today.” 

Why on earth did I come in here again? Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. 

Nick wore his chef’s whites, his grin infectious, his blue eyes crystal clear and soft. 

“Yeah,” I said, trying not to stumble over my words. “Nice to meet you today.” 

“To meet me?” He quirked an eyebrow. 

“I-I had an extra espresso.” I laughed nervously. “I meant to say it was nice to eat you. I mean, see you! See you! I—”

“Are you OK?” Nick laughed. 

The whoop of sirens gave me a great excuse to slip out of the kitchen and into the café. A few of the customers had risen from their seats and peered out of the windows at the police cruisers now parked in front of the boardwalk opposite. 

“What’s going on?” I murmured. 

“No idea,” Didi said, appearing next to me. She twirled strands of her black-and-purple streaked hair around her fingers. “They appeared out of nowhere. I mean… drove up like that. I don’t know, there must be something happening on the beach.” 

“Then why are we standing here?” Aunt Rita asked. “Look after the café for a few minutes, will you, Didi?” 

“Sure,” the server replied. 

Curiosity got the better of me, and I joined Aunt Rita in exiting the café and gathering on the sidewalk. Parfait was a small town, so a lot of the diners from the Hungry Alligator down the street, and from the Sunny Side Up, thronged toward the small inlet that led down to the sandy shore. 

“Don’t push,” someone growled, as Aunt Rita elbowed her way through the crowd, creating a path. 

We reached the front of the crowd and craned our necks at the commotion down on the beach. Police officers had started setting up a yellow line and were in the process of erecting a tent, while others held up a sheet to shield something from view. 

“What’s going on?” I asked. 

“It’s a body,” a woman next to me replied. “Washed up on the beach a half an hour ago.” 

My insides churned. “You can’t be serious.” 

The breeze picked up and tugged at the sheet the officers held. A corner lifted and slipped free, revealing a glimpse of the woman lying on the beach, face up and fully clothed. Blonde hair and—

I sucked in a gasp. “It’s Gwendoline,” I whispered. “It’s Gwendoline Meyer.” No one heard me—the sight of the corpse had brought shocked screeches from the crowd. 

Detective Garcia strode up the sand toward us, his expression dour. No doubt he’d tell us to back away, return to our establishments or our daily schedules, and let the police handle this. 

He walked right up to us and stopped in front of my aunt. “Rita,” he said. “We need to talk.”

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What’s on the menu at the Sunny Side Up Café? Murder…

When Sunny Charles’ aunt comes back from her vacation, Sunny couldn’t be happier. Aunt Rita will take over and relieve all the pressure. No more dealing with mean customers, or worrying about when the air-conditioner will go on the fritz, or whether a local food vlogger is about to drop dead in the middle of the café.

At least, that’s what she thinks. Things never go to plan in Parfait, and when the dead body of her aunt’s worst enemy turns up on the beach, everybody’s convinced that Aunt Rita had a lot to do with it. That includes the ever-suspicious detective in town. With strange figures following Sunny and a threat that might mean she’s got more to worry about than just one murder mystery, Sunny’s determined. She won’t let her aunt take the fall for a crime she didn’t commit.

Can she solve the mystery before it’s too late? Find out in the fourth installment of 
the Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery series—grab your copy today!

Continue reading if you enjoy: 

  • Cozy small towns
  • Stories with pets and food
  • Laugh out loud humor
  • ZERO profanity and gratuitous scenes 
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