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Rosie Books

Chicken Murder Soup (A Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery Book 3)

Chicken Murder Soup (A Sunny Side Up Cozy Mystery Book 3)

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Look Inside Chapter 1

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered the words into the early morning, my grip firm on the end of Fudge’s lead. Bodger, my aunt’s crotchety cat, padded down the sidewalk next to me, keeping pace easily. Occasionally the kitty would stop to meow or sniff a struggling weed peeking through a crack in the concrete.

Fudge didn’t bark a reply to my question for once—a good thing too, since the three of us were up before sunrise, the sky blushing with the impending dawn.

“Well? Do you want to hear my secret or not?” I stared at the back of my new dog’s fluffy brown head.

This time, he gave me a tail wag of encouragement.

“I’m planning on baking cookies at the café this morning,” I said. “Cookies! Me! Can you believe it?” A few months ago, speaking those words out loud would’ve elicited laughter from, well, from my ex-husband.

But who cared what he thought? He was probably vacationing on a paradise island with his mistress right now, happy as a pig in a puddle because he’d left me with his debt and criminal problems.

I shook my head to clear it of the negativity. “See,” I said, matching Fudge’s trot, “the Sunny Side Up is doing a fundraiser for the Parfait Animal Shelter. A bake sale on the boardwalk. I’m going to surprise everyone by turning up with home-baked chocolate chip cookies.”

My stomach twisted at the thought.

Since I’d come to Parfait, I’d helped solve two murder mysteries, taken charge of my aunt’s café, befriended her inhospitable cat—kind of, though I still wasn’t sleeping with my door unlocked at night—and adopted an adorable yet boisterous dog, Fudge.

But one of my primary goals was learning how to cook for myself. During my marriage, I’d done nothing except look pretty and live the high life, and I was determined to prove that I could be more than a kept woman.

So far, I’d conquered eggs over easy and burnt toast.

It was time for the next frontier: the ambitious chocolate chip cookie. And after that? Who knew? Maybe an omelet. Or soup. That was basically water and vegetables with protein, right?

Oh boy, I’m in way over my head.

Fudge, Bodger, and I reached the end of the seaside street and stopped outside Didi’s mother’s house to catch our breaths. I chewed on the inside of my cheek.

“I could probably buy the cookies,” I said. “But that wouldn’t be right. I’m going to do it, guys.”

Bodger flicked his black tail at me, but Fudge nuzzled against my side, and I tangled my fingers in his warm, curly fur. He had opened up to me a lot since I’d adopted him a couple weeks ago.

We headed back down the road toward my aunt’s cottage, the sea-scented air already warming in anticipation of the day.

I was nervous. The bake sale would serve as a proving ground. If I could sell a few cookies and they tasted OK—and, as a bonus, didn’t poison anyone—then I could take the next step and apply to one of the most exclusive clubs in Parfait.

The Parfait Baking Biddies allowed the finest bakers to join. And if you were a part of the group, you were a cut above the rest.

Being a part of the club would open great opportunities for my aunt’s café, and it would ingratiate me with the townsfolk. As nice as most people were in Parfait, they still considered me an outsider.

I wanted to be accepted. A part of the fold. A local.

We reached the cottage, and I opened the front gate and let Fudge inside. I removed the lead, and he bounded around the front yard, darting left and right, challenging Bodger to a game. The cat responded immediately, rushing toward Bodger’s legs and rubbing against them.

Bodger’s idiosyncrasies were a constant source of entertainment, but I didn’t stop and chuckle over them this morning. It was time to get out to the café and try my hand at baking.

I glanced at my neighbor’s cottage—Nick, the chef at the Sunny Side Up, lived next door—and dismissed the idea of asking him for help. He was a great baker, but I wanted to do this on my own. Otherwise, it wouldn’t taste as sweet.

Besides, if I wound up giving someone food poisoning, I’d rather take the fall for it by myself.

Don’t be silly. It’ll go great.

I grabbed my purse from inside the cottage, let Bodger inside, then hurried to my aunt’s sun-yellow VW Beetle.

In no time, I was puttering down the road that wound through town and back down to the seaside. I parked in front of the Sunny Side Up Café in the gloom, my heart racing.

“Stop being ridiculous. You’re baking cookies, for Pete’s sake.”

I got out of the car, steeling myself for my new endeavor, and fished the keys to the café out of my purse. I walked up to the café and…

“What on earth?”

The Sunny Side Up Café’s glass front doors stood wide open.

My mind struggled to catch up.

The lights were off inside, and I had definitely locked up after myself when I’d left the evening before. Besides, we had an alarm in the café. If anyone had opened the doors and triggered that alarm, the company would’ve called me.

And the only other person who had a key to the café was Nick.

Had he come over here early? But why? And why were the doors open?

I entered the café and hit the light switch.

Shock spun through my chest, and I lost my breath.

A man lay face down on the floor between the coffee bar and the cake stand. He had been hit on the back of the head, and he wasn’t breathing. To one side of him was a bloodied cricket bat of all things, and on the other, a shattered plate and crumbled chocolate chip cookies.

The extraneous details invaded my headspace forcibly.

“Sir?” I choked it out. “Are you all right?”

Get it together, Sunny. Of course he’s not all right.

What would my aunt have done in this situation?

Check his pulse. Call 911.

I walked around the mess, careful not to touch anything, and bent to place my fingers against the man’s throat. There was no pulse. He was already gone.

“Oh no,” I whispered, studying the side profile of his face. “Oh—No! No!” I backpedaled quickly, bumping into one of the café’s tables.

This wasn’t a stranger. This was… but, no, it was impossible. He couldn’t be here. He simply couldn’t be!

But I’d recognize that sharp nose anywhere, the stubble along his jaw, the brown hair peppered with silver. He wore a suit I’d picked out for him years ago.

It was my ex-husband, Damon Stokes, dead on the floor of my aunt’s café.

I removed my phone from my handbag and held it tight.

They’re going to think it was me. They’ll think that I did this to him.

Quickly, I snapped a picture of the cricket bat, and then another of the cookies, wincing, my throat clogging with emotion. Once that was done, I called 911.

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 What’s worse than cold chicken noodle soup? A dead ex-husband…

When Sunny Charles opens her aunt’s café on a sunny Monday morning in small town Parfait, Florida, she’s looking forward to a day of challenging work cooking and serving customers. The last thing she expects is to find her ex-husband lying dead on the floor, right between the coffee bar and the cake stand.

Distraught, confused, and definitely a prime suspect, Sunny has to figure out why her ex-husband is even in Parfait in the first place, let alone murdered. But with so few suspects, all clues seem to point back to her. Sunny has to figure out whodunit and how before she takes the fall for a murder she most definitely didn’t commit.

Can she solve the case before the shrewd detective in town locks her up? Or will her past come back to haunt her? Find out in the third book 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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