Lemon Pies and Little White Lies (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery)

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9780425276020: Lemon Pies and Little White Lies (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery)

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Books by the Bay series and the Book Retreat mysteries--Includes pie recipes!

After Pecan Pies and Homicides comes another tangy slice of life—and death—in a charmed, and charming, small town...
 

Ella Mae LeFaye’s Charmed Pie Shoppe has become a phenomenon beyond her wildest dreams, providing the enchanted town of Havenwood, Georgia, with spellbinding desserts and magical pies. Her personal life is also heating up as she takes on the responsibilities of leadership within her magical community. In fact, the only thing weighing her down is the fact that handsome Hugh Dylan won’t return her calls...
 
Still, when Havenwood is rocked by a series of mysterious deaths, Ella Mae must put romantic longings aside—especially when she realizes that the mystical symbols left at each crime scene are dangerously personal. Now she will have to whip up all her supernatural skills to uncover a killer out to settle an ancient score—before the murderer devastates everything Ella Mae is determined to protect...

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About the Author:

Ellery Adams is the New York Times bestselling author of the Books by the Bay Mysteries (including Murder in the Mystery Suite) and the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries (including Pecan Pies and Homicides). Ms. Adams has held many jobs, including caterer, retail clerk, car salesperson, teacher, tutor, and tech writer, all while penning poems, children’s books, and novels.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

Ella Mae pressed chocolate cookie crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan with deft, quick motions. She then moved to her commercial stovetop and gave the marshmallow creme simmering in the saucepan a gentle stir. Satisfied, she turned the burner off and set the saucepan in a stainless steel bowl filled with ice. When the marshmallow creme was sufficiently cooled, Ella Mae reached for the liqueur bottles on the worktable and poured small amounts of crème de menthe and white crème de cacao into the fluffy mixture. Next, she squeezed in four drops of green food coloring and watched the white and green spiral around the tip of her wooden spoon before the green finally overpowered the white. She continued to stir until all traces of white were gone.

“Green as an Irish meadow,” she declared to the empty room.

Ella Mae’s mind began to wander. She thought of all the things she needed to accomplish that day and of the endless list of tasks still awaiting her. She glanced down at the saucepan again and frowned. She couldn’t remember if she’d added the crème de menthe.

Shrugging, she grabbed the glass liqueur bottle and added a generous splash to the mixture. After giving it a good stir, she leaned over the pan and inhaled deeply.

“Minty fresh,” she murmured to herself and wiped at a drip running down the liqueur bottle with the hem of her apron.

Feeling pleased with her morning’s work so far, Ella Mae hummed as she entered the walk-in freezer to fetch her beater attachment and a large mixing bowl. The cold air permeated the warm cocoon of marshmallow and mint that enveloped the entire kitchen and Ella Mae shivered. She didn’t want to feel. She didn’t want to think. She just wanted to bake, cook, and plate and repeat those steps over and over until it was time to close The Charmed Pie Shoppe for the day. After that, she could collect Chewy, her Jack Russell terrier, from doggie daycare and go home. HGTV and The Food Network awaited her there. As did her cooking magazines and page after page of glossy photographs and new recipes.

The oven timer beeped and Ella Mae backed out of the freezer, dropped the cold beaters and bowl on the counter, and pulled on a pair of oven mitts. She transferred six shepherd’s pies, a trio of potato and green onion pies, and a dozen corned beef hand pies to the cooking racks. The scent of hot, buttery crust and fresh spices settled on her shoulders like a shawl, but she didn’t pause to savor the aromas.

Instead, she poured heavy cream into the chilled bowl, attached the beater to her commercial mixer, and switched on the appliance. She stared at the white liquid as it frothed and churned in the bowl while her right hand involuntarily slid into her apron pocket and touched the letter nestled inside.

“No! I can’t,” she said, withdrawing her hand with the swiftness of someone whose fingers have come too close to a fire. “I have a business to run. I’m on the Council of Elders. Everyone’s looking to me for answers. I need to stay focused.”

Ella Mae’s stomach growled and she removed one of the steaming shepherd’s pies from the cooling rack and cut herself a thick wedge. While the mixer whirred, she savored every bite of pie. She had so little time to sit and enjoy a meal these days that she decided to take a few, precious minutes to enjoy this one. When her pie was done, she raised her coffee cup to her mouth and drained the tepid liquid. She then reached out to set the cup on the table, but her eyes had strayed to the window above the kitchen sink and she missed. The cup fell, and when it struck the kitchen floor and smashed into pieces, Ella Mae shouted, “Opa!” She’d survived so much over the past two years and wasn’t about to let a broken cup bother her.

Turning her attention back to the whipped cream, she cursed. She switched off the mixer, dipped the beater in the cream, and raised it again. In lieu of stiff peaks, the mixture was grainy. For the first time in her life, Ella Mae had overbeaten the cream.

“I’ll just add a little sugar,” she said, heading for the dry-goods shelf. Grabbing the sugar container, she pried off the lid and scooped out a heaping tablespoonful. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” she sang and dumped the sugar into the cream. She turned on the mixer again and finally achieved the desired result. At last, she folded the rescued whipped cream into the green marshmallow mixture and then poured the whole thing over the chocolate-cookie-crumb crust.

She carried the pie to the freezer and placed it at the end of a row of a dozen green pies. “That should be plenty for takeout orders and afternoon tea. I hope I made enough four-leaf clover cookies.”

Back at the worktable, she saw that Reba or Jenny had left her an order ticket and had also dumped a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. The lunch rush was over, but there were still customers in the dining room. The Charmed Pie Shoppe had become so popular with locals and tourists alike that people often had to wait until two o’clock for a table. And since afternoon tea service started at three, Ella Mae baked and plated for hours in a row. She rarely left the kitchen, taking brief coffee or meal breaks perched on a stool next to the dishwasher. From this vantage point, she could stare out across the small rear parking area and over the Dumpster to the block beyond. On a clear day, she could see the roof of the fire station, its shingled gray gable rising a few feet above the brick building housing Havenwood Insurance. At certain times, the sun would hit the fire station’s Dalmatian weathervane just right and it would wink like a star. Ella Mae would gaze at the glowing copper and think of Hugh.

“Hugh’s gone,” she told herself, and read the order ticket once more.

She plated a generous wedge of shepherd’s pie with a side of field greens and was just spooning charred corn salad into a bowl to go along with a serving of corned beef hand pie when she heard the blare of a car alarm.

Ella Mae didn’t pay much attention to the wailing until a second alarm sounded. And then a third. The noise was fairly loud and Ella Mae guessed that the cars were parked nearby. She barely had time to register this thought before voices raised in angry shouts added to the cacophony. Ella Mae couldn’t tell what had made the people so upset, but she knew either Reba or Jenny would inform her sooner or later.

She didn’t have to wait long.

Reba burst through the swing doors and cried, “Do you hear that devil’s racket outside?” She put her hands on her hips and surveyed Ella Mae. “Mr. Jenkins just drove on the wrong side of the street. He scraped four parked cars from bumper to bumper, takin’ off their side mirrors as he passed, and then plowed through the Longwoods’ picket fence, flattenin’ their collection of garden gnomes as he went. Mrs. Longwood is fit to be tied.”

Ella Mae glanced toward the window. “Oh.”

“That’s all you have to say?” Reba pulled a red licorice stick from her apron pocket and shook it at Ella Mae. “What did you put in that Leprechaun Pie? Mr. Jenkins had two pieces.”

Ella Mae feigned great interest in the parsley on the cutting board. “Are you asking if I enchanted our Saint Patrick’s Day dessert?”

“You know damn well I am!” Reba snapped. “Seein’ as you transfer your emotions into the food you make, I’d like to know what you put in those pies.”

Shaking her head, Ella Mae said, “Nothing. I’ve been deliberately trying not to use magic when I’m . . .”

“Down in the dumps?” Reba narrowed her eyes and bit into her licorice stick. “Or just plain drunk?” In a flash, she closed the space between herself and Ella Mae just in time to catch Ella Mae’s next exhalation. “You smell like a Peppermint Pattie dipped in paint thinner. How much of that mint liqueur have you had?”

Ella Mae felt her cheeks grow warm. She walked to the sink, turned the faucet on, and held a dirty dish under the water. “I haven’t had a drop. I wiped the bottle with my apron, which is why I smell like I do.”

Reba grabbed the plate and loaded it into the dishwasher. “I hope so. You’ve always been a glass of vino after work kind of girl.”

“I still am. Though sometimes I have two, but that started when Hugh left,” Ella Mae said.

“I know you miss him, but it’s not like you two broke up. He told you he needed to travel—to search for a way to reclaim his lost powers—and you said you understood. It’s only been a month and he’s sent you letters. I see you readin’ and rereadin’ them.” Reba frowned. “Is that why you put too much booze into your pies? I’m assumin’ that’s what happened because you’ve been real distracted lately.”

“It was a mistake, and I only made it with a few pies. Not all of them. I didn’t think I’d added that much more. I guess my magic somehow amplified the effects,” Ella Mae said and continued to wash dishes. The steam from the water rose in diaphanous plumes around her face, masking her anguished expression.

“I’m going to deliver those orders and then I’m coming back here to pinch you,” Reba warned.

“You already pinched me for luck today. And guess what? It didn’t work.”

Reba left with the food. When she returned, she turned off the faucet and took Ella Mae’s red, water-wrinkled hands in her own. “What’s got you so sad?”

With a resigned sigh, Ella Mae withdrew Hugh’s letter and placed it in Reba’s palm. Reba had just unfolded it when Jenny Upton, The Charmed Pie Shoppe’s newest waitress, entered the kitchen.

“Where are those chocolate coins?” She frantically scanned the room, her gaze passing right over Ella Mae and Reba. “The ones wrapped in gold foil. I need them and I need them now.”

Ella Mae heard the note of desperation in Jenny’s voice. “I thought we made plenty of Saint Patty’s Day gift bags for the customers.” She pursed her lips. “But let me think. I ordered those gold-wrapped chocolate coins in bulk and they came packaged inside a cardboard treasure chest. That’s where I put the extras.”

“Then lead me to that treasure chest. And they’re not for a customer. They’re for me,” Jenny added. “I had to give every customer a zap of energy before they left. They all had the Leprechaun Pie and were as tipsy as sailors on furlough. I was afraid to let them drive or cross the street on foot.” She jerked her thumb toward the front of the store. “Look what happened when Mr. Jenkins got behind the wheel. Unfortunately for him and a hundred lawn gnomes, he paid his bill and slipped outside before I could touch him. And if I don’t eat some chocolate, I won’t be able to zap you, Ella Mae.”

Ella Mae scowled. She was Jenny’s boss, not some naughty child who could be pinched by one employee and given magical doses of energy by another. She whipped her head around to chastise Jenny, but was overcome by wooziness and stumbled to the closest stool. Putting both hands on the seat to steady herself, she suddenly remembered having placed the extra chocolate coins between containers of cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Plunking down onto the stool, she waved at the dry-goods shelves. “The treasure chest is on the second shelf from the floor.”

By this time, Reba had finished reading the letter and had placed it on the worktable where Ella Mae did most of her prep work. Two sharp knives were resting on the wooden surface and Reba’s hand closed over the paring knife. Her lips were compressed into a thin line and Ella Mae knew she was angry.

Jenny drew alongside Reba and dumped the treasure chest on the table. “Here,” she said, handing Reba a chocolate. “You look like you could use some candy.”

“I never leave home without it,” Reba said, taking a fresh licorice twist out of her apron pocket. She tore off an end and chewed furiously while Jenny unwrapped a dozen coins as if her life depended on it.

While the two women devoured their confections, Ella Mae stared at Hugh’s letter. She then slid off the stool and fetched a ball of dough from the walk-in. Shoving the knives and letter to the side, she dusted the surface of the worktable with flour and reached for her rolling pin. She freed the dough from its plastic wrap and began rolling it out, forcing it to grow wider and thinner, wider and thinner.

“Okay. Between the chocolate and the three cans of Mountain Dew I chugged on the front porch, I’m starting to feel like myself again,” Jenny said. “Are you ready, Ella Mae?”

“Just clear the fog in the poor girl’s head,” Reba said. “She’s had some discouragin’ news and I want to talk it over with her.”

Before Ella Mae could protest, Jenny put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. A jolt shot through Ella Mae’s body. For a brief, delicious moment, her blood turned to liquid sunshine—white hot and radiant—and hummed in her veins. Her fatigue evaporated like chimney smoke swept away by the wind and her mind was sharp and focused. “Thanks, Jenny,” she said, smiling gratefully. “I’m still in awe of your gift.”

“Yours isn’t too shabby either.” Jenny pointed at the round circle of dough. “By influencing people’s emotions, you can alter their behavior. Talk about powerful.” She smiled. “So what’s going into this pie?”

Ella Mae transferred the dough into a buttered pie dish. “My heart.”

Reba and Jenny exchanged worried glances as Ella Mae placed the dish in the oven.

“What happened?” Jenny asked.

“Hugh wrote that he hadn’t found what he was looking for in England or Scotland so he’s heading to Ireland. If that doesn’t pan out, he’s going to Greece. He’s put his assistant manager in charge of Canine to Five, informed the fire department that he’s no longer available to volunteer, and said that I shouldn’t wait for him—that he’s not coming back until he’s the man he was before I . . .” She trailed off.

“Before the source of his power was taken and used for the common good,” Reba finished for her.

Ella Mae threw out her hands in exasperation. “But he doesn’t know that! He doesn’t know what I am. I couldn’t sit him down and say, ‘Hugh, you’re in love with a magical being. Not only can I make charmed pies, but I can also command butterflies. And according to some ancient prophecy, I’m the Clover Queen, a position that means I’m responsible for the safety and well-being of lots of enchanted people.’”

“Of course you couldn’t tell him.” Reba tenderly brushed a strand of hair off Ella Mae’s cheek. “He isn’t like us. Sweetheart, he never will be one of us.”

Ella Mae nodded. “I know that, but I love him. I’ve loved him for most of my life. Since I knew how to love. And no matter what he said in this letter, I’ll wait. If it takes twenty years, then so be it. I have to hold on to the hope that, one day, I can be completely honest with him and he’ll be able to forgive me for what I did to him.”

“What kind of existence will you have pining for him for twenty years?” Reba asked very softly.

Ella Mae faced her friends. “I don’t plan on pining. You see, I’m going to bury everything I feel for Hugh into this pie. And then, I’m going to freeze it. I hope it’ll be like pausing a movie—that it’ll give me the freedom to focus on work and the rest of the people I care about.”

Jenny looked doubtful. “Is tha...

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Descripción Berkley Books, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the New York Times bestselling author of the Books by the Bay series and the Book Retreat mysteries--Includes pie recipes! After Pecan Pies and Homicides comes another tangy slice of life--and death--in a charmed, and charming, small town. Ella Mae LeFaye s Charmed Pie Shoppe has become a phenomenon beyond her wildest dreams, providing the enchanted town of Havenwood, Georgia, with spellbinding desserts and magical pies. Her personal life is also heating up as she takes on the responsibilities of leadership within her magical community. In fact, the only thing weighing her down is the fact that handsome Hugh Dylan won t return her calls. Still, when Havenwood is rocked by a series of mysterious deaths, Ella Mae must put romantic longings aside--especially when she realizes that the mystical symbols left at each crime scene are dangerously personal. Now she will have to whip up all her supernatural skills to uncover a killer out to settle an ancient score--before the murderer devastates everything Ella Mae is determined to protect. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780425276020

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