Home > Waffles at the Wake (Murder in the Mix #29)

Waffles at the Wake (Murder in the Mix #29)
Author: Addison Moore

Chapter 1

 

 

Three days from now…

Monday, 12:42 a.m.

 

 

“Stop your bickering,” I shout as I give a panicked look around at the shadowed evergreens. “Just keep digging.” I can’t catch my breath. I can’t hold onto my sanity another moment longer.

Everett wipes the sweat from his brow, his shirtless body gleaming under a midnight moon. “If anyone finds out what we’ve done, we’re going to lose everything.”

Noah lets the body fall from his shoulder, right into the pit. “Give me the damn shovel and I’ll finish the job myself.”

“I’ll finish the job.” Everett takes a moment to glower at Noah before flicking his gaze my way. “The things I do for you, Lemon.”

And he looks as if he regrets every single one.

 

Present day…

 

 

My name is Lottie Lemon, and I see dead people. Okay, so rarely do I see dead people. Mostly I see furry creatures of the dearly departed variety who have come back from the other side to warn me of their previous owner’s impending doom. But at the moment I’m not seeing a single entity that’s crossed to the other side. Instead, I’m feasting my eyes on an elegant breakfast-themed buffet brimming with waffles, pancakes, scones, cinnamon rolls, and donuts upon donuts. The head chef of this ritzy hotel had an unfortunate event in his kitchen a few days ago and put a call out to different restaurants in the area to help pull off tonight’s culinary feast. And lucky me, he asked my shop, the Cutie Pie Bakery and Cakery, to cater all the sweets.

It’s all a part of the midnight buffet at the Chanterelle Hotel in downtown Ashford—just a hop and a skip away from my sweet cozy town, Honey Hollow. But as fate and New Year’s Eve would have it, all of Honey Hollow and all of Vermont seem to have congregated right here in the Crystal Ballroom, awaiting the countdown to a brand new year—a year that is going to bring so many changes to my life, and so many of those changes are as wonderful as they are terrifying.

My hand rounds over my blooming belly as I look out at the thick crowd in front of me, all wearing their very best formal attire. At least the women are in formal attire. The men are in suits in various stages of disarray with their ties already tugged loose, their jackets nowhere to be seen, and their sleeves rolled up as the rowdy music has just about everybody in the room thrashing about, and that includes my mother and her friends, my sisters, my best friend Keelie, and, of course, all of their plus ones.

The Crystal Ballroom is about as elegant as they come with enough sparkling chandeliers to light up all of Honey Hollow. Although at the moment they’ve all been dimmed to create just the right mood lighting that New Year’s Eve requires. Bouquets of silver and gold balloons are set out on every table, and matching banners are strewn about, adding a festive touch to the evening. There are rows and rows of silver chaffing dishes set out on the grand buffet that looks as if it goes on for miles. And from where I’m standing, the scent of vanilla mingles with expensive perfume and cologne of the couples nearby.

“Lottie Lemon, you are gorgeous.” Noah steps into my line of vision and lands a kiss to my cheek. “Is the baby kicking?” He sheds a dimpled grin—as he should, he’s in the running to be the father.

“Nope,” I say. “He or she is sleeping soundly.”

Noah Corbin Fox looks dapper tonight in his gray suit and silver tie. His dark hair is showing off its red highlights even under these dim lights. He’s got a face chiseled by the masters with extra deep-set dimples and a killer smile, the body of a linebacker ready to tackle crime, and seems to be garnering his fair share of attention from the women in the vicinity judging by the way the whites of their eyes keep flashing in his direction.

Noah is handsome as can be with eyes that can give any evergreen a run for its pine-scented money. And fun fact: we’ve been married before. Sure, it was short-lived and we may have walked into it accidentally, but that’s par for the course for Noah and me.

We were pretty serious up until I found out about that wife he was hiding. They had been separated for some time and the divorce ball was already rolling, but it rolled right over Noah and me. Believe it or not, we’re still hobbling along in our own crazy way despite the fact I’m married to his old stepbrother.

“Lemon.” Judge Essex Everett Baxter, my official and legal plus one, wraps his arms around my waist from behind and lands a heated kiss to my cheek. Everett has almost always called me that, and there’s not an ounce of me that will protest his liberal use of my surname. Everett has a way of making it sound like the vampiest pet name ever and has me purring at the sound of it each and every time. “You look like a goddess in that dress. Never take it off.” He tucks his lips next to my ear. “Let me take it off.”

Noah grunts as he goes for a cookie, “I heard that.”

Everett is my husband, and per keeping with my own tradition, we sort of walked into our matrimonial knot backwards, too. He needed a wife in order to qualify for his trust fund and I took one for the fiscal team—while I was dating Noah. Suffice it to say, that didn’t go over well with my poor boyfriend, and shockingly, that wasn’t the end of us. But eventually, Noah and I decided to part ways so that I could see if Everett and I were going anywhere. It’s a long and sordid story, but that’s what brings us here.

As for Everett and me, we share a sixteen-year-old daughter that happened to pop into Everett’s life unexpectedly a few months back. Everly—Evie—Baxter’s mother is a birdbrain with a heart of coal, and since Evie and Everett want nothing to do with her, I’ve happily stepped into the role as her mother.

I reach down and hug my belly before giving Everett a covert nod letting him know I fully approve of those dress removal shenanigans he has planned for later. Not to mention the fact I’ll be needing his help to get out of this sheer lace and lavender satin number anyway. Everett bought this gorgeous dress for me, a formal maternity gown that must have set him back a fortune.

Lily Swanson lands the last platter of my sweet treats onto the dessert table before us. Her dark hair is swept up into a bun, and she’s wearing the requisite little black dress that this night practically demands. Lily is my right-hand gal down at the bakery. She was once one of my high school bullies, but now that I sign her paychecks, we seem to get along great.

She scoffs my way. “Lottie, your belly just shot out like a bullet overnight. Are you sure you’re not stuffing your dress with a pillow? I’ve never seen anyone pop like that.”

“It’s not a pillow,” Everett tells her. “I can testify to that.” His lips curve as he takes up my hand and half the women in the room sigh in his direction. “I’ve seen her without a stitch of clothing on to prove it.” His lips flicker and I can hear a low growl coming from behind—most likely from Noah.

Everett is caustically handsome, but tonight with his black suit, black tie, hair the color of the darkest midnight, and eyes that shine like the sea, he looks dangerously delicious. And I’m suddenly having a mad craving for one hot and more than naughty judge.

Not only is Everett stone-cold handsome, he’s slow to smile, has a body built for speed that most definitely meets all of my needs, and exudes a dangerous level of sexual appeal that demands the attention of every estrogen-bearing card member in a ten-state radius. There is something undeniably magnetic about him that commands the women in the room crane their necks in his direction at any given time.

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