by Erin Murphy, from Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013
I grew up here in Jewel Bay and like a lot of kids, couldn’t wait to leave. But after fourteen years, it was time. “Past time,” my mother Fresca says. “About time,” my sister Chiara says. My brother Nick just raises his eyebrows.
Mr. Sandburg and I are settling in to our little cabin above the lake. He’s making the acquaintance of all the neighborhood mice. I can just hear him: “Pleased to meet you. I’m Mr. Sandburg, but you can call me Sandy.” “Eek!!! A cat!!!” they all reply, and run screaming away to places he can’t follow.
I’m spending most of my time at the Merc, of course. I thought Claudette would be here to help me learn the ropes, but the week before I got back, she ran off to Las Vegas with Dean Vincent, the chiropractor and wanna-be Elvis impersonator. Or rather, tribute artist. He’s not half-bad, but he’s not exactly half-good, either.
So here I am, with Tracy, who’s sweet and unhappy – she wanted to be the manager, but Fresca brought me in instead. I’m trying hard to get in good with her, but it’s not always easy. Plus the woman drinks Diet Coke in the morning – the thought makes my brain hurt. But we need her. She’s got experience, and a real talent for display. Which I most definitely do not.
And Fresca. Well, the whole point is for her to be less involved with the store, so she can spend her time cooking up her pastas and sauces, our biggest sellers. They need to be even bigger sellers, if we’re going to survive.