By Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs, cookie mavens and crime fighters.
From THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Visit them in Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies.
When Olivia Greyson opened the door to The Gingerbread House, she sensed at once that Maddie, her best friend and business partner, was experiencing creative frenzy. Maddie had wedged open the kitchen door, sending a blast of warm, sweet air out to the sales floor. Olivia smelled a whiff of ginger, definitely lemon, a hint of peppermint, chocolate… After that she gave up.
Olivia was accustomed to delightful aromas in the Gingerbread House. Maddie was always baking cookies… except when they had a murder to solve. However, Chatterley Heights had been murder-free for several months, so Maddie was restless. When she felt restless, she baked compulsively. And Maddie’s normal daily cookie output was enough to send most humans to a chiropractor.
The kitchen door opened wider, and Maddie’s pink-cheeked face appeared. “I thought I heard someone lurking about,” she said. “Come see what I’ve done.”
“That sounds ominous.” Olivia followed her into the kitchen, which was several degrees warmer than usual. “Whoa,” she said, taking in the scene. “Were you up all night baking? There must be a million cookies in here. How many different recipes did you use, anyway? Five?”
Maddie tossed her fluffy red hair, shedding a layer of flour dust. “Six, actually, and I altered all of them. A personal best. Oh Livie, this is going to be so much fun! You see, each batch has a secret ingredient that wasn’t in the original recipe.”
“Okay.” Olivia felt confused. “And you put secret ingredients in the cookies because…?”
“So we can sponsor a fun contest for our customers, of course. It’ll be fun!” Maddie bounced up and down on her toes like an over-excited child. “Oh, and I thought we could offer the winners, assuming there are any winners, their choice of a free cookie cutter—except not one of the antiques from our locked cabinet, of course.” She grabbed Olivia’s upper arm and pulled her toward the kitchen table. “Come on, Livie, taste a cookie and try to guess the secret ingredient.”
Olivia allowed herself to be dragged around the table to a batch of cookies on a cooling rack. She selected a small cookie and nibbled on it thoughtfully, while Maddie bounced up and down on her toes.
“Well?” Maddie demanded. “What’s in it?”
“Obviously,” Maddie said. “What else?”
Olivia frowned at the remaining half cookie. “The chocolate makes it hard to see much, but I’m pretty sure I tasted… red pepper? Can that be right? Maybe something even hotter? And I can see tiny bits of something else in the cookie.”
Maddie grinned. “I added tiny, tiny bits of jalapeño. Isn’t that fun? Red and green! We could use those cookies in Holiday baskets.”
“Ooh, and try this one.” Maddie handed Olivia a drop cookie.
Olivia admired the perfect roundness of the cookie before raising it to her lips. She got a whiff of something familiar. “Did you put oregano in this cookie?”
“Oh, pooh.” Maddie grabbed the cookie from Olivia’s hand. “I was afraid that one might be too easy.“
“Just let me find another batch for you to—“
Olivia grabbed her distracted friend by the arm. “Maddie, are you, by any chance, feeling really desperate for another mystery to solve?”
Maddie sighed and sank onto a kitchen chair. “Really, really desperate,” she said. “Does that make me a terrible person?”
Olivia smiled and shook her head. “Maybe just a tad addicted to excitement. And possibly short on sleep. Nothing a good cup of coffee and a cookie—a real cookie—won’t cure.”
SUBMITTED BY VIRGINIA LOWELL
Virginia Lowell is the author of COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, ONE DEAD COOKIE, COOKIES AND SCREAM, and DEAD MENT DON’T EAT COOKIES.
Visit Virginia at: www.virginialowell.com