The opening night crowd at Maeve’s café, Listen: It’s Old
Fashioned, buzzed in a loud continuous noisy cadence that
made Maeve’s heart sing. A few short weeks ago, searching for some
normalcy and a new way of life, she’d blasted out of Hollywood and
found Wisteria Pines. The café had only been a dream. Now business
was popping, and she’d run dangerously low on pastries. Donnie, her
only employee, was in the back attempting to follow a muffin recipe,
which left her waiting tables and appeasing the hungry crowd.
“Okay, we got two double shot espressos and a scotch,” Gracie
called out from behind the counter.
Thank God for Gracie, Maeve thought with a smile. Gracie, Maeve’s
friend and landlord, had volunteered to help out for opening night. At
first, Maeve had refused the offer thinking the opening would be
slow, but now she was glad Gracie had been so insistent.
Maeve swept up the drinks and sashayed to a corner booth where
Bobby Farley chatted with his suited companions. Maeve feared she
hadn’t exactly made a great first impression with him, what with her
accusing him of murder a few weeks ago. But the man had actually
turned out to be a decent human being.
“All righty boys, drink up,” Maeve said, putting a hand on Bobby’s
shoulder. “Thanks for dragging your buddies away from your regular
bar for a night to come out and support me, Bobby.”
Bobby smiled. “Hey, darling, I’m always ready to support the local
businesses. And, if you continue to serve scotch, I think my fellas
would be willing to do the same.”
“If I can get my alcohol permit approved by Mayor James, I will,”
Maeve griped. “I only have a temporary license for the weekend, and
the city’s playing a lot of phone tag with me. I ran into James last night
and he promised to take care of it, but when I called him today he kept
forwarding my calls.”
“That sounds like James,” Bobby said.
Maeve sighed. “Well, I’ll keep trying. Anything else I can get for
“We’ll order another round of scotch in a few minutes… but do me
a favor… get Gracie to bring us those drinks.” He winked, his eyes
lingering toward the barista station where Gracie was standing.
Gracie was tall and slender, dressed in an off-the shoulder red
halter top that would make any man sit up and pay attention.
Maeve nodded and tried to hold back a smile. “Will do, Bobby.”
She spun around to head back toward the counter when Chuck
Lowry—the former star of the flopped sitcom Jenny Loves Charlie—
bumped right into her. She frowned. She hadn’t expected to run into
any Hollywood types in Wisteria Pines and especially not in her café.
Since the moment he’d walked in, the man hadn’t seemed to leave her
side. He was everywhere she turned.
Chuck was Hollywood handsome, with a chiseled jaw and overly
white teeth. The way he strutted around the café, Maeve could tell he
had the ego to go with the looks.
But who knew a man like Chuck Lowry could be such a nuisance?
He was simply dying for her attention. He let his dirty blonde
hair fall slightly in his face just so he could sweep it to the side and
give her this cockeyed, lustful gaze that probably worked on most
“Can I help you?” she asked.
He winked at her. “Another drink, beautiful.”
“Coming right up,” she said, trying her hardest not to sound
annoyed. He was a customer, after all, no matter how obnoxious.
She returned to the barista station and poured Chuck’s Irish
coffee. When she served him his drink, he smiled and flexed a bicep
Maeve stifled a giggle.
Does he even realize how ridiculous he is? she wondered.
“So, what are you doing in Wisteria Pines anyways?” Maeve asked.
“Just passing through,” he said. “Got a new show I’m producing. I
could’ve flown, but I like the idea of a road trip. Unfortunately, I
broke down right outside of town.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Maeve said.
Liar, she thought. There was a shifty look in his eyes that gave him
What a strange thing to lie about.
On stage, Officer Joseph played his guitar and serenaded them.
Maeve glanced in his direction and found herself listening to the
music rather than whatever it was Chuck was babbling about.
Since arriving in town, Maeve had helped Joseph solve a murder
case, and now she found herself thinking murderous thoughts as she
watched the women in the crowd fawn all over him. He plucked the
final chord, thanked everyone for their applause, and headed over to
the counter. Maeve hurried away from Chuck to meet Joseph at the
Joseph sure is handsome, Maeve thought. It wasn’t the same kind of
handsome as Chuck. Joseph had a sweetness to him, where Chuck
was way too cocky. Maeve knew she needed to avoid Chuck like the
Joseph drummed his finger on the barista counter. “Well, Maeve,
it’s been fun. But I think it’s time for me to retire for the night.”
She grinned. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that you played one of my
Joseph laughed. “Well, you are one of the most talented song‐
writers I’ve ever met,” he said, his cheeks turning pink.
Maeve laughed. “And you’ve met how many exactly?”
Joseph grinned. “Never mind that. What did you think? Did I do
okay with your song?”
“Better than okay,” she said. They shared an awkward silent
moment, and Maeve found herself hoping Joseph would ask her out.
He’d been flirtatious toward her since she’d first arrived, but things
had gotten a little hairy when she’d inserted herself into his last inves‐
tigation. So far, nothing had come of their flirty banter, but now that
things were settling down, she hoped that would change.
Instead, Joseph said, “And I hate to remind you, but make sure you
call the LAPD tomorrow; they need your statement about Frank
Distress burned at Maeve’s stomach as she thought of ex-fiancé,
Frank. The break-up with Frank had been one of the main reasons
she’d left Hollywood. All this time she’d been worried about him,
wondering how he could disappear without a trace, and now it turned
out he’d taken off to Mexico with a redheaded Uber driver.
Maeve nodded at Joseph. “Yes, I’ll definitely call them. Thank you
for the reminder.”
He smiled warmly at her. “Congratulations on the grand opening,
Maeve. I’m proud of you.” His eyes darted toward Chuck, and he stiff‐
ened. Chuck had insulted Joseph earlier, and Maeve figured Joseph
was ready to take off after the embarrassing remark. Joseph took a
step toward the front door and waved at her. “I’ll let you get back to
Maeve brought Chuck his drink. “Anything else?” she asked,
having to bite her tongue to keep from being short with him.
“No, I’m good. Thank you, Maeve,” he said.
Maeve peered around him to see that Penny, Gracie’s nine-year-old
niece, had seated herself on the other side of Chuck. She was
holding her cat, Tonya, and talking to the man—thanking him for
returning her cat. Maeve thought about her own dog, Wanda, whom
she’d left at home that evening with Tonya the cat.
If Tonya was out wandering the streets, I sure hope Wanda didn’t get out
of the house also.
She shook the worry off. She reminded herself that her pooch had
proven herself perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Wanda was a
smart dog, and since she’d been a stray before Maeve had found her,
she knew Wanda was used to roaming freely.
More like she found me, Maeve thought with a grin as she recalled
how she’d first met her beloved dog. Somehow Wanda had gotten into
her car and was sitting in the passenger’s seat waiting for her.
On the way back to the counter, Maeve ran into Rodney. He
presented her with a carefully wrapped gift, complete with a congrat‐
“I’ve been told purple is your favorite color,” he said. “Which
would explain the purple Volkswagen you drive.”
Maeve blushed as she opened the gift to reveal a small, purple
plaque with the café’s opening date etched in golden lettering along
with the café’s name Listen: It’s Old Fashioned.
“Oh, wow, Rodney. Thank you!” Maeve said.
“Well, I wanted to bring you a little opening night gift,” he said.
Behind Rodney was a group of women swooning over him.
Maeve wiggled her fingers at the group of ladies, who seemed
eager to eavesdrop on her and Rodney’s conversation.
Maeve’s first interaction with Rodney a few weeks ago had been
challenging. He’d been rude to her and had yanked her dog by the
ears, told Maeve she wasn’t a real celebrity, and then even had the
audacity to ask her to dinner. But when he’d tried to strike her dog,
Maeve had lost it. She’d grabbed him by the arm. And just like that, a
ray of purple magick had swirled out of her and into Rodney.
Ever since then, he’s been acting like Prince Charming to everyone in
town, Maeve thought. People were starting to talk about him and take
notice. Everyone wondered how the local grouch had turned into
Wisteria Pines’ very own saint, but whenever someone mentioned
Rodney to Maeve, she felt a slight pang of guilt–she had, after all,
unintentionally affected his personality.
She hustled toward the counter, saying over her shoulder. “Thank
you, Rodney. I really appreciate it.”
“Oh, and here,” he said, pulling a CD from his suit pocket. “I
noticed, now that Joseph is gone, there isn’t any music. Gracie says
you guys can play CDs over the speakers if you want. I went out to the
car and grabbed this.”
Maeve looked down at the CD and cringed. Nina Simone’s rendi‐
tion of I Put a Spell on You was the title track.
Surely it’s not a coincidence that Rodney would give me this.
Guilt flooded her belly once more.
Is there a way to reverse what I did to him? Maeve wondered.
It had been a while since she had cast the spell on him. She’d hoped
it would wear off on its own. Truthfully, she wasn’t even sure how she
had done it in the first place, so the thought of trying to reverse it was
Maeve thanked Rodney and then quickly scooted around him.
Once behind the counter she gave Gracie the plaque and CD. “See if I
still have my tool kit in the back, and I’ll hang up the plaque. And can
you go ahead and pop in the CD?”
“Sure thing,” Gracie said, disappearing into the back as Donnie
entered with fresh muffins.
The scent of freshly baked chocolate chip muffins ignited the air.
Maeve admired the tray Donnie held. “Looking good,” she told him.
“Thank you, Ms. O’Dare.” Donnie smiled. “It’s important for me to
do a good job. I mean, really. No one else in town will hire me. No
one trusts me after, well, you know …”
She knew he was referring to his armed robbery. At the end of the
day, Maeve and the majority of non-judgmental people in Wisteria
Pines all seemed to agree that Donnie was just a kid who had made
one very bad decision. His little punk rocker look didn’t really help
his bad boy reputation, but it only took a person a few minutes of
actually speaking to Donnie to realize he was a softie.
Maeve took the muffins and put them in the counter display case.
“Donnie, you’re a good kid. Everyone deserves a second chance. And
you’re doing great. You showed up just in time to help when I needed
you most. Go check in with all the guests and see if anyone needs any
drinks. Let everyone know we have fresh muffins.”
“Will do!” he said, scurrying into the crowd of patrons.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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