Did you miss part one of Chapter One?
Chapter One Continued . . .
Maeve took a moment to observe her work. The café was popping,
and she could feel the incredible energy vibrating through her veins.
Suddenly the sultry voice of Nina Simone filled the café, and Maeve
felt electricity jolt her upright. The song, Feeling Good, played through
the music system, and Maeve relaxed.
Yes, that’s exactly how she felt:
The atmosphere in the café was exactly as she’d imagined it. The
crowd settled into their booths and tables, people were chatting and
actually listening to each other and to the music. She took a deep
breath, giving herself a moment to soak it all in. It was hard to believe
that her work and effort had at last paid off. Things were looking
great for the first time in a long time for Maeve, and that soothed her
The door to the café opened, and a group of young men entered.
There were four men, all with their hair buzzed short in proper mili‐
tary style. One of them, the one coming straight up to the counter,
seemed very familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him.
“Maeve O’Dare?” he asked with a charming smile as his buddies
fought to find seating.
“Yes?” she asked.
He put out his hand, and Maeve shook it.
“Nathan Whittaker,” he said.
“Did you say Whittaker?” she questioned.
“I did,” he said, resting his elbows on the counter across from her.
“You’re Nadine’s brother?” she asked. “I saw your picture on
Nadine’s desk at her work.”
“That’s me,” he said.
Maeve’s stomach dropped. “I’m very sorry for your loss.”
Only a few weeks before, Maeve had solved Nadine Whittaker’s
murder case. A local woman had accidentally poisoned Nadine, the
Mayor’s personal assistant, while trying to get revenge on Mayor
James for leaving her after breaking up her marriage. It was all very
scandalous, and the mayor had experienced some serious political
backlash after Nadine’s murder. Maeve sensed her exposing the affair
was likely the reason Mayor James was giving her a hard time about
her alcohol serving license.
“Thank you,” Nathan said. “Those idiots over there in the booth
are my fellow Navy brothers … Georgie, Alex, and Kevin. We’ve been
in town for a few weeks now. Came into town for the funeral and
wound up staying longer than expected.” He smiled brightly at her
behind sad eyes. “Staying a bit longer has given us a chance to check
out the new café, though. Glad we were able to see this place up and
running. I wanted to come by and personally thank you for what you
did for my sister. You got the woman who did it behind bars, and
while that doesn’t change things, it sure does make it a little easier to
sleep at night knowing that justice has been served.”
“It was my pleasure, Nathan,” Maeve said, taking a moment to
study his face. He looked so very much like his sister Nadine, the
town’s sweetheart. “Let me get you a coffee. On the house.”
He shook his head. “No, no, none of that.” He handed her a credit
card. “Get me and my boys a scotch each.”
“Okay, coming right up!” she said and rang up his total.
She handed him his receipt to sign, and he wrote in a generous tip
and a note at the bottom of the receipt before heading to the booth
where his friends had gathered.
Maeve picked up the receipt and read the note. Thank you, Maeve.
She smiled. It warmed her heart to know she’d done some good for
the Whittaker family.
Maeve, Gracie, and Donnie got to work, serving up pastries,
drawing leaf patterns in the frothy steamed milk, and waiting tables.
The café crowd was excited to see Nathan and his buddies, and a few
people even bought the Navy boys some additional drinks. Just as the
crowd began to settle down, the door to the café opened again, and a
man Maeve didn’t recognize entered.
Evidently, every other person in the café knew the man, because
whatever conversations people had been in the middle of abruptly
ended. The sudden quiet made the music seem too loud.
Everyone stared in the man’s direction.
Maeve’s breath caught as the man removed his hat and stepped
The man’s eyes narrowed, and he glared at Bobby Farley who was
sitting at the booth nearest to the door. “What are you staring at,
Bobby Farley broke eye contact. “Nothing, um, Christian … it’s
good to see you back in town, is all,” Bobby stuttered.
The man, Christian, rolled his eyes, and his scowl softened. He
took off his hat and gazed over Maeve’s head at the menu listed
behind the counter, studying it intently for a moment all the way from
“Who is that?” Maeve whispered to Gracie who was standing
“That would be Christian Delany,” Gracie said in a hushed tone.
“Delany?” Maeve questioned. “As in-”
“As in Eleanor Delany’s ex-husband,” Donnie muttered from the
other side of Maeve. “He skipped town after the divorce.”
“Well …” Maeve grumbled. “I’m certainly meeting a lot of new
Christian approached the counter with a scowl on his face, but he
lightened up a bit when he spotted Gracie. “Gracie,” he said to her.
“Christian. Good to see you. It’s been a while. What brings you
back to Wisteria Pines?” Gracie asked.
“I received a subpoena to appear in court,” he said and then looked
directly at Maeve. “Now I get to go and talk to a bunch of strangers
about my ex-wife’s affair.” He chuckled.
Maeve couldn’t tell if he was frustrated or enjoying the fact his
ex-wife was behind bars. It unsettled her not knowing where he
stood on the matter.
“How about a scotch?” he asked, then added, “To celebrate.”
Maeve poured him a drink as he pointed at one of the chocolate
chip muffins on display. “That looks good. Give me one of those. I
haven’t eaten all day.”
Maeve placed the muffin on a plate and handed Christian his order.
He nodded at her, then wiggled his way into the crowd. Maeve watched
curiously as Christian spoke to some of his former neighbors. The man
seemed to go back and forth from being legitimately saddened by his
ex-wife’s arrest to overwhelmed with vengeful satisfaction.
Apart from the discomfort that Christian’s appearance seemed to
have caused, the night went on without a hitch. Eventually the orders
stopped coming in, and patrons dispersed one by one.
All except for Chuck Lowry.
Chuck hadn’t budged despite the lights dimming and the coffee
machine being shut down.
Donnie swept and mopped the floors and cleaned up the back.
Gracie dipped out to take her niece home, so only Maeve, Donnie,
and Chuck remained.
“Don’t mind me,” Chuck said as Maeve helped Donnie clean up
shop. “I’m just nursing the last of my drink if that’s all right.”
“No, no, go right ahead,” Maeve insisted.
Soon, though, they had completed their closing duties. Maeve
nudged Donnie who looked like he was about to fall out from exhaus‐
tion at any minute. “Go on home, Donnie. I got this.”
“You sure?” he asked in a whisper. “That guy seems kind of creepy
Maeve bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing. “I’m good, but
thank you for the concern.”
Donnie grabbed his things and left, glancing over his shoulder on
the way out. “I’ll be in early tomorrow morning, Ms. O’Dare.”
Maeve looked at Chuck and sighed.
Being alone with me after closing is probably exactly what Mr. Holly‐
Chuck smiled at her. “I’ve got to say, Ms. O’Dare, I’m quite
impressed. What made you go from Hollywood songwriter to coffee
Maeve froze. “I’m sorry?”
Chuck sat upright. “What, you think I didn’t recognize your
name?” Chuck asked. “Die! You Cheating Dog is a personal favorite.
Let’s see … you also wrote Choke on that Lie and I’ll Never Get Over You.
Those are some of my all-time favorites.”
Maeve cheeks burned, and realized she was blushing.
Don’t you dare, she scorned herself.
Chuck Lowry was obviously the type to hit on every other woman
he came in contact with. She would not allow herself to fall for his
charm. “Why, yes, that’s me … I mean, those were my songs.”
“You have a pretty impressive group of artists you’ve sold to,”
Chuck said, sliding his now empty glass to the edge of his table for
Maeve to grab. “I’m impressed.”
“You really knew who I was?” she asked.
“What can I say? I’m a fan of your songwriting–the edginess of
your lyrics does it for me,” he tipped his head to the right and graced
her with a crooked grin. “I always look for an O’Dare original.
Though it’s been a while since you’ve put anything out. My agent
wanted me to release a CD a while back. You were at the top of my list
of potential writers.” He shrugged. “It was a ridiculous publicity stunt
that ended up imploding. Thankfully, because I’m more of an actor
than a singer. If you know what I mean.”
She grabbed the glass. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you.
It was hard to believe that someone like Chuck Lowry knew her or
that he had considered hiring her for a CD.
“You should be proud,” he said, smiling a rather charming smile.
Maeve stared at him for a moment. He wore a goofy looking silk
button up shirt. Her ex, Frank, had one exactly like it. With her free
hand, she reached out and brushed the tip of her fingers to the collar.
Chuck’s chest puffed up at her touch.
She jerked her hand away.
Crud, he thinks I’m flirting, she thought.
She scrunched up her nose. “Uh … my ex has that exact same
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Frank being snobbish enough to
think they could pull that look off.
Chuck frowned. “Well,” he said, looking her up and down. “Your ex
has good taste, but I already knew that.”
Maeve crossed her arms. Slow down there, buddy, she thought.
She crossed to the barista station and put his glass into the dish‐
washer. Chuck rose and came around the counter to help her, his
hands bumping into hers as she reached for the detergent.
“You don’t have to do that,” Maeve said.
“I insist,” Chuck said, lifting the commercial sized tub for her.
“Besides, I’m the one who kept you here late, right?”
He’s a Hollywood boy, Maeve reminded herself as Chuck continued
with the flirty banter.
When Maeve had completed all the final tasks, she said, “It’s been a
pleasure meeting you, Mr. Lowry.”
“You know, Maeve, I would love to buy you some lunch or get
some coffee. I’m only in town through tomorrow,” he said.
And there it is, Maeve mused. “Sorry, Chuck, but I’m working.”
Chuck winked at her and took an uncomfortable step forward.
“Well, that’s a shame.” He held out his hand, and she went to shake it.
Instead of a shake, he clasped her hand between both of his. “I could
have sworn I felt … a little magic between us.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
Share the love!