Did you miss Part 1 of Chapter One?
From Murder at Yappy Hour
Chapter One Continued…
I walked on toward the Meat and Greet and entered the small
butcher shop, a bell going off as I stepped on the welcome mat.
A voice called out from the back. “I’ll be right with you.”
“No problem,” I called back, marveling at the selection on display.
There was a large butcher counter filled with prime cuts, and in front
of the counter was a delectable-looking collection of gourmet cheeses
I noticed a small rack of greeting cards and picked one up. It was a
hand-painted watercolor rendition of the beach. Another was a
watercolor version of the town square. The sundial was depicted in
various cards. Some cards were of parts of the cove itself that I had yet
to visit, but most were studies of sea creatures. My favorites were a
close-up of a starfish, and another of a jellyfish, its luminescent colors
splashed across the card. They were all done by the same artist,
someone named Coral.
Something stirred inside me. Years ago, when life was simple, I’d
loved to paint. I probably was never as gifted or dedicated as Coral
— whoever she was—but maybe it would be a nice pastime again.
Life had been so busy in New York that I’d felt I’d almost lost
myself; maybe painting would help me put some pieces back
“Thanks for waiting.” A middle-age woman in a butchers coat
appeared from the back of the shop and hustled to her place behind
the counter. She had unruly dark hair and dimples when she smiled,
making me smile back at her.
“No worries,” I said. “I just came in for a cut of meat for my uncle.”
The woman studied me a moment. “Your uncle? Who’s that? I
know everyone in town and I don’t think we’ve met yet.”
“My great-uncle Ernest—”
“Oh! Are you Maggie? Ernest has told me so much about you! His
little Magpie. He is so proud of you, and of Rachel, too. Well, the
whole town is proud of Rachel. What a doll, an absolute doll. How do
you like Pacific Cove?”
“Just getting settled in—”
“Yes, it takes some time. Are you staying at the Casa Ensenada
Apartments? Ensenada means cove in Spanish, did you know? Those
little apartments are so charming. Do you have one with a little patio
and ocean view?”
I laughed. After living in New York City for a stint, it seemed
unreal that a perfect stranger would not only know where I was
living, but actually know the layout of my apartment. “I do have an
The woman smiled. “Lovely. Lovely. You’ll have to have a house‐
warming! We could do something fun,” the woman continued. “Like a
stock-the-bar party.” She wiggled her eyebrows at me.
“If I manage to get hired at Soleado, I’ll schedule a party immedi‐
ately,” I said.
“Oh! Have you applied to the new cruise line?” she asked. “Yeah.
Bookkeeper, but I guess in ship lingo its called purser.”
“Right. I hear you’re a financial whiz!” she said.
“I don’t know about that—”
The woman laughed, a low deep satisfied rumble that would make
anyone in earshot vibrate. “You’re just being modest! Rachel raves
about you. You should have her put in a word for you. They need
someone sharp. You have to deal with foreign currency and whatnot.
Now what can I get for you? Is Ernest feeling any better? We had such
a scare a few weeks ago. Is his appetite back?”
“He’s requesting a filet, so I think we can safely say he’s on the road
The woman took a tray of meat from behind the counter and
placed a few cuts onto butcher paper. “I know he likes the marbled
ones. How many filets?”
“Two,” I said.
I hadn’t officially been invited to dinner, but I suspected Grunkly
would want me to stay. Besides, I didn’t have any other plans except to
hover over my phone waiting for a call from the cruise line. It’d be
good to get my mind off it for a while.
The woman wrapped up the meat and placed it into a pink plastic
bag. I paid and headed out into the bright sunlight, a cool ocean
breeze sweeping over my face. Thankfully the heat of the day was
finally relenting a bit.
My phone buzzed.
I pulled my phone from my pocket and glanced at the screen. It
was a text from Rachel.
Maggie, I’m going out of town unexpectedly. I know its short
notice, but can you tend to The Wine and Bark until I get back? Yappy
hour is at 5pm. You have a key, don’t you? If not, ask Dan, the
manager at DelVecchio’s. xoxox
HOW STRANGE. THIS WASN’T LIKE RACHEL AT ALL.
She was going out of town? Where?
Why hadn’t she said anything about it to me earlier? While I had
no problem helping out my sister, I hesitated over dealing with the
dogs, as they never seemed particularly friendly to me.
I checked my watch; it was almost four thirty now. I fumbled with
my phone and dialed her number. I did have a key for the bar on me,
but something in my gut began to buzz with worry.
Her voice mail clicked on.
I left a quick message, “Hey Rach, what’s going on? I’m on my way
to the bar now. Hope you’re okay. Call me.” I made my way across the
cobblestone walkway toward The Wine and Bark. I dialed Grunkly
next. He picked up on the first ring.
“Hi, Grunkly, I got a message from Rachel. She needs me to cover
for her at the bar.”
“Oh, uh huh.”
It was his distracted voice. “Grunkly, are you watching a race?”
“No, it’s ten minutes to post,” he said.
That explained it.
“Have you seen Benny?” he asked.
I laughed. “Well, I didn’t run into him at the Meat and Greet.”
“Uh huh,” Grunkly said.
“I got your steak, though.”
“Great,” he said.
“But I have to go to The Wine and Bark—”
“No problem, honey. I’ll have a can of Dinty Moore stew.”
“All right. Should I save the steaks for tomorrow?”
“That’d be really nice,” Grunkly said with such a flat tone that I
knew he wasn’t listening to a word I said.
Nevertheless, I insisted on asking, “Do you know where
“Oh, Magpie, I got a call beeping in. I have to get it. It could be
Before I could say anything else, Grunkly hung up on me.
I sighed as I stood in front of the antique wooden door of The
Wine and Bark. It was painted blue and orange and had a “happy vibe”
practically pulsing right through it. I had to give Rachel credit, she’d
built the place from the ground up with limited funds and now the
business was thriving.
I laced the pink plastic bag around my wrist, then dug for the key
in my pocket. When I shoved the key into the lock, the first thing that
struck me was that I hadn’t needed the key after all. The door wasn’t
Now that really isn’t like Rachel.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I pushed open the door
and stepped into the darkened bar. My eyes adjusted slowly, the
outline of the great L-shaped mahogany bar coming into view, then a
few tables with stools perched on top to facilitate mopping the floors,
and then near the back of the bar, right in front of the small corridor
that led to his and hers, the silhouette of a woman standing over a
body slumped on the floor.
Rachel, what have you got me into?
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