“What do you think?” I asked, looking around at the stacks of boxes that dominated most of the floor space.
My large orange cat, Misfit, didn’t seem all that impressed. He flipped his tail and walked off, leaving me alone in the maze of unpacked boxes. It was standard, really.
I’d had something of a panic attack when my U-Haul broke down on the way to Pine Hills. If I hadn’t had movers helping me, I never would have managed to get everything into the house today, let alone by the time I had to go into work in the morning. It was a good thing the furniture had been set up the day before or I wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep, let alone sit down.
“Well, Krissy, you’re here,” I told myself. It was finally official; I was now a resident of Pine Hills. Not only that, but I was a business owner as well, something I never would have imagined when I was younger.
With boxes placed in the rooms where they would eventually be unpacked, I headed to the kitchen. There was no way I was unpacking today, not with the big day tomorrow. I opened a box beside the counter, removed one of my favorite chipped coffee mugs, and then went in search of the actual coffee pot. Twenty minutes later, I had a pot brewing and a chocolate chip cookie sitting in the bottom of the mug, just waiting to sop up the caffeinated goodness.
A knock at the door brought me up from where I leaned. I crossed the room and answered it, wondering who could possibly be stopping in for a visit. I hadn’t met the neighbors yet, or anyone else, for that matter. When I’d said I was new in town, I’d meant it.
“Krissy!” My best friend Vicki Patterson beamed at me. She looked as gorgeous as always, hair pulled up off of her neck, smile as dazzling as the sun. She should have been an actress; could have been if she had wanted to. I felt both glad and guilty that she’d decided to settle down and run a bookstore café with me instead.
“Hi Vicki,” I said. We hugged and I stepped aside to let her in.
“Are you ready for tomorrow?”
My excitement slipped as dread found a way in. “Are we really going to do this?”
Vicki was unperturbed. “We are.” She clasped her hands together. “The store is all set up. All we need to do now is open.”
“Are we sure about the name?” I knew it was futile to argue over it again, but I had to try one last time to get her to change it to something a little less . . . ominous.
“Everyone will love it. Death by Coffee.” She breathed in as if tasting the words. “It has a ring to it.”
“If you say so.” I motioned toward the kitchen. “I’m making coffee if you want some.”
“I wish I could. Trouble is in the car. We just came back from the vet and I thought I’d stop by on my way home. It’s going to be an early morning.” Trouble was her cat and Misfit’s littermate. They were both long-haired, but where Misfit was orange, Trouble was black and white.
And he was going to be our store cat.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” I said, trying not to let my trepidation show. I’d never owned a store before, so I was intimidated by the prospect. What if everyone hated us? What if no one bought a single cup of coffee or book? I don’t think either of us could go home again if that were to happen. It would be too embarrassing to admit we’d failed.
Vicki gave me a winning smile and hugged me again. “I can’t wait,” she said as she stepped back outside. She got into her car, waved once, and then was gone.
By then, my coffee was ready. I didn’t add creamer or sugar; the cookie was enough. I sat down at the island counter and drank it slowly, wondering if we were going to come out of this thing alive. Once the coffee was gone, I fished out a spoon and began to eat the soggy cookie mess left behind.
Tomorrow was the big day. We were going to open Death by Coffee for the very first time.
“Don’t worry, Krissy,” I muttered to myself. “It’s just a coffee shop. What could possibly go wrong?”
Little did I know, I was about to find out.
You can read more about Krissy in Death by Coffee, the first book in the NEW “Bookstore Cafe” mystery series, published by Kensington.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on June 2 for the chance to win a copy of Death by Coffee. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.
Meet the author
Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration. You can visit him on Twitter and on Facebook.