Melissa Gladstone looked around the cozy confines of her small, but thriving, bakery and sighed with satisfaction. After a whirlwind trip to Vegas where a hometown rival was found dead, and local hunky detective, Chas Beckett swooped in to solve the murder, she was more than glad to return to the everyday activities of life in the quaint southern town of LaChance, Louisiana. Her loyal assistant, Ben, had managed the shop quite nicely while she was gone, and she was proud of the fact that he had handled everything perfectly, while still maintaining perfect grades in grad school. Missy was in early this morning, trying out a new recipe that she had developed before she left for Vegas. The cupcake was called the Purple People Pleaser, so named because of its lovely color and flavor. The secret was in the mixed berry puree that she added into the batter. She planned to top the light, fluffy cakes with a Berry Butter crème frosting, also in purple, placing a plump blackberry as a final touch on the very top. She had just pulled the first batch out of the oven when Ben came in, accidentally slamming the back door behind him.
“Welcome back, Miss G.! What smells so good?” The exuberant young man came to stand over her shoulder, peering at the pan that she was taking to the cooling racks.
“Hey Ben! Thanks, it’s sooooo good to be home. These are the latest creation,” she announced with pride.
“The Purple People Pleasers? Sweet, I’ve been waiting to try those,” he nodded appreciatively.
“Well, you’re going to have to wait about half an hour, until they cool enough to be frosted, so let’s get everything ready for opening, then we can come back and frost these,” Missy replied, anxious to get back into the swing of things.
“You got it, boss.” Ben grabbed an apron and a set of plastic gloves and got to work stocking the cases with treats to tempt every palate. Morning was their busiest time, when the townsfolk came in to grab coffee and a muffin or cupcake on their way to work. Some businesses had standing orders that needed to be ready for pick-up when they opened, so Missy attended to those.
The two of them were done with morning prep in no time, and after putting the finishing touches on the Purple People Pleasers, they sat down with mugs of steaming coffee and freshly frosted cupcakes.
“Wow, you’ve outdone yourself this time, Miss G.,” Ben marveled, chewing with great relish and consuming his entire cupcake in three large bites.
Missy had to agree, the Purple People Pleasers were even better than she had expected, they would most likely sell out quickly as the featured cupcake of the day. While Ben cleared up the remnants of their quick breakfast, Missy went to the front door and unlocked it, turning over the little wooden sign that indicated they were open. Her first customer of the day was a sweet elderly woman that she lived down the street from when she was growing up, Mrs. Cora Nesbitt.
“Well, good morning, Mrs. Nesbitt,” Missy greeted her with genuine warmth. “How are you on this beautiful summer day?”
“Oh, Missy darlin’, life is so good. The sun is shinin’, the birds are singin’, and my peaches are just startin’ to ripen on the tree,” she replied. “How you doin’ sugar?”
“Right as rain, and I’m going to be wanting some of those peaches to make my Perfectly Peachy muffins with, so you let me know when I can come by and get a bushel.”
“I certainly will, child, I certainly will.” Mrs. Nesbitt was headed for a ladies quilting club this morning, so Missy put an assortment of cupcakes, cookies and muffins in a large pink box for her, and wrapped it with a pretty ribbon and bow. Thanking her profusely for the extra attention and including a generous tip on her bill, the kindly woman took the box and went on her way, promising to let Missy know when her peaches were ripe. As soon as Mrs. Nesbitt left, an avalanche of customers came in that did