Killer Chocolate—A Valentine Mystery
Part One—Lenora Worth
“Two weeks until the big day.”
Lovey Hart glanced around her quaint little “Hearts and Flowers” gift store and steeled herself against the busy days ahead. And the fact that she’d be alone on Valentines Day yet again.
But Lovey knew she was blessed in spite of being alone. She had her friends, her family and her memories of Ryan. Had it really been five years since he’d disappeared? Why couldn’t she believe what everyone did—that he was dead, lost at sea in a terrible boating accident.
Pushing thoughts of her fiancé out of her mind, Lovey moved past the high-backed red velvet Victorian antique sofa and matching chair centered in the middle of her shop to open the old stained glass doors, the tingling of golden bells she’d attached to the doors sending out a whimsical calling to anyone on the historical downtown street. But the sound of the nearby crashing ocean waves sent an eerie chill down her spine. She waved to Mr. Creamer where he stood with a brooding look in front of his “Rare Books and Gadgets” shop across the street then glanced at her filigree gold watch. Her helper Athena was late this morning. And Athena was never late.
Leaning down to pet the tabby she’d named Cupid, Lovey took in the scent of fresh rich chocolate. She always brewed a pot of her special imported dark hot chocolate on cold days such as this one. She offered the special mix to her customers, along with rich chocolates from all over the world. She had cookies, brownies, fudge, truffles—any kind of chocolate to entice her customers. She baked the cookies and brownies herself and had help with the rest. Since Valentine’s Day was one of her busiest times of the year, she’d planned ahead. Along with her chocolates, she offered fresh roses she bought from a local hot house and pretty, frilly accessories and knickknacks. Yes, she was a romantic but her heart had been broken when Ryan walked out of her life with no explanations except to tell her he wanted to go sailing for about a week--alone. He'd never made it back for their Valentine's Day dinner.
I wonder where he is. Is he still alive? The authorities said no, but in her heart she felt that Ryan would return to her one day. Will I ever know? And where was Athena?
“I’ll give her a call,” Lovey said to Cupid. The old cat gave her a lazy glance then went back to licking his big paws.
Lovey put her cell phone to her ear, waiting for Athena to answer. “Hello,” she said when she heard static in her ear. “Athena?”
“Lovey, there’s something you need to know,” Athena said on a rushed breath. “I think--.” The connection was cut off.
“What is going on?” Lovey said into the phone. Fearing for her older friend, she tried calling her back.
Then she looked out the window and saw a tall, dark-haired man approaching her shop. And that man looked remarkably like her long-lost Ryan.