Grand Openings Can Be Murder
Grand Openings Can Be Murder (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
by Amber Royer
About Grand Openings Can Be Murder
Grand Openings Can Be Murder (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
1st in Series
Publisher: Golden Tip Press (February 2, 2021)
Paperback: 266 pages
Digital ASIN: B08JLFHD7N
Felicity Koerber has had a rough year. She’s moving back to Galveston Island and opening a bean to bar chocolate factory, fulfilling a dream she and her late husband, Kevin, had shared. Craft chocolate means a chance to travel the world, meeting with farmers and bringing back beans she can turn into little blocks of happiness, right close to home and family.
She thinks trouble has walked into her carefully re-built world when puddle-jump pilot Logan Hanlon shows up at her grand opening to order custom chocolates. Then one of her employees drops dead at the party, and Felicity’s one-who-got-away ex-boyfriend – who’s now a cop – thinks Felicity is a suspect. As the murder victim’s life becomes more and more of a mystery, Felicity realizes that if she’s going to clear her name in time to save her business, she might need Logan’s help. Though she’s not sure if she’s ready to let anyone into her life – even if it is to protect her from being the killer’s next victim. For Felicity, Galveston is all about history, and a love-hate relationship with the ocean, which keeps threatening to deliver another hurricane – right into the middle of her investigation. Can she figure it out before all the clues get washed away?
Read an Excerpt
I’m sitting in a tall chair at the kitchen island, scrolling through pictures from my recent trip to Colombia. I’m trying to decide which ones are social-media worthy, when I spot a picture of my late husband, in between a close up shot of a cacao pod and a picture of me smiling from between two chocolate farmers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
My breath catches, and I sit there staring at it, re-memorizing the curve of his face, imagining the sound of his laugh, lost inside myself.
The smoke alarm goes off, making me jump. I’d lost all track of time.
Aunt Naomi rushes into the kitchen wearing paint spattered jeans and a tee that says World’s Best Mom. She turns off the oven, before I’ve even registered the smoke that is rapidly filling the room. “Felicity! What’s with you today?”
I look up from my laptop screen, still feeling a bit hazy, and grab a cookie sheet. After sliding off my shoes, I climb up onto the chair I’d been sitting in, and from there onto the island, a modern addition to this historic home, waving the smoke away from the device until it finally quiets. Why on Earth were Victorian houses built with ceilings that were twelve feet tall? “Sorry. It’s just . . . you know.”
I pull the phone out of my jeans pocket. I’d set a timer when I’d put the cacao beans in the oven. Unfortunately . . . I’d forgotten to press start, though I usually catch the smell of brownies or the first pop of the beans without it. Flavors in chocolate develop by the second. I’d completely lost my focus. How long had I been staring at that photograph?
“Oh, honey.” My aunt opens up the windows and back door before coming over. She holds a hand up to help me down from my precarious perch. Sympathy shines in her warm brown eyes. She’s barely forty, only eight years older than me, and we bear a passing resemblance to each other, with lightly freckled cheeks and long dark hair, and pale skin that goes red in the sun but never tans. I’m taller, though, by several inches.
I stifle a cough. I’m prone to asthma, and the last thing I want is Aunt Naomi thinking the smoke in the air will give me an attack. She’s already worried enough about me making chocolate, with the heat and dust involved. “There-” I start, but my voice cracks. Getting the words out feels a little like someone is stepping on my chest. Grief hits you hard, and weird, and at unexpected times. I wave my hand at the laptop screen, with the picture still up. “There was a picture of Kevin in with all the Colombia shots. I must have copied it off of my phone by mistake.”
“Oh, honey,” Aunt Naomi says. I wish she wouldn’t call me that. The more often she says it in a conversation, the more she’s pitying me. “It’s next week, isn’t it?”
I nod. Next week, on Monday, is my wedding anniversary. Only – Wednesday will be the first anniversary of my husband’s death. And I’m not sure I can handle it. He’d been so vibrant, so young. We’d thought we had all the time in the world. Three years ago, we’d been toying around with ideas for starting our own business together, when Kevin hit his buy-in for retirement benefits. Even early retirement had seemed so far away. At least another decade. And then Kevin had had his accident, out on a boat he’d helped design. And then hours later he’d just been gone.
But I don’t want to talk about that again with my aunt. Instead, I fake a smile. “Monday’s the grand opening party.” Which she well knows. She’s been social-media-ing about it like crazy, and helping me put up fliers all over the Island, and as far inland as Friendswood and even Houston. “Greetings and Felicitations will be up and running.”
The name had been Kevin’s idea, something he’d come up with in those last hours between his accident and his death. It was a play on his favorite book as a child. The line from Charlotte’s Web had actually been, “Greetings and Salutations.” But everything in his life had been about us as a couple. And knowing how brief his life was going to be, he’d wanted me to read about Charlotte again.
“Then let’s leave that mess,” Naomi gestures with her chin over at the oven. “And go shopping.”
“You’re the one that asked me to work here today.” I move over to the oven and cautiously open the door. The cacao beans inside are beyond burned. More smoke billows out.
“I didn’t want you spending all day alone. Again. When those assistants of yours aren’t available-” Aunt Naomi scrunches up her nose. “What smells like old chicory coffee?”
“Chocolate gone horribly wrong.” I say it like it’s the punch line to a joke. It falls flat.
About Amber Royer
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Royer/e/B00PFV4CGM
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