Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Mid-Month Mysteries: Excerpt from Restaurants and Revenge

For 2022, I thought I'd try different formats for this series. Perhaps in the next couple of months, I'll schedule interviews or guest posts from other cozy mystery authors. Today, I'll share with you the opening scene of Restaurants and Revenge, Book Two in the Abigail Ritter Cozy Mystery series. This scene may change since I still have to revise, edit, and proofread the book. I hope you enjoy what I have so far!

“Another day, another delectable drink created by Abigail Ritter, owner of the finest restaurant in Magic Lake!” I declared to Sherlock. “How does that sound?”

Sherlock, the crocheted fox I’d found in my grandmother’s apartment, was a stand-in for a camera audience. Someday I planned to post YouTube videos to bring customers to Isabella’s, my bubble tea restaurant named after my late grandmother. But before I felt brave enough to do that, I wanted to gain some experience recording myself. Sherlock, always willing to play with my phone, acted as both cameraman and critic.

Sherlock tapped the phone with a pencil held between his front paws. “Could be punchier,” he said. “How comfortable do you feel about talking and using a knife at the same time?”

I looked down at my fingers. I was still experimenting with drink recipes, but I was sure I didn’t want to add a super-personal touch like my own flesh to them.

“I’ll just take it nice and slow.” I smiled for my audience. “Today, I’m going to make a Citrus Delight. It’s going to have oranges, lemons, basil, sugar, and a couple of other key ingredients that will make this the most refreshing drink you could have on a hot summer day. So, let’s get to it.”

I already had all my tools—measuring cups and spoons, citrus squeezer, and, most importantly, the wooden spoon I’d use for stirring my creation—spread out around my cutting board. The fruit was in a mixing bowl I’d borrowed from my mom’s kitchen. I grabbed an orange and sliced it into quarters with a knife I’d found in this kitchen. After scrubbing and sharpening it, it sliced through the orange like the fruit was paper. Then I squeezed out the juice. The orange quarters didn’t quite fit into the squeezer, but I managed to get most of into the measuring cup. I grinned. Compared to what I’d seen chefs on TV do, this was so easy. I should have left my old job and opened my own restaurant a long time ago.

Sherlock held up a paw. That meant the recording was already at a minute. I couldn’t expect people to watch me all day. I had to hurry this up.

Rather than slice and squeeze each fruit individually, I chopped up the next couple of oranges. As I grabbed the second one, my grip found a soft spot. The sweet scent of orange soured. Sherlock sat up, muzzle in the air. He must have noticed something wasn’t right. I glanced down at the pieces. The insides of the oranges all looked the same. I could stop the recording and try to figure out which section had gone bad, or just keep working and hope it would be diluted out when I added the rest of the ingredients.

It’ll be fine once I add the sugar, I thought as I extracted more juice. It was just a small bad spot. It won’t make the entire drink bad. Besides, the Magic Spoon will fix it. The spoon had been carved from Magic Island wood and was supposed to make my bubble tea shop a success.

I added some lemon juice, fresh chopped basil, sugar, then diluted it with sparkling water and mixed everything with the Magic Spoon. The color was a cheery yellow-orange with green basil bits, though slightly pale. I poured the drink into a glass of ice. All I could smell now was the basil. If I’d gotten the proportions right, the herb should complement the citrus without overpowering it. I took a sip. There was the basil, the lemon, the orange, the sugar—and then a foul aftertaste that made me run to the sink and spit my drink out. I grabbed the sparkling water and chugged it down, but the taste lingered in my mouth.

Sherlock hopped down from the shelf with my phone to the kitchen island. He prodded through the discarded peels and flipped one over. The outer part of the orange was grey-white.

Apparently even the Magic Spoon couldn’t fix a rotten orange. I raced for the bathroom, hoping that getting sick now would keep me from being really sick later.

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was funny. Better to find the rotten orange next time.
I bet Sherlock is fun to write.

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