Ice Cream and Incidents, page 15part #13 of Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Series
Pulling herself back to the present time, she closed the book and held it tightly to her chest. It had been two years since she had lost her husband, but it was still difficult to fight back the tears. She allowed one to slip down her cheek before she pulled herself together. Lewis had made her promise she would move on with her life and find happiness again.
She placed the book back in the box and turned back to the front door. She did not need a book full of dates to remember Lewis; he was always with her, even in Scarlet Cove.
Leaving the memories behind, she walked into the bright Saturday afternoon, breathing in the fresh seaside air as she pushed the keys into her pocket. The scent of salt and vinegar from the fish and chip shop down the road was thick in the air. Her stomach grumbled, but she could not think about food yet. Seagulls squawked overhead, sounding as hungry as she felt.
Liz picked up the final box, her back creaking. She paused and took in a deep breath. It had been a long day, but she could not believe how glad she was to finally be away from her life in Manchester. With her mind firmly on her future, she turned with the heavy box, hitting a short woman in the process. The collision sent the woman and the box tumbling to the ground. The contents of Liz’s bathroom exploded through the cardboard and scattered across the pavement.
“I’m so sorry!” Liz apologised as she helped the woman to her feet. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“That’s ok,” the woman said as she swept dirt and gravel from her sixties-style dress. “I’m usually the one not looking where I’m going. They say I was born with two left feet.” The woman chuckled, before making Liz jump with a snap of her fingers. “You must be our new resident! I’m Nancy Turtle.”
“Turtle?” Liz asked, arching a brow as she shook Nancy’s hand. “Unusual name.”
“We’re an old family,” Nancy exclaimed proudly, her red-tinted lips beaming from ear to ear. “There’s been a Turtle in Scarlet Cove for as long as anyone can remember.”
“I’m Elizabeth,” she replied. “Elizabeth Jones. Not as exciting, but everyone calls me Liz.”
Nancy heartily shook Liz’s hand again. She would have guessed the woman with the funny name was in her early thirties. She had impossibly thick brown hair with a full fringe that seemed a little too short for her pretty, round face. Thick glasses framed her hazel eyes, magnifying them to double their original size. She was short and curvy, which made Liz feel like a lanky basketball player in comparison.
“We’re all very excited about a new shop opening in Scarlet Cove! It’s not very often we get new things here.” Nancy adjusted her glasses before leaning in. “What’s to become of the old sweet shop? I tried to ask Bob, but he kept it all very hush hush.”
“I’m opening an arts and crafts shop,” Liz said, unsure of what sort of reaction her admission was going to provoke. “I thought a pretty seaside fishing town like this would have more than a few creative people.”
“I love art!” Nancy cried, clapping her hands together. “But between you and me, I’m not very good at it. I work at the gallery though, so I get to surround myself with paintings every day. I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
“I really am sorry,” Liz said again, eager to get on with her work. “I’ll watch where I’m going next time.”
Nancy waved a dismissive hand and said, “It’s fine! Gives me a break from being bossed around at the gallery. I work for the dragon lady, but if anyone asks, I’ll deny saying that. Let me help you gather your things. I’m half responsible, after all.”
Before Liz could refuse, Nancy bobbed down and started to gather up the contents of her bathroom cabinet. She peered over her glasses at a couple of the bottles, and even though they were the cheapest Liz had found at a skincare shop, Nancy did not seem to judge, despite her soft and radiant complexion showing that Nancy cared a little more about that stuff than Liz did.
“Let me give you a tour of Scarlet Cove tomorrow,” Nancy offered as she picked up a bottle of painkillers and dropped it into the box. “It’s the least I can do. You won’t know your way around yet, and everyone is dying to meet you.”
Liz tried to think of a way to refuse without hurting the feelings of the nice woman who loved art but could not paint. She thought back to her anonymous life in the city, reminded once again how different Scarlet Cove was. If she had bumped into someone back in Manchester, they would not have been so quick to help gather her things.
“I think I’ll be okay,” Liz said as she picked up the full box. “I’m used to –”
“How about lunchtime?” Nancy jumped in with a smile as she adjusted her glasses. “I’m not working tomorrow.”
Liz forced herself to nod. She had not expected to make friends in her first hour in town, but from the pleased look on Nancy’s face, Liz knew she had picked a good person to bump into.
“You’ve been lucky to arrive on market day,” Nancy said, appearing eager to continue the conversation. “See the guy with brown hair? That’s my boyfriend, Jack, and that’s Simon standing next to him.” Liz followed Nancy’s finger to the paved market square, which was filled with white-roofed stalls. “Jack helps Simon out with his food stall when he can.”
“I should really get on with unpacking,” Liz said with an awkward smile as she looked down at her box. “Lots to do.”
“Me too. Well, not with the unpacking, but – you know what I mean. Busy, busy! You should try Simon’s ice cream. It’s the pride of Scarlet Cove.”
Just like her landlord, Nancy hugged Liz, wrapping her arms awkwardly around the large box. Liz stared into the distance and wondered if every person she would come into contact with was going to be so tactile.
With a promise to see Liz tomorrow, Nancy scurried off through the market, no doubt heading back towards the gallery, the location of which Liz would discover tomorrow. Learning of the gallery’s existence soothed Liz. It was nice to know she had moved somewhere that appreciated art, and it would not hurt her shop having fellow artists in the small fishing town.
After taking the final box up to her flat, she headed back to the street and locked the door. She had not intended doing anything other than unpacking and starting on a bottle of wine, but the mention of ice cream had piqued her interest. She crossed the road and headed straight for the stall Nancy had pointed out. The men, one with brown hair, and one with dirty blond, greeted her with warm smiles. She was glad when neither of them tried to hug her.
“You must be the newbie,” Simon said with an intrigued smile, his bulky muscular frame being the first to not make Liz feel freakishly tall since arriving. “Welcome to Scarlet Cove!”
“How does everyone know about me already?” Liz replied with a curious laugh. “I thought I was slipping in quietly.”
“It’s a small town,” Simon said. “Word travels fast ‘round here. We haven’t had anyone new arrive in a while, so you’ve been quite the conversation piece since ol’ Bob Slinger spilled the beans about someone finally agreeing to rent his shop and flat.”
“You’ll love it here,” Jack, Nancy’s boyfriend, said. “Best place on Earth. What can we do for you?”
Liz looked down at the small stall. It was modest but had a large variety of different flavoured ice creams to choose from, along with more types of cheese than Liz knew existed.
“I’m not the biggest ice cream eater,” Liz said as she tapped her hand on her chin. “I’m not sure I’m in the mood for eating a block of cheese though.”
The two men chuckled, and even though she thought they were laughing at her at first, she realised there was no judgement in their voices.
“People ‘round here love the vanilla,” Simon offered. “It’s my favourite too.”
“You’ve sold me,” Liz said with a nod. “Vanilla it is.”
Liz stepped back as Simon scooped a generous amount of the ice cream into a cone.
“First one is on the house,” Simon said as he handed Liz the ice cream.
Liz accepted the ice cream and smiled her thanks at the kind man. She took his appearance in properly. He had big brown eyes, tousled dirty blond hair, which was coupled with a light dusting of stubble across his cheeks and jaw. He had a soft smile, bright white teeth, and dimples on either side of his dark red lips. Liz could not deny the ice cream seller was handsome, even if he was a similar age to Nancy.
Liz licked the ice cream, the rich and creamy flavour catching her by surprise. Simon leaned back and crossed his arms, appearing more than a little pleased with his handiwork.
“This is really good,” Liz said. “Really, really good.”
“Did you expect any less?” he asked, his brows tensing a little. “I make everything myself up on the family farm. From cow to cone, it’s all me.”
“That’s impressive,” Liz said after taking another lick. “You might have changed my mind about ice cream.”
“Here,” Simon said, reaching into his front jeans pocket to pull out a white napkin. “You’ve got some –”
Simon wiped Liz’s chin where she must have dribbled the melting ice cream. A fleeting moment of eye contact caused an unexpected reaction in Liz’s stomach. She did not need a mirror to know she was blushing.
“Thanks,” she mumbled. “I’d better make my way back. Lots to do.”
With her ice cream in hand, she rushed back to her flat before they could say anything more. She could not quite place her finger on why she felt so embarrassed, but she did. When she reached her flat, she turned back and looked at the stall. Jack nudged Simon, both men grinning like Cheshire cats. Simon met her eyes and gave her a little wave, but she quickly turned to her door, feeling unable to return it. After fumbling with her keys, she unlocked the door and slipped inside. Back in the safety of her flat, she looked down at the ice cream with a smile.
“Too young for you,” she whispered to herself as she set off up the stairs to wait for the arrival of her flat pack furniture.
Book 1-3 in the Scarlet Cove series are OUT NOW! Check them out on Amazon (FREE on Kindle Unlimited)
Also by Agatha Frost
The Scarlet Cove Seaside Series
Dead in the Water (Book 1) - OUT NOW
Castle on the Hill (Book 2) - OUT NOW
Stroke of Death (Book 3) - OUT NOW
The Peridale Cafe Series
Pancakes and Corpses (Book 1) - OUT NOW
Lemonade and Lies (Book 2) - OUT NOW
Doughnuts and Deception (Book 3) - OUT NOW
Chocolate Cake and Chaos (Book 4) - OUT NOW
Shortbread and Sorrow (Book 5) - OUT NOW!
Espresso and Evil (Book 6) - OUT NOW
Macarons and Mayhem (Book 7) - OUT NOW
Fruit Cake and Fear (Book 8) - OUT NOW
Birthday Cake and Bodies (Book 9) - OUT NOW
Gingerbread and Ghosts (Book 10) - OUT NOW
Cupcakes and Casualties (Book 11) - OUT NOW
Blueberry Muffins and Misfortune (Book 12) - OUT NOW
Ice Cream and Incidents (Book 13) - OUT NOW
Book 14 - COMING SOON
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Other author's books:
- Champagne and CatastrophesFruit Cake and Fear (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 8)Macarons and Mayhem (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 7)Ice Cream and IncidentsEspresso and Evil (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 6)Lemonade and Lies (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 2)Doughnuts and Deception (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 3)Cupcakes and Casualties (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 11)
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