Tara’s week was fairly quiet. She spent most of it at home planning her menu for the first week of opening her cafe. By Friday, she had received a dozen applications for the employees she needed.
Therefore, she spent Friday evening and all day Saturday studying the applications and deciding which ones she wanted to call for interviews. She felt she needed two employees and both would need to be able to wait tables, serve and run a register. At least one would also need to know how to cook and bake, make coffee and tea. She decided to interview half of the applicants.
Monday morning, Tara called the six applicants and set up interview times for that afternoon and Tuesday morning. She asked each why they thought they should be chosen for the job. She asked about their experience, and informed them of the specific requirements she was looking for. She told each one that she would inform them of her decision on Thursday morning, and she would expect the two that she hired to join her in the cafe on Friday and Saturday for training, and would require one of them in at five Monday morning to prepare for the seven o’clock opening. The other would be able to come in at six thirty Monday morning. She watched each applicant carefully as they responded to her questions and her requirements, looking for the ones who were really interested in working in her cafe, not simply looking for a way to earn some money. She wanted dedicated, committed hard workers.
Thursday morning, she called Madeline Haze and Betsy Collins to let them know that they were the ones she wanted to hire. Madeline was thankful and Betsy was excited. Tara was sure these ladies would work out well. Madeline was forty-five years old and had raised and homeschooled five children. She knew a lot about cooking and baking, and not from box mixes, and she knew how to make a proper pot of tea and a good pot of coffee. She would be in at five Monday morning. Betsy was in her late twenties and was simply excited at the prospect of being part of a new cafe that she thought was such a cute idea. She said she’d invite all of her friends.
Monday morning, Tara arrived at Fanciful Flavors Cafe at 4:45 a.m. She preheat the ovens and began cracking and beating eggs for the quiches. Madeline arrived at 4:55 a.m. and began to mix up dough for scones. The two hours from five to seven passed quickly and after preparing four different types of quiches, Tara had baked blueberry, sweet potato and raisin bran muffins. Madeline had made orange spice, lemon poppy and sweet buttermilk scones. She had also made lemon curd and Devonshire cream to go with them. Madeline made three pots of coffee: a regular, rich blend, a decaf, and a pot of hazelnut. They also offered some flavored creamers. Tara made three pots of tea: Uva Highlands Ceylon Black Tea, Organic Green Tea with Citrus and Ginkgo, and Decaf Sencha Green Tea.
Betsy arrived, bubbly and bouncy, at 6:30 a.m. and Tara unlocked the doors and turned the sign to say, “Open” underneath the large “Grand Opening” banner at exactly 7 a.m., and there were a few people in line waiting to come in. It seemed that the whole town was curious about this new cafe.
Many of the morning customers ordered take out, as they were on their way to work. Business was steady until about 10 a.m. “I think we’re doing well for a first day. We’ve been serving a continual flow without feeling too rushed or pressured,” said Madeline.
“I hope we have a mad rush for lunch,” said Betsy.
Tara smiled. “Yes, well, at least we have a couple of hours to prepare for lunch. “Betsy, you stay out front to wait on customers, while Madeline and I get back in the kitchen.”
Madeline had begun to slow cook the soups of the day, that morning. They would serve a fiesta tortilla soup and a creamy tomato bisque with crabmeat. Tara made a salad with mixed spring greens, blueberries and strawberries with feta cheese and walnuts with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing and a chef’s salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, ham, American cheese, hard boiled eggs and a tangy dressing with a hint of orange. They were also offering two sandwiches: turkey on a croissant topped with cranberry relish or a ham and provolone cheese served broiled on French bread that had been sprinkled with olive oil and Italian seasoning, with lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado. Madeline also made chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cream filling and banana icing, and Tara made a peach cake with pineapple icing and would serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. They also made fresh pots of the same three coffees and teas, as well as making fresh-squeezed lemonade and offering an iced sweet tea and an iced peach tea.
Betsy got her wish for the lunch crowd. Every table was filled inside and out, and people were waiting for tables. When the crowd began to slow down, Tara noticed a couple of tables inside were occupied by friends. Marvin and Katie were there, Sergeant Ken Olson was there, and Trenton Davis as well. Then the bell on the door tinkled, and in walked Carl and Natalie Jacobson. Natalie stopped abruptly when she noticed Sergeant Olsen. “Carl, can we please go somewhere else. This place is crowded and I’m feeling a bit faint,” she whispered.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Natalie. It’s opening day for Tara. We want to show our support. You’ll be fine.” And he took her arm and led her to a vacant table.
When Betsy went to take their order, Natalie was very distracted. “Natalie, darling, the waitress wants to know what you want to order,” Carl coaxed.
“What? Oh, I’m really not very hungry. I’ll just have a glass of the sweet tea.”
“Natalie, you need to eat something,” said Carl.
“Carl, I said I’m not hungry.”
Carl looked at the waitress and said, “Bring her the turkey croissant.”
Tara decided to take a minute to greet her friends. When she reached Carl and Natalie’s table, Carl said, “Tara, this is a great, little cafe. Your menu offerings are unique. I’m sure you’ll be quite successful.”
“Thank you, Carl. We have been quite busy today, and I certainly hope people will find something they enjoy enough to keep coming back. Natalie, how are you?”
“I, um, oh, Tara, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean to kill him. I only wanted to knock some sense into him,” blurted Natalie.
Tara’s mouth hung open, but nothing came out, and her face was quite pale. Carl helped her into a chair as Sergeant Olsen approached the table.
“Mrs. Jacobson, am I to understand that you just confessed to the murder of Jaime Richardson?”
“Natalie, don’t answer that. I’ll get a good lawyer, but keep your mouth shut until the lawyer arrives.”
“Oh, what do you care, Carl? Yes, Sergeant Olsen, I am responsible for Jaime’s death.”
The cafe was so quiet, it seemed that everyone was holding a collective breath, waiting to hear the entire story.
“You see, Carl has been cheating on me for quite some time . . .”
Carl spluttered his sip of lemonade across the table.
“I had pleaded with Carl to go for counseling. I had begged him to be more like Jaime. Jaime was such an honorable man who took his responsibilities seriously. He was a man of integrity. I went to see him that evening to convince him to leave the country with me. I wanted him to go to Bermuda with me. It would give him a chance to start fresh without all of the pressures of his son’s mother and Tara and everything. But, he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he had no romantic interest in me and that he had responsibilities here. I told him those responsibilities were killing him. We argued. He turned his back to me and expected me to leave. I picked up the statue of the fisherman and hit him on the back of the head. He fell to the floor, and I fled.”
“Natalie Jacobson, you are under arrest for the murder of Jaime Richardson. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. ”
And Sergeant Olsen escorted Natalie from the cafe, just as Allen and Eva walked through the door. Marvin and Katie quickly greeted them and quietly told them of the events that had just transpired.
Allen went to Tara’s side. “Are you okay?”
“I just can’t believe it was Natalie.” She looked at Carl. “Did you know?”
“No. I thought she was having health issues or that she was drinking too much alcohol and not eating. I was certain it was my fault.”
“But you didn’t do anything?”
“Look, Tara, I know, I’m the big jerk; the failure. I cheated on my wife, more than once, and now, I don’t even love her anymore. I don’t love any of them.”
“That’s horrible. But, it really says you need counseling, Carl.” Tara joined Allen and Eva at Marvin and Katie’s table.
The cafe emptied quickly, leaving just those sitting at Marvin and Katie’s table, Trenton Davis, and Madeline and Betsy.
Madeline and Betsy did an excellent job of cleaning up. Trenton Davis approached Tara, “I’m so sorry for what happened. It’s hard enough to find out the person responsible for your husband’s death was someone you thought was a friend, but it’s even harder when it put a damper on your new cafe. Is there anything I can do for you, Tara?”
“No, thank you, Trenton. I think I’ll just go home with Allen and Eva.”
Marvin and Katie remained at the cafe to help Madeline and Betsy close up. They locked the doors to the cafe and went home. Katie dropped the keys off at Tara’s house.
Tara shed more tears — tears for Jaime, tears for Natalie, tears for Hunter and for Allen and Eva and herself. She cried until she couldn’t cry anymore. Then she took a shower and went to bed.
The next morning Tara prepared to go to the cafe. Allen and Eva asked if she was sure she wanted to do that. “Yes, I am. I had turned a page and was beginning to move forward until Natalie’s announcement yesterday, and last night I cried it all out, and I thought about Jaime. Jaime loved me and he made a mistake by not telling me about Hunter and Melody, but one thing I know; Jaime would not want me to mope around for a long time. Jaime’s been gone for two months already and a part of me will always love and miss Jaime, but I know that Jaime would want me to move forward and to keep living, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Allen and Eva smiled and gave Tara hugs. They remained for the rest of the week to help Tara in any way they could and to support her in her adventure with her cafe.
At the end of the week, Tara, once again, said ‘goodbye’ to Allen and Eva and watched them drive away. She breathed a heavy sigh and spent the weekend alone in her home, getting used to the quiet.
Fanciful Flavors Cafe became a favorite place for locals to grab breakfast on their way to work and to have lunch, whether it was a leisurely lunch with friends or a business lunch. Many tourists found their way into Fanciful Flavors Cafe as well, and Tara’s business was a hit.
Trenton Davis came in every day for lunch, and exactly one month after Fanciful Flavors had opened, also three months after Jaime’s death, Trenton Davis came in with a bouquet of yellow roses and a box of chocolates. He presented them to Tara and said, “You said I should call you in three months, but I prefer to make my request in person. I was hoping you would be willing to have dinner with me this evening. Since you’ve been cooking for me for the past month, I’d like to take you somewhere nice where someone else will do the cooking and you can simply relax and enjoy the company.”
He gave her that irresistible smile, and Tara simply said, “I’d love to.”
Dangerous Secrets was an experiment for me. I have never written a story live on the internet before. I have never written anything and allowed others to read it without holding onto it until it was finished and then holding onto it a while longer and re-reading it and making changes. I wrote Dangerous Secrets completely on this website for my readers. I only re-read each post right before hitting the publish button and I have not gone back and changed anything since the publish button was hit. I hope you have enjoyed Dangerous Secrets, and I would really like to hear your thoughts about it.
If you have read the entire story, would you please leave a comment telling me whether or not you liked it, what you liked about it and what you didn’t like about it, if Tara was a character you liked and cared about, if it was too easy to figure out whodunit, and whether or not you would be interested in reading something by me again. I want your complete honesty. The only thing that I ask is that you tell me the stuff you didn’t like in a kind manner. I will appreciate all kind feedback.
If you didn’t read the whole story but are still visiting and reading from time to time, could you please tell me what stopped you from reading the entire story?
I will share all kind comments. Any nasty or inappropriate comments will be deleted.
Thank you to all of my readers. I hope to continue writing stories and I hope many of you will continue to want to read them and to tell your friends about my writing and my website.