One-Day Super Saturday Writers’ Conference

A writers’ conference is a great place to learn more about writing techniques and marketing and publishing opportunities and possibilities.  It is also a great place to meet other writers and make connections and form bonds, which is a wonderful thing since writing is a lonely business.  You can make lifelong friends who can help and encourage you and you can do the same for them as you walk your writing journey.  I attended this event last year, and cannot wait to attend this Saturday.  If you are anywhere near Lancaster County, I invite you to come and see what this one-day conference has to offer, and if you like, I can meet you face-to-face if you let me know you are coming so we can connect.

LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 11, 2015, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

For a bargain of excellence and price, no writer, whether beginning or advanced, within driving radius will want to miss Lancaster Christian Writers’ Super Saturday 2015!! to be held April 11th, 2015, from 8:30am.-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601.

This one-day writers conference offers a full slate of workshops taught by top industry professionals in both fiction and non-fiction fields. An early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 8, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch (think Panini!) and LCW membership. Registrations after April 9 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Dina Sleiman and Kelly Long along with children’s author Brenda Hendricks. Non-fiction faculty include TV/radio speaker, marketing expert, award-winning author of 19 books Karen Whiting, professional memoir and ghostwriter Shawn Smucker, journalist/social media experts Lisa Bartelt and Alison McLennan.

Keynoting the opening session will be linguist, missionary, and author Grace Fabian. Workshops cover such topics as: 

Market Yourself Now! Learn Tools to Develop Press Kit, Bio, Website, and Other PR Products.

Writing Blockbuster Scenes: How To Keep Readers Flipping Pages and Asking For More.

 Transformed Manuscripts: Repackaging Your Ideas (Sold or Rejected) to Expand Marketability.

 The Unfortunate Truth in Fiction: Addressing Hard Issues Without Pulling Down Your Story.

 A Story To Tell: Surefire Do’s and Don’ts to Write a Gripping True Life Story or Memoir.

 Myers-Briggs for Your Protagonist: Applying Personality Types to Create Characters with Distinctive Qualities, Motivations, and Voices.

 Let’s Ride the Seesaw: Recruiting Your Inner Child to Communicate with Young Readers.

 100% Guaranteed (Oh, Yeah?) Secret to Blogging Success Beyond Your Wildest Dreams!

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Conference attendees can get personal consultations with faculty on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lancaster Christian Writers welcomes writers of all churches and denominations, all levels and genres. Monthly meetings offer opportunities for manuscript critique, networking with other writers, workshops and guest authors.

River’s Edge by Terri Blackstock

This is Book #3 in the Cape Refuge Series.  If you remember, I already reviewed Book #4 of this series here.  I know, I seem to be reading this series in reverse, but it still makes sense and is still very suspenseful and enjoyable.  I received a copy of River’s Edge free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program.  I am not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Official Book Description

The man Lisa Jackson loved most may have betrayed her.

Another used deception to manipulate her.

But did one of them kill her?

Ben Jackson is sure to defeat Jonathan Cleary in Cape Refuge’s mayoral race, until his wife turns up missing the day before a major debate. Suspecting foul play, Police Chief Cade launches an island-wide search. But it takes a psychic’s “vision” to point police to the riverside-and Lisa’s body.

The evidence implicating Ben in his wife’s murder is convincing. But as a local scandal escalates into a national media circus, Cade’s instincts tell him to dig deeper. And he’s not the only one. Blair Owens of the Cape Refuge Journal is using her investigative skills to uncover a rat’s nest of dirty secrets-and more than one person with a motive for murder. But Blair’s methods are jeopardizing her relationship with Cade, and an unsolicited prediction from the psychic only adds to her troubles. Is the man’s so-called gift truly from God, as he claims?

Did Lisa’s murder have anything to do with the mayoral race, her husband’s alleged affair, or her decade-long struggle with infertility? Whoever the killer is, he’s about to take his evasion of justice to the next, lethal level. And someone else is going to die.

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This story is well-written and deals with some difficult issues like infertility.  It is realistic and the characters are people who will draw you into the story and make you care about them from page one.  The suspense of who killed Lisa Jackson will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end, and there are enough suspects to keep you guessing.  I love to read suspenseful novels and try to solve the crime and figure out who the guilty party is before it is revealed, but Terri Blackstock in the Cape Refuge series (the two that I have read so far) always surprises me, and to me, that says the author did a great job with the story because it was intricately woven in a way that I thought I knew who dunnit, but I didn’t.

This series also includes a recurring group of townsfolk who keep you coming back to each book of the series.  Their storylines include suspense and romance as well as real-life issues.  Blair Owens’s walk of faith is a joy to watch as it grows and she faces some of the spiritual struggles we all deal with.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a well-written story about realistic characters dealing with realistic issues.  I also recommend this novel to anyone who loves a fast-paced suspense novel, as well as a mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Breaker’s Reef by Terri Blackstock

I have been a Terri Blackstock fan for some time.  Her books always keep me turning pages and Breaker’s Reef was no exception.  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program, and I must admit that when I received the book and saw that it is book four of the “Cape Refuge Series”, I thought I might be lost because I hadn’t read the first three books in the series.  However, that was not the case.  I’m sure that many of the characters are part of the first three books as Cape Refuge is a town, but Ms. Blackstock wrote this book in such a way that I could read it and not feel like I was reading a book from a series where I had missed a lot of important information.  She gave enough information on the characters that I understood them and the connections between them, and the plot line seemed independent.

Breaker’s Reef is the story of Sadie, a young lady who has lived a difficult life, whose mother has recently straightened out her own life though she has a secret that is soon revealed — she had another daughter before Sadie, one she gave up for adoption. When a murder takes place, Sadie’s mom thinks she may have information as to who may have done it.  Then, another young girl turns up dead and another missing.  Danger seems to lurk around every corner as Sadie decides to try to find the missing girl.  In between all of the murders and abductions, the Police Chief is trying to propose to the woman he has loved for a long time, but the case seems to grow more tangled and time consuming every day.

Breaker’s Reef is suspenseful and gripping with a touch of humor and romance.  It definitely kept me turning pages.  The young ladies in this book were impressive characters in the way they showed compassion and wanted to help other young girls in trouble.  They encouraged others to take a step to change their lives.  The story and its characters were inspiring.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery with an inspirational message.  If you love a story that grabs your attention and holds it until the very end, Breaker’s Reef is a book you’ll want to read.  I can’t wait to read the first three that came before Breaker’s Reef in the “Cape Refuge Series”.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 25)

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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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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.

 

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 24)

Tara paid another visit to Trenton Davis on Thursday morning.  She requested another check and asked if he could help her set up a separate checking account with a debit card for the business.  Of course, he was delighted to see her and help in any way he could.  He asked if she had decided on a name for the business, as that would be necessary to set up the account.  “Fanciful Flavors Cafe.  I will be serving teas, coffees, sandwiches, salads, quiches, and pastries, pies and other baked items.  Most of the foods will be my own original creations.  Our regular hours will be from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.  I will offer party packages, as well, for birthdays, baby and bridal showers.  Evenings will be for special events that I choose to do or for the parties.”

Trenton thought this cafe idea was exactly what Tara needed.  She was so excited about opening this business, that she was smiling and her eyes were shining.  Her skin also had a healthier glow than it had several weeks before.  He was counting down the days until he could approach her again about spending time with her.  It was hard to be patient.

Trenton helped set everything up for Tara, knowing that it meant she wouldn’t need to be coming into his office to see him as often, in regard to her business.  He walked her to his office door, kissed her hand again, and wondered if she noticed the disappointment in his eyes.

Friday, Tara spent most of the day on the computer, finding the best equipment at the most reasonable prices for the cafe.  When she was satisfied with a find, she called the company, placed the order and asked for delivery and installation for Monday.  By the end of the day, she was certain that she had ordered all of the equipment she would need for the kitchen and office.

Tara decided to go into the city on Saturday.  She visited a furniture store and picked out tables and chairs for inside the cafe, as well as about six tables with umbrellas for outside.  She was very happy with her choices.  She also visited a large department store where she found curtains.

Tara attended church on Sunday morning, and Katie and Marvin invited her to join them for lunch.  She told them all about the things she had done over the previous two days to prepare for her cafe opening.

She reminded Katie of an eager child on Christmas morning.  Katie was happy to see Tara smiling and full of life again.

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Monday morning arrived and Tara arrived at the cafe at seven thirty.  At eight, the first shipment arrived.  It was the office equipment.  In no time at all, the two deliverymen had her office desk and chair in place and her computer set up.

Next, came the man from the phone company.  He installed a phone in her office and one in the main part of the cafe and made sure they were both in working order before he left.  Then the kitchen and counter people arrived.  Three men installed the stove and ovens and the dishwasher, while two others built the counter.  The kitchen and counter people left at lunch time, and Tara went to Pepe’s, the pizza place, and purchased two slices of spinach, tomato, and feta pizza and a Coke.  She returned to her cafe just as the display cases arrived.  Two men installed them and were finished in an hour.

Around two o’clock, some men came to install the kitchen sink and  the furniture arrived.  Tara had the delivery men place the tables and chairs in the places she wanted, both inside and out.  Then she hung the curtains.  She was very happy with the look of the cafe.  It was painted sunshine yellow with white trim and the curtains she had purchased were gold.  The tables and chairs were sturdy oak and the outdoor tables and chairs were wrought-iron painted white.

Tara walked around and placed three of her paintings on the cafe walls.  One was a painting of two ladies having tea in a garden in early morning sunlight, one was a painting of a table filled with tasty looking foods and lit by two candelabras, and the third was of a Chinese man driving a becak, a peddle-driven bicycle that pulls a cart, with a lady dressed in lace and wearing a fancy hat in the cart.

In the office, she hung the pictures she had painted of Jaime and Hunter.  She took a last look around, sighed and locked up the cafe around four.  Then she went to the newspaper office, where she placed a “Help Wanted” ad as well as a “Grand Opening” ad for the Monday two weeks away.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 23)

Tara and Katie made Land and Home Real Estate their first stop on Thursday morning.  Tara asked to see the three places one more time.  Though they were all similar to what she had envisioned, she chose the one on Bentley Street.  It was just a fifteen minute drive from her house, and Bentley Street received a good bit of attention from the neighborhood.  Bentley Street was home of a bookstore, gift shop, ice cream parlor, bank, pizza shop, a toy store and a vintage clothing store, all of which seemed to do a pretty good business.  She was excited about adding her little cafe/bakery to the neighborhood.

Tara thoroughly enjoyed shopping with Katie for the two little girls.  Tara insisted on purchasing two teddy bears, one for each of them.  “I loved my teddy bear when I was growing up.  I carried it everywhere and had tea parties with it and played dress up with it.  My teddy bear was my best friend, and every child should have one,” she told Katie.

“Thank you, Tara.  I’m sure the girls will love them.”

They decided to visit each of the shops along Bentley Street and Tara introduced herself to all of the owners and informed them that she would be joining them soon.  They all seemed genuinely happy to have her moving in.

She and Katie had lunch at the pizza shop.  “Life brings such big changes so quickly.  Who would have thought that I would be the mother of twins before this year is over?”

“Or that I would be a widow, so young and so soon?”

“Oh, Tara, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.  You’re right.  We just never know what will change or when.”

“That’s why it’s so important to make the most of each day.  Life and time are so precious.  We need to value the time and life that we have.”

“Yes.  That is why I am excited about opening my cafe/bakery.  I need something to do with my time.  And, I look forward to meeting people.”

‘I’m certain your cafe/bakery will be successful.  You’re a wonderful cook and you’re smart too.”

“I can’t wait to get in to the cafe and begin preparing it for opening.  I’ll be able to take possession on Monday and will have things that I need delivered and installed as soon as possible.  I will place an ad in the paper and begin taking applications and scheduling interviews for a few employees.  It’s both scary and exciting at the same time.”

The door to the pizza shop opened and in walked Natalie Jacobson.  She looked awful.  She had lost a lot of weight and her usually well-tailored dress hung on her like something two sizes too big.  Her face appeared gaunt and her eyes were dull.

Tara rose from her chair and approached, “Natalie, are you okay?”

Natalie looked at Tara as though she didn’t recognize her.  After a few minutes, it seemed her eyes came into focus and she said, “Oh, Tara.  I didn’t expect to see you here.  It’s just so warm outside.  I thought I’d come in for something cold to drink.”

Natalie tried to brush past Tara and when she did, she stumbled.  Tara grabbed her arm and helped her to a chair at the table she had been occupying with Katie.  Natalie looked pale and Tara noticed her hands were shaking a little.  She hurried to the counter and returned with a glass of lemonade for Natalie.

Natalie drank, but her hands didn’t stop shaking.

“Natalie, have you been ill?”  Tara asked.

“I just haven’t been the same since . . .” she trailed off and seemed to stare off into space.

“Since when?”

Natalie rose to her feet abruptly, knocking the glass of remaining lemonade over.  “Oh, oh, I’m so sorry, but I have to go,” and with that, she was out the door and gone.

Katie finished wiping up the spilled lemonade with some napkins and looked at Tara, “What do you suppose that was all about?”

“I don’t know.”

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 22)

Tara invited Katie and Marvin for dinner the next evening.  She hadn’t visited with Katie for a long time.  She marinated a beef roast in Ginger’s Oolong tea all day.  Ginger’s Oolong has the subtle flavors of peach and toasted nuts contrasted by the ginger.  In the evening, Tara cooked the beef slowly in the oven and she made a salad of mixed greens, feta cheese and pears with a lemon poppy seed dressing and baked potatoes with garlic butter.  She topped the meal off with an orange sponge pie.  All of these foods were her own creations.

Marvin and Katie were very impressed and loved the flavors of the foods.  They were excited to hear about Tara’s plans to open her own little cafe.  They promised to be frequent customers.

“So how long before you will return to China and bring your little ones home?” Tara asked.

“In about two months,” said Marvin.  “The trip Katie accompanied me on a month ago was her initial meeting with the children.  It is two sisters.  They loved Katie right from the start.  They are five and three years old.”

“I’m planning on going shopping for some things for their bedroom and to get them a few new clothes on Thursday, if you’d like to come along,” Katie said.

“That would be great, as long as you don’t mind stopping at Land and Home Real Estate with me.  I need to give Ms. Myers my decision on which place I want to purchase for my cafe.”

“Great.  We haven’t had a day out in such a long time.  You’ve been through so much, Tara.  How are you holding up?”

“It has been difficult.  I miss Allen and Eva, and the house is lonely without them, but I have to get used to living alone.  There were just so many unexpected things in this whole mess.  I never had a clue that Jaime had a son or that he had been in a relationship with someone before me.  He never told me those things.  The worst part is not knowing who is responsible for his death and knowing that whoever it was, is still walking around free.”

“That is unsettling.  You met Jaime’s son, right?”

“Yes.  His name is Hunter William Fleming.  She didn’t give him Jaime’s last name, but she did give him Jaime’s middle name.  He looks more like her, but he has Jaime’s personality.  He’s a very sweet boy.”

“How old is he?”

“Ten, and she’s sending him off to boarding school.”

“How sad.”

“Yes, we promised to write to one another.  I’m worried about what will happen to him without Jaime in his life.  His mother and grandfather don’t seem to take his thoughts and feelings into account for anything.”

“I don’t understand people like that.”

“Well, ladies, I hate to break up the party, but I have an early flight to Jamaica in the morning.”

“Oh, Marvin, I’m so sorry.  Here we are talking away and you’re about ready to fall asleep.”

“It’s okay, Tara.  Dinner was delicious, and it was a pleasure to spend some time with you.  You will continue to be in our prayers, for your new business adventure as well as for the settling of the mystery behind Jaime’s death.  We will also add young Hunter to our prayer list, won’t we, Katie?”

“We certainly will.”

“Thank you,” said Tara.

Katie hugged Tara and they promised to meet Thursday morning at eight and would be sure to include lunch in their plans for the day.