Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner
Molly Elliott's quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie's bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful - that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.
Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly's past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?
Sadie Kramer was the next to arrive, bustling through the entrance thirty minutes later. A plump woman in her mid-sixties, she wore a floral dress in fuchsia tones that clashed violently with her red, bouffant hair. Knitting needles stuck out of an oversized tote bag that hung from her left arm. A bit of yarn drizzled alongside. In contrast to the first guest, Sadie was outgoing and friendly, fawning over the inn’s décor. She complimented Molly on everything from the vase of fresh snapdragons on the registration table to the soft jazz that flowed from overhead speakers. She wasted no time scurrying to the appetizer table, demonstrating uncanny dexterity as she wedged a Brie-covered cracker between her lips while pouring a glass of wine.
Had Molly been able to hear the effervescent personality in Sadie’s voice on the phone, she might have put her in a more flamboyant room – the Tulip Room, for example, with its multi-colored throw pillows or the Bistro Room, with its wine-labeled wallpaper. But a last-minute switch would be difficult. The Battenberg Room would have to do, white lace and all.
“I love every inch of this place!” Sadie exclaimed. Her tote bag smacked the cheese and cracker tray as she twirled around, causing her knitting needles to click together. “Are there other guests staying here tonight?”
“Yes, a few,” Molly said, reaching out to catch a wine glass that Sadie’s elbow had nudged. She placed it back on the table. “Let me set the tote bag aside for you.”
“No, dear, that won’t be necessary.” Sadie pulled the bag in closer to her side as she reached for another cracker. “I’ll just have a couple more bites and then settle in for the evening.” She flashed a bright smile at Molly.
Sadie embraced the Battenberg room eagerly; she gushed over its details with enthusiasm that equaled what she’d exhibited in the parlor. “What lovely trinkets! What sweet doilies! What an adorable miniature tea set!” The woman patted the quilted bedding with one hand, nodding in approval. Molly watched the wine sway in the glass Sadie still clutched in her other hand. Sadie poked her head in the bathroom and popped back out. “I love that claw foot tub! And who would have thought to put teapots on a shower curtain? It’s delightful!”
Leaving the exuberant woman to get settled, Molly returned to the kitchen. She dumped the coffee in the sink and poured herself a glass of wine. It was going to be a long evening.
Author Deborah Garner
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
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