Lemon Drop Dead, the 6th novel in the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries release earlier this week! I’m so excited to have this book out in the world to answer some of those questions readers have been having about the Esh Family that owns the pretzel shop next to Swissmen Sweets. I hope you enjoy it! As a special treat, I’m sharing the first few pages of the book here for you to read. Enjoy!
Lemon Drop Dead
The front door of Swissmen Sweets swung inward, causing the large shop window to rattle in its frame and the shelves holding jars of jelly beans, caramels, and gumdrops to shake. The noise made me jump. It was late afternoon, and I stood alone, sweeping under the three café tables at the front of the shop where customers could rest while waiting for their candy orders or visit with friends and neighbors while enjoying one of our sweet treats.
The shop would close soon. I looked forward to locking up for the night. My boyfriend, Aiden Brody, had promised me a date night that evening. They were hard to come by for us. We both had crazy work schedules. He was a deputy at the Sheriff’s Department, and I was constantly juggling my duties at Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop I ran with my grandmother in Harvest, Ohio, with the responsibilities of my cable television show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, which filmed in New York City. It was rare that neither of us had an obligation. Sadly, I had a feeling my night off was about to disappear when Aiden’s mother walked through the door.
I stepped behind the domed-glass counter. “Good afternoon, Juliet. What can I do for you?”
Juliet Brook stood on the other side of the counter beaming from ear to ear. From past experience, I took the giant smile as a bad sign.
On this mild May evening, she wore a green and blue polka-dotted blouse over black trousers and black-and-white high heels. Her blond hair was smoothed back into a French twist. Polka dots were her style statement, from her clothes to the black-and-white, polka-dotted potbellied pig she held under her arm. Jethro stared at me in bewilderment as if to ask how he had gotten there and what on earth was happening. Granted, the little bacon bundle had that expression on his pudgy face ninety percent of the time. Until recently, Juliet had toted Jethro, who was roughly the size of a toaster, just about everywhere she went.
But in the last several months since she had married Reverend Brook, the pastor of the large white church on the other side of the village square, she had been carrying Jethro around a lot less often. At least when it came to church functions where she was working in her capacity as pastor’s wife. Those times when she needed to concentrate on her church duties and could not focus on making sure Jethro wasn’t knocking over the church altar, she dropped Jethro off with her favorite pig sitter . . . me.
Now, I didn’t ask for or want the title of go-to pig sitter for Jethro or any other pig, but Juliet had got it in her head that I was the person for the job ever since I had saved the little pig from an untimely death a couple of years back. Because of that, she believed that Jethro and I had a special bond. I wasn’t nearly as convinced. So, when she waltzed into Swissmen Sweets late that afternoon, I had every reason to believe that Jethro was being pawned off on me again.
“Bailey! Bailey! Is it true? Is it true?” Juliet cried in a breathless voice.
I placed the stack of receipts I was checking against my accounts on the counter. “Is what true, Juliet?”
“Emily!” she cried.
“What about Emily?”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake, Bailey, you know what I mean. Emily is having a baby! A baby! Can you believe it! It’s a miracle. I love babies so much.” She gave me a quick glance. “You know I have great dreams of being a grandmother. Can you imagine me as a grandma? I would be the very best.” She held Jethro up above the counter so that I had a better view of his face. “Think of how well I treat Jethro.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Juliet comparing a future grandchild to her comfort pig.
When Jethro grunted, she lowered the pig. “Jethro is a good support to me as I wait for that happy day, if it ever comes.” She stared at me from under her lashes.
It took all my willpower not to grunt back in frustration. Over the last several years, Juliet had made it no secret that she would love to see her only child, Aiden, settled down with a wife and family. Because I was Aiden’s girlfriend, I was certain that she saw me as part of the holdup.
Juliet seemed to ignore the fact that Aiden and I weren’t married, and we had only been officially dating for a year and a half. I thought our relationship was moving along nicely. Juliet begged to differ and, despite the lack of proposal or ring, considered us engaged. She had great and outspoken hopes for a summer wedding this year, but seeing how it was May and we weren’t yet engaged, those hopes would go unfulfilled.
Both Aiden and I wanted to get married, and we’d been talking about it privately with more and more frequency, but our schedules made it difficult to even fathom a wedding. I just didn’t know how I would plan a wedding with all of my other responsibilities for Swissmen Sweets’ expanding business and Bailey’s Amish Sweets. The show had me flying to New York to do promotion or filming every three months. And my calendar wasn’t the only problem. Aiden worked long hours as a sheriff’s deputy. As the second in command to a grumpy and disengaged sheriff, he had to shoulder much of the workload and administrative duties required to keep the department running smoothly.
A little part of me—okay, a giant part—wanted to elope, but I knew Juliet would never forgive us if we did that. Aiden was her only son and her golden boy. She wanted to be there for the wedding. I was pretty sure she wanted Jethro to walk me down the aisle, too.
“Yes, I know Emily’s expecting,” I said. “The baby is due next month. It’s not been a secret. Everyone at Swissmen Sweets is so happy for her.”
Emily Keim was one of my shop assistants. She was a young Amish wife who’d married Christmas tree farmer Daniel Keim a year ago. The young couple was expecting their first child in July. Actually, it would be Daniel’s first child, but not Emily’s. I was certain Juliet knew nothing about Emily’s history as a mother, and I planned to keep it that way.
“I can’t believe I’m just hearing about the baby. I know I’ve been very caught up in the church. You would not believe all the responsibilities I have as the pastor’s wife, but I’m determined to be the very best and make Reverend Brook proud.”
I smiled. There was something endearing and old-fashioned about the fact that Juliet still called her husband Reverend Brook even though they were married. “No one would doubt for a second that you weren’t the perfect pastor’s wife.”
She blushed, and then asked, “What are you going to do about Emily’s baby?”
“What am I going to do about it?” I asked. As far as I knew, there was nothing I could or should do about Emily’s baby.
“Aren’t you going to have a baby shower? She needs a baby shower! You have to host a baby shower.”
I held up my hand to stop her. I thought if she said “baby shower” one more time, my head might explode.
Copyright 2021 Amanda Flower. All rights reserved.
FEATURED BOOK OF THE WEEK
Although baby showers aren’t an Amish tradition, Bailey King wants to celebrate Emily Keim’s forthcoming bundle of joy. Everyone in Harvest, Ohio has gathered at the town gazebo—decked out in lemon-themed décor to add some of Emily’s favorite flavor to the festivities—including Juliet Brook, Jethro the Pig, and in a last-minute invite, Emily’s sister Esther Esh. But Esther isn’t the only surprise guest. A mysterious Amish woman confronts Emily claiming to know about her secret. Later that evening, the woman reappears—dead in Esh Family Pretzels, with a threatening letter written by Esther found on her body.
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Happy reading! ❤