Margaritas, Marzipan, and Murder (Cape Bay Cafe 3)

By: Harper Lin

A Cape Bay Cafe Mystery Book 3

Chapter 1

“To Sammy!” Dawn said, lifting her margarita glass in the air for a toast.

“To Sammy,” I echoed, clinking my glass against Dawn’s and Sammy’s. “To her freedom!”

“Hear, hear,” Dawn cheered as Sammy blushed.

The three of us—me, Sammy, and Dawn, Sammy’s best friend since preschool—were gathered on the oceanfront deck of Fiesta Mexicana, Cape Bay’s best and only Mexican restaurant, to celebrate Sammy’s breakup with her longtime loser boyfriend, Jared. They’d been together for ten years, since their senior year in high school, and Jared had been refusing to move their relationship beyond boyfriend-girlfriend status for almost as long, always claiming that it would break his mother’s heart if he left her to get married.

Even so, Sammy had held out hope for a ring for their one-year anniversary, then their five-year, then their ten-year anniversary a few weeks ago. In the last case, the big surprise he’d promised her turned out to be an evening of go-karting. When that happened, even I, who hadn’t known her well for all that long, asked her what she was still doing with him. She said it was because she loved him. I let it go. But Dawn didn’t.

“God, I’m glad I finally convinced you to break up with him,” Dawn said, coming up from a long drink from her glass. We had been at the bar less than half an hour, but she had ordered a second round, despite Sammy and me having made nowhere near the impact on our drinks that she had. I’d never gone out with Dawn before, but I could already tell she was either going to be a lot of fun or no fun at all. She was that kind of girl.

“Fran did some convincing, too,” Sammy said, nodding in my direction.

I looked at her with my eyebrows raised as I swallowed the sip I’d just taken. The margarita was made just the way I liked it: a little tart, a little sweet, a little salty, and exactly the right amount of burn from the tequila. “I did?” I asked after the liquid had made its way down my throat.

“You did.”

“What did I say?” I asked.

“It wasn’t so much what you said as the fact that you said it. It was one thing when Dawn told me I needed to break up with him. I mean, she’s been saying that for years.”

“Nine and a half years to be exact,” Dawn interjected. “Maybe nine and three quarters.”

Sammy rolled her eyes with a smile and a shake of her head at her best friend. Clearly, they’d had the same conversation more than once. “Anyway, I’ve been hearing about it from Dawn for years, but when you said something after we’ve only really known each other for a few months…”

I looked down at my glass, embarrassed that I’d been so blunt. It was very un-New-England-y of me. Well, being blunt was very New England, but sticking my nose in someone else’s business wasn’t. Who someone else chose to spend their time with was none of my concern, even if I did think they were making a huge mistake. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I shouldn’t have pried into your personal life.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Sammy exclaimed.

“Please,” Dawn chimed in. “If that’s what it took to get the girl to see reason, I’m glad you said something!” She tipped her glass up and emptied it.

“Still—” I started.

“Still nothing,” Sammy said, looking me dead in the eye. “I’d been with him for ten years, Fran, always telling myself it didn’t matter that he didn’t want to get married, that it was fine if he never wanted to go away for a weekend because his mom would be all alone, that birthdays and anniversaries weren’t really that big of a deal so it was okay if he never wanted to do anything special to celebrate. Ten years! Do you know how many of my friends I’ve watched get married and have kids in that time?” Sammy’s face was getting flushed as she ranted.

“Do you know how many times I’ve been asking when we were getting engaged?” she went on. “And I couldn’t even be one of those people who just says they’re not the marrying kind or something, because I am the marrying kind. It’s all I’ve wanted for ten years! Jared just kept saying he wasn’t ready.” She waved her margarita glass in the air.

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