A Caffeine Hit—Haunting Avery Winters Book 6
A Caffeine Hit—Haunting Avery Winters Book 6
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When Avery’s faced with a dangerous dilemma, will she let sleeping dogs lie, or will she sacrifice her peace of mind and try and discover the truth?
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- Amateur Sleuth
- English Village Setting
When Avery’s nemesis, Joyless, is arrested for murdering her ex-boyfriend, Avery’s not sure she’s guilty. Even though the murder happened in front of her and other witnesses, there’s a niggling doubt in her mind. And Avery, ever the truth-seeker, can’t let it go. Despite her better judgement, which says to leave Joyless in jail because she deserves it, Avery’s conscience can’t let it go.
But even with the help of Sergeant Bellamy and a few ghosts, clues and evidence proving Joyless’s innocence are hard to find, and Joyless looks as guilty as a squirrel caught eating out of a bird feeder. But when there’s an attempt on Avery’s life, Avery figures she must be zeroing in on the real killer.
Can Avery and her friends get some answers and solve the mystery of who killed Joyless’s ex-boyfriend before something horrible happens to Avery, or will Avery join her ghostly friends in the afterlife while an innocent person is doomed to life in jail?
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
Coffee. I can’t live without it, which has just become a problem. This morning, I have to brave going into Heavenly Brew and seeing my nemesis, Joyless. Not my preferred way to start my day, especially after she stirred up trouble against me with that Facebook post, and her brother got a warning from the police for vandalising my car. Unfortunately, I’d run out of coffee grounds at home and didn’t have time to get more from the supermarket, return home to make it, then get to my first interview.
So seeing Joyless it was.
Hopefully the substandard morning wasn’t going to set the tone for the rest of the day. At least when I stepped past the middle-aged male ghost in a dark tailored suit who’d just walked out of Heavenly Brew and was staring inside, it smelled delicious. Brewing coffee was one of my favourite scents in the whole world. I couldn’t really blame that ghost for watching the customers get their coffees. My eyes widened. How could I survive the afterlife if I couldn’t taste and enjoy coffee? That was extra incentive for not dying anytime soon. Okay, so there were more important ones, but that was on the top-ten list I kept in my head.
There were two customers who’d ordered and were awaiting beverages, and another man stood at the cash register, ready to order. My nemesis was the only person on this morning, and her scowl confirmed she wasn’t happy. At least time went quickly when you were flat out. But typical Joyless to be lacking, well, joy.
The twenty-something guy waiting to order was dressed in a suit, his arms folded. I’d seen him in here a few times before. “You have to be the slowest server ever.” Hmm, he didn’t normally say much. Looked like he wasn’t in a great mood today.
Joyless looked up from what she was doing. Her mouth dropped open. Then she squinted at him. “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the reasons I broke up with this twat.” A forceful breath whooshed out of her mouth. “I can’t believe I ever dated you. Lucy can have you for all I care.”
The guy placed his hands on the counter. I kind of felt sorry for him. How desperate did you have to be to date Joyless in the first place, let alone have her break up with you? He didn’t realise what a favour she did him. Also, while her daggers were aimed at him, I was left injury free. What a relief. “You broke up with me?” His snide laugh bounced off the tiled floors and the stainless steel coffee machine. “That’ll be the day. Also, when are you going to pay me back the money I lent you? I’ve been waiting three months. Last time I was in here, you said you would have the money for me today. So where is it?”
It was Joyless’s turn to plant her hands on her hips. “I did no such thing. You gave me that money! Show me the piece of paper that says it was a loan?” He said nothing. “Right. Thought so.” She finished with the coffees she was making, and the customers took them with a wary look at her before hurrying out, eager to escape the crossfire. “Right, so your usual—almond-milk decaf with a shot of caramel?”
“Yes. And you’ll be hearing from my solicitor about that money. I gave you plenty of warning, but I’m done.”
She rolled her eyes and bent to grab a cup from under the counter. She made his coffee, and he handed over the money. Joyless put it in the till and stared at him. “Go on, then. Taste it and make sure I haven’t made a mess of it. Last time, you complained I’d boiled the milk. The time before that, the milk was too cold. Maybe I should call you Goldilocks?” Her hip cocked out as she stared at him, almost daring him to drink it and complain.
He gave her a look that said “challenge accepted.” The first sip was tentative—and who could blame him. It would be like her to boil the milk so he burnt his mouth. He narrowed his eyes and took a bigger sip. His forehead furrowed. The cup fell from his hand, coffee splattering everywhere. His hand clutched his chest as he collapsed. By the time Joyless hurried from behind the counter, he was having a seizure.
She stared down at him. “Stop being stupid, Alan. You’re going to scare the customers away.” She looked up at me and rolled her eyes. “Argh, never mind.”
I didn’t bite because I was pretty sure it wasn’t an act. His lips were blue, his skin ashen. He fitted while I called nine, nine, nine. When I got off the phone, he stilled, and his ghost appeared next to me, surprise on its face. Oh, brown bananas. Why was I always there when stuff happened? At least there was one other customer who’d walked in when he’d taken possession of his cup. Surely no one could blame me for this one?
Alan stared at his dead body and blinked. “What happened?” He was likely talking to himself because he hadn’t looked at me. He moved his gaze to what he probably thought was his own real body and patted his chest and down to his thighs. He frowned. “How can I be in two places at once? This doesn’t make sense.”
Pushing my questions for Alan aside, I licked my bottom lip and focussed on Joyless. “He’s dead.”
Horror crossed her face. “What do you mean? How do you even know? You haven’t felt for a pulse.”
I shook my head. “I’m not touching anything. Can’t you see his skin and lips are the wrong colour? His chest isn’t moving either. Why don’t you feel for a pulse?”
She shook her head and folded her arms. “I’m not doing it. I bet you killed him with a poison dart or something. You’re trying to make me look guilty.”
I sighed and gave her a withering look. “I’m pretty sure he’s your ex. Why would I do you such a favour? Seems to me that you’re the one who benefits when he dies. He won’t be chasing you for money. I don’t even know the guy.”
Her eyebrows rose to heights I was sure they’d never before seen as realisation sunk in. Death was horrible, but I found it low-grade amusing that she hadn’t considered that he might have just had a heart attack and died of natural causes. Although that seizure might mean he’d been poisoned. Or maybe…. “Was he an epileptic?” It would’ve been better if I could’ve asked him directly, but I wasn’t about to give myself away in front of Joyless… although. Hmm.
“Not that I know of.”
The approaching sirens got louder.
“I can’t be dead. I’m healthy.”
I side-eyed Alan, and he finally noticed me. I gave a small head shake.
The woman who’d also been waiting to order slowly backed out of the door, then hurried away. I memorised her description so I could tell Bellamy to interview her later—forties, frizzy blonde hair to her shoulders, slim build, and about five foot three, dressed in black workout tights and a pink Puma T-shirt. I was not going to let Joyless pin this one on me.
Now the woman was gone, I decided that Joyless already had such a low opinion of me, and what did I care if she thought I was crazy. I turned to Alan’s ghost. “Did your drink taste funny?”