BECOMING MRS. GRANGER: A Ravenwood Cove Prequel Carolyn L. Dean

BECOMING MRS. GRANGER: A Ravenwood Cove Prequel

Author: Carolyn L. Dean
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Book Title
BECOMING MRS. GRANGER: A Ravenwood Cove Prequel
Author
Carolyn L. Dean
Today, everyone loves Mrs. Granger in Ravenwood Cove (well, except the bad guys). At ninety-plus-years-old, she's gutsy, outspoken, and loves her friends and family with a level of protectiveness that's almost scary.But how did she get that way? As a blushing bride, figuring out how to make a cozy life with her headstrong husband, life seems easy and full of baked pies, quilting parties, and daily laundry. When a sudden mystery shocks the people in her little beach hometown, she's suddenly catapulted into danger and intrigue she's never experienced before.Clean language and PG-rating (at the most) because, hey, there may be a dead guy in this book.
Today, everyone loves Mrs. Granger in Ravenwood Cove (well, except the bad guys). At ninety-plus-years-old, she's gutsy, outspoken, and loves her friends and family with a level of protectiveness that's almost scary.

But how did she get that way? As a blushing bride, figuring out how to make a cozy life with her headstrong husband, life seems easy and full of baked pies, quilting parties, and daily laundry. When a sudden mystery shocks the people in her little beach hometown, she's suddenly catapulted into danger and intrigue she's never experienced before.

Clean language and PG-rating (at the most) because, hey, there may be a dead guy in this book.
Today, everyone loves Mrs. Granger in Ravenwood Cove (well, except the bad guys). At ninety-plus-years-old, she's gutsy, outspoken, and loves her friends and family with a level of protectiveness that's almost scary.

But how did she get that way? As a blushing bride, figuring out how to make a cozy life with her headstrong husband, life seems easy and full of baked pies, quilting parties, and daily laundry. When a sudden mystery shocks the people in her little beach hometown, she's suddenly catapulted into danger and intrigue she's never experienced before.

Clean language and PG-rating (at the most) because, hey, there may be a dead guy in this book.

FIRST CHAPTER:

“It’s been a tough day, bartender. Set ‘em up.”

The short, balding man behind the soda fountain counter
pulled together a set of overgrown eyebrows speckled with gray. He was somewhere
in his seventies and a bit over five and a half feet tall, with a carefully
combed tuft of white hair and a pair of black-rimmed spectacles. His spotless
white coat was buttoned over a frame stooped with age and decades of hard work.
Leaning forward a bit, he frowned at the young man standing on the other side
of the long, marble-topped counter.

“Very funny, Hubert,” he said, sounding completely unamused.
“This isn’t a bar, I don’t serve liquor, and I’ve got other customers, you
know,” he added, raising his voice a bit so it could be heard over the jukebox
playing a Tony Bennett tune at the far end of the room. “The afternoon crowd
from the high school is about to flood in here, so I don’t have time for jokes.
What’ll it be? A chocolate malt or a banana split? I can whip up a Dusty Miller
for you, if you want one.”

Getting no reply, he slid a menu across the wide counter. “Or
if you’d rather have a sandwich, I’ve just made a fresh batch of chicken salad.”

Hubert Granger eased his rangy frame onto one of the round
stools set in a permanent row for customers and sighed. Compared to the two
well-dressed couples sitting at the small tables by the window, he was a mess.
His denim coveralls were smudged with dust and what looked like some sort of
oil, and his leather work boots were battered from years of unloading freight
at the Lucky Rail depot in town. Pulling off his dirty work gloves, he leaned
both bony elbows onto the counter. He peered sideways, looking over at the neat
row of metal containers, each holding a different topping. “Banana split,
please, Mr. Kelly, and double up on the cherries.”

“You got it.” The little man bent out of sight to retrieve a
glass dish, set it on the counter, and grabbed a ripe banana from the red
plastic fruit bowl nearby. As he turned back toward Hubert, he tilted his head
down as though he were watching where his paring knife was cutting the banana,
but he peered up at his customer through his eyebrows.

“So, I guess the wedding planning isn’t going very well?”

It was a seemingly innocent question, but he got a short
grunt in return. “I tell you, Mr. Kelly, if I have to hear one more word about
what sort of flowers we’re going to have or whether we’re serving aspic or
finger sandwiches afterward the ceremony, I’m going to barf.” Hubert suddenly
looked worried. “What is aspic, anyway? I was afraid to ask.”

Mr. Kelly glanced up and smiled as a couple of teen boys,
still wearing baseball uniforms, walked in and sat down on the counter stools
closest to the jukebox. It made him happy his father’s beloved creation, Ravenwood
Cove’s only soda fountain, had become one of the favorite places for people to
meet and take a break. When his dad, Flynn Kelly, had first started building
onto the thriving pharmacy and then connected the two by an arched doorway, his
mother had objected at the expense, but it had all been worth it. From the
grand opening decades ago, the soda fountain had been a gathering place for
families and anyone shopping near the little beach village’s big town square.
People flocked in for everything from a hot fudge sundae or a frosty shake to
the fresh sandwiches and homemade fruit pies.

And it wasn’t only popular and practical. It was beautiful,
too. His father had thought of everything when he’d designed the soda fountain,
even paying extra for an expansive marble countertop which stretched most of
the length of the rectangular store. There was a curved fountain with a silver swan
handle by the cash register, waiting for anyone who might want seltzer water in
their favorite drink, and clusters of round tables with wire-backed chairs were
scattered around the room. It had only been two years since Mr. Kelly’s
hardworking father had died and the younger Mr. Kelly had inherited the place, but
he’d been working there ever since he was a boy. His first job had been to help
his father by unpacking stock in the back and cleaning the little restaurant
until the stainless-steel toppings containers and tile floors gleamed. He could
still remember his father barking at him when he caught his young son dipping
his fingers into the butterscotch sauce to sneak a taste.

And it had been worth being scolded to get that luscious
sample sliding across his tongue.

“I think aspic’s one of those things people only eat at
weddings,” Mr. Kelly said as he opened the ice cream freezer. “It’s the type of
fancy food they have recipes for in those lady magazines.”

Hubert nodded. “Probably. Also, it’s probably nothing I’d
want to eat, with a name like that.”

Mr. Kelly plopped three scoops of ice cream into the dish,
then opened up the stainless-steel canisters set in front of the countertop, where
customers could see them, and started spooning different toppings onto his ice
cream masterpiece. Next came dollops of whipped cream and the promised extra
cherries, carefully arranged on top. Mr. Kelly set the glass dish down and slid
it over to his morose customer, along with a metal spoon.

“This ought to cheer you up a bit,” he said. “No aspic
involved, I swear.”

Hubert dug out a huge bite of the delectable concoction and
stuffed it into his mouth. Closing his eyes in pretended bliss, he mumbled, “Heaven,”
before swallowing. He looked at Mr. Kelly with new appreciation and a slight
smile. “Oh, boy, that’s exactly what I needed. Thanks.”

“Hey, I get it,” Mr. Kelly said. He picked up a small white
towel to wipe up drips, but there weren’t any. “It can’t be easy to work all
day at the railroad and then have to plan a wedding when you come home. Is your
sister helping out?”

“Kitty?” Hubert suppressed a laugh. “Right. Let’s just say
my sister and my bride don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on things.” He took another
bite of his sundae and chewed a couple of times before swallowing. “And Kitty
doesn’t like my best man, either. If I can keep those two from barking at each
other during all this, it’s going to be an absolute miracle.”

“Oh, that’s a surprise,” Mr. Kelly said. “She doesn’t like
Tuffy, either? I thought everyone liked him.”

When Hubert shook his head, Mr. Kelly seemed sympathetic. “I’m
sorry to hear that.” He picked up two menus and walked down the length of the
counter, then handed them to his newest customers. After reassuring the boys he’d
return in a minute to take their order, he walked back to Hubert, just as a
group of five chattering high schoolers came through the front door.

Sometimes it’s easier to schlep heavy freight at the
railroad than to be a bridegroom
, Hubert thought glumly to himself, then
felt a stab of guilty regret. His younger sister’s open dislike for Katherine
didn’t make things any easier. He wasn’t worried or upset about marrying
Katherine. That was the easy part. They were best friends as well as in love,
and the truth was he was looking forward to being married to her. It was just
all the rigamarole that went with the whole wedding thing.

Katherine Molly Zimmerman. She was something, all right. Ever
since he’d clapped eyes on the petite bobbysoxer at the Liberty theater, openly
watching him with those bright eyes as he had paid for his bag of popcorn, he’d
been hooked. It hadn’t been an accident when he’d ignored his buddy’s requests
to sit in one of the front rows and had instead chosen a seat right behind Katherine.
It had taken him a few minutes to gather his courage, but when he’d leaned
forward and offered her some of his chocolate-covered raisins, it was worth it.
He was surprised that Katherine had flashed him a knowing smile as she dug her fingers
into the box. Maybe she was a flirt, or maybe she’d just caught his expression
of obvious interest at the snack counter.

Whatever it was, it had led to a summer love affair and an
upcoming wedding.

Someone dropped a nickel or two in Mr. Kelly’s jukebox and there
was a second before the record was in place and the needle dropped into the
first groove. Elvis Presley started to croon about someone loving him tender.

Oh, I need to relax. It’ll all be fine, Hubert thought
as he scooped up the last of the whipped cream. I just have to get through a
bunch of women dressing me up like a dandy and telling me where to stand and
what to eat.

And if I have to close my eyes and hold my breath to get
through the wedding dinner, it’ll be worth it.

I hope.