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Cat's Claw (A Pecan Springs Mystery)

Cat's Claw (A Pecan Springs Mystery)

Titel: Cat's Claw (A Pecan Springs Mystery)
Autoren: SusanWittig Albert
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forces with Cass Wilde, who runs her Thymely Gourmet meals-to-go service out of our tearoom kitchen and handles the tea room lunches and the Party Thyme food—an inspired idea, since Cass is an inspired cook.
    There you have it. Thyme and Seasons, the Crystal Cave, Thyme for Tea, Party Thyme, the Thymely Gourmet. Five profit centers under one roof, three of them Ruby’s bright ideas. Of course, they’re not all hugely profitable every month. But enough of them are profitable enough to keep the bottom line from bleeding an ugly red all over our account books. And in lean times like these, with the Pecan Springs business community struggling to keep its collective head above water, showing a profit every month is something to brag about, even if we do have to work our fingers to the bone to make it happen.
    I held out my hands and looked at them. They were a mess, as usual. Unless you wear gloves, which I usually don’t, the Hill Country’s caliche soil will dry your skin and collect under your nails. But my fingers weren’t exactly worked to the bone. I was exaggerating.
    Still, it had been an exceptionally busy few weeks. For one thing, October is always a whirlwind where families with kids are concerned, with school and extracurricular activities and Halloween. And our family is no different. Brian, my husband’s son, is a senior in high school and getting ready to choose a college. Caitlin, our adopted daughter, has just turned twelve and is practicing for another violin recital. (The adoption is a long story. I won’t go into it now.)
    October had been busy for my husband, too. McQuaid teaches part-time in the Criminal Justice Department at Central Texas State University and invests the rest of his working hours in his business: McQuaid, Blackwell, and Associates, Private Investigators. “Blackwell” is Blackie Blackwell, former Adams County sheriff and McQuaid’s new partner.(Long story there, too.) Since Blackie joined the firm in August, the caseload has tripled. McQuaid says that having a former sheriff as a partner is very good for business.
    And of course, autumn is busy in the shops and the tearoom. In addition to the day-in, day-out activities (lunches, teas, and other special events), Ruby and I offer a crafting series that runs every Saturday afternoon until Thanksgiving. There’s the Pecan Springs Farmers Market, open Saturday mornings through the end of October—a great market that brings foodies and locavores (people who are trying to shop and eat locally) from Austin to the north and San Antonio to the south. We have a booth there, which is fun but a lot of work, even when Caitlin and Brian and Ruby’s daughter Amy pitch in to help. And then there’s the task of keeping the herb gardens around the shop looking halfway decent as the summer heat dwindles and the long Texas autumn begins. That’s mostly handled by a group of volunteers, bless ’em. But somebody has to supervise, and since Ruby doesn’t know a weed from a wonderberry, that somebody is me.
    And then there was the wedding.
    Ah, yes, the wedding. That was what really kept us busy in late summer and early fall. It took place on a September Sunday in the garden, primped to perfection and looking its prettiest. I worried about the weather, because when McQuaid and I were married (also in September, several years ago), Hurricane Josephine nearly swamped us. But the day was bright and decently cool and the outdoor wedding was gorgeous. The reception was held in our tearoom and catered by Party Thyme, with a Texas-style buffet and table centerpieces of orange and yellow marigolds, purple gayfeather, sprigs of garden herbs, and colorful squash, as well as take-home favors: herbs in tiny terracotta pots, each herb labeled with the name of the plant and Sheila’s and Blackie’s names and weddingdate. We had to hire six extra helpers and servers, and even then, we were stretched. But it was worth it, just to see Sheila Dawson and Blackie Blackwell finally become husband and wife. Or police chief and husband, as
editor and local wit Hark Hibler put it.
    “I never thought they’d actually pull it off,” McQuaid remarked, after the bride and groom had driven away for a short honeymoon at an undisclosed location, and the rest of the hundred-plus guests had wolfed down the last chipotle meatball, nibbled the last piece of wedding cake, and drunk the last champagne toast. The cleanup crew would be working for several more
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