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Fudge-Laced Felonies

By Cynthia Hickey

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I marched into church on Sunday--not to search for God but to find a killer.

My prey stood in the corner of the foyer, lurking in the shadows. With narrowed eyes, I intended to face him. Instead, the delicious aroma of coffee wafted in the air, beckoning me like a siren's song. I glared at the one I pursued just long enough to let him know I meant business, and switched my course across the tiled narthex of the large church to the fellowship wing. I needed caffeinated reinforcement before confronting the villain.

"Good morning, Summer." The barista, Susan, smiled and slid an ice-cold mocha-flavored concoction into my waiting hands. "Thought you were going to pass us by."

"Not a chance." I nodded toward a man behind her. His back was turned, giving me a clear view of dark blue jeans beneath a navy apron. "Who's the new guy?"

Susan shrugged. "Nate something. I can't remember. He was here this morning when I got in. Seems like a nice enough guy. Quiet." She winked. "Very handsome."

"Not interested." Pursing my lips around the straw, I closed my eyes, giving in to the sheer bliss of the drink. Immediately, the coffee seized my brain in a painful grip of ice. My eyes shot open.

Susan smiled. "I've told you a thousand times not to gulp it."

I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. Pressure released, I turned, focusing again on the man I'd come to confront.

"Leave him alone, Summer." Susan handed me a napkin.

What? Did everyone know what he'd done?

"You're glaring at Ethan like you want to put a hole through him."

"He's a murderer, and I intend to see justice served." Righteous indignation rose in my chest, and my face grew warm. My fair skin probably burned as scarlet as a summer sunset. I ducked my head and took another long suck on the straw, drawing strength from the frozen coffee.

Ethan Banning, murderer extraordinaire--looking as fine as Adonis in khaki pants and baby-blue polo shirt--emerged for his routine of greeting the arriving parishioners. A wide, white-toothed smile, and dimples you could drown in had probably sent many a woman's heart into palpitations. I steeled myself to resist his charms as I approached him.

"Good morning, Summer." His deep voice rolled over me like faraway thunder on a spring day.

With tremendous willpower, I forced myself not to fall into his deep blue eyes and, instead, focused on a spot over his shoulder. Big mistake. He stepped closer, and I caught a whiff of some heavenly man cologne.

"It's not a good morning, Ethan." I stepped back. "You're a murderer." I lowered my voice to a whisper. "I can't believe the people of this church trust their youth to you. I'll never allow you to care for any of my children."

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