By Cleo Coyle

Whilst an outdated good friend of her ex-husband develops the world's first botanically decaffeinated espresso bean and smuggles it into the rustic, Clare Cosi, supervisor of Village combination, believes it is a enterprise chance she must least until eventually the 1st lifeless physique indicates up.

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I searched for any sign—male or female, short or fat, tall or thin. But there was not one human being on the block. Not that I could see. The night’s shadows had cloaked my attacker. He . . or she . . had vanished. FOUR “HAND me your cell phone,” I asked Matt five minutes later. ” We were back inside the Blend. I’d already sounded the alarm. Matt had followed me outside, Tucker on his heels, and I’d led them to the end of the alleyway. By then, Ric’s eyelids had fluttered open, and he was making groggy, incomprehensible noises.

As I tore off my wet, dirty apron, I quickly explained to Matt, Tucker, and Joy what had happened in the alley: that Ric was not passed out drunk; he’d been attacked, most likely by the same person who’d shoved me into the Blend’s brick wall. That’s when I asked Matt for his cell phone to call the authorities. “Don’t do that,” Ric murmured to me. ” I stared in confusion. Those three little numbers represented more than the date of an infamous terrorist attack. Once dialed, the common citizen could immediately summon his own little uniformed army, including a team of battle-hardened paramedics.

Not in the last few years anyway. Matteo Allegro was an international coffee broker and the Village Blend’s coffee buyer. One day in the future, after his mother, Madame, passed away (which I certainly prayed would not be anytime soon) Matt and I would become the legal co-owners of the Blend as well as the multimillion-dollar four-story Federal-style townhouse it occupied. Neither Matt nor I had much in the way of savings, so both of us were committed to maintaining the business’s viability. Our relationship, however, was not always on the best of terms.

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