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1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups prepared brownie chunks
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Chapter 17 recap
Taking the trash out from the bakery in the early morning, Mirabelle sees a mysterious figure wearing a baseball cap and tossing what appears to be a crowbar in the alley. April takes matters into her own hands and years of softball pay off.

Chapter 18

“How long has it been since you called?” April asked, looking up at Mirabelle with pleading eyes.

Mirabelle clicked a button on her cellphone and stared for a moment.

“A minute and a half.”

“A minute and a half?”

“Well,” Mirabelle said. “It’s now been 98 seconds, if you want to be precise.”

April let out a loud sigh and stretched out her legs, kicking aside the wooden rolling pin.

“You better be careful, sweetie,” Mirabelle said. “You don’t want to tamper with any evidence. “

“I think I already am.”

April was sitting on the back of the mystery man, who had yet to make a move or mutter a word since the rolling pin hit him square in the back of the head. She hadn’t seen him fall, having turned her head after throwing the pin, but he was lying face down on the cobblestone when she had worked up the courage to look. Mirabelle immediately called police and April, unwilling to let him get away, decided her best chance at keeping him there was to stay on top of the situation. Literally.

“You know,” Mirabelle said. “It’s a good thing you don’t weigh very much.”

“I’ll have you know that I now tip the scales at 129 thanks to you and your cupcakes and cookies. I swear I have a pair of peanut butter brownie chunk cookies for a backside.”

“Ahem. AHEM.”

April turned her head toward her aforementioned backside and saw a tall man dressed in blue standing behind.

“Oh, umm, sorry, officer,” she sputtered.

“We received a call about a suspicious person,” he said sternly.

“Yes, yes,” Mirabelle said, extending her hand to the officer. “Mirabelle Graham – I own Queen Pin Bakery. I saw this man in the alley, and he was carrying that crow bar.”

She pointed to the ground and lying next to the black boots of the man was an iron bar.

“I thought he might be the vandal, so I … I mean we … we made an effort to stop him.”

The officer was writing furiously in a small notebook.

“And how did you do that?” he asked without looking up.

“I, uh, sort of threw a rolling pin at him and then kept him on the ground by sitting on him.”

He rolled his eyes. “Well, why don’t you get off him so I can assess his condition?”

April reached for Mirabelle’s hand and stood up. As she did so, there was an audible groan from the man on the cobblestone.

The officer bent down and gently shook the man on his shoulders.

“Sir? Sir?”

“Huh?” the man murmured.

“Sir, are you OK? My name is Officer Mike Bell. Do you know where you are?”

There was a string of jumbled words, punctuated by the occasional curse word. The man began to writhe slowly on the ground in an effort to push himself up.

“Sir, please don’t move. The paramedics are on their way,” the officer said.

“What do we got here?” a man said, this one wearing a uniform for Three Rivers Ambulance Authority.

“We have an unidentified man suffering blunt-force trauma, more than likely to the head, by a rolling pin,” Officer Bell said.

“Is he conscious?” the EMT asked.

“Yes, but not coherent.”

“All right, sir,” the second EMT said, bending down to the man. “We’re just going to flip you over onto the gurney. Do you think you’re up for that?”

“Uhhh,” he moaned.

“On the count of three. One … two … three.”

In a swift motion, the two EMTs had rolled the man onto the gurney.

Whisps of sandy blond hair that stuck out from underneath a Komets hat were speckled with blood and the man’s face was scraped.

Mirabelle leaned in to get a look.

“Shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot.”

“What?” April asked.

“It’s not Wade.”

“What do you mean it’s not Wade?” April asked between gritted teeth.

“It’s not Wade. Wade’s older … this guy … he’s too young but he does look familiar. And, he is wearing the same hat as the coffee shop guy … who I guess wasn’t Wade.”

“Mirabelle.”

“I know.”

“I don’t want to get in trouble because some Komets fan was wandering down the alley,” April whispered.

“I know. I know,” Mirabelle said, squeezing her friend’s hand.

“Excuse me, ladies.”

The two friends looked up to see the police officer standing in front of them – the EMTs and “vandal” no longer there. Another officer, though, had arrived on the scene.

“Miss,” Officer Bell said as he flipped through his notebook, “Miss Graham. Can you tell me why you thought this man was suspicious?”

“Well, he was walking down the alley in the dark and he was carrying a crowbar. With the string of vandalism, I thought he was the culprit,” Mirabelle said shakily.

“Why don’t you let us worry about that,” the other officer said.

“It’s just that … yeah,” she said. “Yes, of course. Sorry, officers.”

Mirabelle walked through the open back door into the kitchen of the bakery and flagged April to follow.

“We’ll just be in here. Need to finish up the cupcakes.”

Officer Bell looked down the alley and back at the women suspiciously.

“Charlie, why don’t you sit with them,” he said. “I’m going to check things out down a ways.”

Charlie trailed into the bakery, watching as the officer walked down the alley into the glowing orange morning sky.

“You girls better hope he finds something or you might be baking somewhere else,” Charlie said, pouring himself a cup of coffee. “Got any cream and sugar?”

“Of course,” Mirabelle said staring at the ground. “I’ll be right back.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Charlie,” a labored voice said.

Mirabelle, April and Charlie turned to see Bell bracing himself under the threshold of the back door.

“We have a situation out here,” Bell huffed. “The girls were onto something. I need you to come. Now.”

kdupps@jg.net

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