Love, marriage, and the empty baby carriage
By River Holloway Merrick as interpreted by Maggie Toussaint
As a child, I wished for a houseful of brothers and sisters. Turned out, it was only me and my baby brother, Doug. Then Dad died and a few years later Mom got sick.
Through it all, Pete Merrick was my go-to guy. I assumed we’d get married one day, but his business-fixing career took him from Shell Island. The last time he left, we drifted apart, and it nearly broke me. I loved Pete, but he didn’t have the time of day for me.
Come to find out, Pete was trying to survive in a literal dog-eat-dog corporate environment. Plus he’d staked our entire future on turning this business around. He’d cut communication with me to protect me. Later he limped home and back into my life, vowing never to leave again.
So he bought Island Creamery, the best ice cream shop on Shell Island, and we got married. I even made progress on my dream to start a family. But it was not to be. An early miscarriage clipped my wings and my dreams.
I didn’t give up hope. I loved Pete, and he loved me in every way. But as each successive month rolled by and there was no new baby, I felt barren all over. After so many years of trying to prevent pregnancies, fate seemed truly unkind now that I wasn’t using birth control.
Doug’s girlfriend got pregnant, not that they were trying, and it was all I could do to smile and congratulate them. Pete and I got fertility tested, and nothing is wrong with either of us. These things happen in their own time, the doctors assured us.
I struggle with my failure to conceive. There I said it. I have always found things and fixed things for others, but this is out of my control. Wrapping my head around this isn’t easy.
A baby would complicate our lives. After all, Pete was rapidly changing the face of the island ice cream business, and I had more catering work than I knew what to do with. Though I wasn’t at the end of my fertile years at 32, I heard my biological clock ticking.
When Doug and Viv’s daughter arrived, we were all overjoyed at the healthy infant. I love holding her and snuggling with her. I’m good with all that.
But in the dark of the night, I hear the playground rhyme sing-songing in my head. “River and Pete sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” It haunts me.
About the book
When veterinarian and amateur naturalist Jasmine Garr is shot in her yard, residents of Shell Island press caterer River Holloway into investigating the homicide. River dons her amateur sleuth cap and sets out to discover who killed her former catering customer.
Between Jasmine’s estranged cousin, a rival veterinarian, a wild animal trapper, the chicken lady, and a real estate broker, River has plenty of suspects to consider. As she peels back the layers of Jasmine’s life, dangerous secrets come to light.
Jasmine’s orphaned kitty, Iris, along with River’s cat Major, and her husband Pete help River sift through the evidence. At the same time, River recently expanded her catering business. She must service her regular catering clients, plus provide fresh baked goods for Pete’s ice cream shop.
The killer follows River’s every move relishing the thought of another victim. Time is running out. Will River solve the murder before she becomes a cold dish?
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