As if being in New York City for Easter isn’t exciting enough, Charlotte Weaver is helping her cousin, Bailey, on the set of her first cable TV show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets. Charlotte notices odd events intended to make Bailey look bad . . . and realizes her cousin has a dangerously jealous rival. Can she find out who—before someone’s sour grapes turn fatally bitter?
Mother’s Day is a sweet and busy time at the candy shop Bailey King runs with her Amish grandmother. This year, Bailey’s parents are visiting, and for Mother’s Day Tea at the local church, Bailey’s whipping up her mom’s favorite: butterscotch fudge. All’s going well, until a sticky-fingered thief makes off with the money raised for a local women’s support group. Can Bailey find the culprit before events boil over into disaster?
CANDY CANE CRIME
Thanks to her new cable TV show, Bailey’s shop has more orders than she can handle this Christmas. Fortunately, her beloved Cousin Charlotte is organizing the Candy Cane Exchange, pairing sweet notes with a peppermint treat. Charlotte is delighted to discover she may have a secret admirer…until she sees something underhanded going on beneath the merrymaking. Can she stop a local Grinch before the holiday, and her fledgling romance, are ruined?
Praise for Amanda Flower and her Amish cozies
“As it turns out, Amanda Flower may have just written the first Amish rom com.”
“Flower has hit it out of the ballpark . . . and continues to amaze with her knowledge of the Amish way of life.”
—RT Book Reviews
“At turns playful and engaging . . . a satisfyingly complex cozy.”
Release date: September 28, 2021
Print pages: 258
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Amish Candy Shop Holidays Bundle
“Cut! Cut!” the director Raymond Reynolds yelled. He was a tall, loose-jointed man, who braided his hair into a ponytail at the back of his head. Before meeting him, I didn’t think I had ever seen a man with a braid before, and I couldn’t stop staring at it. In my community only little girls braided their hair, never grown women and certainly never menfolk.
Bailey King froze in place. She was halfway through giving instructions on how to weave a chocolate basket for a candy display. Bailey made tempering the chocolate and weaving it over the bottom of a bowl look easy. She held a strip of chocolate in her hand, and it fell on the top of the almost complete basket.
She was frozen like a doe I had seen once paralyzed by the headlights of my father’s buggy back in Holmes County. Not that we were anywhere close to the rural Ohio village at the moment. We were inside a New York City skyscraper standing on a television soundstage. It was a new world for me, being on a soundstage, also known as a set. I had heard it called both. I have learned so many new words since coming to the Big Apple, which is what Bailey’s friend Cass called the city when we first arrived at the airport. She said to me, “Charlotte Weaver, welcome to the Big Apple!” and I had no idea what she meant. My ears were still ringing and my legs were still be wobbling from being on my first airplane flight, and I thought she’d misspoken until I saw the same phrase all over the souvenirs in the airport gift shop.
Cass had made a big deal out of my coming to New York City because it was my very first time. Bailey lived here before moving to our little Amish village of Harvest. In Harvest, she was an outsider, or at least she was at first—now she fits into the village just fine. I don’t think I would ever fit into the big city, not in my plain dress, with my bright red hair wrapped up into a bun at the nape of my neck and covered with a white prayer cap, sensible black sneakers, and apron. Everywhere we went those first few days, I thought people stopped and stared, but after a week I stopped noticing. There were too many other wonderful things to see in the city, and I wanted to see all of it.
It was this want to know that was the reason I wasn’t baptized into the Amish church yet. Now, during Rumspringa, I could try new things and ask questions. When I was baptized all those questions would have to stop and I would have to live my life by the edicts of the district bishop whether I agreed with him or not. I’d already left my family’s Amish district months ago, so that I could play the organ, an instrument I dearly love. Cousin Clara’s district lets me play music, but they won’t let me avoid making a choice about my faith forever.
Bailey scooped up the piece of chocolate and placed it on a piece of parchment paper. Her long dark hair, which was curled and styled for the camera, fell into her eyes.
The set was almost identical to Swissmen Sweets’ kitchen back in Harvest, except for a few “additional things” to make it seem more Amish—or at least what the Englischers from the network considered Amish. For one, there was a blank-faced doll on the shelf next to the spices. Clara King, Bailey’s grandmother, would never keep such an item in her working kitchen, and Bailey told the producer so. My maam would never have done such a thing either. The kitchen wasn’t the place for dolls. Dolls were for little girls to play with quietly out of the sight of their mother, who would be busily preparing supper to feed ten people. Feeding everyone every night after a long day working on the farm was a production, and my mother didn’t like the children under her feet.
None of this mattered to Linc Baggins, the show’s executive producer. He wanted things called “props” to give the set an Amish feel. I was learning that how the set “felt” was very important to everyone who worked on the show. Before this, I had never thought about what a room felt like at all.
“We have to do something to indicate this is an Amish show,” Linc had argued with Bailey. It was all quite fascinating, really, learning so much about the Englisch world. What’s more, I was gaining insight into what the Englischers thought of us. For one, they all believe that every Amish person lives on a farm. A lot of them do, but certainly not all. I grew up on a farm, but many Amish live in town and run shops, like Cousin Clara, or work in a factory. With land scarce, owning a farm in Holmes County was quite a feat for an Amish or Englisch family.
As strange as my ways were to the New Yorkers, their ways were even stranger to me. For a girl who had never set foot outside of Ohio, everything about this production was like a trip to another planet. I knew very well that I was in the same country as I always was, but the lights and noises and even the smells were so different that it drove me to distraction. At home, the most noise you would hear was the moo of a cow that might have escaped from a neighboring farm. With all the noise and activity in New York, I didn’t know whether most of the people living here would even notice if a cow started walking down the street.
The set was only half of the room that I was in. The other half was where most of the people were. It had a concrete floor, metal fixtures, and uncomfortable folding chairs that didn’t invite you to sit at all.
Three cameras were pointed at Bailey; one was on a track and moved every few minutes. Two other smaller cameras were placed on tripods. Teven, the cameraman, blew his uneven bangs out of his eyes every few seconds, and the light brown strands dangled in the air for a moment like pieces of thread. It made me wonder why he would grow his hair that way when it so obviously annoyed him. I’m sure it was for fashion reasons, something that my Amish sensibilities couldn’t quite grasp. I was raised to appreciate practical and plain dress.
Linc clapped his large hands together, and they made a thwack, thwack, thwack echo off the mock walls of the set. His clapping jarred Bailey out of her stupor, and she carefully picked up the piece of chocolate she’d placed on the parchment. “That was marvelous. You got it just right on the first take, Bailey. You are a natural! We aren’t going to need the entire six weeks to film if things go so famously well.”
Bailey blushed, and her bright blue eyes, so like her grandmother’s, my cousin Clara’s, sparkled. She looked as happy as I have ever seen her back in Harvest. She was one of the best candy makers in the world. I don’t know enough candy makers to make such a judgment, but Jean Pierre, her mentor, told me so last night, and since he had a chocolate shop named after him in this big city, I guessed that he was in a position to know. Even if Bailey wasn’t so good with candy and chocolate, I could see why she would be on television. She was pretty. Everyone back in Harvest, Ohio, thought so, Amish and Englisch alike, especially Deputy Aiden Brody, her boyfriend. Aiden was smitten with Bailey because of her brains and her beauty. Bailey had helped Aiden out on a case more than once.
She brushed her wavy brown hair over her shoulder, and her bright blue eyes were thoughtful. As she moved her hair she sent her long earring swinging back and forth. She wore a different pair of long, dangly earrings almost every day.
I wondered what it would be like to have so much of one thing that in a month you could wear something different every single day. That certainly wasn’t my experience. I had four dresses. Well, five if you counted my Sunday church dress, which I only wore every other week. The other dresses were plain and dark colored. Only one of the dresses was different. It was lavender, and I bought the fabric after I left my strict district and moved in with Clara above Swissmen Sweets. In Clara’s district, lavender fabric with no adornment was acceptable. It never would have been accepted in the community in which I grew up.
“Don’t you think things are going well, Raymond?” Linc asked.
The director, who had yelled, “Cut” just a moment ago, nodded. “I do.” But he didn’t sound all that happy about it.
“Buck up, man! We have a hit on our hands. We will have the Pioneer Woman shaking in her boots by the time Bailey’s Amish Sweets hits the airwaves.”
Raymond got out of his chair. “Well, I believe it’s too early to start making announcements about dethroning any other stars from cable. We have a very long way to go to make this show work.”
Linc folded his arms over his broad chest. He wasn’t a big man. In fact, he was shorter than either Bailey or me with a square build. Bailey said he looked like a hobbit, which she thought made his last name of Baggins even funnier. She tried to explain to me why it was funny, but I just didn’t get it. Must be another odd Englischer thing like putting dolls in a kitchen.
“You’re pessimistic to your very core, Raymond. You must admit that Bailey has the knack for TV.” Linc sniffed. “We’re both going to be working on this show for a very long time because Bailey is a star. She might be the biggest star we’ve signed in the last year. I’m already having visions of her Bailey’s Custom Candy Making line of dishware and kitchen gadgets.”
“I suppose,” Raymond said grumpily. He didn’t look too pleased with the idea of kitchen gadgets or anything else Linc said. In fact, in the whole time that Bailey and I had been in New York, I’d yet to see the braided director smile.
Bailey noticed me standing off to the side of the set and crossed her eyes at me. I had to clap my hand over my mouth to stop from laughing out loud. She always had a way to lighten the mood and make me laugh. I owed a lot to her, and when she’d asked me to come with her to New York to be her candy-making helper on her television show, I couldn’t turn down her invitation. I can’t say it was an easy choice. No. It was quite controversial because as an Amish woman, there were certain things I couldn’t do, and one of those things was to be on television. However, I wasn’t baptized into the church yet, so I could be on TV without getting into too much trouble. Even so, I knew many of the strict Amish back in Holmes County thought I was up to no good. Clara wasn’t keen on the idea of me doing this, but Bailey knew how badly I wanted to be a part of the show, and, somehow, Bailey convinced her grandmother that she needed my help.
“Your friend seems to be doing very well for herself,” a woman cooed in my ear.
I dropped my hand from my mouth and jumped, spinning on my heels to see Maria Langston standing behind me. Maria was at least ten years older than Bailey and had a voice that sounded worldly and knowing. She also moved as silently as a cat, and her black hair was tethered into a ponytail at the back of her head with black ribbon. In the three weeks that Bailey and I had been in New York filming, Maria had managed to sneak up on me countless times, and every time she did, she made sure to make a comment about Bailey.
I took a big step away from her because the tall woman and her thick makeup made me a little nervous. She always acted like she knew something I didn’t, and I wondered if one of those things she knew was about me.
“Bailey is good at everything she does,” I said, shuffling back two more steps.
Maria examined her painted nails. Her nail polish was metallic, and I could see my reflection in them, which was a little distracting. “You think a lot of Bailey, don’t you?” Her lip curled slightly. “And Linc certainly thinks she is God’s gift to television.”
“Gotte’s gift?” I asked. “I don’t think anyone would think that about anyone.”
She laughed as if I was making a joke, but I didn’t see what was so funny. Gott bestowed gifts on people, this I knew, but he didn’t make people the gifts.
Maria leaned in. “Just remember this, Amish girl. Television isn’t kind to anyone. One day, you can be on top of the world, and the next you are forgotten like you were never born. Attention spans are short in this business. Bailey won’t be Linc’s darling girl forever. Someone else will take her place, and she will be cast aside like last week’s news. Then, she can run back to her precious Ohio and lick her wounds.”
She stalked away on her black platform shoes, and I let myself breathe again. Later, when I looked back on everything that happened, I realized two things: Maria was a very short-tempered woman, and that was the day things started to go wrong for Bailey.
Bailey stood under the bright lights of the set while I watched from the side. She was comfortable in front of the camera. She stirred the chocolate in front of her in a double boiler, which was a pot filled with boiling water with a glass bowl in the pot hovering just above the water, and smiled at the giant lens. “My Amish grandfather was the one who taught me to love candy making. He had a wonderful knack for putting flavors together. He was the one who taught me to make fudge. I don’t think I would have ever been able to work in chocolate in New York without him, which is strange to say considering he never visited the city in his life. I feel blessed that I can continue his traditional Amish candy making in our shop, Swissmen Sweets, and that I can share those sweets now with all of you. I think my daadi, which is Pennsylvania Dutch for grandpa, would be surprised by where I am now, but I like to think he would be quite pleased too.”
Even though pride was considered a sin by the Amish, I knew that Jebidiah King would be so proud of Bailey now.
The service crew had already put lunch out on the table for the day. A little before noon every day, lunch just appeared on a long table just off the set and anyone could go and grab a bite while they had time during the filming. My stomach rumbled, and watching Bailey make candies had only made me hungrier.
Another interesting thing about the food table was the startling number of choices. Even if everyone on the crew ate twice their fill, there would be more than enough left over for the next day, but the next day there was always something new. What did they do with the leftovers? The Amish would never let this much food go to waste. It would be given to neighbors, church members, and friends. Everyone would go home with plenty.
There was no one at the food table at the moment, so I inched over to it. I couldn’t believe how much of it was untouched. I was tickled to see that there were bagels. I picked up one of the bagels, cut it in half, added cream cheese and lox, and took a bite. It tasted like nothing I’d ever eaten in Holmes County, and I think, just for that reason I liked it. I had had one every day since the production started.
I took another bite, and cream cheese smeared onto my cheek. I was just about to grab a napkin to wipe it off when a hand appeared, holding a napkin out to me. I took it without a word since my mouth was still full of bagel. I wiped my mouth and chewed as quickly as I dared without choking.
Finally, I swallowed, forcing the bit of bagel down my throat, and looked up to see a young Englisch man staring at me with a half smile on his face. I knew that he must be from the crew because he wore all black as most of them did. I thought I might have seen him a few times in the weeks that Bailey and I had been on the set, but I couldn’t be sure. Other than Maria, the crew members gave me no notice and hardly spoke at all. In many ways, the crew reminded me of Amish children, who were taught not to disturb their parents and be seen and not heard. Not all Amish children were raised like that, but it was the way I had been brought up.
“You have cream cheese on your cheek.” He picked up another napkin and dabbed at my cheek. I jerked away.
My face turned the same color as my hair. It was one of the many times that I wished I didn’t have red hair, but the Amish don’t dye their hair. I had never had any other color.
“Like the bagels?” he asked as he tossed the napkin into the wastebasket at the end of the table.
“I heard that this was an Amish show. Are you in costume every day to be authentic?”
“Costume?” I looked down at my lavender dress and white apron. My blush intensified. I had been so proud of this dress when I put it on.
He covered his mouth. “Oh man, I’m sorry. Are you, like, really Amish?”
I wrinkled my nose. “I have to get back.” I wrapped up my bagel in a second napkin. I was no longer hungry, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. I was just too Amish to do that. Bailey had a little refrigerator in her green room (another word that I had learned since coming to New York). I planned to tuck it in there.
“I’m Todd Bray.” He held out his hand to me.
I frowned at it. In my community, a man does not extend his hand to a woman he doesn’t know, but I reminded myself, I wasn’t in Holmes County any longer, and I most certainly wasn’t in my strict district.
I gave him my hand and let him squeeze my fingers before I pulled away.
A strange expression crossed his face, but I wasn’t going to bother to explain to him why a handshake would make me uncomfortable. He was Englisch, and he wouldn’t understand.
“Are you going to tell me your name?” he asked.
I lifted my chin. “I don’t know why you would want to know it since I’m Amish.” Even as the words left my mouth, I grimaced. As my father used to tell me, I should think before I spoke. I had a tendency to say the first words that came into my head. Most of the time those words shouldn’t be shared. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”
He laughed. “I like your honesty. It’s refreshing, especially when you work in television.”
I wrinkled my brow. “What do you mean by that?”
“Everyone here is trying to get ahead, and sometimes that takes deceit. Even your friend.”
I blinked at him. “Bailey? Never. Bailey is one of the most honest Englischers I know.” Granted, I didn’t really know that many Englischers, and the customers in Swissmen Sweets didn’t count—
“Englisher?” he asked. “What does that mean?”
I frowned. There I went speaking too much of my mind again. Maybe my father had been right, and it would be much better if I stayed quiet.
“Oh, please don’t be like that,” he said when I started to step back. “I know I put my foot in it before, but I didn’t know you were really Amish. I thought you were an actress that they’d hired to play the part. We’re in television. They can hire anyone to play any part.”
“Well, I’m not an actress,” I said, feeling annoyed. “My name is Charlotte.”
“See, that wasn’t so hard. It’s nice to meet you, Charlotte.”
I pressed my lips together. “I’m not shaking your hand again.”
“Quiet on the set,” Raymond bellowed. He glared at us, and I felt myself cower.
Bailey blinked in the bright lights. She seemed to lose her train of thought when the director screamed at us.
I frowned. I didn’t want to be the reason Bailey lost her train of thought.
“Rolling!” the director yelled.
Bailey gave a quick shake of her head and began talking again. “The next step is to add the marshmallow cream to your chocolate over the double boiler. In Swissmen Sweets we make our own marshmallow cream, and it’s much easier to do than you might think. If you go online to Gourmet Television dot com, you can find the instructions on how to make it there. Today, I had some ready to go.”
Just as she walked to the other end of the set to pull her marshmallow out of the cupboard, there was a loud bang and the sound of shattering glass.
I found myself on the ground with Todd on top of me. I rubbed the back of my head where it had connected with the floor. “What happened?”
Todd climbed off me. “Something blew up.”
“Blew up? Bailey!” I jumped to my feet but found that my legs were just a little bit wobbly.
I spotted Bailey crouching on the floor. She looked stunned as she gripped a tea towel in her h. . .
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