Sneak Peek: Plum Pudding Peril – Addison Moore

Sneak Peek: Plum Pudding Peril

Sneak Peek!

Plum Pudding Peril

Book Description:

Santa is on his way and he’s bringing a sleigh load of deadly secrets and surprises.

It’s Christmas in Honey Hollow, and Lottie finds herself in a recipe for disaster.

A naughty elf with a penchant for loose women shows up, not to mention the long-lost relatives coming out of the woodwork—and Lottie, herself, is in store for the shock of a lifetime.

The holiday season in Honey Hollow is more than just merry and bright—it’s downright deadly.

Every book in the series can be enjoyed on its own, so pull up a chair and get ready for a holiday season filled with humor, mystery, and a plum pudding packed with peril!

*Includes RECIPE for Lottie’s famous Christmas Plum Pudding!

Chapter 1

One hour from now…

The Victim

The ugly sweater party at the Evergreen Manor is in full swing and the grand ballroom is decorated to the hilt for the night. 

Tinsel and garland drape every surface, along with mistletoe and holly, while classic holiday tunes blare over the speakers. But it’s the screams of laughter and the clinking of glasses brimming with spiked eggnog that add the official merriment to the occasion. 

Every last member of the Honey Hollow’s Purple Bonnet Society is present and accounted for tonight. All of my friends, my foes, and everyone in between. In truth, only a smattering of members ever miss a meeting. But tonight, it’s a veritable who’s who of the witches who run this coven. Okay, so that wasn’t very nice. I shouldn’t name-call, especially at this time of year. But I can’t help it. This so-called society is made up of nothing but a bunch of old gossips. 

A tiny chuckle strums through me because I just so happen to be the biggest gossip of them all. It’s a title I’ve gifted myself, and a position I take quite seriously. Nobody is better at digging up dirt than yours truly. 

Although to hear Miranda Lemon tell it, she’s convinced her daughter Lottie takes the cake in the dirt-digging category. And the cake would be baked by Lottie as well, seeing that she’s the town baker. 

I swear, all Miranda Lemon does is brag about her children and their children as well. Funny how little she brags about that daughter of hers who runs the strip club. 

I swallow down another laugh.

That’s right. I have the dirt on every last one of these yippy-bippy bimbos running amok with gaudy gold garland roped around their necks while making merry and bright. 

I scan the women gathered here tonight with their vibrant purple Santa hats and equally loud and atrocious ugly sweaters as they jingle and mingle the night away. 

I pour myself another glass of eggnog—spiked as previously mentioned. I’m sure of it because I happened to spike it myself. After all, there’s nothing a little spiced rum won’t cure. And if I play my spiked eggnog cards right, I’ll manage to garner a few more secrets from these cackling coots before the night is through. 

That’s always the end game, always the goal. Money is fun, but gossip is sweeter. Sure, money has given me power, but it’s the secrets that give me the upper hand when I need them most. And I hold those secrets until I’m good and ready to unleash them into the world. 

And for one poor soul here tonight—or two or three poor souls—I think it’s time to feed the machine again and get the gossip grapevine moving. I do love to see my subjects squirm. And they have been squirming all night, just begging me for mercy.

Here I stand, amidst the revelry, while nursing a glass of glorified rum, my own sweater—an atrocious mix of green and gold—making me itchy as can be. 

Whose lousy idea was this ugly sweater party, anyway? 

Oh, that’s right. Suze Fox, the ugliest sweater-wearing woman you ever did see.

The only reason she suggested the theme was because she’s too cheap to buy something proper to wear for herself. I’ve got a little dirt on her, too, that I don’t mind letting fly out of my mouth. I’ll have to do just that as a thank you for the chafing I’m currently putting up with. 

But then, my discomfort is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of watching the room, knowing the power I wield with the secrets I harbor.

I swirl the eggnog in my glass, eyeing the crowd with a sigh of amusement and disdain.

“Tonight, I’m sending an entire handful of these fools up the creek,” I whisper as the thought brings a smile to my face. 

The goods I have on more than one of them is the kind of information that could ruin lives. 

There’s my so-called friend, a penniless fraudster masquerading as the crème de la crème of society. Oh, how I relish the thought of stripping her of her pretenses and revealing her true colors to the world. Soon, the only color she’ll wear will be orange—as in prison garb. That’s what she deserves, especially after what she’s done to me.

And then there’s the doozy I’ve got on yet another woman who dared to cross me—a secret so scandalous it could land them behind bars for life as well. 

Who knows, maybe the two of them can be cellmates? 

Now that would put me to bed with a smile on my face for the rest of my life. 

I let my gaze wander over the sea of ugliness until it lands on the ugliest one of them all in the corner.

There they are. 

A cold satisfaction settles in my chest at the mere sight of them. 

I’m going to read them the riot act and then stick it to them where it hurts most. Nobody does what they’ve done to me—to my heart—and gets away with it. 

A surge of adrenaline hits me and I pick up a slice of the scrumptious-looking plum pudding before stepping outside the ballroom for a moment of quiet. 

The frozen night air is a sharp contrast to the warmth inside the ballroom. 

I glance up, startled, as a sprig of mistletoe dangles inches from me. 

I roll my eyes at the unholy weed. The so-called elves that decorated this place to the North Pole nines left no corner untouched.

The elves.

Thimblewick! That adorable little man with his pointy chin and eyes that shine bright as stars comes back to me.

Oh, the elves, how much I miss them most.

Oh, how that thought of those mythological creatures takes me back to simpler times. To the moments of my storied youth when my father knew Santa himself. Or at least he claimed to. 

My father would whisk my siblings and me off to the “North Pole” a time or two as well. Of course, he passed away before I could ever find out how he pulled off the magic. 

The sound of footfalls interrupts my thought and it seems my solitude is short-lived as a shadow emerges from around the corner.

That’s when I spot them—and what they’re holding in their hand leaves me to gasp.

“What are you doing with that?” I ask, my voice dripping with curiosity and more than a hint of fear. The object in their hand catches the faint light, and a chill runs down my spine. “What are you doing? Why are you looking at me that way? Wait, you   can’t—”

They lunge my way, and before I can scream, a sharp stab of pain ripples through me.

My mouth opens and not a sound comes out as I glance down and inspect my wound. I try to take a step toward the ballroom, and instead, my body crumples to the ground.

The world begins to wobble and fade. Then darkness envelops me like a Christmas tree whose lights have just been turned off—for good. 

The ugly sweater party continues to rage inside, oblivious to the sinister turn of events just beyond the ballroom doors, where I seem to have met my untimely demise—where all of my secrets and schemes will die along with me.

Chapter 2



“Be careful, Lemon,” Everett grunts as he does his best to juggle the gingerbread houses stacked three deep in his arms. “I’d never forgive myself if you slipped in the snow.”

“I’m not slipping,” I tell him while struggling to hold a couple of boxes filled with plum pudding. Normally, it wouldn’t be a struggle at all, but with my belly the size of Santa’s sleigh, everything has been a challenge as of late.

Being a million months pregnant with twins isn’t exactly how I envisioned my holidays this year, but here we are. And both babies give me a little kick in unison as if to say they’re glad to be here. 

Okay, so I’m not a million months pregnant. I’m somewhere between six and seven. My maternity math game has never been strong. And it doesn’t help that every month it’s a different number.

The chilly evening air nips at my cheeks as Everett and I navigate the snow-dusted parking lot of the Evergreen Manor, each of us balancing a precarious stack of goodies from my bakery. 

The sky is a heavenly shade of navy as a bed of stars twinkles at us from above. It’s mid-December and all of Honey Hollow has been decorated from top to bottom as we welcome the most wonderful time of year.

It’s the night of the Purple Bonnet Society’s Christmas party—an ugly sweater party no less. The Purple Bonnet Society is basically Honey Hollow’s version of the Red Hat Society where women over a certain age (in this case, sixty) get together and form a sisterhood of sorts while rabble-rousing with the best of them. 

I should know, my mother just so happens to head up the club. 

“Thank you for helping me schlep these out here,” I say to my handsome hubby, Judge Essex Everett Baxter, or as he’s better known around these parts, Mr. Sexy.

Everett is tall with dark hair, has a dark, brooding nature, and happens to be the owner of a dark, devilish smile—although he rarely gives it—and he has eyes as blue as the sea. Have I mentioned he’s a judge? Everett is essentially perfect in every way—perfectly scrumptious. 

“I already had Lily and Effie deliver almost two dozen undercoated gingerbread houses for the party,” I say as I struggle to plod along. “But my mom called and asked for more at the last minute. And well, the bakery was busy, so neither Lily nor Effie could leave early. So this really helps a lot.”

“Well, I hope these ladies are hungry for gingerbread,” he teases. 

“You know my mother”—I laugh as we continue to make our way toward the ballroom—“always thinking about what could take her parties to the next level. And in this case, it just so happens to be decorating my gingerbread houses.” 

Gingerbread houses aside, my bakery, the Cutie Pie Bakery and Cakery, is catering the desserts for the event. I’ve already delivered enough cookies, cakes, and pies to outfit a holiday party at the North Pole itself. 

“And since we were already swinging by, I thought I’d bring some more plum pudding, too,” I say as I try to keep myself from waddling off the groomed path from the parking lot to the back of the Evergreen Manor. We’ve had quite a few feet of snow since Thanksgiving, so already we’re in for a white Christmas. 

I’m waddling more than walking these days as the twins make their presence known with every step. Everett, bless his heart, manages to carry the bulk of our festive cargo with that unwavering steadiness of his while shooting me concerned glances every few steps to make sure I haven’t landed on my keister.

The twins give another playful kick. 

Ohh, these babies are dancing up a storm.” I bubble with laughter as we make our way toward the peach glow emanating from the back entry of the ballroom. The door is slightly ajar and the sound of cheery Christmas carols and peals of hysterical laughter stream from it all at once.

“Those kicks are their way of cheering for Team Dad, making sure you don’t dive into a snowbank.”

“Team Dad, huh?” I give a good-natured laugh. “And here I thought we were all on Team Don’t Drop the Baked Goods—the gingerbread houses specifically.”

“We can be on multiple teams.” He adjusts his grip on the precarious stack of goodies in his arms. “Like Team Indulge Lemon’s Cravings and Team Figure Out How to Get These Kids to Sleep Once They Arrive.”

A dull groan evicts from me. “We still can’t get Lyla Nell to sleep and she’s going to be two come March.” 

It’s true. Lyla Nell loves sleep about as much as she loves her puréed dinners. Lyla Nell is my sweet baby girl whom I share with my ex, Noah Fox. Although the word ex sounds harsh, so I never ever use it when it comes to Noah. As it stands, Lyla Nell calls both Noah and Everett Daddy and no one is complaining. 

Our older daughter Evie is watching Lyla Nell tonight for us. Now that Evie is between semesters at Ashford University, she’s come home for the holidays. And boy, am I ever glad to have her. I’ve missed her so much ever since she moved into the dorms.

Speaking of children… I bite down on my lip as I contemplate what a biological whirlwind Everett and I have been through these past few weeks since we found out that he has not one or two other children out in the world—but a whopping four

Everett bought one of those DNA kits for us all to take last month, mostly for kicks, but also to see if he and I shared any genes—a horror story in and of itself. The long and short of it, we don’t. But apparently, Everett does share DNA with four other people—as in he’s the father of four other humans running around on the planet.

Everett was a playboy before we met, and let’s just say his playboy days are coming home to roost—in the form of very young children.

“All right,” Everett grunts as he opens up the back door to the facility—“we’ll drop these off and then we’re making a beeline to the Tavern on the Lake. Where my beautiful wife and I will actually have a dinner date.”

Ooh.” I wiggle my shoulders at him. “I like the sound of that. Is it too soon to hope for a kiss at the end of that date?”

“Oh, honey, you don’t have to wait a single second.” He leans my way, and just before he lands a wet one right on my lips, a man dressed as an elf bullets out of the door and runs between the two of us, almost causing every last gingerbread house to topple right out of Everett’s arms.

“Hey, watch where you’re going, buddy,” I call out with a laugh.

Everett glances in the direction I’m looking in and shakes his head. 

“Who are you talking to?”

“That man,” I say. “He was wearing a little green outfit and yellow tights. And his ears were at least six inches tall and pointy as can be. Looks like someone went all out with the elf costume tonight.”

Everett tips his head and his expression grows stern—a markedly delicious look on him. 

And just like that, I’ve got a whole new craving.

A thought hits me. “Oh no,” I groan.

“Oh yes,” he growls. “Let’s hope it’s not true.” He glares out at the parking lot. 

“Because if that little elf was more of a little ghost”—I gasp again— “then that means…”

He nods. “That means murder.”

***I hope you enjoyed this preview! Thank you for reading!****