Janet Evanovich: Wicked Appetite

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Janet Evanovich Wicked Appetite
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Number one bestselling author Janet Evanovich has created a brand-new heroine in Elizabeth Tucker: Marblehead resident, bakery worker, unlucky in love.and descendant of witches. Life has had a pleasant predictability to it for Lizzy. That is until a tall, black-haired, dark eyed man shows up in a black sports car, touches her hand and leaves a burn mark. His name is Gerwulf Grimoire, also known as Wulf. And he wants what Lizzy has: knowledge. Almost simultaneously comes another man, a different man, but this one just as dangerous in his own way. His name is Diesel. And he wants several things Lizzy has, only one of them being knowledge. Unbeknownst to Lizzy, she has the ability to find "empowered objects." Turns out, a collection of stones that represent the seven deadly sins have made their way to Marblehead. Nothing bad can happen if the stones are all separated. But if they are grouped together, they have the power to unleash hell on earth. Wulf wants them. Diesel wants to stop him. And Lizzy is the key to all of it. Can Lizzy stay one step ahead of two men who both want her.both body and soul? Can she juggle her job at Dazzle's bakery and still get the muffins out in time every morning? Can she stop the end of the world from occuring? For Elizabeth Tucker, cupcakes, 4 a.m. alarm clock settings, and Armageddon are all in a day's work.

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Janet Evanovich

Wicked Appetite

The first book in the Diesel series, 2010


My name is Elizabeth Tucker. I’m Elizabeth to my mother, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been Lizzy to everyone else. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve baked cupcakes. I enrolled in the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island right out of high school, hoping to someday get a job as a pastry chef. I graduated J &W in the top ninety-three percent of my class, and I would have graduated higher, but I flunked gravy. My gravy had lumps in it, and that pretty much sums up my life so far. Not that it’s been all bad; more that it hasn’t been entirely smooth.

I grew up in Virginia and when I was in third grade, Billy Kruger gave me the nickname Buzzard Beak, and I carried it with me all through grade school. I got my brown eyes and distinctive nose from Grandpa Harry, and while the nose wasn’t great, I told myself it could have been worse, because Billy Kruger’s nickname was Poop Pants.

And then when I was in eighth grade, during a moment of misguided curiosity, I made out with Ryan Lukach, and the jerk told everyone I wore a padded bra. I mean, give me a break here. I was a late bloomer. Anyway, the truth is, my bra was so padded I didn’t know I was getting felt up.

I got engaged to fellow classmate Anthony Muggin while I was at Johnson & Wales. Two weeks after graduation and a week before the wedding, Anthony and his Uncle Gordo were caught hijacking a refrigerator truck loaded with sides of beef. It turned out to be a lucky thing, because after I visited Anthony in jail and returned the ring, I sobbed myself through a couple tumblers of vodka, fell off the toilet in a drunken stupor, crashed into a sink, and broke my nose. When they patched me up, I was no longer Buzzard Beak.

So here I am with the cutest nose in town, and I’ve finally grown breasts. They’re not huge, but they’re better than a poke in the eye, and I’ve been told they’re perky. Perky is good, right?

In January, three days after my twenty-eighth birthday, I inherited a house from my eccentric Great Aunt Ophelia. The house is in Marblehead, just north of Boston and southeast of Salem. I emptied my bank account to pay taxes on the house, quit my job at a downtown New York City restaurant, and I moved into Ophelia’s money pit. Probably, the smart thing would have been to sell the house, but no one could accuse me of always doing the smart thing. Truth is, New York wasn’t working for me anyway. The restaurant hours were horrible, the kitchen politics were toxic, and the executive chef hated cupcakes.

For the past five months, I’ve been living in my new Marblehead house and working as a pastry chef at Dazzle’s Bakery in Salem. The bakery has been owned and operated by a Dazzle since Puritan times, and is now managed by Clarinda Dazzle. She has an apartment above the bakery, she’s twice divorced, approaching forty, and looks like Cher on Cher’s day off. At 5'5", she’s the same height as I am, but Clara looks taller. I think it’s the hair. Clara’s hair is black and shot with gray. If it were straight, it would be shoulder length. As is, Clara’s hair is a huge mass of out-of-control energy coming to just below her ears, sometimes pulled back into a half-assed knot. She has piercing blue eyes and a nose and mouth said to have come from Wampanoag Indian blood on her mother’s side. I’m not nearly so exotic, having Austrian and Danish ancestors who left me with wimpy blond hair and a body that looks more athletic than it actually is.

It was Tuesday morning, the June sun was shining bright over Salem, and Clara and I had been baking since five A.M. I was in my usual outfit of running shoes, jeans, T-shirt, and white chef coat. I had my hair pulled back into a ponytail, and I was dusted with flour and powdered sugar. Everything was good with the world, except Clara was in a state. It was eight o’clock, time to open for business, and we were missing the counter girl, Gloria Binkly.

“For crying out loud,” Clara said. “It’s not like I’m a factory. It’s just you and me and Glo. How are we supposed to finish baking when we have to keep running out to the front to sell a muffin? Where the heck is she?”

We were standing in the large front room that constituted the retail part of the bakery. The floors were wide plank pine and the plaster walls were uneven. It was in decent shape, considering it pre-dated the witch trials. The display cases were old-fashioned glass and dark wood trim, and they were at the moment home to a batch of cinnamon rolls, four different kinds of muffins, almond tarts, and apple strudels. The breads were against the wall in wire baskets. The remaining space behind glass was about to be filled with my cupcakes. The cash register was from 1920. The credit card swiper was state-of-the-art.

A sexy, low-slung black car pulled to the curb in front of us and a man got out. He was maybe six foot tall, with glossy shoulder-length black hair swept back from his face in a wave. His skin was unearthly pale. His eyes were as black as his hair. He was dressed in a perfectly tailored black suit and black dress shirt.

He approached the bakery, and my skin prickled and a hot flash ran through my chest. “Holy moly,” I said to Clara.

“There’s nothing holy about him,” Clara said.

The man stopped inches from the front door and stared in at me. His mouth was sensuous and unsmiling. He looked to be my age, and he was eerily handsome. He crooked his finger at me in a come here gesture.

“Do you suppose he wants a muffin?” I asked Clara.

“Either that or your soul.”

I stepped up, opened the door, and peeked out at him. “Can I help you?”

“That remains to be seen,” he said. “I’ll return for you when I need you. Until then, you’ll remember me.”

He touched his fingertip to the back of my hand, and when he removed it, there was a burn mark beginning to blister. I stumbled away and slammed the door closed between us. The guy in black turned on his heel, got into his flashy car, the engine growled, and he drove off.

“What the heck?” I said to Clara, staring at my hand.

“I’m freaked,” Clara said. “And when you live in Salem all your life, it takes a lot to freak you.”

Personally, I hate being freaked. I avoid it whenever possible. “I’m going to convince myself this is a bug bite,” I said to Clara. “Probably a very small spider with a lot of venom.”

“Yeah,” Clara said. “That’s probably it. You just didn’t see it.”

At ten minutes after nine, the front door banged open and Glo rushed in all breathless.

“I know I’m late, but you’ll never believe what I’ve got!” she said, plunking her black canvas tote bag down on the glass countertop. “I was passing by that creepy store on Essex Street, the one that sells enchanted fry pans and jars of newt eyeballs, and this weird feeling came over me. It was like something was calling me into the store.”

Glo is single, like me, four years younger than I am, and she’s an inch shorter. She has curly red hair chopped into a short bob, freckled skin, a trim, perfectly average body, and her wardrobe runs heavy to black-and-olive drab. Today, she was dressed in black ankle boots, black tights, a short, twirly black skirt, an olive T-shirt, and a denim jacket.

Clara cut her eyes to Glo. “Last time you were late, you said you got mugged by a bridge troll.”

“Okay, so it was actually Mr. Greber, and he fell into me in a drunken blackout, but this is different. I swear! It’s destiny. You know how I’ve always thought I might be special? Like, you know, magical?”

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