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Hill Country Mysteries

Author's Biography

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty


A Dragon Cozy Mystery

Hill Country Mysteries Book 4

By Verena DeLuca

Purrfect Roast by Verena DeLuca

Published by Aconite Cafe

P.O. Box 63

Marble Falls, TX 78654



© 2020 Verena DeLuca

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact:


Cover by Aconite Cafe.

Hill Country Mysteries

A Fresh Brew: A Dragon Cozy Mystery (Hill Country Mysteries Book 1)

A Bitter Cup: A Dragon Cozy Mystery (Hill Country Mysteries Book 2)

Rainbow Mocha: A Dragon Cozy Mystery (Hill Country Mysteries Book 3)

Author's Biography

Verena DeLuca is a pen name for the life partner duo Sabetha Danes & Nicholi Baldron. When we're not homeschooling our artistic daughter, we spend our afternoons arguing the finer details of books. Failing that, we can be found walking the many nature trails around our home.

Marble Falls is an actual tourist destination, an hour west of Austin, Texas, that we're proud to call home. While Aconite Cafe isn't an actual coffee shop in the town, it is the name of our publishing company. We love coffee nearly as much as Hailey, though we've been known to break the cardinal rule and drink tea.

Azure is based on our cat James, who's just as snarky.


Sunday, May 17th, 8:00 AM

Cats filled the elevator giving one another darting looks, but stayed on their best behavior while their owners chatted about the upcoming awards. Surprisingly, I was the only dragon protector, none of the other women wore cute little bat pins on their name tags. And of course, males were not protectors. Azure said it had to do with dynasties and wars or something or other. Yet another long story he promised to tell me later.

The weekend turned out to be dragon education 101 for me. It started with the fact that all dragons were required to maintain cat glamour for the duration of the show—even to the eyes of the protectors. In the past, newish protectors would publicly squeal at the variety of dragons attending the show.

The CAA—Cat Association of America—cat show had been so much drama, but we were confident that our tribe would bring home trophies. I was grateful to finally try a local bakery with my own namesake—

"I'm bringing home gold," Azure transmitted, interrupting my hangry thoughts. Thankfully, I held the last two cupcakes from my stash to share with Aubrey.

"I know, I know," I transmitted back. "You've only said so every hour. For the past two weeks."

Azure meowed and rammed his head into my shin, barely enough to hurt.

"Love you too." I laughed, and scratch behind his ears.

Mornings never agreed with me, and starting Friday with the pre-checks, this weekend had been nothing but early mornings. Luckily I packed efficiently, so getting ready was as easy as grabbing the prepared bundle before mindlessly and brushing my unruly chestnut hair into a messy bun. I had packed jeans, flip-flops, and v-necks for the weekend. Simple enough that sleep deprived me could not mess it up. Though today I wore a shirt I bought Thursday after we checked in.

Azure had been such a prima-donna, making sure his coat was perfect all weekend. We packed an array of brushes, leashes, and fur products. It surprised me to discover we owned so much cat stuff, and that his glamour did not take care of his grooming needs. For a strong independent dragon, with a stoic front, he sure had a hidden desire to be the prettiest cat at the show.

"The honor of my tribe is at stake," Azure had assured me, but I think he just enjoyed being put on a pedestal. Either way, I was happy to have the fluffball back. Dragons were cool and all, but there was nothing quite like cuddling with a fluffy cat to make stress melt away.

I rubbed the corner of my eyes, but it did not help. I should have brought my French press and a bean grinder. Instead, my only option was the coffee from the hotel, which left a taste of chalk in my mouth that lingered even after I rinsed with water. Though too much alkaline in the water source could have caused it.

Regardless, I was eager to be home, kick off my shoes, and drink the magic that was a fresh espresso. Owning my own cafe had spoiled me.

The elevator chimed, and the doors opened to reveal Aubrey waiting for me.

"Hailey," she called out as if we had been separated for months on either side of the globe, rather than two days by less than sixty miles.

I matched her tone and called back, "Aubrey," as we rushed toward each other.

Her excitement made me put my cynicism aside, and I embraced her with a strong squeeze under her armpits. Even Azure got in on the affection, rubbing his side against her leg.

I cringed at the thought of what time she woke up to make it here, still dressed in her usual jeans and blouse, with low-heeled boots. Even her blonde hair looked like she spent time doing it, plus makeup. Oh, man. How she, a morning person, and I, a night person, ever continued our friendship this long, the world would never know. Opposites attract, right?

"I've missed you! Tell me all about the show. Do you think Azure won? You know they spelled your name wrong on your shirt, right? Cupcakes for breakfast, really?" She knelt down to scratch behind Azure's ears. "Look at this handsome kitty! I bet you're going to win all the awards."

"She gets it," he transmitted.

I would need a gallon of coffee to keep up with her morning energy. Azure had his eyes closed and purred into her hand, lifting

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