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Vicious ValentineHawk’s Place Cozy Mysteries, Book 4

Patti Benning

Summer Prescott Books Publishing

Copyright 2021 Summer Prescott Books

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication nor any of the information herein may be quoted from, nor reproduced, in any form, including but not limited to: printing, scanning, photocopying, or any other printed, digital, or audio formats, without prior express written consent of the copyright holder.

**This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons, living or dead, places of business, or situations past or present, is completely unintentional.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Also by Patti Benning

Author’s Note

Contact Summer Prescott Books Publishing

Chapter One

Hannah Cooper looked over the three employees in front of her. Each wore a brand-new uniform, and had a slim packet of papers in hand, which comprised the policies and a basic employee guide that she and her business partner — and best friend — Caroline had spent weeks putting together.

This was a monumental time for the restaurant, and for a moment, words failed her as she gazed at the people in front of her. It had been nearly a year since they had opened Hawk’s Place, and this was the first time they were expanding their workforce. The fact that they not only had the profits to afford three new employees, but that those employees were necessary in the first place was nothing short of a miracle. Hannah well knew the failure rates for small businesses in their first few years, and restaurants had an even higher likelihood of bankruptcy and failure than other types of businesses. They weren’t out of the woods yet, but the fact that they were expanding after a year was a good sign.

“Before we start, I just wanted to thank all of you for the hard work you’ve put in during the past few days. I know training isn’t ever very fun, but you three have done wonderfully. As our first new hires since our opening last year, you’ve had the dubious privilege of being our guinea pigs when it comes to training. Hopefully, the next hires will have an easier job of it. Remember that today isn’t a test that you can pass or fail. It’s okay to make mistakes and ask questions. That being said, even though the next few hours will be more casual than a regular shift, please still do your best. Before we begin, does anyone have any questions?”

“I know you said it wasn’t a test, but will we be getting reviewed? I want to know how I’m doing.” The young woman who asked that was named Nadia, their new waitress. She had dark hair that she kept in a ponytail and was taking a year between high school and college to decide what she wanted to do with her life. She seemed down-to-earth and responsible, which was why Hannah had hired her despite knowing that she may move on in a year or two to attend a university.

“Definitely. The senior staff will be observing you and will speak to you at the end of the shift to let you know what you did well and what you can improve on. When I say it’s not a test, I simply meant you don’t have to be worried about making mistakes. We understand you’ve only had a few hours worth of training at this point. We just want to see what you need more training in, and what we can do to improve the training program. Any other questions?” The three of them shook their heads. Hannah smiled and continued. “All right. Nadia and Shayne, go see Audrey for your table assignments. Tony, you can head to the kitchen and Brian will tell you what he wants you to do today. I’m going to unlock the doors in five minutes. Let’s get to it.”

The small group dispersed, the two new servers, Shayne and Nadia, going to find Audrey, who would give them their assignments for the special morning shift. Shayne was a bit older than most of the staff, nearly Hannah’s age, but he seemed eager for the job and had the work experience she had been looking for. Tony, the youngest of the new hires, disappeared into the kitchen where Brian would be glad for the help. Hiring new kitchen staff had been much needed over the past few months, and Hannah felt bad for waiting as long as they had. With more and more guests as word of the restaurant began to spread and a larger variety of dishes, which they had added after the new year, their small team of original staff had been struggling.

For the past few days, ever since they had finished up with interviews, Hannah and Caroline had taken to meeting the new employees before the restaurant opened for lunch. They had gone over policies, shown the new hires where everything was, and made sure they knew how to do the basic tasks that would be expected of them. Today, they were opening two hours early, though only to friends and family of employees who worked at the restaurant, and were doing a test run to see how everything went. When they first opened Hawk’s Place, Hannah and Caroline had weeks to train up the employees and make sure everything would run smoothly. She hadn’t appreciated that time enough, and wished she could offer the new employees the same experience.

Once she unlocked the doors, their guests began filing in. She and Caroline had spread the word to their own friends around town, and she spotted a few familiar faces – mostly acquaintances of Caroline’s who had been happy to stop by the restaurant for an early lunch.

Good, she thought as she walked around the dining area, watching the new staff work. We can start scheduling them, and in a few weeks, everyone else will have a fairer workload. They had been lucky so far – they hadn’t

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