Home > The Tuesday Night Survivors' Club

The Tuesday Night Survivors' Club
Author: Lynn Cahoon



   To the nurse who taught me that I was enjoying reading cozy mysteries during my cancer treatment. Your bag of books that Sunday morning made all the difference.




   Although this book/series is set in Sedona, and I used several real local tourist stops in the book, the story, characters, and settings (like the Next Chapter Bookstore) are my own creation and fictional. There are a ton of people who were in my life during my cancer journey that added to this story. Know that you made my life a little less crazy those days—including my own alpha hero who shaved his head the Sunday afternoon when I started losing my hair due to the chemo treatments. As far as writing this book, thank you to Esi Sogah and the Kensington team for picking the series out of the list of possible ideas. And as always, thanks to my agent, Jill Marsal.



      Chapter 1

   Rarity Cole was living and loving her second shot at life. If she’d been a cat, she would have eight left. Right now, she was just grateful to have this second chance after living through the breast cancer that had been almost too advanced. Now, in the bookstore she’d cashed in her corporate stocks to buy, she felt at home. She shelved the last book from the box that had arrived this morning into her new healing section. It still looked a little sparse, but she was determined to give others like her options when the C word was thrown around by the team of doctors who seemed to think they had total control over you and your body.

   Which reminded her, she still needed to find an oncologist in the area. The doctors from St. Louis had pressed how important it was to keep on the medical regimen they’d started her on, which meant not only taking a pill every day, but getting regular blood work and mammograms to make sure she was okay. She’d spent long enough pretending she wasn’t still recovering from the cancer treatments. It was time to check into her body again. She took the empty box back to the main counter and wrote the task on the to-do list that she kept on the counter.

   The air-conditioning blowing out of the nearby vent made her shiver, and she rubbed her arms before finding a sweater to put on. If she turned it down, she started to sweat every time someone opened the door to The Next Chapter, her new bookstore in downtown Sedona, Arizona. Her shop was positioned right between a fortune teller’s shop and a place that sold crystals. The crystal shop was owned by Rarity’s best friend from high school, Sam Aarons. Sam was the one who had talked her into moving here and away from St. Louis a few months ago.

   Honestly, she didn’t mind the new location. It was in keeping with the new her. When you rang the bell at the oncologist’s office, you tended to reevaluate your life. Gratitude for what you gained and what you currently have.

   Which was, in Rarity’s case, a few extra pounds around the middle and a need for a nap at least once a day. Eating right and exercise hadn’t stopped the ten-pound weight gain that had circled her waist. And stuck.

   Rarity blamed the chocolate. She’d eaten a lot of chocolate, and ice cream and fast food during her year of treatment. Then the visits had just stopped. She had seen her doctor once since she’d been “cured” and once before she’d left St. Louis. They’d drawn blood to check to see if the cancer had returned. Or worse, if the treatment was now killing her instead of the disease. Doctor visits were always a barrel of fun.

   The bell over the door sounded, and she watched someone walk toward the counter.

   “I’m here for the meeting tonight?” A fiftyish woman stood in front of the counter. “I know I’m early, but I was so excited when I read about your new book club in the Sunday paper. I’m Shirley Prescott. I rang the bell after completing treatments two years ago. Although, I’m still going to my oncologist every six months. They call it a well-baby checkup. And I’m rambling. George always says I ramble, and since having cancer, I’m worse. I guess I want to get out all my words before something else happens because tomorrow’s not promised.”

   Rarity took an instant liking to the woman. Shirley’s chattering was refreshing after hanging out in a quiet bookstore and then going home to an empty house. “I’m Rarity Cole, owner of The Next Chapter, and I’ll be leading the group tonight. I’m almost at a year. Survivor. I always hated that term. But you work with what you’re given, right?”

   “I feel like I should have done something heroic to be called a survivor. Like survived a month in the desert or walked away from a plane crash. I just went to every appointment and did what they told me. Well, except for losing weight. I started baking again, and George doesn’t eat sweets. So there’s that.” Shirley glanced around at the area by the fireplace. “I see you found Annie’s Bakery. She bakes the best cookies in town. Well, besides me.”

   “Go grab a drink and a few cookies.” Rarity looked at the clock. It was almost seven, and Shirley looked like the only participant in the book club. Rarity had needed books when she went through treatment, but maybe having a group called the survivors’ book club was off-putting. Like what Shirley said. “We’ll get started in a few minutes.”

   Shirley handed her a piece of paper. “Before I forget, George wanted to know if you could order these books for him. They’re all on World War I or maybe II. I forget what he’s currently researching. He makes planes and boats and stuff. You should see our basement, it’s filled with his models.”

   “Sounds like a fun hobby.” She glanced at the list. “I don’t think I have any of these in stock, but I can have them for next week’s meeting. I’ll just need a credit card to charge them on.”

   Shirley dug in her tote and pulled out a wallet. She handed over a card. “Set me up a tab because I’m going to be your best customer. George hates driving into Flagstaff to get supplies. And when I was going through treatment, he’d complain for a week after I had chemo about how long the drive was.”

   “I bet you were glad for the company.” Rarity thought about how Kevin hadn’t come once to her treatments, saying that hospitals made him sick.

   “Yeah, as much as he griped, he’d bring games and cards. We had fun.” Shirley smiled at the memory. “Which I know sounds totally weird. Anyway, I’ll go get settled. You do what you need to do, don’t worry about me.”

   It was already ten after seven, so Rarity ordered George’s books, set up a contact file for Shirley and George, and then took the credit card back to where Shirley was sitting. She had taken out a pile of pink yarn and a crochet hook and had started working on the project in her lap. Rarity held out the card. “Here you go. That’s pretty.”

   “It’s for my granddaughter. Karen and her husband are expecting. I’ve been working on this off and on for a month. I need to get it done, but it’s so hot. Sometimes I wish we still lived in Idaho. Getting through the winters there, I needed a project on my lap.” Shirley tucked the card into her wallet. “I’m sorry we didn’t get more of a crowd. I’ll bring someone next week. I promise. I hope you’re not thinking of cancelling the club.”

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