First chapter reveal and preorder!
May 24, 2019
Did you see the new chapter reveal for Delicious?! Make sure to preorder the book since it will only be in wide distribution for a week before going into KU.GOODREADS!
I don’t know when I fell in love with Ed Cooper.
I do know. I was thirteen and my brother brought his friend back from basic training. Ed was tall, sweet, and had red hair. RED HAIR. I’ve always had a thing for guys with red hair. Okay, it all sort of started with Ed, but I’d always found redheads attractive. While friends were drooling over Harry Potter—who was out as an infatuation because he shares a name with my brother—I was crushing on the Weasley twins. Not Ron because, well, he’s Ron and he whines, and I don’t like whiners. Also, why would I ever want a boyfriend who thought a rat was a good companion pet? And, said pet wasn’t really a rat.
But I digress. Back to my infatuation.
Ed Cooper, delectable ginger.
Now that I’m within spitting distance of my thirties, I realize, it’s a little stupid to be this infatuated with a man who treats me like his little sister. Wait, does that say something about me? Ew, don’t go there, Allison.
My infatuation has gotten worse with each passing year. It isn’t like I haven’t had dates or that I’m pining away saving my virginity for him. I’ve had sex. Lots of it. Okay, not a lot…only with two guys…and it was pretty boring with both of them. I’m not a virgin, which was the point of my comment.
I step into the mansion that has been renovated into a small mall of sorts. It sits in the heart of the King William District in San Antonio that is dominated by gothic architecture. It’s become a hip kind of place for specialty shops and restaurants. It’s why my brother and his two friends, Fritz O’Bryan and Ed Cooper, decided to open Camos and Cupcakes there. Close enough to the military bases but also in an area that a lot of tourists frequent. I tend to be here several days a week. I step into the bakery and draw in a deep breath, letting the sugary sweetness fill my senses and buoy my spirits. This is the first day of my staycation. I love to travel and the fact that I cannot really do that this year is kind of a bummer. I bought my house last year, and this year I saved up to buy my brand-new Malibu with all the bells and whistles, so I honestly couldn’t afford a real vacation. Plus, the only time I could get off for a while is next week. Neither of my friends can go, and I’m just not the sort of woman who would go on vacation by myself. I would get bored, because I like to share experiences. And talk. A lot.
So, I’m here to kick off my staycation with a treat.
There’s a crowd but that’s normal. This place is always hopping on Saturday mornings. It doesn’t take me long to find Ed. He’s hard to miss in any crowd. He tops 6’4” but it isn’t that. I know that I would be able to find him anywhere. And, all that red hair helps. It’s longer now than when he was in the military and is given to curl. I’d love to slip my fingers through the silky strands. I curl my fingers into my hand to control the need. Another aspect of his new life is the full beard. I’ve never been a woman who likes a man with facial hair, but I love it on Ed. As usual, he’s wearing an apron with the title of their bakery splashed across the front of it. Flour and chocolate color the white material. He’s been busy, as he is five days a week. See, Ed Cooper just isn’t only the man I’ve been in love with for fifteen years. He’s a baker. A cupcake baker. And not just any cupcake baker. He’s considered one of the top bakers in San Antonio. Five days a week, he creates sugary, decadent treats.
I call him my own personal Ginger Jesus.
Now, you might be thinking that he’s some kind of wimpy kind of guy. Not that I think bakers are wimpy, but Ed is probably the opposite of what most people would think of a baker. He’s sexy as sin, tatted up with skulls, still sports a six-pack, and rides a Harley.
I watch him scan the bakery, looking over the customers. There’s more than a shop keeper’s interest to his gaze, which makes sense. Ed, Fritz, and my brother are all former Army. They inspect areas the same way whether they are in the shop or out on the River Walk. They cannot help it. Some things just become second nature, even after trading their uniforms for aprons.
The moment his gaze settles on me, my body temperature escalates into overheating territory. A slow, sexy smile curves his lips. Oh, goodness. Just like the first time he looked at me, I feel my heart dance a little jig and my face heats up, not to mention my pussy tightening. I walk around with wet panties whenever I’m near Ed. Or thinking about him. So, like, almost all the time.
I remind myself that he isn’t for me, never will be. He’s…unattainable. He’ll always see me as that flat-chested, frizzy-haired teenager who couldn’t say hi to him without blushing.
Same story, different decade—although with boobs and better hair.
Anytime I complain about the lack of sex in my life, my best friend EJ claims I will never find another man. Not while I’m infatuated with Ed. Still, I’m here to kick off my staycation and I want a treat. Meaning the cupcake. Not the man who made them. Not really.
I push my way through the crowd, and when I arrive at the counter, there it is. A strawberry lemonade cupcake sits next to a cup of coffee. I know he doctored it with the right amount of cream. That’s how well he knows me. I look up at him and he gives me an understanding smile.
“Thanks, Ed.” I pull out a ten, but he shakes his head.
“I can’t charge you for your namesake cupcake.”
Yes, he even named a cupcake after me.
Like I said. Ginger. Freaking. Jesus.
“Your friends are back there,” he says pointing over my head.
I glance over my shoulder. EJ and Savannah are sitting at a corner table. They wave me over and I want to go, but I also want to stay near Ed. He smells like sex and vanilla. But definitely not vanilla sex. I’m pretty sure Ed has never had vanilla sex. Of course, I’m thinking about vanilla and sex and that leads to me wondering if he uses frosting during sex. If so, what flavor?
Jesus, what is wrong with me?
“Thanks again, Ed,” I say, picking up my cupcake and coffee. I make my way over to my friends.
I set my coffee on the table just as EJ jumps up out of her chair and pulls me into a warm embrace. Taller than me by a good five inches, the bookstore owner gives the best hugs. I held my cupcake away from her so not to ruin it but returned the hug with all my might using my free arm.
She pulls back and smiles at me. EJ always seems larger than life. Not because she is curvy. She has that kind of personality. Funny, warm, EJ is beautiful both in spirit and body. She dresses like a bohemian and talks faster than I thought humanly possible, unless you were a character on the Gilmore Girls. With her deep Georgia accent, it is sometimes difficult to understand her. Today, she’s wearing her red hair down, the curls spilling over her shoulders.
“Doing okay?” she asks.
I nod. Savannah smiles up at me. “Sit down before you collapse. I think you need some sugar.”
“Gee, you’re so warm and inviting.”
My other best friend snorts and flips me off. Savannah Martinez, the youngest and most talented of the Martinez Restaurant family. While EJ is open and boisterous, Savannah is pessimistic and quiet. I’m truly touched that she is here after closing the night before. Saturday mornings are for sleeping in Savannah’s world.
“Be nice or I won’t treat you to your favorite tonight.”
My mouth waters. “Cheese enchiladas?”
“Yeah. And I took tonight off, which is a big thing.”
And it is. Savannah is the head chef for her family’s most successful restaurant. Taking a Saturday night off is not a normal thing, especially the weekend before Cinco de Mayo. Their restaurant will definitely be packed with idiots.
“I think we should go to La Trinidad,” Savannah says. Her family owns the restaurant, and while Savannah oversees all their restaurants, La Trinidad is the one she works in. “We can drink Austin’s margaritas, then make him drive us home.”
Savannah’s oldest brother makes the best margaritas.
“That sounds like a plan.”
“What are you three planning?” my brother Harry asks as he leans down and kisses the top of my head. He’s four years older, but we’re closer than most other siblings I know. It came from what we endured together as children while our mother was sick. That fear never really leaves you after one of your parents fights for their life.
He’s wearing trousers and a white shirt, his custom uniform. There’s no reason to dress so nice since all he does is handle the books for Camos and Cupcakes, but Harry likes to dress like he has a real job. His words, not mine. I know. He’s kind of anal, but I still love him. Most of the time.
“I’m going to eat my cupcake, then we are going to go out tonight for dinner. I take it after EJ gets done with the shop?” I raise one eyebrow in question.
EJ nods. “Yeah. Sammy’s closing tonight.”
“You’re going to leave her on her own?” I ask. Sammy is a sweet college student, but she has the air of absent-minded professor about her.
“Naw. I hired another pretty boy. He’ll keep her company.”
“Do you always use derogatory terms for men like that?” My brother asks without malice.
“It’s not. He is pretty and he’s twenty, so he is a boy. And he’s good at work.”
“So, you’re going out too, Savannah?” he asks.
“Yeah,” she says, looking down at her phone with a frown. She’s not being rude, she’s being Savannah. Her family’s business makes it impossible for her to ever get away. There are constant texts and emails and while my job as a chemo nurse can kick my ass, I don’t think I would ever be able to deal with Savannah’s life.
“I’ve been promised cheese enchiladas and Austin Margaritas.”
They weren’t a thing but that’s what I call them. I am going to drink my weight in them since I won’t have Ed’s frosting to eat. And, of course, that leads to other thoughts and euphuisms. I really do need to find a man.
“So, no guys?” he asks.
“No. Absolutely not. We want no men horning in on our fun.”
“What about Austin?” he asks.
“He doesn’t count,” I say.
“I think he might disagree with you,” Savannah says, humor lacing her words.
“You know what I mean. He’s our margarita man. MM.” I like that acronym. I think we need to start calling him that.
“Well, make sure you call me if you three need a ride home,” he says. I might be almost thirty, but my brother still sees me as a tween who needs to check in.
“Thank you. Now, go away. I’m sure you have numbers to crunch.”
He laughs and leaves us to our cupcakes.
“I have no idea why he puts up with you,” Savannah says.
“He has too. We’re blood. Plus, I’m still holding the goods on a few stories that can be used as blackmail. I know it. He knows it.”
I slip my finger over the icing lightly, just skimming a little of the sugary sweetness off the top. I lick my finger and bite back a hum. Barely. The fresh strawberry frosting is light and sweet and…damn. Just that little taste has my head thinking of all kinds of bad things. I imagine that he made this cupcake in particular for me—wearing nothing but an apron.
“You’re both adults. I have a feeling that blackmail time is past,” EJ says.
“You have no siblings, so you have no idea. Tell her, Savannah.”
Savannah pulls her attention back from ger phone and looks at me, then EJ. “She’s probably right. Plus, Harry is so OCD it’ll drive him crazy not to tie up all those loose ends.”
“What the hell does that mean?” EJ asks. She truly has no idea what we’re talking about.
“There’s this thing between siblings. It’s primal. We all fight for attention from our parents until they die. Knowing my brothers and sister, they would probably even figure out a way to get back at me after my parents leave earth,” Savannah says.
“And, let’s be honest. Part of the fun is leaving Harry wondering what I have on him.”
“He doesn’t know?” EJ asks.
I shake my head as I slowly pull the paper from my cupcake. I like to take my time whenever I eat an Ed cupcake. Part of it is because I don’t eat many of them, because I’d weigh six hundred pounds if I consumed as many of them as I truly wanted. But the other reason, the most important reason of all, is because Ed made them, and that makes them the best cupcakes in the world. Also, there was a little tiny part of me that hoped he was thinking about me when he made them. Even better if he baked them while naked.
My eyes slide closed as I bite into the little treat and moan. The tart lemon, with a hint of sour cream, along with the super sweet strawberry frosting, danced over my taste buds.
“Good lord, get a room,” EJ says.
My eyes pop open and I realize that both of my friends are watching me. I swallow, then reach for my coffee.
“You sound like you’re having sex with your cupcake,” Savannah says. “Just ask him out already.”
I sniff. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Sweetie, please, we know you’re still in love with Ed,” EJ says.
My face heats. “I’m not in love with him.”
Sure, I told them more than once about my crush, but there’s no reason for my friends to know that I am neck deep in love and going under for the third time. Or that I think a lot about his…frosting.
“It’s the cupcake and that’s it.”
I glare them both into silence, then pick up my cupcake and start to eat it again. Nothing is going to dampen my experience with my treat.