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Authors: Susan Sey

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Taste for Trouble

BOOK: Taste for Trouble
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Taste for Trouble

 

 

The Blake Brothers Trilogy

 

Book One

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Sey

 

Copyright 2013 Susan Seyfarth

Cover Design by
Lyndsey
Lewellen

All rights reserved

ISBN: 1938580052

ISBN 13: 978-1-938580-05-5

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

 

First of all, thank you so much for trying out an
indie author! It’s a brave new world out there in publishing, and I’m delighted
that you a) found my work and b) took a chance on it. I promise you, I’ll do my
level best to deliver the goods.

 

So if I make good on that promise and you just love
this book, please consider giving it a positive
rating or review
. Like I said, it’s a brave new world out there in publishing, and the
only way for a good book to find its audience is if the people who love it
point the way. Every little bit helps and we authors appreciate it more than
you know.

 

Now if you finish this book and think to yourself,
“Hey, that was delicious!  When is Susan delivering the next installment of the
Happily Ever Afters?” you might want to consider subscribing to my
newsletter
. I don’t send it out all that often. Usually only
when I’m releasing a new title, which is exactly why you’d subscribe, right? Go
ahead and click the link to sign up.

 

If for any reason you want yet more info, don’t be shy
about checking out my
webpage
or dropping
me an email at
[email protected]
. I would love to hear from you.

 

And, hey, stay tuned for a sneak peek at the Blake
Brothers Book 2--
TALENT
FOR TROUBLE
--at the end of this book!
I have a real thing for redeeming my villains.

 

Meanwhile, here’s James and Bel for you. Hope you love
them as much as I do.

 

Happy reading!

 

Susan xox

 

Other Titles by
Susan
Sey

 

 

 

MONEY, HONEY

 

MONEY SHOT

 

KISS THE GIRL

For Claudia and
Greta, always.

 

For Bryan, who
reads with me.

 

For the staff at the
North Oaks Bruegger’s, because they provide me with a bottomless mug of coffee
and a friendly place to write that smells delicious.

 

And for the guys
at the table next to mine who provide me with stuff to write about. I try not
to eavesdrop but…

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

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

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

EPILOGUE

SNEAK PEEK!

About the Author

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Jilted
brides were nothing new to Belinda West. A girl didn’t churn out two wedding
cakes a weekend for ten plus years without witnessing every disaster that could
possibly befall a wedding party. Nothing about a groom making a last-minute
break for Cozumel—with or without the bride’s sister—surprised Bel anymore.

But
it always surprised the bride.
That
was the part Bel didn’t understand. Because
when your groom wasn’t totally on board with the whole marriage thing, there
were signs. There were always signs. And if Bel, the total stranger manning the
cake table, could see them, surely any bride paying even the tiniest bit of
attention could see them too.

Which
meant either these women weren’t paying attention to the details (something for
which Bel had little sympathy) or they were willfully ignoring them (something
Bel didn’t even comprehend.)

Then
she got jilted. On live TV.

It
wasn’t like she’d been sleepwalking through the day with a wedding planner at
the helm, either. No, indeed. She’d tackled her wedding personally, and with
the same soft-spoken, detail-oriented implacability she’d used to transform
herself from a semi-solvent wedding cake baker into the
Kate Every Day
baking maven. The series of segments she’d shot on baking your own wedding cake
had been among the highest rated all season. Kate herself had taken Bel out to
lunch when the numbers came in.

And
had rewarded her by putting Bel’s wedding at the heart of the season premiere. The
live
season premiere.

Kate’s
trust lit on her like a butterfly—so delicate and tentative as to be sensed
rather than actually felt—and Bel devoted herself to living up to it like the
heir apparent she aspired to be.

Her
wedding, she was determined, would be perfect. She planned. She predicted. She envisioned.
She managed. She checked details, then doubled checked. Triple checked. No decision
was beneath her notice. And on paper, in rehearsal, in theory, everything
was
perfect.

But in
reality? Somewhere between hand-picking the cottage-white, rustic-finish,
wooden-not-metal folding chairs and personally glue-gunning three hundred and
forty three red-foil-wrapped, dark-chocolate hearts to the hand-lettered place
cards, something had gone terribly wrong.

Which
meant, as Kate had frostily pointed out later, that somehow, inexplicably, Bel
had missed something. Something important. A harbinger of doom had passed right
through her hands unidentified. The proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.

No,
Bel thought darkly. That wasn’t entirely true. She’d seen the signs. She just
hadn’t understood them.

Annie
had been right. She should have paid attention to the swans.

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Earlier,
at Kate Davis’ Hunt House

 

Bel
was sitting in front of some sadist posing as a hairdresser when her assistant
Annie appeared in the mirror behind Bel’s shoulder.

“There’s
a problem with the swans,” Annie announced. “You need to come with me.”

“Don’t
move,” the hairdresser/sadist said. Bel didn’t move. The woman rewarded her by
stabbing one last hairpin directly into Bel’s scalp. Bel breathed through the
pain and thought of perfect wedding pictures.

“There,”
the woman said, giving the yard of tulle she’d just attached to Bel’s head a
satisfied little fluff. “That ought to hold it.”

“I
should hope so,” Bel murmured, but smiled at her reflection. Then she spun the
chair to face Annie and her smile spread into something delighted and genuine.

“Well,
look at you. If that dress isn’t perfection,” Bel said with satisfaction. She
wasn’t ordinarily a gloater but Annie had put up a vicious stink about wearing
lilac satin. And maybe it
had
been a risk, mixing Annie’s edgy,
tattooed, art-school vibe—not to mention her Lucille Ball red hair—with a
delicate Easter egg of a dress. But nobody could argue with the results.

Annie
rolled her eyes, which Bel ignored.

“Didn’t
I tell you it would be perfect?” Bel said. “You look like Marilyn Monroe.” She tipped
her head and squinted. “Well, if Marilyn Monroe was a red-head and recovering
from a rockabilly phase. Where have you been hiding those curves, anyway?”

Annie
crossed her arms over that surprising chest. “Can we please not talk about this
dress? It’s a testament to our friendship that I’m wearing it at all. But if
anybody should happen to see me in it on TV, friendship be damned. I’d have to
exercise my connections. My Uncle Luigi is a made man, you know.”

Bel
cocked a brow. “You’d have me whacked over a dress?”

“I’d
think about it. Now come on.”

“What?
Where?”

“The
swans.”

“What
about them?”

But
Annie was already out the back door and trudging down the gentle, grassy slope overlooking
the pond. Bel tucked the yard of tulle cascading from her head under one arm
and followed her out the door.

The
heat hit her like a sweaty embrace, hot and thick with summer’s last kick. Her
oxford button-down clung damply to the instant film of sweat on her back. Thank
God she hadn’t been through makeup yet, she thought. Or been sewn into her
dress. Still, with the flowers to approve yet and the cake to assemble...

She
glanced at her watch, a beautiful gold and silver Hermes bangle. She didn’t
usually indulge her taste for glitter even now that she could afford the
occasional splurge, but timeliness was the closest thing she had to religion. She
checked her watch hundreds of times a day. Why not look at something pretty?

What
she saw there now had her mentally nudging a few bullet points around her to-do
list and picking up the pace. “I know you think the swans are a bit much,” she
said to Annie’s back, “but trust me. What seems over the top in person works
just fine on the small screen. Swans are a time-honored symbol of fidelity, and
having a pair on the pond during the ceremony makes a beautiful statement.”

“They’re
making a statement all right.” Annie stopped in the shade of the white canopy
under which the ceremony would take place in—Bel checked her watch again—one hour
and fourteen minutes. “But from what I’m seeing, that statement is less
look
at our beautiful love
and more
holy hell, we’re taking sniper fire
.”

“What?”

“See
for yourself.” She shot a purple fingernail toward the pond.

Bel
frowned at Annie, then out at the glassy blue pond upon which glided two
gorgeous swans. Except they weren’t gliding. They were jerking around in irregular
zigzags, heads low, eyes slitted and suspicious. Every now and then one of them
blatted out an affronted honk.

Her
stomach dropped. “What on earth? They were fine! Two hours ago they were
fine
.
What happened?”

“Hell
if I know.” Annie’s lips were a grim line. “When I brought the tent people out here
to set up the arbor they were fine, like you said. Then I stopped back a few
minutes ago to see if the techs had the lighting levels down for the ceremony
and there they were. All...disturbed.”

“Okay.”
Bel pulled in a deep breath of warm, wet air that did nothing to clear away the
buzz of anxiety trying to fill her head and erase her thoughts. “Just give me a
minute here. I have to think.”

“Bel,
listen.” Annie’s voice softened, and she put a hand on Bel’s arm. “I know you
were heart-set on this but I just don’t think it’s going to work.”

“No,
it will,” Bel said. “I can fix this.” And she would. She’d sunk countless hours
of painstaking preparation into this afternoon. Rearranging a single minute of
it on the say-so of a couple of deranged birds went against everything she
believed. Everything she was. Bel had a
plan
. And the swans, by God, would
get on board. Then everything would be fine. Better than fine.
Perfect
. Everything
would be perfect. She’d make sure of it. “They’ll have to be tranquilized.”

BOOK: Taste for Trouble
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