Authors: Bella Cruise
Copyright 2016 © Bella Cruise
Cover Design: Najla Qamber
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or
locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
I'd like to spank and thank everyone who was involved with bringing my dirty thoughts to life. Xo
grandmother always said, “Men are like cupcakes. You have to
lick a lot of icing to find one worth finishing off.” I think
Grams knew plenty about variety (the spice of life!) but fuck-all
about love. She was especially no help when it came to staying in a
relationship. She had six husbands, and was engaged to be married to
a seventh when she passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-two. God
bless her. I got her recipe cards and first edition
when she died. But I have to admit, sometimes I wish she’d
passed down the secret of real, honest-to-goodness love, too. Maybe
if she had, I wouldn’t be leaning over my laptop on a slow day
at my bakery, trying to come up with a dirty metaphor for
You there, muffin?
fuck it. Maybe Grams had the right idea. I’m pretty finished
with love these days, anyway. Sexting and cybering are plenty for me,
especially after I went through some traumatic heartbreak a few years
ago. It’s healthier, safer, and a hell of a lot more fun.
Smiling wickedly, my eyes scan the shop for some inspiration.
n Roll Cakes is a cozy little place, decked out in retro decor, with
a checkerboard floor and a fifties vibe. We even have a vintage
Wedgewood stove in back, which adds to the charm, even though my shop
assistant, Summer, is always threatening to leave it on the curb.
Anyway, my shop offers lots of inspiration for poodle skirt jokes,
but that isn’t quite what I’m looking for. Not today, and
not with this guy. At last, my gaze falls on the icing injector tool
on the counter.
I was just cleaning up the icing. Was finishing off a big order and
it got alllllll over me. It’s everywhere. I’m dripping in
a long pause. I let my eyes linger out the front window of my shop.
It’s a beautiful Friday in Key West. The sky has just started
to go orange and pink at the corners. The palm trees are shivering in
the breeze. The sidewalks are packed with tourists, and while usually
that would get me a little bit panicked about the lack of business,
today I’m content to sit on my laptop and flirt with my
anonymous online paramour. Let Summer finish up the groom’s
cake for a client’s wedding. I have bigger cakes to bake.
. . .
in some unusual places. You know those icing injector tools?
feel my wicked grin grow. Of course he knows about icing injector
tools. I met this guy on the biggest bakery industry forum on the
internet. He was arguing against the proliferation of gluten-free
bakeshops in New York City. Those Williamsburg hipsters and their
food allergies! I chimed in over direct messages in enthusiastic
agreement, and sparks flew from there. We quickly took things off
board to g-chat, and I know he’ll always back me up when it
comes to crunchy Key West mamas and their disgusting penchant for
maybe I should say I “met” cupcakecasanova because I know
almost nothing about him. I know that he lives in New York. I know
that he hates food substitutions with a passion that borders on
demonic. I know that he prefers chocolate to vanilla, strawberry to
raspberry, oral to almost everything else . . . but
I don’t even know his name.
hands fly over the keys.
is just *so* hard and shiny and big. I can hardly get a grip on it.
thirteen inches . . .
I have no problem handling something that size, but my hands just get
so slippery when I’m working. Today I managed to squirt
chocolate ganache right up my—
I can finish that thought, the bell on our front door jangles. I slam
my laptop shut, and look up with a perfect, professional smile. A
familiar face greets me: Wes Lansing, a high school buddy of mine.
Okay, maybe we were more than buddies once. But he’s got a wife
and a gut and a gaggle of kids now keeping him busy. All I have are
my innuendos and my cake stands. Still, I’m always happy to see
I say, leaning over the counter to press a kiss to his stubbly cheek.
He lets out a low, easy chuckle. When I pull away, I see how he’s
blushing a faint red. Some things never change.
Jules,” he rumbles. “How’s business?”
comes a sarcastic voice from in back. That’s Summer. She has
two modes: skeptical and extreme eye roll. It would be a real pain in
the ass if she wasn’t so damned good at her job. But she can
cook a pound cake as rich as a gold brick, shape marzipan into
miniature unicorns, and whip up a wedding cake all in an afternoon,
so I keep her around. I let out an easy laugh.
I agree. Wes shakes his head.
Hoped things would pick up after all that television hullaballoo.”
the reality TV show that filmed in our hometown about forty miles
north last year. Pixie, the princess in question, almost got hitched
to her rock star boyfriend—and I was supposed to supply the
cake. But the wedding never happened. Pixie fell for the wedding
planner’s dashing assistant instead. Though I saw a small spike
in business right around the time their tasting aired, I never got my
grand unveiling: the twelve tiered monstrosity of double-chocolate
bourbon I’d crafted especially with rock star Clyde Kincaid in
mind. Their cake smash was supposed to by my moment in the limelight!
Instead, I still have half that thing taking up space in our deep
can you do?” I say, forcing a cheerful shrug. I don’t
like to let people know that I’m struggling, especially not my
high school ex. He doesn’t need to know that I’m barely
in the black most months.
tell you what I can do,” Wes says, and he pulls out his wallet.
“I can order a few cupcakes from you—”
I say, doing my best not to cringe. It feels weird to take money from
him. For one thing, he’s a cop, and they usually eat free in my
shop. For another, I once gave him a handjob on a science class field
trip. What can I say? We were in a planetarium. It was dark. Stars
Wes won’t take no for an answer. “No, no. They’re
not for me. They’re for Camille’s soccer fundraiser.
We’ll need six dozen, black and gold icing. I want them to say
‘Go Poodle Moths’ on them, and if you can draw a poodle
moth, too, that’d be great. The kids would love that.”
stare at him a minute, hoping he’s joking. But then he gives me
his best cop glower.
are you waiting for?”
I reach for a pad and begin jotting down Wes’s order. “Black
and yellow, you said?”
do my best not to roll my eyes. I’d forgotten why Wes and I had
broken up. He always seems so sweet in my memories, like a Floridian
Clark Kent with manners and muscles to match. But he can also be a
real prick sometimes.
do you need them by?”
before I head back up to Pelican Key. Don’t want to have to be
driving down the Overseas Highway at the asscrack of dawn tomorrow
before Camille’s meet just to pick up some cupcakes.”
chuckles again, like he’s made a real clever joke. But I only
glance at the Felix the Cat clock that hangs by the door. It’s
almost three—just two hours until closing. We’ll have to
work fast, but I’m not about to turn away an order for six
I say cheerfully. I ring him up. Wes pays, then slips a single into
the tip jar with a wink.
you at five,” he says, then lets out a low, tuneless whistle as
he saunters out the door, the bell jingling behind him.
a moment’s silence before Summer’s voice lifts up from
the back, dry, as always.
the fuck’s a poodle moth
some miracle, Summer and I pull everything together. She Googles
poodle moths on her phone (terrifying creatures, like something from
Island of Dr. Moreau
I whip up some chocolate raspberry batter that’s sure to please
the pickiest eater on Camille’s team, we get to baking and
cooling and icing and spraying gold frosting spray all over the
store. By the time Wes has returned, we’re just boxing up the
last of the cupcakes. Summer looks dirty, tired, and gold at the
edges. I’m sure I don’t look much better. But Wes is
smiling broader at me than he ever did on prom night. I guess some
things beat even motel room cherry popping—like making your kid
will love these. Thanks, Jules,” he says. I tell him it’s
nothing and usher him from the store.
going to go home,” Summer says. She doesn’t even offer to
help clean up, but then, she never does. “Put on some pajamas,
drink some whiskey, have nightmares about those poodle . . . things.”
dreams,” I tell her, waving her out. Honestly, I can’t
wait for her to leave. It’s not that I mind Summer’s
company. She’s sparkling, as always. Tonight, you might even
say she glitters. But once I get the store locked up, I can sit back
down at my laptop in peace to finish my conversation with
as she leaves, Mrs. O’Gilligan shuffles in. I wince. I’d
almost forgotten our nightly regular. Mrs. O’G is about ninety
years old, but she’s not your ordinary old lady. She rides a
pink vespa, has a fluffy pink beehive of cotton candy hair, and is
never seen without the vintage Hell’s Angel’s jacket that
belonged to her old man. And every. Single. Night. She stops in to
get the same thing.
have the Pink Surprise, dear,” she says, waiting patiently in
front of the register. I concocted the Pink Surprise just for her.
It’s red velvet with pink frosting inside—incredibly rich
and incredibly sweet. I guess the sugar doesn’t bother Mrs.
O’G. All of her teeth are artificial, anyway.
thing,” I tell her, sliding off my stool behind the counter to
fetch her the last cupcake of the day. I place it carefully in a box
and begin stapling it shut. Then I tie my signature black and white
checkerboard ribbon around the box.
personal service,” she says. “I’m sure you won’t
find that at that new bakeshop down the street.”
hands go cold as I go to hand Mrs. O’G the cupcake box.
impossible. I know
that happens in this end of Key West. If there was competition, I
would have heard about it.
would I? I glance out the window, at the tourists coming and going.
Business has been so slow that lately, we’re even bleeding
regulars. I haven’t caught half the gossip I usually do.