Sugar and Iced (Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

Sugar and Iced (Cupcake Bakery Mystery) by Jenn McKinlay Read Free Book Online

Book: Sugar and Iced (Cupcake Bakery Mystery) by Jenn McKinlay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jenn McKinlay
marry Joe, she also knew she wasn’t ready to let him go, either. They had hammered out an understanding and downshifted their relationship to just friends with limited benefits while they tried to figure out how to manage Joe’s desire to get married and Mel’s resistance to it.
    “If you quit on me, I’ll understand,” Mel said.
    It was a total lie. She wouldn’t understand and it would hurt very badly, but she knew she was the lame duck in this relationship and it wasn’t fair to put Joe on hold while she tried to sort out her head.
    Joe hugged her close. “Nah, you’re worth the wait. Besides, this covert friends with benefits thing we’ve got going is pretty hot.”
    He glanced at the open cooler door and, seeing no one, he kissed her again. This time Mel was sure the damage to her baked goods would be significant. When she came up for air, she was surprised to see that everything in the chiller was fine, but she and Joe both looked as if they’d been hit by lightning.
    “If you could figure out how to bake that into a cupcake, you’d make a fortune,” Joe said, and he wiggled his eyebrows at her.
    Mel laughed and reluctantly pushed him away. “Good thing I have you for research purposes.”
    “It’s a dirty job,” Joe sighed and shoved a hand through his hair. When he looked at her, Mel could see how much he was trying to keep the mood between them light, and she felt a pang of guilt.
    “We’d better . . . before they get suspicious,” she said. She reached around him and grabbed two Death by Chocolates. Once they were out of the cooler, she put the cupcakes on a plate and set them down on the table.
    Joe took a seat and Mel could feel him watching her as she poured a glass of ice-cold milk for him. When she set it down at the table, he caught her hand and gave it a quick squeeze. He didn’t let go.
    “Just for the record, I’m not,” he said. Mel felt her breath catch as he explained. “Seeing anyone else.”
    “We agreed we wouldn’t talk about that,” she said. “It’s none of my business since—”
    “We broke up,” he said. “I know.”
    There was an awkward pause and Mel knew he was trying very hard to be patient. She knew if the situation were reversed, she’d be miserable.
    “I’m not, either,” she said.
    Joe flashed his patent-worthy grin at her and she realized he’d just been looking for confirmation of her status.
    “So, marry me,” he said.
    “No,” she said, softening her answer by squeezing his fingers before letting go. He was still smiling, but she saw his chin jut out and she knew the trademark DeLaura tenacity had just been fully engaged.


    “Big Brother sure looked happy when he left,” Angie said as she and Tate joined Mel in the kitchen.
    Mel was channeling all of her relationship angst into her baking and was creating a new version of her popular Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake. Angie and Tate sat in seats across from her at the steel table and watched her work.
    “Death by Chocolate will do that for you,” Mel said.
    “Uh-huh,” Angie said. “Anything you care to share?”
    “We’re not going to have another incident where you are engaged and not telling us, are we?” Tate asked. “Because that wouldn’t go over well a second time.”
    He reached for some of Mel’s chopped peanut butter cups and she smacked his hand away with the back of her wooden spoon.
    “No!” Mel said. “I promise the next time I get engaged, I’ll be comfortable enough with it to tell everyone, even my mother.”
    “You’d better,” Angie agreed. “I didn’t think Joyce had it in her to hold a grudge this long.”
    “I’m hoping that working the pageant will give me a chance to mend the rift,” Mel said.
    “Have you thought of having Joe talk to her?” Tate asked. “I mean, since he’s okay with the change in status, maybe he could talk her into it, too.”
    “Or she’ll just remember why she loves him so much and get even

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