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Excerpt of Courtship of the Cake by Jessica Topper


Much "I Do" About Nothing #2
June 2015
On Sale: June 2, 2015
384 pages
ISBN: 0425276856
EAN: 9780425276853
Kindle: B00OQS4G7U
Paperback / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Romance Contemporary

Also by Jessica Topper:

Softer Than Steel, September 2015
Deeper Than Dreams, August 2015
Courtship of the Cake, June 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Dictatorship Of The Dress, January 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Louder Than Love, September 2013

Excerpt of Courtship of the Cake by Jessica Topper

Talk about your frying pan, into the fire. I had jumped in, feetfirst.

Mick was standing at the stove, legs splayed in faded jeans. He was effortlessly flipping the fattest pancakes I had ever seen onto a platter. I watched his handiwork: dusting the tops with powdered sugar, dribbling fresh blueberries from his fingers. Bacon was crackling in another pan, coffee was gurgling from the machine on the counter, and the cook was whistling the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” as he worked. He was in his element, and I had fallen down the rabbit hole, watching him. Now what, Dani? I had lingered too long to try to sneak back up the stairs and find an alternate way. And to get out the side door, I’d have to walk right past him. Indecision paralyzed me.

“Women who walk into my kitchen are in danger of being put to work, you know.”

His back was still to me, but I pictured him biting back a smile from those full lips. I crept in closer, taking in the full Victorian kitchen. Elegant crown molding and antique white cabinetry smartly met with a white subway tile backsplash and updated black granite countertops. I admired the open shelves lining one wall, marveling at what had to be a matched service for fifty people. Everything was neat as a pin and white, with pops of rose color here or there that hinted at its former era. It was stark and romantic at the same time.

As was the shirtless, aproned guy in front of me, sporting a wicked case of bed-head and hands full of breakfast food.

“When do you ever sleep?” I stammered.

He grinned, dragging the plate tantalizingly under my nose as he turned to set it on the huge kitchen island next to me. “I catnap. Hi, Bacon.”

“Do you always talk to your breakfast meats?” I asked, amused.

“No, but I talk to the cats here.” He ducked his head to gesture at the furry friend who had escorted me down the stairs, currently weaving between his denim-clad legs and staring up at him expectantly.

“There’s more than one?”

“Oh, you won’t see Olive anytime soon. She’s shy.” He pushed an oven mitt onto one hand and waved it. “Hi to you, too.”

“Good morning. Smells amazing in here,” I murmured. In addition to the steaming-hot pancakes and the bacon he was hustling off the stove, I spied fresh fruit, croissants oozing with rich chocolate, and a loaf of bread, baked to cracked perfection and studded with sunflower seeds.

I swear the almond extract he used in the bakery must have permeated his skin, as it was ever present and mingled with notes of coffee and cinnamon as he brushed past me.

“Grab that platter, will you?”

He carried the plate of baked goods on one palm and the bacon, still sizzling in the cast iron, in his mitted hand. I followed him into the dining room to the large table, which was elegantly set. “That’s all Quinn’s doing,” he said, referring to the cut crystal water glasses and multitude of cutlery. “Normally we all eat, hunkered over the kitchen island, when there are no guests.”

“How many guests are here today?”

“Counting you and Nash?” He set his bounty down and stepped back to admire it. “Two.”

The room suddenly shrunk to doll-sized small, as I realized Nash was upstairs, dead to the world, and all this food and fuss—and all eyes—were focused on me. “I . . . I was just going out for a jog.”

He plucked a fork from the table and pushed its side through a wedge of pillowy pancake on the platter I was still holding.

“I have to warn you. You’re going to need to run a marathon to work off these bad boys.” He twirled the fork teasingly close.

“Hey! Are you implying I need to lose weight?”

“Nope.” He grinned. “I’m saying my lemon ricotta soufflé pancakes are amazing.”

Rich cheese and ripe citrus exploded across my taste buds as the airy griddlecake melted on my tongue. Mother mercy. My knees practically buckled. Lemon for energy, I reminded myself, hoping I could muster enough to step away from He Who Had the Power of the Pancake in his grasp. “I’ll have you know, I was going to run first. Then eat.”

“Oh you were, were you?” The second triangle of pancake still lodged on the fork tines disappeared as he slid it into his own mouth.

I swallowed hard. “Yes. With Nash.”

Mick laughed. “Nash doesn’t run unless the cops are chasing him.”

“I meant eat. With Nash.”

“Ah. I see.” He took the only thing keeping space between us from my hands and set it on the table. My eyes trailed after the plate, avoiding his gaze. “More for me then,” he said, sitting at the head of the table and reaching for the bacon tongs.

I burst onto the porch, screen door slamming behind me. Cool morning air hit my throat, its dew the perfect quencher. The French were spot-on with their culinary term amuse-bouche, as that bite with Mick had certainly been a mouth amuser. A torturous, delicious way to keep my mouth, and my imagination, amused.

Run. Cold shower. Repeat if necessary.

Curse that man and his inflated flapjacks. And his sexy apron. Cooking shirtless and barefoot in the kitchen had to violate some kind of innkeeper’s health code, didn’t it? Let alone allowing cats in the kitchen?

Then again, there were no other guests at the B and B. Did old friends and their fiancées even count?

The Half Acre was more like a “big house with benefits” than a lodging establishment. What had Nash and I gotten ourselves into?

Excerpt from Courtship of the Cake by Jessica Topper
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