You. Guys!!! You know now nothing happens as expected but we make it work?? Well, today we have Keri Ford visiting with us! I’m totally excited because today it’s release day for her! Beyond that, freaking cupcakes are part of the title! Yes, Cupcakes and Crushes is available out in the wild today. Keri is super adorable, so everyone remember to wish her a very happy release day!
Sometimes there is enough sweet to make up for the bitter.
Years ago, a broken heart sent Annie Cookie running from home, and she’s never looked back—until now. Her grandpa’s broken wrist means the family bakery is at risk of losing two big orders.
Reluctantly, Annie returns to Turtle Pine to help out, only to discover it’s not just seven hundred cupcakes she has to bake, but also a wedding cake for the half-sister who stole her high-school sweetheart. Annie left town to get away from her sister. No way is she getting mixed up with her again. Once the cupcakes are done, she’s outta there.
Back in high school, Cade Revlin hid his crush on his brother’s girl, but when his brother dumped Annie for another Cookie sister, Annie slipped through his fingers and out of town. Now that she’s back, he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.
He’s got one week to change her mind. Or she’ll be gone in a cloud of powdered sugar.
Warning: Contains small-town meddling, family drama and all the necessary ingredients for a second chance at love—if they have the guts to turn up the heat.
Like all the deputies and friends of her grandpa, Cade walked to the backdoor of the bakery and gave it a light tap as he twisted the knob and pushed it open. “Knock, knock.”
“I guess some things never change.” Annie appeared from a side room. Gone was the fancy dress and back was the girl he remembered. Soft-looking tight pants, a T-shirt and some tennis shoes decked her out as the woman he’d seen at school who’d often carried books tightly against her chest. Except this time, she was minus the cold shoulder. Her smile was all warm and inviting. Shoulders back, hair lose around her face, she searched him.
Whew. There went his pulse. His throat got extra tight and he forced himself to swallow so his voice wouldn’t crack. Even though he was older, those teenage nerves rushed back over him. At the airport, she’d been cold and shut off. But this woman was all smiles and focused on him without giving him some warm-up time. “Don’t change what’s working.”
She placed a notebook on the table in the center of the room and sat on a stool. “Are you following me today or is this just coincidence?”
“Some of both?” He shrugged, hooked a chair by his foot and dragged it up to sit opposite her. Might as well throw some of this out in the open. “I’m hiding from my neighbor.”
“Not a good sign about your neighborhood.”
“It has its pluses and minuses.” Mostly minuses. Since Tina had run him out of his house today, and he was out looking for Annie because of it, that could be considered a plus.
“What about where you live?”
“Apartment building where I’m loved by everyone on my floor.” A light chuckle came out of her.
“That doesn’t surprise me.” She must give her neighbors the warm smile more often than the cold shoulder.
“I bring a lot of day-old items home. People love snacks.”
“Would be a sin not to.” He gestured at the notebook. “Making a list?”
“Trying to figure out supplies. Grandpa’s scraping the barrel here since he hasn’t been in the bakery.”
Welp, it’d been, oh, a good ten or fifteen years since he’d gotten up the nerve to ask her out. This time she was actually looking at him, so his odds had to be better. Of course, that meant if she said no, he’d have no excuses for the refusal this time. He rubbed his sweaty-a hell palms over his thighs. “You about done with that?”
She blinked and sat back. “Just started, why?”
“Thought you might want to take a ride around town. Get a feel for the place again. This is your first time back since you left, isn’t it?”
Her grin somehow deepened and she placed the pen across the top of the notebook. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips and disappeared again. “It is. Has it changed a bunch since I left?”
“Well, they repainted the water tower.”
She gasped and dramatically covered her chest with her hand. “They took off Jeremy + Melissa?”
“They did. Someone went up and painted it back the first night after they were done.” Being Jeremy was pushing sixty-five, everyone agreed he wasn’t the culprit, but any one of his rowdy grandkids had a lot of potential. Cade had been tasked with figuring out which one had defaced the new paint, but he hadn’t put a lot of effort into it. The mayor had been the one who’d wanted the tower painted and everyone knew that was only because Melissa had picked Jeremy over him. Jeremy + Melissa on that water tower was a part of Turtle Pine history. You just can’t paint over history.
She laughed. “You’re kidding.”
She was laughing more. “I don’t think it would feel like home if it wasn’t there.”
“I think almost everybody thought the same. You remember Mrs. Baxter?”
She frowned for a moment and stared at the center of the table. “She has the big rose bushes behind her mailbox.”
He pointed. “Used to have. She pulled them up.”
Annie’s mouth dropped. “No.”
“Those bushes have been there for as long as I can remember. And I remember her being out there all the time trimming on them.”
“Gone. She ripped them up. Shocked everybody.”
She leaned on the counter, meaning she leaned toward him. “I’d probably get lost on the way to the school without seeing those bushes at the corner.”
“My point exactly.” He pointed at her list again. “So are you about done? We’re burning daylight.”
She thumbed through the sheets of mostly empty paper. “I guess the rest can wait. Not like I’m calling in an order tonight.”
“Perfect. And I have a surprise for you.”
“Surprises already?” The raise of her brow was full of skepticism.
Nice. Way to come off looking creepy. He slipped his hands in his pockets to rub off even more sweat from his palms. “It was something I had to do, so it wasn’t just for you. But the benefit is still the same.”
She flicked the lights off and turned the lock as she followed him out the door. “I’m almost afraid.”
“You shouldn’t be.”
So, what’d you think? 😀 Again – congratulations on your newest release, Keri! I hope you have a few cupcakes in celebration today. … If only the rest of us had cupcakes too… some day we’ll manage to work that out with a guest right? 😉 Happy release day, Keri! You can buy a copy here or read another excerpt here.