The Cupcake Diaries:
Spoonful of Christmas
By: Darlene Panzera
In this special Christmas novella from Darlene Panzera, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: Spoonful of Christmas continues the adventures of three cupcake-loving women who work to keep their dream cupcake shop open while balancing love, family, and friendship.
When businessman Preston Pennyworth offers to buy Creative Cupcakes for a million dollars, the women are startled by his offer. Friends Andi, Kim, and Rachel have put everything into the shop and don’t want to give it up. Despite refusing the expensive offer, their worries are starting to pile up—just in time for the Christmas season. Between Andi’s concerns about a potential cross-country move, Rachel’s wedding-day stress, and Kim’s love life woes, the spirit of the season seems to be lacking! With the added stress of the holiday season, the women can’t help but imaging the possibilities of the offer.
Things change when Andi decides to organize a Christmas party for the foster kids in the area and the whole town gets involved. The women of Creative Cupcakes are reminded of what truly matters, as they realize the best things in life are close to home! But, when the shop is vandalized, the foster kids’ gifts are stolen, and Rachel’s wedding is sabotaged by a real life Grinch, the women can’t help but feel hopeless on Christmas. Will their Christmases be saved?
In this warm and heartfelt add-on to THE CUPCAKE DIARIES trilogy, Darlene Panzera’s Christmas novella will captivate reader’s hearts and capture the true meaning of Christmas.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.—Peg Bracken
Andi glanced at the number on the caller ID, picked up the phone, and tried to mimic the deep, sultry voice of a sexy siren. “Hello, Creative Cupcakes.”
“What if I told you I’d like to order a Mistletoe Magic cupcake with a dozen delicious kisses on top?”
She smiled at the sound of Jake’s voice. “Mistletoe Magic?”
“I was guaranteed that the person who eats it will receive a dozen kisses by midnight.”
“What if I told you,” Andi said, playing along, “that you don’t have to eat a cupcake to get a kiss, and the magic will begin the minute you walk through the front door?”
Jake chuckled. “I’m on my way.”
Andi’s sister, Kim, and best friend, Rachel, watched her with amused expressions on their faces.
“I hope Mike and I still flirt with each other after we’re married,” Rachel said, her sing-song voice a tease. “But the name ‘Mistletoe Magic’ isn’t half bad. Maybe we should make a red velvet cupcake with a Hershey’s kiss and miniature holly leaf sprinkles on top.”
Kim finished boxing a dozen maraschino cherry cupcakes and handed them to the customer at the counter. “As if we don’t have enough sales already.”
“Sales are great,” Andi agreed. “We’ve booked orders for eighteen holiday parties. Now, if I can only figure out what to get Jake for Christmas, life would be perfect.”
Rachel rang up the next customer’s order. “Mike and I decided our Hollywood honeymoon will be our gift to each other.”
“Are you serious?” Kim picked up a pastry bag from the back worktable. “You—the woman who can’t walk three feet past a store window without buying anything—are not going to get Mike a Christmas gift? Not even a little something?”
“It is hard,” she admitted. “But I promised him I wouldn’t. I also promised I wouldn’t go overboard with spending on the wedding arrangements.”
“You could always have a small, simple wedding like Jake and I did,” Andi suggested.
Rachel’s red curls bounced back and forth as she shook her head. “I already booked the Liberty Theater for the reception. I know it’s expensive, but the palace-like antique architecture is so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve always dreamed of—”
“Being Cinderella?” Kim joked.
“I do want a Cinderella wedding,” Rachel crooned. “I figure I can bake my own cake and skimp on other wedding details to stay within our budget.”
Andi didn’t think Rachel knew the first thing about staying within a budget but decided it was best not to argue. Instead, she turned toward her younger sister. “Kim, what are you getting Nathaniel for Christmas?”
“I’m not sure.” Kim shrugged away. “Maybe I should just get him a new set of luggage tags.”
Rachel frowned. “That’s not very romantic.”
“No, but it’s practical,” Andi said, coming to Kim’s defense. “Nathaniel’s probably getting her the same thing.”
“He planned to fly to his family’s home in Sweden this Christmas,” Kim confessed, her dark eyebrows drawing together. “But I told him I couldn’t go, and he didn’t want to go without me.”
“Of course you can’t go!” Rachel said, bracing her hands against the marble counter. “I need you to be my bridesmaid!”
“It would have been awkward spending Christmas with his family anyway,” Kim said, as she piped vanilla icing over the cupcakes. “It’s not like I’m part of his family or like we’re even engaged. In fact, I don’t know what we are.”
“You two are great together,” Andi encouraged. “You are both artistic, enjoy nature, and love to travel.”
Kim nodded, then looked up, her expression earnest. “But what else? I’m beginning to wonder if I should tell Nathaniel to go to Sweden without me.”
“And miss my wedding? But you’ll need a dance partner at the reception,” Rachel reminded her. “He wouldn’t go and leave you stranded without a date on Christmas Eve, would he?”
Kim hesitated. “I don’t know.”
The bells on the front door jingled as a man in his late forties wearing a pricey three-piece business suit entered the shop with a briefcase in hand.
“Are you the owners of Creative Cupcakes?” he asked, his expression hopeful.
Andi stepped forward and smiled. “Yes, we are.”
"I'm Preston Pennyworth." He placed his briefcase on the end of the counter and released the latch. “And I have an offer I think you might like.”
“What kind of offer?” Rachel asked, anticipation lighting her faint-freckled face.
Mr. Pennyworth handed them each a set of papers a half-inch thick. “An offer to buy Creative Cupcakes.”
Thirty minutes later, after the businessman had left, Andi, Rachel, and Kim sat staring at the pink-swirled, strawberry parfait cupcake they’d placed at the center of the table for Rachel’s birthday.
“I can’t believe that just happened,” Andi said, breaking the silence.
“A million dollars is a lot of money,” Rachel commented.
“Enough for each of us to start our own businesses,” Kim added.
Andi picked up the long golden cupcake cutter they’d bought to celebrate the grand opening of Creative Cupcakes and held it tight in her hand. “The fact we own the property is a huge plus. And our revenue from shipping cupcakes and packaged mixes nationwide has increased every month, making our shop very attractive to prospective buyers.” She paused. “But, of course, we’d never sell to him or anyone else who offered.”
“No,” Rachel chorused. “Of course not.”
“Even though I could travel to every art gallery around the world,” Kim said dreamily. “Or buy my own art gallery to house all my paintings.”
Rachel gasped. “I could have the wedding of the century.”
“I could put a down payment on a big house with twenty bedrooms,” Andi told them. “A master suite for me and Jake, a bedroom for each of the girls, and—”
“What would you do with the other seventeen bedrooms?” Rachel demanded.
“I’d use them as guest rooms.”
Kim laughed. “Sounds like a hotel, but knowing you, you’d probably invite every homeless person on the street into the house for the night.”
“Imagine how many people I could help,” Andi countered. “I’d be doing a good deed.”
“Speaking of good deeds,” Rachel said, nodding to the cupcake cutter in her hand, “are you going to split that cupcake?”
Andi divided Rachel’s birthday cupcake into threes and served them each a piece on a napkin, as was their tradition. In the past they’d divided the cupcake to cut calories, and this year was no exception. They had only five weeks before they had to squeeze into their slinky designer dresses for Rachel’s wedding.
Because their birthdays were spaced four months apart, they also set goals for themselves from one person’s birthday to the next—which, of course, was much easier than setting goals for a whole year.
As usual, Andi had an ever-growing list of goals, but her first one was to tell her husband about Preston Pennyworth's outrageous offer.
Link to Follow the Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/11/now-booking-tasty-virtual-book-tour-for_8494.html
About the Author:
Darlene Panzera is the winner of the “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest sponsored by Avon Books. The win led her novella, The Bet, to be published with Debbie Macomber’s Family Affair. The award-winning novella (chosen in a blind-read by Debbie Macomber) was then published as a full length novel retitled, Bet You’ll Marry Me. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, two horses, and loves: camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.
Set of Books 1-3 of THE CUPCAKE DIARIES Series