Authors: Jill Winters
Just as artist Belinda "Billy" Cabot settles into her new job--decorating cakes at a charming Boston bakery--her ex-boyfriend, Seth Lannigan, walks through the door...and events conspire to turn her life upside down. With her mother pestering her about her career, her divorced sister fuming about men, and her temperamental neighbor giving her the cold shoulder, Billy has enough drama. She doesn't need to fall for Seth again. And she really doesn't need a cantankerous fisherman named Ted--who has a mysterious connection to Billy's family--dropping dead at the annual dessert jubilee, catered by the bakery. With Seth's brief return home, Billy must battle the sizzling attraction that still exists between them. But unfortunately, she must also ask his help...
From the Author
I hope you are discovering some awesome books and if so, I am jealous! The birth of my first baby last year demoted my leisure reading from a favorite sport to an occasional hobby. Also, I'd intended to release the second book in my new mystery series to you sooner, but life has been sort of a whirlwind since my smiley son came along...
Right now I'm working on the edits and am on schedule for a Summer 2013 release! In case you aren't familiar, my new series is set in the fictional town of Big Clock, Minnesota and features Caitlyn Rocket, a grad student who works part-time at her local newspaper, The Big Clock Chronicle. I think you'll find Rocket to be a funny and charming heroine. When she isn't coming up with clever guises and unique investigative tactics...she is writing film reviews for the Chronicle (and dragging her scientific best friend, Amy, to said films), as well as catering to her Bichon and avoiding her insufferable mailman. Now if she can only get the uptight new editor of the paper, Ian, to lighten up a little...
Please stay tuned for the new book coming this summer. And if you haven't read it, I hope you will check out the first mystery in the series, The Unprintable Big Clock Chronicle, which spent several weeks on Amazon's bestseller list for humorous fiction, and has also appeared on Amazon's bestseller list for cozy mysteries. Meanwhile, have a fabulous spring & happy reading!
Jill Winters is a coffee junkie/mystery lover/diehard romantic who holds a degree in history from Boston College. She has taught Women's Studies, as well as numerous workshops for aspiring writers. As always, Jill loves to hear from readers! You can email her at: [email protected] or follow her updates on Twitter.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2004, 2011 by Jill Winters. All rights reserved.
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Thank you for checking out my third novel! I hope you have as much fun reading this story as I had writing it. My heroine, Billy Cabot, always held a special place in my heart. I suppose it's because I envied her—her artistic nature, her diplomacy, and her resilience (not to mention her daily proximity to cake). Add to that a charming neighborhood and a faithful dog and you have a world that I loved venturing into each day. When the book was first published,
The Detroit Free Press
called Billy "a cute cookie," and I couldn't have said it better.
As you'll read, Billy's favorite (fictional) cocktail is a raspberry crush, the invention of which I owe to one hilarious evening with my mom, when we tried many different drink combinations until we came up with a winner. (Who says research isn't fun?)
If you enjoy the book, I hope you will consider sharing your thoughts with others. Happy reading & best wishes!
Billy felt someone tug on her hair and whipped around. "Oh, you scared me," she said on a startled breath, pressing her hand to her heart.
"Sorry," Melissa said, smiling. Her cheeks were still pinkish from the brisk autumn wind, though her long, curly hair was unmussed, and she already had a black coffee in hand. "What were you looking at? You looked like a zombie in headlights."
Billy grinned at her coworker and what seemed like an exaggeration, then turned back to face Doubleday's. "Just that book," she replied, motioning through the metal gate to a new book about French Impressionism that was on display. She wondered what could be new to say about it, but being devoted to Renoir, books like this always caught her.
Now she turned and fell into step with Melissa as they headed toward the escalator. "Hey, where's Des?" Billy asked, looking over her shoulder, expecting to see him trailing behind. Des (short for Desmond) was Melissa's stepbrother, who worked with them at Bella Donna Bakery. They were all expected at today's early-morning meeting, which would focus mostly on last-minute details for the jubilee the bakery was catering that weekend.
Rolling her eyes, Melissa said, "We took the train in together, but when he stopped to bond with a homeless guy, I felt it was time to ditch him." Billy grinned and thought that sounded about right. From what she could tell, Melissa and Des Aggerdeen shared a T ride to work, a last name, and an address—now that Melissa had moved home to attend law school—but that was it. There didn't seem to be much love lost between them, probably because they were vastly different people. While Melissa was a smart, ambitious law student with somewhat elitist sensibilities, Des was a pseudophilosophical student in the proverbial school of life. A self-proclaimed poet, musician, and ar
he was obsessed with reaching out to the common man (even though he was one himself—and whether or not the common man liked it).
Des and Melissa didn't interact much at work, but when they did, it seemed clear that Des viewed his stepsister as vapid and co-opted, while Melissa viewed him, simply, as lame.
Now Billy stepped off the escalator and headed to the crowded enclosed bridge that stretched over Huntington Avenue. It connected the Prudential and Copley malls, and at this early hour it was clogged with professionals who were shortcutting their way to work. Billy ducked and swerved as best she could, but for the most part got squished. It was almost laughable the way men—especially those in their twenties—blatantly elbowed people to get ahead, showing no concept of even low-grade chivalry.
Just then Billy noticed that Melissa was no longer at her side. She'd flown several feet ahead, moving through the crowd with Darwinian determination. Occasionally Billy was struck by how confident and assertive Melissa had become since college.
They'd met freshman year at Boston College, where they'd both started out as business majors. By sophomore year, Billy had changed her major to art history, and Melissa had changed hers to poli-sci, but they'd often crossed paths on campus. Back then Melissa had been brooding, maybe a little antisocial—one of those girls who dressed in black and had a poster of Fox Mulder on her dorm room door.
Now she still wore black, but it was part of the sleek-chic look that she'd adopted during her postgraduation life in New York City.
Billy, on the other hand, hoped she looked pretty much the same since college, except for the twenty pounds she'd gained—seven of which she'd packed on since she'd started working at the bakery. She tried not to dwell on it, even though on a five-foot-two-inch body, it definitely showed.
And not counting her hair, which had gone from brown to dark cherry red. Technically it was an accident, but Billy had grown to like it. She'd used "Cinnamon Sunset," which was supposed to be subtle, but instead changed her hair to a pretty, crimsony color that never seemed to wash out.
"So did I tell you the news?" Melissa said, glancing over and abruptly realizing Billy had fallen behind. "Hey, where'd you go?"
"Wait," Billy called with a laugh, and hurried forward.
"Watch it," someone snapped when Billy accidentally stepped on his heel.
"Oh, sorry!" She ducked between two middle-aged men carrying briefcases, just as Melissa reached back to grab her hand and pull her up. A laugh slipped out of her as she was facilitated forward.
"You need better survival skills," Melissa said, smiling. "You'd never make it in New York."
Billy doubted that was true. She'd make it in New York; she just might not make it on time. "So check this out," Melissa said when they reached the other side and stepped into the airy vestibule of the Copley Mall. "Donna promoted me to assistant manager last night; it's official."
"That's awesome, congratulations!" Billy said brightly, though she wasn't at all surprised. Melissa had been working at the bakery for nearly a year, juggling the job with her hectic class schedule, and it was obvious that their boss, Donna, considered her quite an asset.
The deeper they walked into the mall, the more serenely peaceful it felt. Most stores didn't open for another hour, so there were only a few people milling around as soft piano music played overhead and golden October sunshine poured down through the skylights. Billy had worked at Bella Donna Bakery for only a couple of months, but she could feel herself settling into the routine already, while her life as a well-paid Web designer evaporated into memories.
It was hard to believe it had been only six months since she'd lost her job at Net Circle, a Web marketing and development company in downtown Boston. Six months since her boss had looked pointedly into her eyes and said, "The bad news is, you're fired—the good news is, it's nothing personal." The company had been going under, about to declare bankruptcy, and Billy had been naively shocked to discover it.
She'd been even more naively shocked to learn firsthand how bad the job market was. In fact, if she hadn't run into Melissa last summer, she wouldn't be working at Bella Donna now, which was turning out to be an uplifting transitional place until she found her next "real job." She supposed she should be in more of a rush, but she still had money saved. And it seemed the farther away she got from corporate America, the more she put off returning to it. Plus, ever since Tia had quit, Billy had taken over as Bella Donna's cake decorator, which worked out perfectly. Although she still dealt with customers and cleanup, for the most part she worked in the back, combining two of her great passions in life—art and cake.
"When does your promotion start?" Billy asked now as she and Melissa stepped onto the escalator.
"Today," Melissa replied, leaning against the rail. "So I guess you'd better be nice to me," she added wryly as she lifted her coffee cup to her mouth. "I'm your boss now."
The escalator rolled up, taking them to the second floor.
"I'm gonna grab the paper," Melissa said, veering off toward the newsstand.