Authors: Darlene Panzera
Three hours later, a photographer from Jake’s newspaper and the reporter who was to
write an article about the grand opening celebration showed up in the
news van. Jake told her he wished he could write the article on the shop himself,
but since he was part owner, it would be considered a conflict of interest. So he
had to sit back and let the other local news reporter, his friend Logan McGuire, take
“Logan can’t be biased,” Jake warned her. “He’ll write up the event exactly how he
sees it. But I’m not worried. The three of you have done a fabulous job preparing.”
Andi took a deep breath. Jake was right. The cupcake shop had never looked better.
Big white banners with the words
adorned the walls. Colorful balloons floated near the ceiling. And the new
sign had arrived earlier that day to replace the temporary sheet they’d placed over
the lettering from Zeke’s old bar and grill.
Jake looked exquisite in his navy blue jacket and matching slacks. He smiled at her,
but she couldn’t help wondering if his feelings matched the depth of her own. What
if he’d changed his mind and wanted their relationship to remain casual? What would
he say later tonight when she told him she wanted more?
Mia ran up to her and pulled on the hem of her purple apron. “Can Taylor spend the
“You’ll have to ask Jake,” she said. She was glad the two girls had finally worked
out their differences and bonded while baking. It would make her and Jake’s future
relationship, if there was to be one outside of the cupcake shop, much easier.
As the customers poured into the shop, Andi, Rachel, and Kim served mini cupcakes
on paper plates so everyone could sample the different flavors. The tactic had worked
well at the Relay for Life fundraiser.
“I need you to start serving those cupcakes a little faster,” Andi said, glancing
at Kim while taking another plate of cupcakes off the counter. “And, Rachel, your
apron is coming untied.”
“I like it loose,” Rachel muttered under her breath. “It’s easier to bend.”
Andi drew her away from the crowd. “Please tie it, before you trip and fall.”
“Why don’t you just tie it for me so you don’t have to worry about it?”
“Stop being so self-centered,” Andi said in a harsh whisper. “My concern is for the
“Self-centered?” Rachel retorted. “You think I’m self-centered? Ever since we started
this shop, you’ve been temperamental, demanding, and bossy, like you and Jake are
the only two who have a say in the place. You’re worse than my ex-Bossinator.”
Kim leaned her head in and said, “We should have the photographer take a shot of the
sculpted fondant Easter bunnies on the chocolate cupcakes before they’re gone. There’s
only a few of them left.”
Ignoring Rachel, Andi asked, “Why didn’t you make more?”
“I didn’t have time.”
“You shouldn’t have taken so long to decorate each cupcake, Kim. What happens if we
run out of cupcakes?”
“Then I’m sure you will decide what to do.”
Andi tried to curb her emotions. “This is our dream; please smile and at least act
dream,” Kim confided. “I wanted to put my work in a real art gallery.”
“Well, what’s stopping you?” Andi asked. “You didn’t have to be a part of this, but
you always let other people make decisions for you, because you are too scared to
do anything yourself.”
A sharp, ear-splitting scream pierced the air, cutting off their argument. Andi turned
her head to see what had happened, and in the middle of the floor, surrounded by a
semi-circle of concerned onlookers, lay Pat Silverthorn.
“Someone call 911!” Jake shouted and knelt beside Pat.
Rachel took out her cell phone, and Andi rushed to the woman’s side. Jake shook Pat’s
arm, and the woman groaned.
“I hit my head,” Pat complained. “Something was on the floor, and I slipped.”
Andi searched the floor and spotted the scattered cupcake wrappers. Ten of them. It
was a miracle more people hadn’t slipped and fallen. And after all the care in keeping
the shop safe . . .
Pat sat up and directed her comments to Jake’s reporter friend from the newspaper.
“This place is a health hazard! Oh, my head hurts.”
Within minutes sirens wailed to a stop in front of the shop, and four EMTs hurried
to Pat’s side.
“I’m sure I have a concussion,” Pat said with a dark frown, “and it’s this cupcake
“Stay still while we take your pulse,” an EMT instructed.
“I feel dizzy,” Pat said. “I think I’m going to be sick. I think you’ll need the stretcher
to take me to the hospital. Not only is Creative Cupcakes a sugar-infested nest of
fattening, high-calorie sweeteners, but a safety hazard. I could have died slipping
on the cupcake wrapper. Just wait until I call the county health department. Oh, careful
how you lift me, boys.”
“She’s giving the performance of a lifetime,” Rachel whispered.
“Will our shop’s insurance cover her medical costs?” Kim asked, wringing her hands.
Andi shook her head. “I don’t know. The worst of it is that she’s right. If she slipped
on a cupcake wrapper, then her injury is our fault.”
“Too bad she didn’t bite her tongue when she fell,” Rachel said. “If she sues us,
Creative Cupcakes will go bankrupt. Instead of a grand opening, this has been a grand
Andi looked at Jake, who looked back at her and winced, his face dark and filled with
alarm. And that was more than she could take.
After all his belief in her and his continued support, she had let him down. If she’d
checked the floors one more time, she could have spotted the spilled cupcake wrappers
before Pat got hurt. Instead, Jake’s colleague would have no choice but to do his
job and write the full story of what happened in all its devastating detail.
Once the rescue unit took Pat away, the atmosphere was ruined, and the solemn crowd
quickly dispersed. Jake said he wanted to talk to her after they closed up, but Andi
slipped out the tattoo parlor’s side door before he had the chance.
She knew it was a wimpy move, and she disliked herself for doing it, but after seeing
the look on his face when Pat lay hurt on the ground, she couldn’t face him. She was
afraid of what he’d say, and she couldn’t handle his disappointment or pity. Not now.
Not from him.
She put Mia to bed and sat on the floor in the tiny cottage kitchen with her back
against the refrigerator. The phone rang, and Jake left a message asking her to pick
up. But she couldn’t. Tears rolled down her face instead.
Creative Cupcakes had been her dream, the dream of a lifetime. If Pat sued and forced
them to close, what would she do?
The phone rang three more times. When she looked at the caller ID, all three were
from Jake. Then the phone stopped. She wondered if he would come over, but no one
knocked at the door. Not Jake, not Rachel, not even Kim.
She’d behaved so badly. Rachel and Kim were right. She’d been stressed out, bossy,
and irritable. She had no right to treat the people dearest to her heart that way.
If she couldn’t change Creative Cupcakes’ fate, she could at least change her attitude.
And she’d talk to Jake. Tomorrow.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
NABLE TO SLEEP,
Andi rose early Saturday morning and took Mia with her to the cupcake shop. The decorations
were still up, but the multitude of uneaten cupcakes had been put back either into
the display case or into the dozens of boxes on the back shelf. In the middle of the
marble front counter sat the Cupcake Diary.
Andi brushed her fingers across the smooth cover and noticed someone had stuck a flyer
advertising the grand opening in the middle of the book. She opened the Cupcake Diary
and found three new handwritten entries.
The first was in Kim’s handwriting:
Reach for your dreams, and never let go.
Rachel had written the second:
What is life without dreams? Or good friends? We’re with you, Andi, every step of
the way, today, tomorrow, and the next day.
The third, no doubt, was from Guy, the tattoo artist:
Tattoo your dream to your soul, and your dream will live forever. t.
Andi smiled. Seemed like the tattoo artist would forgive them for chasing away his
customers. And Rachel was right, good friends made life worthwhile, even when the
days became dark. Look at the adventure they had had! And her little sister, Kim,
younger in years, but older in her heart.
“Mia, go over to the window and turn the
The press could write a bad article, the county could try to shut the shop down, and
the Zumba lady might be a sworn enemy forever, but she wouldn’t quit.
Today was a brand-new day.
N HOUR LATER,
Rachel and Kim walked through the door of the kitchen, and without a word, they both
wrapped Andi in a group hug.
“I was wrong to take the lead and be so bossy,” Andi said, shifting her gaze from
Rachel to Kim. “I was so worried and driven to succeed I forgot what real success
is all about—having people care about you who you care about in return.” She gave
each of them a tight squeeze. “I promise from now on, we will be equal partners in
“And we’re sorry about the mean things we said, too,” Kim said, her voice low. “You’re
the one who is always after us about kitchen safety, and we overlooked seeing these
on the floor.”
Kim bent down, picked up one of the cupcake wrappers from the night before, and frowned.
“This isn’t our cupcake wrapper.”
“What?” Andi held her breath as she and Rachel hurried over to see for themselves.
Kim pointed to the outside of the wrapper. “This is a thin pink wrapper like the ones
they sell in the supermarket. Ours have the thicker, reinforced sides that Andi insisted
“Then where did they come from?” Andi asked. She feared she already knew the answer.
“A lady took them out of her purse and threw them on the ground like this,” Mia said,
mimicking the gesture. She twirled around and flicked her hands as if tossing Frisbees.
“What lady, Mia?” Andi pressed.
Rachel put her hands on her hips. “I’ll give you one guess.”
“Yup. She guessed it,” Mia said, bouncing up and down. “Priscilla said her mom’s name
Andi shook her head. “Even if it’s true, we have no proof.”
“Yes, we do,” Kim said and pointed up toward the security camera hidden among the
fake floral greenery.
in on his coffee break and helped them review the surveillance video.
“There,” he said, stopping the images scrolling across the screen. “The woman took
them from her purse, scattered them all over the floor while you three were arguing,
and after a quick look to see if anyone was watching, faked her fall to the floor.”
“Unbelievable!” Andi exclaimed. But the proof was right in front of her eyes.
Rachel shook her head. “Can we have her arrested?”
“Sorry,” Officer Lockwell said. “The police don’t get involved in civil cases.”
“Have you talked to Jake?” Kim asked. “Maybe he can stop his newspaper from writing
the story from Pat’s point of view and present the truth before it’s too late.”
The shop’s door opened, and Andi looked up expectantly, hoping it was Jake. No such
luck. It was her father.
He locked his gaze on her and furrowed his brow. “You’ve really done it this time.
The whole town is talking about what happened last night. I tried to tell you not
to pursue this silly notion you had to open a cupcake shop, but you—”
“Stop!” Kim said, cutting him off.
Andi gave her a surprised look. So did their father.
“You should be proud of Andi,” Kim told him. “She had the courage to do what most
people only dream about—she opened her own business. There’s nothing silly about that.”
Andi silently thanked her sister.
Their father grunted. “I don’t see any customers in here except me. How’s that for
Andi avoided his gaze and called Jake on the phone. “He’s not answering.” Was this
payback for her not answering his calls the night before? “We’ll have to take the
video straight to him at his office.”
ITH THE PROOF
to restore Creative Cupcakes’ reputation, Andi, Rachel, and Kim left Mia and her
grandfather to watch over the shop and made a mad dash across town to the offices
“We need to see Jake Hartman,” Andi told the assistant at the front desk.
“Mr. Hartman isn’t available right now,” the assistant informed her. “If you have
a news tip, I can give you his email address, and he can contact you.”
“My news tip can’t wait,” Andi said, staring at the massive logo of the newspaper
on the wall behind her. “Where is his desk?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t give out that information.”
“But I’m his girlfriend.”
The assistant’s head lurched back in surprise, and she squinted down the bridge of
her nose, as if assessing her.
“Girlfriend? I didn’t think the man ever dated.”
A guy in his early sixties came around the corner and handed the assistant a stack
of files. “Is there a problem?”
The assistant whispered, “They want to see Jake.”
Rachel leaned over the front desk and stuck her curly red head in his face. “We’re
from Creative Cupcakes.”
“I’m the senior editor,” the man informed them. “How can I help you?”
“There’s been a new development,” Andi said in a rush. “Your newspaper can’t print
the article on the cupcake shop until you have all the facts.”