December 11, 2018

Stolen Goods -- Second Chapter Reveal!

Happy #teasertuesday! 

To help ramp up the excitement for Stolen Goods, I'll be revealing a new chapter every week for the entire month of December! Yay!

Last week, I revealed the first chapter, which is told in Thad's point of view. This week, you'll get a first look at our leading lady, Addison. I hope you enjoy learning more about this sugary-sweet baking beauty :) Don't be fooled, there are a lot of surprises hiding beneath her southern belle exterior!


And if you're counting down the days until January 7th (like me!), don't forget to pre-order your copy :) The ebook is available on Amazon!


FYI - The final manuscript is currently being proofread, so there may be some grammatical errors! Sorry in advance!


- 2 -


Pink was a totally underrated color. From the hot magenta of a Carolina sunset, to the rich coral of a Georgia peach, to the soft blush of a newly budding rose, Addison loved them all. Every shade. Every hue. Blame her lifelong obsession with Disney princesses. Blame her mother for cultivating the most beautiful backyard garden. Blame her grandmother for insisting she take ballet as a little girl. Blame anything—it wouldn’t change the fact that to Addison Abbot, pink was perfection.
Even now, as she stood hunched over a baking sheet, buttercream frosting spilling over her fingers from a small tear in her piping bag, Addy couldn’t deny her love. The bright pop of her flats against the polished concrete floor resembled two flamingos in a sun-drenched pond. Magenta polka dots peppered her A-line skirt. The logo of the bakery where she worked, Low Country Cakes, decorated the front of her apron, but she’d embroidered her name above it in watermelon thread. And best of all, the array of frostings resting in various bowls and bags and tubes on the counter resembled a field of precious peonies—pink, pink, and more pink.
Because Addison was working on her dream wedding cake.
Not her own, sadly.
But the next best thing.
The adorable couple was from Charleston. The soon-to-be wife worked at a stationery studio. The almost-husband was a teacher. On the weekends, they ran a pop-up shop in the market downtown selling their artwork—hers were watercolor, his were oil, and the shared passion was how they’d first met. They wanted the most romantic and most floral wedding cake the world had ever seen, which was why Addy was elbow deep in frosting, churning out buttercream roses like a machine, with a giddy, swoony smile on her face.
“Time to close up shop,” a voice called, interrupting her blissful concentration.
Addy flinched, smearing a petal. With a sigh, she placed the damaged flower on the table and looked up in time to see her boss, Edie Haynes, step out of her office. My father wanted a boy. Those were Edie’s first words to Addy at the very start of her job interview ten years prior, back when she’d been nothing but a determined teen desperate for an after-school job she was passionate about, instead of one folding clothes at the local department store. The statement was true. Small-town gossip didn’t stay small for very long, and Addy had heard about Edie, the homecoming queen who should have been a quarterback, long before she’d gathered the courage to come work for her. Edie was nothing like the tomboy her father once dreamed of—tall, blonde, a model in her youth, and now a hustling cake designer running one of the most successful shops in town while also raising twins. Brides-to-be came from all over to enlist Edie to bring their wedding dreams to life. There was a waiting list for clients. Addy had been working there long enough to see the business blossom and grow, and she was more than grateful to have come along for the ride. But sometimes, just sometimes, she dreamed of a little bit more.
A business of her own.
A pink logo with her monogram.
Addison Abbot Designs.
Or maybe Cakes by Addy.
Or her screenname Sprinkle-Ella—creating fairy-tale cakes one wedding at a time.
“Earth to Addison? Come in, Addison?”
Addy shook her head and blinked. “Sorry, Edie. What?”
“Time to close up shop…” her boss repeated slowly, the smallest hint of a smile crossing her lips.
“Oh…” Addy glanced wistfully down at the table, at all the work waiting to be done. “I still have… I mean, I’m not quite… Would you—”
“You want to stay late? Again?” Edie interrupted, raising a teasing brow. A true southern steel magnolia—shrewd, savvy, and always straight to the point. She was a good role model for Addy, who’d never been able to keep both her feet firmly planted on the ground. Why would she when the clouds, the sky, and her dreams were so much fun? “That’s the third time this week. Don’t you have something more exciting to do? Drinks with friends? A date? You’re only twenty-five. I don’t want you working your life away. I’d never forgive myself.”
Not something everyone heard their boss say every day, but Edie was almost like an older sister, a dear friend. This wasn’t the first time she’d voiced these concerns.
Addy pulled her lower lip into her mouth and nodded. “It’s just, I’m almost done with the flowers. Then I thought I might test out some different options for the top tier…”
Edie crossed her arms as she leaned against the doorframe to her office and pointedly lifted her brows. “This wouldn’t be because your sister came home from school two weeks ago, would it?”
Stupid small town! Everyone knows everything!
“No,” Addy rushed to say, even as her insides twisted at the slight lie. She loved her sister—she did. But did Grace have to be so…so…so, well, Grace-like? Her sister was three years younger, and while they’d been close as children, they’d grown up and grown apart. Now, they couldn’t be more different. Where Addy loved pink, Grace’s wardrobe consisted mainly of navy and charcoal. Where Addy was completely happy following her passion in life, not at all concerned that it might conform to traditional gender roles, Grace was at law school studying to become a women’s rights attorney. Which, Addy was the first to say, was amazing. She couldn’t be prouder of her sister and the meaningful work she was doing. Still though, did Grace have to be so good at arguing? And giving side-eye? And slipping in snide remarks anytime she heard Addy gush about her desire to get married or caught her reading a perfectly respectable bodice ripper?
I mean, really.
“Grace—” Addy stopped herself with a wince. While she would always think of her sister as little Gracie, or at least Grace, she was supposed to call her by her middle name now. Lee. That happened about a year ago when Gracie decided her name was too oppressive, or sexist, or something about the patriarchy… Addy couldn’t remember. Anyway, to the public, she was Lee now. Addy coughed. “I mean, Lee, is good. She’s great! We’re great. I’m just really into this cake.”
Edie rolled her lips into her mouth, cheeks puffing with contained laughter.
Thank God it was contained.
“You know, it’d be good for you to learn a thing or two from your sister,” Edie chided softly, half-serious, half-teasing. Oh, God, not you too, Addy thought, fighting back an eye roll. “When’s the last time you got out of town?”
Ah yes, because Gracie was this small town’s world traveler. Everyone loved when she came back from her adventures—going to college in San Francisco, volunteering in Africa, studying abroad in France, taking a summer break to backpack through Southeast Asia. Grace was a local hero. She was the one who got away, who was doing big things, glamorous things. Edie had been that girl once too, a model on the cusp of making it big, before she accidentally got pregnant and moved back home to raise her new family.
But what, did Addy want to know, was so bad about staying near home? Helping take care of her parents? Keeping a steady job for nearly a decade? Of course, in those solitary moments where she let her mind wander, she often found herself wondering what the streets of Paris looked like at night or if wishes made at the Trevi Fountain really did come true. But in those dreams, she wasn’t alone. There was romance in the air. A thumb brushing against her palm. A body snuggled close to her side. Lips pressed against her neck.
She’d leave this town.
She’d go somewhere.
She’d explore.
She just, well, wanted to find someone who would go with her first.
Addy found her boss’s level gaze. “I went to Charleston three weeks ago.”
Edie snorted. “And when’s the last time you left the South?”
What’s so wrong with the South? she thought indignantly. We’ve got hospitality, chivalry, sweet tea—and praline pecans!
“Does Epcot count?”
This time, Edie did burst out laughing as she dropped her face into her hands, shaking her head. “Addison, Addison. If I didn’t depend on you so much, I’d fire you, just to see what you’d do.” Addy’s stomach leapt into her throat before her boss kept going. “But I’m selfish, and I don’t know what I’d do without you. So maybe think about a vacation instead? I don’t want you to burn out.”
“I will,” Addy said.
“I promise.”
Edie eyed her for a few moments longer, then slipped her hand into her purse. She pulled out the shop keys and tossed them toward Addy, who caught them smoothly with a grin across her lips. Buttercream, I’m not done with you yet.
“Anderson wedding on Saturday?” Edie said as she made her way toward the back door, running through a final end-of-day checklist in her mind.
“Yup. We should be all set.”
And thank God for that.
The Anderson couple requested a black wedding cake. Black! Addy had never been so depressed while baking a cake in her life. Even now, she shivered, turning toward her fluffy pink frosting for solace.
“And the Cooper wedding on the same day?”
“And the Bryants’ next week. And I think the Shermans’ the week after. All good.”
“And that Avengers birthday cake—”
“Already got the designs approved by the parents.”
“Go home to your family. Everything is under control.”
Edie took a deep breath and turned to face Addy, stalling with her hand on the knob. “See? What would I do without you?”
“Be just as successful, I’m sure, if a lot less entertained.”
Edie rolled her eyes and opened the door. “Think about the vacation,” she called over her shoulder. “But maybe not until after the summer rush…or the fall rush…winter might work—”
“Good night, Edie!”
The door clicked closed.
Addy breathed a sigh of relief.
No more questions.
No more concerns.
For the rest of the night, she could be exactly where she wanted to be—surrounded by sugary frosting and sweet daydreams, her favorite combination.
But first—
Addy rushed to the sink and cleaned the dried buttercream from her hands. Then she pulled her phone from her purse, snapped a quick photo of the flowers she was working on, and loaded her ongoing chat with her friends—Jo and McKenzie. During the workday she usually felt too guilty to chat, but after hours was fair game. Addy sent them the pic and tapped out a quick caption.

@Sprinkle-Ella: My happy place! Flowers for days!

Oddly enough, though she’d never met either of them in real life, those two girls felt like the truest, most authentic friends she’d ever had. They’d first started talking about two years ago in an online forum for fans of The American Baking Championship, and when it got canceled (way before its time, if Addy had anything to say about it), Jo had started a group chat to keep the conversation going. At first, they discussed the contestants, the items from the show, how the runner-up had been absolutely robbed. After a while, things shifted to swapping recipes, giving advice, and sharing an honest love of all things dessert. McKenzie was a pastry sous chef at a high-end restaurant in New York. Her take-no-prisoners attitude perfectly fit her hometown. And Jo, well, Addy didn’t know much about Jo, except that she lived near the beach, worked for her father, and dreamed of owning her own bakery one day. Really, what else did she need to know?
To Addy, they were a godsend, the only escape she needed from this small town where most of her friends had either packed up and left, or settled down and had families, leaving her in a strange sort of limbo. Jo and McKenzie understood her passion, her drive. They understood her in a way Addy didn’t think anyone else but Edie really did.

@TheGourmetGoddess: So. Much. Pink.

Addy snorted. McKenzie and Grace would get along fine, two peas in a pod.

@Sprinkle-Ella: I know!
@TheGourmetGoddess: I didn’t mean that as a good thing.
@Sprinkle-Ella: I know!
@TheBakingBandit: Your buttercream technique is flawless! I need lessons :)

An image of Jo’s kitchen came through the screen—a mess of flour and dough and sugar. Addy barked out a laugh and then hastily covered her mouth to hide the unladylike sound. Jo’s baking was all creativity all the time—high on the enthusiasm, but low on the precision. She was the complete opposite to someone like McKenzie, a French-trained pastry chef. Addy liked to think she rested somewhere in the middle, the peacemaker between two extremes.

@Sprinkle-Ella: New kitchen? The counters look different.
@TheBakingBandit: OMG, I didn’t tell you guys I moved! No longer by the beach. I’m living in Washington, DC…with a man…who is a neat freak…help!
@TheGourmetGoddess: My condolences to his sanity.   
@TheBakingBandit: I’m a great roommate.
@TheGourmetGoddess: Sure…

While McKenzie laid on the snark, a wide grin spread across Addy’s face to match the warmth gathering beneath her skin. There was nothing she loved more than love…and the color pink.

@Sprinkle-Ella: So exciting!! Congrats!
@TheBakingBandit: Thanks! It’s been great! And best of all, I’m working on trying to open my very own bakery! Maybe just a food truck to start…idk, still planning the logistics. But I have a TON of recipes I need you guys to taste test!
@Sprinkle-Ella: Yes! Send them along!
@TheGourmetGoddess: I had a great idea for a maple sugar glaze I think you should try for your pie crust. I’ll email you.
@TheBakingBandit: You guys are the best! But actually, I have to go! Must clean… The aforementioned man will be home soon, and I promised him I would try to be better.
@Sprinkle-Ella: Bye!!
@TheGourmetGoddess: Later fools.

Addy put her phone down and turned back to the table, retrieving the nearest piping bag. She spent the next hour finishing up the buttercream flowers, then put them in the refrigerator to harden a little overnight before finalizing the cake tomorrow morning. Though she could have headed home after that, she didn’t. Because…why bother? All that waited in her small one-bedroom apartment was leftovers and reruns of her favorite TV shows since they were still on summer break. She’d rather be baking. So she marched back over to the fridge and pulled out a ball of white fondant—they always kept some handy—then grabbed food coloring, brushes, and molding chocolate, ready to test out a few different ideas for the top tier of this dreamy cake.
As music played from her phone, Addy lost herself in the work, thoughts shifting to a little game she told no one about but always seemed to play in these late hours alone in the kitchen. Her meet-cute game. It was her favorite part of the client interviews, hearing the engaged couple explain how they were introduced, animated and happy and so clearly in love as their words bounced back and forth. Her favorite books and movies all began with a romantic, somewhat laughable yet always charming serendipitous event. When she was all alone, free to dream, Addy couldn’t stop herself from wondering when her turn would come. When Prince Charming would swing by and sweep her off her feet. When she would finally get a happy ending of her own. 


Thanks for reading!

Click here to read the third chapter, in which Thad and Addy finally meet!

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