Thursday, February 8, 2018

Love at the Candy Heart Cafe Chapter 8 by Arlene James

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Love at the Candy Heart Cafe


Chapter Eight

by
Arlene James



Taffy stuck her nose in the air, her lips clamping together in a straight, sour line. Sighing, Chad sent a silent prayer heavenward.

He’d been so sure that returning to Sweet Tart Village was the right thing to do. In truth, he’d been more successful in California than he’d ever dreamed possible, but he’d been aware for a long time now that his life had lost its purpose and flavor. He’d hoped to recapture the sweetness and vitality that he’d been missing by coming home and helping to sustain and improve the place. 

Perhaps he should have realized that the heartache he’d left behind would be waiting for him, but until he'd seen Candy again and spoken to her, he hadn't realized how bitter the taste of that memory truly was. What he didn’t understand is what his sister might have to do with the situation. Had she somehow influenced Candy? Was that why Candy had refused to leave with him?

Mentally putting together all that he knew, Chad targeted his sister, training his gaze on her.

“Still dogging Bruce Tart’s every step, huh, sis?”

Taffy shot a panicked glance at Bruce, declaring, “I didn’t know he was here!”

“That’s right,” Bruce said, grinning triumphantly. “I’m here to finalize a business agreement with Candy.”

What?

Chad’s gaze jerked from Bruce’s smug smirk to Candy’s surprised face. She was as delicious as ever, the sweetest thing by far in the Candy Heart Café.

A swirl of emotions swamped him, renewed grief for what could have been, regret that he hadn’t helped her achieve her dreams, the loss of everything honeyed and delectable in his life, guilt that he’d allowed his own heartbreak to crowd out the truth about what had happened all those years ago. Why had Candy refused to leave with him after previously agreeing? What had changed her mind?

“You’re selling to Bruce?” he asked, a sharp pain slicing through his heart as easily as a knife slicing through cake.



“No!” Candy tossed her glossy red-blonde ponytail. “I may accept a personal loan from him, though.”

Chad caught the satisfied look that passed between Bruce and his sister. Like cats that had just lapped up dishes of chocolate milk, they were obviously pleased. Chad had seen that look before--too often really. No one succeeded in real estate unless he developed a keen sense for ferreting out conspiracy. Chad had learned long ago how to roll up the plans of his competitors and chop them into bite-sized pieces with which he could easily dispense. More was at stake here than business, however.

He knew that he and Candy were finished, but he was determined to build a successful life for himself here in Sweet Tart Village. He'd staked everything on this, and he truly believed it was for the best of everyone. If Candy could be convinced to give up the cafe, she could fulfill her own dreams. Then maybe he could move on, build a full life for himself, one with a family.

Okay, Lord, he silently prayed. You’ve got the lead on this one. Where to next?

Suddenly, he recalled his sister’s teen crush on Bruce Tart. Oh, but surely she’d figured out that Bruce was only leading her on. Taffy was silly, but she wasn’t stupid. Still…

Chad glanced around the room. This felt just as it had ten years ago: he and Candy angry and broken with each other, though they’d been very much in love; Taffy mooning over Bruce Tart, who had never done anything without a solid goal in mind. Back then, Bruce’s goal had been to win Candy away from Chad. The dope had assumed that because he was good-looking and rich, Candy was his for the taking, but Bruce had never had a chance. Chad hadn’t worried about that Candy would switch her taste to Bruce, and obviously he'd been right. 

But that didn’t mean Bruce hadn’t tried to cut out Chad with Candy.

Or that Taffy hadn’t aided him. Maybe she still was.

Chad advanced on his sister, his temper suddenly hot enough to boil sugar. “What have you done, Taffy? What did you do?”

Taffy put her back to the counter and folded her arms. “She never trusted you. She always believed the worst of you.”

“That’s not true!” Candy exclaimed. “I always trusted him. Until you told me he’d been secretly seeing Ginger Spice the whole time we were together.”

Chad’s jaw dropped. Then he made a face. “I could never stand Ginger.” He took one step toward the woman he could not forget, softly vowing, "My taste has always run toward raspberry, Candy."

He'd privately teased her with that little joke when they were together. Everyone always described Candy's beautiful hair as strawberry blonde, but from the beginning Chad had found that description far too simple. She was much more complex, his Candy, like the sweetest, richest raspberries. 

Rolling her eyes, she turned away.

Oh, Lord, help. This was worse than anything he’d considered. He still loved her. Why hadn't he realized that? He would always love her, but she was as done with him as she had been the day she'd refused him.

He stared at Candy, as heartbroken as if no time had passed between then and now. More so, even.



How could his sister have told Candy such lies? And how could Candy believe them?

14 comments:

  1. Heart-wrenching chapter! Will they ever figure things out?

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  2. I love it, Arlene. The story just keeps getting better.

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  3. Taffy certainly let herself get pulled in the wrong direction. Now she's in a sticky mess!

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  4. Yay! This so fun. Bitter sweet. What will happen next....

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  5. As usual, I instantly found a line I'd like to edit! LOL. At this point, I'm just thankful the chapter posted.

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  6. I'm loving this sweet town and its residents. I'm rooting for a HEA!! Great, Arlene.

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  7. Taffy needs to be held accountable. Enjoying this story.

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  8. What an emotional scene! Thanks, Arlene. I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting for tomorrow's installment and cheering for Candy and Chad to get together again. If only!

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  9. Great chapter, Arlene. And we had lots of little cupids helping to get your post up last night! Taffy is a real piece of mush pie! And Bruce will soon be a cook-goose!!!

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  10. Love the raspberry vs strawberry. But Candy - how could you roll your eyes at that?

    Looking forward to seeing where Deb leaves it before my chapter on Saturday.

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  11. I had this happen to me in high school...my so called BFF told me my boyfriend was seeing another girl behind my back, so I broke up with him. Come to find out later, he never did and she was just jealous. Well she wasn't a friend of mine after that, no siree!

    Taffy, Taffy, Taffy...what a sticky mess like a spider's web!

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  12. Oh...This is killing me. Poor Chad.

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