Saturday, February 10, 2018

Love at the Candy Heart Cafe - Chapter Ten by Cate Nolan




Just as soon as we are married.

Married? 
Married!
Candy’s thoughts stuck on that one word like a fly on caramel. 
 

She swallowed hard trying to find her voice. No. Two little letters. One syllable. She could do it. She just had to say NO. 

Turning to Bruce, intent on setting him straight, she opened her mouth to say the word, but the tinkle of candy chimes distracted her. She swung toward the door just in time to see it closing behind Chad.

 




"No!"
Suddenly the cloyingly sweet scent of the store overwhelmed her. The swirling mix of flavors - fruit and nuts, peppermint and chocolate - assaulted her senses. If she didn't get some fresh air, she might do something stupid... like agree to Bruce's plan to save Granny's business.
She dashed outside, but the sight of Chad vaulting the fence to the beach shattered her heart.
How was it possible she felt even worse now than the day they'd broken up?

💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔 


Unable to bear the thought of facing Taffy and Bruce, Candy made her way around the back of the cafe and slipped into the right corner booth. Feeling utterly defeated, she sank back against the cracked upholstery. Just one more thing that needed fixing if this place was going to survive.

Too late she realized her mistake. This was their booth.

She buried her face in her hands, remembering another afternoon. It had been raining. She and Chad had been walking on the beach, but they'd taken refuge here, sipping hot chocolate and eating Valentine's cookies. She remembered how he'd slid off the seat and hidden under the table. He'd pulled her down to see where he'd carved their initials into the wood on the underside of the table. 
He'd kissed her then - for the very first time - and pledged to love her forever.

On an impulse, she reached under the table and ran her fingers lightly over the wood. She could feel  the outline of the C&C. Their initials captured in a heart had lasted even though they hadn't.

Tears began to flow freely now. What a colossal mess she’d made.
She sat there, rubbing her fingers back and forth over the letters, so lost in her memories that it was a few minutes before she realized she wasn't alone.

“Why did you lie? Why did you tell my brother you were marrying Candy?”
"I didn’t lie. I’ve been waiting years to get Candy to notice me. Now she has no choice."
Taffy’s gasp sounded like someone had a licorice rope around her neck. "But what about us?"
Bruce’s laugh was so dismissive and cruel, that Candy’s heart hurt for Taffy. “You’ve served your purpose. I’ll see to it that the bank gives you that loan. Later. Now I’ve got to find my bride.”

His footsteps headed her way and Candy instinctively huddled deeper under the table.

"Bruce?"
Taffy's voice was sickeningly sweet.
"What?"
"I don't want your loan. Here, take this instead."

Curious, Candy peered over the seat just in time to see Taffy hurl the banana cream pie in Bruce's face.

"Oh! You little—" Sputtering, he wiped the cream from his eyes.

Candy jumped up. "Need a napkin?"

Horror peered through the ring of cream around his eyes. Bruce grabbed the napkins and beat a hasty retreat. Candy quickly locked the door behind him before turning back to Taffy.



 
"You... You were eavesdropping!" Taffy’s cheeks were as red as the cinnamon hearts she’d always loved, but Candy wasn’t sure if they were flushed with anger or embarrassment.

She rolled her eyes in her best teen-girl imitation. "This IS my café and I have every right to be here. I didn’t invite you or your smarmy partner-in crime."

"Smarmy?" Taffy puffed up in indignation, but quickly deflated. "He is smarmy, isn’t he?" She sniffled. "I guess I should be grateful to discover than now, before I wasted any more years on him."

For the first time since she’d been back, Candy saw a hint of her former best friend. This was the Taffy she’d loved.  

"I’m not going to marry him, you know. Grandmother would be rolling in her grave to think of a man who can’t appreciate rhubarb pie taking over this place."

Taffy smiled. "I missed you, Candy."
"I missed my best friend," Candy replied.
Taffy hung her head. "I wasn’t much of a friend, letting my head be turned by that gummy worm. I'm sorry."

Candy burst out laughing but quickly sobered. It felt so good to laugh with Taffy. It would be lovely to have her friend back. But Taffy was Chad's sister, and Candy didn’t think she could bear the reminder of all she’d lost.

It occurred to her that Chad had been as much a victim as she had. All this time, she’d been feeling sorry for herself, blaming him, but he’d done nothing wrong.
Except leave.
But she’d pretty much sent him away without even so much as a Keep in Touch.

Taffy walked toward her, wiping the last of the banana crème from her fingers. Candy started to laugh all over again remembering Bruce with that haughty face dripping banana crème filling.

Taffy started to join her but stopped cold. “What are you still doing here? You need to go after my brother before he does something foolish.”

"No, it's too late."

Taffy was silent a long minute. Then she walked over to the counter and picked up a box. She set it in front of Candy. "Honey Sweet dropped these off before. She seemed to think you might need them."

Candy glanced down at the box of cookies - exact duplicates of the ones she'd shared with Chad so long ago.





"She left a note."

Candy took the paper and, with trembling hands, opened it.

"Your grandmother always believed
 you and Chad belonged together. 

Now it's your turn to believe. 
True love is worth fighting for."

Candy hesitated. Did she have the nerve? Could she really go after Chad and try to claim her heart’s desire?

17 comments:

  1. YAY!!!! This is so much fun. Loved this chapter!

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    1. Thanks, Christine. These are so much fun to write.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Merrillee. And thank you for the Facebook post. Sweet. :)

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  3. I love where this is going! Great job, Cate.

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    1. Thanks, Belle. Can't wait to see where you take it tomorrow.

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  4. I'm glad Taffy is back to her good senses! If only Candy grabs that box of chocolates and run to find Chad. C&C carved under the table! Love this episode. They so belong together!!!

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    1. I'll admit, I got a little teary at the initials.

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  5. Replies
    1. Awww, thanks, Arlene. Hope you're feeling better.

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Dana. And thank you for giving us Taffy's character.

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  7. Yay Bruce got a pie in the face! Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

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    1. It was about time, don't you think? :)

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  8. Oh WHEW!! Candy certainly told Bruce what was what and her friendship with Taffy seems restored :-) Now to go after the love of her heart....

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