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The Cheesecake Queen

The Cheesecake Queen

Автором Miranda P. Koerner

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The Cheesecake Queen

Автором Miranda P. Koerner

Длина:
200 pages
2 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 24, 2015
ISBN:
9781939590237
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Sugar Rule 1: Christmas is the perfect time for cheesecake. 

Sugar Rule 2: Men are as useful as burnt cookies. 

After losing her reporting job to layoffs at the local paper, Caeleah Turner’s pity party at the airport is interrupted by a woman claiming to know the location of the world’s best cheesecake. Intrigued, Caeleah trades plane tickets with the woman and finds herself in Chestnut, Colorado, a tiny town hiding a woman known as the Cheesecake Queen. The Cheesecake Queen not only bakes the best cheesecakes in the country, but her cheesecake is known to cure everything from infertility to baldness—one woman even loses 100 pounds on it! There is a thick batter of secrets behind The Cheesecake Queen and her two sisters, who operate all the bakeries in town. 

But as the mayor’s efforts to shut down the Sugar sisters before Christmas gear up, Caeleah finds herself wanting to sample his own treats. 

There’s a bigger secret than love to Cinnamon’s cheesecakes. And Caeleah is determined to find out what it is. 

Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 24, 2015
ISBN:
9781939590237
Формат:
Книге

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The Cheesecake Queen - Miranda P. Koerner

changes.

The Cheesecake Queen

––––––––

Miranda Koerner

––––––––

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, places, or events is coincidental and not intended by the author.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as unsold and destroyed to the publisher. In such case the author has not received any payment for this stripped book.

The Cheesecake Queen

Copyright © 2013 Miranda Koerner

All rights reserved.

Ebook  ISBN: 978-1-939590-23-7

Inkspell Publishing

5764 Woodbine Av

Pinckney, MI 48169

Edited By Rie Langdon.

Cover art By Najla Qamber

You can visit us at www.inkspellpublishing.com

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. The copying, scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions, and do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

1 CHAPTER One

––––––––

Christmas is the perfect time for cheesecake.

Caeleah’s fork quivered mid-air, inches from a very necessary slice of chocolate Oreo cream in a cheap, plastic container. Yes. She forced a smile before returning to the calorie bomb in front of her.

Going home for Christmas?

She didn’t bother to turn toward the woman sitting across from her in the crowded airport terminal. Not really.

Really? The woman leaned forward, her cheeks as red as her scarf. You must be going somewhere exciting then! A honeymoon, perhaps?

No. She sliced through the gummy cream, squaring her shoulders over the creaking plastic box. I don’t have a fiancé. Or a boyfriend.

The woman tapped her chin. A beach trip with the girls? She looked dubiously at the black-and-white confection.

Caeleah took a defiant bite and snarled, No.

Ah. The woman leaned forward and patted her leg. Caeleah shrank back, automatically gulping down the flavorless morsel. It tasted more like chocolate pudding than Oreos and cream cheese. But the other woman continued chatting blindly, inching closer even as Caeleah pointedly slid her bag between them.

It’s a business trip, isn’t it? I bet you’re a career woman.

Caeleah tottered on the edge of her chair. I used to be.

Used to be? The woman plopped on the other edge of the seat and Caeleah tumbled into the next one over, nearly landing in a bald businessman’s lap. What happened? Did your boss make a pass? Did you find the job of your dreams? Win the lottery? Fall in love?

None of the above. She dropped her fork in the box. Layoffs at the paper. I flew out here for an interview but I don’t think it went well. Her shoulders drooped. Let’s just say Rachael Ray has nothing to worry about.

You’re a food writer? The woman sucked in her breath, her tarantula eyelashes beating inches from Caeleah’s chin. Her mocha-stained breath blasted her cheek. How exciting, dear! I’ve always loved Rachael Ray. She’s just so cute! She glanced at the almost empty dish and grimaced. You’re a food writer and you’re eating...that?

It’s been a bad day. Caeleah sighed, burying her fingers in her thick curls. Destroying my thighs seemed like the nicest thing I could do.

What about a food blog? The woman chirped. I have a food blog.

Caeleah rolled her eyes. "So does everyone else. Everyone’s got a blog and is writing a cookbook. I couldn’t even get a job reviewing food trucks. It’s hopeless. I might as well go get a job on the crime beat or something. Write about boring sign permit issues and city council squabbles.

City council, the woman mused. Suddenly, she grabbed Caeleah’s hands, her chubby fingers digging into her palms. Where are you flying, dear?

Ch-Chicago, Caeleah stuttered, wishing she still had mace in her purse. Why?

Perfect. The woman beamed. Releasing Caeleah’s hands, she dug in her bag and pulled out a credit card. Here are my tickets. Give me yours.

Excuse me?

We’re going to switch tickets, dear. The woman waggled her fingers. Be quick now. My flight leaves in thirty minutes.

We can’t do that! Caeleah snapped up her purse, clutching it to her chest as the woman reached for it. I’m not going to jail for you.

Listen, sweetie, when you have one of these, people will do whatever you want. The women waggled a black American Express card. Haven’t you ever heard of private jets?

What makes you think I want to go to Chestnut? Caeleah demanded, squeezing her purse tighter.

Because what you need is a story to impress these editors, dear. And I’ve got a story for you. A story that will make you the best-known food writer ever.

Caeleah snorted. And what story is that?

The woman leaned forward, her eyes glittering. Have you ever heard of the Cheesecake Queen?

2 CHAPTER Two

––––––––

Thirty minutes later, Caeleah found herself on a private plane zooming toward Chestnut, a tiny town of thirty thousand, nestled deep in the snow-covered peaks of Colorado. Pressing her nose against the window, she watched as the blanketed mountains rose to greet her. The turbo-prop swirled around in the pristine white basin below them, a proverbial ant in a bowl of sugar. The craft landed as softly as a snowflake, gliding across the white runway and stopping in front of a terminal, where airport workers layered in coats and scarves scurried up with a small flight of stairs.

Shivering in the blast of icy air, a flight attendant led Caeleah across the tarmac and through a set of doors, into blessed heat.

Do you know where you’re going?

Caeleah pulled out the paper the woman at the airport had scribbled on. Wilshire Inn. Cheesecake Queen. 4560 Sugar Street. Wilshire Inn? she ventured.

Oh, that’s only a few miles away. The cabs wait outside front, just that way. The attendant pointed. Do you need anything else?

I’m good. Thanks. The attendant nodded and wheeled her own luggage into the women’s room. Folding the paper in her hand, Caeleah raised her head and was greeted by a painting of three smiling women wearing matching red aprons. A solemn honey-blond on the left and a giggling brunette on the right were no match for the woman with ferocious red curls who winked at her from the middle. While the blonde held a pie and the brunette tasted a cupcake, the ruby-red lips of the center woman were curved in a seductive smile, a silver fork held as if to emphasize her culinary secrets. She squinted closer at the painted brass plaque affixed to the woman’s apron. The Sugar Sisters.

Need some help?

Caeleah spun around. An airline worker smiled, holding out a shiny pamphlet. First time to Chestnut? There’s some great bed-and-breakfasts a few miles down. Shall I call you a cab? Interested in the famous hot chocolate tours? What about a sledding experience?

Where can I find the Cheesecake Queen? Caeleah blurted out before the man could reach in his pack again.

Ah, the Cheesecake Queen. The man nodded. It is Christmas, after all. You can’t have Christmas without a cheesecake from the queen. A crease deepened across his smooth, brown forehead. I hope you have some time.

Why? Caeleah took the pamphlet and slid it into her purse. It seemed like the least she could do.

Good cheesecakes take time. And time means lines. The man laughed, placing his hand on her elbow. Let me call you a cab. Do you have any reservations?

The Wilshire Inn. Have you ever had one of her cheesecakes? Caeleah asked, wincing as a wave of ice slammed into them. The cold wind roared as they hurried toward the yellow cab waiting in the bay.

Oh, many times. The man pulled open the door. My favorite is praline. Diabetes or no, I have a piece every Christmas. A ring of thick salve gleamed around his chapped lips as they pulled up into a smile. He leaned through the window. She’s going to the Wilshire Inn, John, then Cinnamon’s.

Got it! The cabbie flipped on the meter and pulled out into the stream of traffic.

The window slid up, sealing off Caeleah’s sputtering questions. The waving figure vanished behind a line of cars and a curtain of sputtering snow.

Caeleah twisted around and smiled at the driver, resisting the urge to tuck away the white hair poking out of his gray wool cap. I’m sure there’s a lot of tourists this close to Christmas, a little town like this. It’s so quaint.

It’s all the Cheesecake Queen. Without her and the Sugar sisters, this town would be bulldozed into a ski resort in a heartbeat.

Really? It seems quite prosperous. Caeleah glanced at the crowded sidewalks in front of the shops.

Thanks to her. So what do you want with the Cheesecake Queen? Dark eyes watched her in the mirror.

I want to write an article about her. A woman at the airport told me she was wonderful. She said... Caeleah let her voice trail off, realizing she didn’t know the woman’s name. She said her cheesecakes are the best.

They are. The driver flicked on his blinker as he turned down a long street.

Quaint cottages dotted the sidewalk, shrugs of snow wrapping around red brick and gleaming white shutters. If Caeleah had been closer, she would have had to resist the urge to break off a shingle and nibble on it.

What do you like about her cheesecakes? Fumbling in her bag, she turned her attention back to her article. What makes them different?

Cinnamon Sugar, the driver said decisively as she scribbled across a page in her notebook. That’s the secret.

Is it in the crust? Caeleah tried not to gag. The thought of cream cheese and cinnamon-sugar sounded disgusting.

The driver laughed. You’ll see what I mean. Trust me. Once you’ve had a cheesecake from the Queen, you’ll never go back. The cab slowed in front of an old Victorian house. A jaunty berry wreath framed by a garland of ivy perched on a snow-covered porch that beckoned her inside.

You’ll see. The driver waved off the twenty-dollar bill she extended toward him. Don’t worry about it. Merry Christmas.

But you took me all the way over here! Caeleah protested. And Christmas isn’t for a few days. Please, she repeated as he hesitated. Please take it.

The driver folded the bill and dropped it into her handbag. Tell you what. On your way home, call the cab company and ask for John. Bring me some German chocolate cheesecake, and we’ll be even.

Deal. She shook his hand before opening the cab door. With her first step, she tumbled onto the icy sidewalk.

Careful! He laughed as she scrambled to her feet. It’s slick out there! You should really get some boots. Chestnut is a walking town.

I can see that, Caeleah muttered, gathering her shreds of dignity around her as she pulled her coat tighter. Thanks again.

Anytime. The cab vanished down the dark road, the red taillights fading with every click of her heels upon the concrete sidewalk. Determined not to tumble across the front door, she grasped the wrought iron railing with gloved hands as she pulled herself up the stairs. Just as she reached for the slick, golden handle of the mahogany door, it burst open.

Why, there you are! A whirlwind of auburn curls and red wool surged through the doorway, nearly knocking her off the porch. We’ve been waiting for you! Two pale hands grabbed hers, yanking her inside. Come in, come in! It’s freezing out there!

I’m afraid you must be mistaken, Caeleah stuttered, stumbling inside as the door slammed behind her. No one is waiting for me. A never-ending line of people snaked across a room crowded with festive red and green tables. The air was heavy with cinnamon and pumpkin. A warm fire crackled in a corner fireplace.

Of course we were. Warm brown eyes held hers as a doughy arm snaked around her elbow. Pete called us from the airport. Caeleah, correct? I heard you needed cheesecake. Steering her across the room, the woman laughed. And we have plenty of that. She grabbed a few menus. How did you like the Wilshire Inn? Isn’t the ten-foot pink Christmas tree charming?

The inn! Caeleah groaned. I forgot to check in. And my bags! I forgot my bags. She tried to twist around, but the woman continued to drag her across the room as if she’d never spoken. I’m sorry, I’ll have to come back.

What you need is some cheesecake. The red curls bobbed decisively. Desperately.

But my laptop and my clothes and...wait a minute. Caeleah narrowed her eyes. You look like someone. Someone I’ve seen before.

Cinnamon Sugar. The woman plopped her down at a festive red table accented with white lace. Mistletoe bloomed from a small jar in the center and a plate of sugar cookies waited on forest green placemats.

Is that the special? Caeleah pulled out her pad. The man in the cab said something about cinnamon-sugar. She frowned at the white powder that had appeared on her gloves.

Sorry about that, the woman said cheerfully, handing her a napkin. She gestured toward her stained apron and wiggled white fingertips. Sugar. Mark of the trade.

You work in the kitchen? Caeleah perked up. I’d love to get some quotes. I’m doing a story on the Cheesecake Queen. Could you tell me how to set up an interview with her? She smiled. You must be the manager.

Eat some cheesecake first. Then we can talk. The woman pulled a

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