Single mom Natalie juggles creating fantastic cakes for the Wedding Belles with raising her troublesome twins. But her hard-won independence means she won't be decorating her own cake anytime soon.....Cooper Sullivan is a winner. He's competitive and at the top of his career. A new job leads him back to Natalie's door. Seeing her again after so many years makes Cooper realize that the only thing he never won--and the only thing that really matters--is Natalie's heart....
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July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Winning the Single Mom's Heart by Linda Goodnight
Natalie Thompson felt a little woozy. In fact, she felt a lot woozy.
Wouldn't it be just ducky if the cake artist collapsed on top of a vastly expensive five-layer wedding cake?
"Not now, not now," she whispered desperately, blowing a strand of blond bangs out of her eyes. The chatter of wedding guests filing into the reception warned her to hurry.
Her fingers trembled as she made one last adjustment to the glittering cake topper. As a group of classy wedding planners, she and her best friends/coworkers, collectively known as the Wedding Belles, took pride in making other women's dreams come true. Right now her fondest dream was to remain upright for another ten minutes.
The air in front of her eyes danced with black spots. Ten minutes might be pushing it.
Why, oh why, hadn't she taken time to eat something? With all the activity of setting up for today's wedding, she'd used up every drop of sugar in her body. Now her insulin had kicked in, expecting to be balanced out with a meal.
Diabetes, the bane of her existence since she was seven, could be so unforgiving.
A mountain of sugar in front of her and she dare not snitch a bite lest she destroy the picture-perfect confection that had taken days to create. Not that she was supposed to eat sugar in the first place.
Breath a bit short, she stepped back to survey the table. This was the first Christmas wedding of the season and, in keeping with the holiday theme, the cake sat on a raised pedestal beneath a beribboned archway of twinkling silver, blue and white snowflake lights. Beneath them the cake's frosting glistened like new-fallen snow.
Draping the table in heavy white satin with wide blue bows and tiny silver bells tucked up at the corners had been Serena's latest creation, an idea the Belles' dress designer had brought back from the bridal show in Seattle. Natalie glanced around to find the cool, elegant blonde taking one last survey of the ballroom. Serena had also brought back something else from the bridal fair and subsequent plane crash that had scared them all to death. She'd brought back a rather wild and dangerous pilot, Kane Wiley, who had looked ready to eat her up like the last bite of creamy vanilla cheesecake.
Ah, yes. Cheesecake. Sugar. Food. Her job and her dilemma.
Everything was ready for the reception, right down to the fruit circling the dark-chocolate groom's cake. She'd spent hours dipping and decorating those strawberries to resemble tiny tuxedos. Nobody, not even her, was going to mess that up before the bride arrived. No matter how badly her knees wobbled.
"Natalie, are you okay? You look funny." The speaker was Regina O'Ryan, Natalie's good friend and the Wedding Belles' exceptionally gifted photographer. Though she always complained about her generous hips and extra ten pounds, Regina looked great these days. Glowing, happy, fulfilled. Marriage to her very own Mr. Right had done that for the lovely brunette.
People all around Natalie were falling in love faster than she could pipe leaves onto a birthday cake. Natalie was glad for them, especially Regina after all she'd been through. Truly she was. Love was great until it let you down.
A too familiar pang of bitterness pinched the center of her chest. Right now was not the time to remember. It was also not the time to slither to the gleaming tiled floor like butter-cream frosting on a July day.
She waved Regina away. The action took more effort that she'd like.
"Insulin crash. No biggie." All Natalie's friends knew about her unpredictable diabetic condition and fretted appropriately. She appreciated it, really she did, but she and Regina were both too busy at the moment to deal with her temperamental endocrine system. "The bride and groom cometh. Better get moving."
Regina glanced in the direction of the arched doorway, and her soft brown eyes widened. "Eek. Can't miss the grand entrance." She pointed at the fruit display across the room. "Go eat something. Now."
Regina snapped one more shot of the bride's table and then hurried off, red heels clicking on white tile.
Eat something. Good advice. That's exactly what Natalie had to do.
Oh, for a mouthful of richly frosted, sweet buttery cake. But she'd long ago come to grips with the fact that she could have her cake but she couldn't eat it. Which was exactly why she was a cake artist, or cake fairy as she preferred to be called.
On the opposite side of the grand ballroom, rows and rows of fruit cascaded around a tiered table. Strawberries, grapes, melon, pineapple all beckoned. The table looked miles away, but fruit was one thing she could snitch without it being noticed. She edged in that direction, the wobble in her knees more pronounced. Usually careful about her diet, she'd been running late after the twins' babysitter had canceled at the last minute, a victim of the evil twenty-four-hour virus.