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A Limited Edition Collection
BY DONNA SCHLACHTER ETAL
This limited edition collection is the literary treat you’ve been craving.
Full of hallmark feels and confectionery soup for the soul, each story sprinkles a little sugar into a world that needs more joy.
Sisters and friends, mothers and daughters, two hearts bound by love— Sweet Sprinkles features an array of relationships built to withstand life’s bitter catastrophes.
Satisfy your figurative sweet tooth. Scroll up and one click now.
With Contributions By:
Jennifer M. Miller
Anna G Berry
Zero Guilt Calories
By Donna Schlachter
Christina MacAulay enjoys baking up special treats for her customers at Sweet Tooth Cupcakes. But when her husband stays out late several times a week and won’t explain what’s going on, she becomes suspicious he might have a floozy on the side. Well, she’ll fix him—she’ll have her own affair.
But first, to lose that extra ten baby pounds from when her now twenty-three-year-old son was born.
As a baker and businesswoman, she spends far too much time at her bakery, taste-testing new creations to make certain they are fit to eat. If she could come up with a new recipe with minimal—or even zero calories—she’d not only slim down, she’d also have something nobody else has.
James MacAulay is happily married and has been for almost thirty-five years. And he wants to celebrate that milestone with his wife Christina. He sets out to plan a special anniversary surprise for her, but first, he needs to get more active. A career in banking didn’t exactly retain his previously youthful physique.
But when Christina becomes distant, cold, and acts suspicious, hovering when he answers his cell, peeking into his messages, hacking into his email, and spending hours with the chemist who lives two doors down, he wonders what’s gotten into her.
Maybe he should rethink his plan.
Perhaps she’s not as happily married as he thinks.
Or maybe she’s doing something she shouldn’t.
Can Christina get to the bottom of her husband’s change of behavior? Does she really want to?
And can James figure out what’s going on with Christina? If he does, will that really make things better?
Christina MacAulay caught sight of her red face, sweat-dampened curls, and not-so-thin thighs cloaked by a skin-tight leotard. Whoever came up with the bright idea of a wall-to-wall mirror for the Pilate’s class at her local rec center?
She grunted and rolled her eyes. No matter how much she worked out, as owner of Sweet Tooth Bakery in Mustang Ridge, Colorado, she’d never lose that last ten pounds of post-baby fat.
If it hadn’t melted off in the twenty-three years since her youngest’s birth, a few leg raises and twenty minutes of Pilates wasn’t likely to budge it, either.
She moved her focus to the other ladies in the class.
And grunted again.
Double eye roll.
At the ripe old age of fifty-five, she was definitely the oldest here. And the most out of shape. And for certain the fa—fluffiest. She should have focused on getting in shape ten years ago. When she had more energy. But not more time. Too busy with life and raising the kids, enjoying the great outdoors with them, husband James tagging along like a caboose.
But all that changed in recent years. Or so it seemed. Their daughters, Felicity and Melody, grown and married with kiddoes of their own. Their son, Peter, in college. James busy at work. Not so active for either of them. And every time she suggested they merely go for a walk, at least recently, he was always busy. On his way out the door to yet another commitment.
Christina paused mid-leg-raise as the fifteen-something—okay, the instructor was probably a little older than that—prepared to change the movement.
“Roll over onto your stomach, straight legs, and focus on your deep breathing as we enter the cool-down phase.”
She complied, glad to be in a position where all she could see were the tips of the toes of the gal in front of her.
Very fit looking toesies, by the way.
“Breathe in.” A five-second pause. “And out.” Carla called the cadence. “In.” Hold. “Out.” Four, three, two, one. “Good. Now start your stretch at your toes. Flex. Calves. Good work.”
Christina eased into the routine of flexing and stretching in this limiting position, all the way up to her fingers. But instead of focusing on the process, today her mind strayed to her husband. What was he up to?
She shook her head. That was a question she’d asked herself at least a dozen times this past week. Ever since she glanced at his phone when a text message came in. She’d paused in case it was important.
CHANGE OF PLANS. C U @ 7. M.
M? Who was he? Her mind had searched the list of their mutual friends but came up blank. Perhaps somebody at the bank? Nope. Chamber of Commerce? Maybe. She didn’t know the first name of every business owner in town.
Over dinner, she’d casually mentioned the text. “You’re out again tonight?”
James, his fork halfway to his mouth, froze. Like a deer caught in the headlights. “Huh?”
“The text message.”
He set his fork on the plate, the dab of mashed potatoes, four green peas—always four, by the way—and the cube of pork chop still impaled. “Oh, that. Yes. A meeting.”
That’s when her suspicions shot up like a flag on a pole. “What kind?”
“Hmm?” His eyes met hers across the table that suddenly seemed way too big for this kitchen. Where five once sat and chatted about their day, now just the two of them slowed down long enough to eat together once a day. If that. When the kids and their families came, they always ate in the dining room. He dropped his gaze. “Just another meeting. Nothing to bore you with.” A smile replaced the clenched jaw muscles. “How was your day?”
Ouch, whiplash from the abrupt change of subject. “Same as always.” She waited a couple of heartbeats until he picked up his fork and resumed eating. “You know. Baking. Cleaning. Beating off the men trying to kidnap me and add me to their harem.”
She dragged out the last word, pronouncing it with a long E, which seemed the vogue lately. More authentic, apparently.
Her husband, normally calm and cool even under the most intense pressure, turned into a flustered flibbertigibbet right before her eyes. First, his face turned red. Then he tipped over his water glass when reaching for it. Choked on his sip. Refused help when his face went purple. Finally excused himself and retreated to his study, grabbing his cell phone along the way before closing the door.
Well, at least he was listening.
Concerned for him—or so she told herself—she waited outside the door for him to return to the table. Chirps and beeps suggested he had no time to finish dinner—he was too busy responding to the cryptic message.
And receiving additional information, apparently.
She’d huffed and gone back to her own meal. His loss if he didn’t eat. She wasn’t about to let her cornbread chili pie go to waste. Not to mention dessert: Day-old lemon bars from her bakery. And since he didn’t clean his plate, she ate his, too.
Served him right.
“That’s it. Relax into the stretch.”
Carla’s voice pulled her back to the present. One thing was certain—there was no relaxing for her today. In fact, the tension in her shoulders remained despite the hour-long class guaranteed to loosen and limber even the deepest stress.
Huh. Not today, Carla baby.
“Okay. Sit in the tailor position.”
Christina pushed up, rolled onto her side, and sat, feet close to her body and legs crossed. She still chuckled at the explanation Carla gave to what was now a politically incorrect name for a position referring to native Americans. Apparently, way back in the olden days, tailors sat this way also, bundling material into their laps to keep it off the floor. She shrugged, hoping to loosen that knot at the base of her neck. She’d never expected a history lesson and exercise class at the same time.
Carla clapped once. “Great job, ladies. See you next time.”
After unlocking her ankles—why was it easier to get them knitted together than to unravel them?—she turned around, hands and knees on the floor. By the time she gained her feet, she alone remained in the room.
Showoffs. No worries, with luck, someday you’ll be my age, and you’ll be—you’ll be…
Likely as fit as they were now.
Didn’t seem fair. Owning a bakery, while hard work, also had way too many sweet dividends to pay. Every day. And she had a sweet tooth.
Maybe she should change jobs. Sell the bakery. Do something else.
But what? Not like fifty-five-year-old housewives were in great demand. Not in Mustang Ridge. Not likely anywhere else.
And who’d want to buy the business in this small town? Nobody she knew, that was for certain.
Sure, a few thousand summer visitors boosted sales a little. But the season was short, and the off-season lasted forever.
In the change room, Christina listened with half an ear to the chatter.
Brunette Greta stepped out of the shower room and dropped her towel, revealing all ninety pounds of muscle and tanned skin. All over tanned. “Who is going to Susie’s baby shower tonight?”
Several of the gals replied they were, then a discussion about the identity of the father consumed several minutes.
When they couldn’t all agree, Toni, a petite woman with skin the color of cappuccino, pulled an envelope from her kit bag. “Ladies, I’m going to Hawaii next month. My sister is getting married there, and she asked me to be her maid of honor.”
Several ladies gathered around her, begging details, and Toni scrolled on her phone to a picture of her dress. Oohs and aahs echoed off the tile walls. Christina stepped close and peered over shoulders. Huh. More skin than cloth. What was the world coming to? In her day…
She paused, then chuckled. Since when did she quote her mother? Surely a sign she was getting older.
Talk resumed, the ladies separating into small groups. The one near the sinks gabbled on about a sister taking a cruise of the Rhine through Germany, while the three at the blow dryers commiserated with another about trouble in the office from a frisky co-worker.
As she struggled to pull her too-tight jeans on over her still-damp feet and legs, Christina’s brain swam while her head swiveled, trying to keep up with the discussions. Finally, she plopped on the bench, any attempt to prove she could dress while hopping around on one foot flying out the window.
Hmph. They had it so difficult. Not.
Wait until their kids left home and no longer needed them. And their husband was busy with—with whatever James found to occupy three evenings a week.
Then she’d commiserate with them.
A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both.
Links to Donna’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq
Thanks, Donna, for sharing your anthology with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!