Honey Pie (Cupcake Club) - By Donna Kauffman

Chapter 1

Never underestimate the power of cupcakes. Or the women who bake them.

Honey D’Amourvell pondered that truth as she sat on the wooden bench behind Ross & Sons auto repair, trying to get comfortable. She’d long since passed any hope of civilized perspiration and had moved straight into actual sweating, so comfort of any kind was a stretch. She curled her fingers around the plastic water bottle and debated the merits of simply yanking her blouse open and rolling the cold bottle directly over her chest. Could anyone blame her? How did people live in heat like this? Much less feel like baking cupcakes? And yet, it didn’t seem to be affecting the cupcake ladies in the least.

She watched the action across the narrow back alley, as the happy baker bunch piled out of their cars and trooped through the service entrance into Cakes by the Cup, the local Sugarberry Island cupcakery. They were smiling, laughing, and boisterously chatting with each other as they carted in all manner of baking supplies and tools of the cupcake trade.

Honey knew from her stroll around the small town square earlier that the shop had closed to the public a half hour ago, so she wasn’t sure what, exactly, they were up to, but she doubted it was baking cupcakes for the next day’s trade. According to the sign in the front window of the shop, the owner prided herself on offering only freshly baked cupcakes. A bit of quick research on Honey’s phone had revealed the owner of the cupcakery to be Leilani Dunne. Wife to television star, Chef Hot Cakes himself, Baxter Dunne. Honey had even discovered a whole website devoted to their newest enterprise, Babycakes—a mail order and catering adjunct to the main bakery, located right next door.

Her gaze shifted to the narrow, whitewashed building that shared a common wall with the cupcake shop and she instinctively pressed the cold water bottle to the front of her blouse. It was a vain attempt to soothe the heat . . . and the twinge in her heart. It didn’t do much for either.

She’d already noted that a covered walkway had been erected between the rear doors of both shops. She supposed she should be thankful. The covered walkway likely meant they hadn’t busted through the common wall.

So, there was that.

Her gaze drifted upward to the two sets of windows on the second floor above the shop, and she pressed the water bottle harder as the twinge became a clutch. Oh, Aunt Beavis . . . what did you do?

Whatever her aunt had done, or had not done, it was going to take more than a few random internet searches to figure out how things had gone so horribly wrong.

I should go on over there right now, Honey thought. Just head on in, introduce myself, explain who I am, and why I’m here.

Yeah . . . that wasn’t such a great idea. Not right this second, anyway.

She was going to have to cross paths with the cupcake crew at some point, given the surprising set of circumstances she’d discovered upon her arrival on the island. But, whenever that meeting happened, it wasn’t likely to leave them wanting to welcome her with cheerful cupcakes and party sprinkles. So why rush things? She’d only been on Sugarberry for forty-five minutes, and already she had more immediate concerns. Like getting her car back up and running.

But they all looked friendly enough, and were certainly a joyful, peppy group. Maybe they were on a giddy sugar buzz high and wouldn’t hold against her personally the news she had to share. It wasn’t like it was her fault. Someone on Sugarberry, or at the law offices in Savannah, had clearly screwed up. Big time.

On the other hand, Honey had been on the wrong side of pack mentality types her entire life. She knew better than most not to take on a pack leader, especially when said leader was on her own turf, surrounded by her dedicated and loyal packettes. Don’t let the cheerful cupcakes fool you!

Honey plucked uselessly at the front of her damp blouse. During their frequent phone chats, her dearly departed aunt had often mentioned the lovely island breeze and how moderate the temperatures were all year round. Since Sugarberry Island was off the coast of Georgia, Honey had expected the summers would be on the warm side. But Bea hadn’t mentioned it turned into a veritable steam bath as early as April.

Not for the first time