Candy Store - Bella Andre

Bella Andre - Candy Store

Candy Store
Bella Andre


Chapter One

The orgasmic moans coming from behind Callie were too loud and impassioned for her to ignore any longer.

“Ooohh, I just died and went to heaven,” exclaimed a middle-aged woman as she popped another truffle into her mouth. The teenager next to her said, “Stop hogging them all, mom,” and reached across her mother to grab several treats off the tray the waiter was holding.

Callie smiled, pleased that everyone was enjoying the truffles so much, but then her smile turned into a frown as she remembered her accountant’s words. Your business better start picking up, and fast, or you’re going to have to shut down Callie’s Candies. Callie slumped down in her seat with a loud sigh. Her store wasn’t bringing in enough money to stay afloat. Even though everyone who had ever tasted one of her confections seemed to love them, Callie still wasn’t able to make ends meet. Her accountant had arranged for her to meet with a renowned candy company consultant on Monday, but right now Callie wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful about it. As soon as anyone started talking about marketing and promotion, Callie always started daydreaming about new candy creations, no matter how hard she tried to stay focused on business plans.

She looked around the indoor garden at the two hundred people who were munching on her truffles with looks of utter rapture on their faces and had to blink quickly to fight back a sudden onslaught of tears. How could she give up on Callie’s Candies? Making people happy was worth so much more to her than making money, she thought as she sniffled and opened her little beaded purse to look for a tissue.

The woman behind her licked bittersweet chocolate dust off of her fingers. “Wait a minute, honey. I’ve got a tissue here in my purse for you. I always cry at weddings myself. Everything about them is so perfect and beautiful, isn’t it?”

Callie forced herself to nod and then accepted the tissue from the woman. Ignoring the chocolate smear across it from the woman’s fingers, Callie blew her nose.

She liked weddings. Really she did. Especially since the happy couple had met in her store last Valentine’s Day.

Callie tucked the used tissue into her purse, trying hard to clear her mind. Right now she didn’t want to think about Valentine’s Day. She didn’t want to think about weddings. And she sure as heck didn’t want to think about love.

She snorted at the thought of love—didn’t one need a boyfriend or even, say, a date first?—and the woman next to her scooted a little farther away. Callie felt tears well up in her eyes again. Even a middle-aged stranger thought she was weird and wanted to get away from her. Callie reached for the used tissue and blew again.

The first few chords of the wedding march rang out and the guests leapt to their feet. Callie noted that everyone was either still chewing and swallowing or licking chocolate off of their fingers as they waited for the bride to appear. She bit back a slightly hysterical laugh.

At least there is one thing about me that people love, she thought as the radiant bride appeared from an arbor of white lattice and pink roses.

Too bad she couldn’t barter chocolate truffles for love.

* * * * *

Tobey stood next to the priest and tried not to sway. Planting his feet in a wide stance he clasped his hands behind his back and focused his eyes on the woman in white coming towards him.

Ruthless memories assaulted him. What woman in her right mind would want to marry you? Candy is for children and I want a man.

Everything blurred and Tobey had to close his eyes to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground.

The priest leaned towards him. “This is a wedding, not a wake, son.”

Tobey forced a grin even though he thought his face might crack with the strain just as James, Tobey’s best friend since the first grade, turned and gave him a thumb’s up.

God, how he hated weddings. After his one pathetic attempt at holy matrimony, which had ended before “I do” was done, Tobey had vowed never to set foot within a mile of a wedding ever again.

And now, here he was, the best man. He knew he was a sucker, but when push came to shove he couldn’t let James down. Missing his best friend’s wedding would have been the coward’s way out. Tobey was going to