TITLE: Love and Cupcakes
GENRE: Women's Fiction Magical Realism
This is the opening of my novel about Jack Pace, the owner of a cupcake bakery whose ability to sense other people's desires threatens to ruin her business and the possibility of a romantic relationship with her business partner, Graham.
Jaclyn Pace could smell desire. Not in the a-wild-bear-can-smell-fear kind of way, but in the physical, literal sense. When she came within two feet of people desperate for something sweet to eat, she could tell with one inhaled breath exactly what they craved.
With some people, it was a subtle whiff of chocolate that tickled her nose. With others the sensation was so strong Jack had to hold on to the smooth counter to keep from being knocked over by the scent of strawberry shortcake or rocky road.
It didn’t help that the town of Sugar, Georgia, was shrouded in a faint scent of spun sugar year round. It clung to clothes and wove into hair so the townspeople smelled like they’d just come from a circus, though the last one of those to come to Sugar was more than ten years before.
She didn’t have to concentrate or chant magic words to make it happen. It was simply there. Like a hint of flavor in the air. As the owner of a cupcake bakery, she normally didn’t mind the constant attack on her senses—it was good for business.
But business could always be better.
Jack removed the special order cupcakes from the cooler. The metal tray numbed her fingertips. She transferred the pink cupcakes topped with vibrant lemony icing into boxes, fitting each one into a hole in the cardboard tray. Then she stacked the boxes and inched them off the table until she could get both hands underneath them. Halfway to the front counter, she froze.
The pang of desire hit fast. It was strong, almost deliberate, like whomever it belonged to wanted her to feel them. She shook her head to dislodge the scent. The air in the room grew hot. She leaned into the door jamb and forced herself to breathe. The air burned her throat. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the flavors that assaulted her. The sharp bite of salt mixed with the sugary flavor of milk chocolate and caramel made the glands in the back of her throat clench.
Her vision blurred when she opened her eyes. Dark figures moved on the sidewalk and across the street, but she couldn’t make out their faces. She lost feeling in her fingers. Her arms trembled with the weight of the boxes. They slipped from her grasp and hit the floor with a crunch. The top two boxes slid off the bottom. One tipped, hitting on its side before landing upside down.
She crouched, hanging her head between her legs as she forced air in and out. The sensation subsided just as quickly as it started. The scent of lemon emanated from the mess on the floor. She lifted the lid of one box. Icing clung to the top in thick, yellow globs. She covered her mouth with the back of her hand.
“S***,” she said.
She picked up both of the mashed boxes and dumped them in the garbage.