Saturday, October 7, 2017

Excerpt from Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

Award-winning author, Amanda Flower, has a new series out set in an Amish candy shop. We have an excerpt of the first chapter today. 

Chapter One

    “I still can’t believe you left!” Cassandra Calbera shouted into my ear. “They’re making the announcement Monday. You have to be here!”
    I held the phone away from my face and imagined my best friend standing in the middle of Jean Pierre’s test kitchen in the back of JP Chocolates in Midtown, New York. She’d be in her chef whites and have her short, purple and black hair pinned behind her ears to keep it out of her eyes. I prayed that she was alone, considering the direction of our conversation. The fewer people who knew I’d left the city, the better.
    While Cass continued to tell me all the reasons why I should immediately return to New York, I parked in the first spot I could find on Apple Street, which ran perpendicular to Main Street. Apple trees lined either side of the narrow lane. In the spring, they looked like flowering white torches marching up the road, forming a beautiful canopy. When I was a little girl, I had asked my grandfather why the apple trees never had any apples. He replied that the English residents of the village didn’t like the apples because they made a mess on the street and sidewalk, so the Englishers made the trees sterile. At the age of five, I had no idea what sterile meant, but it sounded bad. “It is the Englisch way,” he had said. “To change what Gott created into something more convenient.”
    This late in September, the tree’s leaves had turned yellow-gold, and a few fell to the sidewalk in the breeze that rolled over the green hills surrounding the village.
    “Bai, are you listening to me?” Cass demanded.
    I took a deep breath. “I explained to Jean Pierre before I left. This is a family emergency. My grandfather is sick. Jean Pierre understood. Besides, it’s only Thursday. I’ll be home in time for the announcement on Monday morning.”
    “Jean Pierre might understand, but the selection committee will not. They’re looking for any excuse to give that skunk Caden the head chocolatier job. Just because he’s French, and they think it goes better with the brand of Jean Pierre’s empire. Do you think I should run the mob just because I’m Italian?”
    “You probably wouldn’t be bad at it.”
    “First of all, that comment is both flattering and insulting. Second, you are completely missing my point.”
    “What would that be?” I asked, rubbing my forehead and staring out the windshield of the rental car I had picked up at the tiny Akron-Canton Airport. There hadn’t been much selection, and the inside of the car smelled faintly of stale cigarettes. The smell was giving me a headache. As I stared out the window, an Amish buggy clopped down the cross street. Inside, an Amish man with a long dark beard chatted with the Amish boy in the passenger seat. The boy was laughing. I couldn’t be farther from Midtown if I tried.
    “Are you listening to me?” Cass asked.
    I blinked. I hadn’t realized she was still talking. As much as I loved my best friend, she had a tendency to ramble when she was really passionate about a subject. “I’m listening,” I lied.
    “You not being here the week before their final decision as to who will be Jean Pierre’s replacement only makes it easier for them to give it to that jerk. Is that what you want?”
    “Jean Pierre won’t let them do that.” I had been Jean Pierre’s first chocolatier and protégé for so long, that everyone, even me, assumed that I would be appointed as head chocolatier at JP Chocolates when Jean Pierre retired.
    “It’s not Jean Pierre’s decision,” she argued. “When the chocolate company went public, all the power went to the board of directors, which is the selection committee. Sure, they may listen to Jean Pierre’s suggestions, but they can do whatever they want.”
    She wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. I rubbed my temples. I had to get out of the car. “Cass, I’m not going over this again with you. My grandfather is ill. He’s more important than some job.”
    “It’s not just some job, Bailey. You’ve been working for this for six years. Six years. Do you want to throw away all the thousands of hours you spent on perfecting your craft?”
    I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel. “Of course not.”
    “Then, come back—”
    “Oh, Cass, can you hear me? You’re breaking up,” I said. “I’m way out in the country now . . .”
    “Bailey? Bailey, can you hear me? Bai?”
    I hung up the phone. As a native New Yorker, Cass questioned cell phone reception anywhere west of Manhattan.

Look for the next book in this series in February of 2018. 

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