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A Whirl With My Mocha-Chocolate Swirl by @dalia_dupris is a Bracket Busting pick #sweetromance
Title: A Whirl With My Mocha-Chocolate Swirl
Author: Dalia Dupris
Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance Novella
Rebecca Layton, returns to her beachside hometown of Sunnyville, California, determined to explore the possibility of rekindling her past relationship with the love of her life, Raymond Colton, only to discover that he has moved on, and is now engaged to Leigh Ann Sims, a best friend from Rebecca’s past. Rebecca must decide if she’ll graciously accept that Raymond’s love now belongs to another or if she’ll fight for the only many she has ever loved.
Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. But now she’s back, more beautiful than ever and dating Army veteran, Miguel Montoya. Raymond’s heart has been broken more than once, and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn’t a gamble he’s willing to take.
Rebecca can’t say no to Raymond’s father’s request for her marketing expertise to help salvage his family’s failing business, Colton’s Ice Creamery. Developing a social media strategy is no problem for Rebecca, but while working with Raymond, deeply buried wounds from their shared past, must be healed before they can embrace the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.
“Hello, Raymond.” Memories and regrets flood through me as I take in his smooth, brown skin and the faded scar across the bridge of his nose from a bicycle fall. Clasping my hands, I force myself not to fiddle with them since he and I both know it’s a dead give-away that I’m nervous, guilty or, most likely, both. “How are you?”
“What are you doing here?” The familiar voice is deep and steady with a coldness that rattles my determination to confront the mistakes of the past.
Does he think I don’t belong in my hometown because I went away to college and didn’t immediately return after graduation? “This is still my home.” Straightening my shoulders, I resolve not to allow Raymond to intimidate me the way he did his opponents on the football field. With a sinking sensation, I know that returning to Sunnyville with expectations of re-igniting a past passion with him may never happen, but I’m not going to slink away like a frightened child. I have questions that need answers—if not now, then later.
“We didn’t see you for two summers.” He spews out the bitter words as he avoids looking at me. “Guess you were too busy with your big-city life.”
“We need to talk.” I hold my hands out, squelching the apprehension surging through me as if I’m about to jump off the diving board into the deep end of a pool, unable to swim and without a life vest.
“I’m busy.” Shrugging his broad shoulders, he abruptly stands and heads to the sink. Grabbing a cloth, he swipes the clean counter.
“Really?” I scan the almost-empty creamery and place my hands on my hips. “It doesn’t appear to be overflowing with customers.”
“Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?” A muscle twitches along his strong jawline. “You see things one way and I see something different.” He nods toward the door as if signaling that it’s time for me to leave. “I’ve got a business to run.”
“Raymond.” I stand and hesitantly make my way toward him, then tentatively reach out until I’m almost touching his arm before I think better of it and drop my hand to my side. “I’d like it if we could…”
“What?” He steps back, his eyes utterly devoid of any emotion as if he’s speaking to a stranger. “You made yourself very clear the last time you were here.” He curls his upper lip and scowls at me. “You said you didn’t feel as if you belonged here. That it no longer felt like home.”
“Oh dear,” exclaims the elderly woman eating in the back loudly. I had forgotten she was there and, when I glance in her direction, bright green eyes twinkle encouragingly back at me.
“It’s more complicated than that.” Exasperated, I refocus on Raymond while fighting the tightness in my chest. “And you know it.”
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing left to say.” With several long strides, he heads through the back door of the shop. “Good-bye, Rebecca,” he calls out as he disappears from sight. As usual, he looks as good going as he does coming.
My stomach coils tight as a sailor’s knot. Why had I deluded myself into believing that speaking with Raymond about our past was going to be easy? I drop my head and remember it’s not the first time reality has demolished my fantasies. How many birthdays had I spent expecting to see my father burst through the front door, pick me up in his arms, and swing me around before promising that he’d never leave again? More times than I can count. I should know better, but, observing Raymond as he walks away, I know that tenaciousness and hard work produce positive results in business, but they might not do so in love. I need to get out of here before I embarrass myself even more.
As I pass the lone customer, she places her spoon onto the table by her bowl, dabs a paper napkin against her lips, then, quickly rises from her chair to follow me outside.
“Hello.” She clutches a small handbag under her arm.
“Hi,” I respond glumly. I don’t want to appear rude, but I’m in no mood to make small talk with someone I don’t know. I squint as I step onto the sidewalk. That’s the thing about Sunnyville— even when you feel miserable, the sun is still shining.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” she chuckles, before adding, “but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation.” She raises her chin and eyes me expectantly, but when I remain silent, she continues, “That was quite a scene back there.” She wags a finger at me. “I hope you aren’t going to let him off the hook that easily.”
I stop walking long enough to examine her face. Smile lines bracket her mouth, and pink blush tints her tanned cheeks. I’ve heard that lilting voice before. “Do I know you?”
Her eyes twinkle as she shakes her head. “Yes and no. I’m Marion Hightower. You have to imagine me looking a lot younger.” She smiles warmly as if the gesture will erase the years and, in a way, it does. “I used to work in the cafeteria at your high school. Nobody pays much attention to the cafeteria staff, but I sure noticed you two.”
“Really?” I reflect back to the few times I’d eaten in the cafeteria and try to recall the people who worked there. “I remember now. You worked behind the counter.”
“That’s right.” Weathered fingers smooth back loose wisps of wiry gray tendrils that have escaped her bun. “I couldn’t help but notice Raymond and you back then, but you had eyes only for each other. It was as if no one else existed in the world. Truth be told, I’d wished I’d had a man look at me the way that boy looked at you.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
A Whirl With My Mocha-Chocolate Swirl, is a heartwarming, second chance, contemporary romance that will have you falling in love with main characters Rebecca and Raymond and Sunnyville, the beachfront community where the magic happens. Treat yourself to a sweet and delicious read.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 11 books featured in the Bracket Busting Bookish Event:
Runs March 23 – March 30, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on March 31, 2021.
Dalia Dupris has been a book lover as long as she can remember. She’s always excited about the prospect of opening the pages of a new novel and becoming immersed in a well-told story. When she’s not reading, she’s writing. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels and one anthology published by The Wild Rose Press. A WHIRL WITH MY MOCHA-CHOCOLATE SWIRL, is a sweet, second chance, small town-big heart novella. This story also appears in an anthology titled, TWICE AS SWEET. ORANGE BLOSSOMS-LOVE BLOOMS, (California Hearts Book 1), is an enemies to lovers romance that has more plot twists than a roller coaster ride. Dalia is currently working on ANYTHING BUT LOVE, Book 2 in the California Heart series. Dalia’s degree in English Literature and her experience as a licensed psychotherapist contribute to her ability to create emotion-driven stories with complex plots and relatable characters. In her spare time, she enjoys bike riding along California beaches with her husband, and hiking with her daughter.
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