Title: A Whirl With My Mocha-Chocolate Swirl
Author: Dalia Dupris
Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance
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. She's devastated to discover that he has moved on and is now engaged. Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. Now she's back and more beautiful than ever. But Raymond's heart has been broken more than once and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn't a gamble he's willing to take. When Rebecca agrees to use her marketing expertise to help Raymond's father salvage his failing family business--Colton's Ice Creamery--she and Raymond are thrown together, and old flames are ignited. Can they heal the wounds from their past and 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’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
My favourite part of being a romance author is having readers tell me that they loved reading my novel and couldn’t put it down.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Always make time for the two of you to spend quality time together.
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Runs February 1 – 28, 2021.
Drawing will be held on March 1, 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. She published her first story in the Oakland Tribune when she eight years old. When she’s not reading, she’s writing. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels published by The Wild Rose Press. A WHIRL WITH MY MOCHA-CHOCOLATE SWIRL, is a sweet, second chance, small town-big heart novella. ORANGE BLOSSOMS-LOVE BLOOMS, (California Hearts Book 1), is an enemies to lover romance, that has more plot twists than a roller coaster. 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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