Title: A Whirl With My Mocha-Chocolate Swirl is included in a 2 book anthology, Twice As Sweet, One Scoop or Two Volume Nine. Free Bonus Book, Falling for Salted Caramel
Author: Dalia Dupris
Genre: Contemporary 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?
Sitting down, I scoot my chair closer to hers… which is a big mistake. One whiff of her perfume stirs something in my gut, but it would be awkward to move away from her now that I’m this close. I can see the light smattering of freckles that even her make-up doesn’t conceal. Oh man, am I in trouble. Recalling that she left me should keep me focused on the task in front of us, not on how good it felt to do something as simple as hold her hand.
“No, I didn’t mean that, but it’s not common knowledge.” Looking down, she folds her hands in her lap. “For the record, I don’t work there anymore.”
“Oh? I’m not surprised. You probably got a promotion at an even bigger agency.” A burst of adrenaline shoots through me and has me wondering if that means she’s not leaving any time soon, but my elation may be premature. “Should I be congratulating you on your new job?”
Is it a coincidence that she returned the same week as Miguel? Unlikely, not the way he caressed her arm and how they were laughing and dancing together last night. After all, she hasn’t said she came back for me. But now that she’s seeing Miguel, any hopes of anything more than a working relationship with her are nonexistent.
“There is no new job.” She turns in my direction and something inside my chest warms. “I left to come back to Sunnyville. I missed my mother and… the town. As a matter of fact, I’ll start my employment search on Monday.”
“The creamery needs you. Sales have got to go up or we’ll have to close the doors.” I rub my jaw. “Truth is, I don’t know how to turn things around. That’s where your expertise will come in. We can’t pay you as much as you’re used to earning, but I’m hoping we can work something out.”
“I love this place.” The dimple that only shows when she’s smiling winks back at me. “I’d do it for free.”
“No, that wouldn’t be right.” I don’t want her thinking that she’s doing charity work. “We’ll work out the details later.”
She nods in agreement. “I have a lot of ideas, not just about what you’re selling and your presentation, but also about your social media marketing strategies.” She pulls a notebook and a pen out of her handbag.
“You lost me.” I point to a faded banner that spans the length of the adjacent wall. The name of the business and the date we opened are printed out in cracked and faded letters. “We’ve never advertised. We never needed to.”
“Times have changed, and I think we could both agree that the banner needs to be updated. The one outside, too. When I was here the other day, I couldn’t help noticing that it’s tattered and letters are missing.” Picking up her pen, she writes the word ‘colt’ on her notepad. “See this? The ice creamery’s name is spelled incorrectly, and that’s what the sign outside spells. Not great for marketing purposes. I know it has sentimental value, but that banner may have been enough twenty years ago, but we need a lot more to get this place packed with buying customers. First, we need to understand consumer expectations. What kind of experience are they seeking when they walk into an ice cream shop, and can Colton’s provide it? If people just want a plain scoop of ice cream, they can buy it cheaper at the grocery store.”
“Ouch.” She’s right, of course. ”No use sugar-coating the facts, right?”
“It’s the truth.” She jots down some notes. “They want an experience, something that feels decadent or, at least, fun. When people purchase ice cream from an eating establishment, they want to relish the experience. Additionally, all businesses must have a marketing strategy—a platform and incentives to bring in the customers. There’s a reason even well-established businesses have sales, contests, and coupons.”
My mind wanders off at the mention of relishing an experience. I recall a time when Rebecca was wrapped in my arms with her head on my shoulder as she professed her love. Running a hand across the back of my neck, I clear away the cherished memories of that particular time and concentrate on what she’s saying.
“It makes sense, doesn’t it?” She shows me her notes as if that will clarify everything. The words ice cream, pictures, and contest stand out.
“Whoa, wait a minute.” I hold out my hands. “I don’t know about any of that social media stuff.”
“I know you don’t.” She looks me straight in the eye and adds, “That’s exactly why you need me.”
Little does she know that that’s not the only reason, I need her. My life hasn’t been the same since she left. Sure, I’ve dated other women, but they just made me miss Rebecca, and, now, it’s going to be pure torture watching her parade around town in the arms of another man. There’s no way I can compete with a veteran. Heck, that’s like trying to compete with a superhero. I’m just an ordinary guy trying to do right by my mother’s dream. She loved this place. She was happiest here before cancer ravaged her health. Who’d think that Rebecca would hold the key to getting the business up and running again? I believe in Rebecca. Always have. She’s the smartest person I know. The creamery will be saved, but what about my wounded heart?
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Why is your featured book a must-read?
My book is a heartwarming, feel-good story that transports the reader to the beachside town of Sunnyville, California. Who hasn’t wondered if they should have risked a second chance on a first love that didn’t initially work out? This book is about healing wounds from the past and being brave enough to pursue your dreams. 2020 has been a challenging year, and we all deserve a story that brightens our days and helps us to rejoice in the resiliency of the human spirit.
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Dalia Dupris has always enjoyed reading and writing and grew up surrounded by a wide variety of books, from westerns to romance novels. She loves stories—watching them, listening to them, reading them, and writing them. Her emotion-driven, contemporary novels include complex and diverse characters that grapple with family legacy, love, loss, and laughter as they face the challenges of life. When she’s not working on her next manuscript, she can be found bike riding along the beach with her husband or exploring the mysteries of the universe with her daughter.
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