On Track with Icing by CJ Bower

On Track with Icing by CJ Bower

On Track with Icing

Caked With Pleasure, Book 1

by CJ Bower

Beachwalk Press

Ebook ISBN: 9781944270063

[ Sports Romance, MF ]

Set in the world of NASCAR, where a racecar driver falls in love with a cake decorator while ordering one of her porn cakes.

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Chapter One

Shawn is so going to owe me, Nick thought as he opened the door to the bakery. This was not part of the job description. The chime of the doorway reminded him of the one from his favorite childhood candy store, and he grinned. He looked around the bakery. The colors were also reminiscent of the candy store. The walls were decorated in pastels and the floor was set in a series of multi-colored tiles alternating with white in a checkerboard pattern. The yeasty aroma of baking bread permeated the air. He’d died and gone to heaven.

Instead of the rotund, pock-faced chocolatier who’d owned the sweet shop, the woman who stepped from behind the counter stole his breath. She was lovely; the full-length apron tied around her waist partially covered the bakery’s logo on her pastel blue t-shirt and accentuated her voluptuous figure. Her smile was beautiful, lighting her up from within. The smudge of dark green color smeared across her cheek didn’t detract from her appeal, though it did make him grin. Nick had a particular fondness for the color, and she probably wasn’t aware it was there. Nick had the sudden urge to unwind a coil of her hair to see how long it was.

“Good afternoon. How can I help you?” She was tall, topping him by a good five inches. The dark-haired beauty before him had a gorgeous, kissable mouth and glowing cheeks. Her wide-set, gray-green eyes sparkled like the sea.

Nick cleared his throat. “I need to order a cake.”

“Sure. What would you like?” She reached across the counter, the action pulling her t-shirt tighter across her luscious curves and giving him a tantalizing glimpse of her cleavage. But it was her gorgeous eyes that captured the majority of his attention. Maybe it was just the light, but they’d changed from gray-green to pure deep green.

He’d gotten so lost in the pool of her stunning gaze that he missed her question. He smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry?”

“For your cake.” Is that amusement in her voice? “What would you like?”

She couldn’t quite hide her smirk, and he couldn’t remember the last time a woman had laughed at him. He shook his head, trying to clear the fog. “I’m sorry?” he asked again.

“Is the cake for you or for someone else?” Her voice had an undertone he couldn’t place, like she found something funny but it was inappropriate to share.

Yep. She’s laughing at me. Heat rose to his face. “Someone else,” he replied.

“Male? Female?” She rapidly fired off the questions.

“Male.” He cleared his throat. Where is this embarrassment coming from? He was usually more female-savvy, but for some reason, this voluptuous woman fried his circuits. Maybe it was because he was used to handling the stick-thin women at the track who propositioned him with trashy come-ons about making sure all of his pistons were firing. This woman, though, he would love to get to know away from the track.

At age thirty-five, thoughts of settling down and starting a family had begun circling through his mind every once in a while. Not that he thought of marriage often—more like never—but when he did, his bride was always a nameless, faceless supermodel-like figure swathed in white satin and lace. Unfortunately, life at two hundred miles per hour didn’t leave much time for a personal life. His last girlfriend had complained because he was always on the road and she was left with nothing to do. That was five years ago. He hadn’t dated since. What is so different about this woman?

“Occasion?” Her lyrical voice slid down his spine like a caress.

He shivered. “I’m sorry?” he said again.

“Birthday?” she suggested.

“Uh, no,” he stammered, his discomfiture over having to order his friend’s cake intensifying. He shifted his weight. “Bachelor party.”

“Ah.” She pointed to a thick, black, three-ring binder propped open on a display board. “Feel free to browse through the designs. Let me know if you find one you think your friend would like.”

“Thank you.” He gave her the smile made famous by the media in all of his Victory Lane celebrations before sinking into the book like a lifeline, feeling a little out of his element in the Candyland-style shop that was Jacqui’s Bakery.

Nick turned several pages with the intention of going right to the bachelor section, but found himself looking at the wedding cakes instead. As he flipped through the pages, he felt both uncomfortable and intrigued. The sheer artistry of the cakes amazed him. The cakes were all perfectly displayed; the lettering in even, precise cursive. No doubt done by hand. Ribbons, string work, every flower imaginable, and adornments resembling his grandmother’s embroidery were all showcased in her designs. The deceptively simple, classy, elegant ones caught his attention the most. He finally flipped to the bachelor and bachelorette selection. They ranged from funny to outrageously raunchy to downright pornographic. The last one of a bondage scene had him so flustered that he looked up. Right into her glowing green eyes.

He couldn’t help it; he laughed. “Don’t you get turned on by these cakes?”

The woman across from him shrugged, and a corner of her mouth kicked up in a sexy little half-smile. “I’ve been creating them for so long that I don’t think about it anymore.”

The faint color settling high across her cheekbones was endearing. He’d been around brazen pageant queens and pit lizards so long that the blushing beauty before him was refreshing. Aside from the green smudge, her face was free of makeup and she had a natural glow that drew him like a magnet. She seemed to lack the artifice that was so prevalent among the women who hung around trying to attract the attention of professional athletes. Like they figured heavy makeup and slutty clothing made them more appealing as potential life-partners. He’d discovered that wholesome girl-next-door looks and modesty attracted him more.

Suddenly, the urge to touch her overwhelmed him. He had a feeling that she wasn’t aware of the green smudge on her cheek and he took advantage of the opportunity. He leaned over the display case and cupped her cheek in his palm, bringing her closer to him. Her skin felt like satin beneath his touch as he wiped away the icing, his lips a hair’s breadth from hers.

“What—what are you doing?” She averted her gaze as her face flushed deep pink.

Nick held up his thumb, covered by the green glob. “This was on your face.”

Her hands went up to her cheeks. “Oh! I feel like such an idiot!” She grabbed the hem of her apron and swiped her cheek, removing the remaining icing.

As much pride as she took in her work, Nick wondered if she carried the same level of commitment over to other aspects of her life. Something told him she’d be worth the time and effort it would take to get to know her. He also couldn’t help wondering if she drew on personal experience for her cakes.

Nick turned the page and spotted the shape of a woman’s body, anatomically correct, covered in an icing corset. Attached were garters with rosebuds, which held up lace-trimmed, thigh-high fishnet stockings. The most startling feature, however, was the swirls of brown at the juncture of the thighs.

“That’s my favorite,” the woman behind the counter said, twirling the pen between her slender fingers. “There’s a cherry hidden beneath the chocolate icing, and I use them for the nipples as well.”

He couldn’t hide his surprise as their gazes locked. The sparkle of mischief in her eyes had him chuckling again. And, if he wasn’t mistaken, her eyes darkened from emerald to sage. The racy design put them on a more equal footing, and he became more comfortable talking with her.

While he appreciated the art of the cake, he couldn’t help thinking he’d be uncomfortable making that cake more than once. He bared his teeth in a wolfish grin. “May I ask why it’s your favorite?”

“No reason. I just like creating beautiful things,” she said evasively. “Did you find a cake that would be suitable for your friend?”

Her carefully worded question had Nick smiling even broader. “Don’t you mean to ask if I saw anything I liked? Or if I saw anything that interested me?” He paused, still grinning. “As a matter of fact, the answer is yes on both counts.” He hesitated for effect, and then waggled his eyebrows in an exaggerated Groucho Marx imitation. “Yes to all three, if you count the cake.”

He’d never had this much fun flirting with a woman before. He delighted in her response to his teasing and watched as she gathered her wits and pulled her professional discretion around her like a cloak.

“So you’re interested in the bustier then?” she asked.

Her voice wasn’t quite steady, which sent sparks of pleasure shooting through his system like electricity. “I’m definitely interested,” he said suggestively, watching her blush again.

“Which cake?” she managed to ask, though not without difficulty.

Nick let her change the subject for the time being. It was time to discuss business anyway. The pleasure could come after. There will be pleasure. Any woman who created such risqué cake designs knows how to have fun and enjoy life.

“I’ll take that one,” he said, indicating the bustier design. “Where are the prices?”

“The standard pricing guide for the sheet cakes is on the wall,” she said, pointing behind her. “But the specialty cakes in the book are based on how elaborate the design is.”

“Makes sense,” he said, nodding.

She flipped to one of her floral tiered creations. “Especially with the wedding cakes. My forte is the handmade flowers. It sets my bakery above the rest, and I love the therapy of making them.”

“So you’re—”

She nodded. “Yes, I’m Jacqui.”

He pointed to the flowers on the cake. “They look too real to be icing.”

“They’re not,” Jacqui explained. “At least not butter cream or royal icing.”

Nick looked at the flowers again, then back at Jacqui. He loved the husky quality of her voice and wanted to keep her talking. She had grace and elegance. Her overall package knocked him in the solar plexus and he had difficulty remembering his own name. “What is it then?” he managed to ask.

“Gum paste. It’s rolled out like cookie dough and dries like porcelain, but it’s really delicate and can be damaged easily. I color the finished flowers with food-safe chalk dust brushed onto each petal, air brush, or in some cases I dip the whole flower into liquid food dye. Gum paste is edible, but I wouldn’t recommend eating it because of the wires.”

He looked at a few more cakes. “I like the look.”

“I do as well. It’s really dramatic in this cake, with the bold color against the pure white butter cream.” She flipped to a wedding cake where she’d applied the technique. “Many of my past clients saved the gum paste toppers as souvenirs. If they’re handled just right, they last forever.”

“If I ever get married, that’s definitely the cake I’ll be looking for.”

“I’d be honored if you kept my bakery in mind when planning such an occasion.”

Nick didn’t want her to just be honored at the thought of doing a cake for his wedding. It surprised him how much he wanted her to be a part of that wedding, and not just as the bakery service. As my bride? Can we create a future together? The thoughts came completely from left field and momentarily blindsided him like a T-bone crash at Bristol. He filed the information away in his brain for pondering at a later date.

Nick placed the order for his friend and fellow racecar driver, Shawn Sheldon. Shawn’s bachelor party coincided with the October night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Nick found it amazing that he’d lived in the posh Lake Norman neighborhood north of Charlotte for most of his racing career yet he’d never heard of Jacqui’s until he’d passed by on a detour through Center City.

Nick gave Jacqui the time he’d pick up the cake on his way to the track. Shawn’s either going to love it or he’ll kill me, Nick thought as he walked out the door. But it wasn’t the risqué cake or his friend’s reaction that he thought about as he climbed into his Mustang. It was Jacqui.

* * * *

Nick walked back into the bakery at nine on Saturday morning, smiling as the bell chimed above his head. He hadn’t been able to get Jacqui out of his thoughts all week. Between her color-changing eyes and voluptuous figure, she was gorgeous enough to be a plus-sized model. His heart sped up as he waited for Jacqui to appear from the back of the shop, but a tall, slender blonde appeared behind the donut case. Camille was etched into her name tag.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I’m here to pick up a cake for Barrister,” he said.

“I thought I recognized you. My brother Travis is a huge race fan, and you’re his favorite driver.”

“Thank you.” He dipped his hand into the inner pocket of his jacket and handed her the autographed four-by-six glossy card he’d originally planned to give to Jacqui. “For your brother.”

“Thank you, Mr. Barrister,” she said, pocketing the card. “I’ll be right back with your cake. It’s for Shawn Sheldon, the racecar driver, right?”

He nodded and dug out his wallet. She swiped his credit card through the machine, handing him the slip. He signed it and handed it to her, and then she disappeared through a swinging door as he put the card back into his wallet. He snagged one of the business cards displayed on the counter, taking a moment to peruse the information. Jacqui’s last name was on it. His heart kicked up its tempo, knowing he had another way of contacting her.

Nick slid the card into his pocket just as Camille returned, carrying a large white box in her hands. The top was fixed with a cellophane window which framed the decorated confection perfectly, and the bakery’s logo was printed in the lower right corner.

“Is Jacqui in today?” he asked as he took the box from her.

“No, sorry. She’s delivering a wedding cake.”

“Thank you for the cake,” he said, holding up the box as he flashed his famous Victory Lane smile.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Barrister. I hope Shawn—I mean Mr. Sheldon—enjoys his cake.”

“I’m sure he will. Thank you again, Camille.”

Nick left the bakery with his treasure and headed toward the track.

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[bctt tweet=”Read #excerpt of On Track with Icing by @CJ_Bower_Author #contemporary #sports #romance”]