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Bittersweet Candy Kisses

Bittersweet Candy Kisses by Jordan Castillo Price, Sean Kennedy and Clare London

Series: Anthology
Reissue, Electronic Omnibus Edition
Length: Novel - 180,000 words
Cover artist: Jordan Castillo Price - see larger cover
ISBN: 978-1-935540-89-2

RELEASE DATE, FEBRUARY 9

Universal Purchase Link

Summary

A storefront. You've never noticed it before. It's small, unassuming, and yet there's something about it that draws your eye. And the scent drifting out, dark and aromatic, so enticing. How could you have overlooked it? It must be new.

So why does Sweets to the Sweet look like it's been there for ages? And the pale man behind the counter...certainly you'd remember him.

Much like love, chocolate can be rich and heady, distractingly sensual, sweet and bitter. Just ask Chance. He’s been the catalyst of many a relationship over the years, though he himself scoffs at the notion of a happily ever after. But sometimes a mere hint of sweetness is all it takes.

Follow Sweets to the Sweet as it alights across the globe in twelve steamy novelettes by Jordan Castillo Price, Sean Kennedy and Clare London.

Previously released individually as the Petit Morts series, now available together for the first time in this sweeping omnibus anthology.

Excerpt

Hue, Tint and Shade

 

Sweets to the Sweet was empty. Once the Michigan Avenue lunch crowd left with their lattes and their fussy little truffles, it always turned into a ghost town for at least an hour. Tommy Roth opened the front door the bare minimum and slipped through, brushing his back against the doorjamb, and entered the store so stealthily that the tiny bell on the closer didn’t even jingle.

The guy at the counter glanced up. Tommy tried to recall one of the many dull pleasantries he had stored up for use in an emergency meeting situation, some phrase that wouldn’t sound too forced, but the clerk went back to cleaning his espresso machine rather than trying to ply him with hellos, and can-I-help-yous, and cold-enough-out-there-for-yous. Thank God.

Tommy’s watch read twenty past two. Early. He was chronically prompt, if not early—and how excruciating it was to be early, to be the only one there, alone, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb because he was painfully, absurdly early. Yet as horrific as being early was, Tommy imagined if he was ever late, he’d die of mortification, the ground would swallow him up, and it would be as if he’d never existed. And so it was preferable to be early. Awkward as that was.

“If you need help with…anything,” the guy behind the counter said, “don’t hesitate to ask.” Tommy checked a flinch. The clerk had a velvety, soft voice, but he seemed young. Maybe even Tommy’s age.  Tommy risked a look. Hard to tell if the clerk was aiming for a certain style or not since he was currently wearing black and red chef’s gear—complete with a name tag that read “Chance”—but he might have had a goth-thing going. Or he might have been naturally pale and dark-haired. With the world’s prettiest cheekbones.

When Chance looked up again, Tommy turned away, but not quickly enough to help but notice the faint smile creeping over his expression.

“And take your time,” he said. “I’m in no hurry.”

“I don’t need any…I’m meeting a…I’ll just sit over here.” Belatedly, Tommy realized he could have just said “thanks,” but now it was too late, probably, and he’d sound even dumber if he did. He slid into a chair beside a filigreed café table that was hardly big enough to hold the napkin dispenser and the sugar bowl. He glanced behind the counter again. Chance was on a stepstool, pulling a box off a high shelf. He had a cute butt, and the way his apron strings were wrapped around his waist couldn’t have emphasized it better. Damn. The whole stammery bashfulness thing was ten times as bad when Tommy was in the vicinity of a hot guy.

Tommy mouthed the word “thanks” and reminded himself it would sound completely appropriate as a reply. Or even “no, thanks” if the situation should warrant it. Two words. He should be able to remember that much. Right?

Luckily Chance kept himself busy cleaning up after the lunch rush and re-stocking things, which left Tommy blessedly alone with the sigh of the espresso machine and the waves of dark chocolate aroma that lulled him into a heady fugue state where he could forget for a moment about how early he was, and simply be.

Until the door jingled—ten minutes later, by Tommy’s watch—and a woman with a graying bob bustled into the store. She was expansive, with broad movements, and she wore a fringed purple coat that might have been a shawl or might have been a sofa throw. “What a delightful place,” she said to Chance, who smiled and inclined his head in return. “I can’t believe I never noticed it before. It smells so rich I could gain ten pounds just by breathing the air.”

“If you enjoy the smell, you should try the hot chocolate. It’s not from a mix—I make it myself with single-origin cocoa from Bolivia. Very aromatic.”

“That sounds wonderful.”

The espresso machine let out an explosive gasp as Chance steamed the milk. Tommy tried to imagine himself having a similar exchange with the hot guy in the chef’s gear, and failed. Utterly. His vocabulary of multisyllabic words was limited to terms such as “mortifying” and “excruciating.” It did not include “delightful” and “wonderful.”

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