This story features characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.
There’s a heavy price to pay for loving cupcakes, Belinda thought, watching Victoria finish the remnants of the Cake Diva’s infamous coconut cream pie cupcake. Victoria reclined at her banquette off the kitchen, one hand on her baby bump, licking icing off her other fingers. Belinda watched in satisfaction, smiling as her friend relished every last morsel.
“You have no idea how happy this has made me,” Victoria said, wiggling her peach-polished toes. “But you can have one too. You don’t have to keep your hands off just because I’m a food hog now.”
“I don’t know. I heard what happened to Dan recently.”
Victoria grinned. “I would never not share with you.”
“Well, that’s good to know. But I’m seriously all set with the cupcakes.” Belinda splayed out her hand, glad she’d changed her standing manicure appointment to earlier in the week. Working in the cupcake truck each weekend demolished her paint job.
Victoria arched a copper eyebrow in disbelief. “Too much cupcake contact?”
“Too much contact…too much licking…too much taste testing…to the point that these babies aren’t even appealing.” Belinda waved at the pastry box, recalling their most recent recipe trial. She and her pro baker cousin, Mia, wanted to offer a steady stream of limited-time only flavors. And that meant lots of tryouts.
“Wow.” Victoria licked a stray streak of icing from her pinky. “Belinda’s not interested in eating a cupcake. Never thought I’d see that day.”
“But it’s much better for my baby cravings.” Victoria carefully removed another cupcake from the box. “How does Bennett feel about this?”
Victoria nodded, like that’s what she expected. “Well, that is Bennett’s usual reaction to these things.”
“Yes. Well, my usual response also remained the same.”
“Scrunching your nose?”
“And telling him to get back to installing the gnome cam.”
Victoria grinned. “He’s seriously doing that?”
“My gnome is sitting in his garage as we speak.” The initial joke about using the garden gnomes for added outdoor security was no longer a joke. Though Bennett technically had his own gnome, he was experimenting with Belinda’s first, claiming she needed it much more than he did. After huffing indignantly at that comment, Belinda had to agree with him.
“Not that I’m bragging,” Victoria said, “but I would just like to say that is all due to me. I gave Bennett the gnome and then he got the gnome security idea.”
Belinda rolled her brown eyes to the ceiling in thought. “True. But if we’re getting technical, the only reason you gave Bennett that gnome is because Dan felt your yard was being taken over by garden gnomes and insisted you offload one.”
Victoria peered at Belinda over the tower of icing on the cupcake. “Whose side on you on, anyway?”
Victoria’s glower melted into a smothered laugh. “Fine, fine. Dan gets the idea award. This time.”
Belinda’s eyes twinkled, glancing at the now-empty pastry box, and then at the final cupcake meeting its destiny on Victoria’s plate. “I guess you’ve got to share something.”
~ * ~
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