Exclusive short story: Sugar Coated by Angela Britnell

Woohoo! Sugar and Spice is the Kindle Daily Deal at only 99p! To celebrate, Angela’s written an exclusive short story to enjoy this bank holiday weekend.

Sam selected the last beignet from her plate and sunk her teeth into the soft squishy goodness, not caring when another puff of icing sugar stuck to her chin. The good side of her business trip to New Orleans in the sweltering summer heat sat right in front of her, in the form of the Cafe du Monde’s  hip-destroying doughnuts.

Today's Kindle Daily Deal!

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal!

‘Samantha?’

She jerked her head up and met Gareth’s shocked stare. Her ex-fiancé’s sweeping gaze ran down over her and Sam winced, acutely aware of her sticky, overheated skin, wrinkled dress and lack of make-up.

‘Fancy meeting you here.’

Just fancy.

‘This is Lucinda,’ he beamed at the tall, elegant blonde draped over his arm. ‘Lucinda Morecombe, my new wife. We’re on our honeymoon.’

Sam didn’t respond and she watched a rush of heat colour his face and neck. Even thick-skinned Gareth must realise his enthusiasm was tactless in the circumstances – she almost asked if he’d actually turned up and gone through with the ceremony this time. Sam experienced a violent urge to pick up the plate of leftover icing sugar and throw it all over his immaculate black golf shirt and crisp chinos.

‘Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend, Snugglepuff?’ Lucinda whined.

‘Yes, Snugglepuff, why don’t you.’ Sam teased and Gareth shifted from one foot to the other,  mumbling something which Lucinda immediately asked him to repeat.

‘This is Samantha Black. I told you about her. We were … um, engaged a long time ago.’

This is Samantha?’ Lucinda’s eyes narrowed. ‘You told me she was plain and you’d felt sorry for her.’

Sam couldn’t decide whether to smack Gareth for making derogatory remarks about her, or gloat because Lucinda obviously didn’t agree with his assessment. Jealousy made the other woman’s face pinched and shrewish. Good. Gareth deserved every miserable minute of what he’d have to endure when they left. She stared at him and waited as he weighed his options. If he denied everything he’d be calling his new wife a liar. Hurting Sam’s feelings was much better on the Protect Gareth At All Costs scale.

‘No one could match up to you, my angel,’ Gareth purred and Sam thought she might lose her beignets all over his glossy black shoes. He flashed Sam an apologetic smile. ‘No offence intended.’

‘None taken,’ she replied through clenched teeth.

Gareth cleared his throat. ‘We ought to be going.’

‘Of course,’ Sam agreed, casually raising her left hand to push back her hair.

‘What’s that?’ Gareth snapped, pointed at her finger.

She smirked at the glittering two-caret diamond. ‘What do you think?’

‘Who’s the, er, lucky man?’

Sam gave what she hoped was an enigmatic smile. ‘No one you’d know.’

‘I hope you’ll be very happy.’ Gareth’s grudging tone was beyond satisfying. ‘Come on, Lucinda.’

Sam chuckled to herself as they left. Discreetly switching the ring from her right hand had been a touch of genius. She’d bought it from her lottery winnings, the obscenely large jackpot Gareth missed out on by leaving her standing at the altar a year ago.

Sometimes revenge really was best served sugar coated.

 

Angela enjoying a plate of beignets in the Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

Angela enjoying a plate of beignets in the Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onesie for Christmas by Melanie Hudson

Kneeling on all fours, Janet rested the present from Pete against the tree, reversed under the branches while ChocLit-logoXmasdisentangling the lights from her hair, stood and rubbed her bruised knee caps.  After flopping onto the sofa, she tucked cold feet into the gap between the cushions, and slugged back the last of Santa’s sherry.  Staring blankly at the twinkling tree, she wondered how her life could have gone belly-up so quickly (she also wondered if it was the tears in her eyes that blurred the tree lights, or if she had accidentally bought the kind of lights that were impossible to focus on – they’d go back!).  Padding her left hand round the mahogany side table that was a wedding present in 1989, she found a mince pie (which was placed on the arm of the sofa for later) then found the phone.    

‘Hi, Jan.  What’s up?’

On hearing her sister’s voice, Janet released the sob of a grieving Mafia mother, and dabbed wet lashes with the sleeve of her Monsoon Christmas jumper.

‘Pete’s having an affair…ohhhhh, how could he?  And when we were just about to get a new kitchen!’

Sue – a sensible woman – could not have imagined a more unlikely candidate for a ‘bit of extra’ than Pete.

‘Never.  How do you know?’

‘I’ve just been under the tree, and he’s bought me a – I can hardly bring myself to say it – but he’s bought me a… onesie for Christmas, the swine!’

‘Hmm.  And a onesie is?

Janet blew her nose on a stray tissue her toe had touched down the crack of the sofa.

‘You must have seen them, Sue.  They’ve got them everywhere…Next…M&S…Primark.  A onesie is an all-in-one pyjama suit.’

‘So?’

So, buying me a onesie is his way of saying, ‘Wife of mine, I’m not intending to have hot sex with you ever again!’

Sue tried to find a balance between commiseration and common sense.

‘But accusing him of an affair based on pyjamas…isn’t that a bit of a leap, even for you?’

Janet rallied.  ‘For goodness sake, Sue. I told you last week, all the signs are there.  He’s been closing the screen of the laptop whenever I walk in the room, and the lock on his phone isn’t Pollock1982 anymore, I checked.’

‘Er…pollock?’

‘…his first fish.’

‘Oh.’

‘And then there’s his new clothes (since when has Pete been trendy?), and he’s even had his bloody back waxed, for crying out loud.  So anyway, I followed him…’

‘Oh, no!  How demeaning.  Where to?’

‘The travel agents.’

Sue gasped.  Even the voice of reason found this a step too far.  ‘The travel agents!!  You surely don’t mean the travel agents, where Hard-On Heidi works?’

Janet let out a low guttural wail.  ‘Yeeessss.  And, oh God, Sue, they hugged and kissed on both cheeks…both!’

Sue tried reason again.  ‘That doesn’t necessarily mean…’  But Janet wasn’t listening.

‘It’s all my fault.  I should never have knitted that nativity scene in front of him.  Week after week he had to put up with the relentless click, click, click of the needles – I think the knitted baby Jesus was just a step too far.  Let’s face it, he sees me as…as…as an old woman now.’  Another wail.  ‘And the sex has all but gone.’

‘What?  No sex…ever?’

‘Well, we did try to do it the other day, when he came home in his Santa suit…’

‘Santa suit?  Seriously?’

Janet’s voice softened.  ‘We do this… thing, every year.’

Sue couldn’t help but ask, even though she knew it would be the sexual equivalent of looking at a car crash. ‘What thing?’

‘Every Christmas, Pete opens the front door and shouts up, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho! Does my little elf want to see what Santa’s got in his sack today’… and then I…’  Janet paused,  ‘…well, it doesn’t matter what I do, but this year, I was just about to tie him to the bed with his Santa braces, when he sat up and said, ‘hold on a minute love, I’ve just got to nip downstairs and record Deadliest Catch’.’

Sue swallowed a laugh. ‘Oh no, how humiliating.’

‘But it gets worse.  The daft arse still had his welly boots on and his Santa trousers round his ankles, so he hopped off like a randy bloody penguin, then tripped over his trousers and fell down the stairs.’

‘What did you do?’

‘Dabbed the blood with his beard, went to casualty to get his head stitched (we told that staff we were doing the grotto at the garden centre) and then stopped off at B&Q on the way back – the sale’s started and he wanted to get the grout for the bathroom.  And that was that, no sex.  It’s obvious, he’s leaving me…’

The front door banged.  Janet took another deep sniff and dabbed her eyes again.

‘He’s back.  I’m going to confront him.  Phone you later.’

 

Two hours later, Sue’s phone rang.

‘Hi, Jan.  Dare I ask what happened?’

‘Happened?  What do you mean?  Oh, the affair…I got it wrong.  Poor Pete.  When I said I wanted something sparkly and magical for Christmas, you’ll never guess what he did…’

Relieved (but not surprised) that her sister’s latest crisis had been averted, Sue started flicking through the TV channels to see if she could find a re-run of Cadfael.

‘No idea.’

‘Go on,’ Janet pressed, ‘I bet you can’t guess.’

Sue tried to hide her indifference.  ‘Er, a ring?  A necklace?’

‘No!  He’s only gone and booked us on a trip to Norway to see the northern lights!  The tickets were in the sleeve of the onesie.  Ok, he’s going to spend the day ice fishing, but still, how amazing is that?  I would have phoned you back earlier, but we’ve just had sex.’

Sue smiled.

‘And the onesie?  Have you told him to take it back?’

‘God, no.  I’m wearing it now – ever so toasty.  And Pete loves it, especially when I do this elf-type thing where I unzip…’

‘Happy Christmas, Janet.’

‘Oh, and to you, Sue.’

 

Merry Christmas!

Mel

xxx