As soon as I Bubble had a short appearance in How to Catch a Happy Ever After I knew he needed his own story. He was just too extraordinarily fabulous to stay on the sidelines.
The part-time barista and cheerleader coach has the hots for the much older high school football coach, except Coach isn't exactly straight...or is he?
Coming November 8
🎄 Christmas Bubble 🎄
“One dark-soul espresso and a sad chocolate-chip cupcake coming right up,” I say to one of our regulars at Spilled Beans.
The customer stares at me, her eyes blinking.
“Would you like anything else?”
“Can I have a happy chocolate-chip cupcake?” she asks, tilting her head and making a cute face to get a smile out of me. Not happening today.
I look at the display in front of me. All the cakes and pastries created by my boss are impeccable, but I don’t see anything happy.
“No, sorry, sweetie. But they’re freshly baked and super delicious.”
“Let me think about it,” she says.
I’m finishing the drink as Indy, my boss, comes from the kitchen with a tray of freshly baked Dutch pepernoten cookies. The delicious scents of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger follow him.
This year we have a few themed days leading up to Christmas, so we’re baking specialty cookies and cakes from around the world. It was my idea—a fantastic one, even if I say so myself. But Indy said it too, so I can be smug about it.
When I smell all our delicious bakes and look at the snow outside the coffee shop, people walking past with bags filled with Christmas gifts, I feel like I’m living inside a Christmas postcard.
“What’s going on?” Indy asks.
“What? Nothing,” I say noncommittally.
“I’ll take that cupcake after all, honey, and I hope your day gets better,” the customer says as I give her the coffee and put the cupcake in a specialized box.
Indy sets the tray on the counter, and I help him transfer the cookies to a smaller tray in the display cabinet.
I try really hard, but I don’t know if the cinnamon or the cloves remind me of my grandmother and her hugs and Christmas. I let out a very long sigh.
“Okay,” Indy says. “Let’s talk it out.” He pulls me by my hand to one table and makes me sit. “What’s up?”
“It’s the coach. I keep giving him things, and nothing happens,” I say, letting my frustration show. I tuck my hands in the front pocket of my Spilled Beans apron.
“I’m scared to ask. What things do you keep giving him?”
I shrug. “Cake. I don’t know which is his favorite, so I’ve baked him a chocolate cake, pineapple, vanilla, birthday cake, fruitcake, cake with frosting, cake without frosting, cupcakes, muffins, special pastries from around the world—” Indy raises his hand to stop me.
“I get the idea.”
“He returns the boxes I give him with those delicious cakes, and all there is inside is a sticky note that says thank you. There aren’t even any heart-shaped confetti or paper flowers. Nothing.”
Indy purses his lips, and I’m sure he wants to laugh. How can he want to laugh at the tragedy that is my life?
“Is that all?” he asks.
I stare at the table, and I’m sure my guilty look won’t fool anyone, let alone Indy.
“I may have also bought him a few other gifts.”
He gestures for me to expand on that.
“Okay, so maybe I’ve hung a few posters with inspirational quotes behind his desk at work. And he kept losing his pens, so I got him a pen holder.”
“Was there anything printed on that pen holder?” Indy asks as if he’s afraid of the answer.
I bite my thumbnail. “Um…Stick it in me?”
“Oh, Bubble.” He holds his hands out, and I put my hand in his. He holds it tight like he’s going to give me some bad news.
“Are you crushing on him?”
I snort and take my hand back. “No, of course not. Pfft. Me? Bubble doesn’t crush. I crush strawberries for milkshakes, which, by the way, does not bring all the boys to the yard, but no…I’m not crushing…nope…”
Oh, who am I kidding?
Indy raises a brow.
“Okay, maybe a little bit.” Oh, who am I kidding? I have a crush on Coach the size of my bubble butt—thank you, squats—but I digress… “It’s just that my grandmother raised me with good manners, and she always said, ‘Bubble, the way to a man’s good graces is through his stomach.’”
He sighs. “That only works if he’s not straight, hun. You know that, right? Unless something changed? You told me you thought he was straight,” Indy says.
“A guy can dream, right? Besides, he could come around.” I raise my hands like I’m praying. “Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
“That’s very insightful and true.”
I stand and go behind the counter again. I’m sure we’re due some customers any moment now. “I’m glad you agree. Winston Churchill said it, according to my inspirational quotes calendar.”
“Wait,” he says, following me. “So you’re basically stalking him, so that you’re all he’s thinking about until he comes around?”
I try to ignore the pity in his voice.
“No. He is all I can think about. I can’t give up until he specifically tells me to leave him alone. You know, like how vampires have to be invited in? I have to be invited out.”