Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.
With their marriages as much in need of restoration as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
Claire Bennett couldn't remember when the tradition began—meeting her friends at the bakery, Dee's 'n' Doughs, before the workday started. It must have been after their nests had emptied, since none of them had any tag-alongs velcroed to their ankles. Whatever the cause, stopping for a chat and a hot cup of coffee got her creative juices flowing. Okay, maybe that was the caffeine and sugar, but she couldn't imagine life without her girlfriends.
She wished she could share her deepest heart with Joel. They used to talk, sort of, but something changed between diapers and soccer. It was around the time she started going to church without him. She shuffled through a pile of leaves on the sidewalk. The dry crunch reminded her of their conversations. He wasn't much of a talker and never had been, but he'd become noticeably quieter lately.
Soft light poured through the picture window of Dee's 'n' Doughs. As she pulled open the glass door, the brass bells attached to a wrought iron hook shaped like a loon, announced her arrival. She paused on the threshold for a moment, closed her eyes, and let the heavenly aroma of yeast, vanilla, and almonds entice her. That indulgence alone would probably add another inch to her waistline. When she opened her eyes, her studio/gallery partner, Patsy Kowalski, was chuckling at her.
Claire dropped her black tote on a chair. Today, all the tablecloths were printed with woodland creatures. The ones yesterday had been fishermen.
"Morning. We the first?"
"Aren't we always?" As Patsy sipped her morning French roast, a tiny crease appeared between her eyebrows. "Hurry up and get your coffee. I've got something to tell you."
With intuition borne of being best friends since kindergarten, Claire sensed disquiet in Patsy's tone. It was probably one of the kids. Even though they were grown, worrying about them never failed to make that crease materialize, and between Patsy's three and Claire's five, they had plenty to worry about.
She scurried over to the row of insulated airpots, selected the breakfast blend, and added a shot of cream. When she reached for a packet of sugar, a pan of warm, gooey cinnamon buns Dee had left out for them, leered at her. She squeezed her eyes to slits and tried to focus on the coffee, weighing those size ten jeans against the taste of golden brown pastry laden with butter, cinnamon and rich, gooey icing.
No good. Those buns tempted her beyond reason. If only she had more self discipline—like her friends. She bit her thumbnail. If she skipped the sugar in her coffee ... she snatched the clamoring pastry onto a plate, sucked the frosting off her fingers, and grabbed a packet of sugar substitute.
Clutching a napkin between her fingers, she slipped into the chair next to Patsy, ready for a good natter. "So what's up? You're worried about something. Is it the kids?" She pinched off a piece of the bun and popped it into her mouth. Yummy. Dee and her doughs should be on the Food Network. Either that or arrested for assault on Claire's backside, which was exactly where this bun would end up.
Patsy's hazel eyes warmed, crinkling the skin around the edges. "No, kids are fine." Her expression changed, the light extinguished. "It's—"
About The Author
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, multi-published playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.
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