Read an Excerpt
By Janelle Denison
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Oh, God," Jillian moaned in pure, unadulterated ecstasy. "Your triple fudge Bavarian torte is right up there with great sex - not that I've had any of that lately."
Kayla Thomas grinned at her sister's cheeky comment as Jillian sampled another bite of the new dessert Kayla had concocted that morning. "I can barely remember what sex is like, great or otherwise," she replied wryly. "That's how long it's been for me."
"Fortunately, you're surrounded by the next best thing. Chocolate." Jillian waggled her brows in a lascivious manner. "And lucky me, I get to be your official taste tester. This one is a definite winner and gets a five-moan recommendation."
Kayla laughed and continued arranging an assortment of petits fours on a silver tray. "Oh good, I'll be sure to put that on the packaging label." Thoughtful for a moment, she then added, "Since the torte has your approval, I think I'll include it as one of the desserts for the Chamber of Commerce function I'm catering tonight."
Jillian licked bits of chocolate from her full bottom lip, obviously not wanting to waste even a crumb of the dessert. "You'll have them all salivating for more."
With a smile at her sister's reply, Kayla glanced across the industrial-sized prep table separating them. They were alone in the kitchen area of Pure Indulgence since her two other employees were handling the front counter while Kayla prepared for the Commerce function that evening.
"I'll just be happy if I can drum up a bit of extra catering business," Kayla said.
"I have no doubts that you will." Jillian set her empty plate in the sink, came up beside Kayla, and started putting the small, fancy cakes onto a scalloped paper liner to help speed up the packaging process.
"You're doing so great. Look at all that you've accomplished."
Jillian's tone was infused with genuine pride as she swept a quick glance around the back of the shop, taking in the cakes and pastries cooling on bakery racks, and the refrigerators filled with dozens of different desserts. "I always knew you'd be a success in your own right. No other place in San Diego comes close to creating desserts as outstanding as yours."
Kayla appreciated Jillian's support more than she could ever express. Despite a childhood spent with a mother constantly pitting them against one another, they'd managed to remain close. The bond had become even stronger after their mother had passed away and was no longer around to interfere in their lives.
"I learned most of my skills during those summers with Grandma Thomas. She taught me my way around a kitchen and how to bake from scratch," Kayla said fondly. "But you're the one that made Pure Indulgence, and all this, possible."
Her sister made a pfft sound that Kayla recognized as a dismissal of her gratitude. "I might have helped to get your own bakery shop opened, but you're the one who made it solvent after six months' time. I had nothing to do with that."
"You know I can't thank you enough for your help." Financially and emotionally, her sister had been a rock for Kayla the past year.
Jillian's green eyes softened. "It was my pleasure. Truly."
Kayla finished filling the tray and started on another, knowing deep in her heart that Jillian had more to do with her success than she'd ever admit or take credit for. When her sister had retired from her modeling career in New York nearly a year ago and returned to San Diego to start out fresh and new, Kayla had been working during the day as a secretary and spending her nights as a cocktail waitress. She'd been scrimping and saving so she could afford to open a small bakery. While she'd managed to accumulate quite a nest egg, she'd been years away from her goal.
Jillian, who'd made an ungodly amount of money as a cover model, had insisted on giving Kayla the cash she needed to open her bakery. Even after putting away every penny, Kayla would have been able to afford nothing more than a small shop in a run-down grocery center. Her sister had landed her a prime spot in Seaport Village, one of San Diego's most exclusive shopping plazas.
Kayla had been overwhelmed by her sister's generosity and had sworn she'd pay back every last cent, but Jillian wouldn't hear of it. It was a gift, she'd said, so Kayla could finally follow her own dreams.
"You know," Jillian said as she absently bit into a mocha butterball she filched from a nearby tray, "since tonight's function is being held by the Chamber of Commerce, I'm betting there's going to be plenty of single businessmen milling about, which means this could be a ripe opportunity for you to snag a guy and end your run of celibacy."
Kayla rolled her eyes. "Easy for you to say, and not so easy for me to do," she teased.
"It's not so easy for me either," Jillian replied in a guarded tone that Kayla understood all too well.
She watched Jillian polish off the gourmet candy, envying the way her gorgeous, slender sister could put away so many sweets without any weight gain, while all Kayla had to do was inhale the scent of sugar and an extra pound seemed to find its way to her already curvaceous hips. While their naturally blond hair and green eyes were sisterly traits they had in common, that's where the physical resemblance between them ended.
Despite Jillian's successful modeling career, the two of them shared the same self-doubts when it came to men. Kayla, who'd always been compared to her beautiful, thin sister by their mother, was especially self-conscious. Most men judged women by their looks, as Kayla had learned the hard way.
Kayla was softly rounded thanks to the extra twenty pounds she couldn't seem to shed permanently, no matter how hard she tried. In Jillian's case, all men saw were centerfold curves and not the warm, intelligent woman inside who craved the same kind of unconditional acceptance that Kayla did. It amazed Kayla how opposite she and her sister were in stature and appearance, how differently they were raised as children, yet as adults they shared a very common bond because of those contrasts.
Excerpted from Pure Indulgence by Janelle Denison Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.