There's Cake in My Futureby Kim Gruenenfelder
After listening to her closest friends’ latest travails in love, parenting, and careers, superstitious bride-to-be Nicole (Nic) believes she has the perfect recipe for everyone’s happiness: a bridal shower “cake pull” in which each ribboned silver charm planted in her cake will bring its recipient the magical assistance she needs to… See more details below
After listening to her closest friends’ latest travails in love, parenting, and careers, superstitious bride-to-be Nicole (Nic) believes she has the perfect recipe for everyone’s happiness: a bridal shower “cake pull” in which each ribboned silver charm planted in her cake will bring its recipient the magical assistance she needs to change her destiny. Melissa (Mel), still ringless after dating the same man for six years, deserves the engagement ring charm. The red hot chili pepper would be perfect for Seema, who is in love with her best male friend Scott, but can’t seem to make their relationship more than platonic. And recently laid off journalist Nic wants the shovel, which symbolizes hard work, to help her get her career back on track. Nic does everything she can to control who gets which silver keepsake – as well as the future it represents. But when the charmed cake is mysteriously shifted from the place settings Nic arranged around it, no one gets the charm she chose for them. And when the other party guests’ fortunes begin coming true, Mel, Seema, and Nic can’t help but wonder…. Is the cake trying to tell them something?
Three best friends find their lives taking unexpected turns after a bridal shower game goes awry.
Bride-to-be Nicole thinks she has it all figured out when she rigs a "cake pull" for 23 of her closest pals. This tradition (think fortune cookie) has each lady pulling a "charm" out of the layers of a cake, with each charm symbolizing the puller's near future. Sounds simple enough, until the guests pull charms other than the ones Nicole pre-selected for them. That means math teacher Mel, who craves a commitment, does not get the engagement ring she wanted, but rather a red-hot chili pepper, symbolizing passion. Soon after, she actually does get a proposal from her longtime boyfriend Fred, followed by the discovery that Fred is a serial cheater, with a string of gals in various locations. Suddenly single, Mel puts herself out on the market, with mixed results. Museum fundraiser Seema, secretly smitten with her hunky best friend Scott, was supposed to get the lusty pepper, but she nabs a shovel, for hard work, instead. And writer Nicole is shocked to get the baby carriage. Not that Nicole is totally against the idea of children, she just does not feel ready to be a mom. Besides, her fiancé Jason, an assistant coach for the NBA, already has two young girls of his own, from his previous marriage. But when Jason's ex lands a demanding job out of town, Nicole becomes the primary caregiver to Malika and Megan. She adores them, but step-parenthood tests her every which way, putting a strain on her relationship with Jason. Meanwhile, Seema, who isn't the superstitious type and doesn't really care about the stupid shovel anyway, gets tired of watching the man she loves date other women, and decides to risk everything by revealing her true feelings.
Gimmicky romp about letting life surprise you. Gruenenfelder (Misery Loves Cabernet, 2009, etc.) too often relies on sitcom one-liners, but her women are smart, likable and good to each other.
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.72(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.97(d)
Read an Excerpt
Date not bad. She’s pretty cool actually. Can’t wait to see you tonight. Have drinks ready. ; )
I stare at the text on my phone.
My God, men are just glorious in their ability to send mixed signals. I look over at my friends Melissa and Nicole, both scurrying around my kitchen, setting up an assortment of food and drinks for Nic’s bridal shower.
“Okay, this is the last text, I promise,” I say, showing the screen to Nic as she pulls a giant glass pitcher of peach puree from my refrigerator. “What do you think Scott meant when he wrote this?”
Nic takes a moment to read the words on the screen. “That he’s a typical guy who wants you to carry a torch for him but doesn’t actually want to kiss you, make out with you, or take any responsibility for leading you on.”
“I hate it when she minces words,” I joke to Mel, who laughs and nods as she diligently wraps prosciutto slices around melon wedges.
“Okay, I give up,” Nic admits to me in confusion as she holds up the glass pitcher. “What is this?”
“Fresh peach puree,” I tell her, with just a hint of defensiveness. “For the champagne.”
Nic looks horrified. “Since when does perfectly good champagne need to be sullied with sugared fruit?”
“Since every bridal magazine and online article I read told me that proper bridal showers need to have peach Bellinis,” I answer her, with just a hint of “Bring it on, Bitch” in my voice. (I have spent the last week perusing wedding magazines and online wedding sites getting ready for this damn shower. I’ll admit, reading about all of these deliriously happy fiancées has made me a tad sullen.)
“Seriously?” Nic asks. From the scowl on her face, I’m going to guess this is the first she’s heard of it.
“Tragically, yes,” I say. “I also bought orange juice for mimosas. Apparently destroying twenty dollars’ worth of sparkling wine with fifty cents’ worth of sugar during a bridal shower is as traditional as the bride throwing the bouquet, unmarried wedding guests having a fight on the way home about why the guy won’t commit, and a bridesmaid waking up on top of someone horribly inappropriate the next morning.” I hand Mel my phone to read Scott’s text. “What do you think this means?”
Mel clutches her chest. “Oh my God! The poor guy. He liiiikes you. Why don’t you just let him be your boyfriend already?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. Is it worth jeopardizing a really good friendship just because I want to have sex with him?”
Mel answers with, “It would be so romantic. The best relationships start out as friendships,” just as Nic talks over her with, “Absolutely. Pin him to a wall and show him who’s boss.”
Mel glares at Nic disapprovingly. Nic shrugs. “What? I didn’t say she had to be the boss.”
They’re both right in their own way, of course. I desperately and achingly want to have sex with Scott. I think about it all the time.
Actually, that’s not true.
What I desperately want is to have that first six-hour make-out session where you just kiss and dry hump on someone’s couch until one of you falls asleep and the other one sneaks off to the bathroom to wash off her makeup, brush her teeth, and prepare to look radiant when you both wake up three hours later. At which time, hopefully he suggests brunch, and you both keep sneaking kisses all day.
But I’m afraid what would happen instead would be the morning that has haunted every girl for months or years after the actual event. When, the next morning, the man that you have finally caught, the man that you have dreamt about kissing for so long, now has that look on his face that men get when they want to find a way to nicely let you know that you were a giant mistake, and that they wish the night had never happened. But it’s not you, it’s him. Really. And can you still be friends? Because he just loves you so much … as a friend.
And what do we girls typically do when presented with this humiliating situation? Most of us stupidly pretend that nothing happened, that everything is okay, and that we can go back to being “just friends.”
But not one of us has ever really felt comfortable around the guy again. How can you relax around someone who doesn’t think you’re enough?
In my experience, the breakup goes one of two ways: either you pretend to stay friends and slowly drift apart—canceling on dinners or not scheduling movie nights anymore. Or, worse, you do keep seeing each other. And while a taste of honey is worse than none at all, a taste of tequila is deadly. Someone inevitably makes a move, someone says no, you both start yelling, and you never see each other again.
Oh, or I guess there’s the third dreaded kind of breakup: the one that happens three months later, after you’ve declared your undying love for him, he has said he loves you back, everything’s going incredibly smoothly, you’re picking out wedding china in your head, and Bam! He breaks up one night. Doesn’t even give a good reason, just doesn’t “feel the sparks” you feel.
This is the biggest reason for why I haven’t kissed Scott. I’ve already felt the heartbreak of him breaking up with me hundreds of times—all in my head. Depending on the night, I either go to bed fantasizing about him kissing me or I think about the breakup that would inevitably follow.
It would happen. I know this logically. We are completely wrong for each other.
I am a key fund-raiser for the Los Angeles Museum. It’s a job I kind of fell into, but I like it very much, and I’m pretty good at it. I organize sophisticated parties and showings for the well-to-do in Los Angeles, and try to get them to become patrons and donate money to the various programs and exhibits within the museum. I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but I am the biggest fan of a good exhibit. I’m stable. I have a steady job, a mortgage, and a 401(k). I get my teeth cleaned twice a year.
On the other hand, Scott—sexy, delicious Scott—is a walking disaster. He’s an artist: like a real painting, sculpting, honest to God that’s his job artist. As such, some months he can barely cover his rent. He goes to the dentist only when a tooth is exploding in his head. Getting him wrangled into a suit for a fund-raising event usually requires negotiations, flattery, and bribery. He sleeps until noon, then works until three in the morning. I get “booty calls” from him at 2:00 A.M.—because he actually wants to talk. (And, like an idiot, I always take the call. Then we stay up until four or five in the morning talking, and I spend the next day at work exhausted and inhaling Diet Monsters and plain M&Ms to get through the afternoon.)
I met Scott about ten months ago at a show a curator from the museum had put together on modern life. I’ll admit, contemporary art frequently escapes me.
Scott had done a piece everyone was raving about that night called The Conformity of Imagination. The piece was a white couch from a thrift store, a dark blue table, and some red, white, and blue tissue paper ribbons strewn from a red painting to the white couch.
I didn’t get it.
So, when the incredibly sexy guy with wet hair and freshly washed Levis walked up to me and asked what I thought of the piece, I diplomatically said, “It’s crap.”
He laughed. “Don’t let the artist hear you say that.”
I looked around the room nervously. “Where is he?” I ask Mr. Hotness. (One thing I’ve learned as a fund-raiser is never to discount an artist in public. You can say you “don’t get” a piece. But don’t cut them out completely—that may be the next Hockney or Picasso you’re dissing, and you will pay for it later when his pieces show up in Paris and three billionaires call you wanting to sponsor him in L.A.)
“Oh, I have no idea,” he who could be Orlando Bloom’s hotter brother said to me at the time. Orlando took two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter and handed me one as he asked, “So why don’t you like it?”
“Well, it’s so unoriginal,” I said to the insanely handsome man. “It’s like the artist was on deadline, knew he needed to turn in a piece, and had nothing. So he looked around his living room, and said, ‘Got it! Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke,’ gave the piece a good title, and turned it in.”
The man smiled at me. “Wow. You’re even meaner than the art critic from the Times. She said she thought I went to IKEA to pick up some cheap wineglasses, and when I was looking at their display modules, decided to duplicate one and call it art.”
My face fell. “Oh. Shit. You’re not…”
“I am,” he admitted with a glint in his eye.
I let my shoulders fall. “I’m so screwed.”
“I would love to take you up on that, but unfortunately I’m here on a date,” the man told me flirtatiously. Then he flashed me a sexy smile as he put out his hand. “Scott James.”
I reluctantly put out my hand as I tried to figure out a way to apologize. “Seema Singh.”
Scott cocked his head. “Seema Singh? How do you have a Northern Indian first name and a Southern Indian last name?”
I was impressed. Not only that he knew that I was Indian (you’d be amazed how many Americans think I’m black, Asian, or related to Tiger Woods), but that he knew that my name was wrong. I smiled at him, immediately smitten. “I had parents who fell in love despite themselves. How do you know so much about India?”
“Took a trip there last year. I was dabbling in watercolors, trying to become less postmodern. More classic.” Scott looked over at his piece and said in an easy, self-deprecating tone, “Clearly I failed.”
I tried to backpedal. “You know, it’s not bad at all. I was just trying to be clever.”
Scott seemed amused. “Never apologize for your opinion. All notes are legitimate.” Then he winked at me and said breezily, “Just promise me that you can love the artist, even if you don’t understand his art.”
That statement was the first of hundreds of flirtatious remarks Scott makes that to this day throw me off my game.
That night, I wasn’t sure if Scott hated me or saw me as a worthy adversary to be conquered.
But I did know that I could have been conquered.
I stared at him off and on all night, and we ran into each other a few more times. Maybe he was hitting on me? I’m still not sure. His stunningly beautiful model date never allowed me to find out—she hung all over him for most of the evening, then dragged him home early.
At my behest, Scott and I exchanged cards and began meeting for lunch to talk about work. Lunch eventually led to drinks, which led to dinners, late-night games of pool or darts, and finally middle of the night phone calls.
But no make-out sessions, and no sex.
You see, our timing has always been off. By the time he was done dating the model, I had moved on to a very nice guy named Conrad. Who turned out to be a jerk, which I couldn’t wait to tell Scott one night, only to discover he had started dating a sitcom writer. By the time he broke up with her, I was with Alan, who I dated until last week. And now that I’m free from Alan, it sounds like Scott might be dating again.
Despite our poor timing, I think a few times we’ve come damn close to a Love Connection.
I’m not sure.
Times like when we were in the kitchen at a party and just started staring at each other, and I wanted to kiss him, but I didn’t. Or one of the many nights when we would order takeout, watch a Blu-ray, hug a bit, and fall asleep in each other’s arms. Hugs good night that lasted forever. Kisses hello that might have lingered a half second too long.
Or maybe this is all my imagination. Who the fuck knows?
And it doesn’t help that he constantly says stuff that could be interpreted a million different ways. Things like:
Date not bad. She’s pretty cool actually. Can’t wait to see you tonight. Have drinks ready, ; )
I stare at the text. “Have drinks ready.” What does that mean? Let’s get drunk so that I can take advantage of you?
I’m being silly. Scott is crucial to my life. With Nic engaged and living with Jason, and Mel almost engaged and living with Fred, Scott’s the only single friend I still have left to play with. He’s the one who can go out on a Saturday night at a moment’s notice. He’s the one I can call after 10:00 P.M. without a lecture from the other side of the king-size bed.
And lately, he’s the one I want to call when I have news. Any kind of news: good, bad, big, small. Anything from booking a hundred-thousand-dollar donation to my finally finding that vanilla-bean porter from that local brewery in bottles.
He’s the one I called right after my grandmother died. (It was 2:45 in the morning. I didn’t want to bother the girls.) He’s the one who dragged his ass out of bed to pick me up in the middle of the night, drove me up to San Francisco, then stayed with me while I dealt with my crazy family during her Indian funeral. He’s the one who listened to me as I talked through tears about this gold bell that she had on her mantle, and why it meant the world to me. At one point, I was crying so hard, Scott pulled the car over, took me in his arms, and let me sob until I started heaving.
I think back to that moment when I was just a big pit of needs, and he was there for me unconditionally, unquestioningly, and unwaveringly.
I take a deep breath.
When I’m being lusty, I forget about what’s really important. You don’t find guys like him every day. Why would I want to jeopardize that unconditional love and support just for a one-night stand, no matter how fun and tempting it might be at the time?
I delete Scott’s text. “I’m being silly,” I say aloud to the girls. “Scott is a good friend. I love him. If something was supposed to happen, it would have by now.”
“You’re not being silly,” Nic assures me with a look of determination. “What you need is a chili pepper.”
I furrow my brow at her. “Please tell me that’s not something else I’m supposed to mix with champagne.”
“No. It’s the charm you’re going to pull,” Nic tells me in a firm voice. “I’m telling you, this is going to change your life.”
Copyright © 2010 by Kim Gruenenfelder
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