This was the result. Enjoy, and make sure you stop back by to enter to win a copy of Austentatious!
I walk out of the Austin sunshine and into Sugar Mama's Bakeshop to find a rather striking man (who may or may not be wearing a kilt...) standing next to a woman whose face is practically plastered to the glass case holding the cupcakes just out of her reach. I know them instantly for Sean MacInnes and Nicola James, and know that Alyssa must be near. Sure enough, she's at a little table in the corner, sipping a Dr Pepper and eyeing them with amusement.
I join them at the case to order, and find myself barely tamping down the urge to press my face onto the glass next to Nic's. We've come to Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, which has been around in Austin for a while, because none of these Austin-Austenites have ever gotten around to taste-testing it. It's a Thursday, and the specials look divine.
Nic is orders a Salty Lulu (orange cake with salted caramel buttercream and fleur de sel), and Sean is having a Black and Tan (chocolate Guinness cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting, swirled with Irish cream liqueur). Alyssa joins us at the case and her eyes dart around in awe, but she only orders another Dr Pepper.
I myself am tempted to get The Pinup, a selection from the regular menu (just because of the name), but instead opt for a Churchill (Valrhona chocolate cake topped with toffee buttercream and chocolate ganache). It seems appropriate, as Sugar Mama's calls it their "nod to British confections." (I won't deny eyeing Sean's Black and Tan, though. And the carrot cake. And...dammit, they all look good!)
We restrain ourselves until we get to the table, though just barely. We make small chitchat, the usual, as we settle, before we get down to the business of real cupcake talk.
Misty: (licking frosting from my fingers) So. Have any of you done anything to earn your "weird' shirts lately?
Alyssa: Does agreeing to meet in a cupcake shop that doesn’t offer any gluten free options count? (takes a sip of Dr Pepper) If not, then I’ve got nothin’. My kids might tell you my spontaneous bouts of singing or creative family nicknames would earn me a shirt, but that’s pretty effortless, so I probably shouldn’t get credit for that. I’m not exactly Austin material. (glances pointedly at Sean)
Sean: Is it my turn then?
[Misty interrupts at this point to inform the reader that Sean is Scottish, and as such, his comments should be read in the sexiest damn brogue...]
Misty: (clears throat) Sorry. Carry on.
Sean: (grins) Okay, I’ll admit, lots of things have felt weird since I met Nic, but it’s a good weird. It’s a lot like living with Hermione Granger if you get my meaning.
Nic (elbowing him): Hey!
Alyssa: I’d take it as a compliment.
Sean (shifting slightly away and grinning at Nic who has frosting in the corners of her mouth): If you sang occasionally, I would have said Mary Poppins. How about you tell them how you reacted when I proposed.
Alyssa: (splutters on her Dr. Pepper) You proposed? Congratulations! (Leans in to kiss Sean on the cheek. Forgets all about cupcakes.)
Nic (looking slightly guilty): I…kissed you.
Sean: And then?
Nic (biting her lip): I called my parents?
Sean: Before that.
Nic (resigned): I opened Excel and created a spreadsheet.
Sean: That’s weird, luv. It’s also weird to pretend you’re not home when your neighbors come knocking.
Nic (sighing deeply): It’s just Leslie—she makes me crazy. I can only handle her in small doses. I haven’t even told her you proposed yet—she’ll probably want to be my maid of honor. Or possibly your best man.
Sean: Nic is naturally weird. I’m normal, but becoming weird by association. It’s…interesting. (grins)
Misty: I have a feeling you have your own set of 'weird' to contribute, Sean. But congrats to both of you! So, if you're not currently earning your weird shirts, what's one thing you've always wanted to do or try, that you haven't been able to bring yourself to do?
Alyssa (sits up straighter): River-rafting. I’m dying to try it, but I’m also terrified. I envision myself as the one that gets flung out of the raft, hits her head on a rock and floats down the river. Not exactly sure why it is that I want to try it…
Nic (wrinkles her nose): Indian food. Well, I haven’t actually always wanted to try it. I just think I should. There’s just something about it that spooks me. Could have something to do with watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a kid—chilled monkey brains and eyeball soup. (shudders)
Sean: You know you’re being ridiculous, right?
Nic (shrugs): You say ridiculous, I say cautious. Tomato, to-mah-to. (pops the last bite of cupcake into her mouth)
Sean (amused and exasperated): Well, I want to visit New Orleans. It doesn’t have to be during Mardi Gras, but that would be icing on the cake. (toasts us with his cupcake and peels back the wrapper) I love Cajun accents, and I want to hear a jazz band playing “Saints Go Marching In,” maybe even sing along. Maybe that’s cheesy—I’ve started saying “cheesy”—but it’s a dream.
Misty: Any plans for a new Plan, Nic? What all was in that spreadsheet? (winks while Nic blushes, but then remembers winks are creepy. Thought that lesson was learned last time...) What's on the agenda for everyone?
Nic: Well, as you know, we’re getting married. And we’re honeymooning in Scotland.
Sean (snarky): I guess I need to check the spreadsheet. I didn’t even know about Scotland. (dodges Nic’s punch to his shoulder) The band and I are working on some new songs and thinking about touring. (leans in to whisper) The touring freaks Nic out a bit—she’s been spending a lot of time muttering to her calendar. (Nic rolls her eyes)
Nic: Right now the new plan is still pretty loose. I hesitate to call it a plan at all, as that freaks Sean out.
(Sean mouths, “It does.”)
Alyssa: Far less exciting, I’m writing and dealing with two boys in junior high and all that entails. I’m starting a new series that will be chock full of romance, food, and magic—quite the trifecta!
Misty: (makes note to start stalking Alyssa's Goodreads page) I know the journal by now has traveled on to someone else, but do you ever wish you could take it back and get one more bit of advice from Fairy Jane? Or pass it on to someone you know who may need a little nudge in the right direction?
Sean: If it were possible to get it back, I might ask how to talk someone down from a spreadsheet. (chuckles to himself and finishes his cupcake)
Nic: It would be mind-boggling to hand it off to Leslie and see what she did with it. Mind-boggling. I’m not sure even Jane Austen is ready for that. But as to advice, I think I’m good. I’m dealing with enough life advice as it is. (glances at Sean) I’m not entirely sure what to do with it all. I would definitely be curious to know the story on who found it after we let it go though.
Alyssa: I have two words for you: Austensibly Ordinary. (raises her eyebrows at Nic, willing her to make the connection) Personally, I think I’d be happy to see the journal handed off to another romantic soul who needs a little assist. I, for one, would be very curious about her (or maybe even his) story…
Misty: Speaking of Leslie, Nic... if forced to karaoke (I know, I know - the horror), what would be your perfect karaoke song?
Sean: I will karaoke wherever and whenever I get the opportunity. My favorite picks tend to be showtunes. I admit, I like to ham it up a little. I’d like to try something from Jersey Boys.
Nic: My perfect karaoke song would be one with no words. Maybe a little humming. I could probably handle that.
Alyssa: I admit, I’m not much better. Without an audience, I might pick “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale—my go-to dance song. Otherwise, no telling. Let me know when you find a humming song, Nic.
Misty: This was delicious, guys. Thanks for getting me to come to Sugar Mama's! I know everyone's gotta run, but one last question, since we're here, and all (and since Nic and I keep finding our eyes drifting toward that glass case...): Ultimate dessert?
Alyssa: Now that I’m gluten free, it’s the White Chocolate Grill’s Silky Chocolate Soufflé Cake. Soooo good.
Nic (considering): That does sound good. Hmmm…tough one. As of right now, I’d say, salted caramel cheesecake.
Sean: A cupcake is fine every now and then, but generally, I’d rather have a beer.
Nic: Now that is weird. (Looking to Alyssa for confirmation.)
Alyssa and Misty: nods
And with that, we head back out into the sunshine of the Weird City, looking for our next adventure!
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