Love at the Icicle Café


Denise N. Wheatley

Can an icicle-themed festival thaw the most unlikely hearts?

California lawyer Mina Richards spent her childhood helping her mom bake at their winter-themed café in the snowy village of Gosberg, Germany. When her retired parents want to sell The Icicle Café, Mina returns to facilitate the sale. She needs this to go right—she’ll fly in, finalize the deal and fly out to rescue her once high-powered career. But faced with Scott, her childhood friend and crush who doesn’t want to sell, Mina’s plan quickly falls apart.

Rising chef Scott Dawson has turned The Icicle Café into a destination restaurant. His parents and their partners want to sell the café to a hotel chain, and Scott can’t meet their price. When Mina arrives—more beautiful and determined than ever—he sees the possibility of a new future for the business and the town he loves. He just needs to change her mind…about more than selling the café.

When Scott asks Mina to help with the café’s annual Icicle Fest, their icy relationship warms. Can these former friends find a future together in the snowy village of their past?

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“I’m so glad I was able to help you win your case,” patent attorney Mina Richards said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without you,” Jim Stern, owner of Colorblind Solution Lenses, replied. “Trust me, the next time we need to hit someone with an infringement claim, I’ll be giving you a call.”

Mina led Jim through the lobby of Anderson & Moore LLP. “Thank you. It would be my pleasure to represent you again,” she said, shaking his hand before he exited the law firm.

She spun on her heel and practically floated toward her office. On the way there, she was stopped by Stephen Anderson, who’d cofounded the firm along with his partner, Mitchell Moore.

“Good job, Miss Richards. That was a huge victory you just pulled off.”

She smiled proudly while pulling her sleek chestnut brown locks behind her ear. “Thank you, sir. I worked really hard on this one.”

“And it showed. Keep it up. You never know what good things may be awaiting you here at the firm.”

Mina’s smile widened as she watched Stephen walk away through gleaming eyes.

“Like making partner,” she murmured to herself just as Karen, her best friend and legal assistant, rushed over and grabbed her arm.

“Congratulations, girl! You are amazing.”

“Aww, thanks sis. Come on. Let’s go celebrate. I’ve got goodies.”

Karen rubbed her hands together as they strolled to her office. “Ooh, my mouth is already watering.”

“Have a seat,” Mina said. She reached inside her drawer and pulled out a two-tier container filled with a variety of colorful gourmet cupcakes.

“Wow,” Karen breathed. “These are gorgeous.” She grabbed a chocolate treat topped with French buttercream frosting. “Don’t tell my trainer.”

“Tell him what?” Mina asked, giving her a wink.

“See, that’s why I love you.” Karen took a big bite out of the cupcake and closed her eyes. “Mm. This is delicious. Nothing in life should be this good. How is it that you’re such an excellent attorney and baker? Where did you learn such sorcery?”

Mina giggled while picking up a red velvet cupcake and swiping a dollop of icing off the top. “I get it from my mama. You know she’s a wizard in the kitchen. I held on to everything she taught me at her café when we lived in Germany.”

“Well, she was a master teacher.”

“That she was…” Mina gazed down at the cupcakes. “We had some great times back at The Icicle Café.”

“I think it’s so cool that your parents opened a winter-themed restaurant overseas while your father served in the army.”

“Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing place. That café has always been such a beloved staple within the Gosberg community.

“Do you ever miss being in Gosberg, even though it’s the complete opposite of sunny Clover, California?”

Mina bit into her cupcake and glanced out the window at the swaying palm trees. “You know, I do miss it sometimes. The beautiful snowfalls, the townspeople that felt like family…there’s a small-town coziness to Gosberg that you just don’t get living in the city.”

“That sounds so nice. Do your parents still own the café?”

“They do, along with the Dawson family. After my father retired from the army, we moved to Clover and the Dawsons stayed in Gosberg to manage it. These days their son Scott does most of the managing. But there’ve been rumblings that the café might be sold because the Dawsons want to move back to the states.”

Mina was interrupted when her cell phone buzzed. When the name Calvin Michaels popped up on the screen, a dimpled grin spread across her face.

“I know what that look means,” Karen mumbled through a mouthful of frosting. “A text from Mr. Michaels must be coming through.”

“As a matter of fact, it is.” Mina typed in her security code and tapped the message.

Hey love. Hope you’re having a wonderful day. I’m already guessing you won your case. Can’t wait to see you tonight at dinner. I’ve got BIG news…

Mina took another bite of her cupcake then wrote Calvin back.

Hey honey. I actually did win big in court today. Can’t wait to hear your news. Based on the convo I just had with Stephen, I may be getting some great news soon, too. See you tonight. XO

Mina looked up at Karen, who was reaching inside the container for another cupcake. “If you do that, I’m gonna have to tell your trainer.”

Karen squinted her eyes then turned her nose up at Mina’s svelte, Pilates-honed figure. “Fine,” she grunted. “I’ll pass. They’re just so hard to resist. You shouldn’t be such a good baker! Anyway, what’s up with Calvin?”

“We’re getting together for dinner tonight. Apparently, he’s got something pretty exciting to share with me. I think he’s been named partner at the law firm where he works.”

“Really? That’s awesome!” Karen stared across the desk at Mina, her eyes shining with admiration. “You’re really living the dream, you know that? I mean, you’re an incredible attorney who’s dating an incredible attorney, you’re both going to be partners at your firms, and I’m convinced that Calvin is going to propose any day now. You two are about to take over the world.”

“Thanks, Kay. And that sounds really good. But in all honesty, patent law is starting to feel so…mundane to me. I’ve been craving a little more excitement and creativity in my career. I’m hoping that once I make partner, I’ll have more control over my caseload and can choose cases that’ll hold my interest.”

“Wait, you’re looking for excitement and creativity in patent law? Good luck with that.”

“I’m just trying to be positive since I’ve put so much time and energy into my career. Oh, and by the way, when I was talking with Stephen just now, he complimented me on my Colorblind Solutions win and said there are good things waiting for me here at the firm.”

“Yes!” Karen squealed, holding her hand in the air and giving Mina a high five. “Word around the office is that a new partner is going to be named any day now. I already know it’s going to be you. You’ve won more cases than anyone in the past year. I can see it now. Anderson, Moore and Richards. That’s got a really nice ring to it!”

“It does, doesn’t it?” Mina replied, spinning around in her chair. Just when she grabbed hold of her desk, Mitchell’s assistant Abigail appeared in the doorway.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, ladies, but Stephen and Mitchell are asking everyone to meet them in the conference room.”

Mina swiveled toward the doorway so fast that she almost fell out of her seat. “Right now?”

“Right now.”

“Why? What’s going on?”

Abigail stepped inside the office. “Apparently they’re planning on naming a new partner very soon,” she whispered. “So they want to make sure everybody’s on top of their game and putting in their best efforts. That’s all I can say, and you didn’t hear it from me!” She gave Mina a knowing wink then rushed out the door.

Karen reached across the desk and grabbed Mina’s hand. “Did you see that wink? The partnership is yours, girl. It’s just a matter of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if they named you partner at this meeting!”

“Now that would be phenomenal,” Mina said, giving her hand a squeeze. She shuffled through a pile of papers on her desk and pulled out a notebook, then stood up and smoothed her black pencil skirt over her slim hips. “Shall we go find out what’s going on?”

“Yes. We shall,” Karen said before following her out the door. “Have you prepared your acceptance speech?”

“I’ve run a few ideas through my mind,” Mina joked as the pair entered the conference room.

They each took a seat at the huge cherrywood table, and Mina looked around at her colleagues. Their expressions ranged from curious to anxious. When Stephen and Mitchell entered the room, the entire group turned toward the front and gave them their undivided attention.

“It’s showtime,” Karen whispered, nudging Mina discreetly.

“Yes, it is.” Mina clenched her jaws and folded her hands tightly on top of the table.

“Thank you, everyone, for dropping what you were doing to meet with us,” Stephen said. “I’m sure you’re all wondering why we’ve called you here on such short notice.”

The group shuffled in their seats while hushed murmurs rippled through the room.

“Long story short,” Stephen continued, “We’ve had several great new developments occur here at the firm during the past year. Interest in our services has increased, new clients are coming onboard, and we’re planning to hire more talented individuals such as yourselves to help manage the workload. Now, along with that comes the need for additional leaders to help steer the ship.”

Stephen took a step back, and Mitchell stepped forward.

“It’s no secret that we’re looking to name someone partner,” Mitchell said, his right eyebrow shooting up arrogantly toward his hairline. “So with that being said, it’s time to start putting your best foot forward, people. Show us what you’ve got. Give us your all. Convince us that you’re the one who deserves that honor.”

Jeff Stanton, who was Mina’s biggest competitor in making partner, pumped his fist in the air. “Heck yeah!” he yelled obnoxiously. “Come on, guys! Let’s go!”

“I’m sorry,” Karen whispered, “But are we at a basketball game or a staff meeting?”

Mina suppressed a laugh and kept her eyes glued to the front of the room.

“Loving the enthusiasm, Jeff,” Mitchell told him before pointing at everyone around the table. “I think you should all take a page out of his playbook. Get hyped up over this extraordinary opportunity.”

“Absolutely,” Stephen interjected, “Because it is definitely an unprecedented one. So while Mitch and I are in the process of making a decision on who that new partner will be, just know that we’re here to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, let’s get to work, team, and keep winning!”

The group broke out into a round of applause, then chatted excitedly among themselves as they headed out of the room.

Mina looked over at Karen and shrugged. “Oh well. Slow and steady wins the race, right?”

“Right,” Karen said quietly, patting her supportively on the back before they returned to Mina’s office. “But I just knew that after you won the Colorblind Solutions case, they’d be ready to name you partner now. Therefore, due to my disappointment, I think we need to eat the rest of the cupcakes.”

Mina laughed and slid the container toward her. “Well I would hate to further exacerbate your trauma, so I concur.”

“Thank you for being so understanding of my needs.”

Mina picked up the remainder of her own cupcake and shoved it inside her mouth. Just when she reached for another one, there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” she called out.

Stephen cracked the door open and stuck his head inside. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were in a meeting.”

“No worries,” Mina said, quickly brushing crumbs off her blazer. “Would you like a cupcake?”

“No thanks,” he said, pointing at his stomach. “I’m watching my ever-expanding waistline. But listen. I’m heading into a meeting with Mitch, and just wanted to stop by and tell you to keep at it. You’re doing a great job, and I’m rooting for you.”

Mina felt a surge of hopeful energy shoot through her chest. “I absolutely will. Thank you for that.”

Stephen nodded his head before closing the door.

“Well that was nice,” Karen said right before she swallowed the last bite of her second cupcake. “I just hope that Mitch is on the same page as Stephen. I didn’t like that little sis-boom-bah moment he had with Jeff during the pep-rally-slash-staff meeting.”

Mina rolled her eyes. “You know Jeff is Mitch’s little lap dog. He worships the ground Mitch walks on and buddies up to him every chance he gets. I’m just glad to know I’ve got Stephen on my side.”

She glanced down at her watch and saw that it was almost seven o’clock.

“Ooh, I didn’t realize it was so late. I need to get going. Calvin and I have reservations that we’ll lose if we’re not on time.”

“Okay, well enjoy yourself. And don’t worry. You’re going to be named partner any day now.”

Mina shut down her computer and grabbed her handbag. “I certainly hope so. Because if Jeff ends up making partner over me, I don’t know if I’ll be able to work here anymore.”

Karen walked with her as they headed toward the lobby. “Look, you’re by far the best lawyer at this firm. Everything’s going to work in your favor. Trust me.”

“Thanks, girl. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

And with that, Mina hurried to her car and sped off toward Chateau Rocha.

End of Excerpt

Love at the Icicle Café is available in the following formats:

ISBN: 978-1-952560-43-9

December 29, 2020

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