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Spicy Pickle

Spicy Pickle

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A culinary feud turns into a hilarious fake engagement gone viral.

The third Picklish standalone romantic comedy in the Pickleverse, with its cinnamon-roll hero.

First, she tampered with my pickle recipe. Then, she got us both kicked off a cooking show. Now, we’re fake engaged to save our restaurants. Sit back, friends, this is one crazy tale of treachery and pickle juice.

"This book had me laughing from start to finish and I absolutely loved it!" ~ My Book Filled Life Blog

Also: The ebook version is exclusive to Amazon in Kindle Unlimited. Find it there.

Fake engagement. Rivals-to-lovers. Several high-steam love scenes.

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Book Summary

First, she tampered with my pickle.
Then, she got us both kicked off a cooking show.
Now, we’re fake engaged.
Sit back, friends, this is one crazy tale of treachery and pickle juice.

So, a few months back I created a new pickle.
It’s spicy.
Like, fiery hot.
It went viral in a big way.

Then along comes Magnolia Boudreaux.

She’s the daughter of a rival deli. She ends up a surprise guest on a cooking show I’ve booked, insisting her pickle is hotter.

Then she shows up on another show.
Then another.
Our feud becomes legendary, until it nearly ruins both our delis.

So I do the only thing I can think of to fix the problem.
I kiss her on national television.
And to top it?
We get engaged.

We’ve got the whole fake relationship down until she buys me a pickle cactus shaped like…well, I’m sure you can picture it.

And everything after that?
I made sure that she’s not faking a thing.

Read Chapter One

Chapter 1: Anthony

I’m about to show my pickle on television.

I have to admit, I’m anxious.

It’s not that no one’s seen this pickle. Thousands of people have.

In fact, thousands of people have eaten this pickle.

But never on television.


You seemed confused.

Whoa, whoa.

No, it’s not that kind of show.

Heh, heh.

Let me try this again.

I’ve made myself a new pickle.

Nope. That’s worse.

One more try.

I’m about to go on a cooking show with a spicy pickle recipe.

Now it’s starting to make sense.

My delicatessen, Boulder Pickle, got some fame after a challenge daring people to eat one of my ghost pepper pickles went viral on TikTok.

There are thousands of videos of men crying, women spitting out pickle bits, people running in circles, and diners dumping water on their heads.

We got so many take-out orders for the pickle that I had to hire two extra people to meet demand.

When the series coordinator for America’s Spiciest Chef calls asking to film a segment about the pickle in their traveling test kitchen, I know I’m about to get my fifteen minutes of fame.

With my pickle, of course.

Okay, maybe I like saying it.

Right now, I’m on the set, arranging the bowls of spices and other ingredients I’ll need to teach viewers how to make their own ghost pepper pickles.

From the front, I appear to be standing in an ordinary kitchen with a sink, stove, and chopping block. Behind me is a wall with a double oven, a refrigerator, and shelves filled with aesthetically pleasing dishes.

But beyond the counter, a line of cameras, light operators, and runners zip around to prepare for the segment. Assistants move around me, setting up props. I fiddle with a set of clear bowls that hold my ingredients, trying to calm my nerves.

To be honest, I’d prefer anyone else from the Pickle family be on the show to represent our chain. Jason, the oldest, is pure charisma and the camera loves him. My middle brother Max is used to media attention, since he’s a sports figure.

But I’m just me. Third brother. Culinary chef. Not particularly smooth.

I tried to pawn this gig off. I really did. But in the end, Dad put his foot down. I’m the leader of the chain. I invented the pickle that went viral. It has to be me.

I have lots of reasons to feel concern. The show’s host Milton Creed is a polarizing figure in the culinary world. Everyone wants to be on his program, because it’s popular and sure to bring attention to a restaurant.

But the man himself is rather unpredictable. He can be funny and generous with some guests, then turn on a dime to be caustic and condescending to others. You never know what version of Milton you’re going to get.

I shift the bowl of garlic two millimeters to the left. Like it matters.

“All set?” A young woman with a mop of black curls pauses as she shines the last gleaming ring on the stove top.

“I’m moving things out of nerves at this point.”

She nods. “We have to make it perfect for Mr. Creed.”

“He’s a stickler, then?”

“Totally.” She lifts each clear plate in a stack to examine. “I’ve only been here for three recording sessions, and that’s longer than half the stage crew.”

Wow. “That bad?”

She leans in and whispers, “Worse than you can imagine. He leaves a swath of disgruntled ex-employees in his wake.”

“Yikes.” I shift my collar away from my neck. I didn’t think I could get more nervous, but this has done it. “How is he today?”

“Haven’t seen him yet. But he generally hates Tuesdays.” She adjusts a kitchen towel on a metal hook. “Good luck.”

Then she’s gone, leaving me wondering why anyone would hate Tuesdays.

But that’s one question answered. I had a feeling Milton Creed might be a tyrant to his crew. I haven’t met him yet. His “people” have done all the contact—the phone calls, the segment coordination, and even the rehearsal.

I’m tempted to run. But Jason insisted the show would be excellent publicity for our family chain. Dad said he couldn’t be prouder.

A friendly man in all black approaches. “Mic time,” he says. “Don’t think about where it is or try to talk into it. Just act natural.” He clips the tiny bit of metal to the edge of my apron and runs the wire to a pack on the back of my belt. “This is going to be a fun one.”

“Because of the spicy pickle?”

“Maybe?” He gives me a wink, and I wonder what he means. My nerves kick up another notch.

A round, red-faced man with a headset crosses in front of the mock kitchen. “Places everyone. Milton is coming in.” He turns to me. “Don’t worry about the cameras. Just respond to Milton.”

I fumble with my hands, setting them on the counter, then hooking my thumbs in my apron pockets, then dropping them by my sides. The spotlights all focus on the right side of the set.

The opening music to the show blares from the speakers, and then, there he is, Milton Creed.

He’s shorter than he looks on television, thinning hair spiked out, pale face remarkably smooth. That’s a lot of makeup.

Milton waves to the camera. “Welcome to America’s Spiciest Chef. I’m your host, Milton Creed.”

He heads my way. “Today we have the young owner of one of America’s finest family delicatessen franchises. Say hello to Anthony Pickle!”

I sense cameras turning in my direction. “Thanks, Milton,” I say. “Glad to be here.”

So far, so good.

Milton shakes my hand. I realize he’s standing on a small step to be closer to my height.

He turns back to the camera. “If you’re on TikTok, you couldn’t miss Anthony’s ghost pepper pickle challenge, which went viral in a big way. Let’s take a look at some of those great pickle moments.”

A screen lights up on one side. Several of the pickle challenges are shown in quick succession. My shoulders start to relax. It’s unfolding like the rehearsal. After the video, I’ll show the ghost peppers, cut some up, mix the brine, and reveal the finished product, which is already waiting behind us in the refrigerator.

But when the attention is back on us, Milton says something we didn’t rehearse. “Now we all love a little healthy competition. So, when we put together the show about the spiciest pickle, we decided to find other enterprising deli owners who might blow our socks off.”

I turn to him in surprise. “What?”

He ignores me. “So, on this special pickle edition of America’s Spiciest Chef, you’re not going to see just one spicy pickle, but two.”

I spot my astonished face on a monitor and straighten my expression. The last thing I need is to become a viral meme. Shock-face Pickle.

Milton keeps going. “In our own special challenge, we will be tasting not only Anthony’s viral ghost pepper pickle, but one by another young chef. She says her fiery pickle will put Anthony’s to shame. Everyone, welcome the genius behind the Tasty Pepper, Magnolia Boudreaux.”

He’s got to be kidding me.

A young woman strides through the set door and into the light. She’s dressed in a bright green dress with a white apron. I want to seethe. Green and white are my deli’s colors.

Now I understand why my apron is black. I’m the bad guy in this situation. Magnolia’s long blond hair flows down her back, pulled away from her face with a ribbon to give her a fresh, innocent look.

I’ve never met Magnolia, but I know who she is. Her father owns the other family deli in Boulder. They completely resented me opening a restaurant in their market, even though Boulder is more than big enough for both of us.

And now his daughter has invaded my pickle segment.

Magnolia turns to me and extends a hand. “Hello, Anthony.” Her big sky-blue eyes are fringed with curled lashes. She looks like an American Girl doll. The viewers are going to love her, an angelic princess next to the big bad wolf who raided her forest.

I can barely say her name through my gritted teeth as I shake her hand. “Hello, Magnolia.”

“Ho ho!” Milton says, and the gleam in his eye tells me he hopes we go at each other’s throats. “Do I sense a rivalry here?”

“Of course,” Magnolia says, her voice simperingly sweet. “My family has been a Boulder tradition since 1958. How long has your deli been open, Anthony?”

I clamp my jaw again. “Four years.”

Her laugh is melodious, but each peal sets me on edge. “Such a newcomer.” She elbows me in the ribs. “But I’m sure you have nothing to worry about. How could I possibly dethrone the spiciest pickle in Colorado?”

Milton puts a hand on her shoulder. “Things are heating up in America’s Spiciest Kitchen!” he says, his glee apparent. “Let’s get to work on some fiery dishes!”

Magnolia’s smile is as innocent as a lamb as she says, “May the best pickle win.”

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