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Muffins & Moonbeams

Muffins & Moonbeams

Baxter Family Bakery book 2

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His true refuge lies in the vast expanse of the online gaming world, where he can explore galaxies without revealing his deafness to anyone. She’s a web designer by day and a fearless alien-race warrior by night, finding solace in uncomplicated online relationships. Can they put aside their reservations and insecurities to find love in a world where trust must transcend the digital divide?

Main Tropes

  • Hidden identity
  • Friends to love
  • You've Got Mail Vibes


Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. He’d much rather live in the online world of computer games where he can explore the galaxy and no one has to know he’s deaf.

Ursula Franks designs websites during the day and spends her evenings battling alien races online where relationships are easy and uncomplicated. When she agrees to design a website for the local Community Supported Bakery, she has no idea that Malachi is the real man behind her online persona’s best friend and her own secret crush.

As the two work together on the website, they uncover an attraction, but will they be able to put aside past hurt and insecurity to find love?

Welcome to Arcadia Valley, Idaho, where a foodie culture and romance grow hand-in-hand. Muffins & Moonbeams is the first full-length novel in the Baxter Family Bakery series set in Arcadia Valley. It follows the novella, Loaves & Wishes. Get your copy today to spend more time baking with the Baxter family.

Intro into Chapter One

Malachi Baxter pushed a hand through his hair and scowled at the computer screen. He hadn’t built a website since high school. How did he get stuck with this job? Oh, right. Business degree. Which meant handling the finances and such, but the website? He scooted away from the machine and stood. He needed to talk to his brothers.

He stepped out of the tiny office at the back of the bakery and into a wall of heat. His oldest brother, Jonah, was measuring ingredients into a huge mixing bowl. His lips were moving, but with his brother’s face half-turned Malachi couldn’t quite lip read well enough to make out the words. Was he singing? He touched Jonah’s shoulder.

“Hey, Mal. Done with the website already?” Jonah set the measuring cup aside and dusted his hands on the apron tied around his waist. “That was fast.”

Malachi shook his head and signed. “We need to hire someone. It’s an investment that’ll pay off in the long run. If I do it, it’s going to look like someone’s ten year old put it together over the weekend.”

Jonah laughed. “That bad?”

Malachi nodded. He’d drag his brothers back to see what he’d been playing with all morning if they insisted, but it was embarrassing.

“All right. Let’s check with Micah, but if you say we need it and can afford it, then I’m game.” Jonah strode across the kitchen to the swinging door that led to the front of the bakery where Micah manned the counter.

Malachi sighed and followed.

Micah handed change and a bag of bread to one of their regulars—Malachi searched his memory for the name and came up blank—and turned when the light above the door that served as the hearing impaired version of a doorbell flashed and the customer left. “Uh oh. If Mal’s out of the office, something must be up.”

Malachi clutched his stomach and feigned laughter before sticking his tongue out.

Jonah shook his head. “Nothing serious. Mal thinks we should hire the website out.”

“Rusty?” Micah raised his eyebrows.

Malachi signed, not bothering to speak along with it since they were alone in the bakery. “When was the last time you did a website?”

“Fair enough. Works for me. You notice I didn’t volunteer to do any of that stuff, right?” Micah squatted and collected a towel from under the counter. He ran the cloth over the display case, scrubbing at some imagined spot. “Do what you think is best.”

Jonah nodded. “Agreed. And since you’re handling all the business end, I don’t really care about details. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and won’t dig us into debt.”

It was good his brothers had faith in him. Someone needed to. He nodded and eased back through the door into the kitchen. No point in hanging around out where customers came to gawk at the deaf man. In D.C. he hadn’t been a novelty. There were all sorts of people in the greater metropolitan area that made up what had been home his whole life. And mostly people didn’t bother staring at the ones who were different.

In Arcadia Valley different stuck out. Oh, they were nice about it. Malachi doubted anyone genuinely had any motive other than learning about something they didn’t encounter every day.

But that didn’t keep him from feeling like a circus sideshow because he couldn’t hear. He hadn’t felt that way since right after the accident that cost him his hearing when he was young.

Back in the office, he pushed the door mostly shut, a signal that he was involved and shouldn’t be disturbed if at all possible. A quick search online revealed what he suspected, there were more web designers in the world than made sense. How did he sort out the bad ones and find the good?

Malachi drummed his fingers on the desk and reached for his cell phone to tap out a quick text to his sister, Ruth. The B&B had a nice site with a lot of the same kinds of functionality that they’d need. He set his cell back in the charging cradle that flashed brightly when his phone vibrated and turned to the computer. It was mid-morning. Ruth was probably cleaning rooms and wouldn’t get to her phone for a while. But there was no rush.

With a glance toward the door and only the barest twinge of guilt, Malachi started up Orion’s Quest and logged in. There weren’t many players online in the middle of the morning, but there were always folks in other time zones, or people, like him, sneaking in a battle during a slow time at work. He skimmed the activity log. No one he played with was on, but he’d been storing up solo missions. Maybe he could knock one of them out. If his ship was repaired. He’d parked it in a dry dock when he logged out the night before, there should have been enough time for the fixes to be finished.

And if not, he’d wander this outpost—where was he again?

Didn’t matter, really. Some new outpost on the edge of civilized space, getting ready to head into the frontier and see where his fortune lay. Before that, he could use an armor upgrade. Maybe some new weapons. If he had the cash after he paid for repairs.

The chat bar at the bottom of his screen notified him that Scarlet Fire had logged in. His heart sped up and he grinned as he opened up a direct message box.

“What are you doing on in the middle of the morning? Don’t you have work?”

“Ha ha. I could ask you the same thing. Slow day?”

Malachi glanced at his cell phone cradle before typing again.

“Waiting on a text. Thought I’d check on my ship, maybe start a quest.”

“Need a first mate?”

Colorful lights flashed in the corner of his eye. Of course. He sighed and grabbed the phone. Sure enough, Ruth had come through with the contact info for her web designer. “Never mind. Gotta run. You’ll be on tonight?”

“Of course. See you then.”

Malachi took two minutes to run down and spring his ship from the repair facility. At least that way when he did have time to play he’d be ready to go. With a final check that he’d set himself to be able to scoot out on a mission as soon as he logged back in, he exited the game and opened a web browser. He liked the website for the Fairview, but there was nothing wrong with checking out other references just to be sure before making contact.

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