Home > The Sweet Life (Cape Cod Creamery #1)

The Sweet Life (Cape Cod Creamery #1)
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher




Never ask a woman who is eating ice cream straight from the carton how she’s doing.


Needham, Massachusetts

Thursday, February 6

Dawn parked in front of her childhood home in Needham but couldn’t make herself get out of the car. For this brief moment, the terrible news belonged only to her. As soon as she told someone, especially her mom, it would make it somehow more real. More true.

Maybe it wasn’t real. She reviewed the conversation she’d had with Kevin last night. Was it possible that he’d suffered from premarital jitters? Just a case of cold feet. Cold, cold feet.

Tears flooded Dawn’s eyes again. It wasn’t just cold feet. Kevin said he wasn’t sure he was in love with Dawn, not the way he thought he should be. Or the way he used to be. She looked around the car for a clean tissue, but all she could find were scrunched-up soggy ones. How in the world did she end up in a mess like this? Dawn Dixon was known as a levelheaded, objective, logical woman. Her nickname was Teflon Dawn. She could handle anything. Prepared for any crisis. Yet she’d missed Kevin’s growing vacillation about getting married.

The front door opened and Mom stood at the threshold, the obvious question on her face. Why had Dawn come home, to Needham, on a weekday when she should’ve been at work in Boston? Dawn dreaded this conversation. Calling off the wedding, after all her mom had done to make it unique and one-of-a-kind, would devastate her too. Dawn thought of the hours her mother had spent making origami doves that would hang from the enormous and expensive rented tent.

Another image of Kevin popped into her head—one from just a few weeks ago. They were at the wedding venue to finalize some details. Dawn and her mom were talking to the wedding event planner. Like always, her mom had some new ideas, and the wedding event planner was listening with rapt, wide-eyed interest—Marnie Dixon had that effect on creative types. It was like opening a shaken can of soda pop and the fizz spilled everywhere. Dawn turned to ask Kevin a question, but he had slipped away. She found him close to the bay, facing the water. As she approached, he turned to her, his sunglasses hiding his eyes.

Something was off, she thought. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m fine. Just thinking about things.”

Things. Like canceling their wedding. Their marriage. Their happily ever after. Those kinds of things.

Gag. Dawn felt queasy, thinking of what a cliché she’d become. Jilted. Just two months before the wedding. Maybe not left at the altar, but pretty darn close.

Mom stood on the threshold, arms folded against her chest. Dawn slowly got out of the car and closed the door. Steeling herself, she walked up the brick-lined path. “Mom,” she said, her voice breaking. “There’s something we have to talk about.”

“She told you, didn’t she?”

Dawn jerked her head up.

“I told her not to tell anyone. Blabbermouth. That’s what she is. That’s what I’m going to call her from now on. Maeve the Blabbermouth.”

“Aunt Maeve?” Dawn scrunched up her face. “Maeve told me—”

“I didn’t want anyone to know. At least not until after the wedding. I just wanted to get this surgery taken care of. I don’t want you to worry, honey. It was caught early. I promise. That’s the thing about breast cancer. Catch it quick and take care of it. So I did. And I have plenty of time before the wedding for treatment. The doctor promised. Come April twelfth, I’ll be just fine. I hope Maeve didn’t get it wrong and make it sound like something worse than it was. I’m sure she meant well, but she’s in big trouble.”

“You have . . . breast cancer?” Dawn’s voice shook and broke and then stopped.

“Had. It’s gone. I’m fine, honey. I promise.”

For one dreadful, disorienting second, Dawn’s mind emptied, stilled. Then denial roared in—loud and large. No! No way. Not my mom.

“Caught early. Taken care of. Gone.” She snapped her fingers, like it was no big deal.

But it was a big deal. “When did you find out?”

“A month or so ago, I had a routine mammogram—and you know how much I hate going to doctors—but I went. And they called me back in.” She shrugged. “That happens. I wasn’t concerned. Not until they wanted the ultrasound. Then the biopsy.”


“Yes. On the day you were getting your makeup done for the wedding. You didn’t want me there, remember? You said I would get in the way.”

“I said you would turn me into someone I didn’t recognize.”

“Well, it all worked out, because that was the day of the biopsy. And then things happened fast, honey. Surgeon, oncologist, boom. Surgery. They move fast when they find cancer.”


“A week ago.”

“Mom . . .”

“I know, I know. Maybe I should have told you, but I just want this wedding to be perfect. I was going to tell you after you got back from the honeymoon. I promise. I’m not trying to hide anything from you.”

“You had surgery and didn’t tell me?”

“I left a letter for you that Maeve was supposed to give you . . . just in case something went wrong.”

“But . . . how are you feeling?”

“Not bad. A little sore. Like I don’t want anyone to accidentally bump into me kind of sore. But relieved. And grateful. I had good doctors who helped me make decisions.”

“All alone? You didn’t talk to anyone else?”

“I told Maeve about the surgery. And she took me to and from the hospital. She’s brought me food and checked on me. I suppose I will forgive her, eventually. But I really didn’t want you to know about any of this yet. I was so clear with her about that. What is the point of having a best friend if they go behind your back and tell your daughter that kind of news . . . right before her wedding?”

“Mom. Stop talking and listen to me. Kevin doesn’t want to marry me. There isn’t going to be a wedding.”

Mom finally stopped talking.

There wasn’t going to be a wedding. And her mom had cancer. Dawn and her mom stared at each other in a mixture of shock and disbelief.

● ● ●

There wasn’t much in life that could knock Marnie Dixon down, but seeing her daughter sit at the kitchen table, head in hands, weeping, did the job. Her friend Maeve always said that mothers felt whatever pain their child felt, only magnified. Marnie jumped up, got a box of tissues to set on the table between them, and pulled out one for Dawn and another for her.

Dawn rarely cried, even as a little girl. When she was learning to walk, she would fall, pick herself up, and try again. That was Dawn. Philip used to say that their daughter was born accepting the fact that life would require grit and determination.

Dazed, Marnie dabbed her eyes, rose again, and went to get two cups of coffee. She filled them, then remembered they’d run out of coffee creamer. A brilliant idea struck. She opened the freezer and rummaged for a container of vanilla ice cream. She dropped a big spoonful of it into each mug and handed one to Dawn, who peered vaguely at the melting lumps.

“Everything’s better with ice cream,” Marnie said. She slipped into the chair next to her. “Start at the beginning. Tell me what happened.” The timer on her phone went off and she jumped up to take her pain pills. Dawn sat at the kitchen table, watching her with worried eyes. “I’m fine, honey. I really am. This is just a little blip on the radar.”

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