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Sweet Revenge (EBOOK)

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EBOOK. Book 1 in the Cocoa Narel Chocolate Shop Mysteries, cozy mystery series.

When a car accident leads to extensive plastic surgery and an inability to gain weight, Cocoa Narel finds herself transformed from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. 
No longer forced to temper her love for chocolate, Cocoa plans to open a chocolate shop and begins to enjoy the sweet life along with her quirky rescue cat. But when her high school bullies start being murdered one by one, Cocoa becomes the prime suspect. 
Can she clear her name, or does the true culprit have a few Twix up their sleeve?

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The bright hospital lights had been overbearing when I had first woken up, but I had soon become accustomed to them. I had been lying there for months—all it did any more was make me want to go home that much more. I was lucky to be in one piece. Well, mostly in one piece. I hadn’t lost any important pieces, and they had been able to fix me up completely. As a matter of fact, I looked better than I had before. Much better.
The other driver had been drinking, of course. I had swerved too late to avoid him. They say never to swerve if something’s on the road, but I hadn’t known how to approach that advice when that “something” was another (bigger) car. I lost consciousness as soon as we collided, which was probably a blessing, since I hadn’t exactly been in good shape.
My first memory afterwards was being wheeled into the hospital. I heard a man’s voice say, “She’s going to need a much bigger stretcher,” before bursting into loud raucous laughter. If I hadn’t been fading in and out of consciousness—and at death’s door—I would’ve told him what I’d thought of him.
I was used to it, but insults like that never stopped hurting. Looking down at myself in that hospital bed, though, I realised that the car accident had been a sort of blessing in disguise. I’d been in intensive care for weeks, and I’d had extensive surgeries to keep me alive. All of this resulted in massive weight loss. I looked better than ever, although at the cost of not being able to move for weeks and nearly dying. It wasn’t a weight-loss regime I could recommend.
The last months were a kind of painful blur, although I’d mostly managed to piece together a time frame. After I’d been hit, I had been entirely unconscious for a few weeks in a medically induced coma. Afterwards, I was a mess, both physically and emotionally. The accident had caused severe damage to my entire body, including my face. I had thought at the time that my life was essentially over, but the doctors had offered me something I hadn’t considered at the time—plastic surgery to reconstruct my face. I’d taken them up on the offer before they’d even finished explaining the risks.
Thank goodness Australia has free medical care—that is, if you don’t have medical insurance. A weird paradox, I know, but this time, the system worked in my favour. If I had to pay for all this… well, it just wasn’t worth thinking about.
I was ready to head home. I could now move freely after extensive physical therapy, and I’d actually been allowed to move about the hospital a little bit. The doctors had encouraged it in order to keep my muscles strong, and it was good to move around. More than anything, though, I had to get used to my new self. I felt—and was—lighter than ever, and while I wasn’t in great condition, it was the best I’d ever felt about myself.
It had been hard growing up. I had been heavy for as long as I could remember, and of course I was teased and bullied relentlessly. What teenager in my place wouldn’t have been? I’d often come home from high school crying and had to lock myself away. Life had improved considerably since high school, as most lives do, but it had affected my life deeply, and my confidence was more than a little shot.
I sighed as I found myself flicking between channels on my little box television, thinking they must only be made for hospitals any more. I dropped the remote on the bedside table, surrendering to boredom and waiting for the all-clear to head home. After a few minutes, the door swung open as Dr Bradford entered. He was the cliché doctor: middle-aged, white, male, well-groomed greying hair. Today he was wearing casual clothes for some reason, which sort of broke my fantasy of this man living in a real-life medical soap opera.
“Hello, Miss Myers.” He greeted me with his regular neutral tone and expression. “How are we feeling today?”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m fine, thanks,” I replied. After spending months in the hospital, I was annoyed about everyone asking me how ‘we’ were. “Are there any updates? I can go home today, can’t I?” I added in desperation.
“Yes, you can.” He gave me a small smile as he said it, but I could’ve kissed him. I couldn’t wait to get out. “Have you called someone to collect you?”
“Yes! My best friend, Carl Camden. Thank you.” I hadn’t felt so happy in as long as I could remember. I obviously appreciated the hospital and everything they’d done, but I was more than a little sick—no pun intended—of being cooped up in there.
“Now, before you leave, there is a very important matter we must discuss.” His expression turned grim. “Mrs Myers…”
“Ms,” I corrected him.
“Excuse me, Ms Myers. I’m afraid there’s an effect of your condition that you might not be aware of.”
My heart sank and I gritted my teeth. Was it going to prove fatal? How bad was it?
He continued in a dreadfully solemn tone. “I’m afraid that after your accident, we had to do numerous amounts of quite invasive surgery, as you’re only too well aware.” He gulped. “I’ll just cut straight to the point. Narel, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but you’re now medically unable to gain any weight.”
It took me at least a full minute to stop myself laughing. At several points Dr Bradford had looked like he was going to try to sedate me forcefully, but patiently waited it out. By the time I’d calmed down, he was wearing a unique expression—a combination of boredom, shock, and worry.
“Ms Myers, are you okay?”
Between short giggles I managed an answer. “I’m great, Bradford, you beautiful man.”
He didn’t seem to take this as the compliment I intended. “I’m going to recommend a very skilled therapist.” He wrote some information on the back of a card before handing it to me. “I implore you to see her with the utmost urgency.”
“Sure,” I said. I was only half listening. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been this happy.