To go, or not to go?
I stayed rooted in my spot at Sprinkles and Stardust.
I held the box of cupcakes in my hand, clutching it like my life depended on it. It was only a small box of four, but each swirl of my special vanilla frosting was laid out with painstaking attention to detail.
I took a deep, steadying breath.
Liam Sinclair was here again. He was a regular in the bakery.
He was big—there was no other way to put it. His shoulders were broad, his hair a tousled blond.
I don’t think he even remembered me, although we’ve struck a casual conversation a few times. He’d given me a smile whenever he came, pinning me under his magnetic eyes.
He was the kind of person who talked to people easily and made people laugh. The kind of person you felt like you could trust, because he just took charge, and he had a presence that made you feel like you could rely on him. The kind of person that would never date someone like me.
But for once, I wanted him to see me and remember my name.
So I had the brilliant idea of giving him something I’d made. Something he wouldn’t forget—hopefully.
I squared my shoulders, starting to walk out, when I saw her step in. She was beautiful in a form-fitting rose-pink lace dress, her red hair framing her face in gorgeous waves. I stopped in my tracks when she came up to him and sat on the other side of the table.
And like a punch, it stole my breath.
He was with someone.
He never came with someone before.
I must’ve missed him bring it, or maybe he only took it out a while later, because from the seat next to him, he grabbed a bouquet of flowers—the most magnificent yellow roses—and he passed it to her. That smile he gave me every time he came, all focused on her.
I took an involuntary step backwards. The box felt heavy in my hands. My heart was heavy in my chest, a sinking feeling that gnawed on me.
I ran back inside the kitchen, dropping the box on a table.
Of course someone like him would already have a girlfriend.
The box was staring me in the face. I’d given it my very best when I made it.
How could it hurt when we were never even together?
But it did. And suddenly, I couldn’t stand looking at the box of cupcakes anymore. I opened the trash can, and letting out a single breath, I dumped it.
Behind me, I heard my best friend, Kiera, gasp. “These look amazing, Bree. Are these meant to be here?”
I shouldn’t have made them. I should’ve known doing it was pointless.
Especially with someone like Liam.
Too good-looking. Too nice to be real.
* * *
Baking required precision, but to me it was more than mixing ingredients to produce the perfect output.
To me, it was as close to magic as anything else. It was the melding of heart and passion to create delicious treats.
In its own way, the act was soothing.
But right now it was hard to relax.
“Please.” Rona, my sister, dragged out the word. “Come on, Bree, it will be fun.”
I very much doubted we had the same definition of the word, but I didn’t say anything.
Fun, for me, was sitting on the couch, curling up with a book to read. Or watching the slow burn of the sunset in the sky, or that moment in the crack of dawn. That peaceful quiet. It was the best time to bake. No noise. No interruptions.
“…Still there?” Rona repeated, her voice cutting through my thoughts. Which brought my mind back to the topic of why she’d called.
Sherry Clayton’s birthday was coming soon. I wasn’t very close with her in the short time I’d been in Fortuity, but we were friendly.
“It will be good networking,” she said persuasively.
It might be time to relax a little. The past year, trying to set up the bakery, and doing my best to make it a success, nearly drove me crazy. If it wasn’t for Rona dragging me away from work, I’d still be buried waist-deep in it. “Okay,” I conceded. “I’ll go.”
* * *
By the time the weekend came around, Rona called me.
I was about to get ready, thinking of the perfect dress to wear.
A fit of coughs followed when she greeted me. “I’m really sorry, Bree. I can’t make it.”
I’d agreed to come initially because her. But much to my surprise, Sherry called me three days ago, asking if I could bake her a cake, as well as offering a personal invitation to her birthday.
Which meant, whether Rona was there or not, I had no reason to back out.
Still, I was determined to have a good time. I needed this break to unwind.
“Seems people have caught the love bug lately,” she added, thoughtful. “Maybe you’ll meet someone there.”
I laughed, because the thought of it was ridiculous. “Nope. Not me.”