One Night with a SEAL(6)

By: Tawny Weber & Beth Andrews

“Shouldn’t you be working?”

Breath knotted in her chest, Vivian spun around, almost falling on her butt thanks to her four-inch heels and slim pencil skirt.

“Mike,” she said, one hand pressed against her chest to keep her heart from leaping out. “What’re you doing here?”

Having obviously used his key to the back door, her brother stood in the pass-through between the storefront and the kitchen, frowning. Older by three years and their parent’s perfect child, Mike strode behind the counter to look over her shoulder.

“Why are you messing around with that stuff again? More of your dirty cakes and crazy ideas? C’mon, Viv, give it up and focus on the work you’re paid for,” he nagged in that big-brotherly tone that made his disdain for any other work she did clear.

Fingering the fifty in the pocket of her ruffled apron, Vivian debated waving it under his nose. But she knew it was pointless. Like their parents, Mike considered Vivian’s side job to be a silly little hobby, something they hoped she’d give up soon. Preferably before too many people learned of it and made the connection between Little Creek Bakery and its three generations of boring baked goods and The Sweet Spot, with its naughty selection of edible treats.

“Shouldn’t you be dressed like an uptight banker?” she asked, giving his casual jeans and button-down shirt a smirk.

“Shouldn’t you be dressed more, I don’t know, like someone who works in a bakery instead of a forties movie star?”

“You think I’m pretty enough to be a movie star?” Vivian teased, adding a sassy smile to her hair toss because she knew it’d bug him. The only thing more irritating than her brother’s criticism of her side business was his critique of her vintage style.

“I think you’re too much a handful as it is for me to answer a question like that.” As he spoke, Mike went through the bakery case, filling a standard pink cardboard box with a selection of choice cookies, brownies and muffins.

“What are you doing here? I’m pretty sure our parents left me in charge of the bakery while they’re on yet another vacation.” Vivian glanced at the clock to make sure she hadn’t lost time somewhere. “And since I am, shouldn’t you be bossing your tellers around at the bank instead of bugging me?”

“Shouldn’t you be closing out the cash register and prepping for tonight’s baking instead of playing on your computer?”

“Playing?” Vivian made a show of tapping one crimson fingernail on her iPad, opened it to her website and flipped through a few more cake images. “The register is already closed out, so whatever you’re taking there will have to be paid with exact change.”

“Cute,” he said, closing the box. “Here,” he said, waving a piece of paper. “I brought you a special order. Desserts for the class-reunion   welcome reception.”

Vivian looked at the order and congratulated herself for holding back a sigh. Booooring, she thought, running one long nail down the list.

Simple vanilla cookies. Plain frosted cupcakes. Six-dozen standard petit fours. Yawn, yawn, yawn. And one three-tier cake in the high school colors, complete with a sugar photo of the school mascot, a roaring panther.

“You know, I could make the entire cake in the image of the panther,” she suggested. “Dress him up just like the mascot, complete with a Pikes Peak High pennant.”

“Stick with the sugar photo.” He started writing up a list of what he’d boxed, then pulled out his wallet. “I’ll pick it all up on Sunday afternoon, save you the delivery.”

“Sunday? You’re only giving me three days warning? I have other orders, Mike. A Saturday wedding, four birthday cakes and a croquembouche for Mrs. Fiore’s daughter’s shower. With the parents gone, I’m the only baker here.”

“You can handle it. Bring in more counter help if you have to,” he said with a shrug, handing her a ten and four ones.

“What? You’re not helping? I have to make this entire boring, cookie-cutter order by myself?” She glanced over it again. There wasn’t a sparkle of edible glitter or even a shiny cherry anywhere to be found.

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