Things are finally looking up for Lucy Leti. Her bakery is doing well, her friends are amazing, and her family is supportive. She’s even so close to being past the heartbreak of her broken engagement, that she can taste it.
Henry is handsome, successful, and has been secretly in love with Lucy for years. But the musician isn’t the same man Lucy knew in high school—he’s lost weight and gained confidence.
But when the couple’s first date goes terribly wrong, they’ll both need a little perspective to see things clearly.
“It’s wonderful to see you again, Lucy. Everyone’s grateful for your help with the desserts,” Mr. Winters said as he shuffled a stack of papers on the table in front of him.
Lucy scanned the information regarding her donation to a benefit to support her former high school’s music program. She smiled at the man who’d once been her favorite teacher, happy to help him because he made such a difference in her teenage years. Although nearly ten years passed since then, Lucy’s memories of show choir would stay with her always.
“I’m happy to do whatever I can, Mr. Winters,” Lucy said.
He flinched, making her chuckle. “You can call me Dave.”
“That might always be hard for me—no matter how old I am,” she said sheepishly.
Mr. Winters waved her off with a smile as he’d done so many times before. It was rare—and maybe even impossible—for him to get upset for any reason. His good nature meant students loved and respected him.
“I’ve asked a few show choir alums to sing one or two of the old standards,” he said. “Any chance you’d join us?”
“Oh, my.” Lucy thought for a moment. “It’s been a while since I’ve sung at all, let alone in front of anyone,” she said, pausing only briefly as she recalled how much singing once meant to her. It was the perfect escape from her silent, but often painful, struggles in high school.
“Aww, why not?” she asked. “Sure!”
Mr. Winters smiled with relief. “Excellent!” He shuffled the papers into a stack and slipped them into a folder. “I’m glad my part of this is done. Now I can get back to the rest of my job.”
“Who’s helping you pull everything together?” Lucy asked.
“Oh, my wife is working on the donation baskets for the raffle. Mr. Jenkins is handling entertainment. I guess he got a band,” Mr. Winters shook his head. “The less I know the better. I don’t want to deal with more than I already have.”
Lucy laughed. “Understood. Well, I’m sure the night will go off without a hitch.”
Mr. Winters winked. “Let’s hope so,” he said. He glanced around the bakery. “This is a great place. You’ve done really well.” He motioned toward the remains of the cream puff on his plate. “I think I’d be in trouble if I lived closer, because I’d have to visit every day to see what was on the menu.”
“Thanks,” Lucy said with a smile. She took pride in her business, Slices of Heaven, and appreciated his praise.
“I’m excited to finally be settled—or at least working on it. Building a business is as hard as it sounds.”
Mr. Winters sipped his coffee before speaking. “It sure is,” he said. “Oh, I forgot to mention that I talked to Ashley Harris. Are you two still in touch?”
Lucy hoped her face didn’t register the shock that hit her. She’d managed to finally forget her old ‘friend,’ and she didn’t want her teacher to be embarrassed he brought it up. It would be impossible for him to know that she was delighted to escape high school and its pressure so she could be herself.
“I’m afraid we lost touch over the years,” Lucy said. “What’s she been up to?”
“She’s the editor-in-chief of the newspaper now. Surprised she hasn’t sent someone over here to do a review of your place.” He shrugged. “Might be nice free advertising for you.”
Lucy’s stomach clenched, thinking that such an article would probably hold little interest for Ashley. Her father ran the newspaper in Fairview Falls, which was only a half hour away from Pittsburgh where Lucy settled and now maintained her business. But the benefit of being in a city was that no one noticed you unless—or until—you wanted them to because they were all busy with their own lives. And Lucy wasn’t anxious to rekindle her “friendship” with the queen of Fairview Falls High—a queen who’d ruled like a dictator, expecting her friends to fall in line or suffer the consequences.
Lucy still hated that she’d fallen into the trap of surviving at all costs.
“Oh.” Lucy scrambled to think of something positive to say. “Well, I’m sure we’ll catch up. Will she be attending the benefit?”
Mr. Winters beamed. “Of course! We need all the publicity we can get, and if she can get the information out to the city, we might even get more donations and support.”
Lucy didn’t doubt that more support would be great. She simply didn’t want to try building up her life to impress her old “friend.”
Besides, her ex-fiancé, new business, and small apartment, showed little toward Lucy rebuilding the life she thought she’d have after college. It sure didn’t offer much to brag about.
She forced a smile anyway. “That will be great.”
“So, if she contacts you, don’t be afraid to talk up your bakery, and all the good things we’re going to do for the music program.” He pointed to the information. “But in the meantime, forward the menu to me when it’s ready, if you don’t mind, so we can make some posters to advertise goodies and prices. I’ll get the day’s schedule and music to you so you can review everything.” He winked as he stood. “In case you forgot any of the words or melodies.”
Lucy laughed as she rose to her feet. “Oh, I doubt that,” she said. “Thanks for stopping by. I’m excited for the benefit.”
“Me too. It’s great to catch up, Lucy.”
Lucy watched her former teacher leave the bakery. The bell on the door gave a cheerful ding behind him.
In a flash, she wondered what happened to her only real friend in high school. With a nostalgic smile, she prayed he’d gotten as far away from Fairview Falls as possible.