Angelica Dunn, baker extraordinaire, is weary of living from one pie season to another. When she slips on the floor under a bucket of custard crème, a handsome stranger comes to her rescue. Instantly, she’s smitten.
CIA officer, Thaddeus Wright, is drawn to the dimple-cheeked beauty. He adores Angelica’s spunk and the fact that she isn’t pushy like other women. But, how can he tell her he’s not the computer repairman that she assumes he is?
To complicate matters, Angelica mistakenly leaves a message on Thadd’s home phone. To what lengths will she go to intercept the embarrassing evidence that’s certain to squelch all hope of a future with Mr. Wright?
A comedy of errors and ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, catapults Angelica into a battle between right and wrong. Will Angelica choose to do what’s right, even when things get complicated?
Custard oozed down Angelica’s shirt, bypassing her apron all together. She tried to rise up from the pool of the concoction where she had fallen but slid back down in a heap.
Angelica couldn’t believe this was happening. Not here. Not now.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Brieanna’s words coursed through the air a decibel above the chaos of the breakfast crowd. A round of applause erupted as line cooks paused, flapjacks midair, in the bustling kitchen.
“What do you think I’m doing?” Angelica rolled her eyes in a desperate attempt to save-face. “I guarantee the world has never experienced the sight of anyone wearing custard cream like this before,” she demonstrated with model-like fashion. “Besides, whoever thought to store this stuff in five-gallon tubs never tried to manhandle it from a kitchen shelf.”
“Here, take my hand, dear-heart.” Brie rushed toward her and tried to grip her arm, but the lack of skin to skin traction only made matters worse, and soon Angelica and her bestie were in a heap together.
The familiar click of a cellphone camera sounded and the light flashed simultaneously as co-workers gathered around. “We’re live now, as Westcoast View’s guest baker shows us how she really gets into her work,” Chicken Boy mimicked a broadcaster’s announcement. “Our own Angelica Dunn is going nationwide on My Foodie International. Stay tuned as details become available.”
“It’s obvious you’re jealous neither show chose you to grace their set,” Angelica teased.
She still couldn’t figure out how she acquired the role of spokesperson for the infamous restaurant, her place of employ, in the first place. Twice she interviewed on site in the thick of her work as she baked pies for the holidays, and twice she was invited to Westcoast View’s studio to demonstrate various baking techniques and to promote the restaurant. It was rumored that an off-the-street taping was loosely slated for the next month or two, and she would likely be chosen for that segment. To top it off, a host and camera crew from My Foodie International followed her around for a good half a day last month. The series premier hadn’t aired on national TV yet.
“Let me help you, feebles,” a voice boomed from across the restaurant counter nearby.
“Who is that?” Angelica mouthed to Brie.
Before her friend responded, strong arms drew both ladies up and out of the mess covering the tile floor.
“Thanks, Thadd.” Brie handed Angelica a couple of wet cloths. “And for the record, we are not feebles, bro. By the way, this is Angelica. She and I are rooming together. Angelica, this is my brother, who’s visiting from DC, Thaddeus Wright.”
“So nice to meet you, Angelica.” Thaddeus smiled. “And of course you’re not feebles—I’m only kidding. I think you’ll clean up all right, sis, but as for your friend here, I suspect we’re going to need larger rags.”
“Larger rags? Thanks a lot!” Angelica laughed sheepishly. “But it’s good to meet you too, and I appreciate the rescue.” Angelica was relieved that the creamy goodness concealed the heat of her face. She pushed the sides of her hands across her frame in an attempt to squeegee off the remains that clung to her, arms, legs, and everything in between.
When she glanced up, she caught Thadd watching her. If the darkness of his eyes was measured on a scale of milk chocolate to dark cocoa, his would definitely be in the ninety percent cocoa range.
With a touch of cayenne.
He reached toward her and pushed back the tousled hair poking from her required net cap, saturated as well.
“You’re a mess. Word’s out there’s a carwash next door.”
“You’re comparing me to a vehicle?” Angelica laughed.
“Well, not in so many words.”
“Did you hurt yourself?” The kitchen manager rushed over, flipped a sheet on her clipboard, and began the questioning phase Angelica was all too familiar with.
“I’m perfectly fine. Let me take a minute to clean myself up.”
“Why don’t you go home, shower, and come back tomorrow morning.”
“I would, but Brie dropped me off early today, and her shift isn’t over yet. My car is in the shop, so I’m stuck.”
“I’ll be happy to take her home,” Thaddeus offered to Angelica’s boss, “as long as you can supply some garbage bags to cover my seats.” He turned and winked at her.
Angelica was mortified. Brie mentioned her brother briefly, but she’d never seen a photo. He towered above her with dark, wavy hair and ruggedly handsome features and eyes that pierced right through her. The only thing she knew of him was that he traveled a lot and therefore was never in town for a long time. She had hoped to meet him one day, but certainly not like this.
Still, she forced a smile and brushed the angst aside. “Thank you. I’ll grab my things.”
“Great. I’ll pay my bill and meet you outside. I’m in the black jag.”
Of course he was.
Uneasiness crept up Angelica’s spine.
“You can hang out at the house if you like, Thaddeus,” Brie offered. “I’ll be home sometime after two. Maybe we can finally go catch a movie.”
“Sounds good, providing Angelica is not opposed to me hanging around.”
“That’s fine,” Angelica replied. A man with his good looks and charm hanging out at the house for a couple of hours—where was the downside to that?
“Great. We’ll catch up when you get home, Brie.” Thaddeus turned to Angelica. “And I’ll meet you outside.”
Ang nodded and hurried to the locker lounge to gather her things.
“Sign here, please.” The kitchen manager followed her.
Dutifully, Angelica complied.
“You understand this is your third incident in the month?”
“True, that. But are you also aware each incident could’ve been prevented if someone else did their job right in the first place?” Why must she always bear the brunt of all things happenstance?
A couple of weeks ago a co-worker tossed a sharp knife into a pool of suds in the bottom of the sink. Who did such a thing? A bottle of peroxide and two tourniquets later, she survived. Amazing how fast one could heal from knife wounds.
Last week, Salad Chick dropped a takeout container of their signature dressing on the floor, seconds prior to Angelica transporting two banana cream pies to the pickup window. That didn’t end up well either.
“Until tomorrow, Angelica,” her manager called to her as she walked out the door toward the waiting car.
“You all set, Slick?”
Angelica did a double take at the familiarity with which her ride spoke.
“Well, yes. You were a little difficult to latch onto.” Thaddeus secured a second trash bag to his seat and extended his arm to help her to climb in.
“I’ll take that as a compliment, one of my better traits actually.”
Despite the overpowering Crème de la Crème clinging to her, she caught a whiff of him as she held her chin confidently and moved around him to slide into the front seat. If she thought she could escape the distinctive blend of woods and spice within the confines of his car, she was mistaken.