Chapter |1|.

Abigail Todaro.

It was a normal day, it started fine and manageable. I was doing what I had to do and keeping my whole life intact. But sometimes, life throws problems your way and there are two ways to handle that. Either pretend they don exist or get tangled in the mess while trying to solve it.

Im a regular, life dumps all sorts of problems on me, but this time it was different. It was all about cookies, tarts, and all the men involved.


”Not cool Baybi, not cool. ” I mutter to myself as I wiped the countertop where I mistakenly spilt my coffee clean.

After doing that I discarded the paper towels into the trash can and made my way to the main door to switch the closed sign to open.

I stood at the entrance and carefully inspected my entire set. The cakes were ready, disposable cups were stacked, tables were spotlessly clean, and most importantly, I could absorb the few seconds of peace before my coworkers arrive. If you haven figured it out yet, I work at a bakery shop, Sugar and Spice if you wanted me to be precise with the name.

I am the Head Baker here and I love my job.

Well, kinda.

With a small sigh, I stepped away from the entrance just in time for the transparent glass door behind me to swing open, missing my body by a few inches and making me swerve my head toward the figure that was now standing there, my whole body stiff with shock.

”Oh, its you. ” I said to him as he stood grumpily in front of me, the smile I forced on my face ending up as a grimace.

As expected, he just scoffed in reply and walked past me.

This person is Keith, he is one of the other three people who work here, with me. He may seem like a bad person, but thats because he is.

We don get along very well and I think Im his least favourite person in the world.

He doesn like it when I smile, talk, laugh – heck, he probably doesn like it when I breathe. If he could end my existence I bet he would without giving it a second thought. He says Im a very weird person, thats why he doesn like me.

No, Im not okay with it. But what can I do about it? People are always free to have their preferences and opinions.

I, personally, know that I have a boring life and I cannot force someone to like me. I mean, God forbid if I would recommend myself to anybody as a friend.

I can stand my flaws either, there are just too many.

I tucked back a few strands of loose hair back as I watched him head straight to the changing room. The rest of my coworkers arrived at the shop shortly after I had taken my spot behind the counter, all three of them.

I opened my mouth to say Hello but flinched noticeably when they let out a bark of laughter at something one of them said as they were coming in.

”Good morning. ” I mumbled anyway, ignoring the goose bumps rising on my forearm as they returned the greeting in mixed tones.

Am I already acting weird to you? Well, if you think so, that must be because I am scared of loud or sudden noises. Medically, its called Phonophobia.

Yes, noise scares me. It makes me feel weird and do even weirder things so I like being alone.

I want to have friends but I can . I want to do a lot of fun stuff with people but I can . I can interact with people but I just choose not to because it seems safer to me. I don consider this as a disability of mine its more of a liability that I wish I could get rid of easily.

”Youve baked all the starting cakes already? ” Kim asked me as she put on her apron.

”Yeah, and I also sorted out the berries for you so you don have to waste your time doing it, ” I said jutting my thumb toward the cold room. ”Its kinda cold in there and I had too much time to spare. ”

Kim, short for Kayimna. Shes half British and half Asian and does not have an interest in boys. Shes gay. Shes most likely the person who will come at you straightforwardly and shes the nicest one among them. Shes cool.

e a literal angel Abigail, thank you so much. ” She quipped happily and leaned closer to place a kiss on my cheeks.

”Yeah, sure, ” I said dismissively even though I could feel the heat gathering in my cheeks.

She laughed airily and patted my cheeks before heading into the cold room.

Keith made an entrance from the changing room and sat on the stool that was in front of the counter. Heath and Dianne were the other two employees that arrived with Kim and after they were done changing they also joined Keith and me at the counter.

”A nice morning huh? ” Dianne said attempting to break into a conversation as she hugged the arm of her boyfriend/best friend Heath.

I nodded to the question in answer but obviously, something had to be wrong with that.

”Nobody was talking to you. ” Keith deadpanned as he looked at me.

”Oh, okay, my bad, ” I said tucking back loose curls.

Then there came the awkward silence, the tension in the air was thick and I felt like I was the cause of it so rather than standing there awkwardly and doing nothing, I walked over to the farthest end of the counter and sat on the stool there.

I fiddled with my thumb as I fought the urge to plug in my noise-canceling earbuds. Keith would say I was being rude if I put them on.

”Last night was wild, ” Dianne said with a giggle that sounded way too fake but that was none of my business.

”What happened? ” Keith inquired dryly as if he was forced to hear the end of it.

”We did it in my moms bedroom. ” Dianne said, waiting for Keiths response to that.

”You did what? ” Kim asked instead as she came out of the cold room with the new batches of milkshakes she made.

Dianne seemed excited that her friends were paying attention to her story.

I am also paying attention since I can just stop myself from hearing.

”You know what Im talking about guys. ” She giggled again.

I rolled my lower lip into my mouth as I picked on a loose thread on my sleeve. I was getting apathetic from all their shallow conversations and having no customers to attend to.

I glanced at the clock that was hanging on the wall. It was 9:30, we should have people coming in by now.

”Come on, ” Keiths loud drawl blew out the cloud of thoughts starting to build in my head. ”Just tell us you had sex, its not like sweet little Baybi doesn know what it is. ” He said dragging my name as if it were a carpet.

I looked over at them when he said my name, and they all looked at me.

”Oh, um. I do. ” I mumbled, my nape suddenly itching me.

”See, she does know what it is. ” He smirked. ”Youve had sex before right? How do you like it? ”

My heart dipped to the base of my guts as he asked me, raising his eyebrows in curiosity. Heath and Dianne also looked at me questioningly, waiting for my response. My hands felt clammy and bleak and I felt like my tongue had been glued to the roof of my mouth.

”I- uh, I don – I haven had– ” I stutter embarrassingly and quietly feeling my heartbeat pick up as I dragged my sweaty palms down my jean-clad thighs.

”Oh for **s sake Keith, ever heard of privacy? Secrecy perhaps? ” Kim jumped into the conversation smacking his nape a little bit hard. ”You
e making her uncomfortable and you know it. Let the girl be. ” She scolded.

Heath nodded subtly as he straightened his back and looked away from me.

”Come on, this girl is 27. You
e telling me shes uncomfortable talking about sex? ” Keith scoffed as he stood up.

”Are you offended that shes not a shameless 24-year-old like you who runs his mouth like a hidden pipe that burst open? Because from what I see, you are. ” She retorted, her eyes narrowing as he stood in front of her.

”You talk as if you care. ”

”You talk as if anyone gives a **. You and I know that if Abigail complained about you to Gabrielle, youd be out here faster than you came begging for this job. ” She spat pushing her index finger into his chest. ”Get your shit together and get to work. ” She said in a final tone.

The place went eerily quiet and I could hear my heartbeat pulsing.

I wanted to tell them that they shouldn get upset about it, but I felt like I was going to get lashed at. So I just kept quiet and bit my inner cheeks impatiently.

They stared down at each other for a while before Keith literally stomped his way to the kitchen to start making his batch of brownies.

Heath grabbed Diannes hand and also disappeared into the kitchen to start their work.

Kim heaved out a sigh as she cursed under her breath. She pushed back her blunt bob haircut and held it in a small ponytail before walking over to me.

”You didn have to do that, ” I said. ”You guys are friends. ”

”I don befriend pigs, Abigail, at least not the ones that don know where to get dirty. ”

She said pinching my cheeks lightly.

”Forget whatever he said. Keiths words are not worth contemplating, you should do you and don let anyone tell you what to do. You
e older than him, if he can respect you for your age at least he should respect you for your position. Be the boss, okay? ” She said patting my shoulder firmly.

”Okay, sure. ”

I responded with a smile.

”Okay, do what you do and well be in the kitchen making the pastries. Call for help when you need one. ” She told me before retreating to the kitchen.

”I will. ” I mumbled under my breath as moved back to the position I was in before.

I patted my hands on my jeans one last time before putting on my gloves. Before I could find anything to keep me busy our first customer comes in and right on cue my anxiety starts eating me up.

Its a teenager, probably 15 or 16, and her hair was dyed in scattered rainbow patterns. I visibly winced when I saw the piercing inside her nose and thought it mustve hurt so bad.

She wore skinny jeans with a large hoodie that made her look small. She had her hands stuck in her pocket as she looked around the shop subtly.

With a lollipop, stuck to her mouth, she approaches me, her eyes looking sharp into mine. I hesitated for a moment since I was not good with first impressions.

”Hello, welcome to Sugar and Spice what can I get you? ” I said using the most confident tone I could muster.

” Hm. ” She simply grunted with a small nod as she looked far above my head for the menu.

I also nodded, feeling my smile dropping. I let her examine the menu since it looks like she was immersed. I took a good look at her hair pattern, it looked cool and pretty.

”It looks so pretty, your hair. ” I blurted out making her look at me, a bit surprised. ”I like it. ” I finished, an honest smile settling on my face.

She gaped at me for a minute, obviously not expecting my outburst, she looked like someone who wasn used to receiving compliments often.

”Thank you. ” She mumbled, her cheeks flushing red.

My smile grew wider as I nodded.

She goes ahead and orders an oreo milkshake.

I finished her order and added some whipped cream, and told her it was on the house, even though I would have to pay for that.

She gave me a small smile before she left which made my heart burst with triumph. I made a customer smile.

The morning started getting hectic and because we were understaffed, we had to keep switching positions every few minutes to get things done.

A random customer said that he smelt cigarette in his brownie which was addressed but also made Kim slap Kieths nape, again.

Mid-afternoon our very exhausted Manager, Gabrielle, burst into the shop while lazily dragging her feet. I giggled, helping her with the hefty loads of stuff she bought.

”I feel like sleeping for a gazillion years. ” She groans when she sits on a chair in the kitchen, her legs spread in different directions.

”Thats a lot of years Gabi. ” I chuckle sectioning out some stuff. ”But guess what? ” I asked slyly, wanting her to guess but also excited to just tell her.

”What Abby? ” She asked making me pout involuntarily.

”I said guess Gabi, not ask. ” I grumbled placing my chin on her shoulder from behind the chair.

”Okay, uhm – youve finally gotten over your fear of using tampons? ” The thirty-three-year-old lady said making my eyes widen and my cheeks flame up.

”Gabi, ” I whine covering my face with my palms while she chuckles.

Honestly though how does it even go up and snuggle inside your princess part? How – how do you take it out?

I am never trying those things ever.

”I baked the cake. ” I mumbled, slightly embarrassed by her earlier words.

”You always bake the cakes silly. ” She laughs patting my hair.

”No not that, I baked the red velvet for Derricks birthday party tomorrow, you don have to worry about doing it. ” I grinned.

”Really? Oh my goodness you
e such an angel Abigail, I mean it. ” She gushes hugging me from behind.

”I also have the icing ready and I have this perfect design in my head! Derrick will love it! ” I smiled, the image of the little boy popping into my head.

”He won stop talking about his birthday and I know hell be even more excited when I tell him you baked it for him. ” She smiled too.

This boy we
e talking about, hes Gabrielles eight-year-old second son. Hes turning nine tomorrow. So I baked him a four-layered red velvet cake – since thats his favourite – and prepared the perfect extra fluffy cheese frosting with extra sugar and even more extra cheese cream.

Too much exaggeration? Okay.

He has chocolate brown hair and blue eyes. Hes just a cute little guy.

Before Gabrielle, could say anything the door creaked open and Kim pops her head in.

e running out of milkshakes, I need to go make some, can you handle the front? ” She said jerking her thumb behind her.

I give her a weak yet appreciative smile.

”Its okay, thank you, Kim. ” I said showing her my two thumbs up.

She winked at me before closing the door.

”I can handle the front if you want, you can bake more cakes here with Dianne or even do the icing? ” Gabi offers, taking an extra apron off the hook.

”No, honestly Gabi, Im fine. ” I say with a small laugh. ”Ill decorate Derricks cake later when we close. We
e almost closing anyway. ” I assured her.

”God bless you. ” She whispered and kissed my forehead.

”Amen. ” I whispered back.

Gabi always says God listens to us and answers most of our prayers. But maybe, just maybe he doesn listen to mine, he probably thinks Im a freak too.

But I still say amen anyway.

I walk out of the kitchen and take my place behind the counter once again. I smile to myself when I see a family arguing over the last piece of a chocolate cake. I take out the two pairs of my noise-canceling earplugs and plug them into my ears, they always help tune out the loud chatter.

For ten minutes straight no new customer comes in so I brace the moment and take my time in emptying gummy bears and Twizzlers in their respective jars.

Feeling idle, I place the jars on the marble and a pack of the goodies on each side. After pulling my hair up in a messy bun I start arranging the gummy bears in a jar, starting with the red colors first. I always arrange them in rainbow layers but its never the same the next day.

The thought made me pout. Whoever finds pleasure in destroying other peoples work? I guess it makes them happy.

But maybe many do not like eating just one flavor.

I frown at that.

I love every single flavor, well except the green ones, please don hate me green gummies!

I was done with the red and was working on the orange layer when one got stuck in the center. I tried getting it out, giving it a fair chance but it remained stuck. I grew frustrated and took the challenge.

Here comes the gummy buster!!

Haha, pun!

Carefully, with every fibre invested in my concentration, I pinched it and pulled it. The hair I kept away kept falling and framing my face but I reached my goal already.

I almost got it out, I almost had my victory.

But then I was interrupted when something, someone suddenly tucked the lock of hair framing my face behind my ear making me halt.

I froze.

It lingered there for a moment before it gently took off the earbud from my right ear.

”Hey, ” A deep masculine voice said. ”You have a customer here. ”

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