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  • If you are like me, you will enjoy the story even more the second time around.
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  • It is one of my favorites in this series! Thanks Serena for a series that just keeps getting better and better!
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  • I am so in love with the Workplace Encounters series it isn't even funny, and this book is no different!
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  • Read this one friends, you will love it as much as I did! Thanks Serena, for yet another fab book in this awesome series!
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  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • 'Araton's Destiny' is an enjoyable, sweet Christmas story with passionate, wonderfully written love scenes and a great happy ending.
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  • This is a wonderful love story highlighting that differences in a relationship, when accepted, can strengthen that bond.
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  • The Carpenter (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Reading 'The Carpenter' for the second time was easy for me because even though all of Serena's men in the 'Workplace Encounters' series are terrific characters, Tom and Matt are two of my favorites, at least so far.
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  • The Cake (Elemental Superpowers 1)
  • Caitlin @ Romance Junkies
  • Warning; this story will make you hungry for cupcakes and men. In addition, I should note that this is a very steamy novel.
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Thanks, Serena, for your magical touch when it comes to giving your couples the happy ending they deserve, and for making me drool all over my Kindle while describing all of the fabulous baked goods.
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  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
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  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • For those of you who haven't read the story, I'd like to recommend that you do so, especially if you like a good romance with great characters, and a happy ending.
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • MelanieM @ scatteredthoughtsandroguewords
  • The Baker by Serena Yates is the first I’ve read in her Workplace Encounters series but I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to search out the rest.
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The Cake (Elemental Superpowers 1)

The Cake (Elemental Superpowers 1)
Release Date: 04 April 2011
Description:

Baking the best cupcakes in San Francisco is Daine's true calling...who knew that the tastiest cakes could lead to a talent for danger?

Phillip Sedgwick is a lawyer who works for an unusual law firm: Arden, Bainbridge, Chinook and Damek is the supernatural world's most prestigious company, protecting, and often prosecuting, members of the supernatural world for various crimes and infractions. His latest case involves the owner of Fabulous Cupcakes, Daine Paradis, who has been accused of abuse of his superpowers.

Daine is proud that he's been able to keep his father's bakery going and has made it a huge success. Weird things start happening, and hard work no longer seems enough to stay in business. When he meets Phillip the sparks fly, but will the two men be able to solve the case before everything goes up in flames?

 


Pages: 158
Words: 52,200
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Book Type: EBook, Paperback

Chapter One

 

God, it was hopeless. He'd prepared what he thought was a damned good class on advanced criminal procedure, but the blank faces staring back at Phillip Sedgwick indicated otherwise. He scanned the body language of his thirty students. They all seemed to lean to the right, as if any moment their bodies would airlift en masse, hurling their way out through the doors. Well, he was bored too, but come on, he was a cool guy. He had smarts. He had charisma...didn't he?

It was annoying as hell. Half of the students and their inane questions drove him up the wall, the other half looked so uninterested he wasn't sure they were even alive. Granted, not everyone here would become a judge or legislator, but he'd hoped his second-year class would have gained a more advanced understanding of at least some of the concepts he tried to teach. He'd also, apparently mistakenly, presumed they had a higher level of interest in the elective course.

In desperation, his gaze fell on the girl in the third row. She openly read a book that he knew, from its colourful binding, had absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter. It probably wasn't even a textbook related to the law at all. The guy sitting beside her elbowed her, his gaze meeting Phillip's. The girl kept reading, oblivious to all the attention now focussed on her.

Phillip felt a trickle of sweat bead at his collar.

Oh, my God! My body's leaning towards the door, too!

He straightened his back. No, he didn't want to stay in the stuffy room any more than they did, but since the new college rules clamped down on using air conditioning in the spring and none of the windows opened, they would all have to suffer.

Outside, San Francisco beckoned. He ached to feel the breeze he could see ruffling the leaves on the trees, wanting its cooling action on his skin. Below that, he saw green grass and a few students barefoot, lying on their backs. He swallowed down a pang of jealousy. Callow youths...if only they knew how lucky they were.

With the silence having gone on for too long and half of the class staring at him, he had no choice. He had to take control. Besides, he'd damn well played to much tougher crowds and won.

Phillip left his desk at the front of the room and strode up the stairs on the left side of the lecture room, stopping by the girl still immersed in her book.

"Anything you care to share with the rest of us?" he asked, hands on hips.

Too late, he saw the title: The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe. Great, just great.

She looked up, blinking. A few kids smothered smiles. A couple of them giggled. She had the grace to look embarrassed. Phillip walked back to his desk, leaning on the podium, and waited.

"Um...yeah. It's interesting. It...well, it's about the history of shoe design...and why people wear certain types of shoes."

"And it relates to advanced criminal procedure...how?"

The girl chewed at her lip. "Well, it says you can tell a lot about people by the shoes they choose to wear."

"Really. And what do my shoes tell you about me?"

Her gaze never left his face. "You wear boots. You're sexually confident, inclined to think highly of yourself. According to the book, since yours are never scuffed, you're probably great in the sack."

The class burst into laughter. Phillip, mortified, took a deep breath and hoped his embarrassment didn't show. He did what any good circus master would do. He used the situation to his advantage.

"You see," he said, when the laughter subsided, "a good criminal investigator uses all the tools he has at his disposal to his advantage, however limited they might be. Did anyone here see the movie The Silence of the Lambs?"

Several hands shot up into the air. He warmed to his subject now that he had the attention of the entire room.

"When Clarice Starling goes to the prison to visit Hannibal Lecter, she knows everything about him. He knows nothing about her. With the benefit of only his powers of observation and the evidence before him, he starts with her shoes. Does anyone remember what he says to her?"

Again, several hands shot up and he picked out a guy who had been half asleep for most of their hour together.

"He said her handbag was expensive, but she was wearing cheap shoes."

"Very good. So what is the point he is trying to make?"

He pointed to another student, who said, "The shoes spoil the effect of the rest of the confident, worldly image she's trying to convey."

"Exactly." Phillip glanced across the room at them all. "He was trying to embarrass the woman in that scene, but let's look at it from an investigator's point of view. What does it tell you about a woman if she carries an expensive bag but wears inferior shoes?"

The girl who had started the whole conversation in the first place was bouncing up and down in her seat, hand up in the air. Phillip pointed to her.

"She's not vain. The bag carries the things that are important to her. Her case load, her cell phone...whatever. The shoes are simple tools that get her from point A to point B."

"Very good point." Phillip nodded to another guy. "Look at the person next to you. What do his shoes tell you?"

The guy looked down. "A close relationship with pizza sauce and dog shit, and a very poor one with hygiene."

Everyone laughed. The whole class ended up on their feet, studying shoes. Phillip congratulated himself as the bell rang. This hadn't been a total loss after all.

"Okay then, your papers on the relationship between mental states and criminal responsibility are due by next Wednesday."

"I'm going over to Payless," one of the girls said to her friends as they walked out. "I gotta buy me some confident shoes."

The room emptied at a leisurely pace. That was pretty cool.

"Great class, Professor Sedgwick," somebody called out as he assembled his papers and slid them into his briefcase.

Good. Teaching law at UC San Francisco may be a good cover, since nobody suspected a professor to be involved in anything out of the ordinary, but, damn it, he did have some pride in his job. Even the fake one.

His new employer required he teach at least one course each semester, for recruiting purposes. He snorted. From what he'd seen of them so far, he wouldn't recruit any of these people if his life depended on it.

He was just as eager as his students to get outside into the brilliant late April sunshine. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally made it, standing on the steps for a moment to inhale the fresh air. The most important question now was whether he'd have time for a coffee and a cupcake at the bakery on Fulton Street, right across from the campus. He'd wanted to pay the store a visit ever since he'd discovered it when he first moved to the city.

Its cosy-looking eating area taunted him, inviting him to sit down and take a break for a few minutes. He could smell the cakes from here. He paused to get a whiff of what they'd been working on. Damn it, they'd just baked the strawberry shortcake flavour. He knew his nose was right because the sign out front advertised the changing daily offerings confirming his theory. His mouth watered. The entire faculty and most of the students were obsessed with those cupcakes. At least they got to eat them. So far he'd had no luck.

When his phone rang he sighed. It looked like today was going to be no different. No cupcakes for him. Checking caller ID confirmed it was his assistant, Declan North, the man who made the office part of his life run smoothly. Arden, Bainbridge, Chinook and Damek was a large law firm which had been a successful cover for lawyers like him for generations. They paid extremely well, but expected utter dedication, day and night. There was no point trying to hide, so he flipped open his phone.

"What can I do for you, Declan?" He glanced toward Fabulous Cupcakes one last time, but started walking towards his car.

"Good afternoon to you, too, sir." Declan sounded almost affronted. "I'm calling to let you know that something extremely urgent has come up and that you're expected back at the office as soon as humanly possible."

"It's always urgent, Declan." He thumbed open his car door, dumped the briefcase behind his seat and got in, closing the door behind him with an audible thunk. Dammit, he'd really wanted that cupcake.

"Yes, sir." Declan sighed. "I'm just doing my job."

"I know. You're very good at it, too." The man was too efficient for his own good, but Phillip needed someone like him to keep an eye on the pesky little details, especially since he seemed to be spending a lot more time out of the office than in his previous jobs. His new employer expected their employees to be far more hands-on than Phillip liked.

"Thank you, sir." Declan coughed. "Can I tell Mr. Arden that you'll be here in half an hour?"

"I'll do my best." He put on his seatbelt and started the engine. "Traffic permitting, I should be there on time."

"Thank you, sir." Declan hung up.

* * * *

Phillip spent the next twenty minutes making his way back to the downtown office, trying to figure out what was so urgent this time. He still took wrong streets even when he used his on-board GPS system. That was mostly because he tended to mute it and miss vital turns. With so many one-way streets near the vicinity of Union Square, it meant doubling back many times. He hated the bossy female voice on his system, but he turned her on now and followed her instructions. Obviously, nobody had told her that men were genetically wired not to follow directions.

He mused on the work issue. There weren't any big cases he was involved in, so it must be something new. He mentally rubbed his hands. Anything was better than teaching at the college, and with any luck he'd be so busy with this new case that a colleague would take over his class. It had happened once or twice before, so he had high hopes.

Panhandlers groped at his windows at the corner of Market Street. He was forced to move forward with the fast-changing lights. The hunger in the men's eyes made him feel guilty about pining for cupcakes.

Man, he'd never noticed so many shoe stores before. Almost every second store sold shoes. Ugg of Australia...cheap shoes...fancy shoes...two-for-the-price-of-one shoes. Some woman called Ria had a gigantic store that reeked of money. Men's shoes... Man, there was even a hospital for shoes! Who the hell was buying all these shoes?

What did it convey? He shook these random thoughts from his mind.

After he parked and made it to the senior partner's office on the twelfth floor, he was still on time. He almost bounced with anticipation. The older secretary looked over her steel-rimmed glasses and shot him a disapproving look. It brought him back to reality and he curbed his nervous energy before entering the office.

Mr. Ignatius Arden was a power to be reckoned with. His office was decorated in deep browns and reds, with orange and yellow highlights. There was no denying which of the four superpower sources he represented. The man sat behind a mahogany desk that looked brand new. It was empty. Phillip longed to see a piece of paper, something on it. Mr. Arden placed an open file onto it, holding a fountain pen in his hand. As if it was an afterthought, he conjured a notepad onto the table's smooth, polished surface.

Show-off. If I did that, I'd be reprimanded.

His boss was even more organised than Declan, and now checked his watch. His chestnut hair was cut extremely short and he frowned when he looked up.

Phillip couldn't resist taking a peek at the man's shoes. He wondered what the author of The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe would say about the spit-shined tan leather shoes with their elegant laces and tassels instead of the traditional aglets on the end.

Holy cow, how come I never noticed those before? What do they say about him? He's quirky? Autocratic? Egotistical? Is he good in bed?

"Something wrong, Mr. Sedgwick?"

"Oh, no. No, sir." He lifted his gaze from the floor.

"I'm glad you could make it, Mr. Sedgwick." Mr. Arden sat back in his leather chair and smiled. "I have quite the new assignment for you, should you choose to accept it."

Phillip nodded. As if he'd have a choice. He wasn't exactly planning to make a CLM-a career limiting move-this early in his employment, if ever. Turning down an assignment was never a clever idea, and in fact could be downright dangerous considering the kind of powers his bosses had.

"It has come to our owners' attention that there has been an extreme, completely illegal and consistent misuse of superpowers by one of the inhabitants of this city." Mr. Arden looked at the file for a second. "It has lasted several years and the perpetrator has not reacted to either our warnings or to our request to cease and desist."

"That is incredibly short-sighted of him." More like downright suicidal.

"It is indeed." Mr. Arden closed the file. "We want you to make his acquaintance in whatever way you think appropriate, find out what's going on and come back to us with a recommendation on how to proceed. Obviously, we want to prosecute. You have one week to collect the necessary evidence and create an iron-clad case for us."

One week wasn't much, but he supposed it could be done. Some initial research into the man's background would already have been completed, judging by the thickness of the file, so he could get right to the ‘get to know him' stage. He nodded. Yes, it was possible.

"What is your answer, Mr. Sedgwick?" Mr. Arden looked surprisingly tense, as if a lot was riding on Phillip's decision.

"I accept the assignment." He leant forward to hold his hand out for the file.

When Mr. Arden handed it to him, he glanced at the one-page summary of key facts stapled to the front. The suspect was one Mr. Daine Paradis, owner of Fabulous Cupcakes, 2200 Fulton Street, San Francisco.

Fuck me! He was going to get his cupcakes after all. He pushed himself away from Mr. Arden's desk, his mind already on flavour choices and icing.

"Mr. Sedgwick?"

Phillip looked up from his file. "Yes, sir?"

"Just so you know...all my lovers have always said I am the best fuck they ever had."

* * * *

"Yes, ma'am. The vegan cupcakes really are vegan."

The thin woman squinted at the items on display with a level of mistrust normally reserved for criminals. Whilst she tried to make up her mind, Daine stared at the never-ending line of customers stretching from the sales counter all the way to the bakery door. There were harried business people and chatting students with backpacks, housewives in a rush and hand-holding couples of all ages.

"And what does SF mean?" She jabbed at a flag in one of the trays of cupcakes.

"Sugar-free."

"Are they any good?"

He frowned. "Good? They're fabulous!"

That drew a few laughs from the waiting throng, but Daine panicked when one couple left the store in frustration. He poked his head around the kitchen door.

"Antonio!"

"Si, señor." Antonio, one of his new bakers, came out with a huge tray laden with generous samples of hot chocolate cupcakes in tiny white paper cups. He also had a pocketful of fifty-cents-off coupons good for seven days, another incentive for anyone who stuck around. Hot chocolate was the flavour selected for the following day. Daine could tell by the murmur of approval he'd made the right decision. It made him feel good to know that everyone wanted one of the unique creations that Fabulous Cupcakes had become well-known for over the last few years.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like he'd be able to take a break any time soon.

"Are those samples vegan?" the woman asked, a hopeful look on her face.

"I'm sorry, no."

"Sugar-free?"

He grinned. "Sorry."

She didn't hide her disappointment. "Well, if you're sure about the lemon bar cupcakes, I'll take one. I want the one with lots of lemon frosting." She looked at him, her expression stern. "But if I have any issues with it at all, you-or rather your boss-will be hearing from me."

I am the boss, lady. Daine looked a lot younger than his twenty-eight years, or so people told him, but she probably wouldn't believe him on that point. She probably wouldn't believe he was the owner of the bakery, either. There was no time to get into a pointless fight anyway.

"Of course, ma'am." Daine used his favourite antique silver tongs to pick up the single cupcake which had taken the woman five minutes to choose.

"Not that one. That one." She pointed to one that had slightly more icing.

"Would you like to eat it here, or have it to go?"

She wagged a finger at him. "You'll charge me extra to eat it here, won't you?"

"No. I just want to know if I should put it in a box for you to take it home or if you'll be eating it now."

He wished to God he had one kitchen hand who could speak English well enough to help out behind the counter for a few minutes.

"I'll have it to go," she said, counting dimes on to the counter.

Why is it that the people who buy a single cupcake always take ten years to pick one? And then pay in small change?

He opened a fresh box, squeezed a dollop of butter cream on the bottom with the pastry bag and popped the cupcake on top to secure it. He taped the sides shut, relieved to be done. He felt as if he'd aged a decade during this one, single transaction.

Silvio, his best baker when the guy wasn't plagued with dental problems and immigration hearings, bustled out with a fresh load of red velvet cupcakes. Half the tray had the traditional cream cheese frosting, the other half was covered in dark chocolate, which had turned out to be a surprising hit.

"How are the others coming along?" Daine tried to keep the fear out of his voice. If he panicked, Silvio panicked. The flour-smeared baker gave him a thumbs-up and hustled back to the kitchen.

Antonio came back in from outside the store, emboldened by the hearty response to his samples.

"I help?" he asked in broken English.

"Si, yes," Daine said, relieved.

Antonio had obviously watched Daine often enough to know that he started on the left-hand side of the store and let people point out the cakes they wanted from behind the counter's window display. He took up some tongs, placing each cupcake carefully on a tray balanced in his other hand. Daine was so sick of eating cupcakes, he'd ceased to see ruined cakes as fringe benefits. Antonio was mortified when one of his cupcakes fell on the tray, the immaculate icing becoming smeared.

"Don't worry," Daine said. "You can eat it." He mimed eating to the baker.

Antonio's face lit up. He left the tray on the counter and ran back to the kitchen with his prize.

"Not now!" Daine shouted. For the next ten minutes, he filled boxes, retrieved pre-ordered party packs of mini cupcakes and made sure somebody was chopping up more samples in the kitchen.

Every time he looked up, the line was still long. Of all the days for Cairo, his only assistant in the store and genius icing maker in the kitchen, to develop some strange malady. He adored Cairo Rhodes, but didn't adore her tendency to become sick right before a holiday weekend. The next few customers seemed to want one of everything and, with forty-six flavours to choose from, Daine was rushed off his feet.

He loved the children who came in because they were dazzled by the icing colours and imaginative toppings Cairo chose, but for some reason, today, even the kids made Daine want to scream.

Everyone seemed to have complicated orders or to want extra fast service. Well, it was lunchtime after all.
The only people who were more relaxed were the couples who had sat down to enjoy their treats at one of the many cast-iron tables set up throughout the shop. They all looked so much in love that it hurt. Daine wanted to have what they had, but he was much too shy to approach anyone, never mind another man. His uncle would kill him if he ever found out Daine was gay. Who knew what might have happened if his parents still talked to him, but that was a useless thought. They hadn't spoken for years.

When he looked up from completing the sale of a mini selection, he was confronted with the best-looking man who'd ever entered his bakery.

"Ooh," one of the little kids squealed. "Mom! The root beer float cupcake is like having a party in my mouth!"

This put a smile on Daine's face. As did the handsome hottie standing in front of him. He was at least six-foot-four, had deep brown eyes the colour of bitter chocolate and short, liquorice-black hair, which was the perfect topping for his milk-chocolate coloured skin. Daine couldn't help it. He always thought in terms of food.

The yummy man's shoulders were wide, stretching to capacity the white T-shirt he wore, and his smile was unusual in the hectic atmosphere of early afternoon.

Jerking his thumb over his shoulder, Mr. Gorgeous said, "Sounds like your cupcakes are a big hit. Is it always this busy?"

Mr. Gorgeous didn't seem to be in any hurry at all.

"Yes. Always...around lunchtime." Way to go, slick. Daine desperately wished he could think of something clever to say.

"So now isn't a good time for me to ask you for an explanation about all these wonderful looking confections?" Mr. Gorgeous tilted his head. Going for the innocent look didn't really work for him, but Daine didn't mind. The high cheek bones, straight nose and strong jaw fascinated him.

"Strawberry shortcake!" he shrieked. Real slick, Daine. Man, what the hell is wrong with me?

The man was just too gorgeous.

"You have any dietary concerns?" he asked.

"No...not really. Shoe leather doesn't appeal, but strawberry shortcake sounds good. It's the flavour of the day, isn't it?"

Yes. And I want to lick your cherry.

"Yes, it is. And here's Antonio with some samples."

His new baker was back, his face smeared in blue and green bubblegum icing.

"You like?" Antonio thrust the tray right under the gorgeous man's nose.

"I'll let you know in a few seconds." Mr. Gorgeous took one.

"Sorry," Daine said. For the first time in months, he wanted an encounter with another man that took longer than a few seconds and didn't involve the words, You want coffee with that? Not that he was going to get more than that. Not that he'd ever got what he wanted from a man he was interested in. He shook his head. This wasn't the time to reminisce about his failed relationships.

"Hey, no need to apologise, especially when your cupcakes taste this good."

Mr. Gorgeous took a second sample. The lady with the vegan requirements was back and helping herself to a non-vegan sample. Oh well, if she wanted to flirt with gastro-intestinal distress...

"It's just that I haven't been inside a bakery in a long time and could do with some extra instruction," Mr. Gorgeous said.

Is this guy flirting with me? And why the hell does he keep looking over the counter? I swear he's staring at my feet...wait! Maybe he's looking at the floor? Maybe he thinks we have vermin. Holy crap! What if he's a health inspector?

Daine took a deep breath and smiled.

"I need to get something special for a friend and all I know is that he likes cupcakes. What would you recommend I get for him?" Mr. Gorgeous tilted his head, looking adorably clueless.

"If it's a special occasion I would recommend a bouquet, but you'd have to come by and pick it up later. Just take your time picking out the cupcake sizes, the flavour and, of course, how many." Daine handed Mr. Gorgeous the catalogue, wishing he could be the friend his newest customer was lavishing so much attention on.

Mr. Gorgeous stepped aside, flicking through the extensive information as Daine helped more customers.
He turned away from the crowd, busy tucking paper into a box separating four chocolate salted-caramel cupcakes, and when he was done he caught Mr. Gorgeous leaning over the counter again.

I was right! He's staring at my feet. He glanced down at his shoes. They were clean. How weird. Why did Mr. Gorgeous keep staring at his feet?

Everyone oohed and aahed when a fresh batch of the house special, the Fabulous Cupcake, came out of the kitchen.

"We need chocolate and coconut cupcakes," Daine told Antonio as the baker headed back to the kitchen.

Daine began to panic. They seemed to be taking their time icing cupcakes. He glimpsed Silvio lounging outside the kitchen door, smoking. State law said he had to be twelve feet from the building. Damn!

At least he had a dozen of the Fabulous for now.

"What's in that?" Mr. Gorgeous asked.

"Raspberry butter cream, raspberry preserve in the middle and a layer of fresh raspberry cream under the icing."

Mr. Gorgeous returned his attention to the laminated brochure.

Daine boxed up the last of his red velvet cupcakes for a customer who kept tapping his credit card on the glass counter top, as if this would hurry things along. Daine could have told him it wouldn't. He gritted his teeth and moved as fast as he could. If he could tell people one thing about buying food, it would be: Never piss off your food server. They could spit in your meal...or worse.

He ran the customer's credit card, but it was declined. As the customer handed him one card after another, Daine swiped them all. He suddenly saw the word stolen flashing on the readout on his credit card machine. The guy must have realised, because he took off, a dozen cupcakes with a street value of thirty-six dollars in his red-hot hands.

Mr. Gorgeous sauntered after the guy. Daine wanted to tell him not to get involved, but he was already gone. He returned seconds later. Daine and the woman now waiting for service at the counter gasped when Mr. Gorgeous handed back the box of stolen cakes.

"How'd you do that?" Daine was impressed.

"Can I buy those?" the woman asked.

"Do you want them?" Daine asked his knight in shining armour.

"I'm sure they're very nice, but I have my heart set on a dozen strawberry shortcakes. That's sort of like a dozen red roses, right?"

Daine nodded, trying very hard not to show his disappointment. This friend must be a very close one to deserve such a wonderful gift.

He rang up the sale for the woman in front of him, relieved when Antonio came out with fresh strawberry shortcake cupcakes. He had a ring of pink cream around his mouth.

Mr. Gorgeous turned his smouldering gaze back to Daine. "While I'm here, I'd love to have a cup of coffee and whatever cupcake you recommend."

Daine stopped writing up the baking order for the dozen cupcake bouquet and stared at the object of his admiration. Mr. Gorgeous was going to sit here and have coffee? He was going to allow himself to be ogled as Daine worked? How was Daine supposed to get anything done with him in the store?

Mr. Gorgeous frowned. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, thank you." Daine felt the heat flush his much too white skin. God, he'd been caught daydreaming like a teenager. "Sorry."

"Don't worry. I was just wondering if these are all made from your own recipes?" Mr. Gorgeous licked his lips and Daine was mesmerised.

I can't remember. What was the question again?

"Um...yes." Please kiss me. The man wanted to know about recipes. "We have a few basic recipes. People sort of expect some of the traditional cakes. We have dozens of specials that are our own creations, including seasonal varieties, like eggnog and Christmas pudding for the holidays...pumpkin for Thanksgiving-"

"I'm looking at your monthly brochure. It's staggering. Do people really buy the pancake and bacon cupcakes?"

"Sure they do." Daine tried not to bristle at the suggestion of otherwise.

"Can I have one of those, please?" Mr. Gorgeous pointed at a batch of newly-arrived cherry pie cupcakes.

"These are my favourites." Daine would have given the man anything for another smile like that.

"I like the lattice top...like a tiny cherry pie. I have to have one." Mr. Gorgeous stared and licked his lips again.

Let me lick those for you.

It looked like the man was at least as much into cupcakes as Daine. And that was a lot... Suddenly Daine was rediscovering his love for his own creations.

"Would you like to have a seat while I make a fresh pot of coffee?"

"Okay."

Daine plated the cupcake and handed it to him. "It's on the house, for...you know...rescuing the goodies."

"Think nothing of it." Mr. Gorgeous took the offered plate with a smile and walked off to find a table. Man, the back view was just as perfect as the front.

Daine shook his head and forced his attention back on his job. He rang up sale after sale, the line of new customers still as long as ever. During a brief break in foot traffic, Mr. Gorgeous came back with his credit card to pay for his bouquet.

So, Mr. Gorgeous had a name. Phillip Sedgwick. Mr. Gorgeous suited him much better.

He watched the man pull his wallet from the back pocket of his pants. It caused the front to strain across a considerable bulge that made Daine's mouth water.

Man, I need to get a life.

He poured the guy some coffee and watched as Mr. Gorgeous took his cup over to his table near the window. Was he going to see him again? He was sure the man had never been to his store before. He would have remembered if he had.

Daine sighed, turning towards the next customer before he could make a fool of himself. The man hadn't shown any sign of being interested. Daine had to stop mooning after strangers. If he was destined to remain alone, the least he could do was bear his fate with dignity.


©Serena Yates, A.J. Llewllyn 2011
All Rights Reserved

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