Jules sat in the Jeep until the remnants of the day his life had changed vanished. Why had he given into the urge to drive past the group home? Not one of his better ideas and certainly not part of his weekend plans. He reviewed the steps. There was a contract to be signed. Failure would taste bitter. Coming to grips with the betrayal of his trust wasn’t part of his plans for today either. Hard work and trusting few people had given him all he’d lost and more.
Sometimes he wondered what had happened to the people who had invested with his father’s Ponze scheme. Why had people thrown money into investments seeming too good to be real? Had they been greedy or fools?
He’d been torn from a comfortable life. Shame oozed from hidden places. Why did tingles of guilt smear his life? He’d been a teenager and hadn’t done anything wrong. Shame had driven his parents to death and he’d ended up in that place.
He gulped deep breaths of air and rubbed his hands in an attempt to warm them. The action failed to heat the past he feared would remain eternally chilled.
Cut the crap. Can’t go back. Forward is the only direction.
He’d come to the
Hudson River village
for two reasons. Business and a meet and greet. He wasn’t here to think of what
could never be. Gnawing old bones impeded
Jules slid from the Jeep. He dragged the briefcase from the passenger’s seat. With quick steps he dashed across the street and paused to study the bakery shop window. Sweet and Spicy Cupcakes. Above the sweet a bee buzzed and above spicy a red pepper hovered. He opened the door. Myriad scents swirled in the air. Spices, chocolate, coffee. The aromas of baking. For a moment he drown in the delicious aromas.
The blonde behind the counter filled a box with an assortment of cupcakes for a customer. A second woman held a similar box. Moments later money changed hands and the middle-aged women filed to the door. Jules stepped aside and held the door.
One of the ladies turned. “Bonnie, are you sure you’ll have my order ready on Christmas Eve?”
“On file and can be picked up between nine AM and seven PM. We’re staying open an hour later that day.”
Jules stomach growled reminding him he hadn’t eaten lunch. The aromas swirling in the air tempted. Perhaps a taste of the wares before he engaged in business made sense and would give him a way to push for the magazine feature. He strode to the glass covered cases and read the names of the flavors. How could he choose when they all looked great?
The blonde turned from the register. “Can I help you?”
“Coffee and I don’t know which one to choose. They’re all tempting. Do you have a recommendation?”
She tapped the counter. “I do. Cinnamon Bun is my favorite. If you want something designed for the season, there’s Candy Cane, Ginger House or Winter Snow.”
Jules studied the offerings. “The cinnamon and the snow.” He paid and carried his selections to a table near the window. After filling a cup with coffee he sipped. The beverage was smooth and rich with no bitter aftertaste. He needed to learn where the shop purchased the beans.
At the table he bit into the cinnamon cupcake. The spice mellowed by the icing told him why Allie wanted to feature the shop. After finishing the first cupcake he tasted the second. A blast of wintergreen hit his palate. “Brilliant. Brings the surprise of a sudden snow storm to mind.”
The clerk grinned. “I agree.”
“Why did you turn down the chance for a feature in Good Eatin’?”
The woman’s mouth gaped. “She never told me. Not that I’m a partner or anything.”
He frowned. “So you’re not the owner.”
“Just the clerk. I’ll yell at the boss. How could she turn down the offer? That mag is rad cool.”
Jules raised his coffee cup. He had an ally. Time to find a way to use her enthusiasm. He listened to her chatter about her boss’ plan. A five year goal. Slow growth. Quality products. He waited for the clerk to run down.
“Where is the owner? I must speak to her.”
The blonde leaned on the counter. “She’s busy creating a new cupcake.”
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