Did you miss part one?
Chapter One – Continued
Leo Lawson, Vicki’s older brother, was tall, dark and handsome.
He’d been the first boy Mona had a crush on back in school, and she’d
never gotten over him. In high school, he’d broken her heart when he
started dating, Lacey, the head cheerleader. But shortly after gradua‐
tion, he’d left Magnolia Falls, to join the military, and now he was
back after eight long years.
She knew he worked at the Magnolia Falls PD, but she hadn’t seen
Not properly anyway.
She’d ducked out of the grocery store a few times, when she’d
seen his patrol car pull into the parking lot. And there’d been the
time, she snuck out of the back of the bookstore on Main Street,
when she’d heard his voice asking the clerk for the latest police
But she hadn’t spoken with him, yet.
She’d been in the hospital with tonsillitis during his homecoming
party, and she’d missed him twice at Vicki’s due to bad timing.
As she waited for the water to boil, she printed out the inventory
list and the pricing guide and headed back to the shop. With a pricing
gun in her hand, she priced all the blackberry jam and then began
working on the strawberry. Thoughts of Leo filled her mind and she
daydreamed about seeing him at the grand opening.
What am I going to wear? Mona thought in a panic.
Looking around the shop, she wondered if she would have time to
go shopping and pick out something new and sexy before Friday.
Jammin’ Honey was filled with half empty shelves, boxes of jams,
jellies, honey candles, lotions and balms everywhere, she doubted she
would have time to sleep much less go on a shopping trip.
She hummed along with the music and priced the merchandise to
the beat, invigorated by the thought of the grand opening and Leo.
When the phone in her apron pocket vibrated. She answered it
without glancing at the caller ID.
“I knew you couldn’t stay away. Are you bringing me lunch instead
of breakfast?” asked Mona.
“Excuse me?” asked the voice on the phone.
Mona realized it wasn’t Vicki, she looked at the phone and saw
that the caller was Lacey MacInroy from the bakery.
“Lacey, I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
“Obviously,” said Lacey in a condescending tone, “I need to meet
with you at once, can you come by the bakery before lunch?”
“Lacey, this isn’t a great time. I have so much to do before the
Grand Opening. Can you just tell me what’s going on over the
“I only called because this is important. It affects the catering
menu for the Grand Opening. One of my suppliers has informed me
that he’s out of that gluten-free almond flour you wanted, so I’ve had
to make a few last-minute changes. I think you’ll find the substitu‐
tions suitable, but I need your approval before I can proceed,”
explained Lacey in a tone that Mona felt sure betrayed the fact that
Lacey was rolling her eyes.
“I’m sure whatever you substitute will be fine, as long as it’s
gluten-free,” Mona said.
Lacey made a clucking noise in the back of her throat. Clearly, she
was put out by Mona’s request. It had been a struggle to get Lacey to
agree to cater the event at all, much less make it gluten-free. But, after
the great write up in the Magnolia Falls Gazette, Mona had been able
to persuade her.
“Do you really need me to come right now?” Mona asked. “I’m in
the middle of prepping the shop, and I have so much left to do. Can I
just give you my approval over the phone?’
“Not if you want me to cater this affair. I must have you taste the
final recipe. I need to know that you will be pleased with the pastry
selections, and this morning is the only time I have available.”
Mona stuffed down her impatience. Lacey’s bakery was the only
caterer in town and with only few days left before the grand opening,
she didn’t have the time or energy to make enough food for the event.
Obviously, Lacey wasn’t giving her a choice.
With a sigh, Mona said, “Give me ten minutes. I’ll be right over.”
“Fine,” answered Lacey.
Mona was about to say goodbye, but Lacey had already hung up.
She slipped the phone into her jeans pocket and tried not to think
about how infuriating Lacey was. Pulling the apron over her head, she
vowed not to let Lacey’s attitude ruin her day. Despite the inconve‐
nience of having to stop work and test drive a few pasties at her cater‐
er’s insistence, the day was going well. If she kept working at her
present pace, all her stock would be ready to sell by the weekend.
Walking to the back, she was tempted to burst out in song. She
loved everything about her new shop, it was truly a dream come true;
thanks to Aunt Cee’s investment and belief in her.
She turned off the burner and unplugged it for safe measure.
Aunt Bee’s coupon clippers would have to wait for their special, at
least for the moment. Then, sliding her purse onto her shoulder, she
walked out of the store and locked the front door
The bell above the door chimed cheerfully as Mona walked into
the bakery. A quick glance at her watch confirmed that there was no
time to spare in her hectic schedule for this last-minute errand.
Checking off the items on the endless to do list was Mona’s priority,
not placating the caterer.
Fresh baked bread and sweet pastries crowded the glass cases, and
their aroma combined to create a decadent ambrosia. Mona inhaled
the soothing scent, surprised that a woman as cold as Lacey MacInroy
could create warm and delicious baked goods.
“Can I help you?” asked a freckle-faced young man.
Glancing at her watch once more, Mona answered, “I’m here to see
The man disappeared behind the door that said Kitchen.
The door swung open, and a woman wearing a white apron over
tailored capris and a crisp pink polo greeted Mona, “Mona, please join
me in the kitchen.”
As Mona crossed toward the kitchen door, Lacey smiled and
wiggled her fingers in a friendly wave at an older gentleman waiting
in line. With her shoulder length honey-blond hair pulled back in a
ponytail and only a hint of bronzer on her cheeks, Lacey appeared to
be as fresh faced and beautiful as she had been in high school.
That’s Lacey, everyone’s friend except mine.
Whatever did I do to get on her bad side?
Lacey’s warm smile disappeared as the kitchen door closed behind
“Do you have any idea how difficult it has been to find that gluten
free flour you wanted?” Lacey asked with a frown.
The grand opening was only days away, and Mona didn’t want risk
upsetting Lacey. If the caterer backed out now Mona didn’t know
what she would do.
Mona met Lacey’s frown with a smile, it wasn’t sincere, but it was
the best she could muster under the stress. “Lacey, I don’t understand
why your supplier was out of this flour, gluten-free is popular. My
request wasn’t that unusual, I have seen that flour at all the big
“That’s just it, it’s very trendy, so every bakery from San Francisco
to New York is using it for wedding cakes, breads, you name it. My
supplier told me I should have ordered it over two weeks in advance.”
I tried to book your catering service for over a month.
Hiding her frustration, Mona tried a different approach and said
diplomatically, “I appreciate your efforts to find a solution. You said
you may have found a suitable substitute?”
Opening a drawer, Lacey pulled out a card that was covered in
neat rows of handwriting. Handing the card to Mona she asked,
“What do you think of the recipe? I can use half gluten-free almond
flour I found at the health food market and half gluten-free self-rising
“What’s in the self-rising flour, and will it taste the same?” asked
Mona planned to offer samples of her jams and Vicki’s honey
along with the pastries. They had to be good!
“Garbanzo beans, ground fava beans, it sounds disgusting, but by
the time it’s all mixed up, no one can tell the difference,” Lacey
Mona was certain that she would be able to tell a difference
between almond flour and ground beans, but it was too late to argue
over ingredients. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, she was
almost willing to agree to the changes in the recipe when a question
popped into her head, “If you could find almond flour at the health
food market, why can’t you buy enough of that to use instead of using
it for half of the recipe?”
Lacey rolled her eyes as she answered, “Do you have any idea how
much that stuff costs? I’m already doing you an enormous favor just
accepting this job, and now you want me to not make any money
Her first impulse was to tell Lacey to forget it, instead Mona said,
“Lacey, I understand you have to make money, just bill me for the
additional amount and please use the good flour, no ground beans.”
The tension between them was palpable. In ten years, nothing
had changed, Lacey still treated Mona with contempt, when it
should have been the other way around, after all Lacey won the heart
“Fine, have it your way, but I promise you it will be expensive, and
I’ll bill you. I don’t care if your shop doesn’t sell a single jar of jelly, I
expect to be paid on time,” Lacey snapped as she snatched the card out
of Mona’s hand and scribbled the changes to the recipe.
Silently seething, Mona wanted to tell Lacey that the deal was off,
but common sense prevailed, “Lacey, I’ll pay you in advance if that’s
what you want.”
Lacey opened her mouth to answer but was drowned out by the
wail of fire-truck sirens.
Forgetting their argument over gluten-free almond flour, the two
women stared at each other before Mona said in a loud voice, “That
Lacey nodded and walked out of the kitchen followed by Mona.
Stepping onto the red brick sidewalk, Mona was startled when a
fire truck with its lights flashing sped past. The sirens were louder
outside the bakery, she could smell smoke which meant the fire was
A plume of dark smoke rose only a few blocks from the bakery.
Slowly, Mona came to the awful realization that the smoke was
coming from the direction of her shop.
Oh God, please no, not Jammin’ Honey!
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