Whisk It All
Whisk It All
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Nothing except potentially falling in love with the newly returned war hero.
- Small Town
- Romantic Suspense
Nothing will stop me from packing my bags and leaving my small town to explore the world.
Nothing except potentially falling in love with the newly returned war hero.
Ethan Hart is everything I don’t want. He’s moody, he’s grumpy, he’s impolite, he’s gorgeous—wait, no., getting off track.
Despite my wanting to leave, I give myself until the end of summer to see this fling out.
Only, this fling seems to be so much more.
That is until something from Ethan’s past comes back to haunt us all, driving us apart and threatening my very existence.
Will we let the past dictate the future, or will we push through to our happily ever after?
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
The most exciting thing to ever happen in Acton, Colorado, was when the mayor came out. I think his speech was something like, “I’m gay. Get over it.”
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get my point.
Acton isn’t exactly the most happening place in the world…or even in the state. Sometimes they pretend we’re interesting by announcing who had the best cookies at the elementary school bake sale or publishing a newspaper about three people read.
It was silly, really, but what are you gonna do? Tell the ninety-year-old man who writes it to retire? No, no we are not gonna do that.
I have lived in Acton my entire life: twenty-one years, six months, and a handful of days. My mother, brother, and I live with my grandparents in a moderately sized farmhouse near the mountains. There is only one house within a few miles of it, and the owner, Old Carl Bernard, passed away a few months ago. It has sat empty ever since. Even when he was alive, Old Carl hardly spoke to anyone, mostly keeping to himself, so we really feel pretty isolated out there.
My grandparents have lived in the home forever, my mom grew up in there, and eventually, my brother, Luke, and I did as well.
It’s a beautiful white house with a deck that wraps around the entire perimeter, complete with a front porch swing and rocking chairs, and it has a blue front door with shutters to match. It has its flaws, of course, but it is a dream home for my grandma.
Today I am busy at work on my usual Monday shift, getting the store ready for the day. My mother owns a bakery in town, and I work there on the regular, trying desperately to save money so I can finally leave and see something outside of Colorado.
It’s a cloudy day in April, and the promise of a spring snowstorm to come hangs in the air, the dark clouds a sign of impending snow.
I hear the bell ding, indicating customers have entered, and I work my way from the back where I was washing pans from a morning of baking. When I get to the front, I see Sally and Meryl perusing the selection of goodies I made today. The gift of baking was passed down generously from my mother, and I use it wisely.
“Morning ladies,” I say as I refill my coffee cup. They are regulars and happen to be the town gossips, so it is always a fun conversation whenever they come in.
Meryl writes for the Acton Gazette along with the aforementioned ninety-year-old man, and she does the gossip column—excuse me, the “local news”.
Last I knew, Johnny Mele dancing with Amber Blacker while dating Katie Renner was not news.
“Oh, Aveline!” Sally says when she looks up. I like her. She works at the florist’s shop part time and isn’t even close to the gossip Meryl is, though she doesn’t mind listening in.
“How are you today?” I ask in a casual tone. They do always give me the scoop, which I enjoy. If a woman ever says she doesn’t like gossip, she’s lying. Just because she doesn’t do anything with it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to know the good stuff.
“Good, good. Oh my, Belle has outdone herself,” Meryl declares as she surveys the spread. My mother, MaeBelle Montgomery, is the sole creator behind Belle’s Bakery. She opened it shortly after my father, Jackson, passed. His death was a total shock to us, as he was the healthiest person in our family. He jogged every morning, ate a balanced diet, and only ever indulged in my mother’s delicious baked goods.
So, six years ago when he had a brain aneurism, we were devastated. He was the ideal father and husband, supporting each of our ambitions and hobbies and never forcing my brother or me to do anything we didn’t want to, though he was always very strict with homework. As a husband, I don’t think my mother could’ve had anyone better, and I think she would agree with me. He was spontaneous and fun, took her on a date night every week, sent her flowers, and overall, he participated in all our lives.
He had a small life insurance policy my mother used to open this place, and one year after opening, it was struggling. My mother had put every dime she’d earned back into bills to the point that it was either lose the bakery or sell our house.
It was an easy decision after my grandmother said we could live at the farm.
Recently, business has picked up and taken off. Mom goes to every local event trying to get the word out, and it works. We get visitors from far and wide looking for the best sweet treats in northern Colorado.
“Today we’ve whipped up her new peanut butter caramel muffins.” I tune back in to the conversation, pointing out the newest creation.
“Oh my, my teeth shake just thinking about those!” Meryl makes this face like she’s in deep thought—one she makes often—and I’m endlessly curious as to what could possibly be so difficult. It’s just a pastry choice, not her next house. Okay, maybe she gets on my nerves…just a little. “I’ll take two!” she says, holding up her fingers while I try to hold back an eye roll.
After serving them the coffee and muffins at one of the small tables scattered throughout the shop, they catch me in conversation before I’m able to scurry away.
“So, tell us!” The ladies look at me as if I’m about to tell them I was nominated for an Oscar.
“Tell you…what?” I ask, confused. Meryl gives me a knowing look while Sally digs into her muffin without a care in the world. I always knew I liked her best.
“About your new neighbor! You know, the one living at Old Carl’s place.” Hearing her call him Old Carl out loud makes me feel bad about saying it all these years—not bad enough to stop, but…
“Well, I had no idea. I must have been too busy to notice.” I did notice. I saw the car in the driveway on my way to work this morning; I just had no idea who it was.
“Well, rumor has it…” Here we go, I think as Meryl launches into her ‘news’. Apparently, my new neighbor—though it’s hard to call him a neighbor when he lives ten miles away—is Old Carl’s only nephew. It took him this long to get here because he was in the military, but his uncle left him the house and he is temporarily living there. Turns out he was medically discharged after sustaining some serious injuries.
After the longer-than-necessary conversation with Sally and Meryl, I get back to the kitchen to prep for lunch. I nod at Sunny, our chef in the kitchen who is currently in culinary school. She’s awesome, and though she’s only been with us a few months, I hope she never leaves.
I really enjoy working for my mother’s bakery and eventually I’ll be taking it over, but first I want to see the world. I’ve been saving for it since I was sixteen, envisioning a trip through Europe to start. I spent most of my days in high school with a book glued to my hand, learning everything I needed to know about the places to see and visit and what to avoid. I am prepared to leave this year sometime, I just haven’t figured out the when yet.
When Mom opened her bakery, I jumped at the chance to work and start saving. At first it wasn’t much, but I slowly started building my savings account. My whole family knows of my plans, and my mom in particular has always rooted for me to spread my wings and see the world.
“Never settle.” That’s what she’s always told me. I don’t think she ever regretted marrying my dad, her high school sweetheart, but she does tell me to take care of myself first and foremost.
With everything ready in the kitchen, I decide to check out what’s on the menu for tomorrow. My mom writes out all her new recipes every month, and we make a new one every week to bring in new customers and keep repeat customers coming back. As I am reading the ingredients for tomorrow, Kate comes running into the kitchen with a huge grin taking over her face.
Kate is our new girl, but a close friend of my brother’s, and so far, she manages the register perfectly. She graduated high school last year and since her ambitions change frequently, she decided to hold off on college for now. She was the class clown and is always trying to make people laugh, even if some of her jokes are wildly inappropriate.
“What’s up? Your pants on fire?” I ask with a smile.
She shakes her head at me like it was a legitimate question. “More like my panties!” she says in a hushed tone. I purse my lips and hold back a retort. This girl and her inappropriate comments. “Oh man, Ave, you have to see this!” Her excitement piques my curiosity so naturally I follow her to the front of the shop, and she goes straight to the register when we see more customers come in. I scour the bakery, wondering what she saw, and when I look over at her with the silent question on my face, she discreetly points to the back corner. Then I see him.
Now, I’m no prude. I may have only been with one person, but it’s not like I haven’t seen Magic Mike. I know how and when to appreciate a good-looking man, and the man currently sitting in this bakery is by far the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen in person. (Credit where credit is due, Mr. Tatum.)
He sits with a book in his hand but is leaning on his elbows, looking out the window. He seems like he’s deep in thought with his brows furrowed and his eyes worried. I am surprised it took me so long to notice him.
Kate wasn’t lying—he is something to look at, no doubt.
“Here.” Kate hands me a cup of coffee. I look at her, confused, and she rolls her eyes. Too much time in my company. “It’s his! Go deliver it and say hi.” Her eyes look eager, like she is about to get a piece of candy.
“Why don’t you do it? There’s no reason for me to.”
She rolls her eyes again. “Ave, he’s new, and you’re the daughter of the owner. Go welcome him.” With that she pushes me in his direction. I slowly walk over, careful not to trip over my feet. He must sense me coming because he looks up and locks his bright blue eyes with mine. I try not to stop and gasp at how pretty they are.
I finally reach his table and can’t help but stare at him and admire his features. He clears his throat and I snap out of it then set his coffee down.
“Hello.” Even his voice is beautiful.
“Hi.” Cue awkward silence with a side of gawking.
“I didn’t order any coffee.” His admission has me envisioning my hands around Kate’s throat. I feel my cheeks turn red.
“Oh, um…it’s on the house—a ‘welcome to Acton’ coffee.” Could I sound any stupider?
He glances at the cup with an amused expression, trying to gauge if I’m serious. He runs his right hand through his dark brown hair and reaches out with his left to grab the cup, gently bringing it to his lips to take a slow slip.
Maybe the slow-motion thing is just in my head, but nobody will ever know for sure. I don’t even notice he’s set it down and is staring at me.
When I finally come back to Earth, he reaches his hand out for mine. “Ethan.”
“Aveline,” I say, trying to pull myself together. He’s just one guy, but for some reason he sets my nerves on edge.
“Aveline,” he repeats, testing my name on his tongue. “Nice. You work here long?”
“Oh yeah, since it opened.” I smile. “My mother is the owner.”
“Ah, I see.” When I realize he isn’t going to offer me any information about himself, I decide I should get back to work.
“Well, nice to meet you. Enjoy your coffee.” I sound like a complete moron. He mumbles a quick ‘thanks’ as I walk away.
I’ve never acted like that in front of a man before. It was like the power of his blue eyes put me in a trance and I couldn’t control myself. Ignoring the urge to punish Kate for her trickery with a quick strangle to the neck, I go back to work on tomorrow’s new recipe: buckeye brownie cupcakes.