Deep in You(3)

By: Penny Wylder

But I’m living the dream. If this is the price to pay, so be it. I’m happy to pay it.

I pull up to the shop just as Lara is opening the grill out front. She’s been my partner-in-crime this whole time, as we opened and got everything set up. Lara helps bake a little bit, but it’s mostly me heading up the kitchen and the small team of assistants we’ve hired over the past couple years. She handles the front-of-shop things—invoices, customer meetings, balancing the books. All the day-to-day of the business that make me want to rip my hair out and scream bloody murder. But that’s why we make the perfect team. I’m the creative crazy one and she’s the down-to-earth voice of reason that keeps me sane—and keeps the shop ticking.

“Morning!” I call as I climb out of the driver’s seat.

“You’re early,” she shouts back, wagging a finger.

“Need to get a head start on the Deutschs’ 3-tier if we want to be finished in time to knock out the Hendricks’ and the Barrows’ cake all by the end of the day,” I reply as I jog up to meet her at the storefront.

Lara squints at my face, a too-close inspection that she’s all too fond of throwing at me lately. “How much sleep did you get?” she asks.

“Had a late night,” I reply with a shrug. “Nothing I’ve not done before.”

“Uh huh.” She rolls her eyes. “Let me guess. It was not a late night doing anything particularly exciting.”

“Unless you count doing myself exciting?” I flash a grin and duck under the grill she’s still raising so I can skip into the store before her.

“How many times do I need to tell you to take a damn vacation, girl?” she scolds as she follows me inside, heading straight to the register to begin the morning set-up. “Or hell, even just a day off.”

“We have every Sunday off,” I point out.

She snorts. “That doesn’t count.”

I wag a finger at her. “Don’t let any of our religiously-inclined customers catch you saying that.”

Lara groans. “Carmine, you haven’t got a single sanctimonious bone in your body, so don’t pretend that you take Sunday off because it’s holy. You’d work every single day, 365 days a year if I’d let you.”

“And? I’ve got good work ethic,” I reply as I shrug on my apron and dust myself down, getting ready to head into the back and fire up the ovens.

“There’s good work ethic and then there’s excessive to the point of becoming detrimental work ethic,” she calls after me.

I ignore her. There’s too much to do to waste time debating this anyway.

By the time our two assistants, Carl and Jen, arrive, I’m already elbow-deep in a bowl of batter. I shout instructions at them over my shoulder, and together the three of us set about putting together a 3-tiered wedding cake for the Deutsch wedding tomorrow. Next up on the docket will be the 5-tier for the Hendricks wedding, and after that a simple 2-tier for the Barrows, which I’ll save until the end of the day, because their wedding isn’t until Sunday morning. But since we close on Sunday, and tomorrow we need to get moving on the anniversary cake and several birthday parties we’re catering for Monday, I’ve calculated that we need to get that cake in the oven by end of day at the latest.

Things are running smoothly until 10am. At 10am, Carl steps out back for a smoke break without warning Jen. Jen, busy with prepping the fondant for the Deutsch cake, misses the Hendricks’ first tier coming out of the oven, which we set on an automatic roller to save time and prevent over-baking. The cake falls out of the automatic dispenser with a clatter, and before I even turn around to witness the aftermath, I can already tell it’s bad from Jen’s shriek.

There’s cake everywhere. Cake, and the bowl of fondant mix that Jen upended in her rush to catch the falling cake.

I manage to reign in my freak-out. I instruct Jen to clean up, step out back and grab Carl to help, and then get down on hands and knees myself to assist. Together, the three of us manage to put the kitchen back in some semblance of working order. But by the time we’ll have another first tier ready to bake, we’ll already be a few hours behind schedule.

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