Addie pulled her red-and-white Mini Cooper into a parking space in front of Beyond the Page, her book and curio shop. She leapt out and raced around to the passenger side, grabbed the two dress bags on the back seat, took a quick glance at the size tags, and snatched up the top one. She jerked and glanced back over her left shoulder at a frantic tapping sound against glass. Martha Stringer, her white head bobbing back and forth, frantically waved at her to come into the bakery.
Addie swiveled on her high heel and rolled over on her ankle. Her arms flailed, and panic surged through her. She made a grab for the side of her car to steady herself when she and her precious cargo made a beeline for the gutter. Her dress-bearing arm shot high in the air, wrenching her shoulder and sending a hot pain shooting up her neck. Addie grimaced but managed to keep the bag high and safely out of the reaches of roadway dust and grime. She inhaled deeply, stretched out her throbbing ankle, took a few more deep breaths or ten . . . hobbled up onto the curb and limped toward the bakery.
As she approached the door, her chest tightened, and she paused. The cake displayed in Martha's window was the one her best friend, Serena Chandler, and her mother, Janis, had ordered for Serena's wedding today. Right down to the antique cake topper of an early twentieth-century couple—one Addie had untreasured in her great-aunt's attic. Who the topper belonged to was a mystery because as far as Addie knew, Anita Greyborne, her benefactor, had never married. Oh well, a mystery to solve another day. Today was all about Serena. This was her day, but it broke Addie's heart to know the cake Serena had dreamed about was now preserved and placed in a window as a display. Addie shored herself up and stepped inside the front area of the bakery where she was greeted by a heavily perspiring Martha.
"Are you heading over to the yacht soon?" The short plump woman's faded-blue eyes pierced Addie's.
Martha produced a large tray of petite pastries from the counter behind her. "Here, take these for me. Being as Saturday is my busiest day of the week, I won't be there until later, and I promised Janis that at least one thing they ordered for her daughter's wedding would be served."
"Yeah, it's really too bad that Zach's stepmother, Veronica, went ahead and changed everything on the menu. I feel so bad for Serena. By the way, the cake you made looks beautiful. It's exactly like the one in the pictures Serena picked out."
"Just too bad it's only window dressing now. Not hoity-toity enough for Lady Veronica Ludlow, I guess." Martha harrumphed. "But at least the display has brought in three more wedding cake orders for the next few months, and I heard this morning that Bernadette Garland's daughter was planning her wedding for next spring and there might be an order there, too."
"It's just sad that Serena won't be the benefactor of your beautiful five-tiered creation."
"Yeah, but it has helped boost my newest wedding cake line."
Addie bit her tongue to stem the words she wanted to scream, retelling all that had taken place over the final preparations for this day. Even though she and Martha had resolved many of their past differences, Addie still wasn't certain that her onetime nemesis was completely trustworthy. She dared not vent her frustrations only to have them used against her in some way. So, she settled for a nod of the head. "Yes, it's too bad everything turned out the way it did, but I think Serena is coping with the changes well, don't you?"
"What? Do you know something I don't?"
"I saw the poor girl go in your shop as soon as Paige put the sidewalk sign out this morning, and she didn't look too chipper to me."
"Is she still there?"
"Haven't seen her come out."
"Oh dear, I'd better go see what's happened today."
"Don't forget these." Martha thrust the silver tray in Addie's hand. "See you this evening."
"Yes, thanks." Addie balanced the large tray in one hand, trying not to crush Paige's dress that she'd hung over her other arm, as she maneuvered the door open and headed next door to her bookshop.