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Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed
Published by Thunder Valley Press
Cover and layout Copyright © 2012 Thunder Valley Press
Cover art © Shawn Hempel | Dreamstime.com
Beth started cooking three days before Jesse showed up.
She didn’t know he was coming. She didn’t even know him, for that matter, or any of the others who came. She didn’t like to cook all that much to begin with, but for some reason, late one Wednesday afternoon while she was in the middle of a customer service call with an elderly man who couldn’t navigate his way through her company’s online banking system, Beth felt a sudden need to bake bread.
Banana bread. Pumpkin bread. Zucchini bread. Sourdough and whole wheat and cinnamon raisin. She wanted to shove her hands into a huge ball of dough and knead the stuff until it had just the right measure of elasticity while the heady aroma of yeast filled her kitchen.
And that wasn’t all.
She wanted to cook a turkey. And a ham, a huge one, all bristling with pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries skewered on toothpicks. Roast beef. Brisket. Barbequed ribs slathered with homemade sauce, heavy on the brown sugar and light on the vinegar. Roast pork with applesauce.
The thought of all that food seriously derailed her train of thought. She couldn’t get the old man off the phone quick enough. She was afraid he’d hear her stomach rumble through her headset. She could practically smell all that food, and it was making her mouth water.
Once the call ended, Beth took herself out of the queue of in-coming calls. She stood up and leaned over the top of the half-wall that separated her cubicle from Sherrie’s.
“You have any crackers left?” Beth asked. “Gummy bears? Pretzel sticks?”
Sherrie always had food. She was the one person in Beth’s eight-person department who made it her duty to look out for everyone else, even though Sherrie was the youngest of them all.
“You pregnant, girl?” Sherrie asked as she handed over a bag of potato chips.
(end of sample)