Flash PointBy: Shelli Stevens
Thank you to Andy Finseth from Seattle Fire, Mr. Delilah Marvelle, and Karen Erickson and her dad, for all your fabulous firefighting info. Thanks to my awesome editor, Tera, and to Scott for the great covers in this series! And of course to my readers, because I wouldn’t be telling stories without you!
Kate wrapped her pea coat tighter around her curves, slipped from her car and rushed toward the front door of her shop.
The autumn wind whipped blonde strands of her hair about her face, and she shoved them aside as she fumbled to unlock the shop door. When the key finally twisted she stepped inside and shut the door, a shiver running through her.
“It’s definitely winter,” she muttered, flipping on the lights.
With a sigh, she glanced around the shop, taking in the decorations taped to the walls and the small snowflake lights surrounding the bakery display case. Christmas had been over for a few days, but since most of her decorations were more seasonal than holiday, they could stay up for a bit longer.
The smell of sugar, yeast and cinnamon was a familiar scent that never failed to bring a smile to her face. Baking was in her blood—if you cut her open she’d ooze lemon buttercream frosting.
She glanced at the clock on the wall and bit back a yawn. Five a.m. The hours, however, were the part of baker’s life she wasn’t all that crazy about. Some nights she stayed way too late preparing for the morning baked goods.
When she’d opened the shop just over a year ago, she’d been a little worried about whether Kate’s Cakes would sink or swim. Especially since she made everything from scratch, the cost of her food was a little more on the pricey side. But during the tourist season business boomed, and fortunately the locals seemed to love her too. In fact it seemed the fresh, high-quality ingredients became her selling point.
With a sigh, she went to start the first batch of cupcakes. A couple of hours later she’d loaded up the display case with a few dozen batches of cupcakes and pastries, when a sharp knock landed on the door.
Her heart leapt in her chest as she tried to see out into the fading darkness. The sun was not quite up and the shop didn’t officially open for another hour and a half.
Wiping her hands on her apron, she stepped out from behind the counter and walked toward the door. As she recognized the man outside, the tension eased from her body. Unfortunately tingling heat and sharp awareness replaced it as she let Todd Wyatt inside her shop.
“Well, aren’t you up early?” she asked, hoping her voice didn’t sound as high pitched to him as it did to her.
Todd grinned, his broad shoulders and tall frame filling the entryway before he closed the door behind him.
Her breath caught and she tried not to think about how handsome he was. He’d always seemed impossibly sexy to her, though. And maybe part of her attraction to the youngest Wyatt brother came from the fact that he’d always been so damn nice to her.
“Just coming off a twenty-four hour shift. Was heading home when I saw your lights on.”
“Stalker,” she teased and started to fidget, before curling her fingers into fists at her sides. Her heart had yet to slow down, but then, she’d kind of gotten used to it racing when Todd came near.
She cleared her throat. “I’m not even open for business yet. So, what, are you here to mooch some free cupcakes again? Beg me to take pity on my local fireman?”
“You know it.” Todd grinned, before his light expression suddenly darkened and he stepped past her and moved around her shop. “And I also wanted to make sure things have been running smoothly around these parts. No more trouble.”
Ah, yes. Trouble. Her brows drew together and she worried her bottom lip between her teeth, letting her gaze dart to the window that had been broke a few months ago.
“No. No more trouble. I’m guessing that the brick-thrown-through-the-window thing was just a teenage prank.”
“Hmm. Only they never caught the guy, which is unusual in a town this size.”
She sighed. “Look, I’m not worried. Besides, I’ve got Walt next door who’s pretty much transformed himself into my own personal guard dog.”
Todd scowled and then thrust his hands into his pockets. “I don’t like that guy.”