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Finishing our morning set up, I walk over to the window display and move things around a little. Once everything is set, I flip the sign over from ‘Closed’ to ‘Open’ and unlock the door. I head back behind the counter and watch as people pass by the bakery, making their way to their own shops to open. A few people I don’t recognize come in for a coffee, eyeing the Halloween cookies. I went ahead and put the ‘broomsticks’ out too. Might as well if I’m doing the other ones. If they don’t sell, I can always take them to the nursing home down the road like I always do with my extras. Maybe they wouldn’t notice they looked like little cocks.

“I think I’ll run down to the hardware store later and get some Halloween decorations. Add some festivity to the place. I know some of the kids will be trick or treating up and down the street Saturday for Halloween. Maybe some of them will drag their parents in or something if it looks festive.” I try to sound excited, but Gwen just snorts, making her blonde hair bounce. You’d think I’d be making a killing with her working the front counter considering how hot she is. She eats more of the merchandise than I do, but I’m not sure where her lean body puts it. Mine all goes to my hips and ass.

“Gwen, you were born and raised here, right?” I ask, already knowing the answer. I’ve heard her talk about her brother. She lives with him, and she constantly complains that he doesn’t let her do anything. I actually think her applying for this job was an act of rebellion. After seeing all the Halloween dirty treats she made, I’m starting to think she’s sexually repressed. Not that I can point fingers. I’m a twenty-four-year old virgin, and Gwen’s only three years younger than me. But I wasn’t the one making cock treats.

“Yep, born and raised,” she says, turning and leaning her hip against the counter next to the register.

“Was most everyone around here born and raised here?” The town seems so tightly knit, like there’s this club I can’t seem to break into. It’s like I haven’t performed some secret rite of passage yet or something. Every day I keep hoping something will give; that it’s just a fluke people aren’t coming in yet. Maybe they don’t know the bakery is back open, but I’m starting to think in a town like this everyone knows everything about everyone.

She shrugs her shoulders, and I can see her choosing her words carefully. “Most are from here, but Alp— I mean, my brother, likes to welcome in strays from time to time.”

“They don’t seem too welcoming to me,” I mutter, not wanting to insult her brother. Why would it be his job to do the welcoming? I hadn’t even met the man, and if he’s some kind of welcoming committee for the town, then he sucks at it. I’ve been here for three weeks, and I have no idea who he is.

“Well, it will just take some time.” She leans in a little closer to me, and I hear her sniff.

“Did you just smell me?” Grabbing my shirt, I sniff myself thinking maybe I stink or something, but all I smell is sugar. No matter how many showers I take I think it’s ingrained from cooking sweets all the time.

“No,” she says, stepping back from me like I asked her a crazy question when she’s the one sniffing me.

“You like working here, Gwen?”

“I love it! You’re not going to fire me because I smelled you, are you? I can decorate the shop if you like. Halloween is in a few days, and I’ll get it done today. Or it is the treats? You hate them? I can do them over again. Just show me how you like them. Please, you can’t fire me. No one else will hire me. My brother won’t let them and…and—”

“Gwen. Calm down,” I say, cutting her off from her rapid-fire rambling. “I’m not going to fire you. I…it’s just…like a second ago when I made the suggestion about the decorations, you snorted like, “no one is coming in here,” and, well, if no one comes in here, neither of us will be working here.”

“Oh!” She sighs like it’s no big deal, and I just stare at her, not understanding her at all. “They’ll come after.”

“After?” I wave my hand trying to encourage her to finish her sentence.

She hesitates and then looks around the room. “After Sheriff Wolfe stops scaring people away.” She says the words like I pried them from her using torture.

At hearing his name, my eyes shoot to the front window to see if he’s loitering outside my shop again. I thought cops drove around in their cop cars, eating donuts, but the one here walks up and down Main Street all day, eating my cookies and drinking my coffee. He stops in front of my bakery more than anywhere else and glares in here like I’ve done something to offend him.


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