Olivia felt numb as she mechanically dumped flour into her automatic mixer. Alice and Sarah, two of her employees, were at the back table icing cooled cupcakes. They were unusually quiet. Usually, her kitchen was filled with chatter and music. But that was before Miles broke it off with her two weeks ago after a six-year relationship.
She felt a guilty twinge, knowing her somber mood affected them. She wished she could go back in time two weeks ago, pre-breakup. She would have smiled and laughed about Alice’s newest story involving her crazy dog or sympathized with Sarah’s relationship drama. But she didn’t know if she could put on a false front. And she certainly knew she wouldn’t be able to withstand the concerned looks filled with pity being tossed her way.
A timer rang out loudly, making Olivia jump slightly as it cut through the thick silence. She quickly took out the next batch of cupcakes from her industrial oven and set them to cool. The after-work rush would begin soon and she wanted to ensure her shop didn’t run out of her new triple chocolate fudge cupcakes again.
Lillian walked through the door connecting the front shop and the kitchen. “Livy, I’m taking my fifteen before the rush. I’ll be out back if you need me.” Olivia knew her bubbly cashier kept her tone cheery for her sake.
She managed a smile, “Take your time. I’ll listen for any customers.”
The second Lillian walked through the back door Olivia heard the bell placed over the front door of her shop ring. Sighing, she wiped her hands down the front of her apron and went to rinse them quickly. “Hey Alice, do you mind finishing this batter? It’s the new chocolate,” she added, taking off her floury apron and tossing it over a chair.
“Sure thing, boss lady,” Alice replied giving her a small wink. Olivia felt some awkward tension drain from the room and she even laughed a bit as she walked out to the front.
Olivia heard his voice before she saw him. It was deep and rough. She felt it slide down her body, like the burn of a good whiskey. Seductive and addicting at the same time. “You know I don’t think this is a good idea. No amount of cakes and sweets will butter her up,” the mystery man grumbled.
She glanced towards the front of her shop curiously, still feeling the effect of his voice. When her eyes finally landed on him, her heart stopped for a moment and she felt her palms clench. This mystery man was magnificent.
His head was turned to the side, allowing Olivia to take in his sharp jaw line and dark stubble. He had full lips, which were currently curved down into a light frown, and beautiful black hair that teased the top of his shirt collar. He was dressed in an impeccably tailored black suit that highlighted his broad shoulders. She couldn’t make out the color of his eyes from this distance, but she found herself walking more quickly towards the counter in anticipation.
This man was seriously hot and it briefly occurred to her that she felt more alive than she had for the past two weeks.
Get it together, she chided herself mentally. These were customers after all, although her thoughts were decidedly unprofessional at the moment concerning this mystery man.
The woman next to him, who Olivia hadn’t even taken notice of until then, spoke, “Oh, stop it. She loves cupcakes and if I’m the one delivering the news of the engagement, then she better be as buttered up as I can possibly make her.”
Olivia felt her heart sink a little and felt utterly ridiculous because of it. So, the mystery man was engaged. And his fiancée was as gorgeous as he was. With her silky dark hair and bright blue eyes, she could have easily been a model. And she had the wispy, lithe body to prove it.
“Do you really think you should eat that, Livy?” Miles asked, his eyes on hers, watching as she lifted a forkful of red velvet cake to her lips.
Olivia flinched. Not now.
She glanced back at the man and almost gasped.
She was struck by his height first. He easily topped six feet and was probably a few inches beyond that. Olivia was taller than the average woman, but this man shrunk her tremendously.
Hazel, was her second thought. He had beautiful hazel eyes and with a jolt she realized they were staring directly at her. She felt trapped in his gaze, but she never wanted to look away from the gold flecks and dark green swirls. Her cheeks warmed slightly when she noticed him drop his heated gaze down the length of her body and then back up again. His frown quirked up into a small smile and she felt her body throb in response.
She quickly looked back at his fiancée, embarrassed and ashamed by her reaction. How could her fiancé so publicly check out a woman without her noticing? You didn’t notice Miles doing it either, she thought bitterly.