The Sweetest Fix

Page 28

Her plan was to shower, change and search online for more open call listings, but when she walked into the apartment and smelled chocolate, a wave of sadness rolled through Reese, halting her halfway between the front door and the hallway.

Marie, her landlady, turned from the kitchen counter where she appeared to be whipping frosting in a standing mixer. She cast an assessing glance in Reese’s direction, drawing a chocolate-dipped finger in and out of her mouth slowly. “Broadway has chewed you up and spit you out already?”

Reese firmed her chin. “Not just yet.” She’d already learned to have thick skin where the blunt Miss LaRue was concerned. “What are you making?”

“Dark chocolate truffles.” For a moment, the landlady seemed hesitant to share more, but she finally patted a white sack on the counter. “This is cocoa powder used at my favorite bakery in Paris. My childhood friend Jean-Marc sends me some every month. There is nothing in this country that compares.”

“Wow.” Her throat hurt. “I know someone who would love that.”

“The boy you are moping about, I assume.”

“I’m not—”

The French woman’s snort cut her off. “You chose the dance over the boy. I did this, too, once upon a time.”

“It’s a little more complicated than that,” Reese said quietly.

Marie hummed.

“Do you regret it? Choosing dance over everything?” Reese asked.

“Depends what time of day, what time of year, what time of month you are asking, oui?” A brief smile danced across her lips and she regarded Reese out of the corner of her eye for a beat, then flipped the standing mixer on a higher setting. “Jean-Marc sent me two bags of cocoa this month,” she said loudly to be heard over the whirring appliance. “If you have use for the rest of his bag, I suppose I can spare some.”

“Oh.” The unexpected kindness from the usually standoffish woman had her sputtering. “Thank you.”

Reese made it two steps to her bedroom, before she turned back around and collected the bag of French cocoa powder from the kitchen, making Marie chuckle quietly. Reese would drop the sack off tonight at the bakery for Leo. Just by way of apology for causing him so much extra work. Maybe she would include a tiny, little—friendly—note. This was a safe move because he wouldn’t be there and it would go a little ways toward easing her guilt. This whole viral TikTok thing was squarely on her head and she owed him a gesture, at the very least.

He wouldn’t be there.

She’d be in and out. No risk involved whatsoever.

Chapter 13



Every business owner in Manhattan dreamed of wall-to-wall customers.

Even Leo, on occasion.

But not today.

It was getting close to dinnertime and the place was jam-packed with young people offering them an obscene amount of money to be added to the non-existent VIP list and asking to take selfies with him, which he all too quickly declined. Apparently in the space of a few hours, he’d become known as #meanbaker on TalkTalk and he wanted no part of it.

After their website received two hundred orders in the space of fifteen minutes, Leo was able to convince Jackie to close the submission form, but that didn’t stop the traffic from crashing the site completely. Leo knew he was supposed to be thrilled about this. But he only wanted reality put back the way it had been this morning.

Or better yet, Wednesday, before he’d overstepped and sent Reese running out of his apartment like her hair was on fire.

Was it that thought of Reese that had him imagining her in the crowd of fifty trust fund kids, pushing her way toward the register?


She was actually there. Reese was in the Cookie Jar.

When their eyes locked, her step faltered and he could see it. The way she thought about turning around and walking back out. His pulse flew into a race and he knew, didn’t have a doubt that he would go after her, if she did. Seeing her face was like breathing fresh air after being trapped in a fucking mine and he couldn’t let it end so soon.

She didn’t leave, though.

Leo could only stare at her mutely as she came forward slowly, stopping in front of the counter and setting something down between them. That ease she brought with her flowed into his bloodstream, the silence seeming to pack in around them, insulating them from the surrounding crowd. The bakery might as well have been empty except for her.

“I saw the TikTok. Which is technically now on…every platform.” They traded a grimace. “I brought you cocoa powder from Paris to dull the sting of unwanted internet fame. Courtesy of my landlady, the mysterious Miss LaRue,” she said, finally, loud enough to be heard over the noise. “Leo, I’m sorry about all this.”

He liked it too much that she knew him. Well enough to know he would hate this disorder to his world, as opposed to loving the extra business and attention. “It’s not your fault, Reese.”

A smile ghosted across her lips and instantly, he was in physical pain that he couldn’t kiss her. “It is a little my fault.”

“Fine,” he said gruffly. “A little.”

Without breaking eye contact, she nudged the bag toward him. “Mea culpa.”

Leo picked up the sack, pretending to examine it, even though he could think of nothing but how pretty she looked. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I knew you’d appreciate it.”

“I do,” he said, meaning it.

Reese rolled her lips inward, glancing around the shop. “Do you want to maybe…talk in the back?”

Maybe he should have double-checked to make sure Tad and Jackie had everything covered, but not a split second passed before he answered. “Yes.”

Some kid bounded up to the glass. “Mean Baker, can I get a self—”

“Nope.” He lifted the hatch for a giggling Reese and she ducked under. A minute later, they were in the back, the excessive noise muffled by the swinging door. For a moment, all he could do was look at her. “I can hang up your coat.”

“Oh. Thanks.”

Watching her flick open the purple buttons one by one, her graceful fingers seemed to move in slow motion, causing his tongue to grow thick in his mouth. She parted the wool and shrugged it off, her breasts jiggling left to right inside her tight, white V-neck sweater. Jesus, he could actually hear himself swallow, his body recalling the erotic sensation of her hips whipping back and forth on his lap, her mouth open in a throaty moan.

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