Berenice “Berry” Small was having a horrible day. It had started well enough. She woke to the soft ding of the off-shore buoy and the warm rays of the sun slanting across the bed. Stretching like a cat, a small smile curved up the corners of her full lips as the contentment of a good night’s sleep slowly ebbed under the sun’s beams. Beams she swiftly realized were too bright and too warm to be anywhere near 4am.

“Oh, no!”

She jolted from the bed, checked her alarm, and confirmed what she already knew. She had slept through the buzzer … again… and the happy glow she woke up with quickly turned to dismay and panic. Foregoing everything in her normal morning ritual, she dressed quickly and ran out to her car, popping some breath mints along the way. Berry knew the rush was useless; she was 3 hours late for the bakery. Driving crazily through the Silver Strand to Coronado wouldn’t change that. But she had to try!

She pulled up to the Sugar Cube’s last staff parking spot and sprinted to the back door, pulled it open and entered the sweet warmth of the heart of the bakery. Four pairs of eyes turned to her as she bent over double trying to catch her breath. Four pairs of varying shades of sympathy, because they all knew that Berry might as well not have shown up. 

“Berenice.” Berry straightened at the sound and winced at the tone. Her aunt Lila never used her full first name unless she meant business. This tone was definitely business. Berry looked up and met stern brown eyes. “Come help Hazel at the front so I can give Tess a break.”

Berry hung her head as she walked the length of the back of the bakery to the counter at the front, mumbling an assortment of apologies and good mornings as she passed the bakers and pastry chefs. When she stopped by her aunt, Lila gently cupped Berry’s chin – the ever-present perfume of baked goods wafting around her – and brought her niece’s gaze to hers. Berry didn’t squirm so much at the stern look but at the compassion and understanding.

“We need to talk when the morning rush is over,” Aunt Lila said softly. She then leant forward and kissed Berry’s forehead before heading briskly to the ovens. Berry took a deep breath, stiffened her spine, pasted a smile on her face, and turned around. She stepped up to the counter to ring up the next customer.

******* I’ve been playing around with this opening scene for a few weeks now…I wasn’t sure if it was worth continuing. What do you think? *******

Inspired by the Daily Post: Sixteen Tons

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