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I should have known that she would figure something was wrong. In high school we were pretty close. Plus, she knows my mother, so I know I can talk to her about it, and she’s going to understand.

“My mom…” I start.

“What did she do now?” she asks with a roll of her eyes. Automatically, Lacy’s hand goes to her hip, and her shoulders straighten in defense. She’s been there for many of the arguments my mom and I have had over the years. I hate being vulnerable, but I know I need to talk to someone about it.

“Well, let’s see. She decided to come in today and announce to anyone within hearing range that I had dropped out of school and that I’m fat.”

Lacy gasps and I continue, “Yep, that about sums it up.”

“Carrie, no! You had to be mortified. I’m so sorry. And she’s wrong, you know.”

“Don’t! Just don’t!” I tell her, holding up my hand to stop her. I know what she’s going to say. As my friend, she feels the need to tell me that I’m not fat, and she thinks I’m pretty, but I don’t want to hear it today. “I know I’m big. But I also know my mom shouldn’t be talking about me the way she was. It’s over, though. I just let it get to me is all.”

Lacy seems to think about it. “You know what we need? A girls’ night out. Me, you, Chrissy, and I heard Rose was back in town. Let’s all go out to the Roadside Diner and Bar tonight.”

“No, that’s okay. I’m not going to be much company. I know that. There’s no sense ruining everyone else’s night.”

She pulls out her phone and starts typing away.

“What are you doing?” I ask her.

“Planning tonight.”

I start to argue, but her phone dings. “Chrissy is in. She can get a babysitter for Katie.”

“I haven’t seen Chrissy in forever,” I say, mentioning an old friend from high school. She was a year older than me and two years older than Lacy, but we all still had some classes together. She got married right out of high school and opened the gym beside Patty’s.

“Yep, that’s what she just said.” She holds the phone up and Chrissy’s text reads, I haven’t seen Carrie in forever. Can’t wait! with a bunch of emojis.

“I guess I’m in,” I tell her.

She looks at me like she never doubted it. “Great! I’ll pick you up tonight at seven.”

We settle the bill, and it isn’t long before I start closing the bakery.

I go home first and use the back entrance so I can avoid seeing or speaking to my mother. I get some relief when my dad says that Mom is meeting with her quilting group. Great, some more people for her to tell that I dropped out of college and am fat, I think bitterly. No doubt they are all caught up on the latest events in my life and all the ways I’m disappointing too.

I shower and get dressed up for the night out with my friends. I take the extra time to curl my hair and put makeup on. I’m even wearing a dress.

Lacy texts me, and I come down the stairs. “Dad, I’m going out with friends.”

“You look beautiful, honey. Be safe. Call if you need anything.”

I hug my dad and kiss him on the cheek. He’s always so kind. He means well, but I know he’s biased when it comes to me.ScottI’m kicking myself for not at least getting her phone number. I’m at home and should be sleeping off such a long shift, but I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. All I want to do is see Carrie or at least talk to her. I know she was hurt today, and I just need to know she’s okay. I’m still amazed by the way her mother talked about her. Does she not know how beautiful Carrie is? I feel like I can barely catch my breath when I’m around her she’s so pretty. And so what if she dropped out of school? Obviously, baking makes her happy, and she’s really good at it. Even though I don’t like sweets normally, I’ve tried her quiche and even one of her oatmeal cookies and they were the best I’ve ever had.

I could be calling her and asking her out if I’d been thinking before and asked her for her number. How could I not have asked her for her number?

My phone rings, and the caller ID tells me it’s one of my lieutenants. “Yeah,” I say hurriedly into the phone. Mack doesn’t usually call unless there’s something wrong or if I’m needed for something.


I blow out a breath impatiently. “Yeah, Mack. It’s me.”

There’s a bunch of noise in the background, and I can barely understand him. “Hey, I just thought you’d want to know. Carrie from the bakery is at the Roadside.”