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I laugh and even snort a little at that. Chrissy would do the same thing. Chrissy was one of my good friends in high school, and I’m excited to see her. I can’t wait, actually. She was always working out in high school, and it was her dream to own her own fitness studio, which she’s done. Her studio is right next to Patty Cakes Bakery, but Chrissy wasn’t in today when I walked over to see her. I can already picture it in my mind. Chrissy’s going to talk me into working out with her, and then we’ll go over to Patty Cakes to enjoy a treat. It’s all about balance.

I shake my head and smile, thinking of my friend. “I don’t want to work at the gym, Mom. I’m perfectly happy working with Patty at the bakery. I actually had a great time today.”

I smile my biggest smile at her, as if I’m trying to convince her how happy I am being home and getting to do what I love. She starts to argue with me, I can see it in the way her lips crease in a tight line. But before she can open her mouth, my dad has placed his hand over Mom’s on top of the table. He interrupts her softly. “That’s right, Suzy. You should have seen our girl. She was having a great time today, and I heard people raving about the cinnamon rolls when I went in to pick her up.” He squeezes her hand softly and gives her a pointed look. “Let her be, honey. She’s home and she’s happy. That’s all that matters.”

I put another bite of salad in my mouth to keep quiet. I don’t want to end a perfect day with another fight with my mother. I’m going to eat the salad without dressing she fixed for dinner and then prepare for my first day at the bakery.3CarrieI’m up and dressed for my first day at the bakery in my jeans and Patty Cakes T-shirt. I no sooner get down the steps than my mom is already up and meeting me at the door. “Are you sure you should be working at the bakery?” she asks with a pointed look at my hips.

“Yes, Mom. I’m going to work at the bakery,” I tell her, already frustrated.

She throws her hands up, and for a second I think she’s going to give up, but now instead of harping on my weight, she decides to nag me to put more effort into my appearance. “You have such a pretty face, Carrie. Some makeup and contouring tricks can make your face look much less round.”

Of course by round, she means fat.

Instead of arguing, I walk back up the steps without another word. I take a few minutes to add some blush to my cheeks and some mascara to my already long eyelashes. When I walk back downstairs I can tell she’s not fully satisfied, but at least she doesn’t argue with me.

I’m relieved when I finally get out of the house even if it’s still dark out and before most people have finished their REM sleep cycle.

The air feels good and smells like rain and springtime.

It’s good to be home.ScottThere’s a new woman working behind the counter at the bakery. She’s blond, and even though she’s pretty, it still makes me feel even more grumpy than I already do. I got called out twice last night to help Crawford, the rookie, on the job with some calls he wasn’t sure how to handle, the first time including kids going cow tipping and the second time because of a suspicious parked car that ended up belonging to a neighbor. If Crawford doesn’t start showing that he has a backbone to work the job and not just carry the badge, I’m going to have to fire him.

All I need is some donut jokes coming from the new girl.

It never fails. Ever since I’ve taken on the badge, even before I was sheriff, the women and men behind food counters always have to make some sort of jab about cops and donuts. It gets old faster than fast.

“Good morning! What can I get you?” the blonde behind the counter asks with a wide smile.

“Just a coffee, please.”

“Sure, how do you like it?” she asks with her head tilted to the side. For just a second, I get distracted by the blue of her eyes. They remind me of a perfect summer day.

I shake my head. “Uh, surprise me,” I answer her, instead of telling her black. I always drink black coffee, and I don’t know what caused me to buy anything else today.

She looks surprised for a second, but then her smile gets even bigger, and she nods her head. “Yes, sir. One surprise coffee coming right up.”

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