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The Thing About Love(2)
Author: Kim Karr


More than a dozen wedding planners had pitched the Governor’s son’s soon-to-be bride, but none had met her expectations. In her correspondence to me, she not only provided more than one list of wedding musts, but she also told me she expected me to wow her.

I would certainly say this cake should do the trick.

Finally feeling like the meeting was going to go even better than I planned, I hurried around the corner. Once at the entrance, I took a single deep breath hoping to expel any remaining jitters before I opened the front door.

I so had this.

As soon as I walked through the lobby and into the showroom, all of my senses engaged, and just like that my worries disappeared. Not only was there a delicious scent of chocolate wafting through the air, but also the sight of the bowl of icing sitting beside the cake made me drool. And don’t get me started on the massive lovebirds perched so perfectly upon the top tier. Although I knew they were made from pure sugar and more than edible, they looked so real they gave me goose bumps.

There was no doubt about it—this wedding cake was not only a work of art, it was also a masterpiece.

From the doorway, I cleared my throat to alert Montgomery I had arrived. “Hi,” I greeted.

“You’re early,” Montgomery tossed over his shoulder with his thick southern drawl as he finished transforming a panel of fondant into a swatch of elegant, edible, tree branches.

Rushing over to him, I took my sunglasses off to better admire his work and made a hush noise. “Pretend I’m not here. I just thought I’d watch you work for a bit.”

With a confidence that never failed to amaze me, he placed the completed tree branch on the bottom tier, and then he glanced over at me. “Darling, I hate to say this, but I don’t believe that for one minute. I know you. You came for a sample before your new clients arrive.”

I shook my head. “Nope, not today.”

Reaching over, he pretended to feel my forehead. “My Juliette, are you ill?”

Montgomery was the only person I allowed to call me by my proper name. After moving from New York to Atlanta to live with my uncle, I was teased in school relentlessly about all kinds of things—being the new girl, a Northerner, my New York accent, my height, my lack of southern grace. You name it, the mean girls used it. They wanted to make sure I stayed away from the boys they liked, and when they came up with the Romeo and Juliette clichés, they taunted me with them for almost a year. Ever since then Jules was the only name I ever went by.

Pushing Montgomery’s hand away, I fluttered my lips in mock protest. “Don’t be ridiculous, I couldn’t possibly indulge in chocolate this early in the day. That would be crazy. You know it makes me hyper. Besides, I just ate lunch and I’m way too full.”

He continued to eye me with speculation. In his own way, he was a very handsome older man. Today, his salt and pepper shoulder-length hair was pulled back in a low ponytail. And beneath his slightly wrinkled, double-breasted chef’s jacket that showed a gut that screamed of the sweets he ate, he wore a Tiffany-blue tie.

Nice touch.

His houndstooth–patterned, black and white pants were, of course, to die for, but when he put on that torque blanche hat of his, which was always stuffed in his pocket, he drove the women mad, especially the mothers of the brides.

Too bad he was taken, and his husband didn’t like to share. That didn’t stop Montgomery from exerting his deep southern charm every chance he could.

He made a burly sigh of disappointment as he picked up the metal spatula from a cup of water on the counter. “Did I tell you this cake has four moist layers of chocolate? Four! And that each layer is not only held together by ganache filling but also filled with a tremendous amount of it as well?”

Even though he couldn’t see me, I pretended to cover my ears. “Stop taunting me. It isn’t nice.”

Smoothing a few spots of icing with only the very tip of his tool, he ignored me. “Oh, and in case I didn’t mention this either, I made an extra tier just for you. It’s in the refrigerator chilling, just the way you like it.”

The way he was describing the cake made it sound like a bottle of the most expensive champagne. “Montgomery,” I warned. “I can’t.”

He shrugged. “I know, I know, you never do anything crazy like eat—”

Lost in the moment, I stared at the cake and licked my lips. It had been a long day, and it wasn’t even dinnertime yet. One piece wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might just help by giving me that little extra spunk every girl needed once in a while.

Setting the spatula down, he got back to working on the branches. He pulled some kind of white, straw-like thingy from a drawer and then using it, he molded them into place. While he worked, he continued to describe the details of the cake until it became the only thing I could think about. Eventually, I subconsciously tuned him out as my mind wandered.

Four filled layers.

Chocolate.

Ganache.

Chilled.

With only the thought of the taste of that cake on my tongue, I practically orgasmed on the spot.

Hey, thinking dreamily of that cake was the most exciting thing to happen to me in . . . too long.

I blinked back the sad reminder of how imperfect my life was. “Well, if you insist,” I told Montgomery, “but not until you’re finished. We don’t have much time before my clients are due to arrive.”

Swapping out his tools, he ran the spatula under the tree branch and around the tier. Smoothing the icing into place with such concentration, I had no idea how he remained so steady. When he finished, he placed the metal tool back in the water along with the straw-like thingy and pushed the vessel against the backsplash. “There, now it’s finished,” he declared, a happy gleam in his eyes.

I clapped my hands together. “This cake is so great!”

He nodded in agreement. “Now I’ll get you that piece of cake and then clean up.”

“Oh, no,” I declared, “I’m not eating alone. You have to share it with me.”

A girl never likes to eat cake by herself unless she’s in her bed drowning boy troubles in cake and ice cream.

It’s a fact.

The coy look on his face made me grin. “Oh, my darling,” he laughed. “I would be more than happy to.” He lowered his voice. “But you have to keep it between us.”

“You mean like a secret?”

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