Ben Preston stepped into Wynne's Kitchen at Rockefeller Center, knowing full well these
next few minutes would determine whether he would take over this store or not. The only
information the H.R. manager had divulged was that the last general manager had
emotionally collapsed under the weight of the numbers the popular dessert bakery saw on
a daily basis, so they were looking for a GM who could handle volume, particularly in a
Fast-paced was practically Ben's middle name. And even though he had admitted his
complete lack of bakery experience, the H.R. manager insisted he meet with Wynne and
take a look around their Rockefeller Center location. It wasn't overconfidence that kept
him from being surprised, because he worked hard for his reputation—he was the
captain, the go-to guy when a company needed a location to succeed.
Ben waded his way through the crowd that waited for service while the counter staff
grabbed and bagged items as fast as they could, managing to do so with smiles on their
faces. All this for cupcakes and pastries? At least this place could provide the muchneeded
distraction from his pending divorce.
Spotting the woman he guessed to be his new boss, Wynne Lansing, he made his way
toward the register. She was all sophistication, even in an apron and street clothes, with a
bandana tied around her auburn hair. She looked as if she was ready to throw down in the
kitchen with the rest of the bakers. Wynne must have wanted to illustrate that she still
remained active in day-to-day operations. Chuckling inwardly, Ben smiled and took her
hand to shake it as he introduced himself.
"Wow," Wynne remarked as she leaned back to get a better look at him. "How tall are
"Six-four, ma'am," he answered with a smile. "I come from a family of Vikings."
"Clearly! Well, we have some low ceilings in the basement, so be careful."
"I'll be sure to do that. So, tell me about this place."
Wynne nodded, motioning for him to follow her down into the basement. Her voice
was loud and clear over the roar of the excited customers shouting their orders. "This is
our flagship location. We call it The Rock for two reasons. One—obviously—we're at
Rockefeller Center. Two, this location consistently sells the most product, sees the most
traffic, and is the highest-rated unit in the entire company. We need someone here who
won't just maintain its status but will strive to make it better."
"Gotcha," he replied, narrowly avoiding slamming his head on a low ceiling. "How
are the other stores performing?"
Wynne practically dashed through what Ben immediately knew to be the prep area.
"They're all doing great, given their locations and challenges. We were hoping to see
how you do here, then potentially have you move through the other locations to see what
kind of magic you work there."
He'd already spotted areas throughout the store where his strict fine-dining
background might be completely useless. But he also saw where his expertise could be
injected, so the fact that Wynne seemed to have already pegged him as the guy to get the
job done was encouraging. He'd spent a lot of time in recent weeks questioning
everything about his career and life in general—so the ego stroke was rather validating.
"So are you saying I have the job?"
Wynne stopped and turned around. "You came highly recommended. Everyone we
called had nothing but amazing things to say about you. I want you with Wynne's
Kitchen. And I'm prepared to meet your salary requirements and exceed them when you
prove that your incredible reputation is not unwarranted."
Ben chuckled. "This is all very intense."
Wynne shrugged with a grin. "I know what I want."
"I see that," Ben replied. "I'm happy to come on board and, frankly, thankful that
you've put so much faith in me."
"It's my pleasure," Wynne said. "I recently hired a production supervisor in your same
position. She lacked experience but has all of the skills I'm looking for to do great. And
so do you. We're a great team, and I know you'll get the support you need to excel, just
like she did. So, do I need to give you a tour of the prep area?"
"Actually, it's pretty compact. I'm guessing I could point out the sections without
doing much more than a spin: prep, dry storage, walk-in, paper goods."
Wynne laughed. "Exactly. Let's show you around upstairs, and we'll get your
They breezed back through the prep area, where he couldn't help but notice the
amazing smell of caramel as a cook whisked vigorously in a metal saucepan. Ben led the
way up the stairs, gradually becoming more excited about the new job with every step he
took. He turned the corner to the hallway that led to the main floor and was suddenly met
with a pair of eyes that looked like two pools of silvery silk. He stopped short, his
sneakers squeaking as he did so. Ben's vision focused on an unknown woman staring
back at him, looking about as surprised as he did that they'd managed to avoid colliding.
She was tall, and her jet-black hair was bundled up in a hair net. She clutched her
clipboard and continued to stare at him fixedly, her eyes wide. His eyes involuntarily
scanned her body. Built like the sexiest of female superheroes, her solid body curved
more dangerously than a winding road. He forced his eyes to focus on her forehead. So
Wynne stepped around Ben, breaking the trance between him and the girl. "Oh,
good—just in time! This young lady is your production supervisor. You'll be working
closely together; she handles all of the production and makes sure you don't waste money
on unused product. She'll be your greatest asset while you're getting to know this store.
Ben, meet Violet."
He took a deep breath as he nodded in greeting, knowing full well that with Violet in
his store, he was in for a challenge bigger than he ever could have anticipated.