Chapter 5

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Emma

"How was your weekend?" Jessica asked Monday afternoon. I loved working with her and I loved working at Julian's. I'd been upgraded to keyholder over the summer and my added responsibilities also meant a raise. Between teaching tennis and Julian's, I'd managed to put a way a good chunk of money over the summer. Enough that I could ease up on work hours and spend more time on school and with Zach.

"Good, how about you?"

"I was planning out my thesis. This is going to be a year from hell."

"But then you graduate and off you go to greener pastures."

"You mean the unemployment line?"

"You're smart and amazing. I'm sure you'll find a job in no time."

"I hope so. I have a shitload of school loans to pay off."

I put on my apron and got to work. Coffee needed to be made, tables cleared and the pastry showcase to be filled. With my reduced workweek Billie had hired another barista who liked to bake too. The problem was that she didn't follow my recipes and customers complained. Roxanne was the type of person who had to prove herself, to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. This led to dry muffins, rock hard cookies and pastries destined for the garbage bin. The volume of waste became so high that Billie called us both into her office before classes resumed for an intervention.

On her desk she had samples of my chocolate chip cookie, banana nut muffin and chocolate cake. She also had Roxanne's modified crap. She made us try both.

"What is the difference here?" Billie asked.

Before I could open my mouth, Roxanne was defending herself. "I'm trying to make the food here healthier. I'm using stevia and agave nectar as sweeteners and brown rice flour and garfala as a gluten free flour substitute. People will appreciate it."

Did I mention Roxanne was a loud talker? All of Julian's and probably a half mile radius around it could hear her.

"First of all, I don't know what half that crap is," Billie said. "Second, all that healthy stuff is a lot more expensive than plain old sugar and white flour. And lastly, kids around here don't care about their health. From now on you're going to follow Emma's recipes and if you don't, you will pay for all the spoilage."

That had been easy. I didn't even have to speak.

"Happy to be back in school next week?" Jessica asked.

"I am. I miss it. It's also a good routine for me."

"And how's that hot boyfriend of yours?"

"He's good."

"Doesn't he graduate this year?"

"Yes. His dad's handpicked the universities that he'll be applying to this fall."

Jessica watched me wipe down the counters then do it again less than a minute later. "So you'll being doing the long distance thing next year?"

"Probably," I said. I washed my rag then poured myself a cup of coffee.

"Probably?"

I looked at Jessica and her face was marred with confusion. "He wants me to go along with him. I think it's a crazy idea. I'd have to transfer to another university to finish off my degree then what? Leave everything behind?"

"People do that all the time. Why would you want to stay here?"

"He'll be busy with school and won't have time for me."

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