Chapter 3

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To Dannon's intense disappointment the infuriating creature wasn't in the shop the next morning as he was now determined to get this over with, and fast. Instead he was served by an older, balding man who he guessed to be her father. It appeared Wednesday was her morning off and though the father was friendly enough, he had been unable to get any useful information. There were several cafés a few doors down however, so later that afternoon he returned, without the glamour, in a position where he could keep an eye on the bakery.

She turned the 'closed' sign around at four o'clock, and came out to clean down the tables ready for the evening shift. Customers came and went and he watched as she laughed and joked and chatted with everyone. She certainly seemed to have a vivacious and cheerful disposition - if you liked that sort of thing - and everyone who came to the bakery seemed to leave with a smile. Well, except him.

He had begun to believe he was wasting his time again when a young woman turned up, in obvious distress. She was heavily pregnant and Anaïs lost no time in sitting her down and bringing her a glass of water. He watched with rapt attention as she got out a little glass bottle and put a few drops in the water before handing it to the woman who drank it down. Anaïs took the woman's hand in hers and sat for a moment with her eyes closed before reaching a hand out and placing it gently on her swollen belly. After a few moments she smiled and the woman beside her seemed to visibly relax.

Dannon got up and walked over to the bakery and sat himself down outside, at the empty table beside them. He nodded at Anaïs who smiled back at him before turning her attention back to her companion.

"Merci beaucoup, Anaïs, I feel so much better now," the woman said, her tired eyes full of relief.

"Don't be over-dramatic," Anaïs replied, laughing and shaking her head. "I didn't do anything, you were just getting yourself in a tizzy, that's all."

The woman shook her head. "No, I wasn't," she replied, her tone certain. She reached into her bag for her purse and Anaïs grabbed her hand.

"Don't you dare, I mean it, it was nothing," she said with a firm smile. "Now go home and put your feet up this instant and get that good for nothing husband of yours to make the dinner for once."

She smiled at Anaïs and kissed her on the cheek. "You're an angel."

Dannon watched curiously as they said goodbye and Anaïs got up to take his order. He nodded at the retreating figure.

"Is she alright?" he asked, trying not to look too interested.

Anaïs raised her eyebrows in surprise at his question. "Yes, she's fine, just a first time mum getting herself worked up ... they often do."

He looked at her sharply, wondering how she spoke with such authority. "Do you have children then?"

She smiled at the question and Dannon cursed himself as he realised she would misinterpret his interest. "No, I don't actually. I'm not married either and I don't have a boyfriend ... if you were wondering," she added, winking at him.

"I wasn't," he said and scowled at her, wondering what it was about her that made him feel so brittle. "Why did she come to you," he pressed. "Are you a nurse of some kind?"

Her face shuttered up immediately and she shook her head. "No. I'm not, she's just a friend. Now did you want to order something?"

He smiled this time, satisfied that she was hiding something. "Well as you were so determined, I will try one of those strawberry tarts."

A look of amusement crossed her face, though she was still regarding him with suspicion. "Too late. I'm afraid they're all gone."

"Oh well, another time then." He began to get up to leave.

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