Chapter 1. Croquembouche.

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Chapter Song: Firework by Lea Michele (Glee Cover)
Chapter Quote: "Life is short. Lick the bowl."
Chapter 1: Croquembouche.
Riley's Point of View.
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Humming lightly to the random tunes flitting through the air, my hand continuously works. Whisking water; butter, sugar and salt until it becomes a thick paste. The monotonous movement becomes tiring, and as mentioned repetitive. However, the burn in my forearms as the paste becomes thicker and the concentric circles within the saucepan do nothing but bring a smile to my face.

I suppose baking is the perfect profession for me. Well, it isn't a question, baking is my life. I'm in love with everything about it. The fact that you can bring multiple ingredients together – some salty, some sweet – to create the most delicious treat still overwhelms me to this day. The smell always reminds me of home, my favorite being cinnamon. Baking fresh cinnamon rolls in my home is a Sunday must and something I wish I could carry with me throughout my day. And the taste, every single person likes something different. The look in people's eyes as they glance through my displays is exhilarating, how they linger on some more than other, the appearance of the pastry is what draws the customers in.

But, my all-time favorite thing about baking is creepily watching as the customer bites into the dessert they chose. Their eyes widen, before they flutter shut as they enjoy the flavors bursting on their tongue. Of course, as a baker for most of my life I've had some harsh criticisms. Ones that have genuinely brought me to tears. I can't blame them, they are entitled to their opinion and I'm very emotional. My heart is on my sleeve, literally.

Well, I have a small heart tattoo on my wrist bone.

Anyways, I love baking and always will. So, it came as no surprise whenever I came to a yearlong decision to open my own bakery and almost filed bankruptcy in doing so. I went to pastry school, and I don't have a business degree. But, with arduous work and determination I was able to keep my shop open, hire two helping hands and survive.

Patience.

In all aspects of my job, patience is key. Whether I'm whisking constantly, filing taxes or handling customers, patience is the most important aspect of my job. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times I've ruined recipes – in an attempt to make them better – or burn treats whenever I've fallen asleep. The Fire Department and I have become close friends. I digress, I always get frustrated and teary because I'm emotionally weak, but in the end my sleeves are pushed up and my hands are coated in flour once more. "Hi, honey. Good morning."

My best friend, Maya, saunters into the bakery's kitchen right when the clock strikes seven this morning. Her long blonde locks are sloppily placed on top of her head, a few wisps are left out. Whether accidental or on purpose doesn't matter, because the few flyway's frame her diamond shaped face. "Good Morning, peaches. How are you feeling?"

Her nose scrunches up, the small dimples on her cheeks disappear with the movement as she sets her stuff down. "I feel like I need a cup of coffee. May I?" She gestures towards the Keurig. Nodding and gesturing for her to drink as much as she'd like, a small grin curls her lips. "So, what all needs to be done? And, how long have you been here?"

"About an hour ago," I lie. "The layers of the cake are done. We just need to place them, ice them and decorate them. The chocolate strawberries are done, and in the flash freezer. I'm working on the dough for the croquembouche, the filling is in the fridge."

In an attempt to avoid her searing gaze, I concentrate back on my work. Listening to random Glee covers, and singling along to appear as nonchalant as possible. "So, you're telling me that you've been here for an hour and completed all of that?" Caught. Fudge. My gaze flickers towards my best friend momentarily and it only takes that small glance to notice her glaring icy blue eyes. Those things are beautiful to look at when she isn't giving me that type of expression. "You didn't go home. Did you?"

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