Leave the Pieces Behind Chapter 1

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Foodie Fact #1: Chocolate has a chemical called phenylethylamine, which causes someone to feel attraction, excitement, and giddiness.

I'd become paranoid, not just because my black lab, Hunter, watched me pace my living room, but I swore the chocolate mousse cake I had baked this morning at five a.m. stared at me, too. Sure, a cake doesn't have eyes, but I decorated it with white-chocolate truffles that could double as them.

As Hunter inched closer to the cake on the coffee table, complete with drool sliding from the corner of his mouth, I may have snarled at him. A first for me. I never snarled at anyone, humans or dogs. But with my nerves jangling like crazy, I decided to blame my hormones. At fifteen, I may have been a few years past puberty, but I, Breanna Charlotte Apollo, had the worst crush on the just-turned seventeen-year-old hunk, Foster Quinn, president of the senior class of Musgrove High and one of the hottest guys I knew.

My longtime crush beginning in the seventh grade had grown into full-blown lust—which, of course, explained why I woke up before dawn on this Saturday morning to bake a chocolate-mousse-with-graham-cracker-crust cake from scratch. Foster had a bad chocolate addiction, like me. This cake would be my birthday gift for him, a few days late. His birthday had landed in the middle of the week, and I had given him a silver key chain with his initial on it for his keys to the new silver Jeep Renegade his parents bought him.

A way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Once I gave him the cake, he would invite me to the lake—where he'd planned to go with his group of friends, aka his crew.

Hopefully, he would notice I'd dressed for the lake, in my bathing suit, board shorts, and tank top. Even though it was the last weekend of September, the Indian summer still lasted, which meant having more time to hang out with Foster.

His parents owned a house near Devon Lake. Foster and his crew had hung out there most of the summer. I'd never been asked to join, but, now, I had the power of my homemade chocolate cake to convince him this time. People raved about my ooey-gooey, sin-in-the mouth desserts, especially Foster. When I presented him his birthday cake I had made just for him in the pre-dawn hours, maybe then he would finally understand how much he meant to me.

Hunter nudged his nose in the plastic Saran wrapped cake. I swooped it up, then inhaled to calm down. I had to catch Foster before he left without me.

After wiggling my toes in my flip-flops and then cracking my neck from side to side, I stepped outside to near-perfect weather for swimming. Foster's Jeep sat across the street, including the man himself with his dad.

Mr. Quinn did most of the talking while Foster listened. Not wanting to intrude, I waited impatiently. Eh, screw it.

"Hey, Foster!" I yelled loud enough for the entire street to hear.

Startled, he turned in my direction. I took a second to soak him in, mainly his face, which had a perfect tan from him spending most of the summer outdoors.

Mr. Q didn't seem pleased with my interrupting, but I ignored it as I walked toward them, clutching the pan of chocolatey goodness.

"Hiya, B.A." Foster used my initials as his nickname for me. He kept his eyes on the cake instead of on me. When I reached him, he ruffled my hair. Instead of giving me a hug or a nudge like he did with his other friends, he always tapped the top of my head—an ongoing thing between us for years.

My face warmed. Hopefully, he or his dad wouldn't notice.

"I bought you another gift for your birthday, even though it's a few days late." I presented the cake to Foster, who licked his bottom lip.

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