Leave the Pieces Behind Chapter 1

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"It's chocolate cake," he said in appreciation.

Mr. Q dropped the stern act and inspected the cake with approval. "Is this cake from The Tasty Darling?"

My Aunt Crystal and Uncle Ron owned The Tasty Darling, which was one of the best bakeries to visit on the East Coast for the last ten years, based on many culinary reviews.

"It's my Aunt Crystal's recipe, but I made it from scratch." I held it out to Foster. "In honor of your seventeenth birthday. I woke extra early today to bake it, so it's still fresh." I wanted him to know how much work I had put into his present. He knew my baking skills well because he volunteered as my guinea pig when it came to baking new creations.

"Bree, you're a sweetheart." He took the cake and moved to give me a hug.

I embraced him around the waist because I couldn't reach his shoulders unless I lifted up on my toes. Foster stood over six feet. But I didn't mind. It allowed me to rest my cheek on the middle of his chest and subtly inhale his woodsy scent I wish I could spray on my clothes.

He patted my shoulder then shifted away. His dad, in his typical weekend wear of khakis and some light-colored polo shirt, complete with leather loafers, took out his cell. "I have a client calling in ten minutes. You'll remember what we talked about before we were interrupted."

"Yes, sir." Foster's smile dimmed, but his voice still held respect. Mr. Q demanded respect from everyone, including his son.

Mr. Q clapped Foster on the back, and then nodded at me. "Tell your parents I say hello, and give my regards to your aunt. I'll have to stop in The Tasty Darling next week to buy her banana bread doughnuts for my office."

"Sure." I saluted him, which actually made him wink at me. My cheeks warmed again. Mr. Q was pretty cute for an older man. Foster definitely took after his dad more than his mom. He had the tall, dark, and handsome thing going on.

Mr. Q walked toward the house, his cell to his ear. Foster watched him go, swinging his key chain around, including the one I gave him for his birthday. Seeing him with my gift gave me the major warm fuzzies.

"I think my dad has a thing for your aunt," Foster announced.

"What?" My jaw dropped in shock. Why would he think—?

He leaned toward me, close enough his chest bumped my nose. "Are you wearing makeup?"

Yes! He noticed! I'd started wearing some makeup since Mom gave me permission to when I turned fifteen in June. I usually wore the basics, such as lipstick and concealer and mascara, but not much on the weekends. This morning, I made sure I looked like the older girls in Foster's crew who would be at the lake. I wanted him to see me as more mature and not like an annoying little sister.

I thrust out my chest, along with flipping my hair over my shoulders, like many girls in my school did, to get Foster's attention, especially Tori—

All of a sudden, loud booming music blared around the corner, and two cars drove up behind Foster's car. One of the backdoors opened before the rest, and a girl with a head of bouncing red-and-blonde curls jumped out and bolted toward Foster.

He set the cake on the ground and held out his arms. "Tori!"

She jumped on him and wrapped her legs around his waist. I ducked away to stop from getting hit as he swung her around in a circle.

Tori Greeley, who should be my nemesis, blocked me from Foster's attentions. Not only the most popular girl at my school, she was also his girlfriend of one year.

She exemplified what a popular mean girl should be, much like you would find in some stereotypical teen movie. But instead, she was very sweet, almost as sweet as the chocolate Foster loved. I guess it made sense why he adored her.

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