PART TWO - Chapter 33

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EMMA

I hadn't expected to be so nervous on my first day of pastry class. I mean, I'd been baking for years—and not just home alone in my kitchen, but in professional bakeries. I knew things, I reminded myself, though that didn't seem true at the moment.

When I spotted Thayer, I smiled. What a change from the first time I'd seen him in this very room. Back then, I hadn't been able to get far enough away. Now, I ran toward him, hoping he and I could share a cooking station. It was a small thing, but having a familiar face right next to me would definitely make me feel better.

"Anyone in this spot?" I asked, before I put my things down.

Thayer gestured to the station grandly. "Nope. I've been saving it for you."

"Once again, you're a lifesaver." I stowed my bag and put on my apron, smoothing it down against my front. "Did I miss anything?"

Thayer pointed to the copy of the syllabus that sat at my station. "Just that we're making profiteroles today."

The waves in my stomach slowed. "Really? That's awesome. I'm good at those." As much as I was looking forward to learning to make new pastries, starting out the class with a familiar recipe seemed like a good sign.

Thayer chuckled. "Emma Andrews, you're good at pretty much everything, and you know it."

I grinned and shrugged, happier than ever that he was working next to me. We listened to the instructor as she described our process, then watched her mix her dough. Finally, we got busy, measuring and mixing and filling the room with the clicks and thunks of baking that, to me, seemed as close as I'd ever get to making music. I'd never been surrounded by so many people who shared my passion for baking before. It was a nice feeling.

"You're being much kinder to your pastry today," Thayer noted, glancing at my dough. "Things must be better with your fiancé."

"I guess I was pretty rough that day," I said with a laugh. "But yes, things are great with us now. It was all a big misunderstanding." I glanced up as I talked and noticed a guy two rows away, whose blue eyes seemed glued to Thayer. I went back to my mixing for a minute, then peeked again. He was still staring. "I think you have an admirer," I told Thayer quietly.

He gave a little smile and rolled his eyes. "Happens all the time. One of the hazards of being the son of the best pastry chef in New York City. Other students are always trying to get close to me to get to him."

My eyes widened. "That really happens? That's terrible."

"Oh, it's not so bad. Especially when the person is hot, like this guy." He glanced the guy's way and then back at me, his eyes twinkling.

I didn't know what to say. Had I missed something? I raised an eyebrow and waited for an explanation.

Thayer raised his hands. "I know, I know, I tried to hit on you. But a guy can like both teams, right?"

His innocent leer made me giggle. "Apparently," I said.

His tray now filled with rows of perfect one-inch dough balls, Thayer slipped it into the oven and set the timer. "And now, because I work faster than you, I have a few minutes to see if this is anything worth pursuing." He walked purposefully over to the staring guy's station. In just a few seconds, they were smiling and chatting like they'd never been strangers.

Clearly, my friend Thayer was full of surprises.

***

ZACH

I took a deep breath and knocked on Dr. Buchanan's office door. I couldn't imagine why she wanted to see me, and even worse, why she'd wanted to talk to me in her office instead of the classroom. But the clinic had barely started, so unless she had an issue with the way I took notes or something, I couldn't think of anything I'd done wrong. Yet.

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