Mirabelle's body was slumped over the marble counter of the Queen Pin kitchen, her head resting on her folded arms. Dark brown hair flopped over her face.
"You look like a hot mess," April said, walking through the back door of the bakery. "Sort of like you took a sucker punch to the stomach."
"Itwasaskateboardactually," Mirabelle mumbled, not even bothering to lift her head.
"Oh," April said, her voice going up an octave. "That's interesting."
"Yeah. Interesting," Mirabelle said, pushing against the marble to stand up. "I take it I'm not going to live this one down ... am I?"
"Not today," April said with a smirk. "Is there anything I can do for you? Advil, ice, pinch your arm to divert the pain?"
"You can check on those whoopie pies in the oven."
April walked over to the row of ovens lining the back wall of the bakery and peeked inside the one closest to her, pausing to take a deep breath.
"What kind of whoopie pies are we making today? I smell something more than chocolate in there-ere," April said, her voice rising with interest.
"There's nothing in the cake part. You must be smelling the filling - crème de menthe," Mirabelle replied, gesturing to a stainless-steel bowl filled with a pale green cream.
"Does that mean what I think it means?" April asked with enthusiasm.
"Maybe," Mirabelle replied, cracking her first smile of the morning. "Grasshoppers are invading the bakery."
April jumped up and down, clapping her hands. The red bun on top of her head bounced as she celebrated.
"Yay for grasshoppers! Do you think that hot old bartender from Cabo will come up to help serve them?"
"Seeing as our spring break in Cabo was, like, six years ago, I'm betting that guy is using a walker," Mirabelle said. "But boy did he make a mean grasshopper. How many do you think we drank on that trip?"
"The whole trip?" April asked, pulling the sheet of cakey cookies out of the oven. The metal sheet pan clunked against the counter. "I don't think I can count that high."
Mirabelle let out a laugh. It seemed like the first time she laughed in ages.
"Probably better that we don't count," she said. "Would you mind filling those whoopie pies? I am going to go out front."
The early morning sun had set the bakery aglow. Pinks and reds bounced off the clear acrylic tables of Queen Pin, the cupcakes appearing backlit in the case. The glass covering the black-and-white photos of Paris glimmered.
A photo of April with then-culinary student Mirabelle in front of the Arc du Triomphe caught Mirabelle's eye. The two girls were in jeans and matching pea coats they had bought the day before when Paris' March weather took a turn for winter. The snapshot, the only one in the bakery featuring faces, was askew, tilting to the left. She marched over to the frame and turned it to the right.
"Note to self: Remind cleaning crew to dust," she muttered, brushing a thin layer of gray fuzz from her fingers on the side of her black-and-white checked pants. As she did so, her eyes caught the face of her watch - it was just a few seconds shy of 7 a.m. Time to open. Mirabelle navigated around the tables and chairs, making her way to the front door. It clicked as she unlocked it and the bell rung as she swung it open.
Outside, the street was quiet and nearly empty, just a few delivery trucks dotting Calhoun Street. A young-looking guy was taking bottles of beer into Dash-In and a Pepsi truck was outside Pint & Slice.
Mirabelle walked out and lowered herself onto the steps, a front-row seat to watch downtown slowly come to life. A car would come by now and then; office workers eager to start their days would rush by. Mirabelle's eyes tracked them, wondering who would be the first to stop by for a grasshopper whoopie pie.
In the distance, she could see a group of men - at least she thought it was men - running toward her. Mirabelle could hear their foot strikes as they moved closer, and she noted that they were moving at an impressive pace.
"Nope, not them," she said as the fit men neared her. They didn't seem like the kind of guys who indulged in her treats.
Mirabelle put her hands behind her, pushing against the cement to stand up, and decided to head back inside the bakery.
"I see how it is," Mirabelle heard a voice say.
"Huh?" she said.
"I run by to say 'hi' and as soon as I get here, you decided to leave."
Mirabelle turned around, where a pair of blue eyes met hers. Blue eyes belonging to one Harrison Todd.
"Oh . no . umm . I didn't see you," she sputtered.
"Sure you didn't," he said, smiling big. "I have to say, you didn't give me much choice but to make the stop. What are you making today that smells so amazing?"
"Grasshoppers," Mirabelle said nervously.
"Grasshoppers?" Harrison asked, raising a sweat-drenched blonde eyebrow. "Well, that's a new one. How do you prepare a grasshopper?"
"Oh, no, no, no. Not grasshopper grasshoppers," Mirabelle said trying to correct herself. "Grasshopper whoopie pies."
As soon as she said it, Mirabelle's face turned bright red - like the logo of the Pepsi truck across the street.
"Interesting. Very interesting," Harrison said, clearly amused as he placed his hands on his hips. "I'm curious what a grasshopper whoopie pie might taste like."
"I could go get you one to try," Mirabelle said, turning toward the bakery and rushing through the threshold.
"Mirabelle. Mirabelle!" Harrison screamed, trying to get her attention.
Mirabelle stopped and turned toward him.
"I need to finish my run. How 'bout I try one after dinner," Harrison said. "I'll be by at 6:30?"
"Uh . yeah . sounds good," Mirabelle said.
"So, I'll see you then? Here, at the bakery?"
"Yeah. See you then."
Harrison waved goodbye as he set off. Mirabelle watched him as he ran, slinking in the doorway. Her face . still the color of the Pepsi logo.