he’d have run out of reasons to be there. Which would give them maybe five more minutes to talk before he left her with no idea when or if she’d see him again. She needed more time to work around to asking if he was involved with anyone. Maybe not the greatest move—asking out a customer—but Daniel had finally woken her long-dormant interest in dating, and well…here he was. She didn’t know any other guys she’d want to date. Jack and Seth were both sexy, but Seth belonged with Bonnie, though he was too dense to figure it out, and Jack wasn’t her type, nor she his. Besides, going after either of them would be like trying to date one of her brothers.
She turned back to find Daniel studying her curiously. Not surprising since she’d taken one step toward retrieving his bread and then had frozen as if she’d gone into a coma.
“Would you like to come back and see what goes on in a bakery kitchen?” She gave an awkward laugh. Oof. The invitation came out sounding even lamer than it was. A bakery kitchen? Like she was offering him a glimpse of the Holy Grail?
“Sure.” He walked around the counter and joined her without hesitation.
Oh, my. Oh, gosh. He smelled really, really good, and given that she worked among some of the best smells in the world, that was really saying something. She wanted to touch him pretty much everywhere, but mostly she wanted to run her hands down his arms, shoulder to wrist, to see if they were as rock hard as they looked. Not since Tom had she had such a strong physical reaction to a man. And if that weren’t a huge red flag right there, she didn’t know what would be.
Except this time, she was just going to enjoy the attraction as the primal sexual response it was. This time she was not going to start dressing up simple lust with emotions it didn’t deserve, not assign to basic animal reaction any happy-ever-after importance or expectations of True Love. Fool her once, shame on her, fool her twice, she was a total moron.
She led him into her kitchen, feeling a swell of pride, hoping he could see its beauty the way she did. Sacks of flour stacked two and three feet high. Bags of seeds, sugars, specialty flours and containers of nuts and dried fruits. Her fifty-kilo dough mixer, which Alice would be bent over later in the day; the gleaming metal work table where José shaped loaves; her triple-deck oven; tall metal cooling racks where Frank did the baking—all secondhand, but working perfectly.
“This is great.” He stood in the center of the room, tall, vividly dressed, masculine, looking foreign. Angela had gotten so used to seeing everyone in flour-dusted aprons and jeans. “How does it all work?”
“I have a great staff.” She counted on her fingers. “Alice mixes the doughs, José shapes them, Frank bakes and Scott comes here and there to do random cleaning and help man the counter when he’s not in school.”
He turned from perusing the bags of specialty flours. “And you slack off all day.”
“I do. But when I’m not doing that, I develop new recipes, do most of the pastry baking, make up the schedule, balance the books, maintain inventory, try to get new accounts, put out fires…” She knocked wood. “Figuratively speaking.”
“Is this what you always wanted to do?”
“I’ve always loved baking. But it wasn’t until my honeymoon…” She practically choked on the words, then noticed his glance flicking to her left hand and realized what that sounded like. “I mean my ex-honeymoon. I mean my honeymoon with my ex. ”
“Don’t be. I’ve moved on.” Though from the sound of her voice she was still bitter, a sound she needed to change if she were going to do this dating thing again.
“So you decided to be a baker during your honeymoon…”
“I was always a baker. Always had a dream of owning my own place. But in Europe I became really obsessed. I couldn’t go to enough of the shops over there.