by C. Joy
It was FREE Friday, and Guido was late, again.
Fresh donuts were spilling out of the oven faster than Marra’s reddened fingers could place them on the cooling rack.
Doughy sweetness filled the bakery while hundreds of cooled donuts waited for Guido’s signature icing. And the bakery was to open within the hour.
“Today is so NOT the day to be late!” Marra muttered, placing another greased, dough filled pan onto the conveyer. She quickly washed her hands. In exactly five minutes the donuts would start spilling out again, giving her just enough time to start the coffee pots.
She loved the bakery, the early mornings and the aroma of sweetness. She had grown up watching Gramps and Guido create and bake their way into the neighborhood’s heart, and making it her home. Marra sighed as she sniffed deep rich coffee beans, and poured water into the pots. Her best memories were in this bakery. Gramps had taught her the business, so it had been an honor to carry it on.
“Marra, I’m here!” A feisty Sicilian, always late, but his reputation for to –die -for buttercream icing earned him continual forgiveness. Plus, Marra had inherited Guido with the business.
“You have forty minutes and three hundred donuts!” Marra shouted from the front, a smile tugging her face.
Pans and spoons clanged, the mixer fired up and the kitchen filled with a cloud of powdered sugar and Guido’s singing.
Thirty minutes later, there was steaming coffee, and a display case full of iced donuts. Free Friday was ready to start. As a way to generate business and show gratitude, Gramps started Free Friday in which any cop, fireman or EMT still in uniform was offered free coffee and donuts. It started slow, but like a downhill snow ball, it grew quickly. It wasn’t about a profit, and Marra loved giving back to the community.
“He’ll be here.” Guido grinned and winked.
“Who?’ Marra asked innocently, trying to hide the blush that crept up her face.
“Your cop!” Guido exclaimed.
“He’s not my cop.” But, she had taken extra care with her hair just in case.
“See, you do know who!” Guido teased, and flipped the on OPEN sign.
Within minutes, the first of many began to trickle into the bakery. Jacob hadn’t missed in the last seven weeks. Not that she was counting. The first time, all she noticed was his broad shoulders and those deep green eyes. The second time, his lazy smile and the lack of a wedding ring. Eventually, his name. And that he was a detective. Lately though, the conversations were tantalizing and Jacob would stay until late morning. The attraction was definitely there, but she was starting to wonder if he felt the same. Would he ever ask her out? If he only knew some of the fantasies he had been in, Marra blushed in memory. He might be a detective, but he was missing some obvious clues.
Three hours later, all the donuts and copious amounts of coffee mingled with the laughter and banter of grateful servicemen, including the entire 34th precinct, celebrating their captain’s birthday, were gone. Lacking the arrival of Jacob.
Guido shut off the Free Friday sign and waved as he left. Embarrassed with herself over an imagined romance, Marra marched into the kitchen to start the weekend orders.
Her shoulders were sore, and her forearms burned, as she pounded out dough fueled by frustration, when the front door chimed. She wiped her floured hands on her apron, pushed through the double doors and stopped. The object of her frustration was standing in the center of her bakery. Be still, my heart, she thought.
“Hello! Sorry, but you missed it.” She didn’t mean to sound so aloof. Kripes, don’t blow it!
“Today, I didn’t come for donuts,” Jacob said as he walked towards her, never taking his eyes off her.
“OK, well, is there something I can get you?” Her heart was in her throat, she swore.
“Yes”, he said with a slow smile, and stopped in front of her. His hand cupped her cheek and then his lips found hers. The kiss was sweetness and strength, and pulled her under.
“Gracious woman. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that,” he sighed. “Fridays aren’t enough. I want more than once a week. Tonight, dinner?” He whispered against her mouth.
She couldn’t breathe or talk so she nodded, and pulled him in for another kiss. She hadn’t misread a thing. As happiness flooded her, she grinned and said “Yes, Detective. Dinner sounds great.”