Monday, August 24, 2015
Salome stopped herself just in time. One word, one wrong sound at the wrong moment, and Telly’s steady hands might jiggle and there would go hours of work. She held herself still as a rock in the kitchen doorway, scarcely daring to breathe.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” her husband said without turning around. “I know you’re there. I’m good.”
She let her breath out, relieved. “I’ll wait here. Just to be safe.”
“No need. It’s done.” He stepped aside. “You like?”
Salome caught her breath again, this time over the icing artistry he’d just applied to the cake. Delicate pink and blue flowers. Winged candy ponies. The entire two-tiered confection had been sculpted into the shape of a Medieval castle in white cake and vanilla icing. Little flags with 8s on them flew from the turrets.
The Princess stood on the battlements, a candy Katniss with a tiny bow. A pack of sugar wolves stood at her back. “I don’t remember wolves from The Hunger Games,” Salome said.
“The definition of ‘princess’ has been changing, Disney notwithstanding,” Telly said. “The ponies will probably go first. I’m just relieved her family didn’t insist I put meat in the recipe. Baking for carnivores is a tricky game.”
“They do like their sweets, though. Bet they’ll have barbecue at the birthday party. Now guess what we’ve got.” She fluttered a paper in front of his nose.
His stare fastened on it. “It’s ours?”
“It will be once we sign it. Our own shop at last, with a real kitchen for us to work in. Actual ovens. No more pizza dinners because the stove’s in use.” She hugged her husband tight. “All ours.”
Telly maneuvered her into the living room, away from the cake and its delicate turrets, so he could swing her around. “It’s all been worth it, m’love. We’re a real bakery at last.” He stopped in mid-swing. “Got a name yet?”
“Still working on it. Oh, and I have another special request.”
“Good thing the cake’s done, then. What’s this one?”
Salome bit her pink lower lip. “Um, a dungeon?”
“I ran into Harriet at the real estate office. A friend of hers plays a slave at the Pleasure Club. The girls want to get her a cake dungeon. Don’t give me that look. It’s not the first time we’ve been asked to bake something risqué.”
“Just running through the possibilities. I suppose it’ll have to be something spicy. No vanilla.”
Salome giggled. “Doughnut collars?”
“And licorice whips.” Telly grinned, getting into it. “Gingerbread men on their knees. We’ve done that already. A dark chocolate Dom. Or is chocolate out? A lot of the canines can’t stomach it.”
“This will be mostly herbivores. The more fruits and veggies we put in, the happier they’ll be.” Salome’s lips curved. “Cherries, of course. And plenty of nuts.”
“Absolutely. How soon do they need it? We’ve got that cupcake order for Thursday, remember.”
“Saturday morning. The party’s in the afternoon.” Salome peered beyond his shoulder, with a sad little shake of her head. “There goes the kitchen again.”
“This could be the last time, though. Soon we’ll have a professional kitchen, and a house that doesn’t smell like peanut butter. You know,” he added, switching tracks, “we get a lot more orders for the kinky cakes than we do for the birthday variety.”
“Noticed that, did you?”
“You bake enough cakes in the shape of a penis, you start to get the idea. Think we should specialize?”
“If you think it would help. We do need a gimmick to help us stand out. We won’t be the only bakery in Talbot’s Peak. With a specialty, we could market to some of the clubs by the exit. As long as you don’t mind, of course. You’re the one who does most of the sculpting.”
“I don’t want you baking dicks. Some of those requests we get give you funny ideas.”
“You loved the cotton candy bikini,” Salome reminded him. “We can still do regular cakes. See how the market goes.”
“I think we both know how the market’s going.” Telly glanced over his shoulder at the vanilla castle. “We get asked for eight-year-old princesses who lead wolf packs. These people aren’t into safe and sedate. If we can’t beat the competition in flavor, we’ll have to do it in shape.”
“I’m all in favor,” Salome agreed. “I know you love a challenge. And I love new ideas.”
“So do I, when I’m not too tired. Dirty cakes it is. Why, look, I’ve got some icing left. What do you think we should do with it?”
“I say it’s time to take a break. Want to lick my bowl?”
He took the deed to their new bakery from her and carefully laid it on a table. He swung her into his arms with only a little less care and headed for the bedroom. Salome snuggled happily into his arms. She knew in her heart Wicked Sweet was going to be a success.