The dance was as familiar as a Southern California sunrise. Stove to sink. Sink to refrigerator. Refrigerator to pantry. Jennifer Hunter gathered supplies and stirred pots, flowing into her pastry baking exercise with effortless precision.
She tightened her grip on the hot pad she held, going taut when that realization took root. The defensive response came to her automatically now. A glossy, hardcover book, featuring pastry recipes, rested open atop the spacious granite counter where she worked. Looking at it caused tears to build, stinging against the corners of her eyes, threatening to spill over.
Her gaze rested on the book once more. There was an inscription inside the front cover which she knew by memory—right down to the dips and curves of the handwriting:
The temperature indicator on the oven emitted a sharp beep and she jumped. The oven was warmed to the requisite 400-degrees. Blowing out a breath she forced herself away from the memory of curving, cobbled streets, rose-colored sunsets, the stark white domes of Montmartre.
Jennifer’s shoulders slumped. The tears came back. So did the ache of longing, that sensation of being somehow apart from everything she wanted the most.
She recalled baguettes and strong, rich coffee; she remembered looking into his dark brown eyes, leaning across a small metal bistro table as he held her fingertips and stroked them in a slow caress.