"Get down from there!" Mirabelle said, swatting her hand at April's bottom, which was perched on the case at the Queen Pin bakery. "Someone might see you! And who wants to eat a cupcake when your feet have been dangling right in front of them?"
April planted her hands on top of the case and crossed her legs deliberately. The untied hot pink Chuck Taylor high tops on her feet swung to and fro, in danger of falling off.
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what happened," the redhead said. "Every. Single. Thing."
Mirabelle put her face between her hands, her fingers massaging her temples, and sighed.
"I told you - nothing happened. The lawyer from the other day stopped by while he was running. He said that he could smell the grasshopper whoopie pies. When I offered him one, he said he'd get one later in the day."
"Mmmm hmmm. I'm not buying that," April said. "I believe you mentioned that there was an invitation to dinner."
Thump, thump, thump went April's feet, knocking against the glass door of the case.
"I don't know what that was. And since I don't know, I'm not going to talk about it. Period. And seriously, you need to get off the case. I think I see Eugene walking toward the shop."
"Yay. Eugene," April said, unable to mask her disappointment and sarcasm. "How long do you think it will take him to eat his dessert today?"
"Stop it," Mirabelle ordered. "At least it's someone coming in."
April hopped off the counter and wiped her hands on the white apron covering her floral sundress just as the bell on the front door rang.
"Yep. It's Eugene," April said, turning her head toward the front of the bakery. "Why is he wearing suspenders with shorts?"
"Oh, he can't hear me," April said, waving her hand. "I'm going back to the kitchen. I want to make sure there's enough whoopie pies. I'd hate to run out before 6:30 ."
"Yeah. Why don't you do that," Mirabelle said, unamused.
Mirabelle turned her attention to the front of the store, where Eugene was standing - decked out in a printed shirt, khaki shorts and suspenders. His white socks were to his knees and a pair of trail sandals were on his feet. Behind him was a younger guy - 40s, maybe - looming over Eugene's shoulder.
"Good afternoon, Eugene," Mirabelle said, turning on the charm. "Who do we have with us today?"
Eugene smiled brightly, his cheeks flushing from the attention.
"Oh, this guy," he said, chuckling as he gestured behind him with his thumb. "He's my son. Wade, why don't you say hi to Miss Mirabelle?"
"Hi," he said, almost under his breath.
"You'll have to excuse Wade," Eugene said. "He's not very happy today, having to take the day off work to cart me around and all."
Eugene brought his hand to his mouth as to block his lips. Mirabelle leaned over the counter and turned her ear to Eugene.
"Doctor's appointment," he whispered.
Mirabelle nodded with understanding.
"Well, that's awfully nice of you to help out your dad. I hope you didn't miss anything important today," Mirabelle said, directing her attention toward Wade. "What line of business are you in?"
"I - we - own a restaurant down south. A small family place on Lower Huntington Road," Wade muttered.
"Ooh. What kind of restaurant?" Mirabelle asked, trying to show enthusiasm.
Wade moved from behind Eugene. His arms were crossed at his chest and his gaze was sharp. His lips showed no signs of moving, and an uncomfortable wave of silence crashed through the bakery.
"So . ummm . what can I get for you then? I don't have your favorite rocky road brownies today, Eugene," Mirabelle said. "April's working on some grasshopper whoopie pies, though, or we have a cherry pie-lette that we could serve ala mode."
"Hmph, cherry pie," Wade said. "It's always cherry pie."
"Oh, if you don't like cherry pie, I have some Johnny Appleseed squares," Mirabelle sputtered. "They'd be great with ice cream, too."
"Does everything here come with ice cream?" he asked through his pursed lips. "Is that what you do to make sure it tastes good?"
"Wade, stop it," Eugene interjected. "Just stop it."
"I'm going out to the car," Wade said. "Get whatever you want - just get it to go. I have to stop by the restaurant still, and I have no desire to get a parking ticket while I'm over here."
Wade slipped his dad a $10 bill and hurried out, the door crashing shut behind him. The sound of the bell echoed through the bakery as Eugene tried to apologize.
"I don't know what's gotten into him," he said, leaning his forearms on the counter. "I don't think the restaurant is doing too well. He gets upset whenever anyone asks about it."
"Oh. Well, what's the name? I wonder if I've ever been there," Mirabelle said politely.
"Waynedale Tavern," Eugene replied. "It's a cozy Italian restaurant. I opened it up when I was 23 with my mom's recipes."
"If you opened it, it has to be good. I'll have to check it out," she said. "So . with all the commotion, were you able to decide on anything?"
"I think I'll do the Johnny Appleseed square. No ice cream, though. It might melt in the car."
"Coming right up, sir," Mirabelle said, bending down to open the door to the bakery case.
Through the glass, she could see Wade leaning against a light pole. Staring. He was staring right at her.
Mirabelle tried to look away, grabbing a dessert square from the case and putting it in a Styrofoam box, but she could feel his eyes on her . following her.
"Thanks, dear," Mirabelle heard Eugene say.
Mirabelle popped up and set the box on the counter.
"Oh, yeah," she said, rubbing her goosebump-covered arms. "Have a good day."
Mirabelle saw Eugene take the box and walk out the door but her eyes were fixed on Wade. There was something familiar about him . about the way he stared at her . about the way the hairs on her arms stood at attention.