Candy Courtship, Amirah’s favorite pastry shop, smelled of yeast and the acrid bright smell of fresh green tea.
It was all the more welcoming because of the proprietors sweet, beautiful Calliope and her twin sister Hayden.
Four months had won Amirah shy smiles, blushes across Calliope’s dark cheeks but no more.
Could true love bloom amid pastries, candy and green tea?
By Meyari McFarland
Amirah stopped just inside the door and shifted to the left so that other people could pass her by. She shut her eyes, breathed deep. Yeast, sugar, the acrid bright smell of fresh green tea, the sort that tasted like grass on your tongue and cloyed the back of your throat so badly that you took another drink in the vain hope that the tea would make you less thirsty instead of more. Under that was chocolate, thick and rich, and wax from the squeaking floors that made her heels slip and tremble every time she walked in.
Or as close to home as Amirah was going to get while away at college. When her parents visited she would bring Mother here, would pull her to the left so that they could breathe together and remember Grandmother’s kitchen, the smell of mint tea and bread and thick spicy kahari. It was different from here, from Candy Courtship, but the smells were so thick that Amirah loved it. Mother would too.
Father would forge straight for the counter, tapping it with his blunt fingertips as he considered which pastry to buy. Then he’d get tea, black, not green, and sip it slowly while Mother and Amirah ate whatever pastries they chose. He wouldn’t smile, not in public around strangers that he wouldn’t ever know, but his eyes would be bright and warm over the top of his teacup as he watched them speculate about the recipes.
Another month and a half, that’s all she had to wait. Amirah opened her eyes and laughed to see Calliope staring at her with a concerned frown. Hayden, her twin sister, was busy extolling the virtues of the raspberry donuts to a pair of tourists in heavy coats, thick gloves clutched in their hands and noses red from the cold outside.
Not that Amirah thought it was that cold. Not like home where it snowed ten months of the year and roasted the remaining two. She checked for anyone else coming in before coming to the cash register where Calliope stood in her fairy-floss pink apron bedecked with delicate lace trim. The pink made Calliope stunningly beautiful, much as Calliope hated the color. It brought out the rose of her warm brown cheeks and made the spring of her lush dark curls seem even more pronounced.
“Why do you do that?” Calliope asked in a low enough voice that it wouldn’t upset the tourists or make Hayden start teasing the two of them.
“Stop?” Amirah asked. When Calliope nodded while automatically beginning to prepare a green tea for her, Amirah laughed. “It smells like home. Well, not like home but the smells remind me of home. So I stop. I savor. This is a good thing, yes?”
Calliope blinked at her and then ducked her head to blush and smile and lick her lips as if she was searching for just the right thing to say. Anything she said would be welcome in Amirah’s opinion but Calliope always seemed to want the exact word, the exact phrase to make Amirah laugh or smile.
Her beautiful eyes were more than enough for that in Amirah’s opinion.
“Did you want a pastry, too?” Calliope asked just as she always did.
“Of course,” Amirah said. “What’s especially tasty today?”
“Everything,” Calliope declared just a hair belligerently, as if someone had insulted their pastries before Amirah came in. “They’re all good today.”
“Then surprise me,” Amirah replied and laughed at the way Calliope ducked her head to attempt to hide her blush. “I trust you. Whatever you think I will enjoy will be a delight.”
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