“Read these,” said Josie, dropping three books onto the counter. “My Solstice gift to you, girlfriend.”
“Thank you,” said Lucy. “Best present ever.”
Michael stared at the demon and the demon stared back. “Can I have another sucker, please?”
Josie put everything into a canvas bag and grabbed Lucy’s hand. “If you need help, call me anytime and I’ll be with you immediately.”
“You are the sweetest,” said Lucy, leaning across the counter, kissing Josie on the check. “Thank you.”
“Where to now?” asked Michael.
“The Breadbasket. You’ll love it there and the smell is so amazing. They bake all their bread on site and they have free samples that are to die for.”
“People die for bread samples?” asked Michael, in amazement.
“Not literately, it’s just saying.”
“Oh, good,” said Michael, taking the heavy bag out of Lucy’s hand.
“Thanks,” she said, turning into the shop.
“Hi Lucy,” said the man behind the counter. “The usual?”
“Yes please,” she nodded.
“What’s the usual?” asked Michael.
“White bread, thickly sliced, cinnamon raisin, thinly sliced, nine grain, sliced however, and four poppy seed rolls.”
“That’s a lot of bread.”
“Staff of Life and all that,” she grinned. “Besides, you need bread for every meal, right? So cinnamon for breakfast, unless you make French toast with white bread, and then you need grain for sandwiches and rolls for veggie burgers, so you need a lot of bread.”
“That makes sense, I guess.”
“Who’s this guy?” asked the dark haired, amazingly good looking, man behind the counter.
“Michael, this is Jerry…Jerry, this is Michael, he’s an angel.
“He better be,” said Jerry, looking Michael in the eyes. “You hear me?”
“I have perfect hearing, so yes, I do hear you.”
“You have any problems with this guy, you call me, I’ll take care of him.”
“Thank you so much Jerry. I’ll be fine, but you know I’m crazy about you.”
Jerry laughed and smiled at her. “I mean it. Call me if you need me.”
Michael grabbed the shopping bag full of bread and looked at Lucy. “What is it with these people? What are they all trying to protect you and telling you to call them?”
Lucy shrugged. “This is my neighborhood and we take care of each other.”
“Uh, no,” said Michael. “Not good enough, something else is going on around here.”
“No idea, but this isn’t normal.”
“You’re going to love the bakery,” said Lucy, pulling open the door.
“Lucy,” said an older woman, coming from behind the counter to hug her. “I love it when you come in and oh, look, you brought a young man with you,” she said, frowning at him.
“This is Michael. Michael, this is Rose.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Michael, smiling.
“We’ll have to see about that,” said Rose, giving a sniff and moving to the cookie jar on the counter. “For you sweet one,” she said to Lucy, handing her a gingerbread girl. “This is for you,” she added, handing a small fudge ball to Michael.
“Thank you,” said Lucy, taking a bite out of the cookie and moaning. “You are the best baker, ever,” she sighed.
“Where did you get this one,” asked Rose, pointing at Michael?
“We just met today. We had lunch. He’s my guardian angel.”
“Is that what he told you?”
“Yes, that’s what he told me,” said Lucy, finishing off the cookie.
“That’s what I AM,” said Michael, huffily. “Why is everyone treating me like I’m…”
“The Devil?” asked Rose.
“What?” said Michael.
“Why is everyone treating you like the Devil,” repeated Rose, more loudly.
“I didn’t say that, I just mean that everyone is suspicious about my intentions,” said Michael.
“And?” said Rose, tying a string around a white cardboard box full of cookies.
“I didn’t DO anything wrong,” he said, grabbing another small cookie off the tray on top of the counter.
“Not yet,” said Rose, moving the cookie plate away.
“What is WRONG with you people?” he said. “Lucy, I’ll be out in front.”