Ain't She Sweet (Seven Brides for Seven Mothers #2) - Whitney Dineen Page 0,1

nonsense. Call me Ruby.”

She leans in to see what I’m making, and as soon as a whiff of caramel and apple hits her nose, her eyes practically glaze over in anticipation. After releasing a groan of appreciation, she confesses, “I’ve gained four pounds since you started working here.”

She doesn’t sound like she minds a bit. In fact, if she gained another ten, she’d only look healthier for it. On my first day, a member of the staff told me that Ruby had lost a considerable amount of weight after her husband died unexpectedly last year.

“I’ve gained eighteen pounds since becoming a pastry chef,” I tell her rather proudly. I’m making up for lost time.

“Honey,” Ruby takes my hand before shifting her gaze around the kitchen to make sure we’re not being overheard, “your secret is safe. Neither the boys nor I will spill the beans about who you are.”

“I appreciate that,” I tell her sincerely.

People are brilliant for only seeing what they expect to see. A little weight gain and darkening my hair has worked wonders for my ability to hide in plain sight. Before last month, no one even told me that I looked familiar, let alone guessed who I really am.

“I was hoping you might be free later today to meet with the garden designer I hired. Geoffrey consulted with him last week, but I’d like you to do so as well.”

“Just let me know when and where and I’ll make sure I’m available.” I wonder why Ruby is putting in a garden at the lodge instead of continuing to buy all her produce from her son, but I stop myself from asking. Gah! I can’t think of James Cavanaugh without wanting to throw something.

That man was such a giant pain in my butt last summer. All I did was suggest he certify his farm organic and he freaked out on me. Yes, I know it’s expensive, but being able to advertise organic and sustainable produce would be a great boon for the Willamette Valley Lodge. I only had their best interest in mind. Of course, that was before I knew James was Ruby’s son. Once I discovered they were family, I couldn’t understand his reluctance. I may or may not have gone out of my way to fight with him every time I saw him after that.

The next best thing will be having most of the produce we serve grown right here in our own garden. That’ll show James.

“I want to put in some fruit trees and berry bushes as well. It’ll take a couple years before they produce much of anything, but that’s all the more reason to get them planted,” Ruby adds, still staring longingly at the caramelized apples.

“I definitely have an opinion about those,” I tell her. “But as far as vegetables go, I’d like to have zucchini, carrots, and cabbage.”

“Cabbage? What in the world would you use that for?”

“Chocolate cake. It keeps the cake crazy moist while giving us the added bonus of advertising a healthier dessert option. I promise we’ll sell a ton of them.”

“You’re the expert.” She’s quiet for a few beats before saying, “Listen, I know it’s going to be hard on your folks not having you home for Christmas. I was thinking you might want to invite them here.”

“It’s only my mom, and I wouldn’t want her to come all this way just to leave her on her own while I’m at work.”

“She could be my guest at the lodge. We have a ton of activities to keep her busy. Then you can spend time together when you’re off.”

“I’ll ask her.” I’m pretty sure she’ll want to come. With my dad long ago remarried, my brother and I are all the family Mom has left.

“Or she could come for Thanksgiving if she’d prefer. Just let me know soon, while we still have a few openings.”

“That’s a very generous offer, thank you,” I answer as I realize how much I’d like for my mom to see my new life.

“In the meantime,” she says, “is there anything else you need?”

“Your kitchen is easily as well equipped as the one at Le Deux Langues,” I tell her while rolling out pie crusts for the Mile-High Apple Pie we have on the dessert menu.

“That’s quite a compliment. How we stole you away from a Michelin-starred restaurant in Beverly Hills, I’ll never know.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Now that you know who I really am, I’m sure you can guess why I left.” I’m careful Copyright 2016 - 2024