About One More Yule Log
Author: Julia Talbot
Word Count: 43500
Page Count (pdf): 174
Genre: contemporary, holiday
Date Published: 12/03/2019
Publisher: Turtlehat Creatives
File Types available: pdf epub mobi
This title has been temporarily removed to KU
If baker Gray Carroll has to make one more Yule log cake this holiday season, he might just lose it. So when nine year old Olivia shows up at his store wanting to learn how to make one for her dad, Gray tries to turn her down flat. Olivia is determined, cute, and won’t take no for an answer, so Gray agrees to coach her through the process. Doesn’t hurt that her dad is kind, handsome, and currently unattached.
Ben Nightingale can’t believe Olivia has blackmailed Gray someone into teaching her to bake. He’s been too busy with his late husband’s real estate business, but he’s determined to celebrate Yule with his girl, and to get to know Gray. There’s something about Gray that makes Ben believe in the magic of the season, but can he find a way to balance work and family in time for the solstice, or will Olivia and Gray’s Yule Log go uneaten?
“I swear to God, Alice, if I see one more Yule log, I’m gonna puke.” Gray Carrol put the finishing touches on a nontraditional Yule log that looked like a sparkly pink tree branch with teal mushrooms. The interior held rainbow swirl cake. He was proud of it, but man, he was ready for the holiday season to be over, and he still had a good bit of time to go. Okay, it had just started, hadn’t it?
Alice put her forefingers against the outside corners of her lips. “Smile, boss.”
He wanted to snap at her, but he didn’t because she was a dear friend, a nice person, and she’d been pulling double shifts since Rafe had quit last week. Who quit their job just over a month before Christmas?
At a bakery.
Baring his teeth, Gray growled as much like a rabid dog as he could.
“It looks amazing, huh? I’ll put it in the cooler.” Alice grabbed the tray, and he knew she’d treat that silly cake like a glass baby.
“Thanks.” He pulled out the clipboard where he kept his orders. With Rafe’s departure, he’d lost the one person who knew how to work the computer ordering system, so he was back to analog recordkeeping. He scribbled a note to call the customer, then marked the job as completed.
“So, what’s next?” Alice asked when she came out of the walk-in.
“Cupcakes for the tree lighting.” The city wanted two hundred Christmas-tree cupcakes. Vanilla cake with a spiral of green frosting and multicolored piped lights. His wrist ached already.
“Don’t sound so down. It’s good to have more business than you can handle.” She patted his back like she would one of her kids’.
“Sorry.” She was right. He was busier than a one-legged buttkicker, and he was truly proud. Somehow this year he was just also really tired. Maybe he was too old for this shit.
“Okay. So. Cupcakes. Anything I need to do for the case first?”
Gray had a different clipboard for that. “Um, how about chocolate chip and hot chocolate cookies? There’s a dance at the VFW tonight, so we’ll stay open until eight.”
“Gotcha.” She hustled to the back, where he heard the mixer begin its thud and flap dance. Alice was so efficient, and he was lucky to have her. Truly.
The bell over the door jangled, so he did what Alice had suggested and put a smile on his face. “Welcome to Piece of Cake. How can I help you?”
When he saw the customers, he immediately thought cupcakes. The adult was a lady who was probably twenty years older than his thirty-five, with long graying hair pulled back into a bun. She wore a rainbow caftan and a stack of jangly bracelets. The little girl with her had chin-length brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a serious expression.
“Go ahead, Liv,” the lady said, giving the girl a nudge.
The girl named Liv nodded. “Okay. Hello. I need help.”
Well, that was unexpected. They didn’t have a public restroom, but if she was desperate…
“What are you looking for, hon?”
“A Yule Log.”
Oh, God. Gray fought not to roll his eyes. “Well, we do those, for sure.”
“Yes, sir. I did my research. I want to learn to make one for my daddy. You give cake classes.”
Blinking, he opened his mouth, then closed it. Gray didn’t want to snarl at what? A ten-year-old? So he took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I’m not giving classes right now. The holiday season is super busy for us.”
She scowled at him. “But I can pay for it. I broke my piggy bank!” She held up a Ziploc bag full of coins and bills.
Oh, God, that was cute.
The older lady smiled at him wryly over Liv’s head. “This is Olivia. What’s your name?”
“Gray Carrol. I’m the owner.”
“I see. Well, my name is Fran. Olivia really wants to make her own Yule log cake, you see. She and I have tried it a couple of times in the last few weeks, and it’s been nothing but a disaster.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I mean, I’m happy to take an order, but I really can’t—”
“But you have to!” Olivia’s lower lip began to quiver. “My daddy used to make one every year for my dad, but then Dad died and…” She trailed off, sniffling.
No fair. She had, or she’d had, two dads. God knew, he supported queer folks because he was one. His heart melted a little, but the sound of the mixer straining because Alice had tossed chocolate chips in made him stop before he opened his mouth.
“I’m so sorry, Olivia. I am. I just don’t have time. Would you like a cupcake? It’s on me.”
She stared at him, her dark eyes liquid with tears. “No, thank you. Are you sure you can’t help me?”
“I don’t—” When a tear broke free and ran down her cheek, he sighed. “Let me look at my calendar, okay? What kind of cupcake would you like while you wait?”
“I like strawberry.”
Fran gave him a gentle, knowing smile. “Salted caramel, please.” She pulled out her wallet to hand him a ten.
“You got it.” Cupcakes got passed out, change made, and Gray found his feet taking him to the office in order to look at his schedule. Looked like he was going to teach Olivia how to make a Yule log cake.
God, he was a sucker.