Going a Little Crazy
The bakery was busy.
Given it was the middle of the week and it they’d come in late enough they should have missed the early morning rush, this bothered Ari a little.
She’d come for cinnamon rolls, dammit, and she wanted her cinnamon rolls. Now. Immediately.
The thought of how they practically melted in her mouth, the gooey glaze exploding on her tongue in a sweet riot of flavors, made her knees feel weak.
She needed those cinnamon rolls. And that cinnamon pull-apart bread. Oh, and she saw her favorite hazelnut coffee was back on the menu. She’d get an extra large one of those.
This was going to be an epic.
Michael had the best damn ideas.
Wriggling in place, Ari leaned to the left to see what was holding up the line. If she got up there and the cinnamon-based bakery goods were gone, she’d probably pitch a fit. Or cry.
A sharp faced young woman stepped away from the counter, a bakery box in her hand, and the line moved forward a step.
Instead of being excited about being one step closer to her goal, Ari watched the woman. There was something about her…
“Michael Layton,” the woman said, coming to a halt in front of the werewolf.
Ari’s eyes narrowed. She didn’t like the woman’s tone. There was something vaguely disapproving in it.
Not cool. Michael was one of the best supernaturals Ari had ever had the honor of befriending.
Not that she didn’t like all her monstrous friends, obviously, but Michael held s special place in her affections.
He put up with all the stupid shit she came up with, after all. He was her best werewolf friend and a standout guy.
This woman’s tone was uncalled for.
Ari stepped into Michael’s side, her arm winding around his waist. She made sure to keep her smile on as she faced off against the woman, but she had the feeling it was a sharp, feral thing. More wolf-like than nymphly.
“Michael,” she said through her teeth, “who’s this?” Okay, maybe that came off as a little rude and territorial.
Meh. Whatever. She wasn’t Michael’s BFF for nothing.
If a best friend couldn’t go a little crazy sometimes and mark her territory, what was the point?
Michael gave her a cautious look. “Cara Dejeune. She’s the teaching assistant for Professor Shah’s Anthropology class.” That cautious expression moved from her to the other woman. “Cara, this is Ari.”
Cara freed one hand from the bakery box and held it out.
Ari regarded that hand. It didn’t appear to be poisoned. She wasn’t wearing any rings that might hold a concealed spike she’d use to puncture her palm and release a fatal dose of anything into her blood.
In fact, Ari was beginning to expect Cara might even be a pure human.
Teeth still bared in that parody of a smile, Ari took the woman’s hand.
She could crush it. Use her supernatural strength to pulverize her bones until she was—
Michael grabbed her wrist and wrestled Ari’s hand away from the other woman’s before she could follow through on that thought. “Everything okay, Ari?”
Everything was fine. Why was he asking?
Cara’s gaze skipped between them. “I love this place, don’t you?”
Just like that, a switch flipped in Ari’s head. Those cinnamon rolls were calling her. Calllllling. So loudly. Like a siren luring sailors to the rocks.
“I come in every Thursday to pick up cinnamon rolls for the Professor. They make him bearable.”
There was still that faintly disapproving tone in Cara’s voice and Ari was beginning to think it was just her natural tone. Kind of like resting bitch face, but with words.
“In fact,” the other woman went on, oblivious to Ari’s internal musings, “I glad I came in when I did since they were almost out. I’d hate to have to deal with the Professor when he didn’t get his treat. He gets so cranky.”
Wait. What? The bakery was almost out of cinnamon rolls? There were at least three people in front of them. If they ran out before she got up to the cashier, she’d die.
On the spot.
She neeeeeeded those cinnamon rolls.
“I grabbed the last four. Like I said, it would have been a disaster if they’d been out.”
She…no. No. NO. She did not just say she took the last cinnamon rolls, did she?
Eyes wide, Ari turned to Michael. “No cinnamon rolls?”
Michael’s expression flared with panic. “They still have the sticky cinnamon pull-apart bread.”
“Ooh,” Cara said, her voice dreamy. “That sounds delicious.”
Yes. Yes it did. And if Ari couldn’t have her cinnamon rolls, she was going to gorge herself on pull-apart bread instead.
ALL THE PULL-APART BREAD.
Growling, she turned to the counter and craned herself into an impossible angle so she could see the display case through the customers in front of her.
There. Front and center. Sticky cinnamon pull-apart bread.
It was all going to be hers.
The woman behind the counter boxed destroyed her when she reached into the display case and removed her delicious cinnamon-y goodness.
All of it. Gone. Vanquished to a pink bakery box to be given to the man now paying.
Life was unfair. Tragic.
The man walked away, his bakery box held tightly in his hand. Ari watched him leave, despair in her eyes.
“My cinnamon treat,” she whispered.
Michael pulled her in for a one armed hug. “You can try something else. Oh, look. They still have those blueberry sour cream muffins you like.”
“Cinnamon.” If ever a person sounded pathetic, she was it.
The line moved forward, but the heart had gone out of Ari. Cara stayed with them, a curious expression on her face as she watched Michael trying to tempt Ari with other things in the display.
That damn bakery box held under one arm.
Hmm. There was potential there. If Michael could distract her for a few minutes, Ari could pilfer the other woman’s goodies.
Not in a sexy way, though.
She’d get her hands on those cinnamon rolls and FEAST.
“What can I get you today?” The perky woman behind the counter beamed at them, jerking Ari’s attention from her potential heist to the sad display case.
“A blueberry sour cream muffin and two slices of coffee cake.” Michael kept Ari against him, his expression pleasant.
What? Did he think she was going to go all Hulk-Smash and jump the counter to demand cinnamon baked goods?
Planning to divest Cara of her rolls was as deep into that rabbit hole as Ari was willing to go.
A door behind the girl at the counter opened and a man walked out balancing a tray with ease.
When she saw what he was carrying, Ari blinked. This had to be her lucky day.
The empty tray of cinnamon rolls was removed from the case and a fresh one took its place. The man gave her a friendly smile before doing the same to the pull-apart tray.
Oh, god. She was going to cry.
Cinnamon. So much cinnamon.
She wanted it all.
“Six cinnamon rolls and half the pull-aparts, please,” she said before Michael could. She knew her werewolf friend was laughing at her by the way his ribs convulsed against her side, but she didn’t care.
Opportunities like this didn’t come around every day.
Fresh cinnamon rolls. Fresh, sticky pull-apart bread.
Oh, man. She was definitely going to cry.
As the bakery box was packed and handed across the counter to her, Ari smiled. She knew Cara was still there. She knew the two people behind them were watching her lean down to sniff the seam of the box.
She didn’t care.
She had her cinnamon rolls.
Life was good.
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