Emily Barnes likes things measured and timed, just like any baker. When she loses the apartment that she needs to run her home-based muffin business, she’s faced with a choice: couch surfing at her very loud best friends’ separated by thin walls or house sitting an otherwise empty Upper East Side luxury apartment overlooking Central Park. Obviously it’s a no-brainer for this smart cookie.
Declan Hayes is used to people asking things of him and saying no. However, for Maggie, his parent’s cook and housekeeper, he would do just about anything, including going over to his parent’s apartment to check on her pseudo niece who is staying there. His plan was to get in and get out, but the second he saw her, something changed. Something about her sparked the normally cold and dismal place to life; she made it warm and inviting. He finally understood the phrase “there’s no place like home.”
Can Emily and Declan trust the timing of their lives or adjust the lens from which they see them?
Hope, faith, trust and…love?
Will these things be enough for Emily and Declan to get the one thing they both never thought they needed in life?
It’s a good thing they are “Floured” because life is about to get sticky.
Aunt Maggie practically begged me to apartment-sit while she was in California for a much-needed vacation. She said that I would be doing her a favor, but I was on to her. She knew that I didn’t like depending on other people; it was the main reason that I moved as far away from my family as possible. It’s not that I didn’t love them—because I did—I just didn’t ever want to end up like my mother. She depended on my father for everything. She gave up her life for him, and what did it get her? After seventeen years of marriage, it got her nada, zip, zero, zilch. No, I would never be that woman. My sister was headed down the exact same road, and that’s how I ended up in this mess in the first place. Once again, she got involved with the wrong guy. If I had a dollar for every time she said, “He’s the one,” I would be rich. It wasn’t that they weren’t both smart and beautiful women; it was just that they both seemed to still believe in white knights and happily ever afters. I used to see my father that way, but when he traded in my mother for a younger model and left my sister and me behind without a backward glance, it made me see things differently very quickly. Now, I chose to believe that I am the master of my own fate. I could save myself, thank you very much. Besides, who ever said I needed to be saved? This was just a bump in the road, a little setback, a wrinkle in time. You know what they say, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. When one door closes, another one opens.
Maggie is not really my aunt, but my mom and she had been best friends since junior high. I was closer to her than I was my actual aunt, and I knew she would do anything for me, including asking her employer to allow me to stay in their home while they were traveling in Europe, and she was on the other side of the country. She was the housekeeper and cook for a very prominent couple, and from the sound of it they spent more time traveling than they did at home. Most people would probably take advantage of the situation, but not Maggie. She was one of the most trustworthy people I knew. She had worked for them for years and was desperate to set me up with their son. She assured me that he had his own apartment and rarely visited his mother and father. I’d read articles about him in the business journal; he was very successful and had done great things to expand the family business since taking it over, but I had no interest in dating; I didn’t have time for it. I’d never even been to the apartment before, but based on the posh Upper East Side address, I knew it would be nice.
I closed the door to the apartment with my giant fake designer purse slung over my shoulder, my suitcase rolling behind me, and headed to the subway station. At least I would be able to save some money for a new place while I stayed at the deluxe apartment in the sky. Don’t judge me, you sang that line too. I got off at Seventy-Seventh Street and walked the quarter mile from the station to the building.
“Good afternoon, Miss.” I almost lost it when the doorman greeted me in his green uniform jacket with the matching captain’s hat. Why did my grandmother subject me and Libby to watching reruns of the Jefferson’s when we were kids? I began to panic, hoping I had some cash in my purse, because if this guy was anything like Ralph he surely would be expecting a tip. “Miss Barnes, I presume,” he said as he followed me into the opulent lobby after holding the door open for me. How did he know who I was? He must have seen the concern in my eyes. “Not to worry, Miss Maggie said we should be expecting you.” Something about the way he said Maggie’s name made me wonder if something was going on between the two. “That and we don’t see a lot of residents arriving on foot pulling their own luggage behind them,” he said with a bright smile that instantly made me feel at ease.
“I’m Billy. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Barnes.” He offered me his hand, but instead of shaking mine, he raised it to his lips and kissed the back of it. I couldn’t help but blush at the sweet older man. I hope I’m right about him and Maggie; they would be adorable together.
“And they say chivalry is dead, Billy. Please, call me Emily.”
“Very well, Emily. Welcome. Here is the key to the apartment, fourteenth floor; just use it to operate the elevator. All the arrangements have been made with Eastern Express. They will be here in the morning, and I believe you will find all of your deliveries already upstairs. If you need anything, just press nine on the house phone, and it will ring my desk.”
I entered the elevator and inserted my key that allowed me access to the fourteenth floor. Wow, okay, so I might not have believed in fairy tales anymore, but the apartment was magical. The elevator opened straight into an elegant gallery that led into the formal living room which boasted high ceilings, crown moldings, hardwood floors, and views of Central Park that were to die for. The room was impeccably decorated—it looked like something you would see in a magazine. I dropped my bags, raised my arms out, and began to spin around in circles like a little girl. To my right was a formal dining room; I could only imagine all the beautiful people that had sat at the long table under the massive crystal chandelier. On the other side of the living room was a library with an enormous desk and floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with hardbound books—the room shared that same magnificent view of the park as the living room. I felt like an intruder as I began to explore the apartment for a bedroom. Maggie had insisted that I stay in the main apartment rather than her quarters. What I could only imagine was the master bedroom was right next to the library. Beveled antique mirrors flanked the tufted headboard. I couldn’t help but run my hand over the luxurious matelassé bedding. The room boasted a closet that was probably bigger than my old apartment. No way was I sleeping in there. The next room I entered was dark and very masculine. It had navy-blue walls and rich mahogany furniture. I felt a bit like Goldilocks when I sat on the bed and decided that it was too firm. I continued down the hall and found another bedroom. It, of course, was beautiful, but I decided to keep on looking. A giant family room was next. In comparison to the elegance of the rest of the apartment, it felt the most casual, the most like home. Don’t get me wrong, the television was the biggest one I’d ever seen and the brown leather furniture was clearly expensive, but it looked like you could get comfy under the cashmere blanket that hung off the back of the sofa. Just off the family room was an average-sized bedroom. The room felt like a garden with linens that were printed with blossoms and birds in pink and green. The room was just right. A set of stairs led up to Maggie’s apartment that was beautiful in its own right. It was a complete one-bedroom apartment, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw a collage of photos of Libby and me throughout the years. I returned downstairs and entered the kitchen. It was my dream come true; a baker’s delight with granite counter tops that were perfect for rolling out dough and commercial-grade stainless steel appliances. I nearly fainted when I saw the two side-by-side double ovens. Maybe I had died and gone to heaven. Inside the pantry, I found all of the supplies that Billy had said were delivered. I was so excited to begin baking that I ran to my earlier abandoned luggage and into my room to change my clothes.
I never thought that I would write a novel, although my English teacher my freshman year in college told me that he would hunt me down if I wasn’t published by the time I was thirty. Well, thirty came and went. I was busy being a wife and working mother of two, and nobody came looking for me.
I doubt my sister thought she was about to change my life forever when she got me a book of “mommy porn” for my birthday in 2012, but that’s exactly what she did. After reading the first book in the trilogy, I rushed out and got the other two books. I became obsessed and read the series several times before learning about Fanfiction. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get enough. The idea fascinated me and I thought, “I can do that.” I was a nervous wreck when I posted my first story, a one shot about my new favorite couple. One story lead to another and then another. My readers encouraged me to write something that was all mine, so that‘s what I did. Thank you to everyone who told me that I could do it. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
I love reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family. Thank you for going on this journey with me.