Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask.
Everything you want also wants you.
But you have to take action to get it.
If I had known exactly where and in what kind of trouble I was about to land, I’d have stayed in Paris.
“Come on, dear.” A wizened woman dragged a shuffling friend past me and down the long carpeted hallway. “We don’t want to get in the way of Rosa’s granddaughter, even if she’s sitting on our couch.” She threw a dirty look over her shoulder.
I started to stand up and get out of her way, but she disdainfully waved me back into my seat.
“WHO?” her friend shouted as I sank back down.
“ROSA’S GRANDDAUGHTER. She’s sprawling on our couch.” I flinched at the vocal hurricane, but no one else seemed to notice. Or maybe they just couldn’t hear it.
For the time being, I was crashing at the guest apartment at my nonna’s retirement community. Where else could I get in on such short notice? It was twenty dollars a night, and only for a week or so…I hoped. “Well, they do have a lot of singles,” I’d told my best friend, Tanya, as she laughed at the news. “And they do love what’s left of life.”
“I think it’s cute,” she’d said. “You can get a personalized pill container and swap horrible doctor stories.”
“Ha ha,” I’d answered. “Be careful, or I’ll hold your bridal shower there on bingo night.”
I’d stayed with my parents on Whidbey Island for the two weeks since I’d been home from France. Yesterday they’d dropped me and my gear off at the retirement community, though most of my stuff was still in storage awaiting my “real” apartment. And now I sat in the
common room, not realizing I’d poached what someone considered her personal couch, waiting for the afternoon bus to take me to my new job.
I checked my watch again. To pass the time, I thumbed through the Gideon’s Bible sitting on the side table, flipping by chance to the first chapter of Philippians and scanning the extra large print until my eye caught something that hooked into my heart.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and
more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be
able to discern what is best.
Oh yeah, I thought. Bring on the discernment. I was starting a new job–the job I’d been hoping for all my life and at which I desperately wanted to succeed. And I found myself embroiled in a romantic crisis where I not only didn’t hold all the cards, but the men involved had turned surprisingly poker-faced about their intentions.
Lost in thought, it took me a minute to realize that a kindly looking man had sat down next to me. He tried valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to clear the phlegm from his throat. I scooted over to both accommodate him and to offer us some personal space. He kept looking at me, but as soon as I looked back at him, he glanced away.
Finally he spoke. “Who are you?” he asked quietly. “And what are you doing here?” That was indeed the question, and not only for my current living situation. I wished I had an answer.
Nonna breezed in through the lobby, snapping her mauve umbrella shut with a force that belied her age. She kissed the cheek of her companion, Stanley Jones, who tottered off to his own apartment, then came to get me.
“Lexi, love,” she said. “I’m glad I got here in time to see you off. Let’s wait by the door. The bus will be here soon.” On the way through the foyer, she whispered, “I thought I’d mentioned,
dear–don’t sit on any upholstered furniture in the common areas. When you get to be my age, many of us have incontinence problems.”
Shocked, I reached around and felt my backside, not caring who
saw me. Whew. Dry.
Nonna giggled at my distress, taking everything about aging in stride, as she always did, and looped her arm through mine. “I’m glad you’re home.”
I grinned back at her. “Me too, Nonna.”
“Why can’t one of those nice young men drive you to work today?” she asked.
“I don’t want to ask them. It’s…awkward. I’m not sure where I’m going with either of them right now, and they both have their own jobs.”
“Seems to me a man who likes a woman would offer her a ride,” Nonna sniffed.
“I’m sure plenty of men hitched up their buggies and took you to work back in the day,” I teased.
She grinned wickedly and leaned over to kiss my cheek. “So tell me about the Frenchman.”
“His name is Philippe. He’s really nice, a great baker, and has the most adorable daughter named Céline. He’s taking Luc’s place, the one who moved back to France.”
“He’s one of the owners of the bakery?” she asked, checking creds, as always.
“Yes, Nonna,” I said. “He’s an owner. He’s Luc’s cousin, and the whole family owns all the bakeries.”
“What about that lawyer you were seeing before you went to Paris?”
“Dan?” I kept my voice even.
“He’s…here still. Of course. I just talked with him a few days ago. It was his suggestion, actually, for the Delacroix Company to lease the space I’ll be working in. The new bakery.”
“That was nice of him. Who’s the better looking of the two?”
“I’m glad to see your values haven’t changed!” I said, but compared them in my mind anyway.
Philippe was definitely good looking in a continental way, dark blond hair that just touched his shoulders, a bit taller than me. Dan was built bigger, taller, with broad shoulders I loved to see set off by suspenders. His strawberry blond hair perfectly matched his lightly tanned complexion.
“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?” Nonna poked me out of my daydream. “Gotcha!”
She laughed, and I laughed with her as the rain slid down the outside of the window, my hometown Seattle lights blinking away in the drops. “Thanks for seeing me off today. I won’t be long. Just meeting Margot and getting a quick run-through.”
“Of course I’m seeing you off ! Everyone is jealous that my granddaughter is here. I need to brag.”
I saw the bus rounding the corner about a half mile down the road. Nonna saw it too.
“Go get ’em,” she said. “And bring something home from the bakery. Anything with fruits and nuts will be right at home in this place.” She grinned, but I knew she loved her home and her friends.
I walked out the door and started toward the covered bus stop. Not a moment later, though, a motorcycle pulled up and parked in front of the retirement center door a few feet away. Even with the helmet on, I recognized him immediately.
What is he doing here? Quickly followed by, He looks good!
“Good afternoon, mademoiselle.” He hopped off the bike and walked toward me, holding out a helmet. “As your employer, it’s my responsibility to get you to work on your first day at the new job, n’est-ce pas? And I was eager to see you again. Sophie told me where to find you and what bus you were likely to take.”
“Oh, thank you,” I said. I introduced him to Nonna, who’d come running out as soon as she’d seen me talking with a guy. “This is my grandmother, Rosa. Nonna, this is my…friend, Philippe.”
“Enchanté.” Philippe kissed her hand.
“Enchantée,” Nonna responded, pulling back her shoulders and making sure the gathering crowd, their noses pressed against the retirement center’s front windows, witnessed the exchange.
As I got on the back of the bike, I said, “I had no idea you had a motorcycle here. Do you also have a car?”
“Oui,” he said, “I do. Luc left his car for me, and I gave him mine in France. But I thought a motorcycle would be fun too.”
He sped up a little, and as he turned the corner out of the retirement center’s curved driveway, I recognized the truck pulling in.
I’d told him I’d be staying with Nonna and had planned to take the bus.
I caught his eye, and he caught mine, and I saw the bouquet of flowers carefully propped in the passenger seat. I had no time to wave before Philippe accelerated and we sped off.
I turned my head and squeezed my eyes shut to avoid seeing Dan’s reaction. Nonna would explain it to him.
Nonna was liable to say anything.
A few minutes later, Philippe pulled the bike up in front of a long, black marble-fronted building in the Fremont district.
“Eh voilà!” he said, parking and then holding a hand out to me. “This is it. Do you like it?”
I took his hand, got off the back of the bike, and looked at the building. There were already two gold fleurs-de-lis over the front door, with the gold-lettered word Bijoux–meaning “jewels,” the
name of the bakery–centered over the door. Otherwise, it was a blank slate.
“It’s beautiful!” I walked to the huge picture windows and looked in. The room was mostly empty, holding only a jumble of boxes and supplies, and some tarps left over from a recent paint job. But what lines, what bones. What this place could be!
Revue de presse
–Romantic Times Book Reviews
“…readers will almost taste the French pastry as they journey with Lexi toward her future…”
“Chick-lit never tasted so good! Let Them Eat Cake is one of those rare chick-lit novels that integrates faith elements without being preachy, and includes plenty of romance without it being the only point of the protagonist’s existence…. Chick-lit fans will find that this delectable mix of faith, fun and fiction has all the right ingredients for a romantic, enjoyable read.”
“In this sequel to Let Them Eat Cake, Byrd again entertains with descriptions of delectable food and, this time, with exquisite details of France as well. Foodies will delight in this novel, and anyone who adores romance will warm to the story. It’s easy to identify with Lexi’s struggles in life, because they mirror so much of what everyone experiences, no matter what their age.”
–Romantic Times Book Reviews
“Sandra Byrd has created a witty heroine whose search for significance and desire to follow the Lord equals her charming bonhomie. You won’t regret settling down with a plate of French pastries and this delectable adventure!”
–Angela Hunt, author of The Elevator
“Byrd brings a fresh, insightful approach to women's fiction as she stretches out a welcoming hand to twenty-something readers. Bon Appétit!”
–Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of Sisterchicks Say Ooh La La! and The Christy Miller Series