Home > Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(3)

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery #2)(3)
Jenny Colgan

‘Hey!’ said Jayden. ‘Yes, everything came up very nicely. Except, uh, the chorizo michette. I had to… um, I had to… It was over-baked.’

Polly looked at him sternly.

‘Was it really, Jayden?’

She pulled off her coat and hung it on a hook, then went round the other side of the counter to get scrubbed up. Looking back, she saw Neil waiting patiently outside the door, occasionally hopping from foot to foot. He would do this until a customer came and let him in, which they always did. Not for the first time, she wondered about the availability of puffin obedience classes.

‘Yes,’ said Jayden, his round cheeks going suspiciously pink. The customers waited patiently, scanning the heavy old-fashioned glass cabinets to choose their cream buns for later.

Polly raised an eyebrow.

‘They were really good,’ said Jayden in a low voice. ‘I’m sorry. I tried to only eat one.’

The problem was, Jayden was a wonderful member of staff. Prompt, polite, kind, efficient, and he cleaned like a demon; years working on the fishing boats had made him precise and immaculate. He wasn’t at all handsome, but he was very sweet and charming and everybody liked him.

He was also incredibly grateful not to be out with the fleet any more, which he had hated. He loved having an indoor job with regular hours. He was honest with the money and nice with the customers (at least the local customers; he was getting slightly better with the incomers and holidaymakers, with whom he was either brusque or tongue-tied).

But he did have a terrible, terrible habit of chomping on the stock.

‘It’s not like I don’t know you’re doing it,’ said Polly, indicating his belly, growing ever stouter underneath his grey apron.

‘I know. I’m sorry.’

He really was sorry too, his face bright pink. He had grown a moustache last year for Movember, and everyone said it suited him – it rather did – so he had kept it, and now he flushed to the tips of it.

‘I don’t mind you eating a bit,’ said Polly. ‘But you know, that was meat. It’s expensive.’

Despite the moustache, Jayden looked about seven years old as he stared at the floor.

‘You’re not being cross with that nice young man,’ said Mrs Corning, the reverend’s widow. ‘He’s a blessing, so he is.’

The other ladies in the queue agreed. For some of them, Polly suspected, having a flirt and a chat with Jayden was the highlight of their days.

‘He’s a very hungry blessing,’ grumbled Polly.

‘And she’s left that bird of hers outside,’ said another lady, disapprovingly. They all muttered amongst themselves. Polly felt like rolling her eyes, but didn’t. To some people she would always be the new girl, she knew. She moved along to the next person in the queue.

‘What can I get you?’ she asked politely.

‘Have you got any of those yummy loaves with the little bits of sausage in them? I loves them.’

‘No,’ said Polly, with a last glare at Jayden, who pretended she wasn’t there and suddenly looked very busy. ‘We don’t.’

The shop bell dinged.

‘Hey, Poll, you left Neil outside!’ said a big booming American voice.

The shop, very small to begin with, suddenly felt smaller still as the shadow of Huckle fell over the counter. He was very tall, long-legged, broad in the shoulders, with a thick head of yellow hair that made him look larger still. Even now Polly was sometimes amazed that he was her boyfriend; he looked like he’d stepped out of an advert that would have lots of desert and cacti and cowboy hats in it.

‘Seriously, man,’ said Huckle. Neil was sitting on Huckle’s jacket sleeve – he didn’t normally do this – gazing at Polly with a wounded expression.

‘I didn’t leave him anywhere,’ said Polly, exasperated. ‘Birds aren’t meant to be in the workplace. He should be hopping over to the rocks and trying to pick up a lady puffin.’

‘Or another boy puffin,’ said Huckle. ‘I don’t think you should be prejudiced.’

Polly looked straight at him.

‘Are you calling me a bird homophobe?’

‘I’m just saying we need to be open to all of Neil’s choices.’

‘Except the one about letting him in the shop!’

Huckle sighed. The old ladies gathered round to examine Neil (or, Polly reckoned mischievously, to get their clawed hands on Huckle’s bicep). When they’d finally cleared, she leaned over to kiss her boyfriend.

‘Hey,’ she said, breathing in his lovely warm scent, slightly tinged with the oil from the motorbike he rode everywhere. ‘Not out and about this morning?’

Huckle shook his head. ‘Sure am! I just popped in to tell you: Dubose is coming.’

Polly bit her lip.

‘Seriously?’

Her heart started to beat a little faster. She’d never met Dubose. She’d never met any of Huckle’s family before; Dubose was his younger brother, and something of a black sheep.

‘What’s he up to?’

Huckle rolled his eyes.

‘Don’t start me. Apparently he needed a break.’

Polly looked confused.

‘Isn’t he a farmer?’

‘Yes,’ said Huckle. ‘Exactly. Farmers don’t get breaks!’

‘Like bakers,’ said Polly.

‘Except tougher,’ said Huckle.

‘Oh yeah.’

Huckle shook his head.

‘He’s left Clemmie in charge.’ Clemmie was Dubose’s girlfriend.

‘Isn’t she any good?’

‘She’s great! She’s fine. But running a farm… it takes a lot of effort.’

Huckle’s brows drew together. It wasn’t often that he looked cross. Polly thought it was cute.

‘When is he showing up?’

‘A couple of weeks, I think. He’s “bumming about”.’ Huckle gave a resigned smile. ‘He doesn’t like making plans or being tied down by anything like notice. It’s okay if he stays, right?’

‘Well of course, but oh wow. Do you think he’s going to like me?’

Huckle rolled his eyes.

‘Dubose likes everyone,’ he said. Polly looked at him.

‘Is that a note of jealousy in your voice?’ she asked slyly.

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