Sweet Arrest

By: Jordyn Tracey

"I'm sorry, A'isha.” Cammie caught her attention. “I had an appointment. It couldn't be avoided. I will stay late and prepare everything for tomorrow. And I'll come in early the rest of the week, give you a break. How's that?” Her puppy dog eyes were tempting.

Slapping her hands on her hips, A'isha frowned. “Fine. But don't let me down, Cammie. My mom gave you a chance when you begged for it. You had no experience and no training. I kept you on, because you have real talent and a love of food like I do.” Just not the weight to go with it.

The flash of resentment was not missed. “Thanks, A'isha. I won't let you down. I promise. Things are looking up for me anyway."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh nothing.” She shuffled out to the front at the sound of the bell.

A'isha rolled her eyes. That woman would be the death of her. She hadn't been exaggerating. Cammie could bake, and she sometimes sprung out recipes for treats that had the customers smacking their lips for more. A'isha had done all she could not to demand Cammie stop for the jealousy burning in her heart. After all, the treats brought in extra money, and that meant more to pay bills. Yet, lately, Cammie couldn't be bothered to do anything beyond what was assigned to her.

The phone rang. A'isha sighed and picked it up, forcing a smile. “Purely Sweets. This is A'isha. How can I help you?"

"Ms. Greene, this is Tamara Lincoln at Town Bank."

A'isha's heart rate kicked up a few notches. “Yes?"

"I need you to come in to talk about your mortgage payment. I understand your difficulties, but we can only go so far on good faith,” the woman explained. “How does tomorrow at three sound?"

Like it doesn't make any difference, because I don't have any money. She banged on the counter with her knuckles. “Oh someone's at the door, a delivery. Can I call you back and confirm? Thanks, Ms Lincoln.” She slammed the phone down with too much force.

"What am I going to do?” She stood there, smelling her precious muffins burning, with tears in her eyes.

* * * *

A'isha forced herself to take each step after she had struggled from the car. Another morning of jogging, with no incidents this time. Her muscles cussed her out for what she had done to them. “It's for your own good,” she grumbled, knowing damn well she wouldn't keep this up if it didn't get a little easier.

Approaching the shop, she noted the lights still off and the blinds down. "I'm going to come in every day this week," she mimicked Cammie. “I've been too lenient on her! Ma had a better handle.” Her shoulders slumped. Her mother had a better handle on everything, including the finances. If she lost this bakery...

The bell didn't jingle when she opened the door. A'isha glanced up to find it missing, but the hook it had hung from for years was still there. She shut the door and flipped the light switch. Nothing happened. “No, please not the electricity.” Searching her memory, she tried to recall whether she had sent the check off to the electric company. She had. Surely it hadn't bounced. Not that one at least.

With her hands outstretched, she shuffled in the direction of the kitchen. The sun hadn't come up yet, and she recalled that she had taken the risk of jogging with only the street lights to illuminate her path—unsafe but necessary.

Her foot bumped something, and when she tried to step sideways thinking Cammie had set a delivery box in the way, her foot slipped. Cursing her assistant for not cleaning up the mess she made, A'isha slammed down to the floor, banging her knee but cushioned by ... a body?

She screamed.

Too late, her fingers slipped into the same mess her foot had. Now she knew what it was. The coppery scent could not be mistaken. Blood. Nausea threatened. Just short of throwing a soiled hand over her mouth, she stopped and fought to get to her feet. Grasping a stool, she clamored around the counter and over to where the phone had been the night before. Of course, it wasn't there.

Her legs were so shaky, it took a while to cross the narrow space between where she stood and the kitchen. At the toss of the switch just inside the doorway, the store brightened. Thankfully, the counter blocked her from seeing who was lying dead on her floor, but she did see the pool of blood thickening.

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