A Taste of Magic

Chapter One

“You married a lemon, Elizabeth,” said Grandma Verda, as if that explained everything.

Interesting concept. I’d never compared my ex-husband to a piece of fruit before. Unless you counted the time I likened a certain appendage of his to a banana. “Assuming that’s true, even lemons can be satisfying. With a little water and sugar, you have lemonade.”Grandma Verda wrinkled her nose. “You add sugar to a bad lemon and all you get is a nasty aftertaste. And Marc Stevens is about as rotten a lemon as any I’ve ever seen.”

We were sitting in my office at A Taste of Magic, the bakery I co-own with my best friend, Jon Winterson. When I’d arrived at the crack of dawn, I’d found Grandma Verda, hot pink sneakers and all, waiting for me.

I kept my voice light. “But Grandma, when I married Marc, you thought he was perfect for me.”

“That was ten years ago. I didn’t know. He was still ripening—he could have turned into an orange. Oranges make decent husbands.”

“I see.” Well, not really, but her train of thought was interesting. Maybe someone should write a guide on how to know you’re marrying a lemon. I mean, you get an instruction manual in three different languages when you buy a toaster, so why not when you’re committing your life to another person?

I liked that idea. It could be given out after the I dos and right before the kiss. Hmm. On second thought, it should happen before the I dos. That way, either party can hotfoot it out of the ceremony before it’s too late.

Even so, I don’t think it would have changed my mind. I’d been pretty set in my decision to become Elizabeth Stevens.

“You were too good for him. I knew that much.” Grandma Verda sipped her tea. “I don’t know why you agreed to do it.”

She wasn’t talking about my ill-fated marriage any longer. This subject was one I preferred not to discuss. “I’m fine. Really. It’s not that big of a deal.”

I’d just told my first lie for the day, and not even an acceptable one at that. While I tended to be an honest person, there were two things in life I figured all women had the right to lie about: chocolate and headaches. Neither of which was the case here. And I never lied to my grandmother. Well, hardly ever. It didn’t sit well with me that I just had.

She stared at me with her never-miss-anything blue eyes. You know how when the quiet stretches on too long you feel forced to talk? To fill in the gap, I said, “I’m sure I’m not the only woman in the same situation. Besides, I’m just baking a cake. It’s not like I don’t do that every day, anyway.” Crap. I was overexplaining.

“Uh-huh.” She smacked her teacup down, a wave of Earl Grey sloshing over the side. “Let loose, Lizzie. You’ve been holding back for a year under a blanket of ‘I’m sorry,’ and ‘I’m fine,’ and ‘It’s no big deal.’ Tell me how you really feel.”

Her words hit me dead center.

I sopped up the tea with a paper towel and ignored the pressure in my chest. “What do you want me to say? That I’m crushed Marc left me for his blond Barbie-doll receptionist? That my marriage fell into the worst stereotype ever? Okay, yeah—it sucked. But it was a year ago.”

Last year was supposed to be “our year.” Marc and I were finally going to start a family. I’d wanted a baby for a long time, but he’d kept giving me reasons to wait. Only, instead