“I got the job! Joanie, I got the job!” Elizabeth shouted as she bolted into my bakery, her brown curls bouncing against her shoulders as she came to a stop in front of the counter. I glanced at the overhead lights. I would have sworn the room brightened in response to her mood. Actually, it was entirely possible that it had. Things like that had a way of happening around here.
Liz’s wide smile was infectious, and I easily returned it. “That’s wonderful news! I knew your interview would go well.”
She side-stepped down the display cases and poked the glass in front of her repeatedly. “And it’s all thanks to you and your spiced snickerdoodle cookie, Joanie.” Liz had come in a half hour before her interview two weeks prior and bought the cookie upon my suggestion. I’d chosen that one to spice things up a bit. “They said they liked my spunk.”
“And that’s what will make you a great, what was it, assistant activities coordinator at the nursing home?”
She nodded enthusiastically. “I’ll be working in the senior center too.”
“How wonderful! You'll have them up and dancing in no time.”
Liz chuckled. “I don’t know about dancing, but I have some great ideas that I think they’re going to enjoy.” She pulled her hair up into a ponytail, securing it with a hair elastic she had been wearing around her wrist. “Hey, do you still have those cookies? I need to buy one to celebrate. It did help me get the job, after all.”
“Sure do.” I nodded at where her finger was on the glass. “You didn’t even realize you were pointing right to them. They’re one of the specials this month.”
I bent over and reached into the case, then pulled out one of the larger cookies for Liz. I was genuinely happy for her landing her first real job after graduating college early in December. She’d been nervous about the interview. She had plenty of skill, passion, and experience. All she needed was a bit of a confidence boost.
I had a bit of a reputation in town for being a witch—the good kind. I’d never agreed with the claim, laughed at it, really. I wasn’t a witch. I knew how to read people, though, and I played up the rumors about me for the benefit of others. I had winked at Liz when I handed her the snickerdoodle cookie the day of her interview. That’s all she’d needed.
I dropped the cookie into a bag and handed it to her. “Anything else I can do for you today?”
She pressed the bag to her chest and smiled. “You want to find me a guy? I have a job. Soon I'll have an apartment. Then all I'll need is a man. People talk. I know you got Beth and Carl together last month, and Chelsea and David are getting married soon. Everyone knows you had a hand in that.”
Smiling, I shook my head. Liz wasn’t wrong. Matchmaking came easily to me. In my four years of living in Heartwood Hollow, I’d matched over a dozen couples. The skill was hereditary. I’d grown up in a small town, not unlike this one, and my mom was the town librarian. She spent her entire career in that one library and was responsible for at least a hundred matches during those thirty years. When I asked Mom about it after my first matched couple in high school—I attended their wedding five years ago—I asked her how she did it. She’d said, “You just know something about somebody when you see what books they bring up to check out.” I could only take her at her word. Although I loved to read, I didn’t know books like I did baked goods, but I imagined there was a little more to how Mom made a match than basing it on what book someone borrowed.
I was a watcher. I learned a lot about someone by the way they entered the bakery, viewed the treats in the case and picked something out, and said goodbye. Over time, I’d established friendly relationships with many of my customers. Like with Liz.
“You don’t need a man to complete your life, Liz. You’re young still. You’ve got time.”
She sighed loudly and rolled her eyes. “And you’re too young to say that. You’re what, not even thirty? That’s what my mom said to me too. Doesn’t stop me from wanting one. Can’t you poof someone for me?”
I laughed, ignoring the age comment, although she wasn’t wrong with that either. I was only twenty-seven. “Poof?”
“Yeah, or whatever it is that you do. Please?” She handed me her money for the cookie.
I rang her out and gave her back her change.
“I can’t pull someone from thin air. It doesn’t work that way. The perfect guy doesn’t magically appear in town just because I want him to.”
“I know, but—”
“There’s someone out there for you, Liz. It takes time. But if I find him, I’ll tell you. I promise.”
The smile that had gotten lost when she was talking about wanting a guy reappeared. She’d find someone eventually, with or without my help.
“Thanks, Joanie. I gotta run—I haven’t even told my mom yet—but I’ll see you soon.”
“Good to see you, and congratulations.”
Liz spun on her heels, then walked toward the exit. She called over her shoulder, “Thanks for the cookie!” as she pulled the door open, then stepped down onto the sidewalk running along Main Street.
At that moment, my assistant, Sarah, walked into the shop from the kitchen, the door swinging shut behind her. “What was all that about?”
“Liz got the job she interviewed for.”
“Oh, how wonderful!” Sarah clapped.
“She bought a cookie to celebrate.”
Sarah wiped her hands on her purple apron. “I wondered what was keeping you.”
“Keeping me?” I glanced in her direction with an eyebrow raised.
Sarah tapped at her wrist. “Yeah, don’t you realize what time it is?”
I looked at the clock on the register. “Ack! I need to get going! I can’t be late for teatime.”
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