A cake order?
No. Im a writer for Sun City magazine. I wanted to interview Elsie Meriwether.
Oh, Im sorry. I usually check the messages on Sundays, but I didnt get around to it this past weekend. She turned to the kitchen. Mom, theres someone here for you. She tapped her fingers on the register to the beat of the jazz trumpets, then tried again. Mom!
A pan clattered. I am kneading!
Jane gave an apologetic shrug. Ill be right back. She pushed through the curtains, revealing steel kitchen appliances and a wide oak bakers table. Reba examined the golden loaves stacked in baskets on the open shelves: Roggenbrot (Light Rye), Bauernbrot (Farmers Bread), Doppelback (Double- baked), Simonsbrot (Whole Grain), Black Forest, Onion Rye, Pretzels, Poppy Seed Rolls, Brötchen (Wheat Rolls). Inside a glass display case were neat rows of labeled sweets: Marzipan Tarts, Amarettis, three different kinds of kuchen (Cake: Hazelnut, Cherry-cheese, and Cinnamon-butter), Almond Honey Bars, Strudel, Stollen, Orange Quittenspeck (Quince Paste), Cream Cheese Danishes, and Lebkuchen (Gingerbread). A paper taped to the register read: Celebration cakes to order.
Rebas stomach growled. She turned away from the case and focused on the willowy leaves of the dill plant by the register. You cant, you cant, she reminded herself, then dug in her purse for a roll of fruit- fl avored Tums and popped a disk. It tasted like candy and satisfied the same.
Another pan clattered, followed by a stream of choppy German. Jane returned with fresh flour on her apron and forearms. Shes finishing up some tarts. Cup of coffee while you wait, miss?
Reba shook her head. Im fine. Ill just take a seat.
Jane motioned to the café tables, noticed her dusted arms, and brushed the wheat airborne. Reba sat, took out her notepad and tape recorder. She wanted to make sure to get print- worthy quotes now and avoid another trip. Jane wiped the glass case with something lavender scented, then continued to the tables around the bakery.
On the wall beside Reba hung a framed black- and- white photograph. At first glace, she thought it was Jane standing beside an older woman Elsie, perhaps. But their clothing was all wrong. The young woman wore a long cape over a white dress, her light hair swept up in a chignon. The older woman at her side wore a traditional German dirndl embroidered with what looked to be daisies. She clasped her hands in front and gave a meek glance, while the younger cocked a shoulder to the camera and smiled wide; her eyes bright and slightly indignant to whomever behind the camera.
My oma and mom Christmas 1944, said Jane.
Reba nodded to the photograph. I can see the family resemblance.
That was Garmisch before the war ended. Shes never been one to talk much about her childhood. She married Dad a few years after, as soon as the military nonfraternization laws lifted. He was stationed there eighteen months with the Army Medical Corps.
That sounds like a good story, said Reba. Two people from totally different worlds meeting like that.
Jane flicked the cleaning rag in the air. Isnt that the way of it?
Love. She shrugged. Just kind of hits you BAM. She squirted lavender and wiped the table.
Love was the last thing Reba wanted to talk about, especially with a stranger. So your dads American and your moms German? She scribbled a helix on her pad and hoped Jane would simply answer her questions, not ask any more.
Excerpted from The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah McCoy. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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