While doing a story on immigration, shed followed him around his border patrol station, barely able to keep her pen steady enough to take notes; the vibrations of his voice down her spine carried through to her fingertips like a tuning fork.
The station tour and interview ended where it began, at the entrance.
Were just everyday guys doing our jobs, hed said and opened the door for her exit.
Shed nodded and stood for an uncomfortably long moment, unable to convince her feet to move out of his dark, magnetic stare.
I may need a little more info would you be available later? shed asked, and hed promptly dictated his cell phone number.
A few weeks later, she lay naked beside him, wondering who was this woman that possessed her body. Not Reba Adams. Or at least not the Reba Adams from Richmond, Virginia. That girl would never have slept with a man after knowing him such little time. Scandalous! But this girl felt shiny new, and that was exactly what she wanted. So she had curled her body around his and leaned her chin on his tanned chest, knowing full well that she could get up and leave anytime she wanted. The power of that made her light- headed with satisfaction, but she didnt want to leave, didnt want him to either. There and then, she prayed for him to stay. He had, and now she felt like a migrant bird tethered to a desert rock.
She jiggled her foot anxiously. Her stomach growled.
See you later. Riki kissed the back of her head.
Reba didnt turn around.
The door opened and shut, and a cool draft of November air swept round her bare ankles. After his white- and- green US Customs and Border Protection pickup passed the front window, she pulled the cake from the shelf and to keep them perfectly symmetrical, she cut slivers from each of the three remaining pieces, then licked along the blade of the butter knife.
Midafternoon, Reba parked out front of Elsies German Bakery on Trawood Drive. The shop was smaller than shed imagined. A carved wooden sign hung over the door: Bäckerei. The smell of yeasty breads and honey glazes hovered in the air despite the blustery wind sweeping round the Franklin Mountains. Reba pulled her jacket collar up under her chin. It was a chilly day for El Paso, a high of 63 degrees.
The bell over the bakery door chimed as a dark- haired woman and her son tottered out. The boy held a pretzel, studded with salt and half chewed. But when can we have gingerbread? he asked.
After dinner. She took his free hand.
Whats for dinner? The boy bit into the knotted middle.
Menudo. She shook her head. Eat, eat, eat. Thats all you think about. She pulled the boy past Reba. Sweet cinnamon and allspice clung to them. Reba marched into the shop, ready to finally get answers. A jazzy, bigband tune played overhead. A man reading the newspaper sat in the corner with a cup of coffee and a slice of stollen. A slim but sturdy woman with silver- blond hair worked deftly behind the display case, sliding a tray of crusty rolls into a basket.
Jane! You put the sunflowers seeds in when I say to put caraway! yelled someone from beyond the curtained doorway dividing the café from the kitchen.
Im with a customer, Mom, Jane said. She pushed a graying bang behind her ear.
Reba recognized her Texan twang from the answering machine.
What can I get you? This is the last batch of brötchen for today. Its fresh. She nodded to the basket.
Thanks, but I well, Im Reba Adams. She paused, but Jane showed no flicker of recognition. Ive left a few messages on your machine.
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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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