Authors: D.E. Haggerty
Diet Plan: Make all of my friends cupcakes: the fatter they get, the thinner
I’m filling the display cases the next morning when Ben
comes charging in. “Where were you last night?” His usually gentle face looks
anything but gentle at the moment.
“Last night?” I scrunch my eyebrows in confusion at him.
Ben sighs and the stoniness of his face soothes out until
he’s once more my gentle giant. “I came by to walk you home, but you weren’t
“Oh,” I sigh as the light bulb goes off in my head. Ben
often walks me home, although ‘walking’ is a bit of misnomer since I live above
the bakery. I only have to go out the back door and then walk a few steps in
the alley to get to my apartment door. It’s a bit strange that there’s no way
to go from the bakery to the apartment upstairs without going outside. The
former owner and my own personal fairy godmother, Gretchen, told me that there
had been a massive fight between her grandparents when her grandmother discovered
her grandfather flirting with some customers. They didn’t believe in divorce,
but Gretchen’s grandma wanted nothing to do with her husband even though she
was living above the bakery and he was running it. Thus, the weird commute home
for me each evening.
“I think I can manage to walk the five steps from the bakery
to my apartment, Ben.” I don’t know why I bother. It’s not like I ever asked
Ben to walk me home. He just started showing up at closing time one day to make
sure I got home safe. He even added more lights to the back door. He’s been
pushing me about a security system as well, but that’s not in the budget.
Ben rubs a hand over his face and grunts. “I need to know
you’re home safe.”
My heart melts a little at that. “I can take care of myself,
He nods. “I know that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to
take care of you.” His phone dings with a message, and he immediately grabs it
from his pocket. “Sorry,” he mumbles as he unlocks his phone. “I need to go,”
he says after reading the message.
From the corner of my eye I see the pole dancing tramp known
as Dolly walk in the bakery.
I see her eye Ben up and down. If
I’m not mistaken, she actually licks her lips. Then she reaches into her
sweater and adjusts the goods, although what needs adjusting is completely
beyond me. She saunters up to Ben, but he doesn’t even bother to look her way.
She scowls a bit before smoothing out her face and placing a hand on his arm. I
start to seethe, but Ben merely moves out of the way without even glancing in
“I’ll see you tonight, sweetheart,” he says as he puts his
phone away. He winks at me before walking away. I don’t think he even noticed
Dolly. She stomps up to the counter and glares at me. I just shrug my
What is there to say?
“Figures a fatty like you would work at a bakery.” She’s
I cross my arms over my chest. “Wow. That the best you can
come up with?”
She leans in. “Not so special now are you Dr. Muller.”
I can’t help but giggle at that. “Special enough for you to
remember my name.”
Anna sashays over to me and glares at Dolly. “And she
doesn’t work here! She owns the place!” I shake my head at her. I don’t think
she’s helping at all.
Dolly looks me up and down. “I guess that explains
Anna stomps her foot and glares at Dolly. “Her physique?
Look, you little...” That’s when I move and place my hand over Anna’s mouth
before she can start swearing up a storm.
I plaster a fake smile on my face while wrestling with Anna.
She may be tiny, but she’s strong as all get out. “What can I do for you,
Dolly?” As far as I’m concerned, I’ve already won this round. I’m not going to
think about how happy it makes me that Ben ignored her. Not. Going. To. Think.
About. It. And I totally didn’t sigh at that thought. Nope, not I.
Dolly huffs like just being in the bakery is a hardship for
her. “What kind of low-fat, low-carb goods do you have?”
I snort at that. How can a cupcake bakery possible have
anything low-carb? Does she even understand what carbs are? And low-fat? What
fun is a cupcake without the fat? I stare at her a second too long, and Anna
answers on my behalf.
“We have carrot cupcakes.” She wrestles out of my hold and
moves to the display case where she pulls out a carrot cupcake, which I know
has about a zillion calories as it’s full of sugar and oil. And then there’s
the cream cheese icing. There is absolutely nothing healthy about the icing.
Butter, cheese, and sugar are a confectioner’s trifecta.
Dolly stares at the cupcake as if it has devil’s horns.
“That doesn’t look very healthy.”
I refuse to answer. Anna started this mess, she can finish
it. “It’s filled with carrots. Totally low-carb.” She doesn’t give Dolly a
chance to respond and places the cupcake in one of the
cupcake boxes. “On the house. Give a try.” She shoves the box into Dolly’s hand
and then puts her hands on her hips as if challenging her to refuse the gift.
“Well…thanks, I guess,” Dolly says after a while. She starts
to leave the bakery but then turns around to wink at Anna. “I’ll see you in
class tomorrow.” She looks at me and grimaces. “You’re welcome to come without
your friend.” She looks me up and down. “It’s not like Dr. Muller can handle
the pole anyway.” With that she turns and leaves the bakery before Anna or I
I can’t resist a challenge. Now I’m going
to have to continue those stupid pole dancing classes. Anna turns to me with a
huge smile on her face. I roll my eyes at her. “Don’t say it.”
awkward moment when you’re wearing Nikes and you can’t Just Do It.
I’m just turning the bakery sign to
day when Ben shows up. I quickly unlock the front door and let him in. Darn my
heart. It’s relieved to see him. He didn’t stop by this morning, and I missed
him. Not that I’ll admit that out loud or anything.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he whispers and bends to kiss my
forehead. That’s new. He’s never gotten his lips near me before. Not that I
mind. I take a deep breath to prevent a sigh from escaping. “Ready to go home?”
I shake my head. “Actually, I’m off to class.”
“Class? I didn’t realize the semester started already.”
Sweet, sweet Ben is well aware of my University classes as he has appointed
himself as my unofficial get-home-safe guard.
“Not that class. Fitness class.” I clarify.
“We’re doing a pole dancing class,” Anna shouts. I jump. I
didn’t hear the little sprite creep in.
Ben smiles slowly and his eyes sparkle. “Pole dancing, huh?”
His voice sounds husky.
“It was Anna’s idea,” I squeak.
Ben reaches forward and tucks a strand of my hair behind my
ear. He leans down and whispers, “This definitely has possibilities.”
I’m melting. I’m going to be a puddle of goo on the floor if
this continues. I take a deep breath and step away from the heat that is Ben.
“We’d better get going.” I reach down to grab my gym bag, which I set on the
floor when I locked the front door. Before I can get anywhere near it, Ben
grasps the bag and throws it over his shoulder. He motions me forward with his
hand. “After you.”
“Don’t you need to get back to work?”
Ben chuckles. “Nope. Lunch break. I’ll escort you ladies to
We walk through the kitchen and out the back door. Ben takes
my keys from me and locks up. When he gives me the keys back, he grabs my hand.
Anna’s already several footsteps ahead.
I try to take my hand
back, but Ben’s not letting up. As we walk, he leans down and whispers in my
ear. “I wasn’t sure how you felt, but then you got jealous yesterday when that
woman touched my arm. Now I know you’re interested. You’re just scared.” I try
to respond, but Ben plows forth. “And now it’s time to step things up. I’ve
waited a year. I’ll continue to wait, but I’m not going to make it easy for
We’ve reached the fitness studio by the time Ben finishes
his little speech. I turn to respond, and he leans down and gently sips from my
lips. He hands me my gym bag, winks, and then turns and walks away while I’m
still standing there shocked speechless. Anna sighs beside me. “About time.”
I ignore her and stomp into the gym. I’m all hot and tingly
and that makes me annoyed for some reason. I hear Anna grunt, but she follows
me into the gym and to the locker room. I open my gym bag and squeak.
These are not the gym clothes I packed in my bag this morning.
“Anna,” I growl.
“What’s up?” Her face is the picture of innocence. I narrow
my eyes at her and wait her out. She huffs. “Fine, I changed the clothes in
your gym bag. To be fair, the clothes you had in there weren’t gym clothes.
They were ‘fat clothes’ for sitting on the sofa drowning in Ben & Jerry’s
and being depressed.” She scrunches her nose at me. “We’re here to make you
feel sexy. Whatever you packed in that bag was going to make you feel about as
sexy as a rat on a sinking ship.”
I pull the brand-spanking-new sportswear out of my bag, and
my heart nearly stops. There’s no way there’s enough material in here to fit
around my body. I don’t care how stretchy it is. It’s a good thing the engineer
who invented spandex in the fifties is long gone from this earth. It’s hard to
wreak vengeance on someone who is no longer in the land of the living. I start
to complain to Anna again, but she’s already dressed and on her way out of the
There’s nothing for it. I force myself into the new clothes.
Darn, I have to admit the outfit looks a whole heck of a lot better than my
ratty old sweats and t-shirt which may or may not have a hole in the armpit. I
move to the mirror and twirl. I smile.
Not bad, if I do say so myself.
shut my locker and head towards the stripper room … er … pole dancing
I notice something wrong the moment I walk into the studio.
Anna’s staring down at the ground, and I think I hear her sniffling. Shoot. I
hope I didn’t hurt her feelings. I walk over to her, place a hand on her arm,
and squeeze. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be such a butthead.”
She shakes her head. “It’s not that,” she whispers.
“What is it, then?” Why am I whispering as well?
Anna raises her head and watches as Dolly exits the room.
She visibly relaxes. She pulls me closer, and I lean down for her to whisper in
my ear. “Dolly hit on me.”
I giggle. Well, that’s not so bad. “Well, babe, you’re hot.”
Anna may be tiny, but that doesn’t make her any less beautiful. She looks more
like a porcelain doll than a pixie – even with the pink hair. She has beautiful
blues eyes that seem enormous on her face, a pert nose, naturally rosy cheeks
with high cheekbones, and a luscious mouth. And her skin is absolutely perfect.
I can’t remember ever seeing a pimple on her. I shrug. “What’s the big deal?”
“It was how she did it and what she said.” Anna cringes.
“She made me feel slimy.”
I don’t have time to respond as Dolly has returned to the
room and the music is turned on. This time
blares through the
speakers. I quickly squeeze Anna’s hand before moving to my pole.
“Okay, sluts, let’s get started,” Dolly says and then looks
directly at me. “Some of us have more work to do than others.” She cringes in
an overly dramatic way. “Although how you can get fat from eating those
disgusting cupcakes, I have no idea.” The entire class swivels their heads to
look at me. My face is on fire. “I tried her carrot cupcake.” She shivers in
mock disgust. “Gross. Just gross.”
That’s it. I’m making a complaint about this jerk face as
soon as class is over. I’m fuming for the entire forty-five minutes of the
class. I don’t even notice how difficult or drained I’m feeling. I’m that mad.
As soon as the music is cut off, I’m out of there. I don’t even wait for Anna.
I march straight to the manager’s office.
I knock loudly on the open door, but I don’t wait for the
woman at the desk to answer me. I barge in as if I own the place. I even close
the door behind me as if I have the right to do so. “I’d like to make a
complaint,” I state without further ado.
The woman, the manager I presume, sighs and motions for me
to take a seat. “What’s Dolly done now?”
I rear back. “You get more complaints about her?” She nods.
I raise my eyebrows. “Why do you keep her on staff then?”
The woman, her name tag says she’s Janet, leans forward.
“Pole dancing is really popular now. All the classes fill up.” She shrugs.
“There’s no one else to teach the class.”
I collapse against the back of the chair. “What about some
type of sensitivity class?”
Janet actually laughs. “I’ve tried. She won’t go. She tells
me to fire her, but I can’t. The gym survives on the fees from classes, and her
classes are the most popular.”
I snort. “But does anyone ever come back?”
“You’d be surprised.” Yeah, I would. There’s no way on this
green Earth that I’d willingly take another class with Dolly. Janet straightens
her back and gets down to business. “So, what’s she done now?”
“She constantly makes derogatory
comments about the heavier women in class.” I don’t add that most comments are
directed at me. “And today she slandered my bakery.”
I nod. “Yeah, I own
. I’m Callie
actually.” I realize I haven’t introduced myself and reach forward to extend my
arm to shake her hand. “Sorry, I’m a little flustered.”
Janet laughs. “Dolly will do that to you.”
Before we can continue, there’s a commotion in the hallway, and
Dolly flings the door open before stomping in.
What in the world?
Janet stands, her face has turned to stone. She may have no
choice about keeping Dolly in her employ, but it’s pretty obvious that she
doesn’t like it or her. “Dolly, you can’t just come rushing in here when I’m
talking to a client.”
Dolly looks down at me and sneers. “That client,” she points
at me, “is the reason I’m here. She keyed my car.”
“What?” I sputter. “I didn’t key your stupid car. I don’t
even know which car is yours. And I’ve been in here talking to Janet since
Dolly crosses her arms over her impressive chest. “Then, you
must have keyed it before class.”
“Please, I had more important things to do before class than
keying your car. I run a business, remember?” But it’s not my bakery I’m
thinking about. I’m thinking about Ben’s soft lips touching mine before he left
me dazed and confused at the entrance to the gym while Anna smirked at me.
I know who keyed Dolly’s car. It must have been Anna. It’s just the
kind of thing she’d do. She was pretty upset about Dolly hitting on her after
Janet speaks and brings my attention back to the room. “I’m
sure Callie didn’t key your car. We have security cameras. We’ll take a look at
them.” She glares at Dolly. “But you need to wait until I finish with Callie’s
“Callie’s complaint?” Dolly shouts. “What’s the whale
Janet’s face turns a shade of red I’ve never seen before.
Not even in the unnatural red of Anna’s red velvet cupcakes. She points at the
door. “Get out! Before I change my mind and fire you.”
Dolly huffs, but she’s actually smart enough to leave. Janet
collapses in her chair and covers her face with her hands. The poor woman. I
can’t actually make a complaint about Dolly now. No matter how well deserved it
would be. Janet knows what’s going on and she’s stuck. My complaint will only
make the situation more difficult for her. I’ll just skip the rest of the
lessons. Not like I wanted to do a pole dancing class anyway.