Authors: Mary Ellen Taylor
The Union Street Bakery
“Like a good recipe, the new novel
The Union Street Bakery
has a little bit of everything that makes a satisfying experienceÂ .Â .Â . Taylor pairs the past with the present to please history fans as well as those who like tales of family secrets, reinvention, and renewalÂ .Â .Â . Taylor, who lives in Virginia, conveys the essence of the community, of regular shop patrons, and history, literally around every corner in centuries-old buildingsÂ .Â .Â . Taylor serves up a great mix of vivid setting, history, drama, and everyday life in
The Union Street Bakery
. Here's hoping she writes more like it.”
“Interesting and intriguingÂ .Â .Â . [A] fast-paced story of sisters, family, what really matters, betrayal, faith, healing, and life in general. If you enjoy historical facts, heritage, adoption, family, and love, you will enjoy
Union Street Bakery
. Modern-day story mixed with historical facts, a ghost, mystery, and romance brings this story and characters to life. Oh, at the back of the book are some Union Street Bakery recipes. Wonderful story!”
âMy Book Addiction Reviews
“An excellent job of showing how important a family can be and who your real family is. Ms. TaylorÂ .Â .Â . makes you care not only about Daisy but about all the family and friends involvedÂ .Â .Â . I enjoyed reading this book and walking along with Daisy as she growsÂ .Â .Â . Get a copy and settle in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea or coffeeÂ .Â .Â . You might also want a pastry.”
Long and Short Reviews
“Readers will love Daisy and the McCrae family and be engrossed in both the historical and the present puzzles Daisy and her family must solve. Taylor never takes the simple plot path or gives in to melodrama. The story feels real. Ultimately, the book is about what we think we need versus what really matters and what it really means to be a family. It is highly recommended for anyone who loves family stories with intelligence and heart.”
“I found myself so caught up in this family's lives and turning the pages late into the night. You will not be able to put this book down until you turn the very last page. As a bonus, Mary Ellen has included some of the recipes from the bakery. I can't wait to read more by Ms. Taylor.”
Berkley Books by Mary Ellen Taylor
THE UNION STREET BAKERY
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
USA â¢ Canada â¢ UK â¢ Ireland â¢ Australia â¢ New Zealand â¢ India â¢ South Africa â¢ China
A Penguin Random House Company
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
Copyright Â© 2013 by Mary Burton.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
BERKLEYÂ® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
Berkley trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-101-62624-5
An application to register this book for cataloging has been submitted to the Library of Congress.
Berkley trade paperback edition / November 2013
Cover art by Alan Ayers.
Cover design by Diana Kolsky.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
To my favorite bakers Michael and Nancy, Coordinators2inc's Birth Parent and Adoptee Support Group, and, as always, for Julia
14 days, 4 hours until grand reopening
Income Lost: $0
ome disasters meander or stroll into our lives at an easy pace. A leaky dam, a slow-moving storm, or a crack in a foundation all creep up nice and easy. If we're paying attention, we see the trouble coming and can dodge, bob and weave, or duck to avoid calamity.
I've never known that kind of catastrophe. No sir, my kind of trouble never ambles or strolls. Nor does it saunter, promenade, simmer, or fester. My trouble steams into my life like a runaway freight train, a Cat 5 summer twister, or a sweeping avalanche. It strikes like a snake, hits hard, and takes no prisoners.
Boom. Fast. Just like that. Disaster hits.
Consequently, I'm now good at rolling with the punches, picking myself up, and moving forward. I don't dwell on the past too much anymore. Eyes forward is my new motto.
But as I clutched the little white pregnancy stick and stared at the test strip, willing a minus sign, I wasn't sure how I'd handle this jam. A baby wasn't like an expensive pair of shoes that needed returning, a bounced check, or a really bad hair perm. A baby was forever.
Threading fingers through my dark hair, I fought back the nausea and allowed a groan to rumble in my chest as I thought about my boyfriend, Gordon. We'd broken up last year. It had been a bitter, sad breakup, leaving me far more wounded than I could have imagined. I'd tried to move on with life, but regrets over Gordon always lingered. In the last month, we'd both landed back in Alexandria, trying to rebuild broken careers, and somehow we'd found our way back to each other. There were days when our rekindled love touched on miraculous.
However, in a bid to be mature and thoughtful about our newfound love, we'd not reestablished relations, if you know what I mean. No nookie. No sex. We were going slow. Didn't want to upset the apple cart. Friends-before-lovers kind of situation, because the first time we'd been together, the sexual attraction had been hot and furious. Couldn't-keep-our-hands-off-each-other kind of sex. We were intimate by the second date and had moved in together after a month. Gordon had asked me to marry him by week six, and by week nine, I'd freaked out over the looming commitment and pushed the self-destruct button on us.
So this time the theme was slow and easy.
Don't get me wrong, since our reunion, sex had been on both our minds, big,
time. Old sparks still flickered bright and hot.
However, Gordon was the one staying strong, suggesting we nurture a friendship before we jumped into bed. I didn't like it, but I understood. Gordon wanted me to be sure about him enough as a friend as well as a lover.
A simple concept except for the fact I'd just peed on a pregnancy stick.
Gordon and I had officially broken up last year and officially gotten back together four weeks ago. A muddled middle filled the months we'd been apart, and halfway through our separationâexactly four months agoâI'd made a less-than-wise choice I thought was forgotten forever.
I stared at the still white window of the stick. If it went nuclear pink, it meant I was four months pregnant. I didn't need a calendar or any fancy guesswork to know the day. March 21. It was my last night in my Washington, D.C., apartment. The financial management company I'd worked for had gone under overnight, a casualty of the mortgage market. The job prospects were slim, so I'd yielded to pressure from my mother and agreed to come home for a few months and manage the family bakery. My newly widowed sister struggled with the job and in Mom's mind it could be a win-win for everyone. I was not thrilled about the move. I loved my family, but the bakery held bitter memories of a birth mother who had abandoned me at the shop when I was three years old.
Needless to say my last night in Washington wasn't happy. Selfpity brimmed as I pined for the past and dreaded the future.
So, to cheer myself up, I'd invited friends over for a final good-bye. The six of us had gathered to mourn the demise of our beloved company and to toast my bright, albeit underemployed future. Bonded by grief and loss, we clung to ties doomed to fray even as we swore we'd lunch, text, and talk all the time. We were more than friends, we'd said after I'd opened the sixth bottle of wine. We were
Yada, yada, yada.
One key friend, now to my great regret, lingered longer than the rest. Roger Traymore. We'd both been tipsy as we'd argued the roots of our company's demise. We'd both fought hard to save the company. Worked crushing hours. Endured difficult meetings with clients and watched others buy us out and cut us loose.
In those hazy, drunken moments, we both understood each other. We were kindred spirits. And our momentary bond had translated into sex. Not super-great sex, but in the big picture the sex didn't matter. What mattered was the condom had broken. I'd been too drunk to worry, but when the sun rose, we'd sobered enough to realize the gravity of it all. Instead of acknowledging what had happened, I'd been as anxious for him to leave as he was to go. And on the heels of more empty promises of friendship, we'd scattered like two rats from a sinking ship.
He took a job teaching in China, and I moved home across the Potomac River to Alexandria, Virginia, to my parents' bakery, which also teetered on financial oblivion.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Long story short, if the white stick turned pink, I was not only starting my fourth month as the Union Street Bakery manager, but I was entering my second trimester.
Pregnancy. Knocked up. Bun in the oven.
Clutching the stick, I walked across my attic apartment located atop the bakery and set it on my nightstand. Sitting on my squeaky bed, I buried my face in my hands.
Don't borrow trouble. Don't borrow trouble.
Glancing up, I surveyed my tiny attic apartment. My parents had converted the third-floor space into a room when I was a kid. They'd cleared out the junk, finished the walls and added a bathroom. Not hugely spacious but okay for me now. Since my return I'd whitewashed the walls, added a desk for papers and a chest of drawers to stow clothes. There wasn't a lot of storage space, but I didn't need much now. I'd saved one all-purpose black dress but had sold my other D.C. clothes weeks ago for quick cash to pay the bakery's electric bill.
There was a small television in the corner. It wasn't attached to cable, but I'd bought a digital converter and on a good day it broadcast four channels. My red bike hung above my desk on twin hooks, a rag rug warmed the floor, and blue thrift store curtains covered the two dormer windows. In the corner, I'd also squeezed in another twin bed that doubled as a couch. No kitchen, but the bakery in the basement had all the cooking power I needed. My attic was not huge, but it worked for me.
Not me and
I sat on my sofa bed, unmindful of the squeaky spring poking my backside, and switched on my nightstand light so I could stare at the strip under the bulb's glare. The white had turned a very faint pink tint, but it wasn't exactly dark pink. And I was pretty certain it was supposed to be a dark pink. The back of the box said a pink plus sign indicated positive results. It didn't say faint pink or a little bit pink. No such circumstance as a little bit pregnant.
“How pink is pink enough?”
Damn. With a groan I curled up on the side of the bed and stared at the stick, willing it to fade to white.
It hadn't occurred to me until yesterday to buy a pregnancy test. I'd been walking by the Potomac River on the trail, trying to settle my stomach and doing my best to figure out when I'd had my last menstrual cycle. I'd missed last month and the month before, but with the job loss and the transition, I chalked the delay up to stress. Unlike my sisters' cycles, mine weren't totally regular, so I didn't get too worked up. I'd considered talking to Mom, but she was like my sisters. Like clockwork. Her biology wasn't mine.
The fact was, no matter how much we loved each other, I was the daughter she'd adopted and not birthed.
When I was three, my birth mother had abandoned me in the bakery's outdoor patio. It had been Easter time, and the place had been a crush of tourists and regulars enjoying our very decadent hot cross buns. Sheila McCrae, the hippie bakery shop owner, had spotted me sitting alone. She'd stopped her frenetic collection of dishes and trash and waited to make sure my mom was close. After several minutes, she'd realized my mother wasn't hovering close or standing nearby with a watchful eye on me. I was alone. My birth mother had vanished, leaving no traces or clues. There'd been a police investigation but my birth mother had gone. So Sheila had folded me into her family as effortlessly as she folded whipped egg whites into a batter, and life had gone on for both of us as mother and daughter.
Though Mom loved me like her biological daughters, we did not share genetics. The only person to ask would have been my birth mother, whom I'd met for the first time months ago. Our recent reunion wasn't exactly storybook. She'd been clear she didn't want a relationship. She'd rebuilt her life with a husband and two young sons, and there was no room in it for me. She'd given me some biological information and had said she'd answer questions.
But her sudden arrival into my life had left me stunned and had silenced the millions of questions I'd had as a kid. Now as I stared at the light-but-not-dark-pink stick, the questions flickered to life. What was it like when she was pregnant with my two half brothers and me? Did she have morning sickness? Did her feet swell? How much weight did she gain? How was the delivery? Genetic time bombs in the family tree, maybe?
Stupid stick. It had stirred up more questions for my birth mother, Terry, and more of my own unresolved emotions. Even if the stick stayed a light, light pink, today's stirring had disturbed the cauldron.
So why exactly did she leave me?
I'd never really gotten the question answered, other than she'd been young and troubled.
Why do you love your sons but don't want to see me again?
I imagined them to be special young boys who gave her no trouble at all.
I shook the stick, held it upside down, and then studied it again. No change.
Me. Daisy Sheila McCrae. With a kid.
The image simply did not compute. I'd never pictured myself with children. My sister Rachel had two of the cutest girls in the world, and I'd give my life for them. My older sister, Margaret, always talked about marriage and having a family one day, and I could picture her sitting cross-legged on the floor, finger-painting with a half-dozen redheaded children. Both my sisters grew up assuming motherhood would be a part of their lives. But for me babies hadn't been in the master plan.
Logically, I understood my abandonment was a big part of the no-kid policy. What if I made a baby and couldn't raise it? My mom always assured me I'd be a great parent, but the fear that I'd hurt my child never left.
Some people say young children forget trauma, but they're wrong. We might not have words or vivid minute-by-minute memories, but we remember on a cellular level.
And with no genetic background to review, making a baby was akin to Russian roulette. I know, I know, we all play a form of the game when making a baby, but my genetics had been such an unknown for so long, a baby hadn't made sense.
Since my reunion with Terry, I've gained a good bit of medical history and could trace back her familyâmy familyâfor several generations. I had more answers now than I ever did. But the extra knowledge wasn't enough to prepare me for motherhood.
I glared at the stick. Was it a little more pink? Was it pink enough? “One simple direct answer is all I want. Yes or no?”
Footsteps sounded on the stairs leading to my room, and I glanced at the stick as if I feared it would somehow shout,
Daisy might be pregnant!
I hustled into the bathroom, took one last look at the sorta pinkish center, and tossed the stick in the trash. Smoothing hands through my hair, I glanced at myself in the mirror and smiled.
“If you were pregnant,” I whispered, “then it would be bright pink. The box promised it would be pink within a minute and it's been five minutes. Don't borrow trouble. There's no baby and Gordon and I will be fine.”
“Daisy?” My sister Rachel's voice echoed from outside my door.
“Be right there, Rachel.” I combed fingers through my hair, pulled the rubber band from my wrist, and twisted and secured my hair in a topknot.
A strained smile plastered on my face, I opened the door.
Rachel was eight inches shorter than me, had strawberry blond hair, and her skin was five shades lighter than mine. Hers was a peaches-and-cream complexion that easily burned in the sun whereas my olive complexion soaked up the rays.