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Authors: Sarah Strohmeyer

Sweet Love

BOOK: Sweet Love
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Table of Contents
 
 
Also by Sarah Strohmeyer
The Sleeping Beauty Proposal
The Cinderella Pact
The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives
Bubbles Betrothed
Bubbles A Broad
Bubbles Ablaze
Bubbles in Trouble
Bubbles Unbound
Bubbles All the Way
DUTTON
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL , England
Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First printing, June 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Sarah Strohmeyer
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK — MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Strohmeyer, Sarah.
Sweet love / Sarah Strohmeyer.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-0-525-95064-6
1. Single mothers—Fiction. 2. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3569.T6972 S86
813’.54 —dc22 2008015773
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This book 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.
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For my dear departed mother, Nancy, who laid the path.
And
For my vivacious daughter, Anna, who keeps me on it.
Sonnet 56
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but to-day by feeding is allayed,
To-morrow sharpened in his former might:
So, love, be thou, although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fulness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love, with a perpetual dulness.
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
As call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome, thrice more wished, more rare.
“Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.”
—Anonymous
Prologue
Love sought is good, but given unsought better.
—TWELFTH NIGHT, ACT III, SCENE 1
I can’t help it. I’m worried about my daughter, Julie.
The way she works so hard and comes home exhausted every night, it doesn’t seem like she has any fun in her life, no joie de vivre! No man, either. Not that men are any guarantee of happiness. (As anyone who’s met Frank, my husband, knows,
ha, ha.
) But it would give me tremendous peace of mind if I could leave God’s green Earth assured that my little girl had someone who made her laugh and took care of her. Someone who loves her as much as I do.
Because I don’t have much time.
Not that I’m sick. Actually, I feel terrific. Old, yes, but I’m seventy-five for heaven’s sake and I’ve already survived a bout of breast cancer. I won’t be a Jack LaLanne pulling a boat at ninety, that’s for sure, even if I do walk three miles a day and always take the stairs.
It’s just that I’ve been dizzy lately and yesterday when I took down the cookbook to look up a recipe for Indian pudding—a recipe I used to know by heart—the words turned fuzzy. I had to sit at the kitchen table staring at the pages in order to make sense of them. Yet no matter how I squinted with or without my glasses, the blurring wouldn’t stop.
I called out to Frank, “I think I’ve been hit!” And Frank, in the living room as always, told me to lie down and take it easy, that we didn’t need dessert tonight.
That’s when I knew my time was near. If I can’t read, if I can’t make a simple Indian pudding, then I don’t see the point in living much more, really. Because aside from a good book and, perhaps, a fresh morning in a dew-covered garden, few things in life give me as much pleasure as the magic of making a truly spectacular dessert.
I’m a big believer in dessert. And let me tell you, if there were more dessert believers like me, this whole country would be a much nicer place. Certainly better than the nation of jittery, testy insomniacs we’ve become thanks to those damned Starbucks on every corner.
I swear this national caffeine addiction is what’s making everyone so angry these days. Have you noticed? We’re angry about the war, about debt, about politics, work, global warming, gas prices, the economy, our neighbors. But mostly, it seems to me, people are angry about not being more successful.
They’re so busy getting ahead and not falling behind that they’ve forgotten the simple, inexpensive pleasures. Like eating fresh blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream outside on the picnic bench after a day of swimming and picking berries. Or gathering with friends in front of the fire on a snowy evening with hot buttery bread pudding and baked apples while outside a winter wind howls.
That’s what dessert means to me: a dollop of sweet love in an otherwise cold world.
When the kids were growing and Frank was still in construction, I made sure all our meals ended with something sweet. Frank deserved it. Sour cream brownies, banana pie made with vanilla wafers, lemon poppy-seed pound cake, strawberry shortcake, almond-scented tapioca, pecan blondies (oh . . . my . . . God, those are good), butter brickle ice cream with butterscotch, angel food cake with rhubarb compote, gingerbread with hard sauce, and on Saturday nights, peppermint ice cream sundaes topped with homemade hot fudge.
Homemade hot fudge is a snap to make on the stove with dark chocolate broken into heavy cream and corn syrup. It’s a shame so many people buy that glop from the store. I tried to teach Julie how, but she’d have nothing of it. Julie hates to cook—because of me.
She’s never said so to my face, naturally, but I know. I know she thinks I’ve been trapped in the kitchen, forced to serve her father the meat-and-three dinners he liked to have waiting for him as soon as he walked through the door. I can see that my life frightens her.
The thing is, she doesn’t remember being a girl and helping me at the wooden board rolling out her little ball of pastry while I made pie. And how, all by herself, she delighted in folding her dough around a spoonful of raspberry jam. She forgets how she used to clap when it came out of the oven, her tiny pie, brown and sparkling with cinnamon sugar as it cooled next to my own.
I’d give anything to see her so happy again, especially since she’s so alone these days and so wrapped up in her work she’s forgotten to breathe, to live, to love.
Sometimes I fear it’s my fault for standing in the way of the man who truly loved her. But what was a mother to do? She was seventeen, a baby, and he was twenty-one, a man. I saw the lascivious way he looked at her. I heard the scuttlebutt from my son. If I hadn’t taken that young man aside and warned him in no uncertain terms to stay away, there’s no telling what trouble she might have gotten herself into.
But now that I’m older and wiser and have learned youthful indiscretions heal quickly while broken hearts do not, I have to admit I might have been wrong. I know for certain Julie’s never felt that way about another man since—though she pretends to despise him. And I just bet he isn’t over her, either—though he acts as if he is.
The good news is that right when I decided it was too late for an old lady to correct her mistake, I was offered a second chance to bring them together in, of all places, a dessert class.
You never know, it just might work. Like the garlic mustard in my garden and the roses on my fence, love has a funny way of blooming after years of being buried. If it’s true love, then it will abide. If it was a fleeting crush, then it will turn to dust.
Either way, the truth will out.
The Invitation
Congratulations!
You have received the exciting gift of
THREE (3) DESSERT TECHNIQUE
classes taught by
CHEF RENE D’OURS
at The Famous Boston Cooking School.
Have fun and meet new friends while learning professional secrets to
creating culinary classics sure to amaze your friends and family.
COURSE CURRICULUM FOR RECREATIONAL
DESSERT TECHNIQUES
CLASSES
WEEK ONE: Summer Abundance
BOOK: Sweet Love
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