Michael is a bachelor on the look-out for a young woman with a strange taste in sweets. He hears about Mr. Eres’ special sweet shop and pays it a visit. Unbeknownst to him, Mr. Eres has plans for him and a certain young lady customer.
“You couldn’t get a date if you bought one at the store.”
The quip came from Shannon Blake, friend to Vanessa Holbrook, to her older brother Michael. He was a decent-looking young man who was nearing thirty with a string of failed girlfriends behind him. His occupation centered around information technologies, and that gave him enough cash to take his baby sister out for lunch every other Friday. She didn’t have university classes that day, and he made sure his workload was light, so they could chat away without him hurrying back to work. That’s what they were doing right then, sitting in a small booth in one of the restaurants on the city’s busier streets.
“Thanks, that really helps,” he sarcastically shot back at his younger sister.
Shannon’s quip didn’t bother him too much. What she was saying about him not getting a date wasn’t quite right since he’d dated before. The problem lay in finding the right girl for himself.
He tried online dating sites, blind dates with friends, matchmakers, but all of them had failed. Not utterly, since he’d gone on a few second dates with some of them, but there just wasn’t that connection to keep them going. Nobody suited him, or he didn’t suit anybody.
She reached over and patted him on the shoulder. “I’m just trying to keep your expectations low. You know, so you don’t get bummed out again,” Shannon replied.
He waved away her hand. “All of life is a bummer. You’d better get used to it.”
“I know that already, you and the parents don’t need to beat it into me all the time. Besides, we’re talking about you, remember? There’s got to be some way to attract a girl to you and keep her.”
Michael leaned back in his cushioned seat and frowned. “I don’t think it’s that easy. The girls I met weren’t really that interesting,” he pointed out.
Shannon brushed away his idea with a wave of her hand. “Hey, with that many failed relationships you have to start seeing yourself as the problem. Maybe you’re just too dorky for them.” She looked him up and down. He was thin but not too thin, with nice, mousy brown hair and hazel eyes. Not too bad, but those thick glasses didn’t help the look. “Maybe you should wear contacts. That might help.”
“Um, yeah, no. Those things are a pain to get in every morning. Besides, I don’t think changing me is a good idea. I’d just be lying to the girl with what she sees.”
Shannon wouldn’t be put off quite that easily with her suggestion. “Well, maybe just change some of your quirks. What about your obsession with those macaroon cookies? That’s a little too weird.”
Michael folded his arms across his chest and his legs across one another in a look of abject refusal. “Hell no am I changing my diet to get a girl. If she doesn’t like what I like then one of us would end up starving to death in a marriage.” He paused to give a shrug. “Though I might not have much of a choice there. The place I shop isn’t going to be carrying those cookies anymore. Not much demand.”
Shannon rolled her eyes. “Geez, I wonder why that it. Could be because no sane person eats Peanut Butter Macaroon cookies,” she retorted.
Her brother raised a brow at her comment. “Maybe crazy people are more interesting than sane people,” he pointed out. Then he leaned forward and glared at her. “Besides, what’s wrong with them?”
“Well, only that they’re nasty and disgusting, but I’ll tell you what. I’ll be the nice sister and tell you where you can go to buy some more of that stuff.”
“Where? These things are poisoned, are they?” was the suspicious reply.
“There is this one store my friend Vanessa swears by. She says the place is delicious but I had one of their fortune cookies and it was awful.” Shannon stuck out her tongue to finish what she thought of the place. “Since it’s got that nasty stuff, I don’t see why it wouldn’t have your nasty stuff. It’d fit right in with everything else.”
“And where is this place? Online somewhere?”
Shannon shook her head. “Nope, it’s only got a physical location, and just down this street, too. It’s stuck between two bakeries and is one of those old fashioned buildings. You know, fancy front door with steps leading up to it and everything.”
“And the store hours?” While Michael was acting indifferent, he was actually making a mental note of the information she was giving him.
“Erratic, so no clue. And speaking of food.” Shannon had been watching for their waiter, and she eagerly leaned back when she spotted him with their plates. “Now less talk, more eating.”
Michael obeyed his sibling’s order, mostly because he was hungry, too, but also since he had all the information he needed to find the place. As for the hours, that would be up to lady luck to guide him to his fateful new snack shop. If the flavor turned out well, the proprietor would have a faithful new customer. If not, then he would have to take up online ordering and take an even bigger risk with the taste, what with shipping.
After work that very day Michael set off for this supposed sweet shop. He was glad to find it soon enough after a quick perusal, and wondered at how he’d missed such a unique shop. The place was well-lit and very homey, everything he’d ever want from a place he would shop. There was only one customer inside, a pretty young woman, and he could see an elderly gentleman behind the counter. Michael stepped inside and let out a whistle. The place was enormous, what with the shelves upon shelves of goodies to his right and in front of him. The wall behind the old man, probably the proprietor Mr. Eres, was pretty impressive with its shelves full of pastries and bread.
The pair at the counter, woman and elderly man turned at the sound. The man nodded at the new customer and turned back to the old one. “I don’t see a problem with having your order ready at that time. How many would you like made?”
“Oh, about a dozen cookies should last me a while. I still have some leftover from the other store, anyway,” the woman reassured him.
“Then we’ll see each other again tomorrow evening, Miss Houston,” the man returned.
The woman smiled and turned away toward the door. She passed by Michael and he couldn’t help noticing she glanced at him with a curious stare. She definitely wasn’t bad looking, and he had half a mind to ask her for some coffee. Unfortunately her feet were faster than his brain, so she was out the door and down the street by the time his courage came to him. His shoulders slumped and a voice startled him from his thoughts.
“Good evening,” the man pleasantly greeted.
“Oh, um, good evening,” Michael replied. He noticed the cookies were at the front and went straight for them. The man watched with a smile as Michael perused the numerous kinds, but wasn’t pleased when the young man was downfallen.
The old man leaned over the counter. “Didn’t find what you’re looking for?” he asked the young man.
“I was hoping you would carry some peanut butter macaroons, but I don’t see any here,” Michael told him.
Mr. Eres raised an eyebrow and had a twinkle in his eyes. “Is that so? For a lady friend of yours?”
Now it was Michael’s turn to raise a brow. “No, for myself. I don’t have a lady friend.”
The old man looked his new customer up and down, and then shook his head. “What a pity. You’re a fine looking young man.”
Michael thought these forward questions and compliments were a little odd. “Yes, well, do you carry any of those types of macaroon cookies?” Michael asked him.
“Well, I happen to have sold all those earlier in the day, but I’ll tell you what.” The old man leaned over the counter and gave him a wink. “I’ll bake a few for you during the afternoon and you can pick up the box tomorrow evening.”
“Really?” Michael asked him. He was thrilled to have such an offer of guaranteed cookies.
“Certainly, and as an offering of peace for not having any in stock, I’ll give you the cookies half off.” Eres’ smile broadened when Michael’s own eyes widened.
The young man hadn’t expected such upfront kindness, especially since he had just walked in off the street. “I would very much appreciate that. I’ll be by about this time tomorrow. Oh, could you make about a dozen for me?”
“That’s fair enough,” Eres agreed.
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr.-”
The old man chuckled and gave a quick bow of his head. “Eres. This is my shop.”
Michael smiled at the old-fashioned bow. “You just got yourself a permanent customer, Mr. Eres, provided the food is good.”
There was that strange glint in the man’s eyes again. “I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.”