The Sea Star Bakery - Nicole Ellis Page 0,1

over ownership of the property.

At the end of the driveway, Celia leaned over, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “I have amazing news for you!” She fidgeted in her seat, unable to contain herself.

Cassie often gave Celia a ride on Sundays to the local Lutheran church they both attended. On weekends, when Cassie’s ex had the kids and it was just her and Celia in the car, it gave her a chance to get to know the older lady better. Normally, Celia was very even-tempered, so this level of excitement from her was unusual.

Cassie lifted her eyebrows, but maintained her attention on the road as she turned onto Willa Bay Drive. “What is it?”

The words bubbled out of Celia’s mouth. “Edgar Johnson is moving to Arizona.”

“Okay?” Edgar Johnson was in his late seventies, and it was general knowledge that his wife hated the rainy weather in Western Washington, so this wasn’t exactly earth-shattering news.

“He’s shutting down the bakery and leasing out the space.” Celia’s fixed her eyes on Cassie’s face.

“That’s too bad. I always liked Edgar’s Bakery. His scones are delicious.” Cassie turned onto Main Street and then made a quick right to head up the hill to where First Lutheran Church perched high over the town.

Celia sighed loudly as Cassie parked the car. She put her hand on Cassie’s arm. “You should lease the bakery space from him.”

Cassie snorted. “I can’t afford my own bakery. I just need a small catering kitchen to work in.” She’d been decorating cakes on the side for years while working at the Willa Bay Lodge as their pastry chef. Up until a couple of months ago, they’d let her use the kitchen for her side business. That is, until the owner’s daughter, Lara, came back to town with cake decorating aspirations of her own. Cassie had been lucky enough to find a temporary solution in Meg’s mother’s catering kitchen, but with the busy summer event season now in full swing, it was becoming difficult to share the space.

“I already told him you were interested.” Celia sat back in her seat, regarding Cassie with a smug grin.

Cassie’s eyes grew so wide that she thought they might actually pop loose. “You did what?” Celia may have been outspoken and stubborn, and her heart full of good intentions, but this stunt took the cake – literally. “I’m not ready to open up my own shop.”

Celia shrugged. “You’ll never truly be ready. Sometimes you just have to jump when life presents you with an opportunity you can’t pass up.”

“But I have to pass it up. I barely have enough money as it is.” An image of her two kids flashed through Cassie’s mind. Jace had ADHD and was recently diagnosed with autism, so she’d been researching programs that might help him be more successful in school. Even with her side job, funds were tight.

“Didn’t you have an appointment with the Small Business Administration last week?” Celia asked.

Cassie brushed her hands over the top of her head and through her shoulder-length blonde hair, the familiar motion soothing her. She had given some thought over the past few weeks to opening her own bakery, but the SBA had crushed that dream. “Yeah, and they basically confirmed that this isn’t the right time for me to open up my own business.” Without savings, the start-up costs would kill her, and even if the bank would approve it, she wasn’t going to risk putting her house up as collateral for a business loan.

“Well, I still think it’s a good idea.” Celia put her hand on the door handle. “The location is excellent, and you’d have a built-in clientele.”

Cassie closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them to meet Celia’s gaze. “I’ll consider it.” She knew opening her own bakery wasn’t a possibility for her right now, but Celia looked so happy that Cassie didn’t want to stomp on her joy. She got out of the car and retrieved Celia’s walker from the trunk before coming around to open the passenger-side door.

Cassie helped Celia out of the car, and they walked into church together, neither of them speaking of the bakery lease again. As they entered the building, a woman in her sixties, with curly hair and a huge smile, approached them. “Hey, Cassie,” she said.

“Hi, Betty,” Cassie replied.

Betty then wrapped an arm around Celia’s shoulders and addressed the older woman. “How are you doing, honey? It’s so good to see you. I’ve been visiting family in Texas and just heard about