Tess added a pinch of lavender into the bowl as she stirred. A quick glance at the old train station clock over the front door told her that Johnna would be in any minute to open the shop. Tess felt a sense of urgency to get the pies into the oven before Johnna arrived so she wouldn’t have to listen to another lecture about her less than stellar time-management skills.
Right on time (ten minutes early) Tess heard the back door open and close.
“What’s up, buttercup?” Johnna chirped as she sidled up next to her younger sister and sniffed the days’ special flavor being mixed, a large bouquet of fresh flowers in one hand.
“Mmmmm….is that lavender I smell? What are we calling this one?” Johnna asked.
“I’m still thinking,” said Tess.
“Well, I can’t wait to taste it,” replied Johnna. “I suggest you hurry and get those in the oven so they’ll be ready.”
Tess stuck her tongue out at her sister’s back as Johnna made her way toward the sink where yesterday’s Ball jar vases sat clean on the drain board, ready for today’s flowers.
After the fresh flowers were placed in the center of each table (that their brother, Mitchell, had made from reclaimed barn wood) Johnna grabbed her apron off the hook by the cash register and finished readying In Pies We Trust for opening.
The sisters had been very lucky to find and lease the space on Main Street that had once been a Red Goose shoe store. In the 1980’s it had been converted into a women’s boutique for a short time, and most recently an artist, who was a relative of the owner, had used it as a painting studio. The original black and white hexagonal tiles still graced the front entryway, and in their remodel, the sisters exposed an original red brick wall on the east side that runs the length of the shop. Lots of natural light spilled in through the large front windows, casting bright shafts of sunshine all the way into the kitchen.
Tess had just taken the last pie from the oven when the bell over the front door chimed with the arrival of their first customer of the day. The mouthwatering aromas from the baking of so many pies permeated the premises. They both agreed, on a daily basis, that the extra money they had spent on the exhaust fan that blew those mouthwatering aromas out onto Main Street had been well worth it. With all their sales, it had more than paid for itself.
Opening their specialty pie shop, in Wimberley, Texas two years earlier had proven to be the best decision the sisters had ever made. Neither one of them had been happy about landing back in their hometown, single and jobless in the same year, but, they had put their heads together and found a viable solution to their problems. It seemed that everyone loved pie and that was one thing they were both good at.
Johnna had perfected the pie crust, adding a secret ingredient (crushed toasted hazelnut) in place of a portion of the flour, and Tess, with her creative flair, found boundless energy in coming up with delicious, unusual flavors – and the fun one-of-a-kind names she gave them – to keep a steady flow of customers coming back for more.
Some of the town’s favorite pies had been: raspberry tart with lemon zest, peach and gingerbread, orange peel and mascarpone, and ruby red grapefruit with cream topping, all with fun, unique names that only Tess could come up with.
“Good morning, Mrs. Henry,” Johnna said with a smile. “Tess has just finished today’s special.”
Johnna looked behind her to read what Tess was writing on the blackboard.
“She’s calling this one…” Johnna leaned around Tess’ body so she could make out the words as Tess finished the last letter with a flair…”A French Affair!” Johnna gave Tess a sharp look conveying her irritation to Tess for having waited until the last minute. Again.
Tess presented their most loyal customer with a sample before Johnna could blink.
“Mmmmm. That’s very good! What’s that I taste in there with the blueberries?” Beulah Henry asked.
“Now Mrs. Henry, if we told you our secrets, we’d never see you again.” Tess winked.
“Would you like a slice and a cup of coffee?” Johnna asked.
Mrs. Henry came in every day. And every day she asked questions she knew would not be answered.
As the front door chimed again, signaling the arrival of another customer, Mrs. Henry replied, “Yes! And why don’t you go ahead and box up a whole one for me. It’s my turn to bring snacks to the Bridge this afternoon.”
Johnna and Tess looked up to see a steady stream of familiar faces lining up at the counter, and they shared a knowing smile.