Lost and Found Sisters Read online

  lesson—there was a huge difference between being able to cut up a carrot in two hundred different fancy ways and flipping pancakes fast enough to fulfill quick orders.

  “Another short stack,” Greta yelled at her thirty minutes later.

  When Quinn hadn’t been looking, the café had filled up. “It’s going to take a few,” she said. “I need to make more batter.”

  “The sign out front says we serve FAST,” Greta said and clapped her hands. “Chop-chop. What the hell are you doing now?”

  “Garnishing the plates,” Quinn said. She hadn’t found any fresh herbs but there’d been a bag of carrots, which she’d sliced up for a splash of color.

  “She’s cute,” Trinee said. “Real cute. But she’s not especially quick.”

  Quinn didn’t even have time to roll her eyes because Trinee was bringing in the orders with alarming speed, stringing them up by her face. Which is how Quinn ended up burning a big pan of eggs. The last of their eggs, in fact.

  “I thought you said you knew how to cook,” Tilly said, sounding disappointed from her perch on the counter.

  “I think that’s a health hazard,” Quinn said. “Get down.”

  “I think that burnt pan is the health hazard,” Tilly said, waving a hand in front of her face.

  “Tell us the truth, City Girl,” Trinee said, hands on hips. “You just watch cooking shows and think you’re a chef, right? Which one, Cutthroat Kitchen? Iron Chef?”

  Lou poked his head into the kitchen. “You want me to take over? I cooked in the army for hundreds back in the day.”

  Quinn gritted her teeth. “I’ve got this.” And she would get this. If it killed her.

  “Great. But we’re out of eggs.” Greta shoved an empty basket in her hands. “Go get more.”

  “From the store, right?”

  “Honey, we ain’t got time for that,” Trinee called in from the other room.

  “The henhouse,” Greta said. “Out back.”

  The words struck terror in Quinn’s gut. “But . . .”

  “The hens are just sitting in their laying boxes on their eggs,” Greta said. “All you’ve got to do is shoo them.”

  Quinn looked at Tilly.

  Tilly shrugged. “Don’t ask me. The chickens were Mom’s, not mine.”

  Fine. Two minutes later, Quinn stood staring at the hens, who were flapping their wings and making threatening noises. “Hey,” she said. “This wasn’t my idea.”

  A few of them ran right in her path and she nearly fell to her ass trying to get out of their way. “Stay cool,” she told herself and headed to the boxes where the majority of the hens sat. “I just need the eggs, ladies, that’s all.”

  Not a single hen left her perch, all of them mutinously holding guard.

  Quinn did as Greta had suggested. She waved her hands and said, “Shoo!”

  No one shooed. All of them stared at her with beady black eyes.

  “Great.” She drew in a breath and made eye contact with the hen closest to her. “Hi there. You’re pretty, very pretty.” She could see the smooth curve of an egg peeking out from beneath the bird. “And hey, I’m sure you’re used to this, right? So you won’t mind if I just . . .” She tried to pilfer the egg and the hen went batshit crazy, squawking and trying to peck Quinn’s hand off.

  Staying cool went out the window. Quinn screamed and ran. She got to the back door of the café and put her hand to her chest to keep her pounding heart inside. By some miracle she still had the basket in her hand.

  Greta let her in and looked down at the empty basket.

  Quinn gasped for air. “I barely got out with my life.”

  Greta rolled her eyes and pointed to Tilly. “Honey, you’re up.”

  Tilly hopped off the counter.

  “Wait a minute,” Quinn said. “You know how to get eggs?”


  “Why didn’t you just do it in the first place?”

  Tilly flashed a smile. “’Cause this was more fun.”

  A few minutes later she came back in, basket full of eggs. She handed them over. “Okay, so yeah. I gotta go now.”

  “Where?” Quinn asked.

  “I take AP English and history classes at the community college in San Luis Obispo on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I can’t get them at my high school.”

  Damn. Impressive. “Okay,” she said. “Maybe we can meet up later?”

  “I’ll be studying late. I guess I could wake up early if you want to do breakfast.”

  Quinn hadn’t planned to stay another day. Her mother would threaten to send out the Coast Guard when she called to tell her. Brock . . . well, Brock was Brock. He’d get over it. But she wasn’t so sure Chef Wade would, or that she’d even have a job to go home to. All of which weighed heavily on her mind, and yet her mouth, clearly not catching onto the reality raining down on her shoulders, said, “That’d be great,” without permission or hesitation.

  And then Tilly was gone and Quinn was back to work as a short-order cook. The demands were insane. She was trying to do four orders of eggs and two orders of French toast while simultaneously making up a new batch of pancakes when the toaster caught fire.

  She unplugged it and put out the small flames before tipping her face up to the ceiling, speaking to whatever deity was listening. “Are you kidding me with today?”

  That’s when the smoke set off the fire alarm.

  “Uh-oh,” Not-Big-Hank said, poking his head into the kitchen, helpfully pointing to the fire alarm high on the wall.

  “Shit!” Quinn climbed up on the counter and waved at the smoke alarm with her apron, trying to clear the smoke from it so it would shut up.

  “That won’t work,” Greta said, hands on hips below her. “The firefighters will already be on their way.”

  “Oh my God. I’m so sorry.”

  “Don’t be,” Trinee said. “They’re all really cute. What,” she said to Greta’s eye roll. “I’m a lesbian, I’m not dead.”

  The firefighters did indeed come.

  So did the entire town, it seemed.

  “It’s all good,” Trinee told a fretting Quinn. “Now everyone knows we’re open for business. A lot cheaper than an ad.”

  Chapter 12

  I’m just a girl, standing in front of a salad, asking it to be a doughnut.

  —from “The Mixed-Up Files of Tilly Adams’s Journal”

  It was early evening when Quinn drove herself back to the B & B. Between yesterday’s ER trip, failing to impress Tilly into wanting to be sisters, missing Beth, nearly setting the café on fire while cooking, no less, not hearing from Chef Wade about her extra days off—which meant she had no idea on the status of her employment—she was done in.

  “Beth?” she whispered to the empty room.


  She sighed. “Look, I need to see you.”

  More nothing.

  Par for the course. She decided what she needed was a bath. She checked the tub carefully. No bugs. She started the water before realizing she had no bubble bath, so she dumped in some shampoo and called it good. She stripped and started to get into the tub and . . .

  There was a big fat bug doing the doggie paddle in her fresh, bubbly water.

  She shoved her clothes back on, missing a few key items like bra, undies, and socks, and ran out of her room, intending to go straight to the front desk to yell at someone. Halfway down the hallway she ran into a brick wall that turned out to have really great arms that surrounded her.


  “I like the blue,” he said.

  She’d forgotten all about the blue streaks in her hair and let out a watery laugh with her face pressed against his chest.

  “Hey,” he said and tipped her face up to his, his warm smile fading. “Tough day?”

  “Yes. But that’s another story.” She pointed at her room. “It’s in the tub.”

  He took her key and vanished inside.

  Ever loyal, Coop went with him.