My first encounter with a southern guy isn't going so well. So far I've admitted I have never tried sweet tea, and my big toe is a little too long for the shoes I am wearing. Nice one, Poppy. Now he is going to think I am a weird westerner with a foot fetish. I try hard not to look down at my black, high-heeled boots. Why am I the only one on campus wearing any black?
"My name is Cole," the man says with a grin on his face. I reach out to shake his hand. My palms are sweating just like every other place on my body. I haven't even turned thirty yet, and I'm already having hot flashes. It is going to take me some time to get used to this heat.
"Poppy Peters," I reply. I wipe my forehead and underneath my eyes. I bite my lip when I see a bit of smeared mascara on the side of my finger. It is so humid my makeup is melting off. "Is it always this hot here?"
"Welcome to Georgia." Cole chuckles and shrugs as we walk towards the student bakery. Cole is one of the first students I bumped into at the registration office. His lemon-colored T-shirt shines bright compared to his dark skin, and his impressive physique makes me look at him twice. His eyes are intriguing—an even mix of blue and green.
As we walk, I can't help but admire how lush the vegetation is on campus. Every tree outstretches towards the sidewalks, providing a much needed break from the glaring sun. The patches of grass remind me of ocean waves, if the ocean sparkled like emeralds. Even the flowerbeds near the Administration building had bundles of purple and orange wildflowers that couldn't be contained.
"What's that smell?" I ask. "And don't say it smells like fresh meat. I heard a teacher in the Registrar's Office use that joke about a hundred times."
"I'll show you."
I follow Cole across campus until the heavenly smell of baked bread and sugary doughnuts grows stronger. I long for that smell sometimes. It takes me back to my schoolgirl days when I spent my weekends in the kitchen with Grandma Liz. My Grandma Liz came to Calle Pastry Academy when she was in her early twenties. I imagine her tiny frame and long, dancer legs. It's a miracle that she came to this school and still stayed so thin.Author A. Gardner A. Gardner is a native westerner exploring the sweet bites of the south. After years of working in the healthcare industry, she moved across the country with her husband and adventurous baby boy. She is a mystery and romance writer with a serious cupcake obsession and a love of storytelling that began at an early age. When she is not writing, she is either chasing after her son, out for a swim, trying out a new recipe, or painting her nails bright blue.
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