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3 AM Muffins

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Oh, what the hell were they thinking? She scooped more flour into the measuring cup and then tapped it down. The whole baking process was mechanical, really. She could bake in her sleep. Quite frankly, sleeping was what she should be doing, with the opening of the bakery being tomorrow, but her mind just couldn’t stop whirring long enough for rest to come, so here she was in the early morning, making chocolate banana bread muffins with Reese’s mini peanut butter cups she’d bought online. She didn’t know why, but the recipe had sounded interesting and just what she needed so very early in the morning.

She knew Greg was behind this 1,000,000%. This was her dream, and now his dream too, but what if they failed? Then they really wouldn’t have any money for a future together. And it wasn’t as if they were married. He would have no reason to stay. And...she wanted him to stay.

She really really liked Greg Lestrade. She wasn’t sure she would when they had met. He was rather serious, almost a bit cross too much of the time, but it had been more that his job left him tired and annoyed much of the time. He hadn’t been cut out for it, it seemed, and he was mostly hanging in until retirement came around. And while she did like her job, being around all sorts of interesting experiments and getting to do things that made a difference, her real love was in baking. She’d much rather have been a baker than a scientist, but she’d been pushed into a career in the sciences by parents who wanted a prodigy for a daughter.

In the end, it turned out two unhappy people met and began to bond over baked goods. When Molly brought a dulce de leche bundt cake to a party that Greg had been too, and he practically begged her for the recipe, saying he liked to bake when he had the energy, she felt she’d found a kindred spirit. They became baking buddies, and then friends, and then romance bloomed.

And now they were taking the step to become business partners, both of them walking away from their previous careers, and on the eve of their shop opening, she was terrified it was the most foolish decision she had ever made in her life.

She dumped the flour in and then began to stir the batter together. She could have used the stand mixer, the lovely sea foam green one with the decal stickers from Star Wars that Greg had gotten her for her last birthday, but she didn’t want to wake him up. He needed his rest, he should have it. She wanted to take care of him so much and in the proper way. But maybe they weren’t there yet. Maybe they would never get there. After all, they were older, and he had been married before. He didn’t need to go through the hassles again, really. And she wouldn’t make him.

But she would love to be his wife.

She went through the process of sorting out the muffin cup into each holder and pouring 1/3 of the batter into each cup and then sticking a Reese’s cup in it. They were a pain in the arse to get sometimes but they were her little treat she’d find unexpectedly left on a pillow sometimes, or in her handbag or on the counter, usually with a little note. And that was how she knew Greg loved her, that he thought of her, that he cared. Even if they never married, she would always love him, always.

After she put the muffins in the oven and closed it as quietly as she could she sat on the stool and ate one of the remaining peanut butter cups. As the aroma of banana and chocolate filled the air, she wasn’t surprised to hear footsteps a moment later. “Why are you baking banana bread at three in the morning?” Greg asked, coming behind her and pressing his bare chest against her back before embracing her from behind.

“Banana muffins,” she said. “With Reese’s cups in the center.”

“I stand corrected,” he said. “Why are you baking muffins at three in the morning?”

“I can’t sleep and I wanted something with bananas and peanut butter and chocolate.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Are you pregnant, by any chance?” he asked, his voice sounding almost hopeful.

She was surprised at that and pulled away to look up at him. “Do you want me to be?”

“Might be a bit soon, with the business just starting, but...I wouldn’t mind,” he said.

“But we aren’t even married,” she said.

He gave her a sheepish look. “About that...”

Her eyes got wide. “You were going to propose?”

He nodded. “In the bakery, before the first customer came in.”

She shook her head and then wrapped her arms around his neck. “Oh, I love you, you know that? I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

“So I’m assuming that’s a yes?”

“That is most definitely a yes,” she said, beginning to kiss him all over his face. “Yes, absolutely, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.” She punctuated each word with a kiss, ending her happy exclamations by kissing him on the lips.

He let that kiss continue for a few minutes and then pulled away. “I’m glad,” he said. “When these are done and you’ve sated your craving for bananas and chocolate and peanut butter, I’ll take you back to bed and slip the ring on your finger and then maybe we can sate a few other cravings?”

She laughed, kissing him once more. “You always did have such cheesy pick-up lines, Greg.”

“All part of my charm,” he replied before kissing her again. She knew if they weren’t careful the muffins would be burnt to charcoal but she didn’t care. She had never been so happy in her life.