It always got busy at the bakery around the holidays, but then again, it was busy all year. Greta got orders all year round on top of the normal baking it took to stock up the little shop at the corner of Willow Street and Mill Road. People always wanted their orders of lucky lemon cakes or confidence clusters or happiness date bars. As Greta's shop was recognized as the best and her treats most effective in all of New York, her shop was always busiest.
But especially around the holidays, things got crazy, so Greta had decided to hire on an extra baker this season. He was quiet, this guy named Logan, and he got straight to work after she told him what to do, so Greta didn't think much about him. She had a party cake infused with holiday joy to bake and her joy spell hadn't quite gotten the level of sparkle she wanted. She needed a little more light, a little more warmth. Of course, it didn't take her too long to figure out - she wasn't the best baker in New York for nothing - so she was mixing the joy in with the buttercream frosting when her first assistant rushed over.
"Greta, you're going to want to see this," Mary said.
Greta had her head bent while she was mixing with the full force of her arm. "It's going to have to wait."
"No, it can't."
Greta looked up at the concerned look on Mary's face. "What happened?"
What had happened was Logan. As soon as Greta entered the room where he'd been working, she smelled the problem. The spells were all off. Where there should have been comfort, there was anger. Where a light, fluffy aroma of well wishes should have floated, there was deep, heavy dread. Greta shuddered.
Logan was standing over an explosion of fondant, batter and sprinkles looking stressed. Blue and green food dye spotted his face. He looked up sheepishly.
Greta put her hands on her hips. "I thought you said you had experience."
"I do!" Logan cried. "I promise I do! I've done most of these recipes before. I don't know what my problem is."
Mary leaned over to whisper in Greta's ear. "We called his references. They're real."
Greta shooed her away. "I'm not worried about that. Logan, your previous job was at a cafe, right?"
Logan nodded. "We mostly made comfort sandwiches or serenity wraps. And kettle chips infused with good memories."
Greta smiled. "In baking, you've got to give the spells a little something extra. To bake a cake, you've got to break all the ingredients down and build them up into something better. You've got to put a little of yourself into it."
Greta took the mixing bowl from Logan and stuck a thumb in. The batter was a little bitter and sorrowful when she stuck her thumb in her mouth, but nothing she couldn't fix.
"All right Logan, what's something that brings you happiness."
Logan looked at his feet for a minute. "Dogs."
"Good. Then when you're doing the spell to make this cake joyful, think of dogs or whatever makes you happy." She threw in more sugar, a little more salt, and a generous helping of contentment. "The point is to put a little of your goodwill into the spell."
Logan watched Greta stir. "Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a lot harder than making sandwiches?"
Greta smiled. "Someone open a window. We need to clear this smell of dread out of the room."