Once there was a baker who built a bakery empire. He had fleets of bakeries that carried his name and used his recipes. He was the leader of the national bakery association. People referred to him as the baker king.
If he was the king, then his daughter Bianca was the princess. Her mother died when she was small, and so Bianca was raised in a bakery. She learned to read from cookbooks and learned math calculating the ingredients needed for larger batches. No one was surprised when she left for culinary school, promising to return and help expand her father’s business.
Perhaps her father was lonely. Perhaps he was bored. Perhaps he really fell madly in love. For whatever reason, when she was halfway through culinary school, Bianca’s father decided to remarry. And then, during her last semester, he died.
Bianca thought it was rather poorly done, but figured that he couldn’t help dying. The marriage? Well, she didn’t understand why he did it, but what was done was done.
As soon as she arrived in town, Bianca went straight to her father’s main bakery. She called a meeting and consulted with her father’s assistants and managers and apprentices. She made sure the bakeries were running smoothly and could continue on independently.
Just as the meeting finished, Bianca’s new stepmother burst through the door. “How dare you hold this meeting without me?” she shrieked. “All the bakeries belong to me now! I will fire the lot of you if you don’t grovel and beg for my forgiveness.”
The head apprentice coughed politely to catch her attention. “Pardon me, Ma’am, but according to the will, Bianca is in charge now.”
“But I was his wife, that should change the will!”
The manager of the main bakery shook his head. “As long as Bianca lives, she’s in charge of the bakeries. You’re not in the will at all.”
The stepmother screamed and raged and stormed out. She tried to keep Bianca from attending the funeral, but when she called the police they told her that if she continued disturbing the peace, they’d take her away instead.
After that, the stepmother was cold and quiet. Bianca arranged for her to stay in the house and collect an allowance. And then she returned to school to finish her last semester.
Looking back, she probably should have expected the assassins. The stepmother was a little too quiet and a little too angry. Fortunately, she wasn’t the only one who overlooked something. Being raised in a bakery meant that Bianca was a very early riser.
When the assassins came pouring in through the windows of her apartment, Bianca was already at school pulling two pans of perfect brioche out of the oven. She heard about the assassins when a school administrator pulled her aside before her first class.
“So, we think you should take the rest of the semester off,” he concluded. “And take some time to mourn and hide from the assassins.”
“But I’m almost done with my degree,” Bianca said.
“We can arrange for you to finish your classes through independent study.”
“It’s a deal.”
And so Bianca left to apprentice at a bakery on the other side of the country, far from home. A committee of seven very tall women ran the bakery. Bianca felt dwarfed when standing next to them. It didn’t take long for Bianca to finish her classes and take over most of the baking. This left the owners free to run the front of the store, make deliveries, and open a booth in the neighborhood market. They told Bianca she was welcome to stay forever.
Unfortunately, Bianca still had responsibilities at home. She wrote many letters to the managers of her father’s bakeries, and her stepmother managed to find one of them. This time, instead of sending assassins, she came in person.
Dressed in a terrible disguise, she snuck in through the employees’ entrance in back and tried to convince Bianca to eat an off-color apple turnover. “It is a magic pastry. If you eat it, it will make you wise,” she said in a weird high-pitched voice.
Bianca rolled her eyes. “Those apples look gray and the pastry is doughy. I’m not eating that.”
The stepmother screeched and tried to pull a knife out of her pocket. It was stuck and she had to yank a few times before finally pulling it free with a terrible ripping sound.
This gave Bianca enough time to grab a bread knife off the counter. It was much longer than the stepmother’s dagger, but sadly much less pointy. The two women prepared to face off.
Just then, a visiting jam maker flew over the front counter and tackled the stepmother to the ground and tore the knife out of her hand. “Call the police!” he shouted.
The police took the stepmother away. The bakery committee told Bianca she didn’t need to stay any longer and be an apprentice. She returned home. Both bakeries agreed to stock the jam maker’s jam.
Everyone lived happily ever after, except for the stepmother. Bianca never did figure out why her dad married the woman in the first place.