While she was out of work and in between applications, Emmalee found herself with a lot of time to kill. She gradually became obsessed with the pumpkin pie contest held at the Tri-County Fair every fall and the ticket to recipe publication (and residuals) with Bibliophile Digest it represented.

So the hunt was on for the perfect pie recipe, and Emmalee’s kitchen became her laboratory. She had plenty of ingredients saved up in the pantry after the last big hurricane scare, and was soon making two or more pies a day. Though she didn’t like to flaunt the fact–conflicting with some peoples’ notion of the Modern Independent Woman as it did–Emmalee was an excellent cook and even he rejects were eagerly snapped up.

At first, anyway.

As the job hunt wound into the summer and Emmalee remained in the kitchen, her friends and relatives began to tire of her constant barrage of pumpkin pies. They weren’t doing any of her sewing circle friends any favors during swimsuit season, and at least one of her diabetic friends nearly landed himself in the hospital after a particularly delectable (and sugary) pie had found its way across his desk.

Committed as they were to sparing Emmalee’s feelings and supporting her in a time of need, her friends did the only thing they could: they broke into her house and hid the pumpkin pie ingredients, one at a time (inasmuch as using Uncle Harold’s key counted as breaking in, anyway). At first, Emmalee simply tried to make do without, leading to an unfortunate succession of pies with no sugar or crusts made from whole wheat bread crumbs. Eventually, though, even the basic ingredients vanished (along with the contents of her pumpkin patch).

It’s anyone’s guess whether what came next was revenge or simply resourcefulness on the part of someone who couldn’t afford to buy more raw pie fixings. But no one who tasted the spaghetti squash and bell pepper pie sweetened with cinnamon and carrot cake mix on a take n’ bake pizza crust that came next ever forgot it.

Emmalee found her missing ingredients on the porch one day later.