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Confectionary Crimes

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It was not the gateau that was ticking, which meant that the bomb must be concealed in one of the many other items in the cake shop.

“Tragic,” said Simms, surveying the remains of the cake. He had spent enough time in the kitchen to recognise a master or mistress of the culinary arts. However, there was no time to mourn even a particularly splendid Black Forest Gateau when there was a bomb to be found.

Mr Adamant delved through further pastries with reckless abandon. “Miss Jones, Simms, I told you to go! There is no need for either of you to be caught in the explosion.”

“Three pairs of hands and eyes, three times the chance of saving the whole building from going boom,” said Georgie, hunting through the éclairs and cream buns. She paused to lick her fingers. “Wowee, what a waste, though! These are gorgeous!”

“My thoughts exactly,” said Simms, even as he stopped by a particularly fine chocolate layer cake in pride of place in the window. It was perched on a cake stand and, when he put his ear to it, it was most definitely ticking. Simms edged away carefully. It might look delicious but it also seemed likely to register higher on the Richter scale than was desirable in a cake. “Sir! I’ve got it!”

Adam left the Danish pastries and strode across the small shop. “Stand back, Simms!”

Simms was only too glad to do so, pulling Miss Jones with him towards the opposite wall, where they ducked under the counter.

“Hey, have some chocolate fudge,” said Georgie, holding out a squashed bag of fudge squares.

“Mr Adamant is trying to disarm that bomb!”

“Mmm,” said Georgie, swallowing a mouthful, “but if we can’t help, then either it’ll be all right, or it won’t, and in either case, no harm in a bit of a fudge.”

Simms weighed up this suggestion and found it to be, oddly, better than anything anyone else had yet come up with that day. He took a piece of fudge. “Thanks. At least we’ll die happy, I suppose.” He popped it in his mouth, closed his eyes and waited. He sucked on the sweet, in case it helped, like with tunnels and aeroplanes.

“Mr Adamant will do it, I know he will,” said Georgie, giving Simms’s arm a squeeze, before stretching up to peer over the counter. “Adam, do you need a hand?”

Mr Adamant cut through one red wire with the end of his swordstick. “Miss Jones, on no account move an inch from your current position!” He wiped his forehead with his handkerchief and then cut the remaining wire.

The ticking stopped and for a moment, there was a visible spark on the top of the cake. Georgie dived back behind the counter, hitting Simms with her elbow, but Adam merely put the spark out with the butter icing and then wiped his hands with his handkerchief.

“You two can come out again,” he said. “Miss Jones, since you so desperately wanted to be involved, why not tidy up the chaos you helped to cause? Simms, you may assist. Meanwhile, I must inform the authorities, in case any one of those deadly cake boxes made it out of the shop.”

Georgie looked at Simms, and Simms looked at Georgie.

“I think we can eat up – I mean, clean up everything here just fine, Adam, thanks,” said Georgie.

Simms glared at her, but he had to admit he wouldn’t mind trying one or two of the other cakes in the window – provided they had no perilous ingredients.

“Eat up? I would not advise consuming any of these confections,” said Adam, turning back in the doorway. “I was reluctant to think so badly of a charming lady like Miss Henry, but it seems you were right, Miss Jones. That being so, it is safest to assume that any of these items may be dangerous and dispose of them accordingly. I trust I can count on both of you to do that?”

Simms swallowed. “Any thoughts on the fudge in particular, sir?”

“Fudge?”

Georgie perched on the counter. “Oh, come on, Simms, we’re all right. We ate some fudge, Adam, but we’re fine.”

“You ate some fudge made by one of the most fiendish villains it has been our misfortunate to encounter?” said Adam. “Despite the fact that she has created arsenical cupcakes, a layer cake with a bomb inside it, and a batch of exploding cream tarts?”

“To be fair,” Simms said, “it was when we thought we were about to die.”

Adam sighed. “I see. Very well. Miss Jones, you and Simms may alert the authorities. I shall ensure that all of this is safely disposed of before anyone else gives into temptation. And after you have completed your errand, I suggest you take yourself and a sample of that fudge to the nearest hospital. Since Miss Henry’s creations tended to have drastic results, we may, I trust, be optimistic, but it would be better to make certain.”

Georgie bit her lip. “And you won’t give into temptation? Not even one tiny bite of anything here?”

“Most certainly not, Miss Jones,” said Adam, drawing back in revulsion at the mere idea. “Adamant by name, Adamant by nature!”

“Except,” said George in a loud undertone as she and Simms hurried out the door, “when it comes to charming ladies like Mrs Henry!”