Julie Turling rubbed her eyes and squinted at the recipe. It was an old book and the handwriting had been crabbed to begin with. Add to that the fading of the ink and the yellowing of the paper and it was nigh-on impossible to see whether the recipe said 'a pinch of cayenne pepper' or 'an inch of clay and paper' and if it was the latter, what sort of clay? What sort of paper? And what was written on it?
"Can you read that?" she asked the gentleman at the kitchen table. He stared at it for a full minute.
"Canine peptide?" he said.
"Hardly." Julie took the book back. "This is supposed to be a cake recipe. It's not going to have anything to do with dogs, is it?"
"It would if you were making a cake for a werewolf." Jasfoup shrugged.
"No, I think it's cayenne pepper."
"The book is donkey's years old. They probably didn't have cayenne pepper then. They probably didn't have pepper, come to that. Mark my words, it's 'hair of dog'.
"You may be right. I really can't tell."
"What sort of cake is it supposed to be, anyway? Can't you make one out of Mrs. Beeton?"
"This is supposed to be a family recipe for 'Wooing Cake'. I thought it'd be more personal than something anyone could make."
"Magic?" Jasfoup snorted. "Magic and wooings don't mix. You should know that. Look at all the times weddings have gone wrong because some well-meaning fairy godmother has cast an enchantment over the bride. Or the groom. Or both. Come to that, you might as well substitute the gelatine for toad spawn. At least you might get a marriage in the duck pond."
"Don't be facetious." Julie closed the book with a snap. "It's too late in the year for toad spawn."
Jasfoup grunted. "Who's it for, anyway? Is someone getting married?"
"Not yet, but Felicia's been so mopey lately I thought it couldn't hurt to give her love life a bit of a boost."
"With a wedding cake?" Jasfoup laughed. "There's nothing that says you want somebody to be miserable than to give them a wedding cake when they're single."
"Too much. Why don't you take her clubbing instead?"