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Cupcake Kissin’ 20 – Alex Ankarr
Oh well. Caspar attempts, does his best, to put the whole thing out of his mind. Because, yeah, it’s added a little excitement to his life, that’s true, a little colour and quasi-romance. But the shot is clearly not on the board, so he just might as well put it out of his mind and get on with the rest of his life. It’s not as if he doesn’t have plenty to keep him busy – more than enough, much more.
Technically he’s still only doing his actual eight hours of counter-service, and a lot of the rest of his time is spent getting to grips with the books of the business, with dealing with suppliers, having regular scheduled meetings with old Mayhewlinson and Co., and going to the local technical school to get some catering and food hygiene qualifications and certifications. Most of the stuff he needs he’s learning on the job, but it never hurts to get the formal bits of paper relevant to your trade or profession, he thinks. The senior bakery staff – and Sandy, who’s an old-timer enough that she pretty much considers herself senior – and the lawyers, agree with him.
It’s a little early to say, perhaps, and he’s cautious about saying it out loud, to Sandy, to anyone. But he thinks he’s beginning to enjoy the bakery, working there, owning it, hanging out with the staff who are mostly kind of sweeties, appropriately enough. His aunt had run a tight ship with a rod of iron – and it’s amazing just how much so, considering her age, and the fact that she theoretically only put her hands to the wheel and got them dirty on a strictly part-time basis. The business is highly profitable and efficient. But it’s also kind of fun. And even within the very strictly drawn lines of the staff handbook, and his own requirements for coming into his inheritance fully, there’s still room to relax and enjoy it.
Turns out he’s even, maybe, over-interpreted the rules for his own requirements and qualification for inheritance, and hedged himself in more narrowly than necessary. He’s been talking it over with Mayhewlinson, and the very senior supervisor, Candy. (Oh God. Maybe his aunt had chosen people specifically for their names? But Candy’s good at her job, just the same.) And although, according to Mayhewlinson, his aunt’s stipulations do indeed bar him from making any changes to the products currently on the menu of the Honey Gummy Bakery, they don’t in fact bar him from making additions to the menu.
And it’s surprising just how cool that is, how happy it makes him. He’s always wanted to be good at things, wanted to excel in whatever he does and make a real contribution. And maybe a part of that stems back to his family, but he thinks a part of it is just him, just who he is. It’s part of why he chose engineering, the chance for excellence and improvement in some small corner of the world, even if it was unheralded or unrecognised. But he can apply that to the Honey Bunny, just the same as he did to calculus and bridges and steel girders. Especially if he can apply some creativity, mixed in with learning the rules and principles of the game, which is why he’s heavily enrolled at the community college.
So he’s plenty busy, and he’s actually kind of happy. He still has kind of a secret sneaking yearning after Mack, still gets excited to watch his show, maybe a little bit too much. But he tries to dial it down, because it’s not going to serve any purpose, it’s just going to get in the way of him living the best life he can, at this point. He’s not going to get silly about it.
It would help a lot, though, if he didn’t keep seeing Mack pop into the bakery. Not often enough for him to get used to it, desensitized at all, either. Not infrequently enough that he just forgets about it, is surprised to even see him. No, just often enough that it keeps Caspar stimulated, alert, mindful constantly of the possibility that he might pop up, say, today when Caspar’s behind the bakery counter. That today he might not send Sara, might instead decide he’s swinging close by and what the hell, he’ll get his regular order himself and see the guys at the bakery.
So over a few weeks, Caspar actually sees him three, four, five times. (And apparently he’s in more often than that, has chats every so often with Sandy. Or riotous flirtations, as she reports them. He seems kind of a flirty guy, and Caspar is resigned to that, to writing off what seemed his apparent interest at first as merely the way he is with everybody, personable and, well, flirty.
Sandy actually intimates that Mack has commented that Caspar doesn’t seem to be around much. (And God knows there’s damn good reason for that. What with his culinary theory classes and business courses and food hygiene course, with book-keeping and meeting suppliers and the lawyers and whatnot, with all the requirements his Auntie laid down, he’s barely got a spare minute even to obsess about a silly crush. It’s kind of amazing that he ever managed it in the first place.) She also hints, not in so many words but clearly enough that there’s no mistaking it, that Mack has made some subtle enquiries about Caspar’ schedule, i.e. made some attempt to find out what days Caspar is liable to be behind the counter.
Which, a) is clearly bullshit, and Sandy is full of it. He’s aware enough that his crush has almost certainly not gone unnoticed, and Sandy would be as excited by one of the staff hooking a celebrity boyfriend as they could be themselves, even if she wasn’t the lucky girl. And also b), all the staff, even included him, are random-rota’d by a computer program, no ifs ands or buts, according to his auntie’s eccentric and long-standing stipulation. So there’s no way of telling what days Caspar might be around for, although his actual daily start and finish times are set, fortunately for his college work.
So anyhow. He’s not going to get excited about Sandy’s smoke and mirrors. He’s not such a fool. Apart from anything else, there’s the boyfriend to think of. Who is trailing after Mack again on one of his visits, despite his clearly voiced opinion of the establishment the last time he’d graced it with his presence. Very fortunately, he’s in the back on that particular appearance. And that’s where he stays, despite even the likes of Sophia apparently thinking she has some reason to discreetly shuffle over at the first opportunity, to let him know that Mack’s on the premises. (As if he didn’t know already. As if he wasn’t perfectly sensitised to the timbre of Mack’s voice, as if… Christ, he thinks at the time. He’d thought he had a better handle on it now.)
Anyway. That’s his policy, now, and very thoroughly does he stick to it. If Mack’s about he finds work to do, away in the bakery back-room, or up in the offices, or out the back-door and elsewhere, about his business. It’s better. He has too much to get done to indulge himself this way, with a silly fancy that’s going nowhere. He congratulates himself on his maturity, in the staff-room mirror, with his hair-net askew and his pink overall unbuttoned. (Maturity, but perhaps not so much dignity.)
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.