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Cupcake Kissin’ 21 – Alex Ankarr
He does intercept the odd glance from Mack’s way, when he’s not quick enough at making himself scarce, and shoving whatever other member of staff is on duty with him out to serve. These looks, they are hard to interpret, but very sober at any rate.
He doesn’t actually know the guy, not at all. There’s no earthly reason for Mack to be offended. The fact that they never meet up or speak any more – that Caspar is rather careful that that doesn’t happen – could perfectly well be the purest coincidence. Mack can’t know that it isn’t, at any rate.
Although it’s not as if Caspar is avoiding Sara, too. Why would he want to do that? He likes Sara, as far as he knows her so far. So when her errands to pick up coffee ‘n’ cake coincide with his own days on duty, he’s perfectly happy to bounce into action behind the register and box up her order, grinning and chatting about something and nothing and whatever crumbs of celebrity gossip he can get.
He tries to keep it general, though, to guide her onto the whole cast of the show, to other production companies she’s worked for, other contacts she has in the industry. (And a lot of what they talk about is cake. Because, hey, he’s in the cake-making business now. Whatever he’s into, then he likes to get all the way into it. And now he’s into cake, he is a student and a professional and an artist of cake, and he’s interested. Maybe a little obsessed. That’s just his personality type.)
But of course, she’s Mack’s assistant, and it’s only natural that she can’t be stopped from discussing Mack at least part of the time. (Indeed it’s remarkably difficult to prevent her. She’s amazingly stubborn about it, and will guide the conversation back no matter how much Caspar attempts to lead it into other highways and byways. But he fights against it, while he puffs out paper and keys the register, because he doesn’t actually want to feel that quick thrill in his chest when Mack’s name comes up. It leads to no good end.)
Still, he gets to know things that he doesn’t want to know, that he’d indeed probably be better off not knowing. That boyfriend-guy is called Adam, for one. That he’s a prof at an LA film school, and very well-regarded in academia and the industry. (But Sara’s face gets a bad-smell look when she talks about him, even as a passing mention. Caspar suddenly doesn’t think he’s alone in his distaste for the guy.) That they haven’t been seeing each other that long, but since before the first time Caspar set eyes on Mack – a little before anyway. That it’s the first real boyfriend that Mack has had – it’s always been girls before now.
Caspar remembers being accused of flirting, and being referred to as service staff, and those hard cold water-coloured eyes, and he thinks that he’s better off not knowing this stuff, he has better things to concentrate on.
So after a while he’s happier not knowing this stuff along with stuff about the show and the industry, and he doesn’t exactly make haste to serve Sara when she shows up, either. If he’s the one to take care of her, then fine, that’s okay. But it’s okay if it’s not him, too. The little fluster of his feelings that Mack elicited, it was just related with a new business and a new town and the excitement of all the upheaval in his life. His aunt left him a business, after all. Not a boyfriend.
But this one day, after three, four weeks, the door bell goes when he’s upstairs in the offices, poring through spreadsheets that give him more information than anyone could possibly want to know about every single item, cake, drink, slush-drink, savoury snack they have on the menu. How it’s doing sales wise, nutritional content, length of time it’s been offered, all of it. It’s mushing up his brain. He has his office door open as he labours, and hears the door go as he kicks at his desk with his boot-heel in frustration, because, well, god damn spreadsheets.
After a moment it’s Sara’s voice down in the bakery, and some guy’s too. Not Mack’s, he’s quick to identify. (Even at this point, that’s just how well he’s come to know Mack’s voice. He’s still watching the show, though he’s cut it down drastically, like going on a strict diet. So sue him.) It’s not the boyfriend’s, either, and he’s happy about that. Asshole.
But he’s not going to go down, because well, why would he. He’s got plenty of work to be getting on with, and there’s Sandy and Horace both on the register and Millie in the back-room. No shortage of staff available today, none at all. They’ll do fine without him.
Five minutes in, and he’s serenaded sweetly by Sandy’s voice up the stairs. What the hell, is what Caspar wonders. Even if he’s technically the boss – very technically, still, at this point – they have one assistant supervisor down there (Millie) and two regular staff members. Why do they need him?
‘Caspar? Caaas-paar! Yoo-hoo! Honey, would you come on down here? Sara and her friend have a thing or two to ask you?’ Damn, Caspar ponders. He’s going to have to have a real discussion with Sandy at some point, about presenting a professional and formal front before customers. Although he guesses, if his aunt was fine with her approach, who is he to judge?
There isn’t much option about his course of action, not with Sandy bellowing up the stairs like a yodelling warthog with light operatic ambitions. He takes his boots off his desk, straightens his button-down shirt and black pants – because, praise be, the Honey Bunny dress code does not enforce hairnets, or overalls, or pink, when a member of staff is working, but not working behind the counter or in the actual bakery.
(If only Mack had seen him looking this presentable. The final outcome might have been quite different, he speculates, as he’s hammering down the stairs into the shop space.
© 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.