Download complete ebook for FREE! at https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8PwO
Cupcake Kissin’ 25 – Alex Ankarr
Is Caspar imagining it, the faintly malignant smirk on that sweetly pretty face, perfectly made-up and impervious? In any case, she doesn’t rethink anything, doesn’t stop and save him, doesn’t allow him up and to accompany her. The twist of his wrist as she stands and lets go, backs off, is quite sharp. It’s not enough to stop him if he meant to rebel and follow her, but enough to let him know that yes, this is the plan, and if he goes against it he’s standing alone.
A little bit of warning might have helped, he thinks, rebelliously. But she’s gone, in moments, yelling out a snarky farewell to Mack that’s responded to in only the most abstract and automatic way. The external door bangs, and then it’s just him and Mack, clinking and tinkering away in the kitchen area. It feels very awkward indeed.
It’s not that he feels really so uncomfortable around Mack. They haven’t even met very often, not if he’s realistic, and discounts obsessive soap-streaming, and reading everything he can lay his hands on about the poor guy. (It’s terrible to feel so much of a stalker, while trying so hard not to be one.)
It’s much more about his keen sense of self-preservation. He’s just about, now, got to the point where he’s being sensible about Mack, and getting on with the important areas of his life without being derailed and distracted all of the bloody time by a ridiculous and pointless, time-wasting fixation. One that’s not going anywhere, when he has much more pressing matters immediately on hand, for God’s sake.
He needs to not get back into that obsessive state again. He needs, very definitely, to be sensible.
But also, he needs to be polite. He needs to take care of business, that’s inarguable. And part of taking care of business is taking care of special projects, like catering outside parties and social events. Which, it seems, is his responsibility to nurture and schmooze his way through.
God damn. At this point he finds that, yes, Honey Bunny’s constitutes his livelihood. And also… he cares about it. It’s his aunt’s legacy to him. He has a responsibility to all the people employed by the business. And as well as having that responsibility on his shoulders, he also god damn likes those people. If they don’t get a winter holiday bonus this year, due to his failures to head up the organisation and chase up business and keep all their extra sources of revenue plumped up and producing, then… It doesn’t, at all, bear thinking of.
Caspar needs to man up. He also needs to kiss up, in the name of glad-handing business traditions and wisdom. He’s fully aware.
He goes to join Mack in the kitchen area.
‘Caspar!’ It’s a warm welcome he gets. It’s silly to let himself feel so pleased by it, too. But he does. Mack comes at him with a glass of wine and a big smile – and god, looking more rakishly gorgeous than ever, his shirt open a couple of buttons, and his hair a little bit grown-out mid-season. Just long enough to be a little bit messy, and the complex lighting system is picking out the coppery highlights in– God, Caspar thinks. He’d thought he was doing better than this.
The glass in his hand comes with skin-on-skin contact, and he’s kind of busy pretending that he’s completely okay with that, didn’t even notice, his heart has not speeded up whatsoever nosiree. Almost too busy to pay attention to what else Mack has to say to him. That being, ‘I’m sorry it’s going to be a while, the egg-plant is taking forever and the fish isn’t marinaded right yet. You mind if we go sit down with a drink and talk now, eat in a while?’
And Caspar can’t quite follow, then all at once does. They’re… having dinner. Which Mack is cooking. Cooking himself, instead of getting someone in to do it, or his housekeeper or… whatever arrangements it is he has, for this kind of thing.
It’s… definitely not a date. He can school that thought right out of his head within seconds, because he’s had a little bit of practice at that kind of thing lately.
It just feels like a date, is what his mind secretly insists on whispering to him, despite all of his best efforts. And that much is true.
But no, he adds to himself, quellingly, as they sit themselves down on the plush play-cushioned couches. (There’s plenty of space for about thirty people, minimum. But Mack sits close by him, and angles himself sideways, to face Caspar head on.) Caspar grabs his briefcase, because he has everything handy and has come well-prepared, even if it was Sara he expected to be having these discussions with. He has his tablet, extensive paperwork, his Honey Bunny staff handbook and the notes and researches he’s assembled for this event…
‘Oh come on. We don’t need to get straight down to it,’ Mack says. Is that a trace of irritability in his voice? Because Caspar doesn’t particularly want to irritate a potentially extremely valuable client. (Sandy would probably garotte him. Sophia would quite certainly garotte him. Millie might let him get away with it. Or let him think that he’d got away with it, and then garotte him later, in secret, after a couple of hair-raising practical jokes first. That’s the kind of girl she is.) In any case, Mack reaches out, and touches Caspar’ fore-arm where he’s reaching out. ‘Come on. Just sit and chat a bit. Relax, man. I can see that they run you hard at the bakery, every time I pass by there or come in. Never even free enough to stop for a word, now, are you?’
© 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.