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Cupcake Kissin’ 31 – Alex Ankarr
Mack still pauses one little more moment, fiddling with cutlery, footling around with herbs, as if so very busy he’s not a jot of attention to spare for conversation. Then it’s dragged out of him, and Caspar can easily tell how unwilling the concession is. ‘Yes. Yeah, that’s right. He’s a prof. At the film school over east. I’ve been seeing him for a while.’
That’s all that Caspar wanted to hear, the admission, so it’s amazing that he isn’t happier to hear it. Mack doesn’t seem too happy either. He starts setting plates on a tray, and the last thing that Caspar wants to do right now is eat. He’d really like to storm out, or at least a polite version, to arrange to send someone else from the bakery to deal with the paperwork, to resume his civil avoidance of Mack’s company and just pretend that nothing about this evening ever happened.
But he has a duty to the business, and he can’t do that.
Mack, though, seems about as happy as he is himself. His hands – long and tan and very sensitive, completely duplicitous in the impression they give of the man, Caspar thinks bitterly – stall on the delicate thin white plates, and he stills with his back to Caspar. Then abruptly he sets everything down, with a clang and a clatter, and swivels on his heels to come around and stand close – close-ish, at least, not up so close like before – to Caspar. Caspar feels his head spin, his ears sing.
‘I should apologise,’ Mack says abruptly, and looks him full in the eye. ‘That was very inappropriate, and it put you in a difficult position, and – I’m sorry.’
And that’s what Caspar wants, and yet he still isn’t happy. But he knows a comprehensive apology when he hears one, and he knows when being gracious is absolutely socially mandated.
He’s not so good with the eye contact as Mack, though. ‘It’s fine,’ is what he manages. ‘No harm done. It wasn’t just you,’ he says, and that’s not the easiest admission ever, though comfortingly vague. ‘I was at fault, too.’
‘No, no. No,’ Mack says decisively. ‘Look, are you – is this going to be difficult for you? If you want, then we could – we could just go through the paperwork fast, now, and be done with it. I mean you don’t have to stay and eat, or – if you’ve got more important things to be doing?’ He really doesn’t look happy. And he could be longing to get Caspar out of there, it could be about feeling uncomfortable himself. But Caspar has a hunch it’s not. And he’s the supplier, and the onus is on him to keep customers sweet.
And anyway, he’s a lot less happy about making Mack squirm than he would have thought, five minutes or so ago. He can be magnanimous. Even if he knows just what a soft touch it makes him. He puts a smile on his face, because who wants to have a sourpuss grudge-holder around? ‘Seriously? Man, you have to be kidding. You’ve been promising to feed me for close on an hour now, you think I had anything to eat before I came out? I did not. And that,’ he says, squinting at the fearfully complex agglomeration of dishes Mack has assembled, ‘smells damn good. Damn, man, you’re not going to starve me and kick me out because I didn’t give it up, right?’ He makes piteous eyes at Mack, and he’s completely aware just how calculated a risk it is. Mack could take offence, quite easily. Or he could take Caspar much too seriously, and assume that he seriously thinks that Mack might be that petty.
Or, he could take it light, as the joke that it is, and it could make things easier between them, the unexpected moves made just an episode they don’t need to obsess and fret over. And it seems as if Mack is a sensible guy – apart from the odd temporary leaving hold of sanity and fidelity to significant others, because that is exactly what he does. ‘Oh, man,’ he says, casual, with a real smile lighting up behind his eyes – though his mouth is still sober. ‘I should have known you were holding out for the moyshu pork and the rosti.’
Then they’re both laughing, and it’s not like Caspar is perfectly relaxed about the whole thing, now. But they’ve got a basis to work on, and he feels a lot more positively disposed to Mack than a moment ago. They can work like this. He doesn’t have to stay mad. He doesn’t have to be petty about it.
He can work this. So they eat at the huge dining table in the middle of the more formal seating area. (And oh God, Mack’s loft is so awesome, Caspar has loft-envy. And he was so happy when he’d moved into his own little place!) Then they run – pretty fast, Caspar thinks they’re both in kind of a hurry to run through the evening, but that doesn’t mean they’re not okay – through the paperwork. Mack sure as hell wants some fancy arrangements for this party, but Caspar assumes that Honey Bunny’s can deal, and he doesn’t nix or question anything.
Fine-tuning some of the more pernickety details on the file in his tablet, querying the odd detail – mimosas or roses? mixed drinks or champagne? – with Mack, Caspar is absorbed. (And stealing macaroons from the pyramid in the middle of the table. They are awesome, but he’s not going to admit just how awesome. They’re not Honey Bunny macaroons, and he is certainly going to have to have a serious discussion with Mack later, about the important issue of fidelity to one’s main bakery, versus cake-related flings with other suppliers. (However, although he’s keen to remain on the best of terms with Mack, the discussion would have some unfortunate ramifications if they went into it right now. He’s going to save it for a more propitious time.)
Mack coughs, but Caspar is busy typing and doesn’t look up. Mack coughs again. This time Caspar gets the hint, and he does look up. (He gets a little tingle even now, looking at Mack. Maybe he’s kind of an asshole, more than Caspar would have thought. But there’s something soft and pleasant in his eyes, and it’s hard to withstand, for Caspar at least. For the entire viewing public of his TV show, too, probably).
© 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.