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Cupcake Kissin’ 34 – Alex Ankarr
‘Good luck with that,’ Sara says.
it’s awful, and great. Organising the party, that is. He gets a key to Mack’s apartment. (And that’s something he’ll never be able to get over. He has a key! To Mack Langot’s apartment!)
He gets over it, though, because he has to, and he makes himself. It’s just a job. Sometimes Mack is there, when he’s around getting the place ready. Sometimes he isn’t. Sometimes he’s there by arrangement, with things to discuss with Caspar. (They’re a little awkward together, bearing in mind that dinner – and all the rest of it. But Caspar refuses to acknowledge it further, because it’s done with, and they’re fine now. Mack doesn’t seem quite at ease, but Caspar simply refuses to be anything other than at ease.)
Sometimes Adam is there, which is just delightful, of course. Caspar just grits his teeth through that, because what else can he do? He hasn’t forgotten anything about the ‘service staff’ remarks, or the accusations of flirting, or the general asshole-ishness. But presumably Mack likes Adam, so it’s Mack’s business. (And so much the worse for Mack. And also presumably, Mack doesn’t like him quite enough to maintain absolute fidelity to him, given opportunity for a discreet bit on the side. But although he detests Adam, Caspar’s principles ensure that he’s going to be keeping his mouth shut on that issue. Tempting as the alternative might be.)
And a couple of weeks into his preparations, with a little more than four weeks to go, Caspar has Sophie tinkering with the bakery rota, so that he can spend a full afternoon at Mack’s place. He’s planning to run through the order of serving of numerous little amuse-bouches throughout the evening. (And the night. It’s scheduled to go on for hours.) Two of the senior service staff they’re hiring in meet him there, along with the special cutlery sets ordered to put into storage on Mack’s upper floor to… It’s complicated. He has a whole spreadsheet at this point, for keeping his arrangements on schedule and all targets hit, all objectives delivered on. This whole thing is probably going to pretty much qualify him as a project manager. His aunt kept extensive notes on her processes and plans, which has helped. It’s pretty amazing that she managed to basically run the bakery – as well as a number of other side-businesses – as a part-time endeavour, while maintaining an active romantic and social life. That Gertie, they really do not make them that same way any more, he reflects. And perhaps it’s a good thing, given all due consideration. He isn’t sure the young folks could keep up.
He’s texted Mack – busy shooting onset – to keep him informed already. (He keeps Mack carefully apprised of every stage of plans and developments. He worried at first that maybe this was overkill, and kept sending additional texts to ask if Mack would prefer to be left in peace and merely have the miraculous end result sprung upon him. (Caspar certainly hopes that the result will be pretty impressive. He has business insurance in place, of course, for if it’s disappointing or disastrous. But it would be nice if his first project goes off with a metaphorical bang.)
But Mack only texted back no, that he liked to be kept up to date. That Caspar was to text or call him any time about it. (Mack seems to take this bit of earnest advice as being reciprocal, too. He has called Caspar – about the party – several times, now. Texted still more often. Sometimes the questions or observations seem a little bit.. specious. Lackadaisical. Lacking in true urgency, Caspar would characterise them as. Not that he minds. Even after their little difficulty, their minor altercation, he still – he likes Mack, okay? They do not have a problem, an issue, not of any kind. Except maybe that Mack texted him at two a.m. a couple of nights ago, about the ice sculptures. Which seemed a little over the top, but maybe Mack was out clubbing or something and he’d lost track of the actual time. Except, when Caspar had blearily risen from slumbers at the beep of his phone and responded, he’d proceeded to actually call – at the confirmation that Caspar was, uh, up, about and alert. Yeah, right. The conversation had gone on for forty minutes. Caspar had not known it was possible to discuss flower arrangements at that length. He’s never learned the knack of being the one to end a phone conversation. Especially with someone you kind of still like.)
Anyway, Caspar directs his mind to this afternoon’s business, meets the waiting staff in the apartment block car-lot, and lets them all into Mack’s apartment.
That’s where they are, trying out alternative place settings in the dining area, discussing the hors d’oeuvres running order, having a lively chat about the guest-list, when Adam lets himself in, too. Caspar hasn’t seen him alone in the apartment, not previously. It’s always been with Mack by his side, which has made him thoroughly uncomfortable, and eager to get the hell out of the place.
Now there isn’t the buffer of Mack, to act as any restraint on his asshole-ishness, and Caspar can only wonder what the end result will be for his behaviour.
‘Hi there,’ he says, because there’s no reason to be rude just because someone else reliably is. He, and his companions, get a dismissive mutter that might, if it was audible, be some kind of a greeting. Adam is immaculately presented as always, what looks like French tailoring, perfectly trimmed hair, a slight tan and eyes that have more important things to do than waste their time by even straying in Caspar’s direction. Caspar sighs. He can only be thankful that he isn’t wearing pink today, since he’s not serving at the bakery. Not that his slightly raggy band t-shirt and khakis, running shoes, are exactly a professional presentation. But then he was expecting to have the run of the place to himself, and a couple of staff suppliers. His self-esteem rolls around in the gutter, but he puts his mind on more important things and re-engages the two supervisors, Gareth and Morill, in discussion of how best to achieve their ends for the social event.
He disregards Adam, who seems to loiter about an entirely unnecessary few moments, and then rather ostentatiously makes himself at ease in the lounge area of the loft, switching on the media centre and flicking around the channels with more volume and rapidity than can possibly be edifying or necessary. They need a spreadsheet printout, for the order quantities, and that’s much more important than Adam. ‘Back in a few,’ he advises the pair of them. ‘See if you can work out the seating arrangements before and after the band while I’m gone.’
The printer settings in Mack’s home office are complex, and it takes him ten minutes to sort it out. And when he gets back, Gareth and Morill are nowhere to be seen. He stops in the middle of the dining area, in front of the kitchen space, flummoxed. Then he has a little look around the place, assuming they’ve sat down somewhere to discuss the issue, or just wandered off to take a look-see around one of the flashiest loft apartments ever created. But no, there’s no sign. And he becomes aware that Adam is watching his search, from where he’s lounged on one of the giant couches in the sitting area.
‘You won’t find them,’ he calls over, thin blue-blood voice carrying like he’s had some theatrical training, over to where Caspar is still looking about him. And Caspar just gives him an enquiring look. ‘I sent them away – told them they were done for the day.’ And he smiles over at Caspar, insolently pleasant and holding eye contact like it’s a challenge.
Well. Caspar counts to five, then to ten. Because no matter how you might be provoked, it’s never a good idea to start yelling at a client’s boyfriend. Pretty much the definition of bad business, in fact. And he knows perfectly well that he is being provoked, but it’s not as if he can say so, straight out. ‘Oh?’ he says, and he can feel, from the tension across his chest, that his voice is probably not quite steady. ‘Any reason?’ He wills his face to stay calm. A whole day, this will waste. And it’s not as if the schedule isn’t tight, even with a month to go. The preparations are intensive.
Adam gets up, comes over and lounges against the kitchen doorway, standing in front of Caspar and eyeing him up and down. He has several inches on Caspar, not that it counts for much. He’s attractively built. (Caspar is forced to admit it, simply for reasons of honesty.) But he’s not especially sturdy or muscular. Caspar could – if it ever came down to it – give him a little sharp physical reproof in place of words, to advise him how much better it is to be civil with people, rather than a deliberate, wilful asshole. Not that it will.
© 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.