I glance at my watch. Ten more minutes and then I can close up. Once the last customer's walked through the door, I lock up and head to the back.
The kitchen's still in full swing. The waitresses have changed back into their clothing and are helping clean up the kitchen while Susan and Tarek go about getting everything ready to leave for the morning chefs.
I pitch in and in a while we've got everything done. The waitresses leave, checking out through the back door. I hand Susan a treat for her daughter and minutes later, she and Tarek leave as well. It's quarter to eleven when I lock my bakery up for the night. Unlocking the apartment door, I walk inside.
I glance around the hallway and see his work shoes placed on the side. So he came home from work. I walk through the apartment and see it empty. Sighing, I wander into our bedroom and strip down, before stepping into the shower. The warm water relaxes my tense muscles and is soothing. Half an hour later, I step out of the bathroom, drying my hair and change into a tank top and shorts. Walking into the kitchen, I warm up some milk and I'm just pouring in my cereal when the front door opens. Holding my bowl, I walk into the hallway and wait. Ben walks, more like stumbles actually, his way towards me.
"Chloe! You're home." He leans in and I allow him to press his lips against mine.
"Ugh." I pull back, my mouth now tasting of beer. "How much did you have Ben?"
"Just a few. I was tired of waiting for you to come home."
"Okay." I gently push his probing hand away. "Why don't you go and change into something more comfortable and I'll be right there?"
He nods, wobbly and I watch as he turns and makes his way to the bedroom. Shaking my head, I perch on a stool in the kitchen and continue eating. By the time I go to the bedroom, he's passed out.
I unlock the door and quietly step into the apartment. Dropping my bag on the table near the door, I walk over to our bedroom and hear the shower on. Good, he still hasn't left.
In the kitchen, I make his breakfast, jam on toast and a cup of coffee. As I set it on the table he walks out of the bedroom, buttoning up his shirt.
"Hey! What are you doing here?" He asks, smiling.
I slips into his arms and accept the kiss he places on my lips.
"What? I can't come and see my fiancé?"
He chuckles, "You surely didn't come here to make me breakfast!"
I follow him as he sits down at the table.
"Yeah, well. I actually came to talk to you about something." He nods, telling me to go on as he chews on his toast. "Ben, what's going on? You never used drink so much. It's suddenly shot up. You're coming home drunk every night. What's wrong?"
He puts his cup down. "What's wrong is that I'm tired of waiting for my fiancée to come home from work late every night. That's what's wrong."
I stare at him. "I don't come home that late. Maybe about half an hour or an hour after you."
"Ever since you opened that... bakery." He says the word with distaste and I feel the hair at the back of my neck rising. "You're never here. I'd like to see you when I wake up in the mornings, to leave for work together, to come home to you. But no, you're always at that bakery."
"For your information, I'm not always at MY bakery. You think this apartment cleans up by itself? And I've told you before Ben," I calm myself down, softening my voice. "It's temporary. Only until I get someone to run it for me in the mornings."
"Which has been going on for the past two months! When are you going to give this up?"
"Excuse me? Did I hear you right?" I cry, startled. "When am I going to give this up? Ben, this is my life, my career, my dream. I'm never going to give it up!"
"I've had enough! I need to get to work." He pushes his chair back and stalks away.
"Yeah! Run away! You refuse to have a proper discussion without turning it into an argument. You can't have everything your way Ben! Remember that!"
He doesn't answer and retrieving my bag, I slam the front door behind me.
I think my staff know when to stay back now and I'm left alone when I arrive at my bakery. I stay in the back, rolling out and kneading dough, keeping my hands occupied, although it leaves my mind free to fume.
How dare he talk like that about my dream. How dare he. Foster sticks his head out of the kitchen and then turns to us.
"There's no one behind the till." He calls out.
"Oh, shoot." Washing my hands, I grab my notebook and pen and hurry to the front. "Hey! How may I help you?" I ask, staring at the paper before me.
"First, I'd like a beautiful smile on that beautiful face. Secondly, I'd love to know the name of the person's ass I'm going to kick for making you upset and thir-"
I look up to see Ray, leaning against the counter. My eyes widen and I grin.
"Chloe!" He mimics me and rolling my eyes, I lean over the counter and accept his kiss on my cheek. "What's wrong hun?"
I sigh, shaking my head. "I had an argument with Ben."
"Another one?" He asks, raising his eyebrows.
"Yes, another one."
I glance behind him at the growing line and he realizes and quickly moves to the side.
"Go ahead ma'am." He smiles at the lady standing behind him. She shoots him a smile and he perches on the stool on the other side of the till. Once the customers are settled into their seats or have received their order and left, I turn to Ray, who's been watching me, his head leaning on his hand.
"When's your break?" He asks.
"I don't have one."
"What do you mean you don't have one? Everyone has a break."
"Well not me. Because apparently me going home to clean up that bloody apartment isn't considered a big deal. So I have no breaks from now on."
"She can go now. Just bring her back by..." Foster glances at the clock, coming up behind me. "By two."
"I'm not going! And Foster, I'm the boss."
"Yes, honey I know that. You pay me. But I'm still elder than you so you've got to listen to your elders."
"Come on. Please Chlo. Please." Ray pouts and reaches out and takes my hand in both of his.
Sighing I glance irritatedly at Foster. "Thanks a lot Gramps."
He chuckles and then disappears inside, coming back with my bag. "Come on. Hand me that apron and leave."
I give it to Foster and he takes it, smiling. Throwing him a glare, I pull my bag on and turn to Ray who's got a big smile on his face.
Foster nods, "Just have her back by two."
"Will do." Ray leads me to the door and then holds it open.
"Okay who called you?" I ask once we're out on the sidewalk. I pull my shades out of my bag and slip them on.
"What do you mean?" He asks, pulling his glasses down from his head as well. "Who called you and asked you to come and take me away?"
He chuckles, "No one. I felt like seeing you and I came. Good thing too. You need some serious cheering up."
Smiling up at him, I slip my arm through his. "You being here is enough Ray."
"Aw man. Don't go all gooey on me."
I laugh, "As if I ever would." I glance around the street. "Where have you parked anyway?"
"Just a bit further down. I had to stop by the store as well."
He digs out the keys from his jeans pocket and unlocks the car, pressing the button on the remote. He holds the door open for me and I slide inside.
"So, where to?"
I shrug, "You're the one who hauled me here. You decide."
He smiles, "Okay. Would you like to go for lunch to a bright sunny outdoor place or a quiet diner?"
"Yup. To match your mood."
"So what's going on?" Ray leans forward once we've ordered our food, his eyes fixed on me.
I sigh, sinking back into my side of the leather sofa.
Ray and I have been best friends since college, nearly ten years ago. We met on the first day on campus in the auditorium where the announcements were taking place. I was in a hurry and I'd turned around and bumped straight into him. I'd have fallen flat on my bottom if it wasn't for his arm coming around me. We sat through the announcements together after that and found out we had a few similar classes. His dorm was opposite mine and we were both new to the area so since that day we started hanging out together.
He's unbelievably gorgeous, I can't deny that. He's got silky blond hair and beautiful hazel eyes. His forehead is broad, his nose straight and he has soft, firm pink lips, broad shoulders, muscular chest, toned legs... that works.
We've never been romantically involved. Ray once asked me if I found him attractive, physically, and I'd said yes and he'd replied similarly to me but when asked if I ever had a crush on him, then it was a no. And he was frank as well. He said he loved me more than a sister, I was a part of him, like his arm. He couldn't cut me off and throw me away, whenever I hurt, he hurt, when I was happy, so was he.
Ray is the kind of guy who being beautiful, I still feel comfortable around. I could be in my pajamas around him and it wouldn't bother me. We're just that close and I love him to bits. He's my rock, my supporter and number one fan, my shoulder to cry on, my everything.
"It's Ben. He comes home every night drunk and then this morning when I just wanted to talk to him, he turned it into a full blown argument. But the worst part was him insulting my bakery." Tears prick my eyes and I blink them back, the hurt still fresh.
"He what?!" Ray asks, shocked. He slides around the booth and pulls me close. "Chloe?"
I close my eyes, "He said the word bakery, itself with disgust, but then... he asked me when I was 'going to get over it'."
Ray's body goes rigid beside me. "What?" His voice sounds confused but when I look up his eyes are scanning my face, an expression I've seen often clouding them. They're desperately trying to tell me to say that I didn't say what he thinks he heard.
"He thinks it's a phase I'm going through."
Ray pushes a frustrated breath though his clenched teeth. "What? Is he mad? A phase? Does he think you saving and hardly spending anything on yourself these past 7 years was for fun? That you enjoyed working for arrogant kids? Does he think the thousands you spent on getting the bakery set up to perfection was for fun? That this is something you're just doing for a pastime? Is he that much more of an idiot than I thought he was? Can he not see how much this means to you? How much of a success your bakery has become in the matter of months? Is he blind?!" He hisses, remembering to keep his voice down, but furious nonetheless.
My tears have disappeared as I listen to him and I smile. I really did accomplish all that and I shouldn't let Ben bring me down.
I squeeze his arm. "Ray, calm down."
"Chloe you can't let him talk down to you like this!" His jaw is still tight, his eyes flashing.
"I'm not! Don't worry! I fought back alright? And he needs to apologize. I'm not letting him off easily. But Ray? You saying all that was enough."
He chuckles, "You're fine right?"
"Yes." I hug him tight and he sighs, his arm squeezing my waist.
The waitress appears and lays our orders in front of us and I'm thankful we're sitting in the corner booth, away from probing eyes.
"You'll always tell me when something is bothering you, right Chlo? You won't keep anything back alright? No matter where I am, what time of day or night, I want you to tell me, know that you can depend on me. Okay? Promise Chloe?"
Smiling, I nod. "I promise. And you too."
He grins, "Okay then, let's seal the deal." And he puckers his lips.
I laugh, pressing my finger against his lips. "Remember this?" I hold up my hand, showing him my engagement ring.
He groans, "How could I forget? You haven't sealed any deal with me for almost two years!"
"But I've kept my side of the deal, haven't I?"
"Come on you've got to take me back." I say, once we've polished off all the food.
"I have to take you back by two Chlo."
"Yes, and by the time we get there it will be two."
"No! It's only twelv-" he stops looking at his watch. "My watch is wrong!" Reaching over, he grabs my arm and looks at mine. "But it was only twelve a while back! Why does time always fly when you're with me?" He asks, whining, pulling out some money from his wallet and leaving it by our plates.
"Because of just that."
"Huh?" He looks at me as I slide out of the booth.
"Because I'm with you."
He rolls his eyes, "Getting a big head, are we?"
"Don't you have work Ray?" I ask as I buckle my seat belt in his car.
He throws me a look. "I've got the evening shift from 3-9. You would have known if you'd have answered my call two days ago."
I raise a hand to my mouth. "Oh crap! I'm so sorry! There was an accident and-"
"Accident? What accident?" He looks over me, concerned.
I smile, "At the bakery Ray. Something about a mix-up and I was meaning to call back but then it was late, for me not you and then... I'm so sorry!"
He chuckles, "It's alright. I wasn't blaming you."
"I'm a horrible friend." I groan.
He chuckles, "No, you're not. You're the best there is."
When I look at him, he grins and I sigh happily, glad I've got the most wonderful best friend in the world.
I go home early, around 9. Claire comes before I leave the bakery and promises to lock up and be there early tomorrow. Trusting her with everything, I tear myself away and go home. I really don't want to but we need to clear the air, I don't want to leave it just like that.
Ben walks into the apartment around an hour later. I've showered and changed and I'm sitting in front of the television, relaxing. Something I haven't done in so long. He walks straight into our bedroom but then a minute later, walks out. I keep my eyes on the screen as he appears in the living room doorway.
"Hey. You're home."
I look towards him and nod. He stands for a minute and then turns and leaves. I sigh and then snuggle down into the sofa and enjoy some TV. Forty-five minutes later, Ben walks into the room, changed. I don't turn towards him as he sits down beside me on the couch.
"Chloe," I look up at him and he gives me a small smile. "I'm sorry for what I said this morning. It was way out of line and I should be more patient. It's just that I miss you so much and we haven't done anything together in a while that I got frustrated. I'm really sorry." He offers and I sigh.
"It's alright I guess. But Ben what you said.." I trail away, shaking my head.
"I'm really sorry Chloe." He takes my hand and squeezes it. "It was all in the heat of the moment. I promise. I'll be more understanding from now on. I know you're doing your best that you're tired as well."
Smiling I look at him. "Alright then."
A sigh of relief escapes his lips before he leans in. "Thank you." He murmurs before pressing his mouth to mine. He then settles down beside me, an arm around my shoulder and I lean into him.
This is the Ben I love. The one that makes me feel safe and happy. His arm tightens around me as I snuggle down in his arms.
Replies to comments
Lucy - Hey! Yes I am! Really? It does? How does it seem different? I'm glad you like it!
Maria- Sure thing!
Jar - Hahaa then I'm looking forward to seeing you in my bakery. Aah yes they can. Hahaha, I know. So many views and see the comments. Love you.
MayJuneJuly - Aaw thanks honey! I will.
Until You - Chapter 210 comments! Enjoy!
By Sammer A