Ben sits down next to me on the couch, his arm around my shoulder. Sighing, I snuggle into his side and he kisses my head. Once the show is over, I turn my head up and look at him. Smiling, he plants his lips onto mine.
Minutes later, I'm pressed back into the sofa cushions and he's hovering above me, devouring my lips.
I run my fingers through my messy hair, sitting up.
Ben chuckles, pulling me close.
"So..." Ben says as another show comes to an end an hour later. "It's Mother's birthday party tomorrow."
I freeze under his arm. "What?!" I ask, shocked. Turning to look up at him.
"It's Mother's birthday tomorrow."
"Why didn't you tell me before?"
He looks at me cautiously. "Because she just called and told me this morning."
I take in a deep breath, closing my eyes for a second. "Ben, remember last Sunday I asked you something while we were having dinner?"
"Um..." He frowns, thinking.
"I said we got a new client, that some CEO had eaten at my bakery and the company called us?"
"Ah, yes. I do."
"And the company wants us to cater for a huge event they have?"
"Yes!" He snaps his fingers. "I do remember."
"And I asked you if it would be alright because I'd be home late that night." I carry on slowly like as if I'm talking to a child.
"Yup and I said yeah that it was fine."
"Exactly and I told you the day and the date right?"
"Yeah..." He nods slowly. "I don't remember it though."
"Ben, it's tomorrow."
He stares at me before blowing out a breath. "Chloe, you can't come. You have to be there tomorrow!"
"But you should have told me before! I specifically told you the date so you could be sure there was nothing on that day."
"Chloe, she told me this morning."
"So your mother's birthday changes every year?" I ask sarcastically.
He shakes his head. "No! Okay I forgot but you have to come. She'll be upset if you're not."
"No, she'll be happy if I'm not there although she'll make a big deal out of it. I can't cancel Ben."
"Then you have to do something about it. You have to come tomorrow."
"Ben, this is our first catering alright? I'm not leaving my staff hanging, I need to be there to tell them what to do, to support them. I'm sorry but I can't just give this up."
"Chloe." Ben's voice sounds on the verge of starting a huge argument.
I shake my head. "Look, this is important for me alright? I'll try my best to come but I can't make any promises."
"You could come late, it's alright! Just be there please." He slightly relaxes, negotiating with me.
I give a short nod, fuming inside.
His stupid mother.
The bakery is in full swing right after dawn the next morning. I've got all hands on deck, every single cook is in the kitchen busy working up their best. It's a corporate event so there are to be canapés handed out. The company got someone else getting the champagne and have already hired waitresses. All we have to do is supply snacks until dinner and then we've got to get the desserts ready.
The morning is the busiest, the bakery has ever seen. I've got Foster helping me take in and complete the orders up front while Fran and Susan are cooking at the back. Tarek and Claire are doing all the prep work for this afternoon.
By 4 o'clock, Alice and Darren arrive just in time for us to leave. Susan, Alice and a waitress are in charge of the bakery for the day. Tarek, Claire, Foster Darren, Fran and I are going to be going to the party. While Tarek, Claire, Fran and Foster pile into their cars and leave for the party hall where it's taking place, Darren comes home with me. As we step into the house, I see a note stuck at the back of the door.
Wish you the best! Waiting to see you tonight.
Rolling my eyes, I crumple the paper in my hand and throw it in the bin as I lead Darren to the kitchen. He glances at it but keeps quiet.
"Okay, make yourself at home. The living room's that way, you can watch TV. The guest room is down the hall. There is only one bathroom though. And-"
"Chloe." Darren holds up his hand. "I'll be fine. Go get ready."
Smiling, I mess up his hair and head out of the kitchen.
"I'll take about forty minutes."
Forty-five minutes later, I step out of my room, my stomach twisted into knots. Darren gets to his feet as I enter the living room and his mouth literally falls open. He's dressed in a powder blue shirt and black pants. He looks smashing. For a seventeen year old, he really does look amazing.
"Chloe, you look amazing." He says, smiling.
Biting my lip, I look down. I have a deep midnight blue dress on that reaches my knees. I was going to wear black but then seeing Darren in blue, I'd changed my mind. My dark brown hair is pulled back into a french braid, a few strands left loose. I've got silver earrings on, my watch and the diamond bangle Ray had gotten me. My silver sling backs complete the outfit.
Shrugging, I look back at him. "I thought if I were going to be escorted by such a handsome young man, then I should at least try to match some of his gorgeousness."
Darren rolls his eyes but I can see his cheeks coloring. "You'd look lovely in anything Chloe. You could come in your apron, smeared in flour and chocolate and everyone would love you."
"Sure, sure." I chuckle.
He smiles and then holds out his arm and I take it. After dropping my phone, my business cards and lip gloss into my silver clutch, I let Dare lead me out of the apartment. He insists on driving but I have so many butterflies in my stomach that I don't let him. I need to keep my mind busy and so I take the wheel.
"Wow." Darren looks up at the building and then turns to me. "Chloe, my stomach's doing somersaults."
I throw him a small smile. "Same here Dare. We need to go from the back."
Taking in a deep breath, I park the car. "Ready Dare?"
He nods quickly, smiling. I follow him out of the car, watching him looking around.
He's putting on a brave face for me.
Inside, my staff's already in the kitchen putting everything together. I go around, talking to each of them, encouraging them and helping out when needed.
Once I'm sure everything is going smoothly, I take Darren and walk towards the party hall.
Darren lets out a low whistle as we walk through the open door.
"Wow." I look around the huge hall. There are three men standing on the other side and looking up, one of them notices us.
"Do you know any of them?" Darren asks as two of them start heading towards us.
"One of them looks like Mike Carter, the head of PR of the company we're catering for. The other I have no idea."
We watch as they approach us.
"Chloe Stevens, pleasure seeing you again." Mike holds out his hand and I take it, smiling.
"Mike, the pleasure's mine."
"I'd like you to meet Carter West, manager of this beautiful hotel."
"Nice to meet you." I shake his hand and he returns the greeting. His eyes go over to Darren behind my shoulder and smiling, I step back, a hand on Darren's shoulder.
"Gentlemen, my chef in training, Darren Parker."
The men shake hands with Darren and Mike starts asking him questions just as Carter West makes sure with me that everything is going smoothly. I keep an ear on Mike and Darren's conversation. Darren doesn't usually just open up to everyone and start talking about his dreams so when Mike questions him further and I see Dare becoming slightly uncomfortable, I politely interrupt the conversation. Saying that Darren and I need to head back to the kitchen, we excuse ourselves.
It's just past seven when Darren hurries in saying that the first car's arrived. The tension and excitement levels in the kitchen rise dramatically and there's a moment of craziness when Foster comes up to me, his hair net askew, flour on his cheek.
"Chloe, the pastry is fried and seasoned and the chicken baked golden. Shall we plate up or what?"
I stare at him, bewildered. "What?!"
He stares at me and everyone cracks up.
"Foster please tell me you meant the chicken is cooked and seasoned and the pastry baked till it's golden or we'll be serving pastry mixed with the chicken and not the chicken tarts."
He chuckles, "Yes, that's what I meant." I wipe the tears of laughter away from my eyes and nod.
"Yes, please start plating everything up."
Mike insists that Darren and I make a presence at the party so once things are running smoothly, the dishes all coming out quickly and perfectly, we both head towards the hall. Taking a glass of champagne for myself, Dare and I mingle among the people. Mike spots us and introduces us to some people and I hand out a few of my business cards as they ask me about my bakery and its location.
The atmosphere is pleasant, laughter and some light music filling the air.
As dinner time approaches Darren and I leave the hall.
My phone starts ringing as I step into the kitchen.
I glance at my watch to see that it's 9.
Not that I was planning on going at all. Like honestly.
And I can't leave. It's not an option.
Pressing the answer button, I hold it up to my ear.
"Where the hell are you?" He asks furiously.
I sigh, rolling my eyes. I step outside into the cool night air for some privacy. "At work."
"Chloe in case you forgot my mother's birthday, dinner is tonight."
"How could I forget Ben? I can't come, I'm sorry. My staff needs me."
"And I need you here."
"No, you don't really."
"My mother's really upset, you're not here."
I laugh dryly. "She would be more upset if I turned up! You know we don't get along."
"You have a few differences, so? Can't you get over them Chloe? You're supposed to be here, not make things worse by not turning up."
"Ben, I'd love to get over them for you but she clearly doesn't want to. And I'm not making anything worse, you are. Stop eating whatever she feeds you through her words and start standing on your own two feet. It's about time."
"Chloe you're going to come." He says, his voice firm.
"No, I'm not. I have to go." Switching off the call I drop my head in my hands.
It's the same story every time. All his mother does is fill his head with a whole load of crap and then I need to listen to the music.
"Chloe?" Darren says softly, touching my bare shoulder.
I look up to see his eyes on me, concerned.
I force a smile. "Yeah, everything's fine." He stares at me for a few moments before nodding. "Come on then. Everyone's waiting for your approval Boss."
I chuckle and taking his arm, head inside. Forcing myself to leave my worries behind.
Replies to Comments
Lucy - Hahaa yes, you probably know best at the moment. Lol, Ray was upset because of the situation I guess. The whole Ben not listening to Chloe thing. Hahaa yeah but I like your questions! Enjoy reading!
Aashi - Hey! Thanks so much! I'm glad you like it! Hope you enjoy!
PH - And I'm so glad to see your comment!! Haha, I'm glad you like it! Oooh it's changed in a good way or bad way? Yeah, it is the first time I'm putting up a story with characters that aren't teens. Thanks so much! Enjoy!
Jar - Hahaha thank you, I know right. Gosh, he's irritating. Yeah it does rhyme, love you too.
MayJuneJuly - Exactly! Tell him Maie! Thanks a lot hun. Love you too.
LexiThomas48 - Thank you!