As often happens when I’m chatting to fellow authors, I got encouraged to extend two throw-away lines into a short story. Obviously cupcakes lead to exciting adventures so this was the result. In case you’re wondering, I was told I had to include ‘sausages.’
‘You know what? I’m tired of working here; I think it’s time for a change.’
‘But I thought you enjoyed it. You’re so good with the old ladies. They always remark on your bright smile and how helpful you are when they’re dithering over which cake to choose.’
‘If I never see another cupcake or pot of tea in my whole life it won’t be too soon. No, my minds made up. I’m giving in my notice at the end of the week. Hey Jen, you should apply for the position. You’d be great. I’ll put in a good word for you, if you’re interested.’
‘I’ll think about it. The extra money would be useful and the hours would suit me. What will you do?’
‘I’ve not decided yet. Maybe run away to sea. Right, I’d better start clearing this lot up. Think about the job. I’ll see you before I go.’
Half an hour later I’d chivvied out all the customers, cleared the tables and changed the tablecloths ready for the following day. Before I turned out the lights and locked up I had a quick look round. In some ways I would miss the place. It had been my idea to set the tables with matching tablecloths, napkins and candle holders in different colours, and it did look attractive. Folk are funny. Many of the regulars made a beeline for ‘their’ table, whether it be pink, blue, green or gold, and occasionally I had to use all my people skills to keep everyone happy.
Lost in thought I turned from pulling down the shutter and promptly collided with someone standing outside.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I apologised. ‘I was day-dreaming and….’ I trailed off as I looked up into gorgeous brown eyes, set in a handsome sun-tanned face.
‘It was my fault,’ the dreamboat smiled. ‘Is this your shop? I was trying to find somewhere to bring a lady for lunch, and this looks perfect. Do we need to book?’
Just my luck. I find the most gorgeous man to walk the earth and he’s bringing his girlfriend for a date. Still, I suppose that meant he wasn’t married. Taking a surreptitious glance I noticed that although he was casually dressed, his clothes looked designer and expensive. Way out of my class.
‘When were you thinking of coming?’ I asked. ‘We do get very busy but I could save you a table. As long as it’s sometime this week, as I’m leaving shortly. Which colour table would you prefer?’
‘How about Friday? Around three? I imagine she’s a pink kind of girl. I noticed the way the tables were all different colours. Great idea. What are you going to do when you leave?’
‘I haven’t decided yet. Maybe try to get a job on a cruise liner. Although I say it myself I’m a good baker, customers seem to like me, and I can turn my hand to most things. I just fancy seeing a bit of the world, and I don’t mind roughing it a bit if I have to. Right, Friday at 3. I’ll make a note. Oh, there’s my bus. Bye.’
‘What’s your name?’ he called after me as I sprinted to the bus stop.
‘Marina,’ I yelled back. ‘What’s yours?’
‘Jack. See you Friday.’
Did I imagine it or did he blow me a kiss as I jumped on the bus, just before it pulled out.
I was a bag of nerves the rest of the week, looking forward to seeing him again, but at the same time knowing I’d feel deflated when I met his no doubt stunning girlfriend. As it turned out Friday was hectic, and I was in the kitchen finishing off some more cakes when he arrived.
Going back into the café to replenish the display I glanced up, and there he was, at the reserved pink table accompanied by a beautiful lady, who was 80 if she was a day. My face broke into a beaming smile as I went over to greet them.
‘Hi Marina. May I introduce my companion? This lovely lady is my Grandmother. It’s her birthday today, and she insisted we came here as she’s heard so much about your wonderful cakes. I offered to take her anywhere, but who am I to refuse a lady’s request?’
‘Oh, so you’re Marina, the one he hasn’t stopped talking about. Make sure you don’t take any of his nonsense when you’re out on the high seas. I love him to bits but he’s never had to work for a living, so make sure he treats you with respect, or he’ll have me to deal with.’
‘Gran! I haven’t even asked her yet. And anyway, I have the feeling she’ll be more than a match for me. Now what would you like? The poor girl looks rushed off her feet.’
After I’d taken their order I pondered over what had been said. Had he really mentioned me? What was all that about being on the high seas? It was particularly busy that day and I didn’t have a chance to find out. The time flew past, it was 4.30 before I knew it, and Jack was calling me over to pay the bill.
‘Thank you, my dear. That was delightful. It’s such a shame you’re leaving just as I’ve found you, but perhaps one day Jack will invite me so you can cook for me on-board. I’m sure we’ll meet again.’
Jack winked at me as he escorted her to his car, but didn’t say anything except “Goodbye, and thanks.” An hour later I had cleared up, and was feeling rather nostalgic as I locked the doors for the last time, and pushed the spare keys through the letterbox. Jen had agreed to take over the shop and had her own set, ready to re-open on Monday. I was confident she would make a great success of it, which just left me to sort out my life.
‘We must stop bumping into each other like this,’ a deep voice interrupted my reverie, and once again I found myself looking into Jack’s dark brown eyes. ‘If you’re free for a few hours I have a business proposition to put to you.’
I found myself wishing he’d left out the word ‘business,’ but agreed to accompany him to the local Gastro pub to find out what he had in mind. Over a dinner of Roman sausages with celeriac mash, washed down with a bottle of a very nice red, he outlined his proposal.
‘I run what you could call exclusive tours, and need a good all-round chef and pastry cook. We’re off to the Mediterranean on Sunday, and will probably be away for about six weeks. You’d be responsible for providing an evening meal for around a dozen, including us, and ensuring there was a supply of fresh cakes available once a day. The rest of the time would be your own. There are other staff to do breakfast and lunch, and apart from the salary you’d get all expenses paid for shore excursions. I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up a contact. Have a read and let me know what you think.’
He left me to peruse the particulars in private, and after I read it I took the opportunity to Google his details taken from the official headed paper. Somehow I wasn’t surprised to discover he actually owned the yacht, and was a multi-millionaire who ran the tours a few times a year as a holiday from his other businesses.
I’d already decided to accept, but my fate was sealed when I noticed the name of his vessel, “Cupcake.”
As I signed my name I had the feeling my adventures were just beginning.
© Voinks November 2017