I wave Lynn goodbye when she steps out the back door and she reminds me that I can get over to her place whenever I am ready. I already let her know that I have to go back home with Silva to get his set of keys back. Too bad for him that involves staying behind for a little longer than usual. As I go through my paperwork, sitting down at my small desk, Silva finishes cleaning up the kitchen, rearranging anything he can find that isn’t standing straight enough. The main cleanup has already been done, but since he knows he has about half an hour more than on a regular day, I guess he tries to make the most out of it. The rest of the place is quiet aside from his walking back and forth behind me, and my paper ruffling on my desk. I am not behind, but I always have something else to catch up to, with the daily orders and so on. Well, you know the drill.. Or maybe you don’t. Anyway, I would usually simply take it back to my place instead of staying in a bit longer, but since I am invited to eat over at Lynn’s place, I will not have a moment to myself tonight until I go back home to slip into my bed.
While I was still away this morning, some customer made an order for a Halloween party happening one week before the 31st of October. I can’t remember when I ever got an order for a Halloween party… Christmas, Valentine ’s Day, Easter and so on, yeah. But Halloween, surprisingly, the quick and cheap candies always take the spotlight over the cakes. Or at least, the one that usually shines on the fancier types of pastries. But this time, I am happy to read that some rich kid requested for an all out freaky and sweet party that will feature my own pastries. I am sure the girls will be thrilled to be taking care of that party. Nothing more fun than playing around in the kitchen to make themed party desserts.
As I finish up on checking out the different files and forms, and filling up the schedule for the new upcoming events, I feel Silva’s presence behind my back. I turn around and see him standing right behind me, arms crossed, looking over my shoulder in curiosity.
“Do you always have so much paper to go through after work?
-Not really. This is not much. I just have to catch up on what I missed this morning.
-Oh yah. Late.
-But basically, it’s simply putting down the upcoming orders into the schedule and checking out for any other important matters that need to be taken care of soon.
-Is it hard?
-It’s not hard. You just need to pay good attention and be consistent in your work. Have you ever had a job that required you to keep track of numbers, or something like that? Like an inventory?
-Nah. Most of my jobs were more about stacking groceries into bags, folding clothes and making sandwiches.
-Well if you are interested, I could show you the ropes some day. Just so you get an idea.
-Cool! I would like that, yeah.
-Maybe you will prove to be worth more than just a coffee maker and pastry seller.
-You don’t want me at the front of the house anymore?
-Oh no! This is not what I meant. I just mean that it will add up to your resume. You will have more skills. Also, I have been contemplating promoting one of you guys as Manager. I don’t plan on choosing according to just friendship or something. Or for the added up months in the company. I just plan on making a choice depending on skills and such.
-Yaah, I don’t think I can picture myself in a managerial position yet.
-You don’t know that. Don’t assume just yet.
-Well, whatever. Maybe one day. Are you done?
-Yeah, I am. Let me just stack these forms properly.
-Do you need me to pick anything up for you before we leave?
-No, it should be fine. I have everything with me.”
I get up, pick up my oversized purse and check around one last time in the kitchen before joining Silva standing at the back door. I don’t have to go back to the front of the house because I know I already double checked it before starting any of my paperwork. Silva opens the door, steps out and I walk after him. With his tall legs, he gets to my car much faster than me. I unlock the doors, he gets in the passenger’s side and I sit in the driver’s seat. As I fasten my seat belt, I look into the rearview mirror and notice my bad hair once again. It will be a good thing to stop by the house before heading to Lynn’s place. It will give me a moment to fix myself up. I wouldn’t want Thomas to believe that his wife works with a sloppy woman.
The drive is quick and almost silent, with only a few comments here and there as we pass by certain buildings or special looking pedestrians. I am just lost in my thoughts, still crunching numbers and making plans for the upcoming days to make every one of them run as smoothly as possible. Silva doesn’t seem to mind much, just looking out his window and nodding to the music on the radio. I park in the underground parking lot at my apartment building and we get out of my car. Our footsteps echo under the low ceiling, and are suddenly broken by the sound of Silva’s voice.
“This feels so weird, it will be my first time going to your place.
-Yeah, that’s right.
-I feel like I will discover some mysteries about Jamie Voclain.
-Don’t get your hopes up, big guy. I am not some sort of spy working for Mother Russia, passing for a pastry chef.
-Dang! I had actually hoped more for some sort of ninja in hiding.
I walk up the stairs to the first floor where I get to the main stairs to reach the third floor, mine. Silva follows me, with his hands in the rear pockets of his jeans, taking one stride while I take two. I am not short but Silva has got some seriously long legs. When I get to my door, I hear a muffled chuckle coming from him.
“Really? You live in 3D? Does it come with the glasses?
-Whaa—Oh… that again. You are not the first one to make a joke about my apartment number. I have to admit that 3D is an interesting one. Well, sorry to disappoint. I am not a ninja and I don’t live in another dimension or anything.”
I put the keys in the lock and turn the knob to open the door. I immediately put my keys back into my bag and as I am looking down inside it, Silva steps inside my apartment. I go straight to check for his keys by the table next to the entrance.
“I didn’t know you had company.
-What are you talking about? I am living alone in this place. If you mean you think the worn out shoes at the door are someone else’s, you’re wrong. I wear these for dirty jobs.
-I was referring to the size 10 next to those worn out shoes.”
My head shoots right away to the big sized shoes sitting carelessly on my floor and my throat suddenly feels tight in anger and shock. I throw my purse on the table and step in the direction to my room but before I make one more step, a figure walks out the hallway casually, rubbing a towel on his wet hair. The guy brings the towel down and shows a look of surprise when he notices the presence of two other people in the room with him.
“Who is that guy?
-Keith Lingerson!! What the FREAK are you doing here??!
-Whoa Jay, no need to go crazy about it.
-Can I put into the loop here? Who are you man?
-Well I was wondering the same thing. I didn’t know Jay brought back young men home on a regular basis.
-Shut up Keith!”
Yesterday I was annoyed that Keith has made his way into my apartment without my knowledge but today I am furious. I can feel the heat creep up to my cheeks, but this time it isn’t because I am blushing. I clench my hands into fists and make sure I don’t step any closer to Keith. I don’t trust myself in a state of shock like that. How the hell did he come back in here when I know very well that he gave me his set of keys. Oh no…. don’t tell me..
“Well I came here so that Jamie could give me back my keys. What are you doing here man?
-Oh so the pretty boy comes here often?”
Silva gets up quickly and takes a few steps towards Keith, standing much taller than him. Silva looks at him straight, a tilt to his head and a frown to his eyes.
“Okay, I don’t know exactly who you are, and what you are doing here. But I can sense you are not really welcome here. Oh, and don’t call me “pretty boy” would you?
-Oh oh oh. Pocahontas is getting protective now?
-Okay, that’s it!!
My shout stops both men in their motion towards each other, as they were about to get physical. I take a few steps towards them and stop right behind Silva. I put my right hand on his shoulder and pull him back so that I can stand between him and Keith. The latter looks at me with a carelessness that makes my fingers tingle in the need for a good slap. I control myself not to make a move, but I make sure that my eyes translate my feelings to him.
“You have no right to break into my house, AGAIN, and insult my friends.
-I didn’t truly break in. I had the keys.
-You gave me your keys this morning!
-I had another spare.
-You are unbelievable!! And how many spares do you hide in your secret stash? How many times will I bump into you in my own apartment?
-Can it! I don’t even want to listen to you anymore. Get out of my house. Get out now! And you better give me those keys too!!
-Wait Jamie. I just wanted to talk about yesterday.
-We are not going to talk about anything. I made a mistake, I should have kicked you out of my house yesterday.
-But I thought—
-You thought what?! You think that talking to you one time is going to fix everything?”
I grab Keith by his elbow and pull him along with me all the way to the door. In the motion, he throws his used towel at Silva for him to catch. The latter follows us to the exit. Keith pulls free of my grip in annoyance and backs up a step.
“I will not leave until this guy leaves too.
-This guy has a name by the way. My name is Silva.
-Yah, whatever Pocahontas.
-It’s okay Silva. Don’t let him get to you. He wants to provoke you so that you become the bad guy.
-Why is he staying here with you?
-This is none of your business! Now get out of my house and more importantly, give me those keys! All of them!
Keith fishes in his jeans pocket and takes out a ring with two keys. He puts them in my open palm and grabs the door knob in a rapid motion. Before storming out the open door, he gratifies us with a glare that was meant to make us fear his wrath. Yah right. I don’t get why he’s all pissed now. I am the one that has been invaded in her privacy, TWICE! Keith slams the door behind him and leaves Silva and I in a complete quiet awkwardness.
Silva is the first to move again, getting in front of me, putting his both hands on my shoulder, waiting for me to look up at him. His eyes seem to ask if everything is alright with me. I can still feel the anger tensing me up all over, my hands still clenching into fists at the thought of what just happened. Looking into Silva’s dark green eyes makes me melt down a bit. I take his hands and pull them away from my shoulders. I walk away to my living room where I let myself slump into the sofa. Silva follows me and sits next to me. He breaks the silence.
“Okay, may I ask what this was all about, or it’s too personal?
-I think Keith has made sure that you heard enough to make it less personal. Might as well..”
I twist myself on the sofa to face him and bring my knees up to my chest.
“This guy is my ex boyfriend. We parted in unfinished business. For over a year I didn’t see him. And then yesterday he popped into my apartment without my knowledge. I am speaking here about coming back home and seeing him making himself at home. Well, just like you witnessed just there.
-The guy has some serious guts.
-Yes. This is how he is. He believes rules don’t apply to him.
-When he spoke about yesterday… did he mean..?
-Oh nooo, no. nothing like that. I just let him stay over for dinner. We watched a movie. This is the reason why I came late to work this morning.
-I fell asleep on the sofa and the guy never bothered to wake me up or anything. I woke up this morning on that same sofa and he was acting like a good housewife, making me breakfast.
-Well, that’s actually kind of nice of him.
-That’s the problem. He believes that me letting him staying over and him being all sweet made me change my mind about him.
-And he believes that would give him a chance to get back together?
-I guess… maybe. This is twisted. He is the one that left me hanging back then.
-I guess I don’t even have to ask you how you feel about it. You seemed to make it pretty clear to me he wasn’t welcome.
-And Keith clearly didn’t get the message. Man, did that guy really have two spare sets of keys to your apartment?
-I know right. Freaky.
-How can you know he doesn’t have any other hidden somewhere? This actually worries me Jay. You cannot have that guy come back here another time. What if he has some psycho ideas?
-I don’t believe he would go that far. But I admit, I also worry he could come back again.
-What are you going to do about it? Will you change your locks? I think that would be the best thing to do.
-Well, do whatever makes you feel safer about it.
-How about I do what we came here for? I should let you go back to your own place and enjoy your evening. Plus, I have Lynn and her family waiting for me for dinner tonight.
-Oh yeah? Cool, cool. Okay then. Did you find my keys?
-Actually, yes. I found them on the table right when Keith came into the picture. Here.”
I stand up and go back to the entrance where I left the key on the table. I grab them and thrown them in Silva’s direction as he stands up to catch them. He walks up to me and pats me gently on the back.
“Don’t worry too much about this tonight. The guy is out, and so will you be unless you go get ready for it.
-You’re right. Okay then. Well, I don’t have to show you the way. Unless, wait. Would you like me to drive you to your car?
-Oh no, don’t worry about me. I can walk to it. It’s a 10mins ride right?
-Yeah, but I insist. Here, stay in the living room. I won’t be long. I just need to change my clothes and fix my hair.
-You look fine to me girl.
-Don’t go all sweet talking to me now. I don’t look fine. I need to fix that. Oh and if you need anything to drink, help yourself in the fridge. I’m afraid I don’t have more than fruit juices, soy milk and water though.
-It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Just do you thing.
-Okay, thanks Sil. Go, go sit on the sofa. Turn on the TV if you need.
-Just go Jay! Hahaha, I will be fine here.”
After hesitating again a few moments, thinking of other details to make sure with Silva, I skip my way to my bedroom where I go straight to the closet to pick out a new change of clothes. After putting fresh pants and a new top on, I rush to the bathroom where I brush my hair a few times to take away the messy puffiness of my mane of thick brown hair. I decide to tame it into a quick thick braid to prevent from any further messy look. I give my face a quick wash with my melaleuca face wash then pat it dry with a towel. I look at myself in the mirror and feel so much better now. The stress of the run to work, my tardiness, my unexpected re-visit of Keith, it’s all gone. I feel ready for a nice casual dinner with friends, enjoying life one minute at a time. I get out the bathroom and tell Silva we are ready to take off.
Before I even press on the bell at Lynn’s house’s door, the door opens on a tiny little boy wearing nothing for a pair of puffy yellow shorts. His hair is a thick bowl cut of pale blond hair and he has something red smeared on his cheeks. If little Jimmy is opening the door for me, the parents must not be very far. Just as I form the thought in my mind, a medium height and medium build man comes into the frame of the open door. He bends down and takes the little boy into his arms.
“Hi Jamie, good to see you. Sorry about that. Jimmy is trying to escape from his bath.
-Hello Thomas. It’s been a long time.
-Now if you will excuse me, I have a frog to wash up.”
As he says it, he squeezes Jimmy chubby cheek where there isn’t too much smeared stain. Thomas opens the door wider and motions me for to step in. After closing the door behind me, he points behind him where the kitchen is.
“Lynn is still preparing dinner in the kitchen. You can go and join her, I will be right with you ladies when I am done with Jimmy’s bath.
I watch Thomas walk away with his son bouncing in his arms. Just like his son, Thomas has short blond hair, although now closer to sandy blond with some white streaks by his temples. That makes one big family of blond heads. I walk through the living room and reach the kitchen where Lynn is showing me her back as she is putting a dish in the oven.
“Is there anything I can help you with?
-Oh! Jay! I didn’t know you were there already! I didn’t hear the bell.
-That’s because I didn’t have time to ring it that a little booger opened the door for me.
-Oh Jimmy. His father has been having trouble with the little one to keep him in his seat as he fed him. As you can see by his seat, he spread more food around him than he actually ate.”
Lynn grabs a wet clothe by the sink and proceeds to start wiping the mess on Jimmy’s high chair.
“Are you thirsty? Is there anything I can serve you? We were about to open a bottle of white wine after putting Jimmy to bed. Would you like some?
-Oh, sure. That would be great. Here, let me get my glass.”
I walk across the kitchen and go to the cupboard where I know their keep all their glasses and cups. I pick out three wine glasses and set them on the counter.
“If you want, I can even take care of opening that bottle for you. Did you leave it in the fridge?
-Yeah. It’s in the door. Just don’t mind the mess in there. We Thomas just bought the groceries today and the fridge is overflowing with food. There could be something falling off when you open the door.”
And she isn’t wrong. I open the door of the refrigerator and a bag of celery stalks falls off on my feet. I am relieved it wasn’t something like a jar of jam or a gallon of milk. Now that would have been a pain. I take out the bottle of white wine in the door, put the celery back in place and close the fridge. I am about to go look for a bottle opener but I notice that bottle is a twist cap. Saves a lot of time and effort. I crack the seal open and twist the cap, then start pouring some cold wine into two glasses. I would pour a third one for Thomas right away, but he has his hands full already. I take one glass and hold it up in front of Lynn that stops scrubbing the floor around the high chair to pick it up. I take my own glass and hold it forward so that Lynn can clink her glass with mine in cheers. We both take a small sip and stay silent as we enjoy the feeling of the cold sweet-tart liquid going down our throat. I am about to pull myself a chair at the kitchen table when I remember I wanted to help Lynn with the dinner.
“Are you sure there isn’t anything I can help you with?
-Ohhh no. Don’t worry about that. The meal is in the oven, we have about 20 mins before it’s ready to eat. And I already put together a salad that is waiting in the dining room for us. I am just going to whip up a quick dressing and we are good to go.
-You don’t even need me to set up the table?
-It’s already done Honey.”
I always wish to give a hand when I go eat somewhere, but I have to admit it feels good to be sitting down while someone does the rest. I don’t get invited to places that often to be used to the feeling, so every time, it feels wonderful. I take another sip of my white wine and sit back in my chair, taking in the fact that I can relax tonight. Not too much because I still work the next day, but just enough that my previous worries of the day leave my mind while I enjoy my evening with good friends. I listen to all the sounds around me, from Lynn humming a lullaby that is stuck in her head while she finished tidying up her kitchen, from the bathroom where little Jimmy is slashing water all around him, and Thomas laughing genuinely in happiness. This is the kind of feeling that I wouldn’t want to let go of. I am looking forward to the moment it will be me in that position.
I put my purse down on the floor next to my sofa and I stop moving so that I can listen to any sounds in my apartment. After the freak show that happened earlier that evening with Keith visiting AGAIN, now I want to make sure that he won’t pop out of a room once more. Once I am sure I can’t hear anything else but my own breathing and the hum of the refrigerator, I take off my shoes, turn on the lights in the living room and go straight to my kitchen. I open the refrigerator and take out the pitcher of water. A pick a glass in my cupboard and fill it up, then take a long gulp of the icy cold water. I stay quiet, standing by my counter, looking at my half full glass, playing back the day’s events. I have been on quite the emotional rollercoaster today, from stressed, to shy, to happy, to angry then relaxed and happy again. I can almost hear my bed calling out for me in my room. I feel exhausted, despite the extra hours I got this morning. I take my glass along with me as I go turn off the lights in the living room and walk all the way to my bedroom. The place is quiet and peaceful, my bed looking like a pillow of blissfulness waiting for me to embrace it. I am about to let myself fall into it, but then I remember I better brush my teeth before that. I put my glass on my night table, walk out to my bathroom and take care of my duty. Once I am done and ready for a good rest, I take off my clothes, slip under the cover and marvel at the softness of my mattress. I am sure that no more than five minutes passes before I sink into the other world. Rest was much needed tonight.
The kitchen is noisy with the clinks and clanks of the pots being washed in the sink. The smell of chocolate cake baking and hazelnuts getting a tan in the oven. The girls are all busy with their different tasks of the day, from putting together a specific order to making the items that will be sold in the front shop. Silva comes and goes from the front to the kitchen to bring back empty trays and pick up new ones full of delicious new cakes or treats. And I am sitting at my desk, making a few calls to customers and distributors, confirming and ordering here and there. I have been holding the phone’s receiver for the past 10 mins, waiting for the dull song on the other side of the line to stop so I can finally speak to a real human again. I really hate being put on hold. It’s even worse when you think that it isn’t a company or a service I am calling. The person that put me on hold is a butler. Yeah, a butler. I am speaking her of a house phone that can put callers on hold because they feel that important. Anyway, all that to say I have been waiting long enough to be bored out of my wits. I am just calling to confirm with a client about their upcoming even this Friday, whether or not we need to add more items to their menu. The butler put me on hold because instead of passing the phone to the client himself, he went all the way to ask him in person so that he can come back and report to me. I would much prefer to speak directly to the customer, but well, Hollywood people will do anything that will make them feel more important.
Most importantly though, I am mostly thinking of my batches of macarons I need to make once I am done with the phone calls. That one is my last, and it just won’t get to an end. Just as I am about to ask Alex about her order of Danishes for the next morning, I hear a click on the other side of the line letting me know that the dull song is over and the butler is back on the line. His voice is calm and soft, his language clear and polite.
“Good morning again Madam. I have spoken to the lady of the house and she has informed me that indeed, there will be a necessity to increase the numbers for Friday’s Baby Shower.
-Okay, this is not a problem. How many more people are we speaking?
-Instead of 30 guests, there will be a total of 40 guests.
-I see. And may I ask, did she say if she wanted some new items altogether to increase the amount for the order, or did she just wish for me to increase each ordered item by 10 units?
-She considered both ideas and came to the conclusion she would be most delighted with new items to the menu.
-Okay. Now I would like to know if she has already made her decision on the new items. How many more does she want? What kind of cake or pastry are we talking about?
-The lady spoke of adding two more elements to the menu. She also specified she wishes for Lavender Mousse cakes and Honeysuckle Macarons.
-I understand she means to keep the Flower theme going.
-Precisely. The name of the future baby is Daisy after all, Madam.
-I see. Very well, then. So to confirm with you, we are adding 10 Lavender Mousse Cakes and 10 Honeysuckle Macarons.
-That is correct.
-Alright. Thank you very much Sir, and I will see you this Friday with the delivery.
-Good day to you, Madam.
-And good day to you too.”
Phew. Finally. I am glad I kept that call for last, so I wouldn’t have to put that receiver on my ear one more minute after closing this conversation. I put all my papers in order and away. I open the lower right drawer of my desk and take out my apron rolled up into a log. I stand up, stretch quickly and put on the apron. I sweep the room with a wide look, making sure everyone is busy and focused, and I walk straight to the dry goods. I pick the big container of almond meal and head to my station where I will start my macarons. Which flavors am I supposed to make today? Oh yeah, all of them.