Monday morning dawned. My alarm rang in six am and feeling fully rested I got up and prepared for my day in the bakery. Leaving for work, Midnight followed me as he normally did. The cold crisp autumn air felt good on my face and I took in deep breaths. At the end of the street, we turned right and walked down into the high street. We passed the line of tall trees that marked the entrance to the woods. The wind shook loose the leaves and I felt myself being blown about too.
The town centre was empty and silent. A Halloween banner flutter above a pub doorway and the fountain splashed away to itself. I walked two minutes further down towards a one way road used only by buses and taxis, just before where my shop sat. The old three story white building did seem slightly out of place, but when you looked at the buildings – a bank, a pub, a chippy and a clothes shop- that where across the road, it did fit in as all the buildings in this section dated from the mid-twenties.
I dug out my keys and unlocked the door shutter. Pulling it all the way up, I unlocked the double locks on the front door and went in, a small bell tinkling above me. Flicking on the lights, I closed the door and turned to see Midnight rubbing himself against the corner of the drinks fridge. Shaking my head, I looked around the bakery. To my left ran the glass counter with its many currently empty shelves for displaying all the cakes and other sweet things. A smooth curve started off another glass counter which was split between hot food and sandwiches. To my right were three large fridges; one for cold drinks, the other for prepared sandwiches and the last for reduce priced things. A half a meter further along that wall was a narrow staircase with a white notice above reading Café seating upstairs. Next to the stairs a door marked staff only, kitchen.
I walked over to the door, unlocked it and let myself in. The kitchen smelt faintly of sugar, spices and bread. Dumping my bag and coat on a side table, which wasn’t really used for anything, other than to hold the kitchen phone and notepad, I got to work. At my cooking station, I pulled out the plastic cover lists and began reading what I should be making today. Mostly it was cream filled cakes, fruit muffins, gingerbread men –now Halloween was over- and cookies.
I turned on the radio and gathered everything I needed. The bell jingled and I heard voices entering the shop. I looked through the glass counter and saw my business partner and bread maker arriving with her younger sister. I said hello and they hurried over and launched into asking about the party. I smiled and laughed most of it off, though they were pleased to hear about the coming boost in customers. They set to work soon after as the rest of our eight staff drifted in.
The morning passed quickly and we survived the lunchtime rush, though ran out of eclairs, strawberry tarts and pumpkin seed topped brown bread. I had my lunch at two o’clock on the third floor, which was divided into a staff break room, toilets and the office. Relaxing in the fake leather desk chair, I eat a ham sandwich and drink my coffee. For the rest of the afternoon I did some admin work.
A loud knocking called me out of my thoughts and the music I had been listening to via headphones. I slipped the buds out of my ears and with a glance over my shoulder at the door shouted out to the knocker.
‘Sorry to disturb you, Becks,’ Daisy said.
I smiled and waved her in. She made a quick attempted to get white icing powder off her blue apron and purple cord pants. She was my cake designer and decorator, though she only worked part-time and had often left at this time.
‘What is it?’ I asked.
‘There’s a man asking for you downstairs. He said his name’s Fred and you invited him to afternoon tea.’
I frowned and pursed my lips. The office phone rang, making us both jump.
‘Okay. I’ll be down in a few,’ I said.
Daisy nodded, took the blue net off her blonde going grey hair and left.
I picked up the phone and dealt with a customer checking on their order. When I hung up I went downstairs and saw Fred staring into the reduce price fridge.
‘Hello,’ I said.
‘Hi. Nice place you got here,’ he spoke back, ‘bigger than I thought.’
‘What do you want?’ I asked suddenly defensive.
He shrugged his broad shoulders and I noticed that he didn’t look that different out of his knight’s costume. He was wearing a black polo shirt with a company logo on it and dark blue trousers. He was ruggedly handsome with his blond hair and beard, but it was his blue eyes that held me.
‘Just to see you again,’ he said sheepishly, ‘I finished work early and thought I’d come and find this place. You did give me the address.’
‘I know…I’m really busy right now,’ I said softer.
‘It’s fine. I’ll come back later or maybe another day…’
‘Great. You do that,’ I said, ‘maybe try an apple turnover or a vanilla slice,’ I suggested.
He nodded and I went back upstairs. Sitting back down, I couldn’t get him out of my head. His let down face kept popping up and I wondered why I had been so mean. I pushed on and got the rest of the things I wanted to get done finished.
Going downstairs as the baby grandfather clock in the café chimed five o’clock, I found the last customers leaving and the staff starting to clean up. I give them a hand then after they had left, closed the shop. Locking the door shutter and taking in some deep breaths of the cold air, I heard my name.
Turning, I saw Fred jogging over to me.
‘You were right about the apple turnover. Really good,’ he said catching his breath.
I laughed, ‘you’re welcome. Sorry for being short with you before. I was in the middle of sorting out some last minute changes to an order for next week.’
‘It’s okay. I thought maybe it was me…’
‘You?’ I questioned.
He nodded, ‘yeah, you didn’t want to see me again or something…not that you said that…It’s just, at the party yesterday, I really wished I’d talked to you more.’
‘Oh, I see.’
‘I wanted to give you my number, but I had to leave in a hurry, remember?’ he rushed.
I nodded and smiled, ‘do you want to give it to me now?’
‘What? Oh, yeah sure. Give me a second.’
He pulled his phone out of trousers and I grabbed mine from my bag.
‘I’m afraid I’m not free till Sunday. That’s my only day off,’ I stated.
‘That’s fine, maybe we could go out for lunch?’ he suggested.
‘I’d really like that.’
‘Here’s my number.’
I smiled and we swapped numbers.
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