The ding of the oven brought a smile to my face. Finally, the cupcakes were done. Slipping on my kitchen gloves, I pulled the cupcake tray out of the oven and placed it on the countertop. My customer’s order was due in two hours and I had to do my best to make them as visually appealing as possible. A smile on my customer’s face was like a monetary bonus for me. It proved that my hard work had paid off.
“Cece!” I rolled my eyes when I heard my neighbor’s voice. Leave it to Mrs. Druid to come and shock me for the day. The woman was forty but she acted as if she was twenty. And I couldn’t even talk about her choice of clothing.
“Yes, Mrs. Druid?” I smiled as I got my frosting ready for decoration. It took everything in me not to grimace at her outrageous outfit of the day. She stood there in a neon yellow dress with red high heels that could’ve been mistaken for a weapon—which I believed they were because they must be killing her feet. Her stiff face—thanks to the Botox—was covered in make up as if she was getting ready to hit the pub. And one could not ignore the elaborate up do which she was sporting on her head.
“Cece, my darling! How have you been? Oh my, do you ever get a chance to go out and enjoy life? Every time I come to your shop I see you working and working. Why don’t you hire another person? You will die of exhaustion if you continue doing everything by yourself,” she suggested. The woman may have a strange sense of fashion but she had a good heart.
“Mrs. Druid, I told you again and again that I like doing things by myself. And I don’t trust people easily. I am used to doing the work and I enjoy it immensely,” I replied as I piped a perfect blue swirl on the cupcake.
“I know, my darling, but I just worry about you. You are so young, you must go out and enjoy like I do,” she said, her light gray eyes shimmering with concern.
“I enjoy working and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” I continued piping the swirls as I talked, watching the creamy swirls stand on top of the cupcakes like crowns.
“You are a strange one.” She paused. “I hope your shop doesn’t get demolished.” Her words had my swirls pausing midway.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh nothing. I heard from one of my friends that this business tycoon is looking to buy a large area. If he chooses to buy this area, then your little bakery will be demolished and you will be out of business,” she informed me.
“No! t is not possible. He cannot come and demolish my shop. I paid for it and no one can touch a single brick without my written and verbal permission. Who is this tycoon anyway?” No way would this man crush my business. I worked hard for this and I would not let some nobody come and tear it down.
“Brenton Maslow.” That was all she had to say. Those two words were enough to get my blood boiling. Brenton Maslow: the youngest son of the most powerful family in the whole country. I had never seen his face but I knew he was arrogant and powerful. But no worries; if he dared to ruin my business, I would ruin his life instead.
I finished the swirls on my cupcakes and quickly sprinkled edible pearls on top before placing each cupcake carefully in the box.
“Doesn’t matter. He cannot touch my shop. I will hunt him down if I have to,” I stated as I removed my apron and got ready to deliver the cupcakes. “Now. If you don’t mind, I have cupcakes to deliver and you have a party to go to.”
“Alright, I can take a hint.” She started backing out of the shop. “Be careful, Cece. Don’t let that man lead you into trouble.” I rolled my eyes as I exited my shop, making sure to lock it. As if any man could dare to lead me anywhere.
I placed the box of cupcakes in the container which was attached to the back of my scooter, so it would remain safe before sitting down and starting it. Once it coughed back to life, I put on my helmet and peeled out into the harsh winter air which was the norm for this city.
Brenton Maslow could choose to buy any piece of land he wished for, he did not need to buy the one which I owned. But if he chose to buy this, then he would not care about the lives of the people who owned shops all around me. He would not care about their livelihood, or how they would survive. But no matter what happened, I would not let him take my bakery.
He would never know how hard I had to work for this bakery. No one would know that I had save money but taking on multiple jobs. I had to be careful where I spent my money because every penny counted. And even now when I had my bakery, I still had to be careful. I could not buy things which I did not need. Majority of what I earned was spent on my bakery.
When I arrived at my destination, I parked my scooter to the side, removed my helmet and walked over to the container which was keeping my cupcakes safe. Once I had the box in my hands I walked up to the doorstep and rang the bell. I quickly ran a hand through my blonde hair to make myself look presentable as I waited for my customer.
After a few seconds, the door opened to reveal a woman who looked to be around eighteen with smiling blue eyes and black hair with purple streaks.
“Hello. Your cupcakes are here,” I said, handing her the box with a smile on my face.
The woman smiled. “Thank you so much. If you could just wait a few seconds, I will go and get the money.”
“Sure. No problem,” I replied. I looked around the street, watching as a couple of cyclists skirted their way around the pedestrians, as if they were one with the bikes. Children walked by licking ice cream, one hand firmly encased in the hands of the parents. Above me, I could see clouds forming, which meant that I should get ready for snow. Life became difficult in winters, but I managed to hang on and continue with my work. No one would accept seasonal changes as an excuse to not work.
“Here you go.” I looked at the door to see the woman standing, holding out a twenty-pound note.
“Thank you so much. Have a good evening,” I said before walking back to my scooter. I did not hear the woman’s response; just put on my helmet and drove out of the street. As soon as I got back, I would have to start preparing for my next order which was due in four hours.
The ride back should’ve been relaxing, but I could not help but think about Mrs. Druid and what she told me about Brenton Maslow. He had no reason to purchase the land, his family already owned plenty of it. And my neighborhood was not anything fancy, so a billionaire such as him should have no interest here.
But no matter how hard I tried to convince myself that Brenton would not become my biggest nightmare, my heart was unusually heavy. Which forced me to speed up, but I still had to keep the traffic laws in check.
I rode back as fast as I could, my heart urging me to go faster. I didn’t know why but I had a sinking feeling that I would not like what was about to happen. However, I refused to be afraid because I knew whatever happened I would be able to handle it.
But I was wrong.
I wasn’t sure what was it that I saw first. Was it the smoke that was rising like sinister clouds or was it the rubble that was piled up to resemble a mountain. Or maybe it was the absence of my bakery that came into my view as soon as I turned the corner for my street.
“N—No,” I said as I saw a giant bulldozer standing there with men in yellow hats walking around telling the people to back off. I tried to look for my bakery but could not find it. And I knew that my worst nightmare had come true.
Throwing my scooter to park, I ran over to where my bakery was supposed to be. “Miss you cannot be here.” I faintly heard a man saying, but I refused to listen to him.
My bakery was gone.
All the money I earned; my blood and sweat had been turned into stone and dust. All the time I invested was staring at me in the form of debris. It was gone. It was all gone.
“Miss, I told you, you cannot be here. You must leave.” This time I heard the man clearly and I turned around to face him.
“How dare you?” I hissed.
His beady eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
“How dare you?! How dare you?!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, not caring who heard me or what they thought about a woman yelling in the middle of a street.
“Miss, calm down,” the man said.
“How dare you demolish my bakery?! Who gave you the right to come here and do this?! Answer me!” I continued yelling. He better have a bloody good excuse for doing this or I swear I would not hesitate to stab him.
“If you will calm down I will explain everything,” the man said, his eyes pleading with me to cooperate, but he did not know who I was. I would never cooperate.
“Tell me right now or I will set you on fire and I swear to God I am not throwing out empty threats,” I snarled, wanting to wrap my hands around his chubby, little neck.
“Hey, hey! What is going on here?” A sharp voice cut through the haze of fire that was blazing in my mind. A man who looked to be in his early thirties strode over to us and stood in front of me. “Why are you yelling like a mad woman?”
“You destroyed my bakery and you expect me to be calm about it?!” I wanted to slap this man, and if he did not understand why I was angry, then I would slap him for real.
“We are only doing what we were told to do. If you have any problems take it up with the boss,” the man responded.
“Who told you to come and demolish my bakery? I owned that bakery, I have every legal documentation that is required. You or your boss had no right to destroy my property,” I stated. I could see people gathering around but I did not care. Right now, all I cared about was my hard work and how it no longer had any value or existence.
“Listen lady…” the man slapped a card in my hand. “You can contact my boss here. Stop screaming because you are doing nothing but creating a scene. We only had orders to come and demolish the shops here, that’s it and we did. If you have a problem, you can take it up with the man who organized all this.”
I crushed the card in my hand as I watched the man walk away. He was telling his men to leave now because they had other sites to work on. I gazed at the people who destroyed everything, knowing that I would not stop until I had my bakery back.
“Cece? Cece?!” I heard Mrs. Druid jogging over to me in those ridiculous high heels. “What happened? And what happened to your bakery?”
“It’s gone, Mrs. Druid. It’s all gone,” I muttered as I watched the men leave. How could they walk away as if they didn’t do anything? Did they not care that they had successfully robbed a woman off her life? How was I going to earn now? I hated working for other people, I preferred to have my own business however small it was.
“Oh darling.” Before I could say anything, she pulled me in her arms, providing me comfort which I didn’t realize I needed. “I am so sorry, Cece. Do you know who did this?”
I pulled away from her while shaking my head. “No. I don’t know who is responsible for this and he is not here. These men were ordered to come and destroy all the shops here and only one man is responsible for this, but I don’t know who it is.”
“It’s Brenton Maslow. It has to be. There is no one else,” she replied, taking out a pack of tissue papers from inside her purse and handing it to me. “Here. Wipe away your tears, Cece.”
“I am not crying, Mrs. Druid,” I said, thinking about what to do now. “I just don’t know what I am going to do now.”
“Why don’t we go home and discuss this,” she suggested. “I will make you some tea to help you relax and then we can decide what to do.”
I shook my head. “No. I am not moving an inch from this spot until and unless I have a plan. I will find out who this man and I will go and see him right now.” The only problem was, I had no way of finding out who was responsible for this.
“Did you not ask those men?” She questioned. “Even so, you cannot stay here. The weather channel predicted snow and I do not wish for you to freeze here because you are too stubborn to listen to reason.”
It was while she was mumbling that I realized my hand was wound tightly in a fist. When I uncurled my fingers I saw the card which the man had given me, now crumbled. This was it. The man told me to go and contact his boss through this.
However, when I saw the name inscribed on the card in fancy calligraphy, I felt as if a volcano had exploded inside me.
It was Brenton Maslow. The one who crushed my dreams into nothing.
And now I would destroy him.