The next few days passed for Mattie in a blur of buttercream and flour. Since speaking with Anna, Mattie had been helping to coordinate parts of her sister’s wedding and even planned a date that they could go to try on wedding dress options. They still hadn’t completely resolved their tension, but things were much better.
At work, Mattie was so busy that she did not have much time to think through new recipes. Demand for catered work was hot and she was regularly filling cake orders and making deliveries. Her latest creation was a decadent chocolate cake with layers of dark chocolate mousse. It was iced with a delicious vanilla buttercream and adorned with fresh flowers. She had asked Selene to accompany with her to deliver the cake and once it was placed on a table in the corner of the ballroom, they took a moment to step back and admire it.
“Thanks, I’m pretty pleased with it.”
Selene and Mattie were not left alone for very long. While they were finishing adding on last minute flowers and making sure no stray crumbs or icing was on the cake stand, they were interrupted by a deep sigh.
“It looks so beautiful.”
Mattie turned and looked at a woman whose hair and makeup was completed to perfection. Wordlessly, she handed Mattie the cake topper and watched with wide eyes as Mattie reached up and placed the two birds on the top layer.
“Mattie, I love it so much. Thank you,” the bride’s voice started to crack a bit and Mattie saw a wide smile spread across her face.
“I’m glad you like it, but please don’t cry. Your makeup looks amazing and it needs to stay that way for your photos.”
“You’re right. You’re right. I’ve been like this all day,” she took out a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at her eyes. “I’m just so excited.”
“I can tell. I’m happy for you.”
“Alright, well. I am going to get going. I’ll need to get into my dress soon.” The bride gave one last look at her cake, shook Mattie and Selene’s hand and then left.
On the drive back to the bakery, Mattie thought about the bride’s decor and considered what she would see at her sister’s wedding. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but hoped that it would be tasteful.
“Do you think you’ll ever get married, Mattie?” Selene’s question hung in the air between them for a few seconds.
“Uhm. I’m not sure.” Truthfully, she hadn’t considered it. She was happy that she had established her own little life and never thought that she needed to get married. She thought that she was happy and that her work was enough.
“I think that I will.”
“Do you feel like you need to get married?”
“Not necessarily, but I want to. I don’t want work to be the only thing I have in my life. I want a family of my own.”
Mattie thought about that sentiment for the remainder of the trip and still couldn’t seem to shake it once they returned to the bakery. She jumped back into her work and took out a small sheet cake for frosting. Once she got an initial layer of frosting over the cake, she started to pipe on the edges. It started to come together as one that could be picked up at a supermarket and she wondered why the person who ordered it didn’t get one there. Displeased with what they asked for since it didn’t require much effort to put together, she leaned back and looked at it again, trying to reconsider her perspective.
“Hey, Joan?” she called.
“Can you come here for a second?”
Her boss stepped into the kitchen, eyebrows raised, “what’s up?”
“Do you have the message that is supposed to go on this cake? I just don’t get why someone would have asked us to put together something they could get for way less money.”
“Have you considered that maybe they want something that tastes a bit better than their local market?” Joan asked, stepping back into her office. She returned with the a slip of paper in her hand.
“Sure. But still, it’s really not anything complicated. We don’t usually do this kind of work.”
“I suppose you’re right, but this came from a particular client who wanted something special written across the top,” she pointed out, handing Mattie the paper.
“They all want something special written on the top, Joan,” Mattie rolled her eyes. “What exactly does your particular client want written on the--,” her breath hitched in her throat and her eyes scanned the page again, double checking that is was real. “You have got to be kidding me.”
* * *
An hour and one angry van drive later, Mattie pulled into a parking space to deliver her cake. After slamming the door shut, hoping the cake fell to smithereens, she stomped to the rear of the vehicle and took out the sugary confection. To her extreme displeasure, it hadn’t crumbled to bits.
When she turned around, she paused for a moment in awe of the building in front of her. It was impressive and demanded attention. She shook off any trepidation, settled into her Crocs and lifted the cake so that it was comfortable to carry. Squaring her shoulders, she moved toward the building at a quick pace. Inside, it was as impressive as the exterior suggested. Large pillars stood in line on either side of an aisle, leading to a welcome desk. A large sign hung behind the desk and read Miller & Associates. On the left of the lobby were two elevators that dinged as they stopped at different levels. To the left and right of the entrance chairs were set up as small sitting areas around modern glass coffee tables. The floors were marble and a strip of carpet ran through the middle of the room from the front door to the welcome desk. The space was impressive but lacked any ounce of color. Everything she looked at was white and looking up, she saw that the ceiling appeared to be a large mirror which only helped to reflect the lack of color in the space.
For a moment, she caught sight of her own reflection and balked at her appearance. As usual, she wore her work and was a stark contrast to the very clean lobby she was currently standing in. She wore her favorite chef pants from college that had been worn so much they felt like sweat pants she would be more than happy to wear to bed. Her shirt was bright yellow and was stained with food dye. She blew a piece of hair out her face and shifted her gaze forward, knowing that it didn’t matter how he saw her. It had been worse than this before and he still gave her his number. She took a few determined steps forward, startling the man at the welcome desk.
“Can I help you?”
“Where can I find Ian Lawson?”
“Uhm, we usually take deliveries at the desk here and send them up. May I take the cake from you?”
Mattie’s eyes narrowed, “I will deliver the cake. He asked for a personal delivery.” He hadn’t really, but she didn’t see the harm in stretching the truth.
“Certainly, miss. I am just going to call and make sure it is okay to send you up.” Mattie did her best to stare down the concierge with her best “it-had-better-be-okay” glare while she listened to him speaking rapidly on the phone.
“Okay, Polly. Certainly,” he put the phone down and smile at Mattie. “You can find Mr. Lawson’s office on the seventh floor of the building. Suite B.”
Mattie nodded once and head to the elevator. She thought she heard the concierge mutter a “you’re welcome” and did her best to make sure he know it before leaving the lobby by locking eyes with him. She kept staring and as the door to the elevator closed, their eyes met and he blushed, having realized his mistake. Angrily, she punched the button for the seventh floor and waited impatiently for the doors to open. After what felt like an eternity, she stepped out of the elevator and followed the directional signs to Ian’s office suite.
Once through the doors of suite B, she came across an administrative assistant whose name tag, positioned proudly on her desk, read “Polly Anderson” in capital, gold letters.
“Hello, you must be the person Joe called me about,” Polly smiled and stepped out from behind her desk with her arms open, as if she were going to hug Mattie. “Can I take that cake from you?”
“No. I was asked to deliver this to Mr. Lawson myself.”
“That isn’t possible at the moment. Mr. Lawson is in a meeting and won’t be available for another half an hour. I am sure you have to head back to your bakery before that.”
“I’ll head back when I want. The conference room is down that hall?” Mattie inclined her head toward a hallway that she assumed lead to offices and meeting rooms.
“Well, yes,” stammered Polly, “but, he isn’t available.”
“I don’t care.”
Mattie pushed past Polly and walked down the hallway until she found a room filled with men and women wearing suits. For one single moment, she again considered her current outfit and wondered if she should quickly run home and change into something less dirty. Deciding that it didn’t matter, she shouldered open the doors to the conference room. Her eyes found Ian quickly and she marched over to his chair, depositing the cake unceremoniously on top of his padfolio.
“Here is your answer,” she said before turning on her heel and walking out of the room.
All eyes in the boardroom turned and looked at Ian. His mouth was open in surprise. Slowly he closed it and looked down at the cake box. He lifted the lid and started to laugh lightly. On the cake, piped on in red, crude font, was the answer to the question her left on the order form with Selene. It read, “No. I will not go out with you.” He started to laugh harder as he picked up the plastic fork that Mattie had shoved into the center of the pastry. It had bent when she closed the lid on the box and taped it down. Ian looked around at his colleagues and shook his head.
“Sir, I am so sorry. She came in and I couldn’t get her to just leave the cake with me,” Polly explained while running into the room.
“That’s alright, Polly. Can you get me a knife to cut this with?” She nodded once and left the room. “Don’t forget the plates and some forks!” Ian called after her. Once again he looked at the top of the cake and read Mattie’s rejection. He felt a bit of a stab to his ego, but most of all he felt intrigued that she would be so bold. He wasn’t exactly sure what drew him to her, but Mattie the baker had him hooked.
“Well,” he said looking back up at his colleagues, “who wants some cake?”