Her heels clicked against the marble tiles as she walked into the large, pristine building with her shoulders squared and her head held high.
Her brother, Levi, had given her a long pep talk the night before over the phone. She had gone to him for advice and emotional support because he was her big brother. That, and he worked for a successful law firm where he spent a lot of time working in the court, speaking to the judge, speaking to other lawyers; just speaking to people in general.
Layla Abraham was a people’s person, she enjoyed the company of pretty much everyone and seemed to get along with most people. But today she wouldn’t be speaking to just anybody, she would be speaking with the bank manager, and it wasn’t going to be a casual conversation either.
No, she was here on official business.
If asking for a business loan counted for official business.
She was sure it did.
Layla had opened Abraham’s a little over two years ago, an elegant yet casual and home-feel bakery and bar in the middle of the city. The mix of cakes, booze and all things sweet had been a major hit from the get-go.
It did help that her brother and father had roped in all their friends and pretty much everyone they knew into spending their free time at the bakery bar.
After taking a baking class with her father when she was seven, Layla learnt that she loved cake. She didn’t just like eating it, she liked making it. Since that class she had taken many more classes, sans her old man. Though outside her classes, she spent nearly all of her spare time in the kitchen, slaving over various recipes that she found both online and in the unconventional cook books that she could afford from the second-hand book store in town.
Her father and her brother had been her guinea pigs, tasting her food, letting her know what worked and what didn’t.
By the time that she had graduated high school, she was still at it, working harder than ever. Knowing that she wanted to go down the traditional path like her older brother had, Layla had packed her bags and spent the summer in Spain, undergoing a summer confectionary course. She was supposed to go home after that, but had found herself in Italy, working in a traditional Italian restaurant, first as a waitress and then later as the head desert chef.
That one summer had soon turned into a whole year.
It was only when her father’s health started deteriorating that she had packed her bags, quit her job and then headed home. It had been a mild heart attack and the doctors had said that it wasn’t anything to be worried about, but it was enough to keep Layla at home with her family.
It was with the constant nagging and urging of both her brother and father to chase her dreams did she rent out a building in the city. With a loan from her brother that she promised to pay back, she did up the old American diner into a family café where the decoration was minimalistic and the layout simple; but the sweets and booze – and soft drinks for the minors – spoke for themselves.
Abraham’s had really jumped into business.
At first it was just the office goers and locals that would come in for quick meals, but soon she was receiving requests for bookings and parties as well as fancy events.
She managed to pay her brother back the full amount as well as a little thank you gift in a little under four months.
Her modest staff of five soon doubled to ten and then the rest was history.
So here she was today, wanting to take her self-accomplished business to the next level. She was getting tired of turning down bookings or having to get people to compromise on dates and timings due to lack of space. In addition to that, she wanted to do more than just bake cakes and create pretty flowers out of icing.
Layla Abraham wanted the real deal.
She wanted to open up a multicultural restaurant that specialised in Italian, Spanish and French cuisine, with her signature deserts to follow the end of every meal.
When the building next door, an old laundrette had shut down for business and the space gone up for rent, Layla jumped at the opportunity. She had already talked to the owner – who was a regular at her established cafe - and settled on a monthly payment plan as long as she was able to get the deposit and first months rent ready by the end of the month.
This was her chance to expand her business. The space would increase, the revenue would double, if not triple, and she would be able to employ more staff.
She was afraid of failure but she refused to show it.
Layla couldn’t afford to be afraid, her dreams refused it.
Layla smiled at the man behind the desk as she held her briefcase tightly in both her hands. It contained her business plan. Her brother had also helped out with it and the pitch.
She waited patiently in the queue for a little over five minutes before she stepped forward to the front desk and smiled at the man behind it.
He smiled back.
“Hi, I’m Layal Abraham. I’m here to see Mr Abignail.” Her tone was light and cheery, the complete opposite of her beating heart.
She really wanted this appointment to go well.
“Have you got an appointment?” The man asked politely.
“Yes,” Layla nodded her head.
“What did you say your name was again?”
“Layla Abraham.” Her lips were turned up into a polite smile. If she was annoyed with having to repeat herself, she didn’t show it.
The man nodded and offered her a small smile before he reached for his office phone. Pressing the handset against his ear, he tapped a few buttons and waited for the manager to pick up.
Layla held a smile on her face but looked away from the man, not wanting to make it awkward by staring at him as he spoke on the phone.
She was already nervous as it was.
The bank wasn’t particularly full that Wednesday afternoon, and she was glad. The commotion of a busy environment would have surely just made her more anxious.
A few quiet minutes passed as Layla glanced around the bank, not looking at anything or anyone with particular interest, just wanting to pass the time and distract herself from getting too nervous.
She was only so nervous because she cared. Though she doubted that anyone could tell just how nervous she truly was. Layla was pretty good at looking cool and collected most of the time, if not all.
Placing the phone down on the receiver, the clerk looked up and offered her a warm smile. Reaching into one of the drawers at his desk, he pulled out a visitor’s badge and handed it to her.
“Head up to the fourth floor and take a seat. Mr Abignail will call for you when he’s ready.”
Layla nodded in understanding and accepted the badge. “Fourth floor, got it.” She said aloud, speaking mostly to herself rather than the clerk.
Offering him one last smile, Layla walked over to the elevator.
Clicking the button to go up, she tapped her foot impatiently against the ground as she waited for the lift to arrive. The sound of her heel clicking against the tiles was a good distraction.
As the lift chimed, indicating that it had reached the ground floor, the doors opened and Layla made sure that there was no one getting out of it before she got into it. Pressing the button for the fourth floor, Layla tapped her foot against the tiles once again.
She was really impatient.
Placing her briefcase on the ground, she pinned the visitor’s badge to her business suit.
Before she knew, the lift pinged and she was on the fourth floor.
Layla introduced herself to the receptionist before she took a seat in the waiting area, pulling open her briefcase to go over her business plan one more time as she waited to be called into the office.
Five minutes turned into fifteen and by then, Layla was feeling better than ever.
The quiet, minimalistic waiting area did good for her nerves. After having briefly scanned through her business plans in the first five minutes, Layla had given herself a much-needed pep talk.
She was going to nail this meeting and get the business loan.
“Miss Abraham?” The receptionist called her after having answered the phone.
Layla’s head shot up in anticipation at the sound of her own name and she was already standing up before the lady could even finish her sentence.
“Mr Abignail will see you now.”
NOTE - not edited
The next chapter will be updated on 23/12/2019
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