The shop phone rain again as I put Derek’s cupcakes in the oven. I couldn’t help but grin as I went to pick up the phone. I wasn’t expecting my first day back to be so hectic, but I certainly wasn’t complaining.
“Olsen’s Bake shop, this is Margaret speaking. How can I help you today?” I answered as I walked to the back of the store to start prepping the icing for the cupcakes.
“So much for calling me this morning. Now I have to do it before I get on the plane to my honeymoon.” Even though I knew Audrey was joking, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I let out a groan.
“I’m sorry for inconveniencing you. I didn’t get the chance to call because I got a last-minute order that had to be done for three dozen cupcakes.
“You mean there was something that Ms. Perfection didn’t plan for?” I narrowed my eyes, placing the call on speaker before setting it on the table.
“I can’t help it I like to know what’s coming. Some guy is reopening his bar in town and wanted three dozen cupcakes. Why you would want cupcakes for a bar opening I’ll never guess but money’s money.”
Audrey fell silent for a few moments before speaking up, her voice quieter than before. “What was his name?”
“Derek, I believe. Why are you asking? It’s not like you’re going to know the guy.”
There were the quiet sounds of a discussion happening in the background before Audrey answered. “They’ve started boarding our plane, so I’ve got to go, I’ll text you when we’ve landed.”
I wasn’t able to get out a goodbye before Audrey abruptly ended the call. I raised an eyebrow of confusion, staring at the phone for a few moments before turning my attention back to the icing. That wasn’t like Audrey at all. She always made sure to say goodbye or I loved you before hanging up the phone. It’s just who she was.
What are you talking about Margaret? Her plane was boarding. It’s not like she could have stuck around to properly finish the call.
I allowed the call with Audrey to slip to the back of my mind and prepared the icing. Not wanting to go too fancy with the cupcakes, I went with a simple vanilla bean buttercream icing. On top of the icing, I’d sprinkle some amber-colored sprinkles on top to match the color of beer. It was most likely going to be an extremely low-key event and I didn’t want them to stick out like a sore thumb.
The clock had just struck 4:30 when I placed all three dozen of the decorated cupcakes into white to-go boxes. I found myself staring down at the enclosed desserts with my hands braced on my hips. It wasn’t what I would have typically done but I’m proud of them none to less.
The bell over the door chimed as I continued admiring the cupcakes. “Hi, I’m here for the three dozen cupcakes?” A smooth, hearty voice spoke up as my eyes floated towards the front of the store. I couldn’t stop the shiver down my spine as the all too familiar voice vibrated through the building. Derek.
“I’ll be there in just a second!” I called out as I shook myself from the stupor. All you have to do is get yourself through the next five minutes, Margaret, you can do that can’t you?
Placing the boxes on top of one another, I expertly carried them out to the storefront. When I placed them on the counter, I was able to get a good look at Derek. His almost jet-black hair was cut close to his head, but several strands hung in front of his eyes. Bright blue eyes offset his tan skin as a thin, white scar cut across his eyebrow, extending to the corner of his right eye.
I didn’t know what it was, but it felt as if I’d seen him before. He looked incredibly familiar, yet I couldn’t place where I had seen him before.
“Margaret, right?” Derek asked, bringing me back to reality.
“Yes, sorry! You just look incredibly familiar. Are you sure you haven’t stopped in here before?”
“No, but I get that a lot. I’m told I have one of those faces.” The smirk that lit up his face caused me to chuckle as I turned towards the cash register.
“That’ll be $23.75” When Derek handed me $30, I attempted to give him his change back, but he pushed it back towards me.
“Keep the change, Margaret, seriously. If your desserts are as good as I’ve been told, then it’s well deserved.”
I nodded my head, sticking the change back in the draw. “Who told you about us?”
Derek ignored my question as he lifted the cupcake boxes off the counter with ease. “Come to the opening of my bar tonight. In fact, if nothing’s going on here, I can wait for you to close up and you can just follow me there.”
“That’s ok, I’m fine. I’m not really big on the whole bar scene.” I wasn’t EXACTLY lying to him. Besides, the last time I was in a bar I almost died and ended up breaking my nose. I don’t want to test my luck.
“It’s not one of those party bars if that’s what your wondering Margaret.” Derek’s voice was firm but comforting as he stared at me over the tops of the boxes. “It’s a small place. I’ll give you a drink on the house, for saving me on such short notice.”
“I made cupcakes for you; I’d hardly consider that saving.”
“Look, I’m not going to take no for an answer Margaret. I’m going to put these in the car, and I’ll give you twenty minutes to lock up. I’ll come in and drag you out if I have to.” Derek winked at me, pushing the door open with his foot and disappearing through it quickly.
I stood there for several minutes with a smile growing on my face before starting the closing procedure.
Guess I’m going to a bar after all.
I entered the bar at a little after five and was immediately taken back by my surroundings. The dingy and dilapidated exterior of the small bar didn’t give much hope but stepping inside made me feel as if I had been transported. Dark wood flooring accented the stark white walls beautifully. Other than the dark wood bar setup on the left side of the building, there wasn’t much else to fill the space. A digital jukebox stood directly next to the door.
I was still taking in the interior when I heard Derek call out from behind the bar. “Looks like someone finally made it. You want that drink?”
“Yeah, sure,” I mumbled as I plopped down into an empty barstool.
“Moscow Mule, right?”
I gave Derek a confused look as I rested my arms against the bar. “That’s correct. How the hell did you know that?”
He froze, his eyes focused on the bar in front of him. After a few seconds, Derek shook his head and rested his eyes on mine. “I own a bar; I can guess someone’s preferred drink by looking at them. And looks like I was correct.” He smiled before heading to the opposite end of the bar. “Let me get that drink for you really quick.”
It wasn’t until I had turned around in my seat that I noticed the music had begun playing through the speakers while I was talking to Derek. By the sounds of the soft guitars and banjos, I’m guessing it’s some sort of country song.
Cause I didn’t know I needed you so,
And letting you go was wrong
And baby I know you got your radio on,
So, this is my so sad, come back song.
Derek placed my drink on the bar before I was able to listen to the rest of the song. “Here’s that Moscow Mule. Enjoy. I’ll check on you in a little bit. Try the cupcakes, I hear they’re do die for.” Once again, Derek winked at me as the crossed to the opposite side of the bar.
With the copper mug in hand, I turned back around to continue admiring the interior. I’d have to see who Derek got to design the inside because this place is gorgeous.
As I took a sip of the drink, the vodka and lime juice combination burning my throat ever so slightly, I noticed that, yet another country song had begun playing through the speakers. Geez, other than Declan I haven’t met a guy that liked country music this much.
But baby I can, give you everything I am
Love you with everything I have
But when the world’s weighing you down
I lift you up with my two hands, baby
There’s nothing I won’t do
When it comes to loving you
No one can do it like I can
I sipped on my drink more and more, I couldn’t help but feel weirded out by the music choices. The world must have a sick sense of fucking humor to play these songs after everything with Declan. When the song changed yet again to a happier, pop tune I sighed in relief. Thank fucking god.
Nothing is the same since I met you
My heart is sometimes easy to get due
With shadows of the night disturb my night
Make them run and hide
Cause nothing is the same since I met you
An uneasy feeling settled in my stomach as I set the drink down on the bar. This has to be the drink causing me to make these connections, there’s no other explanation.
Here and Now
Just hear me out,
Just hear me out
“Ok, that’s it. I’m fucking done.” I muttered as I began to stand up from the bar. Derek happened to glance down the bar when he saw me standing up from my seat. He must have seen the look on my face because he rushed towards where I was.
“What’s wrong? It’s not the drink is it?”
“Derek, hear me out- “I let out a sigh, before taking a deep breath in. “I just had a thing with a guy in Nashville. It was during my best friend’s wedding. I was the maid of honor and he was the best man. I don’t know what the fuck happened, but we ended up sort of becoming a thing. Right before I left, I found out he lied to me in a big way. Now it feels like he’s sending me secret messages through the songs through the jukebox!” The entire time I was ranting, Derek looked at me with a small smile on his face.
“I don’t think you’re crazy if that’s what you're wondering. Declan tends to have that effect on people.” My eyes went wide when I heard the name Declan fall from his lips.
“Wait how did you know his- “
“Because Margaret- “Derek sighed, resting his hands against the bar with a smile still on his face. “Declan’s my brother.”