#34 The Cake Fairy
Working on the Valentine’s Day campaign with Andre might not have been the best idea ever. Sure, it keeps me busy, but it also means we spent a lot of time together. During that time, we can’t seem to stop flirting. We both backpedal every few sentences, but we always end up going back to innuendos and not-so-innocent looks.
We start posting material in mid-January, rapidly making Cup of Joy Coffee shop and Piece of Cake Bakery the hottest spot to be this February 14th. So hot in fact that Thom and I get lots of requests from other bakeries and coffee shops to redo their website and design a campaign for them. I’d never do that to Liv and Andre, though. It’s fun work and it pays well, but I’d never work for their competitors.
That is, until a bakery two towns over emails me, asking if I’d be willing to come into town for a week to work with them. They’re local, just like Liv and Andre, so they’re not competing with each other. Still, I feel like I have to ask their permission first. I’d never want to do anything to hurt their livelihoods.
That night, Andre and I head over to Liv and James’ apartment after little Aurora went to bed. I offer to pick him up, and he accepts, but that was a mistake. The tension in the car is so intense that it seriously makes my dick twitch. We try to battle through it, but I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll diffuse this sexual energy between us anytime soon.
Kian and I are doing okay, luckily. We don’t spend a lot of time together – he’s been working late a lot and he goes out with Silas at least four times a week – but when we’re at the house at the same time, it’s all good. We have the hottest sex, trying out all the toys I got for my birthday. It’s a lot of fun, and the perfect way to focus on Kian instead of Andre. If I give it time, I’m sure the vibe with Andre will go back to being perfectly innocent and friendly. It’ll have to, or I don’t see how I can keep hanging out with him. I’m starting to feel more and more guilty for not telling Kian about this, even though nothing truly happened.
“Hey guys,” James says as he opens the door for us, ushering us up the stairs and into the apartment. “Drinks?”
“Coffee,” Andre and I reply at the same time.
“So in tune,” James mutters, walking into the kitchen while we join Liv in the living room.
She looks a little tired, but happy all the same. Andre told me she’s been itching to get back to baking, but James wants her to take things slow. She gave birth only a month ago, so she shouldn’t be exerting herself.
“I’ve been on Instagram all day!” she exclaims when I sit down next to her. “Your campaign is amazing. It’s insane how many orders we have. I definitely need to help out to get everything done.”
“No!” James calls from the kitchen. “Definitely not!”
Liv rolls her eyes at us. “He’s so protective. I’m fine. When I had Nova, I was already baking after a couple of days.”
“Yeah, at home, with your mom to help you.” James comes in with the drinks, settling in beside his wife and putting an arm around her. “You can’t go back to work like you didn’t just have a baby, honey. I love you, and I know you fancy yourself superwoman, and you kind of are, but I want you to take it easy.”
“He won’t even let me do the dishes,” she sighs dramatically.
“Hey, I’d be more than happy with a hot cop doing my dishes for me.” I wink at James. “Or anyone doing my dishes, really.”
“You’re so lazy,” Andre says in an affectionate tone that makes me feel all fuzzy.
“Not even close,” Liv says before I can reply. “He’s been working so hard to put the coffee shop and the bakery on the map. We’ve got Dylan to thank for most of our success.”
“Nonsense, a campaign and a new website are useless if the coffee and cakes are crap. You guys would have made it with or without me. I’m just happy to help.” That brings me to my question. “Actually… other bakeries and coffee shops have reached out to me and Thom these past weeks, asking us to do for them what we did for you guys.”
“That’s amazing!” Liv wraps her hands around her cup of tea, beaming. “I’ve been feeling so bad about you doing all of this for free. I know Thomas helped with the website, but these campaigns are all you. At least this way we sort of help you get new business, right?”
“We turned them all down.” It’s cute she’s so happy that Thom and I are getting more clients, but I’d never do that to her. “I’m not going to work for the competition. But this week, a bakery two towns over-”
Andre interrupts me. “What do you mean, work for the competition?”
I turn to look at him. “Well, most of the other bakeries and coffee shops are in town. One is only three blocks away. I’m not going to help them get more customers, obviously. That would hurt your business.”
“You can’t turn down business just because we’re your friends!” Andre looks at me like I’m crazy. “It’s your job, Dylan. We’d never ask you not to take on new clients, especially since we’re not even paying you.”
“You know I’d never take money from you guys.” I give Liv a pointed look. “You didn’t even charge me for my birthday cake. And you…” This time my eyes are on Andre. “I never pay for my coffees or those delicious hot chocolates you make for me all the time.”
“Dylan, you worked in the coffee shop almost every day before we could afford to hire more employees.” He sounds almost angry now. “You’re not paying for anything. Ever.”
“And I’m never going to charge you to put you guys on the map. I also won’t work for the competition.”
“But-” Liv interrupts herself when she realizes I’m never going to budge. “Okay. Fine. But please focus on your paying clients before doing anything for us. We’re doing fine, thanks to you. You don’t need to spend all your time helping out.”
“I happen to like helping out.” My eyes are on Andre as I say that, and I can tell right away that James and Liv know exactly why I’m spending even more time at the bakery than I used to before the expansion. I already knew Andre must have told her something, and she tells James everything, so I’m positive they can’t be surprised that I love spending time with Andre.
“I hate that we’re costing you clients,” he grumbles.
I shrug. “Thom and I have a steady client base, and lots of opportunities. We worked our asses off at that big job recently, so he’s actually taking it easy right now to be there for Tracy throughout her pregnancy, take care of the kids, all that husband crap. Which brings me to my question. A bakery two towns over asked me to do for them what I did for you guys. They want me to spend a full week with them to take pictures, talk to all the employees, design a new logo, everything. Their site needs an update too. Thom can do that from home, but I’d need to go there. I figured since they’re not your direct competitors it wouldn’t hurt you guys, but I wanted to make sure.”
“Do it,” Andre says right away. “That sounds right up your alley.”
“It is.” I’m really excited about this opportunity. I love meeting new people, designing things, creating entire campaigns, traveling…
“Which bakery?” Liv asks curiously.
“The Cake Fairy. They have this pink fairy tale theme going on.”
“Oh, I know them!” Liv looks up their Instagram page, which looks kind of sad. They really need me. “I met the owner once, years ago. Such a nice lady. I think her daughter is running the place now.”
We chat about the bakery for a while, but before long Liv starts to get tired. She won’t come out and say it, but she needs her sleep. James gives us a papa bear look, causing Andre and me to jump up. Liv insists we should stay for another drink, but we hug goodbye anyway. No way are we defying James. A cop with muscles like his? Yeah, I’m not taking my chances.
Andre is quiet when we drive back to his place, but the tension is different this time. Less sexual and more… awkward. Like he’s mulling over something.
“Is something wrong?” I ask as I park the car in front of his place.
“I hate that you’re not taking on new clients because of me.” He’s staring out the window, his arms crossed over his chest. “You’re basically an employee of my business, yet I’ve never paid you a dime, and now I’m costing you money.”
That’s why he’s acting so weird? I smile, finding it endearing. “Andre, you don’t have to worry about that for even a second. I help out all my friends in whatever ways I can. I don’t expect Thom and Tracy to pay me for babysitting either.”
“That’s different.” He still sounds sullen.
“It’s not like this friendship is a one-way street. You’re always there for me too, in so many ways. Besides, not to be mean or anything, but when I offered to make the website and do campaigns, I hardly even knew you. I did that for Liv. Sure, now I help out in the coffee shop because we’re friends, but it all started with Liv. I’d do anything for that girl.”
Finally, he melts a little. “Yeah, she’s pretty great. Best business partner in the world.”
“You told her about… us, didn’t you?”
“Yeah.” He glances at me. “Sorry. I needed to talk to someone, and Ivan is no help at all. Plus, Liv already knew something was up, especially when you didn’t come over for two weeks straight.”
“It’s okay. I sort of told Tracy.” I’m relieved to see he doesn’t mind. In fact, he seems almost happy about the fact that I talked to someone about him. “Not that there’s a real us, of course. We’re just friends.”
“Of course,” he says quickly. “Just friends.”
I’m not sure who we’re kidding. Definitely not ourselves. I need to figure out this situation really damn fast, or things will get even messier. Maybe I should talk to Kian about this, but that might mean the end of my relationship and I don’t want that. Still, keeping it a secret from him feels wrong. Like I’m doing something terrible. Almost like I’m cheating on him, although Andre and I haven’t done more than flirt a little and touch each other’s arm. Hardly a clandestine act. I doubt Kian would see it that way, though, and I can’t blame him. I’d hardly be pleased if he was vibing with someone else.
“When do you leave?” Andre asks to break the silence. “For your bakery revamp mission?”
“In two days.”
“Am I allowed to admit I will miss having you around?” He sounds oddly vulnerable.
“Yes,” I breathe. “I will miss you too.”
His smile is half-sweet, half-sad. “I should go inside. I’ve got an episode of Gilmore girls waiting for me.”
“Say hi to Luke for me.”
I stay parked, making sure he’s safely inside before I drive back home. To Kian.
He’s very excited for the opportunity I got, and he doesn’t seem too upset about me leaving for a week. Which is good… right? I mean, it’s not like I want him to be unable to function without me or anything. And it’s not fair to compare his reaction to Andre’s, but I am.
“However will you cope without my cute ass for a week?” I tease Kian as we go to bed together, cuddling under the blankets.
“I think I’ll manage.” He kisses me softly. “You’re gonna have so much fun, and you’ll send me a million pictures. It’s only seven days.”
“Eight,” I reply. “They’re paying for seven full days, and I don’t want to leave late in the evening, so I’ll drive back in the morning after the seventh day.”
“We’ll survive,” he insists. “Besides, I’m busy with work anyway. And I’ve got plans with friends.”
“Silas?” I ask with a yawn.
“Yeah, and with Kyle and Cooper.” He nuzzles against my neck. “Are you tired, or…” His hand drifts south, and normally I’d be all over him, even when I’m exhausted, but for some reason I’m not feeling it tonight.
“Really tired,” I reply, rolling onto my side so we’re spooning instead. “Love you.”
“Love you too.” He sounds a little disappointed, but he snuggles against me anyway, kissing my neck. “Sweet dreams, babe.”
“Hmm,” I murmur, truly in the mood to drift right off to sleep. “Night.”
That night, I dream of fairy themed cookies, Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls, and hot chocolate. Andre is nowhere in that dream, but somehow, I still feel like I dreamt of him all night. It’s hard to stop smiling when I open my eyes.
Yeah, I might be in some trouble here.