#35 Broken heart
The second I step into The Cake Fairy, it’s like stepping into a true fairytale. I could totally see little girls coming here in princess dresses to celebrate their birthday by taking a baking workshop, going home with boxes full of enchanted cookies. I think this is going to be a fun week for sure.
Behind the counter is a young blonde in a bright pink apron. She tucks her phone away the second I come in, standing up straight. “Welcome to The Cake Fairy, how may I help you?” she says in a chipper voice.
I hold out my hand to shake hers. “I’m Dylan Dyer, I’m here for-”
She gasps, her eyes going wide. “You’re the guy who runs the website and social media accounts for Piece of Cake Bakery!” She says it in a shouting whisper, like I am a celebrity or something. “Oh my God, let me get my mom!”
Before I can say or do anything else, she’s already running into the back, shouting for her mother. Soon enough, she comes back with a woman in her forties who looks like the woman I’ve been video calling for the past couple of days.
“Dylan,” she says, her smile wide. “It’s so good to finally meet you in person.”
“Nadine.” I shake her hand, and I notice how much the younger girl looks like her. Mother and daughter one hundred percent. Same eyes, both tall and curvy, and identical blonde hair. I saw pictures online of Nadine’s mother, who opened the bakery thirty years ago, and you can clearly see the resemblance there too. I love that they’re such a family-operated business. “It’s so nice to meet you too.”
“So? What do you think?” The daughter asks. “Can you get us some more customers? I’d love to take over for my mom one day, but at the rate things are going, we’ll be closed before I finish high school.”
Nadine sighs, her smile fading. “I wish Enya was exaggerating, but I’m afraid she’s spot-on. We’re not doing well.”
“How many kids’ parties do you throw a month?” I ask.
Enya and Nadine both look at me like I just grew a second head. “Parties?”
Okay, I think we’ve found the core of the issue. This place looks like it should be more than just a place to buy cookies, but they’re not using all it’s potential. Luckily, I can help with that.
“I might have an idea or two,” I tell them with a winning smile. “And my business partner back home is a wizard with websites and apps, so I’m sure we can come up with a plan to save this place. Obviously, we’ll have to change the logo.”
“But the logo has been the same since my mother opened it,” Nadine protests.
“I understand that it’s emotional to change things, but the logo is a smiling cookie. It has absolutely nothing to do with fairies.” I point to a couple of cookies with fairies on them. “That should be the logo if you ask me. Pretty, simple, matching the name.”
“Told you,” Enya tells her mother smugly. “I’ve always hated our logo.”
Customers come in then, and while Enya helps them, Nadine takes me into the back where one of her nieces is working on a birthday cake. All employees are family, apparently. She shows me what they’re working on and talks me through the history of the bakery. I get out my phone, typing away whenever an idea hits me. I take some pictures as well, and before we know it, I’ve met the entire family, and it’s lunch time.
Enya offers to take me out for lunch, eager to talk shop with me. The second we’re alone, she starts to tell me everything she couldn’t with her mother there. She’s got a million ideas that her family isn’t in for. She shows me some reels she’s been making, and she’s pretty good. Her ideas lack a central theme, but I’m sure we can fix that. She seems excited about my idea to promote the bakery as a premium destination for kids’ parties, and by the time we get back to the bakery, we’ve already got a pitch prepared for the rest of the family.
This is what I do, and I do it well. I connect to people, draw out their creative side, and help them use the internet to their advantage. I’ll only be here for a week, but I want to make sure that what I do for them in these seven days will have a long-lasting impact.
They all insist I come for dinner at their place, so I do, and damn, they can cook as well as they can bake. It’s helpful to get to know more about them too, because I think we need to market the shit out of the family vibe. Parents love taking their kids to a place that is operated by a close-knit family like this. I’m thinking a family portrait on the website, and personal photos and videos on their social media accounts where they show behind-the-scenes stuff in the kitchen, and vlogs about the parties they will host for little girls.
That night, I’m too wired to sleep even though I get to the hotel pretty late. I text Kian, asking him to call me in fifteen minutes so I can shower first. When I’m clean, all cozy in bed, and ready for him, I see he texted to let me know he’s out with friends, and the bar is too loud to call. He does ask how things are going, but I’m still a little disappointed.
It’s okay, though. I call Thomas instead, talking him through everything so he can start making necessary changes to their website first thing tomorrow. He’s a bit distracted though, because Teagan keeps waking up crying. I lie and tell him I need to get some sleep, not wanting to take attention away from his baby boy that needs him way more than I do.
Normally, I would call Mila next, but I’m still a little annoyed with her. The whole Fleur thing doesn’t sit right with me at all. We’re always a bit tough love with each other, but this was too much, even for her.
If I’m honest, there is only one person I want to talk to. I’m not sure I should, though. Before I can make up my mind, my phone buzzes with a text from him.
How was your first day? Did you turn into a fairy already?
I grin, immediately calling Andre. He took the initiative, so I guess it’s okay to talk to each other while I’m gone. I won’t settle for texting, though.
“What are you doing?”
He laughs at my greeting. “Talking to you. I was about to go to sleep, but then you called.”
“Ooooh, so you’re in bed?” I try to imagine that, but it’s hard. I don’t even know what his bedroom looks like. I bet his hair is messed up and he’s probably all cozy, settling against the headboard while we talk. “Are you one of those people who sleeps naked?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” He sounds playful, and I love it.
“Yes, I would. And in case you’re wondering, I’m definitely a naked sleeper. Boxers at the very most. Also, I just showered and I’m now in bed, in nothing but said boxer briefs.”
Andre grunts. “Dylan, you can’t tell me stuff like that.”
“Why not?” I ask innocently, even though I know I’m playing with fire.
“You know why.” He makes a sound that is part frustrated, part turned on. “Okay, back to safe subjects. How are things at the bakery?”
“Great, actually. The family is really nice and I have about a million ideas for them. I’m gonna work on new logos and the basics for the campaign tomorrow, so I can pitch it all at lunchtime.” I tell him all about my day, and he asks a million questions, sharing in the excitement. He even comes up with some additional ideas, which I jot down right away. He knows this business as well as I do, and while the whole tech side is my thing, he’s definitely not an idiot when it comes to stuff like this.
“Call me tomorrow to let me know how it goes,” he orders when we’re about to hang up.
“Will do,” I vow. “Any chance you’ll tell me what you’re wearing now?”
He laughs. “Good night, Dylan.”
“Sweet dreams, Andre.”
The next morning, I get a ton of work done. So much in fact that I have an hour to spare before I need to be at the bakery. I spend it strolling through town, and I stumble across a thrift store that has the most amazing clothes. I end up buying a powder blue suit, three novelty T-shirts, three pairs of shoes, and some jewelry. I don’t normally wear jewelry, but something about the simple silver necklace screams my name, and the brown leather bracelet looks like it was made for me.
My pitch goes without a hitch, and I’ve got the whole team of bakers on board soon enough. That means I can start on digitalizing the logo, take pictures, and make some reels for their social media accounts. Enya is a big help in that department, and I teach her everything I know about how to use Instagram to get more customers. She’s a quick study, and her family is finally listening to her ideas. She may be young and still in high school, but that girl should have been given a lot more credit way sooner.
That night, I once again call Andre. I don’t even try Kian first. The person I want to talk to most is Andre, not my own boyfriend. Yeah, that worries me a little, but I ignore that. It’s not like Kian is texting or calling much either.
It’s not until the end of the week that I realize what’s happening.
First of all, I feel happier and lighter than I have in months. I’m wearing eccentric outfits again, even jewelry, and I’m experimenting with makeup after a long time of not even wanting to pick up a brush.
Second of all, I don’t miss Kian. At all. It’s actually kind of nice to not have to worry about how I might be embarrassing him for once.
Last but not least… I think I’m falling for Andre. Or rather, that I’ve been falling for a while now, and only just now allowing myself to realize that. I spend hours talking to him on the phone, we text throughout the day, and he’s always the first person I want to talk to about my incredible time here in this strange town, away from home. He’s the person I miss, not Kian.
It’s hard to finally realize that maybe Mila and Thomas were right all along. I think I still love Kian, that feeling doesn’t disappear so quickly, and I really wish we could make things work, but it’s all so strained. This whole relationship has been a struggle from the start. We’ve tried to make it work, but instead, I caught feelings for someone else. There was only room in my heart for Andre because Kian and I aren’t doing well.
I’m not an idiot. I know I’m comparing a relationship in a rut with something new and exciting. That’s hardly fair, and the last thing I want to do is make a rash decision. After a big goodbye dinner with Nadine, Enya and the others, I decide to drive home that very night. I’ll be at the house after midnight, but I don’t care. I want to talk to Kian, and figure out what to do about this mess. No more putting it off, not even until the morning.
During the long drive home, I figure out what I want to say. I’m going to be honest with him. I’m going to tell him I’ve got feelings for Andre too, and try to explain how that happened. I know I didn’t cheat, but I still feel like I did, sort of. I need to own up to that. I’m not sure if it will mean a midnight breakup, or a fresh start for me and Kian. This could be the wakeup call we need. If it feels right, I might still want to make this work.
I don’t know.
Making things work with Kian would mean I need to stop hanging out with Andre. I know that. It’s just hard to imagine my life without him. I don’t think I even want to, honestly.
But life without Kian… The only person I’ve ever lived with… That doesn’t feel like a good option either.
Maybe it’s better to break up with Kian. I don’t know. This is not a decision I can make on my own. All I know is that I need to be honest to both him and myself, and that I can take whatever comes next.
That’s the mindset I’ve got when I step into the dark house. I had expected Kian to still be up, since he often works on court cases late at night, especially when I’m not home, but I guess he must have been tired. He didn’t say he was going out, and we did text this afternoon, so he’s probably asleep.
In the living room, I’m surprised to find two empty wine-glasses on the coffee table. Kian having a friend over isn’t weird, but him not cleaning up after himself immediately is definitely strange. I pick them up to put them in the dishwasher, only to find out the kitchen is a mess. Since when does he drop the dishes in the sink to soak? And leave out the cheese on the counter? I tidy up a little, nervously stalling. I know I need to go up, wake him, and start this horrible conversation, but it’s nerve-wracking.
Here we go…
I make my way upstairs, and flick on the hallway light. I don’t want to startle him, so I tiptoe over to our bedroom and quietly open the door. The dim light from the hallway illuminates the bed just enough for me to make out Kian’s shape in the bed.
And… someone else’s.
My heart stops beating for a second. I just stepped into a nightmare.
Kian is not in bed alone. On the other side of the bed – my side – is another man, snugly wrapped around my boyfriend’s body. They’re spooning, looking perfectly peaceful asleep together.
I just stand there, staring, unable to say or do anything. As my eyes get used to the dark, I can see more than just their shapes.
A bottle of lube and an open pack of condoms on the nightstand. Both of their phones plugged in to charge. Reading glasses on my nightstand, but they’re not mine. An open book, a box of tissues, a bottle of water.
This is not a one-night stand. This is the way lovers sleep. His stuff is in our bedroom like he lives here.
What the actual fuck?!
I make an involuntary sound, something between a gasp and a sob. The man behind Kian stirs, sitting up with a jolt.
Our eyes meet, and I realize I know him.
“Oh shit,” Silas breathes, the blankets sliding down to reveal his naked chest.
Oh shit indeed.
I thought I knew what a broken heart felt like, but I don’t think I truly did. Now I do, though. I definitely know now.