The next few days passed by quickly for William as he had a lot of issues to deal with. Everything had been running smoothly with the pâtisserie, it was the other parts of the business that were going wrong. There had been storm that delayed the shipment of supplies for confectionery production which caused a range of annoying issues.
It was a difficult situation to resolve so by the time Noah turned up at his office door with a tiered lunchbox, he was very happy to see him. Not that he would show it, he just wanted sleep. He hadn't been home for three days and his butler had been dropping off clothes for him.
"Hello, is that my lunch?" he asked with a weak smile and held back a yawn with difficulty.
Noah approached his desk with a concerned gaze and leaned in very close to his face. William could smell his minty breath.
"When was the last time you had any sleep?" he enquired after seeing William's eyes.
William knew he looked a mess with his bloodshot eyes and messy hair. Normally he would care about looking unkempt in front of Noah but now he was too tired to care. He couldn't even muster a blush at how close their faces were.
"Don't ask," he groaned. "I'm slightly glad to see you; you're a part of the only Quinn business that's running without any hitches at the moment
"I'll take that as a compliment," Noah answered. "Has the situation been resolved?"
As he spoke he started laying out the lunch boxes and William sat up from his slouched position. He was seeing some things he liked. It was odd that Noah always seemed to know what his favourite foods were.
"We've found alternative suppliers for everything this morning and then I have my regular work to keep on top of. I'm glad nothing is wrong with the pâtisserie."
"Well…" Noah said and broke off.
William began to feel some dread pooling in his empty stomach. There probably had been problems they weren't reporting. Had they failed a surprise Environmental Health inspection? That could be lethal for the future.
"…What is it?"
"You're not there," Noah told him sadly.
William went through a rollercoaster of emotions with that line. Firstly, he was relieved that nothing really was wrong and then he processed the implied meaning of it and his face heated up.
"You had me concerned there," he sighed. "I'm not going to be able to go there for even longer so you're going to have to get used to it."
Was that a pout he could see on Noah's face? Admittedly he was a little disappointed with having no free time as he did find the pâtisserie a welcome break from the more hectic areas of the business. Seeing Noah was also an added bonus.
He checked the time and was saddened to see how much time had already passed.
"I don't have much free time, I have a meeting in half an hour and Eliza needs to brief me on her side of things."
Noah took the hint and passed him a knife and fork and introduced the different options.
"To start with there's a croque monsieur, salad and fruit. Then blueberry cheesecake for dessert and cheese straws for a snack later."
They all looked freshly made and William eagerly started to eat. His breakfast had been a cup of tea and a packet of Quinn's Sweets caramel chocolate bites. His stomach had been protesting for a few hours since then.
"Dave told me about the issues you've been having for the past few days. Has it impacted sales?"
"It will impact future sales," William corrected him. "There's enough stock for current production. I've been trying my best to find alternative suppliers and Eliza has been doing as much as she can to help."
Noah nodded and William was pleased to see that Noah did understand. He was also pleased to eat his food. Something that he wasn't pleased about was the fact that Noah had been watching him the whole time.
"Did you already eat?" he asked.
"I have," Noah confirmed. "I just like seeing how happy you are eating things I've made."
James sometimes said things like that to William and he had never understood why people felt that way. His lack of understanding probably stemmed from never making anything for another person. He had no talent for cooking.
His eyes started to close around the time he was finishing off the cheesecake. His stomach was content and he was comfortably warm in the office. He snapped his eyes open with difficulty and suppressed a yawn. He couldn't fall asleep now. There was too much to do and he couldn't leave it no matter how tired he was. He couldn't let his business down. What would his parents think?
"I think you should take a break this afternoon," Noah said gently.
His words sounded like they were coming from very far away and William's head slumped forward and he fell asleep before he could protest.
William's eyes opened slowly at the sound of someone speaking nearby. All he could see was the white ceiling of his office in the dim light. As he woke up he began to take in more details. He was lying on the sofa in his office with a blanket on top of him.
He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. His office lights were dimmed and he realised that Noah was sitting at his desk reading a book. His eyes zeroed in on the cover of the book and he knew that Katherine had donated one of her trashy romantic books to Noah.
His eyes strayed to the clock and his heart skipped a beat. He had been asleep for two hours and had missed his meeting. Admittedly he felt very refreshed, but he had too much to do.
"You should have woken me up," he groaned.
Noah put the book down and walked over to sit next to him. William resisted the desire to lay his head down on Noah's lap and go back to sleep.
"Someone else represented you at the meeting," he informed him. "You fell asleep right after eating and I didn't have the heart to wake you up. Eliza told me that you've been here for two days straight and haven't slept."
"She's exaggerating, I slept for four hours the night before last night."
He yanked the blanket off and something started to dawn on him. The meeting had either been cancelled which was unlikely or someone else had gone instead of him.
"You didn't represent me at the meeting, did you?" he asked.
Noah might now be close to him, but he was still the son of his rivals. Much to his relief, Noah shook his head.
"When you fell asleep, I told Eliza and she worked out what to do with you. She printed off some files from your computer and gave them to someone called Johnny and sent him to the meeting. I hope you trust him."
"He's my other cousin, he'll do anything Eliza tells him," William explained. "He's competent."
"Your secretary took on some of your other tasks and gave me some books to entertain me while you were asleep."
Noah produced a whole pile of romance novels, some with lurid covers and others with very pink ones and William sighed. Noah had probably learnt even more pickup lines from them. He retrieved a bottle of water from on top of his desk and sat back down.
"I'm amazed at how popular Italian millionaire playboys are," Noah commented. "In fact, I think all of them had a rich man as the love interest. It's like our relationship."
William choked on the water. How was their relationship like a crappy romance novel?
"No, it's not!" he protested with a red face.
"What's the difference?" Noah asked with an innocent expression on his face.
William had a suspicion that Noah was enjoying flustering him. In fact it was more than a suspicion, he knew he was enjoying it.
"If I'm the rich protagonist, I should be the one flirting with you and you're supposed to be pure and innocent. Additionally, you should a type of person I've spent years yearning for."
As he spoke he knew he had given away that he'd read a lot of rubbish romance stories, however he knew he could blame it all on Katherine. Noah looked amused.
"You spent a while searching for the perfect pastry chef," he pointed out. "Then you found me."
William could see where he was going with his parallels. He elected to put an end to the subject of the conversation.
"We're not in a romantic relationship," he protested.
Noah was cut off by Katherine and Eliza pushing the door open quietly. William guessed they were the voices that hard woken him up.
"Will, you're up!" Eliza exclaimed happily. "I can't believe you fell asleep eating dessert."
"You talk too loudly; you woke me up," William complained.
Katherine rushed over to the pile of her books and attempted to hide them behind her back. William raised an eyebrow at her.
"I thought I had banned them to improve the quality of your reading content," he said icily.
If she hadn't lent them to Noah he wouldn't have had to go through that uncomfortable conversation. It was all Katherine's fault.
"It won't happen again," she promised and promptly left the room with the books in her arms.
Eliza stared after her in confusion.
"Have you banned her from reading romance? I mean they are terrible, but it's her choice."
"He did," Noah confirmed and nudged him. "He's a spoilsport."
Eliza looked like she wanted to tell him off again.
"Let's put that matter aside. I came to send you home. James is waiting outside in the car. Go home and get some sleep. There's a shareholder meeting tomorrow," she said. "I've finished your work for you and Johnny has done your other duties."
William nodded. Although he felt refreshed from his nap, he had no desire to stare at a computer screen for several hours straight for a while. It was now 3 o'clock in the afternoon. He should go home so he could be ready for tomorrow. Then he remembered that if Noah was still here, he wasn't at the pâtisserie making cakes.
"Shouldn't you be at Quinn's Cakes?" he asked.
"Dave said they could survive without me for a few hours. Someone had to stay here with you," Noah said.
He appeared to be completely unconcerned about the pâtisserie.
"Fine. Just go back there now," William ordered. "You know how incompetent they are without you."
Eliza rolled her eyes. "You're very insulting to people at Quinn's Cakes who aren't Noah."
"I like it like that," Noah offered his opinion.
"Of course you do," she said. "William, James is waiting outside the building, don't keep him waiting."
William got to his feet and went to pack up only to find that Noah had done it already and all he needed was his coat.
"I'll walk you out and go back to the pâtisserie," Noah said and led the way.
"I hope I didn't make your afternoon too boring," William said to him in the lift down to the ground floor.
"I didn't watch you sleep in case you wondered," Noah winked. "That's a little creepy."
Strangely enough William agreed with him. Some people might think it was romantic, but he didn't share that opinion and he was glad to find that Noah didn't. If only he could be open about his orientation… Noah was his ideal type.
James waved at them when they came out the entrance and William was reminded of the mysterious meeting between him and Noah. When had it happened?
"Thank you for taking care of the young master again," James said to Noah.
"I'm happy to help him anytime," Noah replied. "You still look the same."
William felt the same frustration again. Why couldn't Noah or James tell him about their past encounter? He had almost forgotten about and now it was at the forefront of his mind again.
Noah turned to him and then pulled him for a sudden hug.
"Get some sleep and take care."
William didn't have time to process the hug before Noah had left. He turned to see James staring at him curiously.
"William, are you dating Noah Charles?" James questioned.
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