The mirror glaze cake managed to survive the car drive home and until the end of dinner. William had stared at longingly throughout dinner and was delighted to finally get to sample it. James spent a moment admiring the shine on the glaze and William managed to finish two slices before James gave his verdict.
"You will have to show me how to make this. My baking abilities have long since failed to impress my employer. I need some new tricks."
"I'll give you some lessons when I move in," Noah assured him. "I like passing on knowledge."
"I'm glad you two found each other again," James said with an indulgent smile. "I'm assuming Noah is staying the night again?"
"He is," William replied. "He's moving in next week and I'm helping him."
He saw James glance sceptically at his skinny arms and he pouted. He was planning to be moral support not physical labour.
"I don't have much to move. I've only been in this country for a month," Noah said. "It won't take too long. There are a few things at my parents' house that I might pick up when I'm more settled here."
"I did have a question about you moving in. Considering that you two are a couple, are you going to use the master bedroom together?" James enquired.
William frowned. He hadn't considered that at all. He was still using the bedroom that had been designated for him by his parents whenever they stayed at the townhouse and it would feel odd to move into their old bedroom.
"I would have to think about that one," he replied.
The master bedroom was mostly empty of furniture and his parents' possessions as Aunt Victoria had decreed it unhealthy to leave everything in a time warp. He was glad of that now; it would be much harder to change rooms if it still had his parents' things in it and looked exactly as it had twelve years ago.
"I'm happy to wait," James said. "You two can go and do whatever you do in the evening."
William was cuddled up in Noah's arms when his phone rang. He picked it up off the sofa and saw it was Eliza calling. She didn't normally phone him at this time so he knew she was calling with the results of her investigation.
He paused the TV show they were watching and accepted the call.
"I can't believe you skipped work," was the first thing Eliza said with a teasing tone.
"I finished my work," he retorted. "I just left a little early."
"I'm glad you did for once," she replied and her tone became more serious. "I asked Mum what she thought about gays."
William waited nervously for the next part with bated breath.
"Her reply was something neither of us could have predicted..."
What could she have said? William was intrigued, but alarmed at the same time. Noah politely moved away to the other side of the room to give him some privacy.
"Can you tell me what she said?" he requested. "Even if it's negative."
"You're not the only gay person in the family..." Eliza said. "There's someone else. Well, she's not blood related to me..."
He quickly deduced who it was based on that hint. He only had one surviving relative on his mother's side.
"Aunt Mel is gay!?"
Noah looked over curiously, but William was too distracted to pay any attention. He had no awareness of that. Aunt Mel was barely in the country and he only saw her once a year, but he should have picked up on something from her.
"I didn't know either..." Eliza sounded like she was as shocked as he was.
"Putting that matter aside, is your mother okay with her being gay?" he paused as another question came to mind. "How does she even know?"
"Mum heard a rumour a few years ago in her social circle about Aunt Mel being gay and asked her directly. Your aunt admitted to it. As for how my mother feels about that..."
William was still too taken aback by the revelation that he forgot to be nervous about her answer.
"She doesn't approve of Aunt Mel."
William's hope plummeted rapidly like a deflated balloon. She wouldn't approve of him then. Eliza sighed over the line.
"It's not why you think."
William waited again for a more uplifting answer.
"She doesn't approve of your aunt because she thinks she never helped you after your parents' death and instead of being around for you, she went travelling around the world and when she was here, she just made things worse for you. It's not because she's gay- it's because of what's she hasn't done for you."
It was true. He could remember feeling disappointed in his teenage years that his only relations in the country were Eliza's family and his mother's sister seemed to be running away from him. When he did see her, he always wished he hadn't. He didn't hate her; he was just disappointed.
He hadn't realised Aunt Victoria cared about him to that extent. If she didn't approve of Aunt Mel on his behalf, did that mean she might be open to accepting his orientation?
"Do you think I have a chance?"
"I definitely think so," Eliza told him happily. "I think you should try. She does care for you in her own way."
William smiled widely. He was feeling more confident now. Even if she didn't like it, he knew that she did care for him.
He thought back to Aunt Mel's last visit to London and remembered something odd.
"If she's gay, why was she all over Noah?"
"She didn't take my mother's rejection well and flirts with men whenever she's somewhere related to us to hide her true orientation," Eliza explained. "Mum told me a lot of things. Aunt Mel has a girlfriend in France."
William's head was beginning to spin from all the revelations and new information. He needed to digest it all.
"Thank you for asking for me," he said sincerely. "I'm glad I know all of this now."
"I've learnt a lot today," she agreed. "I'll let you get back to what you were doing."
She ended the call and William stared blankly at the screen for a moment. Noah returned to the sofa a second later.
"Was it good news?"
"It might be interpreted as that," William said mysteriously.
Noah nudged him. "I heard something about your other aunt being gay. That's the one who was flirting with me, isn't it?"
"You were just a cover," William informed him. "She's gay and my other aunt doesn't approve."
"That's not encouraging," Noah replied with a frown.
William recounted everything and by the end Noah was more optimistic for him.
"I think it's good to know that you have a good chance with her," he commented.
"I'll arrange to see her next week," William said with resolve.
He had the information he needed and now he had steel himself and go to see her. He could do this. He needed to.
"Should I come with you?" Noah offered.
That was a good question. William wouldn't mind the support, but it might be too early to bring Noah into it. Or she might not mind him being gay, but she could hate Noah. It would be best to leave him out of it for the first part. Eliza would be around for support if he needed it.
"I will be fine."
Noah nodded. He didn't appear to mind that he wasn't invited.
"Should I make you something to bring along with you to soften her up?" he asked with a smile. "You fell for my baking after all."
William liked that idea. Victoria Quinn was old fashioned and uptight, but she never said no to a bread and butter pudding for dessert.
"She likes bread and butter pudding. Really likes it," he emphasised.
Personally he hated everything about it from the texture to the taste. Desserts had been limited in her household which was probably why he fallen so hard for Noah's creations.
"Noted. What should I make for your uncle?"
Uncle Brian had liked to slip him a few sweets when his wife wasn't looking. They had been Quinn's Sweets products so he could experience his future company's products.
"He likes chocolate fudge bites," William answered. "They're very nice."
Noah glanced at him with suspicion in his eyes.
"Isn't that a product your company makes?"
Had Noah memorised all Quinn's Sweets products? He would have to test him at some point just for fun. Even he couldn't quite remember all the
"Is there a Charles Confectionery knock off?" William teased.
"Knock off," his boyfriend snorted. "How dare you say that about my family's company."
"You can make your own version and we can see which one is the nicest," William suggested.
"If I win, I can set up 'Noah Charles Confectionery'," Noah joked.
Wiliam burst into laughter at the mental image of Noah being his business rival. It was a lot easier to feel free enough to laugh out loud now.
One week later:
William walked up to the front door of a neat terraced house in a quiet area of London. He checked inside the bag he was carrying to make sure the bread and butter pudding was still intact and rang the doorbell.
He had arranged to have afternoon tea with Aunt Victoria. She was under the impression that he just wanted to see her whilst he was visiting with the intention of confessing to her.
The door was opened by a familiar face.
"Will!" his uncle said enthusiastically and practically dragged him inside. "Come in. We're in the conservatory."
William drew a plastic bag tied off with ribbon from his pocket. Noah had supplied the bread and butter pudding as well as a bag of homemade chocolate fudge bites for his uncle.
"I got these for you. They're homemade."
His uncle's face lit up even more when he realised he was being given his favourite sweets. His uncle hadn't aged much compared to when William had last seen him. His face was a little more wrinkled and his hair was flecked with grey, but he still had a twinkle in his eye and he was still as excitable.
His uncle began to lead the way to the conservatory. William began to feel all of his nervousness returning to him. He couldn't back out now, he had come too far.
"How is the company going?" his uncle asked. "I heard the pâtisserie is doing better than expected."
"It has exceeded the profit predictions," William agreed. "I'm taking the afternoon off and tomorrow as well."
He was helping Noah move into his house the following day. If today went badly, he would at least have that to look forward to.
"I'm glad you taking some time for yourself. Do you have anyone to share it with?"
That was not what he was expecting to be asked but it was an opening for him to use.
His uncle beamed at him.
"Wonderful! I've waited a long time for you to find the right person."
Was this the part where he should say something about his right person being a man? If he waited any longer they would be in earshot of his aunt and that would be too early.
"Uncle Brian, I'm dating a man," he said quietly.
The response from his uncle was a long silent stare and William began to sweat. His and Eliza's prediction had been wrong, his uncle wouldn't support him.
"That's all right," his uncle replied a second later. "Just give me a moment minute to adjust. I've been imagining you with girls, not males."
That was very encouraging. He had managed to tell someone else and their response wasn't negative.
"Thank you Uncle Brian," he said with renewed hope. "My boyfriend made those sweets for you."
Brian stared at the bag of sweets and burst into a grin.
"If these are as nice as they look; he's a keeper."
William breathed a sigh of relief. Not only was it okay he was gay, Noah had a seal of approval. Now he just had to replicate the same response with his aunt.
"Are you going to tell Victoria?" his uncle asked.
William nodded. "I can't keep it secret forever."
Brian patted his shoulder. "Good luck."
"What's taking you two so long?" his aunt's voice called out from down the hallway. "The tea will get cold."
William jumped and his uncle continued on his way to the conservatory whilst giving him encouraging looks. Soon enough the conservatory came into view and so did his aunt. She was sitting up straight in a chair and staring at them with a raised eyebrow.
"You took a long time to get here."
William took a deep breath. He couldn't show his nervousness.
"We were catching up," he explained and took the seat opposite her. "Where's Eliza?"
"She's in the library. You can go and see her after talking to me," she answered in an authoritative tone.
William internally marvelled at how much she hadn't changed. She still talked to him like she was his mother figure and he was a child. That didn't bode well for the success of his confession.
"I brought something with me," he said and pulled out the bread and butter pudding.
Her face lit up in a way that wasn't dissimilar to her husband. The difference was that it disappeared in a second.
"That looks passable," she commented and placed it down on the glass table. "I'll have a slice."
When she took a bite he could swear she smiled briefly which made him feel a little more confident about his success.
"Is there something you wanted to ask me?" she said suddenly. "This is the first time you have come here since you left."
"I do," he confirmed.
There was no turning back now.
"What did you want to ask me?" she expectantly.
"...I'm gay," he said simply. "...Can you accept that?"
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