"Next candidate," William Quinn called out irritably and threw the previous candidate's CV in the bin.
These interviews were going nowhere. If he was served another lumpy cream cake he was going to hurl it at someone's face. The interviews had wasted four days already. He had better things to do than taste terrible desserts.
His secretary twitched nervously.
"That was the last person."
William checked his desk for the large pile of CVs that had been there in the morning. They were all now thrown in the bin. Was he ever going to get a chef for his pâtisserie?
"Should I put the job advert out again?" his secretary questioned with one hand ready on her tablet.
William sighed loudly instead of answering and she put her tablet down.
It was already four in the afternoon and it had been a long day. To be more accurate it had been four long days. William had been in a downright bad mood with everyone and everything. Technically that was normal, but when he was faced with low quality desserts, he was even worse.
Relief came in the form of William's cousin Eliza peeking into the office. She was the complete opposite of him and was always happy and optimistic.
"Will! Did you really kick them all out? What's with the pile of cake in the corner?" she enquired after spotting the pile of doom.
William had recently made the decision to branch out from confectionery to pâtisseries. It had made sense to everyone involved with the workings of the company. William loved sweet things and was usually in a better mood when faced with cake. The selection of the locations had gone well. The hurdle they were stuck on was the hiring of a chef to bake the sweet treats.
The issue with William personally overseeing the interviews was that no one had been up to his standards. Anyone else would had given up and gone for the most qualified candidate. William was not that type of person. He always wanted perfection.
Eliza picked up a crème caramel from the reject pile. It was completely intact and looked like a child had made it.
"I guess you rejected this one for being too juvenile."
"Correct," was the cold answer.
"This one for being too bitter," she said for a beautifully decorated black forest gâteau.
Next was a chocolate cake. She had no problems guessing this one.
"This one for being too simple."
Katherine laughed awkwardly. "You know his taste so well. Perhaps you could do the interviews instead?"
Eliza shook her head so hard that her blond hair flew up.
"I really can't. Will is the ultimate connoisseur and it is his decision."
Her cousin shot her a small smile. Katherine was sure that was the only time he had smiled for the past month.
"I do have to say that we aren't getting anywhere with the current hiring method," she continued. "William, you either have to lower the standards or find a different way to get candidates."
Katherine consulted the job advert they had been using. It offered a very generous salary and further opportunities. They had posted it everywhere available and sent it to agencies. The method had worked to a degree, there had been almost too many applications to deal with. She had cut down the candidates based on their qualifications and sent the remaining people for interview.
William's gaze darkened and Katherine shivered.
"You mean I should start recruiting people who work for other companies?"
Eliza smiled cheerfully. "If you give them a better offer, I'm sure they'll agree."
"That does sound like an idea," he agreed tentatively.
"Or you could look for people in unexpected places," she added. "Like charity cake sales."
"I'll leave that one up to you," William said immediately. That was not something he was interested in.
"You can ask your friends if they know anyone good," Katherine suggested, eager to offer input.
Eliza gave her a warning glance which caused Katherine to remember too late that her boss didn't have any friends.
"That will be all, Katherine," William said in a flat tone. "You can go home."
"Katherine, contact the people on this list and offer them the job," he instructed the following morning.
He had spent his evening the previous day doing some research into his rival companies. He hadn't done anything unethical, he had just used the information on their websites. Fortunately, a lot of them had lists of the talented chefs working for them and all he had done was gather that information.
His secretary accepted the list and flipped through it. She paused on one page and William spotted a blush appearing on her face. He could guess what page it was, one of the chefs was very good looking in his photo.
"Without nosebleeds," he warned.
He was always close to firing Katherine due to her nosebleeds over good looking men. The past four days had seen numerous nosebleeds over handsome chefs. It was mainly annoying because he was the gay one that was finding the same people attractive yet she could react to them openly. It wasn't fair.
Her good skills were that she kept his secrets and didn't mind when he said anything scathing to her. Those two skills were why he was still employing her. Despite that he had never confided his biggest secret in her. He was keeping that one close to his heart and no one knew about it.
"You're planning on taking people from your biggest rival?" she asked when she turned another page. "I recognise this person."
William's move into pâtisseries had partially been sparked by his biggest rival confectionery company opening a pop-up one in the middle of London. His company had kept an eye on its popularity and it had done well. William was keen to open a permanent one before Charles Confectionery could do the same.
His rival company was somewhat similar to his in that the name of the company came from the founder's surname although Charles Confectionery was still being run by the married couple who had started it. Their product ranges were also similar which never failed to annoy him and a lot of their business moves mirrored each other's. He was determined to get the lead on opening a proper pâtisserie so he could be the one to do something first this time.
"When I visited the pop up, his cakes were good," William explained. "He's likely to not be under full contract yet so we need to get him interested in ours first."
"That's a good plan," Katherine complimented him.
William didn't acknowledge the compliment as the outcome of his plan was unknown. He wondered how Eliza's own suggestions would go.
"Is Eliza here yet?" he asked.
Katherine smiled. "She called me to say that she's going to be out all day looking for someone suitable. She sounded very sure of herself."
That was a cause for concern. When Eliza had a goal set, she always obtained it. He was expecting her to turn up at the end of the day with a line of people to interview. William wasn't ready to taste that many desserts again, his stomach still hadn't recovered yet from the past four days.
"Warn me when she comes in," he requested.
At lunchtime he attempted to phone her to see if he could pin down where she was. She was not answering which was worrying. Either she was so into her mission that she hadn't noticed the phone ringing or she didn't want to talk to him.
Eliza made her presence known at around three in the afternoon. She bounded into his office triumphantly with Katherine following in her wake.
"Eliza has arrived," Katherine said unnecessarily. "She got up here too fast for me to tell you."
"I've found someone!" Eliza proclaimed excitedly. "Will you interview him? I left him downstairs."
William was intrigued. Eliza looked very sure that she had found the right person. He just wanted to know where she had found him.
"Where did you pick him up from?"
Eliza smirked. "He was going for an interview at Charles Confectionery. As we suspected, they're also looking for people for their pâtisserie."
Her cousin was impressed at Eliza's brazenness. He hadn't been expecting her to go as far as Charles Confectionery in her search. He couldn't have done it himself; he didn't have the guts.
"Does he have a dessert with him?" he asked.
"It's very eye catching, that's why I spotted him getting out a taxi by their head office and guessed he was interviewing."
William was even more impressed with her.
"Excellent work. Send him up."
A few minutes later Eliza showed a tall man carrying a cake box into his office. He was smartly dressed and his plush brown hair was neatly arranged. William's eyes passed over his physical appearance quickly in favour of eyeing up the cake. Then his eyes went back to the man. He was very attractive. Definitely the best looking candidate so far.
"Good afternoon," the man said formally.
He was well spoken. William's impression of him was good so far.
"I was on my way to an interview and now I'm here," he continued. "Miss Quinn has been very persuasive. She's explained everything to me."
He didn't sound annoyed. Instead William could hear traces of amusement in his tone.
"Are you okay with interviewing for the rival of Charles Confectionery?" William enquired.
"I can always go back there if I fail here," the man assured him.
Eliza patted him on the shoulder. "Good luck."
She discreetly withdrew herself from the office which left the two of them alone.
"My name is Noah," the interview candidate began. "Would you like to try my dessert?"
William was so distracted by the sight of the cake that he forgot to ask for Noah's surname. This turned out to be a fortunate mistake.
It was a very lavish cake with only two layers. A lot of candidates had gone for more tiers, but Noah had used the available area well. It was coat in white swiss meringue frosting and had hand piped chocolate hearts and swirls decorating the frosting in between blackberries and raspberries.
William's next quest was to check if the structure of the cake would survive with a slice missing and if the slice itself would collapse.
He picked up a knife from the collection he had been using for the interviews and cut a slice. It came out cleanly with barely any crumbs on the knife and the cake didn't even wobble which made William sigh in satisfaction. He glanced over at Noah quickly enough to catch him smiling at him.
William felt the need to explain the sigh before he started blushing.
"Most people's cakes started to collapse when I cut into them."
"How is the taste?" Noah wanted to know.
William took a mouthful and analysed the balance of the flavours. His personal enjoyment had to take second place in situations like this. The cake was a chocolate cake and the middle was blackberry jam which was a little unexpected. It did offset the sweetness of the chocolate and frosting. He finished the slice in a few seconds and found himself willing to eat another which hadn't happened for the past five days.
"It's well made and flavoured," he commented.
The interview followed the standard format after that. William was impressed by Noah's credentials. It turned out that he had just returned from studying in France. Eliza stuck her head in as the interview was wrapping up.
"Are you hiring him?" she asked with very obvious eagerness.
Noah winked at William. The company president blushed and hated himself for it.
William had decided on that exact conclusion, but he wasn't going to let either of them know it.
"I haven't made my mind up yet," William protested weakly. "I haven't actually seen your CV either."
This was the first time that Noah looked perturbed.
"You might not want to hire me when you see it," he said. "I do have it here despite that."
William's mind jumped to the seemingly logical conclusion that Noah didn't want him to see some low grades from school. He was keen to hire him so he knew he could look past some poor grades.
"I don't mind. You're the only decent interview candidate I've had. I'll hire you."
Noah flashed a heart-stopping smile before handing over his CV. Then William saw the incriminating surname.
Noah was the son of his biggest rival and he had just hired him.
He was also highly attractive.
He was two problems in one.
This is my entry for Writing Prompts Contest 59：LGBT.
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