"How was your date last night?" Eliza asked the next morning.
It was the time in the morning that they took a tea break together and discussed business and personal matters.
"Does it count as a date if it's at your house?" William retorted.
Eliza raised an eyebrow elegantly.
"It's called date night. Did he stay the night as usual?"
"He did," William confirmed and became aware that Eliza was squinting at him suspiciously. "He sleeps in the guest room before you start implying anything."
"You don't have to tell me when you sleep together," she commented. "I don't want the details."
William became aware his face was turning red. His mind had taken a dirty turn and he didn't feel disgusted like he normally did. He was improving.
"...I wouldn't tell you anyway."
The next ten minutes were for discussing business matters. They needed to choose new locations for other branches of Quinn's Cakes.
"How many more should we open in London?" William questioned. "We don't want to miss out on a good potential market or oversaturate it either."
His cousin produced a list of potential rival businesses and their locations and gave him her opinion.
"Based on saturation levels and rent, I would say a maximum of three. We don't want to become ubiquitous and we can't mass produce like coffee chains because all the products are made in house," Eliza replied. "We need to choose carefully."
"We need to stay that way to stand out," William agreed.
Eliza made some notes and moved onto areas outside of London. That was a lot easier to choose and the time went by quickly.
"Do you think we'll ever expand the pâtisseries outside of the UK?" she asked at the end.
"Definitely not in France," he quipped. "Maybe in countries that don't have a lot of pâtisseries? We'd have to do a lot of research."
"It was just a thought for the future," his cousin said.
She picked up her teacup and stood up to go. William decided it was the best time to ask her opinion on something.
"Can you stay a moment?" he requested.
She sat back down and waited patiently for him to speak.
"If it's sexual, I don't want to know," she reminded him.
William blushed again and managed to stay on track this time.
"Noah asked if he could move in."
Eliza took it in her stride. "What did you say?"
"I said I would have to think about it."
If he continued moving slowly like this Noah would get tired of him and he would want to break up. It was just too fast for him. He had only just admitted that he liked him romantically.
"Was he okay with that?" she asked gently.
Noah's attitude hadn't changed at all and they had happily binged half a series on Netflix after. Noah had also made him breakfast like normal in the morning.
"I don't think he's going to hold it against you. You two have only been dating for two weeks," she pointed out. "He's probably letting you know his intentions early on. He's very keen to commit to you."
Yet again William was glad he had spoken to Eliza. She was always giving him different insight. He was now aware how bad he was at picking up on meanings.
"Do you want to live with him?" she asked suddenly. "You don't seem to be against the idea."
"I would," he admitted.
Whenever Noah went home in the evening or was too busy to come over, he felt lonely and that he was missing something.
"What's stopping you from saying yes then?"
William realised she was right. Why was he reluctant to agree to it? There was James to consider, but his butler clearly didn't have a problem with Noah as he had assured him the night before that he was glad there was someone else around to liven the house up. Additionally there was enough space in the house for all three of them.
Was it because it would be another step in the letting people know he was gay process? He was still happy to stay at the having a boyfriend step.
"If I live with him and people find out, they'll start speculating and might get odd ideas about our relationship. I am his boss' boss after all."
"That's a point," she conceded. "They might think you're his sugar daddy."
William put his face in his hands. He hadn't thought of it in that way. Eliza gave him a comforting pat.
"Will, I didn't mean to upset you. No one is going to think like that, you're younger than him anyway," she tried to reassure him. "If you did want to keep it secret it should be easy. You don't live near anyone from the company and it's not like you give him lifts to work. Even if people find out you can just say you two are friends."
She was correct on all counts. No one would notice that he had started living with someone. Most employees saw him as their boss and not as a person. He could do this.
"Thank you for your advice," he said. "How can I repay you for all your help?"
She smiled at him. "By being fully happy and not scared to be who you are."
William smiled widely in return. He was glad she was his cousin. What would he do if she didn't work with him?
"I'm doing my best," he told her.
"I can see a change already," she assured him. "Do you have another date with him today?"
There had been no arrangements made and it was usually Noah initiating them which bought him to another matter he wanted her opinion on.
"Do you think he would like it if I invited him round this time?"
Eliza giggled loudly.
"Of course he would. He's not going to say no to you."
William waited dutifully until his lunch break to make contact with Noah. It wasn't right to text your boyfriend during work hours even if he was the boss. As far as he knew Noah also took his break around this time so it would be fine to call.
The phone didn't get a chance to ring before Noah accepted the call.
"What cake does my boyfriend want?" was the first thing he said.
William was temporarily side tracked by the mention of cake.
"I was thinking about a chocolate marble cake earlier," he admitted.
"I'll make one for my next visit to your house," Noah promised.
That meant he didn't have any plans for coming around in the evening. William frowned and didn't reply.
"Did you want to ask me something different?" Noah asked a moment later after not getting a reply.
William took the lifeline. "Would you like to come around this evening?"
It only took a second for his boyfriend to answer.
"I will. See you after work?"
"With the cake," William reminded him.
"With the cake," Noah replied.
He ended the call a minute later and smiled in satisfaction.
It had been easier than he had expected. Eliza was right about Noah always going along with him. It would be all right. Maybe they could go somewhere at the weekend as well. He started thinking about places to go and didn't even worry about places being too crowded or people seeing them.
Katherine knocked on his door half an hour later with a stack of market research reports he'd requested.
"The marketing team finished these just now," she informed him and placed them on his desk. "Is there anything else you wanted?"
He looked at her and a question came to mind.
"Do you know anywhere in London that's good for dates?" he enquired.
Being Katherine she wasn't interested in why he was asking, she just wanted to share her knowledge.
"In one those books I was reading..." she began and winced when she remembered who she was talking to.
William knew exactly what type of books she was talking about. He gestured for her to continue.
"The main couple went to a midnight cinema and I thought it sounded very romantic," she said with a wistful expression at the grey sky outside.
"I see," he replied.
That was an option. He was enjoying watching videos with Noah in the evening and he could manage a cinema if he got the expensive seats away from other people. Katherine had saved him this time.
"They had a private room and then they…"
William sighed. "That will be enough, Katherine."
It was harder to say which one of them was more embarrassed. William was wondering again why she had thought that was an appropriate fact to mention and why he didn't arrange for someone to search her desk everyday for her romance books.
"I'm sorry for oversharing," she said with a red face. "It won't happen again."
"It had better not," he said warningly.
She nodded sadly and had a go at moving the subject matter away from fictional couples. Her attempt at averting the subject had backfired hard.
"I was thinking about asking Noah if he wanted to go with me," she said and twirled her hair nervously. "What do you think?"
The words were out William's mouth before his mind caught up with what he had said. He had exposed himself.
"Why can't I?" Katherine asked curiously.
William did not want to come out to Katherine right now. She was a big source of gossip and might accidentally let it slip. He would tell her when he had more confidence.
Then the perfect solution came to him. He didn't have to tell he was dating her crush. There was an easy way out.
"He's gay. The manager of Quinn's Cakes told all the females at the pâtisserie and I overheard."
Katherine flushed red and looked at the floor.
"...Thank you for informing me."
William felt sorry for her. It was likely to be a mortifying experience for her.
"You can go," he said. "Just take a break from reading those novels."
She nodded and left the office at the fastest speed he'd ever witnessed. He decided not to tell Noah about this. Katherine might be annoying, but she had been his secretary for four years and he knew he would be embarrassed in the same situation.
He didn't count on Katherine telling someone else.
Eliza came bounding into his office without knocking a few minutes later.
"You told Katherine Noah is gay?" she asked. "She came to me immediately to ask if I knew."
"I did," he confirmed. "She was planning to invite him on a date."
"Ah," she answered awkwardly. "At least she knows now. Did you tell her anything else?"
William shook his head. "I'm not ready to tell the biggest gossip in the company yet."
When he reached his house and unlocked the door there were no signs of Noah waiting for him in the hallway. Maybe he hadn't been able to come. He sighed and closed the door behind him. He should check his phone to see if he'd missed a text.
Then he heard someone moving around in the kitchen and the smell of cake wafted towards him. He rushed along the hallway to the kitchen and found Noah taking a cake out the oven.
"You're home," Noah smiled gently. "I would have come out, but the cake would have burned. Do you like marble cake with frosting or without?"
William felt so relieved to see him that he ignored a cake related question.
"For a moment I thought you weren't here."
"Why would I do that?"
Noah turned back to close the oven and place the cake on the cooling rack. He didn't seem to mind that William was attached to the idea of him always being at his house. That was when William made his mind up.
He wanted to be able to see his boyfriend every day.
"I'm happy for you to move in," he announced.
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