That night William had an odd dream that felt strangely realistic for a dream. Instead of being a series of nonsensical scenes, it was continuous and realistic. He was at a garden party and his parents were still alive. Noah was also there with a Victoria sponge cake and an outstretched finger. In his dream William made a pinky promise very happily, but when he woke up he couldn't remember why.
William cursed Noah loudly for permeating his dreams and went back to sleep after venting his frustration on his pillow. There was only one day until opening and he needed the sleep. Noah was not going to stand in his way of sleep.
William made a special visit to Quinn's Cakes with Eliza four days later. Eliza had been there for the opening as William didn't like to be in press photos. He preferred that Eliza was the public face on Quinn's Cakes and she was certainly a lot better at public speaking and socialising than him. After the opening day neither of them had been free to visit due to other business commitments.
Both of them could see the sales figures from the office so there wasn't much need to go there in person. However they were both making special visit for their own reasons. Eliza claimed to be going for the cake as did William. In reality Eliza wanted to talk to Noah and William was simply keeping his promise.
On first glance the queue to the door looked to be a positive sign. Eliza optimistically declared it to be because of popularity, but William pointed out that it could just be someone incompetent on the till. Eliza told him to stop being so pessimistic and they had their normal disagreement over their differing personalities.
Noah checked the cake he had just taken out of the oven with a skewer and it came out clean. He laid it gently on a cooling rack. He needed to wait a while before it was cool enough for icing.
"I'm going on break now," he announced to the other kitchen staff.
They all looked disappointed that he would dare take a break and leave them helpless in the kitchen. They found everything he did to be worthy of admiring looks and asked his approval on anything menial and it was getting on his nerves. He only cared about impressing William.
He went to the changing room to change out of his uniform. Noah debated on whether he should text William and remind him of his promise. That promise being the one from four days ago not 12 years ago.
As it turned out he didn't have to because he spotted William and his cousin in the queue as he walked through the pâtisserie. He smiled widely.
"William," he called out loudly. "Did you come to see me?"
"No, I came to see how busy it is," was the immediate reply from his favourite person. William averted his eyes and looked steadfastly at the cake counter instead of at him.
Noah could tell by now when William was lying, but he was kind enough not to point it out. He didn't want to embarrass him.
"You told me you came for cake," Eliza interjected.
William's eyes moved shiftily and Noah knew he hadn't told his cousin about their promise. It was probably for the best considering she was one of the few people that knew about their meeting 12 years ago. He changed the subject before William could incriminate himself further.
"Aren't you two going to use your credentials to skip the queue?" Noah asked.
"That's not good for our image," William argued.
Noah looked around at the pâtisserie. Every table was full and all the staff were busy. As the main source of the sweet treats, he should be worried, but he knew he had enough backlog of cake to last the day. The queue was probably not going to shift much if there weren't any seats for customers.
"I'll let you two have some cake. I made some fondant fancies this morning," he added meaningfully.
William perked up noticeably and Eliza giggled.
"I see you know about William's love of fondant fancies."
"Let's eat them in Dave's office, I'll turf him out," William said ruthlessly.
Clearly nothing was getting in the way of his cake eating. William led the way up the narrow staircase to the office and Dave left immediately, assuming that William wanted to do actual work in there. Neither Eliza or Noah disillusioned him.
Eliza collared Noah on his way to retrieve the fondant fancies. Noah knew she wasn't here to ask about cake.
"You've made a lot of progress," she observed. "William's told me a few things here and there."
"I'm doing my best, however he still hasn't shown any signs of remembering," Noah replied. "I will just have to start from the beginning."
Eliza stared at him silently for a moment and Noah waited for her answer. He could tell that she didn't fully approve of the situation but wanted her cousin to be happy.
"William... has been looking more content this week so I'm willing to help you out."
To say that Noah was over the moon to hear that was an understatement. He had been worried that he had no effect on William whatsoever. To hear that it was the opposite was reassuring.
"I'm glad to hear that," he told her sincerely.
"Hurry up and get the fondant fancies before William gets annoyed with you," was all she said before going back up the stairs.
It took a few minutes to retrieve from their hiding place in the pantry and make sure that they were unblemished. He couldn't serve something substandard to William. Dave met him outside the kitchen to hand him a tray with a teapot and three cups.
"Miss Quinn told me a few days ago that he likes Earl Grey tea," Dave said.
Dave was probably the person that Noah was the closest to at Quinn's Cakes. He was always reminding the female staff members to leave Noah alone and to stop peeking into the kitchen to see him. Noah had suspected that Dave wanted him and William to get together and now his suspicions were confirmed. It was odd that his biggest fan was a 40 year old man with a beard and a habit of taking too many smoking breaks, but he would take the support he could get.
"Thank you," he said and carefully carried the tray across the congested shop floor and up the stairs. It wouldn't do to drop anything.
When he opened the door, he found William and Eliza had made themselves comfortable in Dave's office. William had opened the window and Eliza was spraying perfume around. It was a little too sweet for Noah's standards.
"It smells too much like smoke in here," she explained to him. "Will has asthma."
That was a new fact for Noah. He noted it carefully and added it to his list of what he knew about William.
"You've just made it colder by opening the window," Noah reminded William. "Aren't you always cold?"
William shot him a sour look and closed the window. Eliza put away her pink perfume bottle and sighed.
"I should leave this one for Dave; it's too sweet for someone my age to wear. He can use it to make this place smell sweeter. It's a pâtisserie after all."
"I'm sure a 40 year old chain smoker will appreciate the gesture," William retorted and then his nose zeroed in on the contents of the tray Noah was still holding.
"Is that Earl Grey?" he asked hopefully.
Noah was glad for Eliza and Dave. They hadn't led him up the garden path; William really did like Earl Grey.
"You're like a bloodhound for Earl Grey," he said as he placed the tray down on the table. "How much sugar?"
William's reply was completely unpredicted.
"I used to have a dog called Noah."
Eliza snorted and shot him a look of amusement. Noah was glad that someone was having fun at his expense. He didn't bother to get her back as he needed to stay on her good side. He felt she could be dangerous if she turned against him.
"I hope you treat me better than your dog," he replied and started pouring out the tea.
"Didn't you sleep with Noah in your bed when it was cold?" Eliza asked with a glance at the human Noah.
Noah started and realised he had overfilled a teacup. He had been a little distracted by the mental image his mind had summoned up. Eliza Quinn really was testing him.
"I might have done. I don't remember," William replied.
Eliza didn't speak again until Noah served them tea and fondant fancies. Noah was of the opinion that she hadn't wanted to remind William that he couldn't remember much from his childhood.
"Here's your tea," he said to William. "Did I get the amount of sugar right? I had to guess."
Judging from the way that William's face lit up when he took a sip, he had guessed it right. It probably helped that 10 year-old William had told that he liked having four sugar cubes in his tea. It could be classed as having insider information.
"You did," William replied and put the tea down to take a bite of the fondant fancy.
"You put too much in mine," Eliza commented. "William's the one with the unbeatable sweet tooth."
The cousins began to talk business matters when Dave returned. The past five minutes had been spent discussing William's infallible sweet tooth.
"The sales figures and footfall have been higher than we predicted. We've been reading all the reviews and customer feedback," Eliza said. "We're having this discussion with both you because you're an important part of the business."
"The reviews for Noah's baking have been very good to say the least," William continued. "We're happy with you in the role. As for Dave..."
Dave sat up very straight in his chair and Noah could see a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. It was clear that whilst Dave might want the two of them together romantically, he still found William very intimidating. Even Noah found him a little intimidating when he was talking business.
"We have no problems at present," William told him. "You've smoothed over customers complaints well so far."
"You have a hard job because this is the first branch and there's no precedent for you," Eliza said kindly.
Dave sank down in his chair and looked more relaxed.
"I feel like there's a but coming," he muttered.
"There is," Noah whispered to him.
He could tell when William was keeping something back. He also had a good idea of what William was going to say.
"We just would prefer if you were more available. A member of staff told Eliza that she needed you to override a price and it took too long to find you. Perhaps less fag breaks?"
It was odd to hear William use such a crude term. Noah was a little surprised, but it seemed get the point across.
"I think we've discussed everything that needs to be said. We'll be back next week to check up," William announced twenty minutes later. "I'll send the new targets through later."
Dave left his office quickly as he was being called by someone. Eliza parted with them at the bottom of the stairs to talk to the staff which left William and Noah alone together.
"Don't you need to get back to the kitchen now?" William asked. "I'm suspicious of how long they can survive without you."
"I am too," Noah admitted. "They rely on me too much. Surely they can make simple things from a recipe I gave them without asking my approval on everything."
"I'll mention it to Dave. It's not an efficient way to work. You still check everything they make before it goes out?"
"It's my job to," Noah assured him and checked his watch. "I should really be back there now."
His CEO shrugged. "I won't dock your pay for being late. I'm nice like that."
Noah smiled. He really was getting on well with William. Perhaps if he asked him on a date, William would accept? He could tell William was warming up to spending time with him.
"You are too kind to me," he laughed. "When are you visiting next?"
William checked his phone and spent a while frowning over it.
"I'm not free until next week. I would have to miss something important if you want me to visit before then. I don't really have time in my lunch breaks either-this place is too far away."
Noah's face fell. He had become accustomed to seeing William regularly. It wouldn't be fair to encroach on William's business hours either. Then he had an idea.
"I finish at midday on Friday, I can visit you with some cake."
William looked up from his phone with a happier expression. "I have half an hour free then."
"It's a date," Noah said.
He was expecting a red face and protests from William. Instead he simply nodded and there was only a faint trace of embarrassment on his face. Noah celebrated internally at the lack of a reaction.
He was getting closer to William's heart.
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