Noah was at his side in a second.
"Are you sure?" he asked happily. "I wasn't expecting you to agree so soon."
"I don't want to live alone anymore," William admitted. "I want to see you when I come home."
It was a relief to finally be able to admit that out loud. Noah gave him a tight hug and a kiss on the forehead in return.
"I want to see you every day," he admitted.
They both went for a makeout session after that and William was out of breath by the end of it.
"Can you let me breathe?" he requested with a very red face and squirmed out of Noah's arms.
"You two should be sorry."
William looked over to Noah's shoulder to see his butler standing in the doorway with his hands over his eyes. How long had he been there for?
"Young master, please warn me next time. You know I am usually in here at this time to prepare for dinner," James reprimanded him lightly. "I have no desire to see you two kissing."
William had the grace to blush. Noah on the hand didn't look embarrassed at all.
"Sorry. He told me he wanted me to move in," he explained. "...I was very happy to hear it."
"I gathered that," James commented dryly. "Can you two take it somewhere else so I can start cooking in peace?"
James had not reacted at all to the revelation that Noah was moving in and William didn't know if that was good or not. Either he really didn't care that there would be someone else around or he wanted to talk about it in private.
"Let's leave," Noah said and led him out the kitchen.
They convened in William's bedroom on the sofa. Noah put his arm around him and asked the question William had been expecting.
"Are you sure you want to live with me?" Noah asked. "We've only been dating for two weeks. You might get sick of me quickly."
William couldn't imagine that.
"That won't happen."
"I think that's what a lot of young couples think," Noah commented. "I just want to know that you haven't made this decision rashly."
"I did think about it. When I didn't see you waiting for me I thought you hadn't come and I felt lonely," William admitted.
Noah pulled him in for another hug.
"You're adorable. I will take your word for it."
They stayed like that for a while until William's phone buzzed. He picked it up to see it was an email from the marketing manager about a mistake made with the dates of a special promotion. He groaned. This was going to spoil his evening.
"There's been a problem. I need to get on my computer."
He went to stand up, but Noah kept hold of him instead. His boyfriend had read the text over his shoulder and had remained silent until now.
"Can this be sorted by other people? Surely you're not responsible for something like that."
"I'm not," William admitted. "It's the marketing team's issue to solve."
"Well, tell them that then," Noah said. "Your evening is the one being spoiled by their mistake."
William knew he was right. He needed to stop being involved in small problems. He was the CEO not a team manager and his approval wasn't needed. Under Noah's watchful gaze he fired off a reply on his phone telling the manager to get it solved before nine the next morning.
"It wasn't that hard," Noah said encouragingly. "If you keep fixing small things they will always come to you."
William put his phone back in his pocket and nodded. It had been in the back of his mind ever since James had told him that his father wouldn't solve issues personally like he did. He changed the subject to something else he had been thinking about.
"Do you like going to the cinema?"
"I haven't had time since you hired me and I haven't been to one in this country for years," Noah said. "I've been to French ones and watched films with subtitles."
Sometimes William forgot that he was talking to someone that had spent the past few years in France studying baking just to fulfil a promise with him.
"How good is your French?" he asked curiously.
It was the second time he had ever seen Noah looked panicked, the first being when he saw his CV at the interview.
"...It gets the job done," was Noah's eventual answer.
"So absolutely terrible?" William summarised with a smirk.
Did he finally have Noah's weak point?
"I can't whisper sweet nothings to you in French, but I can get us around France if we ever go there on holiday," his boyfriend answered smoothly. "I can understand it, speaking it well is another matter."
Noah made it sound like he wanted to go on a romantic holiday with him and William liked that. He snuggled back into Noah's arm.
"I got the best marks out of everyone in my French class at school. I'll be the one leading you," he replied with a grin.
"You mean you can speak British schoolboy French," Noah teased. "I don't think anyone is going to ask you if you what you did with your friends last weekend or about the shops in your town."
William nudged his boyfriend with his elbow.
"Let me have my moment."
"Of course," Noah relented. "You can be the one to whisper sweet nothings into my ear."
"Shall we go to the Eiffel Tower and take the cliché tourist photo?"
"French people hate that," Noah laughed. "I'll put up with the embarrassment for you. Only for you."
William as usual was impressed with how Noah could find any opportunity for flirting. He closed his eyes in contentment. He was warm and next to someone that didn't mind how he was.
"When do you want to book a holiday to France?" Noah questioned.
His boyfriend was certainly a man of action. They had only just idly talked about it.
"You're quick on the uptake."
"I want to give you something to look forward to."
William snuggled in even closer. It was true he hadn't looked forward to anything for years. It had just been work. It would be good to have something to anticipate.
"What sort of budget should we have?" he asked.
If he needed to go on a business trip he got Katherine to book it for him and everything was claimed for so he had no idea how anything worked.
"You're the CEO, I'm just a lowly pastry chef," Noah joked. "We have a limitless budget."
"I'll give you a card to use for it," William replied. "You can surprise me."
He needed to spend all the money he had earned on something. Normally he spent as little as possible on himself because he didn't feel that he deserved it. Now he was feeling the desire to actually use it.
"It's probably too early on in our relationship to start exchanging card details. I had a few jobs while I was studying to get some practise in pâtisseries so I can afford it," Noah assured him.
"Do I get a slice of the marble cake or is William going to finish it all off?" James enquired after dessert was served.
William dutifully cut a slice for his butler and put it on a plate with a cake fork. It was good manners to share even if you didn't want to give anything away.
"You can have this slice."
James accepted the plate and then looked over at Noah with a watchful expression in his eyes.
"You've been around for dinner a lot in the past two weeks, but I've never seen you eat dessert. Do you not like sweet things?"
That was very true. William had never seen Noah eat anything sweet no matter where they were. It was always him eating the desserts. Noah had something savoury or sat there watching him. He had never thought about it enough to wonder why that was the case.
"I don't like to deprive William of even the smallest crumb," was Noah's smooth answer.
William was suspicious. Noah probably didn't like sweet food. He always drank his coffee black or didn't have any sugar in his tea. He was dating someone who didn't like his favourite type of food.
Did he mind?
It wasn't anything major. It just felt like their promise from 10 years ago had made Noah study something he didn't like eating for several years.
Noah met his eyes.
"After studying it for long I don't have much interest in eating sweet products. It's quite normal for pastry chefs. I enjoyed my studies, please don't worry about it being boring for me."
Had they got to the point where Noah could guess what he was thinking? He finished off the marble cake and was going to announce his departure when James spoke.
"William, may I have a private word with you?"
"I'll wait for you in the lounge," he replied.
"I'll set up Netflix in your room," Noah said and left the dining room.
William experienced a nervous ten minutes on the sofa waiting for James to finish the dishes. There were a number of topics his butler might want to talk about and he wasn't sure he was ready for some of them. James soon arrived holding a tea tray with no sweet treats.
"I didn't bring biscuits because you've eaten your fair share of cake today," he warned. "You put four sugar cubes in your tea anyway."
William started pouring the tea out and hesitated when it came to the sugar cubes. Sometimes he felt bad about how much sugar he went through.
"I didn't mean to shame your sugar consumption," James said. "There's just some issues I want to talk about."
"Is it about Noah moving in?"
"I'm sorry- I should have asked you first. You live here as well."
His butler had followed tradition and lived in the old servant's quarters on the ground floor whilst William's bedroom was on the first floor. The townhouse dated back to the Victorian era had countless generations of his family had lived there.
"You should have," James reprimanded him lightly. "I am happy that you won't be here alone with your butler which brings me to another issue. I am happy with your choice of partner, but I do think it is a little quick. You two are in the honeymoon stage of your relationship and that stage never lasts."
William hadn't heard the term before, however he could guess what it meant. Once that stage was over they might not want to be together anymore.
"We're planning a trip to France," William told him. "Is that still honeymoon stage?"
James smiled. "I've always wanted you to take a holiday somewhere. I'm glad it's happening."
"Noah pushed me a little," William confessed.
"I'm glad he's in your life again. I can't be here forever."
The conversation was taking a turn that William had been dreading for years. James was 71 so he was definitely past retirement age. He knew James couldn't be his butler forever.
"Are you retiring?" he asked with dread.
"I'm an old man," James said sadly. "I can't keep this up forever."
Deep in his heart William knew that James was right. It was fair that he let James retire like any normal employee. It was just going to be odd without him around.
"That being said," his butler paused. "I have no intentions of moving out until you two are in a settled relationship and you have sorted out your self esteem problems."
William breathed a sigh of relief and then frowned. James might be here forever then if he didn't improve and that really wasn't fair on him.
"You can do it, William," James said encouragingly.
William smiled despite the heaviness of the conversation.
"What do you think the best step would be?"
He really wanted James' opinion and now he felt okay to ask because he knew James understood him.
James held up two fingers.
"There are two possible avenues to take. One, come out to someone very important and two, look more into your parents' death."
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