When William and Noah returned home they found James had made party food for dinner and decorated the dining room. He had been so sure of William's success that he'd covered the room in balloons and streamers.
"I thought the occasion called for a celebration," he explained. "I was sure you would succeed. I made most of the food myself. I'm sorry it's not going to be as good as anything Noah makes."
William surveyed the table with a critical eye. It was just like his childhood birthday parties down to the cocktail sausages on sticks to the ice cream and jelly. He could feel an odd nostalgic feeling in his chest.
"It's also William's birthday next week," his butler continued. "Think of this as an early celebration."
"I didn't know it was your birthday soon," Noah said in surprise and nudged William. "What would you like for your cake? I'm at your service."
William didn't reply and stayed in place by the table. It was that time of year again. The significance of the date had completely slipped from his mind this year. Normally he dreaded it with a passion.
His birthday always signalled the anniversary of his parents' death. The day before always felt worse than the day itself.
Maybe this year would be better.
He had a loving boyfriend and he was no longer in denial about his gayness and felt confident enough to tell anyone. It would be completely different.
Noah's voice interrupted his musings and he looked up to find Noah and James staring at him in concern.
"What was the question again?" he asked and sat down at the head of the table. "I zoned out."
"I asked what you wanted for your birthday cake," Noah prompted before sitting down at the next chair.
Whatever he asked for, he could be sure it turn out delicious. In the past he had tried to get out of being baked special birthday cakes and just asked for a supermarket one so it wouldn't feel too special.
"Just a plain birthday cake," he answered. "It's not a special birthday so there's no need to take much effort."
"It's special to me because it's your birthday," Noah said immediately. "I'll decide it myself then."
"It should be special because it's your first birthday occasion since having more confidence," James interrupted. "In any case, let's put this aside for a future point and enjoy the moment now."
William agreed with that sentiment and reached for the plate of party rings. He took six from the plate which caused Noah to raise an eyebrow.
"I can make those for you if you want," he offered.
William felt like salivating at the thought of Noah made party rings. He already loved party rings, having Noah make them would be even more delicious.
"I would be happy if you would. You can make me anything and I'll eat it."
"What about a nice bread and butter pudding?" his boyfriend teased.
That was enough to make William shiver. He had eaten enough of those growing up.
"Did you try the one I made for your aunt?"
"Of course not."
Noah smirked. "That was a good choice. I made that one with an older person in mind. I chose the flavours specially to make the best impression on your aunt."
He was now even more glad that he hadn't gone anywhere near it. It had been quite easy to in fact as his aunt had demolished most of it and left a slice for her husband. His appetite for desserts definitely came from his father's side.
Noah's moving in day went well. It only took an hour in fact, Noah hadn't been joking when he said he didn't have much at his flat. The rest of the day had been spent cuddling and watching rubbish daytime TV.
William felt completely different when he went to the office next day. It was like he had been on holiday for month and was seeing everything after a long period of time.
"You look like you enjoyed your day and half off," Katherine commented cheerfully when he walked past her.
"I did," he answered honestly. "Is there anything major that I need to catch up on?"
"Shockingly no," she told him. "The marketing department haven't messed anything up for a few days. It seems like a miracle."
He thought back to their recent mess ups. Thanks to Noah's influence, he was more inclined to let them sort out their mistakes.
"It does," he agreed. "Can you get out all the paperwork for the pâtisserie project and bring it to me?"
William walked through to his own office and sat down in his chair. He felt more of a passion for his work today instead of something he had to slog through. It was amazing what being in love did.
He was in love.
It seemed odd to think that he had resigned himself to living a dreary life so long ago. Now everything seemed to be bright and colourful.
He should let Noah know that he did love him.
Before he had just said he liked him romantically which didn't necessarily mean love. He needed to tell Noah that it was now love he felt.
The occasion should feel special. It wouldn't be right to tell him in the middle of a Netflix marathon. That meant he would have to ask Katherine for advice again.
Katherine walked into the office carrying a pile of ring binders. She dropped them into his desk and stood there for a moment in case he had any other requests.
"I do have a question for you," he said. "It's a personal one."
"I have been giving you lots of personal advice recently," she replied with a happy smile. "I'm always happy to help you."
"What would you do if you wanted to tell someone who you are dating that you actually love them?"
Instead of leaping ahead and providing the answer without asking anything, Katherine stopped to verify something.
"You've been asking me some romantic questions recently, did you finally get a boyfriend?" she questioned eagerly.
He'd been too obvious. He should have said he was asking for a friend. Then he realised that she had specified boyfriend.
She knew he was gay.
"...You don't think it could be a girlfriend?" he asked hesitantly to make sure he had heard right.
"I know you're gay. It's been quite obvious."
She definitely knew he was gay and appeared to have known for a while. William was at a loss for words. He had been debating when to tell her he was gay, now he didn't have to. He just wanted to know when he'd given himself away.
"When did you find out?"
"I noticed fairly early on in my employment here. We meet a lot of employees and you barely paid any attention to all the cute girls, but your eyes would follow some of the men. You also glare at me when I get nosebleeds over men. It didn't take a genius to work it out."
William frowned. Had it really been that easy? He had thought he'd kept it a secret very well. If she had worked it out, how many people knew?
Katherine saw the look on his face and understood immediately.
"I only noticed because I work closely with you every day. I also didn't tell anyone- I realised you must have your own reasons for keeping it quiet and I respect your right to keep it a secret."
William was too stunned to speak. He really had never given Katherine enough credit for being his secretary. She had kept his worst secret to herself despite being a gossip in all other areas.
"Should I give you a pay raise?" he asked.
Katherine grinned. "That would be very nice. A promise to not confiscate my reading material would be good as well."
William sighed. "Agreed."
He did owe her for keeping it quiet.
"So you wanted to know how to tell your boyfriend you love him?" she continued on with his original question. "You should set the scene by doing something different… Can you cook?"
William itched his face awkwardly.
"Um, no. I have a butler that does it for me."
Katherine paused for thought. "Okay... You could try baking something instead. Does your boyfriend like sweet things?"
"He doesn't," William confirmed.
It was lucky that James had noticed before he did. It would be awkward if he made something sickly and sweet for him.
"Okay, that's a little difficult. Is there anything that he really likes or something that connects you two?"
William thought of everything he knew about Noah. He failed to think of anything that Noah seemed to really like apart from, well him. As for things that connected them there were pinky promises and cake. It was badly made Victoria sponge cake that had sparked everything.
He could make a bad Victoria sponge cake.
"I've got something," he said. "Thank you for your assistance."
His secretary smiled and continued staring at him curiously. He knew this look well. Normally it meant she wanted to ask something badly and was restraining herself. He let her off this time.
"What would you like to ask?"
"Who's your boyfriend? Have I met him?" she demanded.
William recalled her crush on Noah and winced. This was going to be awkward. He had to tell her now as she was likely to find out sooner rather than later.
"...You've met him. It's Noah Charles."
Katherine squealed. "You got your hands on Noah Charles! Does he have any straight friends that are like him?"
"I can ask if you like."
"Thanks William!" she said happily.
William found he wasn't feeling insecure about blabbing to the biggest company gossip. In fact he was keen to let everyone know Noah was taken. He had definitely changed in the past month.
Could he remain this happy for the rest of his life?
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