This is the tale of Cason Banks, a young pastry chef from Surrey England who moves to London to start his career and follow in the successful footprints the Banks family are determined to keep on printing. Though Cason is relatively wealthy, moderately handsome and determined to create a life for himself, he is also shy, and adamant love is for a certain breed of urbanites. Part 3 – After having received an odd message from his boss, Cason is now unsure how to act around the man he had forever looked up to.
Hi! My name is Christopher Sergi. I’m a novelist and a blogger currently living in the leafy suburbs of Surrey England. The Chocolate Prince will be an ongoing serial depicting the exciting life of Cason Banks as he navigates the new world of London on his search for success and love. Feel free to comment below on where you’d like to see the story go next!
Part 3 – The Louis Treize & Lamborghini
Julian, Bonnie and I, Christiansen’ apprentices that were, had finally acquired the privilege we had expected of our apprenticeship. I suppose most people would see a tutor class as just that, a classroom with a wooden desk, a chalkboard and some cheap pencil case. That was not the case on this scenario, in fact we had been invited to Christiansen’s home in Chelsea, a four story townhouse emblazoned with white stone and ivy, quite honestly I wouldn’t have expected anything less.
Like some governmental meeting, I was greeted at the dense dark chocolate styled door by the house porter, directing me to what I assumed was the drawing room. You may be wondering if I am used to this kind of lifestyle, that maybe my millionaire grandfather lavished my mother and I on fine dining, high ceilings, Egyptian cotton and houses with far too many rooms. I can assure you this is not the case. I lived in a house much like yours, for you see, I lived off my father’s earnings, a store manager of a modest tool shop, nothing fancy but paid the bills nonetheless.
In all truth my grandfather was quite an introvert when it came to money. Perhaps it was his way of instilling a work ethic into my mother, ensuring she went to the effort to make something of herself. I think I heard something about Bill Gates one time and how he only planned on giving his children one hundred thousand dollars after he passed, though I don’t think this is entirely accurate.
It was actually a terrible shock once the will was announced, the news being that I was to inherit one million pounds, but in all honesty, what does one million pounds really get you theses days? Oh you think I’m ungrateful? You try living in London, believe me. Actually my father had persistently insisted I move out of Surrey to anywhere but London, the obvious reason being that anyone with common sense would know what an absolute chore living here in the city can be like. But no, mother and I had a unanimous opinion on how London would serve as a Michelin star opportunity.
So no, Anthony Christiansen’s house was not familiar to me, and yes, the extravagance of it all was utterly awe-inspiring. What I had noticed most about his home was it’s absolute need to appear tenebrous, dark even, as though the house were some sort of metaphor for Christiansen’s inner obscurities. I had a cheeky gander at the militarised greyness of the walls, the Jackson Pollock styled paintings and his absolute need it seemed for silver frames and chrome furniture: perhaps a subconscious recognition of one’s own chaos, finely contained with modernist constraints. The moody masculinity of it was quite lovely I had to admit, but done almost on purpose, like a man desperate for attention. “Oh I just love your Tate-worthy vase!” I bet he’d love to hear that pomposity.
Unsurprisingly Christiansen had not looked at me the way he should have done. I would have at least expected a quick side apology for the previous night’s text message, or even a moment where he’d swallow his pride and pass me an atoning smile, but no, it were as if the man’s alter ego had sent the message. But no matter, as I had said to myself last night atop my bed-less mattress, I would not allow a single blip to sidetrack me. I was after all, or so I thought, the master of compartmentalisation.
But even masters are not perfect, words from my pessimistic father. If anything I felt as though Christiansen was mocking me, for I had arrived, not only before the others, but with the intention of possibly speaking with him so we could brush such a mistake under the rug. But no sign of him yet. Additionally I had brought with me my own notebook and pens, yet there laid out on the drawing room table was a carefully placed tray of Christian Lacroix stationary. I bit the inside of my mouth. Not to mention the fact I had been sat there alone for over ten minutes before the other two had arrived for our first official apprenticeship with the famous and so fantastic chocolatier. (Tongue taken hostage.)
“Criollo, trinitario, forestaro,” said Christiansen, the screen on the wall behind him like a moving painting. “I will teach you key differences, as well as the uses of each in my chocolaterie.” In all fairness to him, I actually knew quite a bit already about the differences of cocoa beans, and how Anthony Christiansen was famed for using the rare and smooth criollo in much of his creations, seldom dipping his toe into anything forestaro. “Then we shall discuss the fermentation methods and how this too affects the overall flavour of ones bar,’ he continued.
Like the other two, I too had my full attention on Christiansen, taking my eyes off of him only to accept the small tray of cocoa beans from his assistant, Fiona. There now next to my knees on the glass drawing room table, a silver tray with three individual dishes of cocoa beans, their distinctions a mere shade difference in colour, as though the beans should be my indication for what kind of Christiansen I was to get depending on the day.
Again, the man would not look at me. Quite honestly you’d think I were some obsessive, the gods honest truth being that I wouldn’t normally trouble myself with nonsense like a stupid text message. I had received something quite similar once before from an old flame, who had once thought it necessary to inform my inner circle of my apparent frigidness after my refusal to indulge him in his, and I quote, “spank me fantasy.” How tasteless, and I can assure you I had no qualms in “spanking” his ass into the River Thames: a mistake, but a mistake I secretly take pleasure from its aptness. As I said, a silly text massage would have been avoided quite easily, but I suppose this was different, this was a text message from no ordinary person.
I fail to believe he was embarrassed. He seemed far too outgoing for that, plus he was a businessman, how can business people be too shy as to just apologise to your face? At that moment my hands fought with each other, a kind of pull back of each finger. I was agitated. Having said that, looking back on it now I had found the whole ordeal to have just a smidgin of excitement, I mean, who wouldn’t want a successful person, a celebrity even, making a sexual advance over a text message? But besides the point, I needed closure, closure I never thought necessary. I needed to know if Anthony Christiansen meant what he said, or if he’d truly been badgered the night he sent it to me. As they always say, “A drunk mind, speaks a sober heart.”
And if he avoided my goddam eye one more freaking time…!
I stood up mid speech, and Anthony stared me down, properly this time, though I guess he had no choice considering I had just interrupted him. The other two exchanged a quick look also. ‘May I use your restroom, please?’ I said. I admit I stood first for dramatic affect, there was no way the poor man could ignore me this time.
‘Oh,’ said Anthony, a partial shudder from his reverie, ‘yes you may. Fiona, could you please?’ And he gestured to his assistant to direct me down the hall. I thanked him, though thought I’d better not push my cheek by locking eyes with him whilst I said this.
Secretly I had wanted the lavatory to be on the first floor at least, yet instead I’d been shown to a cloakroom rather close to the drawing room. Bollocks. I didn’t even need the toilet. In fact I make a strict effort to force myself before leaving the house whenever I am to enter another’s, but there I was anyway, in a cloakroom far too elegant to not be decorated purely to impress. Have you ever been in somebody else’s toilet where the paper is, not a role, but paper placed gingerly into a silver tray for delicate use, or where there is not only a Jo Malone room diffuser with its own pedestal but also the accompanying hand wash and lotion.
Jealously I snatched up far too much tissue, flushed it and used the quintessentially British fragrance products at my disposal before exiting, hoping that poxy assistant of his hadn’t waited outside like some creepy toilet attendant.
Then I assumed the carpet runner over the parquet was placed there for a reason, and with muffled steps I ascended to the first floor, confident my loitering within a celebrity’s home wouldn’t get me into too much trouble – if I were caught that was. I had made an assumption that the upper floors housed Christiansen’s study, I mean, who wouldn’t want their office to overlook the park square when one sends his emails? Perhaps it was luck or intuition (yes men have it too) that I managed to find the study with just a couple of door choices. And yes, there was the desk, the computer, the myriad of bookshelves, and there, nestled into the complexities of the wall panelling was the liquor cabinet, and a liquor cabinet it n’half was!
Analysing my actions now I suppose I wasn’t too sure what I was looking for. Had I entered this room to envisage myself as it’s occupier? Had I entered this room because I, however much I wish not to admit it, was just a nosy prick with an interest in expensive taste? Or was I genuinely after some type of evidence? Perhaps I’d find a photo of myself, erotic fiction on his shelves or something to suggest he wasn’t entirely pristine.
Having opened the liquor cabinet I took hold of an intricate decanter that was half empty: a Louis XIII cognac, one I was familiar with having seen it in grandfather’s house once before. A big bottle too, intricate and dreadfully expensive. I allowed myself Just a smell, oh and a smell it was: spicy, fruity and just a little heated with warm florals, and that’s when I saw it, the subtle print of lip against the decanter rim: how utterly and shockingly disrespectful. My appreciation of this man ebbed away shred by shred. One does not, and I repeat, does not swig a Louis Treize.
I went to replace the stopper, making an effort not to make too much noise. Then my phone rang in my blazer pocket, and why I had it on the loudest bloody setting I don’t know. Not only had the reverberation of tinny electrical sound bounced into my eardrums, the shock of it nearly made me drop the Louis Treize, a gasp escaping me as I clutched the awkwardness of the two and a half thousand pound decanter, my heart so fast it only aided in the ringing of my phone. I took a breath, angry at myself for getting spooked by something so ridiculous.
That was a close one. I reached up to replace where the bottle had been, yet my chunky arse grazed the leg of a plant pot podium, where said plant rocked for two seconds before falling to the floor, my surprised fingers losing their grip, the decanter like an angel falling from heaven, its once beautiful body and precious blood, now a sad shattered catastrophe. If anything were to come of this, the stained smell in the shag pile would likely up the property value.
‘What have you done?’ Came Fiona’s voice from the doorway. Shit shit shit!! ‘Get out immediately…Mr Christiansen,’ she shouted, ‘Mr Christiansen, sir.’ She was already out the door down the landing towards the staircase before I could perhaps bargain with her, and there I was, bragging to myself that I would never let anything like this get in the way of progress. What a stupid bloody idiot I was to go nosing around in other people’s business, especially my boss’s.
There’d be no point in staying. I’d get a job in a local restaurant or something. It wasn’t like I needed the apprenticeship from Christiansen, it wasn’t like it paid me that much anyway. Bollocks to it. I left the room also, descending the stairs at a pace that should permit me a quick escape. I took in one last time the home’s grandeur, a grandeur I’d never see again. I reached for the doorknob to heave it open, when Anthony, forever taller than myself, reached over my shoulder and shoved the thing shut before I could leave.
‘Come back to the meeting, please,’ said Anthony. His face had no gesture of understanding, nor his tone. I had been put in my place with merely a remark of authority. ‘We’ll discuss that breakage later.’ Could this Fiona have really run into the drawing room and spewed up my transgression that quickly? “Excuse me, My Anthony Sir but Mr Banks has just broken into your office and shattered your Lou’s Treize.” Now I think about it I’m sure the woman could indeed belt that sentence out quickly enough.
I tried the door again, this time successful. For a cheeky little brat now I think about it I really was pushing my luck, and like some ridiculous scene from a romance comedy, of which I can assure you is not the case here, I patted down the stone step, centred my focus to the other side of the road, pulled out my phone to see I had a missed call from Dominique, and only then did hear the approaching roar of what was to be my untimely death, or so I thought at the time.
The protruding bonnet of a Lamborghini approached me like a black stallion, and ask me all you like, I do not know, but somehow, I managed to angle my body quickly enough so only my fat arse managed to fall and cushion my bounce, the Lamborghini’s breaking bonnet slamming and knocking me forward, my face planting the pavement and leaving what will forever be a small dent like scar on my cheekbone. Now I think about it, if any car were to knock me to the ground I’m glad it were something so expensive.
Surprisingly it didn’t take much for me to get up, apologise, (yes, for some reason I was the one who bloody apologised) stumble back to the pavement, accept my mistake from the angry driver, and saunter off, the driver, after realising my backside had not dented their precious car, shouted something obscene, crawled into their spaceship and floored it back into the guts of Chelsea.
So off I went anyway, off to start my life without Christiansen, providing he didn’t hunt me down for destroying what was once a work of drinkable art, each step I took a sort of drunk inspired plod. I could have been forgiven for not knowing at the time, but with what I would later regard as my Lambo Smack, the Lambo Smack was actually a blessing in disguise, the second one in the last two days, for I’m sure the brief accident was enough for Christiansen to forgive what terrible thing I had done.
‘Cason!’ called Anthony from the other end of the road. I had made good ground considering my face was bleeding and my head sang the bells of Notre Dame. ‘For god sake, Cason come back here, right now.’
‘No, no,’ I said with a slur reminiscent to a drunk teenager. I didn’t look back, and instead over my shoulder I threw a hand, of which only then had I realised was grazed to the point where bits of skin hung from my palm. ‘No, I’m, I’m going home now…for, for a bath. Bye bye.’ And yes, if you’re wondering, I did collapse…I know, so sodding dramatic.
But I hadn’t expected anything romantic like a butch chocolatier to whisk me up in his big arms only to take me to his bedside where I’d wake up merely bandaged and smelling of roses. No, instead my life had been saved by a delightful elderly lady rounding the corner of the Chelsea street, and with her apparent skills in first aid, had me propped up against her hairy legs, both her dry crinkled hands slapping me which way and the other.
‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘can’t have you falling asleep, pickle. Come on now! Bloody crazy boy racers. I saw him, I did! Silly bugger, slammin’ it round that corner there. Knocked you down I s’pose!’
Never underestimate the kindness of strangers. That is something my father never thought true. “Always avoid people,” he once said to me, “they’re all nutters, especially the old ones.” But my misconception of this theory was blown right out of the park from this delightful encounter, and yes, oh yes the poor dear did in fact have a smell so peculiar I’m sure she may have only been visiting Chelsea that morning…(Ugh. Note to self, must stop being so presumptuous.)
But bad smell or not, she, without knowing who he was, hailed over the brilliant, and in my dazed eyes, the warm and handsome 6’2 figure of Anthony J. Christiansen, who, with artisan dexterity, took my face in his hands, and, oh god, shall I just tell you? Oh fine, if you must know, he did indeed slide an arm under my knees and the other under my lower back, calling over Fiona at the front door to call an ambulance, before lifting me to heaven.
I must remember to call that lovely old lady for a coffee one day. Dear oh dear!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 3 of Cason Banks’ story. This will be a weekly serial introducing new characters and exciting new adventures for Cason and his new friends as he navigates the difficult yet rewarding city of London. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, make sure to sign up to my monthly newsletter to be the first to know when the next part of The Chocolate Prince is up!