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 5 – Cason defends himself against Christiansen’s annoyance, only to be rescued and invited out by an unexpected friend.
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 5 – The Queen’s Invitation
‘You made a cake?’ Asked Christiansen. I was tempted to ask him if he’d tasted it yet. I’d picked up on good energy through the gallery about the catering and my cake and everybody appeared to be enjoying it, as each flower piped slice was slowly ebbing from view, either that or people were just tossing it behind the artwork. Maybe I should have told Anthony to shut up and have a slice, but I guess that would have been impolite. I’d see where this went first, for he didn’t sound too happy about the who scenario. ‘You did an outside job during your apprenticeship?’ continued Christiansen.
‘It’s not against contract, is it?’ I asked. There was an evident level of hostility in his voice over this.Really I hadn’t done anything wrong. I was simply performing a favour for a friend. But I’d happily play ball since the man was clearly in a bad mood with the tension in his stature.If anything, I’d guessed, by their immediate separation from one another once they both arrived, he and O’Hara most likely had had an argument on their way over to the gallery. ‘You signed me off, Mr Christiansen,’ I continued. ‘I had to do something with myself. Anyway it’s only a bloomin’ cake.’ I thought it unwise to call him by his first name, and I could tell in his eyes he thought me crazy for insisting I do a job because of boredom.
‘You’re supposed to be off sick,’ said Christiansen. ‘I signed you off because you had an accident.’ He pointed to my cheek, still covered. Oh that bloody cheek. ‘If you’re capable of catering then surely you should come back to me as soon as possible…to the chocolaterie I mean.’
Was he bloody serious? The man had told me, no, forced me to take time off. I even quite rightly refused an ambulance to his odd displeasure. I thought it best to put it down to a contractual thing. A lawful requirement, even. After all, being my employer he was responsible for my well being, even if the accident did take place off of his premises.
I saw O’Hara over Christiansen’s shoulder. In her perfect poised way she took a glass of fizz from a passing waiter, thanking them – though not necessary – and playfully tapping the lapel of an – most likely – equally successful admirer. Should I bring up the text message? Anthony and I hadn’t discussed it yet and I thought it would be a perfect subject alteration. Bugger it, why not.
I went to open my mouth when Christiansen stopped me.
‘I see you’ve met the star of the evening?’ I wondered what he meant by this until he pointed through the crowd to Gareth Fleischer, the tattooed artist the centre of attention as he told what I assumed was a terribly engaging joke. God the man was a sight for sore eyes, my god that jaw line, those boyish yet adult looks, that messy yet controlled head of hair.
BUSTED! The artist caught my gaze. There was that smile again, that smile that god herself had created as the ultimate weapon of flattery and captivation. For a brief second I wondered if she, God that is, had created Mr Fleischer on purpose, as a way to break the hearts of all those who stood in his path. Then, breaking the spell, Christiansen spoke again and confirmed my thoughts.
‘He’s a bit of a player, I hear,’ said Anthony.
Wow, I thought. Had this man really made that comment? Had Anthony really, given the circumstances of my presumptions, just commented on this charming artist’s sexual appetite? I knew I was treading on thin ice even thinking it. But you know what, bollocks to it. If he wanted to act unprofessional, I’d provide the matches. I even took that moment to shift myself nearer to Anthony in an attempt to smell the alcohol. There was none, at least not yet.
‘Have experience then, do you?’ I asked, my heart a little thumpier than usual. ‘With Fleischer I mean?’
‘Well you think he’s a slut so I assume you know first hand?’ Oh gosh, did I really just say that to my boss? Maybe the prosecco was stronger than I had thought. Come to think of it I reckon Dominique had had the bottom of the flutes laced with Hendricks…not that I was complaining, licking my lips.
‘If you’re suggesting I’ve slept with him,’ said Anthony, a forced scoff behind his words that was rather embarrassing to say the least.
‘Well have you?’ I asked, like some moron looking to lose his apprenticeship, not taking my eyes off him. ‘Oh, and why would you care even if he was? You’re not jealous are you?’
Christiansen eyed me for a moment. Perhaps it was the alcohol, hypocritical considering, I know, but nonetheless, Anthony – with all his faults that was – really did have eyes like chocolate or hazelnuts or something stupid like that. Even his skin had an attractive warm finish to it, but if he weren’t such a plonker, I may have swooned over him more.
‘I’m just trying to look out for you, Cason.’
‘Thank you, Anthony but you really needn’t bother.’ I did what Fleischer had done earlier and tapped my own glass against Anthony’s. A bit cheeky, but there we go. ‘I’m a big boy, I can make my own mistakes…oh, hello Ms O’Hara.’ Saved by the actress. A true philanthropist she was to so valiantly rescue me from this awkwardness.
‘Cason, isn’t it?’ said Caprice. For the evening she had turned up in a flared Azzedine Alaïa dress – oh so very splendid and body hugging. She’d even done her hair so a curled strand dropped down from her up-do – done on purpose I no doubt. ‘How’s your face,’ she said, her scent like a floral suede, ‘oh and your hands?’ She took my free hand in her own and examined the scuffs on my palm. ‘He’s given you some time off I hope?’ She tilted her head towards Anthony and smirked. Oh those lips of hers, she really was a Fine women.
Now, for someone like myself, I understand the level of privilege I had been bestowed. I was very well aware of the benefits i had received by inheriting part of my grandfather’s small fortune. I was a very lucky to have found a one bedroom apartment down a Belgravian mews for just over half a million (believe me, that’s lucky), and the luck hadn’t stopped when Christiansen tasted my pastry back in Surrey and offered me an apprenticeship of a lifetime – not that it had really gone anywhere yet. But not for a minute would I have expected my social circle to have grown the way it had done in the that week, either that, or Lady Luck had taken me by the hand and eased me slowly into this incestuously small circle of elitism, where, regardless of your field, you were recognised as a higher pedigree.
‘You know,’ said Caprice, ‘you and I should do coffee. ‘What do you think?’ She then stared me down with those polished orbs of her. I thought about looking at Anthony for some reassurance, perhaps as a way to ask permission. “Don’t you dare“, said my brain. “You look at him and you’ve blown it! You’ll prove to him that you’re in his pocket and you’re controllable.”
‘Absolutely,’ I said. ‘I know never to turn down a coffee.’
Caprice regarded me enthusiastically, or as enthusiastically as she could with that reservation of hers. She then turned to Anthony, who had been terribly quite during this invitation. Caprice brushed a hand over his shoulder, a sort of sign of affection that said: “I still love you but you and I still have shit to sort out.” My curiosity was in overdrive. For the entire evening she did not approach me again. What could this spectacular woman want from me, I wondered? Yes I was lucky, but surely not that lucky.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 5 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!