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 6 – After a lavish afternoon in Harrods, Cason is yet again asked to perform a favour, yet this time, it will question his morals.
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 6 – The Serpenti Favour
The next morning left me hanging like an old shirt worn after years of disinterest. You’d think a twenty five year old would have the capacity to inhale car fumes and still manage to climb The Shard at four in the morning. Alas, my ability to drink like I had in my teens has long and truly left me.
I’d spent most of the previous evening with Dominique, assisting him with what I thought would be the gallery tidy up but was in fact just an after party, a kind of gin infused foray into the London loft lifestyle, a party of sorts for him and a few of his close industry buddies. Apparently he had people to deal with the gallery, after what he said was a roaring success, managing to shift ninety percent of Fleischer’s collection. It was a shame I hadn’t seen the man for the rest of the night, after my run in with Christiansen that was. I presume the artist was in high demand by the socialites. I mean, of course he was, both his talents and his…looks.
Thank god I was still signed off for the next couple of days considering the ungodly hour I arrived back at 26 Harding Mews. Have you ever had a 5th Floor Mojito at Harvey Nicholes? No, how about three of them? There’s something to be said about London alcohol. Somehow the stuff is so much stronger than the suburbs, the drinks having kicked me back to front and side to side, and as a result, I had awoken at two in the afternoon, the summer heat like smoke through the windows. I showered, brewed a chamomile and thought I’d make a start on the repainting of my walls. A Belgravian apartment it was but a new lick it still needed. Bloody hell the place was a mess. Still I had boxes and bags unopened and the fact I was off proved just how irresponsible and lazy I was being.
The doorbell rang, and with my hands occupied with the ceiling brush I had no option but to call out through the open window to the street below. Who could it have been? Anthony? Dominique? Oh god, not mum and dad? There was no answer. Perhaps they couldn’t here me from the first floor. With paint in my hair and on my face I threw down the brush, leaving a splat. I was doing a pretty substandard job of it after all. I descended the stairs to the front door. Scruffy I was, but never mind.
‘Oh,’ I said, hoping I didn’t come across as rude. ‘Caprice! This is a nice surprise’ Could I call her that now? Was it too forward to use her first name already? I couldn’t see her responding too well if I kept calling her Ms O’Hara, that’s if I were lucky enough to see her so often, but then again, here she was one my doorstep, an Hermes scarf around her black hair, a nameless brand of sunglasses over her eyes.
‘Cason,’ she said Cooly. ‘Is this a bad time?’ I guess she noticed the white splodges. Now I think about it I’m not sure why I bothered showering.
‘No,’ I said ecstatic, ‘never!’ Some sad attempt to assure her nobody should ever be busy or too occupied to pass up a greeting with the great Caprice O’Hara. I forgot my manners and stepped back. ‘Oh please, comic in, well…I mean, I’ve just moved in you see, and I’m afraid it’s all bit of a pigsty, really.’
‘Then we should go out,’ she said surely. ‘Have that coffee, yes.’ She then twisted her slender frame to the pompous Range Rover I’d only just noticed looking terribly out of place down the plant potted lane of Harding Mews, like an enormous black refrigerator, humming within a bed of organic greenery. ‘I’ll wait in the car while you get ready.’ And before I could delicately decline she brushed a thumb over my face and departed for the air conditioned luxury of her chauffeur.
She couldn’t have chosen a more apt place for us to have a late lunch. Why we bothered driving I don’t know, considering Harrods was roughly a ten minute walk from my apartment. She dragged me through the grandiose halls of the world’s most famous store, where, for the most part, people seemed to ignore her. I could only put this down to how such a place housed abnormality as a normalcy.
She blended in with the melange of cream I wouldn’t have expected less of a place like Harrods, and for roughly two hours we perused, well, she admired and I gawped, at the likes of Dior, Cartier, Bulgari, Boucheron, Boodles, all in what I had imagined to be an opportunity for Caprice to flaunt her wealth, before she turned to me and asked me what I’d liked the look of.
‘Me?’ I asked her. Surely she wasn’t here for my opinion. She was at the mercy of experts, professionals, personal shoppers, the works, London’s best, why was she asking me?
Caprice smiled as though it were a smile for smile’s sake, and with practised hands she shifted me closer to a cabinet within the Bulgari boutique. ‘Not going to turn me down, are you?…Yes, we’ll try this one, please.’
At that point I become very aware of myself, stood there in that Italian jewellers, in a t -shirt and trainers I now regretted. Silly. You may be thinking about my inheritance again? True, I suppose I could have afforded this ring if I really wanted it, but in all honesty the remaining money in my account I thought I should keep for now, use it as an investment later on down the line. But this experience was different, and I could tell something intentional was behind Caprice’s enthusiasm as she hailed over the assistant. Her magnificent famous hand shifted further down my spine, the pressure of her palm against my disposition.
‘Just try it on,’ she said, ‘and If you don’t like it we can leave it.’ She pointed to the snake scale ring, the gloved assistant removing it like some holy grail.
With gloved hands, the client adviser bestowed me the Serpenti ring, and with a gulp I’m sure everyone had heard, I took it – slid it on my left pinky. God, it looked good. Really it did. A Viper band ring in 18 kt white gold set with demi pavé diamonds. As they had described, the sinuousness of a snake it truly was.
‘It’s yours,’ said Caprice in my ear, a hand through my hair, like snakes. Was she really buying this for me? I wasn’t sure if I should have taken my eyes off my hand to look at her. I went to speak, but she beat to me to it by informing the assistant that we were going to take it. Gosh, the theatrics in her voice leaked a kind of odd enthusiasm. I had to say something.
‘No, really,’ I said, and before I could protest further I removed the ring and placed it on the counter top, happy to have something so expensive and frightening removed off me. ‘It’s very kind of you, Caprice, but…but it’s okay, really. I’d only lose it down a drainpipe or something, knowing me.’
Caprice smiled at the staff and made a hand gesture that must have meant “box it up“. ‘Cason,’ she said shrugging, ‘it’s a gift. I just want to treat you.’
‘But why?’ I asked as politely as I muster. ‘I mean, you barely know me.’ I tried to mask the discomfort with a sprinkling of humour. Even I found it hard to convince me.
‘We’ll be back later,’ said Caprice brushing down her blouse and thanking the staff before she linked an arm though mine and walked me back into the halls. ‘Okay, time for lunch, and then we can have a proper natter, you and I.’
I unearthed a smile and nodded. We then found ourselves in the Godiva restaurant, a double espresso and a slice of brioche presented to me. A silent deliciousness, but too awkward for my taste. I had to say something to break the ice. If anything I’d developed a nagging guilt for inadequately entertaining the presence of someone so admirable. ‘Caprice, I didn’t mean to be rude earlier,’ I said, hoping she’d look up from her phone. ‘It’s just…’
‘No no, Cason, I’m sorry,’ she interrupted, sighing and disposing her phone into her handbag. She looked to be expecting someone, then I’d noticed the script she had been been reading from the other day, its pages teasing me from within their leather walls. ‘I suppose I should have started with saying this first.’ An appetite bubbled from her. ‘You see, I want to ask a favour of you.’
‘A favour?’ What could she possibly mean by this? I shrugged agreeably. ‘Okay, well, yeah, sure. W-what did you have in mind?’
Caprice toyed with the strap of her Chanel, an uncharacteristic crease between her brows. ‘I…I want you to do a little digging for me, Cason, with Anthony that is. I want you to find out if he’s…if he’s having an affair?’
That threw me right off. An affair? She thinks Anthony’s having an affair?
‘I know we haven’t been together long,’ she continued, having obviously caught my surprise. ‘I’m sure the magazines are only just finding out about it which is a first considering how hungry they usually are for this kind of rubbish, but, I’m very much in love with him, you see, and frankly, I’m not sure how I would take it if he were…but I must know.’ She reached over and took my hand, the only hand I had stupidly left on the table like a sitting duck. Great, now she really had me. ‘Please, Cason. I just want you to keep an eye on him for me. Let me know if he does anything strange, you know, phone calls, if he leaves you by yourself at the shop, changes in behaviour. You’ll let me know, yes?’
As a boy, Anthony Christiansen showed me a divine possibility: that passion for something trivial could be transformed into digestible art. The man, ever a heartthrob in the eyes of a pubescent boy obsessed with chocolate, had lost his ever. The man no longer presented to me what I had conjured as a personal hero, he, Anthony that is, like every hero, was flawed, perfectly handsomely flawed, and now, lost I had become in the eyes of this woman, my inner need to make something of myself required a new catalyst. Caprice O’Hara, regardless of her humanness for closure, could well be my ticket to success. Whatever she assumed was in it for me: a piece of metal, it mattered not. My end of the bargain would not be an instant thing. My end would come much later.
Caprice’s determined happiness shot me down. At last, it felt good. The tension between us faded, we had lunch, we drank champagne, we discussed books, movies, MEN! We tried on clothes, nice clothes. We booked appointments, had ourselves pamper after pamper, stylist after stylist, advantages taken from every opportunity we could, and I, regardless of my label as her new ‘gay best friend’, would relish any exposure that would be my inevitable launch for recognition.
What a day it had been!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 6 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!