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 7 – It’s Pride Month, and nice surprises greet Cason from every angle. But just how nice are they, and do they come with a price?
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 7 – Happy Pride
‘Let me see.’ Dominique held out a slender hand ready to accept my own, the sound of “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo in our ears. ‘Oh, very nice. It’s Simple, masculine, daring. It suits you perfectly, Cason.’
The pair of us – drinks at the White Honey on the evening of my Harrods visit – swooned over the silver viper band like two chimpanzees to a monolith. How could something so small, so material, have such an impact on two grown men? The more I think about it, Caprice had done what she had intended to do. She had captivated me with her generosity. Generosity I had yet to pay for, however.
‘So,’ said Dominique with an olive to his lips, ‘how do you plan to catch a man cheating, when the person he clearly wants to cheat with is you?’ That perfect white grin of his flashed. ‘I have some ideas if you want them. I have several cameras ready to be secretly installed.’
I rotated the Bulgari ring on my pinky, glad we had sat in out usual corner by the indoor tree in our watering hole. ‘I’m not going to do anything,’ I said to Dominique’s disappointment. ‘I’m going to play it cool, that’s all.’ He looked at me incredulously. ‘I’m serious! There’s nothing going on with Christiansen, okay?’ I lowered my voice a bit, forgetting Chelsea was still pretty much the man’s stomping ground. ‘He just likes his drink too much. He sent me that text by accident after he’d swigged his cognac. Caprice obviously hasn’t caught on yet.’
We could have argued all night about it, but in the end I insisted I had to leave before taking in more alcohol than Anthony, and I was in no mood of being a judgemental hypocrite. Besides, after my afternoon with Caprice at Harrods and my evening drinks with Dominique, I received a phone call from Gareth.
You know, I think there might be a bit of a problem with my generation and those who proceed me, because for some reason, phone calls are somehow terribly scary. Since when did our method of communication limit itself to text messages and emails? Admittedly we’re unable to conjure the necessary vocal tones in a timely manner when put on the spot, knowing the person on the other end of the line has given us no chance to digest their words.
Nevertheless, I persevered, enjoying the man’s voice as he spoke to me during my evening stroll through Knightsbridge. ‘Um, how did you get my number?’ I asked, not at all as curious or concerned as I should have been.
Fleischer chuckled and for a moment the sound waves of his breath smothered my eardrum. Glorious. ‘I-uh, I got it from Dom…sorry, he promised I wouldn’t tell.’ More breathy puffs of cheeky laughing.
‘It’s no matter,’ I said honestly. I bet most people would be angry at their friends for giving their numbers out to their crushes, but not me in this case. The possibility of this tattooed dexterous god having me pinned up against a wet canvas was a fantasy found only in stories. The idea of it actually happening…well, aghhh!!
‘I’ll have to punish him later,’ I said, referring to how I’d later shoulder shove Dominique before paying for his cocktails all evening as a way of thanks.
More forced but welcomed laughs. ‘So, you free tomorrow?’ asked Fleischer. ‘Not busy I hope. Unless you’re making me another cake.’
‘Ha…no,’ I lied, I still had to finish my flat decoration. The idea of possibly entertaining this becoming-artist would only happen if I had more than a box of books for him to sit on, unless he was in to that kind of thing: the bohemian lifestyle, the “always on the move” kind of feel to one’s home, a sense of boundlessness and rootlessness that always sparked a feeling of adventure to some people. Nah, I still thought having my sofa free from clothes and clutter would be far more inviting. ‘No, no, I’m free. Did you have something in mind.’
‘Hell yeah,’ he said. So very cocky. This man was a rare find indeed. ‘You wanna do something with me?’
‘Depends what it is,’ I said, my imagination running amok. ‘You…you want to do the National Gallery? I haven’t been there in years.’ An artist’s paradise, I thought. Good call, until he chuckled at my suggestion. Perhaps not then.
‘Uh, yeah, we can do that,’ he said. ‘I had another idea, mind. Can you meet me in Orpington tomorrow morning?’
Orpington? I wondered. South of London? What on Earth was in Orpington. I’d only just managed to settle into the concrete heartbeat. Why did he want me to venture forth into the sticks? I would have asked him, but like an idiot I agreed anyway. I really must start thinking with my brain and not with, well, you know.
‘Oh,’ he said with gusto, ‘and bring Dom with you. I know he’s lazing it tomorrow so he ain’t busy.’
Huh? Orpington? Bring Dominique? What the hell was this guy up to. It just goes to show how much of a hopeless romantic I clearly am. There I was imagining the possibility of a rooftop picnic overlooking the summer sunset, surrounded by old paint pots and plant pots. But instead, here I was agreeing to something I had no idea about and taking my new best friend along the ride with. What was I doing? I should have been in the kitchen cooking, practising my baking and studying the cocoa bean or something productive like that.
Stop it, said my brain. This is your chance to forget about Christensen for a while. Focus on Fleischer. Focus on the artist and that tattooed jawline. Yes, that’s better.
‘And, uh…’ said Fleischer, a frog like croak in his voice, his tone deeper, more lustrous, more sincere, ‘happy pride, by the way.’
‘Happy pride,’ I said, like some code term I’d never used until now, but felt utterly in power to take advantage of. ‘See you soon, Gareth.’ In my imaginative head, the squirrels, the birds or whatever were in the trees, would all be jumping up and down in excitement for me.
On my stroll back to Harding Mews, a warmth developed inside. I was neither hungry nor tired, bored nor nervous. I was content, I was relaxed. Should a hooligan jump me now I’d be useless to defend myself. I was in a state of swoon, and it was bliss. The evening summer London air like a pillow around my neck, the breeze though the Belgravian architecture like a prize earned.
But what was this? Something was different. I’d arrived back at Harding Mews around ten, the sky darkened but not entirely, but I could tell something was unfamiliar. Did I always have potted bushes either side of my front door? Was my front door always royal blue with bronze knockers? Oh dear, had I stumbled down the wrong road? No, this was right, this was number twenty six, there was that balcony at the end of the road, there was my neighbour’s rusted blue garden table and chair. Yes! Someone had painted my front door for me.
The keys worked, permitted my entrance. But the stairwell, it had been carpeted, the walls had been painted a warm earthy tone, brushed black metal lights hung above and a chic umbrella and hat stand sat ready for a phantom umbrella and hat to be placed into it.
Freaky. Then the biggest surprise had hit me. The entire apartment had been redecorated, but not just redecorated, but entirely styled to resemble a twenty something’s bachelor pad, void of boxes and peeling wallpaper, now entirely crisp and slick. New furniture had been added, my bookcase had been alphabetised, my kitchen cleaned and stocked with food in a fridge as big as Caprice’s Range Rover. And that television! It was so large I could step into it. Had my parents secretly helped me out?
Then I saw the letter, amongst my day’s Harrods shopping which I assume had been delivered early whilst I was out.
“You’re wonderful,” said the letter. “Hope you like what I’ve done with the place. And thank you for being my new best friend. -Caprice…”
Was my Bulgari ring a metaphor? This women, she really had me wrapped around her little finger.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 7 of Cason Banks’ story. The Chocolate Prince is 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!