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 8 – Cason and Dominique meet the Tattooed painter Gareth for a day out, only to find there are multiple surprises in store for both of them.
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 8 – The Jeep Wrangler Surprise
‘I know he said that, Cason, but truth is I’ve got to take stock of the deliveries, I have to process the payments, brunch with the new artists, and even redesign the gallery layout. It’s not a day off when you run your own business, darling.’
Dominique had been mortified when I phoned and insisted we get the train to Orpington in Kent of all places. It seemed whilst my cheek was healing, everyday was a day off. In all honestly I felt terribly useless during the week of my Lamborghini Smack. Apart from baking Fleischer’s cake, not once had I baked or cooked or done anything related to Christiansen’s apprenticeship.
‘Did he say if there’d be anyone else?’ asked Dominique. ‘I thought you were both hitting it off? Why am I coming too?’
‘Because he asked you to,’ I said, rotating Caprice’s ring on my pinky. ‘He’s asked us both to come. Honestly, I don’t know.’
I’d even considered wearing some of my new clothes to see if he’d notice. Ha! Yes, us men do it too you know. I had to look as though I’d put in some effort, considering I had to compete with Dominique with his beige heels and white jump suit, of which he protected from his Nero coffee with a forward lean every time he went to take sip. I on the other hand had opted for: a simple patterned shirt with a half tuck in a pair of white chinos, brown belt and boat shoes, I think they’ll called at least, I don’t know, that’s what the Pinterest description was.
‘Anyway,’ I said, leaning in, ‘he said he’ll meet us at the station once we arrive, apparently he has a car.’
‘Hopefully to a bar,’ said Dominique, the fear behind his shades with the train’s latest rail turbulence, his coffee cup outstretched. ‘Don’t look at me like that, you’re new to London, give it a year and you’ll be drinking in the morning too.’
We arrived at the station, the pair of us looking as out of place as a vase of flowers in the middle of a motorway. We, or more likely Dominique, garnered a handful of looks I’m sure he was experienced at ignoring. Strange. It was like the moment you set foot out of central London, anything remotely resembling androgyny resulted in the awe-induced audience we had before us.
‘Let em’ look,’ said Dominique strutting forward, his handbag a pendulum at his side. ‘All publicity is good publicity…ah, there he is.’ Dominique, like our believed royal Queen, raised his hand in a rotated wave to greet Gareth.
‘Yo! What up, my beauties!’ There was that voice, that undeniably perfect low voice of Gareth Fleischer. Had my eyes deceived me, or was the tattooed artist really, and I mean really, swaddled in the tightest of black vest tops, adorned with aviators, and to top it off, standing inside none other than a roofless Jeep Wrangler?
We approached the Jeep. ‘Do you think he’s done this on purpose?’ I asked Dominique discreetly. ‘We are officially about to hitch a ride from the fabled tattooed jock god himself. I mean, look at picture!’
‘I know,’ said Dominique, a smile I had not yet seen from him before. ‘Isn’t it exciting? Oh dear I feel terribly overdressed…Gareth, Darling!’
The tattooed artist, without using the door, leapt from the vehicle and touched down, like some parkour runner or something hyper cool and cliche like that. And like an elephant trunk, the artist wrapped an arm around what was of Dominique’s minuscule waste and pulled him in for a hug, a cheek peck to follow.
My turn now, it seemed. I hoped he couldn’t feel my heartbeat…You filthy people, I know you had something else on your mind before I finished that sentence.
‘Cason!’ he said, a similar smile for me. Here it comes, those arms. Then he embraced me, that stone chest of his pressing into mine. ‘How are you, beautiful?’
Oh gosh, he called me beautiful. I’d have called myself anything but that. Oh, anf here comes the obligatory body lift off the ground, oh, yep, there we go, there goes the ground. I suppose tall muscular people just can’t help themselves.
‘You guys ready for some fun?’
‘Oh, you bet,’ I said, a terrible attempt to sound sincere and cool. ‘So what did you have in mind?’ Go on, just say it. ‘You you look like you’re ready for battle. One skull on that Jeep’s bonnet and it’ll be a scene from Mad Max.’
The laughter exploded from him, and dumped an arm around me and pulled me closer to his four wheeled mountain climber, and that’s when I saw her. ‘Dom, Cason,’ said Gareth, ‘this is Darcie.’
Like some whack-a-mole, the girl popped up from the other side of the Jeep, exposing a head of choppy surfer locks, her body, as similar to Gareth’s, covered neck down in intricate patterns, her tattoos ending literally at her fingertips. For a moment, she looked angry with us, her septum piercing evoking a sense of flared nostrils. Then the wild idea hit me. She wasn’t, surely not…’
‘You boys ready for some action?’ She said, again, I couldn’t tell if she was furious with us or not, since she exerted a scene of military grace. She eyed us down, waiting for an answer both Dominique and I were either too friended tot too confused to give. Then she performed a one-eighty, her attitude zipping right along the spectrum. ‘Coz I hope you’re ready for some PAINTBALLING!’
‘NO!’ screamed Dominique, making to turn on the spot, his heels finally preventing him from successfully escaping. I couldn’t tell if it were laughter of tears that followed once Gareth barred him from going further with one of his tree branch arms. The pair struggled for a few more seconds, giving this Darcie just enough time to plant a hand on my head and whisper in my ear the question: ‘Not afraid, are ya?’
I scoffed politely. ‘Oh no, no, I love paintb-, well, I don’t know if we’re really dressed for it. Especially Dom, I mean…’ the pair of us, like the accumulated audience of passing commuters, stopped to gawp at the struggling Dominique, who to be fare had been managing to put up a pretty good fight considering his and Gareth’s physique contrast.
Alas, we were at last strapped into the backseats, the summer air in our faces, the inevitability we were on our way to painted doom. ‘At least you don’t have any hair,’ I said to Dominique. ‘If I knew he’d have the roof off this thing I’d have brought a hat or something. Do you know how long it takes to blow dry this shit?’
‘High heels, Cason,’ whined Dominique. ‘How am I supposed to go traipsing though the mud looking like this?’
‘I’m sure they’ll give you something to wear,’ I said. But even though I had tried to be the good friend, my mind for this time around was split in two. One half digesting the infuriated information from my glamorous gallery owner friend, the other, processing the possibility this Darcie, sat in the front passenger seat of the Jeep was Gareth’s-
Oh, she was! Should I have known from the start? Was Gareth potentially one of those ‘nice guys‘. Oh god, he WAS a nice guy! Because that kiss, that kiss between him and this Darcie, right at that moment, that lip on lip, not lip to cheek, but lip to lip kiss, well it said it all! That cheeky giggle before the ultimate one second with eyes off the road kind of kiss both these tattooed gods shared between them, a kiss that would have to have meant something special for one to take their eyes off whilst driving down a dodgy winding country road. That kiss was of two people, two people of whom were romantically attached.
It had even shut up Dominique, for the poor man stopped mid sentence, just as he spoke of his terror of ruining what was a pure organic cotton jump suit with the sweaty stains of teenage boys should it meet its demise with the contact of an over worn camouflage overall offered to him by the paintballing company. ‘Don’t assume just yet,’ he said to me, discreetly but loud enough to be heard over the engine. ‘It doesn’t mean anything.’
‘You just stopped dead mid sentence,’ I said, not once believing him. I tried to put on a face that hid my disappointment. Oh god, disappointment? Yes, disappointment! It just so happens I was indeed unhappy with the outcome presented to me. Had I genuinely assumed Gareth would be…Well bollocks. Whatever! Cason, this is your own fault for getting your hopes up! Said my brain…again.
Darcie turned to us, those cheekbones sharp enough to cut butter. ‘Right, I don’t want you two to have an advantage. You-‘ She Pointed to Dominique. ‘With me! And you-‘ This time the finger landed in my direction. ‘You stick with muscles here.’
Brilliant, I thought. No really, I wanted this. This way I could question him on whatever this relationship thing was between him and Darcie. Get to the bottom once and for all. And if you must know, no, I refused to accept that people are that nice. Call me pessimistic, but no guy, especially a guy like Gareth, is nice enough to have a girlfriend and have a sustainable relationsh- no sorry, friendship with a clearly-infatuated young homosexual pastry chef such as myself, not to mention being a highly talented artist who paints flowers of all things.
As I said, I refused to believe anybody is THAT nice. Why couldn’t Gareth be an oppressive douche bag like all the other ridiculously over masculine meat heads with a mild homophobic disposition? Instead, there I was having to juggle the once clear signals I innocently had mistook for flirting. I had misconstrued the simple term of “happy pride” for an opportunity to let my imagination run wild.
It was a cardinal rule in the world with the rainbow flag: do not allow yourself to fall for a straight boy.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 8 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!