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 11 – Cason’s story of debauchery manages to break the ice between him and his boss, yet Cason is hiding a secret that’s eating him up a little.
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 11 – A Story of Debauchery
‘It’s about intimacy. It’s about rawness. It’s about escaping standard convention, relinquishing commercialism. Artisanal remains adventurous, free to explore, unbound by constraints, simply…magical.’
Anthony Christiansen’s words dripped like the spoon raised from the batter: decadent, rich and addictive. Or maybe he was just talking beautiful garbage, and my over stimulated need to be touched was warping the processing power of my brain. That and the smell in the room. It shouldn’t have been as nice as this: an accompaniment had joined the cocoa-infused air. I recognised that smell, it was Dunhill. Chefs seldom really wore fragrances, and the fact Christiansen had it on really threw me. Did he not consider this one-to-one as an official masterclass?
I couldn’t help wonder if he’d completed his day at the chocolaterie, returned home and, for some reason, spritzed himself with Icon, a truly magnetic, smokey aromatic, designed for one thing: to attract another. As I said, it’s not something chefs wear, especially in their own kitchens, well, at least the ones I knew never did. It created too much of an olfactive cacophony. The smell didn’t sit right in a gourmet environment, despite how attractive it was.
‘Cason, do you agree?’ he asked me, eyes locked on, both hands clamped to the ceramic counter tops, a stance that said, “I own this damn kitchen and you’re in my territory!” Regardless of what this man had said to me since I’d met him, captivated I remained.
‘Yes,’ I said and nodded.
I swallowed. ‘Yes, artisanal chocolate remains adventurous and free. Unconstrained by convention.’ I did not nearly sound as convincing coming from me.
Apron on, hands behind my back with a granite island separating me from him, I rotated the serpenti ring on my finger. Should I remove it, I thought? Or perhaps I should leave it on, see if he’ll notice. Would he know if Caprice gave it to me? He knew I lived within walking distance of Knightsbridge. It wasn’t like I couldn’t just swish into Harrods by myself like some entitled inheritor ready to make a lavish purchase.
I took my eyes off him for a second, taking a moment to glance the kitchen shelf at the side of the room.
He took a pan from a small warming machine and placed it in front of me, its contents a liquid decadence. ‘The coco butter crystals are currently unstable in this mixture. I want you to stabilise this chocolate by table tempering. I want you to watch me first, then I want you to do it.’
And so I watched him, my ring turning and turning, like the blood through me, pumped by a heart, controlled by an erratic brain that had been tricked by the eyes, for everything I saw was a process similar to that of an artist’s brush stroke. Like a perfect cake, the ingredients had come together to form an ecstatic bite. There were his arms: warm toned, dark haired and exposed by the rolled up sleeves of his Gant shirt. There was the chocolate: in molten form, slow motioned, toppled into a pool of itself. There were his eyes: focused, deep…somewhat solemn, as if they were trying to conceal a dash of shame.
This was the Anthony Christiansen I had grown up loving. I think it’s normal for us humans to wish for the day we meet our idols. For all his faults, this man had chosen me. Never in my life had I anticipated this day would come. Here I was, sharing the same air as him, knowing full well he had not only touched me with those very hands, but had lifted me from the ground, had risen me to his chest, had made a young man’s dreams come true by bringing him into a world of dedication, craft, passion, artistry, elitism and sensory overload. Never in my life had I wanted to touch someone so.
I had lost myself in that sight. For every movement he made, spreading that melted chocolate across the marble unit, only to bring it back into itself until the tempering method had been completed, for every glide of his arm, every dexterous swoosh of his hand, and for every twist of his torso, had presented itself as a test, for I knew I’d fail had I lost all respect for this demonstration by leaping over his work and fusing myself to him. Like chocolate to its mould, both elements would create something spectacular: an aesthetic mouthful of deliciousness.
I know I have love for chocolate. I always have done. As a chef, I am proficient in the art of its creation. I knew by standing there in Christiansen’s kitchen I presented myself as an amateur. I suppose in terms of experience, I was.
Ask me to make a souffle and by god I shall deliver. Ask me to make you a bar of dark…again, I shall do just that. But some part of me didn’t want Anthony to know that. For some reason I wanted him to have the upper hand. I wanted him to reign supreme in his own kitchen. I know I would want the same thing. After all, who wants some young hotshot jumping in to steal the limelight you had so painstakingly earned?
Now it was my turn. By heart I had learnt to adjust the temperature as needed, bringing it down just enough before the fat crystals had stabilised. It was art, but it was a science also, and like any patissier, science was the art. Having secretly performed the movements in my own time, I tempered as required, taking a knife, scraping a slither of chocolate on its end, then leaving it to harden.
‘It could be shinier,’ said Anthony. He picked up the knife and examined the chocolate I had stabilised, turning it this way and that so its surface caught the light. ‘But beautiful attempt. Well done. You’ve done this before I suppose.’
‘A few times, yes.’
He stared me down. God if only I could decipher what words that must have been passing through that brain of his. What could he have been thinking?
For once, he smiled, then laughed under his breath, looking down, gathering the weight of the knife in his palm. ‘Have you seen much of that artist lately?’
I blinked. For this entire evening I hadn’t even thought of Gareth until he mentioned him. ‘Um, yeah.’ Why was Anthony asking me this? In fact it was moments and questions like this that…well, really pissed me off actually. With just one sentence Anthony had, like a carrot on a string, dangled then swooped away any shred of respect I had for him. Why would someone so professional and profound snap me out of my reverie with a question like that?
Anthony cleared away the work space. Clearly anything work related we were now done with. ‘What do you both get up to?’
I bit my tongue, but sadly it had not held said tongue back. ‘Are you wondering if we’ve slept together?’
He turned sharply to me. ‘No that’s not what I’m asking you, Cason.’
‘It’s just the last time you were in the same room as him you were adamant the guy was a slut, so why else do you think I’d wonder that?’
Anthony sighed, eyes closed, then opened with an unexpected calmness. ‘I’m sorry that was rude of me. I was a bit upset that night. Nothing to do with him, nor you. It was stupid, okay…and, if you’re still worried about that text, again, I’m sorry but it was meant for someone else.’
Yes. There was no way I’d forget about that, not the predicament Caprice had put me in, and here I was in the exact position she’d asked of me, primed and ready to catch any sort of evidence Christiansen would do anything untoward. Not once had he taken out his phone to check for messages. Not once had he done anything to suggest he was having an affair. I guess because of this god damn ring on my finger I felt obliged to will some sort of misconduct on his part into fruition. Should I pretend to need the toilet again? I suppose not, considering the damage I caused the last time I did that.
Maybe I could pretend to have had a missed call from my mother? I could have excused myself, then secretly kept an eye on him to see if he had a woman, or man, tucked away in one of these cupboards? Take a quick snap of them in the act, performing exactly what I had desired of him only minutes ago?
‘It’s fine,’ I said, referring to the text message. ‘We’ve all done it. You know, I accidentally sent a sexy text to my dad once. Totally an accident of course!’ A wave of heat fluttered up my back and my mouth dried. Was that too unprofessional?
Anthony blinked in surprise, then he smiled, and oh god, it really was a genuine twitch in the corner of those cushioned lips. ‘Oh dear! What did you say?’
Judging by the time, I gathered the class was at its end, and I tousled the apron bow over my belly. ‘Oh I dunno. I was supposed to text a guy I was seeing at the time. I was dreadfully pissed, and between texting this boy over how I admired his…well…I’m sure you get where I’m going! So between the texts to him I was also texting my dad to ask him for a lift.’
I continued, not looking Anthony in the eye as such but keeping his attention nonetheless, folding the apron as I went on. ‘You know what, actually no, I remember it really well in fact. I’d spent the whole evening seeing this chap, blonde, tall, not exactly in the best of shape, but he and I…well…we had a lot in common. I’d discussed with him the lore of the video game Final Fantasy. You ever heard of that game?’
Anthony shook his head, though by his gaze I could tell I’d had him hooked.
‘You see my favourite Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy thirteen-‘
‘There’s thirteen of them?’ asked Anthony scoffing in shock, and for the first time I saw a childhood joy blast from him. Who knew his teeth could be exposed so much?
‘Are you joking!’ I said, forearms now comfortably on Anthony’s counter tops. ‘There’s like, I dunno, twenty games in total now, I think.’ More laughter on both our parts. ‘But anyway, I’d just reminisced to him the complexities of this gorgeous game’s backstory, about this sexy goddess of death or something, when I’d just realised we’d polished between us about three bottles of chardonnay. He kissed me goodbye in front of Woking’s train station. Not the friendliest place for gays, but to be honest I was so drunk I barely knew who was coming or going. It was then I realised my train home had been cancelled. South West Trains, you know!’
By this time I had my head in my palms. Even the thought of it had spurred on the reminder of just how freaking terrible my head hurt that night. ‘So I had to text my dad to come and get me. And between the texts of telling his guy how much I wanted to see him again and asking my dad for a lift, the messages got crossed and I accidentally told my OWN DAD, how much I liked the size of his dick!’
Anthony, ever the man of great decorum, indeed had a knuckle buried into his own teeth to staunch the laughter. I swear if the man weren’t careful that blood vessel in his neck might have popped.
‘Oh you didn’t,’ he said, taking a moment to catch his breath through laughter.
I nodded, reliving the whole debauch scenario in my mind. ‘Oh I did. Thankfully he saw it as a mix up when he finally arrived at Woking train station to find me asleep in the flowerbed having my half exposed arse photographed by a group of aspiring photographer chavs. I’m pretty sure I ended up as some poster boy for some Facebook page at some point. The only thing I really remember of the rest of that evening was being in the car, opening the door mid drive and puking over the road, only for my dad to stop, where I, with great dignity, puked up in a bush, then fell in the bush, only to realise the bush was just a mass of stinging nettles.’
I could have gone on, but Anthony found it best to stop me before he too lost control of himself and collapsed. I started to wonder if I should have told him any of this. It was pretty personal after all. I could have continued on and told him about how I arrived home with a furious father, his anger inflamed by my drunken idiocy that led me to fall against the one part of the wall showcasing a glass frame that of course fell from its hanging and exploded on the floor, where I attempted to pick up the pieces only to slice up my hand. It was safe to say I had no choice but to phone in sick the next morning.
‘Anyway,’ I said. ‘Old me! I can assure you nothing like that would happen in the state I’m now in. Too much to lose!’
Anthony gathered himself. Genuinely, his eyes had teared up so much you would have thought the man had been crying. ‘Good,’ he said, a slight catch of breath from him. ‘I should hope not.’
Had I expected the man to finally loosen up and indulge me with one of his own terrible back stories? Perhaps. But not tonight. If anything I really thought we’d made good progress considering. The man wasn’t completely made from stone. He had a sense of humour which was nice. I am after all a comedian!
At least…at least I could delete the footage later. This fun was after all just unnecessary filler. I darted my eyes just briefly back to the side of the kitchen. I’d hidden the camera well if I’d say so myself, a small device I’d got online, able to be slipped under the structure of the metal shelf. Oh god…the guilt. But I had a bargain to uphold. Caprice had…well, she had after all bribed me, I guess. And like some fool I was too quick to accept.
‘This has been a good evening, Cason,’ said Anthony. ‘Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time.’
I blinked and nodded. ‘Pleasure’s mine, Anthony.’ Now let me leave before I confess my sins.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed part 11 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!