Hey there! I wrote something, how unexpected is that? This one grew in my head after a visit to the cake shop (no, there was no cute girl, but I did enjoy the mango mousse) the other week. It's the first draft, so there's work to be done yet, but it's a one-shot, finished work, so you awesome readers won't be left hanging for anything. Thanks for reading. Feedback is always appreciated.
Friday 9 July, 18:14
Bry Connor carefully pushed the chocolate mousse cup forward in the display cabinet, making sure it didn't touch the strawberry one beside it. She checked the temperature, which didn't need any adjustment, straightened a couple of logs, and rotated the New York cheesecake so that the wedge-shaped cut faced the customer side of the counter.
Six fourteen, read the digital clock on the cabinet behind her. The wall clock was five minutes slower, thanks to the owner, who liked customers coming in even while they were clearing the till. One time, Bry had exercised her managerial powers of pranking and put the clock a whopping fifteen minutes forward; now Jason checked the clock whenever they were switching shifts.
Home time, soon, at any rate. It being a Friday evening meant that a certain someone would be walking through the door shortly before then, so she held off on clearing the till for the moment.
Just like clockwork, the little bell attached to the top of the door tinkled ten minutes before closing, and a girl walked in. Today, her long, light brown hair was windblown and in her face, and her cheeks were flushed from the cold, but her slate-grey eyes smiled along with her mouth when she saw Bry.
"Hi," Bry said, already reaching for the clear plastic container. "How are you?"
"Good, thanks," came the slightly breathless reply. "It's freezing out there today!"
The shop was heated behind the counter, but Bry had been hearing those words all day, so she laughed and nodded. "Yeah, been hearing that a lot today." She held up the container, ready to pack a fruit cup. "The usual?"
"Mm, no, actually. Gonna mix it up a little tonight. What do you think of the mango slice?"
"Oh, good choice. It's got a good mango taste to it, and a bit of a sour tang as well. So if you like a bit of bite to your dessert…"
The girl looked skeptical. "All right… How about the tiramisu?"
"Most popular one besides the chocolate," Bry confirmed.
The girl groaned, looking skyward as though pleading with God. "How do I choose? They're all so delicious-looking."
"You could always get both," Bry suggested.
"Ha! No way," the girl replied. "That's just a break-up waiting to happen."
Ah, she was looking for date dessert, as Bry liked to call it. She directed the girl's attention to the lowest level of the display case, where the mousse cups were. "You can't go wrong with chocolate. I quite like the strawberry ones myself."
The mousse cups underwent some pretty intense critical viewing in the next ten seconds. Finally, the girl looked up at Bry, eyes twinkling. "All right, I'm sold," she said. "Can I have two of them, please. And a fruit cup," she added, as Bry was about to close the container.
Bry grinned. "I thought that was a break-up waiting to happen."
"I'll just hide it," the girl replied cheekily, "Or eat it before." She handed Bry a twenty, and Bry counted out the change to her. "Thanks, Bry. Have a good evening."
"You too…" Bry trailed off, eyebrows raised.
Her laughter was soft, more like a giggle mixed with a chuckle. "It's Molly."
"Well, you have a good evening too, Molly."
Friday 16 July, 18:25
"Hello! Busy day today?" Molly asked as she stepped up to the counter, having had to wait for two customers before her.
Bry wiped her hands on a cloth and chucked it behind her. "Hey, yeah, unusually so today," she agreed. "Luckily, there is one fruit cup left for you."
Molly laughed. "It's just waiting for me to buy it, isn't it! But I wasn't going to get a fruit cup today," she said sadly. "I've crossed over to the dark side. That mousse cup was so good."
"They are pretty addictive," Bry agreed. "So – two mousse cups?"
"No, just one, thanks. I ended up eating both last week." An unreadable expression crossed fleetingly across her face before being replaced by a guilty look. "It's honestly better than ice cream."
Recalling last week's conversation, Bry wondered what happened, but kept silent and duly placed a single mousse up into the bag. "Here you go," she said with an automatic smile, surprising herself at the warmth behind it. "Enjoy."
Friday 23 July, 18:23
Molly barged into the shop, sweeping her wet hair away from her face. "Mousse cup, please," she said without greeting, stomping away the cold. She huffed a stray bang away, and gave Bry a small smile. "God, this is worse than England," she muttered under her breath. "Didn't think that was possible."
"I've never been," Bry replied apologetically. "Welcome to Auckland. You'll never get used to it."
"Well, that's nice to know. Sorry for the rush," Molly apologised, "Long day."
"Don't worry about it." Bry handed her the cup and change for the ten. "Have a good night."
"You too, Bry."
Thursday 12 August, 13:30
"Hey, there," Bry said, surprised, as the bell tinkled and Molly walked in. "Haven't seen you in a while." Molly looked wan, her face gaunt with dark shadows underneath her bloodshot eyes. "How's it going?"
Molly's face brightened, and she smiled, albeit a little fatigued one. "Better now. Cold turkey from fruit and mousse cups." She chuckled, half to herself, and turned her eyes to the cakes. "I'm organising a birthday cake… do you do bigger ones to order?"
"Yeah, sure do." Bry reached under the counter and got Molly a brochure. "These are the sizes, flavours, and costs. We'll normally need about a week and a half depending on which one you choose."
"Brilliant, thanks." Molly took the brochure and leafed through it. "Do you mind if I take this?"
"It's all yours."
Molly returned three hours later, a pen and pad of yellow paper in her hand, waiting patiently while Bry sent a customer off with a "Thanks, have a nice day." Bry wiped her hands on her apron and turned to Molly. "You're back. All sorted?"
"Yup." Tearing off the topmost piece of paper, Molly placed it on the counter and opened up the page in the brochure for sponge cakes and fruit toppings. "I was thinking of a square, instead, can you do that? With normal cream and fruit toppings. This size," she said, pointing at it on the page. "I wrote it down."
Bry quickly scanned the page, complete with Molly's name and number. Molly Sheffield. "There shouldn't be any problem with that. I'll give you a call when it's ready."
"Thanks." Molly turned to leave, and then hesitated for a moment before turning back. "Hey, do you have a minute now?"
The shop was empty, and Bry, intrigued, decided to chance it. "Sure."
"Great. Shouldn't take long," Molly said, rummaging through her messenger bag. Her hair obscured her face in the most adorable fashion. "Just wanted to get your opinion on something… Here it is!" she said triumphantly as she pulled out a slim black folder and a slightly crumpled piece of yellow paper, presumably off the pad she had earlier. Flipping through the folder, she found the page she wanted and presented it to Bry, placing the loose leaf alongside. "What do you think?" she asked shyly.
The first one was a rough, black-and-white sketch of the outside of a large Victorian-style house and garden. The sample in the folder was different, a computer-drawn and coloured plan of a modern-looking house. Bry looked closer, marvelling at the professional handiwork. "This is awesome stuff, Molly. Looks great."
"Thanks." When Bry looked up, Molly was blushing slightly. "It's for one of my assignments. Just wondered which one you thought was better."
"Oh, wow…" Bry drew back, holding the pages at arm's length. "They both look really good, I mean, once you did the same to this one—" she held up the sketch—"as you did for this one here, they'd both look awesome. I guess I'd pick this one," she said, pointing at the modern house. "I like clean lines," she explained, feeling inane and uneducated. "So you study architecture?"
"Trying to." Molly smiled as she took her work back. "Anyway, I shouldn't keep you any longer," she said, picking absent-mindedly at something on her bag strap. "Thanks for your help."
"Sure thing. Take care of yourself, Molly."
Molly smiled, a real smile this time. "You too, Bry."
Friday 20 August, 18:20
"I'm getting pretty addicted to these mousse cups."
"Can't blame ya. Enjoy your night."
"Thanks, Bry, you too."
Friday 27 August, 18:20
"Did you get your cake all right?" Bry asked as she passed the bag and change over the counter.
"Yes, I got it from… Irene, I think it was." Molly bit her lip and laughed. "This is going to sound silly, but I'd hoped you worked every day of the week."
Fighting the flush that warmed her neck and ears, Bry couldn't help but smile. "No, just Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. A girl needs a break."
"Tell me about it!" Molly comiserated. "All my assignments are rubbish because there's just so many of them."
"Nah, I've seen your work. It's far from rubbish." Their eyes met – how cheesy – and both girls smiled at each other, seemingly content with saying nothing.
The little bell attached to the top of the door tinkled, breaking the silence. Craig, another regular customer, dusted the rain off his coat and beamed at Bry. "Caught you just in time!" he exclaimed, buffing his shoes on the welcome mat a couple of times. "I'll be sleeping on the couch if I don't get that tiramisu for Bev tonight."
As he approached the counter, Molly slipped out of the shop, waving at Bry as she left.
"So what's happening with fruit cup girl?" Irene asked later that night when she called after dinner. "Eyes meet, sparks fly, numbers are exchanged, what?"
Bry shrugged, trying to act nonchalant. "Nothing's 'happening' with her. She comes in, buys something, leaves, life goes on."
"Ah, don't give me that crap!" Irene drawled. "I'm your best friend. I know you. I've seen her. She vibes, and you like it."
"You saw her once when she picked up her cake!" Bry exclaimed, laughing. "How could you possibly have picked up any vibes?"
"Hey, I had the perfect view of her ass when she left. Don't tell me you haven't seen that swagger."
Bry narrowed her eyes, glad Irene couldn't see her grin over the phone. She had indeed seen that swagger. "You're disgusting, Irene."
"Don't tell me you're surprised," Irene shot back. "By the way, I've finally decided on the cake you're giving me the manager's discount for."
"For my 21st, smart-arse. So, this is what I want..."
Tuesday 14 September, 12:55
"Someone was in here asking for you," Dan told Bry as she returned from her lunch break.
"Oh? Who was it?"
Dan shrugged. "Some girl."
"That's helpful. What did she look like? Brown hair, blonde hair, tall short, et cetera…"
"Pretty hot." Bry rolled her eyes at Dan's earnest tone. "Brown hair, like, kinda messy, black jacket, I think she had an English accent."
Wondering about the chances of Molly coming in on a Tuesday afternoon, Bry asked, "She buy anything?"
"Yeah," Dan confirmed. "Mousse cup."
"Huh," Bry said, looking at the fruit cups she'd just gotten from the fridge to replenish the display. A pang of disappointment gnawed at her. "Interesting."
Friday 17 September, 18:30
"You know, I actually came in on Tuesday," Molly said while Bry dialed up the register. "But I guess you were out or something."
"Yeah, my co-worker told me, I was on my lunch break." Handing over the bag, Bry smiled. "I'm glad you think you can handle two nights of moussey goodness in a week, though."
Molly grinned. "I reckon I could eat a mousse cup or two every night, to be quite honest with you." She leaned casually against the counter, fidgeted with the plastic bag and combed her fingers through her hair a couple of times. "Hey, so… a couple of friends and I are going out later tonight, just to Lounge for drinks. Do you wanna come and hang out? If you're free, no pressure or anything."
The words were forming in her brain; they just wouldn't come out of her mouth. Bry was certain she resembled a goldfish at that moment. "Um," she managed, "I'm actually not free tonight, I'm so sorry." She grimaced and gave Molly the most apologetic look she could muster. She could have killed Irene. "My friend's having her birthday party tonight." Could I ask her? I could ask her. But then it'd be awkward, and what would it even mean…?
"Oh." Molly looked disappointed. "Well, that's cool. I'll, um—have a good time tonight." She turned to leave, and Bry's heart thumped a little faster at how adorably her fringe kept falling over her eyes.
"Wait!" Bry blurted out, wondering what she was going to say next. "Um, how about tomorrow? I'm free tomorrow. Like, for coffee. Or food, if you don't drink coffee."
Molly turned around, eyes already laughing. "I drink coffee. And eat. How's lunch?"
Her grin felt like it was splitting her face in half. "Lunch is great. 12?"
Molly's grin grew to match hers. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."
"See you tomorrow, Molly."