When I See Your Face, Part 24
“Right. So, I kept thinking how eager you are to start your own business. And I absolutely believe you should go on with that.”
He shot her an intense sideways glance.
“Don’t postpone and procrastinate, this is your chance and you’ve already begun with some important basics. I know you aren’t going to make money with it soon enough and in high enough quantities, but I’m sure you’re not doing it for the money alone anyway. Also, I am pretty certain that if you hung up some posters in the shop or went from door to door with a wagon-load full of yummy cakes, the villagers would love to support you and buy some of your creations.”
He talked himself into a near frenzy.
“Maybe you could ask them to part with their secret recipes and offer to bake those cakes in larger quantities and give it their name in your shop. That sounds like a good incentive to get them involved and interested enough to be willing to pay. In the meantime, because you need cash, here are two more suggestions: Whenever I have garden work or whatever is my duty here, I’ll let you help and give you a share of my payment.”
Seeing her mouth opening wide to protest, he gesticulated wildly.
“No, no, wait, don’t protest, you said you’d hear me out! Sometimes, I do need somebody to help me to finish a job faster or take on a bigger project. There are some major tasks ahead now with autumn starting and you’ll get a chance to work for what I pay you, so you don’t have to feel dependent on me in any way. Your muscles will be sore and your clothes dirty and you’ll know that you worked for the money and aren’t receiving alms. The other thing is: I know that Aunt Grindle would be willing to wait for her rent or charge you a pittance, but I don’t think it’s fair on her and I don’t think you’d feel good about it either. Why don’t you move into my house? I…”
He stopped, clearly caught short by the expression on her face. Hastily putting up both hands, he ploughed on, “What I mean is this: The house is big and as you’ve seen, I only ever use two rooms or so, one being the atelier and one the bedroom that you haven’t seen yet. There are three more rooms that are practically free. You could stay downstairs, so you don’t have to see me all the time or share a bathroom with me. We could turn the house into two separate units, if you want. It’d be like two students sharing a flat. There’s the kitchen, which is much bigger than the one in your guesthouse apartment and could be used more easily than Aunt Grindle’s for your baking plans. And working together on gardening jobs would be easier. I promise, I don’t suggest this to get you in my bed. It’s so much more practical for everyone involved. You’d get to save lots of hard-earned money. You…”
This time, she actively stopped his flow of words, Michael tripping over his own tongue in his hurry to get his point across. She clasped his hands in hers and brought them down, actually entwining her fingers with his. God, how good that felt. How natural, how right.
“Hey, now let me have my say for a minute.”
Scrutinizing her face, his eyes unreadable, he waited. She wasn’t sure whether he was conscious of it that his thumbs were again softly stroking her hands.
“I think you’re absolutely right. Especially what you said about marketing my cakes with the villagers sounds like a good thing to do. And you’re correct, I wouldn’t want to be indebted to Aunt Grindle. She was the first person in years to be honestly kind to me and accept me and support me, you being the second person. So yes, I will move in and I will help you with your garden work. Under one condition.”
She paused and appealed to the courage she felt growing inside her with each day of her new life. His eyes, shining with happiness and something that looked suspiciously like love—though how was she to know, having no previous experience with real love—made it easier for her to continue.
“I want us to be partners in the true sense of the word. If I get to help you with gardening and you pay me for it, I also want you to get involved in my baking business and pay you for it. All the advice and cake testing and support shouldn’t go unnoticed and I have a feeling you’ll be of even more value once the business starts rolling and I need a helping hand with the bigger quantities of cakes and all that.”
She held her breath as he must have held hers before. Please, let him agree. Please, let this decision of hers be the correct one. Please, luck, be on her side!
His eyes had got shinier. With one of those irresistible wide smiles that lit up her world, he gave her hands a firm squeeze.
“Thanks for not yelling at me or running away or telling me I’ve lost my mind,” he said, chuckling.
She laughed, growing serious again within the matter of a second. This moment was too important for her to joke.
“And thank you for being there for me. It means the world to me,” she said, so many more words on the tip of her tongue, holding them back, though she didn’t know why.
Without a word, he pulled her in for a big hug. Stepping back although it felt wonderfully comfortable, she asked, “Partners?”
His voice made it sound as though he had much more on his mind than a business partnership, once again sending her heartbeat on overdrive and making a blush rise to her cheeks.
Grabbing a hold of her hand, Michael turned back and pulled her along, once more filled with so much positive energy that it was palpable in the air around him.
“Let’s not waste a minute. We’ll go get your things and set you up at my place. The quicker this is all solved, the quicker you can face your future.”
(To be continued tomorrow.)
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