Chapter 13: A Celebration and Disaster May your tears come from laughing, you find friends worth having As every year passes, they mean more than gold May you win and stay humble, smile more than grumble And know when you stumble, you're never al...
Chapter 13: A Celebration and Disaster
May your tears come from laughing, you find friends worth having
As every year passes, they mean more than gold
May you win and stay humble, smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble, you're never alone
Never Alone, Lady Antebellum
Autumn is finally here! I've always loved the season. It is during this time of the year where Hillview Town will be busy with fruits and vegetable. That's right. This also means our Home's Bakery will be in a lot of business.
Simply because, Mama's would make her yearly famous fruity cakes, that's why! Her famous recipes including the crumbled blueberry cheesecake, vanilla-raspberry cakes, melon cupcakes are a few that will surely make people drooling!
Lucky for us, instead of the two, our manpower have increased greatly now that we have Duke and his butler, and three newly additional recruits we've managed to gather before the season. With five additional members on duty, my job will be a lot less burden compared to the year before.
At least now, I can help Mama out with the baking in the kitchen and only need to supervise them every now and then.
Aidan had given the manager position much to my own surprise, since Mum had taken a great interest in him upon meeting with him during the 'interview' session.
When I'd confronted him afterwards, asking whether or not he had used magic on Mama again, the man acted like I was at fault and that he was greatly offended and hurt by my question.
He said he would never stoop so low just to be liked by someone and even claimed that Mama was simply enchanted by his good looks and well mannered behaviours.
Can you believe that guy? Such a narcissist.
Anyway, Now that school is out for a month, I can finally relax a bit! Yeppie!
Got to go now, Diary. See ya later!
"THANK you and please come again!"
The customer smiled at the friendly and waved his hand goodbye. Anya Roman sighed softly behind the counter. It had been a long and tiring day that was filled with crowd.
Too bad it was only one o'clock in the afternoon.
Changing her view from the clock hanging on the ceiling, to the five staff working diligently. Anya nodded satisfying at how Home's was running soothingly as it should be when something blocked her view — a tray.
"Daydreaming in the middle of work? That's unlike you, Miss Romans."
Anya snapped from her thoughts, turned to her left where the Gran Mago was smirking slyly at her.
"Who's daydreaming?" Anya snapped, blushing sightly.
"You are. Thinking of someone? Perhaps said someone is tall, dark, handsome and powerful?" Aidan Timbell smugly, rising an eyebrow.
Rolling her eyes, Anya snorted aloud.
"Oh, would you cut it out? The customer at table Five is calling. Go!" She pushed the man away to the directional table, all the while, trying to reduce the redness on her face.
Ever since the accident on the night of Steve and Emma's engagement party that happened a couple of weeks ago, Aidan had done everything in his power to find ways to get under her skin by flirting with her.
Anya had a very strong urge to slap the darn butler for making her blushed badly like a bloody high schoolgirl when it first started. Aidan had boldly sneaked up behind her, on the previous Friday night, whispered her name sensually and closed to her ears with the voice that Anya secretly loved so much.
"Your hair is slightly uneven... Milady."
Anya could barely react when she felt his warm hand had gently brushed her newly Pixie hair, making it even. The small gesture didn't last long, but for Anya, it had felt like a lifetime.
The handsome butler finally stopped with his teasing after Anya had threatened to cut his lips off with a knife, and resumed to work. Anya had been surprised when she took a look at herself in the reflection, to find a beautiful cherry blossom hairpin where he had just brushed a moment ago.
From that day onward, Anya had to endure countless times when Aidan had showered her 'kindness' — including pampering her to bones when she had to cover an extra shift for Duke whom had suffered from food poisoning due drinking an expired milk.
While Aidan's gestures were noble and kind, it had become too constant that eventually, a nuisance for her. Like that one time when Anya's male classmates had showed up at Home's to see her, Aidan pretended he had something urgently to tell her something.
Initially, Anya didn't mind at first. However, after few times of the same incident that happened coincidentally, she finally got the hint and annoyingly told him off.
Aidan on the other hands, seemed to be enjoyed seeing her flinched with every mind games he played on her. Still with a dazzling smile, he served the giddily customers with heart-shaped eyes, when he heard the front door's bells being opened.
"Welcome to Home's! How may I be serving-" Aidan words got cut out by the sound of a plate crashed on the floor from the cashier counter.
"E-Ethan! What brings you here?"
Ethan Carter smiled boyishly at his school mate. Approaching the counter, he was completely oblivious of how red-faced Anya Roman was at the moment.
"Heyya Anya! I was just in the neighbourhood and thought of dropping by. Busy day today?"
Anya furiously shook her head. "N-Not at all! Please, have a seat! I'll get your menu."
Ethan nodded and began to choose his table, while Anya quickly went to get the menu. Once seated, she handed over the menu to him.
"One iced lemon tea?"
"You know my taste, babe." Ethan winked. "And can I have one melon cupcake, please?"
Anya nodded and retrieved the menu.
"One iced lemon tea and one melon cupcake, comin' right up!"
Smiling gleefully, she made her way to the kitchen, completely unaware a pair of eyes followed her every moves.
HUMMING cheerfully as she made the iced lemon tea, Anya barely noticed Duke's presence behind her when he walked into the kitchen from the back door from throwing the trashes.
"You seem to be cheerful, Miss Anya. Did something good happen?"
Anya nodded furiously.
"Guess who's in the house?"
Duke contemplating the question for a minute, before he gave up and shook his head.
"Ethan Carter! He's at table Five!"
Duke gasped aloud. Immediately, he glance over the counter and looked at Table Five where Ethan seated. Duke had never met with him before as Ethan did not attend Steve and Emma's engagement reception.
"That being said, I will be the one to serve him. You can take over the cashier for a while can't you, Duke?"
"Yes, of course!" Duke nodded earnestly.
While the two of them were still in the kitchen, little did they know someone was serving Ethan Carter's cake.
"Here you go, Sir. Please enjoy." Aidan bowed his head politely when he served the plate.
"Ah, thank you, my good man." Ethan smiled.
Picking up his fork, he began to eat the cupcake happily. After his second small bite, it was then did Ethan realised how the waiter was still standing near his table, with a polite smile plastered on his lips.
It was slowly starting to creep him out a bit.
"Uh... Can I help you?"
"This may seemed inappropriate for me to ask, but by any chance, are you an acquaintance with Miss Romans?"
"Yes. We went to the same Academy. She's my junior. Why do you asked?"
"Well, that is because Miss Romans is my employer. Naturally, I am most concerned with whom she mixed with."
Ethan chuckled. "This is the first time I've heard an employee to be most concerned regarding his employer's social life!" He smirked. "I like that. Are you a close friend of Anya, by any chance?"
"Thank you. I feel the need to say that my relationship with Miss Romans goes deeper than —"
"Than nothing!" A pair of feminine hands came out of nowhere and closed the butler's mouth from sputtering nonsense.
Anya growled lowly at Aidan who maintained a cool façade, before she pulled him away from the table, heading to where the counter was.
"Be right back, Ethan! Enjoy your meal!"
Ethan looked in awed at the quick scenario before him. One moment he was listening to the waiter and the next, the man got pulled away by Anya toward the counter.
Shrugged, he ate his meal in silence and resumed texting on his phone.
"WHAT is wrong with you?!"
Anya's loud voice raised in high-pitched as she fumed at the butler in the kitchen. Duke who was handling the paying at the cashier, merely shook his head and apologised to the paying customers for the inconvenient.
"Whatever do you mean by that, Miss Romans?"
"Don't play dumb with me, smartarse!" Anya cleared her dried throat. "Anyway, as for now, let me handle Ethan's table. You can keep an eye on the rest, but leave Ethan to me. Capisce?"
Aidan returned with a smile and he nodded.
Satisfied with the butler's answer, Anya took a long deep breath, exhaled, and walked back out to where Ethan was. Pulling the empty seat, she let herself be seated beside him.
"So, Ethan. How's it going?" Anya smiled charmingly at him.
"I'm good. You're taking a break?"
"Yes. Oh, I heard about your new play, "The Wishing Princess". I can't wait to go and see it! It's starting next week, isn't it?"
"Thanks, babe. Actually, you're in luck!" Said Ethan as he reached out quickly for something inside of his backpack, before handed it over to the curious girl.
"Tickets were sold quickly in the first couple of weeks. Lucky for you, I still have two extra tickets! I was suppose to save these for my buddies who are supposedly coming to town this week. But, it turned out one of them is suffering from food poisoning and they cancelled their trip coming here. "
"Oh dear. I hope the food poisoning not that bad? Are you sure you want to give these to me?"
"Nah, Ricko's a tough guy. He'll get over it in a day or two. Sure, you can have them. I'll have one of the crew to record the play for them, so it's fine." Ethan Carter winked at her that certainly melted the poor maiden's heart.
"Thank you. I'll be sure to come! I'm looking forward of seeing it."
The two college students talked for a short while, before Ethan eventually excused himself and paid for his meal.
"I'll see you around, Romans!" Ethan waved his hands at the door.
"See you later, Ethan. Take care now!"
As soon as he left the bakery, Anya squealed in delight all the way into the kitchen. Joining her excitement, was Duke. Eventually, they both ended up laughing on the kitchen's floors in pure glee.
"I am so delightful to see you're happy, Miss Anya!" Duke said, after catching his breath.
"Thanks! I don't normally get to talk with him for this long so you bet I am thrilled! He gave me two tickets to the play!"
"The one that he is producing for his finals, 'The Wishing Princess'? Oh, that's great news! Do you have someone in mind that you would like to go with?"
Biting her inner cheek, Anya said, "I could ask Josh. He's always been a sucker for theatre, no matter how many times he denies it. Or I could ask you? How about it, Duke? Would you like to watch a 21st century's play?"
As soon as those words came out from her mouth, Anya felt Duke squeezed her hands a little harder than before now when they were both jumping foolishly in excitement earlier.
"Oh, thank you, Miss Anya! You have no idea how much those words mean to me! I do enjoy theatre so much! Back in Excalibell, we have this enormous-"
"-With all of wonderful costumes-"
"-Mind-blowing set, and-"
Tckang! Something metal hit on the Excalibellian Prince slightly hard on the head, thus, stopping his robustly rambling.
"Oh dear. Are you all right, Your Highness? I am sincerely apologise for hitting your head with this scope while you squeezed the life out of Miss Romans's hands. There are lines of customers waiting for you at the cashier counter, Sir."
"Oh goodness me!" Duke released Anya's hands at once and quickly rushed out of the kitchen to the waiting customers. He apologised for the wait before he began calculating for their total amount.
Meanwhile, Anya was still feeling the pain, winched at how red her hands were, she failed to realise how closed Aidan was standing her until he gently turned her around to face at him.
"Let me see your hands."
"So that I may heal them." Anya snorted as a respond. Turning her back to face him again, she flapped her hands in the air instead.
"Don't be an idiot. It's not like this is the first time he'd done this before. I was just caught off guard, this time."
Unknown to her, Aidan's facial expression changed slightly upon being regretted to his offer, before it reverted back to normal.
"As you wish."
Silence fell in between them. It happened quite often these days. Whenever they were done communicating something regarding works or serious matters, there was always the empty and awkward silence that would soon fell between them.
Come to think of it, it had been a while since they both been on each other's throats. The least they would do now were playful banter, when both of them were in the mood for it. When had they started to tolerate each other's presence and became in tuned with one another? Perhaps because they have been through a lot together since the last three months.
Anya quickly snapped from her thoughts and looked up.
"Forgive me, but I overheard you asking His Highness to go for Ethan Carter's 'The Wishing Princess' play?"
"Yeah... Well, I know Josh is a big theatre fan and all, but he's always noisy! It's nice to go with another person. Why?"
"Ah, nothing. Nothing at all. Just wondering."
With a swift movement, Aidan went back outside just in time to save the three young trainees from disaster.
"Weirdo." Anya muttered as soon as he left, before following the man.
ANYA Romans sighed softly as soon as her head hit the soft fluffy pillow of her comfortable bed. Today had been a terribly a long day, especially, with her mother out-stationed again for a week.
Anya mentally made a note on today's reports. She was mostly concerned about the three newly recruited young men she had hired a couple of weeks ago: Derek, Jared and Liam Andrews.
Derek being the oldest of the three had just finished high school. Jared, sixteen and Liam, the youngest one, was fourteen. All of them were the children of her mother's friend, whom had bravely came to the shop one day and asked for a part-time job during the school's holidays.
Anya had been more than happy to accept them, seeing as how they were always short of staff.
While they were working at Home's, they were soon placed under Aidan's watchful eyes , who groomed them into becoming the 'Perfect' waiter.
Within a week under his guidance and tutelage, the three young men were already showing tremendous results! Though, despite how great of a teacher Aidan was, they were still lack of experiences and had done mistakes every now and then.
Good thing was, all mistakes were easily forgiven by Anya who understood that you can't teach a bird how to fly in a single day.
Being the one in charge and managing Home's while her mother was away for another conference meeting was a tough job. Thus, having extra hands to help her out was much grateful.
While closing her eyes and with her hands gently brushed Casey's soft furs, Anya was distracted by the sound of a message notification on her mobile phone. Lazily reaching out for her phone, she read the message from Duke.
'Greetings, Mademoiselle Anya! Are you already asleep? ;)'
Lifted an eyebrow, Anya quickly replied:
'Not yet. Why?'
A second later, she received another replied.
'Oh, good news then! Is it okay for myself and Aidan to come over at your place? We made some onion meatloaf! Actually, Aidan made it, but I'd helped! And I know you love meatloaf!'
"You ought to be kidding me." Glancing at the clock hanging on her wall, that stated eleven o'clock.
Anya sighed. Quickly she typed the message before getting up, grabbed her towel and headed to the bathroom.
'I am so going fat eating this late. Fine. You have the key, make yourself at home while I'm taking a shower. DO NOT BARGE INTO MY ROOM!'
Fifteen minutes later, with a towel still hanging around her neck and dotted in a white robe, Anya found the living room brightened and smell of food filled in the air.
"Good Evening, Miss Anya. Did you enjoy your shower?"
"Sure. What else did you bring?"
Smiling, Duke ushered her to sit down before he unfold what's beneath the food cover.
"Tadaa! We have mashed potatoes, some salad, and oh, the onion meatloaf — with cheese!"
Startled by the food served on the table, Anya looked at the Prince with widened eyes.
"These are all my three favourite dishes. What's going on? Are we celebrating something?"
"As a matter of fact, we are."
Before Anya could ask what, she was immediately silence by the sound of a loud 'Pop' followed by something something attacked her — silly strings?
"Surprise! Happy birthday Miss Anya!"
If having three of her favourite dishes shocked her, then having the Excalibell Prince shouting 'Happy Birthday' loudly near her ears should be giving her a heart attack!
"What! Birthday? W-What are you talking about?"
Just then, the grandfather clock that she had just placed on the wall started to make an echoing sound as soon as the clock turned to midnight.
"Today is the twenty-fifth of August! Your birthday!"
Anya checked on her mobile phone and gasped softly.
"Y-You're right. I've completely forgotten all about it..."
Duke went over to her side and wrapped his arms around her neck.
"Happy birthday, Miss Anya." He kissed her forehead tenderly with a warm smile.
Caught off guard by the kiss, Anya turned red before muttering a 'thank you'. Just then, she received messages and a few calls from people she knew.
"Hey, kiddo! You're still up?"
"Hey, Anya!" Another male voice said through the loud speaker.
Anya chuckled delightfully. "Dean! James!"
"Happy Birthday, sis!" Wished the Romans brothers to their little sister.
Beamed with happiness, Anya excused herself for a short while from the table to talk privately with her brothers, to which Duke nodded while Aidan opened a bottle of fine wine exclusively from the Kingdom of Excalibell.
Not soon after the young Romans had left the table, Duke exhaled softly.
"How did you know today is Miss Anya's birthday, Aidan?"
"What are you indicating, Your Highness? Of course I knew. I knew everything I needed to know about Miss Romans when I'd used Qiche on her, including her birthday."
"Still, Aidan. I would have never guessed you would be the type to celebrate someone's birthday — maybe except for mine and Father's." Duke smiled cunningly as he brought his hands underneath his chin.
While his butler was attentively pouring the wine to three glasses, Duke decided to stir some trouble.
"Tell me the truth, Aidan, have you developed feelings for Miss Anya?"
Aidan's subtle way of missing a drop of the wine on the table told Duke everything he needed to know. His lips slowly formed a grin.
Realising how he had carelessly spilt a drop on the table, Aidan took a clean rug on the table and wiped it spotlessly cleaned.
"Feelings, Your Highness?" Aidan prompted, after a pause.
"How most kind of you to think that I have such feelings for someone such as Miss Romans. I am sure you of all the people, are aware that for someone like me, to have such feelings or any feelings at all is most forbidden. Do you still remember that winter?"
The air around them had suddenly turned dull and cold. Both men had unidentified emotions in their eyes.
"Of course. How could I ever forget?"
Up until this days, whenever gossips or talks around the castle that was being brought up by servants who had nothing better to do than to shared the delightful newly recruited guards who were simply wished to know more about the Royal Family, especially His Highness's mysterious Butler; there was just one topic that none of them dared to talk about — it was the night of that cold winter that happened five years ago.
Also known amongst the castle as the 'Red Snow.'
It was said, on that cold winter night, red snow filled everywhere around the castle. The one thing that most of the servants or guards could never forget, was the sound of a wailing man. Some said it was a heartbroken man who had decided to stab his own eyes with knives after losing the love of his life to an unknown disease.
But Duke knew better.
Looking at Aidan who had his back facing him, the young Prince sighed and rested his back against the chair. His ears suddenly picked up the sound of footsteps heading toward them.
"Hey, sorry about that guys. Josh called right after the twins. "Anya said apologetically, approaching the table. She returned to her seat and sat down.
"Wow, wine. Not sure if I'm able to take it, but since it's my birthday, so what the hell! Bottom's up!" Lifting the glass, Anya clashed her drinks with the others.
"Did you have fun talking with your brothers and Mister Josh, Miss Anya?" Duke decided to ask a moment later.
"Oh yea." Anya continuously to pour more wine into her glass, after she had consumed the last one like water.
Her action alone caused different reaction from both men: Duke was greatly worried of how quickly she consumed the alcoholic drink while Aidan looked rather impressed she could hold her liquor much better than the last one he had seen her at Steve and Emma's Engagement Ceremony.
Either that or she was already tipsy.
Again, how troublesome. Aidan sighed lowly.
"Miss Anya, won't you go easy with your drink? Here, eat some of the meatloaf! Say ahh!" Duke made a cute attempt on spoon-feeding the slightly drunken birthday girl, much to Aidan's great amusement.
It was no doubt in everyone's mind, the best night for them all.
BRIGHT sunlight was not the best way for one to wake up after being knocked out unconscious by numerous rounds of alcohol. Yet, it was not the reason that woken Anya Romans up from her dreamless slumber that morning. Rather, it was the annoying repetitively sound of doorbell.
Anya moaned at dizziness that was hitting rapidly her head. Slowly, she opened her eyes to adjust to the living room, and noticed that she was on the long sofa covered by a warm thick blank.
Another thing she realised was, on the opposite side, half sprawling on the sofa bed, was the Excalibell Prince, still sleeping soundly.
When the noisy of the doorbell began to increase, it then when Anya thought she had enough.
"Coming! Coming! God..."
Still with a dizzy head, Anya slowly made her way to the front door, unhooked the locks and opened it. She was ready to give whoever it was ringing the damn doorbell half of what's in her mind when she momentarily stopped.
Standing before her was a pretty young woman in bright autumn wears, holding two big luggages.
"Oh, hello darling!"
Rina O'Michael smiled brightly with her perfectly white teeth. Stepping forward, she gave the stunned looking woman a friendly hug.
Anya snapped out from her trance and tapped the woman slightly on her back.
"Thank you... W-What are you doing here, Rina?"
"To celebrate this special day with you, of course!" Rina pulled her luggages and welcomed herself into the apartment. "Is Rosy home? I haven't seen her for a while. How I'd missed her cooking! Especially her home-made stew!"
"Wait, Rina! Rina!" Anya shut the door loudly before catching up with the older woman.
Shit! What is she doing here? Oh no, Duke!
"Rina! There's something I need to tell you about-"
Anya was caught on her breathe when Rina sat very closely beside Duke, looking at the man who was barely awake with much intensively and curiosity.
Meanwhile, discomfort was all over the Excalibell Prince's face. He'd been stared, glared, admired, and even lusted by many. But nothing could ever compared to what this strange woman was making him feel with her intensive stare!
"All right, Rina. You had your fun. You'd scared the poor man half to death with your intensive stare. Now knock it off!"
Rina O'Michael grinned victoriously before taking a few steps back. She hopped happily beside Anya, who brought one hand to her face.
"Uh... Miss Anya?" Duke looked at her with widened eyes.
Anya raised a hand at his question. "Come to the kitchen. I'll make coffees for the both of us."
The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled in the air. Anya inhaled deeply before sipping on the hot beverage.
"That feels good." She sighed softly.
"Indeed and thank you. I can feel my head starting to clear up, albeit a bit."
Exhaled deeply, Anya looked from a relief looking Duke to an exciting Rina.
"Duke, this is Rina O'Michael. Dean's secretary and girlfriend."
"Nice meeting you Miss O'Michael. I am Duke Excalibell." Duke reached for her hand and shook it. He had been very well trained by Anya not to kiss every maiden's hands upon greeting them.
"Rina. This is an old acquaintance of mine, Duke. Now I know you must be curious to know why was he sleeping on my sofa bed. For the record, he and his older brother were celebrating my-"
"Oh I know about that,dear. He already told me everything."
"-Birthday. Wait, what? He told you everything?"
Rina nodded. "Oh yes. Quite impressive too, the way he explained what he and his brother were doing here celebrating your birthday at midnight when Rosy is away, all within a minute."
Anya turned around to look at the bashful Prince who refused to meet with her eyes, and lifted an eyebrow.
Shaking her head to clear the income headache, Anya decided it was best to let it begone. There were matters that needed to discuss after all.
"Rina, I hate to be a rude host, but what brings you here to my household today?" Of all the days, it has to be on my bloody birthday! She left the few last words in silence with gritted teeth.
Instantly, Rina's face changed from cheerful to devastate as she cried loudly, buried her face on the table.
"Your brother's cheating on me — with an older woman!"
If Anya's gawking face could retort more, she would have done it. Quickly recovered, Anya shook her head.
"That's impossible! Dean may be a jerk at times, but he's never a cheater!" Wordlessly, Rina took out a photo she kept from her chest pocket and put it on the table.
The photo showed a grinning older woman with a revealing clothes, sitting across her stoic and bored looking brother in a coffee shop.
Rina blew her nose with a tissue. "I hired a private detective when I'd suspected something was wrong with him. He sneaked out late at night and only comes back home at dawn before he goes to work!"
Already, Anya could feel the migraine came back with full force. Groaning, she scratched her head.
"So you've decided to come here because...?"
"I had hope that Rosy could have some words with him." Rina sobbed, before looking at Anya with hope glittering in her rounded big baby blue eyes. "Or you, as a matter of fact!"
"Oh no, no, no." Anya got up from her seat and left the dining area. Rina quickly chased after her.
"Please, Anya? For your future sister-in-law?" Rina pled.
"Well, why not?"
"One, you already know my relationship with Dean is like oil and water — we don't mixed well. And two, the only reason why I'm tolerating you this long is because out of his crazy ex-girlfriends, you're the most sane."
Rina pouted, looking over at Anya with her eyes which immediately caused the younger woman to snort loudly.
"That only works on Mama, Rina!" Sighed rather loudly, Anya rubbed her aching forehead.
"Look, since you're here, why don't you come to Home's? We need all the extra helps we can get anyway. I'll figure something out and have words with Dean later tonight. Okay?"
Rina squealed in joy before wrapping her arms around the younger woman.
"Thank you! Oh, I know! Why don't I show you how to make my famous strawberry meringue dessert?"
At the mentioned of her strawberry meringue dessert, Anya's façade quickly changed.
"Well, if you insist of making it." Anya shrugged. Deep down, she was really exciting about it. Rina may be lacked of many things, but her desserts were second best to her brothers'.
While Rina went ahead and changed her attires, Duke decided he need an explanation regarding their new guest.
"Miss Anya, I do not want to be seen as rude and disrespectful, but your friend is a bit peculiar, so to speak."
"Say no more. She's always been like this since I first met her four years ago. Dean is a great chef with excellent taste in culinary; but his taste in women is horrible to the fault! Rina's actually the first girl he dates whom we can all tolerate."
"I see." Duke nodded with a small smile.
"I'm ready!" Rina showed up shortly with a plain white long sleeves turtle neck shirt and dark pants.
"Alright. Let's hit the road, people!"