Okay, you can do this. You have your best outfit on, you rehearsed your responses dozens of times, you have your resume in your back pocket All you have to do is go to the bakery and and
Oh God, I can't do this!
"Alexander Garde, stop right there!" Sasha's order prevented me from running back into my room and hiding. She misunderstood. The fear of rejection wasn't what bothered me; it was what she would do to me if it happened.
" I began. Sasha hugged me and kissed me on the forehead.
"Don't worry. I talked to Alden and he assured me that he reserved that spot just for you. He'll show you the ropes and everything."
"And he's a nice guy. He just
keeps to himself."
"Say 'but' one more time and I'll hurt you," Sasha's eyes narrowed. She released her grip and patted me on the back. "Now let's go. Chop chop. You'll have to earn your keep somehow."
"Try not to fuck up, Alejandro!" the thick accent of my second roommate came from down the hall.
"No one's talking to you! Go back to bed!" I said, getting a mocking laugh as a reply.
"Oh, yeah. With that attitude I'd hire you in a heartbeat!"
Why wouldn't he die in a hole somewhere? He was right, though. My savings were low and Sasha made it perfectly clear that IOUs were unacceptable.
"No rent, no food."
The ride to the bakery didn't help matters. I had no idea that being trapped between a groper and a bum would make me panic more.
Hey, kid! 'm talkin' t'ya
Did he bathe in alcohol? Just ignore him
I felt my resume shift slightly. I jumped forward before getting felt up again and having it explained away by the crowdedness of the train. I prayed that my possible boss wasn't like this.
Once I entered the bakery I was baffled. The décor, cakes, everything was neatly placed and
slightly feminine. It was filled with women's gossip and laughter. I second-guessed the name Sasha gave me of its owner. My thoughts were interrupted by the faint ka-ching! of the register a short distance away. There was a giant giving a customer some change. He was the only male worker in sight. Tall, bulky, stern
he was like my father in a frilly apron. I stifled my laughter at the thought from fear that he would hear me. Compared to him I was shorter and lankier than usual. I didn't budge.
Sir?" one of the waitresses waved her hand in front of my face. "Welcome! How can I help you?"
Alden available?" I asked. A part of me hoped that Gigantor was someone else, and Alden was in the back or something
"Why, yes. He's the gentleman at the register."
But why on Earth should I expect things to go my way?
" I mumbled. The distance between the entrance and the counter was short, so I acted accordingly. There was no line, but it took at least a minute for me to reach Alden. He looked more terrifying when he was at arm's length. He sorted some money in the register before glancing at me.
"You Alex?" he said. I flinched. Even his voice made my skin crawl
"Y-Yes sir. I'm
I'm here for my interview," my voice cracked. We were off to a great start.
"Hm. You mind waiting till after the place closes? Should be half an hour, tops."
Half an hour? So I had thirty whole minutes of waiting for my doom. Super. I should've stayed home
There really weren't any guys besides me and Alden in the building. At least, there were no men who came in without a date. Working here might be fun, I thought. Girls I encountered always commented on how cute I was or how my eyes were different colors. Not to toot my own horn, but this place would thrive if I was hired.
But that didn't make me any less scared of Alden.
Like he said, the place began to empty at around eight. The waitresses punched out and
only the giant and I remained. I watched him take off his apron and go into the back. He returned with his things.
"Let's go," he said when he passed me.
Your interview. Did you forget already?"
We were going to do it outside the bakery? Strange
"We have to get some groceries first," Alden explained. "I want to see how you bake."
What, that was all? I walked by a store on the way here. It was getting dark. The street performers and drunkards took over the streets and we speed-walked by them. I was almost glad that Alden was with me. He took out a box of cigarettes.
"Oh, uh, here's my resume," I said before practically shoving it in his face. After putting a cigarette in his mouth he took the document out of its envelope and skimmed over it. I wanted to tell him my strengths but my mind went blank.
"You're in high school?" his eyebrows raised. "Damn, I had you pegged as a twelve-year-old this whole time."
So I wasn't being paranoid! He was staring at me earlier
"I get that a lot
" I smiled.
"Hm. Guess I can take you seriously now
" he lit the cigarette and inhaled.
And just like that, my smile vanished.
"You mean you were doing this just to humor me?" I squeaked.
"Sure was," he exhaled. "I can't just let some brat bake the merchandise."
I expected smoke to be in the air but I coughed anyway. Alden looked at me and I tried to cover it up by scratching my chin. Even though he was laidback, he could still snap me like a twig.
"You don't smoke?" he asked. "I thought kids your age did this kind of stuff."
"No, I mean
Well, I don't, but
" I coughed again to calm my nerves. "I just didn't expect you to do it."
How're you supposed to expect it?"
"Doesn't it, I dunno, get on your clothes?"
"Well, it's not like I do it all the time. Besides, I can't smell. 'ts bad for business."
"You know, you don't have to be so nervous around me," he chuckled. "The job's pretty much yours. We're just doing this as a formality."
The automatic doors greeted us. Alden told me that the ingredients were entirely my choice. Oh crap, what if my method wasn't to his liking? I observed his reaction each time I placed something in the cart. He didn't give me much except for some small talk.
"So you and Sasha live together? Is she your mom or something?"
"Figured as much. But if she's going through all this trouble for you, you can put up with it."
"I guess. I mean, she really likes working for you."
I-I'm glad to hear that," he said. I caught the stammering. I glanced at him while putting eggs in the cart. His face was red. So the monster did have a weakness
"Oh yeah, she hated her other jobs," I realized that I probably shouldn't have said that to her boss. "B-But she's not a bad worker!"
Silence. Crap. Time to add that to the list of reasons why Sasha would kill me
"Honestly?" Alden spoke up while I searched for materials for icing. "This isn't my first choice either. Don't get me wrong; I love my job. It's just
I wanted to build the place, not work in it, you know?"
"Sooo you didn't?" I asked. I was nearly blinded by all the pink.
"No, that was the last owner," he looked offended. "But I figured, hey, it makes the customers happy."
I finished grocery shopping and Alden offered to pay. We went back to the bakery, which was eerie with no one around. We went into the kitchen with armfuls of groceries. It still had a faint smell of pastries but was nearly spotless. It made me wonder how Alden managed to make and sell his products without fainting. He stood back and watched. I grabbed the necessary utensils and took out the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring among other things. I turned on the oven, giving it time to heat up. Then I mixed the batter and poured it into the pan. I couldn't see Alden but he didn't say a word. The oven beeped. I slid the batter inside and started on the icing. Time passed, there was some small talk, and ding! I grabbed an oven mitt and pulled the cake out. I took a spatula and spread the icing across the pastry. Once that was done, the shell border was next.
"Good job," I heard Alden say. Instinctively, I turned my head and thanked him. He raised an eyebrow. Crap, what did I do?
"You got icing on your nose," he said while approaching me. I stood frozen as he wiped it off with his finger and gave it a taste. "Not bad."
I thanked him again, but...that was a little odd. Well, whatever. I continued working.
Then, out of nowhere, I felt something slide on my face. My head snapped back at where Alden was standing. He had a mischievous look on his face while holding the used spatula.
"Oops. Looks like you got more on your face."
I forced a laugh until Alden started getting a little too close to me. I felt his hands on my stomach. It gave me a nasty chill. When I tried to get away, he tightened his grip. Something wet and rough hit my face this time. Alden decided it was more resourceful to use his tongue.
"Not bad at all..." he whispered. "Keep working. You mess up, you start over."
His hands began to wander. What? Why was he
But if I didn't do what he said
I tried to keep my hands steady. I just had to finish the border. Just
Why was the cake larger than I remembered? He was digging under my shirt. Everywhere he touched felt so cold. He smelled awful because of the cigarette from earlier. I wanted to shout for help. So that was why he wanted to do this after the place closed. Sasha. I had to warn Sasha
But what if he
No. No, he wouldn't dare
I'm done," I said, but he didn't let go. He continued frisking me. I was too scared to see what he was staring at. It was probably me. It had been since I walked through the door.
"Good. I'll see you tomorrow then," despite this, he made it clear that he wasn't done with me yet.
For the first time all day, I wondered if that was a good thing.