Alexandrina Maguire couldn’t be more excited to start her day. She loved baking and wanted to learn as much as she could so some day she could own her own bakery. Today she is finally going towards the next step in her plan, becoming manager of Meghan's Bakery. The plan was first put in motion years prior after she dropped out of college. She wasn't afraid or disappointed when she made the decision because she already had becoming a business owner as her back up plan.
As she walked into the Café space she looked like a beam of light with her smile.
“Well, you look pretty chipper today. You’d be mistaken for the sun.” Ila Van Buren was friends with Alex the moment they met, they clicked instantly over the uncanny resemblance they had. They both have wavy, long blonde hair, a slim nose, and a curvy figure. Most customers mistake them for sisters all the time, the only way to tell them apart was by the color of their eyes. Ila’s eyes were a light shade of brown whereas Alex’s were hazel but seemed to change depending on the lighting and her mood. Today they were a deep gold almost shiny.
“I don’t know what’s to come today, I just feel it’s my day.” She walked into the employee only room behind the counter. She grabbed her apron from her locker and replaced it with her purse. She chose old dirty jeans and a big t-shirt for the day knowing even with the apron she’d probably still get her clothes dirty. She continued her routine of organizing everything in her purse into her locker so she wouldn’t have to dump out her bag while the day got busy. She was almost done when she heard a door open.
Out came a man dressed in nice pants, a shirt and tie, and the newest loafers on the market. She was taken back for a moment and just stared at the handsome man before her. He was tall, with jet black hair, his stance made a statement. Just from him standing in a small, closed off room half filled with lockers and just enough room for four chairs, that he could lead a team of five hundred if he wanted to. He hadn’t even spoken yet but for some reason she got a feeling about him, deep in her gut. But it was nothing she had ever felt before, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She continued to stare in silence.
Jack Livingston had expected the day to be dreadful from before he even got up in the morning. He loved his life back in Boston, head of one of the department’s at his fathers insurance company he had more money than any 23 year old knew what to do with. Which is exactly how he made the mistake of investing a large amount of his fathers money, that was said to be for raises in his department, on a chain of companies that seemed to be rising fast. But what he didn’t realize was stocks can fall even harder than the rose, losing all of his father’s money. His dad blamed it on the lack of a mother, even though it had been 15 years since his mother walked out on his father, his father always needed someone to blame.
So he was let go temporarily to go stay with his Aunt and work at her bakery. Even though he was being taught a lesson he knew his dad was a softy seeing he twisted his aunt’s leg to give him the manager position. He knew the game his father played and the only way to win was to try and do a good job so hopefully his dad would take him back sooner. He was already counting down the days to being back to his office parties and business lunches.
What he didn’t expect was to be completely and utterly enchanted by this draw dropping a beautiful girl in dirty clothes and an apron. She was nothing like the fancy put together woman he saw back in Boston. He didn't know what was so amazing about her, could it be her glossy hair? Her delicate hands? Or maybe the sprinkle of happiness that poured out of her slight smile? No, it was the eyes, her beautiful eyes that seemed a dark green but were truly gold when the light shined brighter through the window. They were brighter than the sun but also cool like waves on sand.
He then noticed that she was also staring at him. Determined to break the silence he tried to think of something to say.
Once he spoke she switched back into reality, ignoring the gut feeling she had she remembered that a stranger was in the employee only area. “I’m sorry sir, this is only employees. Can you please return to the cafe?”
“Oh, I’m actually the new manager here. Jack Livingston, nice to meet you.”
“Manager? I’m sorry but that’s impossible I would have been told. Can you please leave?”
“No, I’m telling you the truth. I was hired just recently and today's my first day. I'm sorry you weren’t informed but I’m here now so are you Emily or Alex.”
Her anger was starting to pile up but she kept a cool voice. “Just hold on your telling me that she hired a complete stranger to be manager.”
“Well, not exactly a stranger, I'm her nephew.”
“Nephew?! Are you kidding me?” She had no control now and without even thinking of the consequences barched into her boss's office.
“You can’t be serious! Meg! You give into nepotism instead of promoting your longest employee!” The moment she raised her voice she knew she made a mistake. Yelling at her boss? She’d never done something like that, but it was too late, Alex had never seen that look on Mrs. Parker’s face before.
She rose from her desk. “You continue to raise your voice at me, you'll be a fired employee!” She paused to compose herself more calmly. “This is my business and I make the decisions around here. I’m sorry but family comes first in my eyes, you may not understand that but it’s how I run things. Are we clear?”
Alex choked back tears and steadied her voice. “Yes. I am so so-.”
“No need for that, just get to work please. We have customers waiting.” Alex left feeling like an absolute idiot, she had always thought of her relationship with Meg as a friendship. Meg had been a family friend for as long as she could remember and had always been there for her. Alex didn’t recognize the woman who yelled at her and wasn’t sure what had happened to cause it. Whatever it was it still hurt, making tears that were alrighty waiting that much harder to hold in. She never was good at being yelled at, especially when it was by someone she respected. But she couldn’t, she had to work.
Quickly wiping away the single tear she let fall, she powdered her cheeks a little so the redness would go down. Then she joined Ila behind the counter taking orders.
“Hi, how can I help you?” Ila had noticed Alex was upset right away, she was never good at makeup or hiding when she cried. Always trying to be so strong. Ila decided it was best to let Alex have that victory for a while, at least until they had a lunch break.
“Jesus Aunt Meg she basically ran out of here crying, did you have to be so harsh?” Meg did think it was too harsh. Even before Meghan started working at her bakery, she had been a loyal customer since before she was born. Her mom walked in nine months pregnant and deeply distressed. After a week of craving a cupcake with no luck, she was ready to fight anyone until she got one. And once she did, they became instant friends. Meg watched Alex grow up into a beautiful, strong woman who went off to college.
She thought of Alex like the daughter she never had, they had talked about everything. Bad break ups, troubles with school, and was there when Alex had made the tough decision to drop out of college and pursue her dreams. Had sat right here in her office giving Alex the strength to tell her parents.
With all of that she still chose her nephew over her for the manager position. She really didn’t want to but her brother had begged her to help Jack for a while. Meg thought Jack had gone through the rebellion face when his mother left, her brother thought the solution was to move far away and forget it. She wished they hadn’t because it took her nephew losing a million dollars to realize that he needed stability. Maybe he was an adult but there was so much more for her to learn when she was twenty-five.
She hated letting down Alex, but she thought it was more important to start helping Jack. Alex would forgive her, right?
“No, it was necessary. I know Alex really well and that’s the only way she’ll listen.”
“Are you sure?” He didn’t remember his aunt being so cold.
“Yes! I’m sure! Now sit’own!” He was baffled for a moment, but deciding it was best not to go against her, slowly he sat down in the chair in front of her. “Look I know your dad got you here after a certain situation happened, but I don’t mess around here. It may not be the huge department you were running before but it’s still a business so I expect you to actually try. You got that?”
“And the first thing you're going to do is get a tour from Alex. Then follow her around for the rest of the day so you can get an idea of how things run around here alright. Even though she’s not a manager she knows how things run so you better listen to her alright?”
“Yes, okay I got it. I’ll try, I’ll listen, I promise.” He took a deep breath in disappointment. “I know I let down dad, but he’ll get over it. I’ll do this little learning curve for him, I’ll have a nice visit with you, and then I’ll be back to my life in Boston. And I promise I won't. I'll work just as hard as I did for my father.”
“Alright I believe you, but I’m holding you to that. Now get to work.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He walked to the door, pausing before turning the knob. It didn’t hit him until just now how much he needed someone like his Aunt in his life. “Oh and Aunt Meg?”
She smiled back, “You’re welcome.”
When he walked to the cafe area he noticed how busy they were and decided to take it all in for a moment. It was a good size place fit about 10 round tables with 2 chairs at each, all in the color black. The room felt spacious with the windows all around. The display counter was filled with all the basic American pastries, but that’s not the reason most people were there at six in the morning. Most customers came for the morning coffee, a few stayed to enjoy it even getting a bagel or croissant. Most seemed to come and go faster than he could even think.
Two more employees had joined Alex and Ila. They worked like a well oiled machine. They all had a job and all worked together to keep the customers moving and happy. He thought he’d wait out the rush hour of the morning until he got a tour from Alex.
As the morning went by he got more annoyed having to wait. As soon as she walked back to the employee area he followed her, her back was turned and she was headed for the bathroom with her purse.
“Hey, can we talk for a second?”
She didn’t turn, just reached for the doorknob. She felt emotionally drained holding back her feelings from the confrontation with Meg for four hours. All she wanted to do was let out a good cry alone, then she could get on with the rest of the day dealing with this new manager. She knew she was on the edge of breaking down at any point so she took a deep breath to hold it in a little while longer.
“Yeah just give me a few minutes.”
“No, I’ve been waiting hours to get you free for a tour of the bakery.”
She whirled around to face him. “And I’ve been waiting hours to get a bathroom break, do you think I can be allowed to do that or you gonna deduct my pay?”
“No, of course not. There that’s your problem with me, you have judged me from the moment I walked in without even giving me a chance. Just because I was previously working for a big company doesn’t mean I’m a cold-blooded evil businessman.”
“You know maybe that’s part of the reason or maybe it’s because you’re taking a job from me you know nothing about.”
“I was manager of a department of five hundred. I'm more than qualified to manage four people.”
“It’s actually seven, and that’s not the point, you know nothing about a bakery, it's on a completely different scale. You don’t know the first thing about how we run things.”
“Which is exactly why I want to learn. Would you at least give me the chance?” Alex felt her emotions going off the chain, she needed to get away from him before she completely exploded. But it was too late.
“Yes! I said I would and I will! It’s my job, isn't it. Just give me two freakin seconds to use the goddamn bathroom!” She tried not to but her eyes started getting watery and her cheeks got rosie. She hoped it didn’t show too much but Jack had definitely noticed. He wasn’t used to feeling guilty, knowing he was the cause of the devastating look on her face, he’d never felt so bad.
“Oh my god,” he reached out his hand. “I shouldn’t have been so rude. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you-” She backed away.
“No, it wasn’t your fault. Believe me you're the last person I’d cry over.” She could see a part of him that cared that she was upset. But she knew his type and wasn’t going to fall for him. “I’ll be out in a second and then I’ll give you a tour.”
He thought to say something but she had already slammed the door before he could think of anything. He waited promptly for five minutes and she came out composed, calm, he wished she came out fuming and angry which he could handle. What he couldn’t understand was someone fully losing it one minute and then choking up all her feelings the next. He didn’t know why but he wanted, no needed to be there for her. She looked fine, fixed her hair into a low ponytail and cleaned up her makeup, still he wanted to make her feel better.
“Hey, I’m sorry about before I wasn’t thinking about you and feel bad. We can do this later on and you can take a real break.”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t want you to wait any longer. Now,” she placed her purse back in her locker and began. “These are the employee lockers obviously, everyone gets one locker, they don’t have any locks but no one has ever stolen each other's stuff. We get to spend breaks here for ten minutes only no more, no less.” She opened a door to the right of the lockers and led him downstairs to the basement. “This is the basement where we have supplies, the furnaces, and the electrical room.” She rattled out all the little details about delivery dates, restocks, and the weekly schedule. He couldn’t focus though, he hadn’t noticed it before but her eyes seemed to be a different color. He thought maybe it was just the light in the basement playing tricks on him, but as he continued to let himself be distracted by them he knew it was no trick. They had changed from light gold to almost gray.
Still baffled, he blindly followed her in the tour back upstairs and through to the kitchen. She rattled off all the appliances and how they worked but could notice that he wasn’t listening at all. “So to turn on the blender you press this button,” he nodded. She decided to bait him. “And then unicorns land on mars creating their own government.”
“Hhmm. They’ll do a great job.” She punched him hard in the arm. “Ow! What was that for?”
“You said you wanted to take this job seriously but you're not even listening.” She gave him another punch.
“Ow! Okay, I’m sorry.” He nursed his arm. “Would you stop hitting me, please?”
“Give me one good reason.”
“Because I felt bad about what happened earlier.”
“I told you you didn’t have to feel-”
“No, I do feel bad and I want to make it up to you. Go out to dinner with me.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“No, I’m not. We got off on the wrong foot so let me fix it, we’ll be working together for a while at least. You’ll have to deal with me for a few months so maybe to make those less horrible we’ll clear the air and go out to dinner.”
“It’s because we work together that I can't go out with you, it’s completely unprofessional.”
“No it’ll be fine, I’ll talk to Aunt Meg. It will be purely professional, only business talk and I’ll listen I promise. Will you let me make it up to you?” `