Quinn Pimento ran the one and only 'world famous' Baker’s Haven on Cama Street in Mapusa, Goa. His grandfather had started the bakery in 1919. Back then their cakes were so famous, that they would supply to the Colonial officersof the British regime. After him, his father and now he, carried on the tradition of 'Baker's Haven', delivering the most mouth-watering baked goods ever. However, on a particularly cold December day that changed. Just opposite to his Bakery, opened 'Cakes with love'. That day when Quinn was initially shocked and later scoffed at the very name of the new shop. Cakes with love? Who named their shops like that? Being the good man that his father had raised him to be, he carried a pack of tarts and walked to the shop, to welcome the neighbours and to check out the competition.
As he pushed the door, a bell chimed. A boy somewhere in his teens, welcomed him to the shop, however he was confused when he saw the tarts in Quinn’s hand. "Hello, I am Jaden," he introduced himself. Quinn smiled broadly as he handed him the tarts, introducing himself "I am Quinn, I own the bakery across the street." Jaden coughed to cover his surprise and hollered, "Dad someone's here to see you!!" A moment after that, a very handsome hunk with a strapped physique, that Quinn had seen in his entire life walked into the store. They shook hands, as he said, "Oh hey, I am Jude." Quinn was openly drooling and had to slap his inner gay self to get over it. He was obviously married and was competition. As his grandad said ‘you do not fraternise with the enemy!’ So Quinn complemented the shop and took his leave. As he was shutting the door, he overheard Jaden say, “Was he really the guy from the bakery across? Shouldn’t he like dislike us for eating into his business.” His father chuckled, a very sexy chuckle at that, and replied, “Maybe he came to check on the competition!”
As he paced his store, Quinn realised their bakery would bust his business. So, what was there to worry about, he ran an established shop and they were the newbies, he thought. He wrung his hands as he panicked, what if they did better cakes? As he bit on his nails, an idea struck him - the only way to prove that he was better, would be to get them to enter the town’s annual Baking championship, where he had been winning hands down for as long as he could remember. Once he beat them there, people would know who the best baker in town is. So as planned, Quinn invited Jaden and Jude to dinner. Jude was surprised at all the hospitality that Quinn was dishing out, considering he was competition and would bore a hole into Quinn’s business. When he had seen Quinn at his shop the morning before, he was stunned at his hazel brown eyes, they held a world of warmth as Quinn had handed the tarts to Jaden. But he wasn’t sure if Quinn would feel the same if he knew that he was gay.
He and Jaden had shifted to Mapusa for a quiet life, after the death of his partner, not wanting to live in the same city filled with memories that caused more pain than joy. Also, his family and friends hadn’t appreciated his coming out of the closet. But then he had met Ravi and things had changed. They had gone and gotten married and moved to USA. There they had adopted Jaden and never looked back, till Ravi got diagnosed with cancer and things spiralled. Jude shook his head to clear the fog that started sucking him into an abyss of painful memories.Dressed dapper, Jude, along with Jaden, made his way to Quinn’s. His house was a small one, at the end of the street with a white picket fence and all. Jude smiled as he thought of Quinn fussing over his beautiful garden, thinking of his pouting lips and he stilled, he did not like where his thoughts went. He frowned and walked on.
Quinn, who had prepared a lavish dinner, now he felt guilty that his invitation had a hidden motive and feeding Jude right now felt like fluffing the bait before the slaughter. He huffed a breath and composed himself. He wasn’t slaughtering Jude but was getting into a good natured competition to prove who is best! Ya Right! He said to himself. His reverie was broken by a knock on the front door.Quinn rushed to open the door and welcomed Jaden and Jude in. He offered them wine and fruit beer each and settled on the couch.
Suddenly the room was silent, and Jude at a loss of words stared around Quinn’s comfy home. He realised there was no one else in the house, so turning to Quinn he asked, “You live alone?” Keeping his glass on the table Quinn smiled, “Yes, after my dad died, I have been on my own. The bakery is my life and keeps me busy.” Jude asked again, “What about other family?” With a sombre face Quinn replied, “After I came out as Gay, they haven’t had much to say or do with me.” Jude felt sad for Quinn, but his heart skipped a beat at this new information. Meeting someone like him, away in the heart of Goa, especially someone so sincere, what were the odds? Just then he heard Quinn call out for dinner.
They all ate as Quinn and Jaden chattered and Jude looked at them amazed how quick they had taken to each other. Just then Quinn cleared his throat as he said, “You know we have an annual baking competition every year down at the market, maybe you guys should participate.” Jude smiled as he said, “We just set shop I think we will let this year ago. Maybe next year when we have earned some name, we can try.” Quinn stood up as he wrung his hands and persuaded, “No no, you must do it this year. It will….it will let people know that you have opened a shop…. you know!” Jude’s eyes glittered with anger as he realised what Quinn was up to, he turned to Jaden and said, “Jaden I think we have had enough, let’s leave.”Jaden who had a spoonful of custard halfway to his mouth, looked up confused. His father set his spoon down and hastened his pace as he walked out the door. “Fine!!,” Quinn yelled, “At least say the food was good or maybe a thank you!!” Jude turned and threw out, “Thanks!!!! For nothing!!” Quinn fumed as he moved to the kitchen and began clearing the utensils with a loud clang.
Two weeks after that day, the list for participants was out and to his surprise, his rival bakery was on the list. His mouth pressed into a thin line, as he stormed to the shop across the street and entered with loud, “I thought you weren’t going to participate.” Jude who was attending to a customer, turned in surprise and his eyes chilled when he saw Quinn. In a cold voice he replied, “You encouraged me, so I thought where better to prove that we are the best bakers in town.” Quinn’s eyes widened as he gasped, “How dare you! My forefathers have run this bakery here and no one, do you hear, no one is the best but us.” Jude was in his face in a second, and nose to nose he challenged, “Prove it!” As their stares locked, each suddenly became aware that their bodies were uncomfortably close. Quinn felt something twitch near his stomach and he realised he had given Jude a hard on. He jerked away and blushed a deep shade of red. Jude looked at him defiantly and Quinn’s embarrassment was turned to anger in minutes. “See you at the carnival!!” he tossed at Jude and stomped out of the shop. As soon as he left, Jude slumped onto his desk, after Ravi this was the first time someone had ignited passion in him, just that Quinn rubbed a raw nerve by fooling him into a friendship just for a competition. Quinn entered his bakery and closed the door, leaning heavily against it. What had just happened? He was to challenge Jude, not moon over him. ‘Oh Quinn! get into your game else that brut is going to shut your business’, he reprimanded himself.
A week later, late at night he heard a loud knock at the door. When he opened it, he was surprised to see a very inebriated Jude leaning against his door frame. “Quuuinnnn, my man!” Jude slurred. Before Quinn could protest, Jude barged into his house and walked imbalanced to his sofa. “Dou hab a white pikit fench!” he said in a garbled tone, “its fucking cute, you know that, why do you have to be cayuth!,” continuing to slur. Quinn knelt before him as he said patiently, “Jude you are drunk. Where’s Jaden does he know you were out drinking; poor kid must be freaking!” Jude pushed his hand away, “What do you care? All youuuuuuu care abau is the bakey.” Quinn grasped his arm and held him around the waist as he dragged him to the guest room. As he laid Jude on the bed, in a half unconscious state he asked, “Am I getting laid? Its been so long….Ravi….Ravi’s been gone so long!” Quinn bit his lip in worry as he saw Jude fall asleep. The man had issues and a long way to heal from whatever wounds he still hid.
Next day Jude woke up with a bad hangover. His head was pounding, as he looked around to find himself in an unknown room. He straightened as he realised that he wasn’t home. ‘Oh no, Jaden!’ he thought. As he scrambled for his phone, Quinn walked in with a glass of orange juice and some pills for him. “You!” Jude said in a threatening tone. “Don’t you dare threaten me! You landed at my house drunk, left poor Jaden worried sick and then passed out on my bed!” Jude got off the bed and turned to him, “You are driving me to this, why are you bothering me and Jaden. Have I told you how to run your bakery? Then why are you interfering with mine?” Jude fumed. Quinn looked sheepish as he said, “I may have corrected a few things that Jaden may have told me, whenever we met?” Jude held him by his collar as he said, “Stay away from my son and my shop, you get it?” As Jude pushed Quinn and stormed out, Quinn yelled back, “Fine! Don’t blame me if your son finds it easy to talk to me than you!”
The month after that continued with jibes and competitive pricing and some creative slogans from both bakeries as they tried to woo each other’s customers. Their quarrel had become the town’s talk by now. Each didn’t spare a moment to put the other down and people enjoyed the little drama a little too much. Finally, when the day of the competition arrived, Quinn was shocked at finding Jude’s stall right across from him. As they both began baking their goods, they gave each other cold looks. Quinn broke the eggs imagining them to be Jude’s head and Jude mixed the dough as if he was screwing Quinn’s brains. Their cakes were in the oven soon and they both got into a staring contest, throwing jibes at each other in their heads. While Quinn was busy with this, the wire of his oven short circuited and a fire flared, engulfing the back of Quinn’s chef coat. He screamt in pain as the fire torched his skin.
Within minutes, Jude jumped over his table and had pushed Quinn to the floor, rolling him to put out the fire. Jaden had taken a fire extinguisher and subdued the flames at his workstation. As the paramedics arrived Quinn was taken to the hospital and Quinn followed him in the car. He sat with Quinn who had passed out from the painkillers, throughout the night. As Quinn came to the next day, he noticed a haggard looking Jude sleeping awkwardly on the couch. He smiled as he saw how Jude had tried to fit his six-foot five frame into a small couch just to be here. A wayward tear rolled down his cheek as he realised that no one had done something so sweet for him in a long - long time. Jude stirred and was by his side in a minute. “You okay?” he asked. Quinn nodded.
As days passed, Jude took care of Quinn and helped run his shop too. The day Quinn was discharged from the hospital, Jude drove him home. As they entered Quinn’s house, Jude looked at him and said, “Will you be good? You could stay at my place for a while you know?” Quinn smiled as he said, “You have already done enough, especially after what I did, I didn’t deserve this friendship.” Jude smiled as he said, “Lets just say I have my selfish motives to get you recovered.” Quinn’s brow furrowed as he asked, “And what may those be?”
Jude took a deep breath as he said, “I lost my partner Ravi to cancer. After that I never really was interested in a relationship, I had Jaden to take care of, and I couldn’t put him through uncertain ‘dads’ in his life. But after I met you, you ignited that lost passion. You rile me up, you challenge me, you care for Jaden and you make me want to be a better man. Seeing you in flames that day put things in perspective for me. So, Quinn what I mean to say is, that I like you a lot and would like to court you, if you say yes that is.” Quinn kept staring at Jude with an open mouth. He had never met another man like himself and hence never had a relationship, now that Jude had promised him the world, he didn’t know what to do with it. He sat down with his hand folded in his lap. Jude was a bit worried with Quinn’s silence, and prodded him, “Hey no pressure! I just wanted you to know.” When Quinn looked up, his eyes were filled with tears, “I…I have never been in a relationship, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t want to disappoint you.” Jude knelt before him and cupped his chin, “You are exceptional at relationships. Despite our dislike, you never hated Jaden or hurt him or use him against me. You cared about your enemy’s son. It takes a heart of gold to that Quinn. Rest we will figure as we go.”
Quinn smiled and placed a chaste kiss on Jude’s lips. Jude closed his eyes at the touching gesture, but when he opened it they were filled with lust. He smiled dangerously at Quinn as he said, “You better run little Quinn!” Quinn squealed as he took of towards his bedroom. Jude chased him and as he caught up with him they both fell onto the bed. They kissed each other, relishing the feeling and revelling in the warmth it brought. Quinn slowly withdrew and with a doubtful face said, “I …I have never…I mean I am…. you know!” Jude lifted his brows as he said, “Quinn are you telling me that you are a Virgin?” Quinn’s face flushed as he looked away. Jude cupped his chin and met his gaze as he assured him, “I would be honoured to be your first. But first let’s get Jaden in on the new development.” They got off the bed and walked hand in hand to Jude’s car. What had started with a quarrel had ended in love, and soon the two joined names, not just at the shop but also as a couple, embarking on a journey together with 'Baker's Haven- Cakes made with love.'
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