Chapter 26 : Chapter the Twenty-Sixth
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Yeah, you’re apparently meant to pay people for trials. Thankfully I looked it up before I told them they could come in for a trial but still I’m sure a heap of my cousins never got paid for their trials when they were applying for jobs.
Maybe it’s only in the Muggle world that they’re like that.
I don’t want to talk to Elliot for a few days, he’s being a prick he can come to me and apologise. But I do miss him.
He might be an idiot, but I still kinda love him.
Mark starts work on Monday and he’s going to be in five days a week and once he’s confident, he’s going to take the two days I have off. To train him, I’m going to only take one day off – Wednesday – but I’ve made the decision to permanently change it to that. I might get extremely exhausted for it, but at the moment it’s the best decision for my store and that always comes first. No matter what.
We close early on a Sunday so as I’m packing things away, there’s a knock at the door. I groan but open it up, saying, “I’m sorry we’re closed today. Come again tomorrow.”
I then properly look at the guest and jump as I realise it’s Elliot. “Hey,” I say warily.
“Hi,” he says. “Can I come in?”
“Are you going to apologise?” I say, folding my arms over my chest.
He looks annoyed. “You know, you haven’t been a saint either?” he snaps.
I pull him in the shop. I am not having a fight out here. I slam the door behind him and hiss, “What do you mean?”
“Amber,” he says simply. “You never apologised to her.”
I try to think of a reason but it’s because I was too lazy to search for her and when I next saw her I thought it was water under the bridge. Apparently not.
“Is she still mad?” I ask in a small voice.
He shakes his head. “No,” he says slowly. “But it did annoy me that you didn’t treat my family right when I treat yours so nicely all the time! And some of them are so—” He stops talking when I narrow my eyes and take a step closer to him, ready to punch his throat at a second’s notice.
“What, Elliot? Nice and welcoming? They might be a bunch of weirdos but you have to admit that they’re nice weirdos. They have never ever been nasty to you, but Amber was butting in my personal life and I don’t appreciate that,” I say angrily. He better not dare say anything bad about my family. They’re psychos but I love each and every single one of them.
“She was just trying to help,” he says in exasperation.
I’m about to argue back until I remember the real reason why I’m unhappy with him. “Who cares?! It was ages ago! You should get over it and next time I see her I’ll apologise to make you happy! But stop trying to distract me! Last night you were a complete prick! What is the matter with you?!”
He looks down at his feet and doesn’t respond. “Elliot!” I snap, not wanting to let him stall for time.
“I was jealous, okay?!” he says finally. He jams his hands in his pockets and looks at me, as if waiting for me to say, ‘Oh, that’s cute! You were just jealous now let’s hold hands and skip into the sunset!’
Not bloody likely. If there is one thing that I hate, it’s jealousy. I can’t stand it. I hiss, “Well you’re clearly an idiot.” He looks at me in shock. “I understand why you would be jealous,” I explain, “but that doesn’t mean you should act on that! Yes, he’s stunningly good looking but I hired him because he was brilliant at his job. You should know that!”
“I acted irrationally, Lily,” he says, “can’t you just forgive me?”
“No!” I snap. “I don’t tolerate jealousy. It’s the one thing I can’t stand. You obviously have some issues you need to work on before coming back to me.”
He starts saying something but I’m not in the mood for it. “Just go home, Elliot,” I say tiredly. “I’ll talk to you on a different day.”
“Friday?” he asks as he usually has that day off too.
I shake my head. “No, I work Fridays now. Wednesday is my only day off.”
“What?!” he says loudly. “Why?!”
“Because it’s the best decision for Lilycakes!” I glare at him. “I should have been doing this the whole time but I was silly and naïve back then thinking I could get away with two days off. It’s not fair on my workers.”
He looks angry at this and I say, “You won’t change my decision. Go home. I’ll talk to you on a different day.”
“Go,” I say firmly. “I need to focus on here for a bit anyway. We can argue later.”
He doesn’t fight it but storms out the door, slamming it behind him. I wait a few seconds before transfiguring a tea towel into a plate and smashing it on the ground to get my anger out. With the heel of my boot, I stomp on the fragmented pieces and start to feel myself relaxing as I hear the shards cracking and grinding against the floor.
After I feel a bit better, I vanish the mess away and lock everything up. I then Disapparate home to start cooking dinner. It’s my turn to cook tonight but I’m really not in the mood tonight.
However when I arrive, Glitter has ordered Chinese. “I felt like Chinese,” he explains. “You can cook tomorrow night.”
I sigh in content and smile. “You’re the best roommate ever, Glitter.”
“I know,” he says smugly. “Now come on and eat.” I oblige happily and he asks me how work was and I tell him nothing about Elliot. I don’t want to think about him for a while. I just want to have a few moments of ignorant bliss.
It’s been a week and I haven’t seen Elliot. I’m both relieved and annoyed at this.
Elliot has been tiring lately. I ended up telling Glitter what happened between us and he said that although Elliot was being a bit of an idiot, I did overreact a bit.
I didn’t listen to his advice.
After work, I decide to pay Mum a visit. Even though I call her every day and she pops into the bakery quite a bit, I haven’t properly seen her and I miss her.
I text Glitter to tell him I won’t be home tonight so he can do whatever he likes and he responds, ‘Can I do Mark?’ and I once again regret that I told him about Mark. I talked about it and then the next day Glitter was at Lilycakes asking for a peek at him. He now keeps making gross innuendos that I randomly remember when I’m talking to Mark and I make myself so uncomfortable but I can’t let Mark know that so then it always ends up being a very short conversation.
He probably thinks I’m a nutcase. Oh well. I’m his boss so he can’t do a damn thing about it.
I knock on the door and open it immediately anyway. “Hello?” I call out, shrugging my coat off and kicking my shoes off.
“Ginny?” Dad responds. I can’t help but feel a sliver of disappointment. I wanted to speak to Mum alone and she’s not home if Dad’s asking for her.
“No,” I say, “it’s me Lily. Is Mum not home?”
I hear a thump and walk to the end of the stairs. “Dad?” I say when he doesn’t respond.
“I’ll be down in a sec!” he says in a panicked tone. I frown but wait for him at the bottom of the stairs. He then comes thundering down. “Hey, sweetheart.” He kisses me on the cheek but I look at him suspiciously.
“Why did I hear a thump?” I ask curiously.
“I dropped something,” he lies badly. I start to ask him what he dropped but then he says sternly, “Don’t worry about it. Did you want a tea?”
“Yes please,” I say following him to the kitchen.
He sets a tea in front of me and sits next to me. “So, how’s the shop?”
I shrug and take a sip of my tea. “Fine,” I say. “Do you know when Mum will be home?” I don’t mean to sound rude but I really want to talk to Mum. She always has good advice.
“She’s just gone to the shops for a bit. Are you okay, Lily?” he asks, studying my face closely.
I bite my lip. I feel awkward talking about it with Dad but maybe he’s got something helpful to say. Even though he can be a bit dim sometimes, he’s usually got some good advice.
I tell him about the dilemma between Elliot and me. He looks angry with Elliot but puts his emotions aside to give me sound advice. “He is being an idiot,” he starts to say but I cut him off.
“Don’t you say I’m overreacting too!” I cry. “If he can act like a fourteen year old who doesn’t get their way, then I think I’m perfectly at liberty to act the way I want to!”
“That’s not what I was going to say,” he says patiently.
“Oh, sorry,” I say, as my cheeks flush red. “Go on.” I take another sip of my tea.
“It seems like a bit of a silly fight. Do you still love Elliot?” he asks.
I scoff, “Of course!”
“Then be the bigger person and talk to him calmly about it. I’m sure he’s just as upset as you are – if not more, because you’re a very special girl, Lily.”
I blush. “You’re my dad. You have to say that.”
“No I don’t,” he assures me. “I could say mean things and emotionally damage you for life,” he says strangely cheerful.
I give him a weird look. I don’t think about it anymore so I say, “Thanks, Dad. I might go over his place tomorrow. Should we start making dinner? Oh, I should let you know I’m staying for dinner.”
He laughs. “Okay. Do you want a breakfast style dinner?”
“Oh my god, yes please,” I say. “Won’t Mum get angry though?”
He shrugs. “Maybe. But I don’t mind doing it for you.”
“Aw, Dad,” I say with a grin. “You’re the best.” He smiles and ruffles my hair before searching for the eggs and bacon. I get the pancake mix and I tell him about the shop and how it’s all going in much more detail.
Mum comes home when we’ve nearly finished cooking and she says, “Lily! I wasn’t expecting you! Come here!”
I put down the spatula and give Mum a big hug. “I just popped over and we’re making dinner!”
“Ooh, what are you ma—breakfast food? Really, guys?” she says in exasperation.
Dad and I grin at her. “She wanted breakfast,” Dad says.
“Liar!” I say. “He suggested it!” I tell Mum, who rolls her eyes.
“It doesn’t matter. We may as well eat it now.” Dad and I give each other a grin as she sighs. Mum has never liked breakfast foods as dinner, which is blasphemous.
The next day after work I go to Elliot’s place – a bit reluctantly I do admit – and knock softly at the door. I want him to answer it but I won’t mind if he doesn’t hear it and I end up going home.
I’m just so tired.
The door swings open and it’s not Elliot. It’s a random girl. A very pretty random girl.
“Who are you?” I say rudely.
She laughs. “I’m Elliot’s next door neighbour. I was just helping him set up a Playstation. My ex-boyfriend left it at my place and I didn’t want to use it so I thought I’d ask him, seeing as he’ll probably use it.”
“Aren’t those things expensive?” I say, not trusting her at all.
She shrugs. “Kind of. But I already have one and my ex left the country so I think I should do whatever I want with the thing.” She smiles and says, “You look awfully familiar. Have I seen you before?”
I’m about to say, ‘No, you’ve probably just seen me with Elliot occasionally,’ but then I take a closer look at her. She does look familiar. But I can’t be bothered working it out when so I shrug. “I don’t know… Maybe… Look, can I come in?”
“Oh my god! You’re the person that walked into my place instead of Elliot’s ages ago! Weren’t you?” she exclaims.
I take a look at her and suddenly it hits me. I want to curl up in a hole and never have another memory again. “Um…” I don’t know what to say. “…Sorry about that?” I then gesture to the house. “Can I—?”
She moves aside. “Of course! Come in, sorry about that! Are you his girlfriend?”
I nod curtly. “Yeah, I just needed to talk to him.”
“No worries! Once we’ve set this up, I’ll get out of your way,” she says cheerfully. I smile uncomfortably at her and then when I walk into the living room I see Elliot’s bum in the air and him mumbling something.
“Elliot?” I say loudly in case he can’t hear me – he does have his head in an entertainment stand. I never know what they’re really called.
He lifts his head and there’s a loud thump and a, “FUCK!”
I rush to his side and place a hand on his back. “Are you okay?”
He pulls his head out of the stand and rubs his scalp with a frown. “Lily? What are you doing here?” He glances at the girl nervously who smiles at him. I raise an eyebrow and Elliot gives me a miniscule shake of the head.
“I wanted to talk to you,” I say. “But you can finish setting this thing up first.”
He looks a bit dazed so I ask, “Do you have a concussion?”
“No!” he says, dropping his hand from his head. “I’m just surprised you’re here. I didn’t think you wa—”
“We’ll talk about it later,” I say firmly, glancing over at the neighbour who’s now fiddling on her phone. I don’t even know her name.
He nods and then asks, “Natalie, can you just see if this is right? I’ve never owned one of these—”
“You’ve never owned a Playstation?” she gasps. “What did you do as a child?”
Elliot and I look at each other. He shrugs. “I played outside.” She looks like she’s never heard of such things but doesn’t say anything. She looks at the two of us curiously but then sticks her head in the entertainment centre thing and Elliot mutters to me, “Do you think she’d call me a nutcase if I told her I used to fly brooms around as a child and now I watch how others fly brooms around as adults?”
I stifle a giggle. “I think so,” I murmur back before I remember I’m annoyed at him.
Wait, no. I’m not annoyed at him, remember? I remind myself. We stay silent and then this ‘Natalie’ pops out with a grin. “All done. Go on, give it a go!”
Elliot practically bounces to the couch to start playing. Natalie fiddles around with a TV remote and some other small, black thing and starts talking so I go into the kitchen and make myself a tea.
I stay in the kitchen, dunking biscuits into my tea. I want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes and have a really nice nap. But I need to talk things out with Elliot.
My tea is completely finished when I hear, “Oh, I better go now. My mum is meant to come over soon. I’ll see you around then?”
“Yeah,” Elliot responds. “Thank you so much for this, it’s absolutely brilliant! Are you sure you don’t want any money?”
“No!” she says. “Of course not!” She then pops into the kitchen. “Bye! It was nice meeting you.”
“You too,” I mumble. She smiles and then ducks out of the house. Elliot then walks into the kitchen and sits across from me, looking at me in concern.
“You look exhausted, Lil,” he says.
I yawn. “I am. It’s been a long week.”
He looks a bit embarrassed. “Look, Lily. I’m s—”
“I don’t care,” I say bluntly. Elliot’s face drops. “I don’t care anymore. It’s water under the bridge. I just want to keep seeing you. I love you, Elliot. Why are we even arguing over this stupid thing? It’s silly. I love you, and you love me. Why are we letting this ruin what we have?”
Elliot positively beams. He walks over to me, lifts me out of my chair and gives me a passionate kiss. I wrap my hands around his neck and sigh into him. Oh god I’ve missed this.
The next few weeks go without a hitch. I’m currently at work – when am I not? – and Mark is working with me. Lately, Mark and I have become great friends. I don’t talk about it much with Elliot – he still gets a little jealous but I can tell he tries to reign it in – but I feel really close to him.
I notice Mark is beating out the dough very strongly. I hardly notice his arm muscles anymore but I do frown. “Are you okay?” I ask in concern.
“I’m super pissed off,” he says angrily.
“I can tell,” I observe in amusement. He gives me a glare. I don’t back down. “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong or will you continue torturing that dough?” I gesture to the small pile of white in his hands.
He stops beating it out. He grumbles, “My mother told me yesterday that she’s going to be staying at my place for a week. She came last night and she’s already sending me bonkers.”
“What does she do?” I ask curiously.
He sighs loudly. “She nit-picks everything. Yesterday she started yelling at me because when I sat on my bed I left creases in the sheets. She also found every speck of dust and for every speck of dust she found she gave me a twenty minute lecture.”
“She can’t be that bad,” I say reasonably.
He looks at me incredulously. “She tried to call every girl in my contacts and ask whether they had any diseases and if I should get checked out.”
“Jesus,” I say for lack of anything to say. That woman must be insane.
He nods and then he starts talking about all the other crazy things she did. “She brought me this massive three-course meal thing to the first day of school once.”
“That’s not too horrible,” I say. “She was trying to be nice.”
“It was my first day of college.” I pause, quickly trying to think of the Muggle education system. “I was a sixteen year old kid, as if I wanted her to bring me lunch. I wanted to buy lunch like all the other kids,” he explains making me relax. I really need to learn the Muggle way of things. I should have taken Muggle studies. Oh well.
“Still… it could be worse,” I say, feeling a little sorry for his mother.
“I haven’t gotten to the worst part yet,” he warns me. I laugh and he says, “So she gave me a lunchbox – and not any old normal lunchbox, no of course not.” I laugh again and he gives me a flat stare. “Don’t laugh! It was very emotionally damaging for sixteen year old me!”
I laugh even harder. He then talks over my laughter and says, “No, it was a Peppa Pig lunch box!” My laughter quietens down.
I stare at him. I don’t know what a Peppa Pig is. I say, “What’s that?”
He raises his eyebrows at me. “You haven’t heard of Peppa Pig before?”
“Obviously not,” I say.
“What did you do as a child?!” he says in horror.
“I went outside and played,” I say dryly. He gives a mock gasp. “I was never really interested in the telly that much anyway.”
“Oh god, I spent nearly my whole childhood in front of the TV. It sent my dad insane because he’s always been extremely sporty and my brothers and I would just sit in front of it all day long. Once he got so annoyed he turned it off and unplugged everything so we would come outside. But thank god he did that because now my oldest brother loves football and he works in that industry and everything. It was because of that day he started to love football.”
“Funny how things work out, isn’t it?” I muse, thinking of the first day when Nana said to me, ‘Do you want to learn how to bake, Lily?’ If she hadn’t had asked me, I would have never owned Lilycakes. He nods and then tells me he’s going to go put the Danishes out the front. I nod and continue stirring mixture and I really want to use my wand but it’s too risky.
I then hear Kathy’s voice calling out, “Oh, Lily dear!”
I grin and put the bowl down and run to the front. “Kathy!” I say, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “What are you doing here on your day off?”
“Getting away from the husband,” she says with a wink. I laugh. “I was shopping so I thought I’d pop in. I’m sure you missed me.”
“Of course I did,” I say. She grins and then I notice a few young girls in their uniforms walk in, giggling. I whisper to Kathy, “Watch how they stare at Mark.”
Kathy snorts. “I don’t blame them,” she whispers back. As Mike is busy serving someone else, Mark asks the girls kindly, “Can I help you girls?”
They giggle even harder. One of them struts forward, pushing her chest out. I have to hide my laughter. I think this girl is twelve years old. Dear, you have no boobs.
(I can sympathise.)
“Can I please get a pink cupcake?” She points at the one she wants and Mark retrieves it for her. He charges her and then the other two order something else. He charges them and then they walk away. But just before they walk out the door, one of them throws a water balloon at him.
I wish I was kidding.
He stands there, dripping wet and I am furious. The other customer gasps loudly and Kathy chases after the girls. “You girls get back here, right now!” I hear her scream.
I go over to Mark. “Oh my god, are you okay?”
“Did they just seriously throw a water balloon at me?” he asks in wonder, touching his shirt. I notice that his abs – he has abs! – are very defined and very visible. I think I see the reason why they threw a water balloon.
But that is not an excuse! If Kathy brings them back – oh I so hope she does – I’m going to give them a good yelling.
I say, “Look, go out to the back, I think there might be a sp—” I break off when I see Kathy walking back with the three girls in tow. “Hold that thought,” I say.
I walk over to the girls. “How old are you?” I snap.
“Thirteen,” the girl who threw the water balloon says. She seems to be the leader.
“Okay, so you know better than to throw water balloons at someone, don’t you?” I hiss. They look bored. “What are your names?”
“Why should we tell you?” the one of the left says in a challenging tone. What the hell is wrong with these kids? They have no respect whatsoever!
“Because I’m the owner of this place,” I growl. “And pass me your phone.” I point to the girl on the right who is texting.
“No!” she says. “I don’t even know you!”
“Pass her the phone, young lady!” Kathy cries out. The girls jump – they’re clearly afraid of Kathy and not me – and then the phone gets shoved into my hand.
I scroll through her contacts and land on ‘Mum’. I call her. “Who are you calling?” she says, worry now in her tone.
I ignore her. “Hello, ma’am. Do you have a daughter?” I ask once the mother picks up.
“Yes,” the mother responds. “Why? Is there something wrong? Is Ellie hurt?”
“No, she is fine,” I assure her. “It’s just that your daughter, Ellie, and two of her friends came into my store, Lilycakes, about five minutes ago and threw a water balloon at one of my workers. I noticed that it was still only one so I assume that they should be in school and I thought you had a right to know.”
The three girls look at me in horror. The mum says through gritted teeth, “Thank you. I’ll be right there to pick them up. What’s the address?” I tell her and she says, “I’m two shops down. I’ll be there in less than two minutes.”
She hangs up and I hand the phone back to Ellie. “Your mum will be here to pick the three of you up and take you back to school. Now, first apologise to Mark.”
They don’t move and then I see a woman storming in, looking absolutely furious. She must be the mother.
“ELOISE HARPER!” she shrieks as the door slams open. They jump about a foot in the air and Kathy and I move aside so the mother can yell her heart out.
I give Mark a grin who gives me a thumbs up in return. He’s still dripping. Oops.
The other customer and Mike are watching and laughing. But I notice that the customer is glancing over at Mark every few seconds.
I think we can tell what type of people he likes.
The mother finally stops berating the girls and she says to Kathy, “I’m so sorry about all this trouble. I can’t believe they would do something like this!”
Kathy looks at me. “I understand. But actually you should apologise to Lily here and Mark. Lily’s the owner,” she explains when the mother looks confused.
She does a double take. “Really?” I nod. “Woah, you’re so young! Good for you! But I am so sorry for my daughter and her friends. You can be assured that they’re going to be in big trouble.”
I laugh. “That’s okay.”
Then she turns to Mark and apologises profusely who waves it off. I notice she’s trying not to eye him up but then she snaps at the girls, “You need to apologise to this poor man right now.”
They apologise and then the mother shoos them out of the shop with one last apology. We wave her away and I say, “Mark, I think we have a spare shirt in the back. Kathy, would you mind cleaning up the mess?”
Kathy nods and follows us to the back to get the mop. As soon as we’re hidden from the customers, Mark peels his shirt away to reveal his amazing body. Kathy and I try not to gape but I’m sure we’re unsuccessful.
It’s absolutely glorious. He has very well-defined abs and that little v at the bottom of his abdomen. His shoulders are extremely well developed and when he turns around to wring his shirt over the sink, we see that he has back muscles.
I have a weakness for back muscles. I glance at Kathy who is holding the mop extremely tightly in her hands. Mike pops in and says, “Kathy, do you want me to clean the mess? You’re taking a while.”
Kathy jumps. “No, no! I’ll be out right now.” With one last look at Mark’s body, she scurries out to the front.
This makes me move. I find a spare shirt – I keep it just in case someone forgets their uniform for some reason – and don’t give it to him just yet. I simply can’t. “Do you want a towel?” I say, trying to keep my voice even.
“Is that okay?” he asks, still wet. Oh god.
I don’t trust myself to speak so I leave the shirt on the bench and search for a towel. Mark has his back turned so I just subtly transfigure a clean tea towel into a bath towel. I hand it to him wordlessly.
“Thanks,” he says with a smile. Oh god. Does he just want me to melt into a puddle? I thought I’d become immune over the time but I haven’t become immune to his shirtlessness. I turn away and focus back on the mixture I had been stirring before.
“Thank goodness it was only my top half,” he says with a laugh. “A few drops caught on my trousers but they’re basically dry anyway. It would have been awkward if it was my pants though.”
Oh god. Don’t say that. Do you not know what that does to a woman?
“Yeah,” I say before it gets too long to say anything. I search for something to say that isn’t directly related to his body.
“So are you some sort of a model or something?”
Good going, Lily. That has absolutely nothing to do with his body.
He lets out a loud bark of laughter. “Oh my god, no. I’m just really focused on health and after I finished school I went to the gym a lot. I still go but not as often. I just run every morning.”
I internally snort. I don’t remember the last time I remotely exerted myself.
“Oh okay,” I say. “I’ve just never seen a real life person look like that.” I clap a hand to my mouth.
LILY LUNA POTTER, WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!
He laughs again. I remove the hand from my mouth. “Oh god. I’m so sorry. Let’s talk about something else.”
He’s still laughing. “Okay then. What do you think of puppies?”
Oh, Mark. You really don’t know the power of a gorgeous man asking about adorable baby animals does to a girl, do you?
Disclaimer: Peppa Pig is Astley Baker Davies' creation and not mine!
Hope you all enjoyed! :)
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