Friday Blue gets up super early to go to the bakery. He sets to making the first two ice-creams and sets them going in the machine as he starts work on the cheesecakes. Heidi sends in an assistant for him when they arrive and he apologizes about the amount of beets to deal with but the young lad Oliver is more than happy to get stuck in.
Blue takes through a sample of apple pie ice-cream for Heidi to try.
“Oh boy you hit that right. I’m not sure if it’ll be right as a milkshake but its good.” Heidi says.
“I tried it and it’s okay, but I was thinking it would work in hot milk.” Blue says.
“Oh yes, that sounds good, with a cinnamon stick.” Heidi grins.
“I’ll update the new board. Wilson did a good job putting it up.” Blue says.
“He did. Fits with the new look better.” Heidi says.
Blue updates the board with the names of several local farms and smiles. He knows Mike will be in later and Arnold.
“There. I’ll get back to the soups.” Blue says.
“I’ll go get the next bake on.” Heidi says. The three work steadily. Blue continues out back as Oliver opens up. Heidi goes through to help as the bell starts to jingle more frequently and Blue whisks through to bus tables between jobs.
“Well your bread is still going fast.” Blue laughs when they have a moment.
“It’s great. All the rest, your soups, the cakes and the coffee are great and doing well but the bread is the heart of my dream so it selling well is amazing.” Heidi grins.
“Can I borrow Oliver to get the sandwiches ready?” Blue asks.
“Sure. How is he doing on soup?” Heidi asks.
“Great, he’s super-fast and is doing the veg and barley himself. I’m doing the borscht as its my first try at this volume.” Blue says and Heidi nods.
More staff arrive for the lunch rush and Blue makes himself useful where he can. Heidi hasn’t mentioned him cutting back his time again and he enjoys being here, like the café at home or Cheryls. He’d rather be here than in his other jobs.
Blue is in the back putting cheesecakes together when he hears the whirl of the blender he sticks his head out to see his first milkshake being served. A young mom and her two little ones are sharing it with three straws. Blue grins at the sight of them and for the first time has real hope that the ice-cream parlor might work.
Arnold and Mike arrive towards the end of lunch. They ask Blue to join them and they insist on soup and milkshakes. Heidi also brings over a slice of the beet and chocolate cake she has made.
Arnold beams with pride at the board and gets Blue to take his picture, milkshake in hand in front of the board with his name on.
“He’s like a teenager.” Mike grins.
“You like the soup?” Blue asks.
“Oh yes and these pretzel rolls that Heidi makes are a perfect match for it.” Mike smiles.
“Well I’ve tried all three and they’re perfect.” Arnold says sitting down with his third shake.
“They’re doing a steady trade since the first one went out. The teens will be in in 30minutes or so and that will be the true test.” Heidi says and Blue nods.
“Ella and Nick not coming?” Blue asks surprised they didn’t come down with their dad.
“They’ll be here soon. They’ve been working hard and I didn’t want to interrupt. That Cheryl has broken through and they are doing all they can to please her.” Arnold grins happy that his kids are properly contributing to the businesses now.
“It is sure quiet without my two around.” Mike says.
“Maybe we could have lunch next week. I could do with a bit of advice on my produce anyway.” Blue says.
“If you promise to make extra for the freezer.” Mike grins and Blue smiles back.
Blue stays to watch the first wave of teens come through the doors and then heads home. He feels good, tired but good.
Will is on the road this weekend with meets that are too far for Blue and so Blue is going to spend his time planting and digging. He’s excited. Heck maybe his name will go on the board one day. He takes a nap and when refreshed his feels in a baking mood. He bakes and bakes using up all the ends of thing he has. He freezes some and boxes up the rest to send to Andy.
Blue has a good early morning in the garden and is confident his grocery bill will be shrinking. He takes a shower and heads out to send the parcel to Andy. He can’t resist dropping in to the bakery and is greeted by sold out signs all over.
“Wow, what do you have left?” Blue asks.
“Not a lot. The cheesecakes sold whole, other than the one I held back in the first hour. Bread sold out 20minutes later. It’s back to the levels we had before the holidays. Crazy. The ice-cream is all gone too. So much for us thinking that was enough for the weekend.” Heidi grins.
“So the experiment passed.” Blue grins.
“Yeah, the chocolate was most popular, all ages really enjoyed it. The apple pie, people had hot and cold and we had repeat customers today for it hot. You and I are going to have so much fun planning the menu for the ice-cream place. I want to ask a favor though.” Heidi says.
“Go on.” Blue replies.
“Can we keep your cheesecake as an exclusive to the bakery?” Heidi asks.
“Of course. I wanted to say I don’t want to stop working here. I like cooking here and being here. I’m works for me. We’ll take holiday orders for Easter and Christmas again but limit the number.” Heidi suggests.
“As long as you don’t object to me taking them as my offering for dinner parties then I’m good with that.” Blue grins.
“As I am often at the dinners that works for me. I’d like to have a couple of test nights for the parlor so we get an idea of all the offerings we want to do, which will give an idea of the ice-cream flavors you need to make.” Heidi says.
“Right. I figured you might want to put some of your training to use and make some fancier desserts with a higher price point.” Blue says.
“Exactly. And like that beet and chocolate cake we need to work out how to use local produce in the ice-creams.” Heidi says.
“Right like which veg we can candy for toppings. I think we should have an exclusive fancy menu two nights a month or something. All your fanciest options and a date night tasting menu. Let you really show what you can do.” Blue says.
“So much for not being on board.” Heidi laughs.
“Ah Cheryl has calmed me down. I just felt Arnold was pushing ahead and it was going straight off a cliff. I didn’t want to be a part of my friends losing money that fast.” Blue laughs.
“I think it’ll do okay. We have to make sure it has a hook and work on the coffee and kids parties to keep it going.” Heidi says.
“Yeah a lot of our ideas could be fads but not long term. Who knows?” Blue sighs.
“We’re both already seeing beyond sundaes and milkshakes. We’re both so darn ambitious. I thought the bakery was all I dreamed of and now I’m going in on the dessert bar and dreaming of my own restaurant.” Heidi laughs.
“Me too. The more time I spend in my garden the more time I imagine having a little café that I grow most of the produce for. Wine is for sure taking a backseat.” Blue grins.
“That is what I imagine, you coming by with eggplant and tomatoes you’ve picked fresh, as I’m taking the bread out to cool. Then us making pasta together.” Heidi laughs.
“Most my friends tried to push me in that direction, alongside the wine, they all want the vineyard to work. I’d always resisted but ah I don’t know. We have the ice-cream to deal with next.” Blue laughs locking his imagination away.
“We do. Let’s get that going and then think about something else. Not that I can afford it.” Heidi laughs.
“I have a friend who would invest in a heartbeat.” Blue says thinking of Spence rather than Gervais for once.
“Good to know.” Heidi grins and Blue heads out. He has an appointment to collect some chickens.
He’s made a run for them and repaired the old hen house. It feels like the last piece of the puzzle at home. Oh the kitchen garden will take years to get exactly right but it feels in hand. The chickens are what Blue needs, something to take care of before Will and his friends arrive for the summer.
As Blue is driving the restaurant idea is on his mind. Gervais and Spence would be interested in investing. He pushes it out of his mind. He wants to get on with the grapes. Working on the ice-cream has built on his passion to perfect tastes and he knows Wine is the right outlet for him.
He makes his first collection, a few heritage breeds that lay the eggs Blue loves. Blue looks around and grins he loves the birds and can see many around the place looking beautiful. His second stop is different. They have hens that have been rescued from intense farming they won’t lay much but Blue loves the idea of them all being around the place. The run he has created is large and he’ll let them roam further when they are used to their surrounds.
At home he lets them out into the run. Now he truly feels at home. The chooks might not talk back but he isn’t alone. He watches for a while as they explore their new surroundings and smiles. He thinks about how much Ocean will love helping to take care of them this summer. It’s funny he misses his little brother far more than his biological twin.
Blue hasn’t really thought about Bea and Chris in a while. Not in the sense of them being his siblings, just as Andy’s boyfriends and roommate. Blue makes himself a hot chocolate and sits by the kitchen fire and thinks about how strange his situation is.
Blue doesn’t know how he feels about Chris and Bea at all right now. He and Chris were getting close before he left for Australia but when they got back and Chris was dating Andy and close to Clara Blue felt jealous and pushed out. Blue felt like he’d been sent to Australia to give Chris and Momma space to bond. He wonders if Bea felt the same.
Still it seems Bea and momma are close. It’s just Blue that didn’t fit. Blue thinks back through everything since that night he found out. He thinks back to before that, the pencil breaking, the letting him disappear for days as a child. He can’t work out where it went wrong, where he went wrong.
He’s nudged from his thoughts by a tap on the door and Mike coming in.
“Just came to check the chickens were alright and if you needed help shutting them in for the night. Oh what’s wrong?” Mike asks seeing that Blue as tears streaming down his face.
“Just trying to piece together how I became the black sheep of my family.” Blue says with a shrug.
“If you’re the black sheep the others much be superheroes.” Mike says.
“Not to me. Have you some time?” Blue asks suddenly wishing for an outsiders view.
“Sure.” Mike says.
“I’ll make some more hot chocolate.” Blue says and slowly goes through the ritual. Mike settles down on the sofa and wonders why someone as together as Blue can have such a low opinion of himself.
Blue pours his heart out about his siblings, how he found out, and how his life unraveled. How he and Bea just can’t get along, how he struggles to forgive her betrayal and how close to the edge he was a year ago. He tells Mike about Chris being with Gervais and trying to get him thrown out of school when they broke up. And about the events that led up to him selling up and landing on Mike’s farm.
“You’ve said it glibly before but you’re honestly telling me you grew up not knowing you had a dad out there or siblings and now you momma has passed you over too?” Mike asks utterly shell shocked.
“I had no idea. They always knew about me and momma. I met them, the Other Parents and it didn’t go well the first time. The second time they lied straight to my face. They are awful people and so it’s no surprise Chris and Bea are so difficult. They’ve been let down too, by their parents.” Blue says and explains about the money and court case.
“I don’t understand why she hadn’t prepared you for it. It is not like it would have been that big a deal to tell you, you had a dad out there but you couldn’t see him? You wouldn’t have been the only one.” Mike says.
“Oh I was. Or the first kid to a single mom in my area. More came along with the hippies but I recently learned I stood out when I was little. It was a very small community.” Blue says.
“I guess it would have been hard for your momma, having no partner and no family support. We found things hard with our two and we have loads of family for support. I can empathize that maybe she saw you as stealing her youth.” Mike says.
“But I was happy, I was mostly happy until I left for college. We had fun together, did projects together and enjoyed each other’s company. Yes we had our moments and she was pretty controlling, I see that now but at the time I was okay with it. I loved the freedom, I loved her high standards and hell that is how I bake so well, why I was a good student. It was in my last couple of years she exerted more control and our relationship just fell apart when I went to school.” Blue explains.
“It was wicked of her not to get to you the minute you found out. That she left you alone, for months without talking to you about it was so cruel. I know I’m only hearing one side but if either of my boys talked about me the way you talk about her, well I’d know I failed as a father and I would be doing everything I could to fix it. Buying you houses wasn’t the way. That was just driving more of a wedge between you and your siblings. Buying you off. Horrid behavior.” Mike says getting angry and also worrying about the level of responsibility they all put on Blue, that maybe he has too many of his own struggles to be doing so much.
“I’ve found it so hard to forgive the way she pushed me out last winter. We tried but it will never be the same. It was the chickens, made me think of home and I just started trying to work out what I had done wrong.” Blue says.
“Have you considered that it was doing everything right that made her try to break you?” Mike asks.
“You make her sound evil.” Blue says.
“From your description she is. Blue the love I felt for each of my boys when they were born was indescribable and my wife loved them like that from the moment she knew she was pregnant. I’d never be able to hurt my boys. You’ve been through some serious mental torture. I don’t know what I’d do to anyone who hurt Larry or Tad the way you’ve been hurt. We’ve been through it, losing my wife and I would have done anything to take away their pain, even as I struggled with my own. She didn’t just leave you in pain but actively made it worse. That is evil to me. She might not have physically harmed you but she has done you so wrong.” Mike says.
“I still have fantasies that she’ll show up and say sorry and everything will be okay.” Blue admits.
“I still check the bed for my wife each morning.” Mike says.
“I’m sorry to dump all this on you. Here was supposed to be my new start. I cut off all of my old life apart from Cheryl and Ocean. I couldn’t just disappear out of his life. Then gradually it’s all been creeping back to me. Gervais and Robin I am pleased to have back in my life, Will too obviously. I’m struggling with the others and the worry the more people who know where I am the more likely momma will find me and is that a good or bad thing?” Blue asks himself.
“It means a lot to me that you feel you can talk to me. We all knew something brought you here. I had no idea it was something so huge. Your Story is the sort of thing you hear on the news. I thought maybe you’d lost your parent and were using an inheritance.” Mike says.
“That’s Gervais. His story is worse than mine. Far, far worse. He has been through so much. He’s amazing.” Blue says.
“And Robin?” Mike asks.
“Robin has a wonderful family. He’s the lucky one. He’s been involved in our scrapes, but he has great supportive parents.” Blue says and tells Mike about Jesse and about the car smash and Andy’s family.
“You poor boys. Blue, I will listen harder when you are telling us you need to step back. And I’ll make sure Arnold hears. He is so excited about all these projects and I know he’s going faster than you want.” Mike says.
“I am feeling a bit better about it now. Arnold is having the Ice-Cream space industrial cleaned and brought up to code so I am free from there for a couple of weeks. I don’t need to be involved in the parlor renovations at all. So I have some time to work on my plants, to get my yoga classes up and to breathe. Heidi and I will menu plan for the parlor and try a few things out in the bakery. Things feel more manageable.” Blue explains.
“Have you sorted out suppliers for your plants and seeds?” Mike asks.
“I’ve researched some places and I have some seedlings in the tunnel for the kitchen garden, but its hard, especially at my lower volume needs.” Blue says.
“I’ll see what I can do.” Mike says.
“The chocolate and beet cake went down well. Can you get word round that Heidi and I are more than willing to buy up gluts or odd shaped stuff, we can’t take mountains of veggies but we’re both creative and specials get people coming back.” Blue says.
“We farmers have been talking about a better solution for waste. We don’t want to throw things out but sometimes we have too much or an order falls through. We were talking about getting it to the people who need it, it’s not regular enough for the shelters and soup kitchens in the city. We know some in the community can’t afford to eat properly but it’s hard to distribute fresh food discreetly.as well as a farmers market we need a pay what you can one. We all volunteer, all food is donated, any money above covering costs goes to a local charity.” Blue says.
“But would we fuck off the grocery store and deli?” Mike asks.
“Maybe. Maybe they could sponsor it. If it was monthly it wouldn’t dent them too much and heck they could get rid of their own close to expired stock.” Blue says.
“You and Heidi could make some hot food. I’ll get on to Abby and the farmers. Are you sure about another project?” Mike grins.
“I’ll not be around the weekends that I can see Will. I bet Gladys and her friends would love to be involved. Gladys will likely know who needs to be there too. There will be people who take advantage but it’ll be worth it if we can get the right people fed.” Blue says.
“Well your frown has turned upside down.” Mike says feeling unsure if he’s helped Blue or piled on more work.
“You’ve been great to me ever since I arrived. Giving me work longer than you needed me, bigging me up around town, making me part of the community. I wish I’d had a dad like you.” Blue says.
“I’d have been very proud to have you as a son.” Mike says.
They go and shut the chickens in for the night, they’re all pretty docile and some were already inside. Mike hugs Blue hard before leaving, still not sure he can take in all he’s been told.
Blue washes the dishes slowly and calls Will from his bed and the two chat late into the night. Both wishing they were sharing a bed.