Cheryl and Ocean meet Blue back at the house after getting his message.
“I made soup. Then we can get out and show you everywhere. How was the gym?” Blue asks.
“I liked it. I will go all day Monday and Tuesday and I get Wednesday off then I do Thursday and Friday just in the morning and Saturday afternoon is optional unless there is a meet. But in summer it will be different.” Ocean says.
“That sounds a lot.” Blue says.
“He gets to work out with the senior squad until summer. It’s a good size group and so he’ll have downtime waiting for his turn. I spoke to Will and he said it won’t be too intense and he’ll learn a lot.” Cheryl says.
“As long as you’re happy.” Blue says ruffling Ocean’s hair.
“Ocean my friend Ollie is checking for eggs could you go help him and tell him lunch is almost ready?” Blue asks.
“I can.” Ocean says running out the door.
“Ollie and I have fallen out with Heidi, and quit the bakery. So Ollie will be doing more hours with us and I have Mondays free.” Blue says.
“Is it irreparable?” Cheryl asks.
“Heidi is sleeping with Jett, who is Ella’s boyfriend. Given she’s also been with Arnold and Liberty it is just one big mess waiting to happen. I just can’t trust her right now.” Blue says.
“Sounds like she’ll need a friend. I’ll talk to her later but I totally understand you need to keep your distance. What about the soup?” Cheryl asks.
“She’s a trained chef she can make soup.” Blue says.
“Do you have a contract?” Cheryl asks.
“No.” Blue says.
“Did you leave your recipes?” Cheryl asks.
“No, it’s only Ollie and I who work on them really. We make enough for the week and chill or freeze it.” Blue says.
“Good.” Cheryl says.
“I don’t want to punish her, I’m just mad right now that she has put everything at risk.” Blue says.
“Don’t worry. No decisions need to be made now but we can work on options.” Cheryl says.
“Look how many eggs we found.” Ocean says coming in with Ollie behind him.
“Hi Ollie, I’m Cheryl. I hear you’re a whizz with inventing ice-cream flavors.” Cheryl grins and Ollie
“I love inventing new flavors and refining things. Blue has been amazing teaching me how to adjust things a little to make a big difference in taste.” Ollie says.
“Ollie does the best lemon drizzle cake and a pretty fine orange one.” Blue says.
“Do you make banana cake?” ocean asks confused why anyone would use anything else.
“No but I have an idea for banana bread with caramel pockets, like Blue’s cookies.” Ollie says.
“I will love you forever if you make that. I love banana bread, I have it for snack time at gym sometimes. It is the best snack.” Ocean says with a big grin. He clearly approves of Ollie already.
“We should look at making a vegan version. Maybe gluten free too.” Blue says.
“I can help with that.” Cheryl says.
“It would be good to have options for birthday cakes for the parlor. My kid brother has a friend who can’t have eggs, dairy or nuts and another who can’t have gluten. It can be a pain when people invite them both to parties. I think that is my next challenge.” Ollie says with a smile.
“You are very like Blue was when he was younger. Always had a project or challenge. Now while I understand you have family commitments I will require you to take at least one college class through the summer and two during semester. The business will pay tuition and you’ll have paid leave for exams. Same goes for Blue. Under 25’s in the company who don’t have college degrees must be studying. Don’t look at me like that Blue it is company policy, Arnold, Abby and Mike have agreed.”
“We might not have the money for that. And why are you four making decisions without me?” Blue asks.
“The money is there and it applies across all businesses and you’re right you should have been in the meeting. Now I’m here we’ll be formalizing all the positions. Your mom will be here Friday.” Cheryl says.
“I’m going to Will’s this weekend.” Blue says.
“He’ll have to come here. He can study in the car.” Cheryl says.
“Going back to the college thing. I am not that smart.” Ollie says.
“Nonsense. I have the catalogue here for you both for summer classes, though Blue if you can do an online course through your old college that might be better for you. Ollie I have circled things I think will be useful for you as we get started. If you really feel you can’t cope with a college course you can take a community math or English refresher course to get your confidence back.” Cheryl says and the boys know it is non-negotiable.
“Don’t worry I have to take classes too. We can study together.” Ocean says stroking Ollie’s hair.
“Everyone full? Shall we get going? Ollie it’s up to you if you come too.” Blue says.
“I’ll come, I want to see how the parlor is doing anyway.” Ollie grins.
“Shall I pack you up some of those eggs for later?” Blue asks.
“Yes please. I guess even with three of you, you have too many.” Ollie says.
“Exactly.” Cheryl smiles at Blue, he has his mother’s gift for giving discreetly.
“Will I get fired if I fail a class?” Ollie asks in the car.
“No, but I’d expect you to tell me if you think you might fail so we can get you some help.” Cheryl says.
“My friend George, who teaches Ocean a little is really good at unlocking learning styles. He’ll help you. Don’t stress about it.” Blue says and Ollie smiles a little.
“And I’ll be able to do early starts and finish early?” Ollie asks.
“Of course, most the farmers have early starts anyway. Blue trusts you. There may be times when it is all hands on deck and we might offer to help find a sitter if you’re needed.” Cheryl says.
“So you won’t be left out of big launches or events.” Blue says.
“Wow, sounds a bit too good to be true.” Ollie says.
“Abby and Liberty want to make sure the businesses are family friendly and good for the community.
Both are very willing to spend money before making any. They both have faith that the businesses will take off and are insisting on things like the college support and flexible hours being in place to get their ongoing investment.” Cheryl explains.
“I didn’t know Liberty was involved.” Ollie says.
“It’s her money Arnold spends so freely.” Blue grins.
“Of course it is.” Ollie smiles back.
“I like Liberty she is very pretty.” Ocean says.
“What will happen with Jett?” Ollie asks.
“We don’t and can’t have a no dating policy as we were fine with him and Ella, and with Mike and Cheryl. I don’t know that we can do much, other than keep an eye on him.” Blue says.
“Do you like him Ollie? You’ve been working together a little.” Cheryl asks.
“I did. Until I found out. He’s really smart and has lots of ideas. He was kind of mean about Blue when the article came out. Didn’t want to help Blue out and I didn’t like that. But on the work front he is good.” Ollie says.
“If he’s mean to Blue he has to go. No one gets to be mean to my big bro. We had a cook at the café who was really mean to Gervais and he had to go.” Ocean says.
“Come on trouble. Let’s introduce you to Marsha and then go and see the rest of town.” Blue says laughing.
“He’s right, if Jett is mean to you or anyone he will have to go.” Cheryl says quietly.
“He wasn’t mean, he just wouldn’t let me get the revenge I wanted and maybe that was a good thing. I get too hung up on all this media stuff at times.” Blue says.
“Marsha it’s me Ocean.” Ocean says inside the deli flinging his arms around her.
“Good to meet you Ocean, is this your mom?” Marsha asks.
“Good to meet you Marsha. Thought we should meet in person before I start bombarding you with meeting requests. Would you like to come to dinner tomorrow?” Cheryl asks.
“Tomorrow would be lovely. I’ll bring the main, if Blue will make dessert,” Marsha says.
“You don’t need to do that,” Cheryl says.
“Rubbish, you have a lot to do and don’t need to be cooking right now, you’ve had years of that.” Marsha grins and Blue can see they are going to be good friends and relaxes.
“I love to cook but thank-you.” Cheryl says.
“Look Blue all the ice-cream is gone.” Ollie says staring at the shelf.
“Yes it has, I keep the vegan in the storage freezer out back for regulars but I’m out of that too now, sold the last this morning. But you’re delivering tomorrow. I am so grateful you’re being so flexible. Once other places stock it, it will level out and I’ll be able to gauge long term interest.” Marsha says.
“It’s awesome it keeps selling and we can get it to you. Sorting the whole supply chain is going to take a while, other than the milk and cream.” Blue says.
“We won’t hold you up as you have customers. Looking forward to tomorrow, we have so many ideas to talk about.” Cheryl says.
“Yes, Abby has a space to show you. I spoke to Clara this morning too and she is very interested.” Marsha says.
“Lets go and get Abby next.” Blue grins.
“I love Abby and Gladys they are my new best friends.” Ocean grins happy as can be at meeting so many new people.
Blue leads them up to the apartment and they are warmly welcomed. Gladys shows Ocean round while Abby tells Cheryl about the space.
“What is the space for?” Ollie asks quietly.
“Marsha is thinking of opening a vegan or veggie deli. Cheryl likes the idea, I guess my mom does too.” Blue whispers back.
“That is cool, we got so many veggie and vegan customers in the bakery for your soups. People would call ahead to find out if there was a vegan option that day.” Ollie says.
“I didn’t realize.” Blue says.
“Carrot and lentil was the big seller and the borsch, that sold so fast remember?” Ollie asks.
“Yeah, I thought it was because it was a change.” Blue says feeling good.
“Put your shoes on ocean, we need to get on if we want to see everything before dark.” Cheryl says knowing Ocean could stay and talk Gladys’s ear off all day.
“Okaaay.” Ocean grumbles.
“Come on boy, we’re coming too.” Gladys says.
“Oh okay.” Ocean says laughing.
They slowly walk down to the until Abby is proposing, it is close to the ice-cream parlor and Blue can see Ocean doing his homework in the parlor and running down the street to see his mom after.
“What you smiling at boy?” Abby asks.
“Just the thought of Ocean running from one business to the next. Popping in to the florist to get table flowers or visiting his mom in the deli or Gladys in the parlor. He’d love it.” Blue says.
“Would you want the apartment above?” Abby asks.
“We’ll be living with Blue while we’re here, but could we use it for office space? It would be better for me if my office is here in town rather than up at Arnolds and it would give us a place to do staff interviews and things.” Cheryl says.
“Great idea, it needs decorating but if you’re happy with neutral carpet and white paint I can get Wilson on to that straight away. He’ll have a couple of guys fit it in.” Abby says.
“The shop space is great. We’d need to move things round and add the refrigeration units and freezers. What was it before?” Cheryl asks.
“Originally it was a hardware store, which is why the units are so good. Then it was a dollar store type place, which closed in January. Don’t worry they were retiring to Florida, the shop did very well. It was all a bit sudden so I didn’t have anyone lined up to take it.” Abby says.
“And Marsha likes it?” Cheryl asks.
“Yes.” Abby says.
“Well Clara will be in on Friday but I think tell your lawyer to get things rolling.” Cheryl says.
“Wow you’re impulsive.” Blue grins.
“Marsha and I have been talking for a while and we have a plan. Don’t worry she’s sent me her numbers and projections. It’s only sudden to you.” Cheryl says.
“Cool I’m just glad you might stick around.” Blue grins.
“I think it is so cool.” Ocean says.
“It is really nice. I hope you might want to buy my banana bread if I can make a vegan one.” Ollie says shyly.
“Yes please.” Ocean shouts.
“I think so.” Cheryl smiles at Ocean’s exuberance.
“Without the bakery we need access to a commercial kitchen.” Blue says.
“What has happened at the bakery?” Abby asks concerned.
“We’ve had a fight with Heidi and we both quit. That is why Ollie is with us now.” Blue says not wanting to give anything away.
“Can it be resolved?” Abby asks.
“I don’t trust her any more. I am sure we’ll be friends again but she took a risk that I just can’t live with.” Blue says.
“And we already removed the kitchen from the parlor. Heidi is part of the company and I doubt she’ll go back on plans to supply birthday cakes and other toppings. Or on those date night and other special events the two of you planned.” Abby says.
“I think it is best if I step away from the businesses entirely.” Blue says.
“Don’t be rash. We need you and we’ve let you step back as much as you have. Don’t use this as an excuse not to be ands on at all.” Cheryl says.
“Blue and Ollie you two show Ocean the library and the playground. We’ll go and see Heidi now and call you when we’re done.” Abby says.
“Playground? Why didn’t we start there?” Ocean asks tugging on Blue’s hand.
“I don’t know where it is.” Blue says.
“Come on.” Ollie grins as Ocean immediately swaps to his hand.
Ocean has a blast, other kids are there having just come out of school and he makes friends easily. He spots a couple of kids who are clearly gymnasts too and has to be dragged away when Cheryl calls them to meet up.
“I best get home. I can walk.” Ollie says.
“Walk part way with us, you need to get the eggs. I’ll pick you up in the morning.” Blue says.
“Thanks. Can’t wait.” Ollie says with a smile.
“You didn’t need to join a club to make friends.” Blue says.
“No, that was fun. I really like it here. I think I need a bike though as your house is quite far. Ocean says.
“We’ll talk to your mom.” Blue says.
“I think she will say yes. I think it is safer to ride here than at home.” Ocean says.
“You are okay living with me? You like it here so far?” Blue asks.
“I love it. I love the chickens and my room. I really love my room and the ice-cream palace is going to be so cool and I like the gym and I like Ollie and Gladys and Abby and Liberty and Mike. That is a lot of new friends already. It hasn’t got a lake but I like your house more than the cottage at the retreat.
Do you think mom will let us stay here?” Ocean asks.
“Won’t you miss the café?” Blue asks.
“No because my mom had to work so much and I couldn’t do anything other than gymnastics and swimming unless it was upstairs but you left and most the classes were ladies and not for kids and my mom has been sad since Willow left and she is happier here.” Ocean says.
“Sounds like you have lots of good reasons to stay. I am really happy you are here because I get lonely when Will is away all on my own in my big house.” Blue says.
“It is a big house and you have the biggest table ever, it is like a table for giants.” Ocean says.
Blue pushes the door of the bakery open with trepidation. Ocean looks around in delight, he loves it.
“Go sit with Gladys, I’ll be back soon.” Blue says to Ocean guessing the others are out back or upstairs.
“Hello Blue. What did you think of the space?” Marsha asks as Blue enters the deli.
“I loved it. I love all the old fixtures.” Blue says.
“Ah me too. I think those sold me on the space before I worked out any of the practicalities.” Marsha says.
“What is your kitchen like?” Blue asks.
“Come see.” Marsha says.
“Wow.” Blue says as he walks in.
“It’s my happy place.” Marsha says.
“So if I made soup for you here and maybe a cheesecake or two could I use the kitchen to bake cakes and make desserts and sauces for the ice-cream parlor?” Blue asks.
“The same arrangement you had with Heidi?” Marsha asks.
“Pretty much.” Blue says.
“And for some reason you have ended that arrangement?” Marsha asks.
“Yes.” Blue says.
“I need to talk to Heidi, I don’t want animosity between the businesses. I do want your soup and cheesecake as you know. I’ll let you know on the deal.” Marsha says.
“If it doesn’t work out can I buy kitchen time for the parlor?” Blue asks.
“Yes absolutely.” Marsha says.
“Thanks.” Blue says and heads back to the bakery.
Cheryl and Gladys are sat together no sign of Heidi or Abby. Ocean is chatting away with the staff at the counter.
Blue orders a coffee and sits down.
“I spoke to Marsha just now, her kitchen is amazing and I can use it, either pay for time or we’ll do a deal on soups but she wants to talk to Heidi first.” Blue says before Cheryl can explain what has been going on.
“Heidi is mad at you and Ollie. She suggests you create a birthday cake menu and whoever’s cake wins the order makes it and split the evening events 50/50. She would have let you have kitchen time but you have solved that yourself. It makes more sense for me to use Marsha’s kitchen, wish you’d thought of it before coming here. Abby is talking to Heidi upstairs. I am going to suggest we buy her out as I don’t think I can collaborate with her at all. I have no idea what has changed, why she is being so reckless. I’m afraid I did not keep my cool as she threatened to have Arnold push me out the business.” Cheryl says.
“You said she wouldn’t want you muscling in on the restaurant idea maybe she resents you being here for the parlor as she was meant to have a bigger role.” Blue says.
“I’ve been talking with her for weeks about it and where she fits in. I haven’t tried to push her out and she has welcomed everything until today. She wouldn’t talk to me about what was wrong. She’s talking to Abby now. Ocean loved the playground, he’s a bit old for them now but I’d never stop him.” Clara says.
“The kids here might have a lot of responsibility but they get to be kids too. He wasn’t the oldest at the playground and from what Tad and Larry have said about growing up here they got to do loads as kids, alongside the chores and sports.” Blue says.
“He’s happy as can be. Not quite the free spirit he is up at the retreat.” Cheryl says.
“He wants a bike. I am happy to get it along with safety gear if you agree. I’ll get one too. He wants to be able to ride to the playground and library. I think it’s a good idea, his gym coach might not.” Blue says.
“Let me think on that. I’ll talk to Ollie tomorrow and find out what is normal for the younger ones. He’s a good kid Ollie.” Cheryl says.
“He is. Creative too. You’ll be surprised tomorrow.” Blue says.
“Have you spoken to Will about the weekend?” Cheryl asks.
“Do I really need to be here?” Blue asks.
“Don’t you want to see your momma? I thought you were getting on better.” Cheryl says.
“She’s been concentrating on Bea. I get that she has to do that but it always makes me feel weird.” Blue says.
“I saw Chris a few times recently.” Cheryl says and Blue can’t help bus gasp.