Over the next few weeks Blue is incredibly busy working hard on the parlor, ice-cream launch and the next market. He and Cheryl are slitting themselves a hundred ways and he’s actually very grateful that Clara has stayed to help out. Despite all the meetings on workload and roles the three of them are doing the bulk of the work and Abby is still doing far too much for her age.
Blue fits in visits to Will when he can but they both accept that right now they are both too busy to have much time together.
Blue is picking Ocean up from gymnastics one evening after visiting some potential stockists in the city.
“Excuse me, Blue, is it?” A coach asks approaching Blue as he waits for Ocean to get changed.
“Yes, is everything okay?” Blue asks.
“Its about Ocean’s party.” The coach begins.
“Is it a problem that he’ll be having too much sugar?” Blue asks worried. Cheryl has been clear that she won’t let the coaches interfere with Ocean’s diet until he’s through puberty unless there is a problem.
“No, well I’m not keen but its end of the year and they deserve a celebration. That was it really. I know he’s invited the kids around his age from the squad and I know it is a big ask but could he invite the older ones too? There are only 4 of them and well despite the age gap they all get on well, friendship groups here are based around squads rather than ages a lot of the time. I wouldn’t usually interfere with friendships or birthday invites.” The coach tails off.
“Of course it would be fine. And you coaches too. Just let me know the extra numbers and any dietary requirements. It’s as much about us having a test run as it is about Ocean getting to meet kids from the area.” Blue says with a smile.
“Thanks so much, I felt ridiculous asking but I knew it wasn’t a birthday and thought we could hijack it as an end of year reward for the team. Ocean is so excited about the opening and has been telling us all about it.” The coach grins.
“No problem, we didn’t mean to exclude anyone.” Blue smiles as Ocean comes running out and hugs Blue.
They walk out hand in hand and the coach smiles. Ocean is quite different to the other boys on the squad but his enthusiasm is infectious and he can always cheer everyone up even on their worst day.
“I am so excited for my party. I am going to have a sundae so tall I have to stand on a chair to reach the top.” Ocean grins.
“You will, will you? I’m not sure we have dishes big enough. Coach said the older boys on your team want to come too. Is that okay?” Blue asks.
“Oh yes that is so cool. They all want to see everything. I can’t wait to show them.” Ocean grins.
“I am excited too. I hope everyone finds an ice-cream flavor they like and we don’t run out.” Blue says.
“We can’t run out it’s the first day.” Ocean giggles.
“I hope no one trips up and sends ice-creams flying everywhere.” Blue grins.
“Or smashes all the dishes.” Ocean says.
“Or drops all the spoons and makes you eat with your fingers.” Blue says.
“I would just lick the whole thing.” Ocean grins.
“Me to.” Blue grins back.
“And after the party we can get the cats. I am so excited.” Ocean says bouncing in his seat.
“Yes we can.” Blue laughs. They’ve found a rescue pair whose elderly owner died and Ocean has been counting down the days until they are able to take them home.
The day of Ocean’s party Cheryl, Blue and Heidi start at the parlor early. There have been several staff training days but this is the first time there will be outside customers. Ollie is helping Freddie at the bakery for the morning to free Heidi up. Things have been going well but needs someone else on hand for reassurance and company.
“I think it will be fine.” Blue says as they double check everything.
“It will. We’re all worriers is all.” Heidi grins.
“The banana cheesecake looks amazing. Ocean will be bowled over.” Cheryl grins.
“The board looks great, farmers and allergy advice is so easy to see.” Blue says and they hear a knock on the window. Blue grins and opens the door.
“I just wanted to wish you luck and get a first picture before you have kids all over.” Claud grins.
“Well you are up there.” Blue grins back.
“I love it. Now my sister in law wants a supply for her farm shop out at Gorborough. Will you be stocking that far?” Claud asks.
“We can. Do you have a number, Ella can go up there and give the full spiel.” Blue says just as Ella and Nick arrive with boxes of uniforms.
“Here she is. Ella you know my brother’s farm up in Gorborough, can you give them a visit they want to stock the ice-cream.” Claud says.
“Sure I’ll give them a call. I’ve not been out there since Magda moved to New York.” Ella smiles.
“Great. Now can I pop by later? I promise I won’t interfere, I just want to see the kid’s faces.” Claud grins.
“You are always welcome Claud.” Cheryl grins.
An hour before the party Cheryl has gone to collect Ocean and some of the gym squad and Heidi is giving the staff a pep talk. Blue’s stomach is in knots and he’s pacing the kitchen. Ella and Nick are inflating balloons which Ocean has insisted he is not too old for.
“I can’t believe you found bananas and gymnast balloons.” Blue says.
“Ocean should get exactly what he wants. He’s the VIP today.” Ella grins.
“Everyone looks great. You did well with the apron design.” Blue says and Nick beams.
“They look so smart. I took pictures before they get cream and sauce all over themselves,” Nick grins.
“We should give everyone a stain remover on their first day.” Blue laughs.
“A guide to removing strawberry syrup from your uniform.” Nick laughs.
“Might not be such a bad idea.” Ella laughs.
They are soon busy as can be as Ocean and his friends start arriving. Having Blue, Heidi and Cheryl in as well as Nick, Ella and the wait staff is somewhat overkill and makes things crowded but they all need to see how things work and assist with assembling all the recipes.
Ocean is pleased as can be when the banana cheesecake comes out as if it was a birthday cake and he gets through multiple banana milkshakes before Cheryl cuts him off. His team mates and the local kids have fun too. Ocean and Jane are the absolute best of friends now and Ocean enjoys introducing her to all his teammates.
Most of the ice-cream gets compliments though the mint choc chip is generally disliked and the kids mostly order the same three sundaes and milkshakes so the menu doesn’t get much of a work out.
Ella’s games go down pretty well and the older kids are all good sports and join in and encourage the younger ones. Blue is so glad they were invited as they do seem a tight group.
Once everyone leaves Ocean curls up in a booth and naps as they clean up around him. They debrief the staff, talk about their issues and once the staff have gone sit down and share a bottle of champagne.
“That wasn’t so bad.” Blue says.
“The menu will get a real work out with Freddie’s party.” Heidi says.
“Yes it will. I think it’ll be easier on a normal day with people ordering at different times.” Blue says.
“We need to work on the mint.” Ollie says.
“Yes. It’s only for here anyway, not on sale outside.” Blue says.
“I like it. I think its one where we need a kids version.” Cheryl says.
“Yeah maybe.” Ollie says.
“It was the chocolate not the ice-cream, it was too stabby.” Ocean says sitting up.
“It didn’t melt but felt sharp?” Blue asks.
“Yeah.” Ocean says groggily.
“Thanks buddy.” Blue grins.
At home he calls Will, but falls asleep part way through the call. Will smiles and watches him for a while. His finals are going well and he’s excited to be moving on to his life with Blue. He drops Blue a screenshot of him sleeping with a cute message for him to wake up to.
Blue laughs when he sees it in the morning and sends an apology. He loves how Will isn’t mad at him and understands he was super tired. He knows he will have to work hard to do the reverse when Will is away training or competing.
Blue collects Ocean from gymnastics again later and is bombarded by parents asking about party costs. Blue grabs a handful of flyers from his car and hands them out, telling them then to call for more details. He makes a mental note to suggest some sort of gym discount.
“I am going to be going to a lot of parties.” Ocean grins.
“I think you are. You’ll have to make sure you don’t turn into a banana milkshake.” Blue grins.
“I’ll be good but it was so tasty. You made the best banana milkshake ever.” Ocean grins.
The week continues much as before. Andy calls when his finals are over, excited to be heading off with Katelyn and Roe arrives to stay for the week leading up to the opening. She adds a sense of calm to the house and can often be found in the garden painting.
She and Clara do some sightseeing together in the local area too and she spends time with Gladys and Abby who are always happy to have someone new to talk to.
The night of Freddie’s party they are all tense as they know there will be a lot of dietary requirements and they have to get everything spot on.
“We have a set of flags, pre made ones that show no dairy, no nuts, no gluten, no coconut and also as you warned us, no hot, no cold. We also have Blank ones to fill out. The waiter will make a note of the ones each guest has and bring out a custom menu. For more complex one please tell your friends to be patient as we’ll be printing them off. They will include which toppings are available as well as drinks. It means some will have very short menus but they can build their own from the options.” Blue explains to Bianca, Freddie’s mom.
“And you can serve things in separately?” Bianca checks.
“Yes, we have mini bowls on a long plate, just let the waiter know if you need a spoon per bowl. Don’t hold back on requests, we’re not promising everything will be possible but we need to know your needs in case we can.” Blue says.
“I cannot believe you are doing this for us. Being just us here will make such a difference and being able to cover so many requirements is amazing. Freddie is so excited to see his friends and tell them about his new job. He feels so grown up and it’s a strike towards independence.” Bianca says.
“We’re excited to hear what they think of the food.” Blue grins.
After a few teething issues and not having enough of the right types of menus things start to run more smoothly.
“I am so sorry but we have a very awkward set of flags.” A woman says approaching Blue.
“Let’s see, no dairy, no coconut, no nuts, no oranges. Are oats okay? Let me get you a menu.” Blue says and heads out back to print one. Robin has written a program to filter the menu and Blue comes back with the options. He slips into the booth with the woman and her son and hands it over.
“Thank-you. All of this is diary free? Even the sundaes?” The woman double checks with Blue even though it is a tiny menu compared to most the others.
“These are the options that are dairy and nut free. Its an oat milk ice-cream and the whipped cream is made from aerated soy yogurt. Would you like me to bring out some tasters?” Blue asks and the woman nods.
Blue comes back with a selection and the child tries them and asks for the strawberry sundae and a banana oatshake.
“And you?” Blue asks.
Could I have a coffee and a scoop of vanilla? The oat one. Thank-you.” The woman grins.
Blue fills their order and gets back to helping fill the other orders. Feeling happy that he had the oat option, if it meant one kid could feel included today it was worth the extra effort.
Freddie is enjoying a hot chocolate and an oozy brownie that Heidi has made and he comes by to thank Blue once he’s finished eating.
“Not a problem. I think we got to try serving every type of ice-cream today and we worked out the best arrangement for wheelchairs. Its been a really good day.” Blue says.
“This was better than my mcdonald’s party.” Freddie says and goes back to his mom. Blue smiles at the compliment knowing it was a big deal for Freddie to venture to see him at all.
There are no games or cake cutting at this one and so it finishes quite early. Blue walks through to get all the feedback he can as people leave.
The difficult flags lady hugs Blue tightly at the door.
“He never eats new foods and he ate the lot. That is the most he’s eaten in one go in years. He loved it. I loved it, it didn’t taste too bad at all.” She says.
“Do you want some ice-cream to take away? We have packaged cartons available.” Blue says.
“Yes please.” She replies and Blue heads to the freezer. He picks out to cartons and puts them in a bag.
“On me. Our first official taster and he liked it.” Blue grins.
“We’re coming back when you open if my grades are good.” The boy says slowly and gives Blue a huge smile.
“I hope you’ve been studying hard.” Blue grins.
“We’ll be back. Thank-you Blue, you’ve made a big difference to us. Usually he sits with a fruit cup and I feel like I’m that parent who doesn’t allow fun.” She says and hugs Blue again surprising him.
Blue is shattered again and can barely keep his eyes open through the debriefing.
“That went better than expected. We didn’t have any order mix ups as far as I can tell and the parents were ecstatic with the accommodations, both for food and not having music or anyone else here.” Cheryl says.
“They want a regular time slot, once a month. I said I’d get back to them as I didn’t know what to say. I don’t think the/ re asking for a Saturday afternoon or anything. Just a couple of hours where they can have the place to themselves.” Ella says quietly.
“I’ll call them and work it out. It might need to be movable for a couple of months due to other bookings but I would hate to say no.” Cheryl says.
“We sold a lot of take out tonight and there were loads of requests for those soy yogurt cranberries, we are going to have to work out how to do those commercially. If they are happy with an afternoon early in the week then we can’t say no.” Heidi says.
“There I was thinking we would sell a minimal amount of dairy free to any vegans I could persuade to come in and we find we have a market for it before we’re even open.” Clara says shaking her
“I think you should find a cartoonist who can do caricatures for parties where they are not having games.” Roe suggests.
“That’s a great idea but how do I find one?” Ella asks.
“I’ll help you with that.” Roe smiles.
Ella has taken to dropping by, sometimes with Liberty too some evenings and is slowly blossoming more and more. Both Cheryl and Clara adore her and are working on her confidence. Nick is finding it harder to find his feet but hasn’t complained once at doing more than his share of answering phones and dealing with requests and questions.
Finally the day arrives that Will has his last final and Blue and Clara drive to pick him up. Will has been cleared to drive but doesn’t like to for too long as it bothers his knee so Blue will drive his car back. They load up his things, he hasn’t got a lot, and drive for dinner close to Will’s school.
“I’m glad we finally get a chance to get to know each other a little.” Clara says once they’ve ordered.
“It’s going to be crazy with everyone arriving. How is Andy doing in Hawaii?” Will asks.
“He is loving it. Katelyn is loving it. They are spending all day on the beach enjoying glorious weather.” Blue says with a smile.
“Wish we could do the same.” Will says.
“Me too. It’s going to be a while.” Blue sighs and Will joins in.
“When is graduation?” Clara asks.
“I’m not going. My parents are away anyway.” Will says.
“Tad is just the same not wanting to do his. We’ll have a celebration for the pair of you at our house. Invite any of your coaches and teammates that might still be around. Blue, Cheryl and Heidi can cook up a storm, Mike and Spence will man the grill and we’ll make sure you have a little ceremony. Gervais can film it to send to your parents.” Clara says.
“That sounds really nice. Thank-you. I’ll talk with Tad about dates.” Will says with a big smile.
“You were right. He’s lovely.” Clara says and Will looks confused.
“Did I just pass a test?” Will asks.
“You clearly see yourself as part of the community, part of Blue’s family. You didn’t even question us wanting to celebrate your achievement with you. It is really refreshing. You also didn’t flinch when I mentioned Gervais, showing you are very secure with my son!’ Clara says.
“I’m going to be paranoid you’re judging every sentence now.” Will says and laughs.
“She always is.” Blue grins.
They have a nice meal and Blue feels happy that Will is giving Clara a chance despite Will witnessing all the sibling drama last time.
“When do the others arrive?” Will asks on the way back.
“Andy and Katelyn arrive tomorrow and Robin, Spence and Gervais will drive up late Friday night to be here for the opening and market on Saturday.” Blue sighs wishing they had more time before it got crazy.
“After things quieten down we can have a few nights in the city, just us.” Will says reading Blue’s mind.
“That sounds good. What is happening with Brian?” Blue asks.
“We will meet on Saturday and if we get along I’ll show him the room and he’ll give notice on his current place. I really like the idea, I’m lucky that one of the national team sponsors has offices here and is giving me the apartment for a year at such a low rent. If Brian can cover half, which is a steal, I’ll be able to live a little.” Will says.
“I’m glad you’re open to it. Shall we go and soak?” Blue asks.
“Yeah. You start running it, I’ll go say hello to Ocean or else he might barge in on us.” Will grins and Blue smirks.
Blue steps into the bathroom with a huge grin on his face. A whole two weeks of Will before he starts using his apartment and then they get to be together most nights. Blue feels happier, stronger and ready for anything.
“Wow you look good.” Will says admiring Blue.
“Thanks baby. Get in, it’s lovely.” Blue grins and ogles Will as he strips off.
“I love bathtime snuggles.” Will says.
“You look so sexy. I love your broad shoulders and tiny waist.” Blue says nibbling Will’s shoulders.
“Ride me.” Will says.
“I ate that big dinner.” Blue says wary but wanting to.
“Who cares, we’re in the tub. Hop on, I want you.” Will says.
“You know I can’t resist.” Blue grins and climbs out from behind Will. Will scoots back and slaps his thighs.
They fool around kissing and Will fingers and teases Blue a little before Blue begins to lower himself on to Will, glad that he has kept up with yoga.
“Babe that feels good.” Will moans.
“I’ll try not to splash water all over the floor.” Blue grins.
“I can work a mop.” Will says and bites Blue’s shoulder.
Blue bounces and grinds and makes a mess of the bathroom floor but doesn’t care. He has his Will back and Will wants his ass.
Will grips Blue’s chest and enjoys every sensation. Biting at his neck and shoulders, pulling on his nips driving Blue utterly crazy.
“I’m cumming.” Blue gasps and Will joins him in total pleasure.
“Now I feel at home.” Will says as he snuggles on to Blue’s chest in bed once they clean up.
“This is all I need.” Blue says utterly content.
“I can still smell cinnamon on you despite the bath.” Will grins.
“I’ve been baking for days, pie upon pie, brownies and cookies.” Blue says.
“I love having a boyfriend who smells like a bakery.” Will grins.
“I love that you don’t just love me for my baking.” Blue grins and kisses Will’s nose.