On Monday Blue and Ollie are prepping soup at the bakery and Freddie and Heidi are baking.
“Heidi can we talk when you have a break?” Blue asks.
“Sure give me two minutes to finish these.” Heidi says.
“I have hot-shake every day now Blue. Look how strong I am.” Freddie says flexing his muscles.
“Wow your arms are getting huge!” Blue exclaims and Freddie grins.
“Looking good cous.” Ollie says and Freddie smiles some more. Working in the bakery has given Freddie a huge boost in self-esteem and he is the happiest he has been since he left school.
“Are you making hot soup this week?” Freddie asks.
“We are doing a bean chili. And we have a fiery sweet potato on the go.” Blue says.
“Yummy I can’t wait. I made chili bread and it is the best.” Freddie says.
“It is a terrific addition. If you’re ready Blue.” Heidi says and they go through and sit down,
“I don’t know how to start.” Blue says as they sit.
“Spit it out, you look terrified. I am not that scary.” Heidi says.
“Andy, Cheryl and I will be turning Abby’s old place into a restaurant and we’ll be growing the produce on her land. I feel like we’ve cut you out. We never meant to, Cheryl has always said she wouldn’t but when we viewed it together it just felt right.” Blue says.
“Thank goodness for that.” Heidi says.
“What?” Blue asks.
“I was worried how to tell you that I have another project I want to pursue and wouldn’t be able to give the restaurant the attention it needs.” Heidi says.
“Abby said she had other plans for you. Are you teaming up on something?” Blue asks.
“Probably. You know Abby and how she can magic premises up.” Heidi laughs.
“She just did for me. So is it a secret?” Blue asks.
“You know how well Freddie is working out? Abby and I want to create more jobs for those kids, But talking to Freddie’s mom part of the trouble is the training doesn’t work for their needs or when there is a course that suits it means they all come out fighting for the same jobs. We’re going to work on individual apprenticeships across the businesses, like the menus at the parlor we’re going to work out where each kid can work and get them the training they need. I can’t have those with no sense of danger in the bakery, you can’t have the nut allergy ones in the ice-cream factory. We have to work out what is best.” Heidi says.
“That sounds perfect. For sure Andy will take on anyone suited to outdoors work. Cheryl has already spoken to Freddie’s mom too about opportunities for the moms.” Blue says.
“Yes I will work with Cheryl on it a little but I really want to lead on this. Work towards having a training business. Not just autistic kids but moms getting back to the workforce, abuse survivors. All kinds of people who struggle with time or can’t do a conventional course.” Heidi says.
“Good for you. So everything is working out. Spence and Andy got engaged too.” Blue says.
“Oh that is amazing. It’ll cause a trail of broken hearts but they looked so happy together on Friday.” Heidi says.
“l am so glad there are no hard feelings. It is cheesecake week so I’ll be in Friday.” Blue says.
“I’m glad we’re back on an even keel too.” Heidi says and they share a hug before getting back to work.
Cheryl sets up in the corner of the bakery just before opening. The builders finishing off the deli make it too loud to hold the interviews in her office today. Robin is working from home, he’s set up an office in the spare room and is happy to not have to get dressed right now.
Blue pops through for a few of the interviews, none of them are right so far either unwilling to do weekends or not experienced enough. They both want to train people up but need someone right now to hit the ground running.
Between appointments Cheryl works up a dough for her marmalade buns.
“Taking the stress out on the dough.” Heidi laughs.
“I just thought we’d at least be able to find a college kid who had worked as a server and assistant manager of a chain place who would be happy to step in and work long hours. You know get some money while they looked for a career job.” Cheryl sighs.
“Are the kids parties putting them off? But surely that’s the same at a pizza hut or something.” Blue says.
“You know I struggled to get someone willing to do the early starts. Getting someone to do the days Ollie couldn’t felt impossible until we found Freddie.” Heidi says.
“I love early starts. For a bit I was more tired but now I love it. I can cycle here and no one is up to get in my way.” Freddie says.
“Come on Blue lets go and do the next one while these prove.” Cheryl says and Blue nods.
“It’ll be so cool when we have our restaurant and can do sticky bun breakfasts.” Blue says.
“I was thinking we should do afternoon tea.” Cheryl says.
“Oh yes. Everything tastes better in miniature.” Blue laughs.
The candidate arrives and are just as bad as the others wanting part time hours and fulltime pay. Just as they are finishing Saul comes in.
“Hello Blue why the long face?” Saul asks.
“We’re interviewing for a manager for the ice-cream parlor but no one is working out. Are you here for lunch?” Blue asks.
“Just coffee and a treat, any recommendations?” Saul asks.
“I am just about to get some marmalade buns out the oven.” Cheryl says.
“Perfect.” Saul says.
“What brings you out here?” Blue asks.
“I wanted a proper look around after hearing so much about it from Gervais. Plus I love this bakery.” Saul says.
Cheryl comes out with a plate of buns and Blue gets up to make coffee.
“So tell me more about this job.” Saul says.
Cheryl explains what she is looking for, the hours and commitment they need.
“It would only be full on for the first couple of months, by then there should be trustworthy assistant managers to share the load but right now they’re not ready.” Blue says.
“I’ll do it.” Saul says.
“What?” Blue asks surprised.
“I used to work in the service industry. I have years of experience from McDonalds to a super fancy hotels. I can email you my resume but it is a little out of date. I am bored at home and I need a project.” Saul says.
“Won’t Jeremy mind? We really need you weekends at least for the first couple of months.” Cheryl says.
“My husband is a workaholic and if I say I’m working weekends for a few months he’ll be in the office all day. We met when Jeremy was on a cruise and I was maître d for one of the restaurants on board. He came back every night to see me. I thought he liked the food. I have loved having time off renovating our home but I’m ready to work again and I love your place.” Saul says.
“Send me your resume, talk to your husband and come in to the parlor tomorrow at 10. I’ll show you round before opening and we can discuss things properly before opening.” Cheryl says.
“Why don’t the three of us go over now? It won’t be too busy yet.” Blue says.
“I’ve sent the email.” Saul says looking up from his phone.
“I’ll let Heidi know.” Blue says and pops out back.
“Ollie are you okay to finish up?” Blue asks.
“All done. Everything is cooling and Freddie can help me transfer and store it all. I’m just making some cakes.” Ollie grins.
“You two get going, if you have found someone that will make everything easier.” Heidi says.
“Did you meet Saul on Friday?” Blue asks.
“Yes I did. If he has the experience he would be perfect, so friendly.” Heidi says.
“Exactly. I’m so excited, weekend lie ins are go.” Blue laughs.
“Unless you’re at a market.” Heidi says.
“I know, I know.” Blue grins and heads off.
Nick is working and is delighted to meet Saul. Nick loves organizing the parties but not the day to day side. He wants to work on marketing most the time and retaining customers, Ella reels them in and he wants to work on keeping them.
“Look I really want this. Give me a two week trial starting tomorrow. I’ll need training on some areas but I can bring a lot of experience and I can see you’ll all be open to ideas too.” Saul says.
“We certainly are.” Cheryl grins.
“You should meet Robin too. He’s the one who wrote the menu program and is working on an app for it.” Blue says.
“That would be great. I love your product. I love that you’ve not told me I have to try and upsell every customer. The emphasis on local produce and the people who grow it is amazing. I have the sweetest tooth on earth, and hopefully being around ice-cream all day will stop me eating it.” Saul says and gives a big belly laugh.
“You need to know the menu to be able to recommend things.” Blue grins.
“Stop, stop.” Saul laughs.
“I think we finally found the right person.” Cheryl says as they walk to the car.
“Agreed and I trust him to find and train weekend staff.” Blue says.
“Yes, I worry his husband won’t be best pleased but that is their business. He clearly loves being around people and I don’t think he’ll see it as work most of the time.” Cheryl says.
“Utter Blue luck. First Abby realizing her place would work for us and now Saul wanting a job. Also Heidi not wanting to do the restaurant right now. I am so lucky.” Blue says.
“You’re so hard working and friendly. That is what is paying off.” Cheryl says.
“Oh come on, you can’t tell me you don’t feel lucky when you see Ocean get home and head straight to the chickens and then flop in the hammock. He is so happy here and we are finding our dreams are coming true.” Blue says.
“I feel incredibly lucky. Ocean is happy, you and Gervais are happy, you might not be my sons but I feel responsible for the pair of you. And yes we are finding our dreams come true, dreams we didn’t even know we had.” Cheryl says.
“How close is the deli to being ready?” Blue asks.
“Very close. We’ll open next month, market day with a big promotion on picnic foods.” Cheryl says.
“I love having you live with us.” Blue says.
“I love living with you guys. Ocean benefits massively from having you all around, strong ambitious men. I trust all of you with him and as yet no one has complained about doing a stint of childcare. That Will and Spence can take him to the gym each day frees me up without me feeling guilty. I am working a lot but feeling far, far less guilty than I ever have before.” Cheryl admits.
“Ocean was always happy and you had those summers together. He is just happier to be outdoors more and he loves having a few responsibilities. You’re raised a really great kid. He’s really lucky to have a mom like you.” Blue says.
“Stop it. You are overdue for your nap.” Cheryl laughs.
“I sure am. The bakery early start really zaps me.” Blue grins and heads to his room as soon as they get in.
Blue is still asleep when Will gets back. Will grins at his favorite sight, climbs onto the bed and lies next to Blue.
“Just what I love to see.” Will whispers and kisses Blue’s cheek.
“Hello baby.” Blue smiles sleepily and pulls Will on top of him. They make out until Andy calls them down for dinner.
Tad, Mike and Larry are joining them and Gervais and Cheryl have made a great spread.
“Wow this looks amazing.” Spence says as he sits down.
“It really does. Thanks so much.” Blue says grinning, his hair all over the place making the others smile.
“Because you all keep asking me I am fine. I am delighted for Spence and Andy, I really am. I can see how happy they are. Spence and I did just break up but we never really recreated the spark we first Thanks. I never meant to lead you on. I think we had a fabulous time together but we just weren’t. Well I hope you invite me to the wedding and that we can remain friends.” Larry says.
“Of course. We were always friends anyway.” Andy says.
“I am very pleased for you both. No hard feelings here.” Mike says.
“And Larry is dating Brian anyway.” Tad laughs.
“You are?” Gervais asks.
“Dating is a bit strong. We have a date planned on Thursday.” Larry says.
“He’s a great guy, really interesting.” Gervais says.
“Am I treading on your toes?” Larry asks.
“Not at all.” Gervais says with a smile.
“We hired Saul today as manager of the parlor.” Blue says changing the subject to save Gervais feelings.
“Jeremy’s Saul. Wow. That’s kind of weird but I imagine he’d be perfect.” Gervais says.
“He said he met Jeremy when he was maître d on a cruise ship restaurant.” Blue grins.
“So he knows hard work. Awesome. I can’t say I’m unhappy that Cheryl will have more evenings and weekends free.” Mike grins,
“And Tad is going to manage Abby’s land for us in the interim. Mike showed us both everything today and we met the remaining workers. Tad being from a farming family puts him in a better position than me as an outsider and as we’re about to get the vines up which are going to take a lot of attention. It also gives Tad a chance to coordinate with us on things we all want to try growing like nuts and figs and Mike has agreed that we can work out the best place for each across all three spots. Then when we are open as a restaurant we can get basics from Mike and he can sell our excess.” Andy says.
“I see it as a good compromise for me and Tad. We’ll all be family eventually so it makes sense to pool resources, land and people.” Mike says.
“Sounds good to me. Cheryl?” Blue asks.
“Are we jumping the gun?” Cheryl asks.
“No. Abby needs a manager in anyway, given what has happened. Tad isn’t totally experienced but he knows the land and he knows I will always be here to help.” Mike says.
“I guess it’ll be a gradual cross over from existing crops to what we want longer term. No point wasting anything.” Blue says.
“Exactly and you know we have similar ideas, talking to Andy today was a relief.” Tad says.
“And it means I can be the dog’s body for the ice-cream and soup businesses. I am going to be doing local deliveries and helping Ella and Nick out.” Larry says.
“So everyone is settled into a job they want to be doing. Excellent.” Cheryl says.
“Larry you should work with me and Ollie some of the time when you’re not on the road.” Blue says.
“I would like that. I am not sure I’ll be much good on the actual food front but I am very interested in the production side.” Larry says and Cheryl smiles. She has been worried that the rivalry between Tad and Larry would rear up this summer but they seem to be finding their place separately.
“How did it go with Heidi?” Gervais asks and Blue explains her plans.
“Things are just going too well. Anyone else worried?” Spence asks.
“Yes.” All the suite boys say together and laugh.