Chapter Thirty-Eight

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Summary of the story until now (just the big bits in case you've forgotten?) : Darius stumbled upon Trace after walking into his ex, Jeremy, having an affair. Trace comforted Darius in his panic and then they met again at the bakery Darius works at. Our shy yet lovable protagonist, Darius, has severe social anxiety and nearly has a panic attack while working the register during a confrontation with a customer. Trace defends Darius and their connection is immediate.

Not long after Trace and Darius formally meet during a blind date and begin dating. Trace is honest about being a left leg below knee amputee and his anger issues but Darius doesn't know how to talk about his panic attacks and anxiety disorder.

Eventually, Darius is scouted, auditions for and gets the opportunity to compete in his favourite tv show, Baking Beasts. He's thrilled. But his relationship with Trace is stagnating and Darius thinks it's because they haven't slept together yet.

Darius suppresses his discomfort to try to sleep with Trace but Trace can tell something isn't right in the moment and they stop. They argue. Trace doesn't understand why Darius can't simply be honest and express how he feels. Trace is furious that Darius was going to sleep with him out of obligation and not actual desire. Darius feels guilty.

But the two patch things up in time for Darius' flight and Trace sees him off at the airport. Darius confesses he has an anxiety disorder and Trace is more than understanding. A lot of things click into place.

Even though Darius leaves Toronto on a good note, Baking Beasts turns out to be an ordeal. He only has a few allies and a few other competitors seem to have it out for him. Mel is overbearing, arrogant and rude while Mary Lou radiates a false sweetness. There are even a few suspicious moments where Mary Lou directly benefits from bad events that happen to Darius.

Trace even comes to visit halfway through the competition and he and Darius have some special moments together bring their relationship to new heights even though they've yet to sleep together.

Darius still does really well in the competition even though he eventually comes in second in a heartbreaking loss.

The competition draws to a close and Darius comes back different. More anxious. More worried. And unhappy with his loss. Trace does his best to comfort him and some of it helps. Trace becomes something of an anchor for Darius, to support him in the moments where he really needs someone.

In the meantime, Darius starts a baking YouTube channel and starts to look for more ways to deal with his anxiety. He even gets a job offer at the bakery of the judge who was kindest to him on baking beasts. Things are looking up.

But Baking Beasts is starting to air on Tv and Darius finds it too difficult to watch or talk about. If he ever watches it, he'll take it slowly.

More recently, Trace and Darius start deciding to go on weekend trips together. The time they spend together is meaningful but there are moments that can be hard for Trace because of his leg and the associated PTSD he has with the accident that left him an amputee. Darius wants to show Trace than he can lean on him, too.

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