Madden was famished and in desperate need of some sustenance after another hour shredding together, and the timing of his complaining for food was perfect, because Tanner and Morgan were due to get here in about fifteen minutes, just as we had planned. They wanted to see Madden again, and I wanted Madden to know them, so we had organised this ambush to round out our road trip on a high.
What I hadn't planned for though, was my old boss Hunter working.
Madden was talking about how starving he was and the giant iced chocolate he was going to order when we walked inside. He hadn't been here since he was just a baby, so had no real recollection of the place. He stopped talking and walking altogether when he stepped inside, looking around and soaking in all the many scents of the place. "What the hell! This place is like my wildest dream come true. I feel like I've been here before."
He wasn't the only one experiencing déjà vu. My first employer and friend was standing still at the counter, watching us walk in and Madden looking around in wonder. I gave him an awkward smile and wave, like the one you give a person from school that you never really liked when you stumble into them in public years later.
That definitely wasn't the case here, though. I loved Hunter. He was great and so generous to me when I was a kid. I looked up to him and learned so much from him about life and working and music and myself; to not be afraid of the less common interests I had and the type of person I wanted to be. He helped to shape and fine-tune parts of me I knew were always there to some extent but didn't know how to actualise. The good parts which allowed me to persist through so much shit and that gave meaning and purpose and direction to all my passions in life.
I owed Hunter a lot, and I felt awful for the way things dissipated between us. I never wanted to quit my job there. That hand was played for me by two very selfish, cheating whores. Hunter deserved more than me deserting him, and I had some amends to make today.
He was still watching me, unmoving. He caught sight of Madden racing up to the cabinets filled with cakes and pastries, wide-eyed and longing. Madden turned back to me with excitement, pointing at the glass with a grin as big as the one he wore when he caught sight of his very own skateboard.
"Can I get a cake, please? I know I haven't had a proper lunch yet, but just look at them! I want one of everything."
"Careful, mate. One of everything might slip you into a sugar coma for a few days, and I'm not sure Sadie would be able to cope without you for that long," said Hunter, peering down at the over-excited, sugar-mad kid bouncing up and down in front of the cakes he so desired. Madden's face was now puzzled, and I assume that meant he caught the mention of my name by a man he thought I'd never met in my life. He didn't miss much. His little head was whipping back and forth between us, just like sunburnt spectator at the Australian Open, as he tried to grasp what was going on.
"How do you feel about picking one to have now, and I'll give you a few to take home and try instead? That way you can spread out the eating and hopefully avoid the coma altogether," he said confidently to Madden.
Madden was eyeballing this random stranger something fierce, trying to work out whether he was being serious or not.
"On the house," Hunter added with his familiar grin.
Now, Madden's eyeballing was directed at me as he searched for understanding and approval of this very generous offer. All I could do was smile and nod, and remember the first time Hunter had said the exact same thing to me. There was no arguing this beautiful man down.
Hunter was clearly the same as I remembered, the only difference being that he had a few extra flecks of grey breaking through the mass of brown hair on his head and jaw. I had heard people my parents' age referring to men with hair like this as a 'silver fox', but I never fully appreciated the term until now. It suited him perfectly and I refused to imagine him again without it, because damn, George Clooney had nothing on this man. His wife Constance, who was also gorgeous, was a very lucky woman.
YOU ARE READING
Rise and FallChickLit
Life has reinvented the definition of rock bottom so many times for twenty-six-year-old Sadie Blake. With each revised edition, Sadie believes herself skilled enough to bury those rocks a fraction deeper in her memory. . . . but Life is much better...