Chapter Four

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Writer's note—
Chapter is about 3.5k, I want to keep my chapters closer to 3k from now on. We'll see.

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I stood in front of the full body length mirror that I had in my bedroom. Trying to go for casual, I wore a fitted black t-shirt that hugged my chest and dark blue worn jeans. I kept trying on different wind breakers and I settled on a grey one that I felt matched well. I ran my fingers through my hair, staring at my face.

It was hard to know if I was attractive or not. I had dark brown skin that seemed closest to a warm chestnut and barely any hair at all. Kind of a fade that I was trying to grow into waves. My eyes weren't interesting, just brown. At least I had clear skin but that had more to do with genetics rather than my inconsistent skin routine.

I touched my face, wondering what Trace saw and if it was anything worthwhile. My phone started buzzing, and I fumbled it in my hands before picking up.

Trace's voice was smooth and low on the phone. "You really have to wake up early for this baking shit, huh?"

I smiled, checking the time. "It's not so early, only 6:15."

He groaned, and the sound had such a low tenor to it, my stomach flipped and my skin felt tight. "C'mon Darius, I was not built to wake up this early."

"Is this your way of telling me you're running late?"

"No, actually. I'm walking up the street now. I'll see you in a minute." Trace hung up and I picked up my things, tossing them into my satchel and hurrying down the stairs.

So. Yes. I lived in a unit above the bakery. The owner had put in three units above the store and around the time I applied there was an opening. The rent was at a good rate because the owner of the store wanted incentives to keep workers there. So, it was a win—win. Well, mostly.

I left the unit only to turn around the corner and enter the store through the back entrance, clocking in before putting my things away in my locker.

Afterwards, I walked into the kitchen and saw one of the front line staff putting all the boxes of goods into the back of the Sweets N Things travel van. It was what we used on the odd chance we delivered cakes or orders and the easiest way to transfer things for the Farmer's market.

Rick was putting the last box in and checking things off as he went. "Alright Dairy, I've packed everything up and the prices and labels are in the container in the glove compartment. The store banner is in the backseat, too." Rick's hair was a snarl of blues, reds, and oranges. He was effeminate, campy, and one of the most personable workers at the store. Sometimes, I thought of how much easier my life would be if I had half his confidence.

"Thanks Rick." I said, while helping position some things in the truck. "I'm meeting someone, so I just want everything to be ready."

Rick slapped my arm with a surprising amount of force. "No sweat off my back, D. It's been kitchen gossip that you're going on a date." He smiled. "I see that romance isn't dead. The farmers market shouldn't be too bad, you can put him to work."

I said bye to Rick and got into the van driving around to the front of the store, where I saw Trace sitting on a bench in front. He had a dark baseball cap over his face and was wearing a stylish sort of athleisure kind of wear. It could've been gym wear on anyone else but the blacks and whites on Trace looked runway ready.

I stopped in front of the store and rolled down the window, "Hey!"

Trace looked up, taking his AirPods out and giving me a wide, brilliant smile. He walked over to the driver's window. "Hey yourself."

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