Chapter Nine

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WC: ~4K (wayyyy too long 🤧)

The sound of my phone ringing startled me out of sleep so suddenly I woke up with a yell. My mouth felt dry and my face was mashed against my pillow. I was a bit of a disorderly sleeper and my blankets usually ended up halfway on the floor. That night they were twisted around my legs and my phone was still blaring from somewhere. Finally, I found my phone vibrating on the floor and I squinted at the bright glint of the phone seeing that it was 2:37AM.

Who on God's green earth was calling me at 2:37AM?!

I picked up blearily, not even getting a word in before the other person was talking.

"Hey," Trace's voice sounded deep, gravelly, and very drunk.

The sound of him shocked me awake and I turned on my bedside light before creeping back onto my bed, willing for my brain to wake up a little. "Hi." My voice was sleep addled and I was just too tired to be nervous. Instead, I closed my eyes to the sound of Trace's voice.

Strangely enough, he giggled. "I was out with my friends and then I just started thinking about you. And you know what's funny, Darius?" He sounded light and happy but the edges of his words were slurred and I had to remember he was drunk and I shouldn't take any stock in what he was saying.

"What?" I said softly, so incredibly ready to go back to sleep.

"You're tall, dark, and handsome!"

I couldn't help but snicker, and that turned into a real, deep, laugh. "Let me get this straight. You're calling me at-" I checked the time. "You're calling me at 2:39AM to tell me—"

He talked right over me."You better not be laughing at me Darius, not when I just thought of the most amazing thing. I just had to tell you right away."

"You're drunk, Trace." But, God, he was pretty adorable like that, too. I must have looked crazy; half asleep while smiling into my phone.

"I'm not! And for laughing at me you owe me three kisses, and at least one has to be on my forehead. My friends don't even think you exist, you need to come out with us. Ssshhh, wait— Let me just. Shit. Hold on." Trace cut off a bit but I heard his voice just a little far away. "Did you guys see my phone? I just fucking had it. I need to show you guys what he looks like. He's real!" Trace let out an exasperated sigh.

"Okay, I'm back. I gotta look for my phone, so I gotta go." he almost sounded sad.

I laughed, not willing to tell him the obvious. "Okay, Trace, good night."

"Don't forget my three kisses."

I tried not to laugh too loudly. "Sure, Trace, sure." His entire demeanor was completely at odds with the cool and collected Trace I had previously been exposed to. It was a fascinating change but by the time I hung up I was already falling asleep. My phone vibrated a few times, but I ignored it, rolling over and zonking out.

#

The next morning I was too busy to really think about the conversation. It was delivery after delivery with Rick and me as we carried birthday cakes, event cakes and even wedding cakes across the city. Traffic had been rough and we were finally at our final stop of the day, racing to finish preparing the cake while the weddings guests were at the cocktail hour upstairs.

"Carefully. Carefully......" Rick warned me as I held the middle tier of one such wedding cake above the base. The cake was heavy and I had to hold it until Ricky okayed that I was in the centre. No one wanted an off centre wedding cake with wonky tiers.

"Okay, you're good, D." He said quickly and I dropped the cake onto the lower tier. I dusted off my hands, and gave it a look. It was a traditional, yet intricate wedding cake. The main colours were white and gold, and it was made up of four tiers. The decorations were classic, consisting of stencilling, delicate stripes,  and careful gold bands. My favourite part of decorating it were the hand piped flowers. I was getting especially good at doing them.

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