Chapter Thirty-Two

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The next few days became a flurry of party organisation.

With the house almost decorated except for a few minor adjustments that had to be made, I had decided to hide out in the kitchen with Mrs Baker and help her to prepare the sweets. She had been baking almost non-stop for several days but there was still a fair amount to do and she needed all the help she could get. I had learnt a lot about baking various things from both Miss Jenkins and Mrs Baker, but I only agreed to help with the small sweets.

On the morning of the twenty-third, I ended up spending it with my elbows in various doughs for biscuits or tarts. James and Christopher had started to set-up the rest of decorations upstairs, including a table that would house all of the sweets. I could hear them arguing over the placement of something from the kitchen and I couldn't help but roll my eyes slightly.

"Can those two do anything without arguing?" Mrs Baker asked as she stirred the lemon curd on the stove.

"Apparently not. They always find something to argue over."

"It might just be the last-minute panic for the party. It's always chaos the morning of."

"Hm, I remember what it was like for Matilda Ealing's birthday party. Rooms I had never set foot in needed dusting and I thought the kitchen table would collapse under the weight of all the food."

"I think we're teetering on the edge of a collapsing table."

Mrs Baker gestured to the pile of sweets and cakes and laughed to herself, turning back to the collection of pots she had going on the stove. I turned my attention to the array of plates that littered the table in the centre of the room. There were plates of biscuits, cake slices, tarts and countless other sweet treats to keep people occupied throughout the evening. We had been baked a Christmas cake with white marzipan and red icing that read 'Merry Christmas' along the top.

I felt as though we may have gone a little overboard with the baking seeing as we were not expecting that many people. Outside of the immediate family, he had invited Aunt Molly and her two daughters, the Ealing's, Winnie and her father and he had even extended the invitation to Lady Thatcher to thank her for inviting us to her ball. Suzanna, Lucy, Mathias and Tommy were also supposed to attend as well as Esther, Mrs Jenkins and Samuel. We had baked enough sweets for about fifty people, but the party would never exceed that number as we didn't actually know that many people.

James and Christopher's voices continued to travel down to the kitchen as I finished the last of the biscuit dough and placed it into the oven for Mrs Baker to removed later. After washing my hands of the flour and dough, I jogged up the few steps and back down the hallway to the drawing-room.

Garland had been draped over the fireplace and the candles on the ceiling had been lit, basking the room in a warm glow. Outside was dark, with the cloud casting a shadow over everything and making the entire house seem a lot darker than it should have been. James had decided they were snow clouds which meant it would only be a matter of time before the streets were covered in snow. I hoped it would snow before the party, but luck had never been in my favour and James might have been wrong.

"Are you done in the kitchen?" James asked when he saw me standing in the doorway.

"Uh-huh. The last of the biscuits have gone in the oven and Mrs Baker is finishing up the curd and jam for the pastry. It should set in time."

"Excellent. The table in the corner is for the sweets when they're ready to come up. Other than that, I think we're almost set."

"Almost?"

"You know me, I always end up forgetting something or another. I'll remember what it is right before everyone arrives and there will be a last-minute panic. It's a standard for me." He laughed.

The Apprentice Girl // Book 3 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now