Chapter Thirty

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Trace gave me a fond look after telling me he loved me and his face was still suspiciously rosy. "There's still a lot we can do today. I wanted us to take a small hike around the place and maybe go canoeing later. Have lunch back here and then stay in, cuddle and watch some movies or play some board games. I downloaded some movies on my tablet and brought some stuff."

I nodded, folding my fingers into Trace's. "That sounds good."

Trace smiled and we locked up our valuables in the car,  packed a bag of water and snacks and headed out. During our walk, Trace pointed out a lot of things to me, like what kinds of trees were at the campsite, the types of birds we might see and even information about the lake. He seemed to be quite the outdoorsman and it was nice to see.

Sometimes, I reached for Trace's hand on the walk and we held hands. The first time he looked at me in surprise but seemed okay with it. He was the kind of guy who liked touchy feely stuff even if I wasn't like that. I felt like even if I couldn't change myself I could act more on what I did feel in the moment instead of pretending I didn't feel it all it.

I was by no means affectionate, but I knew Trace wanted me to be. Except, I didn't know how to be something that I wasn't. So when there were small moments where I felt like I could express myself honestly then I took them. The forestry trail was was pretty isolated anyways and the few people we did pass didn't
concern me.

Of course, I was still anxious. It was a new, unfamiliar environment, and the reality of it being six months since we started dating was looming over me. So much had happened since then, and so much was still happening. But, I was glad I still had Trace. I was happy with the direction my life was taking in a way I hadn't been for a while.

"I forgot to tell you," I said while we were taking a short break on our walk back to the camp site. "One of the judges from Baking Beasts emailed me about a job position."

Trace was sitting beside me on the bench and his eyes widened at what I said. "Oh wow, really? Which judge? Not that Aditya asshole right?"

"No, it was Isaac. Apparently, he's opening a new dessert place in Toronto and he wants me to work for him. If I say yes then it's a really great position under a celebrated pastry chef. Apparently, she's going on maternity leave in about seven months and I would succeed her if I stay. Isaac said that even though I'm young, he saw how I worked on the show and he wants to give me a shot. The pay is...way more than what I'm making now. It's crazy...It seems too good to be true." Just like I wanted, I'd sent out my resume but all the places I was technically qualified for were nowhere near as prestigious as Isaac's new restaurant would be. Isaac was a pastry chef who had multiple Michelin stars at his various restaurants. This seemed like one of those opportunities you didn't say no to. So, why was I so hesitant to say yes?

"You think you don't deserve it?" Trace asked quietly. The words were crafted delicately and it was at odds with the low roughness that was Trace's usual voice.

I shrugged, looking away and fidgeting. "I don't know."

"Except," he said gently, "I think you do."

I blinked, sitting up straighter but looking down at Trace. "I don't have the technical training."

"Do you need it for the position you're getting?"

"Not really." Culinary school wasn't as much of a requirement as people thought it was. Or at least it didn't have to be.

"So, you'll be fine," Trace said intently, "My opinion is that you take it. I don't know all the baking stuff you did in that competition but I know it was a lot and I know you pick things up quickly. You're really good at baking and this is heaps above a neighbourhood bakery. But, it'll always be your choice." The way he read me so well almost hurt.

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