I Think I’m Falling For You…
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Table of Contents
Elise thinks she has everything she needs, her business and her faith. But she realizes there may be something missing when she meets Tristan Maine, a new hire who comes to work with a confidence that borders on being cocky. She disapproves of his carelessness, but there is electric tension between them.
Follow Elise and Tristan as they discover themselves and each other in this heart-warming Christian Romance of two people lost in the word who manage to find each other.
“Hey Elise, I’m going out for that Sorensen Delivery and the new baker is coming in at 2:00. Is it okay if you take care of him while I go?” said Aunt Jemima through the open office door as she was on her way out.
“Sure thing, Aunt Jem. I’m almost done with our reports anyway.” Elise replied. Her aunt was really busy getting to know their customers and she was mostly in charge of the office anyway. She liked being in control. She was co-owner and founder of their booming business, Aunt Jemima managed the human end, meaning getting in touch with customers and hiring new people, she managed everything else. Ahh… Tabitha’s AngeliCakes, it was her dream come true and a tribute to her mother, who died 4 years ago, just when she was about to graduate from her course in business management.
Her mother had been her rock. Tabitha Coleson was widowed when Elise was only 15 and it had been hard for everyone. But Tabitha was a strong woman who managed to put her and her 2 brothers, Noah and David, through school and even college, juggling 3 jobs and fostering respect, love and faith in God in all three of them. It was faith, said Tabitha, that had helped her weather the storm of loss. Elise remembered her father, who was a kind, gentle man who always read them Bible stories before bed. A car had killed Malcolm Coleson, and it was a stroke that killed his wife, who was only 53 when she died. Her father’s death was hard, but the loss of her mother was devastating. Her mother had always had such a great presence that Elise almost thought her mother would live forever. She never got to see what I managed to build for her, Elise thought now, looking at her mother’s picture on her desk.
He brothers were both doing well for themselves. Noah, the youngest, was in his second year as a Literature teacher at the University, while David, their eldest, was a workaholic architect. Neither of them had settled down yet, and didn’t seem to want to any time soon. It must run in the family, Elise thought with a smile. She had had suitors before, but she had never wanted to have a boyfriend. While she was in school she always said that it wasn’t a priority yet, she wanted to graduate before even thinking about things like that. But now…? It’s still not a priority I suppose. When her mother had died, Elise had been desperate to keep her mother’s presence close and her fondest memories of her mother were always the cakes and cookies she would give them after Sunday Mass, she called them her angelicakes as a word play, and Elise had used it. She knew nothing about baking, but Aunt Jem knew more than enough for both of them. They had started with two bakers and a cake designer, catering weddings and parties, and the beautifully designed and delicious cakes made sure their customer list grew and grew. Now they have 4 branches in nearby towns and a main shop in the busiest street in the city and they’d needed to start hiring again, which is why she was waiting here for the new baker, who was already 15 minutes late. Not a very good first impression.
She turned to look at the file Aunt Jem had left in her desk. Tristan Maine, 27 years old, 5 years of experience as pastry chef in Hotel Continental. Impressive, thought Elise, as she had tasted the food at the Continental, which was a five star hotel in the business district. Still, no matter what his credentials are, there’s no excuse for tardiness. Elise decided to continue working on the cash flow reports as she waited. Elise did not believe in wasting time.
Her secretary, Lou Anne, called on the intercom. “You’re two o’clock is here Miss Coleson.” She had known Lou Anne since they were little, and she had kept telling her to call her by her name but Lou Anne insisted. She said it was more professional that way.
“Okay Lou, send him in please.”
The door opened a few minutes later and a handsome man swaggered in. He had blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, but what annoyed Elise the most was the cocky smile he had on his face. It was the smile of someone who felt entitled. Elise frowned upon entitlement. She had worked hard for everything she had; she expected others to do the same, especially those who worked for her. God helps those who help themselves after all.
“Mary Elise Coleson,” she said, extending her hand. “Tristan Maine I suppose?”
“Yes ma’am. I’m so glad I finally got to meet you,” the man answered, giving her a generous smile.
The man looked like he was going to choke. It’s like he’s never faced consequences in his entire life, thought Elise, amused.
“I got caught in traffic…I didn’t really think that…”
“I know this isn’t technically you’re first day,” Elise said, cutting him off, “but I would expect punctuality, especially for a chief baker. We are the main branch and the bigger orders are going to be coming through here. We can’t be waiting for when you eventually show up Mr. Maine, that’s not how this works. We work hard here, that’s why this business is growing so rapidly, and because this business is growing so rapidly, we have to work even harder. Is this clear to you?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be on time in the future.”
At 27, Tristan Main was a good two years older than Elise, but she had learned to be direct and firm when it came to business. She watched him, obviously flustered and twiddling his fingers.
“That’s good to hear Mr. Maine. I hope we get to develop a fine working relationship in the near future,” she said, getting up and leading him to the door.
That was cold, thought Tristan as he left his new boss’ office. He had never had anyone talk like that to him and he had to admit, maybe he needed it. He would have to get used to being an employee and maybe get whipped into shape, so to speak. He certainly didn’t mind if it was Miss Coleson. She was beautiful. Black hair, red lips and her fair skin made him think of Snow White, but she was all business, she was a truly guarded person. And he came here to learn didn’t he? Tristan knew he had to keep his head level. He knew he had to change, that’s why he left his old ‘job’ and came to work for Tabitha’s AngeliCakes, the fastest growing cake shop and catering in the state.
Tristan changed into his kitchen uniform, rolled up his sleeves and went to work.
It was 7:00 am when Elise opened up the shop. It was something her father, who had owned an electronics store when he was still alive, had always said, ‘You have to be the first one in and the last one out,’ and she stood by it. She liked to go through the whole shop in the mornings, going through the displays, then counters, the desks and offices at the back and then the kitchen. This was often the time she took to get closer with God. She was so busy and life was so hectic that she made it a point to talk to God and pray as she checked on the blessings He had showered her. Tabitha and Malcolm Coleson had taught their children many things, but the most important was to always be thankful and have faith in God’s will, but Elise also believed in hard work, that God could only do so much and you have to work to achieve your dreams. This combination made Elise a hopeful yet strict boss.
Kathy Miranda, a baker who had worked with them for 2 years already, knew this and, as was evident when Elise came to inspect her work area, Kathy had left her station looking pristine and organized.
Tristan Maine’s counter, however, still had some left over dough in the bowls that hadn’t been washed when he left. There were confectioner’s sugar lightly sprinkled over the table and some spoons on a glass filled with water. He seemed to have left in a hurry. Elise shook her head and quietly cleaned up his counter.
Elise made her way to her office and checked her agenda. The reports she had been working on were already done, and she already had Lou Anne send it to her accountant. The most important part of her day was the meeting with Suzanne Saldana, a local celebrity who was known for her soulful singing. Suzanne was getting married here and had called them. It was by far the biggest order they have had since Tabitha’s AngeliCakes was founded and she and her Aunt Jem had to close the deal, she reviewed her notes on Saldana again as she waited for time to pass.
It was exactly 9:00 when Tristan came through the door. Everyone else, on the other hand, had arrived at least 10 minutes early.
The man was incorrigible. He reminded Elise of those school jocks who broke the rules and smiled about it, knowing they would never really be punished. She was going to let it go. It was his first day anyway and she had the Saldana account to worry about.
“Hey darling, how was the interview yesterday? You didn’t give him such a hard time did you?” said her Aunt Jem, peeking her head through the door.
“I don’t know what you mean auntie. I am a professional, and I expect others to act that way too. That’s all,” replied Elise, as Aunt Jem shook her head and came in.
“I know you’re really pressured with this Saldana wedding coming, but I do hope you take time off. Lou Anne told me you left later than she did last night. There’s more to life than work Elise, I think that’s a lesson your mother taught that you forgot. Tabitha worked hard but she always had time for you and your brothers, and that’s what made it all worth it.”
“I don’t have children Aunt Jem, my brothers are all busy and we see each other every day, that’s all the family I need right now.”
“You think that, but it’s not true. When was the last time you took a day off or went out with your friends? Do you even have any friends anymore Elise?”
“Of course I do Auntie. We just haven’t talked in a while. I am very busy you know.”
“I do know darling. That’s why I want you to go out once in a while. Darling you’ve never even had a boyfriend and you’re already 25? What are you waiting for? You already have a steady business and people you trust who work for you. You should learn to live a little.”
“Auntie please, let’s talk about this when we get the Saldana event okay? It’s a very important account and it could be the push we need to open branches across the state. I need to focus, and so do you.”
“Alright, alright,” her aunt said as she got up to go. “I just wish you’d take the time to enjoy life too. Your brothers are just the same, what would Tabitha say?” and she closed the door behind her.
It wasn’t the first time her aunt pestered her about this. Since she had turned 24, her Aunt Jem had tried to get her to start dating. But like she said, it was not a priority at the moment.
It was 10 minutes past one o’clock when the awaited customer arrived. Suzanne Saldana’s orange Bentley pulled up right in front of the shop and she stepped out with an older woman and her husband, a successful business man Elise had heard about, Jonathan Cane.
They were led into the mini-conference room; it was beautifully furnished with a table and six chairs and was mainly used for talking with prospective clients.
Aunt Jem and Elise both stood up and shook hands with all three.
“Miss Saldana, Mr. Cane, I’m Mary Elise Coleson, and this is my aunt, Jemima Shaw, we would like to welcome you to Tabitha’s AngeliCakes. We hope we can be of service to you on your upcoming nuptials.” Elise started formally.
“Why yes, of course. Well, you know us both, this is my mother,” said Suzanne, who was truly beautiful with her rich curls and tanned skin. “We actually came here first because a friend of mine, Anna Reed, she said she ordered the most divine cake from your shop for her mother’s 63rd birthday and that I just had to try it here.”
“Oh yes, Anna, she got the double layer chiffon with the gold ribbon fondant decoration. Yes that was lovely,” said Aunt Jem with a smile. You had to give it to Aunt Jem for remembering almost every single customer they ever had.
“Yes, that’s exactly right. I feel better already,” said Mrs. Saldana, “You can expect a wonderful cake from people who remember the exact cake someone ordered a month ago Suzanne.”
Suzanne looked toward Jonathan, who just smiled and shrugged.
“Well, I was thinking of having a four layer wedding cake with silver fondant and gold flower embellishments. And I want butter cream filling and maybe some red velvet cupcakes for the guests too.”
“That’s all very doable for us, we’ve done a lot of weddings and we can definitely give you a cake that’ll be the highlight of your reception, I can guarantee you that.”
“I know, and I’m sure you would have done a great job but…” Uh oh, thought Elise right then. “I was thinking of a more daring cake. I saw your previous cakes and they were all lovely, I just want a bit of an umph to it, you know?”
“Well we can provide you with all the umph you’ll need Miss Saldana. We have the best cake decorators in the city and highly qualified bakers. We have the best right here and you won’t get any better.”
“Well, we actually already have an offer from Hotel Continental, they’re doing the catering and everything, but their best pastry chef left and their new hires were just so…new. So we thought we’d get our cake somewhere else, but we do want a bit of Tristan’s touch on our cake. He used to be the pastry chef there and he was a dear friend of ours. I just don’t know if AngeliCakes has that same flare.”
Elise nearly jumped at what was just said. Who would have thought Tristan Maine would be the reason she got one of the most important events in the whole city, maybe even the whole state? Aunt Jem was blushing too, but she knew Elise would say it better.
“Miss Saldana, didn’t I tell you we had the BEST bakers in the city. You’ll both find your dear friend Tristan in our work stations. He now works for Tabitha’s AngeliCakes.”
Tristan Maine was late. Again. Elise was starting to get tired of it all. She had half a mind to fire him already if it weren’t for that Saldana-Cane account, and the fact that he was miles ahead of their own chief baker, Kathy Miranda, who was good but, as Suzanne put it, didn’t have that flare.
Tristan arrived at 9:15 and looked at her almost apologetically but breezed right on to the baking station. Elise could only shake her head. The Saldana-Cane nuptials were coming in 8 days and they were coming in a few minutes to have some tastings for the cake base.
Tristan was in charge of most of it, but Kathy was helping him. What Kathy lacks in creativity, she more than makes up for in efficiency. Kathy was a fast and reliable worker, things that Elise valued. Tristan was sloppy and tardy, Elise’s pet peeves. But he was brilliant and Suzanne and Jonathan were his friends apparently. She had to let it go.
At 1:30, Suzanne Saldana and Jonathan Cane came by for the cake testing. This was Auntie Jem’s turn to show them around while Elise busied herself with making calls and getting a read on market prices. It was what Aunt Jem always called the boring part of baking.
At 3:30, Elise heard the Bentley drive away and took a deep breath. At least now it was finally over and she could let Aunt Jem worry over the cake itself. Elise expected her aunt to come by at any moment. But instead of Aunt Jem’s brown mane, it was Tristan’s blonde head that came to surprise her.
“Hey, Jem asked me to come by and update you on the Saldana-Cane nuptials. It’s pretty bad,” he said almost apologetically but still with that annoying smile.
“How do you mean Mr. Maine?” Elise said as coolly as she could, though she did feel a little warm.
“Well, she wants a four layer cake with different flavors, hazelnut, chocolate, mocha, mint, with tiers and a bride and groom statue that’s maybe more than a pound in weight. She wants it slender but with filling so it won’t be structurally sound, but with some extra wire work, it’ll be possible.”
“I reiterate my question Mr. Maine, what’s the problem?”
“She wants five hundred butter cream cupcakes at the reception, and unless we ice them in the reception area itself, those cupcakes are gonna look like…well bad,” and Tristan shrugged his shoulders as if he was taking the burden off his shoulders and into her own.
“Couldn’t you reason with her?”
“Suzanne knows what she wants, and Jonathan wants what Suzanne wants so…”
Elise closed her eyes. She wanted to strangle him, yes definitely strangle him right now.
“So…is it possible?”
“Like I said, unless we ice them at the venue itself, 30 minutes before we serve them, then it’s possible.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do. What other concerns do you have?”
Tristan stood up shaking his head, but before he got to the door, he suddenly turned and said, “Oh yes, I almost forgot. Jonathan and Suzanne invited us to a party that Milestone Records are going to hold for Suzanne on Friday, to congratulate her and all that. Aunt Jem thought it was a great opportunity to meet new clients and told them the two of us would go. So what do you think? Should I pick you up at 8:00?”
It had been a trying day. After that little bomb Tristan had set off in her office.
It had been a trying day. After that little bomb Tristan had set off in her office, Elise gathered composure and said she’d think about it, as she might be otherwise employed. Tristan was getting into her nerves and maybe under her skin too. She can’t let this happen. He was an employee and she was a business woman, that was all it was supposed to be, she can’t be feeling anything else. It was settled then, she wasn’t going.
“Hey dear, can I have a word?” said Aunt Jem as she passed by the office.
“Of course auntie, what is it?”
“It’s about the party this Friday,” Elise groaned internally. “I know your first priority is your business right now, but this is a good thing. You can do business and have some fun at the same time. Not to mention get to know our chief baker a bit better. You have to admit, he’ll be a great asset to our company.”
“Nonsense, he’s not half as good a baker as you, and Kathy’s really good too.”
“Say what you like Elise, but Tristan’s the main reason we got the Saldana-Cane wedding.”
Tristan? Now that she thought about it, Tristan had called her aunt simply as Jem earlier. These two seemed to be getting chummy now, and that was a bit dangerous. Elise took a deep breath.
“I’ll be busy on Friday.”
“Important things aunt. Why don’t you go out with ‘Tristan’?”
“I have Friday night dinner with Mabel and the girls, you know that. And it’s your responsibility to market the company right? Why don’t you do that? There’s sure to be many big wigs at that party. A good businesswoman would do it I’m sure.”
Elise couldn’t think of a reply. What could she say? Her aunt was right.
“Fine, I’ll go. Tell Mr. Maine to meet me here at 8:00 tomorrow night.”
“Nonsense, he’ll pick you up at your house. I’ll tell him where and he’ll come to your doorstep and take you in his car. Like a proper first date.”
“It won’t be a date but more of a business meeting.”
“Don’t forget we have Mass on Saturday so don’t stay out too late.”
“There will be no reason for me to be out late and of course I’d never miss mass. I have to give thanks for all my blessings and this week was especially fruitful.”
“I think so too,” said Aunt Jem, smiling slyly.
Elise could only shake her head. Her aunt can romanticize it all she likes; there was nothing more to this party than a business venture.
Despite swearing that it was nothing but a business venture, Elise couldn’t help but be nervous though she really couldn’t say exactly why. Couldn’t or wouldn’t? There was nothing to do but to admit it. Tristan Maine was dreamy. He had the looks that could make any woman swoon, and if Elise allowed herself, she would probably fall to his feet too. She saw how the girls looked at Tristan, even Kathy stared at him sometimes, and Elise knew that Tristan was very aware of his own good looks. That’s why he’s so fresh all the time, Elise thought to herself.
She looked at her reflection. It had taken nearly an hour and a half, but she had finally settled for her purple, floor length halter dress. She had loved how it looked at the store and it set off her gray eyes wonderfully. She pulled her hair into a simple bun and wore no jewelry. She wanted to impress any prospective clients and, though she would never say so out loud, she wanted to be beautiful for Tristan too, and for herself.
God give me strength and good judgment. I entrust myself to you and your will. Guide me now, for I am confused. Should I let myself feel this way? Mother what do I do?
Elise found herself praying as she always did when she didn’t know what else to do or couldn’t make a decision. It always made her feel better, feeling God’s presence and even her mom’s.
At exactly 8:00 o’clock, her doorbell rang. Elise took a deep breath and looked at her face. She didn’t put on much make-up, just some pink lipstick, mascara and eyeliner. She looked alright.
She went to her door and let Tristan in.
“Would you like a drink Mr. Maine?”
“We’re out of the office Miss Coleson, surely it can be Elise and Tristan now?”
“I suppose… Tristan. Would you stop ogling me please, it’s very uncomfortable.”
“Pardon me,” Tristan said, closing his eyes and blushing a bit. “I’ve just never seen you so, well, to be blunt, so divinely beautiful.”
It was Elise’s turn to blush, “I don’t very much like being likened to the divine, it’s very unreasonable.”
“Not if it’s true Elise, I’m sorry, we should get going then?”
“I never got you that drink though. Well we should go.”
Tristan helped her into the car and held the door for her. As she stepped inside he held her hand and Elise felt herself break out in cold sweat. A shiver ran down her spine from where he touched her back. What is happening here? Why does Tristan Maine make me feel this way? Elise could only grit her teeth. She had had suitors but none of them ever reduced her to pile of nerves. There was something about Tristan that made her feel vulnerable. God help me, what am I to do?
They drove to the event in silence, but it was not uncomfortable, it felt like a familiar silence she could bask in. The party was being held at the headquarters of Milestone Records, in the building aptly named the Sky Tower.
Tristan pulled up and helped Elise out of the car and then left the keys to the valet.
When they were at the elevator, there was silence again.
“Have you been to many of these parties Elise?” broached Tristan.
“No. I hardly go to parties, unless they’re for business. You could say I haven’t got much life in my social life. I’m sure you must love to go to these things Tristan?”
“Well, I used to. But this is the first one in more than a year. I’ve decided to change my life. I’m turning over a new leaf.”
“I wouldn’t know Mr. Maine, I didn’t know you back then.”
“Formalities again Elise? I’m glad you didn’t know me back then. I don’t think you’d have liked the person I was.”
“I’m not sure I very much approve of everything you are now,” she said with a smile. “But I can commend your efforts to become a better person.”
Then the doors of the elevator opened up to a hallway. “We welcome you to the Milestone Party in honor of Miss Suzanne Saldana, who blessed the world with music and was blessed with Love,” was written on a big sign in front of the elevator. There was no one on the hallway and they could hear the party in full swing behind the doors. Tristan took Elise’s hand and put it on his arm. Before they opened the doors, they looked into each other’s eyes and smiled.
“Tristan darling! I haven’t seen you in forever! Has it really been two years?” said the third blonde woman who apparently knew Tristan to approach them since they came in 15 minutes ago. When Tristan alluded to his past as a socialite, he wasn’t joking or exaggerating. Everyone seemed to know him and women were just coming from everywhere to have a word. Elise didn’t know anyone, and it was a bit embarrassing and annoying too, to have women come up to Tristan then notice her hand on his arm and look her up and down.
God give me strength and guidance, she prayed for the fifth time. She was lost in this place and she didn’t know what to do or who to talk to.
“Elise? Elise Coleson?” She heard her name being called from across the room as Tristan entertained his acquaintance. Elise turned to look at who it was and found it was her good friend from college, Daniel Dayfield.
“Danny? This is such a treat! I thought you were in Europe or something,” she said as Danny, her confidante and crush at one time, came toward her. They hugged tightly, she truly missed him. He was still handsome and had the body of an athlete; he didn’t seem to age a day.
“I got back like half a year ago. I’m working for Milestone now. I was hoping to get back in touch with you but no one seemed to have your cell phone. They did say you were crazy successful with your bake shop though. How’s it going?”
“Oh, we’re making Suzanne’s cake and she invited us here. Working for Milestone huh? Wow, I thought you said you were going to live in France?”
“Yeah well, you know, you miss home and family after a while it turns out. Really Elise, I’m blown away, you look so great. You know I called you and called you after graduation, you never called me back,” he said now, a little sadly, almost regretfully.
“I know, I’m sorry about that. It was a dark time for me. I had a one track mind back then, and I knew you wanted to go away to Europe anyway, so I thought I shouldn’t complicate things.” The truth was that she had been a bit in love with Danny, and it was evident Danny liked her too. She had a rule of not dating while in school and when he found out he had backed off and respected her wishes. That’s why they were such good friends. After college though, she had wanted to focus only on her business and Danny’s calls were something she had decided to sacrifice for her dream. But now?
“Well, a dance shouldn’t complicate anything, right?” Danny said, offering her his hand. Elise smiled. Why not, Tristan seemed busy and Danny was an old friend.
She took his hand and he led her to the dance floor.
Tristan had been trying to wave away the girl in front of him. Amanda? Sandra? The truth was he didn’t really know this woman, maybe they had met years ago at some party, but he didn’t REALLY know her. When Tristan finally managed to get away he turned to look for Elise but she wasn’t anywhere near him. He looked around the room until a swirl of purple caught his eye. Tristan’s face turned red the moment he realized what was happening. Elise was dancing with some guy, admittedly a dashing looking guy, and she was laughing. Elise, the cold, calculated woman he knew, who first smiled at him only a few minutes ago in the elevator, was laughing and dancing with a stranger. Tristan could feel the blood rushing to his head. He had to calm down.
When the dance was finally over, Tristan took measured steps toward Elise and her dance partner. They were still talking animatedly and it enraged him, though he knew he had no reason to be so angry.
“Hello, Elise, would you care to introduce me to your new friend?” he said with a tight smile at the stranger.
“Oh, I’m sorry, he’s hardly a new friend Tristan, we went to college together, Tristan this is Daniel Dayfield, and Danny this is Tristan Maine, a baker at our shop.”
A baker? Tristan was getting riled up now.
“Don’t be modest Elise, I’m her date,” Tristan said as he gave Daniel Dayfield a firm handshake and a tight lipped smile.
“Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t realize. Wait, haven’t I seen you before?” Danny said, squinting his eyes at Tristan. Tristan felt panic rise up in his throat.
“No, I’m sure you’re mistaken. Elise I see Suzanne over there. She might want to have word.”
With that, he led Elise away and they walked briskly.
“You’re acting very strange Tristan. Please slow down. What’s the matter with you?” Elise said, pulling away from him then.
“Nothing, I was just surprised that you were gone and dancing with someone else so quickly.”
“He was an old friend, and you were busy yourself weren’t you?”
“I… I’m sorry I was so abrupt, I shouldn’t have done that. There’s Suzanne now, shall we?”
Elise was getting goose bumps, but she was hiding them well. She knew Tristan had felt jealous and she couldn’t help but feel shivery all over. She hadn’t even corrected him when he told Danny it was a date.
They had met with Suzanne and Jonathan and 5 other prospective customers and now, they were at the terrace enjoying some wine and quiet.
“Your aunt tells me you’ve never dated. I honestly find it hard to believe.”
“Well, believe it. I never felt I needed to or that it was the right time. I don’t have any regrets.”
“That must be a gift, to live with no regrets. I have so many I feel like most of my life is regret.”
“Why is that?”
“I lived my life like it was just that, just my life. There were no consequences, no pain, no responsibility. I was just a stray sheep. I’m glad I found God, and I found guidance too. I decided to change, and I haven’t looked back, but the regrets are still there. I try not to think about it but they’re there.”
“I lived my life for the future, that’s why I have no regrets, but I do wish I had lived for the moment more, just got on a random bus and go around and meet new people.”
“You can still do that. Get on a plane and fly somewhere, talk to strangers about life just to get a slice of their life, I can’t take back what I did.”
“But you can change and repent, and mean it. There’s always forgiveness if you sincerely look for it.” Elise turned to see Tristan staring at her intently.
“I admire you Elise. You are strong and brave, and kind too. You built up your life and worked to get everything you have. I’ve never worked for anything.”
“You worked at the continental didn’t you? And you work for us, although you are messy and tardy sometimes, you can fix that too.”
“Yeah, I guess I can.”
“Tristan… Tristan… Tristan Millard isn’t it? I was at a hotel opening for your father,” someone said from behind them. Tristan froze at the sight of a chubby gentleman who approached them.
“Tristan, surely you remember me, I’m John Vaineville, I was your father’s associate for the Hotel Adriatic in Spain. How is old Denver Milliard by the way?”
Tristan could taste the bile in his tongue. He turned to look at Elise, who was looking at him searchingly, and he could only look on as she turned on her heels and left.
Milliard? He was Tristan Milliard, son of Denver Milliard? This means he didn’t just work in Hotel Continental, their family OWNED Hotel Continental, along with 10 other 5-star hotels around the world. She didn’t understand. What was he doing working as a baker at a local shop when he could be anywhere in the world doing whatever he wanted?
The truth was that Elise was not angry with Tristan, but with herself, it was her fault. She felt like a fool, nearly falling for some playboy millionaire. Her parents had taught her better.
Elise shook her head, shaking the thoughts away. She had gone through the weekend as usual, going to mass and saying nothing to Aunt Jem, who was also conspicuously quiet then. Elise didn’t want to think about it. She had nothing more to say and she did not expect Tristan Maine or Milliard or whatever he called himself, to come back to work and that would be that.
As usual, she opened up at 7:00 am, and walked through the whole place. She almost didn’t go by Tristan’s work area, but the business woman in her said it was her responsibly. She was surprised to see his station immaculate. There wasn’t a single speck of flour out of place. Then she saw the simple pink box with the white ribbon sitting on his chair. She looked it over and found a card that said ‘Elise’ on it. She opened it and found a cupcake with ‘4give me’ written on it in icing. Elise couldn’t help but smile. Tristan must have baked this as an apology before he left. Elise could hardly suppress the tinge of pain she felt. She might never see him again and there was so much they had to say, or so it felt like it to her.
Elise brought the cupcake to her office and took a bite. It was delicious, Tristan really did have a gift. Before she realized it, there was a tear falling down her face.
“I would have expected that someone eating something so delicious would be smiling not crying.” It was Aunt Jem. Elise didn’t even notice her come in.
“Just some regrets Aunt, nothing terminal. This is really good.”
“Tristan was a really good baker. I’m sorry for what happened dear. I never thought you’d find out this way.”
Elise’s eyes widened. “You knew? You knew he was a Milliard and you didn’t tell me?”
“I know his mother, we were friends when we were younger. She wanted help, she told me that her son and her husband didn’t get along and that Tristan wanted to find work and maybe stand on his own without her husband knowing what was happening, she wanted to help her son find a better path than the one he’s been taking without his father taking over everything. I volunteered our little shop. Denver Milliard probably hasn’t even heard of it. So I hired him. I tried to talk him out of going to that party at Milestone, someone was sure to recognize him, but he insisted, and I thought, what was the harm?” Aunt Jem looked apologetically at Elise. “I had no desire to make you feel like a fool.”
“Why did he pretend then? Why make up a lie about himself when he can have anything he wanted?”
At that moment, she saw Tristan behind Auntie Jem. He came into the office and looked at her.
“I’ll give you two some privacy,” said Auntie Jem, leaving the room.
“I wanted to work without being a Milliard. My whole life, I’ve had people falling to my feet, wanting to please, or mollify me. I was the heir to a business empire, but the only thing I was ever really good at was baking, and I loved it. But it wasn’t what was expected of me. So I partied, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I went out with women whose names I didn’t even bother to remember. But I decided to change Elise. So I came here, to work without the burden of being a Milliard and you treated me like any other worker. What I said at the party was true, I really do admire you.” Elise couldn’t look at him, or think of a reply, she just waited for him to finish.
“I was never sure of what I wanted before I discovered I could bake, then I knew that’s what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I came here looking for direction, but I found more than that.”
“What exactly is it you think you’ve found here Mr. Milliard?”
“Inspiration, motivation, and hopefully, love.” At that last word, Elise looked into his eyes and she felt warmth flood her. “When I saw you dancing with that man at the party, I panicked, I felt like I was losing my one chance to be a better person, my one gift from God that could make my life worthy of happiness. All I ask now is a second chance Elise, a chance to make you happy.”
There was a long heavy silence after he said this.
“Well, Mr. Milliard, you have a wedding cake to bake.”
Six months have passed since the Saldana-Cane wedding, and Tabitha’s AngeliCakes was a booming business. Most business analysts said it was because of the business acumen that Mary Elise Coleson had, while food critics said it was the expert work of Tristan Milliard, heir to a million dollar hotel empire. But Aunt Jem knew the truth; it was both.
Elise and Tristan worked together and were very much in love. Elise worked hard and it rubbed off on Tristan, while Tristan allowed Elise to relax once in a while. Their betrothal was expected to be announced later in the month, and Aunt Jem couldn’t wait. They were a match made in heaven…
"A Beautiful and Touching Story of Romance..." I Think I’m Falling for You is a story about two very different people who might just be meant for each other. Elise is a straight-laced business woman who has no time for fun and games, building up her business in the memory of her departed mother. She has her business and her faith in God, and she thinks that’s all she needs, until she meets Tristan Maine, a man who has the power to turn her into mush. There’s more to Tristan than meets the eye, however. He’s made mistakes in life but he knows one thing, he found the girl who could change his life and lead him down a path of faith, love and happiness; he can’t just let her slip away, he has to convince her of his sincerity and show her how much he’s willing to change for her. Can he win over Elise? Available on Kindle Unlimited. Get Your Copy Now...