~Courtney walked down the deserted street, admiring the stores she passed. For, in her eyes ,the world was a fantastic place to be. Everything excited her! The world was her palace. Her home. Though she thought highly of her surroundings, she wasn’t naïve about it. She knew of the darkness that lived, thrived in people and in her “palace”. She actually expected it. But she rather approach the opaque beings with an adoring optimism, than to already expect and assume she receive the worst. Courtney had a gentle care for things, and others, she knew how to have a good time, and she was comfortable with herself; being herself. And that got her through life with a welcoming smile on her face.
Courtney opened the door to the tiny, homely bakery, a bell ringing overhead. The place was a bit packed. She walked up to the counter where her friend was placing donuts into a paper bag. “Sharon!” She yelled out, imitating Ozzy Osbourne. Her friend laughed lightly, then walked over to the register to ring up the guy who brought all the doughnuts. “Thanks! Come again!” She said as he walked away. Sharon turned to Courtney and quickly said. “Get your ass behind this counter and help me!” “But I don’t want toooooo.” Courtney whined. “Today’s my day off from the ice cream parlor, and you’re not even paying me for this!” Courtney, when not attending university, worked at an ice cream parlor up the street. Sharon, however, worked in her parents bakery. It just so happens that her parents are out of town, leaving her to tend to all of the work by herself. Of course Sharon attempted to convince her parents to hire some help, but her parents just weren’t for it. Courtney only had to help out twice since she’s known Sharon. She still couldn’t get the hang of anything. “I’ll pay you in friendship!” Courtney ignored the displeased looks from the patiently waiting customers and continued to argue. In the end she lost. She made her way behind the counter and went to the register; ready (but not really) to work pro bono for her friend.
Finally, business slowed down a bit. Maybe because the customers were tired of Courtney’s amateur service. The two girls sat in the empty bakery chatting away. Sharon in the kitchen baking more pastries, and Courtney in the front ready for customers to come in (but not really). The two yelled throughout the store. Suddenly Courtney heard the bell from the door ding loudly, signaling someone was entering. Courtney looked up and saw a guy around her age make his way to the counter. His hair was a bit curly and awkwardly swept to the side, loose curls framed his innocent looking face. He had on a jacket over a flannel, and a pair of jeans that looked three times too small for him, but he made it work. He smiled and a dimple that could kill played on his cheek. Now Courtney wasn’t one to get uneasy around boys, she actually had no problem talking to them. She saw them as people just like herself. However, cute guys came in and out of this place and the ice cream parlor she worked at all the time. Whenever Sharon was around they felt it entertaining to rate the boys from 1-10. They called out their score ,not very inconspicuously, as they prepared whatever it was the boys wanted. Regularly, Sharon and Courtney couldn’t agree. The boys Sharon believed to be cute be a perfect “10”, Courtney though were 2’s. Courtney never really found a guy cute enough to be a perfect 10 yet, but this guy-this guy just might be it. “Hello! How can I help you?”
“Um...Hi! I called last night about some cupcakes I ordered. Someone told me they would be ready around 10.” Courtney looked at her watch. It was 8.
“Oh okay. You’re a bit early, yeah?” She chuckled. He smiled again.
“Yeah, I was just passing by…” Courtney held her finger up, signaling him to hold on.
“Sharon!” She yelled again, imitating Ozzy. She did that every time she called Sharon’s name.
“Yeah?” Sharon called from the kitchen.
“There’s a guy here for some cupcakes.” Courtney yelled.
“Give him cupcakes then!”
“I-” Courtney stopped then slumped her shoulders. Duh! She turned to the guy again, smiling politely.
“Okay…How may cupcakes did you want?”
“I ordered um…23.”
“Holy- I mean, okay.” She walked over to the pastry shelf with all the pastries. There were only 5 left. “Hold on.” She said to the guy again.
“Sharon! There’s only 5 cupcakes. He needs 23. I find it exceedingly unattainable to make 23 cupcakes of 5. He said he called last night.”
“What?” Sharon called from the bake. There was a loud bang, followed by a curse. After a while, Sharon asked, “What’s his name again.” Courtney turned to the guy who was still waiting patiently for his order. “Harry.” He said before she could ask.
“His name’s Harry!” There was silence then another curse.
“Crap! He did call last night. I forgot. Crap! Crap! Crap!” Sharon said. “It’s okay! I’ll make 23 really fast. It’s easy. It’ll be fine.”
“Oh, Sharon. You messed up big time. Now this poor guy not only had to endure my horrible service, and hear us yell through the store, but now has to wait for you to cook his cupcakes that were already supposed to be prepared? Wow.” Courtney chuckled sarcastically.
“I have a lot on my plate right now!” Sharon said stepping out of the kitchen. She looked at Harry.
“I’m so, so, so sorry! Please forgive me! Oh gosh! It’s on the house. I’ll have them through by 10, promise.” He smiled at her.
“No, it’s not big deal. I wasn’t expecting them till 10 anyway. So it’s alright. I guess…I’ll just wait.” He turned to go find a seat in the tiny bakery. Sharon shook her head muttering apologies and went bake to the kitchen to prepare the cupcakes. “God, I wish you knew how to bake!” Sharon yelled from the kitchen to Courtney. Courtney just shrugged and turned back to the guy. “So…I’m guessing you really like cupcakes?” She asked. He chuckled.
“I do, but they’re for someone.” Courtney nodded then grabbed some cleaning supplies to bust the empty tables. “I’m guessing you don’t really work here.” He said.
“Nope, I don’t. However could you tell?” She sprayed a table and wiped off the deserted crumbs.
“Well,” he started, “For one you’re using a napkin to wipe down the tables and not a washcloth, I passed by earlier and saw that you looked completely lost and your friend-I’m assuming her name is Sharon- had to help you.”
“Nice observations. But yeah, I work in the ice cream parlor up the street. Sharon’s parents own this place and are out of town for the week, so in my precious spare time I’m forced to help her.” Harry chuckled then watched, silently, as Courtney continued to clean tables.
“I used to work in a bakery.” He said.
“Really? I’m sure you were a lot better at it than I.”
“Nah. I was okay. It’s not that hard, really.”
“You’re kidding! It’s way harder.”
“Working in an ice cream parlor seems harder. Much colder.”
“Nah. It’s nice. I get half off on ice cream, so I think the cold is well worth it.”
Forty-five minutes later, Sharon came out from the back and to the counter, next to Courtney. “So, Harry, your cupcakes will be done very soon. They’re just baking.” He looked up from his phone and nodded. Sharon went over and arranged a few pastries on display. “8.5” Sharon said, not bothering to look up from her arrangements. Courtney was silent for a moment. “9.”. Sharon glanced at Courtney, surprised. The highest she’s ever gone was 8.5. “Wow.” Sharon said.
“I’m sorry, but are you guys rating me?” Harry asked. Courtney and Sharon froze.
“Well someone’s kind of narcissistic.” Courtney spoke. Harry blushed then went back to his phone, chuckling. Overhead, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor started to play and Courtney jumped up. “Sharon! This is our song. Dance with me!” Sharon shook her head then glanced over at Harry. “What if customers come in?” “It’s okay.” Courtney argued. “Please?” Courtney started to mouth the words to the first verse dramatically. Sharon giggled as she watched Courtney dance around the chairs of the bakery; soon joining in. For a moment, they forgot Harry was there. Harry watched them dance. He marveled Courtney as she moved her hips around and made silly faces while lip-syncing. His heart raced as you danced closer to him singing in his direction. When she winked she stole his breath away. He felt more for this stranger his just met, than for someone else he was supposed to love. He felt an odd attraction for her. When the song ended, they looked at him who was looking at them and they stayed like that, just starring. Then he burst out laughing. “You guys are…something.” He said. Sharon blushed. “The cupcakes.” She said walking away. Courtney smiled then went back behind the counter. The next 30 minutes Courtney and Harry spent gloriously glancing at each other when Courtney wasn’t helping a customer. Finally, Sharon came out from the kitchen with a box; just ten minutes before 10. “Alright! Your cupcakes are finished. I’m so sorry about earlier. Again, I just have so much on-”
“It’s alright love! You’re just in time!” He opened the pink box and admired the cupcakes. “They look great! My um...girlfriend’s gonna love them.” And right there, Courtney’s heart dropped. She wasn’t sure why though. She just met this guy. She wasn’t supposed to have feelings for him. She watched as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 dollar bill. Sharon shook her head feverously. “No! No. On the house means free…”
“But I insist.” He said trying to hand her the money.
“No, please take it.” She sighed then took it.
“Thank you so much for being so patient.”
“And enduring our incessant eccentricity.” Courtney said. He chuckled.
“My pleasure.” With one last smile towards both the girls, Harry made his way to the door. Sharon turned and went back to the kitchen. Before Harry could fully leave the bakery he turned and said “10”, winked (offering one of his crooked smiles with the dimple), then left. Leaving Courtney with a silly grin on her face.
A few days later, Courtney returned to Sharon’s bakery. This time the place wasn’t so packed. Infact, there was no one in there. “Sharon!” Courtney yelled as usual. Sharon came running out! “Courtney! Guess what!”
“I’m not helping you today.” Courtney said.
“What? No! You remember that guy a few days ago?” Of course she did. She couldn’t get him out of her mind. But Sharon couldn’t know that.
“You know! 23 cupcakes guy. 9 rating!” Courtney pretended to get it.
“Oh! Yeah. What about him?”
“That was Harry Styles from that boy band One Direction! He was here getting cupcakes for his girlfriend, Shayla Clift!” Sharon yelled. Shayla was one of the biggest music stars of the year. Courtney was not amused though. All she could think about was him calling her a 10.
“But I believe their relationship is for publicity.”
“Because he came in here yesterday looking for you! At first he played it cool, saying he need more cupcakes. Then he asked if you were here.” Courtney freaked on the inside.
“Oh, that’s nice.” She said. Sharon gave her an odd look.
“Don’t. You know you’re excited.” Courtney rolled her eyes.
“No. Why should I be? He’s just a boy. I don’t even know him that well. He has a girlfriend.”
“A fake girlfriend.”
“Unless they say otherwise, I believe it’s real.” Sharon groaned.
“You’re so annoying when you try to play cool!” She said going back behind the counter. Courtney sat at an empty table and read a magazine. A few minutes later she heard the door bell ring as someone entered. She didn’t bother looking up, but she still felt eyes on her. “This is where I got those cupcakes.” She heard a familiar voice. Courtney glanced up for a split second to see Harry starring down at her. When their eyes connected, he smiled. “Babe, this place is so cute!” The very tall and skinny girl next to him stated. Her long blonde hair flowed over her shoulder, and her crisp red lips hid a beautifully white smile. “Sharon!” Courtney yelled. A few seconds later, Sharon appeared from the back. “Hey! Can I help you?”
“Hey!” Harry said like he knew Sharon all his life, “How are you, love?” Sharon smiled.
“Great, Harry. And you?”
“Fine. This is my um...girlfriend Shayla.” He said more to Courtney than to Sharon. The two girls greeted each other, then Harry ordered he and his girlfriend some muffins. Harry lead them to a table like 3 feet away from Courtney. He sat facing her, looking her square in the eye. Courtney observed that he didn’t look very happy. The girl talked for days, but seemed very sweet. Just not his type.
After they finished eating, Harry told Shayla to wait outside for him while used the restroom. She agreed then left. Harry walked over to Courtney. “Hey! I’ve been looking for you.”
“And why is that?”
“We need to talk.”
“About?” Courtney asked.
“Us.” The boy said.
“But I don’t even know you.”
“But I feel like I know you. I know you feel the same.”
“Tell me you don’t want anything to do with her and I’ll be with you.”
“…I- I….I can’t.”
“You have your answer then.”
“You don’t understand.” Harry said.
“You should go.”
“She’s…I’m not aloud to tell….” he said. Courtney ignored him and he sighed then walked away. She couldn’t get involved. Not with someone who had a girlfriend. Courtney wasn’t arrogant in anyway, but she knew she wasn’t an option, just a priority. So she couldn’t fall for him. But maybe it’s too late for that.
Throughout the week Harry couldn’t keep his mind from trailing back to Courtney. She was everything he looked for in a girl. She was funny, she could laugh at herself, she was different. There was just something about her that was so memorable. She implanted herself in his brain, burning a hole in it. Forever scarring him. Funny thing is, he didn’t mind. As he opened the door to the ice cream parlor, he caught a glimpse at Courtney. She looked perfect to him. When he stepped in Courtney looked up at him, then rolled her eyes. “Hi! Is there anything I can interest you in today?” She asked flatly.
“You.” He said.
“Sorry, we don’t sell that here. Anything else?”
“Courtney…” Courtney walked away leaving Harry to look at the ice creams.
“You don’t understand how much I like you.”
“But your girlfriend…”
“She’s fake.” He whispered. Courtney looked up at him.
“She’s fake. The whole thing’s for…publicity. You know she has a single coming out, we just put out an album. And we leave in ,like, three days for tour…”
“…Yeah.” Courtney felt her heart sink.
“So please just be with me. Please? I can‘t even count all the hours I‘ve been thinking about you for the past week!” Courtney was silent for a moment. She walked from behind the counter and hugged him. Silently thanking some holy being that the parlor was empty. He rested his hands on her waist and pulled her close. She looked up into his perfect eyes and found him looking right back at her. He leaned in and pressed his forehead to hers. “If I kiss you right now, would I be a 10?” Courtney laughed. “Because I think you’re a ten…so it’s only fair.” Courtney pressed her lips to his. They fit perfectly together. Her heart started to thump wildly and her stomach erupted with the pressure of butterflies. The kiss was slow and sensual, giving both Harry and Courtney goose bumps. His teeth browsed her lower lip before pulling away. Courtney couldn’t help the smile that was plastered on her face.
The next day Courtney watched as Sharon and Harry walked out from behind the bakery counter. It was around 8 P.M. and the store had just closed. Harry had an apron on and was carrying a plate with cupcakes on it. When he sat it down, he smiled at Courtney. “I should work here. I don’t understand how you find it hard. It’s the best.”
“Yeah, Harry’s a real help in the back.” Courtney was silent, holding back a perverted laugh because that’s just the way she was. Harry laughed then kissed her forehead. “Try it!” Courtney did not waver on that command. When she bit into it, she had no doubt in her mind that that was the best cupcake she had ever had. “Man, Sharon, if I owned this place I’d fire you and hire Harry.” Sharon gasped dramatically. “Is it because I’m not your boyfriend.”
“Something like that.” Courtney stood up and wrapped her arms around Harry’s neck.
“Babe.” She said. “You’re my first perfect 10.” Harry smiled that beautiful smile of his, then pressed his lips to hers. “It’s about time. Lets also hope I’m the last.”