Solace ~ h.s.

If he weren't there... I don't know what would have happened.

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57. ⪻ 57 ⪼

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After the nightmare scare last night, I didn’t drift off to sleep so easily. I dozed off once or twice, but at four in the morning I decided enough was enough. After getting ready in the dark, I made my way to the bakery, leaving behind a note on my pillow, letting Harry know that I hadn’t been kidnapped. Every moment I couldn’t sleep was a moment I was wasting not getting to work.

We open tomorrow and there is still far too much to do. The bakery itself is magnificent, looking fresh with the beautiful light pink Harry painted the interior of the shopfront and the set-up he and I spent a week trying to perfect. I purchased a few chairs and tables for customers to linger, if they do wish to do so. Whilst the bakery is done, it doesn’t mean that my work is.

“You’re here early.” The low voice behind me, sends the spatchula flying out of my hands in fright and batter to fling onto the countertop, maybe even a little on myself. Spinning around on my toes I see Harry standing at the edge of the kitchen with his hands held up in surrender.

“God, you scared me.”

“Sorry, love, but I think we’re equal.” Harry tells me, causing my eyebrows to furrow. I don’t recall scaring him. “You scared me when I woke up and you weren’t in the flat this morning.”

Oh.

“I left a note.” I say, turning around to pick the spatchula off the floor before walking towards the sink to wash it. The last thing I need is there to be germs in my sweets, then no one will want to come by. “I knew if I woke you up and told you where I was off to, you’d hold me hostage.” Harry shrugs, chuckling to himself as he comes further into the kitchen.

Early mornings are my favourite with Harry, at least when he’s home. When he isn’t on call, I set an alarm twenty minutes before I have to get up just so him and I can have some quiet time, whether it be for cuddling, talking, or all of the above. When I do eventually try to leave the bed, Harry wraps his arms around my waist and holds me to him, not letting me go until I’ve threatened him in some way.

Aren’t we cute?

“You’re probably right.”

“Did Edward get to school alright?” I wonder, peering over at Harry as he walks over to the batter I was mixing when he scared me.

“Just dropped him off.”

Whilst Harry’s schedule hasn’t lessened in the slightest, I’ve been finding it’s a good fit for us. It took a couple weeks of adjustment, but I’m getting used to him crawling into bed after not seeing him for over twenty-four hours, leaving me in the middle of the night for emergencies, and his crashing from exhaustion in the middle of the day when he is off of work.

“Thank you. I wasn’t planning on coming in this early, but I really couldn’t sleep after what happened and there’s just too much to do.” I mutter, looking towards Harry and leaning back against the counter. I catch Harry just as he’s about to stick his finger in the bowl of brownie batter. “Don’t do that, you’ll contaminate the mixture.” I nearly yell in his direction.

“With what?”

“Your gross man cooties.” Harry pouts as I walk over to him and pull his hands away from the bowl. Like a magnet appearing in thin air , his own hands are around my waist in an instant and his lips are on mine. A part of me knew that the only reason he was about to stick his grimy hands into one of my batter mixtures was to get a rouse out of me.

“I knew that would work.” He admits, holding me close and showing no signs of letting go.

“If you wanted a cuddle, all you had to do was ask.” I whisper, standing on my tiptoes and pecking his soft, luscious lips. He chuckles lightly and pulls away, resting his forehead against mine and peering down at me with those emerald eyes.

“Would you have agreed if I had asked?”

“I do have a lot of work, so...”

“Hey,” Harry knocks my chin lightly with his finger before pecking my lips once more. With strong hands he pulls my head down so it can lie comfortably on his chest, where I can relax a little by listening to his heartbeat, “it’ll get done. Everything will get done.”

“I know.” I utter, allowing my eyes to close as I try to magically sync my breathing with his. He’s great at calming me down, even when he doesn’t know it. “I’m just nervous, you know. What if no one shows up? What if people do show up?”

am worried that no one will show up, even with everyone around me assuring me that they’ve told everyone they know and ever come into contact with about Belle’s. And that makes me worried how I’ll handle things if people do show up. It’s ridiculously to want to people not to show up at a grand opening.

“People will come. Niall’s been talking nonstop about Belle’s, to everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire hospital shows up.”

Bless Niall. He’s been doing all he can to help with the opening as well, but I believe that’s because he wants free food more than anything. How that man is fit with the amount of food he consumes is beyond me.

And on top of Niall spreading the word, I’ve got Edward telling all his teachers and fellow classmates at school (or so his school counsellor, Kate, has mentioned during our biweekly meetings).

And remember Charlotte, the lovely mother of Edward’s new best friend and the woman I met at the charity ball? Well, she’s been kind enough to tell all of her wealthy friends and family about me. She was so impressed with what I baked for her son’s birthday and a few other gatherings for her, that she promised to tell everyone about my grand opening.

“Oh God, then I need way more sweets.” I mutter, my brain overthinking at the thought of running out. Wiggling out of Harry’s grasp, I go back to what I was doing prior to him getting here. With the brownies I was just now preparing, we should have more than enough, but if too many people come, I don’t want to turn them away.

I plan on playing everything by ear tomorrow, which is difficult for a planner like myself. If a lot of people start to show up, then my employees will start whipping up my infamous special treats, at least the items most in demand. And with Anne agreeing to help work the till, I have a feeling I’ll be able to help stock up on desserts if we need them.

“Belle,” Harry says from where he was standing, “Belle.” He repeats, wrapping his arms around my waist from behind. “Annabelle relax.” He tells me.

Easier said than done.

“Are you relaxing?” He asks and just to spite him I take a deep breath, faking relaxation.

“No.” I admit, getting ready to pour the brownie mixture into the pan to bake. Harry reaches around me and pries my hands away from the baking supplies, his hands giving mine gentle squeezes.

“I can help you relax.” His voice is dripping seduction and I can’t say I don’t feel my knees going weak.

We’re still very much taking things slow, but we are adults and we do live together. Things happen when Edward is away from home and Harry and I are bored. They don’t happen often, but enough to keep a spark in our relationship and relax me ever so slightly.

I’m not a prude, Taron and I had sex, many times. But with him, we took things far too quickly and while we lasted pretty long, look where it got us; split up and on awful terms. I don’t want to rush into things with Harry, even if I may seem like a prude. Harry says he doesn’t mind, I just hope he’s not lying to me.

But he won’t have to wait that long, perhaps he’ll get lucky tonight.

“As much as I would love that, we can’t because -” Just as I’m about to tell Harry I don’t have time for whatever sexy plans he has cooking up in his head, a familiar woman walks into the kitchen.

“Morning Annabelle.” She greets, hanging her coat up by the doorway and looking in our direction. “Oh, hey Harry.”

“Good morning Ruby.” I greet, giving her a little wave as I peel Harry off of me. The last thing I want is for her to think Harry and I get kinky in the kitchen. Looking to Harry to see him licking his lip and looking at me, I slap his chest. “That’s why.” I whisper, pointing to Ruby as she gathers her apron from her post.

Ruby was the first person I interviewed when I was looking to hire bakers. She’s a fresh out of university student, so a bit younger than I, with a knack for baking. She’s quiet and reserved, but incredibly focused and miticulate when it comes to baking. She’s a fabulous baker, but can be a bit doubtful of herself. She reminds me a little bit of myself, and maybe that’s why I hired her.

“What would you like me to do?” Ruby asks.

“Could you start rolling out the dough for the cinnamon biscuits? It’s in the refrigerator. Thanks Ruby.” With a nod, she immediately gets to work and I get back to my conversation with Harry as I try to work.

I love having him around, but sometimes he gets in the way. And he is very distracting.

“Are you still stressed?”

“Yes, now that you keep asking.” I mutter, taking a deep breath. “But baking calms me down, so I’ll be stress-free in a few hours.”

“You say that now, but when you come home we’ll either have a repeat of last night or you’ll need me to talk you down.” Harry reminds me, a look of worry etched across his features. Narrowing my eyes up at the man that I’ve come to love, I fight a smile from appearing on my lips.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Harry rolls his eyes at me and scoffs playfully.

“Don’t worry, I’m leaving. I’m heading over to the gym; can I bring you lunch later?”

We act like an old married couple, bringing each other lunches and bickering. But then again, we act like a couple that is in the honeymoon phase of a relationship where we do absolutely anything for one another, including: Harry opening every door for me, including the bathroom door once too (don’t ask).

“Please.” With that, Harry leans down and presses a kiss to my lips before pecking the tip of my nose. “I love you.”

“I love you, Belle.” He says to me, before turning and making his way towards the door. “Bye Ruby.” Harry shouts before he’s out of sight, but surely not out of mind.

“Bye.” She says over her shoulder, focusing all of her energy on the dough before me. She’s intricate with her baking, I give her that.

I go back to what I was doing, pouring the batter into the mold. Tapping it against the countertop a few times to rid it of the air bubbles I set it into one of the industrial ovens and set the timer for the proper amount of time. As I’m wiping my hands on my apron, I look up to see Ruby smirking to herself.

“What?” I wonder, almost too scared to ask. She shakes her head but smiles.

“He’s so into you.” She mutters, again shaking her head with a sly smile on her lips. Biting my lip to try and ease the smile on my own lips, I chuckle.

“Thank God I’m into him as well.” I say to Ruby. “Okay,” Clapping my hands, I go over to my to-do list. Having to push Harry out of my mind is not an easy task, but it needs to be done ASAP.

“Let’s get to work, there is so much we have to do before tomorrow.”

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