“It’s your cake day!”
I playfully scowled at Bethany as she fed the fondant through the sheeter. She was grinning so widely, I briefly wondered if she had put her own smile through the sheeter as well. It would have made sense.
“Stop saying that,” I said, rolling my eyes, although I liked the attention. “No one says it that way.”
She sighed dramatically. “You obviously haven’t been on the internet.”
I quirked my lips up as I kneaded the pink food coloring into another lump of fondant. “The internet? What’s that new-fangled thing?”
“On the internet,” she said, as if I hadn’t interrupted her, “everyone says it’s your cake day instead of happy birthday. Get with the times, and—” she gestured to the expanse of fondant in front of her, “—you could totally own that saying. A free cake for your cake day.”
“We are not giving away free cakes.” I gave her the side-eye. “Over half our business is birthdays, and if we gave those away, we’d run out of money pretty quick. And you’d be out of a job, Bethany.”
She held up her hands in mock defeat. “Fine, fine. Don’t take my great idea. Never mind that I’m majoring in social science and can totally social the science behind why it’s such a great idea.”
I laughed. Since joining our bakery a few months ago, Bethany Cohen had been a breath of fresh air. Not only that, she was a hard worker and had an impeccable talent for anything around baking. Before moving to the east coast to go to Oxbridge University, she’d worked in her family’s bagel shop, so she was used to waking up at the ass-crack of dawn to bake and get some work done. She said it was the perfect schedule to squeeze in between her classes for some extra cash.
She was the extra pair of hands that we needed. Although, she was so good at her job, we could use another pair to keep up with the growing demand for more cake.
I grimaced and cracked my knuckles. My joints were sore from the day’s work and it wasn’t even eight in the morning yet.
Still, though, we had to get this cake done by one in the afternoon to fill order for a birthday party. It was a unicorn cake, complete with rainbow icing hair, a glittery horn, and a horse’s body that I felt any kid would love to ride to a sugar high.
Once we finished it, that is. We still had at least four hours’ worth of work.
Happy birthday to me, I suppose. That’s the dream of owning your own business—you get to work on your birthday.
“You okay, Sean?” Bethany asked, looking over at me.
“Yeah.” I popped a few more knuckles. “Just a little more pain than usual today.” I forgot to take my NSAIDs. I should probably fix that as soon as possible. “When are you due to go to class today? We could really use your help to get these orders out.” We still had another cake to make. When did we get so busy?
Bethany grinned. “I only have a class in the evening tonight. So you’re stuck with me all day.”
“Good. I plan on using every minute of it.” I gave her a mock-serious look. “So get back to work.”
“Yes, sir. Oh.” She gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Happy birthday. Because you won’t let me say it’s your cake day.”
“Don’t try stealing my mate.” I turned at the sound of my lover’s voice and I couldn’t help my big smile as I threw my arms open to hug Ed as he came into the back room. Ed Bowen was an alpha like me, except he was the better half of both of us.
I kissed him on the lips. “Better?”
He raised an eyebrow. “Much better. How’s today’s order going?”
“Fine.” I looked back to the sheets of fondant that Bethany and I were prepping. “It’ll be a close call, but when is it not a close call?”
Ed frowned and shook his head. “One of these days, we’re going to cut it too close and get into trouble. The Yelp reviews will be terrible.”
“Sean doesn’t know what that is,” Bethany said.
“And I got in trouble the moment I fell in love with you,” I murmured.
Bethany made a gagging noise. I let it go, because we needed her help. But, just to rub it in a little more, I kissed Ed again.
“You guys are giving me cavities,” she muttered.
“Welcome to working at a bakery,” both Ed and I told her at the same time, before we burst into laughter. I swear, sometimes it was eerie how aligned our thoughts were. I put my head on his shoulder and hugged him tight. Being around my love made my pain go away.
“Will there be time to take you out to dinner for your cake day?” Ed asked, a worried expression on his face as he looked over Bethany’s and my handiwork.
“Told you,” Bethany muttered. “Cake day. You should totally own that.”
I ignored her and put my hand on his chest. “There will be plenty of time. We have some work left, but we should be fine to go out for my birthday.” Bethany snickered behind me, and Ed got a perplexed expression on his face as he looked between us.
“I ain’t even going to ask,” he said, throwing his hands up in defeat. “But that does remind me.” He pulled out a ring box from his pocket. “Your birthday present.”
“You’ve already asked me to marry you,” I told him.
He nodded. “I know. But...” He lifted the lid of the of the ring box, and I saw three simple silver wedding bands sitting in the lush velvet of the box. “I wanted to get us matching rings.”
My heart leapt into my mouth. “Ed, there’s three rings here.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“We don’t have our third yet.”
He nodded again. “I know. But...” He swallowed, and his Adam’s apple bobbed so adorably in his throat. “I know you want to have kids one day. And so do I. And I know we’re waiting to find our omega, and that we’re happy as is, but...” He glanced down at the box, almost sheepishly. “I wanted to be prepared. And let you know that I’m in this for the long haul.”
I smiled at him and kissed his forehead. “It’s perfect.”
“I could help,” Bethany suggested behind us, and I backed away, remembering that we weren’t alone. “I could be your surrogate.”
Ed crossed his arms. “Something tells me that you’d want something in return for that.”
Bethany shrugged. “Maybe we open up a shop for me called Eat It, Three.”
“No,” Ed and I both said at the same time. Our bakery was called Eat It, Too, which we had renamed a few years ago, thinking that the pun was a cute, inviting way to get people to come to our shop. Basically, it was a play on have your cake and eat it, too, but people kept calling us to ask where our first location was. Eat It, One or Eat It, First.
Having a place called Eat It, Three would only add to that confusion. And based on the sarcastic expression on Bethany’s face, she knew she was making a joke. I hoped.
“Also,” I said to her, “we haven’t given up hope for our third yet.”
Ed nodded. “Not yet.” He pocketed the rings and rolled up his sleeves. “All right,” he said. “What can I do to help out on this unicorn cake?”
Bethany and I exchanged glances. “Sprinkles,” she said with a definitive nod. “Sprinkles in the mane.”
For a moment, I wondered who was the boss here, but I let her boss my alpha around, enjoying his scowl as he searched the pantry for sprinkles.
I slipped into the bathroom and grabbed a glass of water and took some NSAIDs for my arthritis. I had a long day ahead of me, and I didn’t want Ed to worry about my joints, especially since our business was finally amping up its sales to be a viable, profitable business.
Maybe we should hire a fourth set of hands. We certainly had the incoming orders for it, and we would be able to afford the added staff hours with the extra income, in the end. And Ed and I needed more time to ourselves.
I’d talk about it with Ed later. For now, I had a unicorn to finish making and a cake day to celebrate.
I blinked at myself in the mirror, realizing what I’d just thought to myself. “Dammit,” I muttered. “Bethany is totally right about cake day.”
Maybe we should do a promotion around that. Bethany would never let me live that down.