Chapter 5: Business
Chapter 5: Business
Skye started to make the pancakes while I hung around the kitchen, making small talk with him, despite knowing that I shouldn't get too close to such a flirt. I was focused on my inner debate about if I should start avoiding Skye or just stay on my guard around him when a peculiar detail came to my attention. Skye had no idea what he was doing. I was certainly not an expert in the kitchen, but I at least knew how to make half decent pancakes. "Um... Skye, have you ever taken care of your friend's business before?"
"Not really," he admitted. "Why do you ask?"
"Because the concoction that you're making, I am sure, will be in no way fit for human consumption, but certainly fit for putting this place out of business when your customers get poisoned." There was a moment of silence after my statement and I wondered if I had offended him.
Then he laughed. Apparently, my critique had not bothered him much after all. "May I be so bold as to request your guidance, fair maiden? I wouldn't want to put Kai out of business after he so kindly lent me his shop."
"Sure," I agreed and started over with the pancake making process from the start.
xoxox xox xoxox
After breakfast, I tried to show Skye how to cook a few simple things. Yet it all seemed too simple to make the business shine. This place, the Snack Shack, it wasn't here yet during my childhood. I'm not sure what kinds of things it normally served and Skye's most accurate description was to say "summery foods," but we're not even in summer right now, we're in fall.
"How about cakes?" I suggested. It seemed like something a shop should have, albeit I had never baked a cake before.
It was too late to point out that bit of information, as Skye gave me the most adorable pleading look. "Please, princess, show me how to bake a cake." He would need that knowledge if he was going to keep up a convincing front, but I didn't realize that at the time. Those who knew Kai, knew he wouldn't simply lend his shop to an amateur chef, but I had not yet met Kai at the time.
"Um... well..." I shifted uncomfortably and wondered if it was truly too late to take back my words. Then again, I didn't have to, I was a city girl and I held the full extent of the world's knowledge at my finger tips. "Alright, let's choose a recipe." With more confidence now, I pulled out my iPhone. If the piece of information in question has at some point in time been discovered by the human race, it can be found with Google.
I frowned, I had no signal. I guess roaming doesn't reach the middle of no where. Then the phone picked up something else, two wifi signals, one labeled Fun Land Private and the other Fun Land Public. The private one was encrypted of course, as I assumed it was for administrative use only. The public one was, as the name logically suggests, open to the public. The hotel might still be under construction, but the mercies of the Fan Land satellite already shine upon this secluded place.
After Skye and I settled for a chocolate cake and checked to make sure we actually had the ingredients, the process began. With a little help from You Tube videos embedded into the cooking site, we were baking like expert chefs and Skye didn't even realize that I too was learning alongside him.
Soon, the cake was safely in the oven, baking to perfection. "That wasn't too hard, right?"
"You are a talented teacher, princess," Skye complimented. I smiled, momentarily forgetting that I wasn't supposed to allow myself to be tricked by his charms. What was I doing here helping him learn to cook anyway? I had an investigation to conduct! "You have cake batter on your face." He pointed out and before I could reach for a kitchen cloth to wipe it off, he kissed me on the cheek, licking off the batter. "Delicious!"
My face went scarlet as the echo of a loud slap resounded across Mineral Beach. For a few seconds after my automatic and purely instinctual act of defending my personal space, we were both locked in stunned silence. He was as much in disbelief as I was. I don't think any girl had ever slapped him like this, or in any other way actually. It's almost like a crime to hit his perfect face, which now sports a red handprint in the accusing shape of my right hand.
"Sorry..." We both chorus, finding our quiet voices simultaneously.
I had to shake my head to clear it. Why was I apologizing? Because I hit him? Because it was too much? He deserved it! He was a flirt who was trying to cross the line with me and I was entitled to some respect. I huffed, I wasn't sorry and I allowed my angry face to take back my hasty words.
Skye rubbed his face and sigh. A look of determination crossed his features and his eyes were locked with mine. I remember something similar to this happening before and just as that time; he seemed to think better of it and looked away. "Will you forgive me, beautiful?"
I wasn't sure what to say. It would be rude to say no, right? Had he learned his lesson? "I guess so," I stammered.
"Then allow me to make it up to you, fair maiden." He offered and if he intended to ask me out as a form of compensation I was going to slap him again. I had to be weary of him, he would only break my heart and I knew it. "There will be a horse race tomorrow," he explained. How come I didn't know that? "I've heard it's not on the usual date, but the mayor planned it to help calm people." It was amazing how well informed Skye was for someone who technically arrived in town pretty recently. It was as if he observed the town unnoticed from the shadows more often than anyone could imagine. But that was silly; silly and impossible, or so I thought.
"What of it?" I didn't feel like going with him or anyone to watch the horse race. Except maybe Charles, not that he would actually invite me anyway. I could use the opportunity to observe the villages and get some clues though.
"I will race and win you a price!" Skye gave me a big grin.
"You don't have to," I insisted. "Just behave yourself and we'll get along just fine."
"I must insist, fair maiden; I can't have you feeling anger towards me, not even the smallest drop." I could tell then that I wasn't going to convince him.
"Do as you wish, I can't stop you," I finally voiced.
"Kai? Are you here?" The sudden female voice coming from the front of the establishment caught our attention.
"If the villagers see me here, they won't buy anything from you," I whispered in warning. "You can't publicly associate yourself with me."
"Like a secret affair?" He joked.
"I'm serious," I growled.
"I understand; I can keep a secret. I'm actually very good at keeping secrets." That was the most straightforward truth he ever told me. Then he exited the kitchen while I hid there listening. I peeked out and saw him speaking to a pink haired girl whom I recognized as my childhood friend Popuri.
"Oh... hello..." She smiled shyly at Skye, obviously not recognizing him.
"Greetings, fair maiden, my name is Skye and I will be your server this fine day." He gave her a charming smile. It's just as I thought, he's such a flirt. He treats all girls like that. Why am I fuming if I already knew it?
"Skye," Popuri repeated and it took her a moment to regain herself. "Sorry, I thought Kai was back, I guess not." Disappointment crept into her face.
"Do not be sad, princess, my dear friend Kai isn't here, but I am at your service," Skye offered.
Popuri blushed and giggled. "So you are Kai's friend? Are you going to be taking care of the Snack Shack until next summer, or are you just here for the fall?"
"I have not yet decided for how long I'll be here, but I will probably be on my way before summer. In the mean time, I hope I can prepare delicious food for you." Skye winked, the nerve of him, not that it's any of my business anyway.
A lot of giggling followed as Popuri flooded Skye with questions about Kai and himself. Then before I knew it more people started to come by. There was only one way out of the small structure and if I went out through the front door, the villagers that gather there to answer to their uneasy curiosity would see me. I could hear Rick expressing his distrust in a loudly rude voice just because Skye was supposedly Kai's friend... supposedly...
I don't know why I should be concerned with his business, or lack there of. Maybe I should march out and have the villagers label him as an outcast. Then another thought occurred to me. Skye was charming and other than Rick no one else seemed to dislike him. If I helped him out, let him get the villagers' trust, then used him to get information out of them, it might be exactly what my investigation needs! Besides, there's a certain satisfaction in thinking I can actually play the player. I grinned mischievously.
Thus I spent most of the day at the Snack Shack's kitchen while Skye took care of the front counter and played waiter. It was a waste of time at a glance, but I kept telling myself that it was an investment of trust that would later pay off.
xoxox xox xoxox
That evening, Skye said he had to go get his horse. I was curious about where he kept it and asked where the horse was. "She is at Forget Me Not," he answered with a smile.
"Forget Me Not!" I exclaimed in disbelief. We were still at the Snack Shack, but the place was closed for business for the day. "Do you have any idea how long it'll take to get there on foot? Unless you have a car around here somewhere, which I doubt. Not even Charles brought a car, since the roads aren't proper for their use."
"I will walk there and return by morning," Skye informed.
I was about to tell him he should have gotten the horse when there was still daylight if he was serious about entering the race, but my cell phone alerted me of an incoming text message. Charles had my number of course, since he was technically my client. He was asking me how the investigation was going. I sighed and motion for a pause while I replied. 'Making progress... I will give you the full report when I return.' I neglected to say when I would return. But then, what could I do except go back to my room?
"Do you want to come with me?" Skye offered with a smile, though the remnants of a thoughtful expression on his face made me wonder if this wasn't a spur of the moment offer after all. Did he give it careful thought, why would he?
Then the fact sunk in that he had asked me a question and he didn't have an answer. It was a ridiculous question really. A question with an obvious negative answer attached to it, except that's not what came out of my mouth. "Okay," I reluctantly agreed. I wasn't ready to face Charles empty handed just yet. I didn't want to disappoint him and I needed time to come up with some theories to share concerning the investigation. Maybe even a clue so ambiguous that it would catch his eyes, but it wouldn't affect the case that it's made up.
"Really?" Skye didn't look like he was expecting that, but after my nod he recovered quickly. "Then let's go. I shall be your escort tonight, fair maiden."
I huffed, but not too sternly, it was more of a joking tone, really. "As if I need an escort." A guide I would perhaps need, since I had only ventured out from Mineral Town to Forget Me Not once, in the company of my grandfather when I was a child, and didn't think I could remember the way, but certainly not an escort. My gun was the only escort I could ever need, but he didn't need to know I had it.
To be Continued
Adventure is right around the corner, the next chapter will be intense!