Noah parks his black Porsche Carrera in the valley parking lot.
The venue is still not too crowded, he assumes that because he comes way earlier than the normal schedule should be.
Noah steps out and puts his black glasses on. He looks at himself in the reflection of his car window, lets two buttons of his white silk shirt undone, and tucks in on his light blue jeans. He opens the passenger door to take out a pair of Saint Laurent ankle boots from under the seat and changes his fluffy slipper on that, zips it tightly.
Checking out his pinkish-blonde hair for the last list in his attempt to look presentable, brushing the silky strand with his fingers a couple of times. The fruitless effort ended with his hair keeps falling messily over his eyebrows, and internally regretting not stopping at the salon this morning.
Noah's little bubble of self-lamenting pops out when suddenly his phone goes off from his pocket.
“Tay? Yes! I am in the parking lot. Calm down! Jeesh... Let me walk. Just wait there, okay? Drink some gin, tea or something just…calm fucking down!” Noah sighs and immediately snatches his pouch on the passenger seat, closes the door, grimaces when he realises he slammed too hard, and wastes no time scurrying to the building.
Today is Taylor’s important day, his first solo exhibition. He did a couple of exhibitions in the past but he usually does it by collaborating with other painters or pottery artists.
Today, finally, one of his dreams of holding a solo exhibition in a big venue in the city comes true. Taylor is his best friend since his childhood, basically has considered Taylor like his own brother and when he heard Taylor finally can achieve one of his dream, Noah sobs in his best friend’s embrace for 20 minutes; he is really proud of him more than Taylor is even proud of himself.
As soon as the elevator door opens, Noah storms inside. His eyes are fixated on the phone and keep typing with Tay, who is already on the verge of tearing his hair off.
“Oh my god, look where you walk!” someone chides with his rasped voice after Noah accidentally bumps him. He lifts his head and finds someone standing in a white shirt that is more similar to a chef's uniform. He also wears a barret hat and a little scarf that looks like a ribbon on his neck. To confirm his look as a chef, the guy also wears an apron on his waist, which somehow gives more charisma to his appearance.
Noah surely never wants to coo some random stranger he just met on the elevator, but this guy is seriously freaking cute. He looks like the protagonist in a manga character. Chef attire makes him look like he just popped out of a comic book. Is he seriously a chef? Not an influencer or a member of a boyband in the middle of shooting or something? With that look, he can be a celebrity chef and staring his own cooking show “Are you going to come inside or just stand there?”
Noah shakes his head and realises he is staring too long. He should be embarrassed but strangely Noah is too giddy until he needs to bite back his grins. “Oh yeah, I’m sorry,” he says but not apologetic at all.
The guy just rolls his eyes. The reflection on the door shows that they’re of the same height, the chef guy has a milky skin complexion in contrast with his cherry lips that curved like a cupid bow, narrowed into a pout when he’s nagging, his black strands of mop straight hair almost touch his eyebrows, looks silky and fluffy. His dark brown eyes stare lazily almost like he is sleepy and Noah can catch vanilla and baked bread scent from him.
Noah notices the logo on his shirt ‘Oliver’s Bakery’.
Of course, he remembers, he helped Taylor with the catering after all, and he clearly remembers Taylor asked for Oliver’s Bakery to handle the pastry. He never heard of that particular bakery, he is not a big fan of bread, he just assumed it was Tay’s favourite bakery shop. “Are you perhaps Oliver’s Bakery’s employee?” Noah asks.
“What do you think?” he’s tapping his finger at the logo on his shirt. The guy just throws a glance before he looks back ahead. Blatantly ignoring Noah.
Unfazed by the snappy answer, Noah assumes the chef may have had a hectic day before the event started; the conditions Taylor's family set up for the meal are insane, from Taylor's allergic case to the diet that is apparently popular among these rich people. For the new bakery shop to handle a lot of tricky requests must be remarkably taskful. Noah thinks he may need to introduce himself to let the guy know who's he speaking with.
“I’m the one who contacted your boss. My best friend is the one who holds this exhibition, actually,” Noah exclaims, rather smugly as he takes pride in his best friend’s success.
Yet, to Noah’s surprise, the chef scoffs, “I don’t know Taylor will have a friend like you? Your face… you know…doesn’t look like the same level,” he still doesn’t give him a look despite commenting about his appearance.
Noah furrowed his eyebrows. That was an unnecessarily rude comment, especially toward someone who actually hired him, “What the? Are you just implying I’m ugly?”
“Your word, not mine,” he shrugs
Noah puts his hands on his hips. This man clearly has overstepped. He won’t survive in any job with that attitude. Just because he didn't get his hair styled at the salon doesn't mean he would turn ugly. Noah can't accept the insult. He is even the face of his own perfume brand, dammit! “Listen, sir, you don’t know who I am. Let me talk with your boss, I-“
“I have to go. If you feel there is unfinished business with me, contact me here” he shoves a card into Noah’s chest. Before Noah even can catch it, the guy already walks outside as soon as the door opens.
God is indeed fair. A candy face like him turns out to have such a sour attitude. Maybe this is the right timing to apply certain wise words; 'Don't judge a book by its cover'.
With annoyance, Noah takes the card from the floor.
‘Oliver Miller / Owner & Baker’
“Fuck how do I look? Everything is already in its place, right? Jesus, I’m going to go crazy! Noah, I think I can’t face the reporters, oh god I think I’ll be fainting!” Taylor walks back and forth, like a tiger in its cage before jumping into the fire ring. 10 minutes before the event launch, the reporters are already huddled outside to jump to him as soon as the doors open,
Noah sighs and massages his temple. Taylor can be too dramatic sometimes “You look amazing Tay,” he isn’t lying tho, Gucci suit on him looks absolutely perfect. Noah swears his best friend was born to be suited to any clothes, which makes him wonder if that has something to do with his name?
Well, anyway, he basically has nothing to worry about his look “Everything is already in place, literally everything!. Dude, you're lucky I'm willing to be your event organiser–fuck I should make another business branch. Don’t worry! Nothing bad will happen! Alright?. Today is your day. Enjoy it when it lasts.” Noah approaches him and takes his best friend's wrist “Here, its mix of chamomile and lavender will calm you down a bit. I made this just for you to calm your dramatic ass. I know how you will freak out,” Noah sprays the fluid substance on his wrists.
Taylor seems still worried by how he still chewing his bottom lips “What if one of the reporters is ordered by my mother to ask something I-“
“Tay Tay, you know I love you, but you are really overthinking. I know your mother can become so annoying sometimes, but this time she is really happy for you! fuck she scolded me for weeks for forgetting to tell the catering about your bean allergy–I mean this is your first exhibition how can she ruin it by sending some shitty reporters–ey no way! She can't come because something happened in the company, but you know she is genuinely happy about your achievement, right?” Noah tried to reassure him. He remembers how it felt when the first time he launched his perfume to the public, officially, with reporters, flashlights and shit. It’s definitely nerve-wracking.
Strangely Taylor doesn’t calm down, his still fiddling with the button of his suit “You think he is going to come?” he asks hesitantly
Noah smiles, reaching his best friend's shoulder “Who? Jackson? Of course! Puehleasee… He’s your soon husband after all!” Noah tries to joke around but Taylor’s face even becomes looks worried. His thick eyebrows knitted and his lips curved downward. But Noah assumes Taylor must worry he will do something embarrassing in front of his soon-to-be husband since this is his first big event.
Suddenly there’s a knocking sound from the door “Oh it must be him” Noah perks, he hugs Taylor tightly “Don’t worry everything will be alright, I won’t let anything bad happen. Trust me!” Noah pats his back and hopes he will settle.
Taylor seems to become less tense in Noah’s embrace “Thank you, Noah, I don’t know how I would be without you”
Noah pulls to give him a reassuring smile “I will wait in the ballroom” he whispers before walking to the door. He opens it and Jackson already stands there with his cold face as always.
“What makes you so long?” he hisses in malice. Before Noah can answer, the taller man already made his way inside and before the door can fully close, he doesn’t miss catching Taylor’s face falling when he sees Jackson walking inside.
Noah stands outside the door. Should he be worried?
Noah knows that Taylor and Jackson's relationship is arranged by their families.
Jackson is the sole heir of his family business and he knows Taylor always has some negative judgement of rich guys since they’re in college. So when Noah heard about their relationship for the first time he was a bit worried, but Taylor says nothing, not even a single complaint about Jackson and their relationship. Or precisely, he always avoids the topic and Noah knows it’s the cue for him for being not too invasive on his best friend's romantical business. Noah always thinks Taylor and Jackson's relationship is complicated and must have something to do with money or their business, basically a rich family drama he doesn’t understand, so he never dares to meddle as well.
Noah shakes his head, Taylor will talk to him if something happens–like he always did, even for the smallest thing. If Taylor says nothing it should be fine and he can handle it himself, right?