Steph, aware of her tongue poking out, concentrates on the final touch to the cake she has made for her best friend's daughter's first birthday. Steph has had the busiest year and Carly, her best friend, insisted she didn't need to make a cake- "Baby Ellie won't remember it anyway!" After the third time she said this Steph nodded but there was never any chance she wasn't making Ellie the cutest cake to mark her first year in this world being completed.
She kept it simple with a Victoria sponge but made the icing yellow as Ellie points to everything yellow when they're out and about. Steph covered the whole cake in this yellow icing and then made pink, white and blue circles of icing to decorate the top. It was all very simple but very effective, Steph thought.
Steph takes a step backwards and snaps a shot to put up to her company's Facebook page. Steph owns a successful small business where she makes cakes for any celebration or event. It is mainly through her Facebook page where traffic comes in, but word of mouth does the trick too. Today is her only day off for a week or so and so Steph takes a step onto her balcony.
It's early May and only ten o'clock in the morning. The party doesn't start until midday and Steph is adoring the feeling of sun on her skin. It's already warm and Steph grins at how perfect the weather is for her best friend's first party hosted for her little princess. She just knows she'll be delighted.
Steph finally allows her thoughts to travel back to her embarrassing morning. She takes a sip of her coffee and leans back on her chair. She woke up at six, ready to face the day with a run. She slipped on her running clothes and, yawning, filled her bottle up with water. As soon as she stepped into the morning Steph knew she couldn't regret the decision to get up so early. Although it was chilly, it was clear the forecast was going to prove to be right- today was to be a deliciously warm day.
Steph ran into her second mile and realised she was struggling. She breathed in a deep breath and focussed her eyes ahead of her. This day was too nice to struggle. Her motivation pushed her forward and kept doing so until it pushed her forward into a man walking round the same corner she was running round. She fell comically to the floor and cringed as she realised she didn't close her bottle properly and it spilled over the man's trousers. "I'm so sorry!" she almost squealed.
"Hey, it's okay! Do you need a hand?"
Steph pulled herself off of the ground and stumbled upwards. "No I'm cool thank you!" Steph almost giggled as she saw the man's prettily carved face.
"You've hurt your knee- you sure you're okay?"
"Ooooh!" Steph looked down to her knee and she was shocked to see so much blood and immediately felt queasy. "I'm just going to sit down!" Steph is sure she said this a little too loudly and she awkwardly planted herself on the side of the grass. "Sorry for bumping into you again but I'm fine!"
"Wait, I've got some water in my bag."
"Also on your trousers," Steph found her joke too funny and realises immediately she wasn't feeling great.
The man laughed and passed her the water, "Thank you stranger but I don't fancy a drink." The man laughed but insisted all the same, "Sip it. It'll do you a lot of good. Are you feeling dizzy?"
"I am. Only a little."
The man pulled a first aid kit out of his bag and Steph can't help but giggle, "I'm very grateful and all but why have you to that in your bag." Then, her eyes narrowed, "Did you plan on tripping me up?"
The man's eyes widened, "No!"
Suddenly embarrassed Steph stopped talking while he cleaned up her cut gently, apologising when she winced a little bit. "It's all cleared up. How are you feeling?"
Steph shrugged, "Much better."
"I'm glad." Not sure what to do next the man swayed a little on the spot. Steph found it difficult not to look at him but everything in her forced her eyes to the ground. Feeling better, humiliation washes over her and she got to her feet, unsteady at first but fine in the end. "Thank you for your help," she muttered and turned around, and while he insisted that it's all right and she should slow down, Steph kept limping home and finally let her cheeks flush red when she was in the safety of her own home.
Now, on the balcony, Steph cringes for the hundredth time. The man did nothing but help her and she just walked off. Lifting her body up shamefully, Steph took off her apron and got ready for the party. At least if that morning wasn't the end of her humiliating herself she would get to do so again in front of friends.
Just after midday friends file into Carly's house and Carly and her husband, Jeff greet them happily, thankful for their gifts and kind messages. Steph keeps the kids entertained in the garden, thinking up new games when they get bored. She goes to the toilet and grins at her new red dress, knowing it'll be a while before she's dressed up again. The party has the loveliest summery atmosphere and she feels happy to be in everyone's presence. She's happy for a sunny day off.
As she steps back into the garden, Carly calls her name, "The cake looks amazing Steph! You're a star! I can't believe you!"
"Oh don't be silly! I loved making it!"
"Well thank you." Steph surveys the area and the happiness until her eyes stop on the man she collided with that morning. "Carly," she almost whispers.
"Steph, are you okay?" Carly sounds concerned and Steph thinks, she should be concerned; this is a disaster! Carly obviously follows Steph's eyes and she giggles, "Oh that's lovely Sam!"
Steph flushes red immediately and Carly laughs until Steph's eyes are so wide she's confused again. "Steph, what's up?"
"I know Sam!"
"Well, no. I mean kind of."
"You mean you wish you knew him," she giggles. "You two would look amazing together, actually. Why haven't I thought of this already? He's Jeff's friend from work. He's amazing apparently. He's the new boss but he's very kind. And very talented. And he's so lovely. He-"
Steph ignores her best friend and is thankful when Ellie starts to cry and Carly rushes off to make her a giggly birthday princess again. Steph simply doesn't know what to do but her fears are answered when Sam turns and sees her. Oh no. He seems confused until his facial expression softens and he seems almost happy. Steph turns back into the sun and busies herself with a child claiming to be hungry. She steers him to the buffet of bits of food and she cringes at the tap on her shoulder.
The boy runs off as soon as he has a handful of food and Steph curses him for not staying loyal to the woman who fed her when he needed it. She turns and fakes a smile, "Hey! So, this is odd that you're here!"
"Well, not really. Carly's my best friend! Ellie's my favourite kid. Jeff's all right as well," despite herself she grins at her comment.
He laughs. "And I was wondering how I'd ever find out that you were okay!"
"Oh Sam, I need you!" Carly's voice comes from behind. "Jeff and I have both tried but Ellie just won't smile!"
Apparently Sam is some kind of child whisperer and almost as soon as he takes her in his arms, she grins again. He makes silly faces and she's giggling again. "You're the birthday girl, little Ellie Jelly. We need you to always be smiling." It's like Ellie understands exactly what he's saying and Steph could have sworn she nodded.
Steph ignored the feeling in her stomach that is making her a little jealous- Steph is Ellie's favourite "non-family" person. She cringes at the realisation that she likes watching Sam with Ellie. Conscious of Carly watching her and sure she's already told Jeff she has some kind of crush on this Sam guy, Steph goes to turn away but Sam's voice cuts the air.
"This one here nearly knocked me off of my feet this morning."
"She did what?" Carly's voice doesn't even hide her surprise and it most certainly doesn't hide her laughter.
"She was running around the corner I was walking around and bam, there she was! Although I have to say she did fall at my feet."
"Oh, who doesn't?" Jeff jokes and Steph doesn't like where this is heading. "Although Steph is normally harder to please."
"Is she now?" Steph catches Sam's eyes and she sees that he has won a little victory at learning her name.
"I can't say I normally bump into anyone but dog walkers so early in the morning. It's actually kind of creepy- a man up and about at six o'clock in the morning, without a dog."
"Oh, Steph, this one is like you," Jeff laughs.
"Active and stuff. I'd hate him for his fitness but he's so damn charming."
Steph rolls her eyes but she sees Sam is embarrassed by the comments and her stomach flips. "I just finished my run actually!"
"You were? And do you make a habit of patching up girls, what with your emergency first aid kit being handy?"
"He patched you up?!" Carly squeals.
"He's got to keep his back strong with a full rucksack now, hasn't he?" Jeff would seem resentful if he wasn't playfully punching Sam's arms.
"Unfortunately we can't stick around for all of this cuteness," Carly says and Steph suddenly hates her best friend. "Because if we did, you might not turn out to be the cutest couple I can see you will be. Come on, husband. Steph couldn't go any redder if I tried."
Despite herself Steph actually laughs. Sam looks down so as not to acknowledge the comment. "I'm glad I've seen you're okay, you know."
"Thank you Sam. I think I'd have been a lot worse off this morning if you weren't there to help."
"And yet, if I wasn't there, you wouldn't have hurt yourself in the first place."
"Well there's food for thought."
"Your knee looks lovely in that dress, you know."
Steph laughs. Properly laughs. For the first time in for ever. "Why thank you. I've only dreamed of fit men saying such a thing to me."
He gasps, "No one's ever told you that before?"
"Why, you should be told every day!"
It might be the sun that possesses Steph to say what she does next but she has a feeling she might thank herself for it, "Maybe if I can grab your number you might just get another opportunity to see these knees all dressed up."
"Well now there is some food for thought."
Steph grins as Sam runs off to the arty table for the kids and stays there for a couple of minutes. He runs back and hands her a scrap piece of green paper with a series of numbers written on it with a pink glitter pen. In the corner it says, "Hopefully you won't fall over the next time I see you."
Sunny & Happy,
The Girl in the Moonlight.
P.S. I'm blogging twice every day this month and you can read my last post HERE!