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Michael and I talked about what we would do with the restaurant once the baby was born and after exhausting all other possibilities we realised our best option was for him to fill in for me when it was time to take maternity leave. He wouldn’t be able to work there full time just for a few hours a day to check up on things. I trusted my employees. They were all hard workers and worked together like a team so I knew they would be fine with little supervision. At least I hope so. I had no other choice. They all started working at the same time and even though I had very little complaints I didn’t feel like any of them was ready for the responsibility of assistant manager so Michael was my only bet. He already had experience working in a restaurant so the only things I needed to show him was the payroll stuff and when and what to order from the suppliers.

We spent a lot of time in the pantry. I had to make sure he understood what he was doing after all. With the food and stuff. Like how it was organised and all that.

Pretty sure a number of health code violations were committed in that room. At least we never did it against the food and always cleaned up afterward. It was so unlike me to agree to something like that but these pregnancy hormones made me horny like crazy and when your husband is as sexy as Michael, it’s pretty damn difficult to resist him.

A quickie in the pantry or in my office became part of the routine training sessions. I’ll admit it is a little exciting to know that anyone could walk in on us like that. I try to keep quiet but pregnancy is also making me a little sensitive if you know what I mean. Every touch or kiss is at least three times more effective than before.

“What was that?” Michael stepped back suddenly.

“What was what?” I was worried about passing gas without realising I did it again. It’s been happening a lot lately and even though he said it didn’t bother him, it was always so embarrassing for me.

“I felt something…when I was holding you just now…something pushed against my stomach. Was that the baby?”

“Uh…yeah.” It only just occurred to me that the baby was moving around. Most times when the baby kicked he wasn’t there. “I’m surprised she did that. She usually kicks early in the morning, never this late in the afternoon.”

“Wow. That’s a powerful kick in order for me to feel it like that.”

“Do you wanna feel?” I asked.

“Hell yeah, I wanna feel.” He said enthusiastically. His warm hands gently rubbed my stomach but she stopped moving almost instantly.

“I don’t feel anything.” He pouted. “She stopped.”

I shrugged. “Maybe she’s shy.”

“Or maybe she was only moving because she didn’t like what I was doing to her mommy.” He smirked playfully but I could see the disappointment on his face. Then suddenly, she was moving again. “Wait…I feel it now!”

“See, you just needed a little patience.”

“I’m so happy we’re having a baby.” He said. “This is…this is everything I’ve ever wanted.”

“Quickie in the pantry and all?” I chuckled.

“Of course! But seriously, I love you so much, Maia.”

Hearing him say such sweet things just added to my already sensitive state. Even a compliment could bring me to tears. I try my best to keep my emotions under control since I still have a restaurant to run but it’s not easy on some days.

Especially when you have an employee who thinks it’s okay to show up late for his shift every day. I let it slide a few times because he’s great with the customers but that day was the final straw.

“I told you the last time Brandon…!”

“Relax, I’m just ten minutes late. I hit the snooze button on my alarm and…”

“I don’t care about your alarm clock. You’re supposed to be here on time. The early shift is the busiest for us. You can’t keep doing this and frankly, I don’t appreciate your cavalier attitude towards your tardiness.”

“It’s only ten minutes Mrs Sloane.” He shrugged, as if that was an acceptable excuse.

“Late is late, and if you’re going to show up late again then it’s best you start looking for work somewhere else.” I really didn’t like threatening his job but I’d given him too many chances already. He really needed to get his priorities in order.

He sighed. “I’m sorry. I’ll be early from now on.”

And he did come to work early, for a whole week before he quit just like that without proper notice or even a phone call. He sent a text. A text message! What kind of irresponsible moron does something like that? After I was so patient with him and gave him so many chances he just up and quit on me.

In spite of his tardiness he was my best waiter and as I’ve come to learn, it’s really difficult to find someone with proper training these days. Most people applying have very little job experience so it’s like I have to start from scratch every time I hire someone new. There are these online customer service courses that help out with the training. I sign up all my employees when they’re hired but it’s one of those courses that require renewal every couple of months and it gets more costly the more advanced you get. It’s a mandatory business cost in my opinion since there’s no bigger pet peeve of mine than going to a restaurant and receiving bad customer service so I would just hate for anyone to think that way about mine.

Of course, bad days are inevitable and mistakes are made despite how well you might train someone.

Sara is a very bright girl and the customers love how sweet and bubbly she is but unfortunately, she’s the biggest klutz on our payroll. I try not to think about the number of meals I’ve had to comp because she knocked over someone’s drink onto their plate or rather dropped their plate before it even got to the table.

She really tries hard so that’s why I haven’t fired her. Honestly, she’s improved a lot since she’s started. Now she’s down to dropping her tray only once a day as opposed to before when it was around 3 or 4 times.

Michael tells me I should let her go since she’s not cutting it but I just can’t do that.

Maybe I’m too nice but I just don’t want to be one of those bosses with a permanent stick up their butt like Chad Munch and even his uncle, Francois, to an extent. They expected everyone to do everything perfectly right away but some people learn faster than others so you can’t treat them all the same. Sara’s just not naturally coordinated but she has a lot of determination and I think she deserves a little patience and encouragement.

I don’t want my employees to fear me thinking they’ll get yelled at for every little thing. Brandon only got on my bad side because he was really asking for it. I don’t want my employees to see this as just a job. I want them to feel like it’s a place where they can grow and become better and feel more fulfilled. I don’t want to be the boss who yells at them every time they screw up because they’ll never try to do better.

I have a pretty specific idea of how I want to run my business which is why I suppose it’s so difficult for me to hire an assistant manager. Or why it’s so hard for me to adjust to Michael sharing that leadership role with me.

“You’re overreacting!” He groaned.

“No, I’m not!” I insisted.

“Yes, you are! I’m not trying to take over your restaurant. That’s ridiculous!”

“Well, it feels like it. You’re making all these decisions without me and it makes me concerned about what you’re going to do when I’m not around!”

“It was a simple thing…”

“You changed the menu, Michael!”

“I didn’t change it. I just added a couple of specials. The caramel latte and strawberry scone combo is a big hit. There’s nothing wrong with advertising a few limited offer specials like that to keep things interesting.”

“You know how meticulously I planned this menu. From the drinks to the food, even the frigging placemats, and napkins. You know how I put so much of me into this place and then you come along and change it on a whim? Without discussing it with me first? How would you feel if I just went into the studio and ran a permanent marker all over one of your completed paintings because I wanted to keep it interesting?

He sighed. “Alright, I get it. I shouldn’t have interfered.”

“It’s not that you interfered. It’s that you did this without asking me. What if it digs into our profits? We’re breaking even as it is!”

“You’re right. I’ll run everything to do with the restaurant by you from now on, okay?”

After crunching the numbers I realised it was actually a really good business decision that he made. Those strawberry scones weren’t selling as much as the other flavours until that special and instead of watching them become stale in the display he came up with a pretty genius idea. Sure we wouldn’t make any profits from the scones themselves but at least we could recoup the cost of making them. People love good deals so anyone going to buy a caramel latte anyway wouldn’t mind forking over an extra 2 simoleons for the latte if it came with a “free” scone.

“That feels so good!” I moaned, his large hands firmly kneaded the muscles in my shoulders and upper back as we sat on the couch in my office.

I had just finished apologising to him in a way I knew he appreciated the best. We were still newlyweds after all and at least I can lock this door and not worry about anyone coming in unlike the pantry.

“You’re so tense even after all that happened just now.”

“I guess you’ll have to take care of me again later,” I suggested, lightly touching his thigh.

“Woman, you’ll be the death of me! I just gave you an hour of my best work!”

I shrugged. “What can I say? It’s the pregnancy hormones.”

He shook his head. “Nah, I think you’re just a control freak, that’s what!”

“I am not!”

“Uh…yeah…you are. You keep blaming it on the baby but ever since you opened this restaurant you’re stubborn and bossy, especially with me. Whether it’s the job or when we’re being intimate, you just gotta have it your way.”

“Oh.” I frowned a little when he said that. I guess I didn’t realise just how moody and demanding I’ve been lately. Maybe I have become that stick up the butt kind of boss? “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” He turned me around to face him. “I like it when you’re in control. It’s sexy! Just don’t be so quick to disregard me next time and I’ll make sure to communicate my ideas with you beforehand. Okay?” He kissed me gently and I melted into his arms. He might think it was sexy when I took control but I found it even sexier when he called me out on my stuff.

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