So although I’m in the middle of writing a m/f romance, I’ve been chomping at the bit to write something in the m/m genre. I’d had a little cute-meet come to mind just before the holidays that I was going to turn into a short story, but with the chaos of the season, it never happened. I decided that in line with my Declarations for 2015, I would turn that meeting into a little serial story, with a new chapter added once a month (or more if the story tells me to). So here is the first part…chapter…offering. This is also the first thing I have ever written to be offered to the masses, so medications have been administered. Enjoy! (I’ll be over in the corner in a fetal position sucking on a bottle of wine)
Asher finished wiping down the espresso machine as Linney placed two cups next to the gurgling brute. Orders had trickled in all day, as the mad Christmas rush had given way to the regular working crowd now that the New Year had begun. Ash didn’t really mind the break between orders, but if he were to be completely honest, he liked the crowds, to be busy. Although, seeing as it was his shop, there was always enough work to be found back in his closet of an office, but he preferred to be out running the brute, and dealing with his customers.
Ash looked down to read the orders scribbled on the paper cups, but Linney’s usual bold print was rendered somewhat unreadable by a dying marker – Small hot chocolate with whipped cream and…something else that required a cup. He turned to his best friend only to find her chatting animatedly with another customer. Stepping around the coffee prep area, he called out the name that was just legible on the smaller cup.
“Max…Maxton?” Maxton? Ok that was one hell of a coincidence.
“That’s us,” called out an almost familiar male voice near the front of the store. The owner of the voice turned to face Ash, proving it was not a coincidence. A one-of-a-kind name for a one-of-a-kind face, he thought. And oh how he remembered that beautiful face, those incredible eyes.
Four weeks. It had been four weeks since he had come upon that face, flushed pink from the cold, in the middle of a parking lot juggling more packages than a human could possibly carry, and talking into a phone that had been precariously sandwiched between shoulder and chin. If he hadn’t had to lunge for the phone that finally had escaped its less than secure hold, he would have laughed at the sight. Instead, he’d been able to grab the phone just before it hit the sizeable puddle of slush where the man was standing. That had earned him a smile, one that had reached the most amazingly coloured eyes – the colour of bright green sea glass. He’d offered to help the man with the beautiful eyes carry his packages to his car, which had also entailed actually tracking the car down in the vast parking lot. After waiting patiently while the green-eyed man carefully checked off each package as he placed each item in the back of his SUV, Ash had held out his hand, hoping for a little physical contact, and possibly a name to go with those eyes. The man had accepted the gesture, and Asher still swore that something had passed between their palms, a flicker of energy that’d warmed his body even in the chill of the December air. “Maxton” the man had said right before the phone Ash had rescued came alive with a symphony of notifications. Swearing under his breath, the green-eyed Maxton had offered apologies as he retrieved his phone from his pocket and scanned the screen. With a sad smile and another quick apology, he’d climbed into his car and left Ash alone in the parking lot. Now the same green-eyed Maxton was standing in his coffee shop, looking at him with probably the same look of astonishment on his face as Asher had had on his four weeks ago.
Maxton was just as he’d remembered – that gorgeous auburn hair he’d thought of as messed from the wind in the parking lot was just as messed in the stillness of the shop, albeit just a little bit longer than the last time he’d seen him. A whisper of the same auburn graced his jaw and surrounded those beautifully red plump lips. And those eyes? They were as stunning as when he’d looked into them four weeks ago. Ash was quite happy to be standing behind the counter as his cock twitched with interest.
Slowly the shock of seeing this man again faded as Ash realized that Maxton had said “us”. Who was ”us”? His thought was answered when he followed the line of Maxton’s arm downward to see a child holding on to Maxton’s hand, apparently for dear life. Judging by the head to toe pink of its snow suit, Ash was hazarding a guess that it as a girl. A little girl holding Maxton’s hand. Well shit.
“Hey…hi,” Maxton managed to get out as he walked up to the counter, dragging the wee girl human along with him. Said wee human started to make noises and had now attached herself to a leg. “Hold on Emmy, I have to talk to the coffee man.” Ash grinned at his title. Then the wee…Emmy started to increase the volume and pitch of those noises. ”Sorry, she’s not feeling great today. Dasher, right?” Maxton tilted his head questioningly, while giving Ash a shy smile that seemed to hit Ash straight in the chest and melt more than just a few vital organs.
“Dasher?” Ash repeated in confusion. He’d never had a chance to tell his green-eyed man his name. Except that he’d been running errands on a break from the shop when he’d come to Maxton’s rescue, which meant that he’d have been wearing his nametag…his Christmas nametag with the added the “D” to his name. Linney thought it was corny. He thought it was Christmas-y and utterly brilliant. But shit, the man remembered him, remembered the name on his nametag. “Only at Christmas man,” Ash chuckled. “The rest of the year it’s just Asher.” Maxton smiled and nodded at his explanation. Then they just stood there, watching each other, both seemingly lost for what to say next.
“Hey Ash,” Linney called out, breaking the awkward silence. “I have the rest of their order here, hon. Croissant and chocolate chunk cookie to stay.” She placed the two plates on the counter while giving Ash one of her “looks” and he gave her a quick nod of his head to let her know everything was cool.
“Thanks Lin.” He shook his head slightly as he regained the power of speak and turned once again to the man on the other side of the counter. He held up the second cup with the faint words on the side. “Sorry, the marker must be dying. What was with your hot chocolate?” Ash decided to get back to business figuring Maxton was in no mood to linger with the increasing whimpers coming from the fidgeting Wee Emmy next to him. Plus, he had a Wee Emmy, so that was that. Which meant that gay or straight, he had a family. Because of course, fate hated him that much.
“Oh, oh right. It was a non-fat latte, extra foam and cinnamon, please.” Maxton tried to peel Wee Emmy from where she’d fused to his leg. “Em…Em, please honey. I need my leg back,” he sighed as he attempted to drag his hobbled leg towards their food.
“Why don’t you guys go sit and I’ll bring the stuff over to you,” Ash offered. “Drinks will only take a minute.” He might not have a chance with Maxton anymore, but it seemed his green-eyed man still needed some rescuing. Plus, above all else, he was a coffee professional.
“That would be great, if it’s not too much trouble?” Maxton reached down and picked up Wee Emmy, resting her on his hip. They both sighed at the same time, her little head resting on his strong shoulder, and the sight was just beyond adorable.
“No problem at all. Actually I was just about to go on break. Go get settled.”
Asher watched the two walk over to a table by the shop’s large window while he prepared the beverages on auto-pilot. Taking the opportunity to really look at Maxton from afar for the first time, Ash sighed deeply himself as he took in the sight before him. Maxton was probably just an inch or two shorter than Ash’s six one. He had a lean build, but he could tell there was definition under the light sweater the man was wearing. Maxton’s back was turned to Ash as he settled his Wee Emmy in her seat, which allowed him to all but drool over one of the most perfect asses he’d ever had the privilege of seeing. Round and tight in a pair of softly faded Levi’s.
Deciding that ogling a man he had no chance with was a lesson in futility, Ash quickly finished up the drink order. He poured himself a cup of regular brew and placed that on a tray along with the food and the other two drinks. After a brief thought, he also put the cocoa shaker on the tray as well. Ash figured that asking to join the two at their table might be a little forward, but a touch better than drooling over the man from behind the counter. Anyways, he reasoned it was good customer relations. Asher, you are a sad pathetic man
“Mind if I join you guys?” Ash asked as he placed the tray on the table. “I’m on a break and it would save me from listening to Linney’s continuing romance drama,” he stage whispered, loud enough that Linney could hear him. She turned and shot him a menacing glare while rubbing her nose with her middle finger.
“No, not at all,” replied Maxton with a brighter than expected smile. “Grab a chair.”
“Awesome!” Ash started to hand out the items on the tray. “Ok, so I’m guessing the big guy here has the hot chocolate…with tons of extra whipped cream, and the chocolate chunk cookie. And you,” Ash turned to Wee Emily and gave her a wink. “You look like a coffee girl, right? Extra foam?” He could hear Maxton chuckle beside him.
“Nooo! Hot chocolate is for meeee!” Wee Emmy giggled. Now that she was seated, she seemed much happier. Ash had to admit, she was a cute little thing. Big blue eyes, little button nose and a head of curly hair that was a perfect colour match to Maxton’s thick hair.
“You sure? You look like a coffee hound to me. Trust me, I know these things. I’m the coffee man.” Ash tried for a serious face, but the corners of his mouth started to twitch as the little girl shook her head so hard her shoulder length curls flew from side to side. “You mean the cookie and hot chocolate are yours?” Now her hair bounced up and down as she nodded furiously. Ash moved the plates and cups to their correct owners then whispered loudly to Emmy “Would you like my special ingredient for your hot cocoa young lady?” When once again the curls bounced up and down, Ash lightly sprinkled cocoa powder over the whipped cream in her little cup.
“Thanks, she’s been cranky all day with an ear infection. That’s the first smile I’ve seen from her.” Maxton took a sip from his own cup, and Ash had to stifle a moan as the man slowly licked the foam off his lips. “Are you sure it’s ok for you to be hanging with us? I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble with your boss.” Maxton made a gesture over to Linney behind the counter.
“No worries, it’s my coffee shop.”
“Well yeah, that’s what it says on the cups,” Maxton said as held up his coffee, the words My Coffee Shop printed on its side. “Anyways, I still wouldn’t want you to get into trouble.”
“No, I mean yeah,” Ash laughed. “It is the name, but it’s also mine. It’s my place.”
It took a minute, then Maxton let out a delicious laugh and shook his head. “Oh clever…how long did it take you to come up with that?” He took another sip of his latte and tilted his cup towards Ash. “Coffee’s really good by the way.”
“Thanks,” Ash paused to take a sip of his own coffee. “The name? Longer than you’d believe. Linney and I spent days trying to come up with something witty and nothing really stuck.” Ash paused and he thought for a moment Maxton was staring at his lips. He gave his head a little shake before continuing. “Linney made some weird suggestion and I said ‘I’m not calling my coffee shop that’. We both kinda looked at each other and it just clicked. My Coffee Shop.”
“Uncle Max!” They both turned to look at a smiling Wee Emmy, a rather lush whipped cream beard dripping off her chin.
Wait…Uncle Max? Emmy was his niece?? Asher quickly looked at Maxton with a raised eyebrow.
“What’s the eyebrow for?” Maxton asked as he used a handful of napkins to wipe Wee Emmy’s beard off her face.
“I…I guess I just assumed that she was your daughter?”
“Seriously? Well I guess I could see that.” Maxton balled up the whipped cream covered napkins and tossed them on the food tray. “Emmy’s my brother’s. She was sick this week with a nasty ear infection so I’ve been watching her.”
“Wow…that’s generous of you. What about work?”
“I work from home, so it’s easier for me to work around her than it is for my brother and sister-in-law to take time off work. Plus I get to spend time with my favourite munchkin,” Maxton smiled as he gave Wee Emmy’s little belly a little poke. Ash could tell that the little girl had her uncle…uncle…wrapped securely around her little finger.
”I’m your only munchkin, Uncle Max!” Wee Emmy giggled.
“Then it’s a good thing you are my favourite, huh?” He tapped the little girl on the tip of her nose.
Maxton took a look at his watch and started to move. “It’s been really nice talking to you Asher, but I’m afraid this little lady has a date with a nap.” He put the garbage on the tray, then stopped, as if in thought. Then he looked up at Ash with that bloody shy smile that was already becoming a favourite of Ash’s.” I felt really badly about having to run off that day in the parking lot. I kind of had the feeling…you know that…” Ash knew that look on Maxton’s face, the one that said he was hoping he wasn’t making what could be a highly embarrassing assumption.
“Yeah me too, man. Come on in anytime for a latte…or if you know, you want to get something a little stronger than coffee sometime?” Asher couldn’t remember the last time he actually felt nervous about asking a guy out. There was just something about this green-eyed man.
After getting Wee Emmy bundled up again in her pink snow gear, Maxton grabbed his coffee cup from the tray. He reached into his jacket pocket, produced a pen, and wrote something on the cardboard cuff that wrapped around the cup. He handed it to Ash with a wink and then they were gone.
Once the pair was no longer in view from shop’s window, Asher looked down at the cardboard sleeve. Written in a bold, masculine script were a telephone number and the words “definitely something stronger”. Damn. Maybe the fates did like him after all.