I’m late on a couple things this week. O_O
First, is announcing the winner of my random drawing for a copy of The Shape of a Heart. The winner, chosen from the commenters, is DocLady. Congratulations! I’ll contact you to find out what format you’d like.
Second, although Valentines Day was last week, here’s a little ficklet I was working on. I’m thinking I’d like to write more with these boys, so let me know what you think.
“That’s not how the human heart is really shaped, you know.”
Nicholas ignored his brother, continuing to cut out cookies from the sheet of dough on the pastry-board. He saw Romy’s hand from the corner of his eye but kept right on going. He had dozens of these suckers to cut out and he’d only just started.
“It’s more like this,” Romy said. With two fingers he pinched the bottom of one of the heart-shaped cookies, making a sort of inverted pear-shape.
Nicholas set the cookie cutter aside and turned to face his twin. “I never said my cookies were anatomically correct.” He picked up the misshapen blob of dough and tossed it back in the bowl. “You’re lucky I didn’t put the decoration on yet. Now keep your hands off my cookies.”
Romy’s grin flashed. “Now, that just sounds wrong.”
Trying hard to look pissed off and knowing he failed miserably, Nicholas grinned back. “Only to a perv like you.”
“Yeah, well, even a perv like me can tell a plain old sugar cookie when I see one. Aren’t you supposed to be some fancy schmancy pastry chef or something? I mean, hell, even I can make sugar cookies.”
Ignoring the question, Nicholas picked up the cookie cutter and went back to punching out 3-inch hearts from sugar dough. “Isn’t Valentine’s week supposed to be a florist’s busiest time?”
“Is that your not-so-subtle way of telling me to get the fuck out?”
Finishing the last row of cookies, Nicholas gathered the scraps and returned them to the bowl to be rerolled. “That was actually very subtle. I could have just said get the fuck out of my kitchen.” Lifting a rollingpin, Nicholas brandished it, not like a club which would be the normal thing, but instead like a rapier.
Laughing Romy grabbed a long-handled wooden spoon. “On guard!” Romy assumed a fighting stance. “Have at me, you rogue!”
Nicholas fell into a crouch and the two brothers circled each other in the bakery’s tiny back kitchen.
Romy leapt forward stabbing with his spoon. Nicholas knocked the blow aside with the rollingpin setting the cylinder spinning wildly and scattering specks of flour everywhere. “Dost thou think to best me, lout?”
Nicholas drove the end of the rollingpin forward as if he meant to gut his twin with it. Dropping his weapon, Romy clutched at his belly making gagging and gurgling noises and eventually crumpling to the floor. Dead.
He stayed there only a second or two before bursting into laughter and springing to his feet and seizing the rollingpin from his brother’s hand. “Goddamn you, Niko, you were always better than me at stage combat.”
“Maybe, but you always died so beautifully nobody ever cared.” Nicholas grabbed the rollingpin and took it and the wooden spoon over to the sink. He washed both then his hands, feeling his brother’s gaze on him the entire time.
“You should have stayed in the theatre, man.”
“Yeah, well, one of us had to get a real job.”
“I have a real job,” Romy said, managing to sound only a little defensive.
“So?” Nicholas parroted back.
They fell silent, the air suddenly thick with tension. What had started as teasing had turned into something else and he wasn’t even sure how it had happened.
“Hey, you know I never minded having you stay with me,” Nicholas said.
“Maybe I minded. Did you ever think of that?”
Romy was no longer looking at him. Head bent so that his hair curtained his face, he traced patterns in the spill of flour on the countertop.
Of the two of them Romy had always had the more mercurial temperament. Walking on air one minute and down in the dumps the next, even Nicholas sometimes had difficulty keeping up with his twin’s mood swings, though in the last five or six years he gotten much better at gauging, and therefore effecting, Romy’s emotional temperature.
Wiping his hands on a towel, Nicholas went to his brother and wrapped his arms around Romy’s middle. “Hey, Rom?”
“It’s a damn good thing you did come to live with me, you know.”
“Why is that?”
“Because,” Nicholas rested his chin on the taller man’s shoulder. “If you hadn’t, I might never have gotten laid. Hell, I’d probably still be a virgin if you hadn’t been so good at getting me hooked up.”
“There is that,” Romy said, and Nicholas heard the smile return to his brother’s voice. “Of course you would still have gotten that nerdy little geek you were so hot for in culinary school.”
“Oh please, do not remind me of that.”
Of course he loved his brother and liked having him around, but even then, at the time when Romy had moved in, feeding and housing his twin, had seemed like a small price to pay for his own access to the seemingly endless parade of gorgeous guys that Romy attracted like steel to a magnet. And hell, he hadn’t been proud. Taking Romy’s leftovers and discards had never even felt like sloppy seconds. Because Nicholas had always been, and still was, painfully shy, he’d never minded riding his more gregarious twin’s coattails in the social arena.
The noise Romy made was noncommittal. The change of subject abrupt but not unexpected. “Looking good in here, little bro,” Romy said. His gaze landed once more on the cookies. “How many of those are you making?”
“This will be twelve dozen. I’ll put them out, see how they sell then we’ll see.” Nicholas returned to his cookie dough. Taking a ball from the bowl he flattened then rolled it out with quick efficient strokes.
They were identical twins though he’d been the smaller and younger by all of two minutes. Still, even at thirty years old Romy never seemed to tire of lording his elder brother status over Nicholas.
“Any chance you’ll bring a couple dozen home?” Romy snagged a raw cookie and bit in.
“I might, if you stop eating the dough and let me get them in the oven.”
When Romy reached for another cookie Nicholas slapped his hand away. “C’mon, man. They’re just plain old sugar cookies after all. You can at least wait till they’re baked.”
Romy chuckled, all signs of his prior sullenness gone. “Okay. Okay. Listen, do you have a minute to watch the shop for me?”
“Sure. Where’re you going?” Though of course he could guess.
“I’m going to run around the corner for a latte. You want something?”
“I have a fresh pot of coffee brewing up front, You could have a cup of that.”
“Afraid that just won’t cut it. You know how I am. I need a freakin’ twelve step program for Starbucks, right?”
“Starbucks my ass. What you need is a twelve step program for that little barista boy who works afternoons during the week.”
Romy sighed dramatically. “yeah, well, he does know just how to steam my milk.”
“Perv. He can’t be more than twenty.”
“He’s nearly twenty-five,” Romy said.
“How do you know?”
“I asked Carol, the day manager. I told her I borrowed his pen and forgot to return it, and I needed to know when he was due in so I could give it back.”
“And his age came up exactly how?”
Romy shrugged. “You know Carol. She’s a yacker.”
“I know you,” Nicholas said. “The CIA could use you as an interrogator.” He set down his cookie cutter and covered the dough with a towel. “I guess I can watch the shop for a few, as long as I don’t have to do anything. If I have to touch anything I’ll kill it. You know me and my black plastic thumb of doom.”
“No problem. I’ll just be five minutes.”
“Unless you get to chatting up barista boy.”
Romy shook his head. “I promise I’ll be good. Just five minutes, I swear.”
Nicholas settled on the stool behind the front counter of Pocketful of Posies, his twin’s flower shop. Inhaling deeply he sighed a long contented sigh. Next to the smell of freshly baked pastry he loved the smell of fresh flowers more than anything else despite the fact that he barely knew a rose from a daisy and couldn’t identify a single flower in the whole shop if someone had held a gun to his head.
Romy, on the other hand, knew every flower and plant both by sight and, Nicholas bet, by its smell alone. Ever since high school when he’d worked in their aunt’s flower shop Romy had developed a natural affinity for things green and growing. The man could grow a tree from a concrete block whereas for his part Nicholas couldn’t keep a plastic plant from turning brown.
The bell over the door jingled breaking into Nicholas’s thoughts.
Crap. A customer.
Please, don’t let them ask me anything.
Nicholas pasted on a friendly smile and slid off the stool. “Can I help–”
And nearly swallowed his tongue.
The man standing just inside the door was a walking wet dream in faded blue denim. Turned slightly away, he perused the various plants and flowers as if looking for something or someone in particular. He was most likely a friend of Romy’s. The gorgeous ones always were.
Nicholas snapped his mouth shut and took a moment to just enjoy the view before he had to start talking and made an ass of himself.
The man was tall, at least six feet to Nicholas’s own five-eight, and lean except for a set of shoulder so broad they made him want to swoon on the spot. Reddish-brown hair was pulled back in a stubby tail that grazed the collar of a plaid workshirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows. The only thing missing was a tool-belt.
Imagining the belt slung on the lean hips, Nicholas let his gaze slide down to the stranger’s ass. High and round and firm, the sight alone made his palms itch to grab a double handful and drag Mr. Hunk-o-licious into the backroom for a little afternoon delight. Of course he would never dream of actually doing anything like that. Impromptu fuck sessions with gorgeous strangers were Romy’s forte, not his.
Nicholas gave himself a mental shake. This was a customer not just eye-candy, which meant that he had to speak. A real shame that, since the moment he was asked about anything the guy would know what a goofball he was. But he had promised to watch the shop so … Okay.
Nicholas licked his lips. “Um, can I help you?”
“Bitch lilies!” the man exclaimed, clearly delighted.
Oh, great, a lunatic. Hot, it was true, but still.
“Excuse me?” Trying to be subtle, Nicholas glanced under the counter for the sawed-off baseball bat Romy used to keep in the shop for emergencies. It wasn’t there. Shit.
The stranger reached up and grabbed a clutch of orange flowers and turned, giving Nicholas the first look at the face that went with that body.
Oh my fucking God!
Lunatic or not, the guy was incredible. Not model pretty, but much more real with rough-hewn features and a square jaw that currently sported a five o’clock shadow. Tiny lines bracketed a generous mouth with full lips that looked like they smiled easily. And there was even the hint of a dimple in his left cheek. And the eyes … Merman green and fringed with thick dark lashes, they made Nicholas’s heart pick up to a rapid pitter-pat.
“Bitch lilies,” the stranger repeated, holding up the orange flowers. “My grandpa used to grow these in his garden. He called them bitch lilies. Said they were one of the easiest flowers to grow.”
Yeah, just brilliant, Einstein. Got any more sparkling repartee to charm the jeans right off him? And where the hell was Romy? If he’d been here, he’d have already had the guy’s name if not his phone number.
Those amazing green eyes settled on Nicholas’s face. He felt the look like a touch against his skin.
God, were there really tiny flecks of gold in his irises?
Seconds lengthened into minutes, the green-eyed stranger and Nicholas not speaking, just looking at each other.
The man cleared his throat. “So … Do you think I could buy these?” He held out the flowers and smiled. “I think they’re perfect for what I need.”
“Of course.” Nicholas took the flowers. Their fingers brushed, the touch sizzling up his arm and straight down his spine to his cock which perked right up. Thank God for the counter between them.
What did anyone need flowers for? Nicholas ran the scanner over the tag attached to the flowers. The man passed his credit card over.
“You have a nice place here,” the man said as he signed the slip and took his copy.
“Thank you,” Nicholas said. “It used to belong to my aunt.”
“Really? So it’s been here for a while?”
“We just moved to the area. I’m slowly making my way into all the shops, just checking out the neighborhood, you know?” He handed the pen back and picked up the flowers. “This is nice.”
Which meant he was married or involved or living with someone or something that meant unavailable. Shit. Ah well, he was probably straight anyway.
Somehow this new revelation brought with it a wave of relief.
Feeling the tension of impending attraction slip away, Nicholas smiled and held out his hand. “Well, make sure to come in again.”
His hand was taken. The grip was firm, the hand warm and strong. What would it be like to feel those hands on his–
Nicholas watched as the guy walked out. Just because he was straight didn’t mean Nicholas couldn’t enjoy the very fine view of that ass—even if it was walking away from him.
Written by Kimberly Gardner
As early as the seventh grade, Kimberly remembers slashing her favorite rockstars and reading romance. So it’s not surprising that her two passions, romance and putting pretty boys with other pretty boys, should come together in her writing. Moliere said, “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, then for a few close friends, then for money.” Kimberly is delighted to finally be doing it for money.
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