Cardamom and Clove
Click on image to enlarge.
by Willa Okati
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Science Fiction
Description: Book Summary Roguish, rough and ready, Russ is a rake who refuses to be tamed. But even for a master like him, there comes a time when loving 'em and leaving 'em loses a lot of its charm. Now, this wild child is looking for someone with a little more staying power, and a cutie with a pinch of cardamom and clove in his cappuccino is about to change Russ's life for keeps. Publisher's note: A previous version of this title was published under the title "Sugar Man". It has been reworked and rewritten for this release.
eBook Publisher: Changeling Press LLC, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: October 2010
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [30 KB]
Reading time: 15-21 min.
Calen. Russ saw him first in a gay-friendly cafe in the middle of downtown, where times were always good and the men were -- often -- pretty. Russ had taken up a casual seat by the window where he could see the beauties and cuties stream in and out while he sipped at his coffee. Perfectly positioned to see Calen walk into his life, though he didn't know it yet.
The man, a stranger to Russ, stood calmly in the middle of a milling crowd around the bar and refilled his mug at the speed he damn well pleased. Rather than jostle and jeer at him, the crowd parted, seemingly without realizing they did so. Quiet, strong, with no need to make a show about it, yet so commanding a presence that Russ couldn't look away. He even put down his mug to watch, and that was serious business.
He had a reason: wanting to see how the man took his coffee.
During the course of his many, dear God was it many, too many hookups, Russ had decided one could tell a lot about a man by the coffee he preferred. Of course, he knew that to be just his point of view and, ergo, bullshit to the rest of the world, but as a philosophy it worked for him. On top of that, as a shaving of chocolate would garnish whipped cream, his system almost never steered him wrong.
Black coffee men: straight-up and straightforward. No time for creamer or sugar or crap like that. In bed, they wanted it hot and hard and fast. Nice, when Russ was in the mood for it, but not tonight. He'd passed by one spoken and one unspoken offer so far. He wanted something a little slower.
Coffee with cream: non-fat, half-and-half, creamer, whatever. Smooth, but dark and sometimes bitter too. Around here, they favored Lennon sunglasses and affecting the demeanor of a man as cool as cool could be. Whatever you want, man, that's fine, but don't expect me to call you in the morning.
Not tonight. Russ wanted something a little sweeter.
Sweetened coffee: sugar men, now they were sweet. Cuddlers, handholders, enthusiastic and yielding and no challenge at all -- for Russ, at least in his present mood.
Russ twitched his shoulders, irritable, telling himself he was far too picky for a man who'd circled the block often enough to wear grooves into the pavement. He'd enjoyed those travels, too, but now... with every year, it seemed to grow harder to trudge that familiar walk, the men less tempting and the mornings-after all the emptier.
Black coffee, coffee with cream, coffee with sugar... he'd been there and done that, and now that he thought he'd like something a little longer-lasting than a latte, well, when it came to this joint and his method he might just be out of luck.
And then there was this man, who stood with the calm confidence that mountains would move before he did when he had his mind set on something. He wore a bookstore employee nametag that Russ craned his neck to read. Calen. A good name, with a sort of spice to it that enticed the senses.
Call him crazy, but Russ was invested -- really invested -- in seeing how this man took his coffee.
In his own sweet time, that was how. Russ tapped one foot on the floor in an asynchronous rat-a-tat-tat, waiting and watching. Trying to be patient. Feeling the heat build from the bottom of his stomach and burn down through his legs. Wanting this man to be the one he went home with tonight, if he could be baited and caught.
What kind of black magic did he have going for him? Green eyes, full lips, jaw only lightly brushed with stubble. Younger than Russ. Stronger too, his moves fluid with lean muscle and grace.
Too much man for most. When someone young and buzz-cut and bulkily muscled bumped his arm to get his attention then grinned at him like a fool, he found himself on the wrong end of a long, cool stare.
Fifteen seconds, and Mr. "I know I'm onto a sure thing" was babbling apologies and stumbling on his way. The guy stood and watched him leave. Just for a second his lips curved and the infinitesimally small sideways swing of his hair might have been a shake of the head. Indulgent, a lion swatting away a cub.
Russ didn't know how he'd manage it -- a wildcat with the reputation of a tomcat like him, rightly earned, even if he wanted more than anything to cast it aside -- but if this man were going home with anyone tonight, it'd be him.
If he had anything to say about it, at least. And if Calen didn't disappoint with the coffee.
Calen's long fingers hovered over the cups and bowls and pitchers and shakers. So many choices, almost all of them ignored by other patrons for the cheap and the easy.
Finally, finally, he settled on two lonely, eternally ignored shakers shoved haphazardly to the very back of the bar. Russ recognized them by sight. He had tasted both, wondered how those flavors could mix with coffee, and regretfully put them aside.
Calen's mouth bent into a bow that invited kissing. He added the spices, and nothing else. Russ imagined he could smell those fragrant beauties from ten feet away. Could taste them and understand what Calen saw in them when he kissed Calen and cleaned the taste from Calen's lips with the tip of his tongue.
He couldn't let this one get away.
It was trite, but if Calen realized he knew then he might just be able to pull this one off. He stood with a casual disregard meant to be obvious as a scam, and only just managed to be in Calen's way right as he'd intended to move on past.
Calen should have bumped into Russ, but he didn't. He'd known Russ would make this move before Russ did, hadn't he? And yet here he was. It spoke well of Russ's chances with this beautiful stranger.
A shiver of anticipation made Russ almost too eager. "Sorry. Almost made you spill, didn't I?"
"Not even close." Calen had a low-pitched voice, made for murmuring rather than shouting, one that stroked ragged nerve endings and made them hum with pleasure. "But I believe in second chances."
Calen sipped his coffee, and with a hand still warm from the mug, he touched Russ's face. Stroked Russ's lips with the ball of his thumb, coaxing a laugh out of him. "You know my name," he said, shifting slightly forward to throw his nametag into relief. "Who are you?"
Who was Russ? Russ was out of his league, knew it, and loved it. Finally.
He stood on tiptoe and whispered his name into Calen's ear, with a flick of his tongue on the penultimate hiss. Calen's chest shook, though he didn't laugh out loud, and Russ thought Calen might enjoy this cat-and-mouse game more than he'd anticipated Calen would.
"The name suits you." Calen slid his hand down Russ's chest and hooked it into Russ's collar. He tugged teasingly, gently, letting Russ know he might play with sharp claws but he had velvet paws, too. "You have a free seat at your table. I'll join you."
And that was just the start of it all.