It's been a while but I actually had some time this week to write a flash fiction piece with the Wednesday Briefs Group. There were several prompts to choose from but I chose, "find an interesting way to use spices in your story."
No one gets a cinnamon and sweet almond oil massage or indulges in a spicy dry rub (at least not up to the point where we leave Nathan and Mathew, but hey, who knows what happens next?) Still, I think my piece, The Way to a Man's Heart still qualifies. Let me know what you think and don't forget to click the links at the end of the piece to read the other participating flashers' stories.
The Way to a Man’s Heart
Nathan checked the address. Yep. This was it. He knocked, running his fingers through his hair as he waited. The door opened and Nathan stared at the man who’d answered his knock.
They were the same height but where Nathan was skinny this man was muscular. His shoulders filled the doorway.
“I’m Nathan. The pet sitter?”
The man regarded him impassively. “You’re early.”
“Yeah, the bus didn’t take that long. Sorry.”
Nathan slipped through the doorway.
“Oh, right.” Nathan slipped out of his battered sneakers, for some reason taking the extra couple of seconds to line them up. Glancing at his host’s face he saw this had been a good idea.
“I’ll take your coat.”
“Okay.” Nathan squirmed out of his jean jacket, wondering if he should have removed the rainbow flag pin. Too late now.
“We can talk in the kitchen.”
Nathan followed him down a hall. The kitchen smelled like cooking though Nathan couldn’t identify the scent.
“Have a seat.”
“Thanks.” Nathan perched on a stool next to a breakfast bar.
Nathan looked around. There was no sign of the dog he was supposed to be sitting, but a large dog bed sat in a corner of the kitchen and there were clean food and water bowls near a patio door leading to a large backyard.
Mathew placed a mug in front of him, then cream and a sugar bowl.
Nathan added cream then two spoons of sugar. He sipped experimentally. “This is good coffee.”
Nathan took another mouthful. Mathew crossed the kitchen and opened a cupboard. He pushed a bag of cookies in Nathan’s direction.
“Did you eat today?”
Nathan was already on his second cookie. He chewed and swallowed before answering. “Not yet.” He stole another cookie.
“It’s already one o’clock.”
“I had groceries but someone ate my last two bagels.” He shrugged. “It’s hard to keep food when you share a kitchen with three other students.
Mathew opened the oven and pulled out a cookie sheet with…squash?
“You’re baking that?” Nathan blurted.
Mathew glanced over at him. “Roasting. For soup.”
“You can cook?”
The corners of Mathew’s mouth twitched. “Can’t you?”
“I’m going to keep working on this, while we talk. Okay?”
“Sure. You’re the boss.”
Mathew flicked him an amused look. “Tell me about yourself.”
As Mathew chopped onions and garlic Nathan babbled away about his program, dorm life, his pet sitting experience.
Nathan ran out of things to say. Mathew dumped the onions and garlic into a large pot. The kitchen was filled with the scent of good things cooking. Nathan’s mouth watered.
Mathew handed him a wooden spoon. “Don’t let them burn.”
“Okay.” Nathan stirred diligently. If Mathew wanted him to stir some onions while he interviewed him, he didn’t mind.
Mathew scooped up the soft flesh from the squash. Nathan admired his hands. Big strong hands; sure, decisive. Nathan deliberately turned back to the onions and gave them another stir. “I think these are done.”
Mathew came up behind him and looked over his shoulder. Nathan stood very still as his body responded to Mathew’s physical proximity. His heartbeat picked up and his gut fluttered pleasantly. Damn.
Mathew dropped pieces of squash into a food processor then turned it on. They both watched as the squash was reduced to a smooth paste. “Now the onions.”
Nathan stepped back and relinquished his spoon. Mathew added the onions and chicken stock from a pack. Then he dumped the whole thing back into the pot.
“Sara’s a yellow lab.”
Nathan assumed Sara was the dog he was supposed to sit. “Labs are great.”
“She’s ten and a bit arthritic or I’d take her with me this weekend.” Mathew poured more stock into the pot. He added salt, pepper, cinnamon and curry powder before turning the stove down to low. “There.
Mathew put the lid on the pot. “Yep.”
Nathan eyed the soup longingly. It smelled amazing but it didn’t look like Mathew was planning on eating it anytime soon.
“So does Sara need medication?” Nathan asked.
Mathew shot him a surprised look. “Not yet.”
“I won’t take her hiking or anything but I bet she likes to amble around the neighborhood.”
“She does. Yeah.” Mathew had been filling the sink with hot soapy water but he stopped and turned to look at Nathan.
Nathan fought the urge to roll his eyes. “I am a good sitter.”
“I’m beginning to think so.”
“Didn’t you check out my references?”
Mathew shook his head. “I got your name from Eric Henning. So I thought maybe…”
“You thought maybe what?” Nathan kept his voice even. He needed this job.
Mathew raised his chin. “I thought you might have been one of his…boys.”
Nathan’s face flamed. “I don’t always get to be choosy about the people I work for.” Even so, he probably wouldn’t pet sit for Eric Henning again. When Eric had come home from his trip Nathan had somehow found himself on his knees, blowing the other man, while Eric talked dirty. The experience had been hot but made him feel like a slut. The extra twenty Eric had tried to pay him, with a smirk, for “additional services” made him feel like a whore.
Nathan scowled. Eric had been aggressive and Nathan had found himself responding. Maybe he had a thing for assertive men: Men like Mathew.
“Did he do something you didn’t like?”
At Mathew’s tone Nathan looked up. A muscle jumped in the other man’s jaw.
Nathan grimaced. “Oh, I liked it alright, but he’s a jerk.”
“Agreed.” Mathew’s tense posture relaxed. “Are you seeing anyone?”
Nathan stiffened. “That’s not your business.”
“It would be if I asked you to dinner.”
“Are you?” Nathan tried to be nonchalant but his stomach grumbled noisily.
Mathew smiled and reached for a soup bowl. “Maybe we should do lunch first.”
Here's the list of this week's Wednesday Briefs participating authors:
Pender Mackie m/m
MA Church m/m
Elyzabeth VaLey m/f
MC Houle m/m
Julie Lynn Hayes m/m