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It’s Written in the Stars - Text copyright © Jase Hamilton Storm 2018



Editing and Cover Art by Emmy Ellis @ studioenp.com © 2018





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It’s Written in the Stars is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and events are from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.



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Acknowledgments



I would like to personally take this space to thank my beloved friends for their amazing support for my wanting to be a writer, all these years, and finally turning author. Emmy Ellis, you have been a true godsend to me. Your patience in doing many of my edits and my beautiful cover designs, I am forever in awe of you. To my wonderfully amazing parents, you are forever in my heart. You two have done nothing but make my dreams achievable. Thank you dearly, I am truly blessed.











It’s Written in the Stars


by


Jase Hamilton Storm






Jake’s New Perspective on Life


“Jake?” yells out a familiar voice from the other side of the editing department floor. “Yeah, you, Mr. Hayden! You’re heading down to Joey’s tonight, right?”

The voice catches Jake off guard. With a bereft glare, he turns, acknowledging the smooth telecaster’s voice of his co-worker and dear friend, Flynn White. Jake’s mind was somewhere distant, and, responding with a tilted-head stare, and seeing Flynn in a party-like mood, he’s snapped back into the present.

Flynn flashes a million-dollar, anchorman-style grin while flexing his chest and biceps to gain Jake’s attention. He undoes the three buttons of his two-piece Armani suit jacket, showcasing his pin-striped, silky, button-down shirt. After adjusting his slacks with a tight tug, he intentionally gives visual awareness to the outline of his genital bulge.

“Dude, it’s Friday night! The sweet nectars of life are going to be mega plenty tonight. All the bubbly, plump melons are going to be ripe for the plucking, bro. My magic fingers are eager to explore the buffet. Mmm, my tongue, too—if they’re so lucky!” Flynn narrates with sexual hand gestures.

Seeing Jake’s lack of enthusiasm only seems to ignite Flynn to break out into a happy movement. With no music to aid him, he starts playing air drums on the walls, the file cabinets, and even his outer thighs.

“Happy hour has begun, and Joey’s place is going to be packed tonight, like the past few weekends. Woo-hoo! Jake, my boy! There’s a shot of Ol’ Tennessee Whiskey just a hampering for me to take my fill, and I’m surely aimed not to disappoint,” Flynn exclaims, excitedly chipper.

It is, after all, the first weekend of February, with twelve days before Valentine’s Day and an additional three until Jake’s thirty-second birthday. The weather is a blistery fright, and liquid spirits can do much to warm things up. With such irony, the Gabble HQ building is right next door to Joey McNeal’s Irish Pub and Grill. A go-to landmark for most employees, especially during happy hour, seeing as it’s already dark by five in the evening. It used to be a custom of Jake and Flynn to go there after work, with them being the last two to leave.

Flynn’s proving to be friskier than normal, him thrusting his forty-year-old booty all about. He’s looping his arm around his head as if an imaginary lasso is in his grasp. He’s galloping in mini circles around the workstations. The image of a deranged, horseless cowboy quickly comes to Jake’s observational mind, except instead of wearing boots, stirrups, and tight, crotch-hugging jeans, this cowboy is draped in Brookstone and a navy-blue, Armani fitted two-piece suit. While he’s gallivanting about, Flynn’s other hand cups the back of his head, as if to keep it from falling off in the raunchy motion.

Desperate for blindness to hit him, Jake is forced to spectate Flynn’s flagrant nature rearing itself. His cocky cowboy gallops, quickly morphing into a slutty, male-stripper routine. Thankfully, the only clothing being removed is his expensive jacket. Flynn is without a doubt an attractively hypersexual man. Jake has no sexual desire to be with him, despite Flynn’s physical allure. He’s feeling awkward viewing his buddy’s homoerotic dance. Plus, there’s the issue of him being his sole audience. Awkwardness nor unease can explain his sexual arousal—Jake knows Flynn is straight and has no physical interest in him. Jake plays along, pretending to be semi-offended, darting half-wicked grins like the man is crazy.

Jake’s been particularly familiar with the cocky exploits of Flynn through the years, yet it’s never led to anything remotely physical. His raunchy, sexualized nature always manages to manifest itself at one point or another, which seems suspicious. It’s only when alone does Flynn’s freakish need to be loose and carefree take place. Flynn glories in his fraternal kind of kinship with Jake, which appears suggestively homosexual by nature, even for Jake. A bro-hood, overstepping into the realms of bro-mantic.

Normally, Jake shakes his head and tells him to freak off, but with a sense of playfulness. Yet Jake is truly trying not to show his hidden true self to a guy who vocally despises gays yet adores the idea of being with a group of lesbian lovers. It’s moments such as this, Jake wants to tell him who he is inside and that the acts Flynn does affect him.

Hmm! Why does a straight guy have such a hot, juicy rump, if never to be played with? Surely straight guys would enjoy a little butt play if they were open enough to explore it. Such a waste, really. God, so not fair. The places my tongue could explore if only he would allow me…

Lustful thoughts sprout like wildfire, even while Jake’s aware of how inappropriately self-destructive it is to think in such ways. He doesn’t want someone to purely lust over, like his handsome buddy, Flynn. He wants something real and meaningful.

Jake self-medicates in his mind: Stop it, you fool. Flynn is your best buddy. You can’t be seeing him like a dessert carousel. Just remember—he thinks you are straight, too. Why he taunts the hell out of me, I’ll never understand.

With a thrust of his outstretched palm, he interrupts Flynn’s dance. “Sorry, buddy. Amazing cock-thrusting action there, but, seriously, I simply can’t hang with you guys this week. Too much to get done around here.”

Flynn shifts his eyes to meet Jake’s wide, puppy-dog stare. Jake retreats his gaze as he returns his focus to his desk. A few seconds later, the silence becomes deafening. Looking over and catching the waver in Flynn’s eyes alerts him that Flynn is mulling over something being amiss with him. Jake feels he needs to redirect Flynn’s attention from pondering too much.

“You and the guys go. Have a good time, Flynn,” Jake says with a false kipper tone, sounding like the sacrifice to be slain for the others’ happiness.

“What about you, sport? Don’t you deserve some downtime, too?” Flynn maintains his zaniness with a little pelvic action.

“Hmm… I need to catch up on some of this madness Greg was so gracious enough to dump in my lap this morning.” Jake’s breathing is short and staggered. He’s still flushed from Flynn’s heated performance.

Meanwhile, something south of the border is gaining activity, filling Jake’s already taupe-tented slacks rather snugly. A development he definitely doesn’t want Flynn to be aware of at all. So, getting him to depart would be ideal at this point.

He’s never wanted to hide his orientation from Flynn, but he doesn’t want Flynn’s doomsday bomb to erupt on him upon learning he is gay, or for him to know his physical attraction toward him. He’s working hard to keep these two parts of his life very separate, like the fact he and the boss had been in a long sexual affair for the past couple years, and no one knew. None of this is easy to maintain when Flynn becomes uninhibited around him. Flynn means a great deal to him, and Jake admiringly looks up to the man on so many levels. He never wants to jeopardize that, for any reason. So, when issues arise, like his recent break-up, Jake wants so desperately to talk to the only guy on Earth he can talk to anything about, but can’t, out of fear of his prejudice. It becomes tasking to his heart to have a secret he can’t share with anyone, especially Flynn.

Jake’s mental control echoes in his mind; things to distract him, like cars, old woman panties, smashed pumpkins, and so on. Anything to redirect his focus from the blood flow rushing to his awakening, one-eyed Johnson.

Flynn halts his dance with eager abruptness, unthinkingly delving his hand right inside the crotch of his pants with no shame in Jake seeing. Flynn appears oddly comfortable when he’s with Jake; even fondling himself isn’t a concern to him. Jake is always the spectator to such things and yet can say nothing. He tries earnestly not to stare when Flynn is exhibiting such lewd behavior. Flynn doesn’t seem bothered having Jake as a captive audience. While Jake is mentally gawking at Flynn’s bold self-molestation only a few feet away from him, Flynn’s squarely focused on the contents of Jake’s overworked desk.

Being such an arrogant exhibitionist, and at ease around Jake, his handling of his frontal privates turns from adjusting to full-on masturbation, and still no shame. But witnessing the mess on Jake’s desk turns his euphoric grin into a fraught frown.

“What the—! All of that is from this morning?” Flynn inquires, still giving no mercy to his genitals.

Jake is fearful of Flynn willing to whip his sausage out at any moment, a reality he wouldn’t want to challenge. Finding it too hard to hold a conversation with Flynn while he pleases himself so openly, Jake gives an abrupt needed cough, the kind you do when someone has entered the room unexpectedly.

With a cynical twinkle in his eye and a cheeky grin on his smooth, well-groomed face, Flynn acknowledges the signaled cough. He gradually removes his hand out of the front of his pants, giving way to a fully formed, semi-aroused bulge in its place. Flynn is so cocky and confident, he clearly doesn’t mind Jake seeing his semi-erection.

With narrowed eyes, Flynn questions him, in total disregard to his bizarre actions. “Man, my balls feel like they’re in a mosh pit of ivy. Itchy as hell.”

“You know there’s this stuff called soap and water? Maybe next time try wearing man-size underwear, instead of your girlfriend’s stripper thongs.” Jake means it as a joke, but he subconsciously fears there may be some underlined truth in his sarcasm.

“And the tongues of ginger-haired muscle jocks, too, so I’ve heard,” remarks Flynn with a wicked stare.

Jake shakes away the comment, not wanting to engage Flynn in such a manner or subject.

Flynn, smirking cockily, says, “Why’s your workload so stacked lately? It’s been freaking months since we’ve been able to hang and chill. It was light at first when you were dating Mystery Girl, yet, since your breakup, it’s gone down to zero, buddy. The happy hour gang is seriously ragging on me because you don’t come anymore. They think we broke up or something. You are the gang’s token Irish boy, remember?”

“Pardon?” Jake adds bass to his voice. “I am nobody’s boy!” he says, fully snapping while pinching his nose and narrowing his eyes.

Flynn gives him a solid stare and chortles. “Yeah. You’re right. You’re without doubt one hairy-ass, grown man. But you’ll always be Baby-Boy to me!” Flynn ends his statement gingerly.

As Flynn grazes the loose strings of his usually perfectly groomed hair back into place with his fingertips, Jake is captivated by the glimmer in Flynn’s deep-set brown eyes, with speckles of amber thrown in, confirming his words to be sincere and without question.

“You know the owner, Joey, has been circling the fences about you, too. Even though booze isn’t your thing, he sees you as the heart of the old Irish spirit when you’re there.”

Jake, taking his words warmly, adds, “You know I don’t drink. But most of the time you guys are too wasted to know I am even there.”

“We know you don’t drink, babe. You get so bitchy about having too many calories and stuff. You’re such a freaking health nut, Baby-Boy. But we never gave a crap about that. We loved your company. Besides, I don’t care how wasted I get. I will always know you’re there. Plus, your sissy-ass giggles chuck me up. It’s killer and cute at the same time.”

Jake darts him a wicked eye for calling his giggles sissy, even if it is true, and he’s not sure if he truly means it in jest or whether it’s just his speculative observation.

Purposely overlooking Jake’s wicked eye, Flynn continues emotively, “Well, everyone misses you is all I’m saying. Your jokes and wisecracks are legendary.” Flynn pauses and becomes more serious, tightening his fists. “I don’t know… You have become so standoffish these days, you’ve got me really concerned, that’s all. Why don’t you come and spend some time with your BFF? You know I love you, but it’s like you are cutting me out, babe.”

Flynn’s pleading is working overtime on Jake’s raw affections for him, which is a powerful charm of Flynn’s. Unfortunately, Jake isn’t falling for the ol’ bag of tricks today.

“Sorry, buddy. No can do. I got to get this crap done.” Jake shifts his eyes, avoiding Flynn’s compelling gaze. He knows with a peculiar squint from Flynn’s devilish eyes, he will melt like butter and do whatever the man would ask of him, and it’s clear how Flynn marvels on such knowledge, while fully aware of the power he holds over him.

Being eight years younger than Flynn, Jake stands proudly at six-three, while Flynn stands a mere six foot. Bigger and thicker than Flynn, Jake is rather soft inside, which Flynn says he adores. Ironically extolling Flynn with great brotherly pride, Jake bypasses Flynn’s perversions—most of the time. Flynn is very popular with all the female demographics in the office. He’s been crowned the sexiest male anchorman by the network. Nonetheless, Jake is hip to the persuasive ways of Flynn and his uncanny ability to navigate himself into his personal life very easily.

Now, not fully paying attention to Flynn at first, Jake hears Flynn dismissing someone. Jake’s head and ears perk spryly up. Who the–? Who was Flynn addressing? Jake can’t see anyone from his seated vantage point. A shockingly moot point pops into his consciousness…

Who the hell is that? Crap! Did they see Flynn do that stupid dance? How must that have looked, Flynn’s solo dancing for me? A sense of worry fills him as he searches aimlessly for the disembodied male voice that responded to Flynn’s call. Flynn flags Jake with his hand, telling him not to get up.

Flynn advances several steps toward Jake’s desk after the unknown person has departed. It’s clear that Flynn senses his tentative fears by the half-witted smile and the twinkle in his eyes as he slowly shakes his head, subliminally saying, don’t worry.

Once reaching his desk, Flynn confirms what Jake had suspected. “Don’t worry, Baby-Boy. That was only Tony and Brennon from production upstairs. They were pointing out the time to me, with their watches.”

Jake releases a sigh of relief.

“So no panic attacks, please… Besides, they didn’t see anything. The things I do around you are only privy to your eyes, Baby-Boy. I don’t dance or act that silly for no meatheads.”

Jake frowns.

“Please… You aren’t any run-of-the-mill meathead. You are my sweet buddy, whom I know won’t judge me for what I do.” Flynn sounds confidently assuring.

Jake gives a half-witted smile, expressing his fear and relief at the same time. “Oh, thanks—I guess?”

Flynn jeers at him, like a parent catching their child sneaking in the cookie jar. “Come on, Baby-Boy. You know when it’s only you and I, I can be myself. I know I can be butt-ass naked around you and feel completely comfortable. I never worry what you are thinking about me. You are the greatest guy a friend could ever have. You never judge my wild sexual mishaps. That’s what makes me so damn crazy about you, kiddo. I don’t have to hide who I really am. I just pray you feel the same comfortability with me. If you ever want to strip off all your clothes, dance around naked, or bust a hairy nut right there on the desk, I wouldn’t say a word. I’d have no problem with it at all. You’re my brother, my Baby-Boy…don’t ever forget that.”

Jake examines the sereneness of Flynn’s stare. Flynn appears to be studying him likewise, maybe for signs of a reaction to his confession. This brings Jake uneasiness and a greater understanding of Flynn, who doesn’t have a fear of being completely sexual around him, even though he’s not gay.

“Jake, I do need to get something off my chest.”

If Jake could produce sweat at this moment, he would surely be drenched all over, hearing such words coming from Flynn.

“I’m concerned about you.” Flynn addresses Jake with the serenest sincerity, as cascading chills drape Jake’s super-tensed body.

He understands one thing about his ten-year buddy, Flynn. He’s a cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. Although, when it’s only them, Flynn tends to be more suggestive for a straight guy, in ways Jake doesn’t understand. He isn’t an emotional conversationalist at heart, yet hearing his seriousness coming forth sends shock-waving signals of warnings to Jake’s subconscious. This isn’t going to be one of those fun-go-happy conversations.

Sinking his head deeper into his work, Jake prays for Flynn to simply change his mind and remember how much he needs to leave…and simply give up asking for him to join him for a drink while displaying a lack of willingness to commit to further conversation. Unfortunately, not the case; when he glances over at Flynn, he sees a man loaded for bear; arms crossed, with a we really need to talk stance. Jake groans with unease, anticipating the ramblings in Flynn’s mind. It’s abundantly clear, Flynn has no intentions of leaving any time soon, and Jake will have to deal with it.

Damn, damn, damn! Go away, Flynn! Jake’s inner voice screeches out in his head, but pleads softly, just walk away, please.

He pauses in his thoughts as more concern grows from within.

Is he going question my sexuality, here and now? I may lose it if he does. I can’t deal with that kind of drama—not today. Jake’s nerves constrict with dread.



Being a Friend


With an arched brow and narrowed, focused eyes, Flynn gives Jake an awkward glaring, as if to see into Jake’s soul. A look Jake isn’t fond of.

“Jake, I need you to be honest with me. You okay? You appear as though the world is ragging on you?”

“Hmm.” Jake grunts an audible, “Sometimes…”

Flynn’s eyes tweak under Jake’s response. Scratching his well-groomed scalp, Flynn releases a garbled “Huh?” just shy of Jake’s hearing.

“What you mean by that, Jake?” Flynn raises his voice.

Jake shakes his head, not wanting any part of the incoming inquiries bound to come his way. “Forget it, will you? I meant nothing by it.”

“Okay. That only proves to me something is wrong. You don’t say crap like that unless you are avoiding something… Right?”

“That would make a point. Forget about it!” Jake doesn’t mean to sound snippy but comes across sour.

Flynn takes a moment to digest Jake’s harshness.

“Whoa! What happened to my happy, smiley, bubbly buddy? You don’t sound like the man I’ve known for the past ten years. So closed off now.”

Jake asserts agitation by clearing his throat, wanting to end the conversation. “Flynn, I have a lot of work to do. We can shelve this conversation for another day.”

Jake’s words seem to cut Flynn sharp and deep.

“Yo! What’s with the f’ing attitude? I thought we were better bros than that.”

Jake snarfs, returning to his editing.

“You know what, Jake? Ever since you and that mystery chick of yours broke it off six months ago? You’ve been in the craps. What was with all the f’ing cloak and dagger shit anyway, bro? Was she working for the Gabble? Were you guys keeping things on the DL? Avoiding the no-in-house fraternization clause? Dude, I am your Flynn. I would never do anything to jeopardize your life here.”

Hearing Flynn articulating his feelings sparks emotion from within. As laid out, Flynn is for all intents and purposes his Flynn—for better or worse. Albeit not remotely physical, yet still as connected as two guys can be. But this is one of those times Jake doesn’t want to push the boundaries of their male bond.

“Enough, Flynn!” Jake gazes hard at Flynn with an added pinch of hurt in his voice.

Flynn doesn’t back down but only gets fueled to go harder. “Are you going to ever come correct, Jake? Finally cut the crap and let whatever it is hanging there drop in the bowl.”

Jake’s eyes widen as he fixates his stare at Flynn. A chill surges through his body. Does he know? Is Flynn outing me?

“Life is still revolving, Jake,” says Flynn, stretching out his arm to the office around them.

Jake releases one of his telltale signs to Flynn by rummaging his hand through his layered hair.

Flynn digs in deep, clearly acknowledging he is getting under Jake’s skin. “Look, I get it. You’re still sour from the messy breakup and stuff. It’s expected. Two years was a bit of a run, I admit. But, dude! No piece of bush-tail should cause such irreparable damage.”

“Flynn, you don’t know crap. Please, let’s leave it at that?”

“I agree, I don’t know crap. All I know is you are a healthy thirty-one-year-old, soon to be thirty-two. Two weeks from now, pretty much. Don’t bring old baggage into your new year. I hate seeing you curled up within yourself, letting life zoom past you, buddy.”

Jake slopes his face deeper into his work, although work is the last thing on his mind. “Hmmm. Life? Yeah, whatever,” he grumbles under his breath.

Flynn, seeming to completely hate the dismissive nature of this new version of Jake, crosses his arms and settles into his don’t give me that shit pose. 

Out of his peripheral vision, Jake peeps over at Flynn and sighs—he knows that stance all too well. 

God, he won’t give up! Jake battles his thoughts. Please back off, Flynn. You don’t want to go this route? You can’t handle the life I am living right now. Especially with you being a class-A super homophobe. I can never tell you that the one you care about is a raging homo!

The pressure builds up in Jake’s cranium to the point of exploding. Jake’s tries to refocus on the work before him.

Clearly not accepting Jake’s dismissiveness, Flynn flops his wide rump on Jake’s workspace. His tush misses Jake’s writing hand by a slip of air. The act wards Jake’s internal defenses. His mind screams: Danger, danger, hot booty within reach.

The curve of his thighs and art-worthy shaped glutes, along with his spread-eagle sitting position… Jake ogles the perfect view of Flynn’s manhood. The smell of his sweet, pungent musk and remnants of day-old soap consumes Jake’s senses. Against all his better judgments, he only wishes Flynn would wrap him in his mature arms. Snuggling tight, with promises of never letting him go. As Jake gradually directs his eyes up to Flynn’s hot, sensual body, their eyes soon meet in a tell-all glare.

Jake’s heart pounds with great ferocity. Flynn, in turn, is eyeing him bewilderedly, glassing over into a cognizant stare, as if completely aware of what Jake was studying between his legs.

Crap, crap, crap! Did Flynn catch me eyeing his junk?

Flynn says nothing for a second but studies Jake with an odd look. Flynn nods as if confirming something within his own thoughts. Massaging his chin, he continues to examine the much too nervous Jake.

“I can’t help but notice your eyes, Jake. They are an amazing shade of green and usually sparkle like gems. But you don’t seem to have that sparkle today.”

Jake becomes antsy with Flynn hovering over him, his personal space inevitably compromised. This isn’t normal for Flynn, being so in his face.

“What do you want, Flynn?”

“What do I want? That isn’t the question that needs asking here, Jake.”

With a rolled eye of annoyance and a quick once-over at Flynn’s male package, Jake says, “Seriously, Flynn. Why’s your pizza-eating ass all over on my desk? Don’t you want to be going somewhere?”

“Oh, really. Going cut me down like that, little bro?” He firmly massages his thigh and ass cheek.

It catches Jake’s roaming eye. 

“Pizza crap! You know this is grade-A, pure Italian ass, Baby-Boy. It’s super juicy and meaty and loaded with manly perfection,” Flynn scoffs, seeming to enjoy the lack of control possibly showing in Jake’s eyes from gawking at his butt.

“Come on, Jake. Get your tight, muscly rump out of the damn sinkhole. I miss the sweet, dorky, playful Jake, who used to blush every time I’d say stupid crap like that.”

Jake is quick to protest. “I don’t blush, Flynn.”

Flynn’s eyes pop to the size of softballs, and his jaw drops with disbelief. “The hell you don’t. I don’t scope blushes on dudes—but seriously, Baby-Boy. You have the cutest blush on a dude, ever. You turn so freaking red, it’s adorable. Not to make you feel awkward and crap, but it’s so adorable, even I want to kiss those puckered-up rosy dimples of yours.”

“What the—? We are talking about my face, right?” Jake asks, confused by Flynn’s awkward way of putting things.

“Of course, El Sick-O, if it were anything else, I’d have to kill your Irish hide. Just to be clear—I only kiss the babes on their sweet booty bubbles. Not…” He points to Jake. “…my little Baby-Boy’s hairy badonkadonk.”

Jake’s biting hard on his lip, with what he imagines is the bleakest of expressions, not sure if this is a joke or not. Sensing Flynn’s fixated interest in his coyness brings a new concern to Jake. Is his buddy onto his hidden sexual orientation and is searching for kinks? 

“All you do know is work, work, work. Who in the hell are you trying to impress? Everyone knows you the King Cheese in this joint.”

Jake springs up defensively. “Excuse me? I’ve always been responsible, I am not kissing anyone’s ass.” His eyes torture him by slipping back to Flynn’s ass cheek.

“Yes, true, I’ll grant you that. But this isn’t it. The crap you are doing isn’t right.” Flynn gestures, redirecting Jake’s attention from his butt to the stack of work. “This isn’t about being responsible. It’s about you hiding from the world.”

Jake’s eyes widen, for he knows Flynn is speaking the truth.

“I am not hiding from anything!” He tries to sound convincing.

“Dude, you not returning my calls, you not hanging with the fellas. You know, come to think of it, you didn’t go to Jenna’s office party last month. Which struck me as peculiar, seeing how close you guys are. Such little besties and crap.”

“Hey!” Jake throws in his baritone in objection. “You can cut that back a notch.”

Flynn chuckles. “Whoa! My bad. Everybody knows I am your bestie.”

Jake rolls his eyes in discontent.

“But, seriously, she’s your personal one-man cheer squad. I bet that sweet little thing would gladly eat out that hairy booty of yours if she thought you’d give her a chance.”

Disgusted to the pit of his stomach, Jay shrieks, “Eww!” for various reasons. One, his sexual orientation, and two, the cursed visual of such an illicit act. It is clear to Jake— this conversation is not going to be a comfortable one in the least.

Jake slams his pen on to the desk. Mentally, he gives Flynn the victory for stealing his undivided attention.



What’s Wrong with Baby-Boy, Jake?


“Look, dammit!” Jake’s temper rises. “It’s not like that between Jenna and I, Flynn. You should already know this. I shouldn’t have to keep expressing this to everyone.”

Flynn raises his arms in surrender.

Jake continues, “I did tell her how sorry I was for missing it. I explained the deadlines, and she understood. So why is this coming back up? Some of us aren’t blessed with perfect skin tone or hair for the camera like you and Jenna. Some of us must hoof it to meet deadlines. We’re not fortunate to plaster our pretty faces on the screen for all to see. But we’re here to make you pretty people sound witty and delightful. And not dumbass bobblehead Barbie dolls.”

Squirming his ass cheeks about, Flynn grunts. Undoing several buttons of his shirt, he reveals a portion of his hairy chest. “Yeah, I know I am a sexy as hell. Was told I had the hottest bod on the set. Would you agree, baby?”

With another rolled eye and a cough, Jake then says, “Screw you, Flynn.” He shakes his head and steers his eyes away from Flynn’s arrogant stare. Jesus, is there no end to his vanity? 

“Buddy, it’s okay to admire my sexual prowess. It doesn’t make you queer. Besides, I know I am completely irresistible…right? It’s a curse I am willing to live with. Flynn White, the hundred percent, sweet and delicious Italian heartthrob of metropolitan news.” 

Flynn seeks Jakes eyes out by leaning forward. “Sorry, my ginger-headed wonder, all this sweetness is for ladies only.” He cups his bulge with a tug. “So no Italian sausage and buns for you, Baby-Boy!”

Flynn chuckles as he adjusts his junk several times, catching Jake sneaking a peek.

Flynn hops off the table and jiggles his ass cheeks with his fingertips in Jake’s face.

“See, this is a prime, middle-aged bubble rump here. Anyone would love to feast on these juicy buns, am I wrong?” Bending over and placing his rump closer to Jake’s face, Flynn firmly gropes his ass cheeks, squeezing tight a couple of times. For Jake’s pleasure?

Flynn smells clean, scented with a citric cologne. Fighting the need to reach over and lick his crease, Jake is relieved as Flynn finally returns to his table and showcases his crotch and bulge before him.

Mortified, Jake blinks, and his mind whisks him back to how Greg would make him bend over and smack his ass extremely roughly, trying to tease him. Remembering each of their sordid outings together leaves a sourness within him, a used and torn lonely hole inside.

Greg demanded a lot from Jake, things Jake wasn’t always comfortable with. Like dancing naked for him while Greg just watched with pleasure. A haunting pain aches in Jake’s heart. He can’t imagine Flynn willingly putting on such a show for him if Flynn knew Jake was gay. Flynn is such a surrogate big brother to him, so why does he taunt him so? It’s unclear what is circling in Flynn’s sordid, mixed-up mind, thrusting his body parts at him like that.

Does Flynn sense my hidden desire for male sexual attention, or is he oblivious to how this is hurting me inside? I want to touch and feel him, just once.

Jake mentally prays for his friend to stop.

Flynn probably expects a sharp, witty retort about how big his ass is or to perhaps see his buddy get coy and turn red. Instead, what he gets is a look he clearly is not comfortable with. Jake has sunk into a pit of despair.

As Jake pulls his gaze away from him, he wonders if there’s a spark of torment in his eyes, because he feels as if he wants to tear up.

Jake holds back a maelstrom of mixed emotions, and he doesn’t want Flynn anywhere near. Flynn becomes silent and still, his facial expression showing only the deepest concern and that he might be regretting his juvenile actions.

“Good job I didn’t accidentally fart in your face,” Flynn says. “Look, I don’t want to coddle you too much or emasculate you. I’m seeking a gray margin in which to speak. Sensitive speaking was never my strong suit. Yet, in this case, ostracizing you isn’t the best route, either.” Flynn softens his edginess a bit. “I can’t begin to know the horrors of what you do all day. You must be insane, making dense noggins like mine appear smart and witty for the camera. Your creative one-liners are pots of gold for us.” He pauses to swallow. “Still, I never want to hear you dissing your crap like that ever again. I will bend your big Celtic booty over my knee for sure.” 

Jake snarfs.

Flynn snarfs, too. “Yeah, your big ass would give me a hernia in the attempt.” Flynn takes another pause. “If you didn’t have such a body image problem, upstairs would melt having the opportunity to stick their fangs into that boyish man-face of yours.”

“Stop, Flynn. I don’t say things that aren’t true, it’s kind of cruel.” Jake shakes his head, not feeling that Flynn’s compliments are accurate.

Flynn protests, “For Christ’s sake! Look at your f’ing self, Jake. You’re anything but ordinary or ugly. You’re built like a freaking star receiver, and granted, you have the sweetest muscular tone definition ever. You’re a rockin’-ass Einstein, dude! And I dare say it because it’s true and you are like my little bro.“ Flynn double-checks the office. “Baby-Boy, you are sexy as freak—hands down.”

Jake’s brain goes into lockdown mode while he melts into his seat with raw embarrassment.



Having a Moment with Flynn.


“Curious to know… Is there any chance of you and your ex ever getting back together?” asks Flynn.

Jake lashes out hard with what he imagines is fire flaring from his eyes. “Freaking no, Flynn. I’ve told you this already. That crap is history—as in ancient. Dead!”

Going by Flynn’s expression, he seems to hear the pain. He watches Jake narrowing his eyes, targeting them like lasers for mentioning such a thing.

Flynn leans his face intimately to Jake’s eye level, their faces only a kiss apart. Breaking every bit of the bro-code with his proximity, Flynn stares deep into Jake’s eyes. Jake’s heart wants to burst from his rib cage, and he wants to run. He’s never sensed this coming—this closeness. 

Flynn’s hot, spearmint-scented breath blankets Jake’s entire face. Jake swallows deep, much too afraid to ask what Flynn is doing.

“That’s exactly what I’ve thought, Baby-Boy. After six freaking months! You are getting a new hole drilled in your ass by that same mysterious basket case ex of yours. Not good, Jake. Instead of having the rich, full life you’re meant to lead? Your dimpled cheeks are here, nearly in tears, for Pete’s sake. And why?”

Jake shakes his head in denial, even though pressure builds inside his eyelids. Emotional, Jake curses. 

“You’re hiding behind this desk, burying yourself in crazy work. Damnit, Baby-Boy. Haven’t you learned, no woman or man should ever have this much power over you. I’m saying this as your brother and dearest friend—someone who actually loves and gives a crap about you.”

Flynn is the only person Jake allows to call him Baby-Boy. Established years ago, Baby-Boy is a term of affection given to him by Flynn when they’d first met, because of how indelibly shy Jake was with everyone. The moniker stuck with him over the years, even after he’d grown in confidence and maturity. So far, it’s only been used in private settings such as this. Flynn has always been protective of Jake in their albeit non-sexual relationship. Flynn also knew, if it came down to a fist fight, Jake would clobber him. 

Jake sparks with natural defensive banter, not wanting to cry in front of Flynn. “Hmm! Didn’t know you cared so much about my bottom, Flynn. Did you want to kiss it to make my boo-boos go away?”

The serene moment is destroyed by Jake’s witty retort. Flynn seems to yield to the proverbial door being slammed in his face. Jake’s sarcasm is the telltale of his defensive triggering, his emotional core being challenged.

“Fine, Jake. Crap on my dick, I can take it. I’ve been watching you for some time, and recently you have been lost. Even your mood with Greg has flipped a whole three hundred and sixty lately. You were always nosed deep in his chunky black ass. I didn’t know if you could breathe with your face so lodged up in there. For the past few years, if he told you to bend your ass over and spread ’em, your booty hole would be smacking its lips for his dick.”

Jake grunts and sighs deeply, not wanting to hear any of this.

Flynn doesn’t stop. “Lately, something changed. You’re not as eager to please him. You avoid eye contact like you are with me right now.”

Jake imagines he’s gone pale with fear. Flynn’s uncanny observation is hitting a little too close to home.

Flynn lightens his tone. “Oh, and back to the whole ass-worship thing?” He snickers. “Let’s get real. Everybody saw that mighty ass of steel you have, babe! Those perfect-shaped mounds and deep dimples were the show that day. I’m straight, and damn if I didn’t get a little wood from seeing that.”

Jake stares with confused shock, unsure of what he is talking about.  

Flynn flashes back to the past as he explains, “Remember when you were mega late getting to work because of the freakish rainstorm? You were wearing your gray, skin-tight biker suit. Only thing was, it was quite a bit more revealing than you thought when wet. Something of which you didn’t notice yourself—but we sure did. Not only did you sport those meaty dimpled glutes of yours, but you also paraded your thick pound of Irish meat and potatoes to the party, in all its veiny, grand detail. No one wanted to embarrass you, and Jenna gave you a long coat out of the lost and found closet. She knew you were exposing yourself, and in her way was helping you. Oddly, though, that was the first day Greg really seemed to want to interact with you directly.”

Flynn bursts into deep laughter and regroups himself. “I am pretty sure it’s still quite the rave and talked about in the ladies’ room.”

“It’s not all that. Believe me. And…I didn’t…”

“Hey, hey!” Flynn breaks up the pity party. “There’s no shame in priding your meaty assets, Baby-Boy. I admit mine isn’t bundled as nicely as yours, but I can’t complain. I do good for a forty-year-old down there.”

“How do I respond to that, Flynn?” Jake’s voice cracks like a pubescent youth’s.

“Never feel ashamed of what you got, Jake.” Flynn cups Jake’s prickled chin, massaging the short hairs with his thumb. 

Jake flusters, his face surely a bright fire-engine red while draped in his natural coy grin. A solitary tear drizzles off his cheek into his stubble.

Flynn looks deeply into his eyes. “What’s scaring you, Jake? It surely can’t be me.” Flynn’s eyes seem to search for some kind of a clue.

In their silence, Flynn’s pulls his face in tight.  

Jake’s heart palpitates. His lips twitch, and he moistens them, insatiable anticipation thrumming through his veins. Great fear befalls Jake, riddling him with goosebumps. Is this happening? Is Flynn going to kiss me?

If their lips meet, it could irrefutably change the whole balance of their friendship. 

Flynn’s thinned lips gently graze Jake’s bottom lip, and he moves into position, interlocking his mouth with Jake’s. Uncontrollable moans mount in Jake as Flynn’s tongue nudges to enter Jake’s resistant plump lips.

The special moment is rudely crashed when a husky Italian accent comes out of nowhere.

Well, damn, fellas, you couldn’t wait for the chicks. You have to suck each other’s faces and crap.”

Jake and Flynn break free immediately, seeing Tony standing over them, shaking his head. But he doesn’t seem shocked at all.

“Happy hour is in full swing downstairs, guys. That’s if you two wanna score some chicks and drinks—or perhaps you prefer each other, I don’t care. Not my business. Time’s a moving, loverboys.

Tony being totally unexpected, both Flynn and Jake are experiencing a sudden loss of breath. Flynn locks eyes with Tony, whose hairy exposed belly is undoubtedly eager for beer. Tony doesn’t seem fazed seeing Flynn kissing Jake so passionately. Tony is probably the only guy who knows how close they are and seeing something like a kiss doesn’t startle him.


 

Flynn shuts his eyes. “All right, Tony. I’m coming. Keep your lacy panties from bunching, will ya?”

“Freak you, Flynn. And leave your goddamn Baby-Boy alone already. He’s too good for your stinking cunt ass. You sick, twisted pervert,” Tony shouts, brushing Flynn off in the process of leaving. “Oh, by the way? The panties belonged to your mother, dickhead.”

Flynn gives a nervous chuckle, covering the fear inside. He realizes what he’s about to do is seriously wrong on so many levels. He forks Tony his extended middle finger.

Dead silence follows.

Flynn wonders whether Jake is on the same wavelength as him, because neither of them mentions a word of their intimate moment. Is Jake choosing to ignore it, too, at least for the moment?

With a sparky brush-off with his hand, Jake glares at Flynn, who is stuck in the moment.

“Don’t worry, nothing happened,” Jake says. “You just consoled me, that’s all, Flynn.”

Flynn appreciates Jake sweeping their awkward moment away.

“I am fine,” Jake says. “I’m thankful for your talk and you saying the things you did. It meant a lot. It means a lot having you as my friend, Flynn. Besides, I’m not going to stay late, after all. You go and have a freaking blast with the guys, maybe have a drink for me.” Jake breaks into laughter. “Maybe I’ll join you guys next week—we’ll see.”

“Dude, freak me! I don’t drink seltzer water with lime, yuck!” Flynn protests.

Jake bursts out in laughter. Flynn glows, knowing things are still cool between them.

Flynn presses his firm hand over Jake’s heart, tickling his aroused nipple with his fingertip. “Jake, I missed you. I will hold you to your word, Baby-Boy, about next week—and freak Tony, the little peeping prick. I can kiss my Baby-Boy anytime I choose to.”

Jake bashfully smiles, and Flynn hopes Jake knows he is serious.

Flynn massages Jake’s shoulder as he rises off the desk. “See you Monday, big guy.” Flynn remembers something. “Oh, yeah, before I go. Do you know the new writer coming next week? Sherry mentioned it early this morning.”

Jake’s brow peaks with interest, and he cocks his head to the side, a telltale sign to Flynn when something is off to Jake, like a puppy’s head tilt.

“Another writer—you sure? No one said anything to me.”

“Hmm, odd. Usually, you’re the first to learn things like that, aren’t you?” Flynn launches an eerie chuckle, catching Jake’s eye. “Here’s another look at my juicy ass. One last spin before leaving the station, and free to grope tonight only.”



Flynn smashes his butt in Jake’s flabbergasted face. Instinctively, Jake takes a healthy chunk of Flynn’s cushiony cheeks and finds himself indiscriminately squeezing them. Realizing how wrong it is, he quickly shoves Flynn’s ass away, although the sheer enjoyment of feeling him in such a way is epic and toxic.

Flynn glances back with an odd expression of fulfillment.

After observing him depart, Jake’s left alone with his thoughts.

Is Greg looking to bump me off this time? Hoping I would give up already?

Jake continues to resent the illicit, one-sided affair with his current boss. 

Unfortunately for Jake, Greg remains his superior. Uprooting his life and leaving the company he’s dedicated all his heart and soul to isn’t an option. Because of this, Jake still finds himself in a submissive role, under Greg’s cold leadership. Greg’s been pressuring him daily with escalating tasks since their breakup. 

Back in the here and now, Jake reminisces. Flynn had been rubbing his face with the hand he’d scratched his sweaty nuts with. Jake’s disgusted and yet honored by such intimacy. Jake looks at his hands, still in disbelief.

Flynn allowed me to touch and squeeze his plushy cheeks with no resistance.

Jake feels joyful at the moment. His straight buddy came on to him tonight, just to show he is accepting of him for who is really is.



Mrs. Greenly’s Heart Talk


Coming in from a before-sunrise jog on the first Saturday of February, Jake shivers while attempting to get back into his apartment building. The icy wind and cold attack his fingers with a bitter sting as he latches on to the freezing brass door handle. His body is wet and frigid to the bone, and he’s trying his best to control his rapid breaths, forcing them to a slow, rhythmic pace. He blinks coming in from the darkened sky to the blinding radiance of the main entry foyer of the lobby. He hopes the lobby’s heat will ease his aching balls that seem intent on crawling inside his body. 

The warmth of the building’s heating system is primed for the winter’s bite. In the breezeway to the lobby, Jake can finally begin his needed to thaw out. The lights pierce Jake’s eyes. 

Regaining his proper sight once again, Jake admires the porcelain floors. In the lobby, there’s a complete lounging area. Complimentary red sofas and button-styled standalone chairs are all around. A gold-trimmed elevator, with iron-crafted gates, faces out to the lobby.  It allows the residents a view of the elegant landing from the fourth floor and down. Near the elevator sits a circular concierge station. The hired personnel manning the counter handles information and mailing services. 

Jake is saturated with sweat. He flexes his pecs, raw energy pulsing through him. He stops at the concierge station and gathers his mail from the female behind the counter. After skimming through the bills and junk mail advertisements, he turns to face the stairs. The circle stairs are visibly open to the fourth floor, giving the lobby a grand and spacious feel. Living on the third floor, Jake doesn’t bother with the elevator. 

He ascends the stairs. Jake’s nostril’s burn with the scent of musty old burnt ash, which can only mean one thing: Mrs. Abigale Greenly is near. She lives across the hall from him along with her husband. Peering up the stairs, he locks his gaze on her while she makes a cautious descent. Like Jake, Abigale has a noted aversion to the elevators, perhaps never fully trusting them.

Extending a breathy greeting to his mature neighbor, Jake gleams a charming smile. “Morning, Mrs. Greenly.”

Over the years of knowing Mrs. Greenly, he knows she is hardcore when it comes to her old stale pack of smokes.

“Morning, Mr. Hayden. Out and doing that health stuff so early again, hmm? Boy, you gonna catch pneumonia out there, cold as it is, and you’re dripping with sweat,” says Mrs. Greenly. 

Pausing next to her on the stair, Jake removes his earbuds and beams a rosy smile. With Jake’s pale skin, getting rosy cheeks from the bitter cold is an easy task. He glances at the elderly, pint-sized African-American woman.

“Uh, yeah, I am, Mrs. Greenly. Trying to keep healthy is all.”

“It never ceases to amaze me how the youngster’s today work so hard at being healthy. Always trying to beat death by not enjoying life. Not ever thinking that one day the K-12 bus could pop a curve and splatter your insides all over the nice clean sidewalk. But hey, they’ll be able to say how healthy you look for the grave.” She yields a raspy chuckle.

With a lift of his eyes and a pulled-back grin, Jake says, “Ouch! When you put it in such a way, it does appear redundant. But still, I enjoy it. It refreshes and clears my mind of the world around me.”

As if on cue, Mrs. Greenly scrunches her lips and delves into her handbag. “Well, if you stop running around like a madman, not to mention leaking all over the place, you could be reading this.”

The little old woman holds in her hand a palm-sized Bible, which has seen better days. The book is coming apart at the seams, and the dark-brown leather covering has faded. Even so, Mrs. Greenly holds tight to it as if Jesus himself gave it to her.

Jake cracks a smile, knowing he could never argue with a Bible-toting elder.

Continuing her gradual descent, Mrs. Greenly spins back. “You know, Mr. Hayden, that in two weeks it’s Valentine’s day?” A cheeky ear-to-ear grin appears on her wrinkled little face. “Have you anybody to share it with?”

Jake stumbles, at a loss for words as she continues to study him.

“Lenny and I never seem to catch you with anyone.”

“No, I don’t have anyone special at the moment, Mrs. Greenly.”

“Oh! That’s a shame. A handsome young thing like you? What is the point of the muscles if there is no one to hold them with? A good wholesome boy like yourself should have someone to help brighten your good days and weather out your dark and stormy ones.”

“Hmm, that would be great and all, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

“Why, are you one of them weird cereal-box killers or something?” 

Jake tries hard to refrain from laughing. The cereal-box reference is too cute to overlook. “Um! No, ma’am, I don’t run around killing cereal boxes…or people for that matter.” He grins. “I’m just not one of those lucky people to find love, like you and Mr. Greenly.”

“Lucky? Lucky hell! Lenny and I fought like cats and dogs when we first started seeing each other. That is what we called it back in the day. Still, I laugh, thinking about the hell I put that poor old fool through. I didn’t play easy to get back then. It’s a wonder he stayed at all. But thank Jesus he did!” She giggles, reminiscing. “It’s a shame you don’t have someone. Me and Lenny notice how hard you work, and yet there’s no one to work for or come home to.”

Mrs. Greenly takes a seat on the step, maybe to rest her sore legs. “Work and exercise are good things. Your forties will soon come a-knocking, and before you know it, so will your fifties and sixties. You should be gearing to settling down with a sweet little companion. It’ll do wonders for your mind and spirit, too. Not to mention a few other things.” She cracks a raspy giggle.

Like daggers, her words hit him square between the eyes. Not wanting to get into a deep conversation about what he has or hasn’t done, Jake pauses for a moment before looking her in the eyes. “Someday. Who knows?”

Mrs. Greenly pulls out a piece of folded newspaper from her bag. 

“Here, take this. There is a lovely article you should find inspirational. It’s about a young guy who’s sensitive like you. He’s struggled on that road of love. The article is on the fourth page, under the title, It’s Written in the Stars. The author, unknown, writes with a unique voice, much like you with your words. A young man; he has found and lost, and lost his way, giving up on the idea of finding love again. Unlike most of your lonely hearts running around like little headless chickens, he made a stand and asked for guidance to lead his life. Getting an answer, he starts to seek it out.”

Jake kindly accepts the paper. “Hmm…sounds interesting. What happened?”

“What’s the point of me giving you something to read, and I tell you what happens? You need to read for yourself. Now I’d best be on my way. Mr. Greenly is going to want his beef stew tomorrow night. I best get over to Nick’s to get some of their top choices, a cut of round-chuck.”

Jake smiles as he helps her to rise. Getting her legs readjusted, she wobbles her way down the stairs. Jake returns to his ascent.



The ambient rush of heat combs over Jake when he enters the threshold of his apartment. An oh-so-cozy warmth fills his inner being as he rests the paper on his smoked-glass coffee table. Exhausted, he makes his way to the bedroom. Beginning to undress, he steps out of his moist, gray sweat suit, one layer at a time, all the way down to his soaked black cotton briefs. Stumbling into the bathroom, he drops his briefs at the door and kicks them back toward the bed. He proceeds to take a relaxing, steamy hot shower.

Refreshed from the shower, Jake gets out a toasted olive bagel with a raspberry crème fraiche filler, all purchased down at Millie’s Coffee Shop for his breakfast. Set for a relaxing day of leisure, he makes his way to the couch. Dressed in his colorful flannel emoji onesie, he plops himself on the pillowed couch, resting the bagel on the coffee table. Jakes tucks his right leg underneath his other. His gaze gravitates toward the newspaper.

That Mrs. Greenly is something else!

Taking a sip of his comfort coffee, he unravels the paper to the story she mentioned. 


Are you one of the millions of men out there who find themselves alone in a world full of people, none of which are destined for you? Are you a victim of false love, broken love, or widowed by love? Does there seem to be nothing written in your book for a happy ending? Does a life of compassion and intimacy seem to be a thing of the past? Are you riddled with angst, misdirected, and walking into dead ends—is that all you seem to be surrounded by? Then, my friend, you are not alone. I fit into many of these categories. After two years alone and miserable, I decided to look up to the stars for some possible answers. Astrologers have done it for centuries. I thought, hey! I am a free-spirited Aquarius, I should open my possibilities up. Within those heavenly constellations is a story written for each one of us. One with your name written on it, too. Here’s my story, from the beginning…

Jake starts his read with piqued interest, but he underestimates his exhaustion from the morning run and drifts off mid-read. His slumber lasts far longer than anticipated, way into the evening hour, and in a nutshell, he loses his Saturday. 



What’s in a Number?


The weekend flies by amazingly fast. Jake wakes to the sound of his alarm clock radio broadcasting the morning personalities of Bob and Karen, a rival network.

“Morning, all you dippy heads, it’s another bright and chilly Monday morning! This is Bob, here with my beautiful co-host, Karen. Only nine frosty days until Valentine’s Day! Are you ready? We are here to bring you up on the up and up!”

“The uptake today is what, Bob?” says Karen.

“What a weekend, Karen. Can you believe the chill in the air?”

“Oh, yeah, you’re right about that, Bob! Speaking of chills, here’s something that will give your soul a different kind of chill, Bob.”

“And what would that be, Karen?”

“An article in Friday’s paper, in the style’s section? Wow, what a heads-up for single detached men out there. You know the guy who has given up on the whole prospect of finding love in today’s chaos?”

“Funny you should say that, Karen. For once I read an article in the style’s section, where I, as a married man, can relate. The article hits so many points about life’s expectations. But he gives way to an idea how we may need to look beyond ourselves for inspiration.”

“Exactly, and what’s more majestic than the stars?”

“You nailed it, Karen. Whoever this young guru is? Detailing his life’s struggle and loss is mind-blowing and profound.”

“And the fact he explains how he’s committed to seeking out the love of his life, whom he knows nothing about, because of a wish? Amazing!”

“You got it, Karen. This broken young soul lays out his plan for going after that wish, which came to him. Leaving home, family, and life he knew all too well, for a total mystery.”

“Well, Bob! Let’s just wish the best to this brave soul in achieving his question, which was… Written in the Stars.”   

Shaking his head to snap out of his slumber, Jake knuckles his eyes. Removing the gunk from them, he wants to block out the ramblings of the radio personas’ perky voices. Rising from his mattress with a primal grunt, he totters to his feet on the slick wood floors. The cool touch awakens all his receptors. Stretching his arms to the ceiling, he releases a long yawn, which leaves a sense of satisfaction. Jake gives a good double-handed scratch to his itchy bottom. It dawns on him to check out the time. The clock flashes red: six a.m.  

Oh, crap! It’s Monday. I’m going to be late. No jog for me this morning!” he says while running to the bathroom. 

A text chirps his phone in the next room, on the kitchen counter, as he’s finishing up in the bedroom.  

With his ears perked, he questions himself. Who could that be at this time of the morning? 

Not ready to check messages yet, Jake is missing one thing to start his morning off right. He needs Mrs. Millie’s special brewed coffee, right down the street. 

Grabbing his double-lined overcoat and scarf, Jake tosses his keys into his side pocket. While checking for his wallet, he does one last quick once-over of the apartment. He disconnects the charger cable to his cell in the kitchen before dashing out the door.  

Thanks to the new security feature of the building, he doesn’t need to worry about locking the door. They are automatic in locking themselves upon exiting.


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