Cupcake Kissin’ 14 – Alex Ankarr

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Cupcake Kissin’ 14 – Alex Ankarr

‘I’m so sorry,’ Langot responds, but it’s more to Caspar than to Sandy. And Caspar has calmed a little bit, and when Langot adds, ‘Was it, uh, sudden?’ he can smile about it.

He’s cheerful, as he takes the cake-slice and identifies – what was it, that Sandy had said? She nudges him with one elbow to correct his aim, and yes, that’s it, the ones Sandy has just had to bring in from the back-room bakery to augment their glaring absence of trayed and displayed stock. The dark-chocolate caramel muffins, topped with toffee frosting, lush with chocolate sprinkles. ‘Just the one?’ he asks, with a tip of the head to Langot, and gets a confirmatory nod. ‘Oh,’ he says, and busies himself with boxing and packaging, ‘it was just exactly how she would have wanted it, really. Wasn’t it, Sandy?’ The whole bakery know how Gertie went, now. He smiles at Langot. ‘She was out on a date with a younger man – Sid Gemmell, a spry seventy-two. They had an evening of dancing, took in a show, got a little tipsy, according to their usual waiter at Gertie’s favourite Italian. He took her home, kissed her on the doorstep-‘

‘Sid is a perfect gentleman,’ Sandy interjects, looking a little misty-eyed.

Caspar snorts a little at that, and it gets a raised eyebrow out of Langot. ‘If he really is, then that won’t have constituted quite the perfect evening, not for old Gertie. But apparently close enough, by all accounts. Macchiato, is it, sir?’ There’s no point not getting on promptly with an order, he thinks, a little bit prim perhaps. It sets a good example to Sandy, who is entirely too keen on a good old gossip with customers – for all her lecturing of him on that and multiple other subjects – and less keen on the spirit of customer service than on paying lip-service to its importance.

He’s turning into a real little old business owner, positively professional. It’s a little bit unnerving. He finishes off the frothing on the macchiato and turns back to the counter, smiles at Langot. Who is watching him rather closely, and not smiling. Inscrutable, Caspar would classify that look as. Setting the cup on the counter, he says carefully, feeling his eyes not perfectly dry – even now – ‘So, it looks like he dropped her off at her place, she went indoors, poured a nightcap – pretty strong, the paramedic said – and went to bed. Died in her sleep, heart failure. Much missed by all, very much missed.’ He coughs, and looks down at his feet as he brushes at his face, the best cover he can manage.

‘Very much missed,’ Sandy echoes, and sounds genuinely sad. ‘But even now she’s gone, she’s still managing to cause havoc, isn’t that right, Caspar?’ And she turns to give him a grin.

‘For me at least,’ Caspar confirms. ‘That’s five dollars forty, Mr Langot, thank you.’ Langot hands over the bills, and Caspar gives him his change as he shoulders coffee and muffin both.

‘I guess by that you mean leaving you this beautiful bakery?’ Langot drawls, looking a bit amused. ‘That doesn’t seem like any kind of trouble to me. Is that right, the place is yours now? That’s a sweet thing for your aunt to do for you.’

And Caspar puts his hands on his hips, and nods at Sandy. ‘You don’t know what I have to put up with. I never knew trouble until I knew the staff of the Honey Gummy Gertie Bakery, isn’t that right, Sandy?’

He gets a swat with a serving slice for his pains, and ducks, and they wind up in a little faux-spat, both giggling.

Langot’s still watching, when they’ve sobered up a bit and calmed down, turned back to him, emotion and horseplay done with. Professional, Caspar thinks. Professional behaviour must be maintained at the Honey Gummy Gertie Bakery at all times! Langot’s bought his cake, and his macchiato, and he’s technically done. There’s no reason for him to hang around, to lean up on the counter and smile at Caspar.

He’s doing it anyway, though. Takes a sip of too-hot coffee, and winces a little bit, very beautifully. ‘You don’t like cake?’ he asks Caspar. Caspar can feel, even though she’s to the side and a little behind him, the sudden raise of Sandy’s eyebrows, the way she edges just a trifle further back. Either to get out of his light, or to get a better view of the proceedings.

Well, new developments are always interesting, Caspar thinks. He feels the slightly flirtatious twist to his lips as he replies, the flutter-and-return of eye contact. ‘Oh, I’m sweet enough,’ he manages. ‘What about you?’ he asks, turning it around, leaning in himself. He’s pretty proud of himself, right this minute. Is he seriously, genuinely, definitely pulling, then? Here, in the bakery, in his pink pinny? With tissue-thin plastic gloves on his hygienic hands? With his hairnet on? ‘Do you like cake? I guess you must, if you’re such a regular you knew my auntie by name. Do you like this bakery, so very much? With your own special order, and everything?’ He gives it his best, special smile – the one with the glancing gaze, and his lids down, lashes in full effect.

If Langot could get any closer, over the distance of the counter, then he would be closer. And his eye-contact is unwavering, steady. ‘Yeah, I have a sweet tooth. I like cake, and other sweet things.’

Caspar isn’t sure if that’s a bit of blatant flirtation, or just pure teasing, but he’s pretty much charmed anyway. When Langot’s out of the door – with one last grin, and taking a big chomping first pass at the cake in his hand – he’s stood there with his chin in his hand on the counter, and sighing and smiling into space like a complete idiot.

© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014

No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.

Photo credit: duncan johnston under Creative Commons licence modified for book cover use.

 

Cupcake Kissin’ 13 – Alex Ankarr

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Cupcake Kissin’ 13 – Alex Ankarr

Caspar doesn’t get to be the one giving the sad tidings, though, because Sandy springs out of the back-room bakery section, and is all over the both of them at the most impressive top speed. And her charm offensive is in full effect, too. And it isn’t as if Sandy doesn’t give good customer service on a normal day, with a normal customer. But she’s certainly going all out with this guy. (And Caspar can scarcely blame her.)

‘Mr Langot! It’s been so long since the last time you came in to see us!’ she flutters at him happily. Boy, subtle she isn’t. Doesn’t seem like she’s even going for subtle. ‘I’m so happy to see you here at Honey Gummy’s again!’

Caspar has to give a discreet cough at that, which is his own form of revenge for the past few days, for induction and training and utterly ridiculous and inflexible bakery procedures, to which he now thoroughly understands he must stick rigidly, or risk forfeiting his nice little inheritance. Sandy is probably caught off guard, what with the sudden arrival of what is clearly her favourite customer, but it’s not like she’s been cutting him any slack for difficult circumstances. He’s been thrown into the cupcake-hurling business, inducted about as quickly as a doughnut getting dipped in and out of the deep-fat fryer, and done up in white linen and hairnet as pretty much the most effective prophylactic ever, since there’s no-one on the planet who is going to be interested in getting busy with him, not once they’ve clocked him in this horrendous get-up.

And yet, Sandy still picks him up on every single infraction, every failure to have the prescribed customer greeting down pat. And he her boss, technically, even so! How’s that goose sauce tasting, Sandy, he thinks a little vindictively, grinning at her, before saying, ‘Or even, welcome to the Honey Gummy Gertrude Bakery, what can I get you, cupcake?’ with a very meaningful cough.

Sandy spares him a quick glare, and gives him a slight kick under cover of the counter. ‘You covered that, didn’t you, sir,’ she points out, and the tone of her voice is mean, even if her eyes say she’s slightly amused by his jabbing. And she turns back to hot guy, clearly not really having a lot of attention to spare for Caspar. ‘This is my new boss, Mack, can you believe it?’ she says, with a lot more eye-rolling and eyebrow-raising than Caspar feels is entirely fair or reasonable. ‘The one in the hairnet.’

‘I’m rocking it a lot harder than you are, Sandy,’ Caspar points out, although that is of dubious factual accuracy. Sandy is a bubble-headed blond with big blue eyes, and actually can kind of pull off a white and hot pink bakery staff uniform combo without looking entirely un-doable. Even the hairnet.

‘He’s right,’ a very smooth voice confirms, and Caspar feels his head spin on his neck like he’s actively trying to rupture something. ‘It’s a very good look on him.’

And Caspar eyeballs this joker carefully, because there’s no way in hell the guy isn’t making fun of him. And, yeah, certainly – there’s a little smirk pulling at that narrow, pleasingly modelled mouth. But in fact it doesn’t look malicious. In fact it might even be interpreted as an invitation to a shared joke. To making a little fun of the other third party here, in fact.

Caspar’s day is looking up. ‘Sure it is,’ he agrees solemnly, looking down at himself. He’s got white slacks on – regulation – under his white overall. And a pink checked gingham shirt, under his pink floral pinny. God damn, but it’s not helped by the perky little pink cap over the hairnet either.

Caspar has been assessed, by many an objective observer, as an attractive young man. (Some of them not so very objective, either. Some of them slightly inebriated at the time, and some of them quite definitely trying to get into his pants. But then, that just amounts to further evidence in his favour, to Caspar’s mind.) It would take a helluva pretty face, though, he thinks, to get past the hurdle of his current outfit, to overwhelm it.

He does have quite a pretty face, though. Blue eyes, quite like Sandy’s. Chestnut curly hair, what you can see of it, under the god damn hairnet. ‘You look familiar,’ hot guy – Mack, apparently – says to him, forehead creasing up like he’s trying to place Caspar, now. ‘Do I know you from…’

Caspar laughs at that, but it’s not really so funny. It gives him an odd sharp pang in the middle of his chest, in fact. This guy was evidently one of Aunt Gertie’s favourite customers. Had to be, if he asks for her particularly, knows that she’ll know his order. It’s not the first time it’s happened in the last week, but it’s a special, peculiar, sharp little grief each time. ‘No, sir,’ he says, voice softening a little, enough so he can hear it himself. ‘You don’t know me from anywhere. But if I look familiar it’s because Mrs Honey was my aunt.’

This Mack is evidently pretty damned sharp, sharp enough to pick up immediately on the past tense in use. His face sobers up, a lot, and the look he levels at Caspar is softer, dialling down from just a touch flirtatious, to sympathetic, and a little emotional himself. ‘Gertie’s dead?’ he checks.

Caspar gives a brief perfunctory smile, and begins to move the cakes around in the display with the tongs, arranging them in a more orderly fashion where they’ve been disarranged by service. And Sandy – who is not so bad, who is a good girl – rushes in to break the awkwardness. ‘Oh, Mr Langot. I didn’t think to realise, that you haven’t been in since before – well, since before Mrs H passed on.’

© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014

No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.

Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.

Cupcake Kissin’ 12 – Alex Ankarr

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Cupcake Kissin’ 12 – Alex Ankarr

So he’s not in any hurry to turn and greet the customer, as the doorbell jangles and footsteps enter the store. He’s busy, watching after Sandy, sighing over his own terrible, terrible, burnt-sugar and coffee scented morning. (Damn right the money had better be good, to make this whole endeavour worthwhile.) And at this point – even just a few days in, at the point where he’s really still just a rookie with frosting stains on his overall, who can’t keep the freezee menu straight in his head, for all he’s still technically the boss – it’s a little bit terrifying that the customer-spiel is apparently engraved in his head to the point that he doesn’t even have to think about it, even staring into space and twiddling a candy cane between finger and thumb.

So that’s what he does, because it’s an issue that is distinctly non-negotiable. It has been made abundantly clear to him, in his aunt’s lawyers’ offices, and here in his brand new shiny business opportunity, that if there is any serious infraction of, or disrespect for, his aunt’s loony-tuney bequest stipulations, then that is liable to get him, if not summarily shot out on his ear and denuded of sudden munificence, then certainly pulled in to explain his failures and deficiencies, and possibly put on report for more serious repercussions.

‘…get you, cupcake?’ is the first thing he’s even aware of, after momentarily zoning out, because yes, it’s that automatic, even already. And with the realisation of his inattention, he jumps, stiffens, stands to attention and slaps a big beaming I am the king of customer service shit-eating smile on his face.

Or, at least, he’s fully aware that that is what should have happened. In fact, what snaps him back to a state of full customer-serving attention, is a cough right up close at his ear. And then a low rumble of a voice, that’s musical enough to set something going, alert and interested, in his loins. And it’s clear and sharp of diction enough to signal that the possessor is maybe just a little bit annoyed. (He’s heard that kind of voice before, a time or two, in bars, in places it would be less inappropriate to act on it in ways that directly involve his loins. It’s a rare kind of voice, though. Not the kind you’re going to run up against every day.)

It’s enough to jerk him up out of a waking slumber, anyway. It would be plenty, anywhere, to get him to take a very close and interested look at the owner of a voice like that.

So he does, but he tries to make it a strictly professional, cupcake-selling kind of a look. And he hopes he succeeds, but there still, he owns, might be just the trace of a leer involved in it. Because this guy is hot.

Caspar knew he would be, already, before look one, before lifting and turning his head. No-one with a voice like that is going to be not-hot. He is, however, several degrees more scorching than even Caspar had anticipated. Closely-cropped russetty-blond hair, sharply flashing hazel eyes, and a sensitively-modelled poet’s face that’s topped off with a surprisingly tight, uncompromising mouth, a severely angular chin. He’s tall and built and relaxed, gracefully leaning against the counter, leaning in towards Caspar. But he’s only relaxed in the way that someone considering which one of several potentially lethal moves to employ is relaxed. There’s a faint trace of a smile on his face, but his eyes are harder than hazel eyes can usually manage, definitely annoyed.

This really isn’t the way to treat a customer. (Or a potential lay, but that’s just an aside.) With the sudden shot of adrenalin giving him the old espresso pop-eyes and speedy voice, Caspar is immediately paying a whole lot more attention than he was just half a minute ago. He’s smiling big, and he’s giving it a whole lot of whatever they teach salespeople at salesperson charm school. And all of it on instinct.

Auntie Gertie would be so extremely proud of him. ‘Sorry, you caught me napping there, got to admit! But believe me, here at Honey Gummy Gertrude’s – HGGs, I like to call it! – we are all about the customer! What can I do for you, sir? We go all out to please and I really want to make your day!’

Okay, so maybe he’s going a little far over the top. But considering his outfit, it’s not like he has any actual chance of a score, here. (Sadly.) He might as well sell all the damn cupcakes and baked goods he can, and at least make some money to cushion his bottom line, while he’s working.

It gets him a questionably raised eyebrow, and the guy straightens up a little, to survey him more carefully. Which is a mini-tragedy all by itself. Getting up this close and personal to this fine, fine specimen of manhood is the best news that Caspar has had all day thus far. Not that that’s saying a whole lot, considering his day thus far. But it’s saying a little, at least.

‘You don’t know my order?’ fine, fine guy asks. ‘No,’ he adds, sounding resigned. ‘Of course you don’t know my order. Where’s Sandy?’ he asks hopefully, looking a fraction friendlier, as the thought occurs to him to ask for someone who’s clearly one of his regulars. ‘Or maybe Mrs Honey? Is she around?’

Well. The Hot Guy clearly isn’t all that much of a regular, if he’s not up on the latest developments regarding ownership of Honey Gummy Gertrude’s. And Caspar feels a little bit of a pang, distracting him – over the prospect of having to give someone the same old bad news he’s given so often lately, to customer after customer, and over his Auntie Gertie herself. It’s still fresh. The old broad would be glad to know he’s grieving her so sincerely. (Then she would slap him around the chops for maudlin whining, and take him out for a drink or eight.)

© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014

No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.

Photo credit: duncan johnston under Creative Commons licence modified for book cover use.

 

The Entomologist and NoSpiders-Man – 4

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The Entomologist and NoSpiders-Man – 4

Adam couldn’t speak, himself. He’d have choked on a word. It was impossible to come up with even a fumbled, ‘um, hi’. What was he going to do, affect nonchalance, act like he just walked around the building in the buff all the time?

After the awkwardest brief pause in the world, though, Markov saved him. He stood a little straighter – making the most of his diminutive height.  And he looked Adam right in the eye – because anywhere else would have been awkward.  “’Evening, there, neighbour,” was how he opened the conversation.  He folded his arms, and there might have been a twitch of amusement round the pretty curl of his lips. “Interesting weather we’ve been having, right? Warm,” he emphasized.

His gaze traveled and lingered over Adam’s shoulder, arm, hip – suggesting, wordlessly, that a spot of naturism was a perfectly reasonable response to the heat. Or that maybe Adam thought so, at least.

 

 

 

 

© Alex Ankarr 2017, all rights reserved.  Including the stellar artwork, don’t go stealing my spidey, peoples.

 

YAY!  3rd installment of my bug-hunter/bug-phobic gay romance, here it is!

let’s talk about boys and kissing

Yeah!  Let’s!  Admittedly, these chicks may be talking about the adorable joey.  What a cutie!  But I like to think they’re obediently conforming to the dominant paradigm and submitting to externally imposed peer-group  demands, just the same.

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Anyway, I’ve got into a new writer! Isn’t it always so terrific to discover somebody new-to-you, and plunge into their work, to experience a whole new way of looking at the world?

Yeah. It’s Alison Bechdel. YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF HER. I’m always a little late to the party, every time.

Really, this is the point where I ought to play at being Cooler out of Flaked. “Dennis! Your little pop-up off-licence is called Dennis Wines! Like you! Isn’t that amazing!”

Eh lol. Shoulda done that. “Hey, Ms Bechdel! There’s this thing called the Bechdel test – and I understand you’ve actually discussed it quite often!  And you’re called Bechdel! Synchronicity, wow!”

Well, I haven’t read much of her work so far – really only her section in Best American Comics 2008, and nothing else in it either. But that’s the best time with a new artist: when they have a massive (throbbing?) body of work, and you’ve barely dipped your toes in the water.

Now, just to make sure: BOYS! KISSING! BOYS! KISSING!

Never wanted to pass a test that wouldn’t have me, anyway.

 

Image – State Library of New South Wales, no known copyright restrictions.

Post-Life Options, A, B and C – Paranormal Gay Romance

Cole is in love, but it doesn’t do him a lot of good. That’s because he’s in love with the ghost who’s haunting him, the ghost of his fire-fighter neighbour Sam, who died six months ago. If only either of them had admitted back then that they were in love with each other, how much simpler things would have been…

Cupcake Kissin’ 11 – Alex Ankarr

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Download complete ebook for FREE! at https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8PwO

Cupcake Kissin’ 11 – Alex Ankarr

‘Oh hell, oh hell, I am not wearing that,’ is not the first thing out of his mouth, come Day One. That’s after the week’s grace he allows himself in the new apartment, steeling himself, and just taking a well-deserved break from all the stresses of the job search that’s now abandoned.

And when he rocks up at the emporium that is his new home, livelihood and habitual hanging-out spot, he’s not… massively impressed. Sure, it’s professionally presented, which was, up until now, his main concern. Auntie Gertie had had a lot of what appeared to be, frankly, hobby businesses. He’d been worried that this might have been one of them, and obviously so. But no, the place sure looks professional. It also looks very… pink. Pink and chrome, and a little bit gaudy, and maybe a tiny bit… kitsch.

But he can live with that.

In fact, if it’s bringing him in two grand per week – and going on past history, and current predictions, that’s not an un-doable figure – then he can definitely but definitely live with it.

He gets himself in there, introduces himself to a staff who have been primed to expect him, by the interim management put in place by Mayhewlinson. On today’s roster, they number Sophia, a sassy, buxom, cute and ferociously efficient assistant manager, Marvin, a tall, thin, humorous and slightly irritable baker, and the service assistant Sandy. One and all, they eye him with faint unease and good humour. And when Sophia shows him around the place, runs through procedures, takes down notes on his understanding of his legal duties in fulfilling Aunt Gertie’s basic minimum requirements, and then sits opposite him where he’s lounging in his new office chair, the big boss guy… she goes to find him the uniform that he’ll require for his minimum eight rota’d hours behind the counter per week.

It’s not all pink. It is, actually, mostly white, very chef-y and baker-y and hygienic. It’s a little bit pink, here and there. It’s a little bit girly. There’s a hair-net involved.

There’s a little cupcake hair-slide he’s supposed to wear in his hair, where it peeks out of his hairnet.

***

Four days in, and Caspar swears he can’t take it any more. Not the hairpin, not the overalls, and certainly not the prescribed greeting – from which it is not acceptable, as is pointed out to him in his aunt’s extensive notes, to deviate in any respect – of, ‘Welcome to the Honey Gummy Gertrude Bakery, what can I get you, cupcake?’

(He’s not too happy with the uniform, certainly. But it’s the greeting that’s really getting to him.) And he’s only rota’d for eight hours per week, he marvels! That’s as per Auntie Gertie’s stipulations, of course. There are some staff who are on the rota for as much as twenty hours face-time over the counter some weeks. He wonders how they stand it. He wonders how they don’t snap, and leather the next customer in the face with one of the pink-iced monstrosities, coating the bastard who’s fool enough to come in for his sugar fix with a faceful of icing and sugar-balls.

‘How do you stand it?’ he asks Sandy, his co-worker du jour, as they take a breather leaning against the back of the counter during a brief quiet period in the morning. ‘Doesn’t it drive you crazy? Do you even like cupcakes?’

‘Don’t have to like ’em to sell ’em,’ she points out sunnily, spritzing the counter with anti-bacterial and giving her hairnet a good tug. ‘You do get kind of tired of them after a while, though, even free. They are good cupcakes, though. Your auntie was proud of ’em. I never see you eat one, boss.’

And Caspar screws up his face. ‘Never have cared for sweet stuff much. Now, if it was a pizza parlour…’

‘I hear you,’ Sandy agrees. ‘Oh, wait, here comes caramel-dark with a macchiato guy. ‘ She gives him a thoughtful look, and there’s something sly in it. ‘Always the same order, and we’re out of damn caramel-dark choc, I can’t believe it. I’ll just run in back if you keep him talking. Keep him sweet, he’s a real sugar-fiend, he might stab you if he thinks we’re not gonna provide him with his fix!’ she calls as she runs, white-stockinged legs flying under her frilly apron. (The identical one to what Caspar is cursed with, right now. It’s not a flattering look. He flatters himself that he’s a reasonably attractive young guy, but this pinny is not a look that any amount of pretty face or well-packed musculature can combat. Nor is the hairnet.)

© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014

No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.

Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.