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Cupcake Kissin’ 28 – Alex Ankarr
But he feels a lot more comfortable now that he knows what’s going on. Comfortable enough to go and retrieve his wineglass from the kitchen, to chat to Mack while he cooks like any polite guest and business colleague ought to do. He feels expansive and cheerful, picks up his glass and takes a swig, says, ‘That smells amazing, Mack, I’m so impressed that you can cook as well as everything else! You have an awful lot of strings to your bow!’ He isn’t even sure exactly what he means. If he actually thinks about it, there’s acting and cooking, and… He hardly knows a thing about Mack, really. Beyond that he’s beautiful and famous and talented, and has flirted with Caspar a bit reprehensibly on occasion, and loves cake. Well, a fair amount, really, for practical strangers, perhaps, he realises. ‘You know, you really didn’t need to do this, I feel bad about it,’ he says seriously. ‘You’re the client, I should be… taking you out to dinner, or something.’
He’s watching Mack from behind as he speaks, leaning his ass against the kitchen cupboards as Mack leans over the wok, stirs and examines. Mack’s back is to him, and Caspar basically has to shake himself as he realises that what he’s actually doing is watching Mack’s ass. (It’s a very fine ass, but even so. He recovers himself quickly, but all the same, he wonders if Mack caught him out, when he swivels around swiftly, and smiles at Caspar.
‘Hey, don’t worry about it,’ he says. ‘I like to cook. And anyway, I enjoy the opportunity to show off my prowess with someone qualified to know just how good I am.’ Culinary prowess, Caspar thinks. He definitely means culinary prowess. Has to be. Although there’s that damnable twinkle in Mack’s eye, again. What an atrocious flirt he is, it seems to come as naturally to him as breathing.
He feels how naturally, instinctively, his own eyes cast shyly down, and he resolutely looks up again, looks into Mack’s with an answering smile. ‘I think that’s an overstatement,’ he says, with some accuracy. ‘As a cook I make a great sales assistant and business owner, although I’m getting myself educated at the community college. I guess I approach it as an engineer,’ he goes on, relaxing a bit into the conversation, because this is something he’s had a lot of quiet thoughts about by himself. ‘Take the raw materials, apply certain forces – heat, friction, pressure et cetera – while bearing in mind the basic principles and chemical and physical elements and being aware of the relevant equations and theories. Then test it out in the real world, record the results, tweak until what you get out is what you were looking for.’ And Caspar pauses, because he’s pleased with the summary, and it does indeed express some ideas he’s had on the subject, in the odd free minutes he has here and there in his daily schedule.
Something about it seems to give Mack pause, though. His liquid green eyes are wide, and his mobile face quite expressionless. Then he seems to come to himself with a start, and tests out a mouthful from a spoon in one pan, puts the lid on tighter on another. Then he takes a couple of steps over towards Caspar, picking up the wine bottle. He comes to stand quite close. Really quite close, even when what he’s doing is topping up Caspar’s glass, then his own. ‘I didn’t know that,’ he says simply, and what he doesn’t do is to move away.
‘What, that I’m an engineer?’ Caspar asks, and just accepts that. He hasn’t mentioned it himself, they haven’t really interacted all that much, how would Mack know? It stings a little bit, maybe, if he’s honest. He could have asked, any time. But Caspar laughs anyway. ‘What, you thought I’m the cup-cake making type, born to bake? Not really. Aunt Gertie kind of sent me off the rails with her little present. But it’s okay. I like it. I like being solvent! Engineering jobs are hard to find, I was fresh out of luck after grad school. I’m getting a new start with this whole venture, I like it.’
So close, but Mack isn’t actually looking at him, just down at their bodies where they’re close, a small smile playing about his mobile lips. ‘I just kind of assumed… Well, not that you’re passionate about cupcakes or anything.’
‘Sacrilege!’ Caspar says, with what breath he has – and his chest is oddly tight – and they both laugh. ‘If my aunt could hear you now…’
And the soft huff of Mack’s laugh seems to undo that knot in his chest, so that he can relax and breathe again, or almost. But there’s a prickling on his cheeks. And he really hopes he’s not flushing up, but he can’t guarantee it at all. ‘I know,’ he says, and his head is a little bit closer to Caspar’s. ‘She’d slap my wrist. Or my ass, maybe.’
And Caspar opens his mouth to contradict, pretend-shocked. But he doesn’t, because no, that’s exactly what Gertie would have done. Exactly, the shocking old piece. ‘Well, maybe I should do it myself,’ come out of his mouth completely without his permission. And he claps a hand to his mouth, appalled, and meets Mack’s eye, ready for any reaction.
Mack thinks it’s hysterical, which is extremely fortunate, and Caspar grins, relieved. But when he’s done gasping with laughter – and although his shoulders shake, although he’s falling about all over the place, he doesn’t fall backwards, he doesn’t stagger side to side, he only leans in, further towards Caspar – he draws a deep breath, and puts a hand on Caspar’s shoulder. ‘Maybe you should, Caspar. Maybe you should.’ He gazes at Caspar – they gaze at each other – for a moment. Maybe a moment too long.
It’s a trifle tense, in a way that Caspar thinks is probably not good, that he should really not be enjoying, should not be feeling tingling up and down his spine and making his pants feel a little tight. (Because Christ, that would be unfortunate.) Mack speaks, softer, lower, more intimate. ‘Your friends – I mean your employees, sorry, it’s just that you always seem to get on so well with them, you’re like one big happy gang, it’s always great to come by your place, the atmosphere is amazing –’
He’s getting lost, and Caspar comes to the rescue quickly. Not that he isn’t feeling a little bit confused and short of air himself, right now. ‘They are great,’ he agrees, and it’s true. Even terrifying Sophia is great. Even Millie, who has taken to him with a ferocious earnestness that is more frightening than if she hated his guts. (Who has a mission to get him laid, and thinks he’s taking his own sweet time, much too much, with Sam.)
© 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.