Simon hadn’t seen Penelope all summer and he missed
her like crazy. She was like his other
half – in the most platonic way possible, of course. Meeting at their favourite coffee shop had
been her idea, and as far as Simon was concerned, the idea was a good one. He pushed through the door and a wave of
cinnamon warmth washed over him, almost like the world was breathing a sigh of
hadn’t arrived yet, so Simon joined the queue and stared up at the menu. He wasn’t big on the hot drinks this time of
year, and besides they always burned his mouth to the point where he couldn’t
taste for days. He scanned the cold
drinks and settled on the most chocolatey one he could find. He stepped forward to order, fumbling with
are you today,” said a soft voice. Simon
looked up. And up.
barista was tall, or at least that was the first thing Simon noticed. Tall and sharp. He had warm brown skin and black hair long
enough that it reached his shoulders, even pushed back like it was now. Simon was so busy noticing how silky that
hair looked that he almost forgot to respond.
good. I’m good.”
barista wore an expression that wasn’t quite a frown, and his eyebrows were
arched in expectation. A sort of curious
right,” Simon stammered, “an iced double chocolate mocha, please.”
corner of the barista’s mouth twitched upward as he tapped Simon’s order into
the till. “Was that everything?”
He’s just weirdly hot, no reason to panic. Not even when he smiles like that and it
makes you want to melt.
was the name?”
stuttering you idiot!
barista scribbled on a cup and passed it to a shorter girl (well of course,
everyone was shorter than him) beside him.
Simon dragged his eyes away from that mouth and that hair and down to
his nametag. Baz. What kind of a name was
that? A hot one, Simon reasoned.
his drink was ready Simon sat down at a table not far from the counter, taking
a sip from the straw. Perfect. He tried to calm down and not stare at the
gorgeous boy at the till. The line was
thinning, the other tables filled up.
Simon kept an eye on the street, watching for a trace of Penny’s purple
hair in the crowd. He took another sip,
glancing down at his cup, and nearly choked.
was his name written in beautiful looping handwriting. Beside it was a heart.
blood rushed to Simon’s cheeks. Could it
be a mistake? A slip of the hand? He snuck a peek at the counter.
gaze dropped immediately, and his blush matched Simon’s.
not a mistake then. Definitely a heart.
I’m late.” Penny slid into the seat
across from Simon, who shook his head to clear it.
he assured her, “I’ve only been here a few minutes.”
gonna get a drink, be right back.” She
bounced over to the counter. A new
barista had taken Baz’s place at the till.
Baz was now over by the lids and straws, wiping down the
countertop. As Simon watched, Baz’s eyes
rose tentatively to meet his own. Simon
smiled shyly. Baz did the same, then
went back to his wiping. Simon looked
down again, barely able to contain his grin.
careful glance and he found Baz was grinning, too.
didn’t normally make moves like that, drawing hearts on the cups of cute
boys. He usually just blushed his way
through their orders and forgot about them later. But then again, they weren’t Simon. Baz hadn’t
been able to stop thinking about yesterday’s shared glances since the beautiful
Simon had left with a tiny wave.
when those same bronze curls bobbed into the coffee shop just before noon, Baz
could practically taste his heart jump into his mouth.
was almost relieved when the new girl, Trixie, got to the till first. Baz did his best to hide behind the coffee
machines, as if that were possible considering his height. Why was Simon back? Was that girl Penny coming again? Was she Simon’s girlfriend?
alright?” Agatha appeared beside him,
mixing a latte. “You look like you’re…
failing to hide.”
peered over the machines, standing on tiptoe to see. “Is that the bloke you wrote a heart on
on him, on his cup.”
“Damn. You really know how to pick ‘em, don’t you?”
is he doing here?”
he doing in a coffee shop? I dunno, Baz,
if I had to guess I’d say he was getting coffee.”
days in a row? And dressed like that?” Baz snuck a peek at Simon, who was wearing a
white collared shirt and ironed black pants, a very different look from
yesterday’s jumper and beanie. It wasn’t
even cold enough for a beanie. The
he’s on a break or something,” Agatha shrugged daintily. Everything she did turned out dainty. That was just Agatha.
do you think he works?”
should ask him.”
glared at her. “I can’t ask him where he works, that’s like a
date question, not an I’m-serving-you-coffee question.”
then I guess you’ll have to get him to go on a date with you.”
you lost your mind?”
tossed her platinum hair over her shoulder.
“No, but I’m worried you might.”
With that she stalked away.
Baz,” came Trixie’s high-pitched voice from behind him, “can you hand out the
groaned when he saw the name on the cup.
“White mocha for Simon,” he called, hoping his voice hadn’t cracked or
wavered, or sound too bored. Or too
excited. Or too anything.
appeared from around the tower of to-go cups.
He grinned at Baz, and Baz did his best not to pass out on the spot.
again,” Simon murmured.
was Baz’s lame reply.
one with you today?” Baz ventured.
actually I came to speak with a manager.
I was hoping to see about a job.”
felt as though his blood had frozen and melted at once. “Oh,” he managed, “that would be… cool.” Cool? Really?
That’s all you’ve got?
Simon repeated, not dropping his gaze from Baz’s. After a moment he took his drink and sat
down, his gaze out the window. Baz tried
not to stare. His stomach was doing
flip-flops, and he tried to make sense of his brain. He should be happy, shouldn’t he? The boy of his dreams might end up working
with him, that would be… good? Or maybe
Simon would decide that Baz wasn’t so great in person, and then Baz would be
stuck falling more and more in love while Simon fell more and more out of it.
thought about what Agatha had said, about asking Simon out. Would it be too soon? Maybe
not, it happens in the movies all the time.
But this wasn’t the movies. This
was real, and the real world had a tendency to go very, very wrong.
maybe it would be better to bite the proverbial bullet and skip the
hypothetical “work relationship”. Then
again, Simon wasn’t guaranteed to get the job.
stood there wiping the counter in repetitive circles as his mind went in the
same shapes as his cloth. To ask him out, or not to ask him out. That is the question…
napkin slid into his line of vision. Baz
stopped wiping. It took him a moment to
register that there were words on the napkin.
No, not words, numbers. Numbers in that perfect, heart-fluttering
sequence that could only mean…
As Baz looked up, he caught one last
glimpse of Simon, grinning and blushing as he pushed out the door.