[flirtatious talk that leads nowhere. alternate universe.]
Jack slides into his seat at the far end of the counter the same way he’s done every day for the past week. He’d told himself when he first stepped through the door of Martha’s Inn and Café that it was just another stop on his round of the town he’d call home for the next month, and that had been true at the time.
At the time, though, he hadn’t yet met Eric. He’d sat at the counter and taken his time with the menu set in front of him, shoulders hunched and head ducked beneath the brim of his hat. Jack had done his best to look as small as possible—a feat—and decided that he liked the overall atmosphere of Martha’s—warm, welcoming, laid-back, full of soft chatter and laughter that filtered in from the kitchen—as well as the simple menu. Coffee had been poured and cream and sugar offered. Jack had eaten and been ready to pay and leave when the door to the kitchen had tipped open and Martha’s had gotten much brighter.
Eric slips through the kitchen door now. Jack’s heart skips.
Eric’s wearing shorts this morning beneath his apron. There’s nothing particularly scandalous about them, but Jack can see the light catch on the golden hair at Eric’s calves, can see the tender skin at the back of his knees. Paired with the t-shirt whose collar dips just low enough to reveal the soft hollow of Eric’s throat and Jack’s a goner.
This is the reason he’s been back at Martha’s every day for the last week. This right here. Eric Bittle turning to him with wide, warm eyes and a flashing smile and a dusting of summer freckles that make Jack’s fingers itch.
He wraps them around his coffee mug instead.
“Morning,” Eric says, sidling along the counter until he’s standing in front of Jack. He leans forward, forearms braced.
“Morning, Eric.” Jack sips his coffee, forcing himself to take his time, reminding himself to return Eric’s smile but not too eagerly. “Something I can do for you?”
Eric’s smile widens. “Isn’t that my line, Mr. Zimmermann?”
“Is it?” Jack asks. “I thought yours was, ‘Have you tried the peach cobbler yet?’”
“Have you?” Eric straightens, fingers on the counter instead of his forearms. Jack breathes a little easier at the added space between them and pretends he isn’t disappointed. “I made it fresh this morning, and I swear to all that is good on this green earth, Jack, you will never taste anything better.”
Jack hums, eyes following the way Eric’s bangs slip across his forehead and the easy flick that flips them back. “Never been much for peaches.”
“Never been much for—” Eric gapes at him. It makes Jack chuckle, which earns him narrowed eyes and a carefully pursed mouth. “Shut up and drink your coffee. I’ll be back with the cobbler.”
Doing as he’s told, Jack settles into his seat and does his best to ignore the way his heart races when Eric mumbles something about luck and how pretty Jack is.
It’s been a week. Jack only has three more.