A Story Orgy Single
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The Jealous Guy
"Welcome to Parsnip and Thyme. How many?" A cheerful, perky voice grated over nerves frazzled by pouring over numbers that didn't add up no matter how many times he tried. Sydney Huber, vice president in charge of operations at Carbondale Union, refocused his attention from the recalcitrant numbers to the speaker. A cute young girl in a blue checked dress a la Dorothy of Oz stood at the hostess stand, practically bouncing in place with enthusiasm. She seemed an odd choice for a place he'd always considered tranquil and exclusive. She belonged, he thought nastily, at a TGI Friday's or an Applebee's, where she could foist beer and sickly sweet margaritas on French fry munching, hamburger gobbling twentysomethings and college students.
Sydney frowned at the bubbly blonde. "Just me. The same as yesterday and the day before and every day for the last six months." He paused to survey the room, scarcely recognizing the peaceful café where he'd been eating his lunches for the last six months, seeking the reason for his lunchtime habit. Somehow, he had the strange idea that if he could just set eyes on Max, some magic button would reset and he'd feel right again, be able to cope.
Instead, waiters in green polo shirts, black jeans, and small white aprons darted about with trays of food, pots of coffee, and pitchers of juice. Tall, short, thin, muscular, light-haired, dark-haired, at least four of them, but none the golden-haired, golden-skinned beauty he'd come to see.
Somewhere in the elegant little restaurant a baby was crying, and an anxious mother crooned and begged for the baby to calm down, further disrupting his much needed peace. Voices rose and fell all around, dishes clinked and clattered. There might be less noise at a McDonald's. Sydney scowled. So much for using his lunch hour to recover his equilibrium. His ears were still ringing from his boss's strident demands for instant answers, the sobs and protestations of the tellers who had no idea what had happened, and his own bewildered inability to account for a missing deposit of some twenty thousand dollars.
The dry-erase board with the daily specials boasted of cream of avocado soup and sweet potato sandwiches and a variety of other vegetarian delights. Someone, most likely the bubbly little hostess, had drawn hearts over all the i's and made smiley faces inside all the o's. It looked ridiculous.
The whole world had discovered his favorite little vegetarian café, and while normally Sydney Huber would be pleased for the owner, a lean string bean of a man named Alisdair, today he was irritated beyond measure. It was the final straw on a day that had gone from bad to worse.
"Oh. Yes. Would you like to sit at the counter since it's just you?" Her smile grew, white teeth gleaming, painted lips stretched wide. Her head tilted inquisitively to the side.
"No. I would like to sit in Max's section, as usual." He glanced around the room, as if saying his name would conjure the man.
"I'm afraid Max's section is full. We're very busy today. I'm sorry." She held the menu to her chest and jerked her pointed little chin toward the counter. "There are several single seats at the counter." Three bar chairs were empty there, as she had said, but a good dozen people were packed in at the space, sitting practically elbow to elbow. The older woman who usually worked the counter had been replaced by another young girl, this one dark-haired and pale-skinned. If he sat there, he wouldn't even be able to catch a glimpse of Max in the background, the entire restaurant would be at his back.
"No, Barbie. I'll wait for a table to open up in Max's section." Fuck. Hopefully that would be soon as he didn't have time for an extended lunch today, not with his superior breathing down his neck for the teller audits.
"My name is not Barbie." A petulant tone replaced the bubbly goodwill in the blonde's voice. The smile disappeared and the blue eyes narrowed slightly. The thin blonde pointed to her name tag. "I’m Kate."
He sneered at her, curling his lip in derision. "I'm not paid to remember your name, but you're paid for customer service. What kind of hostess doesn't remember the preferences of a customer who eats in their restaurant daily?"
A familiar tanned hand reached across Sydney and plucked the plastic-coated menu from Kate. "One who just started yesterday?" A frisson of awareness prickled its way across Sydney's skin, weaving a trail of heat and butterflies from the point of contact to his stomach and groin. His mind leapt for the distraction, his body yearned for more contact.
A blush heated his cheeks as he realized Max had overheard him being snotty to the hostess, who was beaming worshipfully at his favorite waiter, hell, his favorite person. "Thank you so much, Max. I tried to tell him your section was full."
"It's all right, Kate. I have a table reserved for you, Mr. Huber, right this way." Sydney nodded curtly, ashamed of the way he'd acted.
"I…" He began to apologize, but Max was moving off across the crowded restaurant at a fast clip, dodging tables, chairs, and servers deftly. Sydney closed his mouth with a snap and concentrated on following that sweet ass, clad in tight black denim, framed by the sides of a short white broadcloth apron. "Ahh." He loosened his suddenly too tight necktie and unbuttoned the top button of his collar. He could only hope that no one noticed the swelling in his groin or the direction of his gaze as he was incapable of looking away despite the predictable effect.
Max stopped at a tiny glass and wrought iron table in the corner, where Sydney would have a view of the entire café while he ate. The table had been set up with one place setting and a simple white carnation in a glass vase. Sydney smiled, looking directly into Max's green eyes, relaxing. It was just the way he liked it. "Thank you, Max."
He slipped into the seat and glanced at the menu in Max's hands. "I don't…"
"I know. You want a grilled Havarti and tomato sandwich, a bowl of creamy tomato soup, and a glass of ice water with a wedge of lemon."
"Yes, exactly." He smiled, pleased that Max knew him so well. "Thank you."
Instead of writing down the order and going off to call it, Max stood beside the table, head tipped to the side so that a long lock of fine blond hair that had apparently escaped its ponytail fell forward. "Is something wrong, Mr. Huber?"
"Wrong? Why do you ask?" Nothing wrong at all that a decent lunch and the opportunity to stare at his crush wouldn't cure. He took advantage of the opportunity to study Max's green eyes and high cheekbones, resisted the strange need to pour out his woes, the boss who hated him, the tellers who looked to him to save their jobs, the tension of being responsible for figuring out which of the young men and women had misplaced the deposit, of determining whether one of the people he had hired, had trusted, was a thief or an idiot. Instead, he said, "Call me Syd, Max. I've been coming here a long time, I think we can skip the Mr. Hubers."
Soft pink lips parted, a tongue slicked over them, and Sydney shifted, letting his legs fall apart, giving himself more room. Mesmerized, he followed the path of that tongue as it swept across the lips he wanted to taste, then disappeared back inside the mouth he wanted to explore.
"Okay. You were pretty…short with Kate, Syd. That's not like you."
He forced himself to look away from Max's mouth and meet his gaze. A soft concern lit the green eyes, a faint frown marred the usually clear brow.
"It's not?" Sydney frowned. His lips twitched as he recalled his secretary creeping about with a solemn expression, the way the clerks and tellers ducked to the side as he approached. "I…"
"I always enjoy waiting on you because you're so pleasant." The young man persevered, "You've always got a smile for me and…" Max's voice trailed off and he shrugged. "I’m sorry. It's none of my business, I was just worried. I'll put your order in." He stepped backward and turned as though to leave.
And Sydney found a courage he'd been looking for for the last six months. "Wait."
Find out more of Max and Syd's story next weekend!
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