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Ian let his forehead fall into his hand, closed his eyes and yawned. Moving by rote, he took a gulp of cold coffee and hoped the caffeine would kick in before the indigestion. He tried to focus on the inventory sheet in front of him, but it was getting harder and harder to do as the night wore on.
Pulled Long coffee shop, his pride and joy, had been closed for over two hours, leaving him in peace to do what he needed to make sure everyone stayed employed. He loved owning his own business, except when it came to dealing with paperwork. He wished there was a way this stuff would take care of itself.
The late November winds had picked up, rattling the doors and forcing Ian to turn up the heat. At least this year they weren't going to struggle to pay any bills. The store finally seemed to be on steady ground, giving them some freedom to hire a few more staff and let his sisters work fewer hours.
Ian had no intention of working any less, no matter how much the girls bitched at him. He was determined to make this business a continued success, and would do whatever it took to make that happen. But he wasn't going to put his sisters through any more than they had to. Unlike him, both Sadie and Paige had lives outside the shop, since both were in steady relationships. He hadn't been surprised when Sadie showed up this morning waving an engagement ring around. He and Paige had been taking bets on how much longer Paul would wait before asking.
Paige had won.
Straightening in his seat, Ian gave his head a shake to drive away the exhaustion. It was closing in on midnight and he needed to be up at four-thirty to let the baker in for her shift. If he could get through the next two pages, he'd have everything ready for the inventory order tomorrow. It was hard to run a coffee shop without any coffee.
The splattering of rain against the window made him glance up once more. Fuck, he hated this time of year. Not for the first time he wished he'd been born in another countryJamaica perhapsbefore dismissing the idea.
A lone man came into view across the street, collar turned up against the weather, briefcase clutched to his body. Poor bastard must be having a worse day than Ian to be out in this shit so late at night. The man stopped when he was directly across from Ian and turned to look in. With the streetlight as dim as it was, it took Ian a moment to realize who was standing in the rain, staring back.
The customer Ian had flirted with for months after he stumbled into their store one day, a grin on his face. The man Ian had fantasized about late at night when he was too horny to sleep but too tired to find a bed partner. A stranger who Ian felt closer to than some of the friends he'd known for years. The one who'd never told Ian his name, even after months of guessing and teasing.
The man who turned out to have a wife lurking in the background.
"Ex-wife," Ian muttered.
It had been months since he'd last seen the man. He'd come so close to asking Blue Eyes out on a date. The last time they'd met, Ian had planned on discovering his favorite food so he could book a table somewhere. Ian would have asked him out that night if Blue Eyes hadn't received a call from his soon-to-be ex.
Ian had chased him out of the shop. The last thing Ian needed was to be an experiment for a straight guy. He'd never be able to handle that again, not after Kyle.
Ian tried to break eye contact but couldn't. Blue Eyes let his briefcase fall to his side and straightened. Another gust of wind blew hard, sending his jacket flying around his legs. It was cold, wet and not a fit night for anyone.