This isn't your typical love at first sight or friends to lovers story. It's more of a lover-slash-horror story. You see, Jonathan fell in love with an incubus. Although, to be fair to him, at first Jonathan thought Timothy was just a ghost.
Tiny brass bells rang delightfully when Jonathan opened the door to the diner. He spotted the owner and his landlord, Francesco “Papa Bear” Ricci, wiping the top of the counter.
The man looked up to wave at Jonathan. “Jonathan, you’re late.”
Jonathan closed the door behind him. “I’m sorry, Papa Bear. I wasn’t able to text you that I’d be late.”
“No problem, boy. No need to explain. Work is hard. Now sit. Mama has your dinner ready.”
“She didn’t need to do that, but thanks, Papa Bear.”
“Again, it’s no problem, boy,” Papa Bear repeated. “I promised your poor momma that I would make sure you’re fed properly. I always keep my promises.”
Jonathan didn’t reply, though he could feel his face flush. He didn’t need reminding that if it hadn’t been for his mother, he wouldn’t have gotten a job or scored a cheap rental. That rental was on the fourth floor of the building Papa Bear owned. He and his wife, Carolina, or Mama as she preferred to be called, had inherited the property when Papa Bear’s father had died. They didn’t have any children of their own, so they showered Jonathan with all their love and protective instincts.
Jonathan’s mother had gone to college in Seattle and had stayed in the very apartment Jonathan now rented. She had called Papa Bear and asked if he could take in her son. Papa Bear had connections, so of course he said yes, immediately. As soon as Jonathan had arrived, he’d been handed a note with a phone number and a name which just happened to be another one of the former tenants who headed the HR department of the office now Jonathan worked in.
Jonathan looked up at the voice calling his name and quickly moved to open the swing doors to the kitchen. He smiled at the short and amply built woman who’d come out.
“Thank you, sweetheart. You have such fine manners. Come. Sit and eat.” Mama placed the plates she was holding on the counter Papa Bear had just finished wiping. “You need to have more meat in your bones if you’re going to survive this city.” Without waiting for Jonathan’s response, she turned and started taking out utensils from behind the counter. She was swift and efficient in her movements, and Jonathan could do nothing else but sit on a bar stool.
“You know you don’t have to serve me, Mama,” Jonathan said.
Mama waved his protests away with a smile and a mock glare. Jonathan couldn’t help but smile back in return.
He might not feel comfortable about being coddled by the two, but he really appreciated them. “Thank you, Mama. This is really good,” he said after taking a bite out of the baked lasagna he’d been given.
“Of course it’s good,” Papa Bear said in a gruff voice. “Mama made it.”
Jonathan smiled broadly, already feeling better. The food was the perfect balm to his bruised pride. At the thought of work his mood sobered.
He liked his job as a forensic accountant well enough. It was exactly what he’d thought he’d be doing in an accounting firm. The job wasn’t the problem. It was the third-floor finance manager that made work unbearable. Jonathan sighed. He’d escaped the bullies back home, but it seemed like he had another at work. The bane of his existence, Michael Crawford, acted as though Jonathan was just another name to add to the many whom he bullied. Unfortunately, Michael was the nephew of the owner, and everybody knew that no matter who complained or how many times, HR wouldn’t be able to do anything.
Crawford also had the ear of the finance officer on the floor where Jonathan worked. Jonathan really shouldn’t grumble, but it seemed like the guy had something against him from the first. Crawford was handsome enough, if Jonathan was being honest about it, but his looks didn’t match his personality. He was not only a bully, but the man was also mean, even when he wasn’t actively terrorizing anyone.
Wednesdays were the toughest days at the office. It was the time of the week when the staff had meetings with the Chief Finance Officer. The meetings usually went on for most of the day, sometimes ending with an unfortunate associate leaving in tears. Fortunately, Jonathan was good at his job, and he always came to work prepared. However, his preparedness had not gone in his favor that day. Not from the way Crawford had glared at him at the end of the meeting.
Today had been exceptionally tough. One of the junior associates had proven to be incompetent at his job, and the CFO had no choice but to fire him. Then the man then turned to Jonathan, and much to everyone’s astonishment, told Jonathan he was taking over the portfolio. Jonathan had been happily surprised at the unexpected promotion, but while the others had congratulated him, Crawford had come up to him and quietly shook his hand.
“You make sure you do your job, Church. I’ll be watching you.” Crawford had smiled at him in disdain.
Jonathan hadn’t replied, not wanting to stoke the fire, but his silence made Crawford narrow his eyes at him before he stalked off. No chance Jonathan could have missed the warning.
“Bad day at work?” Mama asked in a low voice.
Jonathan shrugged. “I got promoted today. You’re now looking at a full-fledged associate.”
“But that’s great!” Mama squinted at him. “Why the long face, though?”
“Crawford.” Jonathan needn’t say more. Mama knew all about the challenges he faced at work.
Mama raised an eyebrow at him. “What did he say to you?”
Jonathan forked a slice of lasagna and shrugged again. “The usual. That he’s watching me, and things like that. He doesn’t like me.”