Josh has been avoiding his mate, Brian, since they first met twelve years before. He had good reasons at first—he was only sixteen and had just lost the only family he’d ever known—but he knows he can’t continue to stay away, not if he doesn’t want to lose Brian for good.
Brian has been patiently waiting for Josh to get over whatever his problem is, but he knows he can’t wait forever. He loves Josh, has loved him for years, but he doesn’t want to live his entire life waiting for him.
Josh finally decides it’s time to talk to Brian and come clean, no matter how scared he is of rejection. Of course, that’s when his biological mother appears in his life. As if that wasn’t enough, Brian finds out his father has cancer. Will the complications push Brian and Josh apart, or will they bring them together?
Josh hummed as he iced the cupcake in front of him. He heard the door open, but he kept his focus in front of him, not wanting to ruin the cupcake. Daisy would be more than happy to eat it if he couldn’t sell it, no matter how much she’d whine about it going straight to her hips, but he’d rather have one more cupcake to put in the display.
He flexed his wrists in a final flourish and stepped away, finally looking up. “Yes?”
Daisy pushed her hair out of her eyes and Josh glared at her. “Someone’s out here to see you. She says she needs a hundred cupcakes for the day after tomorrow.”
“I already told you to tie your hair up when you work.”
Daisy rolled her eyes, but she obeyed, using one of the bands she kept around her wrist to tie up her long purple hair. She moved to the sink and washed her hands as she explained what she knew about the office party the woman out front was organizing.
“And she couldn’t think about the cupcakes sooner?” he groused. He needed the money, so he was going to have to work late that evening and the following one to have both the hundred cupcakes and everything else ready.
Both he and Daisy knew he was going to agree and take the job, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t bitch about it. She shrugged and just stared at him until he answered.
He sighed. “Tell the lady I’ll be right there.”
Daisy nodded and went back to the front of the shop. Josh took some time to wash his hands and change into a clean white jacket, one that wasn’t streaked with most of the colors of the rainbows from frosting the cupcakes.
He grimaced when he walked into the shop. He was pretty sure he recognized the woman talking with Daisy, so she had to be a regular client. Even if he’d been thinking about telling her he wouldn’t have the time to do her cupcakes, there was no way he’d say no to a regular client.
“Oh, here he is,” Daisy said.
Josh wished she’d take care of the side of the business that dealt with clients, and she mostly did, but he was the baker, and he was the one who had to take big orders, especially custom orders. He smiled at the woman and waved her toward a small table in the corner of the shop. They sat, and Josh put down his notebook and pencil. “How can I help you?”
The woman smiled and started to explain what she wanted, her hands moving around as she spoke. “We’re having a small retirement party at work. I think cupcakes make more sense than a cake, and it’s easier to deal with. I’d like to have them personalized in some way, but I have no idea how.”
It would be helpful if she could at least give Josh a hint of what she wanted. “Does the person retiring have a hobby? I don’t know—reading, golf, or maybe even grandkids? I could decorate the cupcakes in that theme. There’s not really an image that represents retirement, but we could go with something they like doing since they’ll have more time to do it once they’re off the job.”
The woman beamed. “Yes! She likes knitting. Always knits small Christmas presents for everyone.”
That was better than nothing. “Good. A knitting theme, then. Daisy said you’ll need a hundred cupcakes?” How many people worked in her office anyway? That sounded like a lot of cupcakes, even if people got two of them.
“Is that too much?”
“How many people are you expecting at the party?”
“Well, there are twenty of us on our floor, but the party isn’t a secret and people tend to sneak in, especially when your sweets are offered.”
Josh looked down and tried to ignore the way his cheeks heated. “You know better, of course, but with only twenty people supposed to attend and let’s say another ten crashing the party, I think we could go down to seventy. That’s still two cupcakes for every person, and you’ll have a few left, so if more people come they won’t go without.”
“Oh, of course. Seventy is fine, I suppose, and it’ll be easier for you. I know I should have come sooner, and I intended to, but work has been so busy lately.”
“I understand.” Josh really did. He knew better than anyone how busy work could get. His personal life was on the back burner, had been since he’d opened the bakery. He didn't mind much—he didn’t have boyfriends, couldn’t have them, and his friends came by often enough that he didn’t miss them much. He did miss his brother, though, and Calvin was just as busy as he was. Maybe Josh should take up his offer of having dinner with him and Alex one night. He always said Josh could come by whenever he wanted to, but Josh almost never took him up on his offer.
He was too scared of finding Brian there.
Josh shook his head and focused on the woman in front of him and his job. He couldn’t think about Brian, especially not at work. Thinking about him always ended in tears and moping, and Josh couldn’t afford to be anything but smiling—or as smiling as he could be—when he was in the front of the shop.
He nodded at whatever she was saying and scribbled down a few notes, but he already knew what he was going to do. It wouldn’t be too hard to create enough knitting needles, maybe some wool, especially now that the number of cupcakes he’d have to bake had been nearly halved.
“Would it be a problem if I picked them up early?” the woman—Josh really had to make sure he got her name—asked.