Some temptations are too delicious to ignore…
IRS employee Gareth Witherspoon spies a man, alone at a nearby table in a coffee shop on Valentine’s Day. Something about the foreigner calls to him and in an uncharacteristic leap of faith he impulsively slips the man a box of candy.
Urie is new to the United States, but he’s no stranger to heartache. Since arriving in Los Angeles he’s been lonely, isolated, and in desperate need of friendship. Gareth’s gesture touches his heart and Urie finds himself throwing caution to the wind.
All bets are off and anything goes when the two men spontaneously become lovers. Could it be Urie has found is soul mate in the City of Angels?
On a boring Saturday, Urie walked the streets of LA feeling like an alien. And he was. Not in a UFO sense, but he had been in the States for only a few months. Everyone said if you wanted to make a success of yourself, you must go to America. Well? I am here.
It was February so it wasn’t too warm. Since his arrival in November there wasn’t a flake of snow. Urie didn’t know if he missed it. He missed something. He was certain of that.
“I miss sex,” he said to himself, looking around to make sure no one overheard him. He had been alone so long he had forgotten what being close to someone was like.
Walking past the bars on the Sunset Strip, Urie was tempted to enter one and meet a man, but never did.
Maybe his thick accent would turn men off. Maybe the way he dressed, his dark black hair and full lips would repulse these hairless young boys. That’s what they all looked like to him. Hairless young boys. He felt obscene looking at them. But he did. He peeked as he strolled by. They show so much of themselves. It made Urie blush.
Mixed with the off shore breeze was the scent of coffee. A ubiquitous Starbucks appeared mid-block. Urie looked inside the large plate glass window. A line had formed at the counter and several people sat alone with laptop computers as companions. The interior of the store was decorations for the coming romantic holiday of the year. Valentine’s Day.
The tradition made Urie feel even more isolated. He gave in to the desire for a cup of coffee, his stomach grumbling after wandering around all morning. Am I only one who hates weekends? I do better working all day and going to class at night.
He unbuttoned his black wool jacket and felt as if everyone in the café had turned to stare at him. When he found the courage to see if his thoughts were correct, he realized no one was paying any attention to him at all. He didn’t know what was worse. Being studied because he was a foreigner or ignored because he was ugly.
As he advanced in the line, he investigated the sweet desserts behind a glass as well as an assortment of croissants and bagels. His stomach growled so loudly the woman in line in front of him turned to look at him. She didn’t smile. Neither did he.
The odd stares made him even more paranoid. I am stranger in strange land.
He had left his immediate family behind to work in his cousin’s butcher shop. Urie did the dirty, grunt-work, sending his parents as much money as he could spare while taking a night class in college with the dream of getting a degree.
America complains of immigrants but who do they get to clean up cow’s blood? Me and cousin Boris.
“Can I take your order?” the woman behind the cash register asked.
“Yes. I would like coffee.”
“What kind of coffee?”
“The black kind.” Urie felt his cheeks grow warm.
“Just plain black coffee?”
“Yes. I put milk in myself.”
“Size?” Urie looked at the sample cups. “Small size.”
“For here or to go?”
So many questions! “I drink here.”
“Anything to eat?”
“I would like one of these, yes?” He pointed to a bagel.
“Do you want anything on it?”
“You have cream cheese?”
“Yes. Would you like it toasted?”
“Toasted. Yes.” Urie wondered if the people behind him were getting impatient. No one had patience in California.
“What is your name?”
She rang it up. “Ten dollars and thirty-five cents, please.”
Ten dollar for a coffee and bread. Why I come here? I can get a week of grocery for that.
She gave him change for a twenty. He waited, and she asked the person on line behind him, “Can I help you?”
Urie stepped aside quickly and spun around. A man smiled sweetly at him. The kindness was so unexpected Urie didn’t smile back. He just turned away and waited near the end of the counter as someone called out names and handed off drinks.
While Urie waited, he heard the fair-haired man place his order.
“Tall mocha with caramel and whipped cream.”
The man glanced at Urie. Urie tried to look away but the man’s eyes were so hypnotic he didn’t.
“For here or to go?” the woman asked.
Again the blond glanced his way. “For here.”
Urie began to feel very warm, like the room was closing in on him. He took off his heavy wool coat and hung it on his arm.
Slightly startled at hearing his name, Urie noticed a man putting a cup of coffee and his toasted bagel on the top of the counter. He breathed out in relief and took both items, looking for an available seat. One table was hidden away by the restroom. Urie set the food and coffee down, hung his coat over a chair back and headed to the service counter to put milk into his cup. When he returned the blond young man was waiting for his order, but he held something out to Urie.
“What is this?” Urie asked suspiciously.
“You looked like you could use something nice.”
Urie inspected the red box wrapped in plastic. “You no need give me nothing.”
“I know I don’t. I want to.”
“You just buy now?”
“Yes. Please. Take it with my Valentine’s wishes.”