For an Uninterrupted Date

Diemen squared his shoulders and opened the door to the coffee shop. He'd met Pavel for coffee before and although sitting across the table from the hottest guy imaginable made Diemen want to date Pavel more than ever, something Pavel had said last time left a foul taste in Diemen's mouth.

Was Pavel still living with his ex?

Pavel stood up with a big grin and met Diemen just inside the door. He gestured to a table. "I'm over here."

Diemen noticed the two cups on the table. "Am I late?"

"No." Pavel's hand was hot on Diemen's back. "But you said you wanted to try almond in your low fat vanilla latte next time, so I took the liberty of ordering for you."

Diemen had, hadn't he? He sat down and took a sip. Pavel watched him intently. The drink was good, but Diemen would have smiled anyway. Pavel's gaze made Diemen feel like the best looking guy on the planet.

Pavel grinned. "I'm glad you like it."

He set his hand on Diemen's.

So they were going there today.

Yes, Diemen wanted Pavel's hand on him, but he still had questions that kept him from really enjoying it.

Only how to bring them up?

Diemen had heard an article on the radio about how confessing to something first was the best way to get another person to reveal something they otherwise wouldn't. Only what to confess to? He didn't want it to be something that would send Pavel running the other way, but Diemen needed Pavel to open up.

Pavel traced a figure eight on the back of Diemen's hand. "Such deep thoughts."

Diemen's lap heated. Pavel had quite the rich Russian accent.

But that reminded Diemen of a question he'd always meant to ask. "How long has you family been here?"

Pavel's eyes twinkled. He probably got that question all the time. "The states? Or in Oregon?"

Diemen stared his cup. "Either."

"My family immigrated right before I was born, so I'm a US citizen. But my accent says no?" He grinned.

Diemen looked down to get away from that 100 watt smile. Pavel turned Diemen's hand over and caressed his palm, which almost brought Diemen out of his seat.

Diemen had known Pavel and Channing were on the outs when Pavel stopped touching him.

"I was born in a Russian community in Alaska. We went to a Russian school and a Russian church and only after we moved to Oregon did I hear English spoken by native speakers."

"I like your accent."

Pavel's grin widened. "Thank you. Where is your family from?"

Diemen shrugged. "Here. My aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all live within an hour of me."

"Your parents?"

"They're enjoying their retirement by touring the United States. I think they are spending the fall in the Northeast."

"Do you miss them?"

Diemen laughed. "I actually hear from them more now than when they lived five minutes away."

Pavel shook his head. "I don't think I've gone an entire day without some contact with my family."

Diemen shrugged. "I'm the black sheep."

Pavel grinned. "But the black sheep is the prettiest."

Diemen looked away. He wasn't used to being called pretty. In fact the only person that had ever called Diemen pretty had been Diego. Maybe he could segue into important stuff. "Diego used to say that."

Pavel's fingers brushed the back of Diemen's hand. "He has good taste. You were boyfriends?"

"Long ago." Diemen took a sip of coffee. It had finally cooled down enough to drink.

Pavel showed no signs of being jealous, which made sense because anyone who had seen Diego with his wife could tell he was in love.

"In college?"

Diemen shrugged. "And after. We dated for a while, but I wasn't ready to become lovers and even though he said that was all right, I knew he had slept with all his former girl- and boyfriends, so I told him to move on."

"But he didn't?"

Diemen shrugged. "Not right away. He loved me. And I knew I was special because he only dated masculine men, and I'm no one's idea of masculine."

Pavel took Diemen's hand. "His obviously. Feminine gestures and a small body does not make one a woman. I have always been considered to be very feminine among my people."

Diemen looked him over. Pavel was tall with broad shoulders and strong muscles and a deep voice. "How's that?"

Pavel grinned. "What makes a person masculine or feminine differs by culture."

"Would your family see me as feminine?"

Pavel shrugged. "They'll like you regardless."

"You think so?" What would a huge extended family be like if they actually enjoyed his company rather than tear him down for things about him that he couldn't change?

"I can prove it. Come to dinner on Sunday. You'll see that my expensive clothing aren't a cultural trait. My sister and I picked up the habit from our uncle."

Diemen looked at their linked hands. "Are you sure you should invite me without asking your parents?"

"My mother wants to meet you."

Diemen blushed. "She knows about me?"

"I talk about you all the time."

Diemen's face got hotter. "You do?"

Pavel grinned. "Yes, I have for a while. My sister asked me why I haven't asked you out already."

"And why hadn't you?"

Pavel looked out the window. "I was scared you'd turn me down."

"Why?"

He looked back at Diemen and then down at their hands. "I'm nothing likeā€¦"

"Diego?"

Pavel nodded.

But Pavel treated Diemen well and seem to like him just the way he was. So he was very like Diego in every way that mattered.

"You two didn't really date?"

"We went on a few dates, but I refused to commit him to a sexless relationship, so I ended it. But then after before he left to see Patrick in California, I changed my mind. When he got back, I'd tell him I was ready." Diemen sighed. "But he come back changed."

"Lavender."

Diemen nodded. "That's what love really is."

"It's other things too."

"Like what?"

"Comfort. Warmth. Companionship."

"Not excitement?"

"Excitement is good as long as it's the right kind of excitement. Do I excite you at all?"

Diemen turned and stared at the floor. Yes, parts of him felt excitement every time those warm grey eyes were on him. But he wasn't going to say that.

Pavel started. He relaxed back in his chair. "My phone."

They had been interrupted on all their coffee dates so far. The first time by an emergency at Diemen's work and the second by one of Pavel's clients. After that they decided not to meet during work hours, but the third coffee date hadn't happened at all due to a traffic accident than kept both of them from their destination.

This was getting to be a habit.

They had picked today for their latest attempt because both their offices were closed on Labor Day.

Pavel set his phone on the table, but made no move to answer it.

The phone vibrated again.

"Aren't you going to get it?"

Pavel looked at his phone. He set it down and took Diemen's hand in both of his. "Is this a date?"

Well, they were getting together.

"I mean, we are not just friends having coffee? We are potential lovers?" Pavel slid his thumb against Diemen's palm.

Diemen couldn't hold still. Bits of him were stiffer than ever.

"Because," Pavel caressed Diemen's palm. "If it's a date, my family will understand me not answering."

Pavel's phone went off again.

Diemen turned their hands over so he could watch Pavel touch him. "Maybe you should tell them it is a date."

Pavel smiled. He picked up his phone and opened it. It vibrated in his hand. "I'll text them."

The grin fell from his face. "My sister is in the hospital. She's gone into early labor."

Diemen stood up so Pavel would know he was all right with Pavel dealing with his family emergency. Would they ever have an uninterrupted date? "How early is she?"

"Six weeks." Pavel stood up. "She wants me with her. I'm sorry."

Diemen touched Pavel's solid arm. "No. Go."

Pavel grinned. "They want to meet you, but I don't think my sister wants to meet anyone when she's not at her best."

"I understand." Diemen followed Pavel to his car. "Let me know what happens."

Pavel opened his door and turned to Diemen. "I am sorry our dates always turn out this way." He touched Diemen's arm. "But you are worth trying to make this work."

Those words made Diemen feel better, but Diemen's biggest question still wasn't yet answered and he was running out of time.

Pavel leaned forward and brushed his lips over Diemen's and then he slipped into his car.

Diemen rested his hands on the top of Pavel's door. He wasn't ready for him to leave yet.

Pavel grinned. His lips were very kissable. Diemen wanted a deeper one.

But first he needed to grow a spine. "Pavel, why do you still live with Channing?"

Pavel put his hand on Diemen's. "I own the house. We used to be roommates before we became lovers. He doesn't see why we can't just go back."

He sighed. "I gave him until the end of July, but he says he can't find another place. I don't even think he's looking. Maybe I should move out. I want to give the house to my sister. Someone's children should enjoy the yard."

"Do you want kids?"

Pavel looked across the parking lot. "I can't imagine not having them."

He glanced at Diemen.

Back when Diemen dated Diego, he'd considered for the first time what life would be like with children. He'd been raised to believe that as a gay man, he could never have a real family. But parenting wasn't something he wanted to try alone.

"My office has a child friendly policy. Currently we have three-year-old twins on days they aren't in preschool and a six month old and a fifteen month old on days their mothers work."

"And that works?"

"Crying babies get taken to the backroom and mothers clean up after their kids. Most mothers take their kids to the backroom, where the play area is, when clients come by. Plus there are always people willing to watch little ones when their mothers are with clients."

Pavel grinned. "You?"

Diemen turned away. Pavel had seen right through him.

Pavel's phone went off again. He sighed. "I better go."

But his feet were still on the ground. His sister, who he loved, needed him and he was still here, talking to Diemen.

Diemen pushed on the door and when Pavel moved his feet, Diemen shut it. Pavel lowered his window. "Sunday. At my parent's house. I'll call you with the address."

Diemen nodded. When Pavel didn't put his hands on his steering wheel, Diemen took the initiative. He leaned in and kissed Pavel with all the passion he could muster.

Then he stepped back from the car. "Call me."

"I will."

Diemen turned and strode back to his car. He felt happier than he had in years. Pavel's family better like him. He didn't want to give up Pavel even if they didn't.

He'd stop on the way home to get new sheets and bath towels. What color would Pavel like?