A/N: Another original. Are we surprised? LOL. Anyway, this is my first attempt at a real dramatic romance story, so no flames s'il vous plait. But reviews are appreciated! And I don't know if there is actually a Starbucks at Bloor and Church – I'm assuming there is, the damn things are everywhere. And yes, I did take the pickup line inspiration from a Dentyne Ice commercial. Anyways… enjoy!
Disclaimer: OBVIOUSLY I don't own the Starbucks Company. Hehehehe.
Info: © Leslie Clark (me) 2002
Josh Wood sighed tiredly as he wiped down the shiny marble countertop. Gazing outside at the gently falling early December snow, he wished fervently he were out there instead. He was getting really sick of working at Starbucks, although he'd only been there a month. Everyone who frequented the shop was either angry and rushed or constantly barking orders into the cell phones that seemed permanently attached to their ears. Worse yet, the store was situated at the corner of Bloor St. and Church, one of the busier areas in downtown Toronto, so he was always swamped with things to do. However, he knew he was lucky to have a job so close to his apartment – having no car, he could easily walk to work each morning. Besides, he reasoned, it's not like I'll be stuck here forever. I'm only twenty-seven. At that he paused. "My god," Josh said aloud, to nobody in particular. "I'm so old! I might as well be dead."
He heard a sardonic laugh emanating from the back room, and his raven-haired co-worker Sarah Young emerged carrying a bag of powder for the hot chocolate machine. "Don't jinx yourself," she laughed, slapping him playfully on the butt. "You could get hit by a truck tomorrow."
Josh snorted. "I wish." He brushed some almost undetectable specks off his apron as a sudden flood of customers entered the store.
Sarah tipped the remains of the bag into the machine. "Looks like my timing was just perfect," she remarked.
A group of about five young men took a seat at one of the tables as their friend approached the cash. Josh eyed him suspiciously. He was tall and lanky, with angry dark eyes, and looked about sixteen or seventeen at the most. He and his comrades were all outfitted in baggy pants, too-big jackets and hats pulled down too low – the type of boys that sometimes came around looking for trouble. However, it didn't seem to be what this one was after.
"Uh, I'll take a hot chocolate please," he said, coming off a little nervous. Josh turned around to shout his order to Sarah, but before he could speak, the boy finished, "and maybe… maybe your phone number."
Josh froze. Sarah had obviously heard it too, as she raised a pierced eyebrow and rushed into the back room to avoid bursting out into laughter in front of him. Josh had to admit, he felt more annoyed than amused. A high school kid had, apparently enough, just hit on him. He turned back around and studied the boy with his brow furrowed. "What did you say?" he demanded.
"I said could I have your number. I've been watching you through the window every time I pass by here, and I thought..." He swallowed hard, looking down at the counter. "No, forget it. I knew this was a bad idea." He turned to walk away, looking utterly defeated.
Josh immediately felt guilty. "Wait," he said. "Don't go. I didn't mean to be so rude. It's just that you're so young. And no offence, but you don't exactly seem all that gay. So I was sort of shocked."
"I know," the kid said, raising his eyes and smiling a little. "Most people think I'm straight until I tell them. And you're right - I'm only seventeen. But that's not really that young, is it?"
"I'm ten years older than you," Josh replied. "They could practically arrest me for child molestation."
The boy laughed, loosening up a bit. "Um, not to change the subject, but I did ask for a hot chocolate."
At that moment, Sarah re-appeared and set a cup down on the counter. "Here it is," she said with a grin, and promptly left again.
The boy took the cup, slid some change across the counter and looked at Josh, almost pleadingly. "Please?" he said. "I might not even call you. I just…"
Josh studied him. What harm can it do? he thought. I mean, I have nothing to lose. Maybe even something to gain…but no. No, I am not dating a teenager. That's too low even for my standards. But then again, I haven't had a boyfriend for what, a year?
Realizing his internal monologue was running a bit long, Josh smiled at the eager-looking boy and pulled a piece of paper and a pen from beneath the counter. "Give me a minute," he said, grinning.
The kid smiled and waited patiently, and Josh handed him the paper. The instant it changed hands, his wide grin changed from jubilant to mocking, and as he turned to head for his friends' table, realization hit Josh like a ton of bricks.
"Stupid fag," the kid crowed, not even seeming to care that Josh was listening. "He fell for it! I can't believe he fell for it!" His friends laughed and tried to grab the paper, and in one big shouting group they all bustled out the door. He heard them yelling even out in the street.
Josh stared at the counter, all at once feeling humiliated, moronic, and insulted. He couldn't believe it, either. I should have known, he thought. But no, I'm so desperate for a man that some jackass high school kid can dupe me into thinking he's asking me out.
"Are you okay?" Sarah asked, squeezing his shoulder.
"Yeah," he said, looking up at her and managing a small smile. "I think I'm going to get a lot of prank calls from now on, though."
Sarah sighed and hugged him. "Don't let them get to you, hon. They're just a bunch of bored, stupid guys who trudged up from suburbia. I mean, if they're willing to come all the way downtown for a cheap laugh, then they're the losers."
Josh laughed and hugged her back, feeling slightly better. "Thanks."
Sarah smiled and patted him on the back as the bell at the door jingled, signifying another entrance. "You okay to handle this one?"
Josh nodded and straightened his clothes out, giving himself a mental pep talk, but when he looked up he lost all resolve. A handsome young man of about Josh's age was approaching the counter, wrapped in a long black coat and a red scarf. He was tall and lean, with shiny chestnut-brown hair and eyes to match, a handsome, clean shaven face and the most kissable mouth Josh had ever seen.
"Hi," he said, smiling. "I'll have a French Vanilla latte, please. And your phone number, if that's all right."
Josh blinked. Now I'm hallucinating, he thought. He turned around and collected himself, then turned back. "Did you say what I think you said?"
"I probably did," the man smiled and pulled a pen from his jacket pocket. "You can write it on the cup if you want," he offered.
Josh was suddenly ticked off. He was sick of being tricked and yanked around, and decided then and there that he would hold back. "No," he said firmly. "I'm not giving you my number."
"Why?" the man looked disappointed.
"Because… I'm just… I'm not." He stormed away and angrily made the latte, spilling most of the ingredients all over his hands and the counter. He shoved it at the customer and related the cost.
"Come on," the man pleaded, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "I won't hurt you."
Josh snorted incredulously. "Okay. Sure."
"No, really. How about if I use a pickup line?"
"No thanks. Not interested." Josh grabbed the coins from the customer's outstretched hand. "Besides, my mother always told me not to talk to strangers."
"My name's Rob Cooke," he said. Then he pointed to Josh's nametag. "Hi, Josh. There, now we aren't strangers anymore."
Josh ripped the tag off and threw it under the counter. His anger was slowly mounting. Who does this idiot think he is? Josh fumed. "Stupid thing," he said to the tag. "You blew my cover."
"Cover?" Rob raised his eyebrow. "I wasn't aware there were such things as undercover Starbucks sales associates."
"Well, aren't you just a freaking king of comedy," Josh snapped.
"Did it hurt?"
Josh was caught off guard. "Did what hurt?" he asked.
"When you fell from heaven?"
"That's it, jerk-off. Get out." Josh pointed dramatically to the door.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Calm down. Seriously." Rob's expression softened, and he looked genuinely concerned and perhaps a bit hurt. "I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to offend you."
Josh's anger began to dissipate at this. "Yeah?" He smiled forgivingly.
Rob smiled back. "Yeah. Listen, I know you think I'm just some whacko who's, like, stalking you or something. Truth is, I pass by this store every day on my way to work, and I always look in at you. I've always thought you were really gorgeous but I've never had time to stop in and introduce myself." He paused, and then added, "I heard those guys talking out on the sidewalk. I know what they did to you."
Josh felt himself blushing. "Ugh. I… I don't know what I was thinking."
"Don't worry about it, seriously." Rob's eyes still twinkled in an almost mesmerising way. "I probably would have done the same."
Josh's hatred of Rob Cooke had completely gone, and now he found he had to struggle to keep from leaning across the counter and kissing him. All he could do was smile weakly and nod. What is wrong with me? First that huge mood swing… and now I'm acting like a giddy little girl.
"Uh, anyways… maybe in light of recent events, I should have posed my question a bit differently. Josh, would you like to go to dinner with me?" Rob's eyes held the question even after he'd stopped speaking… those gorgeous eyes…
Snap out of it, Josh chided himself. Say something! "Uh. Uh." Nothing would come out of his mouth that sounded remotely like English. God damn it! He's turned my brain into jelly. "I- I mean, sure. Yeah."
"Great!" Rob said warmly. "Do you like Greek food?" (A/N: I just saw 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and am now obsessed. Just FYI.)
"Yeah!" Josh lied. He'd really never tried it.
"Cool. I mean, I'm not Greek or anything, I just like it. There's this really great place on the Danforth we could go to."
"Um. Okay!" Josh felt uncharacteristically enthusiastic about everything Rob said. He was really just too jubilant to think straight. Finally, someone's asking me out! I feel so… appreciated. Or something. Hell, I don't know. I'm just so happy!
Rob gave Josh the address for the restaurant, and they traded phone numbers and agreed to meet there at seven. Then, with a smile and a hug, Rob was gone, leaving Josh with anticipation and the scent of Tommy cologne.
Sarah immediately rushed out of the back room, where she'd been pretending to re-arrange shelves, squealing at the top of her lungs. Josh yelped when he saw her and they collapsed into each other's arms, laughing hysterically.
"He asked you to dinner!" Sarah cried. "And you're going!"
"Maybe I'll luck out this time," Josh mused. "Maybe he won't end up being an ass, like all my exes."
"He won't, honey," Sarah assured him – although, in her heart of hearts, she didn't believe it for a minute. Josh had always fallen head over heels for charming guys that turned out to be real heartbreakers. She hoped against hope, for Josh's sake, that Rob would be an exception to that rule.