Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet Happenings from On Valentine's Day

I hope you enjoy this story. Sweet Happenings is one of my favorite stories. I hope you enjoy Matt and Robert's love story.

Oh yes, and as an added bonus, when you purchase On Valentine's day you also get the recipe for Chocolate Therapy, the muffin Matt created for his bakery, Sweet Happenings.

Purchase On Valentine's Day Amazon B&N ARE

Sweet Happenings
Sara York

Chapter One

Matt Wilson didn't look up when the door opened or when Jason started banging around in the closet. He didn't take his eyes off the rug spread over the hardwood floor, nor did he acknowledge the asshole as he pulled clothes from the dresser drawers. Even the cup of fresh Columbian coffee cooling on the nightstand beside him went ignored. Four years and it came down to clothes being packed. He snorted when Jason asked him a question. What the fuck did it matter if Jason took the blue Samsonite when their relationship was over.
Had it been any other day of the year he would have been okay with it, but the morning of February fifteenth wasn't when he ever expected to wind up on this end of a relationship. Not after the evening he'd planned for he and Jason. Everything was going to be perfect, getting them back on track and drawing them closer together. That it had taken Jason this long to start packing just pissed him off.
Jason cleared his throat, his feet positioned in front of Matt. "Listen, I'll come by tomorrow for my dishes."
The rage built, boiling through his veins, forcing Matt to his feet. "Your dishes?"
Jason flinched. It was the first thing Matt had said in the last hour, and maybe yelling hadn't been the right thing to do, the hand waving a bit much, and he was sure he looked crazy, but there was no fucking way in hell that Jason was touching those dishes.
Jason shrugged as he took a step back. "Yeah, I love those dishes."
"You fucking bastard!" Matt clenched his fists. "My grandmother gave me those dishes long before I knew you."
Jason held up his hands, the palms facing Matt. His eyebrows were raised to the maximum height. Jason, the strong, Jason the one in control, Jason the guy who walked on water, looked frightened and ready to bolt. Matt started to giggle. He couldn't stop himself. It was the first time he'd yelled since finding Jason in bed last night with Dante, the eighteen year old stock boy employed at Sweet Happenings, his bakery. Sadly, he would miss Dante more than Jason. His lover of four years had become more of a friend than a hot sex partner like they'd started out. Hell, he saw Dante more than he saw Jason now, and maybe that was the issue. If he ever dated again, he'd only be with a guy who never traveled and was at home more in the evenings.
Matt sobered and accessed his full height. "Get the fuck out of my place and don't come back. Give me your key."
Matt held out his hand, waiting patiently for the key. Jason huffed, his mouth pinched and his eyes narrowed. They guy no longer looked appealing to Matt. Sure, the first time he'd seen Jason he'd been blown away by his model quality looks and his amazing smile, now he was just another guy and the looks, though still amazing, meant nothing to Matt.
"God Matt, it's not like I'm going to take something that isn't mine."
"You fucking took my stock boy and he wasn't yours."
Jason's nostrils flared and Matt wondered if they were going to have a go at it. The fight seemed petty. So Jason fucked around, probably wasn't the first time. He'd had his suspicions but had never been able to call Jason on it. Walking in on him spanking Dante's ass with a wooden spoon while he rode the boy like he was a wild bronco had left Matt sick to his stomach. His suspicions were confirmed, no doubt left in his mind.
"You also took my spoon."
Jason's brows bunched. "Spoon?"
"The one you were slapping Dante's ass with."
Jason huffed. "You can have that back."
"You had it on your lover boys ass. I don't think I want it. I'll buy a new one."
"Oh no, I'll buy you another fucking spoon. Here's your damn key. I guess it's foolish to ask for one for old time sakes?"
Matt clenched his fists to keep from hitting Jason. Four years of his life wasted with a prick who didn't care about him, not really. "Get out," Matt growled.
Jason rolled his eyes then grabbed his bag, which was actually Matt's bag, but he didn't give a shit anymore. Jason headed out the front door, only looking back once. Matt hopped into the shower and scrubbed his body roughly, punishing himself not only with the rough terry washrag, but also with thoughts about how stupid he'd been and how many mistakes he'd made in his relationship with Jason.
Never again!
Next time he'd do it differently. Hell, there wouldn't be a next time. He was Thirty-nine and too old to be dealing with this shit.
He pulled his jeans on and tugged on a Sweet Happenings T-shirt and a black hoodie then headed downstairs to his bakery. Though the morning was freezing, he didn't bother with a heavy coat since his apartment was only a block from the bakery. Cathy, his assistant manager, had opened for him today. They shared the responsibility most weeks, with him taking the biggest burden and Cathy taking Friday and Saturday mornings. His employees were great, more like a family than work acquaintances, and that's why finding Dante fucking Jason had hurt so much.
He would put an ad in the paper next week. Surely he could find another young man to work for him that wouldn’t screw his partner. Fuck, he didn't have a partner any more. His mood was deteriorating quickly. He needed something to pull him out of his nasty state and fast.
The bell above the door tinkled as he pushed it open. He breathed in deeply, taking in the sweet aroma of fresh baked muffins, scones, pound cakes and other loafs. With a quick glance around the dining room, he saw that the morning rush had cleared out. He poked his head into the kitchen, spying his signature treat, Chocolate Therapy, a delectable muffin filled with strawberries and cream cheese, cooling on the rack above the ovens.
"Just what I need." Matt went to the rack and took a muffin, delighted to have the delicious indulgence to sooth his sorrows.
"Hey boss, glad that you're here. So was Valentines Day as special as you thought it would be? Did you ask him?" Cathy, his assistant manager, came out of the stock room and set a box of sugar on the table beside him.
Matt groaned as the heat of anger washed over his whole body. "Can we drop the subject?"
"Oh." He turned to face Cathy, seeing disappointment in her eyes. "I'm sorry."
He huffed out a breath, shocked by the sting of tears at the back of his eyes. "I caught him with Dante. Dante is gone and so is Jason. It's over. No asking him to marry me. God, I'm such an idiot."
She patted his back, smoothing her hand over his shoulders. "Hey, it has happened to the best of us. I'm sorry it's over. Let me fix you a latte. Go, sit at a table. Get your head together. I'll take care of things for a bit."
"That's not fair, you've done so much."
"Sweetheart, that's why I'm here—to help you. Remember when Rex, my Great Dane, died last year? You let me take two weeks off. You held my hand when I went to the pet cemetery and you brought me dinner. He was just a dog and you treated him like family."
"He was your family."
"I know that, silly, but other people thought I was crazy going to the expense and the trouble. You lost someone special, plus we lost Dante. Let me pamper you for a few minutes."
Matt smiled for the first time today. He put his muffin on a plate and carried it to the front of the store. He sat at his favorite table, one that was hidden away behind a pillar. Few customers saw the table when they came in and usually it went empty, thus allowing him to always find a seat. Cathy brought him a vanilla caramel latte in a travel mug, his favorite drink and his favorite mug.
He sighed, less sad than he thought he'd be at losing Jason. Why had he thought he should ask Jason to marry him? Maybe because they'd been together for four years and everyone expected the engagement. He'd hoped the renewed commitment would bring them closer together. Actually, he was thankful he'd headed upstairs early last night instead of going to the gym like his regular routine dictated.
When he'd opened the door to the bedroom, Jason had been beyond surprised and Dante had been so embarrassed that he lost his erection fast. The poor guy had turned so pale Matt worried that Dante would faint. He'd fired Dante immediately, citing a clause in the employment contract that talked about behavior. It was one of those clauses he never thought he'd ever have to use against an employee, but he really didn't think he had to worry about his employees fucking his partner.
He shoved thoughts of Jason out of his mind and contemplated the next holiday. They would make patriotic cupcakes for President's Day, but Saint Patrick's Day was the next big one. They weren't in the Hell's Kitchen district but plenty of Irish guys came by the bakery for his Porter Cake. As a special treat, he made Porter Cake muffins and an array of tarts for the holiday, always aiming to please his regulars.
The door opened and a bit of blustery wind blew in, chilling him to the bone. He pulled his hoodie closed and glanced up, spying the sexiest man he'd seen in ages walking into the store. Memories of Jason screwing him over filled his mind and he ducked his head, ignoring the guy. It went against his grain to not pay attention to a customer and he glanced up again, seeing that Cathy was busy in the back. He groaned and hopped up, his good manners kicking in.
"Welcome to Sweet Happenings. I don't think I've seen you around here before."
The guy swung around, his gaze dipping low, taking in Matt's ratty tennis shoes, worn jeans and black hoodie. He did look rather frazzled, not at all like the owner of the bakery. Explaining seemed too pretentious so he kept his mouth closed as he washed his hands, drying them on a clean dishtowel.
"Oh, hi. Sorry, I'm running late. Do you have anything with protein in it?"
Matt smiled, trying like hell to be pleasant though all good-looking men were on his shit list right now. He shouldn't be so crabby, but Jason had done a number on him and he wanted to deflect all attention and to get even. It was childish, but he was in a pissy mood.
"I have some boiled eggs. I can pair fresh sliced apple with it or I have some peanut butter in the back. I can also make a grilled egg sandwich."
The guy stared at him blankly then his phone went off and he answered without hesitation. "Baxter here."
Matt waited, his irritation growing with each passing second. Normally, he wasn't like this. He'd need to give Cathy a huge bonus because he was thinking about leaving for the rest of the day, letting her close the shop though she'd opened. Their other employee, Rich, had already clocked out for the day since he had a doctor's appointment. He shouldn't leave Cathy in a lurch, but if he got another customer like this Baxter fellow, he might just blow a gasket.
Matt started listening to Baxter's end of the conversation, though it was rude. Working at Sweet Happenings allowed him to hear snippets of conversations that were personal, but his nosey side always had him paying attention even when he knew he shouldn't.
"I can't deal with it right now." Baxter turned away from Matt, his shoulders hunched. "Don't." The man's voice had grown more intense and then his shoulders started shaking. "I can't believe that—" Baxter cleared his throat. "I won't forgive cheating."
Matt shuddered. This guy's conversation sounded like his with Jason's had last night. Fuck, what a pair of losers they were.
Baxter scrubbed his hand down his face. "You don't—" There was silence as Baxter wiped at his eyes and straightened. "Fine."
The guy tapped the screen of his phone and pocketed the device. He turned back to Matt, his face a bit blotchy, his nose tinged red and his eyes pink, almost like he'd been crying. Matt ignored the obvious upset and smiled, ready to take the guys order.
"So, what will it be?"
"That chocolate thing you were eating when I came in. That's what I want."
Matt drew in a deep breath and plated the muffin from the kitchen. Baxter seemed upset and Matt hated that. But hell, it was February fifteenth and he guessed his wasn't the only relationship to come crashing down. "Would you like some Coffee?"
"I shouldn't, I've already had too much, but I don't think I'll make it through the day without a latte."
Matt smiled and pulled a cup out of the stack before he prepped the expresso machine. "Sounds like you're having the same kind of day I am."
Baxter snorted and rolled his eyes. "I doubt it. You don't look like the type of guy some one would cheat on."
"Ha, yesterday I caught my partner—I shouldn't be saying anything to you about this. You don't want to hear about my problems."
Baxter shook his head and chuckled. "What a sad pair."
"Let me make your drink, you can come up front and sit with me."
"Don't you have to...I don't know, mind the store?"
"My assistant manger is back in the stockroom, she'll be up in a few and can take care of any customers. Plus it's dead at this time. We'll get busy in about an hour."
Baxter smiled and nodded. "Sure, I guess I can sit for a few minutes. I'm already late, what's fifteen more minutes."
Matt caught Baxter's gaze and held it. "You sure you have time?"
"Hell, I don't but it's not like I'm going to be spending time on the phone talking tonight. I'll just work late."
Matt prepared the latte, putting the lid on the to-go cup and took it out to the man now sharing his favorite table. "I'm Matt Wilson by the way."
"Robert Baxter, so you lived here long—in New York?"
"About fifteen years. I grew up in Mobile Alabama."
"Nice place. I'm in Chicago now."
Matt smiled, taking a sip of his still warm coffee. "Do you travel much with work?"
"No, usually never but the company is opening a branch here, and I've been tagged to be on the team to spearhead the operations. So I guess I'm not really in Chicago anymore. But who knows."
Matt had no idea what it would be like to be uprooted by a company like that. He loved New York and would never leave on purpose. "That's good. New York is nice."
"Yeah, but my partner, the one I've been dating for the last six years, is pissed. He decided to go out last night without me. He met someone. That's what he called to tell me, that he found someone he loves and he is leaving. I didn't take it well and that's why I'm running late."
"That's harsh."
Robert took a bite of the muffin, his eyes rolled up in the back of his head and he moaned. "What the hell do you put in this thing?"
Matt laughed. "Secret recipe."
"It's good." Robert took another bite, no less enthralled with the second taste than he had been with the first. "These are amazing."
"Thank you. It's my own creation. I call it Chocolate Therapy."
"It's good. So, do you run the place?"
"I bought it ten years ago. I was a stockbroker and I hated it. I made some good investments when the market was high. At the first sign of trouble I got out, made enough to start my own business. I got this place for a song and I've never looked back."
"So broker to baker, that's nice." Robert took another bite of the muffin.
"I enjoy the work. That's more important than anything else. I've found that my days are filled with happiness since I've bought the place. Well, most days. Today I really want to strangle someone."
Matt popped another piece of his muffin in his mouth, loving the way the chocolate melted on his tongue. The sweet taste of his homemade strawberry cream cheese left him a bit giddy. He was glad that Cathy had baked more of his special muffins. The day would be disastrous without this indulgence.
Robert ate the last of his muffin and stood up. "I need to head into the office. I'll see you around. It was great talking to you."
"Anytime. The only days I don't work are Fridays and Saturdays."
They shook hands and Robert gathered his coffee and pulled on his coat, buttoning the front. "Have a good day." Robert walked out and headed toward downtown.
Matt finished his breakfast and cleaned up after himself. He made sure the dining room looked good before heading into the kitchen to prep for the lunch regulars. Talking to Robert had been nice. It helped to see that others were going through the same thing he was. Not that it took all of the pain away, but he didn't feel like so much of a loser anymore.
Cathy came out of the stockroom carrying the ingredients necessary to make strawberry shortcake. Jason may have messed up a bit of his life, but not everything. He still had Sweet Happenings and Cathy. For now, that was enough.

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