Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Romance Reviews turn 3! Underage but still awesome!

A great site is having a birthday and I'm helping celebrate!
If you haven't been by TRR in a while, go on and check it out at
And stay tuned for all the great favorites that I'll be talking about here!

Clue for my question:

My shift is over at four, and it’s nearly that time when I hear his voice all the way in the back. Running through the small kitchen and into the deck where the coffee bar is, I slip on a wet spot under the blender machines and nearly bite it. Ella gives me a wary look like I’ve lost my mind, but when she turns back to Clinton and realizes I came running for him in particular, she calls me over with a devious smirk. “Markus, dear, can you help this nice man with his coffee? It’s time for my break,” she says, not even trying to be subtle. Clinton looks confused as I walk toward him, giving Ella a dirty look when she passes me. 

“Hi.” I am so smooth. I realize he’s nearly soaked through from the early evening downpour, so I reach down and hand him a bar towel. “You’re soaked.” I am smooth and observant. He does look delicious with the droplets of water trickling from his curly mop down his strong jawline. 

“Thank you.” He takes the towel and brushes it over his hair, causing it to stick up in thick curls all over. I try hard not to drool. “I was just ordering another coffee when the little one ran off.” He chuckles, and I smile like a dope and think to myself that he looks younger when he laughs. 

“Right, she does that.” I look over my shoulder to see Ella trying to look busy with a magazine. “Time for a refill. Do you have your cup from this morning?” I ask, hoping to hell he has it, and he’s seen it, and he’s ready to move in. No, not really. Well, kind of. I try to sound light, but my heart is a little sad that he didn’t care my name was on his cup. 

He shakes his head in the negative and reaches into his pocket for change. “Sorry, no. With all the rain when I left…” He looks almost bashful, and I want to grab his hand as he’s wiping them off on the towel. “I slipped and dropped it on my way to class.” 

“Oh, that sucks. Are you okay?” I ask, suddenly concerned he may have hurt himself. He nods, looking fairly embarrassed. He tries to hand me money, but I wave him off. “No worries, I know you were here earlier.” Not that I was staring…or drooling. “And it’s not like you won’t be here tomorrow.” I almost sound pathetic. Almost. He looks down at my hands on the counter, and I realize I’m just standing in front of him. 

“Yeah, hot coffee. Coming up.” I turn and grab a new cup, but I’m so twisted up inside that I fumble it and have to pick it up, then throw it away and grab another one off the stack. I chance a look at Ella, who’s grinning massively and drops her gaze back to her fashion rag. 

“Have a seat, Clinton, and I’ll bring it out to you.” I don’t need Ella spouting off with him right there. 

He dips his head, then says a quick, “Thank you.” He takes a seat near the fire again, and I go back to getting his coffee to-go. 

“Oh. My. God.” Ella’s voice is low but enough for me to jump and look around. 


“For a smart kid, you are so dumb. That boy was checking you out!” She slaps me and takes the towel from me, then slaps me with it and hands it back to me. 

“He was not.” I look from her to Clinton, who is reading now, and back to her. 

“He very much was. Ask Val.” Ella points behind me, and I look across the room to where Valerie is sipping her tea by the window and giving me a not-so-subtle thumbs-up. Ella and Valerie are always trying to find me someone to date, which can be flattering, but sometimes very awkward when their gaydar is off. Both of them have been badgering me to ask Clinton out for as long as he’s been coming in here, but I’ve always deflected them. 

“Are you sure?” I try again. “I think he might be… I’m just not totally sure he’s gay or single. He’s so quiet…and what if he’s seeing someone?” 

“Oh, sweet boy. No, he’s interested.” She pats my head. “He plays for your team. No one checks out another man’s ass like that unless he’s a star player.” She bounces with thumbs up. “Go ask him out.” 

“No, I can’t do that. He’s so shy. I don’t want to scare him off.” 

“Stop making excuses. Some other hot guy will come along and snap him up.” Her words startle me. “Try the number trick on his cup.” 

“Tried. He lost the cup in the rain.” 

“Ah, okay.” She sits back down and taps her chin. “Then just go ask him about classes. He’s reading a book on World War I. You’re a nerd… Why don’t you ask him about it?” 

“I’m premed.” 

Ella smiles and hops off her stool, making her ponytail sway behind her. “Yes. Like I said, you’re a nerd. Go talk to him.” She shoves me a little. Even though I outweigh her, she’s still able to move me. “I’m closing tonight, so you go talk to him and see if he wants to get dinner or something, or offer him a ride to class, take him to the library…something.” She gives me a pointed, no-nonsense look. “He walks through the neighborhood to wherever he lives, so he probably lives nearby like you do.” 

My gears are spinning in my head, and a little ray of hope opens up. Maybe I could ask him out…or to dinner…something. 

Copyright © Bella Leone

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