Seth wiped down the milk steamer before making the next customer's order. His mind was only half on his task as he noticed it was almost time for him to come in and order his usual hot cocoa.
A grin that Seth couldn't suppress broke free as he prepared a cappuccino. His stomach was a nervous jumble and he tried to calm himself down. But thoughts of Christian took over until he was moving on autopilot.
For three weeks now, Christian had come in every day to the off-campus coffee shop where Seth worked and had ordered hot cocoa with a shot of peppermint. For three weeks, Seth subtly flirted and got to know Christian, trying to get up the nerve to ask him out. Christian seemed open to Seth's flirting, and often flirted back, so he was 99% sure Christian was gay.
After the first few days, Seth would try to take his break while Christian was there, although it wasn't always possible. Christian drank his cocoa as Seth tried not to make a fool of himself. They always had interesting conversations, but nothing else had happened. If Christian was interested in Seth, shouldn't he have made a move by now?
In all of his twenty years, no one had ever made Seth feel such a confusing array of emotions as Christian did. And yet Seth wouldn't trade these feelings for anything if it meant he got to see Christian every day. He just wished he had the nerve to ask Christian out or at least progress their conversations beyond the superficial.
He had found out that Christian recently moved to Atlanta from the Dallas area and that he had just started working in the advertising industry. He was twenty-three and had an older sister named Kelly.
Seth's thoughts were interrupted as he heard his name. He looked up into gorgeous pale blue eyes and a wide grin split his face.
"Christian, hey. Give me just a sec and I'll bring your drink over."
Christian smiled warmly and nodded before heading over to his usual table.
Christian Mathisen walked down the sidewalk to the small coffee shop. This was his favorite part of the day. Thoughts of Seth caused a warm feeling to spread through him, offsetting the cold December air.
He pulled open the door and stepped inside, the warmth wrapping around him as the delicious smell of coffee permeated the familiar room. His eyes immediately sought out his favorite brown-haired, green-eyed barista and his smile widened.
He took a moment just to observe Seth working efficiently behind the counter, the warm feeling blossoming through his chest. Christian couldn't pretend any longer; despite only knowing him for a short while, he was falling hard for Seth. He couldn't help it. Seth was completely adorable, with his dimples and bright smile. He was sweet and shy and had a great sense of humor. Christian loved every moment he spent with him.
As he realized he was just standing there staring, he moved close to the counter and called Seth's name. Seth looked up and grinned, showing the dimples that Christian loved. Christian felt a fluttering in his stomach as Seth greeted him. Yeah, he had it bad.
After heading over to his table and waiting for Seth, Christian decided that they had been dancing around each other enough. Seth was obviously too shy to make a move so it was up to him.
A few moments later, Seth dropped into the chair next to Christian with a soft sigh and handed him the red mug full of chocolatey goodness.
"Busy day?" Christian asked before slowly sipping the cocoa. The chocolate-peppermint infusion delighted his taste buds before warming his insides.
Seth smiled before sipping his own cocoa. "Yeah, the closer it gets to Christmas, the busier we get. But it's better than having nothing to do, right?"
Christian agreed then reached over and began playing with Seth's fingers, grinning at the blush that instantly appeared on his cheeks. Well, he wanted to step it up, and this was the perfect opportunity.
"So, I have an ulterior motive for coming here today," he replied, noticing the slight tremor in Seth's fingers.
"You mean getting to see me isn't reason enough?" Seth teased back, meeting Christian's gaze with two gorgeous dimples.
Christian grinned. Seth really was too adorable for his own good. Intertwining their fingers and loving the deepening blush on Seth's face, he replied, "I was hoping that you were free tonight. I wanted to try this new Italian restaurant near my house."
Christian waited with bated breath to see how Seth would react. No more superficial flirting with nothing to back it up. His cards were on the table.
Seth was positive he was about to have a heart attack. Christian was holding his hand. And had just asked him out on a date.
Pterodactyls had just taken flight in his stomach. Realizing that Christian was waiting for his answer, he tried to speak normally. "U-uh, sure." He could feel the fire on his face and took a deep breath before trying again. "I mean, that sounds nice. I'd love to go."
Nice? He wanted to slap himself for sounding so inane, but then noticed the huge smile on Christian's face. He guessed he hadn't messed up too badly if Christian looked that happy.
"Great!" Christian replied, squeezing Seth's hand before letting go to finish his cocoa. "I should let you get back to work then."
A smile broke out over Seth's face as he and Christian discussed the details of their date. He couldn't believe this was happening. Just when he thought their relationship was going nowhere, Christian surprised him. Seth wanted to yell out his happiness. Instead, he bid Christian goodbye and watched him leave, spending the rest of the afternoon in a happy daze and counting the time until he would see Christian again.
Christian couldn't believe how well his date with Seth was progressing. Dinner had been a success, with the enticing aromas, low lighting and interesting conversation blanketing them as if they were the only two people in the restaurant. He was getting to know Seth, bonding over their shared love of British comedies and 80s music.
Now they were walking down the street, hand in hand, and Christian felt like his heart would leap right out of his chest.
"So I thought that since you picked where we had dinner, I could pick the next part of our evening," Seth offered with a shy smile.
"Only if you can answer a question correctly," Christian teased.
"Okay," Seth answered, seeming a little unsure.
Christian flashed him a smile to reassure Seth that this was all in fun.
"Alright. What was the destructive religious artifact that King Arthur and his men threw at their enemies called?"
Seth smiled before answering with confidence, "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!"
Christian laughed. "Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three."
"Five is right out," Seth finished with a huge grin.
"Okay, you passed the test," Christian joked, squeezing Seth's hand. "So where are we off to?"
Seth eagerly pulled him down the sidewalk towards Centennial Park. "I thought we could go ice skating." He paused, suddenly unsure. "If that's okay?" he questioned.
Christian hadn't gone ice skating since he was a kid and knew he'd probably fall on his ass, but he wanted to make Seth happy and bring back the dimples he loved so much. "That sounds like fun. I have to warn you, though. I'll probably spend most of the time on the ground."
Seth grinned and Christian's stomach fluttered again. He was pretty sure he was already in love with Seth, which was scary. They had known each other for less than a month after all, and this was their first date. At the same time, now that he had the thought of being in love, he was certain he was. He couldn't say anything to Seth, though. Not this soon. It would scare him away when they were just getting started.
Christian felt a tug on his hand and turned to meet Seth's concerned expression. "Everything okay? You seemed lost in thought for a second."
"Everything is great," Christian reassured his companion. "Let's go see me make a fool of myself."
Seth laughed as he helped Christian up from the ice. Christian hadn't been exaggerating when he said he'd probably fall a lot. Seth reached up to brush Christian's pale blond hair out of his eyes and then blushed as he realized what he was doing. "Um, do you want to take a break? There's a booth over there that sells hot cocoa."
Christian smiled, knowing Seth was mostly trying to divert Christian's attention from his actions just then. He really was so cute. Plus, Christian could never say no to hot cocoa.
"You just want to take a break from my clumsiness," Christian joked. "But if you're tempting me with hot cocoa to make up for it, then I accept."
Seth ducked his head, peering at Christian from beneath his lashes before lacing their fingers and pulling Christian to the booth.
This was the best night of Seth's young life. He couldn't remember a time when he had just let himself go and not worried about making a fool of himself. Everything with Christian seemed so effortless. If he didn't know better, he'd say he was in love. But it couldn't be that. It was just too soon and he didn't want to scare Christian away.
Christian paid for the drinks and they sat down on one of the benches, sipping their chocolatey treats. Seth started to comment on how it looked like it might snow, which would be unusual for this time of year. However, Christian chose that moment to wipe at the corner of Seth's mouth, then lick his own finger. Seth's thoughts were immediately derailed.
"Uh, sorry, you had some whipped cream there." Christian smiled and Seth blushed, unable to hide the smile that wanted to break free.
He stared over at Christian, almost hypnotized by the look in Christian's eyes. Without realizing it, he leaned towards Christian and softly met his mouth with his own.
Christian was on cloud nine. He had been wanting to kiss Seth all night and finally, the opportunity presented itself. He could taste the chocolate on Seth's soft, warm lips and wanted more.
Slowly he licked inside Seth's lush mouth, reveling in the stronger chocolate taste and Seth's own flavor. He brushed his tongue against Seth's before licking the roof of his mouth.
His fingers tangled themselves in Seth's soft hair, seemingly without his permission. Seth moaned quietly and Christian quickly grew to love the soft sounds he was drawing from his date. Seth then surprised him when he gently sucked on Christian's tongue.
The kiss seemed to go on forever until they parted at a catcall from nearby. They turned to see a small group of teenage girls gathered around the next bench, big grins on their faces.
Christian just laughed as Seth blushed a deep red. "C'mon, it's time for more skating," Christian murmured, grabbing Seth's hand and leading him back to the temporary rink.
Seth hummed as he poured the large coffee and handed it to his last customer. He was closing tonight and was practically bouncing. Christian was meeting him and they were going out to celebrate. Despite his many attempts to extract the details from his boyfriend, Seth had yet to figure out the evening's plans. Locking the door behind the departing woman, he quickly cleaned the tables in the small shop as well as the steamer and coffee pots. After closing out the register, he took one last look around the shop and declared himself done.
Soon enough he heard a knock on the door. Looking up, he spied Christian looking warm in his stylish black wool coat. Seth unlocked the door and welcomed Christian into the warm interior with a loving kiss.
"Hey, you're just in time. I already cleaned, closed out the register and I'm ready to go have fun," Seth proclaimed through a dimpled smile.
"Alright then. Let's head home," Christian replied through a smile of his own.
As they walked the short distance to Christian's car, he glanced over at his boyfriend, trying hard not to laugh at the slightly confused expression on Seth's face. He loved teasing Seth.
"Um, I thought," Seth paused, uncertainty evident in his voice.
"You thought what, babe?" Christian replied.
"I just thought you'd want to do something special tonight. You know, to celebrate." Christian saw that Seth looked a little hurt, but didn't want to give away the surprise yet.
"We're celebrating something?" Christian asked before unlocking the car and sliding in.
"Oh, uh, I guess not," Seth replied in a quiet voice as they drove away from the coffee shop. "I just...nevermind." Several minutes later, Seth realized something. "Hey, this isn't the way home."
Christian pulled into a parking lot and turned off the car before facing Seth. "There's something I wanted to do before we headed home," he explained. "C'mon."
Seth looked around and suddenly realized where they were. He had been so lost in depressed thought at Christian's seeming brush-off of this special night that he wasn't paying any attention.
"This is Centennial Park!" Seth exclaimed before pulling Christian into a hug. "You didn't forget!"
"Of course I didn't forget. It was one year ago tonight. Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you." Christian met Seth's mouth in a slow, deep kiss.
"Happy Anniversary. I love you, too." Seth's grin threatened to dance right off of his face and Christian gently touched one of those dimples he loved.
"Let's go get some hot cocoa and then you can save me from making too much of a fool of myself in the rink," Christian joked.
As they skated around the rink, fingers laced and laughing like children, Seth had a random thought. He had the love of his life and was happier than he ever could have imagined. And they owed it all to hot cocoa.