He was sweet and hot, but totally straight.
…Until he kissed me on New Year"s Eve.
Working at the convenience store isn"t exciting. I"m just here to help out my grandmother, take care of the store, and try to stay out of fights with shoplifters. But when Chase, the hot flower delivery guy, walked through our door, my world turned upside down. He was shy, but deeper than anyone I"d ever known.
So I took a chance. I invited him to a New Year"s Party. It wasn"t a date"he was straight, after all. But then I ended up with his arms wrapped around me, kissing as the clock struck midnight. But I know I can"t get my hopes up for anything real. It"s hot as fire when we"re together, but life keeps pulling us apart.
My New Year"s Resolutions were simple. Stop being so shy, go out with people, and finally come out of the closet.
If only it were that easy.
When I walked into the convenience store and saw Andy, I nearly passed out. He"d been my crush for over a year, but with his tattoos and bad-boy popularity, I never thought he"d give me a second look. So when he invited me to a New Year"s party, I had to say yes. And a few drinks later, when my lips were on his, all I wanted was more.
But being with Andy means facing something I"d been hiding my whole life: I wasn"t straight. If I wanted any chance of being with him, I knew I had to get over my fears.
Champagne Kiss is a 55,000-word gay romance novel. It features a local convenience store and its crazy cast of customers, forbidden love, and two guys who are opposites in every way" but can"t get enough of each other. It"s the third book set in the small, quirky town of Rose Falls, but can always be read as a standalone novel on its own.Books by Author:Raleigh Ruebins Books
I stared at my grandmother blankly. Clearly, she had begun to lose her mind. "You think what everyone needs most when they go to their local convenience store is flowers""
She sighed, folding up the newspaper in front of her and shoving it under the front counter. "Andy, you know this store is more than just a convenience store," she said, pushing herself up out of her seat. I held out a hand, offering her support as she stood up. "We have character. We care about our customers. People love flowers."
It was the end of her shift at the store and the beginning of mine. My grandma Betty had owned Rose"s Mini-Mart basically forever"she"d opened the store when she was twenty-one years old, and it had been here ever since. I would be turning twenty-one in three days, and I still had trouble opening soda cans, let alone entire stores.
I"d grown up visiting my grandma in the store, and now that I was in college, I worked nights here. The mini-mart was just one of many reasons why my grandma kicked ass.
"Nana, you really think that all the drunk college kids that come in our store at eleven at night are just wishing we sold a nice bouquet to go along with their energy drinks and condoms""
"Who knows" Maybe they need to have the nice scent of orchids wafting toward them as they thrust into their lover."
"Jesus, Nana," I said, snorting. I knew to expect this from her"she wasn"t exactly shy"but I was still her grandson, after all.
"Anyway," she said, pulling on her heavy winter coat, "the representative from the flower shop is coming in an hour. They"re called Brentford Flowers. I let them know that we wanted a sampling of what they had to offer"and Andy, make sure they help us set up a nice display."
"How hard could it be" We"ll just put them on a stand by the door."
She waved a hand at me dismissively. "Promise you"ll be nice to the flower representative."
"What"s that supposed to mean""
She narrowed her eyes at me. "You know what it means." She closed her fist around her keys and headed toward the front door.
"Nana, I was perfectly nice to the pistachio supplier last week, it isn"t my fault he took issue with how I choose to run the store." I swung around to the front door, holding it open for her, the icy air rushing inside.
"His problem was that you weren"t choosing to run the store! He said you made him wait because whatever movie you were watching was at the good part."
I nodded. "If someone tried to interrupt you at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, you"d make them wait, too. It was good customer service"I was allowing him to watch the movie, too."
Her face instantly softened, a wistful smile appearing on her lips and the sides of her eyes crinkling up. I knew she"d be sympathetic if I told her which movie it was.
"You were watching Charlie Brown Christmas in here all alone""
I nodded. "Yep. And it was last week, right before Christmas, too. It was the end, when they"re decorating the tree"."
She pulled on her hat. "You get a free pass this time," she said, "but one more strike, and we"re taking the TV out of the store."
"We"re never taking the TV out of the store," I called after her as she walked over to her car, her boots crunching in the snow that hadn"t been cleared from the sidewalk. "It gives the store character!"
"Get to work!" she called back to me before hopping in her old minivan.
I shut the door behind me, scanning the store. Little twinkling lights and garlands still lined every aisle, even though it was December 29th"Nana had figured that until New Year"s, we could still be in the holiday spirit.
The store decorations really did have character, and it was the one thing I agreed with my grandmother on. About five years ago she"d replaced all the shelves in the store with dark wooden ones and installed a hardwood floor"it had been the first renovation the store had seen in decades. She also insisted on having better lighting than the usual fluorescents, which was definitely good because I"d rather have gouged my eyes out than work under that nauseating greenish-tinged lighting. The store only had three aisles, a little office at the back, and then the long front counter where I sat, most often watching TV when I wasn"t helping a customer. And, I guess, sometimes when I was helping a customer.
Most of the store was well organized, if a bit crowded, but the area behind the front counter was its own ecosystem of finely tuned chaos. Nana and I would be able to find anything we"d need back there, but to anyone else it just looked like a mess. There were countless stacks of old receipts and newspapers. Nana had also plastered photos and cards from all her favorite regulars on the wall behind the front counter"there were years of memories there, from people who still came in and people who"d long since moved away from Rose Falls.