YOUR BONUS CONTENT
ONE YEAR LATER
READ ON YOUR TABLET
(SO Direct Download)
“But if I could have more time—”
Thumping my head against the wall of my office seemed like a productive idea. The landlord continued to rattle on about the impending deadline and steadily, my heart sank. When I purchased the Grind House, I never imagined I’d be closing the doors so soon. The stack of envelopes on the desk covered in “Final” or “Last” spelled disaster for the historic cafe.
“You have four days,” he repeated.
“I won’t go down without a fight.”
“I know.” The sympathy came across loud and clear, but I could tell he wasn’t convinced.
The call ended and I dropped the receiver. On the screen of the archaic computer, a pixilated rainbow bounced about the monitor. When the previous owner retired, I had a choice to make, either step up, or watch a once prominent cornerstone of the community fade into the nothingness.
“Chad, you are in way over your head.” Before I could descend into a pity party, the bell at the front of the store jingled. Rolling up my sleeves, putting my biceps on display, I tossed an apron around my neck and skillfully tied it behind my back. A quick shake pushed the impending financial disaster out of mind. It was time to do the job I loved.
Once through the curtain separating the bar and the office, the scent of coffee hit me like a sweet, delicious wall. With a deep inhale, I imagined my body processing the caffeine until the phone call became a distant memory. It was impossible to tell if the boost came from the invigorating smell, or the two pots I consumed before opening. The jury was still out.
The Grind House had proudly served the community for decades with its two-dozen seats. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t gain a steady stream of customers. A young man had camped out at one of the tables, staring at his phone while a regular had taken his seat at the bar. Despite there only being a couple customers, I refused to focus on the negative.
Bernard Castle, four shots of espresso and heavy on the cream.
“Please tell me you have something good to share this morning. I can’t handle any more bad news.” I started the drink without him asking. Grinding the coffee, I poured the grounds into the machine and waited for the hot water to drip a strong brown stream into the small cup.
I couldn’t deny Bernard was handsome, even if he insisted on sporting a mustache inspired by an 80s porno. He was deliciously thick and if he weren’t one of the few paying customers, I’d ask if he’d like to sample the coffee at my place. But as usual, my sex life got buried under the duties of being a business owner. The dream of warding off the throngs of caffeinated hotties had never come to fruition.
“Good news?” The man pursed his lips as he began digging through the files in his head. He slapped the counter as if something obvious came to forefront. “I got a promotion at work. I’m officially the public relations director for the Centurions.”
“Congratulations, does that mean you’ll get to,” I paused to add some cream to the man’s drink, giving a swirl before setting it on the bar, “work with superheroes?”
“I think so? It’s kind of a new thing. We’ll see where it takes me.”
I was more than jealous. As a kid, comic books and superhero action figures littered about my room. While other kids fought over the swings at recess, I drew comics. I’d give the big guy a few days to get settled in his new role before begging to visit him at work. There were a couple of handsome heroes on the team I’d love to inspect up close and personal.
Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm on my phone went off, and I realized I was running behind this morning. I must have looked like a madman as I grabbed a pot of our spicy blend and poured it into a metal thermos. I spun the lid, dropping it on the counter just in time for the ring of the front door.
A gust of wind blew my hair backward and the thermos full of coffee had been replaced by an empty one. Sitting underneath were several bills, triple what it was worth.
“Why does the Zipper drink coffee?” Bernard raised an eyebrow at the customary exchange between me and our local superhero. “The fastest man in the city certainly doesn’t need coffee.”
“Hush, you.” I threw a rag at him. “He’s a loyal customer, and God knows I need them right now.”
Bernard laughed as he caught the rag out of the air. He had a laugh that sounded like a warm hug. He might not be a superhero, but that bit of security could be a power of its own.
“You should ask Zipper if he’d be willing to endorse you or at least stand outside and shake hands. He’s been saving this neck of the city for the last few years and everybody loves him.”
I can see why the Centurions promoted him. He had a knack for making suggestions without coming across as judgmental. Underneath that gruff exterior was an incredible heart. I needed a few more clients like him, people who came in and chugged brew like their lives depended on it. The fun banter while working was the foam on my latte.
The man at the table huffed, shoving his phone in his pocket. I had seen the expression before. He had been stood up. I was preparing a cup of coffee for him when he got up, pushed his way through the door, and left. If I hadn’t been so consumed with my own issues, I’d have sat down and kept him company.
“I don’t miss dating.” Bernard slid off his stool, throwing the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder.
“Oh? I assumed you were single.”
“I am,” he said, “and plan on staying that way. Seriously, I’m too old to deal with that crap again. It’s a young man’s game.”
“You’re barely forty. Stop acting like you’re off to play bingo with the senior citizens.”
“I believe this is the kettle calling the pot black?”
“Touché,” I said. “I’m not not interested in dating. But let’s be honest, I work weird hours and the coffee shop is a jealous lover.”
“You keep speaking,” he flapped his hand to imitate my flapping jaw, “but all I hear are excuses.”
Before I could reply, the skies outside darkened. Once upon a time, we might have assumed a freak thunder storm, but these days, strange occurrences meant only one thing.
“Storm Caller? No, she’s in Ohio. Mother Nature?”
“Nope, she retired,” Bernard said.
“Couldn’t the Living Cyclone do that?”
“He died.” Bernard pulled out his phone. “Shit, I need to get to work. The Centurions have a mission. Stay safe and think about what I said.”
I grabbed my phone to see an alert from the HeroApp™. “Thundra and Lit? How many times are those two going to escape prison.” With a click of a button I could read all about their abilities, their crimes, and see photos taken by innocent bystanders. As I scrolled, I stopped, zoomed, and stared. A new hero? This beefy man wore the typical leather, this time varying shades of blue. I was excited to see a new hero protecting our neighborhood, but I was far more interested in just how damned sexy the scruffy facial hair made him.
I put away the temporary distraction. While I loved a good superhero battle, it had gotten repetitive, and there was still plenty of brooding I needed to accomplish today.
I had a moment to consider Bernard’s words. Was I making excuses for my love life? I couldn’t believe anybody would understand the responsibilities that came with owning a struggling business. Still, I couldn’t help but daydream. What would have happened if I poured that coffee a little faster and sat down next to that man? Could it have been the start of a happily ever after?
“Boy, you look like you got caught with your pants down at your family reunion.”
My jaw dropped. It’s rare that somebody could render me speechless. The man behind the bar was sharp as a tack. With a brief flash of my middle finger, I pointed at the tap. Mickey laughed, a roar that filled the small room.
“Mick, keep the glass full. I need to make some bad decisions tonight.”
I needed to take my mind off the coffee shop. At the rate things were going, I’d drop dead from the stress before the landlord locked the doors. If ever there was a place to shirk responsibilities, it was at Bottom’s Up, our local dive bar. It wasn’t a coincidence that I came on leather night. If I was going to be distracted, might as well be by shirtless men in harnesses showing off chest tattoos.
“Still no luck?”
Mick set the pint down, careful to put the glass on a small napkin like it was a classy joint. I shook my head before taking a swig that half-emptied my beer. “Nope. Nothing. I do not know what to do.”
“Remember when Connor’s bakery almost got shut down?”
“Didn’t the slum lord jack up his rent and then sell the building out from under him?”
“Yup. We took up a collection to get him back on his feet. Chad, the community will help you.”
I appreciated the support, I really did. However, if I couldn’t succeed on my own, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. I thought going from a barista to the owner would be a simple transition. Seriously, how hard could it be? A younger me needed a smack in the face.
“Thanks Mick, but I think I need to figure this one out myself.”
The man reached across the bar and gave me a pat on the cheek. “We don’t succeed by ourselves. You’ve got friends.” I took his hand, giving it a squeeze. Mick was a great guy and more than happy to put himself on a limb to help the other nearby businesses. The solution to the problem was somewhere in my head, but I couldn’t quite find it. I needed time, the one luxury I didn’t have.
I switched topics before I drove myself crazy. “Did you catch the HeroApp™ this morning?”
“I was barely out of bed when the ruckus started. I wish Zipper would slow down so I could see the action. He took out Lit in a blink of an eye.”
Everybody loved talking about the local heroes. I couldn’t blame them, they were regular folks with extraordinary abilities. For all I knew, Mick could be the Zipper. Well, not with how slowly he refilled my glass. I tapped the rim, and he gave me a scowl.
“What about the other guy? The one in blue? The app has him listed as a new hero, but there isn’t anything except a few cell phone photos.”
Supervillains had become a problem in our city. Their numbers continued to grow and the local police force depended on the heroes. But despite the rise of villains, there weren’t enough good guys to go around. The Centurions focused on saving the planet from intergalactic threats, not stopping petty theft. The neighborhood needed more folks like the Zipper and his newfound sidekick.
Mick filled my glass, placing it on a fresh napkin. “I don’t know who he is, but he traded blows with Thundra. You can tell he’s green. You know how they always go into that villain speech?”
“Seriously, why do they do that?”
“He stopped and listened. Could have spared us a monologue. When he knocked some sense into Thundra, it was impressive. I’m glad to see we have another hero nearby. Then maybe my bank won’t get robbed on a weekly basis.”
“Your bank, Mick? Last time I went to the grocery store, Winter King put up a wall of ice trapping me in the candy aisle. I was on my third family-sized bag of M&M’s when I got rescued.”
“Whoever he is, I appreciate another hunk in a tight suit saving the day.”
I laughed at the bar tender. “You’re such a hero chaser.”
“The cock wants, what the cock wants.”
I couldn’t blame the man. There was something alluring about a man in a leather suit. Not knowing his actual identity, the lack of strings, it had its perks. I’d peel the uniform off the new hero and see what he was packing.
“Speaking of,” Mick gave a slight nod of the head, signaling further down the bar. “There’s a man in a harness checking you out.”
I know I’m a good-looking guy. I’ve got a brilliant smile, and the beard helps me look my age. Granted, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but who wants a six pack when you could tap a keg? With a quick glance, I could see the man at the pool table at the rear of the bar, just shy of licking his lips.
“Details.” I raised my glass, drinking until it ran empty.
“I’ve seen him in here before. He’s straight to the point, pleasant. Acts like he’s all top, but I know his type. He’d be on all fours and begging for it before you dropped your zipper.”
The leather-clad bear gave me quick wave, beckoning to join him at the pool table. He held up a pool stick and pointed at me. I gave him a slight nod while sliding off my stool.
It looked like I found my bad decision for the night. I had some pent up frustration I’d gladly take out on this sexy man. Reaching into my wallet, I dropped money on the counter for Mick and gave him a quick salute.
He rolled his eyes before offering last second advice. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
I had never met the man before. Reaching into my jeans, he found I didn’t need any encouragement. I had been stiff for the last hour while we played a game of pool filled with coy innuendos. The stall in the bar had been the destination for many eager men, unwilling to wait until they got home. For a dive, Mick had an immaculate touch in the bathroom, almost as if he knew what would occur several times a night.
The leather-clad bear squeezed my cock while I leaned against the wall, savoring the firm grip. When he had nodded to the bathroom, it took away the mystery of how I was going to get him naked. The copious amounts of liquid courage overrode my common sense, and I followed. The other patrons of the bar watched, smirks revealing they knew what was about to transpire.
My fingers traced the muscles down his chest, following the dark treasure trail leading into his leather pants. I slid my palm across the outline of his cock, impressed at the hardness. I reached for his zipper, and he stopped my hand. If he wanted this to be a one-sided affair, I wouldn’t object. I had a week’s worth of frustration that needed unloading.
He jerked my cock quickly, nearing the point of no return. The way he bit his lower lip while locking eyes, I suspected he’d be less than thrilled to waste my load. Mick had been right, my friend might present as all top, but he was a submissive bottom needing to serve. It was exactly the relaxation I needed.
“Take it out,” I commanded.
He broke eye contact, turning his attention toward my pants. He fumbled with my button until he unfastened my jeans. When he pulled my zipper down, I could feel the cool air against my boxer briefs. He took a step back, inspecting my bulge, entranced by the cock he was about to service. I gave it a flex, and he reached inside, pulling my package free, proudly on display and pointing skyward.
His fingers wrapped around the base, leaving the last few inches exposed. I let out a content sigh. My hips bucked involuntarily as my cock thickened, trying to fuck his hand. I would have let the man jerk me off until I shot my load on the bathroom floor, but as he licked his lips, I knew what he wanted from this arrangement.
“On your knees.” Look, I’m not a dominant guy in the bedroom, but if that’s what my partner needed to get his jollies, I’d gladly play the role.
He opened his mouth, ready to swallow my cock, but I stopped him short, a hand on his head keeping his lips just out of reach. I could feel his breath against my skin, and I wanted nothing more than to bury my cock in his throat. Men like him needed somebody in control. It was a game of denying him what he wanted and only allowing him to proceed when it suited me.
It just so happened, I needed his mouth.
My hand slid to the back of his head, pulling him forward. My back arched as his lips circled the head of my cock. But it wasn’t enough. I continued pulling until I could feel his tongue run along the underside of my shaft. As I hit the back of his throat, I my hips lurched forward until I pushed past the bend, his face buried against my crotch.
“Good boy,” I muttered. The stress of the coffee shop faded away. Nothing mattered but this man intent on making me cum.
His hands pulled at my jeans until he grabbed my ass. Despite being in a public bathroom, I moaned loud enough that the patrons near the pool table got a sample of the man’s talents.
He slid back, gasping for air. Before I could react, he returned to the base of my cock. It’s a mutual transaction. He was getting exactly what he wanted. I grab the sides of his head and bucked my hips. Each time I thrusted, his lips clamped down, his tongue pushing against my cock. This wouldn’t be a long exchange.
His nails bit into my backside, the perfect mix of pain and pleasure, making me even more eager to unload. There is an art to a blow job, the right amount of pressure, speed, and depth. The man slobbering on my cock had a master’s degree in head, and he wasn’t far from obtaining his PhD. I was content being his research subject as the tingling started in my groin.
He guided my hands to the back of his head, giving me the cue to take over the tempo. I proceeded with quick jabs, making sure his tongue hit the sweet spot in the middle of my shaft. He stuck with it, determined to receive his reward for a job well done. When I caught him reaching into his pants, gripping his own cock, I lost it. The tingling turned into a wave, starting from my cock and spreading through my body.
I trembled as he forced himself all the way to the base, greedily swallowing. His hands on my ass pulled tighter, ensuring he wouldn’t miss a drop. I fell against the wall, savoring the moment. When he came up for air, he gave my cock a squeeze with his hand, and a dribble of cum appeared. His brown eyes fixed on mine as he leaned in, his tongue licking the last drop.
“Thank you, sir,” he said.
“Good boy,” I said, giving him a light pat on the cheek.