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Chapter 09: Red Columbine

The day that Evan finally showed up at the shop once more, Sascha barely even noticed, because he was busy with a customer and there was a line he still had to get through. Jason was the first to see the man, but he was occupied with helping a young woman carry a fern in a heavy looking pot out to her car, so he could only nod at the man. Not wanting to get in the way(or make Sascha mad by bothering him) Evan stood off to the side, waiting for the crowd to die down. It was getting late, so he doubted it would take too long.

"Hadn't seen you in a while," Evan looked at the boy who had spoken, smirking at the look Jason was giving him.

"What, don't tell me you missed me, Jay," he teased, but Jason only scoffed and rolled his eyes.

"No, I was just wondering if you did something to piss off Sascha," the teen responded, now grinning.

"Why? Has he been in a bad mood lately?" Evan did his best to keep the panic out of his voice because, if Sascha was still mad at him after days of him staying away(and the surprise in the newspaper, of course), then he didn't know what he'd do.

He glanced over at the florist, who was busy charging a woman for a couple of potted plants, trying to tell whether he was mad or not. Unfortunately, it was always difficult to tell Sascha's mood when he was dealing with customers, since he always did his best to smile and look as friendly as possible. However, Evan's fears were dispelled when Jason started snickering beside him.

"I can't believe you're scared of Sascha," he said, ignoring Evan's glare.

"What's he going to do, beat you up with a flower?"

Evan decided to let Jason believe that he was scared of Sascha. Mostly because he didn't think it would be a good idea to inform the boy of why he didn't want the florist to be upset with him. He could just picture all the ways Jason would make fun of him if he found out he was chasing after Sascha.

"Aren't you supposed to be helping him?" he asked, and Jason scowled at him, but hurried off to help deal with the customers.

Sascha smiled at the teen when he joined him behind the counter and left him to deal with the people purchasing plants in favor of preparing more bouquets. With the both of them working together, it wasn't long before the crowd began to dwindle and then there were only a few people left wandering the shop. Evan took the chance to approach Sascha, who was working on a wreath of leaves and berries in warm colors.

"Busy day?" he asked, feeling a bit nervous about talking to Sascha. It was a relatively new feeling for Evan, who had always been rather confident. The florist nodded and looked up at the man in front of him and Evan was relieved to see that he was smiling.

"You could say that," said the florist cheerily.

"Though I suppose I owe it to you," he set down the wreath he was working on and focused on Evan.

"What you did was very nice, you know, even if it was just to get on my good side," Sascha said, giving Evan a slightly exasperated look, but he was still smiling, and Evan just grinned at him and leaned over on the counter.

"It wasn't just for that," he told the florist, a sly smile on his face and his hazel colored eyes focused on Sascha's. The florist couldn't help but blush and look away.

"Still, you didn't have to go through all that trouble," because Sascha knew he would have forgiven Evan anyway.

"It wasn't any trouble, I know some of the guys that work in the newspaper, so I just called in a favor," Evan shrugged, and it really hadn't been very hard because he'd gone to school with some of the guys there.

"Besides, I thought you'd like it, and I didn't really know how else to make you happy," he admitted, abashed, and Sascha let out a small laugh.

"Well, it made me very happy, Evan," said the florist, continuing with his work.

"Happy enough to go to dinner with me?" and Evan hadn't expected Sascha to be surprised enough that his hand slipped while he worked with the hot glue gun and he nearly got burned(and Evan was glad that hadn't happened because he would have felt horrible). Instead, Sascha set the glue gun down and looked at Evan, cheeks a bright red tone.

"What? Dinner?" he asked, face still expressing surprise.

"Yeah, I thought maybe we could go to the restaurant where my brother works. It's a nice place, the food is good and I bet my brother would like you," Evan said in his most convincing tone, but Sascha shook his head.

"I don't know Evan, I think it's a bit too soon to be going out to dinner," because he was still struggling with the fact that Evan honestly seemed to want him.

The other man looked disappointed, but he had expected as much. Sascha had barely even accepted his invitations before, and those had just been for coffee. Still, Evan didn't want to give up so easily.

"Come on, Sascha, it's just dinner. I promise you'll have fun," he pleaded.

"It's not about that," said the florist, looking uncomfortable.

"Then why not? Just give me a chance, please?" privately, Evan was very surprised to hear himself pleading like that, because he'd never done so for a date. It was just proof of how special Sascha was. Sascha did his best to not give in, but of course, Evan had another plan.

"Do you dislike me?" he asked, and the florist seemed taken aback before he shook his head.

"No, I don't-"

"Do you think I'm attractive?" Evan asked before Sascha could say anything else, and watched as the other man blushed and averted his gaze. Sascha really couldn't lie, he'd always thought Evan was a handsome man.

"W-well, I guess so," he muttered.

"Then why not go out with me?" the other man persisted, well aware that he was leaving no reason for Sascha to argue. It wasn't long before Sascha began to show signs of relenting and Evan watched in amusement.

"I guess if it's just dinner," he said quietly, fingers picking at the bits of leaves and dried glue on his apron.

"Great, how about Friday?" Evan had already cleared his whole weekend, just in case Sascha said he couldn't make it on Friday.

"Friday? But, what about the shop? I wouldn't have time to go after work," and Sascha looked a bit too happy about that, but Evan wasn't letting him get away.

"That's fine, we can go Saturday or Sunday, but seeing as you have so much more free time those days we can make it dinner and a movie," and Evan would be lying if he said he didn't enjoy watching Sascha have a slight panic attack at the thought. It was just too funny, but he limited himself to giving the florist a sly grin.

"Friday's fine," Sascha hurried to say. Apparently, the thought of being in a dark room with Evan was enough incentive to get him to agree, just as Evan had planned.

"Great, I'll pick you up at your place. How does eight o'clock sound?"

"Evan, I close at seven thirty, half an hour is not enough time for me to get home and get ready," Sascha pointed out.

"I'm okay with a late dinner," Evan shrugged, and Sascha just gave him a look that was probably supposed to be reproachful, but he was blushing too much to pull it off.

"Eight is fine," he sighed, making Evan grin.

"I'll see you Friday then," Evan said, and Sascha just nodded to confirm it because he was trying to hide his face by looking away, but Evan could still see him blushing up to his ears. With his work done, Evan stood straight and headed out of the shop, leaving Sascha to try to get his heart to stop beating so rapidly.

Drew wasn't surprised when Evan declined his invitation to go out for drinks on Friday. It had become a habit for Evan to reschedule any visits to the bar, so it was more out of curiosity that Drew asked, because he just really wanted to know what Evan had planned that night. Nothing could have prepared him for that week's answer.

"I'm taking Sascha to my brother's place for dinner," he said, glancing at his watch as he stood next to Drew on the elevator.

"Sascha? The florist?" Drew asked, just to make sure, and Evan let out an exasperated huff and looked at his friend.

"Yes, that Sascha. Why do you always have to ask? It's not like I know any other Sascha."

Drew refrained from saying that, with Evan's history, he very well could have known a whole crowd of women named Sascha. Instead, he just gave his friend a blank look.

"And you're taking him to your brother's place," he said, still incredulous.

"Yeah, I thought he'd like it," Evan answered, not at all bothered.

"Of course he'll like it, everyone likes that place. That's why you always take the women you date to that place," Drew pointed out, and Evan scowled.

"I do not. I've only taken a few there," he corrected.

"Exactly, you take the women who you think you're serious about there to impress them," he also took the women who wouldn't sleep with him to that place and it seemed to work for him. It make Drew wonder why he would take Sascha there, because the most obvious answer was that Evan was still trying to get into Sascha's pants and Drew just couldn't believe that. When Evan's cheeks turned pink and he looked away with a scowl, though, he had his answer.

"Don't tell me you're still chasing after him," Drew just had to ask.

The doors to the elevator opened and Evan walked out, Drew following after. He wasn't going to leave his friend alone until he answered because it was just too much to ask of Drew to wait until Monday to have the mystery explained.

"Evan, are you sure your stupid brain understands that Sascha is a man?" Drew could see Evan being that stupid. When it came to dating, the man tended to think with more than just his brain. Evan gave him an insulted look, clearly knowing what his friend was thinking.

"Yes, I'm sure," and Sascha reminded him regularly of that fact anyway.

"I don't see why you're having such a hard time with this, Drew. You're the one who said it wouldn't be weird for me to end up with a guy," Drew had also said Evan would have sex with a rock if he could, but Evan left that part out.

"To be honest, I think your penis is open to pretty much any option. I'm just a bit surprised since you were so insistent that you and Sascha were just friends just a week or two ago. But hey, whatever floats your boat, just try not to screw up," Drew said nonchalantly.

"Well, thanks for the confidence boost," Evan scowled at Drew.

"Just saying," Drew shrugged.

Evan decided to leave Drew before any more of his enthusiasm rubbed off on him. He was glad his friend didn't have much of a problem accepting his attraction towards Sascha though, but it was probably because Drew really did expect him to go to any lengths just to sleep with someone. For the time being though, he pushed those thoughts away and focused on getting home and getting ready to pick up Sascha.

The florist was thinking much the same thing as he closed up his shop a bit earlier than usual and headed home. A part of him still didn't believe that he had agreed to go out on what was clearly a date with Evan while another part told him it was unavoidable. Sascha honestly though that second part was right, because Evan had charmed him from the moment they had met, he just wished things hadn't turned out to be so complicated.

He was still rather excited to be going out with Evan that night, and even more so, to be able to meet his brother. Sascha never thought he'd be meeting any member of Evan's family, and he had to admit, it made him nervous. He hadn't always been well received by the family of the people he'd dated, but he always liked to hope things would go well, and if they didn't then maybe Evan would finally stop chasing after him.

By the time Sascha was ready to leave he was feeling so nervous he could hardly sit still. He didn't have to though, as it wasn't long before there was knock on his door, startling him a bit. Sascha didn't even realized he was straightening out his clothes while making his way to the door, but he really did try to look nice. As much as he fought against going out with Evan, he couldn't help but want to look good, it wasn't something he would admit though.

As soon as he began to open the door he could feel his heart beating more rapidly in anticipation. Idly, he thought that it had been a while since he had felt that way. It was just too bad Evan was the cause of it. The man was grinning when Sascha opened the door, looking very handsome as he took in Sascha's appearance.

"You look great," Evan said, wasting no time in complimenting the florist. Sascha felt his cheeks heat up and quickly ducked his head.

"Oh, thank you, you look nice," he muttered, wishing he didn't feel so nervous.

"Really, all I get is nice?" Evan teased, and Sascha gave the man a look that didn't turn out to be so menacing, but Evan was able to keep from laughing.

"So, ready to go?" the man asked instead.

"Yeah, just let me get my jacket," Sascha said, walking back in to get the coat he'd left draped over the back of the couch, before walking back out and locking the door. Evan led the way out and to his car, going as far as opening the door for Sascha to get in. The florist gave him an odd look, but Evan only grinned at him, like usual.

"Hope you're hungry, my brother really is pretty good at cooking, if nothing else," Evan said as he drove off in the restaurant's direction.

"He really doesn't mind you bothering him during work hours?" Sascha asked, looking over at Evan, who just laughed.

"Well if he does he hasn't kicked me out yet," he said, with a small shrug.

"Besides, I'm a paying customer, and I helped him get the word out about the place when it had just opened," Evan told Sascha, thinking back on those days. His brother had paid him back with food so Evan had been glad to help out.

"He's been working at the place since it opened?" Sascha asked curiously.

"Oh, well, I might have forgotten to mention it last time," Evan started. "But he's kind of the co-owner," and that was enough to make Sascha stare at him because Evan had definitely forgotten to mention that.

"You see, when he was in school he had a friend who wanted to open a restaurant. The guy didn't really know enough about food though, so he asked my brother for help. They ended up opening the place together, but my brother likes to cook more than manage it," Evan explained, glad that Sascha had been distracted enough by the story to relax a bit. He hadn't missed how nervous the man had looked when he had opened the door to his home.

"What kind of place is it?" asked the florist.

"You'll see," Evan responded with a grin.

They didn't talk much after that, and Evan couldn't help but fidget a bit in the silence of the car. His fingers tapped the steering wheel, a sign of how anxious he was, because Sascha wasn't even looking at him, instead staring out the window. It was a relief when they finally arrived at his brother's restaurant, and it was amusing to see Sascha's reaction.

"Your brother owns this place?" Sascha asked, tone incredulous, as they were seated, because the place was beautiful. It was elegantly decorated with warm tones and lighting that was neither too bright nor too dim. Clearly displayed was the Italian influence, tastefully spread around the place. It was cozy and inviting and the scent of the food drifted out onto the dining room, a delicious scent that spoke volumes of the chef's skills. Sascha really couldn't believe Evan's brother owned such a lovely place.

"Co-owns, he should be shut up in the kitchen," Evan said, and a waiter came over.

When asked what they would like, Evan grinned at the man and told him to ask his brother what he recommended. He had no doubt that he already knew he was there, had probably been waiting since he had mentioned he'd be stopping by soon. Just as he had thought, his brother wasn't at all surprised when the waiter gave him Evan's message.

"Did he bring another of his girlfriends?" he asked, not stopping in his work.

"Doesn't he always?" the waiter said in a resigned tone.

"Well, what do you think of this one?" it was already a sort of custom for Evan to stop by when he had a date he thought was good enough to meet his family. Adam didn't know why his little brother bothered, none of his relationships ever lasted anyway.

"Seems like a nice girl, very pretty, not really his usual type though," the waiter commented. He'd been working at the place long enough to know all about his boss' brother. So much so that he already knew what to expect when Evan showed up.

"Really? Why do say that?" Adam asked the waiter, his interest piqued. To his amusement, the man seemed to hesitate before answering.

"She's not as, well-endowed as the other young women your brother has brought over," the waiter finally said, and Adam actually stopped for a moment to look at the older man.

"Seriously?" and the waiter nodded. Adam looked surprised before returning to his work and finishing his plating on the dishes before him.

"I might just have to meet this one," he said, as the waiter took the dishes and left.

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