Dreamy Dylan

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#2 Cup of Joy

“Done!” Thomas shuts his laptop with a heavy sigh. “Three apps, two websites, and five online marketing campaigns. In two weeks. I am so fucking tired.”

Of course he is. He’s got a kid, and his wife is eight months pregnant and still working full time as a vet tech. She’s got her own practice with the vet who’s like a father to her, running the place from their own backyard. While Thom and I work in their home office, little Alex plays at our feet, demanding his daddy’s attention every few minutes. It would be weird if Thomas wasn’t exhausted.

I’m not, though. Without any kids, and with energy shooting out of me like I’m a battery that will never run out, I could go on working for another few hours. And I will, but not here. Thom needs a nap, and I need a cupcake. I always need a cupcake.

“Do you need anything from Liv’s?” I ask him, referring to our friend’s bakery. Liv recently got engaged to Thomas’ ex-girlfriend Francesca’s ex-boyfriend James, who is also my best friend’s Mila ex-boyfriend and almost baby daddy, and the guy who used to be in love with Thom’s wife Tracy. Yeah, we’re a weird-ass incest family, my group of friends. Fact is that Liv makes the best treats. If I didn’t have a killer metabolism, I’d be fat as fuck.

“Oh yes, get some bagels,” Thomas replies with a yawn. “The sesame seed ones. And could you put in an order for Steffi’s birthday in two months? I promised Aston and Annabel I would.”

“She’s turning 4, right?” I put his orders in the note app on my phone. “Any requests for the cake?”

“Yes, but…” he winces. “I forgot everything Aston told me. Sorry. I’m just so-”

“-tired, I know.” I ruffle his long blonde hair. “It’s okay, I will just call Anna while I drive to Liv’s.” I bend down to give Alex a kiss and a hug goodbye as well. Cutest 1-year-old in the world, if you ask me.

I shoot a group text to my friends to ask if anyone wants something from Liv’s. Then I call Anna, and have her tell me all about the cake for Steffi’s birthday bash while I make my way downtown. Thomas lives on the outskirts of town, pretty much in the goddamn forest. He loves it there, and I get why, but I could never be happy in a barn so far away from the civilized world. I need my city vibes.

And city vibes I get when I park across from Liv’s. A gay bar opened down the street a month ago, there are all sorts of quaint stores on this block, and of course my favorite business of all time – aside from the tech company Thom and I run – is on this very street. Piece of Cake bakery, run by the lovely Olivia Wright. Even though it kinda felt like she was taking Mila’s boyfriend from her once upon a time, I never had it in me to hate the woman. She’s just so good through and through, such a ray of sunshine, that I felt connected to her the moment we met.

Plus, she feeds me free cupcakes. Enough said.

“Your favorite customer in the whole wide world has arrived!” I announce loudly when I prance in. “All hail King Dylan!”

“Hi Dylan,” Liv’s employee Sandra says, smiling at me.

“Don’t you mean hail Dylan?” I pretend to adjust my make-believe crown.

“You look very royal,” a male voice says before I can see who’s talking. I turn around like a dog chasing his tail, which earns me a deep, rumbling laugh. Finally, a man comes out of the kitchen, where he apparently could watch me before I could see him.

“You’re new,” I take him in from head to toe. He’s smaller than I am, definitely overweight, with a beard to die for, light brown skin, twinkling eyes, a backwards baseball cap on his head, and the sleeves of his red plaid shirt rolled up to reveal strong, slightly hairy forearms. “You’re cute.”

The guy raises his eyebrows at me, looking taken-aback now. “Erm… thanks?”

“Dylan tells everyone they’re cute,” Liv comments as she steps into the store as well.

“Most people are,” I agree. “You look strapping as always, Liv. And Sandra, I am loving those purple earrings. Okay, back to the new kid now.” I turn all my attention to the man with the bushy beard. “Being cute is nice and all, but it will get you nowhere with me. What’s your name, and why the fuck are you allowed in Liv’s kitchen? No one is allowed in there aside from her daughter, her fiancé, and Sandra. No one. Trust me, I’ve tried to sneak back there many times to watch the magic of my treats being prepared, but Liv always busts me and threatens never to feed me free cupcakes again.”

“Oh, the horror,” the man gasps, his eyes wide in mock shock. I wasn’t lying when I said he was cute. He’s like a big cuddly teddy bear, but also one hundred percent man. He’s got a good vibe about him. I am a big believer in vibing with people. Fuck looks. Being cute and sexy is all about the way you carry yourself, and I can tell from one look at this guy that he and I will get along just fine. That is, if he ever tells me why he’s allowed in the paradise behind the counter where no man has gone before. Aside from James, of course. And people taking workshops from Liv. Okay, so many people have been there before, but Liv is particular about who can walk in there in the middle of her workday. I get that. You don’t want hair all over your precious cakes, or people opening the oven when you’re making something that could collapse from such a callous move.

That’s why I am not allowed in the kitchen. I did both of those things when I snuck in for the first time. So… I guess Liv has a point in keeping me out.

“Am I ever going to get your name?” I press. “I will go first. Show you what manners are.”

“No need, I know you’re King Dylan,” he replies dryly, holding out his hand. “Andre Peterson. Liv’s future business partner.”

Now that peaks my interest. “Business partner? Are you a baker too?”

He shakes his head. “Barista.”

“Oh my God, are you finally opening a coffee shop too?” I jump around when Liv nods, her cheeks flushed in excitement. “That’s amazing! Where?”

“We’re buying the store next door,” she explains. “Well, we’re trying to. James is working on the paperwork, and we’re talking to Andre to see if we can swing it, between the three of us.”

“Oh, that is perfect!” I can already see it. So many people will love coming here, I’m sure of it. A coffee shop with a built-in bakery. It’s the best idea ever. “You’ll need a new website! Oh my God, can I design it? Please, please, please, can I do it?” I drop to my knees, holding my hands up pleadingly. “You won’t regret it. I swear.”

“Well, he’s on his knees,” Andre tells Liv with a small smirk. “I do like it when a man gets on his knees for me.”

Hmm… interesting. That must mean…

“You’re gay?” I ask, no filter as per usual. I’m still on my knees, looking up at him. “Or bi, maybe? I’m bi.”

“Dylan the Bisexual King who designs websites,” he mused. “Interesting. Yes, I’m gay.”

“Nice.” A weird thing to say, maybe, but it is nice. I love it when people just come out and say it. He’s not making a big deal about it, and he’s not weirded out by me asking him while I’m on my knees in front of him, begging with all I’ve got. “Can I please design and build your website?”

“I’m sorry, but I already looked at the rates on your website, and while I’d love to give the work to you and Thomas, we just can’t afford you right now.” Liv looks miserable. “We’re going to try and do it ourselves.”

“Oh my God.” I clasp my hands to my chest, gasping loudly. “You affront me! Are you insane? Of course you don’t have to pay me, you crazy woman. You feed me your delicious treats every day, and I only pay for half of them.”

“More like a quarter of them,” Sandra mutters from behind the counter.

I point at her with a grin. “Exactly! This will be my way to repay you. I will make you a website. The most beautiful one you’ve ever seen. I will take care of your entire marketing campaign, create an app… I will do it all. I can even take the pictures for the website. I will borrow one of Mila’s cameras and shoot pictures of everything you bake from now on. And of the shop, when it’s been renovated. And I’ll make reels of Andre making gorgeous cappuccino art or whatever it is he does. Please, Liv, let me do this for you.”

There are tears in her eyes when she nods, her hands shaking slightly as she offers me a hand to pull me back to my feet. “Are you sure? I know you’re busy, and you really don’t have to-”

“Very sure,” I cut in. “Oh, I’m so excited! I’ve got so many ideas already! Will you keep the name the same?”

Liv looks at Andre. “We’re not sure yet. Andre would like a separate name for the coffee shop, but I thought that might be too confusing?”

“But it could also be confusing that a coffee shop is called Piece of Cake bakery,” he points out. It sounds like they’ve had this discussion a few times already, but neither of them sounds angry or bitter. They truly want to work this out.

“What name are you thinking of?” I ask Andre, sitting down at the small table in front of the window where I often do my more creative work, sketching logos and jotting down ideas for campaigns.

“Cup of Joy,” he replies without missing a beat. I can tell from the twinkle in his eyes he’s wanted this for ages, and he had the name ready before he knew he had an opportunity to open his business for real. With Liv’s help.

“That’s perfect. We can market the hell out of that.” I am getting visions of logos already. “Get your cup of joy at Piece of Cake. Works the other way around too. Get a piece of cake at Cup of Joy. Match made in heaven. We could have the logo’s match. Same font, same pastel colors. We’ll keep the old logo for the bakery, of course, maybe update it a little, and we can do one of those cute cappuccino art things for the coffee shop logo.”

“A mug with a smiley face in the foam on top of the coffee,” Andre says, his excitement palpable. “And I agree with the pastel color scheme. This place is so cute and quaint. I think we should stick with what works.”

“That sounds great,” Liv agrees. “I’m really sorry, but I need to get back to work. Dylan, did you want to order anything?”

“Oh, yes, so many things!” I grab my phone. “I will place the orders with Sandra, though. Go bake and frost and work your magic.”

She hugs me tightly. “Thank you for wanting to make a website for me. For us. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

“Cupcakes,” I tease, pushing her back towards the kitchen. “A cupcake a day keeps the doctor away.”

Andre laughs loudly. “Pretty damn sure that’s not accurate.” He pats his big belly. “My doctor is not too happy with my addiction to cake, cupcakes, the likes. Oh well, you only live once.”

“Unless you’re a cat, then you live nine times. I’d love nine lives to eat cake.” I sigh deeply. “But I’ll have to cramp it all into this one little life of mine.”

“Did you want to order?” Sandra asks, shaking her head at me.

I place fifteen orders, some for me, some for my friends. I pay for all of them, and while Sandra gets the things I want to take home right now, I send Annabel a request to pay me for Steffi’s cake. Everything else I’m paying for myself, as gifts to myself or my friends. I love spoiling people with Liv’s delicious food.

“Does your husband or wife not feed you?” Andre asks when I’m done. “You’re ordering for an entire village, man.”

I grin. “You should see me eat. And no, my boyfriend does not feed me. I usually feed him.”

“Are we talking food or…” Andre winks suggestively.

“Oh, we’re talking my cock,” I reply, loving the innuendo. “Definitely my cock. And food too. Off my naked body, of course. He’s not allowed to eat anything without using me for a plate.”

“Lucky boyfriend.”

“Oh yes, he is.” I smile, thinking back to Kian telling me he loves me. He’s been repeating those words every single day since Valentine’s Day, making me feel like the luckiest man alive. “I’m lucky too, though.”

“So am I, finally opening the coffee shop I’ve been dreaming about for ages.” Andre looks around the bakery with his dreams written in his eyes. “If you’re serious about designing the logo and the website, I’d love that. Can I tell you about my ideas?”

“Sit.” I point at the chair across from mine and bite into the cupcake Sandra just handed me. “Tell me all about your ideas.”

“So charming, talking with your mouth full of frosting.” He sips his coffee with a small smile playing around his lips. Seriously, this guy has the best vibes. We’re going to get along just fine. From now on I’ll not only get cupcakes for free, but I will be begging him for cute lattes with foam art too. Mark my words. And he’ll give them to me. I’ll make sure of that.

“Fuck you, and tell me what you’re thinking.”

“I’m thinking that it’s probably not wise to fuck since you just told me you have a boyfriend.” His banter? On. Fucking. Point. “Back to the coffee shop, though. Okay, so for the logo…”

We chat for half an hour, and this guy has some really interesting ideas. At the end of what feels like the best business meeting ever – without me even getting paid for any of this – he has to leave to catch the bus so he can have dinner at a friend’s place. I stay for another few hours, sketching like my life depends on it. By the time Liv is ready to close shop, I’ve got the rough sketches for the logos ready, and a bunch of ideas for the website and a marketing campaign. Her fiancé James comes home while I’m telling her all about my plans, and he’s in full police uniform.

“Hello, officer Tyson,” I tell him with a wink, holding out my wrists. “Yes, you may arrest me. And please use everything I say against me. You can hold anything against me, looking as fine as you do.”

“Back off, he’s mine,” Liv laughs, kissing him softly. Those two are so damn cute. “Baby, Dylan offered to make the website for the new bakery and coffee shop. For free.”

“That is amazing!” He pats me on the shoulder. “Come on, you’re staying for dinner. I’m making your favorite.”

“Free food, cooked by a hot cop?”

“Exactly.”

My favorite indeed. And so I stay for dinner, talking shop with them, and asking all about their wedding plans as well. I text Kian to invite him over too, but he’s got work. I ask if he wants to stop by after dinner for a cup of coffee since he has only met them once or twice and I’d love for him to be a little more involved with my friends, but he says he’d rather meet up back at his place when we’re both done.

Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Maybe he’ll come with me when I babysit Thom and Tracy’s son Alex on Saturday. I bet Kian would be great with kids. I’ve just never seen it, because he hasn’t been around my friends’ kids. It’s okay, though. He’s busy.


***

Pictures of Andre are up on my Instagram account: @yourfavoritegoddesshedone

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