“We’re ready. Go ahead and open for the day.” Quincy slid the last tray of doughnuts into the case as his sister headed for the door, the smell of sugar thick on the air.
The Aerie Bakery had been in business for four generations and it felt good every morning, seeing the little line of people waiting for breakfast and coffee. Quincy felt that this was what he’d been born to do. Kneading dough and feeding people came as naturally as breathing.
“Opening now,” Barb warned him so he was braced for the first flood of customers. There was a line today, as there was most mornings. The next hour was busy. Many of the customers were regulars he and Barb knew well enough to ask about the latest regarding work or family and friends. Maybe the chatter slowed the line down, but only marginally and they more than made up for it with repeat customers who really felt like they were valued, which they were. After the first hour, he and Barb got a wee bit of a break, enough time for them to take a breather and bring out the second round of trays.
“I think we’ll be sold out by eleven, Quince.”
He nodded to Barb. “I think you’re right.” That worked for him. He’d been working since three a.m. to get things ready for the morning rush.
A couple of cops came in, SWAT by the looks of their uniforms. One of them, Tom, was a regular who came in for two dozen doughnuts almost every day. Not to be stereotyping or anything, but the Halifax cops did love his doughnuts.
“I tell you, Mark, you need to get laid,” Tom said, making his friend roll his eyes.
“That’s your answer to everything.” Mark was huge: big, broad shoulders and a deep voice that Quincy swore he felt in his belly.
There was no way this guy had a problem getting laid.
He gave them a smile. “It’s not a bad answer. Hey, Tom.”
“Hey, Quincy. It’s not a bad answer at all. It’s a great answer.” Tom chuckled and turned to his friend. “Mark, this is Quincy—the baker of the most amazing doughnuts in town. Quincy, this is Mark, he’s on the team.”
Mark nodded to him. “Good to meet you. We do really like your doughnuts. They don’t last long whenever Tom brings them in.” Eyes the color of a stormy sky took him in.
“I love to hear that. You want two dozen assorted?”
“We do. And I’d like a half dozen of the square ones with raisins in a separate box, please.”
Tom smirked. “Mark’s addicted.”
“I am not. I just know what I like.” Mark was looking right at Quincy as he said it.
“That’s a great quality in a man.”
“Very subtle, Quince,” Barb teased from the other end of the counter.
So what if he was being obvious? Mark was a total stud. And Quincy needed to get laid, too. It felt like it had been forever. Still, he grabbed the two-and-a-half dozen, boxed them up without saying anything else, because who said a SWAT cop wanted someone to think they were queer?
“You’d better give me another one of the raisin ones on its own, too. My coffee is crying out for a sweet to go with it.” Mark practically licked his lips as he said it.
Mark’s fingers touched his as he handed the bag with the single doughnut over and he swore he could feel his hand tingling.
Oh, yummy. His prick firmed up and he went a little breathless. Oh, man. Stop it.
Mark looked at him, nostrils flaring like he could smell Quincy’s arousal. Which was crazy, right?
Mark took a bite out of his doughnut and this happy, rumbling noise came out of him as he swallowed. Then he licked his lips, tongue pulling in the glaze that had fallen there.
Quincy was totally going to cream his jeans.
Tom shook his head. “If you got laid, you wouldn’t be making love to that doughnut.”
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your food. It doesn’t break your heart,” Mark muttered.
Oh, ouch. Sounded like Mark had had a bad relationship. Quincy rang them up, giving them the First Responder discount.
“Thanks. Now that I know where the place is, I’ll be back,” Mark told him.
“We’re open Monday through Friday, six to sell-out.”
“Early bird gets the worm, eh? Though, these are way better than worms.” Mark said it like he actually had experience eating worms.
“This is a worm-free bakery.”
Tom snorted. “Better be. I find any worms and I’m outta here.”
Mark looked at his last bite. “I’d eat worms for free doughnuts.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Tom shook his head at Mark.
“Not from you,” Mark informed Tom.
Tom laughed and they waved at Quincy, heading out together. God, Mark’s ass looked good in those pants.
“Yummy.” Barb and Quincy spoke together.
She laughed. “You think he plays for your team, brother?”
“Probably not, but it’s a fab wish.”
“He’ll be back. We can ask him when he comes in on his own,” she noted.
“Whatever. I’m not worried.” Maybe Mark was interested in more than just their wares. Maybe Mark was into him, maybe not. Look at him, the guy came in once and he was coming up with all sorts of questions. “From what I saw, I think he’s into the doughnuts.”
She laughed and hugged him. “I hope he does play for your team. That’d be nice, hmm?”
“Only if he’s ordering,” he teased back. “Okay. The next rush is about to start.”
“I’ll get the last trays of doughnuts.” Barb gave him a sudden grin. “We’re going to have to hire help at this rate.”
“I know, right? You need to start having babies to run this bitch in twenty years.” He kissed her cheek. They were doing it. They were making a success of it. He’d worried when he’d taken over and there’d been a lull in business that they were going to be the ones to sink the family ship, but once the word got out that, if anything, he was a better baker than his grandfather had been, it had picked back up again and they were busier than ever.
“I’d love that.” Barb looked off into the distance, lost for a minute. “A half-dozen rug rats getting underfoot. At least one of them will want to learn everything their Uncle Q can teach them.”
“I’ll teach them all the old recipes.” He was probably never going to have any kids, unless he adopted, but he’d always imagined Barb would more than make up for that. Whenever she’d played house, all the stuffed animals had been recruited as brothers and sisters for her Raggedy Ann doll. There was never an only child in Barb’s world.
The bell over the door rang and he put his best smile on, pushing the studly cop and future generations from his mind. “How can I help you?”