“Go away, Mum!”
“You’ll be late for work, young man, now, GET. UP!”
“Ungh!!!” I shoved my head under the pillow. The evil witch impersonating my mother had yanked off the duvet, leaving my bare arse exposed to the biting December chill. The heating had only just come on and it usually took a good half hour for the house to get warm. Half an hour I did not have, if I was to make it into work on time. Point of fact was that I always got to work on time. I was a conscientious lad and especially pernickety about time keeping. I also liked to set a good example to my team; if their manager was always punctual, then they had to be too.
I grudgingly got up. I grabbed my towel and legged it down the hall to the bathroom before any of my younger siblings hogged it. One bathroom between my mum and dad and the three of us, made it a contest on a daily basis as to who got in there first. Thankfully, today it was me. It was two weeks before Christmas, and work was going to be manic.
As the hot water rained down over my soapy body, I mentally made a checklist of all the things that needed to be done. First off, was to make myself look fabulous, of course. I was the manager of upmarket shoe store, Zapato, at the local designer outlet mall. Kent Village, named after Jonah Kent, some property mogul who owned shopping malls all over the world, was chock full of designer stores. I loved working there. I hoped one day to open a store of my own so the experience was pretty valuable to me.
“Tea’s on your dressing table, love.” My mum rapped on the bathroom door.
“Ta!” I called back. She really was a star. I loved my mum more than anyone else in the world. I had bought her the most spectacular pair of boots from my shop that even with my manager’s discount had cost a fortune. But she so loved a black ankle boot, and this pair had studs, buckles and glitter, and they had the magic UGG label she coveted. Perfect!
I dried myself off, had a quick shave, plucked an errant eyebrow hair and moisturised my face. Back in my room I blow dried my currently bright blue hair into a high quiff, applied eyeliner, mascara and a hint of shimmery bronzer, before draining my mug of tea in one.
“Bloody hell, it’s nearly quarter to eight!” I plucked my black skinny jeans off the floor. Once I’d coaxed them up my legs, I shoved my feet into bright pink socks and a shiny pair of black Doc Marten boots. I pulled the socks over my jeans so they were visible, and matched my lippy to them. Regrettably, I was required to wear a shirt provided by my company. It was plain black with the company logo embroidered on the upper left front pocket. Luckily though, Mum altered it for me so that it clung tightly to my upper body. She swapped out the plain buttons for diamante ones, somehow making the shirt classy rather than hideously bejazzled. Today, I wore a black velvet choker and small diamond earrings. If I say so myself, I looked fucking sexy.
“What a bloody waste.” I sighed, as I climbed into my little red Mini. I was, as they say, the only gay in the (shopping) village. Well, not quite, but the others were mostly aging Queens; adorable but not eligible, or coupled up ‘we want to be like our straight friends’ preppy bores. I was neither. Whilst I didn’t quite fart glitter, or strut around like a one-man Pride parade all day, I was distinctly and utterly gay. I could do ‘camp’ like nobody’s business and the customers seemed to lap it up. It earned me a few hook-ups but nothing serious. At the grand old age of twenty-five, I was yearning for a stable relationship. Sure, I wanted to have fun, but there had to be more to life than Canal Street one way and Soho the other. I lived near Oxford, which meant weekends were spent travelling mostly to Manchester, Birmingham or London, for club nights and parties. I had friends there and for sure I wasn’t lacking in sexual partners, but it was getting tiresome. And lonely.
“One day my Prince will come...” I sang to myself as I unlocked the shop.
“Maybe today, Elve,” Maddy, one of my sales staff, and my best friend forever, who’d obviously heard me, joked as she arrived.
“My name is Elvis.” As if she hadn’t known that for the past twenty years.
“But it’s that time of year!” She giggled. “Elves – get it? Santa’s little helpers…”
I rolled my eyes. “Just stick to Elvis, if you please, Miss Maddy.” I popped her on the nose. She giggled again and tootled off to dump her bag and put the kettle on. Two other staff turned up in the meantime; George, an older chap who was responsible for the stockroom and deliveries, and Shelly. Shelly and Maddy were sales staff who covered for each other on the shop floor. They were great girls and we all got along really well. It helped make my job easier, especially as I spent quite a lot of time in the office making sure all the admin and accounting was taken care of. I covered on the shop floor over lunch and breaks, and more so while it was busy before Christmas.
“Team huddle!” I called out at precisely nine forty-five. The shop opened at ten, and I liked to get everyone together so that we could discuss targets for the day; any stock or product issues, and any other business.
“Did you hear the rumour that Jonah Kent is coming to visit today?” George shrugged as if his news was no big deal.
“No way! What would he be doing here?” Maddy asked excitedly.
“Some Christmas charity project, I think,” George replied. Just at that moment there was a rap at the door and a representative from the mall management offices waved frantically at me. I let her in.
“Jonah Kent is due on site sometime this morning. You need to make sure your people look busy and the shop is pristine.”
I raised an exquisitely shaped eyebrow at her. “Excuse me.” I clipped my words. ”Take a look around, sweetie. Not a speck of dust to be seen, and we’ve been rushed off our feet from dawn ‘till dusk every day for the past month.”
Miss Prissy Pants had the grace to look sorry for her gushing demands. “Sorry, it’s all very stressful. I only had notice he was coming an hour ago.” She clutched her pearls for emphasis on the stress part. That sounded somewhat dubious to me. A man as busy as Jonah Kent probably scheduled appointments far in advance.
“I fail to see what the issue is. We do well here. Plus, he’s only a man. Flesh and blood like the rest of us. Still has to sit on the loo to poo, and all that.” Shelly snorted tea through her nose, fortunately the floor was wipe clean. She scurried off to get a tissue. PP was not amused.
“Is it really necessary to go rogue today?” She waved her hands at me. I looked down to where she was gesticulating and realised she was talking about my pimped shirt.
“Too gay?” I asked her. She blushed and ran out the door, muttering about rude boys being the downfall of today’s youth. “Have a nice day, y’all,” I called after her, being very American to boot.
George clapped me on the back before disappearing out the back to his stockroom. Maddy and Shelly opened the store, busying themselves with new display ideas and tending to the customers already showing interest in our shoes. I checked the cash registers were ready for the day, then chipped in with sales as the flow of shoppers increased.
“Elvis!” Maddy hissed from across the shop floor. “Prissy Pants is back!” I looked up to see PP, aka Vera Kingsley, enter the shop once again. I presumed she was here to chew me out for being rude earlier. I huffed irritably. I was actually in the throes of helping a customer complete her purchase of two pairs of UGG boots for her kids for Christmas, when I was blindsided by a vision in Armani. An extremely male, fit, sexy vision…
“I forgot my pin.”
“Oh, umm, try again, please.” I dragged my eyes away from the stunning man at the front of the store, to reluctantly attend to the flustered young mum fucking up her purchase. I deleted her last attempt on my card reader, so she could jab angrily at the keys, only to fail once again. Another strike and her card would be blocked and I’d lose the sale. I forced my attention back to the matter in hand. “Kid’s birthday? Telephone number? Car reg?” Eureka! Young mum punched in the correct pin and her payment went through. I mentally high fived myself – people were invariably highly unoriginal.
“Oh my gosh, thank you so much. You’re very sweet. It’s such a rare thing to get good service these days; everyone’s usually in such a rush.”
The young mum patted me on the hand for emphasis melting my heart a little bit. She was cute and I was elated she’d complimented me. I loved when I got good feedback. I flashed her my best smile and cocked my hip. “I aim to please, Madam. Anything else I can help you with?”
“Mr Smith!” Vera’s dulcet tones made my ears bleed. I winced hard.
“Have a nice day, Madam. I hope we see you at Zapato again soon.” I left my customer more than satisfied and sashayed my way over to where Vera was being way too smarmy with Mr Sex on Legs. “Vera…how may I help you?” I gave her a tight smile as I straightened up one of the nearby displays. “Did you bring me a special customer?” I batted my eyelashes at Mr Tall, Dark and Handsome. He didn’t even blink. I’d have to try harder. “Someone to perhaps, serve?” Aha; a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth.
Vera tutted loudly. “Mr Smith, please…”
“Elvis,” I insisted. Mr Probably Straight coughed into his hand. I side eyed him. “I’ve told you to call me Elvis.”
“Because?” Mr Sexiest Voice on Earth asked.
“It’s my name?” I huffed, arching my eyebrow at him in what I hoped was an extremely theatrical way.
“Your name is Elvis?” He obviously wasn’t too bright, bless.
“It’s not a complicated concept. Mum had a baby boy; me, and named me Elvis. Just like your mum named you…?”
The man smirked. “Jonah.”
“Jonah?” I snorted. “As in whale?” That definitely got a half smile.
“As in Kent,” he answered deadpan.
“Kent?” I was confused; how was that the same as whale? “Jonah and the Kent?” I said it out loud. It didn’t make sense.
“Elvis…” Vera sounded flustered.
I looked at Jonah and the Kent, who was absolutely smirking.
Fucking motherfucking shit balls.
Jonah Kent; owner of the Kent Outlet Mall. VIP visitor. Shit, shit, shit. I stole a glance at his ridiculously handsome face. He was quite clearly enjoying watching my epic downfall. I felt my face go red. Oh well, there was only one thing for it…I was going to unleash my inner snark before I went down in flames.
“Welcome to Zapato, Mr Kent. It’s a pleasure to meet me.” I held out my hand. He eyed it for a moment before shaking it vigorously. His hand was warm, and huge, and completely engulfed my slim one. His touch was electrifying and I may have made a tiny little noise in the back of my throat that I hurriedly turned into a cough.
“Indeed, it is,” he drawled in his posh English accent. Probably went to Harrow or Eton and called his parents Mummy and Daddy. But he had the most delicious mouth and I was desperate to hear more words come out of it. I shook my head, aware I was staring and acting strange. Mr Kent had come for a tour; it was time to act professionally and do my job.
“May I show you around our store, Sir?” It was an innocent question, but it elicited an immediate reaction, one that I was not expecting. Jonah Kent jerked and took a step backwards. I gaped at Vera who looked as clueless as I was.
“Mr Kent, are you ok?” Vera took a step towards him. He held up his hands and she froze in place.
“Mrs Kingsley, forgive me, I’m fine, thank you.” Jonah Kent regained his composure in a heartbeat. “A tour would be great, Elvis. I have something I want to ask you.” He was all business as I showed him around the shop, explaining about the different lines we carried and what was popular leading up to Christmas. He asked me specific questions about how much stock we carried and if we had more in the popular sizes. It was a bit odd, but I answered his questions. He seemed satisfied.
“That’s pretty much it, Mr Kent. We’re the outlet store for Zapato. The full price range is in most shopping centres in the UK and Spain. I think they are hoping to branch out to the United States; is that what you wanted to ask me about?”
Jonah gestured to the row of seats where customers could sit and try on shoes. The shop was quiet for a moment, so they were free. “Come sit with me.” We awkwardly perched side by side. Jonah twisted towards me. “I have a charity Christmas Gift Drive on this week. Several of the stores here at the mall are involved, and I’d really love it if you would join in.”
I frowned at Vera, who looked as clueless as me. Jonah cleared his throat and continued.
“I have a large amount of donated funds available to spend on a group of teenagers that don’t have family to be with at Christmas.” He straightened his shirt cuffs. “I have a friend, Isadore Woolf, who runs an LGBTQ residential home for previously homeless kids. It started small, but sadly, through circumstance, there are now around forty residents. Izzy and his family and friends want to treat the kids to a shopping spree, but due to many of them suffering with anxiety and other stress related conditions, it isn’t easy to take them out.” Jonah sighed and shook his head. “Just fucking wrong.”
I was shocked to hear him swear. It was kind of sexy in his cut glass accent, but more than that, he was clearly saddened by these poor kids’ situation. Almost like he could relate. My mind raced forward at a hundred miles an hour to reach the conclusion that Jonah Kent was gay, or maybe bi, but definitely somewhere on the rainbow. Interesting.
“And you want to bring them to Zapato?” I slid to the edge of my seat at the exciting prospect.
“I do. But it would mean after hours. I understand the mall closes early on a Sunday?”
“Yes, due to our country’s archaic retail trading laws.” I rolled my eyes. “We finish at five in the afternoon.”
“It’s a big ask, but would you agree to staying on for a couple of hours?”
I didn’t hesitate for a second. “Absolutely.”
“And me!” Shelley called from behind the cash desk.
“Count me in!” George called from out the back.
“I’d love to help,” Maddy chimed in from the front of the shop. I beamed. I was so proud of my team.
Jonah Kent stood up. A massive grin lit up his insanely gorgeous face. “Thank you so much. My assistant will be in touch tomorrow with the details. I’d like the kids to be able to pick what they like, not just be palmed off with what’s not selling.”
“Totally.” I nodded in agreement. “I’ll make sure we’re fully stocked. One thing though…” Jonah cocked his head at me. “We, umm, tend to dress up on the Sunday before Christmas. Get into the spirit of things.”
“That’s fine, Elvis. You just carry on as normal; the kids will love it.” Jonah turned to leave, but not before giving me a lingering look that heated me from tip to toe. The man’s chocolate brown eyes were mesmerising. I bit on my lower lip and squirmed a little bit under his scrutiny. “Until Sunday then, Mr Smith.” He winked at me. He fucking winked at me and my errant cock jerked in my jeans. Jesus, the man was sexy.
“Sunday. Yes…I’ll be ready for you; them, I’ll be ready for them.” I felt myself blush. I rolled my eyes at his smirk. The man was so gay.
“Oh, my gawwwwwd!” I jumped up and down on the spot, after Vera had escorted Jonah to the next shop on his list. “Did you see that man!” I fanned myself as I pranced around the store.
“Umm, Elvis?” Maddy sounded odd. I looked up at her to see she was pointing to the front window.
“Oh, bloody Nora.” Jonah Kent was standing with his hands in his suit pockets, watching me. He threw his glorious head back and roared with laughter before exiting stage left. Maddy burst into giggles, just as a rush of customers entered the store demanding all of our attention, which was a good thing as it gave me no time at all to die of embarrassment.
I took my lunch in the back office because I wanted my best friend Google, to tell me about my latest man crush, Jonah Kent. And boy, did my friend fill me in on all the juicy details. Despite his aristocratic start in life, it stated that Jonah was a self-made multi-millionaire. It gave no explanation as to why Jonah hadn’t taken over a family business or had help in his career. It made me curious to know more about him. His Wiki page described him as six feet and two inches, which was good because I hit six feet in my heels. And suddenly Elvis and Jonah were starring in their very own home-made porn movie, currently playing out in my head. Me in my heels and nothing else, and Jonah in, well, me! I pushed down hard on my swelling cock. Now was neither the time or the place. I would re-play the movie later that night in bed, with my right hand for company.
I scrolled through the images page. Jonah looked great in every snap. He had wavy brown hair that was thick on top but tapered short to above his ears. His square jaw was covered in a neatly trimmed beard and moustache. He had a classically handsome face with high cheekbones and thick eyebrows. In one photo, Jonah had been caught coming out of the gym in just low hanging sweats and a tank. He was using the bottom of the tank to wipe sweat from his brow exposing obliques, abs and a mouth-watering happy trail.
“Dear God.” I moaned to the empty room. “Shoulders for days.” I touched the screen where a strong and well-developed pair of shoulders tapered to a narrow waist. “I want to lick every inch of you.” I told on-screen Jonah before slumping back in my chair. “Idiot,” I berated myself.
The rest of the day flew past. I barely had time to breathe, let alone moon over handsome men that were so out of my league they were in another stratosphere.
“You lot go on; I’ll lock up,” I told my team. It wasn’t like being on a high street; we were safe in the mall village due to twenty-four hour security.
I had a quick last check to be sure I was satisfied with how the shop looked on closing. I was a perfectionist and loved coming into a neat and tidy workplace the next day. I donned my leather biker jacket which was a hundred years old, but I loved it, and locked up. As I turned to head towards the car park, I jumped with shock. There across the street, leaning up against a lamp post, was Jonah Kent. He had his legs crossed at the ankles and his hands in his pockets. My hand flew to my chest.
“Fuck, you scared me,” I laughed nervously.
“Wasn’t my intention,” Jonah replied.
I looked from left to right; the street was empty. I was the last one to leave. Well, apart from Jonah, apparently.
“Why are you still here? Vera treating you to a Happy Meal?”
Jonah laughed. “No.” He shook his head. “I wanted to see you again.”
I was startled to say the least. “And you couldn’t wait until Sunday?” I may have sounded slightly dubious.
“No.” Jonah shoved off the lamp post and headed toward me. I felt like prey caught in a set of headlights. My usual confident self was definitely stuttering in the face of this intimidating man.
“Umm. Ok.” I fidgeted from one foot to the other, not sure what to expect from Jonah. For all my bravado, I wasn’t very experienced in the ways of men, especially someone so, well, manly.
Jonah stopped right in my dancing space, giving me no room to catch my breath. Up close, his aura was encompassing, leaving me feeling slightly dizzy and unsettled. I crossed my arms in a desperate attempt to keep him at bay, at which he threw me a look as if to say, ‘Really? You think that’s going to stop me?’ And of course, it didn’t. He popped a finger under my chin and lifted my face so he could look me in the eyes. “I’m taking you out for dinner.”
My eyes widened, not at the suggestion, but at the way he told me rather than asked me. I was mildly perturbed to find my dick was reacting positively to the forthright proposal, while my brain was saying, ‘How about you ask me first?”
“How about you ask me first?” And apparently, my mouth wasn’t too on board with my dick either.
Jonah laughed as if it was funny that he had to pacify me. “Ok, Elvis Smith. Would you do me the honour of accompanying me to dinner?” He grinned at me like he knew I wouldn’t refuse, despite having insulted my right to decide for myself. I put my hand on my waist and cocked my hip. Narrowing my eyes at him, I chewed on my lower lip. He lowered his hand from my face.
“Yes, ok,” I conceded with a huff, as if I was doing him a whole favour, while in reality my insides were somersaulting with excitement. “But, I don’t eat meat.”
Jonah arched an eyebrow. “Good to know.”
“I like sushi, if, you know, that’s an option?” I was rambling now with nerves.
“So, you do fish, but not meat?” Jonah checked.
“I’m a pescatarian,” I stated proudly. “Except for shell fish, ‘cos euww, slidy and squishy in my mouth. No, thank you.” I shook my head.
“Right.” Jonah looked highly amused. So much for my efforts at trying to be all cool about my dietary choices. “And why don’t you eat meat?”
My shoulders slumped and I felt my face go all pouty. “I’d love to say it was a massive political statement, but truthfully, it’s just that I love animals and I just couldn’t bear to eat them.” I was mortified to find my eyes welling up. It always happened when I thought about animals being slaughtered for food. “But not fish. Because fish aren’t cute. Except for Nemo obviously, because, well, who doesn’t love Nemo?” I laughed out loud although it died mid-air at the clueless expression on Jonah’s face. I swiped at my eyes and muttered an apology for my ramblings.
“You’ve smudged your eyeliner.” Jonah brushed a thumb pad across my cheek. “All fixed.” My heart thundered in my chest. I didn’t know him at all well, but that move seemed completely out of character from what I’d experienced so far. Maybe I hadn’t totally fucked up my chances with him. He took my hand. “You’re quite a find, Elvis Smith. I’m going to enjoy you.”
My mind whirled. He was going to enjoy me? What did that mean? Was dinner merely an excuse to have his way with me? My stomach rolled with nerves. My hook-ups to date had been a series of fumbled hand jobs and the odd blow job in the loo at various clubs, nothing meaningful or particularly skilled.
“I, I, don’t, what I want to say…” I took a deep breath. “I won’t sleep with you on the first date.”
Jonah stopped abruptly. We were just at the car park. His dark eyes pinned me to the spot. “Good to know,” he acknowledged and I let out a long breath in relief, although I suspected this man was not used to being told ‘no’ and probably wouldn’t start now. Before I could contemplate how I felt about that, a big black four by four pulled up to the kerb. Jonah opened the back door. He placed a warm hand on the small of my back to encourage me to get in. I slid across the buttery leather seat and Jonah climbed in beside me. He seemed to take up all the room in the car leaving me feeling quite tiny. When his thigh lined up beside mine, I caught my breath, but didn’t dare move. I was so out of my depth.