Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: have a character count flowers on the wall
At Full Speed, #8
The interior of Fursher’s seemed to have its inspiration in the seventies. Orange and green vinyl seats sat around small tables, while the wallpapers showed concentric circles and flowers in twirling colors. Jake followed Bruce until they settled in a secluded booth.
“You look a bit shocked. Everything okay, Jake?”
Jake couldn’t stop counting the flowers in various shades of purple mingled with yellow. He waved a hand at their surroundings. “This is…”
Bruce chuckled and suggested, “Really backward?”
“I was going to say it’s awful but yeah, backward probably fits too.”
A waitress appeared next to them, pad and menus in hand. “Hello gentlemen, here’s our menu. Would you like some coffee while you decide?”
Jake and Bruce nodded before they took the menus. The waitress retrieved a large pot of coffee, filled a mug for each of them, and floated away on a cloud of cheap perfume. Jake shook his head. “Please tell me the food is as good as I’ve heard.”
“It is. How about we share? One gets something spicy and the other something sweet?”
“Sure.” After perusing the menus for a moment, they decide on scrambled eggs with bacon and biscuits as well as French Toast with a good helping of cream.
Bruce gave their order, returned the menus with a smile, and then took Jake’s left hand in his own. Jake cast a nervous glance around, checking if anyone took notice of them holding hands.
“You… I never thought you’d be the hand-holding type. I mean, you’re a cop and all.” Jake wiggled his fingers in the cocoon of Bruce’s grip.
Bruce rubbed his thumbs soothingly along the back of Jake’s hand, leaving a trail of goose bumps behind. “I’m out at the station. What’s going on, Jake? If you’re not comfortable showing affection in public, just tell me. You seemed to enjoy it the few times we met at the club.”
The club. Yeah, well, that was something different altogether. Besides, he’d always relaxed with a couple of drinks before showing up at the club. He peered through his lashes, gauging Bruce’s reaction. He hadn’t seen Bruce drink anything alcoholic whenever they’d met there, so he probably shouldn’t press his luck and remain vague on the subject.
“I’m just surprised, that’s all.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” Bruce replied.
Jake flinched but Bruce tightened his hold on his hand, making it impossible for Jake to escape from the contact. “What?”
“I think there’s more to it.” Bruce inhaled deeply before he continued. “Jake, if we want to give this a serious shot—and I can only speak for myself and I do want us to—we have to be honest with each other. I get the impression you’re only telling me what you deem safe, am I correct?”
How the hell was he supposed to answer that question? Jake snatched his mug and gulped some coffee, hoping his whirling mind would provide him with a satisfying answer to Bruce’s question, to no avail. When he could no longer stall, he put the mug on the table and whispered, “I’m afraid, Bruce.”
Jake had to give Bruce credit for his reaction. No accusation, no mocking, just a sincere-sounding question. “Are you afraid of me?”
“I…” Jake swallowed against the lump forming in his throat. Why did he have to be such a cry-baby? Bruce’s expression showed compassion and even… sadness. Oh, fuck! Did he put that look on Bruce’s face? Jake’s mouth opened without him realizing. “I don’t want to be afraid of you.”
“But you are.”
“No. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.” Jake dropped his gaze and ran his fingers through his hair. When he looked up, a smile tugged at Bruce’s lips. “What?”
“You’re destroying your hairdo, but I like it. Looks more like you this way.”
“Oh.” Jake’s cheeks heated to an uncomfortable warmth.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about yesterday? Somehow yesterday seems to be part of your sudden fright of me.”
Jake bit his lower lip. How could he explain to Bruce that he’d been afraid from the beginning? That his desire for Bruce—and a couple drinks—had been the only thing giving him the courage to ask him to dance and later to have his way with him? That despite the way Bruce treated him, Jake still expected him to go berserk?
“All right,” Jake heard himself say. “I’ll talk to you about it. But after breakfast, or else I won’t get anything eaten, and that would be a waste of what you told me is great food.”
“Thank you for trusting me, Jake.”
At this moment, the waitress arrived with two large plates laden with food. Jake’s eyes widened as the delicious smells wafted around him. “That looks good.”
“It is very good, sweetie,” the waitress crowed.
Bruce smiled before he let go of Jake’s hand. “Dig in.”