Close enough to touch, and still out of reach—Evan rings the PriceCo pharmacy register for Brent and keeps his thoughts about the pharmacist to himself. He dies a little inside every time he sees Brent with Tyler—why does Brent let that jerk treat him like dirt?
After one humiliation too many, Brent’s asking himself that same question. He has a better chance of teaching a cat to sit and stay than of convincing handsome, self-centered Tyler to be thoughtful. It’s time to be single again.
With the right bait, Evan can teach a cat to roll over or a man to see what’s before his eyes. He might use Kitty Noms, or a touch of kindness, a pinch of consideration, and a trail of M&Ms.
Excerpt: Training Cats
“Why are you still wearing that ugly jacket?” Tyler’s disdain turned the white dispensing jacket from a professional mark to a fashion disaster in two seconds flat.
Brent almost missed undoing the last button in his haste to get the offending garment off, only to flush again when Tyler sniffed at the blue striped tie and white shirt, no longer as crisp as when he’d put it on this morning.
“And lose the tie, too.” Smug in all black microfiber and cashmere with the silk tee peeking out at the neck, Tyler didn’t have to say another word about the differences in their work attire. Well, la-dee-dah, the expectations for a pharmacist in a suburban chain store and a graphic designer in everyone-be-cool-and-vegan Boulder were a little different. Brent was willing to bet Tyler never mentioned his taste for red meat at work—when they’d entertained some of Tyler’s colleagues, they’d served red beans and rice. Brent had caught hell for not knowing Worcestershire sauce was made with fish.
He’d given Tyler black cashmere for Christmas, just like he said he’d wanted in one of his many little hints. Brent had chosen wrong, apparently—Tyler had returned it and this sweater had appeared in its place, little different to Brent’s eye, but with a price tag conspicuously higher. The difference was about what Tyler spent when it was his own money. Brent had contemplated getting a cat. Preferably white.
“We can feed them well without rubbing their noses in anything.” Brent pulled the knot of his tie down and undid the top two buttons, knowing he looked good that way, not that he’d heard it recently from Tyler. “But if you still feel strongly about it, you can pick up some filets next week and not risk freezer burn on these.” He had a very strong suspicion the four of them would be dining on anything but.
“Then let’s have Keith and Dante over tomorrow.” Tyler started to put the steaks back in the cart, but Brent stopped him again, not because there would be a flaunting problem with the doctor and vet couple.
“Sure; I’ll call them tonight. I need to find out how Keith’s doing after the root canal.” He’d looked pretty rough yesterday, with the beginnings of a shiner and a script for something medium strong. “He won’t be able to manage those.” Brent swapped the filets for a beautiful coral slab of salmon, incontestably easy to chew and equally incontestably far down the list of Tyler’s favorites. Brent had been longing for fish and he’d been shot down for how many weeks now? “This will be soft enough for him to eat.”
They had to scurry to finish before the main store closed. Brent sped them up by not arguing over brands of cereal—not his favorite and there was a lot of it in one box, or about the merits of kettle chips over the regular chips. His least favorite would keep him from overindulging. He said nothing when Tyler slipped two hardbound books into the groceries—Brent would read them, too, and it took some of the pout off Tyler’s face.
The lights were going dim behind them once they got to the checkout. Brent told himself not to flinch at the total—they were buying what they wanted and needed, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, he could have a little indulgence of his own.
“I’ll wait in line, and you please grab a bag of M&Ms, plain.” Tyler lifted an eyebrow—Brent didn’t like having to cajole Tyler into walking forty feet. “You know what the green ones do….”
Tyler took his time—Brent was at the front of the line before he got back.
“Hi, Evan, how’s it going?” Brent liked the cashier, who sometimes came into the pharmacy to run the register when they had a big rush. The stud in his nose didn’t catch the eye with anything but light, and he always had a smile and a kind word for the harried shoppers who tended to wrench the prescriptions out of his hand and bolt. Evan might have put a few of them off with his shoulder-length brown-with-a-bleached-streak hair and jeans that sagged to the limit of store policy’s tolerance, but his drawer always balanced on first count. Brent had considered asking Evan out, but then he’d met Tyler.
“Not bad, but glad it’s the end of the night.” Evan missed the barcode on the artichokes and had to take another swipe. “Dinner should be good.” He ran the steaks over the scanner, and when he got to the books, he put them in a plastic bag, safe from any dampness. Then he scanned a yellow, rattling bag.
“I really wanted plain.” Brent shouldn’t have specified—either Tyler would have known what he liked by now or he’d have a fifty-fifty chance of getting his wish. His preferences had come up in the last seven months.
“I like peanut.” Tyler leaned his hip against the checkout, silhouetted against the flickering finish-up-and-leave of the ceiling lights.
Brent signed the touch pad and tried not to think about how many M&Ms came in a PriceCo-sized bag.