"Shit shit shit shit shit shit! I'm sooooooo late!"
Jace Matthews was not someone to be late on most occasions.
Today was not one of those days.
"Oh my God!" He shrieked as he pulled off his pajamas and struggled into his black dress pants--backwards
Jace finally managed to put his pants on the right way just as he stumbled in the bathroom to brush his teeth. It was a rigorous two minutes as he tried to hurry a step that should never be hurried. Period.
When he finished, he washed his face before dashing back to his bedroom and pulling on his undershirt followed by the required red button down dress shirt. It didn't matter that he worked at The Dine-In. Everyone was required to look formal despite the fact it was a simple burger joint.
Ran by his sister.
Jace was happy he lived alone in his tiny apartment. He was a translator on the side and, between that and his gig at The Dine-In, he made a decent living to be out on his own.
He was a single, twenty-five year old man. What more could he want?
He dashed back to the bathroom to check his reflection to make sure nothing was amiss.
"Blue eyes, brown hair--check!" Jace paused for a second before letting out an annoyed groan. "Jesus Christ! What is WRONG with me?"
His "just in case" alarm barred from his phone.
Jace quickly slipped on his black tennis shoes and rushed out the door, fingers crossed Alexander didn't change his shift at the last minute again.
He had NO desire to see his crush looking like a hot mess.
Jace rushed through one of the back doors and straight to the clock-in station. He beeped his name in just as the clock changed to read 8:00 A.M.
"You're late!" A woman's voice hollared from the back office.
Jace let out a distressed noise. "I'm right on time, Melissa!"
His sister, Melissa, poked her head out of the office and glared her darker blue eyes at Jace. "Don't push it, bud. One of the cooks already called off so Alex had to fill-in last minute. You're out front again. The breakfast rush is over."
Jace breathed out a sigh of relief once his sister disappeared back into her office. He normally wasn't late but if people called off or switched schedules at the last minute, it pissed Melissa off for the rest of the day.
"Shit," Jace muttered, suddenly remembering that his crush was somewhere in the kitchen.
Ignoring the rolling in his stomach, Jace dashed to the employee room and ran into someone the moment he opened the door. Looking up, he met light brown eyes that could almost be mistaken as gold in the right light. Beautiful, dark golden curls fell down and curled gently against the forehead of the man Jace had been enamored with since day one, two years ago.
"Hi, Alexander. Didn't see you there." Jace managed around the lump in his throat.
Alexander was only slightly taller than most people but Jace stood quite a few inches shorter and often found himself viewing Alexander's chin most days.
A pleasant laugh left Alexander as he put his hands on top of Jace's shoulders and smoothed them down the length of his arms. "You forgot to iron your shirt. Wait! Were you running LATE today?"
Jace shook Alexander's hands away and pushed past him into the room. "No," he threw over his shoulder. "I wasn't running late."
"Ooookay. Let me go ask your sister and she what she says." Alexander teased from the doorway.
Jace spun around, his face a mask of mock horror.
Alexander let out a beautiful laugh before giving a wave and heading back to the kitchen, leaving Jace to properly sanitize his hands before heading out to the front.
Most of the morning passed by with the usual traffic and the entire staff was preparing for the college rush that happened every week day at exactly eleven thirty.
Jace had lived in Castlebrooke his entire life and was still amazed at how many people came just for a burger. Well, not just A burger. They served more food than that. Burgers just happened to be the restaurant's main dish.
Shaking his head a little to clear it, Jace focused on his job and was busy taking orders, bringing them out, and all the tedious things in between to make sure the customers were satisfied and enjoying their meal. It helped having Alexander as one of the cooks because it made the day fly by faster.
Every time Jace brought back an order, he was met with a playful golden stare before rushing off to the next task.
It was nearing noon when the next party entered and Jace was nearly beside himself at who walked through the door. It was none other than THE Kayden Smith. The man mostly responsible for making such a positive change in Castlebrooke regarding the LGBTQ+ community. He was able to garner all the support he needed and made life a little easier for those in the community.
Jace was a fan and, if he didn't already have a massive crush on Alexander, he would definitely have one on Kayden. He looked to his right and saw another man standing next to Kayden. The man had a shock of blonde hair, the color closer to white than anything else with shocking blue eyes that seemed to penetrate his very soul.
Thankfully, the man seem distracted and didn't notice when Jace gave a greeting. However, it didn't take long for Jace to figure out why.
Most of their college rush was calling out to the man and asking all kinds of questions Jace would probably wither away and die at. But the man, Eric, seemed at ease as he responded to everyone and not at all bothered by the onslaught of attention.
Jace caught Kayden's eye and saw him nod toward the back booths.
Smiling, Jace directed them to their booth before placing menus down in front of both men and leaving. He was practically beside himself when he slipped into the back and to his sister's office.
"What?" She demanded in a hard voice, her forkful of salad halfway to her mouth.
Jace waved away her glare as he beamed at her. "I just sat Kayden Smith and company down at the back booth. I know we don't bother our customers, but you should find a way to work the cash register before they leave so you can meet him."
Melissa gave her young brother a smile. "Thanks for telling me. Now get back to work."
Jace smiled before dashing back out the door and running into Alexander. AGAIN.
Alexander steadied him with his hands landing on Jace's hips. "You're making this quite the routine today."
Jace blushed a light pink and couldn't ignore the hands that were still on his waist. "No comment. I have a table to take care of!"
He reluctantly slipped free just as his sister shouted, "Alex! Do you have a minute? I need to ask you a question about the schedule."
One thing that never changed in the two years of working with Alexander, Jace never called him Alex like the others. It never seemed to fit and Alexander never told him to stop.
"Shit!" Jace exclaimed as another worker, Bee, almost ran him over.
"Sorry!" She called out with a breathless laugh.
Jace could only shake his head as he entered the front again to check on his table. He was startled to see that Kayden had moved to sit next to Eric and was currently hugging him close.
It was a little comical since both men weren't small. Kayden was tall, broad, and muscular where Eric was tall (taller than Jace anyway), long-limbed, and packed with lean muscle.
Him and Alexander didn't stand a chance in height or muscle against either man.
Realizing he was staring, he cleared his throat and asked for their order. The two looked up and let out booming laughs that echoed throughout the entire restaurant. Jace could practically feel the stares on his back.
Eric was the first to recover and ordered a garlic burger. He had a gentle voice that was also strong and demanding. Jace wasn't surprised that Kayden had a deep voice since he practically watched every press conference or interview he did.
He also thought it was sweet he ordered the same thing as Eric.
Red-faced and embarrassed, Jace thankfully escaped, ignoring the looks of the other customers. He handed one of the cooks the order, frowning when he saw Alexander hadn't returned from talking with Melissa.
Most of the tables were covered so Jace lingered by the kitchen until his order was up. He carefully picked up the trays before gracefully weaving between tables to the back booth, not at all the clumbsy, cursing man of the morning.
He smiled to himself when he saw the two sitting next to each other, Eric's arm wrapped around Kayden's waist. He placed their orders down and wished them a good day before disappearing to the back for his break. He wouldn't need to serve them again as they would pay at the front.
He poked his head into Melissa's office, happy to see her taking a break. "I just served them so your window of opportunity to see them out is approaching."
Melissa thanked her brother but shooed him away.
Laughing, Jace went to the employee room and was surprised to find Alexander there. "Lunch break?"
"Yep," Alexander popped his "p" and winked at Jace.
"Me, too," Jace sighed as he pulled out his lunch and set it on the table. His brown hair fell into his eyes and he huffed it away. "I need a hair cut."
Alexander laughed before he stood up and made his way over to Jace. He raised his hands a little towards his chest with raised eyebrows. "May I? It's been bothering me all morning."
Jace cocked his head to the side in confusion but gave the okay, blushing when Alexander pulled his shirt out of the waistband of his pants and began unbuttoning it. "Wh--what are you doing?"
Alexander smirked down at Jace as he finished unbuttoning his shirt. He slowly started to rebutton it. "You had a few buttons buttoned in the wrong place. It was cute but VERY distracting."
Jace felt his entire face light up. "I was sleepy this morning."
"No," Alexander whispered as he tucked Jace's shirt back into his pants. "You were running LATE this morning."
Jace felt Alexander's hot breath against his ear and shivered in pleasure. He was slightly annoyed with his past self of two years ago. He had arrogantly told Alexander when they first met that he was never late to anything and never ran late to anything.
It had fast become a running joke between them.
Jace didn't know what to say and could only blush as Alexander rested his hands against his waist before letting him go. "My mom invited you over for dinner this weekend. She even went so far and asked Melissa to go over our schedules and make sure we were both free. I hope you don't mind.
Jace blinked in surprise as warmth spread through his entire body. "I don't mind.
A smirk found its way to Alexander's face as he backed away toward the door. "By weekend I mean Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so you may as well just stay at my place to avoid the forty minute drive every day."
Jace felt his entire body tingle in anticipation. Was it possible Alexander felt the tension between them? This wouldn't be the first time he ate with Alexander's mom or that the two of them met outside of work. But it was the first time Alexander had asked him to sleepover for the entire weekend.
"That sounds like a plan." Jace managed and was rewarded with Alexander's smile before he left to go back to work.
His heart pounding, Jace flopped into the nearest chair. It was Tuesday. He had an entire three days to ready his mind for an entire weekend at Alexander's.
Shit! How did Alexander feel about him?!