Prompt: I’d like to see Ash and Cael’s trip to Bed Bath and Beyond.
“Would you mind if we stop at Bed Bath & Beyond? It’s on the way, and I need a new showerhead.”
The words Ash had been dreading to hear. He supposed he couldn’t complain. He’d managed to evade the floral scented purgatory until now. He really, really didn’t want to go, but with Cael looking at him with those big silver eyes, and that dazzling smile, how could he say no?
“Sure. No problem.”
The moment he stepped foot in the store, he was in pain. Not physical pain, but it was close. He pressed his lips together as he followed Cael to the bath department. On the way there, Cael stopped to look at candles. Ash lingered, his hands shoved in his jacket pockets as he stood, not touching anything in case the douchebaggery was catching. Except Cael. His sweet, sinfully sexy boyfriend looked adorable as he tried to decide from the thousands of different candles on the shelf before him. Unlike the asshat in the next row gushing to his girlfriend about the emu egg omelet he’d had last week. The urge to smack the stupid out of him was strong, so Ash turned around. He frowned at the price label on the shelf beneath a box displaying a candleholder. A sales clerk was walking by, and Ash called out to him.
“Hey, there’s a misprint on this.”
“Oh?” The bouncy waif of boy with floppy blond hair all but skipped over. Jesus, what was he? Seventeen? Nineteen at most? He pulled out his price gadget and scanned the tag. “Hm, looks like that’s the current retail price.”
Ash’s brows sprang near his hairline. “Are you telling me this piece of glass is almost eight hundred dollars?”
The teen blinked at him. “It’s Waterford Crystal, sir.”
Was he supposed to know what that meant? “It’s a candleholder. It holds a candle.”
“Um, yes, sir. It does.” He looked at Ash like that was supposed to clear up everything.
“Is it going to do my taxes for me?” Ash growled. “Or does it somehow have the power to light my whole apartment and therefore negate the need for electricity?”
“So what you’re saying is this piece of glass that you stick a candle in, is eight hundred dollars.”
The kid opened his mouth, when Cael took hold of Ash’s arm, smiling at the clerk as he tugged Ash along with him, calling out over his shoulder.
“Thank you for your help.”
Cael pulled him down the aisle, and Ash shook his head. “Can you fucking believe that shit?”
“If it’s shiny, you probably shouldn’t look at the price tag.”
“It makes no sense. Why would you pay that much for a candleholder that’s going to get melted wax all over it?”
Cael looked up at him, his eyes alight with amusement. “I doubt people actually light the candles inside it. They most likely just have it on display.”
“Why buy it if you’re not going to use it. That’s stupid.”
“It’s décor, Ash. What about the expensive rug you have in the living room, and the throw pillows on the couch?”
“I didn’t have to fucking remortgage my apartment for them, plus they’re functional. We lay on the pillows, and we sit on the rug.”
“And have sex on it too,” Cael pitched in with a wicked smile that went straight to Ash’s dick. He cleared his throat. What the hell were they talking about? Right, useless expensive shit.
“Why don’t we find the shower stuff and get to your place?”
“Okay. Try not to scare anymore employees.”
“I wasn’t scaring him. I was expressing my disgust and disdain at the overpriced paperweight. No, actually, a paperweight serves a purpose.”
Cael laughed softly as he veered off to the right and the wall length display of showerheads. For fuck’s sake. Was there really a need for that many choices? With a huff, he looked around, spotting a bunch of fancy bathroom scales.
“What?” Cael asked, sounding amused.
“Why the hell would you need a scale that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?”
“It connects to your activity tracker so you can sync your weight and body mass information, or whatever health data you’re monitoring.”
“Fuck I feel old.” It suddenly occurred to him that he was ten years older than Cael. A whole damn decade. It wasn’t like he hadn’t known, but he never really thought about it. Now, surrounded by sheets bragging thread count, two-hundred-dollar basket hampers, and hundred-dollar bath rugs, he felt like he was in a different world. Kitchenware connected to computers, a gadget told him how old his egg were, and how many—like he couldn’t just fucking count them—, and a crockpot that could be turned on via smartphone. Man, he felt so old. Cheaper options were available, but even if you were floating in cash, why the fuck would you need a designer hamper? He just didn’t understand it.
Everything he owned was functional. It served a purpose. He liked nice stuff, but there was a line. Some stuff was worth spending the money on. Hundred-dollar shower curtains did not fall into that category.
Laughter caught his attention and while Cael compared showerheads, Ash turned to the couple huddled together looking at soap dishes. They were both young. Probably about Cael’s age. They were obviously very much in love. They teased and flirted with each other, making each other laugh. Everything seemed to excite them. Or more likely, they excited each other.
“Ash? You okay?”
Ash snapped himself out of it and smiled at Cael. “Yeah. Did you find the one you wanted?”
“Yep.” Cael held up the box, and winked at him. “Therian, extra sturdy.”
“Great.” He cleared his throat, and forced the words out. “Is there, um, anything else you want to look at?”
Cael patted Ash’s bicep. “Don’t worry. I think you’ve suffered long enough.”
“It’s fine,” Ash said quickly. “I mean, if you want to look, shop, whatever, it’s fine. Really.” This is what couples did right?
Cael blinked at him. “Thanks, but I’m done. Promise.”
Ash nodded. He insisted on paying for the showerhead since he’d been the one to break it during their last sexcapade. These days, sex with Cael seemed to come in two settings, and only two settings. There was sweet and slow, or “holy fuck!”. The latter usually resulted in something breaking. In this instance, Cael’s showerhead which Ash had grabbed and snapped after Cael’s little experiment went a little too well.
On the ride to Cael’s place, Ash was lost in his thought. He hadn’t even realized it until Cael’s soft voice snapped him out of it for what seemed like the hundredth time. At the red light, he glanced over at Cael in the passenger seat, his heart skipping a beat at the concern in Cael’s big silver eyes. He was dressed casually in jeans that hugged his lean frame, a superhero T-shirt, and soft hoodie. On his feet were the orange Chucks he’d “borrowed” from Dex, and one of his many patterned socks. Today it was cupcakes. God, he was beautiful.
“Ash? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” He did his best to smile, and took Cael’s hand in his before bringing it to his lips for a kiss.
“Ash,” Cael prodded gently. “Talk to me.”
The light turned green, giving Ash a good excuse not to look at Cael while he confessed his stupid insecurities. “I don’t know. Do you ever wish you had someone who understands all this domestic shit?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know. Picking out curtains and stuff.”
Cael chuckled. “That’s a stereotype, Ash.”
“That all couples pick out color swatches together, or redecorate together. You really think it matters to me whether you help me pick out hand soap or not?”
Ash pulled up to the curb, parking in a spot a few feet from Cael’s apartment. He turned to face Cael. “You know I love being with you, and I’ll go wherever you want me to, but I suck at this.”
“First of all, I love you too, and you don’t suck,” Cael assured him. He took off his seatbelt, and Ash thought he was about to get out of the car. Instead, he climbed over the center console, and straddled Ash’s lap. Ash’s breath hitched, and he shifted in his seat, swallowing hard when Cael moved Ash’s hands to his hips.
“Second of all,” Cael continued, leaning in, his voice low and husky. “You know I would never want you to do something you don’t want to. We’re a partnership, Ash. Which means we look out for each other. Compromise on what’s important. Stopping at the store tonight was a matter of convenience since it was on the way. It wasn’t a test to see how much you loved me.” Cael placed a kiss to Ash’s cheek, followed by another to his jaw, his chin, the tip of his nose, and his brow. “Tell me what else is wrong,” he murmured softly.
“I’m gonna be forty next year, and you’ll just be turning thirty.”
“And… this worries you?”
Ash shrugged. He slipped his hands under Cael’s T-shirt, loving the feel of his silky, smooth skin. How was it possible to love someone this much? “I’m grumpy, hotheaded, foulmouthed…. The list is pretty extensive.”
“So is my list. You want to know what’s on it?”
“There’s brave, handsome, loyal, smart, sexy, kind, protective….” He brushed his lips over Ash’s. “Should I go on?”
Ash let out a moan when Cael’s tongue poked out to lick Ash’s bottom lip.
“I love you, Ash, all of you. Just as you are.” He cupped Ash’s face, his incredible smile made Ash’s heart skip a beat. There was no doubt or hesitation in that smile, a smile that was just for Ash. Cael didn’t look at anyone the way he looked at Ash, and it took his breath away. Then Cael kissed him. It was sweet and languid, his tongue tangling with Ash’s, his lips so soft, and his mouth tasting of the sweet candy he’d had during the movie.
When he pulled back, and spoke, his voice was throaty and filled with heat. “How about we go inside, and we take the new showerhead for a test drive, see how sturdy it really is?”
Ash threw his head back, and laughed. “You’re fucking amazing, you know that?”
“So are you. If you forget, I’ll be here to remind you.” Cael gave him another quick, but scorching kiss before reaching over, grabbing the shopping bag, then opening Ash’s door to hop out. Ash didn’t waste any time. He set the car alarm and chased after Cael, catching up with him at the top of the stairs. Cael laughed in his arms, and Ash couldn’t help his dopey grin. How did he ever get so lucky? Whatever the reason, he was thankful, and if the new showerhead couldn’t keep up with them, then he’d happily accompany Cael for a new one, especially if it meant they got to test it out when they got home.
Copyright © 20116 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press