“It’s another sunny morning in downtown Wilmington, and this is John Spencer bringing you another round of the KIZ Coffee Club. So wake up and enjoy the—”
Reaching out blindly, Riley slapped his hand on the clock radio to silence the waffling of the DJ, the overly cheerful voice insistently tugging at the blanket of sleep he was comfortably wrapped in. He yawned and stretched, the complaint of muscles and vertebrae realigning bringing a satisfied smile to his lips as he glanced over at the person responsible.
Riley watched Jesse sleep beside him, his face pressed into the pillow, adorable snuffling sounds falling from his slightly parted lips. Pressing a soft kiss to Jesse’s naked shoulder, Riley smoothed back his shaggy, chocolate colored hair from his forehead, before reluctantly climbing out of bed. Opening the bathroom door across the hall, Riley cast a look over his shoulder at the bed and its sleeping occupant. The sheet had slipped down in the night and barely covered the rise of Jesse’s perfectly rounded ass. Riley longed to just say “to hell with it” and slide back in beside him. But another day at the Wilmington First National Bank was calling him and he had a schedule to keep. He gently closed the bathroom door behind him and turned on the shower. If there was one thing you could say about Riley, it was that he was always on schedule.
Pulling into his designated space in the staff parking lot, Riley sighed heavily. He could practically make the journey with his eyes shut. In fact, some days he found himself pulling up onto his drive and realizing that he didn’t actually remember any of the ride home. Each day was the same. He got up, showered, ate breakfast, and then headed to the bank.
Riley was positive that when he’d been in high school, he’d thought his life was supposed to end up more exciting than this. He didn’t know when he’d slipped into the boring routine he found himself stuck in now. Couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when he became just another suit, another number. Let’s face it: he’d become his father. The very thing he had promised himself he wouldn’t do. Wouldn’t be stuck in a dead end nine-to-five job in the town where he grew up, like his old man. He had big plans. He was going to get out of Wilmington. Head for California, make a name for himself. Be somebody.
Looking at his reflection, Riley studied himself analytically. He saw short, dark blond hair. His vivid green eyes were surrounded by long dark lashes. His nose was straight with a slight turn up at the tip and was dusted with freckles. Below that were his lips, which he had often wished he could trade, for they were full and pouty and made his face pretty rather than handsome. His looks had garnered him more than his fair share of attention from the men in the clubs he went to, but Riley was looking for someone who realized that behind the facade, there was a high IQ and a desire to share his life with someone. Riley ran a hand through his hair and huffed out a joyless laugh. Things hadn’t quite turned out the way he’d planned. Certainly not judging from his last three relationships, ones that he had quickly ended when he realized the men were only interested in arm candy and didn’t really care whether he could hold a conversation or not.
But then he’d met Jesse. Their relationship was exciting and fresh and every little thing he discovered about Jesse only made him want to discover more. Riley silently thanked his lucky stars that he had answered an ad in the local paper for new members of a small amateur dramatics group. Having dabbled a bit during high school, Riley thought it would give him something to do besides stare at four walls every evening, or cruise the same old clubs. He never expected to meet someone like Jesse. Strong, assertive and self-motivated, Jesse knew what he wanted and went after it. He was very happy that Jesse had decided that what he’d wanted was Riley.
Picking up his briefcase and locking the car behind him, Riley headed into the bank through the staff entrance. He pressed the code into the keypad and pulled on the heavy door. Walking past the vault, he checked his watch. Three minutes late. Adam Scott, the deputy manager, was going to have a field day with that one. Riley squared his shoulders and prepared himself for the lecture on tardiness as he pushed open the door and made his way to his desk.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Summers.” Adam raised his eyebrows at Riley and tapped his watch to emphasize his point. “Nice of you to join us.”
“Sorry, Adam. There was traffic on Bleaker,” Riley apologized, not entirely sure why he was apologizing. He was three minutes late, not three hours, for God’s sake. He opened his briefcase and pulled out his ID, pinning it to his shirt and trying to keep his disgruntled mumbling low enough so he wouldn’t be heard. Adam Scott had grown far too big for his boots since he was promoted to deputy manager. Riley would love to mention some of the drunken fumblings that Adam had indulged in at the lookout during high school, in the back of Riley’s Chevy. That would knock him down a peg or two. Of course, that was when Riley was first discovering his sexuality and Adam hadn’t eaten as many donuts as he had now, and his chest was a little more expanded than his waistline. Nowadays, Riley tended to aim a little higher.
Adam ignored his explanation, smoothed down his carefully slicked back red-brown hair, and turned to the other cashiers. “Okay, everybody, time to open up. Let’s greet them with a smile on our face and joy in our hearts.”
“Yes, Mr. Scott,” they chorused.
Riley caught the eye of Katie at the next desk and tried to cover his smirk as she stuck her fingers in her mouth and made a gagging motion. He knew how she felt. Ducking his head, he avoided Adam’s eye as he was unsuccessful in hiding his mirth.
“Something funny, Riley?” he asked, his blue eyes questioning and his eyebrows raised.
“No, Adam, not at all,” Riley drawled. “I’m ready to greet all our wonderful customers on this beautiful day.”
Adam smiled, seemingly missing the sycophancy in Riley’s tone and, luckily, missing the finger that Riley flipped him as he turned around. Motioning to the security guard to open the doors, Adam went back to his office and closed the door behind him.
“Now, now,” Katie chuckled as she and Riley moved to their respective cubicles. “Remember the First National motto.”
“What’s that?” Riley grinned back. “Thou shalt not flip off thy manager? Even if he was a complete asshole in high school and hasn’t changed?”
Katie covered her mouth as she snorted inelegantly, her long blonde hair falling around her face as she ducked her head. “I was thinking more along the lines of ‘our customers are our number one priority,’ but I like yours better.” She glanced up as Bob, the security guard, opened the doors and the early summer heat flowed through into the bank. “Hey, how did last night go? It was opening night, wasn’t it?” she asked, her fingers flying over the keys as her computer whirred into life.
“Yeah,” Riley grinned, turning to her as he waited for his login details to appear on the screen. “It was great. I was unbelievably nervous, but Jesse was fantastic. He was so calm, it was breathtaking to watch. He totally immerses himself in the character and it’s so easy to fall into step beside him, you know what I mean? You forget that you’re playing a part and really get caught up in the moment. The director was ecstatic with the crowd’s response, even though it wasn’t exactly a sell out.”
Katie smiled happily at him. It had been a long time since she’d seen such unadulterated joy on Riley’s face and she was grateful to the mysterious Jesse for putting it there. “When am I going to get to meet him? You’ve been dating for four months now. Don’t you think it’s time you subjected him to the grilling that your best friend needs to give prospective partners?”
“You’ll scare the crap out of him,” Riley snorted, logging into the screen beside him. “Okay, okay,” he grinned, as she leaned her head around the cubicle divider and glared at him. “You know the only reason I haven’t introduced you is because I’ve been burned so often before. I just wanted to make sure it was gonna last more than five minutes, you know? So, how about Saturday? We’ll grab some dinner.”
Katie smiled and nodded. “I believe I’m free Saturday.” She took a deep breath and held out her fist, bumping his in their self-dictated time honored tradition. “Here they come, remember, slap on that smile.”
“I’ll slap you in a minute,” Riley replied, watching the townsfolk file in through the doors. He smiled and looked up as his first customer of the day stopped before his cubicle. “Hey there Mrs. Johnson, how are you today?”
“I’m good, thank you, Riley. I just want to deposit this check,” said Mrs. Johnson, her perfectly coiffed lilac hair not even moving as she nodded her head at him.
Taking the check from her fingers, Riley had to suppress a giggle as he wondered what would happen if he struck a match anywhere near Mrs. Johnson’s head. There had to be a lot of hairspray to keep it that solid. He had a feeling that not even a hurricane could dislodge a hair out of place. He listened to her monologue, hoping that he was nodding in all the right places as he deposited her check and gave her a receipt. With the requisite smile, of course.
“Oh God,” he hissed to Katie as he glanced up and saw his next customer making his way very slowly to the cubicle. “It’s Mr. Kemper and he’s got his change jar. Help me.” Katie just shook her head, batted her lashes at him and smiled sweetly. “Witch,” Riley hissed and waited patiently for ninety-two year old Horace Kemper to reach the counter. It was going to be another long and boring day.