Friday, January 16, 2015

Free Read: Misunderstood Hotness, Part 4

Mason offered a hand but Lloyd indicated his soapy hands with a self-effacing shrug. "Nice to meet you," they both said in unison and then laughed.

"Thanks for staying to help with the clean up," Mason said.

"No problem. Glad to help." Lloyd returned to soaping a fragile teacup.

"Were you here earlier? I thought I knew everyone at the party." Mason studied the man in front of him. Lloyd was medium height and of medium build. He had short-cut light brown hair and light hazel eyes to match. He wore jeans and a beige shirt without any markings, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Mason couldn't remember even coming across Lloyd once during the whole party.

"Lloyd showed up early and helped with set-up," Dylan chimed in. He'd managed to stuff several more plates into the dishwasher and look pleased with himself.

"If you overload that and the dishes break, Maggie isn't going to be happy." Lloyd's voice was bland, even though his words held a distinct warning.

"Ehh," Dylan said. He tried rearranging the plates again.

"I don't mind, I could do a few more dishes by hand." Lloyd squeezed the sponge in his hand and bubbles formed. A few tiny ones floated free.

One bubble floated in front of Mason. He watched it for a moment. Bubbles were fascinating things. They seemed clear, but really, with the right light, they had iridescent rainbows skimming their surfaces. The bubble popped and Mason started to pay attention to the conversation. "He has a point," Mason said.

"They'll fit. I just need to move this one—" Dylan's hand slipped and two glasses clinked hard against each other. Nobody spoke as Dylan inspected them for cracks. "They're okay," he said.

Mason sighed and Lloyd made a noise of relief.

"There's no room in the drainer," Dylan said. He turned back to glare at the dishwasher with renewed vigor.

"I'll dry," Mason offered quickly. He dug out a hand towel from a drawer and started wiping off the dishes to make room for additional ones. "Don't put any more dishes in there."

"Thanks," Lloyd said. "That was headed for disaster." He smiled at Mason as they stood side by side and something in Mason nudged at him.

"You're welcome," Mason said, feeling suddenly awkward. A minute ago, he'd thought Lloyd to be indistinct, even plain, but now he'd noticed a small chip to the corner of one front tooth. It made Lloyd's smile infinitely more interesting. Mason dried the dishes and put them away, hoping that Lloyd would smile again. The little chip wasn't visible unless he smiled. There didn't seem a lot to say, though, and Lloyd washed in silence while Mason dried.

Mason came to a teacup with blue rosebuds on it. He turned it over in his hands. "Where does this go?"

"Up there, top cupboard." Dylan whirled around the kitchen, wiping away crumbs and sticky stains. "I'm gonna go gather more stuff. Be right back."

The cupboard was over his head so Mason had to go up on his toes to reach it. He knew there was a step stool in the closet, but stretching like this would reveal a hint of his stomach. He knew he was physically attractive and if Lloyd were at all interested, this would be an obvious invitation. Mason thrilled a bit inside. It had been a while since he'd had to play this game. Usually, suitors threw themselves at him.

The teacup settled into place with a click against the other teacups and Mason came down off his toes. He glanced to Lloyd. Lloyd was furiously scrubbing at a silver cake server.

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