© Clare London
Mitch didn’t see the other cart until it spun an equally awkward path around the corner of the aisle, and crashed into his. Its owner hurried around the corner, grabbing out to catch it.
“What the fuck -?”
The two shoppers glared at each other, ready for the necessary abuse, but then they blinked and stared again, in an almost comical double-take.
“Looks like you drive a cart with the same carelessness you show your social life,” growled the new arrival. He was as tall as Mitch, but dark-haired and slimmer. He was frowning, but that didn’t hide the fact he was good-looking. He’d pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes – they were a striking shade of brown, flecked with hazel where they reflected the fluorescent lights of the store. He wore loose pants, the same as Mitch, and a close-fitting tee shirt that barely covered the well-developed lines of his torso.
“At least I can keep my eyes – and my hands – on the cart.” Mitch shrugged, also frowning. The pair of them looked like they were squaring up for a confrontation. Obviously they both had the same opinion of grocery shopping on Saturday night.
They stared a moment longer. They sighed.
“Mitch,” acknowledged the dark-haired man, finally, though a little grudgingly.
“Will,” replied Mitch, with a return nod of his head. “You shop here often?”
Will Anders didn’t seem to think he needed to dignify that cliché with a response. Instead, he pushed his cart to a stop, and moved to Mitch’s side of the aisle, though the last thing he wanted tonight was to make small talk with a guy he hardly knew except as a neighbor from the next apartment down the hallway. He wanted in and out of this store as fast as practicable. If it hadn’t been for his refrigerator failing while he was out at work, he’d have had very different plans for the evening. But he’d come home to a puddle of liquid mess on the kitchen floor, and when he’d opened the door to salvage what he could, a couple of unidentified pots gave off a stench that might have been stagnating since Neanderthal times. He’d judged it wise to come out to re-stock. Now he’d chased his damned cart all the way past the tinned goods and suffered scraped shins at least twice. No, pleasantries were the last things on his mind.
“No party for you tonight then?”
Mitch shrugged in reply. “It happens.”
Will raised his eyebrows. He didn’t know the guy much more than to say ‘hi’ on the stairs, but since Mitch had moved in over six months ago, Will couldn’t remember a single weekend when there hadn’t been a party going on at the blond man’s apartment, or Mitch hadn’t been crashing in and out of the block on his way to and from someone else’s. He was a rabid fun-lover. Will peered at him, surreptitiously. There were always plenty of guys at these parties, too, and some pretty obvious sexual activity going on. The walls were paper thin in their apartment block, and Mitch had a loud and infectious laugh. He didn’t keep his voice down at night, either – Will could recall several graphic and enthusiastic commentaries on the performance of anyone who stayed over. He peered at Mitch again, his eyes running down his neighbor’s well muscled body. He bit his lip, feeling a little warmer than he had before. The guy was hot, of course. That was something Will couldn’t help but notice.
Mitch peered back at the other man. Was that a smirk he could see on his face? “So what about you? On your own tonight?”
Will grimaced. “Obviously.” His shrug in return was slow and grudging. “Like you said, it happens.”
Mitch bit back a grin. He had a pretty busy life of his own usually, but he still found time to be intrigued by the guy next door. Since Mitch had moved in, Will had nodded to him a couple of times, though they never seemed to meet up for long enough to take the conversation any further. The first day he’d arrived, Will had given him some help with some boxes, and so had the cute blond man who’d been hanging on Will’s every word. Then, when Mitch had knocked on Will’s door a couple of days later to ask something about getting the antiquated heating system to work, he’d seen another young man lying casually on Will’s sofa, flicking through the TV channels while Mitch and Will exchanged information at the door. This guy had been brunet. Then there’d been the tall, slim redhead… the stocky, bodybuilding guy with the sharp haircut… the pale, skinny guy with the striking Celtic design tattoos…
Mitch had rarely seen his neighbor with the same guy twice. And though he never heard much going on in Will’s apartment, there was no mistaking the way he acted around his dates. Will always had a hand hovering possessively at their ass; always had fingers stroking at the small of their back, so lightly you might think you’d imagined it. But Mitch didn’t mistake that kind of thing. No, his neighbor was a definite guy magnet. Mitch ran a quick but searching glance over the dark-haired man opposite, his heartbeat quickening. He could see why, of course. Will was hot–Mitch had seen that from day one.
Hell, he’d been watching that from day one!