Opening Night Eve at The Local, a deleted scene from Essence of Time
Rob’s head pounded. Sweat poured from every inch of his skin. His stomach roiled as he looked up from the glamorous task of re-bolting toilets to the floor in the women’s room just hard enough to connect his skull nicely with the damn container for…for…. “Shit!” He rubbed the rapidly forming knot and sat on the cold tile floor, letting the wrench and ratchet dangle from his shaking fingers. “This is insane. Utterly, completely totally insane.”
“Nah,” Jack’s voice floated in from where he was screwing the mirrors on the walls. “Well, maybe. But hey, I’m in it with you so it’s a guaranteed success.”
“Fuck you.” Rob muttered, still rubbing his head as he rose. After giving the toilet a shake to make sure it was seated correctly he wandered out into the hall. He watched, heart sinking as the newly hired staff set up the tables and chairs and bar stools that had literally arrived two hours before—approximately twelve hours before they were due to open to the public with a huge, splashy party.
“Excuse me,” Blake taped his shoulder. Rob moved aside so the other man could move past him. They hadn’t really talked since a giant blow out fight three nights ago over, of all things, the height of the custom made bar that was the featured centerpiece of The Local, the gastro pub they were opening together. Rob sighed, and ran his fingers through his hair. He had at least two days worth of real work to go getting the kitchen set up, integrating used equipment with new and making sure the kid he’d hired to sous chef was as good as he claimed to be. They had one day before the opening. He groaned and leaned against the dark paneled wall, letting smells of fresh wood, paint, and brewing beer wash over him.
“All right, I gotta go.” Jack handed him the tool box and wiped his hands on a towel. I think you’re all set with the bathroom stuff. I looked over your electric panel and figured out the problem but you’re gonna need to pay a licensed electrician for two hours to fix it. Lucky for you I have one on his way now. Thank me later.” Jack put a hand on his shoulder. “Oh and that brewery drain Blake is bitching about—he’s right. You’re gonna have to get that re-trenched most likely and soon. I’m surprised the city let you get by with it but whatever.” Rob shot him what he hoped was a thankful look. Jack burst out laughing. “Dude. It will be fine. Oh, and that bar,” He pointed to the massive fifty foot, carved blonde wood and marble edifice that had cost way more than they’d budgeted for. “I think it’s about two inches to high.”
“Get out of my face Gordon before I stab you with this screwdriver.”
Jack backed away, hands up in mock dismay. “Not many tenants have such a handy landlord, just saying. See you later—call me if you need anything.”
Five hours later Rob thought the pain in his shoulders from shifting boxes of utensils, plates and glassware could possibly be the worst ever. He sat slumped in a chair, elbows up on the bar that was very likely a hair too high and tried not to panic. The bar was stocked, the kitchen set up, more or less, the tables and chairs stood at the ready. All the expensive yet cheap-looking lighting fixtures all finally worked thanks to the electrician Jack had found at the last minute. He had his fridge and pantry stocked, sous chef working through the final menu details and the god damned bathrooms were perfect. One thing remained. He lifted his aching head from his arms and sipped from the cold pint glass. Liquid perfection in the form of a classic Czech pilsner slid down his throat. The dry bite of the hops blended with the expensive imported malt setting his taste buds alight and making him smile in spite of his stress. He downed the fifteen ounces in minutes, letting it coat his tongue and brain with just the right amount of residual alcohol.
“You’re pretty good at this, aren’t you?” He spoke to Blake’s back as the man put the finishing touches on the tap stand. Six beers had been brewed and were ready, with three more burbling away in the back, doing their fermentation magic. Rob let himself relax for the first time in months as he watched his lover’s profile while the other man fiddled around with the handles, the draft lines and everything under the sun. “I’m sorry,” He spoke, surprised at how strong his voice sounded, needing more than anything to see Blake’s eyes devoid of anger. But Blake studiously ignored him.
Rob stood and stretched and wandered around behind the bar, realizing he’d started the fight and it was up to him to end it. They were both stretched unbelievably thin, running on minimal sleep and scary bank loans to the breaking point. The argument burst out of him over an innocuous comment Blake made about the bar being too tall, right after Rob had written a mind-numbingly large check to the carpenter for the damn thing. He put a hand on Blake’s shoulder, felt the other man flinch and look away, but he kept his hand moving, up Blake’s neck, to his face. He turned Blake to face him. “I am sorry. Really.”
Rob knew he was the emotional Gibraltar of their relationship. Blake was the creative one, throwing himself into everything he did with energy and enthusiasm twenty-four seven. But right now he needed Blake to tell him. He needed the man he knew he loved and was about to jump off the deep end of brew pub ownership with to say one simple thing.
Blake swallowed, and leaned into Rob’s hand. Rob tugged him into his arms. Their lips met, softly at first, then as a tangle of emotion and no small lick of terror lit his brain Rob shoved his tongue into Blake’s mouth, as the other man ran his hands down Rob’s back and clutched his ass. His body hummed like a live wire, and his cock hardened instantly when the familiar feel of Blake’s body pressed against his. Blake broke from his lips, put his hands on either side of Rob’s face, his green eyes bright. “It’s going to be fine,” He said, firmly, before unzipping his own jeans, then Rob’s and turning the other man around to face the too-tall bar. Rob groaned as Blake threaded his fingers in his hair, tugged him forcing him back against Blake’s waiting erection. He whispered once more. “It’s all going to be just fine. But now I need you. Bad.” He put his leg between Rob’s forcing them apart. “No lube,” he gasped making Rob’s skin tingle.
“Don’t care,” Rob gritted his teeth, the need for Blake inside him more ferocious than he could remember. “Fuck me.” He groaned as Blake slide a spit-slicked finger into him, slowly, preparing his body. Rob arched his back, giving more and was rewarded with the feel of Blake’s thick cock sliding against, then inside his ass.
Later, they sat on the floor, sharing another of Blake’s delicious brewed concoctions, laughing about the too-tall bar christening. Rob handed the half empty glass back to Blake. His chest hurt all of a sudden, with unspoken words. “Thank you.”
Blake smiled, raised an eyebrow. “For what?” He put a hand on Rob’s denim covered thigh, sliding his hand up slowly.
“Well, for that, of course. But for all of this,” he waved a hand around the empty room. “And for this,” he leaned in for another kiss.