Excerpt: Midsummer Baker

Marcell had always known someone else used the abandoned barn in the empty field alongside the old McCarthy place. He’d never seen soon who, never tried to figure it out, never wanted to. He’d seen the fresh cigarette butts, empty cans and bottles of beer, and figured there was no harm in time-sharing an empty barn that no one else in Midsummer gave a damn about. Whoever it was probably just wanted what he did—peace and quiet, and somewhere no one else would find him. Marcell respected that.

So he’d never tried to figure it out, assumed whoever it was either showed him the same courtesy, or never noticed they were time-sharing.

Then Marcell fell asleep. He’d had a particularly rough day at the bakery. Without both Aunt Mary and JoJo, their part-timer, he’d been running the place like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest. Afterwards, he’d gone to the barn with his whiskey, the one place he could relax and not the feel weight of other people pressing down here. He was alone there, but didn’t feel lonely.

He hadn’t meant to stay long before trudging home, but he’d dozed off, and woken up to familiar voices making unmistakable sounds, and felt his heart lodge in his throat. Surely he was hearing things. He crawled to the edge of the loft and looked down over the edge, careful as could be, staring raptly at the two men below, unable to believe what he was seeing.

‘The Withers Boys,’ were nothing but trouble, everyone said. Half-brothers, half-fae on their mother’s side, but only their remarkably green thumbs gave away their faerie blood. They’d moved to Midsummer when Boyd was three and Tye was two, and everyone in town claimed they’d been nothing but trouble ever since. After their mother had died when they were twenty and nineteen respectively, according to everyone, they’d only gotten worse.

Marcell had never understood it. They were troublemakers, sure, but they’d only ever pulled stupid, harmless pranks on people who deserved it. Irritating at worst, and no one ever got hurt. Marcell had always thought they were funny and that some people in Midsummer could stand to unbend.

He also knew personally that they weren’t all bad. No matter what, they looked after each other. Whatever they were doing or wherever they were going, Boyd and Tye were together. They might have been a year apart and only half related, but he’d never seen two brothers closer.

Every day they came in for breakfast. They both liked their coffee black; Boyd always got a cinnamon roll with extra icing, and Tye liked the donuts filled with strawberry jelly and covered in granulated sugar rather than confectioner’s sugar. Marcell always made certain there was at least one roll and one jelly donut left for them, even if he had to hide them in the back himself.

When apple pie was in season, they came twice a week for them. During Christmas season, they came in for minced pie. When he made pumpkin cheesecake, they came for those too. They were good customers, for all people liked to say they were heathens. Aunt Mary never seemed to notice they were quiet, polite, and always left a generous tip in the jar.

More fun, Marcell had noticed, for everyone to bitch about them. He stayed out of it, knowing very well just how good they could be, because drawing attention to them would just cause Boyd and Tye more problems than it was worth. They didn’t care what people thought, so he bit his tongue and focused on his work.

Usually when they came into the bakery, Aunt Mary took care of them. But sometimes, when things were busy or she was out for one reason or another, he had to leave the safety of his kitchen to run the counter. When that happened and they came in, it was all he could do to string two words together and not sound ten kinds of stupid.

After what they’d done years ago, it seemed like it should be easy to talk to them—but it wasn’t, because he was hopelessly in love with them both and had no idea how to handle it. So instead he just blushed and stammered and wished that just once, the floor would swallow him.

They always grinned at him, and said, “Hey, Marcy” and “Good morning, Marcy,” and it made him blush all the more, because no one else called him that. They always had, though, ever since that day in high school.

When they’d gotten their breakfasts, he fled back to his kitchens, and day dreamed scenarios where he was smooth and attractive and did a thousand things he’d never have the brass to do. He’d never really known how to deal with them or the fact he loved and wanted both of them. It was just…impossible, he supposed, to separate them. Boyd and Tye, Tye and Boyd. It was never one or the other. Separating them was like separating sugar from sweet.

In all his wildest imaginings, even the ones liberally dosed with whiskey, he had never actually thought he would ever look down from the loft to see Boyd fucking Tye into the barn floor, pounding into him like the world was ending in five minutes.

Marcell swallowed, suddenly, uncomfortably hard. He could not take his eyes off them, not if his life really and truly depended on it. He watched, listened, memorized every move, every thrust, the panting, moaning—

No way had he ever really allowed himself to picture—

Well, maybe a few times, when he definitely drank too much whiskey (way too much, given Aunt Mary was a stick in the mud and thought smelling whiskey was too much). His imagination was no match for the reality.

Boyd cried out, thrust one last time, and Tye’s cries mingled with Boyd’s, filling the barn. Marcell was so hard he hurt, but he didn’t move, was half-afraid to breathe. For all the special consideration they showed him, they’d still kill him, surely, for seeing them like that.

Somehow, watching the tender, loving way they kissed and held each other after seemed far more an invasion of their privacy than watching them fuck. He was never going to be able to look them in the face again, not without passing out. Or coming hard in his jeans.

He bit his lip, fingers digging painfully into the overhang as he tried not to give himself away. They lay curled together on a ratty old blanket, thankfully not staring up, speaking too softly for Marcell to catch the words.