“But I also heard you have a new beau!” Zoey clapped her hands. “Uncle Neal wouldn’t let me ask you about him until the customers left. So tell me everything.”
Neal sighed. “I told you not to ask until you’re off the clock.”
“That’s practically the same thing.” Zoey waved her hand, dismissing Neal’s remark. “Spill it, Kyle. Is this beau like Benji? He’s a cop too, right?”
“He is the very opposite of Benji.” Kyle gave Neal an apologetic smile. “Isaac isn’t in the closet.”
“Neither is Benji.” Neal stood and added, “Not anymore, at least.”
“Is he gorgeous?” Zoey asked. “I bet he’s hot.”
“He’s not ugly.” Kyle laughed at Zoey rolling her eyes. She clearly didn’t approve of his brush-off response. “He’s cute. He has muscles in all the right places. Oh, and his kiss could melt the polar ice caps.”
“Awesome,” Zoey whispered. “How come you never mention polar ice caps when you talk about Benji, Uncle Neal?”
“I’d rather keep Benji’s powers a secret.” Neal said from behind the counter.
“Lame.” Zoey huffed. “So, like, when are you going to introduce me to this guy, Kyle?”
“Never.” Kyle closed his sketchbook. “You’ll steal him away from me with your charm and good looks.”
“If he’s gay, I doubt he would care about my perfection.” Zoey tossed her ponytail over her shoulder. “You’re just lucky I wasn’t born with a penis.”
“Zoey,” Neal groaned.
“What? Can I not say the word penis? Am I too young to use the scientific term for the male reproductive organ?”
“I think Neal is just squeamish about his pseudo niece growing up.” Kyle patted Zoey’s hand and crawled out of the booth. “Am I right, Neal?”
“Yes. You should have stayed eight years old forever.”
Zoey wrinkled her nose. “How boring.”
“I’m going shopping for ingredients. How many people are you inviting to your birthday party, Zoey?”
“Wait until I can leave, Kyle.” Neal interrupted Zoey’s response. “I’ll go with you. I’m not going to let you buy everything for it this year too. Last year it was your present to her, but I think you spent more money than anyone else.”
“I also asked everyone not to buy me presents this year,” Zoey added. “Donate the money to a charity and give me the receipt. It’s a challenge too. The friend who donates the most will win my affection for a year.”
"You are the oddest child,” Kyle whispered, pinching her cheek. Zoey squealed and leaned out of Kyle’s reach.
“So let me take care of the cake expenses,” Neal continued. “You’re using your time to bake and decorate it. That’s more than enough.”
Kyle faced Neal and smiled. He wanted the financial assistance but couldn’t bring himself to accept it. “Don’t feel sorry for me because I’m out of a job. I promised I would do the cake, so I’ll do the cake.”
“I don’t feel sorry for you. I know you can find a new job whenever you want. But Zoey’s parents and I are putting together the party, and we’re paying for it. End of story. If you don’t let me buy, you’ll find money stashed away in your underwear drawer.”
“Fine. I don’t want you touching my underwear drawer.” Kyle gathered his stuff. “I’m going to go home and pine over polyester prince not texting me. You come pick me up when you’re ready to go shopping. I appreciate you footing the bill, coffee bean.”
Neal smiled. “No problem, sugar cake.”
A bike officer keeps him safe until the paramedics arrive. Kyle’s memory of the event is foggy. He doesn’t recall the name or face of his guardian angel, but he definitely remembers the finest polyester-covered ass in all of Albuquerque.
But when he goes in search of his polyester prince, Kyle realizes relationships take hard work. After he learns the name of that perfect ass, a lifetime of avoiding serious boyfriends leaves Kyle second-guessing himself and making difficult decisions about what he wants for his future.
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