Even Vanilla Is An Achievement For Some People

by Kit Miller

Thursday, 3.56 pm. Right on the dot, the door opened and a blast of cold January air wafted through the coffee shop. Matt suppressed a shiver as best as he could and reached for a large cup. This regular’s order was always something else, but the size was the same.

“Hey there.” Matt made himself smile his best customer service smile. “What can I get you today?”

Matt almost sighed when the regular, a man in his forties, didn’t return the greeting and instead just grunted. The regular studied the menu board as if he didn’t come here at exactly the same time every damn Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Why those specific days, Matt didn’t know, but given that the man always wore a suit and carried a briefcase, he guessed it must have to do with how Important Business, Inc. scheduled its break times. 

Matt waited with his best simulacrum of patience. Finally, the man wrenched his eyes away from the menu and muttered, “Cappuccino. With oat milk. Large. Thank you.”

“Sure thing.” Matt punched the order into the register and turned the card reader around. The man tapped his card and headed for the end of the counter without speaking or even looking at Matt. It always felt like he was fleeing, or like he couldn’t bear to be near him for any longer than absolutely necessary. He even turned his back to Matt and began fiddling with his phone.

Rolling his eyes, Matt whacked the old coffee grounds out of the portafilter.  This guy had been coming in for a whole year, and yet Matt had never heard anything out of his mouth that wasn’t to do with his order. Sure, he didn’t need him to be his best friend in the whole wide world — not even considering that Sinéad was already filling that post — but would a small how do you do or nice weather, isn’t it kill him?

Matt glanced over. Unfairly, he wasn’t even unhandsome. Tall, on the slim side, with his light brown hair just starting to gray. He always had it combed precisely and his clothes were impeccable. Maybe Matt wouldn’t tap that right out of the gate, but he wouldn’t kick him out of the bed, either.

He wasn’t even rude, not really. Just… short and taciturn. But still, Matt got the vibe from him that he’d offended him somehow and could not fathom why.

And Matt was – well, he liked to make friends and chat with his customers. 

Sinéad had drily corrected him that he was just really, really needy, nosy, and attention-seeking.

He’d laughed. “Well, why do you think I like my work so much?”

As Matt steamed the milk, his phone pinged with a sound that meant only one specific thing. He glanced into the kitchen, but Jane, his boss, was on the phone herself, so he pulled it out and checked it. Yep. The job tonight had been confirmed; the client had just sent him the address and forked over the first half of the payment. Nice. Matt finished the rest of the order whistling to himself.

Grouchy McGrouchface even got a heart as latte art. Not that he actually seemed to appreciate it.


The client had given Matt his home address, which was not unheard of, but definitely unusual. Most of Matt’s real work took place in hotels or motels. And it wasn’t like tonight’s client wouldn’t be able to afford that: his apartment building was in the glitz-and-glamor district of the city. A sleek, modern structure of steel and glass that twinkled in the night. Matt was suitably impressed. 

Inside didn’t disappoint, either. Even the inside of the elevator looked more expensive than Matt’s own apartment. As he rode it to the sixth floor, he texted Sinéad: In the building now.

She replied immediately: ok stay safe

He texted her back a thumbs-up emoji.

Sinéad got paranoid. If he didn’t text her with a previously agreed-upon emoji in four hours — this time, it was the fledgling chick still half in its egg — she would call the police. 

Not that Matt was complaining that Sinéad had his back. A colleague of his got seriously roughed up by one of her clients only a few months back. She’d survived, thank God, but everyone knew it had been very close indeed. 

Focus. Matt shook himself and stepped off the elevator. The lights in the hallway were automatic, and slowly faded on as he walked to apartment 602. He cleared his throat, ran a hand through his hair — not that this helped much, his hair was a thick, untamable mop — and put a smile on. He knocked.

The door opened almost immediately — and Matt felt his practiced smile slide off his face. The client looked just as stunned.

The client was the guy from the coffee shop.

“Oh,” Matt heard himself say. Inwardly, he groaned. Just his luck; a rich client and he turned out to be this guy?

“It’s you,” the client said dully.

“I could say the same thing.”

For a moment, they sized each other up. Matt contemplated walking away. He did not like to mix his day job and his actual work. Then again, it was a little too late for that; the client had recognised him. The jobs were already mixed. 

Also, he was horny from the anticipation building all day.

Matt would stay. 

The client snapped his gaze up. They locked eyes for a moment. His were a peculiar sort of gray, ringed with gold. “Come in.” He stepped aside. “Let’s at least talk.”

“Fine by me,” Matt replied. Once he’d closed the door behind him, he held out his hand. “I’m Matt. Nice to meet you.”

The client took it. His grip was firm. A proper businessman’s handshake. “Robert. Likewise.” He let go of Matt’s hand, rubbing the fingertips of his own together unconsciously. “Shall we…” He shook his head as if trying to backspace. He opened a door in the hallway. “Let’s go into the living room for now.”

Matt nodded. He took his jacket off and toed his shoes off before following Robert. The living room was all dark woods, shiny chrome, and abstract art. Two black leather sofas. The TV was the size of Matt’s kitchen table. There was even an honest-to-God free-standing fireplace that basked the living room in a soft, warm glow. There were also photographs of children, the coffee table was cluttered in second-hand novels and pop science magazines, and one corner had been turned into a jungle.

Matt sank onto one sofa, half afraid to break it just by sitting on it. He chuckled inwardly at his own silliness.

Robert was busying himself at the china cabinet behind the fireplace. He turned to Matt with two wine glasses in one hand and a bottle of red in the other. 

“Ah,” said Matt and smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry, I don’t drink.” At least not at work. 

“Oh. Sorry.” Robert thought, evidently having a mental rummage through his fridge and trying to figure out what else he had he could offer him. “I, um, could make you some coffee? Or do you get enough of that at work?”

Matt chuckled. “I can never get enough of coffee. But,” he added when Robert made to dash away, “maybe not right now. I think we ought to have a brief discussion first.”

“Right. Yes.” Robert made for the sofa, but hesitated. “Do you mind if I…” He gestured to the abandoned wine glasses.

Matt shook his head.

Wine glass filled with a red so dark it was almost purple, Robert sat down heavily on the other sofa. “I am sorry,” he began. “I had no idea you were the barista.”

“Small world, isn’t it.” Matt leaned his head on his hand and regarded Robert. “I for one don’t think this means we can’t go ahead tonight, though.”

“You – you don’t?”

“Only if you want to, of course.” It wasn’t exactly a fantasy come true, but now that the prospect was very much on the table… yeah, Matt could do much, much worse.

“Oh. Well.” Robert folded his hands loosely in front of him. “Hm.” 

Matt stayed where he was, content to let his mind drift while Robert figured out whatever he needed to figure out. Gosh, but that was a lot of plants. And all in impeccable condition, too. There was not a speck of dust on any of them. His own houseplants invariably died after a week or so.

“I’d like to,” Robert said, quietly. Matt was almost startled. 

“Would you mind if I sat with you, then?” Matt asked.

“No, go ahead.” Robert scooted to the side a little. 

Matt made sure to still leave quite a bit of space between them. There clearly was something going on with Robert that he needed to work out before Matt could even begin to touch him. He crossed his legs and leaned against the armrest. “So, Robert. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”

Robert eyed him sideways. “I’m paying you; you don’t need to pretend this is a date or something.”

Matt laughed. “Sure, I can just start jerking you off without ceremony if you prefer.”

Robert flushed from collarbone to hairline.

“Yes, that’s what I thought.” Matt grinned. “Shall I start? My name is Matt, I’m twenty-eight, and I have two cats. Do you have any pets, Robert?”

Robert just shook his head.

Time to change gears, I think. “Have you ever had sex with a man?”

Robert swallowed and took a swig of his wine. He avoided eye contact like it could burn him.

“Am I right in assuming you have not?”

Robert cleared his throat. “I… um. Yes.”

“So why now?”

Robert sighed and played with his wine glass. “Well, my wife left me on our anniversary.” He smiled, but there was no humor in it. “She told me she had fallen in love and intended to marry another woman. And that I should…” His eyes suddenly shimmered. He cleared his throat. 

“What?” asked Matt, carefully inching his hand closer to Robert’s. “What is it?”

“She said I should follow her example and come out already.” He laughed, but it sounded more like a sob. “Apparently, she’d known since the day I married her. And I had no idea.”

“About her or yourself?”

“Her. Both. Kind of.” He shook his head.

“And your kids?”

“I didn’t tell you I had kids,” Robert said dully.

“Yeah, no, you didn’t, but there’s pictures of them everywhere.” Matt nodded to the four that stood on the windowsill alone. A girl and two boys; the girl was an absolute dead ringer for Robert. “Don’t exactly need to be Miss Marple to figure that one out.”

“Hah! No, of course not.” Robert frowned into his glass and emptied it. “You must think I’m so pathetic,” he muttered. “I’ve been closeted for forty years. And the only man I can find who’s willing to — to — to sleep with me, I have to pay to do so.”

“Oh, honey.” Matt reached out, but let his hand hover over Robert’s. “Can I take your hand?” Robert nodded. Matt ran his thumb over his large knuckles. God, what beautiful hands. Please, God, if there’s any justice in the world, Matt hoped he’d have these hands on him at some point tonight. “Listen, Robert. I think you’re brave.” And he meant it. “It’s not easy, coming out. Especially not after such a long time, and after you’ve been married and started a family. But you did. And now you’ve decided you want to finally have what you were never allowed to have.” He shrugged, still stroking the back of Robert’s hand. “I’m biased, sure, but I don’t see why it’s acceptable to pay for entertainment when it’s the theater or a movie or something but not when it’s sex.”

“Hm.” Robert didn’t look completely convinced, but he visibly made himself relax.

Matt put his hand on Robert’s knee. Robert twitched, but didn’t move away. In fact, he lifted his knee, slightly pushing into Matt’s palm. Accepting the invitation, Matt inched his fingertips up Robert’s thigh, but stopped before he reached his genitals. “Can I touch you?” he murmured. Normally, he wouldn’t check in so frequently — normally, a certain baseline of consent was implied by the very fact he was here — but normally, he wasn’t taking someone’s gay virginity.

Robert nodded, his eyes on Matt’s fingers. 

Matt pressed his palm down on the bulge in Robert’s dark chinos. He began rubbing it slowly. “Okay?”

“Yes, that’s… more than okay,” Robert muttered. He swallowed, but said nothing else. His hands were flat down on either side of him, but they were so tense Matt could see the veins pulse.

“What is it, honey?”

Robert gave a rueful chuckle. “I don’t really… know what to do with myself. Do I… touch you back, or…?”

“D’you want me to take the lead?” Matt asked, already knowing the answer.

Robert squinted in embarrassment. “If you don’t mind?”

“I don’t. And don’t worry. I’ll keep it basic, I promise. Unless you tell me otherwise.”

“I… don’t think I’ll tell you otherwise.”

Matt gave him a smile and slid onto the floor between his legs. He pushed his knees aside and touched his belt buckle. He glanced up. “May I?” 

Robert nodded. His eyes were glued to Matt’s fingers.

Matt undid the belt, the button of Robert’s pants, and tugged the zipper down. He took his sweet time with that. Pushing Robert’s y-fronts down was more of a hassle, but with a bit of wriggling, Matt soon got Robert’s half-hard penis free.

Matt couldn’t help it. He smiled broadly and laughed quietly to himself.

“Is there something funny?” asked Robert.

“No.” Matt ran his fingertips along the underside of Robert’s dick. “I just think your cock is really pretty.” He meant it, too, but he didn’t tell Robert he thought more or less every cock was pretty. The poor guy deserved to feel special.

Robert certainly seemed to appreciate it. He leaned back with a sigh. Matt kept stroking, a little more insistent with every movement. Robert was slowly getting hard under Matt’s ministrations. Matt gathered the moisture beading at the tip and used it to slick his hand up. He kept his fingers loose when he stroked down, but tightened then when he went back up. Sometimes, he put his fingertips to the underside, then he changed it up. Every now and then, Matt thumbed at the slit, which elicited first hitched breaths and then suppressed moans.

“There’s no need to be quiet, honey, you can make all the noises you want.” Matt underlined his words by taking Robert’s balls in his free hand and rolling them around in his palm.

Robert groaned and put a hand over his eyes.

“All right?” asked Matt. He stroked the soft, delicate skin of the back of Robert’s balls with one fingertip.

“Yes,” Robert breathed. “Go on. Please. You’re… very good.”

“So I’m told.” Robert was fully hard now. His cock throbbed slightly. Several veins stood out in an attractive, reddish purple hue. Matt licked his lips. “Robert, I’d like to suck your cock. Is that okay?”

“Yes,” Robert said. His voice was strained. “Very much yes.”

Matt hummed in satisfaction. He kept stroking Robert while fumbling a condom out of the back pocket of his jeans. “You’re not allergic to latex, are you?”

“No,” Robert said and mumbled something else.

Matt, rolling the condom down over his cock, looked up. “Pardon?”

“Just… didn’t know you’d need a condom for that.”

“Have you ever had herpes?”

Robert shook his head.

“Be glad.” And without another word, Matt put his lips over the head of Robert’s cock and sucked.

Robert sighed and shifted. Matt saw his right foot twitch out of the corner of his eye. But other than that, Robert had remarkable self-control for a man who’d denied himself his true sexual desires his whole life.

Matt steadied himself with his forearms on Robert’s thighs and sucked deeply. He moved ever further down the sides of Robert’s cock without much hurry. Above him, he heard Robert moan. Matt reached the root and lavished it with his tongue. Robert’s pubic hair tickled his cheek. He took a few moments to give attention to Robert’s balls, as well, enjoying what skin contact he could get. The package of the condom claimed it was cherry flavored, but it tasted more of abundant artificial sweetener, and nothing could make latex taste not of latex. Sure, Matt would have preferred this without the barrier — impossibly thin though it was — between his tongue and the heady musk of Robert’s cock. Who wouldn’t? But he hadn’t managed to stay in sex work for as long as he had by fudging basic sex safety.

And it wasn’t like his own cock was still soft. Quite the contrary. Ouch. Matt spread his legs a little more. That was a bit better.

Matt drew back up, chasing the movement of his lips with one hand. The other, he kept on Robert’s balls. And back down. He soon found a good rhythm. 

The first time Matt swallowed Robert’s cock down as far as it would go, Robert groaned an “oh, fuck” and threw his head back. He slid a little further down the sofa, effectively pushing his groin into Matt’s face. Who wasn’t complaining. 

Matt looked up at Robert. He was looking down at him through half-lidded eyes. His hands were on either side of him, fists clenching and twitching.

Matt let him go just long enough to say, “Touch me.” Then he took Robert back down, crooking his tongue around the warm, hard weight in just the right way so that Robert made one of those lovely noises again.

Robert hesitated a moment, then Matt felt his fingers slide into his hair. “God, you have gorgeous hair,” Robert muttered, combing through it. “So soft and thick.”

Matt closed his eyes in bliss. He leaned into Robert’s palm.

“You like that?” Robert cupped the back of his head, his fingernails gently scratching at Matt’s scalp.

Matt hummed in confirmation. He felt Robert’s cock twitch on his tongue. He began to improvise on his established baseline, changing speed, angle, suction, until Robert’s fingers, still entangled in his hair, trembled and a whine escaped his throat.

“Matt.” Robert’s voice took a moment or two to reach Matt through the rush of blood in Matt’s ears. Robert’s fingers moved to his lips, halting his enthusiasm. “Matt, can you stop for a second.”

Matt slid his mouth off Robert’s cock in one long, languid slide, letting it pop out with an audible noise. “Yes?”

“I’d like to…” Robert had to pause and catch his breath. “I’d like to swap.”

Matt blinked. That was a surprise and no mistake.

“Is that all right?” Robert peered at him worriedly.

“Uh, yes.” Matt rocked back on his heels. He took a second to catch his breath. A trail of spittle trickled down his chin and he wiped it away. “Yes, sure. Sorry, you just surprised me.”

“I’m surprising myself,” Robert murmured.

Matt got to his feet, his head swimming slightly with the mixture of arousal and the sudden elevation change. He sat down on the sofa.

Robert got up and went to crouch between Matt’s legs. But then, he stood again, chucked his pants, socks, and underwear all in one go, and knelt down. If his cock weren’t still wrapped, he’d surely be leaking precome all over the expensive carpet. He looked up at Matt expectantly. His face was flushed and his pupils blown wide.

Matt undid his jeans and took them off, but not before taking out another condom. He wasn’t wearing underwear.

Robert’s eyes widened when Matt’s dick sprang forth already rock-hard and weeping. “What?” Matt chuckled and stroked the side of Robert’s jaw. His skin was slightly rough with stubble just growing in after a long day. “You thought this whole time I was completely unaffected?”

“No, I… I…” Robert shook his head. “To be honest, I don’t know what I thought.” He twitched his hand up, but stopped himself. “Can I…?”

Matt held out the condom between his pointer and middle finger.

Robert’s hands shook slightly as he rolled it down. “This is… odd,” he murmured.

“What is?” Matt had trouble keeping his hips still and not jerking into Robert’s touch. 

“Doing it to someone else.” Robert encircled Matt’s cock with his right hand and pumped up and down a few times with little finesse. 

Yeah, Matt definitely liked those hands. They looked even better around his dick. He sighed and melted into his sofa.

When Robert’s lips first touched his dick in a tentative kiss, he smiled. “That’s it,” he murmured. He put his hand on Robert’s head. Robert’s hair was wispy, and Matt thoroughly enjoyed mussing it up. “Take your time.” Robert was understandably clumsy and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason whatsoever behind what he did. But what he lacked in skill, he made up for in vigor. He even remembered not to neglect Matt’s balls.

“That’s it, honey,” Matt murmured. “There you go. Keep doing that. Hng! But mind the teeth, please.”

“Sorry,” Robert murmured, and honest-to-God kissed it better. Christ alive. Matt smiled and shook his head to himself. This man.

“Oh, yes,” Matt moaned when Robert gave an experimental flick with his tongue. “There. Ah!” Robert did it again. Involuntarily, Matt jerked his hips forwards. 

Robert grunted, the vibrations sending sparks through Matt’s dick. He now had his mouth fully around the thing. He glanced up, met Matt’s eyes. Determination burned in his gaze.

He moved down. And down. And even further down. Matt watched him first with pride, then growing worry. Oh dear. Was Robert trying to deep-throat him?

As if on cue, Robert spasmed and gagged, and Matt quickly drew back. “No, honey, don’t try that yet.” Robert looked up, panting. His face was flushed, his chin covered in spittle, and his eyes large and desperate. Matt put his hand on Robert’s cheek. “Just keep going as you were.”

“You sure?”

“Very.” He brushed his thumb over Robert’s cheek. “It takes more practice than you’d think. Believe me.” 

Robert nodded. Then he put his mouth on Matt’s cock again.

It probably was the arousal building to a crescendo, but Matt thought Robert got better at this with every minute. “I’m… I’m close,” Matt panted after a while.

Robert hummed in acknowledgment.

Matt gasped. He cupped the back of Robert’s head, gave a thrust with his hips, another, and came with a moan. Robert didn’t let go of him for a second. 

For a minute or two, Matt just let himself go limp and languid with post-orgasmic endorphins. Robert was still sucking him, only stopping when Matt gathered himself back upright and gently pushed him back. 

He sat back on his heels and looked up at Matt almost anxiously. “Did I do okay?” As if Matt was going to give him a full review and possibly a grade.

“Remarkable,” Matt replied and caressed the side of his face. “Would you like me to come down to you or are you coming up here?”

Robert rose. His knees audibly cracked. He made a face but Matt just smiled. 

He put his hand on Robert’s hot, throbbing cock. “Let’s take care of that, hm?”

Robert grunted and pushed forwards, but caught himself. “Will you let me sit down first?” There was a playful edge to his words.

“Oh, by all means.” Matt scooted over. As soon as Robert was seated, he got his hands back on him. Soon, he had pushed Robert against the armrest, himself with one leg tucked under himself on the sofa, the other on the floor, and pulling at Robert’s cock with fast, tight fingers.

With orgasm fast approaching, Robert had abandoned all of his previous inhibitions. His hands were all over Matt, his mouth made the most beautiful moans and grunts and even keens.

He gasped something that sounded a lot like Matt’s name.

Matt leaned over, his hand never stilling. In fact, he sped up. “What, Robert?”

“Kiss me.” Matt hadn’t thought it possible to speak while breathing out, but Robert managed it. “Please.”

“As you wish.” Matt pressed his lips to Robert’s. 

As soon as their mouths met, Robert’s cock pulsed. He came with a long, low moan. His hips thrust up into the circle of Matt’s fingers. Matt held on, stroking him through the aftershocks.

Robert put his arms around Matt and held him close for a bit. Matt was content to be held. But after a while, the condom felt just too tight and gross. Matt pushed a little against Robert’s embrace. Robert’s hands slid off him, and he blinked somewhat dazedly. “Where’s your kitchen?” Matt murmured into Robert’s ear. “I think we both could use a coffee before I go.”


Robert did not come to the coffee shop the next day; the first time he’d missed a day in his schedule in the entire time he’d come here. Matt shrugged to himself. He’d probably never see Robert at the shop ever again, and that was all right by him. It was awkward enough that a client knew where his day job was. Jane knew about Matt’s real work, but still. To him, the two were oil and water. 

He wondered if that made Robert an emulsifier.

For an entire week, Matt went about his life, not thinking much about Robert either way except for when the other half of the payment appeared in his bank statements. 

And then it was Thursday again, and 3.56 pm, and the door opened with a blast of cold January air.

“Hello, Matt.”

“Robert. Hi.” Matt’s finger hovered over the cash register, his brain momentarily short-circuiting. “Uh, are you here for coffee or…?”

Robert smiled. He did have a lovely smile, Matt gave him that. “I’d like a large latte, please. With cow’s milk. And you know what, a shot of vanilla.”

That was a new one. Matt tapped on the cash register and spun the card reader around. “You know the drill.”

“I do. Thanks.” Robert tapped his card and moved to the end of the counter.

Matt picked up a portafilter and gave the other customer, an art student he vaguely knew, a smile. “I’ll be right with you.”

She was studying the pastry case, her nose almost touching the glass. “Take your time, I haven’t decided yet.”

Matt prepared Robert’s latte and deliberately did not make a heart. That would send all sorts of wrong signals. Robert would have to take his leaf and like it.

“Here you go.” Matt slid him the paper cup. “Thanks for coming.” Fuck. “I mean, for coming by.” Fuck, that only made it worse, now he’d called attention to it. He cleared his throat. “See you later.” He turned to go, telling himself he was only rushing to get back to the other customer and definitely not fleeing.

“Actually, I was wondering if you and I could talk a minute?”

Matt turned around, incredulous. Was this the same guy who’d not even returned Matt’s greeting for an entire year? He glanced around the shop. There were a few regulars nursing coffees and reading or working or watching things on their phones. He could probably spare five minutes. “I’ll take care of the other customer back there and I’ll meet you outside, all right?”

“Yes. Sure. See you outside.” Robert smiled again and left.

Matt sold the art student her two donuts and almond milk mocha with double caramel, then he leaned into the kitchen. “Jane? Can I step out for five minutes?”

She looked up from her phone. “Why?”

“Smoke break?”

“You don’t smoke.”

Matt didn’t break eye contact. “So?”

She chortled and waved him away. “Five minutes. I’m timing you.”

Matt rolled his eyes and grabbed his parka.

Robert was waiting, one hand deep in the pocket of his sleek, charcoal coat. The other, covered by a jet black leather glove, clutched his coffee cup. It trembled slightly. “I’ve got something to confess,” he said without preamble. 

Matt shrugged deeper into his parka. Christ alive. It wasn’t even that cold, but the wind chill was no joke. “Oh yes?”

“The reason I’ve been coming to this shop this entire year… is that I’ve had a crush on you since the first coffee you sold me. I’ll never forget that day.”

Matt blinked. He didn’t even remember the first time he’d ever met Robert. “Then why the hell were you always such a grump to me? Barely talking, never smiling, not even making eye contact?”

Robert took a step back, stunned. “I couldn’t talk to you,” he said, as if Matt was suggesting he could learn how to fly if he only tried hard enough. “I could never, ever have talked to you. What—where would I even have started?”

“A ‘hello’ would have been nice.” Matt sniffed and rubbed at his nose. The cold always made it run like a river. “Is that all? Only I need to get back to work.”

“You are remarkably calm,” Robert retorted. Almost accusatory. No, scratch that. Plainly accusatory. “I just confessed this to you and you think of getting back to work?”

“My boss is timing me. Also, if I swooned every time someone told me they had a crush on me, I’d never get shit done. So, can I…?” Matt pointed his thumb at the shop, and made to turn away.

“No, wait. Matt.” Robert snatched at his sleeve. He met Matt’s eyes straight on. A remarkable improvement. Matt would be proud if he wasn’t anxiously certain that Jane was playing peeping tom through the kitchen window. “I’d like to see you again,” Robert said. He let go of Matt’s sleeve. “Outside of your work. If I may.”

“Right. Hm.” Matt steepled his fingers in front of his face, thinking of how best to phrase this. “I’m happy to continue our… let’s call it ‘professional relationship.’ But I don’t date my clients.”

“Oh.” Robert’s face fell. He shook his head and smiled, but Matt could tell it was very forced. “Of course. That’s all right.”

Matt took a step closer and lowered his voice. “It’s not just sex you’re after, is it?”

Robert mutely shook his head, and Matt could even see tears gathering in his eyes. Oh, bless the poor bugger. Matt almost wanted to give him a hug. 

Instead, he pulled out a business card. “Here. This is my favorite gay club in the city.” And not just because they regularly referred truly awesome clients to him. “I think that might be a good first step into the gay scene.”

With some hesitation, Robert took the card. “I’m not exactly the clubbing type.”

“Oh, it’s not a nightclub. It’s more a, hm, a bookshop cum café cum… I don’t know, weekly hangout? They have trivia nights and group dating events and fundraisers for charity and all that stuff. You meet queers of all ages there. It’s fun, I promise. Met several boyfriends of mine there.”

Robert tilted his head in surprise, then laughed. “I’m beginning to think I need to rethink several assumptions I’ve had about your profession.”

“You’d better.”

Robert smiled. Then he nodded and took a step towards the street. “I’ll go to the club,” he said, holding the card up for Matt to see before carefully putting it into his breast pocket. “And I know how to contact you.”

Matt beamed. “I’d be delighted if you did.” And he meant it, too.

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7 thoughts on “Even Vanilla Is An Achievement For Some People

  1. Aw, this was adorable. Good luck to them both! I appreciate Matt’s disinclination to mix professional and personal life and his commitment to safe sex. <3

  2. Awwww this is sweet and such a wonderful debut!
    I starting it going “oh yes, coffee shop story!” and then went “OH YES, HOOKER STORY!” :D I love a good sex work meet cute, and narratively that was a very fun and smoothly done little bait and switch with 101 tropes. Matt and Robert are both so sweet – I love Matt’s mental clarity, ethics, and compassion, and I really feel for Robert! Even in the tiny glimpses we get of his past, it’s really palpable how much he loved his family and the idea of himself as a family man. His little moment of confusion “but I couldn’t talk to you!” was so sweet.
    At the end, I love the boundary that Matt sets, and the little wink nudge that leaves the door open for the possibility of more. Such a delightful story! I hope we see more from you soon. :)

  3. I started hooting and hollering as soon as you opened with a coffee shop. Hell yeah. But then it curveballs into a sex worker story?! YESSSSS

    Everyone needs a Sinéad in their life. Seriously.

    OHO. The classic fancy rich guy apartment, practically whisked in from a K-drama. Love it love it love it.

    Aww, Robert!! Poor guy. He’s really trying his best, isn’t he? And Matt is such a consummate professional and considerate lover. And ooh, I feel him on the flavored condoms. Blech.

    What a fun read!

  4. A story that deals with respectful depiction of sex work, figuring out one’s identity later in life, looking for community in addition to sexual satisfaction, AND an older, more established partner with a not-so-unrequited crush? Yes, please, that will do nicely.

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