Chapter 1

Kurt was exhausted. Long hours at the shop and trying to push through his first round of taxes were taking its toll on his skin. Looking in the mirror you could see dark circles under his eyes that indicated more than a few restless nights. Was there a point of no return? Could you be so tired that your body didn't even accept sleep? By the time he finally fell into bed, he has to fall asleep within 10 minutes for it to even be worth it.

He can't complain too much, he did kind of bring this on himself…the long hours anyway, the slow sinking into depression? Not so much. He was still bitter under many covered layers from not getting into NYADA and not having the balls or the courage to apply again. However, after his dad's 3rd heart scare, he wasn't taking any chances. So for now, being the new owner of Books & Brews, a new bookshop and coffee-house, in Cleveland would have to do. There was still a bit of a drive but it was nowhere near the drive from New York. And to be honest, that's 90% of his problems right now…not being in New York. Cleveland is alright…it's better than Lima, that's for sure.

He had dismissed all of Ohio when he was younger, thinking the entire state was a backwards, homophobic, horrible piece of land that should not be allowed on Earth. He's grown up a lot since then. Reality hit like a ton of bricks and ready or not, he had to start doing something with those bricks. He enjoys his life; for the most part…he tries to ignore the persistent tug of loneliness in his chest. He keeps it buried underneath a huge pile of denial right next to his heart. Hell, he's not even talking about falling in love anymore; his only friends are his cat and two coworkers. Pam, the other owner is a great friend but she's more of the crazy aunt he never had. John is the part-time "counter boy" who takes orders and fills the trays on busy days. There's another worker but Alison is such a bitch, she doesn't get counted on that list. Other than those two people and the cat…he's alone in Cleveland. He has no family except his dad, Carole, and Finn. Finn went to Ohio State for about 2 semesters and then decided to just work for Burt for a while. He never really did find his place in life…or at least the workforce.

He is 25 and has been out of college for three years. Like Finn, he went to Ohio State, but he lasted a little longer than Finn. While he wasn't performing anymore, he did find comfort in the little things, like books. It wasn't until his first literature class that he found his love for reading. Before, the task always seemed so mundane or troublesome. It was "wasting time he could use for singing." Now that his Broadway debut was cut short, he had to find a new dream…he had simply outgrown his old one. While owning a bookshop/coffee-house was marginally less glamorous than the lights of Broadway, he is happy. He likes the idea of grabbing a book and escaping. You can completely live in another world, be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do, and that freedom is exciting once you harness it.

Of course, the coffee house side of his business stemmed from addiction. If he was going to be up all night stocking this place and keeping alphabetical order, he would need reinforcements. Business came and went but overall, he was doing very well for himself. Maybe this was the universe's way of making it up to him. After all, it already took his mother, first kiss, and his dreams. It was the least it could do, right? He had just finished grinding some new coffee beans to try out that he got in last week when the door opened. This time of the year didn't see much snow, but there was a huge cold front coming though and the snow was starting to thicken. It was only the beginning of November, but there's nothing like a little holiday spirit right?

-Kurt's POV-

There was coughing and hacking coming from the man who walked in. God he better not spread germs. The last thing I need is to be stuck with a cold. I don't ever get sick, but when I do, I really, really get sick. The man still had is back to me, he was kicking off the snow that had stuck to his boots, and trying to get his umbrella into the stand by the door. The first thing my eyes were drawn to was the dark curly head of hair, god that was a great head of hair…I bet it would be soft.

The next thing I couldn't help but notice was that truly fabulous jaw line, I mean seriously, I thought only Burberry models had a jaw like that, and even they probably have plastic surgery. What I wasn't ready for in the least, was to be sucked into his warm, honey-colored eyes. They say the eyes are the window to the soul but if that's true than this must be a freaking double wide door. Is it weird to say I felt as if an electrically charged string connected us and made me all warm and tingly?

What am I talking about? Of course that's weird.

"It's really picking up out there, isn't it? Can I help you with something? Our newest arrivals are set up over there, older books are over there, children's books are in that direction, and the books that are on sale are over there…although you look like you could use a cup of coffee? Tea perhaps?" I said, ignoring the string and the tingling feeling. What surprised me the most was my ability to say that mouthful of ramblings, but something about this guy kept me comfortable and easy going.

"Oh coffee sounds wonderful right now actually…you're a saint." Tingly string guy said, sniffling. Oh yes…I'm thinking he's definitely sick.

He sounds sick, but underneath that is a voice that did weird things to my stomach.

"Regular coffee, or?" I always say you can judge a person by their coffee order.

"Americano, light room for cream…if it's not any trouble."

Oh I like him. Simple, sophisticated, but not snobby enough to pretend he doesn't want cream in his coffee. No. Stop this. There is no way you're starting on number 4 of your growing list of straight man crushes. That's not even counting celebrities. This tingly string, Americano, gorgeous human being, might not even be gay. Actually…because of my luck…I'm 80% positive he isn't gay.

"Grande Americano, light room for cream for…" This was my subtle, if not obvious way of asking for his name. Hopefully he doesn't see right through it.

"Blaine, my name's Blaine. And you are?"

Blaine. That suits him. It's interesting and extremely cute.

"Kurt Hummel, it's nice to meet you Blaine. That's quite a cold you have there, I can see the weather hasn't been too kind to you." God, my attempts at small talk were pathetic. I need to get out more.

He chuckled, but that caused a round of coughing. "Yeah, I usually get this about twice a year…I know to expect it. I'm sorry, I hope I don't get you sick, I promise I won't be long, I just have one book I'm looking for."

I'm not sure if I want him to leave so soon. What's scary is, I don't even really care if I get sick, just as long as I get another minute trying to figure out who this man is.

"Well if I end up hacking and coughing, I'm calling you and you can come take care of me. How's that for payback?" Good lord…I call that flirting?

Oh but it must have worked because that grin? To die for. I would do anything to make sure he never stops smiling.

"Don't worry; I'm sure between me and my chicken noodle soup recipe, you'd be better in no time." Was he flirting back? Am I too late to jump back in the "he might be gay boat?"

"What book are you looking for; I might be able to help you find it?" I laugh and change the subject before I start over thinking things. That always leads to disaster.

"The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, I read about it in Time Magazine and I've meant to read it for a while now. I don't know what made me stop by here tonight, but I'm glad I did."

Ah yep, that was definitely flirting. Wasn't it?