Cleve remembered him now. He was the one who rarely spoke at all. He was used to taciturn truck drivers, but he realized suddenly that the five words the man had just uttered were the most he could remember issuing from the man’s mouth. Usually it was “Coffee” or “Cherry” in response for what kind of pie he wanted or more likely just a grunt of assent or a long-suffering glare in answer to a question. He remembered Ginny had tried her charms on the man to get him to say more, but the man was even less forthcoming with her.
“Coffee?” Cleve offered, stifling a chuckle at his own one-word question.
He had to turn to the coffee urn to hide his smile when the man grunted in reply.
Turning back with the hefty mug in his fist, he saw that the weathered man had seated himself on the far-end stool as was his custom. He brought the mug down and put it in front of the man, then reached to shove the sugar dispenser closer.
“You want cream?”
The man looked up from the mug and nodded. “Spoon be handy too,” he said with a note of mockery in his voice.
Cleve fetched the canned milk that passed for cream thereabouts and a spoon, snagged a napkin from the holder and put them all in front of the man. “Hope you aren’t planning to drive in that,” he observed.
The man looked up at him, over to the window, and back to his coffee into which he was pouring quite a lot of sugar. He grunted noncommittally.
“You got a bunk in that rig? I mean, I don’t think you’re going anywhere tonight. It’s almost fifty miles to the junction. The way it’s blowing out there you wouldn’t get fifty yards.”
The man shrugged one bony shoulder. “You think so, huh?”
Cleve stepped back from the counter. “Suit yourself.”
He watched the man as he drank his coffee, still trying to remember his name if he’d ever known it.
Not a remarkable man, really—gangly and angular, with a long neck and a protruding Adam’s apple. Cleve wasn’t sure how old he was. He could be his own age, twenty-six or thereabouts, or he could be as old as forty. He had a dried-out, discontented look. Cleve twisted his lips in disappointment.
If he was going to be stuck in the diner overnight with some guy, unable to get back to his magazine, at least if the man was friendly and garrulous he wouldn’t be bored. But this guy was worse than being alone.
“That all you got on the jukebox?”
The man’s words startled Cleve out of his contemplation. “What do you mean? Country and Western?”
“Naw, damned love songs.”
“You don’t like love songs?” Cleve asked. He registered that Jimmy Wakely was pouring out “I Love You So Much It Hurts” on the box.
“Just said so, didn’t I?”
Cleve frowned. “Hey, it’s your nickel. Play what you want.” He turned and set to wiping his counter with a damp cloth.
Just a taste. A TASTE OF HONEY goes on sale at www.dreamspinnerpress.com today, in ebook and paperback.
Some of these reviews by Kit Moss reprinted with permission from MM Good Book Reviews. His reviews can also be found on GLBT Bookshelf. Learn more about Kit Moss at Shield-wall Productions.
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