"Yes!" Justin cheered, throwing his arms around Brian and almost hitting him in the process. He freed one hand long enough to accept the winning chip and waved it in front of Brian. When Brian groaned, Justin let him go, giving him a quick pinch before heading off to claim his winnings.
"Feeling lucky?" The handsome young man working the wheel of chance gave Brian
an enticing smile but Brian just motioned for him to spin the wheel. The
glittery, brightly-colored wheel was almost hypnotic as it spun and Brian had to
look away, instinctively searching for his equally hypnotic blond.
"Oooohhhh," the man said sympathetically as he handed Brian a plain white chip. "Come back and try again," he said, giving Brian another
long look before turning to the person who was waiting impatiently for his turn at the wheel.
"Brian!" Justin called, acting as if they weren't less than 50 meters apart. Brian navigated his way through the enthusiastic crowd to the relatively quiet corner that Justin had claimed.
"What did you win?" Justin demanded, his own prize displayed in all its glory on the table in front of him. Brian showed him the plain
chip and Justin frowned, thinking. "Well, it's not so bad. I've got plenty and anyway… "
"…ice cream is better at home." They finished together. While Justin was still grinning, Brian stole his spoon and took a big bite of his prize – the "Full House" ice cream sundae. It was a huge dish full of 13 different kinds of ice cream and toppings, all covered in whipped cream and topped with five cherries. The very thought of it was almost enough to make Brian turn green. On the other hand, Justin was in
heaven. And not just because he'd won free ice cream.
"I guess going to Vegas wasn't such a bad idea after all," Justin said between bites of sundae. "The grand opening's a success anyway."
"Just proves that good advertising can sell anything."
"An advertising genius can sell anything," Justin corrected as he waved a cherry at Brian. "Of course a good idea helps."
"All those years of college and you still ended up in food service. Your mother must be so disappointed."
"Yeah, you can see how depressed she is, over there with Debbie eating the 'Three of a Kind.'" Justin shifted, lifting up a bit to scan the
room. "Look, there's Emmett and Ted." Justin blinked then slowly sat down, laughing. "Emmett even dressed to match the rainbow sorbet."
Brian leaned back laughing. With a grin, he picked up a spoon and took a portion right out of the center of Justin's sundae. In self-defense,
Justin attacked the ice cream with intensity, making sure to get a lot of the toppings too. It gave Brian a minute to lean back and savor the
controlled chaos around them.
The room wasn't large, but they'd made good use of platforms to give it different levels and create the illusion of being a larger space. Lots of windows helped as did the light colors with bright accents. The décor was 50's soda shop by way of Vegas, with Justin's unique touch in everything from the murals to the napkin dispensers. Even the wheel of chance was his idea, with a few refinements added by Brian.
"Baby!" Emmett closed in on the relatively quiet corner, a "Four Aces" sundae in his hands while Ted followed with a "Two Pair." They dragged a table over and settled in, clearly ready to enjoy some conversation with their dessert.
"Explain this to me again," Emmett said between mouthfuls of marshmallow and hot fudge covered ice cream. "You go off to New York to become the next Warhol, land showings all over the world and yet five years later you're back in the Pitts opening an ice cream shop?"
"It was Brian's idea." Justin shrugged as he swirled a bit of pistachio nut ice cream, making it soft so he could sculpt it with his spoon. "He was tired of traveling."
"It must be quite a burden, jetting off to Paris or Prague," Ted said with mock sympathy. He had no real complaint – Brian's frequent and
prolonged absences meant more accounts, and more bonuses for the rest of the Kinnetik staff.
"How right you are," Brian agreed, stealing a bite of Ted's maple walnut ice cream. He made a face at the sweetness, then stole a second
"It was getting to be a problem," Justin admitted. "I spent more time on airplanes than in my studio and my work was getting…" Justin
trailed off, looking to Brian for help explaining the emptiness and frustration he'd been feeling when his art had become a job instead of
"Sweet." Brian finished the thought, then added, "like that caloric nightmare of a marsh you have in front of you." He put on his best treacly smile when Justin stuck out his tongue at him. It was a good analogy, though neither of them would ever reveal the details of Justin's not-so-minor meltdown. The trip to Vegas had been Brian's desperate attempt to pull his lover back together. He just hadn't imagined it was ice cream that would do the trick… metaphorically speaking.
They'd been too sore to risk staying in the hotel room so they'd wandered down to the casino and played whatever caught their fancy. Justin had ordered one of those horrible ice cream drinks and had been amusing himself by using the straw to sculpt the whipped cream while he watched Brian gamble. By the time he'd finished his third ice cream drink, Brian had won a substantial number of chips and Justin wasn't feeling at all sore.
Hours later, lying together sweaty and sated, Justin had started using the chips to build a little town on Brian's chest. He'd gotten only
partway through construction when he'd shouted, "Ice cream!" and tackled Brian. A few hours later they had imprints from chips in some
interesting places, but they also had a plan.
By the time they'd left Vegas Justin had rediscovered his passion, and his enthusiasm had reignited Brian's as well. The older man would
never admit it, but advertising wasn't as exciting as it had once been. But this… this was a whole new challenge.
Justin's mother found them the space, though they refused to tell her what they wanted a commercial building for. Debbie plied them with
enough food to feed armies, but she didn't get a word out of them about their project. Not even Ted, who was handling some of the finances knew the whole story.
It was only a few hours ago that they learned the truth, along with groups specially chosen to attend the grand opening. Everyone seemed
to love it – the idea of paying a dollar for a chance to spin the wheel. Everyone won some kind of ice cream treat. If you liked what you won, you paid nothing else. If you wanted something more you could choose from the extensive menu of everything from Lucky Dog hot dogs and Cash Cow hamburgers, to Salad Days salads. There was even a High Stakes area that would be opening next door. Emmett had agreed to design the menu and take on the job of manager at least until they got off the ground.
Justin had the space upstairs to paint or teach, or do whatever he wanted. He was playing with fabric sculptures these days and the large
open space was perfect for his experiments.
And Brian… well, he was looking forward to his own project – he loved a challenge after all. And the building he'd purchased midway between Kinnetik and Lady Luck Ice Cream was going to be quite a challenge. He looked over at Justin, who was crafting abstract shapes out of what was left of his ice cream.
Smiling, Brian decided it would take ingenuity and a little of his own personal luck to make that building into the perfect unconventional
castle for his very unconventional prince.
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