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Encounter at the Flirtatious Fox

M/M, Contemporary Romance, Meet Cute
[16 Pages / 3,000 Words]

Apple / BN / Kobo / SW

When Raleigh—a forty-something silver fox with a stubborn streak—decides it's time to buy his first sex toy, he refuses to retreat just because he has no idea what he's doing. The Flirtatious Fox is a perfect little shop to get his bearings, especially when a knowledgeable and unreasonably attractive employee comes to his rescue. Oliver is candid, enthusiastic, and shockingly easy to talk to. Raleigh won't cross any lines, but he'll take all the help he can get. (This short story is complete at 3,000 words.)


The space smells faintly of incense—an aroma more suggestive of the tiny occult bookstores his ex-girlfriend loves to frequent than a shop like this. But it's a pleasant scent, for all that he can't place the individual components, and there's something grounding and real about it. Something that does a remarkable job of counterbalancing the intense impression made by some of the more dramatic displays of leather gear and BDSM equipment.

The farther back Raleigh travels into the little shop, the more he realizes there is something endlessly charming in the study of contrasts laid out before him. Not just from the gentle aroma, but among the displays themselves. Hardcore accessories—most of which Raleigh can already tell aren't his personal cup of tea—sit on elegant display shelves alongside softer implements that absolutely are up his alley, despite a lack of hands-on experience. And every time he thinks he's seen the last of the literary offerings, he passes yet another bookcase: another category of kink instruction, or queer history, or erotica. All meticulously organized, all sorted onto matching shelves of sturdy mahogany.

Raleigh finds himself distracted from his mission multiple times by the titles on those spines, not to mention the occasional cover faced forward, and it takes conscious effort to wrench himself back on track.

He can shop for books later. He's on a specific mission today.

When Raleigh finally finds the product type he's actually looking for, he nearly turns right back around and retreats the way he came. If he thought the rest of the shop was a disorienting whirlwind of variety, he was not prepared for the ceiling-high shelf full of plugs and dildos. Christ, looking at this vast rainbow of options is already too much. He doesn't even know where to start.

He holds his ground by sheer stubbornness, refusing to be beaten by a display of silicone—and rubber—and probably half a dozen other materials, for all that he can tell from here.

Focusing on individual packages and display samples helps chase off the irrational surge of panic, even if it doesn't come anywhere near solving the conundrum of what Raleigh should actually buy. There are an apparently infinite variety of shapes, colors, styles, functions. Some are sleek and surprisingly stylish, others bulbous and bright and difficult to take seriously, for all that Raleigh can imagine both kinds feeling very, very good. Glossy or matte, translucent or opaque, a handful even come printed in patterns like plaid and polka-dot.

Intently as Raleigh is focused on the sprawling display, he startles when a lanky young man materializes at his elbow and says cheerfully, "You look a little overwhelmed. Can I help narrow things down a little?"

Raleigh's surprise sends only a fleeting twinge through his body, before calmer feeling returns. When he turns his head, he finds the young man grinning at him, bright and guileless and easy. He's almost exactly Raleigh's height, a skinny beanpole of a man standing perfectly at ease—at least, all of Raleigh's instincts tell him this is a man, though he stands prepared to adjust his assumptions at the slightest nudge.

The stranger looks as though there is nothing in the world that could possibly delight him more than helping a random boutique customer choose the perfect sex toy. And somehow, he manages to convey this sentiment without the slightest suggestion of being a creep.

Raleigh can't remember the last time an employee anywhere came across this genuinely friendly, and he's so immediately grateful that he feels ridiculous for it.

He's also not nearly prideful enough to turn down much-needed help. "Okay," he says, before he can overthink it. "Yes. That would be terrific, thank you."

"Great." The young man grins and sticks his hand out in an enthusiastic offer of a handshake. "I'm Oliver."

Apple / BN / Kobo / SW

Book cover, abstract textured pink behind whimsical white font: Encounter at the Flirtatious Fox
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 9798215817001
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