**Remember Ash and Travis from The Glass Heart? This week’s challenge was the perfect opportunity to revisit them. Today I bring you what happens when there’s a blizzard and some harmless flirting. Enjoy!**
The storm was promising to be a good one. In fact, the weather forecasters were claiming it would be the blizzard of the century. Since they had already predicted one of those this season that had turned out to be anything but, Ash wasn’t too worried. The snow had been falling steadily for the past few hours, but there was only a couple of inches accumulation. If it continued at this rate for the entire time they expected the storm front to be hovering over their region, there’d be eight inches of new snowfall. Max. The city was more than equipped to deal with that. But it didn’t stop Ash and Travis—as well as everyone else—from making plans to hole up and wait for the storm to pass.
Which was why Ash had dutifully followed along when Travis suggested hitting up the grocery store and laying in some necessities. In the last couple of months, ever since Travis had given Ash the ornament and declared he’d no longer be looking for entertainment on the side, things had been so good between them. They still didn’t live together, and Ash was fine with that. They spent nights together more often than not, either at Travis’ house or Ash’s apartment. They had talked, fucked like bunnies, and just generally grown even closer than before. Ash was happy.
Except right at this moment when he was seething with anger and holding the shopping bags. He tried to keep it in check, because an explosion in the nearly empty grocery store would do no good. But he felt a tick in his cheek as he stood and watched his boyfriend fucking flirt with the little twink at the register.
He was a cute, young thing, Ash would admit. But with the storm raging outside and the need to get home before it got any worse, did Travis really need to stand there directing a salacious grin and bright, sparkling eyes at the young man? The cashier laughed at something Travis said as Travis handed over the money. Ash knew it wasn’t his imagination that the cashier’s fingers stroked across Travis’ palm when he handed back the change. And then Travis, fuck him, actually winked. Ash saw red. The moment Travis started walking in his direction, Ash turned on his heel and all but stomped out of the store.
He thought they were done with that. Travis hadn’t been with another guy in months, and he’d told Ash that he’d got his screwing around out of his system. They’d had so many long talks after the ornament about how Travis was ready to settle down and commit fully to Ash. But now Ash had to wonder if this was something he’d have to live with for the rest of his life. It was one thing before, when he knew getting involved with Travis would mean sharing him. It was something else entirely now that Travis had committed to monogamy.
The remote car starter had the car nice and toasty by the time Ash reached it. He threw the grocery bags into the back seat and grabbed the snow brush to swipe the excess snow off the windows and hood. Travis was rushing to catch up, his boots sliding on the slick pavement as he hurried. Ash almost called out a warning for him to be careful so he didn’t fall, but then decided it would be apt punishment for Travis to get a wet butt.
Ash slammed his door shut just as Travis yanked his open, sitting down in the passenger seat and shuddering as the blast of heat hit him. Ash turned the key and stepped on the brake, ready to pull out of the parking space when Travis’ hand landed on his arm.
“Baby?” Travis queried, his voice low and confused. “Where the fuck is the fire?”
“We have to get home,” Ash bit out. He carefully backed up, hearing the tires crunch on the newly fallen snow.
Travis was silent for a beat. “Ashton, what’s the matter?”
Ash snorted out a mirthless laugh. As if it wasn’t obvious what the problem was. He shook his head. “Not now. I have to concentrate.”
It was only about a six block drive back to Travis’ house, but only half of that was on well plowed and salted roads. The last couple of blocks was all side streets, ones the city didn’t deem a priority. Fortunately, Ash’s little SUV had all wheel drive and though he could only go twenty miles an hour, he made it to the driveway without slipping and sliding too much. They’d shoveled the sidewalk and driveway before they left, and there was only a bit of new accumulation. It would keep for a while. Ash retrieved the shopping bags while Travis climbed the steps on the porch and unlocked the front door. Ash stomped his boots on the wooden porch to shake off the extra snow, and let Travis take the bags as he removed his outerwear.
Travis stood there in his socks, holding the bags and staring hard at Ash. “Please tell me what the fuck.”
“You,” Ash bit out, his anger rising again. “Flirting with the cashier like I wasn’t standing three feet away. Did you offer him a nice warm place to wait out the storm? Should I make plans to sleep on the couch while you see to him in your bed?”
“Whoa, Ash, stop.” Travis’ tone was confused. And a little pissed off. “What the hell? Why would you even think that? You know I’m committed to you.”
“You were flirting!” Ash ground out, his glare accusatory.
Travis blinked. “Um, yes? And?”
“You said you weren’t going to see other guys anymore! And yet you were flirting right in front of me!”
Travis was silent for a long moment, then he carefully set the bags on the floor. When he straighted up, he took Ash’s hands in his own and made sure he was looking Ash right in the eye. “Yes, I was flirting. He was cute. But flirting and hooking up are so not the same thing. It was harmless, I promise. I flirt because I breathe, but I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Ash looked at the sincerity in Travis’ face and completely deflated. Of course. He should have realized. Flirting really was harmless, as long as Travis didn’t take it any further. And if he were completely honest with himself, Ash probably would have flirted with the cashier a little bit himself. He’d been that cute. Suddenly all his righteous indignation seemed ridiculous and Ash felt bad for all his anger. He trusted Travis, he always had, and a little flirting shouldn’t have changed that.
“Sorry,” Ash mumbled, unable to look Travis in the eye. “I overreacted.”
Travis’ chuckled was warm, and he pulled Ash into his arms. “Yeah, you did. But I kind of like the possessiveness. As long as it doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t trust me, and we can talk about it, it’s not that big of a deal.” Travis’ hands made soothing motions up and down Ash’s back.
“Yeah,” Ash agreed. He took a deep breath of Travis scented air, smelling nothing but the snow and the man himself. “Okay.”
“Good.” Travis pulled back and looked Ash in the eye. “Now, how about we put this food away and snuggle up in front of the fire? There’s a blizzard happening, you know. Perfect opportunity to keep each other warm.” He added a suggestive eyebrow waggle that had Ash grinning.