Jesse looked around his shop and saw that it was empty of customers. Just a few minutes earlier there had been a rush, which made Jesse happy. Of course, what small business owner wouldn’t be happy making money. For Jesse, the game store he had built up from scratch when he came to Stanton’s Cove, California, was a labor of love. For five years he poured his heart and soul into creating a fun and inviting space for anyone that wanted to delve into the world of tabletop gaming.
Jesse knew he was taking a risk opening a shop in a touristy location like Stanton’s Cove, but the area had called to him on a level that no place he had lived previously ever had. Looking up at the clock, Jesse noticed that it was nearing dinner time and when his assistant manager, Amelia, was due in. Standing up from his desk at the front of the store where he was doing paperwork, Jesse went to pour himself a cup of coffee, then made his way to the deck that jutted out from the shop and had chairs, tables, and a few outdoor couches made for the type of seaside weather Stanton’s Cove was known for.
Standing at the railing, Jesse still had a good view of the shop and he trusted the people in the town. The time of year was slower, the summer season had begun to wane and the cool of fall started to tinge the air. Smiling Jesse leaned forward and sipped his coffee and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long for what he was looking for. Daniel, sweet, wonderful, protective, and loving Daniel was on his nightly run. Jesse smiled as he sipped his coffee and his heart swelled with that undefinable feeling he had deep in his heart. It was more than love. The emotions were sometimes too hard for him to describe, even to his partner. There were nights when it was overwhelming the emotion he had for the other man. Jesse sipped as Daniel ran by and looked up with that smile that he reserved just for Jesse.
The relationship had started a few months after Jesse had moved to Stanton’s Cove. Jesse had bought the abandoned shop and immediately started to transform it into Table Fun Games and Coffee. Daniel was the carpenter Jesse had hired to help him with shelving, the counters for the game shop and the coffee shop, as well as all the tables inside and out. Jesse had not wanted something store-bought, he wanted new, unique, and adjustable for any manner of game.
At first, Jesse had tried to deny the attraction. One of the many reasons Jesse had never truly found his place previously was his inability to come to terms with his own sexuality. He had left a string of heartbroken women in his wake and it was Daniel’s unwavering patience that drew Jesse out of his denial. It wasn’t an easy road. Jesse could admit to an emotional breakdown or two, even a few drunken nights where his deep seeded internalized homophobia had kept him back from being who he truly was. When he finally let himself admit not only his feelings for Daniel but the undeniable fact that he was gay it was like a lead weight he had been carrying for most of his life had just disappeared.
That isn’t to say that admitting it to Daniel was easy, or that there weren’t issues in with some of the townspeople, but Daniel just smiled, kissed Jesse and held his hand. Eventually, the townspeople backed down and accepted them as a couple. There was still prejudice, but the two of them weathered it together. It helped immensely that the townspeople liked Daniel and knew that he was gay for most of his life. There were days Jesse still struggled, still tried to hide, and Daniel never pushed. He always let Jesse feel those feelings and push through them. It made Jesse love Daniel that much more.
Jesse watched as Daniel ran farther down the beach, but he knew Daniel would come back. Daniel had a routine which somehow made everything a little easier. Jesse took another sip of his coffee and let his gaze wander up to the slowly darkening sky. The light was near perfect as Daniel came back down, but this time Sam, their son, was on his shoulders, laughing and pointing forward. That was a long story for another time, a long hard fought battle that Daniel and Jesse won in the end. The boy was happy and his laughter rang out making Jesse smile.
“Papa!” Sam cried out and waved his hand as his beautiful smile crossed his face. Jesse felt that swell of emotions once more as he waved back.
“Hey, Kiddo,” Jesse yelled back. For a moment Jesse thought that maybe they needed a dog as well. That image, Sam with a big, rambunctious dog running together, playing, and getting into all kinds of shenanigans had Jesse laughing to himself. Pulling back from the railing, his cup empty, Jesse mulled the idea of a dog over in his mind. It was something to discuss with Daniel after their wedding in just a few short weeks. The final piece to the puzzle that was his family. Jesse turned back towards the shop and saw Amelia settling in behind the counter signaling it was time for Jesse to go home.