"We have several new vendors for this year's Capital City Farmer's Market, including Udderly Delicious, an organic goat dairy concentrating on yogurt --" There was polite applause when Brie gestured to the young farmers. "-- Tongues On Fire, a specialty pepper farmer, and Shangri-La, Cookies from Heaven." Kenny Lee waved a hand in the air, and the other vendors gave him a hand. "Big Bill's Cookies has been the only cookie vendor for two years. It's always good to have a bit of friendly competition. Kenny Lee, can you tell us about your cookies?"
"I'm using all organic ingredients," he said, "and I'm concentrating on the gourmet market. The best ingredients and special care. I would suspect the more sophisticated market patron will like my cookies."
Big Bill gave a tiny cough behind his hand. "So if people want a plain old chocolate chip or an oatmeal raisin, they'll still have to come to me?" Big Bill was only his name during market season. The rest of the year he went by his real name, Julio.
Kenny Lee ignored him. "If people want, for instance, Scottish shortbread made with unrefined cane sugar, from a two-hundred-year-old recipe, or a sugar cookie with rose ganache and candied rose petals, or perhaps a Medjool date stuffed with almond paste and lavender, they can come to Shangri-La. If you want a Chocolate McChip, you can go to Big Bill's."
Brie patted Julio on the shoulder. His face had turned as pink as rose ganache. "I can see this is going to be an exciting year for cookies! Maybe we can hear now from Tongues on Fire."
When the pepper farmer stood up to speak, Kenny Lee leaned forward, stared at Julio until the other man turned around. They locked eyes, and Kenny Lee made a sudden slicing gesture across his neck. Julio just grinned at him, jerked his fist up and down between his legs. Kenny Lee sat back. It was indeed going to be an interesting season for cookies.
Kenny Lee had run into Julio a few weeks earlier. It had been a couple of years since they finished cooking school together. Julio had snagged the primo job, as sous chef at Naropa Cafe, the best organic vegan cafe in Boise. Kenny Lee had been happy for a job as sous chef at the Plaza Grill. He liked it okay, though they strayed very far from the principles of the Slow Food movement, and slow food was his passion. Julio had hugged him, dragged him off for an espresso with a dab of whipped cream and a shaving of dark chocolate on top.
"Kenny Lee, I saw your mom the other day. She was wearing this t-shirt that said 'One Tough Mother.' Scared me a little. She was with this whole group of women doing a march or something. They looked pissed and ready to rumble. What was she protesting?"
"Could be anything. She's a storm trooper for the National Organization of Women. She puts on those boots, I make myself scarce, you know what I mean? How's Naropa?"
"I quit six months ago." He shook his head. "Kenny Lee, you would not believe it. Nobody cares about good food anymore. It's all about money, making money, saving money, cutting corners. I couldn't take it. So I went to the Gamekeeper's Lodge."
Kenny Lee goggled at him. "Are you kidding me? That steak and potato palace? What are you doing there?"
"Suffering, bud. But I've got my own little moneymaker, a cookie booth at the farmer's market. I'm saving up. I've got a plan. For the future."
"Hey, I was thinking about doing a pie booth at the farmer's market!"
"No way, man. The Amish ladies have the pie market sewn up. Why don't you do a cookie booth? A little friendly competition can only be good for business. Just don't expect me to do slow food anymore. I've resigned. America wants cheap and supersized, and that's what I'm going to give them."
Julio was waiting for him outside the market meeting, leaning against the brick wall of the Idaho Building. "Chocolate McChip? You're such a dick. And candied rose petals on a cookie in Boise? Good luck with that." He nibbled on a tiny pastry, no bigger than his thumb. Kenny Lee came to attention like a hound dog pointing. Julio had been the top of their class in pastry. To hear that Julio had turned away from the purity of the Slow Foods movement was on par with Anakin Skywalker turning toward the Dark Side.
"What's that you're eating?"
Julio held another tiny pastry out to him. "Nothing. Just a little snack."
Kenny Lee studied the tiny tart. It looked like a shortbread crust, and the filling? He sniffed. Something rich and Mediterranean... He took a nibble. Oh, man. Pure butter shortbread, Sicilian salt, and the filling was fig and a tiny bit of chopped, fresh cherry. He closed his eyes, let the buttery crust melt across his tongue. Butter and figs, something about that combination always went straight to his balls. He cleared his throat, and hoped Julio wouldn't notice the unfortunate bulge in his Levi's. Or if he noticed, he would be a gentleman and not...
"Looks like you're about ready to let your big dog off the leash. Why don't you come on upstairs with me?"
Kenny Lee rubbed both hands down across his face. "We shouldn't be sleeping together, now we're competitors."
"I don't think a couple of dueling cookie stands at the farmer's market comes under the same type of competition as, say, Olympians going for the same gold, or small countries..."
Kenny Lee held up his hand in surrender. "Okay, you made your point."
"Come on, then." Julio tugged him inside, pulled him into the elevator by his sleeve, and when the doors closed he brought another tiny tart from a paper bag in his pocket. "Try this one."
Key Lime burst on Kenny Lee's tongue, and he moaned with pleasure. He'd just managed to swallow when Julio backed him into the corner of the elevator and pushed the emergency stop button. "Let me taste," he said, hands soft against Kenny Lee's cheeks, and he kissed him like his mouth was the most delicious mouth he had ever tasted.
Busy hands moved down his chest, flipped open the button on a pair of old Levi's, and Julio slipped a hand down Kenny Lee's jeans and into his boxers. "There he is. I've got some strawberry cream upstairs..."
"Where did you get the strawberries?" Kenny Lee felt Julio's big hand wrap gently around his cock, give a long, slow stroke.
"Oregon," he said, breath warm in Kenny Lee's ear. "Organic, picked two days ago by virgins who bathed in goat's milk before they went into the fields. Come on, Kenny Lee," he said, smiling down and kissing Kenny Lee lightly on the mouth. He still had his cock in one big fist. He reached over and released the emergency stop button. "Let's see a smile."