Mel stood behind the counter, polishing the wood to a mirror-like shine. It was the dip after the morning rush so only a few customers were left in the shop. One a professor named Valin, sat grading papers at a back booth, his head low as he frowned down at the assignment in his hand. The wrinkle of his nose showing Mel that whoever had written it had gotten the basic facts wrong. Two girls, Karen and Sofie, sat at a table by the window with flashcards, Sofie giving the other a soft peck on the cheek for every word she got correct. Mrs. Herbert sat where she always did, a cup of tea in her hands and a cherry turnover in front of her. Mel was still amazed by the fact that his conservative neighbor would even set foot in his shop, but she seemed to really like Kiante's turnovers. Especially the cherry ones. Officer Castillo had already stopped by to get coffee for his department and Caleb had popped out to take coffee and pastries to his husband's law firm with a promise to be back in time for his shift. In fact, Mel had seen most of his early morning regulars except for one. Caden hadn't shown up for about a month. He'd just stopped showing up one day, which was odd since he'd showed up almost religiously for nearly two years. He was little more than a boy, still trying to figure himself out Mel supposed. Of course, he wished it hadn't involved sleeping with his employees, but they were all adults. It hadn't resulted in any broken hearts but Mel still didn't like it much. Of course, Caleb teased him that it was because he was attracted to the boy. Not that Mel could deny it. Caden was a bit taller than him with fluffy looking blond hair and pretty blue eyes...but Mel was too old for him. He'd be turning twenty-nine in two months making him almost ten years the boy's senior. Not to mention Mel was long past the age where sleeping around and one-night stands held any appeal. Though they hadn't held much appeal when he was twenty either. That was neither here nor there though. Even if he wasn't so much older there was nothing about him to appeal to anyone. He was incredibly slender, but not pretty enough to be feminine. His eyes didn't match and he was covered in freckles. Outside of his shop, he could barely even hold a conversation. Yet that knowledge didn't stop him from glancing at the door every time the bell went off, hoping that Caden would finally walk in. If just to assuage the fear that something had happened to the boy. With the sleeping around he could have gotten sick or hurt. What if someone had lured him somewhere and robbed him? Or had done worse? Mel couldn't imagine Caden having to go through anything like that. Despite the sleeping around, he seemed like such a good kid. Once more the bell chimed and Mel jerked his head up, but it was just Chris. His longtime employee gave him a smile and walked up to the counter to put on his apron. "Morning, Boss," the pretty brunette said as he stepped next to him, "Have you had a break yet?" Mel shook his head, "No, but I'm fine. Go into the kitchen real quick and get something to eat," Chris frowned, "Boss, you need a break, I'll eat when you come back," Mel looked towards the door again and Chris followed his gaze, "He still hasn't shown up?" "No," Mel sighed, "I hope nothing happened," Chris sat his hand on Mel's shoulder, "I'm sure he's fine. He's just a kid, perhaps he got busy?" "Maybe..." Mel turned his attention back to Chris, "I'll take my break and when I come back you can go eat. Kiante made blueberry turnovers today," Chris nodded as Mel's tone brokered no argument, "Ok, deal. Did you want me to start your tea while you go get something from the kitchen or?" Mel shook his head, "I've got it, just wipe down the machines please," Of course, Mel had already done it but Chris didn't argue instead turning to do as he was asked. Mel then removed his own apron and made his tea before taking a seat just by the door to watch the people who walked by the shop. Still looking for a familiar head of too pale hair.