Not for the first time that day, Patrick looked at the empty spot behind the cash where the business licence usually hung and wondered what had happened to it. David had closed alone the night before so that Patrick could get to baseball practice. He’d looked through their desk in the back room and under the counter, but it was nowhere to be seen. He could only assume that David had finally gotten sick of the frame that was “too corporate for his brand” and taken it down to put it in a more aesthetically pleasing frame. He didn’t mind if that was the case, not really, though he did have a slight sentimental attachment to the silver frame he’d agonized over before he’d known David.
At the sound of the bell, Patrick rushed out from the back room where he’d been unpacking a delivery, surprised to see it was David and, with a glance at the clock, even more surprised to realize that David wasn’t early.
David pressed a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth. When he pulled back, his mouth was pressed into a small smile, eyes twinkling.
Patrick fixed his eyes on David. “What’s going on?”
“Hi David, how was your morning? It was lovely Patrick, thanks so much.” David shimmied, just a little, as if he couldn’t contain himself.
“David. What’s going on?” Patrick couldn’t help but smile, wondering what had his boyfriend so excited, though he was doing his best to hide it.
“Nothing! I’m just gonna-“ he stepped past Patrick with a squeeze of his hip and moved into the back room.
Patrick shook his head and huffed a laugh. David would reveal whatever was going on soon, he was sure of it. When he was buzzing like this, he was rarely able to contain his excitement.
It was a busy afternoon, despite the cold. After cashing out several customers, Patrick looked down and noticed a rectangular parcel, wrapped in brown paper and black grosgrain ribbon on the counter. His name was written in the beautiful handwritten script he recognized from the Christmas cards David had sent to their vendors.
“David, what’s this?”
David didn’t turn around from where he was standing, lining up the body milk after customers had disturbed his display.
“David. Can you come here please?”
With one last adjustment to the stock, David turned around slowly, quickly pressing his lips together to hide the smile on his face. If Patrick hadn’t known him so well, he would have missed it.
“What’s this?” He held up the gift.
“It’s got your name one it, why don’t you open it and find out?”
David leaned on the counter, his eyebrows betraying his attempt at nonchalance.
“You already gave me a Christmas present, David. What’s this for?”
“It’s nothing! It’s just a little thing. Why do I need a reason to give you a gift? Open it!” He almost knocked it out of Patrick’s hands while gesturing for him to open it.
Patrick untied the ribbon, then unwrapped the gift. He heard David inhale sharply.
“Um, David. This is just our business licence.”
He looks up at David, but the twinkle in his eye told him he was missing something. He studied the licence again. Then he saw it.
Business name: Rose Apothecary
Proprietor/s: David Rose and Patrick Brewer
“Oh David,” Patrick’s eyes grew fond and he smiled his upside down smile. “When-how … how did you do this?”
“Turns out I can fill out paperwork when I’m not high.” He said with a wave of his hands, “and maybe Ronnie helped me. Just a little.”
Patrick just looked at David, unable to speak. He knew how significant this was, for David to truly give up total control of the one thing in his life that was truly just his. For all that he knew that David acted as if they were business partners, they hadn’t been and Patrick was more than happy with that. All he’d wanted was for David to succeed and to be part of that journey.
David brow creased. “Is, is this okay? It’s just, I realized before Christmas that even though this is our store, the licence didn’t say that and I wanted it to be yours too. Properly. This store wouldn’t be what it is without you. It should be yours as much as it is mine, on paper and-”
Patrick stopped David by kissing him hard, just a little more passionately than was strictly professional.
“I love you,” he said breathlessly. “This is more than okay, David … “ He switched gears, grinning. “But I’m surprised you didn’t change the frame, isn’t this the original frame? The one that you said was ‘a little too corporate for your brand’?”
“Someone told me that a business major in mid range denim spent a very long time choosing that frame and I decided that not appreciating that effort would be incorrect.”
“Okay David,” he said as he hung the frame in its rightful place.
David hung himself over Patrick’s shoulders, pressing a kiss to his temple as he looked at the frame.
“It might be too corporate for my brand. But it suits our brand.”