Twenty-one and Legal

“The Brewer’s Backstory” – Episode 15

November 2005

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

Brad pulled the old Chevy Blazer into his parking space and killed the engine. He got out, grabbed his backpack and headed for the stairs to the second-floor apartment he’d shared with Maddy for the last three months.

It was barely November, but the cold night air carried the smell of winter. Before long, snow and ice would add that extra dimension to his nighttime drive from work. He was worn out and smelled like the kitchen of Funky Flatirons, where he’d spent the evening. He took the stairs two at a time, ready as he was every Tuesday and Thursday this semester, to get home after thirteen plus hours at school and work.

Tonight, though, was different. He could hardly wait to share his big news. At the top of the stairs, his heart sank when he saw the dark window of their apartment. Maddy hadn’t let him know she planned to be out. He stuck his key in the lock and opened the door to discover that she had left a light on in the kitchen. Relieved to be out of the cold, he dropped his backpack.

Softly, Maddy’s voice came from the kitchen, singing a breathy happy birthday to you. A cake, candles lit, appeared in the kitchen doorway. She finished the song and moved into the doorway. The skimpy lingerie she wore looked like something out of Playboy. “Come get your cake and your present, birthday boy.”

“Can I open the present first?” he asked, moving toward her slowly.

“Naughty boy. Better blow out the candles before we set the apartment on fire.”

“I’m already on fire.” Who cared about the cake?

“Really?” She smiled and raised the cake with one hand. Her legs, her best asset, were on full display. She wore a semi-transparent top, fastened only by a bow.

“Let me help you,” she said in that sensuous voice that had mesmerized him from the day they met. She pulled one end of the bow and the top fell open to reveal a push-up bra doing its job and lacy bikini panties. “Don’t forget to blow out the candles,” she cooed.

Inches from the cake, Brad stared into her eyes and blew a single breath long breath. He took the cake from her hands and put it on the kitchen counter. He wrapped Maddy’s thin, warm body in his arms and, as he kissed her, reached to squeeze her firm butt. “Oh, my God. A thong?”

“Part of your present,” she said, unzipping his jeans.

When they had finished making love, they lay naked on the living room floor. Brad cradled her in his arms. “You cold?”


“What do you say we go to bed and eat the cake for breakfast?”

“Whatever the birthday boy wants.”

Arms around each other, they hurried to the bedroom and snuggled under the blanket and comforter. His news could wait.


Brad woke to the smell of coffee, sunlight streaming through the window and Maddy’s side of the bed empty. He lay under the covers, enjoying the warmth. He was twenty-one. He had waited so long for this day and the world that now opened up to him. He stretched and got up, ready for his first day of legal adulthood.

In the bathroom, he found Maddy’s lingerie draped over the bathtub. He felt the stupid grin break out again. He had fallen for her hard from the day they met. His parents hadn’t approved of them living together, but there wasn’t much they could do, short of cutting him off financially, and as he had figured, they weren’t willing to go there. He took a quick shower and hurried to the kitchen.

He preferred his usual toast, but he didn’t want to disappoint Maddy. She rarely cooked, and she’d baked a whole cake for him. “Coffee and cake for breakfast?”

“Birthday cake for the birthday boy,” Maddy said, coming over to French-kiss him. “Twenty-one and legal.”

“Finally,” Brad said. It was time to break the news. “By the way, yesterday, Ted officially offered me a position in the brewery.”

“That’s great, Brad! It’ll mean more money, right?”

“A little.” She looked disappointed. “I’ve been dreaming about this day since high school. It’s what I’ve been working toward ever since I started at Funky Flatirons. It’s not so much about the salary as the experience.” He paused to see if she understood. He couldn’t read her face. “Once I graduate, I’ll be able to write my ticket.”

“Well,” she said, looking relieved, “congratulations. Ready for some cake?”

“I can’t say no to homemade cake.”

“Um, store-bought, actually.” She pulled the cake from the refrigerator and removed the plastic cover. “Oops, maybe I should have taken out the candles last night. Sorry about the blue spots in the frosting and the holes,” she said, plucking candles and tossing them in the sink.


As Brad expected, both his parents and his sister Natalie left voicemail messages with birthday greetings. Around six, he called his parents, knowing they’d be home from work. After a happy birthday duet on speakerphone, his dad immediately asked, “Any word from Ted?”

Jim Peters had been his son’s biggest brewing supporter from the start. Over the years, he had celebrated Brad’s brewing successes almost as much as Brad. “Yeah, Dad, I’ve got some news.” He paused to let the excitement build. “He offered me a part-time brewing job.”

“Oh, my gosh, congratulations, Brad!” his mother squealed.

“When I think back to our early brewing adventures here in the kitchen,” his father said. “Well, you’ve come a long, long way, a lot further than your old man.”

Brad wished he were standing in the kitchen with his parents. He’d give each of them a big hug. He knew his Dad would shake his hand, man to man. “If it hadn’t been for you, Dad, I might not have discovered brewing.”

“We’ll never know, will we? Give us a heads up a few days before your inaugural beer goes on tap. Your mother and I will drive up to Boulder. Invite all your friends—the ones twenty-one and over. We’ll buy them all a round.”

“Thanks, Dad, hearing you say that really means a lot to me.”

“You’ve given us a lot to celebrate. I’m really proud of you, son.”

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