I’m posting this a tad early because I’ll be out of town tomorrow for a work event, so I hope you guys like this week’s installment!
This week’s FFF prompt was:
One of your characters has lost something important. Do they find it easily and stop what could have been a disaster? Do they go on a quest to find it? Is a relationship put through the ringer because of the lost “something” in question?
I decided for Logan to lose his faith in Chris. Just for a little while. ;) And just because, here’s a mini playlist that I used to write this week for you all to enjoy:
Lorde – Ribs (Ryan Hemsworth “Let’s Have A Sleepover” Version)
Fitz and The Tantrums – The Walker
Miami Horror – Real Slow ft. Sarah Chernoff
Sam Smith – Latch (Acoustic) ****SOOOO GOOD!!!! Unngggggh his voice! Damn…****
That is all,
P.S. It’s just me posting this Friday. Wynter is taking a week off and Elaina might post this weekend, so check up on blog later. Thanks!
A Nanny Tale: Week 6
His mouth is soft. His lips slow as he claims his kiss. His rough fingertips from years of cooking and baking graze my cheeks, trace my stubbly jaw down to my chin, where his fingers meet and start a path back up to my temples. My muscles give into his laidback treatment; my upper body deflates of power as he presses his weight on top of me, pushing me into the mattress in the most delicious way.
We move. Fitting our limbs together, his firm thighs finding home between mine, we stretch out with toes and ankles rubbing against one another.
His kiss is stronger than I would have imagined, strong in the sense that he knows what he’s doing. Maybe he’s dreamed of what he’s wanted for so long that he’s finally able to bring it to fruition, or there’s a possibility I’m not the first man he’s tried this on. Whatever the reason for his talented lip lock, he has me entranced and kissing him back.
I’m not jealous of his fumbled past encounters because they don’t fit in this bed with us. What matters to me is Chris is acting like the man I know he is, not the coward he hides behind. He gives in to me. He gives into himself. It’s pretty fucking beautiful if you ask me.
You know what’s even better than giving in? Making out. The slow, lazy kind of kissing and touching that’s reserved for Sunday mornings, when you first wake up and neither of you care if you’ve brushed your teeth or if you hair looks like you’ve just put your finger in a light socket. It’s the brand of making out two people who know each other on a deeper level share when they just want the other to know how they feel, how glad they are to wake up together, next to each other.
While it’s not Sunday morning, he kisses me like it is, like the only thing we have to worry about is how comfortable the bed is and what kind of coffee to make in an hour. Or two.
He kisses me as if my tongue tastes of cotton candy; the warm, wet flat of his muscle licking at mine to receive another taste. And when the one lick seems insufficient to him, he steals another. He explores my mouth and I return the favor until I’m barely breathing or just forgetting how to. To me, air is overrated anyway.
I’ve never been kissed like this; like I matter. Like my pleasure is a gift and if he puts in a bit more effort, the reward will be greater for both of us. I want to drink him dry of the heat flowing out of him. I want him to pull me as close as he can, no space between us, and be held in his arms until the sun rises the next day.
It’s a scary feeling; being this deep with someone. I don’t know when or how it happened, but I’m there and he’s snagged me. I can’t let go now. Even if he decides in a few minutes this was an epic mistake… I’ll still be here because my legs are boneless underneath him. I couldn’t run away if I tried.
As his lips drift from mine and he moves lower to sample my neck, I burrow the back of my head into the pillow and let those heartbreaking what ifs drift away. He hasn’t left me yet. He has no intention to. I hope and pray this lasts forever, that my gut is wrong and this is right.
I want him—all of him. I will pay whatever price he asks to buy another second with him. I’m a goner.
“You’re more,” he whispers in my ear. “So much more.”
His hands snake under my shoulders. He snares me, embraces me, let’s me feel everything he’s feeling. The tremble in his body, a tremor fashioned not by sorrow but relief—that’s when I know he’s mine too.
He sags against me. Settles his body around my side so he won’t crush me after he decides he’s taken his kisses as far as he’s ready to go. What he gave me was enough for now. I would never push him into anything he wasn’t prepared for, and his kiss was such a colossal step that I’m left dizzy. Truthfully, I don’t think I could physically or emotionally handle more than kissing right now anyway.
Most guys would call bullshit. But most guys have never been kissed the way I just was.
“Hmm?” he rumbles in my ear.
“What am I to you?”
He’s quiet to the point I think he fell asleep on me, but then he surprises me by saying, “Can I let you know in the morning?”
“Don’t forget,” I whisper.
“Kind of hard to.” He smiles against my neck. His lashes tickle me as he closes his eyes.
I’m the first to wake up. When I do, it’s to a scene I never imagined I’d find myself in. Chris is still wrapped around me on one side. However, on the other side, a gigantic stuffed fish is shoved under my arm and a skinny little leg with astronaut print pajamas is slung over my calf. I lift my head as far as I can to find Joey sprawled out like a starfish, half off the bed with his head lolled to the side.
When he came to join us, I have no idea, but he’s so cute I can hardly bring myself to move him, despite my need to relieve myself. The need grows until I have to carefully start prying limbs off of me. The tangle sorts itself out and just when I think I’m free, Joey stirs and sits up like he’s risen from the dead. His blond hair is sticking straight up. His blue eyes are unfocused but wide. I’m hoping he’s still asleep and will keel back over and pass out.
We’re both startled. We stare at each other—him with this bleary eyed expression of confusion and me with the horror that he’s not asleep and has realized where he is and that I was in bed with his dad. It’s way too early for this talk. I’m not the one who is supposed to have it with him. That’s for the man passed out a few feet away.
“I have to pee,” Joey says and rubs his eyes.
“Will you hold him?” Joey gets out of bed and gives me his stuffed fish before trotting into the bathroom. He closes to door to the master bath and I look down at his fish. What the hell do I do now? Wake Chris? A few minutes after Joey’s sleepy bathroom break and the kid is going to notice. He’s going to ask questions. He…
I panic. I didn’t think about this part of the relationship. Being a nanny was safe. Crawling into bed with Chris after childcare hours were over was definitely safe. This part… I didn’t factor this part in.
“Chris,” I hiss and shake his shoulder. I will not be left as a sacrifice when his kid starts asking how men make babies.
Chris groans and rolls onto his stomach.
“Chris, get up.” I shake him harder.
“What?” He flops onto his back to squint at me. His pats around the nightstand for his glasses and then puts them on. Once he sees the fish, he props up on his elbows in full blown parental mode. “Why do you have Babel? Where’s Joey?”
“It’s from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—one of Joey’s favorites. Nevermind. Where is he?”
I point to the bathroom as Joey toilet flushes. “He knows, Chris. He knows,” I repeat.
He takes a look at the fish again, then at me, and then at the bathroom door opening before he scrambles to sit up. “Hey, buddy,” he forces out through his teeth with a horrified smile that would scare the pants off a carnival clown any day of the week.
“Thanks,” Joey mumbles as he takes his fish from me. He grabs the remote from the nightstand then perches at the end of the bed and turns the television on. Sitting Indian style on the bed, Joey finds some cartoon about Japanese robots fighting each other. He hugs his fish and happily sighs as if he could fall over and go back to sleep again, but decides the transforming mech bots are way cooler.
Chris eyes me. He scoots across the bed. “Did you have a bad dream last night, buddy?”
Joey shakes his head. “I woke up and couldn’t fall asleep again. Your bed is comfier, so I slept here.”
Oh, to be nine again. The logic…
“Yeah, that happens to me when I have a lot to think about. I’ll stay up pretty late sometimes.” Chris rubs Joey’s back. “You okay?”
“Uh huh.” Joey is glued to the television.
“You don’t want to talk about this?”
“About what?” Joey frowns at his dad.
Wait for it. Chris is thinking too hard. He might throw up any second now. Oh… He’s opening his mouth. He’s gonna do it. He’s really gonna…
“That me and Logan had a slumber party together?” Chris holds his breath until he’s forced to let it out.
“Oh… No.” Joey shrugs and goes back to his show. “But Logan snores real loud.” Joey puts a hand over his mouth and laughs.
Chris chuckles. His child has a way of putting him at ease in a precarious situation, which is all new to me compared to other child/parent relationships I’ve seen. Most parents would be pulling their hair out at this point. Not Chris, not with his Joey. “Joey, can we talk for a minute?” Joey nods, but doesn’t look away from the screen. “Buddy, this is serious. I need you to look at me for second. The robots will still be there in a minute.”
“Okay,” Joey groans. “What?”
Chris narrows his eyes and crosses his arms. “Joseph…”
“Sorry, Dad. Yes?”
“Better.” Chris ruffles Joey’s hair. “We didn’t get to talk about what happened yesterday and I want to make sure you’re okay before we start making some changes around here. Your opinion matters to me, buddy, and I need to know what you’re thinking.”
“About what?” Joey squeezes his fish. He rests his chin on the stuffed monstrosity with one sagging button eye.
“About changing the way we do things here.”
“Change how? Are we moving again?”
“No, buddy, we’re not moving.”
Joey bows his head and sighs. “Good. I like this house.”
“I’m glad you do.” Chris motions for me to sit next to him. “I need to know how you feel about Logan being a part of this family. I know he’s your nanny and your friend, but I want to know if it’s okay that he’s my friend too.”
Joey looks at Chris like he’s grown a crater between his eyes. “Well, yeah. Why can’t he be your friend too?”
Chris is afraid to say what kind of friend. He licks his lips a few times, rubs his jaw, and then looks at me for help. While I’m scared of this too, the fact that Chris is serious enough about us to talk to Joey entices me to venture into the unknown. If we’re supposed to be together or whatever this is, I have to help him out where he’s lacking.
I lean forward. “Joey, your dad and I are special friends, different friends than you and me.” Joey looks between us, still lost. I try again. “I like your dad a lot and he likes me too. I like like him.”
“I know what that means.” Joey’s sucks on his bottom lip and glances at his dad. His cheeks redden before hides his face in his fish.
Chris taps Joey on the head until his son peers up at him. “And that’s why we had a slumber party last night, because we want to sleep together in the same bed every night and we need to know if that’s okay with you.”
“Sister Grace says grownups sleep together when they’re married. Are you married?” Joey’s bottom lip trembles. “Did you get married without me?”
“Oh, buddy.” Chris pulls his son to him and hugs him tight. “Sister Grace doesn’t know what she’s talking about. We don’t have to listen to her anymore. And, no, I didn’t get married without you. I would never do that.”
“Oh that’s good,” he mumbles and clings to his dad. “I was going to be so upset.”
I swallow my laughter. I’m not one to use the word precious, but for Joey I will. “Upset because your dad could be married or because he wants to marry a boy?”
“Dad can marry a boy. He likes boys. Right, Dad?” Joey looks up at his dad, the confusion blooming over his face again.
“Right.” Chris kisses Joey’s head. “And that’s okay with you?”
“I don’t care if you marry boys.” Joey shrugs and gives his dad his fish. “Are you going to marry Logan?”
“Uh… Not yet. How about that?”
“Then what are you doing?” Joey’s question is so innocent, so broad, yet right on point. What are we doing?
Chris takes his turn hugging the fish. “We’re dating. As in he and I care about each other and we want to be together like boyfriends.”
“Logan is your boyfriend?”
“Yes,” Chris answers. My heart leaps and then does a fist pump.
“Okay.” Joey takes his fish back.
“And it’s okay if he sleeps in here with me?”
Joey nods. “Does he need a pillow? I have one in my closet he can use.”
Tears form in Chris’s eyes at his son’s adorable consent. “No, buddy, I have plenty. But thank you.”
“You sure? You always take all the pillows.” Joey looks at me. “He hogs them. He really does.”
“I’ll be okay. Thanks for the warning.” I squeeze Chris’s shoulder and he puts his hand over mine.
“I want you to understand that because I’m with Logan now, there are going to be a lot of changes, Joey. You’re not going back to Our Sacred Heart because I don’t like how they treat you there, and I don’t like how they teach you to hate others because of who you care about. That’s not right and you don’t deserve to be pushed and teased over it. I want you to know that when two men care about each other like Logan and I do, there is nothing wrong with that. I want you to love everyone because that’s what I taught you to do, and I want you to love yourself, so I’m going to start loving myself too. Being different is okay, Joey. That’s what you makes you special.”
Joey smiles. “That’s what makes you special too, Dad.” Joey hugs his dad. “Are we done now?”
“Yeah, we’re done for now, buddy.”
“Great.” Joey turns back around to watch his show.
Chris looks up at me. I can’t help but lean down and press my lips to his. He doesn’t flinch away. Joey doesn’t notice. Chris looks happier than I’ve ever seen him. He looks like a new man.
“I don’t want to go,” Joey squeaks from the back seat. He clutches his beach towel to his chest and brings his sandaled feet up to the seat. “Can’t we go to a movie instead?”
“No, Joey. We already told Sabine we’re going. Besides, this will be good for you. You’ll get to play with other kids your age, swim in the pool, and Sabine promised tons of sugar.”
“I don’t care.” He glares at me.
“Joey, cool off back there. If you go into this party acting like a grouch then you might ruin Gerritt’s birthday and that’s not nice. Give them a chance, would ya?” Chris cranes his neck to get a good look in the rearview mirror. “Did you bring your new noodle? You were excited to use it.”
“His what?” I gawk at Chris.
“The floaty thing he was carting around this morning. Foam. Blue. Almost got you in the balls.”
Joey cackles. I turn around to make a face at him but find myself smiling mischievously instead. “Oh. That.”
Chris pats my knee. “It’s called a noodle.”
“You’re weird.” Joey sticks his tongue out.
“Joseph! Knock it off.”
I wink at Joey. He giggles.
“Both of you!” Chris grumbles as we turn on to the highway.
“Yes, Dad,” I mock.
“Don’t encourage him,” Chris quietly hisses. “He’s all worked up because he didn’t get enough sleep. No sleep equals a cranky child. I do not want to present a rude kid to these people I don’t know from Adam. Maybe we should just go home and call Sabine, say Joey’s sick or something.”
“Now who’s being rude?” I roll my eyes. “He’s only acting this way because he knows you’re nervous. Kids feed off that crap, Chris.”
“I am not nervous,” Chris argues.
“You so are. You got dressed up like you’re going for ice cream with Brad Pitt.” I sniff him. “Cologne for a kid’s birthday party? Check. Leather mandals you probably just pulled out of a box your mother gave you for your birthday? Check. And I know if I touch your hair there’s gonna be product. Don’t lie to me. I know how freaked out you are, Mr. King of the Sweatpants.”
“What?” Chris grips the wheel.
“Christopher Wyzak, don’t you what me,” Joey shouts and mimics his father by crossing his arms.
I laugh until tears roll down my cheeks. If this is what it’s like to be part of this family, count me in. Constantly entertaining—that’s what it is. Joey is his father’s son. Chris is an attractively scented fuse about ready to blow. And I’m stuck in the middle, trying not to lose my mind. I love it.
“Joey, you’re killin me here kid.” Chris slouches in his seat and focuses on the road.
“Do we really have to go? That’s the sign grandma uses to go home.” He points to the green sign on the side of the road. “I think.”
“We’re going to this birthday party and that’s final. How you choose to act when we get there is entirely up to you. You can behave and have fun, or you can not behave, and when we get home you go to your room.”
“Sounds good to me.” Joey shrugs.
“And I will take every book off of those shelves and box them up for an entire week.”
Joey huffs. “There’s more books in the house.”
“Joseph, push your luck with me and the only thing you’ll have to read when we get home is the back of the shampoo bottle.”
“I would get real if I were you,” I say to Joey as I turn in my seat. “Just relax, and when we get there I promise you’ll forget all about this conversation.”
“Highly unlikely,” Joey replies.
Chris scoffs at the mirror. “Where did you even hear that?” He looks over at me. “Did you hear what he just said to you?”
“He’s nine,” I say in way of explanation.
Sabine’s place is nice, really nice. From my understanding, her husband used to work for a pharmaceutical company before they had kids, and when the babies came along, he cashed out and became a stay at home dad. And it wasn’t like Sabine was having any financial problems at the agency. The office suite she rented was on the boardwalk for crying out loud. Big money right there.
The house featured a sprawling green lawn and a long, cobblestone drive packed with cars. Blue, black and yellow balloons were attached to the mailbox due to the Batman theme. A few adults gathered inside the open garage with cocktails, watching us get out of the Rover Chris insisted we drive. I’m kind of glad he did right now. This neighborhood…. Geesh.
I was relieved to see someone I knew right away. Surprised was more like it. Janette had gone through the training program with me a few years back and I thought she’d gone to live with a family in Vegas after leaving Chicago, but there she was, coming at me like bullet train with her arms open.
“Oh. My. God!” She squeals in my ear as she hugs the life out of me.
My arms are trapped, so I awkwardly pat her back. “Been a while, Janette.”
She wrinkles her pierced nose and pushes her purple bangs back into her pixie cut in an effortless manner. “A while? What’s it been, two years? Jesus, look at you. Pale white boy has a tan, dropped that baby weight and what is with this shaggy hair? Growing it out for your man, Lolo?”
“Shut up.” I laugh. “Not all of us were gifted with a natural tan.”
“Please, boy, I’m chocolate. Not tan.” She bobs her head. “But you look good, Lo. Shoot.”
“You look good too, so stop fishing for compliments because you already know you do.” I wink at her.
She fakes a hair flip and grins. “You got that right. So who is this trying to hide in the background here? Don’t be shy. I don’t bite.”
If you look up awkward in the dictionary, Chris’s picture will be right there next to it. He shuffles Joey along like his legs don’t work and stares at Janette with the blankest expression one could ever have. He’s getting cold feet. He might just toss Joey to me and make a run for the Rover.
“Hey there, cutie.” Janette bends over and offers Joey her hand. “I’m Logan’s friend Janette, but you can call me Netty.”
“I’m Joseph, but people call me Joey.”
“You got people? Oh you are grown, huh?” She beams up at me. “He yours?”
“Partly not?” She stands up to offer Chris a hand. “I take it you’re the latter half?”
Chris shakes Janette’s hand. “Uh… Yes.”
“Janette, this is my boyfriend Chris Wyzak and this is his son Joey, who you’ve already met. Chris, this is my old friend Janette from my agency training days. We moved out to Chicago together when we got our first assignments from Sabine.”
“Nice to meet you.” Chris is swallowing hard every few seconds. He’s squeezing Joey’s shoulders hard enough that Joey glares up at him.
“Likewise,” she returns and then pegs me a questionable stare. “He okay?” she whispers.
“Our first outing as a couple,” I mutter under my breath.
“So,” she claps her hands and winks at me, “let me bring you out back to where the kids are, Joey. Bunch of tired ass parents around the cooler for you too, so don’t worry about a thing, Chris. You can meet my employers also. They’re fun.”
“You still with the same family?” I ask Janette as I put a hand to Chris’s back and force him along.
She glances over her shoulder and raises a brow. “Please, those people were crazier than the Kardashians and I couldn’t keep up with that mess.”
“You’re around here now, then?”
“Yup, staying over in Grand Rapids with the new family. Guest house. Nice wheels. Puh-recious little baby girl. Wait until you see her, Lo. I mean, she looks like a damn doll. Like they took her right out of a box or something.” She waves her hands at Sabine when we emerge onto the backyard scene. “Look who I found.”
“Logan, I’m so glad you came. And Chris!” She hugs Chris and then pats his cheek. “You look rested. Joey does good work, does he not?”
“Sure,” Chris manages. He pleads with his eyes. This isn’t his scene and he’s trying to make it work, but he’s drowning without a noodle of his own to float on.
Joey blinks up at the adults, noodle under one arm and towel under the other. His swim trunks with anchors all over them are starting to turn colors in the sun, because kids need things like color changing swim trunks to live. Or so Joey tells me. Sabine can spot his boredom a mile away and takes the lead.
“Blake! Come here,” Sabine shouts for her middle son. He comes running over the grass, soaked to the bone from the pool and a little sunburned across his nose. His white blond hair and blue eyes reflect Sabine’s side, as does his smile when he stops in front of Joey. “Joey, this is my son, Blake. He’s nine too.”
“Hey,” Blake nods at the noodle. “I got one of those too, but it’s green. Want to swim?”
I miss the simpler days when meeting someone new was uncomplicated and trading peanut butter and jelly for a fruit roll up made you awesome. Blake gets it. Joey on the other hand, doesn’t.
Joey hesitates. He looks up at his dad. This is new for both of them. Joey has probably never been asked to play before in his life, and Chris is stunned, more like emotional that the time has finally come. “Give me your towel and you go swim. Be careful, okay?”
Joey bites his lip. He nods and hands off the towel. I know he’s expecting the worse, but this is Sabine’s kid we’re talking about here. She didn’t raise no bully.
“Blake, introduce Joey to the other kids, especially your brother because this is his party, and make sure you both put on some sunblock. You are going to look like fried chicken by tonight if you don’t.”
Blake and Joey giggle. “My mom is weird.”
“My dad is too.” Joey laughs.
“Come on, Joey, this is boring. The sunblock is over there and I got these sticks we can throw at the bottom of the pool and dive to get ‘em. Can you swim that far down? I can.”
“I can swim pretty good,” Joey boasts.
“Sweet! I’ll race ya.”
“No running,” Sabine calls as the two of them take off.
I find Chris staring after them. “He called me weird.”
“Better than last week when Blake said he hated me. I will take weird over that any day of the week.” Sabine pats his shoulder. “I love and hate this age. They still need you and want to snuggle some days, and then think they’re all grown up and you are cramping their style the next. They hate this. They’ll die if they can’t do that. But when they have a bad day, all they want is to be is attached to your hip. It’s exhausting.”
“A little bit,” Chris agrees. “I think I need a beer.”
“Give me the keys. Your turn to have fun today.” I hold out my hand.
I kiss his cheek. “I’m positive.”
It isn’t until I pull away that I notice the terror on his face. He’s not looking at anything in particular. Instead, he’s trying to avoid being noticed, because I’ve just kissed him in public. I take the keys still in his hand and put some room between us. Janette catches my gaze before it falls to the ground. She’s noticed his momentary fear as well and is trying to calculate her next witty quip to bridge the growing gap in conversation.
But Sabine beats her to it. “Netty, you take Chris to meet your family and get him a beer on the way.”
“Perfect.” Janette snatches Chris’s hand up before he has time to protest. Before he has time to look back at me. That is, if he even wants to now.
On some level I should have known things wouldn’t be that easy. I couldn’t get a boyfriend, have the kid talk, and go to some event like we were together forever all in one day. He was still Chris. Still stubborn and scared on the inside. Some things were workable in a relationship, and sadly, some things were not.
Now that we weren’t in the comfort of our own home, Chris couldn’t be as carefree with me as I wanted him to be. He couldn’t really be with me.
“Want to tell me when this started?” Sabine loops her arm through mine and guides me to a few empty plastic lawn chairs facing the pool.
“I don’t know where to start.” I kick back and sigh. The kids splash around in the pool, at least fifteen of them ranging from around four to twelve. Joey and Blake are just getting in, doubling up on their noodles to swim together. They kick over to an older kid I recognize as Gerritt and join him and his friends in a round of pool basketball. I’m happier for Joey than I am sad for Chris. This day was about Joey anyway, so I try to decide not to dwell and have fun instead. “Doesn’t matter, it’s just a thing.”
“Logan, I can tell when something is just a thing and when it is not. This is no little matter. I saw how you looked at him. It was not one sided.”
“It’s only been what, a month? It’s not that serious,” I lie to myself.
“Then why is he staring at you like that?” She looks over to the covered patio where Janette and Chris are sitting with two men at a table. Everyone else is engrossed in conversation, except for Chris who is ogling me from afar.
“Because I’m the only person he knows here and he’s uncomfortable in social settings. Simple as that, Sabine. He wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t practically begged him for Joey’s sake.”
She snorts. “You kissed a man in front of us. That is not a simple matter, Logan. That is showing affection for someone you care about, someone you are proud enough to claim in front of others. Stop lying to me and get out with it.”
I huff and shimmy around in my seat. “I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me mad, okay? It makes me mad that everything about him is complicated and I already come from a boatload of difficult. I wanted to come here today and just be with him and I fuck it up because he’s scared of a kiss in public. What am I supposed to do with that, Sabine? I’ll tell you what I do: I act like it didn’t happen so he doesn’t hold it against me later and decide this is too much for him.”
“Why do you care if he does?” She smirks. “I’ll tell you why, Logan, because you care about him more than you are ready to admit. It doesn’t take long to know you want someone for the long haul. I went on two dates before I eloped with my husband. Sounds crazy, and some people think love at first sight is bullshit, but it exists. It’s real. And when you find it, complicated or no, you keep it at all costs. Be patient.” She taps me under the chin and gets up. “The crazy ones are the best ones. Trust me on this.”
“What if I go crazy trying to fix him?”
She laughs. “You can’t fix someone, Logan. They are them and you are you. You coexist, you give and take, you call them on their bullshit and they either love you for it, or they move on. If he was ready to throw in the towel, he wouldn’t have come here today with you. He wouldn’t be staring at you like only the two of you were here. He wouldn’t have brought his child into this at all. So what if he’s scared of a kiss? Kiss him again. Once he gets used to who you are, he won’t be scared anymore. He’ll feel safe to be himself.”
“Why don’t you go see for yourself? Stop being a baby. I’m going to check on the ice.”
“Sabine,” I growl, but she’s already headed toward the slider door. Damn her and her genius advice. I wave at Joey, who wants me to see how many points he and Blake have in the game. His joy is infectious; it’s all that keeps me from losing my ever-loving mind. Then I go to face my boyfriend of a whole five hours. This should be good.
When I get to the table, Chris acts like he’s been in on the conversation the entire time. He frowns as I sit down on the other side of Janette. Excuse me if I’m not ready to be set on fire if I accidentally touch him again, but I need time to sort this out in my head.
“There you are,” Janette intercepts Chris’s glare by turning to me. “Logan, this is my family, Demarcus and Harry Tettering. And this is their widdle baby Grace.” Janette softly rubs the back of her hand over the newborn’s cheek. Grace could care less. She’s a passed out ball of pink ruffles snuggled into her father’s chest. And yeah, she’s cute as fuck.
Harry is middle-aged with big cheeks, almond eyes that give away some sort of Asian heritage and he sports a thick crop of black hair. He nods at me because his hands are busy holding Grace. “Good to meet you.”
“Same here,” Demarcus reaches around Harry to shake my hand. He’s got large hands that cover mine and a grip that could break my neck. He’s definitely younger in face than his partner, but the seriousness his large body carries makes him seem more mature, more alert than his contented counterpart. They seem like a good pair.
“She’s really beautiful,” I say because what parent doesn’t want to hear that. And in this case, it’s totally true.
“Thanks, and to think we just found her in a basket on our doorstep,” Harry jokes.
Demarcus sighs. “We bought her on the black market. Don’t let him fool you.”
Chris gawks, because that’s what he does. There’s no changing his interior. “He’s kidding,” I say.
“Lighten up, man. Just a joke.” Demarcus chortles and takes a swig from his bottle. “Haven’t got a word out of this one since he sat down. How do you manage?” he asks me.
Oh. So they know. Fancy that. “I can only get him to talk in bed.”
Chris turns white as a ghost. Demarcus and Harry erupt with laughter. Janette dribbles beer down her chin when she coughs.
“I’m just kidding. He’s quiet. I’m not complaining.”
“I hear that.” Demarcus raises his beer. “This one can go on for hours if I let him.”
“Nice.” Harry shakes his head. He’s still smiling. “Love you too.”
“Eh, you love it.” Demarcus kisses Harry’s temple.
I can’t look at Chris. It hurts too much to know that other couples get it and he can barely get with it. I also know I’m selfish and I’m wanting too much too quick, but he said we were together. The moment he got out of that car, he started acting like we weren’t. He flinched at the word boyfriend. He locked up after a peck on the cheek. He looks like he just wants to die right now and I don’t know how to help him. It really hurts.
I realize this is a big step, being out in public, but I thought that’s what he wanted. If he’d just talk to me, let me know what to do then I wouldn’t feel so alone.
“It was nice to meet the both of you, but I’m off in search of the little boy’s room.” I can’t sit here with him and do this. He won’t say a word. He won’t smile. He just exits across from me.
“Down the hall to your left,” Janette calls after me.
The guest bathroom is where I choose to hide. Not because I can’t deal, but because I need a few minutes alone. Some space to breathe it out and decide my next move. Who knew every day would be a game of chess with Chris? I certainly didn’t. I didn’t know I wanted to play at all, yet here I am holed up in a bathroom, wondering if he wants me.
Maybe I should have brought some stolen Virginia Slims and flask of shitty bourbon to complete my bathroom episode of teenage angst. That would make the rack of magazines in front of me a whole hell of lot more interesting. I wouldn’t care so much about Chris if I reeked of smoke and got shitfaced in the bathtub. Then again, getting smashed at a kid’s birthday party was so not classy.
I was imagining the poor child who’d find me in a tub of my own puke when someone knocked on the door.
“Someone’s in here.”
“Logan, open up,” Chris calls.
I want to say juvenile things like, “Why, so you can fuck me over again?” or the classic, “Go away. I hate you.” But I’m an adult and that’s not how we’re supposed to do things. Instead we have to deal with shit we don’t want to talk about and make up and blah fucking blah.
Sue me. I’m not in the mood to do this.
I open the door for him anyway. “It’s all yours.”
He pushes me inside and closes the door. “I want to talk.”
“Really? That’s new.”
“Yeah? So is all of this to me, so stop acting like a fucking child for one second and think.” He rubs his eyes under his glasses and drops his hands.
“Don’t talk to me like that,” I sneer at him.
“But it’s okay for you to talk down to me? I see how it is. You can’t get past the fact that I’m not used to being in a relationship, that this is all scary for me, and I’m not used to someone introducing me as their boyfriend and laying one on me in public. So you get mad and huff off to talk shit about me to Sabine and then hole up in here so you don’t have to deal with me. Is that how this boyfriend thing works?”
I could scream at the top of my lungs. “I never talked shit about you.”
“And you never gave me a chance to talk to you. You were the one who stepped away from me and let me be dragged off.” Chris rests his head against the tile wall.
“Because you looked ready to die on the spot. I’m sorry I didn’t get the memo that said I wasn’t allowed to show any PDA with my boyfriend. Did you think I was gonna follow up by sucking your dick for the grand finale?”
Chris cuts me a look straight from hell. “No, the Logan I like would’ve kissed me again because he knew I had no idea what to do.”
“So you could what, explode into a thousand tiny pieces? No thanks. I guess I want my boyfriend alive and not covering the patio with body matter.”
“I’m still your boyfriend?”
The question slapped me upside the head. “What?”
“You ran away. I thought this was you breaking up with me.”
“After five hours? What is this, middle school, Chris? Of course you’re still my boyfriend. I can’t believe I had to just say that.”
“I can, because you’re sure as hell not liking we’re in a relationship. And if you can’t stand an amateur as your boyfriend, you better pipe up right now because I just told my kid we’re together. I don’t do that for just anyone.”
“You’ve never had anyone.”
“Because I’ve never wanted anyone like I want you.” He puts his hands over his face. “This shouldn’t be this hard. Maybe I am too screwed up.”
Or maybe I’m pushing him like I promised I wouldn’t do. I am a selfish asshole. Not everyone moves at the speed of Logan. He came after me. He always does. This time, he came back even though he thought I didn’t want him. He really wants this to work. He just doesn’t know what to do.
“Shit… Chris, I’m sorry.”
He puts up a hand and shakes his head. “It’s fine. Let’s get back out there before Joey freaks.”
“Chris, stop.” I lock the door and sit on the counter. “We need to talk.”
“And here it comes.” He blows air out of the side of his mouth.
I tug on the bottom of shirt and drag him forward. “We’re not done. We just started. Tell me not to kiss you in public and I’ll try my best to remember. I want this work.”
“I want… I want you to kiss me and I want the strength to kiss you back. I want people to know I’m with you, but I’m scared, Logan. Yeah, I know I’m a grown ass man as you put it and I know this should be easier than it is—”
“It is easy. Just kiss me when you feel like it. Stop worrying about what other people think. Did you see Harry and Demarcus out there? No one said a thing about them being here together. I’m not saying it’s always this perfect, but the more you ignore everything else except me and how you feel about me, the easier it gets. You said you want to love yourself more. Show me that Chris and I will keep him safe.”
He takes my face in his hands and kisses me until I’m forced against the mirror. Unlike last night, his kiss is hard and fast. His hands move to my back, under my shirt and I almost bite his lip trying not to moan. He forces himself between my legs and pulls under my knees, yanks me against him to show his true strength.
I tilt my head and open my mouth to him. His hair filters between my splayed fingers. I’m about ready to rip his clothes off and devour him inch by inch, but someone knocks on the door and douses the flames.
“Gotta pee,” comes a squeaky voice. “Hurry!”
On autopilot, Chris rights my clothes before his own. He sets me on my feet and pushes my hair out of my eyes. I readjust his glasses and straighten his collar as my body buzzes with whatever the fuck
Chris did to me. When another knocks comes, we both look at each other and start laughing. This is to crazy not to.
Chris did to me. When another knocks comes, we both look at each other and start laughing. This is to crazy not to.
“That was…” I fan my face.
“Good enough for now?” he asks with a blush to his cheeks.
“Gotta go bad!”
“Chill out, kid.” I shake my head. “Not like there isn’t a pool full of children out there to pee with or anything.”
“That’s disgusting.” Chris frowns at me.
“What? You think that water is clean out there? Piss city, my friend. I wouldn’t set foot in that thing if you paid me. I remember being a kid. Don’t act like you never did it.”
“You would bring up kids peeing in the pool after making out.” He rolls his eyes. “Let’s get out there before this kid has to explain to Sabine why there’s a puddle in her hallway.” He takes my hand and opens the door.
A blur of curly red hair races around us and slams the door shut. We can hear his sigh of relief as we retreat and we share a laugh. I notice Chris is still holding my hand. I ready myself for the moment other people cross our path and he lets go. But he doesn’t. He laces our fingers together before we hit the backyard and holds on tight.
As we find our way back to the table, he holds my hand. As he sits down in his chair next to Demarcus, he holds my hand. And as he pulls me down to sit on his lap, he only lets go to put his arm around my waist.
No one at this table knows how big of deal this is for us. They will never know because I have to admit to myself that this relationship isn’t some show that I direct for a public audience. This is a personal journey between the two of us. So I silently shout my joy to the rooftops and put my arm around Chris’s shoulders. This time, he doesn’t flinch. This time, he smiles.
The way he looks at me when everyone else is busy chatting melts my insides. Nothing will be safe from here on out. There will bumps and twists I can’t erase. But if I’m in this, I have to buckle up and take them as they come. As long as Chris holds my hand, I will hold him back.
To be continued…