It was impossible to concentrate when it was the first really nice day of spring, so I pushed away from my latest app and stared out my office window at the Atlanta skyline. The best part of my promotion to senior developer was the window. Now I would be able to see actual sunlight and the change of seasons instead of calendar pictures on my cubicle wall.
The ring of my cell phone startled me. Then I remembered. It was noon on Wednesday. I didn't even check the caller ID.
"Yes, Mom, I will be there for dinner, and I will be on time."
The speaker vibrated with her deep laugh. "And hello to you too. Since you've already answered my first two questions, at least let me ask my last. You are bringing that adorable boyfriend of yours, right?"
I rolled my eyes. "Tyler could come without me and you wouldn't even care, would you?"
"Of course I would, dear. Who would set the table?"
I couldn't help my smile, made wider when I saw a picture of Tyler and me from last Christmas materialize on my screen saver. I wasn't sure I blamed my mother for loving Tyler more. There was a lot about him to love.
"Yes, darling mother, I will bring your favorite boyfriend to dinner, just like I do every week."
A cash register beeped in the background. "Just making sure nothing's changed. Your father and I would be so disappointed."
I was beginning to get truly and deeply offended. "Jeez, way to make your only child feel loved."
"How much was that again?" In the pause, I'd begun to think she'd forgotten about me. "Don't be a goof. Of course we love you. It's just we were beginning to think you'd never settle down. You haven't been this close to anyone since James left."
Twelve years later and the mention of his name still made me wince. "Yeah, well, I was just waiting for the right man." Now it was the cliche making me wince.
"Then I'm glad he finally showed up. You're not getting any younger, you know."
I was positive the evil witch cackled. "Don't be late! Your dad has the wine covered."
I was still shaking my head long after the line went dead. At least she wasn't asking for grandchildren again. I almost never got Tyler to go to dinner again after that.
Taking one more glance out my window, I rolled my chair forward and got back to coding. The sooner I got this finished, the sooner I could see my mother's favorite person.
And mine too.
I arched my back as I yawned. My Kindle slipped off my knees, and I barely caught it before it hit the concrete at my feet. The evening breeze was nice and warm, and the sky was a golden orange. I swung my legs up and across the wooden bench as I continued to read.
"What's it today? Vampires or zombies?"
I let my head fall backward. Even upside down he was perfect. His hazel eyes were the perfect mix of green and brown and set in a slightly round, boyish face. The five o'clock shadow might have added a couple of years to his visible age, but he still didn't look thirty-one. His full, bow-shaped lips were smirking as usual, and he was wearing those little black-rimmed glasses that drove me fucking insane. I wanted to grab a handful of his soft black hair and pull him down for a kiss.
As if he could read my mind, he scanned the area for bystanders before bending down and giving me a quick peck on the lips. He tasted like chocolate.
My head swam a little as I raised it. "Wow, a PDA. What did I do to deserve that?"
"You never deserve it."
"Thanks for stomping my warm fuzzy to death."
"I do what I can."
Tyler and I were always like this. We'd met my first day of work at my current job, and we'd busted each other's balls over everything. I'd never expected that, a few hours later, I'd become more intimately acquainted with his balls, along with other body parts.
I swung my legs off the bench to give him a place to sit, which he took immediately. "You're late."
He moved closer to my side. "Sorry, I had a junior guy run into my office at the last minute. So, you gonna tell me what you're reading?"
"It's a gay romance your sister recommended to me."
He chuckled. "Well, that's more than a little inappropriate. Should I kick her ass or thank her?"
When I turned to give him a come-hither look, I realized he was already there. I licked my lips; I wanted to taste him again. "I'm thinking a thank-you is definitely in order."
"Damn it, Sean," he whispered. "You've got to stop looking at me like that. We don't have time for this. Remember? Dinner with your parents?"
"Yes. Dinner. Parents." My eyes refused to leave his lips.
Tyler rolled his eyes. "Goofball." He stood up and motioned for me to follow. "Let's go. Sooner we get through dinner, the sooner we can get back to your place and discuss that book."
The drive from Atlanta to Athens was a little long for a weeknight, but it gave me the chance to get behind the wheel for a change. I usually took public transit to work, and my little Prius stayed parked in my spot at home. Driving in the city stressed me out, but once we got out of the city limits, the traffic eased considerably.
Tyler and I spent the time talking about our respective jobs, new video games we were going to play over the weekend, and since I was apparently a good boy today, what Tyler was going to let me do to him once we got back to my apartment. By the time we reached my parents' house, I was an aroused mess, and Tyler took great pleasure in the fact that I had to untuck my shirt to hide a hard-on that took forever to go away.
I glared at him as we stepped onto the porch. "Laugh now. Payback's a bitch, sweetheart."
He only grinned wider. "I'm counting on it."
Before my hand reached the doorknob, Mom jerked the door open and gave me a huge hug. She acted as if, instead of having dinner together every other Wednesday, she hadn't seen me in years. Tyler got the same treatment. Dad's greeting wasn't any less enthusiastic. It was impossible not to feel completely loved when you walked into their house.
The house was filled with the smell of homemade spaghetti sauce and baking bread, which meant it was Mom's turn to cook dinner. We'd arrived just in time to set the table as Mom dropped the noodles into the boiling water and Dad opened a nice bottle of Chianti. Tyler and Dad quickly jumped into their perpetual discussion of the Atlanta Braves. I just listened, knowing in the fall the discussion would include football and the Falcons. I'd join in then.
Once the food was on the table, the two couples sat together, one facing the other. Even after thirty-two years of marriage, my parents couldn't stand to be on opposite ends of the table. If there was room, they sat together on one side and exchanged the same looks, touches, and kisses I'd witnessed my entire life. Watching them, I wished again that Tyler felt comfortable enough to let go of his restraint and just do whatever he felt, even if that included kissing in front of a roomful of people or simply holding my hand. It wasn't as if he was in the closet, and he was certainly affectionate enough in private.
I took a quick sip of wine, trying to keep my mind from going places my body didn't need to be right that second. "Mom, dinner is wonderful, as usual. The sauce tastes a little different, though."
"Thanks." She twirled more noodles around her fork. "Anna passed on some tips she got from James."
I ground my teeth together. Any mention of his name immediately had me on edge, but I worked hard to keep that fact from my parents. "That's nice."
"Did I tell you? James has moved back to Athens."
My fork fell and clanged against my plate. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the concern on Tyler's face. He quickly brushed his hand over my knee, soothing me a little. Dad shook his head at my mother. Ten dollars said he'd told her before we arrived not to talk about what she was talking about.
Mom continued to chew her noodles as if nothing had happened. I knew the subject wasn't closed, and, after taking a gulp of wine, she proved me right.
"He's out of the army now, and he's going to be an EMS paramedic. Anna and John are thrilled to finally have him home again." She at least had enough shame to look down at her plate when she continued. "Anna says that James is really looking forward to seeing you."
I threw my napkin down on the table. "That's not going to happen."
"Sarah..." Dad's voice held a warning that, of course, my mother ignored.
"I know he left without giving you any explanation, but..."
I did not want to have this conversation. "It's not just that, Mom." I took a deep breath, afraid if I didn't, I'd reveal that, while he'd left without a word, he'd certainly made sure to take my virginity with him. "Look, we were friends, but it was a long time ago. He's had no interest in contacting me for twelve years, and I really have no interest in seeing him now."
After a minute or two of tense silence, Tyler cleared his throat. "So, Stephen, where did you find the wine? It's really delicious."
Dad looked grateful for the subject change. "I was in Savannah a few weeks ago, and I bought it at a little shop on River Street."
As Dad continued to tell us about his trip to Savannah, I reached over and quickly ran my fingers through the short hair at the nape of Tyler's neck. Glancing my way, he blushed slightly. I returned to my spaghetti and finished it, because, after all, it really was very good.
Finally back in my apartment, I threw my keys on the coffee table. I went straight for the couch and flopped down. It wasn't until Tyler sat next to me and put his arm around me that I remembered he was there. I was a selfish bastard, so I snuggled into his side and let him stroke my head.
He kissed my forehead. "Wanna talk yet?"
"Not really." I was a whiny prick too. "Okay, maybe."
I pulled away and sat facing him. "How dare he tell his mother to tell my mother or whoever the fuck he told that he wanted to see me! The fucker's had twelve fucking years to see me. Fuck him!"
Tyler bit his lip, obviously trying not to laugh. "That's a lot of swearing coming from you. I think I like it."
"Don't laugh at me," I said, pouting. "Even if I do sound completely ridiculous."
Now feeling just as ridiculous as I sounded, I pulled Tyler into my arms. "Sorry." I kissed him, and this time he tasted like the strawberry shortcake we'd had for dessert. I made a mental note to thank my mother.
"No problem. It isn't the first time I've heard you rant about him."
We sat on the couch in silence for several minutes. Tyler lifted my shirt and ran his hands up and down my chest. It was a gentle touch, meant to be more soothing than arousing. I drew comfort from the weight of his body against mine, and soon I was as relaxed as I'd been when he kissed me on the bench.
"I'm ready to talk now. Talk, not scream."
His hand stilled, only to resume moving in a side-to-side pattern over my stomach. "I must admit I didn't expect you to still have such a strong reaction. I mean, is this something I should worry about?"
"To be honest, I didn't expect to feel so strongly either." I sighed, wishing we'd just skipped dinner and gone to his apartment instead. "I finally thought I'd stop letting him mess with my head."
"He's not." Tyler tapped my temple with his finger. "You are. He stopped messing with your head the day he left."
I sucked in a sharp breath. What he'd said was harsh, but that didn't make it untrue. I knew Tyler wanted more than the casual arrangement we had. He wasn't the first one who had; he was just the first one willing to stick around as long as it took to get it. But my feelings for him had been far from casual for a long time now, even if I was afraid to admit or name them.
"I don't want to have anything to do with him, if that's what you're worried about."
He shifted and laid his head on my shoulder. "What happens when you see him?"
"I'm not going to see him if I can help it. He can fuck off for all I care."
"Again with the cursing." He stood up just long enough to straddle my hips. "I think I'm starting to quite like your dirty mouth."
"You're incorrigible, you know."
"Yeah, like you aren't. You love it, anyway." He cupped my face in his hands, his long fingers threaded into my hair. "You need to see him. You'll never resolve all your pent-up--"
"Anger? Hurt feelings? Desire to cause bodily harm?"
He brushed his lips against mine. "Now you're exaggerating. Forget whatever stupid revenge fantasy you have and deal with this. It's not impossible to be friends with an ex. You of all people should know that."
"Hey," I said, pinching his ass. "You talk as if I've got a harem of exes."
He smirked. "You do, don't you?"
"Asshole." I tipped my head up to plead for a kiss, and he gave me a quick peck. I traced the outline of his jaw with my fingers, sighing when the stubble scratched my skin. "You know you're the only one, right?"
For a split second, Tyler's eyes went wide. "I do now."
I smiled when he nuzzled my palm until I cupped his cheek. "Come on. When would I have time to hook up with anyone else? I spend all my time with you."
"Damn straight. Too many men want in those pants of yours." He ground his hips down against me for emphasis. "I have to make sure your talents are only on display to me."
"Wow, first a PDA and then a compliment on my sexual prowess. What did I do to deserve all this?"
"Remember," he whispered against my lips, "you don't ever deserve it."
I put on my best Wicked Witch of the West voice. "Oh, you're in trouble now, my sweet."
Grabbing a handful of his hair, I yanked his head back to display the pale column of his neck. I latched my mouth over his Adam's apple, and he moaned loudly. His hands dropped from my face and began to pull at the sides of my untucked shirt. I released him long enough for both of us to shed our shirts and press together again.
The first touch of his skin was always the one that drove me the most wild. Soft and smooth, his skin stretched over his lithe body, and my hands could not resist running up and down his back. As my fingers moved over him, he writhed against me, his arms wrapped tightly around me and clutching me as close to him as possible. I buried my face in the crook of his neck and took a deep breath of his scent, which always reminded me of spice and green tea.
He nudged my head back and pressed his mouth to mine, nibbling and licking my bottom lip. "Open up for me, Sean. Please."
My lips parted, and his tongue instantly invaded me. Groans died in my throat as the kiss intensified and deepened. I wound my arms around his waist. He dug his fingers into my hair. We couldn't get close enough, touch each other enough.
The first stroke of his cock against mine caused me to break the kiss and moan. He was insistent, grinding himself against my lap again and again. I finally gave up and let my head fall to the back of the couch. Back arched, he rode me, and I placed my hands on his hips to help him along.
We were both panting. He was crashing into me. His hair blackened as sweat dripped down and made it stick to his forehead. Still forcing him to ride me harder and faster, I watched him, all wide-eyed and openmouthed. God, he was beautiful.
His fingers dug into my shoulders. "Not enough." His voice was desperate. "It's not enough!"
I snaked my hand between us and undid the button of his pants. "Is this what you want?"
"Yes," he hissed.
Unzipping his pants, I pulled his cock free and quickly did the same with my own. We were both hard and hot, and my hand felt so good wrapped around us both. I stroked up once, then waited to see the look of bliss I knew would cross Tyler's face. He didn't disappoint me.
I leaned forward and took him in a punishing kiss while my hand continued to stroke and work over us both. Almost nothing felt better than our bare cocks sliding together. I wanted to watch him fall apart, and I worked as fast as I could to make it happen.
His eyes rolled back, and he came with a groan, exploding in my hand and covering me in sticky streams. There was no stopping my following him, and he bit down on my shoulder as my release coated us. I continued to slowly stroke us until we both began to soften in my hand.
Tyler collapsed against me. "Time for bed?"
I laughed, pushing him off my lap, and stood. I was a complete mess. "Maybe a shower first?"
"If we take a shower, we won't sleep for a while."
Later that night, I lay in bed, my limbs tangled with Tyler's. He was finally asleep, and I watched as his eyes darted back and forth under his lids. I hoped his dreams were filled with memories of our lovemaking and not the bullshit about a person firmly relegated to my past.