Rory watched helplessly as Tom ushered Eddie from the restaurant. He noticed how he kept hold of Eddie’s arms when he attempted to turn around. Breathing deeply Rory blinked multiple times to clear his vision. He could feel his finger nails digging into his palms as he clenched his fists.
“Sir? Is everything alright?” a voice shattered his thoughts.
Nodding he made his way to the exit aware of the stares from the other restaurant patrons. No doubt he would be the subject of many conversations throughout the day. Numbly he looked both ways on the sidewalk secretly hoping he would see Eddie. Sighing he shuffled towards his car telling himself he would see him at home, that he couldn’t hide forever.
Parking he stared aghast at the strange man and woman unloading bags of groceries and carrying them into Eddie’s house. The man caught him staring, smiled broadly walking towards him. “Hi I’m Jake. My wife and I just moved in.”
Moved? Here? Rory swallowed the lump that was forming in his throat while a bottomless pit opened up inside his stomach. Eddie moved? Where? Had he really hurt the blonde that much he had to move? All he wanted to do was escape his overly friendly new neighbor, barricade himself inside his home. He mumbled some mundane meaningless words before the young man joined his wife in unloading the car.
Closing the door behind him Rory leaned heavily on the door before sliding to the floor. Why couldn’t he say what Eddie so desperately needed him to say? Why couldn’t he say the words? He could sing the words in a love ballad but it didn’t mean anything. He preferred to leave those songs for Trent to perform.
His fingers itched to write. To let his feelings flow from his heart through his fingers to the page. He dragged himself to his feet making his way to his desk. Sitting he let his mind drift as images of Eddie filled his mind. An image of Eddie’s soft, sad brown eyes filled his mind, the deep well of pain and sadness caught his attention as the words began to pour from his soul.
Milo gave Liono a sideways glance “you look rather pleased with yourself. What’s up?”
“I have a date with Elyse,” his eyes sparkled as a goofy grin spread across his normally stoic features.
“Good” Milo said moving towards the refrigerator.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Liono asked his eyes narrowed to slits.
Shrugging Milo continued to get a bowl out for cereal. “Exactly what I said good. It’s good that she wants to see you again. I don’t know if I would if I were her.”
“Ha ha very funny” Liono grumbled “maybe we could double?” he tried to make it sound off-handed, casual.
Milo’s hand jerked causing the milk he was pouring to spill onto the counter. Turning he stared at his friend “I…you…” he gulped trying to form words “you’re not the type to double date.”
A scowl temporarily marred the grin he had moments before “I’m not.” He shrugged “it’s the only way Elyse would agree to go out with me.”
“Ah” he nodded as a light suddenly went off in his head “sure I’ll call Amber and see if….”
“No not Amber,” Liono pounded his fist onto the table with enough force to make his dirty dishes clatter together.
“What?” Milo asked mopping up the spilt milk “you’re not trying to set me up with the other one are you?” Suspicion kept him from looking over at his friend.
“Why would I do that?” Liono demanded “I’d prefer you weren’t coming at all. Elyse won’t go out with me otherwise.”
“Then why not Amber?” Milo asked moving towards the table.
“Elyse doesn’t much like her,” Liono explained “come on be a pal.”
“Why don’t you ask Bruce?” Milo wondered “he and Jillian hit if off the other night.”
Liono’s eyes flickered towards the blonde’s bedroom door where he had yet to emerge “I don’t know him…”
Laughing Milo shook his head “you mean you don’t trust him not to hit on your girl.”
“Well….” he sat back in his chair arms crossed “it’d be different if he was 100% gay but he’s not.” Getting up he walked towards the door “so it has to be you.”
After Liono left Milo stared at the spot where his friend had left his dirty dishes. No doubt he knew Milo would clean them along with his own dirty dishes. Frowning Milo wondered what he should do. A part of him was excited at the prospect of getting to know Jillian better. Another part felt guilty feeling he owed Amber some loyalty, after all she had given him her number. Her face came to mind, her large innocent blue eyes framed by her long dark hair. She was pretty no denying that. But there was something lying just beneath the surface he didn’t like. It left him feeling uneasy and covered over the guilt he felt at not calling her.
Ramsey shoved the cloying blankets aside as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. What has it been? Two weeks? Three? Every morning he reached for his phone hoping to find a message from him and every morning he was disappointed. He couldn’t shake the memory of that night on the beach.
The sadness in Eddie’s brown eyes, pulling him close until the blonde’s head was cradled against his shoulder. A part of Ramsey wanted to ask him what happened between him and Rory and another part didn’t want to know. A small part of him was glad Eddie was hurting. He wanted Eddie to feel the same pain he was. The same way Ramsey had hurt Bruce.
The thought of the blue-eyed blonde was like being doused in cold water. He had someone he could have been happy with yet he was longing for someone he couldn’t have. He hurt Bruce when he broke up with him without considering the consequences. He remembered telling Bruce that he deserved someone better, someone who really like him, wanted him. He was shocked to find he was numb when he found himself holding what he thought was his hearts desire and found nothing but doubts inside his heart.
Squeezing his phone within his fist he wondered what he was waiting for. Did he really expect Eddie to fall into his arms? Did he even want that? Running his hands through his tousled hair he could feel frustration building inside him. Telling him Eddie had already made his decision. Even if Rory was out of the picture, did he want to be someone’s second choice? When he could have been someone’s first choice?
After his brother left Eddie wandered aimlessly around his house. It was small. Smaller than his trailer had been but it felt safe. The low hum of people moving around their daily lives was reassuring. It told him he wasn’t alone. The creaks and murmurs silenced his fears, calming him.
Sitting down he forced himself to eat a slice of toast while he considered the days events. Why had Rory assumed Tom was his boyfriend? Had he really given the impression that he had no true feelings for Rory? Most of the time he didn’t even know what was happening between him and Rory. He had thought they were friends until he had to admit they weren’t. Things had progressed so rapidly between them. Was that why things were so messed up between them now? If Eddie had known what he felt….no he shook his head that wasn’t it. He put his empty plate in the dish washer. Eddie knew how he felt. He didn’t just tell random people he loved them. When he told Rory that he meant it. Did he still mean it?
He couldn’t deny his heart still beat faster upon the mere sight of Rory. He could still imagine how it felt to be wrapped in the warm embrace of Rory’s strong arms. All he had to do was close his eyes and he could feel how safe and protected he felt being held by him. He doubted he’d feel that way with anyone else .
He reached for his phone. Taking a deep calming breath he started to type. Careful this time to make sure the words he typed were correct. He didn’t want to risk another misunderstanding not now when he was finally ready to talk. As he typed he could see the disapproval in his brother’s eyes as he left saying “I know you’re going to contact him. I hope you don’t but I know you will. He’s not good enough for you.”
“You’re wrong,” Eddie protested. He echoed the sentiment as he finished typing. “I’m the one not good enough for him. I’m nothing but damaged goods.” He walked to the window trying to decide if he should send his text. It could change everything. Was he ready? What if Rory didn’t want to give him a second chance? Closing his eyes he sent the text hoping for the best, dreading the worst.
Several hours later Rory stretched the kinks from his spine. He couldn’t remember the last time he had sat in one spot for so long. He rubbed his eyes hoping to relieve the dry itchiness that left them irritated. He reread the words he had written letting the emotions roll over him. It was the best he had ever written. He reached for his guitar. His heart swelled as he sang the lyrics. Would Eddie ever hear the song he inspired?
Halfway through his phone began to chime. Ignoring it he continued to play. He closed his eyes imagining Eddie standing before him. Listening to the words he couldn’t say any other way. The words he kept locked deep within him. The words that struck terror in his heart. He wished he had the courage to say the words he knew would change his life forever.
As he finished his senses came crashing down upon him. He noticed the chiming of his phone. “Hello?” he croaked.
“Hey Rory it’s me Trent,” his best friend since high school said cheerily in his ear “I could really use some help this afternoon.”
“Um” Rory brought a hand up to rub between his eyes “with what?” he asked his voice rough as he fought his disappointment. Somehow he half expected to hear Eddie’s voice when he answered the phone.
“Are you alright?” Trent asked concern laced his words “you know you can tell me anything right?”
“Yeah I know,” he forced the words out fighting back tears “what do you need?”
“Um” he hesitated “um Gayle just bought a house and needs some help moving.”
Rory listened to the hesitation in his friend’s voice. He swallowed his first response. The one that had him telling his friend no in no uncertain terms. “Yeah ok I’ll help,” he found himself saying instead “I could use the distraction.”
“Great I’ll let her know,” Trent said sounding relieved if not surprised “could you come this afternoon?”
“You mean right now?” Rory asked.
“Is that a problem?”
Looking around the room “no, no problem,” Rory sighed “I’ll meet you at your place.”
“Thanks man. We really appreciate it,” Trent’s voice gushed as Rory held the phone away from his ear. Rolling his eyes he wondered how he had gotten himself into this mess.
It was a rare treat to have the house to himself. Bruce ordered a pizza, planning on watching whatever he could find to watch on the ancient TV they had. He hoped that Milo would have a good time despite his concerns and guilt over hurting Amber’s feelings.
A knock on the door jarred Bruce from his thoughts. Checking the time he wondered who it could be. It couldn’t be the pizza delivery person as he just placed his order less than ten minutes before. Opening the door his eyes grew large in shock as he stared at Amber. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked over his shoulder “where’s Milo?” She said stepping around Bruce and into the kitchen “I need to talk to him.”
“He’s out,” Bruce told her “I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
“I’ll wait,” she said smiling.
There was something unsettling in her eyes that made Bruce feeling like a trapped animal. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he motioned to the door “I think you should go.”
She moved closer to him almost purring “he’s out with that bitch Jillian, my so-called friend. It’s alright really” she smiled up at him pressing her body closer to him until he had his back against the wall “that gives us a chance to get to know each other better.” She reached up caressing his cheek “we’re going to have fun tonight.” She ground her slim body into his, she brought a hand up behind his head pushing it down until their lips met in a bruising crushing kiss.
He was shocked at her strength. She was so small it didn’t seem right that she was so strong. It took more strength then he thought it should to push her away from him. “I think you should leave.” Inwardly he was shaking. He had never raised a hand against a girl before. Even now he had to fight with himself not to offer to help her up.
The light from the overhead kitchen light caught on the predatory look in her blue eyes. She grunted as she got to her feet “this is going to be more fun then I thought. By the end of the night you’ll be mine.”
“I doubt it,” he grumbled running a hand through his hair “you should leave” he repeated even though he knew she wouldn’t. Short of physically kicking her out he wasn’t going to get rid of her.
She licked her lips “are ya gonna make me?” she challenged.
Before he could respond a knock on the door distracted him. Moving Bruce kept one eye on her uncertain if she’d attack him when his back was turned. Opening the door he was relieved to find the pizza delivery person. He paid for his meal and bumped into Amber who had come up behind him.
He almost dropped the pizza as her hands slipped around him. Feeling at a disadvantage he tried to dislodge her octopus like arms from around him. Galvanized into action when her wandering hands started to undue his pants. He whirled around hitting her with the pizza box still in his hand. “What the hell” he shouted tossing the pizza onto the table “you need to leave now.”
Short of pushing her out physically there was little he could do to get her to leave. He marched into the bathroom, slamming the door shut. Leaning against it his heart beating an irregular rhythm he tried calling Milo but it went straight to voice mail. The same with Eddie. A last resort he called Ramsey positive he would come even if they were no longer together. He breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Ramsey’s voice “can you come over? Please…”
“Is something wrong?” he asked hearing the stress in Bruce’s voice.
“Yeah, um I mean, I don’t know,” Bruce balked at saying he was scared of a 5’2″ blue-eyed girl who looked like she couldn’t hurt a fly. He felt foolish even thinking it “just come please.”
Whether it was the entreaty in his voice or the fear Ramsey could detect he agreed to come. The red-head smiled at the relief he heard in Bruce’s voice as he thanked him.
Coming out of the room after making sure his pants were secure he found Amber calmly watching TV eating a slice of pizza. He grabbed the drink he had been drinking before she had come over and took a couple of large gulps as he wondered what he was going to do. Ramsey would be here in about twenty minutes or so. He was sure he could ward off her advances that long. He took another swallow when Amber turned from the show she was watching. Her predatory eyes sparkled in the light as she casually got up from the couch.
The room felt warm, too warm for comfort as Bruce took a step backwards. He blinked as his vision became blurry and the room seemed to dance before his eyes. He closed his eyes trying to steady himself but the dizziness only increased. He opened his eyes to find Amber leering at him like a lion about to pounce upon its prey.