“Do I look alright” Braylin asked tugging at his necktie. “I feel like I’m choking.”
Leaning his head to the side Trebor asked “who said you had to wear a tie?”
“You did” he grumbled reaching for the door handle to get out of the car.
“I never said anything about wearing a tie” he protested walking around the car. “Here let me help you.” Moving quickly he released the tie and tossed in into the front seat.
“Hey” he shouted “it took me forever to tie that thing.” He twisted around to retrieve it.
“Leave it” Trebor said “you don’t need it.” he put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “You look fine the way you are.” Stepping back he gave his boyfriend an appraising look “better than fine.”
“Fine enough that’d you would ravish me in the back seat” he asked a hopeful gleam in his eyes.
“You’ve got to be better than fine for that to happen.” Shaking his head Trebor turned to walk to the towards the building. A whistle made him stop and glance over his shoulder.
“Like what you see” he asked smiling.
Hurrying towards him, taking his hand they finished the rest of the walk hand in hand. While they waited for someone to let them inside Braylin leaned in close “you’ve got the best butt I’ve seen. I almost didn’t want to catch up with you. I was enjoying the view so much.”
“I’m glad you caught up though” Trebor said resting his cheek momentarily on his shoulder. “I’d much rather hold your hand than have your eyes on my ass.”
“Knock it off you two” Eli’s voice made them both jump when they realized the door was open.
“Don’t listen to him” Lana said coming up behind her fiance. “I think it’s adorable” she gave Trebor a hug then turned to Braylin “it’s good to meet you in person.”
At Braylin’s confused look Eli explained “meet nurse Betty. She’s the one who gave you the inside scoop on your man’s work schedule or should I say lack of love life until you came into his life.”
“Be nice” Lana warned swatting him “otherwise you’ll be on the couch tonight.”
“Threaten all you want but I know you’ll never do it” he grinned confident in his assessment.
“And why is that” she demanded following him into the kitchen. Walking over to the counter she picked up a stack of plates “make yourself useful and set the table.”
Taking the plates he said “you’ll never do it” as if the conversation never ended. “I’m too damn irresistible.”
Ignoring him she turned to Trebor. “Tell me you’ll trade me cutie pie here for doofus over there.” She winked at Braylin causing Eli to chuckle.
“Don’t get your hopes up. She’ll never do it” Eli said confidently “she loves to me too much.”
Taking Braylin’s arm Trebor said “there will be no trading today…unless of course Bray here wants to be traded.”
He glanced from one smiling face to the next. It was all fun and games. “Nope not today. I’m happy with the guy I came with.”
“Just as well” she sighed “I’m rather fond of my doofus over there.”
“See” Eli grinned putting an around her waist “I knew you couldn’t get rid of me.”
“If you make me drop this bowl you really will be sleeping on the couch” she scolded him.
Dropping his arm he turned to his guest. “Perhaps we should go into the living room while she finishes up.”
“Braylin would you mind staying and helping me” she asked as the others moved towards the other room.
“Well I…” grinning he nodded “of course I can. What would you like me to do?” He didn’t miss the panic in Trebor’s expressive eyes or the giggle Eli couldn’t suppress. When they were seated and talking quietly amongst themselves he asked “so is this when you tell me not to hurt your friend?”
She raised an eyebrow at him “what makes you think I was going to do that?”
“Isn’t it pretty obvious? I mean you ask me to stay behind when Eli could have helped you.” Glancing towards the living room “I get it. You care about him and don’t want to see him hurt. I’m glad he has friends that care that much about him.”
“From what I can tell you’re a really nice guy” she admitted giving him a sincere smile. “If I didn’t believe that I would never have given you all the information I had. Trebor’s a good guy. He’s family.” At his blank expression she explained “we’re cousins. Our grandparents were siblings. So we’ve known each other all our lives. He needs someone looking out for him.”
“He doesn’t talk much about his family” he said softly not wanting the others to overhear them.
“It’s his way of coping with homesickness” she explained “would you mind tossing this salad?” she asked handing him some tongs.
“Sure” he said taking the tongs from her. “What makes you think he’s homesick? Where is home?”
“I’m sure he’s told you he’s from Sunlit Tides” she said.
“Yeah he’s mentioned it” shrugging “I guess I never thought about it much. It’s just an island.”
“An island he plans on setting up his practice on” she said watching him carefully. “That’s how I know he’s homesick. He has a habit of not taking about things that upset him.”
“I’ve noticed that about him” he conceded looking towards the living room. “It’s not like I haven’t asked him questions….”
“I’m not saying that” she rested a hand on his forearm. “I’m just saying you need to get him to open up to you. He’ll start to open up. I’m sure of it.”
Frowning he thought over what she’d said. “What else can I do? I mean I’ve told him about my past and party lifestyle. Things I regret a lot. I’ve shared with him my love of hockey.” Looking down at the salad he chuckled a little “I can’t cook worth a damn.”
“What about your family” she asked “have you told him anything about them?”
“Not much. I guess it hasn’t come up” he stared into space. “Do you really think that will help him to open up to me? Me opening up to him?”
“That’s usually how it works” she giggled “it’s really not that difficult or scary. You’re a good guy. Sometimes Trebor needs a nudge in the right direction. Show him you want more than just a good time and sexy times in the bedroom. Show him you’re interested in him as a person.”
“I am interested in him as a person” he protested slamming the tongs down. “I mean the sex is great but I do want to get to know him better. I kind of thought that was evident a month ago…”
“Hey now” she took his hand “don’t think that way. He knows you care about him. He trusts you. That says a lot.” She stopped considering her words “he’s been hurt before. He kind of closed himself off to keep from getting hurt again. This is the first time I’ve seen him this relaxed around anyone not family. You’re good for him.” Letting his hand go she said “I’m glad you haven’t given up trying to get through his reserves. Help him open up. We’ve all been there. Even Doofus.”
“I appreciate you telling me. I really am. He means the world to me.”
Grinning she said “if you hurt that cinnamon roll I’ll personally kick your ass.” Raising her voice she called “let’s eat. Dinner is served.”
“Will we be hearing wedding bells soon” Eli asked the following morning as they did rounds.
“No one said anything about marriage” he protested “besides we hardly know each other.”
“Whose fault is that” he demanded “he isn’t Oliver.”
“I know that….”
“I am not” he hesitated “maybe a little.” Before Eli could say anything he cut him off. “I know what your going to say. I know they’re totally different people. Totally different circumstances. I know it but my brain hasn’t caught up with me yet.”
“Want some advice” he asked.
“Even if I didn’t I’m going to get it anyway.”
“Damn right” he chuckled “don’t hold onto the past. Braylin is here…” Pausing to give Trebor a reassuring smile when he saw the way he looked around attempting to find the pink haired male. “Not physically you dork. I meant figuratively.”
“I knew that” he said feeling his cheeks heating up.
“Yeah right. That’s why you were craning your neck to see him” he teased. “You’ve got it bad for him.”
“I do not” he protested knowing that Eli was just trying to get a rise out of him. “I thought you wanted to tell me something” he said hoping to change the subject.
“Oh yeah I did” snapping his fingers as if the thought just occurred to him. “I need your muscles this weekend.”
Groaning he shook his head. “I am not spending my only day off moving Lana’s furniture around.”
“Did I ask you” he said sounding offended.
“Why else would you need my muscles” he demanded knowing the answer was obvious. “I admit I’ve down that in the past but this time you’ll be moving someone else’s furniture around.”
“No” he said firmly “Braylin and I have plans. Dinner and a movie.”
“He can help” he enthused.
“I said no” walking away hoping that would be the end of it.
“You didn’t even ask whose furniture we’re moving” he said catching up with Trebor.
“If you were a fly I’d swat you to get you to leave me alone” he said annoyed at Eli’s persistence.
“Good for me I’m not a fly then.”
“But no less annoying” he gave him a thoughtful look “can’t you ask someone else to help you. I have plans.”
“I could but you kind of offered…”
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t” he frowned. “I only said I’d help Russell move if they ever found a place.”
“They found a place” Eli clapped a hand on his shoulder “cheer up. You and Braylin can go to the movie another night.”
“It’s the last show” he sighed “I was really looking forward to seeing it too.”
“Give it a few months and it’ll be on Netflix” Eli suggested.
“It’s not the same” he complained.
“It’s better” he winked at his friend “if you know what I mean.”
“Oh I know what you mean” shaking his head “not everything has to be about sex.”
“It ought to be” he mumbled rubbing his side where Trebor had elbowed him. “That really hurt.”
“Cry me a river” he called over his shoulder as he out paced him.
Stopping he said “I’ll text you the time and place” he said going into the room of his first patient.