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Gabe sat in his office, finishing up his work for the day. He had been at Bartley, Fitch and Meade for over two months and though he loved the work, Gabe felt that it was sometimes too much for him. He was going over the few accounts they had given him to review when his supervisor knocked on his open door. He looked up and smiled.
“Hey Gabe. How are you making out?”
“Not bad. Just still trying to familiarize myself with all of it.” Gabe said and waved a hand at the many files on his desk.
“Don’t worry. No one expects you to be an expert on them just yet. From what I’ve seen you’re doing a hell of a job. We’re all very impressed with that error you found on the Arbuckle Account.”
“It wasn’t much.”
“Yeah, it kind of was. It saved us a hell of a lot of man hours catching it now rather than later. I let the important people know that it was you who found it.” Paula said, speaking of the higher ups.
“Thank you. As the new guy, I appreciate that.”
“I’m not going to lie, I can be a bitch, but I give credit where credit is due.” She said and pulled her pocket book higher on her shoulder. “Come on. Close up and I’ll let you walk me out.”
“I just wanted to-.”
“It’s Friday, Gabe. There will be many occasions to pull all nighters in the future. You should see this place from February to May. But for the time being our department has nothing crucial coming up.”
Gabe put away the files, closed his computer and grabbed his suit jacket. They walked outside to the parking garage and were about to say goodnight when Gabe stopped.
“Paula, I know I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth but do you have any idea why they chose me? I mean, I’m sure there were people with more impressive qualifications.”
“No offense Gabe, but I asked that very question. It seems you and Mr. Fitch have a mutual friend.”
“Who’s that?” Gabe asked, wondering who he and Mr. Fitch could possibly both know.
“Loretta Makepeace. You are Gabriel Donovan, right? We didn’t hire the wrong person, not that there’s much we could do about it now.”
“I’m Gabriel Donovan, but I’m not sure I know a Loretta Makepeace is.”
“She’s…. well, she’s.” Paula struggled to describe her, but then smiled. “That’s funny. She’s right over there. Getting into the car with Mr. Fitch.”
Gabe turned and saw an older black woman speaking with the owner of his company. She turned her head and spotted Gabe, smiled and waved then went back to speaking.
“You know her, right?” Paula asked.
“I know her.” Gabe said.
“Thank God, I thought I was going to have to fire you.” Paula smiled. “Have a great weekend, Gabe.” She said and walked off to her car.
Gabe watched the woman who called herself God and Mr. Fitch step into the limousine and drive off. He shook his head, then went to find his own car.
He pulled into the driveway and was surprised by the amount of cars there. Apparently, Darren and Phil were having some friends over. Gabe grabbed his briefcase and headed into the house. The music was blasting, the smell of good food was tantalizing and the sound of conversation was welcoming. Gabe threw his jacket on the banister and placed his briefcase down before heading into the back yard to see what was up. Kyle saw him first and smiled..
“Hey you. We were wondering when you’d get home.”
“My boss let me go a little early tonight.” Gabe said and took a look around.
Many, but not all of Darren and Phil’s friends were here. Some twenty gay man between the ages of 22 and 69 enjoying the food and companionship of an impromptu back yard party. Darren saw him and came rushing over.
“Hey, I hope this is ok.”
“Darren, it’s your house. You can have parties if you want to.” Gabe said as if talking to a child.
“I know, but we didn’t even get to tell you about it. It was really last minute. You see we invited Kyle over for dinner so you guys could…. talk, but Terry overheard and wanted to come. So then I invited a few more people over so that it wasn’t just us and Terry and before I knew it, everyone was telling everyone that we were having a kegger.”
“Jesus, it’s still like high school, isn’t it?” Gabe smiled.
“Like you’d know. You never went to a kegger in high school.”
“I went to Donna Burhans’ party in junior year.”
“The one where Eric Nettleman threw up on her mom’s couch?”
“That wasn’t a kegger.” Darren said, and scoffed dismissively. “That was a bunch of kids with a case of Coors Light and a bottle of Donna’s mom’s peach schnapps.”
“Well, still I was there.”
“Whatever. Anyway, I’ve been trying to keep Terry away from Kyle but it’s been hard not being obvious and Phil is being totally uncooperative. So, go upstairs, slip into something sexy and get your ass down here pronto.”
“Darren, I appreciate what you’re trying to do but we’re all adults here and if Kyle’s interested in Terry than he can talk to him. He can even sleep with him. It’s casino oyna ok.” Gabe glanced quickly over at Kyle and the man he was speaking with. “Is Terry a thirty year old bleach blonde with a hot pink tank top?”
“He’s twenty-eight, but yeah.”
“Ah.” Gabe said and started mentally going through his wardrobe thinking of a suitable outfit.
“Get upstairs and change.” Darren said and pushed him through the door.
Gabe came down a couple minutes later having chosen to dress casually and let the chips fall where they may. Though he felt in his heart that he wasn’t ready, he had hoped that Kyle would be available when he was, but that wasn’t fair to ask of anyone. If Kyle chose Terry, then he wished them well. Stepping onto the back deck, Gabe saw them both still speaking and decided to leave them undisturbed and snag some food before it was all gone. He had never understood how all the food could disappear with everyone claiming to be dieting.
“Hey.” Said a voice behind him. He turned and found Kyle standing next to him, a beer in hand.
“Hey. What’s going on?”
“The usual. You mind doing me a solid?”
“Depends. That’s still a metaphor for favor right?” Gabe smiled and Kyle grinned back.
“Yeah. I’ll leave any other possible inferences up to you.” Gabe lowered his eyes and tried unsuccessfully not to blush.
“What’s this `solid’ you want?”
“Just talk to me. Terry’s been at me for the last hour and a half trying to get me to ask him out and that’s only since we’ve been here.”
“He seems like a nice guy.” Gabe said, hoping he sounded impartial.
“Have you actually met him?”
“No. I haven’t.”
“He’s a spoiled trust fund kid who’s parents think the sun rises and sets in his ass. He’s been after me for the last eight months, when he’s not seeing some other guy and sometimes when he is. He brings his car to be serviced every month. I swear, he alone has bought me a new three bay garage with lifts.” Gabe laughed.
“Maybe I should go talk to him and see who handles his trust fund. Maybe he’d like to switch. If I could bring in a new account I’d be sitting in roses.”
“Put down the calculator and unplug for a moment.” Kyle said and popped a stuffed mushroom cap into Gabe’s mouth. “We’re talking about me and how to get me away from him.”
“Ok.” Gabe said around the surprisingly delicious appetizer. “So you don’t like him because he’s pushy? I thought you liked aggressive guys?”
“No, I like being aggressive. There’s a difference. I know it’s retarded but it kind of turns me off when I’m pursued.”
“Ah, you like the chase and the hunt.”
“You make me sound like a neanderthal who has to be watched so he doesn’t go around clubbing his mates.”
“If the shoe fits.” Gabe couldn’t resist and had a wicked smile on his face. Kyle laughed.
“I just might make you pay for that.”
“Sorry, but you walked into it. Have you tried being honest with him?”
“I thought about that but saying that I’m not interested in him is just going to make him ask why not.”
“And you’d have to tell him that you don’t like being pursued.” Gabe nodded.
“No, I’d have to tell him that I’m interested in another man.” Kyle said and locked eyes with Gabe who felt a pang of nervousness. “It’s ok, Gabe. I’m not pushing. I can wait.”
“Kyle-.” Gabe started but was interrupted.
“Kyle?” Terry said as he came over and stood next to them. “I was waiting for you to come back.”
“I’m sorry Terry. I thought I’d mingle a little.” Kyle said. “I don’t think you guys have met. Terry Thompson, Gabe Donovan.”
“Nice to meet you, Terry.” Gabe said and offered a hand, which was ignored.
“Kyle, could I talk to you for a minute?” Terry said and walked off expecting Kyle to follow.
“Still think he’s a nice guy?” Kyle asked.
“I’d shoot the bitch but it’s not my party. It’d be sort of rude, you know? Listen, why don’t you go try to calm him down a little, if you’re not back in two minutes I’ll send Darren to go get you.”
“You’d better or I’ll have your ass.” Kyle started walking off but turned around with a big smile on his face. “I’ll leave the possible inferences up to you.”
Gabe laughed and watched him walk over to an obviously irate Terry. He used the time to walk around the party for a bit and get introduced to some of Darren and Phil’s friends that he hadn’t met but kept an eye on Terry and Kyle who’s conversation did not seem to be going well. He walked up to Darren and pulled him aside.
“Terry looks like he’s about to hit the fan. Can you go save Kyle?”
“Oh fuck. He does this at every party. No one even invites him anymore. I just couldn’t see a way around it. Damn, social mores!” Darren cursed and went to extricate Kyle from the situation.
It didn’t take long before Terry was screaming and making a scene. The drama, of course was eaten up by the other guests, but for Gabe it was an embarrassing moment that he somehow felt pulled into the middle of. And that was before Terry started mentioning him by name.
“And canlı casino you’re going to choose Gabriel the slut over me?! He moves here from some bumfucked place up north and mooches off of Phil and Darren; living at their house, driving their car, eating their food. I’m fucking sick of it!”
“Terry, shut your mouth! That’s enough!” Kyle said, but Darren was livid and pushed passed Kyle to stand in front of Terry.
“Gabe is a guest in my house and no one, certainly not you, will say shit about him! It’s been long passed your time to leave!”
“Darren! We’re best friends!” Terry cried. “You’re actually going to let that little cunt stay here and kick me out?!”
“I told-” Darren had lowered his voice and was obviously restraining himself from causing physical harm. “No one says anything about Gabe! Now take your canker sore ridden ass out of here!”
Terry was escorted out by some guests who realized that he wasn’t going to go on his own. His irate shrieks could be heard from the front driveway as he was being helped into his car.
“Darren, I’m so sorry.” Gabe said.
“For what? You didn’t do shit! That piece of crap wasn’t welcome here in the first place and will never come back here, my hand to God! You don’t have anything to be sorry for. Now that the drama’s done, let’s get back to the party.”
The last guest left around three in the morning and Gabe sighed as the door closed behind them. He had been struggling to stay awake for the last two. The food had been put away and most of the party was cleaned up but for the trash and empty bottles. Darren, Phil, Kyle and Gabe all crashed on the couch and gave themselves a minute just to zone out.
“Well, that was a party.” Darren said, though no one really had the energy to agree.
“I’d help clean up but I’m beat.” Gabe said.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll do it in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or Sunday. Whichever comes first.” Darren said.
“I didn’t ask, but I’m hoping it’s cool if I stay over?” Kyle asked.
“Yeah, anytime.” Phil said. “The other spare room’s made up, right Darren?”
“I made it up earlier in case someone did need to stay and Kyle, you never have to ask. You’ve an open invitation.”
“Cool.” Kyle said and closed his eyes. Darren caught Gabe’s gaze and wriggled his eyebrows. Gabe frowned as if to say, piss off.
“Well kids, I’m thinking it’s time for me to go to bed.” Darren pulled himself up. “Coming, baby?”
“Only if you pull me up.” Phil said and Darren helped him up off the couch. They walked upstairs together with their arms around each other.
“They’re cute.” Gabe said.
“Yeah, they’ve always been like that. Once Darren met Phil they fell for each other like a ton of bricks.”
“Kyle, about Terry.”
“I don’t want to talk about Terry. He’s an ass.”
“Be that as it may, I feel guilty.”
“What could you possibly feel guilty about Terry for?”
“Not so much about Terry as about you. I feel like I’m making you wait for me and I don’t know when I’ll be ready to have a relationship. I couldn’t be with someone just to be with them, especially since I’m getting over someone else. That’d be wrong.”
“You’re not making me wait, Gabe. I’ve chosen to wait for you.”
“There’s nothing I can say or do to make you change your mind?”
“Do you want to make me change my mind?”
“I think I should. It’s the right thing to do.” Gabe said and saw that Kyle seemed like he was getting angry.
“Well, I guess if you looked at me and told me that you couldn’t imagine a future for us ever that would do it.” Kyle said and Gabe looked away. “Can you do that, Gabe?”
“No.” Gabe felt like he was fucking everything up, making Kyle mad and not being able to let him go when he was given the opportunity. Kyle sighed.
“I’ve been there, Gabe. I’ve been hung up over a guy and not ready to move on. You have people telling you to get out there and live and meet people and you feel like going home, listening to depressing music and sleeping. I understand. I’m not asking you for anything, Gabe, other than to just let me wait and be your friend.” Kyle stood up from the couch and leaned over and placed a chase kiss on Gabe’s lips.
“Good night, Gabriel.”
“Good night, Kyle.”
Gabe went to sleep with the soft feel of Kyle’s lips on his.
Gabe woke up the next morning and headed down to the kitchen. He found Darren and Phil sitting around the kitchen island drinking coffee and held out his hand as Darren handed him a cup.
“Thank you.” He said after taking the first sip.
“Not a problem.” Darren answered.
“Kyle’s not up yet?” Gabe asked.
“He sleeps like the dead. If he doesn’t have something to do, he won’t get up till two. And he’s a bear if you try to get him up earlier.”
“How do you know?” Darren asked.
“He’s been my friend for seven years. I’ve occasionally had to go over and wake him up.”
“Phil, have you and Kyle ever…?” Darren asked.
“No!” Phil said.
“You sure. The only reason I’d kaçak casino be mad is cause you didn’t tell me sooner.”
“We never did anything!” Phil said and rose to get more coffee.
“Who never did anything?” Kyle asked as he came down the stairs.
“You and Phil never slept together.” Darren said.
“No!” Kyle said as if he had never considered the idea. “We were buddies and then you came along. It just never happened.”
“Just checking.” Darren said and kissed Phil’s cheek who looked at his husband as if he weren’t sure whether to laugh or check him into a mental ward.
They finished cleaning from the party and by the time they were done, had rid themselves of the last bits of their hangovers. The thought of food became appetizing.
“Why don’t we order pizza?” Gabe suggested.
“I couldn’t do pizza tonight.” Darren said. “What about that Thai place in town?”
“No Thai. There’s only two Thai things I eat and I have to be in the mood for them.” Kyle said.
“What about Chinese?” Phil suggested.
“Nah.” Gabe shook his head. “I’ve been eating Chinese for lunch for the last two weeks. I’m done.”
“I know.” Kyle said with a smile. “City Island.”
“Oh God, yeah! We haven’t been to City Island in forever.” Darren smiled.
“Sounds good to me.” Phil added.
“What’s City Island?” Gabe asked.
“You’ll have to see it to believe it.” Kyle said and they packed into the car and headed toward the Bronx.
They were in the middle of an urban area populated with large apartment buildings when Kyle turned off on an exit marked City Island. In a minute they were surrounded by a small wooded area and then crossed a small bridge onto a quaint little fishing village which reminded Gabe of Cape Cod. For this to be so close to the city caught him by surprise and the magic of it delighted him. Kyle drove to the end of the main street which literally ran into the Long Island Sound and parked at a restaurant just off to the side.
“They make great food here.” Kyle smiled and walked along side Gabe as Darren walked along side Phil.
The four of them walked into the seafood restaurant and Gabe looked a little dubious at the long line of people in front of them.
“It goes quick.” Kyle said, guessing what Gabe was thinking. “They’ve got twenty guys behind the counter. It’s worth the wait.”
“All right, I guess I’ll have to trust you.” Gabe smiled.
“You don’t trust me yet?” Kyle smiled back and his eyes caught Gabe’s. They suddenly weren’t speaking of food. Gabe was saved from having to say anything when one of the guys behind the counter asked Kyle what he wanted.
Kyle got a plate of fried scallops, Darren’s choice was fried shrimp, Phil ordered porgies and Gabe chose a combo plate. They took their trays with their plates piled high with fish and fries and headed out to the back patio to sit in the sun and look out over the bay. Kyle and Phil took their drink orders and headed back into the bar. Gabe took a deep breath of sea air and smiled as he bit into a fried clam.
“So?” Darren asked.
“Oh don’t start that shit. If you have a question just ask it.” Gabe answered.
“Oh my God! Calm down, bitch. I just wanted to see how you and Kyle were doing?”
“What’s to see? We’re not in a relationship and I don’t know if or when we will be.”
“But you like him.” Darren stated.
“Yeah, I like him. I just feel like I’m going to fuck it up because I don’t know if I can let myself love anyone right now. I don’t think I can trust anyone right now.”
“Me thinks the bitch doth protest too much.”
“Cut it out, you sound like a fag.”
“I’m just being nosy and checking up on you both. You guys looked like you were having a good time.”
“Can’t that be all were having? Isn’t that enough?”
“Yeah, baby. I’m sorry. You’ll move on when you’re ready. I get a little crazy sometimes.” Darren said and Gabe felt his hurt, which made him feel like a piece of shit.
“Hey, I’m sorry. You’re looking out for me and you want to see me happy. I get that. I love you and I love Phil. That’s enough love in my life for right now.” Gabe gave Darren a hug. “You guys have been great friends.”
“Well, what are ex lovers for?” Darren asked.
“We just kissed once, freak. Get over yourself.” They were laughing as Kyle and Phil came back with the drinks.
“What’s so funny?” Phil asked.
“Your boyfriend was hitting on me again.” Gabe said.
“If he starts humping your leg just spray him with a water bottle.” Phil answered and Darren flipped him off.
“Does it work?” Kyle asked, laughing.
“No, but it stops you from getting friction burns.” Gabe said and they all laughed as Darren pretended to be pissed off.
They ate and stayed sitting on the back deck of the restaurant till the sun set and then decided to make their way home. They piled in the car, Gabe and Kyle in the front, Darren and Phil in the back. None of them spoke for a while, feeling tired and delighted with the day. Gabe heard a noise coming from the back and turned his head to see Phil and Darren making out. He smiled and nudged Kyle who glanced back quickly.
“They think they’re still in high school.” He said and Gabe chuckled.
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