“I think Gordon is trying to hint that he wants kids.” I was serious, but Dean laughed so hard he nearly fell off his couch. “I’m not kidding.”
He kept shaking his head as he tried to catch his breath. “Then you must be drunk.”
I held up the single beer I’d been playing with for the last hour. “Nope.”
We’d been binge-watching the old Star Wars movies all afternoon and I might have had a buzz at one point, but it hadn’t lasted.
“Don’t get me wrong. He seems to be a great boyfriend, but you’ve both always been adamant about not wanting kids.” Dean cocked his head. “You guys didn’t even want a dog when Kathy’s beagle had puppies.”
I wanted to be the attention-whore in the relationship, and Gordon seemed to agree with our respective roles. “I know. That’s one of the things I loved about him from day one.”
I’d been called selfish by more dates than I could count, but I didn’t care because Gordon loved me. I liked knowing I got all his attention and he normally loved giving me attention. But lately, he’d been acting strange. “He’s been leaving weird things all over the apartment. It has to be some kind of hint. What kind of guy randomly buys the big pack of crayons?”
That had Dean giggling again. “Okay, let me clarify something real quick. Didn’t you say a few weeks ago that those were the only packs worth buying?”
I snorted, waving my hand. “We were talking about your niece. Having an opinion on crayons is not weird.”
Smirking, he gave me a skeptical look. “Really, Loren? You made me take back the generic brand and buy the name-brand ones.”
“Because they’re better.” I rolled my eyes. “Everyone knows that.”
“And what about those ridiculous stuffed animals?” He grinned when I stretched one leg out and kicked his foot.
“Don’t talk about my stuffies like that. Most of them are from work. And once in a while I need inspiration.” Sometimes I had to get in the right frame of mind to work.
It wasn’t always easy figuring out what a kid would like in a video game, especially educational ones. It helped to have things around that reminded me of being a kid again.
He snorted. “What about the one you made him buy you from the fair last summer?”
“It was the state fair. He had to buy me one. That’s just what you do at the fair.” Now he was just being ridiculous.
Dean rolled his eyes. “And you wonder why Gordon’s leaving weird stuff around the house. He’s probably trying to do nice things for you.”
I thought about it for a minute. “But he brought home dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets yesterday. He went to the grocery store for a few things and came back with all kinds of kid food.”
If all Dean was going to do was laugh, I was going to get another beer.
Turning back to the movie, I sighed when he started a terribly unbelievable apology.
“I’m sorry. I won’t laugh.” He proved that to be a lie very quickly. “But come on, you have to see this from his perspective. You’re not the most grown-up adult he’s ever met.”
Flipping him off made me feel better even though he started grinning again. “I’ve got a good job and make good money. I travel and read and I’m very grown-up, thank you very much.”
“You play with kids’ games for a living and your favorite cereals have more food dye and sugar than nutrition. You refuse to get a gym membership because you think it’s no fun there. And you only read space books and those stories based on anime. Should I go on?” His smirk said he thought he was being funny.
“Cereal has a lot of nutrition these days and most brands have taken out the bad dyes. And really, the gym is boring and the only reason anyone goes is to people-watch or hunt for a date. I don’t like either of those things.” That didn’t make me some kind of overgrown five-year-old, especially when I read science fiction, not space stories.
And shit, everyone liked anime; that didn’t make me a kid.
Dean’s smile faded a bit. “No one is saying any of this is a bad thing. Gordon seems to like that you’re a kid at heart. He’s probably just trying to surprise you with things he thinks you’ll like. I seriously doubt he wants to change anything about your relationship.”
“But why is he leaving stuff around now? We’ve been living together for over a year, so why is he changing up things now?” Nothing I could think of made sense.
Dean shrugged. “Ask him. I just think he’s trying to do little things to make you happy.”
“I don’t want to look insane.”
That had him cracking up again. “Too late for that, man. Just ask what he’s thinking and tell him you don’t need the presents or the nuggets and you want to go back to being just a bit strange and not full-on odd.”
“Hey, I didn’t say I didn’t want the nuggets. I just don’t want things to change between us. I like how things are going.” Considering we’d met on a hookup app, I thought our relationship was going great.
One-night stands were supposed to stay that way…but clearly, neither of us had gotten the message because we’d kept hooking up and that had led to dating, and then after about a year, I’d moved into his place.
“You guys have a great relationship.” He sat up, looking less smug and more sincere. “If he wants to change something up, just ask him about it. Don’t assume change is bad.”
I didn’t know about that.
“Dating sucks. I don’t want to screw this up. I got lucky with a hookup app, but what if this goes south and I have to start dating again?” I loved Gordon more than anything, but I knew I’d struck gold with him, and once I got over the devastation, I’d eventually want to date again…and that was a terrible thought.
Most guys wanted someone a lot more boring than I was. I’d even dated one guy who said I was wasting my talent on children’s games while there was a fortune to be made in other parts of the industry. He just hadn’t gotten it.
I liked what I was doing, and I loved Gordon to pieces. He might look like a boring guy in his forties, but he was sweet and made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world. He even thought it was cute when I curled up on his lap to watch a movie.
For a desk jockey, he had a broad, sexy chest and a comfy lap.
“If he’s leaving crayons around the house, he’s clearly not trying to get you to grow up. So, I don’t know what the problem is.” Dean leaned back again. “There’s no way he’s hinting to you about kids. If anything, he seems to be even more focused on you lately.”
I set the now warm beer down and flopped back in the chair. “I just want to know what he’s thinking.”
“Then ask him.” Dean rolled his eyes again. “What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like he thinks you’re sane.”
“He thinks I’m wonderful.” And I liked that he was just the tiniest bit possessive.
I’d dated a few creeps, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know the difference between bad asshole possessive and the sexy old-fashioned romance kind. Dean liked to joke that Gordon was like one of the Doms from the books he liked to read, but the furthest we’d ever gone with anything like that were a few swats to my ass when we were fucking and really going at it sometimes.
He was the sweetest guy when we made love, but sometimes it was just down-and-dirty fucking. I loved both, but sometimes the rough, passionate moments with him made me feel just as loved as the tender ones.
That didn’t mean I wanted to get tied up or something crazy like the guys in Dean’s books, but I could see the appeal sometimes.
“He thinks you’re wonderful and insane and still loves you anyway, so talk to the man.” As the movie ended, Dean sat up. “Okay, I’m kicking you out. You told Gordon you’d start walking home at five and it’s almost time. Go home and talk to your man before you give yourself gray hair.”
I refused to give in to the urge to run my fingers through my hair and glared at him instead. “I’m not anywhere near old enough to go gray.”
“Keep worrying and feel free to test it out.” But he grinned as he grabbed my still almost-full bottle and headed toward the kitchen. “You sober?”
I snorted. “I’m walking two blocks, not driving.”
Dean laughed. “Gordon did not find it funny when you walked home buzzed last time.”
He hadn’t found it funny, but the look on his face had been so sexy I’d gone down on him in the living room. We hadn’t even made it to the bedroom.
I was getting really good at apologizing on my knees.
“I’m sober.” Unfortunately. I had a feeling the conversation would have been easier drunk. “I’ll see you later.”
Dean’s head popped out around the kitchen doorway. “Just ask what’s up and listen to him. Don’t assume it’s going to be bad.”
“I know.” But we both knew the chances of it being good were slim. My relationship with Gordon was the longest I’d ever had with anyone and I didn’t want to lose it.
As I headed out the door and down to the street, my mind kept trying to find reasonable explanations for the odd gifts and curious looks he’d been giving me lately. But there was nothing coming to mind. Even the ten-minute walk home didn’t give me the time to figure out anything.
But all of that faded away when my sexy, frowning man met me at the door. “You didn’t walk home drunk, did you? You said you’d call if you—”
Wrapping my arms around him, I cut off his worry with a kiss. I kept it sweet and light, smiling as I curled into him. “I was very good. I’ve only had about a quarter of a beer in the last hour.”
He gave me a teasing frown. “I’m not that bad. You just don’t always think of the danger in things.”
He was cute when he worried.
“But that’s what I have you for.” Giving him a smacky kiss, I hugged him tight and grinned. “I also didn’t fill up on crazy things all afternoon, so I’m starving.”
Gordon gave a low chuckle that hit just the right note and sent a shiver down my spine right to my dick. “Good, I made a fun dinner and it’s almost ready.”
“Perfect.” Fun sounded better than interesting, which had been the way he’d described this weird dish with lots of spices and strange vegetables last month. I’d been good and started eating it, but he’d just laughed after taking one bite and ordered pizza.
Maybe fun meant he’d ordered pizza?
He usually preferred what he called real food over fast food, but since that was his one drawback, I could deal with it.
Especially since he didn’t complain about my cereal.
But as we headed into the kitchen, I stopped when I saw what was on the table…dinosaur nuggets and tater tots.
We definitely had to talk.
“I want to talk—”
“We need to talk—”
We stopped as we realized we were just speaking over one another. Glancing back and forth between the food and Gordon, I tried to keep a neutral expression. “I think I’ll let you go first.”
His smile said I hadn’t gotten the neutral part down pat.
Sometimes it takes a loved one to point out the obvious before we see it.
Loren knows he isn’t the most grown-up adult out there—though anyone who makes educational video games for kids can’t be too boring. Most guys he’s dated haven’t understood, but Gordon does. Loren’s loving boyfriend makes him feel special and cared for…but lately something’s changed.
Maybe leaving out crayons and buying dinosaur chicken nuggets wasn’t the best way to get Loren’s attention, but it worked.
Gordon knows Loren didn’t have the most emotionally supportive childhood, but the smart, funny man has grown into an excitable, loving boyfriend. However, when Gordon connects the dots and realizes there’s more to Loren’s desire to be young at heart than meets the eye, he knows it’s time to show Loren that sometimes being a grown-up means embracing your little side.
This story started out as a novella in the Dirty Daddies: 2020 Anniversary Anthology. It has been extended into a full-length novel with an additional 49k words added to the story. If you read the original novella and want to skip directly to the new portion, jump to chapter 11.