Us

Chapter 1

Ryan

 

“He’s gay, right?”

Scott snorted. I didn’t need to glance over at him to picture the frustrated look on his face. “He’s in a gay bar, wearing skintight jeans, a see-through shirt, and some stud who’s probably got a hot accent just bought him a drink. What do you think?”

I knew right off the bat how to drain the smug sound from his voice. “I have three words for you. Pizza. Delivery. Guy.”

It was like a balloon deflating. “Oh, okay…so he might be gay.”

And we were back to square one. “Do you think he’s gay?”

Scott took a moment to think it through, and I glanced over to see his wide shoulders shrug. “I really think the pizza guy was an anomaly. Who flirts with gay guys to get bigger tips?”

Evidently, we either tipped too much or were suckers.

Probably both.

Not wanting to rehash the pizza disaster, I glanced back toward the bar. “Do you think he’s just here because guys buy him drinks? Lisa over in accounting said when she and her husband were dating, she’d let him go to gay bars with his friends. She said it was a way for him to hang out with his buddies without other girls coming up to him.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Setting his glass down on the small round table, he gave me a long look, not sure whether to believe me or not. “Is it actually true?”

She’d seemed genuine. “She said it was. She said he was military, so guys thought he had to say he was straight. Then they’d still buy beers for him.”

“Sounds like she didn’t trust him at all.” Scott was big on trust and wouldn’t even date a guy who made him question their sincerity.

It was my turn to shrug. “They’re going through some kind of weird divorce, so maybe.”

“Weird?”

Nodding, I took a drink of my beer before answering. “Yeah…like screaming daytime talk show weird.”

He leaned against the back of the chair, clearly getting into the idea of it. “That’s not good. Did—”

I had a flashback to our last night out. “Nope. We’re not getting distracted. This is what happened last time we went out.”

Scott’s eyebrows pulled together, and he gave me a questioning look. “We had a good time listening to that band. What are you talking about?”

I had to chuckle. We’d had a good time that night, sure, but that wasn’t what I was pointing out. “We planned out your financial goals for the year while listening to the band. We were supposed to be picking up guys. Remember?”

Scott didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it. “Hey, we got a lot done. And there weren’t that many gay guys around.”

“Maybe we just didn’t see them because we weren’t looking at all.” I could never decide if Scott was easily distracted by things when we went out or if picking up guys made him nervous, so he just didn’t even attempt to do it.

Probably both.

“Well, I’m looking now, and I’m still not seeing anyone I want to talk to.”

“Talk to?” There were tons of people to chat with at the club, but that was part of the problem. It was crowded and overwhelming. Scott didn’t seem to mind, but I preferred the smaller bars we usually went to.

He barked out a laugh that was almost lost in the music blaring from the dance floor in the other room. “To start with. Got to at least say hello.”

I fought to keep a straight face. “And then ‘what’s your sign?’”

Scott groaned. “Don’t say that. I still have nightmares about that guy.”

I chuckled. “But he seemed so into you.”

Shaking his head, Scott reached for his beer. “Nope. Not in a thousand lifetimes.”

Our first experience with a gay bar in college had been a disaster. We’d been the only guys under fifty, and they’d circled like birds of prey. The guy dressed in seventies chic had been the nicest but had the worst pickup lines ever.

What had made it even better was that Scott could be slightly literal, especially when he was buzzed, and he’d had no idea what the guy was talking about. Scott had just looked around, and then asked me if I’d stolen a sign.

He’d been a bit more buzzed than I’d realized.

“Okay, no more nightmare memories.” I resisted the urge to reach over and squeeze his shoulder, not wanting to give anyone the impression we were together. Nodding, I grabbed my beer instead.

“Thank you.” Scott looked around the room as he drank his beer and then set the glass down. “Maybe we should’ve gone somewhere else tonight.”

He was probably right. We were both aggressive and outgoing in sports, and even when it came to work, but clubs and dating were different. When you weren’t crowding around twinks on the dance floor, people assumed you were either straight and lost, or taken.

Scott always came across awkwardly when picking up somebody in this kind of situation, so he barely ever tried. I thought he needed to relax more and be himself, but he thought guys wouldn’t find the real him as attractive as the package looked.

It was ridiculous, but I couldn’t change his mind. Sure, a lot of guys went for the big, brawny, football-type tops, but most of the time those guys wanted smart and interesting to talk to as well. I thought it was cute when he’d get excited about some historical event that happened centuries ago or an article he’d read on the stock market.

He just didn’t let enough people see that side of himself.

I wasn’t boring and wasn’t completely useless in social situations, but that didn’t help me find guys I was attracted to. Finding cute, outgoing twinks wasn’t hard, but they took one look at me and decided I must be some kind of dominant top.

At that point, the only guys who would talk to me were looking for me to make all the decisions and take control. It was frustrating, because that wasn’t who I was or what I wanted.

But there was no way I was going to tell them that.

Big, broad guys who still looked like they played football in college weren’t supposed to want someone else to take charge in bed. I was supposed to throw a twink around and growl orders at him, not want him to stretch me out and give me sexy demands.

“Why don’t you go talk to that guy?” Scott’s eyes shifted toward the other end of the bar. “He’s been batting his eyelashes at you for the past few minutes. Not that you seemed to have noticed.”

I’d noticed, but I was hoping Scott wouldn’t.

The little brunet was cute, with big Bambi eyes and a stylishly floppy haircut, but every movement just screamed out he was looking for some kind of big sexy daddy. His eyes had followed every muscular guy in the place.

I should’ve been interested. But without being overly honest, there wasn’t a good explanation for why I wasn’t. Scott would’ve probably understood, but there were just some things we’d never talked about.

Hell, even after knowing him all through high school, I hadn’t realized he was gay until we started hanging out in college together.

So I wasn’t in any hurry to tell him a submissive guy would never do it for me.

Thankfully, I was saved from having to come up with an excuse when someone else went up and sat beside the guy at the bar. Scott seemed frustrated for me, which was nice, but not really necessary.

“Maybe next time.” Making excuses was becoming second nature. “I’m not in any hurry to jump back into anything serious, and he looks like the serious type.” That was the best I could come up with. It was almost true, so I didn’t feel too bad about the lie.

I’d been dating a guy for almost a year, and a few months ago, we’d broken up. Nothing crazy and dramatic, but he’d been really frustrated I wouldn’t open up more. Mike had been nice, but I’d kind of fallen into a relationship with him by accident, and I’d always known it wouldn’t work in the long run.

Evidently, if you had too many coffee dates with someone you ended up in a relationship.

I was going to be more careful about that in the future.

Part of the reason I’d been putting off dating was because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I couldn’t decide if I was going to keep living half in the closet, or if I was going to go for it and find someone I was really interested in.

I’d probably end up staying in the closet, but at least I was going to think about it for a while.

I wasn’t sure if that was the right analogy or not, but it was the best I could come up with. When the only thing you were honest and open about was the fact that you were gay, had you really come out? I knew some people would say yes and think I was stupid or prejudiced or judgmental or something. I wasn’t sure how to explain it, but it felt wrong to me. But it wasn’t like I felt the need to shout it from the rooftops or anything dramatic.

But when I was hiding things from someone like Scott, it’d never felt like I was being my real self.

Looking back to the other side of the bar, I saw the sexy guy we’d first noticed still holding court. The mix of guys and girls around him kept shifting, so it didn’t look like he was with anyone in particular. But even if I’d been willing to go up and try to flirt with him, I wasn’t going to so much as smile in his direction until I knew if he was at least bi.

Not that I was probably going to do that either.

Scott’s whole body tensed and he let out a slow breath. “Oh, that’s interesting.”

So he was bi, or at least very open-minded.

He also seemed to be in some kind of relationship with the people who’d been around him the longest, a tall blond guy and a short little brunette woman. As they’d gotten up, they’d both leaned over and took turns giving him heated kisses.

The crowd around them made catcalls and teasing comments, but he shrugged and seemed to wave it off. The man and woman headed back toward the dance floor, but the sexy twink just hung out with everyone else.

“So do you think they’re all together?” Scott was still working on his first beer, so I wasn’t worried about him being drunk yet. Just not quite ready to give up hope on the sexy guy.

“Maybe.” I shrugged. “That’s kind of what it looks like.”

Part of me was relieved, but there was another part that was frustrated. I didn’t even know his name, but he was everything I secretly, and not-so-secretly, wanted. His dark hair was just long enough that it probably had a constantly messy look to it unless he used something to tame it, but it seemed to fit him. The tight jeans showed how narrow his waist was, but the nearly see-through shirt showed long, sculpted muscles. He might have been much smaller than we were, but he wasn’t fragile.

If it had just been his looks that had drawn me in, I wouldn’t have given him another thought after that. I wasn’t into chasing someone who was already in a relationship, or even lusting after them, for that matter. But no, it was something in his expression and the way he watched everyone around him that kept pulling my attention back to him.

He wasn’t simply passively enjoying his friends…there was something almost predatory about him.

When a new song came on, a smile broke out over his face, and he grabbed one of the guys sitting beside him. His friend was tall and broad and even from across the room looked like a tank. The cute twink pulled him up from his chair and started dancing around him, grinding and moving against the big guy like his friend was just a convenient pole to play on.

It was beyond hot.

The muscular twink didn’t seem to care who was watching, and even though I would’ve expected the other guy to take charge, the sexy twink kept firm control of the situation. He wasn’t just leading—he was showing the other guy exactly what he wanted and expecting to be followed.

Fuck.

Evidently, once he got started, he didn’t want to stop dancing. I saw him glance toward the door that led to the dance floor and turn back to say something to the other guy. The big hulking guy shook his head but ended up being dragged away from the bar by the twink. As they got lost in the crowd, I turned to Scott. “I’m guessing at least bi…or something like that.”

“Yeah.” Scott didn’t seem to be any more pleased with the way things had gone than I was. “At least my gaydar’s getting better.”

I laughed so hard I had to put down my glass. “You’re right.”

That was one way to look at it.

As I finished my beer, I glanced over at Scott. I had to ask, even though I already knew the answer. “Did you want to go dance?”

“No.”

Yep, exactly what I thought.

I didn’t mind dancing. I was fairly coordinated, and I could pretend to dominate a cute little thing on the dance floor long enough to have fun, even if that wasn’t what I wanted anywhere else. But Scott refused to dance.

Scott just watched from the sides and that was it. He liked music, so I thought it was probably a coordination thing or just not enough practice. I wasn’t going to force him or make us both uncomfortable by asking why, so I left it at that.

“I’m going to go grab another beer.” I stood and gestured toward his beer. “You good with that one still?”

“Yeah, fine.” It had to be warm, but he nodded casually. Instead of glancing up at me, he looked off toward the dance floor.

I couldn’t decide if he was regretting his choice of not following the guy or just trying to imagine what they were doing. Sometimes, Scott was hard to read. But since I’d never pushed, I couldn’t complain. At least that’s what my mother had said one time when I’d tried to.

Moving my way through the club up to the bar, I started wishing we’d gone someplace less crowded. By the time I made my way back, Scott had been sitting there for a while. There’d been an odd look on his face when I’d left, but as the crowd had shifted around the room, I hadn’t been able to see him anymore.

I expected to find a bored Scott on his cell phone planning out his next financial conquest, but instead, as I pushed my way past a crowd of college kids who’d decided that the middle of the room was the best place for them to hang out, I was stopped in my tracks.

The sexy twink was leaning over our table, ass arched out and so perfect I wanted to take a bite out of it.

Fuck.

What was I supposed to do?

Thankfully, as he looked up and gave me a tempting smile, I realized it wasn’t up to me.

 

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