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Author’s note-[Bracketed text implies text messages]
Thank you to all who have read, voted, or commented on my work in progress. I appreciate the support and criticism
There was a little nook behind the garage. A hammock between two oak trees surrounded on three sided by various other bushes and greenery, the names of which only Tyler knew. Neville loved it anyway, almost every day after dinner he’d have a smoke and swing a little. It was big enough for two or a few, as Tyler liked to say, and comfortable enough to find oneself dozing every now and again. A little camp lantern hung on just the right branch provided the perfect ambience for quiet contemplation. And Neville had to admit the novelty of open space hadn’t worn off just yet. Even if it was secluded, the open side faced the back yard and woods beyond. Neville looked at the trees, put his earbuds in and zone out.
The perfect time was just before dark, when only the brightest stars were out. Crickets just beginning to chirp, Neville woke up just in time. He didn’t wake Breeze, slipped out quietly from beneath him to take his second shower of the day. He took his time, nursed his tender hole with the massaging shower head a bit before he dried off. Shorts, a hoodie, and his music was all he needed. He didn’t even bother to wear shoes, the lantern helped him avoid any presents from the pack. Bruiser crept up on him just as he hung it up, sat and watched him. Neville turned to find the tug rope at his feet and laughed as he picked it. He lay down and held the rope out, the dog lumbered over and latched on. They played for a couple minutes until Bruiser realized Neville wasn’t that into it. Too exhausted to do more than hold it, he wasn’t any fun and Neville wasn’t surprised when he snatched the rope and left. Neville promised he’d make it up to his furry homie later.
Right now all he could do was lay. He decided he wouldn’t think too hard about anything that happened between him and Brion until they communicated on a less intense level. The sex was like nothing he thought it could be and they both said a lot of things that might not have been had they been sitting at a bar somewhere. But he said he wouldn’t think too hard about it.
His phone vibrated in his lap. A text he could tell by the pattern and he started not to look but changed his mind. A number he didn’t recognize but against his better judgement he opened it.
[Not for nothing but you left me again]
[Don’t play with me Nev]
[You knew my name just fine not too long ago]
[Fuck you I’m outside]
[Yeah yeah whatever. Call bruiser and tell him to bring you]
[Bring me where]
[That bear you call a dog]
[Just do it!!]
Neville didn’t start to get nervous about the lack of response until maybe twenty minutes had passed. Just when he was thinking he should go inside he heard the jingle of Bruisers tags and then muffled cursing. Brion had always had the foulest mouth. It started when they were kids and it made Neville nearly pee his pants laughing but as they got older it became one of his endearing qualities.
“Real talk I thought you was fucking with me,” he said as he eased into the space Neville made beside him. He handed him a pillow but Brion declined, and reached out to scratch Bruiser behind his ears. “This is the smartest dog I ever met,” he said with a chuckle before he settled next to Neville, one leg hanging over the side. He kicked his foot out to get the hammock to sway gently and let out a long sigh.
“No wonder you rather be here than at Paris’,” he almost whispered after a while. “Baby or not I don’t think you can get this kind of quiet.”
“Yet you keep talking,” Neville said with a smirk and Brion gave him an elbow, rocking the hammock so hard it tipped and dumped them on the ground. Well Neville caught himself before he fell and probably could have saved Breeze but he didn’t. “See that’s what you get.”
“Yeah, yeah whatever bruh…you mind if I make a couple phone calls. Pop left me a ton of messages. Texts and everything. Bet he talked to Claude,” he said before he set about dialing his phone. Neville thought he might walk away for some privacy but he didn’t complain when Brion got back in the hammock, this time he sat upright and pushed Neville’s leg down so one drape across his lap and the other dangled next to his.
Neville didn’t know what to think of all this touching so he decided to take it for what it was and not think about it at all. He slipped his earbuds in and turned his music on low, giving Breeze the slightest bit of privacy.
“Wassup Pop…Naw, naw I’m good…Oh did he…Yeah I was kind of shitty last night, probably drank too much but I’m aight now…”Neville could hear Brion’s father, or Mac as he was affectionately known, animated tenor voice. He had the same affinity for profanity as his son and Neville often wondered how Mac and his own father came to be so close given his father’s Christian virtues. “Yeah Pop I hear you, I just got tied up that’s all. My bad…Naw Ankara escort maybe later on tonight. I’m good where I’m at.” Neville tried not to smirk at the way Brion shift his eyes at him then, or the way his hand came down from fiddling with his goatee to rest on Neville’s knee. “Yeah I know I seen her a couple weeks ago…yeah she gave me his number…Naw not yet…I don’t know Pop, guess I don’t know what to say…Pop…Pop…”Brion chuckled quietly and held the phone away from his ear as his father continued to berate him for his immaturity. He leaned over and pulled Neville’s headphones out of his ears and said, “I’m gonna tell him but this is too funny…Yeah yeah Pop I hear you…Yeah I know he might need me right now. We might need each other. Of course I miss him but it’s not gonna be the same as it was. We different guys now…I know Pop I’ll stop being a pussy…Yeah right now if you let me get off the phone…Aight, love you too Pop. Tell Margie I’ll be over for dinner tomorrow night, shit I might even surprise you both and bring somebody along…Bye Pop…Nope I said good bye…I’m hanging up now Dad…Nope that’s it…Aight love you Pop see you tomorrow,” Brion said finally and pretended to throw his phone into the bushes. He put his head back and ran his hands over his face before he settled his eyes on Neville and smiled. He opened his mouth to say something but decided against it, laughed to himself and turn to look out over the yard.
It was dark by then but Neville was content to stay where he was, especially when Brion move to put his head on his chest. It was very nonchalant. One hand stroked Neville’s thigh absently as the other worked his phone. He had said a couple calls but the way he relaxed Neville figured Brion might be done for the night. He seemed just as content with his legs crossed at the ankles. Then Brion came to a text that made him sit forward a little, just for a moment before he settled back with a hand behind his head.
Neville only noticed when the fingers stopped tracing the indentation between his thigh muscles. That got his eyes moving in that direction. He knew he shouldn’t look but the screen was so big. The text so clear, Neville couldn’t look away.
[I hope you made it home ok]
[the fuck you care for]
[It wasn’t what they thought. I just didn’t want any trouble. I shouldn’t have left you. I’m sorry. Tell me you’re ok.]
[Lol I’m fine…and it was exactly what they thought. You’re not that clever but I know a bitch when I see one…I figured I’d play along. You slipped me something you peice of shit and you better be glad I don’t tell them I know you did]
“I can hear your nostrils flaring my nigga,” Brion said absently, but he didn’t move away. “Be cool, it’s not that serious bruh. What could of happened didn’t and we’re all glad for it. Let’s leave it at that.” He still didn’t look up, his tone flat, but Neville saw the way his hand shook. He knew it wasn’t from fear. “Tired of telling ya punk ass I don’t need a bodyguard,” he added and nestle his head into the crock of Neville’s arm.
“Yet you don’t decline my services,” was Neville’s quick reply. Then out of nowhere his stomach grumbled and they both burst out laughing. Their bodies collapsed into each other and they didn’t break the contact once they were calm enough to speak. “I don’t know about you but I’m starving.”
“You know I can always eat.”
“Not always but we’ll work on it,” Neville said with a smirk as he dialed up the best person to satisfy his rumbling tummy. He dodged a lazy uppercut from Breeze while he waited for Gianni to pick up. It was about the time he would be packing up for the night and Neville hoped to catch him before he left the truck.
“Tell me something good big fella,” Gianni said with a smile in his voice. He sounded tired but that was normal if he was working. “And before you ask, I got all the coconut shrimp tacos you can eat coming home with me tonight…wait that’s the only reason you called huh greedy?”
“I can’t call my boy to find out how his day is,” Neville lied blatantly and the laugh he heard on the other end of the line told him he didn’t get it past Gianni. “Whatever yo, we got a guest so you gotta bring extra. You know I don’t share them tacos.”
“Mmm tacos,” Brion moaned into Neville’s chest. It wasn’t loud but he was close enough that Gianni heard it over the phone.
“Close company huh,” he asked and Neville laughed. “So I take it you’re protein depleted and ravenous? Don’t answer that, matter fact get off the phone and get the spunk out the air. I’ll be home in like 20.”
He hung up before Neville could respond but he didn’t mind and turned his attention back to the easiest complicated situation he’d ever been in. It wouldn’t last, he was certain of that, but for as long as it did Neville would enjoy it. He slipped his phone into his pocket and slid his arms around Brion, his chin rested on the top of his head. A small smile crept across his lips as he felt first one then two soft kisses on his neck and the long deep breath that followed. A hand slipped under Ankara escort bayan the heavy cotton of his sweatshirt to rest on his back. Neville wondered if he would be so open with his affection when Gianni got back and decided that he wouldn’t be upset if Brion reverted back to the simple touches of male camaraderie. As long as he didn’t have to go without his presence in his life, Neville would take what he could get.
“If it’s aight with you…I mean if you don’t want…I mean I get it if you don’t…”
“Spit it out bud,” Neville said, trying not to acknowledge what he hoped might be said. He lean back to look into Brion’s face and found him looking back at him. In the dim light, the only thing Neville could see clearly were his eyes.
Brion snorted and shook his head before he said, “I’m just saying it might be less hassle if you I stayed til tomorrow that way we could go to Pop’s from my place. Save you the back and forth you know.”
“Less hassle huh,” Neville said with a chuckle. His hopes answered he decided not to press his already impressive luck. “So is that an invitation to family dinner?”
“And a sleepover all at once. Just like old times.”
“Well I hope not. Nobody wants to share your pissy sleeping bag.”
“Word bruh, that was like one time and it was your fault anyway,” Brion groaned as he gave Neville a playful slap across the face. “What kind of 6 year old isn’t scared shitless of Evil Dead…”
“I wasn’t,” Neville said and dodged another love tap from Breeze. This time he grabbed the hand, kissed his palm, and laced their fingers together. “I think Gianni got the new one. Turn all the lights out, build a pillow fort in the living room…”
“Don’t forget the party mix,” Brion added with a laugh.
“I hated that shit you know that right. I only ate it cause you liked it so much,” Neville admitted and Brion rolled his eyes but they were so close that Neville could see the way he smiled. “But fuck party mix when coconut shrimp tacos is coming up the driveway.”
“I’m not watching that movie Neville. Call me a bitch I don’t give a fuck,” he said as he climbed over Neville out of the hammock. Neville grabbed him around the waist and pulled him back, laughing.
“Aww come on Breezy baby, don’t I always protect you…”
“Yeah, yeah but it won’t be the sleeping bag that’s pissy.”
“Hey I might like that you never know,” was his quick response and Brion shoved him away with a gagging noise.
“That’s fucking gross bruh.”
“Yeah I’m sure you said the same thing about jacking another dude but you got over that now didn’t you…ah man I’m just saying keep an open mind that’s all.”
He held Brion in a loose headlock as they went to meet Gianni at his car. Part because he wanted him close, part because he wanted to gauge his reaction to it and was happy when there was none. It was Neville who broke the contact to help his roomie unload his tiny car. He noted the way the two looked at each other and thought it best to make some proper introductions before things got ugly. He was certain Gianni had assumed his “close company” was Colin, hence his eagerness to bring extra food. But he was just as sure that the two men would get along fine if they had a civilized conversation. Getting that conversation started was another story altogether. As soon as they got inside, Gianni headed upstairs mumbling something about a shower and Neville thought from the way he took the stairs two at a time that he might not come back. But he was a better man than that and returned just in time to overhear a quiet conversation between friends.
“I don’t blame him the way I acted last night…I mean honestly I would have laid myself out in the driveway if I was him,” Brion said, his embarrassment plain in his tone. “Maybe I should just get a cab home. You got a good thing going here…good people…I don’t want to ruin it for you.”
“That would ruin it,” Neville said with more force than he meant. He looked at Brion then, his eyes glossy not returning his gaze, and moved to stand beside him. “And it’s not about the sex. I miss my friend. You can’t dangle your presence in my life and snatch it away. That’s not fair to either of us.”
“I ain’t say shit about you bruh,” Brion said quietly, edged himself closer to Neville but didn’t touch him. “But if you think that man gonna wanna chill and have beers with me after all the fucked up shit I said last night you delusional…”
“I’d do it just to spite you,” Gianni said as he passed them to get to the fridge. He pulled out three long necks and popped the caps. With a smile he said, “I’ll admit you made a shitty first impression…”
“That was the second,” Neville said with a chuckle and Brion flipped him the bird.
“Either way,” Gianni added with a smirk. “I won’t hold it against you.” With that Gianni stuck out his hand and introduced himself. “Gianni Bellomo.”
“Brion MacIntosh.” He took the offered hand and pulled Gianni into the hug/handshake of old friends. “That’s not me bruh,” Escort Ankara he whispered before he released him. “This has been the craziest month of my life…”
“Crazier than finding out about Soliel,” Neville asked around a mouthful of taco. Once he knew there wouldn’t be another fist fight he took it upon himself to dig in. Brion’s only response was a hard slap to his ass before he dug in himself.
They stood around the island, the three of them drinking beers and eating communally. It didn’t take long for the good food and booze to release the last bit of tension that hung in the air around them. Neville found himself smiling, a lot, listening to the two of them compare notes about him. He didn’t even mind the sharing of embarrassing moments from his past and present. Like the time when a 13 year old Neville got caught smuggling cans of beer on their eighth grade field trip to D.C.. It was Brion’s idea but he was too scrawny at the time to pull it off, so Neville slipped the six pack down the legs of his sweatpants. Maybe it was the heat from his body or the jostling from the ride but halfway there one by one the cans started to burst. It didn’t take long for their teacher to catch a whiff of the cheap beer in the air and begin questioning the boys in the back of the bus.
“And you know what this dude says…’It’s a long ride and I need to stay hydrated’.” He barely got it out, so consumed with laughter and drink that he wasn’t sure if Gianni heard him. Brion repeated the last line and slapped Neville on the back. “Took the wrap for me and everything, even though he knew his father and that evil bitch he married might lock him in the basement for it. He wouldn’t even let me tell them it was mine, and believe me I begged, but he wouldn’t hear it. The best guy I know right here,” he added, his rough hand around the back of Neville’s neck. It was a loving touch and Neville leaned into it.
Gianni raised his beer, his fourth or fifth they’d stopped counting, and said, “To old friends and new ones…”
“Fresh starts and clean slates,” Brion added, raised his glass of water. They both looked at Neville who raised an eyebrow before he lifted his beer.
“So I guess this mean there ain’t gonna be no fight for my affection…”
“Fucking asshole,” Brion said with a shove.
“Such a jerk,” Gianni said, almost at the same time and they all laughed. He took his beer, and slipped another in the pocket of his sweatpants and headed out of the kitchen.
“Ain’t he, though,” Brion said shaking his head at Neville as he followed Gianni up to the loft.
Neville heard the TV turn on and the channels flip as he cleaned up the dinner mess. It wasn’t much, few empty bottles on the counter and the big disposable tray the tacos came in. He was glad they hadn’t used plates which meant all he had to do was wipe down the counter before he joined them upstairs. There was some stand up special on the TV and the two men laughed hard at his notion of women being deceitfully needy creatures. Neville took a seat on the floor in front of the loveseat where Brion lay, making himself completely at home. Gianni reclined fully in his favorite chair absently flipping his lighter between his fingers as he flipped channels again. When Bruiser came to join the guys, he flopped his huge head in Neville’s lap, making the man slouch down to shift the weight from his package to his stomach and Neville rest his head on the couch behind him. Brion roll to his side and slide his arm around his neck, whispered something in his ear, causing him to chuckle in a way that made it clear it was a private joke. Gianni didn’t have to hear it to know it wasn’t innocuous. The way his hand slid into the neck of his hoodie and Neville put his head back into Brion’s chest.
“Hold the fucking phone,” he blurted out as he sat forward, muting the TV. He looked from Neville to Brion and back again. “What the hell is going on here? What happened to ‘I’m not no fucking faggot’ and ‘Just cause my boy like dick in his ass don’t mean I do?’ This seems like a pretty drastic change over the matter of hours.” His tone was only slightly accusatory, but Neville thought he might like to hear the answer so he remain quiet.
“What can I say I had a change of heart,” Brion said with a smirk and Gianni threw a pillow at him. He put it behind his head, laughing. “Aight, aight it’s not that simple. I knew for a long time that he was into guys…into me…But I wanted him to tell me. I know that’s a hard thing to come to terms with, even with the most supportive parents let alone his peoples. I ain’t want to just spring it on him like, ‘Say bruh I seen some weird shit on your laptop.’ I figured that was something he should tell me so I waited, and waited. Then the shit with Soliel… I admit I should have said I knew then but I was hurt too. I felt like he thought he couldn’t trust me with that kind of information. Like I’d love him any less if I found out he liked dick. Then the other night when he kissed me…I ain’t take that well either. It caught me off guard…not the kiss but my reaction. I ain’t expect to like it so much and it shocked me. Not cause I liked it. I played ball in France and Holland a few years after college. Trust me when I tell you bruh I’ve seen some things. I’m not as close minded as I seemed last night…”
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