“How does he always know what to say to make me feel embarrassed?” Eric muttered in my ear as we went into the changing room.
“Are you embarrassed about dating me?” I did my best to sound frosty, but my boyfriend’s reply was instant and predictable.
“Of course not. It’s a dream come true.” The heat in his eyes would have melted my worry, had I felt any.
“For me too.” We shared a quick kiss before beginning the process of getting into our tux outfits. I had rented my tux last year, but this time I would buy one, since I’d need it for next year too. The sales person had promised me they could let out the jacket and trousers if I grew more than expected.
“Did you really mind what Rob said? I’m pretty sure the assistant is gay too. He was ogling you.”
“I don’t mind him making it obvious we’re boyfriends, but he didn’t have to suggest we’d like some private time in the changing room.” Eric’s face still had a bit of a blush, but perhaps this was also due to me wearing nothing but silky boxers, socks and my new white shirt, open at the front. I liked the way he kept stealing glances at my chest and my butt as I removed my trousers from the hanger.
“It did get us privacy, as the guy is now trailing Rob.”
“He wasn’t really checking me out, was he?”
“Yup, and I’d prefer to be the only one who has the privilege of drooling over your sexy body. Especially when you’re almost naked.”
Eric gave me a little smirk but turned his focus to getting dressed. He looked so handsome in his tux, and it made my insides all gooey.
“I think Rob’s behavior is because he’s proud and protective at the same time. But I guess he enjoys teasing us too.”
“I agree about the teasing; he’s done that my whole life.” Eric sighed. “But you do have a point about the other things too. He’s pleased about us dating and me being out to family and friends.”
“I’m glad he approves. It makes life a lot easier. Think how you felt about his girlfriend.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me. But Rob told me he won’t be protecting me for much longer. Apparently, that’ll be your job. Not that I can’t protect myself.”
“We can help and protect each other. I may have a small advantage from the martial arts training, but that won’t solve all situations.”
“Hmm, how am I protecting you? Apart from not getting invited to the Senior Prom by Trevor.”
“Eric, that’s not funny. Close though, I was actually thinking of me avoiding the GSA chairmanship.”
There was a knock on the door to the changing room. Eric opened it and stepped out to let his mom inspect the outfit. I followed, and she voiced her approval of my choices too.
“You boys will look absolutely stunning together. You’ll have to promise me a picture.”
“No problem. My mom will have a field day with her camera, and I’ll make sure she includes Rob in the photos if he wears his tux for his Junior Prom monitoring duties.”
“Thank you, Nelson. How did you know I’d love a photo of my two handsome sons together?”
“You do have quite a few of them hanging around.” I’d noticed several frames on the walls in the Perry home, both larger professional portraits and family snaps. Nothing I would tease Eric with, since my parents did the same.
“I look forward to adding pictures of you and Eric to my collection of family photos.”
“Moooom,” Eric grumbled, and she laughed and patted his shoulder.
“Go on then and get changed back while I check on Rob. He’s driving that poor sales guy crazy, because he can’t decide on a shirt. I thought he only needed to find a vest or a cummerbund, and perhaps a new butterfly tie.”
She moved along to a changing room further down, and we ducked back into our room and started to laugh.
“I bet Rob is showing off for that guy.”
“My brother is a shameless exhibitionist.”
“But mostly harmless.”
“Except when he’s on one of his quests.”
“Just keep calm and, you know—“
We looked at each other and chorused. “Don’t panic.”
Once we’d stopped laughing, Eric had one last gripe at his brother. “You’re right, but when he gets that look on his face I just know he’ll do or say something mortifying and, and – typically Rbsh.” The last word was an almost inaudible growl, and I had to ask.
“Rubbish or Rob-ish as in Rob-like?”
“Ha, yeah, Rob-like. I have to admit he usually makes sense even when he’s annoying.”
By the time we’d changed back to our ordinary clothes and carried our prom outfits to the counter, Rob was already there leaning on the corner and smirking at the slightly flushed and flustered guy. But he was quite professional when he rang up Eric’s stuff and wrote down the details of my mom coming in later to pay for and pick up my clothes.
He looked and sounded sincere when he smiled at us. “Enjoy your Prom nights and don’t forget to get the tuxes and shirts dry cleaned as soon as possible to remove sweat and any stains. This will ensure a longer life and continued good looks.”
“Thanks, Nigel. Does that apply to us as well as the tux?” Rob asked with grin.
“Most likely, especially the dry part, since I assume you’re still underage,” Nigel quipped back while Eric and I sniggered and Mrs. Perry sighed. I guess she knew it was impossible to keep Senior Proms alcohol-free, but I certainly didn’t intend to drink now or next year. Being with Eric would be enough of a high in itself.
“Right, let’s get back home, unless you have anything else you need to buy. Thank you for your help and patience, Nigel.”
“My pleasure, ma’am.”
I’m sure Eric also noticed Rob winking at Nigel as we turned to go, from the way my boyfriend looked like he wanted to roll his eyes. I thought both Rob and Nigel were simply indulging in a bit of harmless fun to liven up the boring job of buying and selling clothes. Or at least I’d find it dull, but thinking it over, our charming assistant was probably older and more experienced than he looked, as well as enjoying his career in the well-established men’s wear shop our parents had insisted was the best choice. I think the owner was rather clever to let him deal with the high school kids and their moms.
“Well, I’m glad that’s done, and I’m sure your mom will approve, too, Nelson.”
Rob nudged Eric’s shoulder. “I think you’re in trouble, bro.”
“What are you talking about?”
“She’ll be spending the next five years planning your wedding.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Mrs. Perry huffed, but I thought he had a point. I had no doubt my mom would get the same wishfully calculating look in her eyes as she took our Prom photos.
“Don’t worry, Rob. You’ll be my best man. But you’re not organizing our stag party, so no need to get any silly ideas.”
By the stunned look on Rob’s face, he hadn’t expected my clever boyfriend giving a teasing reply.
“Good point. I shudder to think what he and Jasper would come up with between them. But then, they probably won’t want us to plan their stag parties either.”
By now Mrs. Perry was ahead of us on the way to the car, so Rob could swear without her hearing.
“Fuck no. Even if you did go all out and get a male stripper, I’m sure the rest of the night would be sensible and boring. You two are much too goody-good for my tastes. I’m surprised you’re even considering a stag party of your own, but I bet you’ll do it together.”
“Of course, and we’ll have a mix of guys and girls as our friends on the night out.”
“Like I said, boring, but I bet Maria will approve. Have you told her yet?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Rob. For now, I’d like to focus on the Prom.”
“Don’t worry. Those plans are all in order on my part. You just need to buy the cond—“
“Rob !” Before we could get a punch in on his upper arms he’d danced ahead, laughing and yelling at us to hurry up, so we could get home and get some ‘reading’ done.
I gave Eric a quick kiss. “Relax, babe. I’ve got everything we need, no matter what we do on Prom night. Remember, Rob may provide the opportunities, but we decide what to make of them.”
“You always know what to say to make me feel good.” The warm hug he gave me certainly had the same effect.