Mr. Charles may not have said much, but of all the people who have tried to encourage me, his words hit the hardest. I could see a concerned look from Adam as we headed back to the group, but he quickly shook it off and forced a smile.
“I’m proud of you.” Dizzy tried to comfort as he immediately joined my side. I shot him a strange look and went to say something but he looked to Mr. Charles before I could. “Hey Mr. Charles, long time no see.” He began as his smile widened.
“Hello Ryan.” Mr. Charles forced out, seemingly losing all his enthusiasm from before.
“Ryan?” Adam repeated quickly looking over at me.
“It’s still Dizzy.” Dizzy corrected, now fighting to keep the smile on his face.
Mr. Charles nodded but it was obvious he was going to ignore Dizzy’s request. “Been behaving yourself?”
“The best I can.” Dizzy replied as their eye contact turned into a stare down.
“Dad, we should really head home, I bet Mom’s almost done with dinner.” Charlotte announced, looking for the quickest way to separate the two of them.
“Alright,” Mr. Charles nodded, finally breaking eye contact with Dizzy. “it was nice meeting you.” He said, looking over to Mason and Adam. “I’ll see you later boys.” He dismissed, glancing over at Dizzy, Ky and me one last time before walking towards the parking lot with Charlotte.
“He still does not like you.” Ky laughed as Charlotte flashed me a wink before fully turning around.
“I know.” Dizzy sighed as his eyes stayed set on Mr. Charles’ back. “But what can you do?” He shrugged as a forced smile returned to his face.
“Not get Charlotte involved in all your stupid plans.” Ky replied with a smirk.
“Maybe she shouldn’t agree to them.” Dizzy corrected with a confident stare. “I don’t force anyone to do anything.”
“Sure, you don’t.” Ky rolled his eyes. “I should probably head home too.”
“You’re not going to hang out?” I asked, looking over at him.
“It’s a Monday night.” He laughed. “I’ve got homework to do. When do you two even make time for that?”
“Well Artie does half, and I do the other half.” Dizzy grinned, immediately drawing Adam’s attention.
“That better not be true.” Adam warned, attempting to use the strictest voice he could manage.
“It’s not.” I shot down in a sigh.
“It is.” Dizzy whispered to Ky.
“Whatever works for you.” Ky shook his head and began to back away from the group. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Bye.” Dizzy and I waved before turning back to Adam.
“You two better not be cheating off one another.” Adam began once more, unable to let it go.
“Here we go.” Dizzy groaned drawing a laugh from me.
“I’m serious.” Adam insisted. “And your Mom told me to let her know when you’re acting out.”
“Lovely.” Dizzy sarcastically replied as he kept the smile on his face.
“Watch the attitude, Ryan.” Adam teased back with a smile of his own.
“Uck.” Dizzy rolled his eyes. “That’s not my name.”
“It fits you.” Mason tried to support, but received an angry stare back.
“Alright,” Adam began, not expecting Dizzy to grow so serious so quick. “what are we doing for dinner?”
“I was actually thinking we could go somewhere near the bay.” Mason suggested. “My treat.”
“Sounds good to me,” Adam began but as he saw the look on my face his smile began to fade. “you don’t want to go that far?”
“I think I’m going to stay home tonight.” I answered as the emotions from the day all began to set in. “But you should go, it sounds nice.”
“I’ll keep him company and make him something.” Dizzy announced in a confident voice.
“I’ll make the food.” I corrected, trying to help Adam feel okay with leaving us alone. “Dizzy can just make the sides or something.”
“If you want to stay in, we can grab take out.” Adam suggested, concern entering into his stare.
“That’s fine with me.” Mason nodded, immediately supporting Adam.
“It’s alright, you guys should go out.” I encouraged. “It’s not like you’re leaving me home alone.”
“Yeah, I’ll stay with him until you two get back.” Dizzy agreed as we began to win them over.
Adam let out a sigh but as our eyes connected, I saw something in his mind flicker. “I don’t want to leave you, we’ve had this conversation.”
“I know,” I replied as I forced the most genuine smile I could. “but this week will be a lot for you too. You deserve at least one night off before you have to deal with all that chaos.”
“I don’t know.” He exhaled, refusing to break eye contact. “What if you need something?”
“I’ll have Dizzy.” I shrugged my shoulders. “And worst case I’ll just call you or Lindsay. Just enjoy tonight,” I encouraged. “go have a beer or something.”
“Are you absolutely sure?” Adam asked in a cautious voice.
“Yes!” I couldn’t help but laugh at how worried he was. “I’ll be alright.”
“Alright.” He exhaled, keeping his eyes on me.
“Come on.” Mason began, grabbing onto his arm before he could say anything. “We’ll see you two later.”
“Make sure he has fun!” I called out as they grew further and further from us.
“You might regret saying that!” Dizzy giggled as we turned around and began walking in the other direction. “But tonight, I’m going to make sure you have fun.” He began in a flirtatious voice.
“Not tonight.” I groaned, keeping my eyes straight ahead.
“Why not?” He whined in an overdramatic voice. “You’re frustrated and need an outlet to work it out, it just so happens that I know of one.”
“I’m tired, and just, overwhelmed.” I complained, still not looking over to him.
“I’ll do all the work.” He offered, but dropped it as he saw me growing more and more serious. “Alright,” He exhaled, beginning to change gears. “then you just go shower and I’ll make you dinner.”
“I really don’t want my shower to be interrupted by a fire.” I groaned, finally making eye contact with him.
“It won’t be,” Dizzy argued in a calm voice. “I promise.”
“Fine.” I accepted, not in the mood to argue.
“Adam buys mainly frozen food anyway.” Dizzy teased, but once more my face stayed serious. “You alright?” He asked, giving me the same concerned look as Adam.
“I’m fine.” I lied, breaking eye contact and focusing on the house just a few steps away.
“You don’t have to pretend to be strong with me.” Dizzy offered, trying his hardest to get me to open up. “I’ll be quiet and just let you ramble if you need to.”
“I don’t.” I shook my head. “I just, don’t want to talk about any of this right now.”
“Okay,” Dizzy accepted in a quiet voice. “I really am proud of you though.”
I rolled my eyes as I heard those words. “Then you have low expectations.” I muttered as we climbed the stairs to my house.
“Why’s that?” Dizzy prodded, but I could tell he was planning something to say.
“Because I struck out four times Dizzy! Four times!” I shouted as I pushed the door open. “I was slow in the field, and I just looked clueless! This wasn’t just a bad game, I was working against my own team!”
“But you still got back out there every inning and worked your ass off.” Dizzy corrected as he grabbed my hands and forced eye contact. “That’s why I’m proud of you. You don’t quit.”
I felt relief begin to overtake me as I heard those words. “I’m sorry I yelled at you.” I quickly apologized as I let him pull me in for a hug.
“That was yelling?” He teased with a quiet laugh. “I’ve heard you snore louder than that.”
“I do not snore.” I defended as we broke away from the hug.
“How would you know? You’re the one sleeping!” He exclaimed as he finally drew a smile from my face.
“Don’t you have cooking to prepare for?” I asked, allowing the smile to stay on my face.
“Don’t you have to clean yourself up?” He shot back as he began to walk towards the kitchen. “I mean, I could help with that too if you need.”
“You cheered me up, but not that much.” I rejected as he let out another overdramatic groan. As I walked up the stairs, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on him.
He’s teasing me, but I know he understands. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to mess around with him! But today, it’s just been way too much at once. I need some calm right now, and messing around with Dizzy, well that’s the opposite of calm!
After my shower I came downstairs to find Dizzy was actually able to put something together without burning it! Sure, it was just some chicken fajita thing he had pulled out of the freezer, but knowing him I’m amazed he didn’t start playing video games and forget about it!
As we started to eat I saw a completely different side to Dizzy, he was quiet and let me talk as much or as little as I needed to. He didn’t bother prying or trying to get me to laugh, he just let me be. When dinner finished, he insisted I go lay down as he cleaned up everything.
“So,” He began as he put the last plate in the drying rack and walked into the living room. “want to watch a movie or something?”
“Not really,” I confessed as I looked up from the book in my hands. “you can play video games, I just want to read.” He nodded his head, but suddenly I saw an idea creep into his head. “Oh boy.” I sighed as he prepared to share it.
“What if I read to you?” He offered, catching me off guard with such a simple plan.
“I don’t know,” I hesitated. “I kind of like the quiet. Plus, this is book four aren’t you still on the second book.”
“I’ve been on the third one for a few weeks now.” He corrected with a smile. “Besides, we’ve watched most of the show, not like much is going to be spoiled for me.”
“The books are pretty different.” I warned, but knew I wasn’t telling him anything new.
“Let me worry about that.” He comforted as he took a seat next to me. “If you don’t like it after a few pages you can go back to reading it yourself.”
“Alright.” I submitted as I handed the book over to him, making sure to point out where I had just read.
“Just relax, and listen.” Dizzy winked as I let my head fall against his shoulder. Before I knew it, he had me wrapped around his little finger as he read page after page. I mean we had read together before, but it was usually just us reading our own books in quiet. It was never anything like this!
The more comfortable I got the more I laid on him, until finally my head was in his lap as he gently laid his spare hand on my body. At some point I even passed out from everything that had happened that day! I don’t know how the hell he did it, but Dizzy saved my bad day from getting worse. He didn’t even make me talk about it, but somehow still figured out a way to put things back together.
I woke up to a combination of hushes and a loud bang or two as Adam and Mason finally arrived home from their night out.
“He’s trying to sleep!” Dizzy complained as I slowly shook awake. “Oh, great job!” Dizzy angrily remarked as I began to pick my head up.
“It’s alright.” I tried to comfort as I began to wake up. “What time is it?” I asked in a yawn.
“Only like ten.” Dizzy answered as he looked over to the kitchen where Mason and Adam were. “I think Adam’s drunk.”
“You sure he’s not just like, tipsy?” I asked finally awake enough to look over at them.
“He almost fell over when he walked in the door.” Dizzy answered as we both drew Mason’s stare.
“He just had a few beers.” Mason replied, showing he could hear us. “He’s not drunk.”
“No, I’m drunk.” Adam replied in a loud voice drawing a few laughs from me and Dizzy.
Mason let out a sigh as he heard those words. “Well you did tell me to make sure he has fun Artie.”
“And I don’t have work tomorrow!” Adam exclaimed as he stumbled into a seat at the kitchen table.
“Just drink water.” Mason shook his head as he placed a glass next to him.
“How much did you drink?” Dizzy asked with a smirk.
“It was like three-dollar beer and shots night.” Adam answered, unable to give a number.
“That doesn’t sound good.” I shook my head and glanced over at Mason. “How come you’re not drunk?”
“I had to drive.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Plus, I work at a bar, I kind of handle my liquor better than Adam.”
“You had to sober up before we left.” Adam reminded him in a slurred voice, but before Mason could reply he looked over to me. “How do you feel tonight?”
“I’m thinking better than you.” I couldn’t help but tease in a laugh.
“I don’t know,” Dizzy said with a smirk. “he looks pretty happy right now.”
“Don’t even start.” Adam warned, drawing another loud laugh out of Dizzy.
“He’s not going to puke, is he?” I asked, glancing over to Mason.
“I don’t think so.” Mason rejected with a shake of his head. “He’s not too drunk, just really, feeling it.” Mason sighed.
“He’s going to feel it tomorrow!” Dizzy shouted with another laugh.
“Not true,” Adam tried to reject. “because I have a secret for hangovers.”
“Let’s hear it.” Mason played along as a smile quickly filled his face.
“It’s a secret.” Adam teased as his attention shifted to his date.
“I know, but now that you said that, you have to share it.” Mason teased. “It’s the rule of secrets, right boys?”
“Oh yeah.” Dizzy quickly answered.
“You just drink a couple glasses of water,” Adam began looking over to us. “then smoke a joint.”
“Okay!” Mason quickly exclaimed, not expecting the turn. “That’s not good advice for teenagers.”
“It wasn’t advice for teenagers.” Adam shrugged as he took another sip of water. “But I swear on my life, do that and you’ll never have a hangover.” Adam explained as he doubled down on his secret.
“You’re enjoying this too much.” I teased Dizzy as I noticed the smile on his face.
“It’s one of the best things to happen to me.” He joked, looking back at me. “We’re finally seeing Adam without him trying to act all, parental.”
“Does he act all that parental in the first place?” Mason asked as he helped Adam over from the kitchen table to the couch.
“Kind of.” I replied as Dizzy and I fixed how we were positioned on the couch.
“I can still hear you know?” Adam warned, shooting me a strict look.
“Oh no,” I let out in fake concern. “Adam can hear us guys.”
“You seem like your moods picked up.” Mason encouraged as our eyes connected.
“I guess I just needed some sleep.” I shrugged my shoulders.
“Cause I’m sure that’s all that happened.” Adam rolled his eyes, as my face quickly turned red.
“Adam!” Dizzy exclaimed in more laughter as his own face blushed. “We didn’t even,
“We’re good!” I exclaimed cutting off Dizzy. “We can move onto another subject.”
Mason and Adam both shared a look and some laughter before turning back to us. “Dizzy actually cook tonight?” Mason asked.
“Yeah.” I nodded my head. “He made us some frozen food.”
“It was good frozen food though.” Dizzy corrected with a grin. “Only the best for Artie.”
“I’m sure.” I played along with a nod.
“Was it enough?” Adam asked. “Because we could order something if you guys want.”
“It’s late.” I answered, shooting him a cautious look.
“So?” He asked looking over at Dizzy. “You want anything?”
“I should go home soon.” Dizzy shrugged, but I could tell his answer would be different if it wasn’t a school night.
“Me too.” Mason nodded as he looked over to me. “You alright if I leave you with Adam?”
“I can take care of myself.” Adam replied, slurring his words once again.
“As long as he wont like, puke or anything.” I answered, ignoring Adam’s words.
“He won’t.” Mason denied as he rose to his feet. “You want a ride home?” He asked, turning towards Dizzy.
“No, I enjoy riding the bus with homeless people late at night.” Dizzy sarcastically answered. “It helps keep me down to earth.”
“That’s weird.” Adam remarked, completely missing Dizzy’s joke. “Make sure you drive him home Mase.”
“You got it.” Mason replied with a smile. As Adam stood up to say goodbye he nearly stumbled to the couch, but Mason caught him before he could. “You sure you’re alright?” Mason asked.
“I will be.” Adam nodded, quickly stealing a kiss from Mason’s lips. “I’ll see you for lunch tomorrow?”
“See you for lunch.” Mason happily answered as he motioned for Dizzy to get ready.
“I’ll pick you up on my way to school.” Dizzy said before we shared a kiss of our own. “Hey Mason, can I drive?”
“No.” Mason quickly shot down as he pulled the door open.
“You can steer and I’ll just do the gas and brakes.” He continued to tease.
“You can walk home in another minute.” Mason joked as he shut the door behind them.
“We’ve got good boyfriends.” Adam smiled as he looked over at me.
“We do.” I nodded my head, but felt my smile fade as I noticed Adam growing serious.
“You sure it was okay I left you home?” Adam asked, but I could tell he was still pretty drunk. “I took off this week so we could be together.”
“Like I said, you deserved a day to relax too.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Plus, I don’t know, this was fun. It just felt like a normal night. I needed it before everything gets all crazy.”
“Good.” Adam forced out with a nod. “So, I didn’t screw up?”
“No, you didn’t screw up.” I confirmed with a forced smile.
“I’m sorry I can’t always be what you need,” He began again. “I’m trying my hardest, I just keep falling short.”
“Why do you think that?” I asked as another smile fell from my face.
“I saw how relieved you were after your friend’s Dad spoke to you.” Adam shook his head. “And I just keep pissing you off because I kept secrets.”
“I don’t love the secrets, but Mr. Charles, he just made me feel better. You’ve done that a thousand times since I moved in!” I tried to comfort. “I don’t think you’ve ever fallen short of making me feel better.”
He stayed quiet as he thought it over, but I could tell he wasn’t convinced. “You don’t think you’re doing a good job, because you’re not like all those other guys out there.” I realized as our eyes connected once more. “But I don’t want those other guys. You’re doing it your own way, and that’s what I need.” I encouraged. “I grew up without a Dad, so I’ve had those guys try and lecture me to make up for that my whole life. I need you to just be you, that’s what works.”
“You swear?” Adam asked, not sure whether to believe me or not.
“I swear.” I nodded as he finally began to relax again.
“Alright, but now about you and Dizzy.” Adam began, instantly changing gears.
“Oh no.” I shook my head as my face turned red.
“It’s important.” Adam insisted, now more sober than drunk. “You’re old enough for sex,”
“Oh my God.” I groaned, somehow turning an even brighter shade of red.
“but you have to use proper protection.” Adam lectured, trying his hardest to be as coherent as possible. “That includes lubricant.”
“Okay!” I shouted, having hit my limit with the conversation. “I’m good! We’re good!” I yelped as Adam began to laugh.
“I’ll buy it all for you and leave it under your bed.” Adam laughed, enjoying how uncomfortable I had grown.
“It’ll make me feel better about it.” Adam explained in a serious voice. “And I know it makes you uncomfortable, but like I’ve said, if you have any questions about sex I’m around.”
“At least you’re better at this than my Mom.” I confessed, looking back up at him. “She was too scared to even bring it up.”
“That’s because she supported abstinence too.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m not looking forward to going back to Texas.”
“Me neither.” I admitted in a sigh. “But we’ll only be there for like two days, right?”
“Yeah, just two days.” He confirmed. “This might not be the best time to tell you,” He began as my heart began to beat faster. “but my lawyer said it will be this weekend.”
“That’s alright.” I forced a nod. “Like you said yesterday, let’s just get this over with.”
“Yeah.” He mimicked my nod. “And I called Dizzy’s mom this morning, she’s totally cool with him coming.”
“Are you sure you’re cool with him coming?” I asked, realizing he never had much input on the decision. “You can say no, I’ll understand.”
“He makes you feel better.” Adam shrugged. “That’s all I need to know to say yes.”
“Thank you, Adam.” I said as a smile crept onto my face. “Now you go ahead and smoke and I’ll go make you some food.”
“You should be going to bed.” Adam corrected as he looked over at the clock.
“It’s not that late.” I complained as he pulled a small box out of his pocket.
“Yes, it is.” He insisted as he rose to his feet. “You’ve had a long day, go get some rest.”
“Alright.” I sighed as I rose to my own feet. “I’m glad you had fun tonight Adam.”
“I’m glad you’re feeling better.” He replied, looking back at me. “Everything will be alright. I promise.”
“I know.” I nodded as we shared one last look before I headed to bed and he headed to the porch.
I could tell he still feels at least a little bit guilty about leaving me tonight, but like I said, he deserves a break too! Besides, we all needed the laughter drunk Adam gave us! It was a good reminder of what awaits me back here once we win the custody battle in Texas. It was another night that made San Francisco feel like home. Between Dizzy and Adam, I know I can handle whatever this week has to offer. I know we’ll make it out on the other side just fine.