The next two weeks were crazy with work, Aidan, and finals looming. Even though he was as busy as ever, he found himself spending more time with Seamus. It started when Aidan had a bad day. Matt offered Seamus his apartment key so Aidan could settle at home where he felt the most comfortable. When he got home, Seamus had dinner going. It kind of progressed from there. School, work, Aidan, finals, and Seamus.
When school finished for winter break, Seamus filled the free time. The only time they didn’t see each other was a few days around Christmas. Matt even got to spend some time with his friends outside of work thanks to Seamus.
Matt missed that the most, the freedom of doing what he wanted, when he wanted. Eating lunch with his two best friends at a restaurant where they didn’t work was as good as it was going to get for a while.
“The big question is—what the fuck are we doing for our birthday weekend?” Kase asked.
“There’s a million bars. We could do a bar crawl or something?” Hilary offered. Of the three, she was the least into it. She enjoyed parties but didn’t like planning her life around being hungover.
“What about Purple Canary?”
“Yeah,” Kase scoffed. “You buying?”
Matt knew Purple Canary was a little on the high end but had underestimated just how much. The cover alone was insane.
“It would be dope.” Hilary rested her chin on her fist and ate a fry. “I heard it’s legit. Not like those crazy clubs where everyone is standing on each other. This place is classy. Famous people go there when they’re in town.”
“Yeah right,” Kase eyed her like she was insane.
“They do. I’m not saying famous people are there all the time but I know for a fact Shae Bennett was there six month ago.”
“We could just ask Seamus,” Matt said.
“What does Mr. Ryan have to do with anything?” Kase questioned.
“Because he owns it?” Matt was confused, he thought everyone knew Seamus owned the club. The only reason he hadn’t known was because he’d only just been in town for a few months. Kase and Hilary had been around for years.
His friends straightened in their seats. “He owns Purple Canary? Holy shitballs. You have to get us in.”
“Yeah,” Kase nodded quickly. “You guys are like, married or whatever. He’ll say yes to you.”
“What? We’re not married.”
“Okay, co-parenting.” Hilary and Kase shared a look. A super secret inside joke at Matt’s expense.
“You guys are being ridiculous. I’m not going to ask him.”
“You literally just said ‘we could just ask Seamus’.”
“Yes. We could ask Seamus. Together.”
Neither Hilary or Kase pressed the issue until two days later they were all working…
Seamus came out of the office with Aidan to get an afternoon drink. It wasn’t crazy busy so Matt took a second to see his brother. He was getting so big. It seemed like overnight he was trying to sit up on his own. Matt put his hands out and watched as Aidan brightened and leaned toward him.
Seamus rolled his eyes but as soon got revenge when he held out his hands, coaxing Aidan back. “C’mere.”
Matt glared. This was a new war, watching with humor as Aidan went back and forth between the two.
The next time Matt had hold of Aidan, he walked away before Seamus had a chance to steal him back. He could hear Seamus grumble ‘cheater’. Matt turned to give him the stink eye but he was smiling a little too innocently before turning his attention to Hilary.
“Would you mind making me a small ice breve?”
“Absolutely.” Hilary glanced between Kase and Matt as she grabbed the cup. “Anyway,” she said as if she was picking up where she’d left off. “We need to figure out what we’re doing for our twenty-first birthdays. It’s a monumental event and I bought a new dress. I was thinking of someplace nice. I don’t want to hit the crappy bars on the east side. I want to go big, ya know,” she hummed oh so thoughtfully. “Any ideas?”
Matt was glad his back was to Seamus so he could glare at Hilary for being totally and completely not smooth. Kase, however, was quick to jump on board.
“I second somewhere nice. I want to drink an Old Fashion that’s lit on fire.”
“I don’t know,” Matt smirked. “Isn’t getting drunk at dive bars on your first legal drink day a rite of passage?”
Hilary glanced at Seamus, who wasn’t paying attention, then quickly glared at Matt. “Not the kind of passage I want,” she bit out. “I want to dress up and Kase wants his old tyme fire drink. Is that so much to ask?”
Oblivious to Hilary and Kase, Seamus came over and waited for his drink. “I was going to take Aidan home so he could practice rolling over. Are you good or do you want me to pick you up after work?”
“I’m fine. I’ll meet you there.”
“We’re probably going to stay a few minutes late,” Hilary interrupted. “Our birthdays are in three weeks. The big two-one,” she gestured the age with her fingers. “We have to plan something epic.”
“All three of you have the same birthday?”
“Kase and I share the same birthday and Matt’s is the day before.”
“Older and wiser,” Matt sang, earning himself playful digs from his friends.
“Cool.” Seamus took a sip of his drink. “Take your time.”
Hilary, not at all detoured by Seamus' lack of interest in their big birthday, pressed on. “Any recommendations? I want to dress up and Kase wants his drink something that’s on fire.”
Seamus looked at Matt. “What do you want?”
It was the perfect opportunity to ask Seamus about Purple Canary. He could slyly mention wanting to do something nice, then casually say “oh, hey, what about Purple Canary. Any chance you could hook us up?” but Matt thought the power was better used to annoy his friends.
“I thought bar hopping at some dives would be fun.”
Yep, if looks could kill—
“Do you need someone to watch this little guy?” Seamus said more to Aidan than Matt.
Matt leaned close to Aidan and took his little baby hand and started talking in a terribly emasculating baby voice that only Aidan thought was fun. “Nah, Grandpa has dibs so Matt can be as irresponsible as he wants.”
As terrible as he was, Seamus smiled. “I’ll see you at home when you get off.”
Matt could feel eye daggers slicing his back to shreds as he watched the two walk away. When he finally turned around, his friends looked sweet. Too sweet. It was the thing nightmares were made of.
“You will fix this or we will fix you.”
They simultaneously turned their backs to him then proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the shift. Even when he tried to say bye, they looked at him then dramatically turned away, making him laugh.
“We need to talk,” Matt said as he walked through the front door. Seamus was laying on his back while Aidan practiced the baby yoga on stomach. He carefully put Aidan on the floor and sat up.
“I messed up the other day. We were talking about options for our party and I mentioned that you owned Purple Canary.”
“Is that why they were being weird today?”
“And they want me to get you guys in?”
“Well, yeah,” he frowned.
“Is this what you want to do for your birthday?”
“It could be fun.”
Seamus thought about it for a moment then shrugged. “Okay, I’ll get you a table, drinks. Ten people, max. Dress code enforced.”
“Just like that?”
“All you had to do was ask.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He sat down on the floor and rubbed Aidan’s back. “You want to stay for a movie?”
It was peaceful, sitting on the floor watching Aidan be Aidan. It was a lot like watching a fire; boring but oddly satisfying and good for the soul.
“Mind if I shower? I stink from work,” Matt asked.
“Yeah. He’s about ready for another bottle. I’ll get it ready.”
“I can do it when I get out of the shower. You’ve done enough.”
Seamus gave him a thumbs up and went back to playing with Aidan. Matt excused himself and showered. He dressed down in a cotton shirt from high school and a pair of his favorite joggers. Matt looked at himself in the mirror. He was average size for his age; one hundred and sixty-two pounds though it had been a while since he stepped on a scale. He would never look like Seamus, who clearly had a gym membership. Matt didn’t have abs or muscle bulk but he wasn’t overly soft either. The joggers fit his thighs and butt and his shirt clung to his flat-ish stomach in a not completely unflattering way.
Matt smoothed his shirt in the mirror. Average. He was completely average and totally okay with that.
“Are you kidding me?” Matt groaned when he saw Seamus on the couch feeding Aidan. “I specifically said—" he cupped his ear and waited for the answer.
“That you could feed Aidan, but so can I—so I did.”
Aidan’s eyes were so heavy with sleep. A minute later he was out. Matt sat on the couch next to Seamus. His head so close to Seamus' shoulder as he played with Aidan’s foot. He noticed how Seamus smelled of day cologne. It had been a long time since he’d smelled another man. He missed it. It had a calming effect, no wonder Aidan drifted so quickly.
Seamus looked at Matt. His voice was soft as to not startle Aidan. “What do you want to watch?”
“I don’t care. We can watch a movie. I think there’s a few on Netflix.”
“Or we could keep watching NCIS.”
“Or we could keep watching NCIS,” he laughed.
It was halfway through their shift and he had to give them props for their dedication to the shut out.
“You guys can stop ignoring me now or I’ll have to tell Seamus to rescind his invitation for us and seven friends to drinks at Purple Canary.”
They froze and slowly turned around. Matt laughed as soon as he saw their faces; unbridled happiness with a splash of crazy eyes. Mostly Hilary. Kase tried to play it casual. It didn’t work. They looked at each other and started singing and dancing.
“We’re going to Purple Canary. We’re going to Purple Canary.” The tune was awkward as hell but he was happy to see them happy.
Hilary shimmied. “People are gonna flip when they find out.”
“That's why we need to figure out who’s invited. We all have to agree on the list and if someone can’t make it, we agree on the backups. When word gets out, we’re going to have a lot of best friends,” Kase reminded them.
Matt didn’t have a lot of friends so he decided to let them do the inviting. His two best friends were already going.
They were right about one thing. The second they started inviting the chosen few, everyone wanted in. Hilary and Kase thrived on that kind of attention. Matt didn’t. Thank God Seamus gave them a limit. Matt wasn’t sure how many fake conversations he could have before his head exploded.
He did get some good news, though. News he’d been waiting for. News that didn’t taste as good as he thought it would. Still, he put on his best smile.
“Founder’s Daycare called today. They have partial availability.”
Seamus stilled. “I forgot you were waiting for them to call. Cool cool. When does he start?”
“They have Monday and Tuesday open but they close at four-thirty and I work until seven.”
Seamus looked up. “Oh, so it won’t work out?”
“I think I can swing it but I was going to see if you could pick him up? I understand if it’s too much. You’ve been watching him nonstop for a while now.”
“Sure. I’ll just bring him back here and we’ll wait for you to get off.”
“Are you sure? You can tell me no.”
Matt looked at Aidan, who was propped up on Matt’s stomach, using his thighs as a backrest. “How much do we love Seamus?” Matt stretched Aidan’s hands into the air. “We love Seamus this much.”
Seamus chuckled then leaned over until he was pressed against Matt and gave Aidan a bunch of kisses. All the attention was too much. Aidan started laughing and kicking, accidentally pegging Matt in the face. Seamus grabbed the offending foot and nibbled his toes. Aidan laughed again, this time, he lost his balance and started to tip over. Matt quickly caught him and propped him back up.
“I never imagined my nights would be spent on a couch watching an almost six-month-old doing whatever almost six-month-old’s do.”
“Same,” Seamus said as he continued playing with Aidan’s toes.
“Are you okay with this?” Matt asked. “I mean, you could be doing anything. I don’t want you to feel like you’re stuck hanging out with us.”
“Definitely not stuck. Can’t help that I fell in love.” Seamus growled like a dog and attacked Aidan’s foot again, making both Aidan and Matt laugh.
“How’d you get so good with kids? You mentioned nieces and nephews but you also said you’re not close with your family.”
“I was around them a lot before I moved away. Kelly also had nieces and nephews.”
“Do you still see them?”
Seamus frowned. “Nah. Those relationships kind of died with Kelly.”
He had more questions but Matt had tapped a sensitive subject. He didn’t want to press and jeopardize the good things they had going. So, he let it go. They played for a little while longer before getting Aidan ready for bed. As had become their routine, they turned on NCIS.
“Unpopular opinion: Gibbs is a hypocritical asshole.”
Seamus opened his mouth in shock and leaned away. “Come again? We’re talking about Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He’s the biggest badass on the show.”
“Is he?” Matt challenged. “He yells at his team members if they aren’t one-hundred-percent forthcoming about something, lecturing them about what it means to be a team player. Then, in the next breath, he does the thing he just demeaned them for. He does whatever he wants, doesn’t respect the Director, and he’s incredibly disrespectful to his team members. I actually can’t stand him.”
Seamus leaned back on the couch and watched the show, taking in what Matt had said. He wouldn’t be easily persuaded.
“Are you coming this weekend to the party?” Matt asked. “I wanted you to know you’re invited.”
“Oh? I’m invited to my own club? That’s incredibly generous of you.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “Okay, ass. You know what I mean.”
“I might be around the club.”
“But not hanging with us?”
“Is it weird for you because we work for you?”
“Is it weird because they work for me? Yeah, a little.”
“They know we hangout.”
Seamus looked at Matt. “Was it a secret?”
“No. I just feel like you’re weird about it,” Matt cringed. Saying it aloud made it weird. “Never mind.”
“Yes Matt, I think it might be a little weird to hang out with three employees who are all a decade younger than me.”
“We hangout. I’m your employee and I’m a decade younger than you.”
“I’m also your nanny. Now stop talking and watch TV.”
It was Matt’s birthday, the real one. School just started back up but he didn’t work Fridays so, yeah, it was a good day.
Aidan woke up early. Matt made a bottle and brought him back to bed. It was his birthday; he could be lazy. Matt was scrolling on his phone and Aidan was playing with his empty bottle when there was a knock on the front door. It was barely eight-thirty. He was about to get up when he heard the door open. A few seconds later Seamus was standing at the bedroom door.
Aidan stopped playing with his bottle and started whining when he saw Seamus. Seamus smiled and sat on the edge of the bed. He reached across the bed and helped Aidan shimmy his way over. So patient and gentle with all the morning hugs and kisses.
“I bet you’re sorry he loves you so much,” Matt teased though Seamus didn’t look so sorry. “You guys are the worst.”
Seamus settled Aidan on his lap. “I was thinking we could do brunch for your birthday. Alero's has great Mimosas.”
“Brunch? It’s not even nine.”
“It starts at ten. I figured you’d need time to get ready.”
He did. Seamus was wearing nice jeans and a sweater so Matt used that as a guide. And to make his birthday even better, Seamus had Aidan dressed and ready to go.
Brunch was nice and lazy. The waitress didn’t even ask for his identification, so that was anticlimactic. When brunch was done, they walked around the nearby park. Walking turned into errands, which turned into ice cream and, before they knew it, it was four o’clock. Matt’s dad was on his way to watch Aidan for the weekend.
“Join us for dinner?” Matt asked as he straightened his apartment while Seamus occupied Aidan in the bouncing chair.
“Oh no, I don’t want to impose.”
Matt waved him off. “I’m pretty sure Dad would like to meet you. Plus, it’s my birthday and I want you to come.”
Seamus grinned. “Well, I can’t say no to the birthday boy.”
Matt stopped what he was doing and looked at his friend with his brow raised. “Does that mean you’re going to hang out with us tomorrow night?”
“Hilary and Kase don’t want their boss hanging out with them all night. They want to let loose and get drunk.”
“First, Denise is their boss. You don’t do anything. Really, you’re just some terrifyingly intimidating guy who hangs out at the cafe holding a baby.”
“Yes, and selfish. Don’t think I don’t see you still using the wrong door.”
“It’s quicker,” Seamus groaned.
Seamus turned to Aidan. “I only do it when I know Matt’s not in the kitchen. Yet, he still complains. I just can’t win.”
“Just for that, you’re letting me drive to dinner.”
Seamus continued talking to Aidan. “He’s so demanding, how do you live with him?” But then he peaked around Aidan and winked. Matt flipped him off. It was a ballsy thing to do to your boss. But by Seamus’s own account he was also Matt’s nanny. So…
Purple Canary’s dress code was ‘jacket required’. The rest was left to interpretation. Matt looked at all four of them in the mirror. “We look like the guys from Miami Vice.”
“Adam looks like he’s from Miami Vice. The rest of us look fucking classy as shit,” Kase corrected.
Adam, who wore chinos, a teal shirt, and a white blazer, smiled at himself in the mirror. He was totally Miami Vice.
“Fucking classy as shit,” Matt laughed. “You can paint a turd but it still stinks.”
Kase flipped him off then went back to fussing over his hair. They took a couple group selfies that bordered on douchey but they were having too much fun to care. Matt brushed and flossed but that was the extent of what he could do to get ready. His hair was crap. Kase insisted otherwise and took a minute to style him up.
“You frat guys really know how to clean up,” Matt said as he looked the group over.
“It’s what we do best.”
Hilary and Lainey showed a while later dressed to the nines. Hilary was a low maintenance girl. She said she was too busy getting her MBA to worry about fashion. She was so naturally beautiful with flawless skin and curly brown hair that she hardly needed help. When she did try though, she knocked it out of the park.
When Seamus arrived to chauffer them, Matt could hardly swallow. Now, Seamus was a good-looking guy but damn did he clean up. Navy slacks with a navy/white checkered shirt, covered with a maroon sweater vest and a tweed jacket tied together with a green tie. It was a look only he could pull off. Maybe because he was a ginger and they played by their own set of rules. Whatever it was, it worked. He looked hot, hot, hot.
“How much trouble would I be in if I tried to seduce Mr. Ryan?” Hilary whispered as they walked arm in arm out of the house.
Matt smirked. “I’m wondering the same thing.”
“You had your chance,” Hilary elbowed his side. “He’s been ripe for your picking for months. Time to move out of the way.”
Matt was going to offer her the front seat but she cut him off and took it before he could. He shook his head and crawled into the very back with Lainey so the football players could have more leg room.
It was ten o’clock when they arrived. There was a line of people eager to be inside. A quick conversation with Seamus and the host was leading them back. Matt looked around. Just like he’d never been in a legitimately nice restaurant before Cavaliers, he had never been to a Whiskey cellar. It was amazing, exactly how he imagined; old money, track betting, cigars. It was also sleek and modern.
They were seated at a circular leather couch that overlooked most of the bar. A waiter, a few years older than Matt, came over. He wore slacks, a button up shirt, fitted vest, and a sincere smile.
“My name is Al and I’ll be your personal bartender this evening. Anything you want, I’ll make it happen—”
“Six old fashions, on fire,” Kase said before poor Al could finish.
“I’m sorry,” Matt apologized on behalf of his friend. “He was obsessed with the Hunger Games and about fainted when her dress caught on fire. He never did get over it.”
“That’s not true.” Kase looked at Hilary and Lainey with wide eyes then reiterated how not true it was. They both giggled and Kase glared at Matt.
Al smiled as he walked away but down right smirking when he came back. If Kase wanted a show with his drinks then that exactly what Al gave him. Matt had to admit, it was pretty cool. What really made it wasn’t the line of drinks on fire, it was that Al had pulled some strings so Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire was playing overhead while he did it. It was not only genius but validated why they could charge the cover they did.
The VIP section was cool. Another thing Matt had never experienced. Watching the club goers, drinking, laughing, and having a good time while Al kept their drinks fresh. No pushing your way to the bar or waiting to be noticed.
Matt saw Seamus here and there; talking to employees, sitting at the bar, shaking hands with other patrons. Other patrons. Not them. Not Matt. He tried not to get weird about it but he couldn’t help feeling irritated.
It might’ve been Seamus’s club but they were friends. Good friends, kind of. If anything, Seamus watching Aidan should almost put him above a regular friend. If other people could have a drink with the owner, why couldn’t Matt? It was his birthday after all. Twenty-one was a monumental event. Instead, Matt might as well have been drinking alone.
Matt tossed back the rest of his drink and held it up so Al could see he needed a refresher. Damn.
He was well on his way to being drunk when Jay showed up late with the last few invitees. He sat down next to Matt and smiled. “We meet again.”
“You missed Kase’s big girl on fire moment.”
“Yes, well, I heard there's a video.”
“Everyone knows the live performance is always better.”
Jay laughed and motioned Al for two drinks which Al was quick retrieve. Either that or Matt was drunker than he thought and time was no longer a quantifiable unit. Jay handed Matt a new drink.
“Happy birthday. Also, you look hot so let’s dance.” The football player quickly knocked his drink back and held his hand out. Matt looked down. He was holding two drinks since he hadn’t finished his other one. What was he supposed to do?
“But there’s two.”
“Yeah? Merry twenty-first.”
The thing about being drunk is that alcohol goes down easier with each one. He barely made a face as he tossed them back.
Jay was a good dancer—very respectable. Matt thought Jay might try to dance dirty with him and was surprisingly disappointed when he didn’t. They were still dancing when Matt noticed Seamus was finally sitting with his friends in the VIP lounge. That was irritating. Now that Matt wasn’t there, Seamus decides to show up? Fuck that shit.
Seamus must’ve sensed Matt was thinking about him because he looked over and gave him a chin nod. A chin nod. Whatever the fuck that meant.
Matt gave him a tight nod back.
Matt rolled his eyes.
Those drinks were really hitting him.
“He’s cute.” Jay was looking at Seamus.
Others joined them on the dance floor. Who knows how long they had all been huddled in a cluster before Matt realized Jay had slipped out.
He looked around. “Where’s Jay?”
Kase raised a brow. “Let’s not bite the hand that feeds us.”
Matt asked what he meant but Kase just shrugged. Matt frowned but kept dancing. He wasn’t good at it, not when he was well on his way to three-sheets. Kase was a good dresser and could do hair but couldn’t dance to save his life. Minus the glazed over look in Hilary’s eyes, she was holding her shit together quite well.
Matt was watching her, trying to mimic her smooth moves when he saw it.
“Noo,” Matt whispered, his words slow with alcohol.
Seamus was standing near the bar with Jay. They each had a drink, talking. Kase and Hilary looked at Seamus, then at each other, then at Matt.
“Why’s that ‘noo’?”
“Seamus is my—”
Hilary’s eyes went up. “Yeah?” she pressed.
Matt pursed his lips. “Jay thinks he’s cute.”
“That’s tame,” Hilary laughed. “Most people would say he’s smoking hot.”
“Did you know Seamus is gay?”
Hilary frowned. “Well, that’s depressing.”
Kase patted her shoulder and laughed. “You never stood a chance. Do you like him, Matt?”
Matt was too busy watching Seamus smile as Jay flirted shamelessly. “That’s not even his real smile,” he mumbled then left the dance floor and headed toward the bar.
Jay was the first to spot Matt. “There’s the birthday boy,” he said, smiley as ever. “Let’s get you another drink.”
Matt felt Seamus’s scrutiny. Yeah, okay, he couldn’t stand without swaying and his eyes were glossed over. No way could he hold a drink without spilling.
“Are you sure you want another one?” Seamus asked when he was done casting his silent judgement.
Matt wasn’t sure. He was drunk enough to not care but he also knew tomorrow would only get worse with every drink. Was it worth it? Not likely. The two he slammed earlier were still bulldozing him over.
“One more,” Jay pressed. He thought it made him look cool—impressing Seamus by buying Matt another drink even though Seamus was the one paying for it all.
Seamus looked at Matt, silently asking what he wanted. Matt took the drink.
Jay slung his arm around Matt’s shoulder. “Matt’s one of the birthday boys,” he explained, unaware that Matt and Seamus knew each other. Matt waited to see what Seamus would say but he only smiled and nodded like this was new information.
A moment later Seamus tapped the bar with his knuckle. “Alright,” he said. “You two have a nice night.”
Matt wasn’t sure what was going on or why he felt like Seamus was giving him the brush off, but it hurt his feelings. Alcohol always made him more sensitive, he knew it, which is why he excused himself. Even drunk, Matt knew he didn’t want to do or say anything he’d regret. Like cry. He always cried. He hated it.
He stumbled all the way across the club and was about to sit down when someone pulled his elbow, detouring him away from the couch like a child. The sudden change caused him to lose his balance. When he righted himself, he was standing face to face with Seamus.
“You’re mad,” Seamus stated. “Really drunk and really mad.”
Matt threw his hands up. “It’s my twenty-first birthday. Sue me.”
“Okay,” Seamus placed Matt onto a barstool. “Now I know why you’re drunk. Tell me why you're mad.”
“I’m not mad,” he pouted. Then he looked at Seamus and scoffed. “Glare at me all you want. I’m not mad. I’m—” Shit, Matt could feel the emotions tingling up his chest and down his limbs like a tidal wave. “I asked if you would hangout tonight and you said no. Whatever. I get it. But then I see you hangin’ out at our table when I’m not there. You’re hangin’ out with everyone. You’re hangin’ out with Jay. But you’re not hanging out with me.”
“Matt, this is all for you,” he gestured at the club, the VIP table, Al, and all their guests. “I just want you and your friends to have fun.”
“This—” Matt gestured back at the club and the VIP table and the people. “Not my friends. I have three friends. Two are busy celebrating their birthday, and you. And you’re not hangin’ out with me.” Matt wiped his face. Yeah, he was starting to cry. Fucking alcohol.
If there was a god, Matt wouldn’t remember this part in the morning.
“Okay, let’s hangout.”
Matt crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re just doing this because I’m crying.”
Seamus laughed. “Well, yes, that is an incentive. You crying makes me very uncomfortable and I’ll do just about anything to make it stop. But I hang out with you every day, so obviously crying isn’t the only reason. Now, c’mon, let's go hangout.”
Matt stood and Seamus put a hand on his lower back to steady him. Matt felt awkward when they got back to the table. He knew everyone could tell he’d been crying. Why else would they be looking at him the way they were. Then there was Seamus. Matt practically forced his hand with guilt. Regardless, Matt felt himself calming down.
At one point he caught Hilary’s eye. Seamus had his arm slung over the couch behind Matt and their thighs were touching. Even though Matt was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, the position could be considered intimate. She pointedly looked between the two, as if reiterating the earlier question, the one that had been left unanswered.
Did he like Seamus?
He turned his head. Seamus was in a conversation with two of Kase’s teammates but looked at Matt and smiled. It wasn’t the fake one he gave Jay earlier. No, this smile was the reason he knew the other smile was fake.
Whatever Hilary saw on his face satisfied her. She gave him a kind smile and went back to Lainey.
Seamus humored Matt and stayed near him for the rest of the evening. Or what Matt could remember of it. It didn’t take long before the scales tipped against Matt’s favor. He couldn’t remember the details but he knew he cried some more. Over something trivial he was sure. Then Seamus drove him home.
The thing that sucked about being made from the cloth of two people is that you don’t get to decide what fibers come from who.
Matt’s mother was a very beautiful woman with dirty blonde hair and the softest brown eyes. Despite how his parents' relationship ended, his father always admitted to her beauty. She was also the life of the party. She had the kind of personality that attracted people from miles around. No matter who you asked, she was memorable.
Any of those would’ve been great qualities to inherit.
Matt was eighty percent his father. Brad was an attractive man with soft brown hair, blue eyes, and an average build. He was outgoing, likable, and far more practical and sensible than his mom. Just like Matt.
One of the few things Matt inherited from his mother was her emotional intolerance to alcohol. Whoopie.
No one knew who Matt would be when he drank. Would he be fun and outgoing? Honest and blunt to a fault? Or would he end up with the emotional stability of a teenager who ‘just doesn’t understand why life is sooo unfairrrrr’. It was a gamble, truly, which was why he rarely drank.
The night of his birthday he’d drawn the ‘just-don’t-understand-why-life-is-sooo-unfairrrrrr’ card. At least his mom could dodge a hangover. Matt wasn’t so lucky.
He spent the night next to Seamus’ toilet bowl. Neither his dad nor Aidan deserved to be subjected to such a grotesque scene. It was better to suffer in silence. No one to judge him when he wretched into the toilet or to laugh when he winced at the light.
It wasn’t all bad. Matt got to see Seamus in boxer briefs as he helped Matt recover; a glass of water here, a piece of toast there. He should’ve been embarrassed but Seamus never once made him feel like the fool he was.
It was almost dinner time when Matt peeled himself off the floor and got dressed so Seamus could drive him home.
“You sure you got this?” Seamus asked as he pulled along the curb outside Matt’s apartment. “I can walk you in.”
Matt took a deep breath to stop his stomach from rolling. “You’ve done enough. Thanks for everything.”
Seamus was still idling when Matt shut the door behind him. Brad was on the couch with a sleeping Aidan. One look and his dad pointed him to his room.
“Go sleep,” he chuckled.
Matt needed no pressuring. The night had gone so wrong. Drinks that caught on fire should come with a warning sign. God, being twenty-one was shit.