Friday night, after Aidan was safe and sound with Grandpa, Seamus dragged Matt out of the apartment and took him to Coffee|Bar. Despite having worked the day shift a while now, he’d never been there after hours. The live music was a woman and her acoustic guitar, singing cover songs that were better than the originals. Patrons sat around the tables laughing, enjoying the low-lit atmosphere while waiters and waitresses served beer and wine. Matt wasn’t even sure this was the same place he’d worked just a few short hours ago. It was so different.
Matt picked a small table while Seamus went to the bar that was partitioned off during the day. Matt smiled as he watched Seamus and the bartender, who was clearly nervous to serve his boss.
Commotion caught Matt’s eye. Not far from where Seamus was waiting in line was a table with five women. With the encouragement from her friends, one woman shoved away from the group and approached Seamus at the bar. Matt didn’t need to hear the conversation to know what was said. She was interested, he was not.
What did Seamus look like when he was interested in someone? He didn’t exactly have a bubbly, inviting personality. Matt had never seen him so much as flirt with anyone. Even when Jay was chatting him up, Seamus didn’t look all that interested even though Jay was a beautiful man.
The woman pouted to her friends when Seamus excused himself.
Once his drink was safely slid across the small tabletop, Matt smirked. “How do you do that?”
“Look completely closed off and unapproachable yet still manage to get hit on.”
Why Seamus felt he had to hide his smile, Matt didn’t know. “I must not look that unapproachable.”
Matt laughed. “Trust me, you do.”
“Yet you’re here.”
“Yes. Despite the fact I murdered you in my thoughts the first few times I saw you, I’m still here.”
“Why would you think about murdering me?”
“Because you went through the wrong door, twice. And almost killed me, twice!” Matt shouted in good humor. He could hardly believe Seamus had forgotten.
Seamus made a big show of rolling his eyes and throwing his hands in the air. “We’re still talking about this? You’re a dog with a bone about this door situation. That was half a year ago.”
“You almost killed me.” Matt was about to take a drink when he remembered, “You almost killed Aidan.”
Seamus paused. “Yeah, I do feel bad about that.”
“Just Aidan? What am I? Chopped liver?”
Seamus smiled and finished his drink while Matt finished his. Of course Seamus was approached when he went for a refill. A different girl this time. The line was longer now so she had more time to try and stake a claim. Seamus was kind and held genuine interest in whatever they were talking about but as soon as he got his drinks, he bid her farewell.
When he got back to the table, Seamus’s face was all, don’t-you-dare-say-it. Matt smiled in victory. Thirty minutes later Seamus was back in line. Another approach. This time it was a guy around Matt’s age. The bar was close to the University after all, everyone was Matt’s age.
Matt looked away. He might’ve wondered what an interested Seamus looked like but that didn’t mean he wanted to find out.
“Hey.” A pretty brunette sat in Seamus’s chair.
Shocked that someone had approached him, Matt glanced at Seamus who was looking between Matt and the girl. At first, he looked puzzled, then he smiled. The kind of smile that was practically a laugh. Matt wanted to flip him off. Instead, he turned to the girl.
She looked between Matt and Seamus. “I was just curious about you two. Are you guys—” You know…
“What? Us? Noooo. I mean—we’re not. No,” he said. Finally. Words were so hard sometimes.
She laughed and glanced at Seamus who was on his way back to the table. “That’s good.” She smiled, got up, and left.
Seamus sat down, a little amused and a lot smug. “Looks like I’m not getting all the attention.”
“Actually, she was inquiring about you.” Matt looked toward the bar where the guy was still standing, watching Seamus in defeat. “And she wasn’t the only one.”
Seamus ignored Matt’s comments. They talked and laughed. Matt was starting to feel the alcohol. He was feeling happy and outgoing, leaning a little towards honest and blunt. He didn’t care as long as he was nowhere near emotional.
They started playing some version of twenty-one questions.
“What was your first job?” Seamus asked.
“Depends on how technical you want to get. Technically I mowed lawns when I was twelve but my first tax paying job was at a movie theatre when I was sixteen.”
“I bet that was cool. Watching all the movies for free.”
“Sure, if I was working at the six-plex on the other side of town that played all the good blockbusters,” Matt laughed. “The movie theatre I worked at was this small independently owned place that only played critically acclaimed movies or ones slated for Oscar noms. Those weren’t exactly the movies sixteen-year-old Matt wanted to watch. What about you?”
“Fourteen. I was a busser at a family run restaurant. I was fired three days later.”
“What?” Matt laughed. “How’d that happen?”
Seamus made a sour face that was cuter than it should’ve been. “It was a busy morning and there was a large group with several kids. There was one kid, probably four or five, and he was not having a good day. There was an older lady a few tables away, she was not happy about the noise. She summoned me over, yelled at me, told me how unprofessional it was to have such rowdy children running around. She demanded I do something. I was fourteen and had no clue how to respond. The mean lady was glaring at me so I walked over and asked the parents if they could quiet their kid down. That was the wrong thing to do. My boss explained that it was a family restaurant and if someone had a problem with families, they could leave. They were nice about it but I was let go. I still think about that day. The look on the parents face,” he cringed. “All these years later and I still feel terrible. Probably more so now that I have Aidan. Kids don’t know how to process their emotions and they need grace. If someone said to me what I said to those parents, I’d punch ‘em.”
“You’d punch a poor fourteen-year-old boy who was being bullied by a Karen?”
“No,” Seamus smiled. “I suppose I’d ask the kid who was complaining and then I’d punch Karen for being a bitch.”
Matt laughed then tapped his chin as he thought of his next question. They’d talked about so much already. “How many boyfriends have you had?”
“Three,” he said quickly, then he hesitated. “Four. Three.” Okay, maybe he did need to think about it. “Three bonafide boyfriends and one that was more than a friend but less than a boyfriend.” Matt motioned for him to explain. “There was Sean and Jeremy in high school, then Kelly, and last was Teddy.”
“Teddy was the more than a friend but less than a boyfriend?”
“Okay,” Matt nodded. “So, Teddy was like, friends with benefits?”
Seamus picked at his shirt sleeve. “Yeah, I guess that’s exactly what he was.”
“How’d that come about?”
Seamus looked at Matt like why-do-you-want-to-know?
“Asking for a friend.”
Seamus laughed. “It was a few years after Kelly died. I wasn’t ready to date but I hated random hookups. Teddy worked at the dealership. I think he understood what I could and couldn’t give him and he was okay with that.”
“How long were you guys not together?”
“Oh,” Seamus thought. “A year? Maybe longer.”
“Wow, that’s a long time. Neither of you saw other people?”
“I had no reason to but I don’t know about him. I wasn’t concerned if he was or wasn’t. We weren’t dating.”
“Did you guys ever go out together? Or was it just sex?”
“It was just sex but we still did stuff occasionally. Dinner here and there.”
“Why’d it end?”
Seamus shrugged. “It just died out. We stopped reaching out until one day it just wasn’t a thing anymore. Anyway, what about you? How many boyfriends have you had?”
“Oh,” Matt scrunched his face and counted in his head. “Seven? Eight? Ten?”
Seamus’s eyes bugged and he pressed his palm down on the table in shock.
“Yeah,” Matt laughed at Seamus’ reaction. “Every gay kid dated every other gay kid in the district at some point. I only had one or two I would consider serious boyfriends.”
“Does that mean your other boyfriends were glorified hookups?”
“I’d like to give them more credit than just being a hook up but yeah, that's pretty much what they were.”
“Any end on bad terms? Broken hearted that you didn’t want more?”
“Bad terms? Yes. Broken hearted that I didn’t want more? I don’t think so.”
The sleeves on Seamus’s navy shirt were pushed up and he aimlessly ran his fingers up and down his forearm as he listened to Matt talk. “What was your worst break up?” He asked.
Matt groaned and laid his head in his arms. “I have to pick just one?”
Seamus laughed at him. Insisting he had to pick one, then poked Matt all over until he got so annoyed, he sat up.
“Fine,” Matt swatted Seamus away. “My worst break up was with Kevin Wright. We were the same grade but different schools. One of his friends threw a big party. Now, you may not know this about me but I can get really emotional when I drink.”
Seamus covered his mouth in an attempt to hide his smile. When Matt glared at him, he raised his hands. “Go on.”
“Anyway. We were drinking. He was barely paying attention to me, too busy being drunk with his friends to notice me. I hated it. I didn’t know a single person. Everyone there were his friends and classmates and I felt totally ditched. I started getting emotional over it. I think he genuinely felt bad that I was crying but it also embarrassed him. We probably could’ve survived except Ashton showed up.”
“Ooh, sounds juicy.”
“Yes, well, Ashton was a new kid...and gay. Kevin got Ashton a drink.”
“Oh no, not a drink,” Seamus egged Matt on.
Matt flipped him off. “It was a big deal to drunk, emotional Matt. I stormed up and stole poor Ashton’s drink and dumped it on Kevin’s head. Kevin and I started screaming at each other in front of everyone. It was very dramatic. Kevin didn’t want to fight in front of his friends so he grabbed my arm to pull me somewhere private. I punched him. Boom. Broke his nose. Then I saw the blood and realized what I did and started crying more. Pretty sure I begged him to forgive me. He didn’t. I never was invited to another Becker High party.” Matt leaned back and crossed his arms. “There you have it, not only my worst break up but also my biggest character flaw. You can thank my mom; I got my alcohol tolerance from her.”
“I feel like I learned so much about you. I have so many questions. But first, I want to get you drunk again.” Seamus grabbed Matt’s empty and was about to get up when Matt stopped him.
“You’ve fetched all the drinks so far. My shout.” Matt grabbed the glasses from Seamus and headed to the bar.
He half expected someone to come hit on him while he waited in line for drinks. It happened to Seamus all three times he’d gone. Alas, no nervous bartender, no flirty patrons. Matt was plum out of luck. He grabbed the two full beers and turned.
Their table was full. Seamus had been joined by four girls and two guys. Three of the occupants had already taken a shot at Seamus. So that was cool.
Matt wanted to hurry back to the table but then Seamus looked at him with help me eyes and suddenly he didn’t mind watching him suffer. Knowing he wasn’t a welcome participant made Matt feel better.
By the time he made it back, his chair was long gone and Seamus was shooting him daggers. That was fine, standing felt good. He gripped the back of Seamus’ chair and rested his hip against Seamus’ shoulder.
“I didn’t order enough drinks.”
“Sorry to intrude,” one of the girls said though Matt didn’t think she was all that sorry. She was cute with a trendy pixie cut. “It looked like you guys were having the most fun so we thought we’d join. Hope that’s okay?”
Matt doubted they would leave anyway. That was fine. He was lacking the typical college experiences; the drinking, the partying, the making a complete stranger your best friend for the night. “No, this is cool,” he said. “Are any of you students?”
They all perked up. The guy closest to them, the one that hadn’t hit on Seamus, smiled. “Yeah. I’m Mick,” he held out his hand. Then he pointed around the table. “This is Winnie, Anne, Amneet, Lizeth, and Rob.”
They were all seniors. Winnie, Anne, and Rob had hit on Seamus. Lizeth and Amneet had not. Matt decided they were all cool. He kept looking at Winnie though, she looked familiar. She must’ve thought the same because she was trying to place him.
“Intermediate Accounting with Schlemer,” she said. “You sit in the front!”
“I do,” he laughed. “And I probably have a better grade than you.”
“You definitely do. You always answer the questions.”
“That’s a lie. I never answer the questions.” Well, rarely.
“Yeah, but when you get called on, you’re always right.”
She had him there.
They ended up talking for a while. They had a lot in common. Well, the same major but sometimes that’s all it took. While Matt and Winnie chatted it up, the other’s held Seamus hostage. They were completely enamored with him.
“A round on me?” The captivator of everyone's attention asked. As if he needed a reason to garner more. The second Seamus stood up, Matt stole his seat, earning a playful glare and a promise of certain death when he got back.
“Is he straight? I can’t get a read on him and it’s driving me nuts,” Anne asked, still watching Seamus walk away. “Please tell me he’s straight.”
“Sorry,” Matt gave her an apologetic smile. Spoiler: He wasn’t sorry.
Anne’s eyes widened and then she grimaced. “Oh Jesus, I’m sorry. You two are dating, aren't you? I’m so obtuse.” She looked truly remorseful which Matt respected. Most people didn’t care who they offended.
“Nah.” He hoped for it to come off like ‘we’re not dating but we’re not NOT dating either. Kinda leave them thinking something might be there. Just enough to deter any potential advancements but not enough to make him look psycho when they found out there was nothing between him and Seamus. It didn’t work. They took him at face value, which was the cold hard truth after all.
Matt had just confirmed Seamus’ sexuality and despite Rob already trying, and failing, the group decided he would be Seamus’ new boyfriend.
“No way. I’ve already been shot down once. Not sure I’m interested in him having a second go,” Rob said when he noticed the way his friends were looking at him. Winnie and Anne looked at him like he was being ridiculous. He was a total keeper.
“Are you sure you guys aren’t dating? Rob never gets turned down.”
“You know Jay from the football team?” Everyone nodded. “Seamus turned him down also. So, I wouldn’t take it personally.”
“Seems like such a waste. I mean, look at that ass. Someone should be getting that ass.”
Everyone looked at Seamus’ ass and nodded. Even Matt.
“It’s not even his best pair of jeans,” Matt said, watching Seamus’s ass as it shifted while he waited for the drinks. “He has this pair of faded blue jeans that—hmmmm,” he half moaned and half whined because life wasn’t fair when you looked that good.
The table agreed.
“He is seriously hot,” Winnie said. “I literally had heart palpitations when I walked in. Like, I saw him and my heart got so overwhelmed it passed out. Now he’s buying us drinks. I’m not sure he could get any hotter.”
“Oh, he could be hotter,” Matt smirked. The group waited for him to explain, so he did. He told them all about Seamus and what makes him amazing. How he was his boss’s boss and also Matt’s nanny and how good he was with Aidan; always taking him to work, giving him his undivided attention, feeding him, and changing his diaper. How they went shopping and Seamus banned Matt from picking out Aidan’s clothes. He even told them how he upgraded his car because it was better for Aidan.
Seamus was amazing and Matt was just drunk enough to brag about the riches of their friendship.
There was a collective sigh of adoration and longing. There was even sadness because it sucked to be so close to greatness, yet so far away. No one at the table had a chance. Something Matt felt in his soul.
Seamus nudged Matt’s arm, letting him know it was time to get out of his seat. “What are you guys talking about?”
Matt stood up and grabbed his drink. It was a gamble at this point. Sure, he was happy-bold drunk now but that could change in a blink. Oh well, happy-bold-Matt was willing to take the risk even if it meant emotional-Matt would be angry about it later.
“We were talking about your ass and how good it looked and how someone should be hitting it,” Matt said with a wink. “Well, Anne said that part but I think everyone agreed. I told them they weren’t even your best pants.”
Anne looked mortified but Seamus looked amused.
“You don’t like my pants?”
“They’re fine, just not my favorite.”
Seamus was about to say something when Winnie cut him off. “He also said you're the owner?”
“And you’re his nanny?” Mick asked. He clearly couldn’t picture it. Seamus, a successful business owner who also nannies for a college kid? Crazy.
“Yes and Yes. In fact—” Seamus scrolled through his phone and held it out for everyone to see. It was a picture of Seamus and Aidan. It was cute as hell if you asked Matt. When everyone was done swooning, Seamus looked at it and smiled.
“Let me get this straight. You’re a business owner and you nanny for a college kid who also works for you?”
“Technically, I’m his live-in nanny.” Seamus loved the reactions. He lived for them.
“And you guys have never hooked up?”
Matt and Seamus looked at one another. “No.”
“You know you guys have the story all wrong. It’s supposed to be the hot business owner who hires a poor college kid to be his nanny. Then they end up fucking and falling in love.”
“Is that so?” Seamus looked at Matt. “Should we go home and fuck? Then fall in love?”
Drunk with no plans of standing all night, Matt sat on Seamus’ lap, wrapped his arm around his shoulder, and fluttered his eyes.
“How can I say no to that. You practically Shakespeared me into your bed and into your heart.”
Seamus dipped him back, real romantic like, and gazed into his eyes. “Oh, I’m gonna spear you alright.”
The table filled with laughter. Matt could barely breathe; he was laughing so hard. When they finally composed, he realized Seamus still had an arm around his waist. Matt tried to not make a big deal out of it but he was very aware of their position. It was the drinks he told himself. They were just having fun.
Matt stayed in Seamus’ lap all night. Their movements in sync as conversation shifted throughout the group. Seamus kept one arm on Matt while the other held his beer. Matt was sure his face gave him away. There was no possible way he could sit on Seamus’s lap all evening without looking like he’d won the lottery.
The bar was closing when they finally said goodbyes. Matt told the group to come back in the morning for the best hangover drink.
“And that’s how you solicit business,” Matt told Seamus as he drunk-strutted down the sidewalk. He opened the cab door and stumbled when he tried to get in. Matt looked back, realizing Seamus had seen his faux pas and blushed. Yeah, he was drunk.
“They’re not the only ones who will need the green drink.”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“I thought you liked my ass,” Seamus teased. “Well, not in these jeans apparently”
“I said the jeans were fine,” Matt groaned. “But don't take my word for it, ask all the people who fell over themselves to get a piece of you tonight.”
Seamus leaned in close, bumping Matt’s shoulder. “You sound jealous.” It was playful and...flirty? Was Seamus Ryan being flirty?
“Jealous?” Matt scoffed but the way Seamus was looking at him made his nerve ends tingle.
It was just the alcohol.
Matt shrugged. “They didn’t need to be discussing your ass all night. It’s disrespectful.”
Seamus moved closer. Matt could smell his faded cologne; it was mixed with his natural scent and the remnants of a night out. It smelled good, so good. Matt wasn’t sure he’d ever liked the way someone smelled as much as he liked the way Seamus did.
“You were discussing my ass.” Seamus said, his voice low and husky.
“That’s different,” Matt swallowed. “I wasn’t objectifying you like they were. I was simply stating facts.”
“Yeah, facts. Fact: you have a nice ass. Fact: those pants aren’t the best at showing it off.”
The cab pulled up to their building. They were both a little wobbly.
“And what about someone needing to hit it?”
“Hit what?” Matt asked.
“My ass. You said someone should be hitting it.”
“Well, yeah.” Matt tried not to laugh. “Fact: someone should be hitting dat ass.”
Seamus laughed and pushed Matt towards the building. They were close to the loft door when Matt turned to find Seamus staring at his ass. He raised his brow, questioning, and slowly unlocked the door, never taking his eyes off Seamus, letting his friend know he’d been caught.
“Oh, so everyone can objectify me but I can’t return the favor?”
“You can. It just seems like a waste. You could have stared at Rob; he had a nice ass. Even Mick’s wasn’t bad for a straight guy.”
“How many asses did you check out tonight?” Seamus asked, almost offended.
“What? No. They were just there. They had okay asses but yours is better. Not that I’m objectifying. Just stating facts. Like, fact: mine’s not that great. I was just saying—”
“What are you saying?” Seamus teased.
“Ugh, you’re so frustrating,” Matt growled. Drunk conversations weren’t his strong suit and Seamus was being weird and kinda sexy all at once. “You have a great ass. Rob and Mick’s are okay. Mine is not up to par. If you’re gonna return the favor, don’t waste it on me. And this conversation is embarrassing. I’m going to bed.”
Matt shut himself in his room and rubbed his face. He was half embarrassed and half amused by what had just happened. He changed then went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and empty his bladder. Just before reaching his room for the night, Seamus caught his attention.
“Just so you know.” Seamus was standing at the other end of the hall. “It wasn’t a waste.”
It took Matt a second to realize Seamus was talking about his ass which made him laugh. God, Seamus was too fucking cute to handle. “Night Seamus.”
“Night Matt,” he sang in return.
Yonk called in sick.
They were short-handed.
Work was slammed.
Matt felt better than he did after his birthday but the smell of the coffee still made his stomach roll and the screaming of the steamer made his head ache. Seamus was right, Matt needed that green hangover drink.
Hilary and Kase snickered and took joy in his misery, making him prep terrible smelling pastries and toasting the breakfast sandwiches.
“You guys are being mean. Why are you being so mean?” he whined.
“First, you didn’t invite us. Second, you didn’t invite us.”
“There was nothing to invite. The adoption was finalized and Dad took Aidan for the weekend. Seamus decided we should go out for a drink.”
“Looks like you had more than one drink.”
“Yes, well, a few people joined our table.”
“Random strangers?” Kase asked. “They just joined you?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “It's the Seamus side effect.”
They both stopped what they were doing and looked at Matt like he was crazy. “Side effect?”
“Yes. Side effect from being so damn perfect that we can’t go anywhere without people throwing themselves at him.”
“Ahh,” Hilary smiled. “Sounds like the only one suffering is you.”
“I hardly suffered. It was actually pretty fun.”
Matt told them all about the previous night and the crew they spent it with. He also told them about checking out Seamus’ ass and then Seamus checking out his. For no other reason than it made him feel good about himself.
“Going out with Seamus is fun but it’s not good for my self-esteem,” he told them. “The one time I got approached was so they could get the scoop on him. “
“Yeah, but then he complimented you on your butt.”
“Do drunk compliments count?” he asked. “I’ll take it, but not to heart.”
“You get Aidan tomorrow, right?” Matt nodded. “We should go out tonight. The three of us. We could go to Iron Works.”
That got Matt’s attention. “You’d go to Iron Works?”
Iron Works was a popular gay club. People drove from all over the state to party there. Matt hadn’t been there yet but was definitely curious.
“Not for just anyone, but for you I’d go.”
“What about you?” He asked Hilary. She looked at him like the village idiot, of course she’d go. There was no question. The more Matt thought about it, the more excited he got. Hilary and Kase went out with their friends all the time while Matt stayed behind with Aidan. He wanted to go out and be twenty-one, have fun, make memories, and meet new people.
“Let’s do it.”
Kase fist-bumped the air. He was the reason Matt couldn’t judge people without knowing them. He was an All-American football player, Homecoming King, who would one day be a phenomenal architect. On paper, there were a lot of reasons Matt and Kase wouldn’t roll in the same circles but they’d hit it off right away. Kase never made Matt feel inferior because he was a popular athlete with half the school at his beck and call. And now he was offering to hit the biggest gay club in the state in a show of support.
Matt had to admit that he was feeling better. Maybe awesome friends could cure-all.
Speaking of friends, his new ones from the previous night came rolling in around noon looking rough but not totally put out. Mick put his hands on the counter and leaned forward. “I heard this place has the best hangover cure. We’re here to put it to the test.”
“I didn’t think you guys would actually stop by.”
“And miss the chance at finding the key to keeping our livers alive?”
“That and we made a bet and wanted to see who won,” Winnie added.
Matt looked at them, confused. “What bet?”
“That the college student bagged himself a hot nanny last night.”
Mick shook his head. “I say, no way. That’s not how the story goes.”
“I hope you guys didn’t bet much. I didn’t bag anyone last night, especially the hot nanny.”
Mick turned and gloated his victory. His friends shoved him around, telling him to fuck off.
Kase slid the green smoothie drinks onto the counter then Matt introduced everyone. After a few minutes, Kase invited them out. They didn’t seem keen but Rob kept muttering how they owed him for all the times he went to straight clubs. No promises were made but Matt would have fun either way.
Seamus wasn’t home when Matt got to the loft. He decided to take a nap before Kase and Hilary showed up. When he woke, he could hear Seamus in the apartment. He took a shower and threw on his good jeans and a basic shirt. He still had a few hours before he needed to get ready.
“Feeling better?” Seamus asked when Matt walked into the kitchen. Seamus was wearing a pair of grubby jeans with rips and tears and an old threadbare shirt with the sleeves cut off. The sides were cut low and wide, revealing his abs any time he bent over, which was nonstop since he was unloading the dishwasher. Matt loved Seamus on his days off: half-naked, backward ballcap, sexy arms, peek-a-boo tummy, cleaning.
Other weekends included looking after Aidan which was a whole other level of hotness. Oh, happy Saturday.
Matt went straight for the fridge. “Yeah. Work kind of sucked but the nap felt good.”
“Cool. I stopped at the store and picked up some steaks and veggies. Figured we could fire up the grill since it’s not terribly cold outside. There are some new movies out, both in theatre and Netflix, depending on what you’re feeling up to. For dessert, I grabbed a few of those chocolate crunch ice cream bars you like. That we could enjoy those without Aidan screaming at us.”
Matt laughed because it was true. They’d given him a small taste once and had been feigning for more ever since. “What can I say, he has good taste.”
“That he does.” Seamus finished putting the last of the plates away and closed the cabinet. “Have you talked to your dad? How’s Aidan doing? If he started crawling—” Seamus shook his head. So help me god.
Matt chuckled. He was always laughing with Seamus. “Dad said he’s good. I doubt he’s crawling. He’d never deny you the pleasure. And I’m sure he misses you, too. He’ll probably reach for you the second he sees us tomorrow.”
“I doubt that,” he said with his customary I-can’t-take-a-compliment eye roll. “You said work sucked?”
“Yes. We were down a guy and it was crazy busy all day.”
“Plus, you had a hangover.”
“Plus I had a hangover,” Matt confirmed. “But Rob and the others came in.”
“For the green drink?”
“Yeah, but I think they were mostly hoping you were there.”
“Instead, they got you,” he winked. “Lucky bastards.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so,” he laughed. “They actually said they came in because they made a bet and needed to see who won.”
Seamus leaned forward, his elbows on the table, listening.
“They wanted to know if the college kid bagged the hot nanny.”
His eyebrows went up, clearly surprised. “And?”
“And—I told them the nanny’s ass is still not being hit. They were understandably upset. It was very sad news.”
“Did you tell them you caught me checking your ass out last night?”
Matt hated how gorgeous he looked when he was playing around so casually, like the flirting was no big deal. Those dark eyes; so damn teasing and sexy it drove him nuts.
Life was so not fair.
“Nah, I didn’t think encouraging them was a good idea. Anyway,” he said. “Are you going to cook those steaks? I’m leaving in two hours and we still have to eat that ice cream.”
“Where are you going?”
“Iron Works. Kase suggested it. I think I hurt their feelings by not inviting them last night. Whatever. It’s not often Aidan’s gone. I might as well live it up.”
“Iron Works huh? Have you ever been there?”
“You know I haven’t. I’m barely twenty-one and never without a baby.”
Seamus frowned. “It gets fucking crazy there. Real intense. Everyone lookin’ to get their dick wet.” Seamus had a serious look about him. The same dark eyes that had been teasing and sexy moments ago were now scary cold.
“Okay, well, I can’t blame them. I’m in a bit of a dry spell myself,” he laughed, trying to break the tension.
It did not work.
The chair screeched when Seamus pushed away from the table. “Don’t bring them back here. That’s what the bathrooms are for.”
Seamus yanked the fridge open and pulled the meat and veggies out then stalked to the patio. Matt followed. He leaned against the door frame and watched Seamus stomp about. The man was so angry he could’ve started the grill with sheer rage.
“For the record, I never said I was going there to hook up. I said I couldn’t blame them for wanting to get their dick wet. It’s not the same thing.”
“You do you.”
“You do you,” Matt repeated, a bit bitterly if he was honest.
Matt left Seamus on the balcony to angry cook his heart out. When dinner was done, they sat at the table and ate. It was awkward as hell. Seamus had said he didn’t like random hookups and was clearly pissed at Matt’s hypothetical life choice. Matt felt guilty. Then angry that he felt guilty. He hadn’t done anything and he hadn’t planned on doing anything.
“You really going to be mad at me for going out and having a little fun? And by fun, I mean dancing, drinking, and maybe getting a little attention if I’m lucky. Kind of like the attention you got so much of last night. I’m not opposed to feeling like a regular twenty-one-year-old.”
“Attention huh? What kind of attention are you looking for?” Seamus was doing a shit job of reeling in his frustration.
“The kind any twenty-one-year-old wants. Something that makes me feel good about myself? Wanted? I don’t know.”
“I checked out your ass last night.”
“Yes,” Matt tried not to laugh, he really did, but Seamus said it like it was the solution to all his problems. “And my cup overfloweth.”
Seamus stared at Matt like he wanted to say something but took a bite of food instead. The rest of dinner was quiet. Matt cleared the dishes and went to his room to get ready. An hour later Kase and Hilary knocked on the door.
Hilary was wearing the same dress she wore to Purple Canary. Kase, well he looked good enough to eat.
“Wow,” Matt whistled. “You look amazing. Guys will be all over you. I might as well invite Seamus along. You two can steal the show.”
He didn’t mean it as a dig and didn’t think it came off that way. He had two very attractive friends, inside and out, and he was proud of that.
Kase’s eyes softened. “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me, but don’t worry, I got your back.” He quickly took his jacket off. Underneath he wore a skin-tight black shirt with white print. I’m straight but ask me about my friend
“It’s so tight.”
“I know,” Kase stood up straight and smiled so very proudly. “I figured the hotter I am the more action you’ll get.”
“Yeah,” Matt sarcastically agreed. “They’ll be so very not disappointed when they see me.”
Kase looked him over. Matt thought he looked fine but was suddenly second-guessing himself. A quick trip to his bedroom and Kase had him in a new shirt that ‘promised results’.
His hair was on the shorter side and fairly low maintenance so it wasn’t like he had a need for product. Kase disagreed.
“Seamus, do you have something I can use for his hair? Gel or mousse or something?” One look and Matt knew Seamus had no intention of helping. Kase noticed, too.
“Don’t worry about it,” Matt said to Kase. “My hair is fine. Let’s go.”
As soon as the door shut behind them Hilary let out a breath. “Well, that was awkward. What crawled up his ass?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. He was talking about grilling some steaks and that he bought icecream for dessert. I told him that you guys were coming and we were going out. Then, when he said the club was full of guys that only wanted to get their dick wet, I made a joke about not blaming them and how I was going through a dry spell myself. Now he thinks I’m slutty or something. He told me not to bring them back to the loft. He said, and I quote, ‘that’s what the bathrooms are for’.”
“Oh,” Hilary sighed in relief. “It’s just jealousy. He’s mad because he planned a cute little baby-less date night and you made plans to get laid.”
“What? No. That’s not—I never said I planned on getting laid. And it wasn’t a date. He always plans dinner.”
He and Hilary shared a look. Was Seamus jealous? Was it a date he planned? Matt wasn’t sure. Could he afford to get his hopes up? No.
It took thirty minutes to get to the club. Campus was on the outskirts and the club was clear on the other side of town. It was cold and there was already a line so they waited their turn to push into the club.
It was nothing like Purple Canary. The music was loud, the lights were low, and the bar was crowded.
“I didn’t know clothing was optional,” Hilary giggled as she looked around. Almost everyone was half-naked or might as well have been.
Kase zipped his jacket all the way up. “I might keep my jacket on for a little while.”
Seamus was right, the place was intense. They went to the bar and waited for drinks. Hilary knew what she was doing. She pushed her way forward and had the bartender’s attention in no time. Matt promised himself he wasn’t going to drink much. One or two. He needed his wits and he had to get Aidan tomorrow.
They spent twenty minutes acclimating themselves to the club. Hilary made Kase take his jacket off. The bar had an almost free-for-all feel about it. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Hell, he might need three drinks to get through the night. As they sipped their drinks, a handful of guys approached them. They were all aggressive with only had one thing on their mind.
Kase put his jacket back on. “I’m not sure I want the attention anymore. I think advertising that I’m straight is more bait than repellant.”
Matt laughed after sending the last guy packing. “This place is nuts.” Yes, he did want attention but maybe attention that wasn’t so crass and base. And Kase was right, his shirt was total bait, just the wrong kind.
“This is what you both wanted,” Hilary smiled, not-so-innocently as she sipped her drink through a straw. “Kase, you just didn’t know that announcing how straight you are would trigger a challenge among the wolves.”
Matt finally got asked to dance by a guy that seemed decent. Okay, half decent. Five minutes into the dancing and the stranger had slowly snaked his hand down the front of Matt’s pants. He was about to tell the guy to fuck off when Kase intervened.
He was on a mission. If he saw the stranger’s hands down Matt’s pants, he didn’t let it show. He simply swatted him away and gestured for him to take a hike.
The stranger looked irritated but the club was full of guys and Matt wasn’t worth the trouble. Kase looked at the people dancing around them then he zeroed in on one guy. He tapped the stranger’s shoulder. He snapped his finger and pointed at Matt. “Dance,” he demanded. The guy didn’t even argue, he shrugged like it was no biggie and saddled up in front of Matt.
“What’s going on?” Matt hissed at his friend.
“Just—” Kase looked around again. “Just don’t let this one stick his hand down your pants.”
“It’s not his hand I’m worried about,” Matt pointed to the ass currently glued to his crotch. “But why do you even care?”
“I don’t. But—” Kase froze like a mouse next to a wolf. “I’m out.”
Kase was gone so fast Matt wasn’t sure what happened. Then the guy in front him was gone, too. There was Seamus. Standing in front of him there wearing the same clothes he’d been cleaning in earlier. He didn’t look angry but he wasn’t happy either. Resigned maybe?
“What are you doing here?” Matt asked.
Seamus’s dislike for the club, what happened there, and the close proximity of guys who partook in those activities was obvious. He took a deep breath and looked at Matt. “Probably overstepping—definitely overstepping,” he corrected. “You’re so frustrating, you know that?
“I’m frustrating? What did I do?”
“Yes, you’re frustrating,” he said. “I’ve been throwing myself at you.”
“Throwing yourself at me?”
“Yeah, dropping hints, flirting, that kind of stuff.”
“Flirting?!” Matt racked his brain and couldn’t think of a single time Seamus had flirted before last night.
“Yes, flirting. Almost every day for months. Months.”
Matt ran his fingers through his hair then gripped it tightly to ground himself. “What are you saying?”
“Seriously?” Seamus groaned and looked at the sky for help. Then, right there in the middle of a skeezy club, surrounded by half-naked men looking to get their dicks wet, Seamus gripped Matt’s shoulders and pulled him so close he had to listen to exactly what Seamus was about to say. “I like you,” he said slowly. “I don't like people hitting on me, I don’t like people hitting on you, and I don’t like you being here for attention. I don’t even like that you want attention from anyone who’s not me. Because I like you. I like you a lot. I’ve liked you since the first time I saw you and I’ve liked you every day since.”
“Oh.” Matt stared at Seamus. The confession was completely unexpected. Seamus was still holding his shoulders, not letting him move one inch. His eyes looked vulnerable, nervous, and determined. “Was tonight a date? The dinner, movie, and ice cream. Was that a date?”
“I wanted it to be,” he said. “I was hopeful.”
Matt smiled so wide it hurt. “And you checking out my butt? That should’ve been all the attention I needed?”
“If it’s not enough then I can give you more attention, all the attention, whatever attention you want.”
Someone knocked into Matt, pushing him to the side. He grabbed for Seamus and Seamus wrapped his arms around Matt, keeping him safe.
Seamus leaned forward. “Can we leave? I really hate this place.”
Matt didn’t wait another moment. He grabbed Seamus’ hand and pulled him through the crowd. Kase and Hilary were nowhere to be seen, probably long gone when they saw Seamus was with Matt. There were people standing outside smoking and talking and cabs lined the curb, waiting.
He looked around for Seamus’s car. It was in the parking lot two blocks down, hard to miss even in the dark. They walked hand in hand. Seamus’ grip was tight and unwavering. As they drew near, Seamus used the key fob to unlock the car but when he tried to let go of Matt’s hand, Matt yanked him closer, pulling the man to his chest.
The kiss was soft and Seamus needed very little encouragement, he slid his hands down Matt’s back, stopping at the curve above his butt and pulled him flush.
Matt melted. Everything about Seamus drew him in; his smells, the softness of his lips, the roughness of his trimmed beard. Everything. Matt ran his hands up Seamus’ chest, caressing the outline of his jaw, but ultimately his fingers found purchase in those thick, dark red locks he loved so much.
It was slow, heated, and sexy as hell. Matt could barely breathe when they finally pulled apart. Neither man was willing to let go of the other, not after waiting so long. They kissed a few more times; light and chaste. Savoring.
Matt ran his hand over his own chest. His heart was pounding heavily. He smiled. “We should probably head home.”
Seamus agreed then pulled Matt in for one last, bruising kiss. Seamus turned the SUV onto the road then reached across the console and wove his fingers in Matt’s. “I’m glad I came after you.”
“Good,” Seamus smiled at the road. “Now please shower when we get home. You stink like a hundred different types of Axes body spray and it’s bad for my mental health.”
Matt laughed and brought Seamus’ hand to his lips then stared out the passenger window, watching the streetlights pass. Everything was damp from spring rain. He moved his fingers between Seamus’s, enjoying the feel of their hands mingled together.
When it came to relationships, Matt didn’t have a solid track record. He was smart and had a solid head on his shoulders but he was an idiot when it came to guys. Every coupling had been driven by hormones and convenience. Neither of those were set ups for success. Seamus was the first guy that Matt had any sort of history with. They were friends, they knew each other’s habits, their likes and dislikes, and Seamus loved Aidan.
It was also the first time Matt wanted something real. He wanted to do better this time. He would do better this time. He had something in front of him that was worth working for.