The lobby was unusually quiet as Matt made his way to the loft, so was the elevator. Nervously, he paused outside the door. He didn’t know what he was walking into. Seamus was upset, Matt knew that much. He knew he had done nothing wrong but he could understand how Seamus might’ve felt a little blindsided. Matt had mentioned his summer plans more than once, but they hadn’t explicitly talked about Matt moving out.
Surely Seamus knew they would not live together right off the bat? That would change if things went well. Matt could see them reevaluating their living arrangement in a more romantic capacity down the road. But not now.
Matt slowly opened the door. The apartment was dim and the TV was on low. Seamus was sitting on the couch folding laundry. That was bad news. Matt set his bag down and pulled off his jacket. Cautiously, he walked to the couch, moved the laundry basket from its spot next to Seamus, and paused the TV.
“Hey,” he whispered.
Seamus tossed the sock he was working on into the basket. “Hey.”
“I think we need to have a proper talk.”
Seamus let out a loud breath and slouched against the couch. “No need,” he said. “I overreacted.”
“Possibly,” he agreed. “But I thought about it after you left, and I get why you’re upset. I could’ve talked to you about this earlier.”
“I never went home for the summer, it wasn’t something I did. That’s not to say you leaving wasn’t in my face. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t want it to. Summer is really long. When you finally come back, you’ll be in your own apartment. It just sucks.”
“I moved in because Aidan needed his own room, right? I wouldn’t have moved in otherwise,” Matt reminded Seamus, albeit cautiously.
“I was going to ask you, anyway.”
“Okay, but both know we shouldn’t live together, right? When we were just friends? Sure, let’s be roommates. But boyfriends?” Matt shook his head. “That has ‘terrible idea’ written all over it.”
“I enjoy having you here.”
“And I enjoy being here.”
“Then why not stay?” he asked. “We get along great, it makes shuffling Aidan around easier when we’re coming and going from the same place, and we both save money. We’re going to spend all our time together, anyway.”
“For one, we just started dating and, I’ll be honest, I’m not ready for that. I just moved away from home less than a year ago. I want to be on my own. I want to have that experience. It’s already complicated since you watch Aidan all the time and you’re my boss. There is a difference between knowing I can rely on you and having to rely on you. Right now, I feel like I have to rely on you. Living with you, working for you, and having you watch Aidan, that’s a lot of relying.”
There was also a difference between understanding and accepting. Seamus understood where Matt was coming from, but he was having a hard time accepting it.
“I’m not really your boss. Denise is. You’re the one that said I did nothing except intimate people and hold a baby all day.”
Matt leaned back and laughed. “Semantics. You’re my boss's boss. That makes you my boss. Kase calls you Boss Nanny and I think that paints a pretty clear picture.”
“Boss Nanny?” he repeated, smiling proudly. The fucking weirdo liked the name.
“Do you understand, though? You’re the boss nanny, my boss’s boss, my boyfriend, and my roommate for who’s roof I live under. That’s too much. I don’t want to feel like I’m on the wrong end of a teeter-totter. I need to hold my own.”
“What do you think ‘holding your own’ looks like? From where I stand, going to school full time, working, and taking on your brother is a lot of weight. You’re doing an incredible job.”
When it’s said the way Seamus said it, all star struck and impressed, then yeah, it seemed like Matt was doing a kick-ass job. Matt grinned. He liked the way Seamus made him feel.
“I like you, a lot, and I have a good feeling about us.” Seamus pulled Matt closer. “I understand where you’re coming from. I really do. But I may need a minute to come to terms with the change.”
Matt straddled Seamus’ lap. “We’re still gonna see each other all the time. Aidan and I will come over and you’ll come to our place. I’ll even have Kase watch Aidan so I can come over here, alone.”
“Just us,” Matt confirmed.
Matt ran his hand along the side of Seamus’s head. “You won’t have to pick up my wet towels.”
“Yes, I will.”
He chuckled. “Okay, maybe you will.”
“When do you think you could move back in?”
Matt leaned away. “We’ve been together for like, one day.”
Seamus raised a brow. He didn’t give a fuck if they’d been dating for one hour, he wanted to know when Matt was moving back in.
“Could we talk about it after graduation?”
Seamus sighed, then frowned. “You’re really going to move away for the summer?”
“Yes. I have one year before I need to find a real job. I want to go home and spend the last bit of my childhood with dad before I grow up.”
“Before you grow up?” Seamus smirk.
“I’m twenty-one. Just a baby.”
“Hardly.” Seamus ran his hands down Matt’s body, real suggestive like. He snaked his hand under Matt's shirt, caressing the soft skin. He kept teasing and tempting until Matt was a fidgeting mess.
"C'mon," he begged.
Seamus dropped his hands and smiled devilishly. "Sorry, you're just a baby."
Matt growled and quickly proved he was no child.
Seamus was being a distraction. All the neck kisses and ear tickles were driving Matt crazy. “You have to let me study or I’m going to fail, and if I fail, I’ll be in school an extra year.”
That did the trick. The threat of living apart even longer was enough to send Seamus away with one last peck on the cheek.
Life wasn’t that easy, and Matt was no dummy. Seamus never gave up that easily. He was in the bedroom, naked. Matt knew it.
One week of school left; Matt told himself. He had to resist. As hard as it was, Matt stayed at the table and finished his work. He only glanced at the bedroom door twice. Okay, five times. It was hard not to imagine what Seamus was doing in there.
When the last of his work was done, he pushed out from the table and went to the room. Sure enough, Seamus was exactly as Matt said—always with sex on the brain.
“Do you ever tire?” Matt asked as he stripped his clothes off.
Seamus was on his back with his legs spread, lazily touching himself. Matt could tell he’d already prepped himself. “Are you complaining?”
“Not at all.”
“Then get over here. I’m stocking the bank while I can.”
Matt fell victim once again. He couldn’t say no. He grabbed a condom, rolled it on, then crawled up Seamus’s waiting body. Matt hooked one leg over his shoulder as he went and pressed into his horny boyfriend in one long movement, just the way Seamus loved.
Matt took his time and Seamus let him. Seamus always got what Seamus wanted.
It was a quick but crazy, intense session. They were both on their backs and slick with sweat and cum.
“Your last day of work is the first?”
“And you’re moving back to your dads on the twenty-fifth?”
The way Seamus asked questions he already had the answers to, made Matt take notice. Tired and sated as he was, he propped himself up. “What’s going on?”
“I want to see you.”
“You will. We’ve already talked about it.”
“I know, but I have a plan.”
“Seamus.” Matt eyed his boyfriend suspiciously.
“No,” Seamus’s voice was firm and unwavering. “And you don’t get to be a dick about it. When you’re done living with your dad, you’ll be moving out of the loft. I get to have a plan and you don’t get to say anything about it.”
Matt was shocked. It was so rare that Seamus ever talked like that. He couldn’t help but smile. “Wow, you’re so swoony. I never stood a chance against your charm.”
“Damn straight.” Seamus flipped the light off, then pulled Matt against his chest and snuggled into the blankets. “Don’t forget to wake me up before you go go,” he half sang.
Matt smiled. He loved it when Seamus was playful. He also knew the drill. There was only one excuse for not dicking Seamus first thing in the morning and that was Aidan—who was getting ready to turn one and still not walking. It wasn’t a big deal to Matt, but Seamus was stressing over it big time. What if they moved away and Seamus missed it all?
For his sake alone, Matt prayed Aidan would take a few steps before they left.
Matt ended the year on a high. He had his assignments turned in before the deadlines and snatched a phenomenal GPA in the progress. An accomplishment considering everything Matt had been up against since getting Aidan.
To celebrate, Seamus took him and Aidan out to dinner at Cavaliers. Matt didn’t fight it this time. He sat with Seamus and Aidan and enjoyed every bite of food. The following Thursday was Matt’s last day of work. He planned on coming back in the fall, but who knew for sure. With his own place, a kid, and a full schedule for his final year, Matt was seriously considering using some of the money he got from his mom to help him through. He knew Seamus was there to do whatever was needed, but Matt was serious about not wanting to rely on him for everything. Wouldn’t Seamus enjoy his time with them that much more if it was all voluntary?
Brad came down Friday evening, the first official day of Matt’s summer, and took Aidan for the weekend. Matt wondered if his dad would be this eager to watch Aidan during the summer, too. Most of Matt’s friends from high school would be in town, and he wasn’t opposed to one last summer hurrah before his final year of school and diving head first into adulthood.
He was a super brother now. The opportunity to act twenty-one was dwindling by the minute. He didn’t choose the super brother life; the super brother life chose him. Just because he was forced to terms didn’t mean he was always cool with it.
So many times he felt like a petulant child. He didn’t resent his life or his brother. He loved Aidan more than anything. There was a whole future he looked forward to, more than he thought possible. But he was twenty-one, trying to enjoy his first year of true independence, and living off campus at a big university. His toes were barely wet when everything changed. No parties, no tailgaters, no living selfishly. Most days he was nothing but elbow deep in formula blow-outs.
Though he felt down, Matt wouldn’t change being Aidan’s next of kin for anything. The thought of Aidan being with distant family grated him more than every missed college party, missed football game, and missed one-night-stand.
All of his friends leaving town for the summer didn’t help Matt’s grumpy attitude. He tossed his stuff down a little too hard and walked through the apartment a little too heavy-footed. He had a free weekend to finally let loose but no one was around. Kase left, Hilary left. Everyone else had either left for the summer or was working.
Seamus observed Matt. “Not a good day?”
Seamus wiped his hands on his pants and went to Matt, wrapping him up in a hug. “What’s wrong? I thought you’d be happy that Chub Master Thighs is gone.”
Matt smiled against Seamus’ shoulder at the nickname, then frowned. “I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go. Everyone’s gone. They all went home.”
Seamus rubbed Matt’s back. “We could go out with my friends. I’m sure they’d be down for a Friday night board meeting. It’s been a while.”
“I forgot you had friends.” It wasn’t meant as a dig. Except for the one night Seamus got drunk and came home and passed out, he never did anything.
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just insult me.”
In an effort to gain favor, Matt pouted real cute like until Seamus smiled. Once he was safe, he asked. “You think they’d be free?”
Seamus shrugged and pulled out his phone to find out. While he did that, Matt showered. When he came back, Seamus was dressed in nice jeans and a hoodie. “They’re down. Said they’d meet us in a bit for dinner and drinks. Nothing too crazy but they’re cool guys.”
“You met them in college?”
“Yeah, we were in a study group freshman year. Rest is history.”
Matt was excited but nervous. Seamus hadn’t talked about them a ton but he knew they were his ride or die. Even after they parted ways after college, they continued to meet regularly. They even vacationed once a year. In fact, Seamus had missed it this year because it was during the adoption chaos.
“Jay and Scott? Right?”
“It will be everyone—Jay, Scott, Will, and Trevor.”
“So, all of your friends?”
“Besides you, of course.”
An hour later they parked outside Chubby’s. They were walking hand-in-hand when Seamus pointed at the far corner where two newer Audis sat. “That’s them.”
Inside, the guys were sitting at a round table, laughing. Seamus squeezed Matt’s hand and led him across the restaurant. As they neared, the group stood and greeted them.
“Sea-man!” A very attractive, tall blond with a well-built body shouted. “Glad you found time for us. I was about to send the dogs after you.”
“The real surprise is that you having time for us,” Seamus shot back, pulling the blonde into an aggressive bro hug. Seamus kept his arm slung over his friend's shoulder and turned to Matt. “This is Jay Petermeyer.”
There was this look, a moment, as they waited for Matt to react. So Matt held his hand out. “I’m Matt. Nice to meet you.”
The group looked at Jay and laughed. Clearly there was some kind of joke happening. Seamus released his friend with a shove and pointed down the line. “This is Scott Schroeder, Trevor Torrance, and Will Walker.”
Trevor, the smallest of the group, noticed Matt’s expression and smiled. “Don’t encourage Seamus. He’s convinced we’re low-key superheroes.”
“Not true,” Seamus cut in. “Being a superhero would require you three to—at most, have a superpower and, at the very least, put others before yourselves.”
“Fuck you,” Trevor laughed. “Always a do-gooder. Holding your righteousness over the rest of us peasants.”
Matt sat silently as everyone settled. They joked in the easy way that good friends do. He liked them. More than that, he liked who Seamus was when he was around them. Seamus was a different person. He was outgoing, light-hearted, hilarious.
They were alphas. Everything about them oozed confidence and power. Matt had only been around them for thirty minutes, but he knew they were the center of attention wherever they went. They were the guys that got what they wanted. Matt doubted they were ever told no. Judging by physical looks alone (and the cars parked outside) they were all successful. That much was obvious. None of them had rings, but that didn’t mean there weren’t beautiful girlfriends or fiancés back home.
The best part was, they didn’t act like they knew they were that cool. They were nice and down to earth. Which made them even better, and worse. Because, how intimidating?
Matt was in his own head, comparing himself to Seamus and his friends when a hand squeezed his thigh. Seamus was watching him with an easy smile. “I’m gonna grab a drink, what’s your poison?”
“Oh, um, whatever you’re getting.”
Seamus winked and scooted out of the booth along with the three others, leaving Matt and the giant, built blonde. After a beat of weird silence, Jay spoke.
“You shouldn’t have any trouble here. We tend to get left alone.”
Matt had no fucking clue what the guy was talking about but nodded anyways. Matt was usually outgoing, but he was so nervous about meeting Seamus’s friends that he was being awkward and quiet. Matt and Jay sat, semi awkwardly, as they waited for the others to return. It felt like forever before Seamus slid his drink across the table.
Jay took a welcomed sip and smiled. “I was telling Matt that he should be fine. I don’t think anyone will give him trouble for drinking here.”
Seamus stared at his friend like the village idiot. “No shit. He’s twenty-one, dipshit.”
“Seamus told us all about Matt’s twenty-first party at the bird house. Did you not listen?” Will chastised.
Jay’s genuine shock that Matt could drink legally did nothing to put Matt at ease. It only proved that the group of friends were way out of his league. On top of that, his beer was genuinely disgusting. It took everything in him not to make a face after every sip. Ugh, it was so bitter. Like drinking tree sap. The last thing he needed was for them to think he couldn’t hack it. Atleast he had no motivation to get drunk. Knowing they wouldn’t see him get stupid emotional made him feel a little better.
“So,” Jay said, trying and failing to move things out of the awkward zone. “You into sports?”
“I mean, sure, I play at the Rec occasionally and summer ball if they need a warm body.”
“No professional sports?”
Matt shrugged. “Super Bowl if there’s a big party.”
Jay groaned, which caused the table to break out in laughter.
“You can’t catch a damn break.” Scott clapped Jay on the shoulder sympathetically then looked at Matt. “Don’t worry about him, his oversized ego is a bit concussed.”
Matt sipped his drink and listened as the friends bantered back and forth. He wasn’t having a terrible time, but he was in a weird mood. He felt funky. Actually, he felt jealous.
Eventually, he excused himself and went to the bar. “Could I get a coke?” he asked the bartender. “Uh, could you make it look like a rum and coke?”
The bartender smiled. “No problem. And if someone orders for you later?”
“The same thing, if you would.”
While he waited, Matt sat on the stool. There were easily a dozen TV’s playing, each viewing a different game. Matt watched a few of them, not really knowing what was happening.
“Is anyone sitting here?”
The bar wasn’t that full, just a few two-tops scattered throughout. Matt shook his head, letting the guy know he was free. Matt didn’t pay him mind, instead, continued to watch the TV’s.
“Jackson is having a good season, amiright?”
“The contract he signed with the Texans is insane. Personally, I’m not sure he’s worth it, but I guess we’ll see.”
All Matt could offer was a nod. He had no clue who Jackson was, or if there was merit to the money he was making.
“You see Petermeyer?” the guy asked, looking back at the table where he’d just come from. “I knew he went to college here. I never thought I’d actually see him.”
Matt looked at Seamus and his friends and frowned. “You mean Jay?”
“Yeah, Jay Petermeyer,” the guy laughed. “Seahawks best defensive end. Crazy talent right there.”
“Oh yeah, he seems nice.” The table caught Matt looking and waved a little too enthusiastically. Matt’s return wave was that of a kid placating their embarrassing parent. Small.
“I wouldn’t say I know him. I literally just met him like an hour ago. I didn’t even know he was a professional athlete or whatever. Though, it makes sense now.”
“You must be the only person in the world who doesn’t know who Jay Petermeyer is.”
“I’ve never been interested in sports,” Matt explained. “I went to football games in school but never followed anything on a professional level.”
“Sure, but Jay was the first and only open gay player drafted in any sport, let alone in the first round. That made non-sports headlines. Still does.”
Now that the guy mentioned it, it sounded familiar. He was in high school and barely out himself. He wasn’t into sports, but he knew it was a big deal to draft an openly gay player.
“He’s made a name for himself, that’s for sure. His humanitarian work is off the charts. He’s what more athletes should strive to be like. Gay hasn’t stopped my wife from being half in love with him.”
There was something Matt was more than happy to sit and talk about, the importance of public figures being role models and setting the bar for others. Not only did they have excessive amounts of money, but they had social platforms that could truly promote positive causes to millions of people with little effort.
Matt and the stranger talked for a while. He wasn’t sure how long, but eventually they were interrupted. “Hey, I’m Jay.”
The guy eagerly stuck his hand out. “I’m Chance. Hi. Shit. You’re Jay Petermeyer.”
Matt laughed at how fumbly his new friend was. All the confidence he had earlier with was gone; he’d been reduced to mush with one handshake.
“Nice to meet you,” Jay said. “You must be pretty awesome if you were able to keep Matt here for forty-five minutes.”
Chance looked at his watch. “Forty-five minutes? Shit, I’m late.” He threw some money on the bar and stood up. “Matt, it was really nice to meet you and Jay—”
“Fuck yeah,” the guy smiled and handed Matt his phone. Jay went all out, hamming it up for the camera. When Chance left, Jay ordered another round. He sat next to Matt, slid a drink over, and spoke in a way that was overly secretive and borderline creepy.
“Seamus is low-key freaking out right now. If I was you, I’d take him this drink, kiss him on the cheek, and make sure you’re touching him in some way or another for the rest of the night.”
Matt furrowed his brows and looked over his shoulder. Seamus was at the table laughing. He looked great, happy, stunningly beautiful. Nothing looked amiss. Matt had no clue what Jay was talking about.
“Don’t stare at him, you’ll make it obvious we’re talking.”
“Obvious we’re talking about what? I don’t even know what we’re talking about. Seamus isn’t freaking out. What would he be freaking out about anyway?”
“You sitting here with some strange guy for almost an hour instead of sitting with your boyfriend.”
“Seamus doesn’t care about that.”
“Seamus most definitely cares about that.”
Matt chanced another look. Seamus was still laughing and happy with his friends. Matt was starting to think that Jay was causing drama to be an asshole.
“You can stop looking, he’s never going to show his cards. That doesn’t mean he’s not bothered. After the hell Kelly put him through—” Jay shook his head, frustrated and disappointed about whatever had happened.
“Seamus loved Kelly. He’s never said a bum word about him.”
Jay rubbed his beard. “Well, I’m not surprised. Grief can make you feel and behave in ways that aren’t typical.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Kelly was an asshole. He spent their entire relationship cheating on Seamus. He wanted Seamus to be his husband because Seamus is a fucking good guy, but Kelly never had intentions of being monogamous. Too bad he roped Seamus into marriage before making that part clear. Seamus kept asking Kelly to stop, Kelly would placate him, even keep in on the low for a while. About a month before Kelly died, Seamus walked in on him having sex with another guy. Kelly got upset at Seamus for making a big deal about it. So, instead of taking Seamus on vacation like they had planned, he took the guy he was fucking. That was it for Seamus, he was talking divorce but—”
Kelly never made it that far.
Matt was reeling. Seamus never let on, never mentioned a word. Nothing. Zilch. Seamus almost never talked about Kelly, and now he knew why. Matt wasn’t upset, maybe a little disappointed, but he knew Seamus would tell him when he was ready. The thought that Seamus was keeping this bottled up more upsetting than anything.
He shook off the shock and made his way back across the bar. “Sorry it took so long. That guy was pretty star-struck with Jay,” Matt explained. “He about shit himself when Jay came over and rescued me.”
Matt pressed against Seamus and squeezed his thigh a few times for good measure. Maybe Seamus wasn’t so carefree after all. Now that Matt was there, he could feel tension rolling off the guy in waves.
The rest of the table welcomed Matt back in a way that was clearly meant to create unity and to keep their friend grounded. Matt was thankful for that, thankful for them.
“I found out something interesting about a certain professional football player while talking to Chance,” Matt said. Jay preened, happy that Matt finally knew who he was. “Jackson’s having an amazing season and scored a killer contract with the Texans. I guess we’ll see if he’s worth it. What do y'all think?”
Matt still had no clue who Jackson was, but the look on Jay’s face, hell, the look on everyone’s faces, made the whole evening better. Jay flipped Matt off while the rest of the table had a friendly laugh at his expense.
“Kick a man while he’s down, why don’t you,” Jay pouted.
Scott turned to Matt and pointed his thumb to Jay McPouterson. “So, Jay here has been hung up on this guy for a while. Couldn’t get the dude to look twice at him. This isn’t a problem Jay usually has. Turns out the guy doesn’t know shit about football and doesn’t idolize this dumb bastard like most everyone else. Like we said, Jay’s ego is concussed at the moment. He was totally hoping you’d recognize him and fawn over him so he could feel better about himself and rub it in Seamus’ face. You did no such thing.” Scott seemed pretty smug about the whole thing, content in his friend’s misery.
“How are things going with Loren, anyway? Any gains?” Will asked his buddy.
“You know there’s not. You’re just trying to shame me in front of Seamus’ boyfriend. But it’s not working.”
It was working.
Trevor looked at Matt, happy to share all the details. “Most Tuesdays, Jay and a few of his 2.0 friends—”
“They’re my teammates,” Jay corrected. “The Sack Pack.”
“Anyway,” Trevor continued. “Jay and his wannabe friends—aka the 2.0 friends—go to this shitty ass bar on the eastside of Seattle. It’s a dump, but the beer is cheap and no one bothers them. It’s one of the few places the players can enjoy themselves without people interrupting or asking for autographs and pictures. Well, about a year ago a group of guys started showing up. Normal, you know, it’s a fucking bar after all. Lots of guys call this particular bar home. Until Loren showed up.”
“Cute guy,” Will takes over. “Probably five-eight and built like a boxer. Scared the shit out of me—”
“Everyone scares the shit out of you.”
“They don’t scare me; I just don’t condone violence.” Will flips his friends off then returns his attention to Matt. “So, this guy struts into the bar like a badass—”
“Wait,” Matt puts up his hand. “Were you guys there? At the bar in Seattle?”
“Nah, but we got the details from multiple sources.”
Matt nodded. “Okay, so, badass?”
Will lifts his beer towards Matt and continues. “Yes, he walked in like a badass and sits down with his friends. Boom, Jays in-fucking-love. Full on hearts-in-eyes and shit. He spends all night staring like a cuckoo. 2.0 friends take notice of Jay taking notice. The night ends—nothing. Weeks pass, the friends show up, but no cutie. A month later, boom, he’s there again. All night Jay waits—nothing, not a single look. After a few months, they see a pattern. Lover boy only shows up on the last Tuesday of the month.”
Trevor jumps in. “One of those Tuesdays was a jersey theme night. Jay and his 2.0 friends had bets going to see which of their jerseys would be most popular. Given Seattle is known for their fan base, it was likely the whole place would be full of their numbers.”
“I won by the way.”
“That’s debatable,” Scott scoffed. “Anyway, lover boy’s friends show up. They’re all wearing the most random fucking jerseys from players who never really played; third string backup to the backups and such.”
Jay smiled at the memory. “We spent the first half of the night googling who the fuck they wearing.”
Will smacked Jay. “Are you gonna let us tell the story?”
Jay rolled his eyes but stayed quiet.
“Anyway, his 2.0 friends invited lover-boy’s friends to join them. They jumped, of course, not often you’re invited to hang out with A-list Seahawk players. An hour later, guess who walks in?”
“Badass boxer guy.” It was a rhetorical question, but Matt answered anyway. The story was getting good.
“Bingo,” Trevor pointed at Matt. “Jay ‘bout had a heart attack when stocky blonde took off his jacket.”
“He was wearing your jersey?”
“Fuck yeah he was,” Jay said proudly.
“Yeah, but it gets better, or worse, depending on how you look at it,” Trevor laughed. “The guy hesitantly sits down, not keen on joining a group of unknown giants. Well, Jay confused the nervousness for starstruckness. So, what does he do?”
“Tries to strike up a conversation,” Scott jumps in, trying so hard not to laugh. “He says, ‘so, number 99 huh?’ The guy had no clue what Jay was talking about. But Jay, being the self-absorbed superstar he is, didn’t notice. Instead, he stuck his hand out and introduced himself. Loren was like, ‘uh, Jay, you said? I’m Loe. Nice to meet you?’.”
“Jay couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had to make a total fool of himself and press on. ‘You a fan?’ He was smiling like a maniac, probably being creepy as fuck, freaking the poor guy out. Loe looked down at his jersey and then glared at his friends.”
“‘You fuckers!’” Will mock yelled, then started laughing so hard he had to wait to continue. “Turns out, Loe’s friends had a history of giving him jerseys of players who’d been involved in big scandals, making him look like an idiot at every bar they went to. Loe yelled at his friends, demanding they tell him which washed up, has-been player he was wearing now. Or was it an animal abuser? Or the guy that leaked his own sex tape? A murder? He kept going, naming every ridiculous scandal he could think of.”
“That’s when Jay realized Loren had been tricked into wearing his jersey. He had no clue who Jay was and no interest in learning.”
“Yeah, because his fucking friends ruined it by making him wear my jersey.”
“Why did they?” Matt asked.
This time Seamus stepped in. “Because Jay’s the only out and proud NFL player, and their friend is gay. They thought it would be a great icebreaker.”
“Except now he thinks I’m some crazy animal-abuser-turned-amateur-pornstar-murder-for-hire. Why else would his friends have picked my jersey?”
“So, what happened?” Matt asked.
“Nothing. Loe hates all things sports—”
“No,” Trevor corrected. “He hates how much money players are paid while so many other professions barely make ends-meet. He also hates how the league downplays injuries, especially head injuries, despite the growing scientific evidence against concussions.”
“Well, those are two big black marks against me. I’m the second highest paid defensive end in the league and my position has a high rate for injuries, including concussions.”
“And he thinks you're an arrogant fuckwad.”
“And he thinks I’m an arrogant fuckwad,” Jay agreed.
Seamus and his friends reached over and laid hands on Jay. It would’ve been a nice gesture, but they could barely hide their smiles. Must’ve been amusing to watch their millionaire, professional athlete friend, who worked his ass off to get to the top, fail in love because of the very things he worked so hard to achieve.
“Well, looks like Arrogant Fuckwad gets to buy the next round.”
And Jay did. Then Scott, then Will, then Seamus.
Seamus and his friends talked about everything and nothing. They laughed and teased. All the while Matt followed along, laughing and holding tight to Seamus.
“Well,” Scott semi slammed his empty beer glass on the table. “I adjourned this meeting. Everyone in favor, say I.”
“I,” the group said in unison.
The server came to clear the table while everyone grabbed their coats. Seamus was pretty drunk, trying and failing not to stumble.
“Matt,” Will gestured toward Seamus. “Take care of this guy, we kinda like him.”
Scott agreed, “Yeah, it’s nice to see Seamus happy.”
Trevor put his arm around Seamus’ shoulder. “I never did ask, where is the little cutie?”
“He’s with grandpa this weekend.”
“Ahh,” Scott smiled at Matt, then glared at Seamus. “As sweet as that is, don’t show your face at the next board meeting unless you have him in tow.”
“Then I won’t see you for a while,” Seamus frowned. “Matt and Aidan are moving back home for the summer.”
“Wow,” Matt laughed. “Way to throw me under the bus. Now I know how Jay feels. So much hate.”
“See,” Jay shouted, wrapping his arm around Matt. “This guy understands me. He’s promoted to best friend. The rest of you douches are demoted. Friends 0.”
Everyone moaned and groaned and gave Jay a hard time as they shuffled to the parking lot. Seamus tossed Matt the keys and everyone piled into the SUV.
Maybe they hadn’t been fooled by the camo soda after all.