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    Mrsgnomie
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Dichotomy of Love - 15. Part Two. Chapter Three.

Just like a campfire, the blue haze from the pool lights was almost hypnotic in the pre-dawn morning. After slipping out of Kyan’s suite without detection an hour ago, Perry was bored. It was too late to go back to sleep but too early for breakfast, so he pulled on some athletic clothes and headed to the resort gym.

Even this early, there was someone on nearly every machine. All the east coast travelers were using the time change to their benefit. Perry found an open spot where he could use some free weights and spent the next hour proving what his body could do.

Back in his room, he showered and dressed in shorts and the very first Steele Electric shirt he made. Ten years ago, it was a long-sleeved shirt. Now it was a threadbare cut off he was determined to keep it forever. A relic.

Perry stood at the balcony again and looked across the resort, searching for Kyan, who’d talked about walking the kids down for an early swim. The only people he saw were employees getting things ready for the day.

He looked at his watch, then at the wall he shared with Kyan’s room. Silence. He frowned and kicked an invisible rock off the balcony.

Kyan was always up early. Perry should be proud that he’d worn him out last night, and he was a little smug about it, but mostly he was bored out of his freaking mind. He was better off staying in bed with Kyan, but in a moment of stupidity, he left, thinking it would be best.

Idiot.

He didn’t even have a good reason to leave. It was the third morning he’d woken up in Kyan’s bed after a night of intense making out and mutual orgasms. They hadn’t reinvented the sex wheel by any means, and yet Perry felt a renewed appreciation for the simple act of intimacy. Nights‌ spent wrapped around a man you loved more than life itself were unmatched. Every club hook up paled in comparison.

But each morning a shot of icy dread woke him, that Kyan would wake up and tell Perry ‘thanks but no thanks’. He didn’t believe Kyan would, but the fear had him tip-toeing out of the room, anyway.

With nothing better to do, Perry grabbed what little dirty clothes he had and tossed them in a pile for later. He stripped the sheets for housekeeping, then put his dirty towels on the floor to get swapped out. Two minutes later, with his chores done, Perry sat at the two-person patio table and flipped through his phone. By seven, it was still quiet next door, so he grabbed his ball cap and headed downstairs.

He planned to chill by himself, drink coffee, and maybe graze on some food until the rest of the family came down. If he was lucky, Kyan and the kids would come down first. They could enjoy a little time before Jessica inevitably ruined it with her annoying need to boss him around.

He walked into the restaurant and found his parents were already there, dressed like the worst kind of tourists. His dad was actually wearing white tube socks and a visor and his mom was wearing a pink Hawaiian shirt, fanny pack, and matching visor with Jed. Perry could not be more embarrassed.

“Good morning,” he said as he sat across from them at the large table they had made their own since arriving.

“Where are Kyan and the kids?”

“I think they’re still asleep.”

“Kyan is still asleep?” Jed looked at his watch and blanched at the time, then tapped‌ it to make sure it was working because Kyan never slept that late.

Perry shrugged, as if he didn’t know why Kyan was still passed out.

Jed smiled and hummed the tune to “Kiss the Girl,” and Perry felt his neck heat up. He cleared his throat and looked around in case a certain someone decided to sneak up on them. Unlikely with four kids, but not worth the risk.

He glared at his father. “Don’t do that.”

“Oh, come on,” Jed laughed. “Everyone else gets to tease you, but we can’t?”

“No. It’s weird.”

Jed crossed his arms and huffed like a child, but his gentle smile gave his true intentions away.

Trudy patted her husband’s arm and looked at Perry with a fond smile. “He looked awfully happy last night.”

Perry tried not to smile. “I think he was.”

“Have you guys discussed what is happening between you two?”

“No.”

“Perry….” she said, her tone a stark warning of sorts.

“I’m letting him figure stuff out first. It’s a complicated situation, and I don’t want him to feel pressured.”

“I don’t think he’s feeling any pressure,” Jed said. “He’s not a boy backed into a corner. He’s a smart and capable man.”

“I know,” Perry snapped defensively. If anyone knew who Kyan was and how capable and amazing he was, it was Perry. He knew Kyan better than anyone in the world.

Jed held his hands up. “I’m not picking a fight here. Only preventing an unnecessary one.”

“It’s a delicate situation. There are the kids to think about and… Dayna.”

“What does Dayna have to do with this,” his dad asked. “Is she going to come back and haunt you?”

Perry wouldn’t put it past her.

Jessica appeared out of the blue and plopped down beside her brother. “Oh, are we finally talking about how angry Dayna would be if she knew Perry and Kyan were boning? Because she would be so livid.”

“Jessica…” Jed warned. “You are not being helpful.”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Trudy ignored her daughter. “I would like to think Dayna’s heavenly spirit is not as petty and childish as her earthly one was.”

“She thought I was going to steal him away,” Perry reminded them.

“She did,” Trudy agreed. “She was also young, pregnant, and terrified that this cute boy she liked wasn’t going to stick around.”

“And once they were married, and the twins were here?”

“Still young, still scared.”

Perry wasn’t so sure. “Whatever. It didn’t matter what I said, she never believed me. I spent years exposing my neck like a dog, trying to convince her I was not a threat.”

Jessica’s brow arched. “But you were a threat.”

“I never would have done anything,” he growled.

Jessica draped her arm on the back of Perry’s chair and squeezed his shoulder like a dutiful sister. “We know that, and I think Dayna knew it, too, but maybe she knew something we didn’t. Maybe it was never about what you would or wouldn’t do. Sweet Kyan gravitated to you like a moth to a flame. He was in love with Dayna, but, I don’t know, maybe he loved you, too. Whether or not he knew it was another story, but I think Dayna saw what was there, and she had reason for concern.”

His parents nodded at Jessica’s assessment.

Perry slumped in his chair. “And now I’m the ass that proved her right.”

Trudy gathered Perry’s hands in hers. “There is no right or wrong in this scenario.”

“Then why does it feel like I can’t win?” he asked. “If I pursue Kyan the way I want, I’ll be the villain who swindled his dead sister’s husband. If I don’t pursue him, then I’ll give up the only person I ever really had feelings for.”

“You’re not swindling—”

“That was a poor word choice,” he admitted, “but the point remains. No matter how you look at it, it’s a lose-lose for me. Do you know what it’s like to miss your sister like crazy and also feel joy because she’s gone and I can finally shoot my shot?”

Trudy squeezed his hands and looked him in the eyes. “We get it.”

Perry shook his head. There was no way they understood.

“Life is full of those kinds of dichotomies. Dayna’s happiness with Kyan meant you suffered a broken heart. You finally being with Kyan means Dayna is dead. Either way, being happy for one kid means being distraught for the other.”

Perry squeezed his mom’s hands. It was such a hard situation. He wanted it all without hurting anyone. “I don’t know what the right thing—”

“Incoming,” Jessica whispered. Her eyes darted across the room where Kyan held Gracie while the other three crowded his legs. Noah spotted them and his face lit up. He tugged on his dad’s shirt and pointed, then took off across the open restaurant. He climbed into the spot next to Perry while the twins asked to sit between Grandma and Grandpa.

Kyan dumped Gracie onto Jessica’s lap, then tapped Noah’s shoulder and pointed to the next spot over. “Scoot.”

Noah huffed and moved over, shooting daggers as he went.

No one smiled knowingly at Kyan’s blatant and obvious move nor did they look between Kyan and Perry with googly eyes. They did what they’d done for years. Nothing. Even after Dayna’s death, their discreteness remained steadfast as Perry and Kyan grew closer.

Under the table, Kyan hooked his foot around Perry’s. When Perry looked at him, Kyan was busy helping Noah read the menu.

Perry bit back a smile. Friends-with-benefits his ass. There are certain behaviors reserved for romantic feelings and this was one of them.

Later, with everyone done eating, and the plates cleared from the table, Trudy nudged her husband.

Jed cleared his throat.

Jessica looked at Perry and rolled her eyes. Their parents were horrible at making announcements. It was always the same dog and pony show, ever since they were kids.

When they turned their attention to Kyan, Perry sat up in his chair.

“We’re not sure what you have planned for the day, but Tru and I were hoping to steal the kids. Pearl Harbor is doing this big children’s event today, and we thought it would be fun to take them.”

“Oh.” Kyan unhooked his foot from Perry’s and rubbed his thighs.

Perry relaxed. He glanced at his sister. She took a calming breath. Oh lord.

Kyan and their parents did this weird dance. His parents thought Kyan never wanted them to spend time with the kids. Kyan worried Jed and Trudy thought he was taking advantage of them, or that they would grow annoyed every time they had the kids. In reality, his parents wanted to be with their grandbabies and Kyan wanted parental figures that cared.

“If you have plans, it’s no big deal. We just thought it would be fun.”

“Maybe I can go?” Kyan offered. “That way if the kids get tired or crazy, I can help.”

“Or—” Perry cut in and squeezed Kyan’s knee under the table. “They can take the kids, and the four of us can go to the North Shore for lunch and shopping.”

“No can do,” Jessica interrupted. “I’ve booked a spa day with Charlie. Girls only. No one else is invited.”

“Where is Charlie, anyway?”

“Still sleeping. She stayed up late with the guys last night. It’s fun to enjoy the company of men when they’re not trying to get in your pants.”

“But Charlie wore a dress. Why do they want her pants?” Noah asked.

Jessica burst out laughing. “I don’t even know how to answer that,” she said. “But anyway, we’re out.”

The entire day, just him and Kyan? Perry could hardly contain his excitement. “Just you and me then.”

Kyan’s leg bounced under the table as he studied his in-laws. “Are you sure?”

“Of course.” Trudy looked positively triumphant.

Kyan looked at Perry for assurance, making Perry’s heart thump against his chest. “The kids will have a great time.”

Kyan chewed his lip and looked back at his in-laws. “If it’s no trouble.”

Trudy clapped her hands and looked at Jed excitedly.

Perry had a sneaking suspicion they planned this excursion months ago but were too nervous to broach the subject with Kyan. Hell, they probably encouraged Perry to pursue Kyan as a distraction so they could swoop in and spend time with their grandbabies.

Nah.

With plans settled, everyone went back to their rooms. Perry followed Kyan because there was nothing he needed in his own room, but mostly because everything he wanted was in Kyan’s.

Kyan was kind of a mess as he got the kids ready. He always seemed to stress when the kids were about to be handed off to anybody, but Perry’s parents especially.

“You guys are amazing people,” he told his kids as they brushed their hair and straightened their stylish clothes. “I can’t wait for you guys to show Grandma and Grandpa how awesome you are. They’ll want to steal you away from me. So, I don’t know, maybe tone down the awesomeness a little? Try not to be too cool, okay?”

The kids giggled.

Perry laughed. He loved the way Kyan handled his kids.

“I will be extra awesome,” Noah preened.

Henry nodded excitedly as he bounced around the room. “Me be very cool!”

Noooo,” Kyan groaned. “I said don’t be very cool!”

The kids giggled more, thinking it was hilarious to be so awesome for Grandma and Grandpa. By the time they met Trudy and Jed in the lobby, the kids were walking single file with their hands behind their backs, giggling, like they had just graduated from military school just to spite their father.

When Kyan tried to help load the kids into the rental SUV, Jed kindly blocked him. It was Grandma and Grandpa time.

Kyan chewed his fingernails nervously as the SUV drove away.

Perry grabbed his shoulders and walked him toward the parking lot. “Mom and Dad are the kids’ problem now, so let's enjoy ourselves, okay?”

Kyan smiled as they walked across the vast parking lot where the other rental was parked. Some people had good smiles, and other people, like Kyan, had amazing smiles. The kids may have looked like a Steele, but they smiled like a Sheckler. If they only inherited one thing from Kyan, Perry was glad it was the smile.

Perry fished the keys from his pocket but before he could unlock the rental sudan, Kyan grabbed his shirt and yanked him until their lips were pressed together, right in the middle of the parking lot, next to the palm trees and crashing waves and under the Hawaiian sun.

Perry grinned at him. “What was that for?”

You said for us to enjoy ourselves.”

The way Kyan just said and did things like there were no consequences. Fuck. It drove Perry crazy. He was normally a level guy. Some might say he was boring. Mundane. Perry could stick to the same routine day in and day out and never get bored. Kyan flipped his world on its axis. Nothing made sense. Sometimes Perry felt strong and powerful around the man, like an alpha who could kill a beast and build a shelter. Other times, he felt like a fumbling idiot or a meek nerd crushing on the popular jock. All the while, Kyan seemed unphased. He could just kiss Perry in public like it was no big deal, not realizing that very act was a fantasy Perry never imagined would come true.

They drove to Haleiwa. Kyan chatted about the kids and Reid and his friends while Perry wondered if he dared to ask Kyan what was happening between them. Perry wasn’t in the friends-with-benefits headspace, not with Kyan. He felt confident Kyan was not either, but assuming was a dangerous game.

“The guys want to have drinks tomorrow night after the luau. I was going to see if Charlie would watch the kids. What do you think?”

Perry looked over. “Or, you know, my parents could watch the kids.”

Kyan cringed.

“They desperately want to be used and abused by you, Kyan. They want to feel like your first line of defense with the kids, not a last resort.”

“The kids can be a lot and I just don’t want your parents ever to feel—“

“Like grandparents?”

“Inconvenienced.”

“If they can’t help out, they will tell you, but you never give them a chance to say no. Hell, you don’t even give them a chance to say yes.”

Kyan slumped in the seat, casting his eyes away from Perry over the sweeping landscape. “I know.”

“Why is that?” Perry asked. “I know your parents were crappy, but I don’t get what that has to do with my parents. I think they’re feeling pretty rejected.”

After a moment, Kyan said, “I don’t want the kids to be rejected by both sets of grandparents.”

Oh, Kyan. Perry squeezed his leg. “Saying no here and there is not the same as rejecting them. Mom and Dad would die for those kids. We all would.”

“I know. They’re lucky little fuckers.”

Perry pulled his hand away, but Kyan grabbed it back and wove their fingers together. Perry glanced at their joined hands and found a burst of courage.

He opened his mouth at the same time Kyan pointed ahead. “I think there’s parking over there.”

Perry closed his mouth. As much as he was dying to have the conversation, he couldn’t lie. The distraction was a relief.

It was still early in the day, and most of the shops were still closed, so they strolled along the street until they opened. They had a little over a week left in Hawaii, and Perry had severely underestimated his wardrobe, so he rifled through the hangers, looking for a few must-haves.

Kyan held up a baby blue shirt bearing a surf brand. “What about this?”

“That would look good on you.”

“I was thinking for you. I don’t need anything.”

Kyan never needed anything. Perry wasn’t sure he could find a single piece of clothing in Kyan’s room that he’d purchased since Dayna died.

“You should get it,” Perry pressed. “That’s your blue.”

“My blue?” Kyan smiled, looked at the tag, then put the shirt back and moved to the next rack.

Perry shopped hard. Who knew when they would be back to Hawaii, if ever. This could be his one opportunity to shop some of these brands and styles. He found something in almost every store they went to. Kyan found a few things he liked, a few he even carried around while they browsed, but when it was time to check out, he always came to the register empty-handed.

“Eh,” he said each time, like the stuff was not worth a second glance, even though Perry thought they were perfect for him.

“At least carry some of these bags so I don’t look like a total idiot.”

Kyan laughed and grabbed a handful of shopping bags and swung them back and forth as they walked down along the road. Perry couldn’t help but think what a perfect boyfriend Kyan would make as he carried his bags for him. He was so fucking adorable.

And then looked at Perry and grinned, like there was nowhere else in the world he’d rather be. “I need to find some aloha shirts for the luau tonight. Jessica went crazy in preparation for the trip, with fifty swimsuits per kid, but no Hawaiian shirts. Can you believe it?” he asked sarcastically.

Perry clutched his chest. “My shopaholic sister didn’t buy the kids everything they could possibly need? I’m shocked.” He laughed, then looked around at all the shops. “I saw a sign for Kahala. All they sell are Hawaiian shirts.”

Kyan looked at the bags they could barely hold in their hands. “Your shopaholic sister? I’m one store away from staging an intervention here.”

Perry shook his bags like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. “We’re in Hawaii!”

They laughed and walked until they found Kahala, which was a tiny store tucked away down a side street. Rows of shirts three feet high lined the side of the store, and two rows ran down the length of the store. His, hers, and kids. They barely fit in the store with all of Perry’s bags.

“Do you want everyone to match?” he asked Kyan as he riffled through the options.

“God no,” he shrieked. “If I ever match my family, kill me.”

“I think it’s cute.”

“Perfect. Be cute with Jessica and your parents,” Kyan joked as he continued fingering through the shirts. His face lit up, and he pulled a blue and green floral one from the rack.

Perry held up the same shirt and laughed. “Great minds.”

Kyan smiled, then looked at the price tag and blanched. “It’s all yours.” He shoved it back, then investigated a few other shirts. Each tag caused his eyes to widen a little more. “Do you see the prices?” he whispered. Heaven forbid he offended the sales attendant.

“Yes.”

“They’re a hundred and twenty-freaking-dollars, not pesos!”

“Understandable, as Hawaii is not in Mexico.”

Kyan shook his head and carefully straightened the shirts. Now that he knew what they cost, he was done shopping. He followed Perry around instead.

“If you don’t pick out shirts for the kids, then I’m going to do it and they’re all going to match.”

“Don’t buy these shirts,” Kyan pleaded. “They’re so expensive.”

Perry ignored him and picked shirts for the kids, non-matching. Once the kids were sorted, he grabbed a large for Kyan and an extra large for himself. Then, just to get a reaction, he grabbed shirts for Jessica, Charlie, and his parents.

Kyan chased Perry through the small store. “What are you doing?”

“Getting ready for the luau.”

“That’s over a thousand dollars.”

Perry set the clothes on the sales counter, nonchalantly swiped his card and accepted the bag from the nice lady. On the way to drop the bags off in the car before lunch, Perry felt Kyan’s irritation burning a hole in his back. Were the shirts kind of pricey? Yes, but this brand was a Hawaiian staple and even if the kids grew out of them, the bigger sizes could be passed down.

Luckily for Perry, by the time they ordered burritos from Surf-n-Salsa and sat at a small table in the shade, the shirts were forgotten, and Kyan was smiling and talking about going for drinks after the luau.

This trip was the first to Perry’s knowledge that Kyan was able to socialize. He hated thinking negatively about his sister, but Dayna had her own friends and worked outside the home. She socialized all the time. Kyan left everyone he knew in Ohio, and Dayna never encouraged him to meet new people in Molalla. He couldn’t imagine why she wanted Kyan isolated, and he wouldn’t speculate, but watching Kyan spill over with excitement made Perry happy.

Almost as happy as a rare uninterrupted moment with Kyan. He loved his nieces and nephews, but nothing was better than sitting across from Kyan on a tropical island with good food and ice-cold drinks.

An hour later, they were back at the resort, sitting by the pool with no kids. Perry watched Kyan close his eyes and melt into his chair. It was the first time he had been to the pool without the kids. The first time he could relax and not worry about anyone drowning or frying to a crisp under the sun.

Perry, however, couldn’t relax. The clock was ticking. If he wanted to talk with Kyan, now was the time. In another hour or two, everyone would be back from their adventures. Tonight was not an option, not if drinking was involved. He swung his legs off the chaise lounge and steeled himself. This was it. But before he could find the courage, he found Kyan staring at him with a serious expression.

“Can we talk?” Kyan asked, his tone low.

Perry’s heart raced. “Uh, sure.”

“How broke am I? And don’t lie to me.”

The seconds ticked by before Perry responded. “Broke.”

“Broke or broke-broke?”

“Broke-broke.”

There it was. The proverbial shoe just dropped. The money might be a non-issue to Perry, but to Kyan it was a solid shit-kicker, size 13, double-wide.

Copyright © 2023 Mrsgnomie; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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