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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. 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. 

Jay's Loelife - 18. The award goes to...

chapter
eighteen
jay

 

The limo nears at a snail's pace, wedged between the other cars like the stray chunk of iceberg lettuce I found in my salad last week. I smooth the lapels of my jacket. I should be in Florida, but this dark olive green tux and the instructions that came with it are the only communication I’ve had from Loren in almost two weeks.

With no idea what to expect, I take a deep breath and step into the warm LA night as the limo slides along the curb.

“Let me help you with that,” the doorman says, reaching for my carryon. He walks it to the limo and stows it in the trunk while the driver opens the back door.

Jayyyyy!” Ruby cheers as I duck inside. I lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek. She looks like she’s straight from the roaring twenties with pin curls and a lace dress.

Everyone else looks good to but Loren looks—

He scoots over, making room for me. He’s wearing the same dark olive tux that I have on. I’m careful not to touch him, careful not to take his hand in mine and squeeze it.

I lean in, mindful not to encroach on his space. “You look amazing.”

Loren shifts in his seat and fidgets with his pants, smoothing them awkwardly. He glances at me. It’s so quick I’m not sure he actually saw me.

This isn’t good.

Corey looks at Isaac and scratches the back of his neck. Cole stares at Loren, trying to catch his eye. Ruby, who had been excited, is now staring as she spins the champagne glass in her hand.

“Everyone excited?”

They look up and nod, but no one says anything.

There’s a palpable relief when we pull up to the event. Everyone’s pressed to the door, waiting to escape. I’m worried they’ll fall out.

Loren is leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, staring out the back, maybe. I don’t think he’s actually looking at anything, just trying not to look at me.

It’s been two weeks. The silence between us has reached critical mass. “I—” but the door opens and the paparazzi begin snapping pictures, the multiple flashes almost blinding. After exiting the limo, I stretch out my hand. He can be mad at me all he wants, but we’re at a big event. The one thing he can’t do is ignore me.

Loren gets out of the car with the biggest, sexiest smirk, like he hasn’t been avoiding eye contact with me since I got in. His hair is done up nicely; a soft Hollywood look that brings out his chocolate eyes. He waves, then adjusts his suit, posing for photos.

He attempts to pull his hand away, but I hold tight as I smile and pose alongside him.

“This is insane,” I say while smiling for the cameras. “I had no clue this would be so big.”

Loren shifts. A new pose, a new angle. “It’s a wonder I made it here—” he says behind a smile, “—with no parents and all.”

Internally, I roll my eyes. Externally, I smile and go for the cute-boyfriend-ear-whisper pose. “That’s not what I said.”

He dutifully reacts to the crowd, looking at me with a ‘genuine’ smile, almost bashful. How-dare-you-whisper-sweet-nothings. “If you say so.”

I slide my arm around his waist and smile for another picture. “Did you invite me here so you can give me the cold shoulder? Or will we talk before I fly back to Florida?”

Loren ignores me and leans towards one of the journalists. “What was that?” he asks.

“I was wondering what Jay is most proud of you for?”

“You’ll have to ask him.”

I put my arm around his waist and pull him flush against me. “His ability to balance the complexity of Loe vs. Loren. He moves between the two worlds so seamlessly. I think he’s one of the few people who stays within the boundaries that he creates. It’s a hard thing for anyone to balance, especially someone as busy as Loren.”

Loren smiles. I’m not sure if it’s genuine or for the cameras. Who knows, maybe it’s both? I keep him next to me as we inch our way closer to the finish line. He doesn’t fight it, and after a little while, he begins to lean into it.

Towards the end of the red carpet, Loren pulls me to the banquet hall until we’re seated at our table with everyone else. Cole slides a couple of drinks our way just as the lights dim.

I’m used to football awards where I know what the hell is going on. This is over my head. They’re talking about people I’ve never heard of. The category is for fashion bloggers. Ruby leans in. “Joanna Speekle will win this one. She’s newer on the scene but has amazing instinct. It seems like everything she recommends becomes the next big thing.”

As Ruby predicted, Joanna Speekle wins.

The night keeps going. Award after award. Like the Oscars or Grammys always save the best for last, Influencer of the Year is the last category.

“They’re all good candidates, but Loe has this,” Ruby whispers.

I have no reason to think she’s wrong. She’s eerily spot on all night. “How is it quantified?”

“Followers, engagement ratios, content, originality. All things that Loe has in the bag. He’s started more viral trends than anyone else.”

If Loren thinks he’s going to win, he doesn’t show it. He listens intently to the presenter as they talk about each nominee while a photo montage plays in the background, highlighting all the nominees. I squeeze his knee.

The pair on stage make a show of opening the envelope while the cameras pan between the four nominees. Loren smiles and waves while everyone else looks like they’re trying not to shat themselves.

“And the winner is…”

Loren leans forward and rests his chin on his fist. He’s perfectly calm and composed.

“Berklee Taylor from berkleeonthefly!”

I panic. Loren was supposed to get it. Ruby said so. I’m not prepared for my role now that he didn’t. I steel myself to pounce however Loren might need, but Loren doesn’t need it. He’s on his feet, smiling and clapping. The rest of the room follows suit, giving her a standing ovation.

On her way to accept the award, Berklee glides by our table and hugs Loren. Then she’s off.

“Are you okay?” I ask quietly.

“Of course.” When he realizes I don’t believe him, he leans in. “Other people deserve to win, too. People like Berklee.”

That’s when I truly realize how genuine Loren is.

Loren’s attention returns to the stage where Berklee is nervously trying to find words.

Corey looks at his watch. “They’re running ahead of schedule. It’s not supposed to end for another thirty minutes.”

“Getting done early? That would be a change from every other year,” Isaac chuckles. “Usually they go long.”

“If we get out early, maybe we could grab food before I fly out?” I suggest.

Everyone looks at Loren. He shrugs, still not looking at me. “Maybe.”

We stand and clap when she walks back to her seat. I haven’t seen someone as happy as she is. I wonder what Loren looked like when he won the first time.

The presenters continue.

“Usually we end the night after this award, but tonight we have something special in store. Something we’ve never done before.”

Give it to social media to have a big surprise ending.

“This year we’re presenting our first ever Lifetime Achievement award. Influencing as we know it now is relatively new. And like all things, it had to start somewhere. Fifteen years ago, YouTube was launched. A group of thirteen-year-old boys posted the first video called ‘A day at the Zoo’. That eighteen second video clip started an entire movement.”

A video plays on the screen. The quality is exactly what you’d expect from four young boys in 2005. One is filming selfie style while the others try to squeeze in the frame. They’re smiling the way thirteen-year-old boys having the best day of their life can do.

“We’re at the Portland Zoo. The elephants are about to see their new home!” The boy filming says. He has N’Sync frosted tips and rosy red cheeks.

“They’re coming!” a scrawny, blonde kid yells as he pulls the camera man towards the crowded viewpoint. “Look! See! There they are.”

A large elephant steps through, quickly passed by a baby elephant who’s shaking their ears and trunk excitedly as they explore their new home.

“That’s Lily!”

The clip ends.

The air buzzes.

“That one video became two, then four. Silly videos turned into adventures. Their YouTube channel turned into MySpace and then Facebook…”

I watch the screen as the frosted boy band tips change dozens of times as photos play like a flip book. The group turns from boys to teenagers, to young men, and finally to the men sitting at the table with me.

The very shocked, very stunned men.

“Without knowing it, Loe paved the way. He broke the molds and made things possible. He didn’t just create a new industry; he set a standard. Everything that’s normal for us now was once a concept that he brought to life. Even as a teenager, he thought outside the box. He never let anyone define him or what he’s capable of doing. It’s with great honor that we present Loe Patrick with a Lifetime achievement award. Without him, who knows if any of us would be here today.”

The weight of that last statement drives home the reality of Loe’s accomplishments. Wow, just wow.

My hand falls off Loren’s knee as he stands. His composure is completely gone. He’s beyond stunned. As he steps around the table, he grabs Corey, Isaac, and Cole and makes them follow him to the stage.

Loren rests his hands on either side of the podium. “I don’t know what to say.” He shakes his head as he tries to process this monumental moment. “You make it seem like we’re some sort of masterminds when really, we were just kids living our best life. We didn’t pow-wow around the dining table, trying to invent something new. We did what we thought would be fun.” He looks at his friends. “I can’t speak for them, but I never felt like anything was off limits. Call me selfish, but I was just doing all the things I thought would be fun.”

He steps back and Corey steps up. “I was the grumpy kid in the zoo video. I hated that Loe carried that stupid camera everywhere. I gave him a hard time for years. Even when we benefitted from it, I still thought it was stupid. He filmed us all the time. It was like living in the Truman Show,” he says, laughing. “The Loe Show.”

Isaac leans over and smiles into the microphone. “You know what they say. If you can’t stop ‘em, join ‘em.”

Corey shoves Isaac out of the way. He looks like he’s about to defend Loren during this big moment, but then he thinks about it and smiles. “Isaac is not wrong.”

They move and give Cole his moment. “Corey, Isaac, and I get asked one question more than any other. Are we jealous? The honest answer is…no. We’re not. It might be Loe’s cute face and hot body you see, well…saw, past tense thanks to Jay, but we all worked to get where we’re at. We know Loe wouldn’t be here without us but, more importantly, we wouldn’t be here without him. We supported him but only because he drug us around while we kicked and screamed. There’s no one more deserving of such an achievement than our friend and that’s the hand to heart truth.” Cole grabs Loren’s hand and holds it high.

The room goes wild.

Loren grins from ear to ear. “It’s hard to feel deserving but I’ll take it anyway. And remember—" Loren and his friends point to the room. “It doesn’t matter if you’re livin’ the low life or the high life, just make sure you’re livin’ your best life!'' The entire room recites the tagline in perfect surround sound.

I’ve heard Loren’s signature sign off hundreds of times. The words are ingrained in my brain. And until this moment, they were just words. A catchy phrase someone coined for commercial purposes.

I asked him a while back, when exactly he started saying it.

‘Since the beginning,’ he said.

I had let Loren’s childhood be something that defined him. While I couldn’t see past the trauma, he built life despite it. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re livin’ the low life or the high life, just make sure you’re livin’ your best life. And he did just that.

I push the chair backwards and rush to meet him at the bottom of the stairs as he comes off the stage. I don’t care how many people are watching. I grab his hand and pull him in for a kiss. “I’m so proud of you.” Before he can say something snarky, I keep going. “And I’m sorry, okay?”

Loren takes my hand and leads me back to the table, which is immediately swarmed by wellwishers. The onslaught doesn’t waver. It takes longer to get back to the limo than it took us to get to our tables. Once the limo doors close, Loren and his friends celebrate.

Holy fuck!” Isaac shouts. “I had no idea!”

“Lifetime achievement!” Cole says, still at a loss for words for the night and what it means. “That’s like—you can’t top that!”

They go around and around, letting their excitement roll off them like a shaken soda until we finally roll up to the restaurant. Corey, Isaac, Cole, and Ruby pile out first, shouting their excitement and fist bumping the air.

Loren presses his hand to my chest to stop me from getting out then crouches by the limo door. “Give us a minute, we’ll meet you inside.” He slams the door, then sits back in the seat like he didn’t do what he just did.

I look at Loren with a raised brow.

The stubborn side of Loren is blazing. It has been all night. He still won’t look at me, studying his hands instead. “I’m so angry at you.”

“No you’re not.”

His head shoots up and his eyes narrow. “Yes I am.”

I slide my hand over his and work his stiff fingers apart. He keeps tensing his fingers so I can’t slip mine between. I slap his hand. “Stop.”

His jaw drops. “Did you just slap my hand?”

“Yes, you’re being ridiculous. You were understandably upset, but instead of resolving the issue like you said, you let it fester, which made it impossible for you to reach out to me because you’re stubborn like that, and now it’s been two weeks and you can’t look at me. If you were actually mad, you wouldn’t have had this tux delivered. You want me here, but you can’t admit it. Now stop being an asshole and hold my damn hand.”

Stunned, Loren opens his hand. I quickly slide my fingers between his and pull our joined hands into my lap. “Are we going to talk?”

He slouches against the leather seat and looks out the window. I have a feeling if I wasn’t holding his hand, he’d cross his arms like a child. I smile a little. The coal that fuels his stubborn way are burning hot.

I tug him a little closer. Not that he actually comes, he doesn't. “I definitely understand why my words were taken the way they were. I was so nervous about asking you to meet my family that I wasn’t intentional about how I asked you.”

Loren stares at our hands. “I knew you didn’t mean anything by it.”

“That’s really good to hear. I hadn’t meant to offend. It was a little upsetting you’d compare me to your parents. But I understand where you were coming from. I have a few things I want to say. First, I shouldn’t have asked you to meet them on a holiday—”

“No, it’s not that big of a deal—”

I squeeze his hand. “No, you listen. There are 365 days in a year and only a handful of those are holidays. There are so many other days you can meet them. So, I’m sorry. That was inconsiderate and presumptive of me.”

Loren breathes out. “Thank you. I’m ready to meet your family, but I’d rather not on Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

“I get that." There's a brief pause. "Secondly, I’m sorry for making you feel like the family you have isn’t good enough. I’m thankful for your friends and I’m thankful for Mike and Julia. I don’t think my family is better, that was never my point. My family is mine and I want you to have everything that I have, everything that is mine. I adore my family so of course I want you to have that, too. And...okay—” I hesitate. “I want to say something but I don’t want you to take it the wrong way, okay?”

He nods.

“I don’t think you’re broken but, there is a part of you that was broken. I’m very protective of that part. It might be healed or scabbed over or whatever, but I still want to cradle it in my arms and protect it. It doesn’t mean I view you as less of a person or flawed in any way. I don’t think any of those things. I’m completely obsessed and taken by you. I’m lucky at the chance to orbit around you, let alone beside you.”

Loren leans closer and squeezes my fingers. “Isaac said something the other day that hit home. He asked if the reason I’ve struggled with my past more recently has anything to do with you.”

“With me?”

“Yeah, some crap about feeling safe and seeing a future. Basically, I’ve found someone who can hurt me. He’s right, I think. I’m in unfamiliar territory and I’m dealing with emotions I didn’t think I’d ever feel. And, I should apologize to you. Even though I was genuinely pissed off by what you said and how you made me feel, I realize I put too much pressure on you to always be perfect. I can’t be the only one between us that gets to screw up.”

I grin. “Did Dr. Tompkins tell you that?”

He rolls his eyes, which I take for a yes.

I lift his hands to my lips. “Are we okay?”

“We are. Buuuuut—” he cringes and rubs the back of his neck. “There’s one more thing. Umm, it’s not a big deal or anything but for the sake of ‘communication’. Ahh Jesus—” Loren leans forward, with his head between his legs. “I feel so fucking stupid. I never had to do this shit when I was single.”

He’s so cute. I laugh and make him sit back up. I have a feeling that Dr. Tompkins is behind whatever he’s about to say, just like she’s behind some of what I said.

“There’s nothing you can say that will make me think you’re stupid. I want to hear anything you have to say. Anything.

“You know last year when I told you I didn’t want to meet your parents during a holiday and then this year you asked if I’d meet your parents during a holiday?” he asks, taking a deep breath at the end of his long, run-on sentence.

I smile and nod. I’m acutely aware of that very specific incident.

“Well—” he shifts uncomfortably.

“Loren, it’s fine. Just say it.”

“You have a tendency to have certain expectations, which isn’t bad, but things that tend to be your way or the highway. So, like, when we first, you know, whatever—”

“Started dating?”

He rolls his eyes and scoffs. “Whatever. So when we first—”

“Started dating.”

Lorne glares at me. “Yes, when we started doing that, I stopped revealing so much of myself. I know you never asked me to do that. I did it because I knew it would be a big deal. We both know it would’ve been a big deal, right?”

I nod because he’s right. I wasn’t happy about it. The saving grace was that he had already started being modest before I knew what he did.

“And you didn’t want to do anything physical, like, at all. So, we didn’t do anything physical for like…a really long time.”

“I mean, it wasn’t that long.”

“It was a really long time to me.”

Okay, point taken. “Okay, so I admit I had certain ideals at the start of the relationship. I thought it went well?”

“It was good. I have no regrets. But then you pressed the meeting-the-parents holiday edition, and it made me feel like I had to do it the way you wanted.”

“But we’re not meeting the parents on a holiday. We’ll meet the parents after the season is over.”

“I know,” he says with a frustrated edge. He’s struggling to get it out. “Okay, I’m just going to say it.”

Yes, please.

“I’m worried that at some point you’re going to push marriage and kids, that you’ll expect me to change my mind because it’s what you want. I’m not sure I will ever change my mind on those.”

It’s not what I want to hear but I smile softly anyway. “I won’t push you. I promise.”

“I want to believe you, but after you got back from training camp, when you were falling asleep, you asked me to move in with you. I know we’ve been ‘dating’ for about a year, but I’m not there. I don’t want you to get angry and break up with me, but I’m just not—”

“There yet, I get it. I won’t lie, I’d love to live with you, but it’s only been a year. I’m very happy with the way things are. At some point in the future, I will want to live with you. When it’s right for both of us.”

Loren breathes like he hasn’t taken a breath his entire life. “Okay, yeah, that’s good to know.”

“If you feel pressured, tell me. Let’s talk it out, yeah?”

He nods and pushes me back against the leather seat. His lips are hot on mine, his tongue sliding desperately against my tongue. “I missed this,” he says, his breath heavy like he hasn’t worked out in years. He crawls on my lap and shoves the jacket off my shoulders. I return the favor, tossing his to the side and tearing his shirt from his pants so I can touch his skin.

I grab his face and kiss him harder while he unsnaps my pants. I’m so horny for him.

He barely has me out of my pants when the door opens.

“You guys never came in—oh god!” Ruby screams and jumps back. The others look in and start laughing. Ruby got an eye full because she leaned in but we're actually kind of tucked away.

“Have we interrupted something?” Isaac asks with an air of suggestion.

Loren is undeterred. Shielding me with his body protectively, his hand is still on my cock, keeping it from going soft despite the viewership. “Five minutes.”

“That’s it?”

“It has been two weeks for the both of them,” Cole reasons.

“I once went a few months, and I managed more than five minutes.”

“Get the fuck out,” Loren shouts. There is more aggression this time. He means business.

The guys mumble something about making it quick. “It’s not a great neighborhood and Ruby is cold.”

The second the door slams shut, Loren drops to his knees and grins. “Two-and-a-half minutes for you and then two-and-a-half-minutes for me. Deal?”

I take less than that.

****

Loren stands at the door and watches as I toss my luggage on the bed. I fling aside the stuff left over from the last away game, then look at Loren for instructions. He’s launching his new line soon. As his boyfriend and a professional athlete that gets photographed before every game, I get the privilege of being a brand ambassador.

There are worse things than getting dressed by Loren Patrick. He has impeccable taste and everything he picks always fits like a glove. He’ll have me spit shined for the game in New York.

He takes a half step out of the room and then comes back with two garment bags and a box of shoes.

“Do I get to peek?” I ask as I grab the merchandise.

“Nope,” he says. He never lets me look. “Garrett, Marcus, and Shawn got their outfits yesterday. You four should walk together.”

“I bet they get to peek,” I grumble to myself as I make sure everything is stuffed neatly in the luggage. I push it aside and walk to Loren. Today’s been a rare ‘day off’ for him. No shower, hair sticking up in all directions, same sweatpants and a sweatshirt from yesterday. He looks fabulous.

I wrap my arms around his waist and nuzzle the spot below his ear. I’m still in the begging-for-forgiveness mode. Self-imposed, of course. Loren has long since forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven myself. The look of hurt is burned into my brain for eternity.

“You need to shower before I leave,” I tell him as I slowly peel his sweatshirt up and over his head.

He smiles and raises his brow as I toss the sweatshirt off to the side. “Is that right?”

“Yes.”

“And I need help because?”

I push his sweats to his thighs and smile. “You shouldn’t have to lift a finger.”

And he doesn’t. I get him into the shower and make sure he’s cleaner than he’s ever been. No stone is left unturned. When we’re done, I take great care to dry him off before leading him back to the room. I stand behind him and finish drying his dark hair.

I look at Loren in the mirror. His glorious body is on full display. I drag my fingers over his in-betweenie, up his abs, and across his ribs before running my palm over his pec.

He covers my hand with his and turns around, our intertwined hands pinned between our chests. His free hand goes straight between my legs. No seduction, no finesse.

“You’ve been very attentive the last few weeks,” he says suggestively as his fingers work me over.

“Is that a bad thing?”

He shakes his head slowly, almost predatory. He walks his fingers up my chest and gives me a little…shove. “Not a bad thing, but I’m done being fawned over. You haven’t let me do anything in weeks.”

I bounce twice on the mattress. I’m barely propped on my elbows before Loren drops to his knees and licks me from ball to tip. Then he takes me down his throat.

My head falls back. “Fuuuuuck.

Even stuffed with my dick, he’s got the cockiest smirk. It’s in the way his eyes sparkle as he watches me. He takes his time driving me nuts, bringing me to the edge, then backing off. When my balls are heavy and ready to burst, he crawls onto the bed.

His back flexes as he looks over his shoulder. He drops his hips so his ass is up and then winks. I scramble up. I’d love to take my time and savor his perfect body, but if I don’t get my dick in him soon, I’ll die. I’ll literally stop breathing.

“Hurry up,” he says. I’m only two fingers deep, but he’s a grown man and if he says he’s ready, who am I to argue? I quickly mount up and press myself into him. He’s tight, maybe not as ready as he should be, but he sounds ok. More than ok. He stretches his arms out in front of him until his chest is flat on the bed and he grips the sheets.

The new angle is like a vice on my cock.

He moans as I move inside him. “Just like that.”

I don’t change a thing. Same pace, same everything until he stuffs a pillow under his hips and sinks into the bed like jello. He started out in control, but in the end, he’s the center of my attention. It’s just the way I like it.

“Don’t stop,” he moans into the mattress. His whole body relaxes, completely sated as I thrust into him. I grab his left hip as leverage. “Don’t stop. Oh shit. I’m close.”

He clings to the sheets for dear life, squirming, rubbing against the bed. I pin his neck and fuck him as hard as I can. There’s no going back for me. I’ve crossed the line. Loren’s crossing the line, too. He’s getting loud. Like, the neighbors might call the cops loud. I don’t know that I’ve ever had him like this. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all this time. I sure hope not.

Only after Loren is completely limp under me do I stop.

“You’re a machine,” he says breathlessly.

I pull out then kiss the divot between his shoulders, the back of his neck, the spot under his ear, his jaw, then I turn his head and kiss his lips. “I thought you were done being fawned over?”

“I’m a liar.”

I laugh. “Next time you want to suck my dick, just say so. You don’t have to make a big production about it.”

Loren turns, wraps his muscled legs around mine, and smiles lazily. “I wanted to suck your dick.”

We make out until I can’t put off leaving for another moment. “You can suck my dick any time you want,” I whisper before giving him one last kiss and sliding out of bed. “If I don’t leave now, I’ll miss the flight and the team will kill me.

Loren stretches out, flexing his muscles in the best way. “Good luck against New Mexico.”

“It’s New York,” I correct. He grins. He does this stuff on purpose. I should grab my bag but somehow, I end up back at the bed for one last kiss.

Loren looks awfully smug about it.

I shoot him a look. “I can leave any time I want.”

“Hm-hmm,” he hums in a sure-you-can kind of way. He looks soft and sleepy against the sheets. Happy. Loren rolls on his side. “Good luck tomorrow.”

****

My boyfriend is in full holiday prep mode. I watch him cook and fold napkins with precision, making them look all fancy like. I could see us doing it together as we prepped for a house full of guests. Since we’re not there yet, if ever, I settle for watching him pretend. It’s not so bad even if it feels like a waste.

He has an entire Thanksgiving menu perfected and posted so everyone can copy it down to the last ingredient. His meal is Better Homes and Garden worthy while he looks like a damn cover model in his perfectly tight shirt, masculine aprons, and muscles doing all kinds of sexy shit, like cooking and decorating. Yum.

As we inch closer to Thanksgiving, the less I want to fly to Wisconsin. I’d rather stay and do nothing with Loren than celebrate without him, but it would devastate my family.

****

I’m officially on BYE week. Loren is dropping me off at the airport so I can fly out. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” I ask one more time just in case he changes his mind.

Loren smiles from behind the steering wheel. He likes that it’s been five minutes and I’m still lingering. “Your mamma wouldn’t like that too much.”

For once, I don’t really care. I get out of the van like a child being shipped off to Grandma and Grandpa’s for the summer. Loren laughs as I pull my luggage from the back like the pouty child I am. He’s filming me now, showing the world how pathetic I am.

“It’s just a week,” he reminds me.

I pull my hat low and lean into his window. “Says the guy who won’t even miss me.”

“Ya ya ya,” he eye-rolls. “I’d love for you to stay, but I’ll be slammed with the launch and all the holiday mumbo jumbo.”

“Yes, so much mumbo jumbo,” I remark sarcastically. Okay, maybe I’m a bit more than a little bummed. It’s just, I could stay behind and help him with the launch and all the holiday mumbo jumbo. The people love watching Loren and I doing that stuff together almost as much as I love doing the stuff together.

But I don’t want to be that person who invites themselves to the party when they’re not wanted.

“Don’t be a Pouty Patty.”

I pout even more, specifically for the camera. Maybe a couple million followers will knock some sense into him.

I take a step back. “I guess I’ll just go…”

Bye!” he says cheerfully and with a big Leave it to Beaver hand-to-twist wave as he drives off like a formula one driver.

I’m barely inside the airport building when my phone buzzes. Seamus. I miss that dude. It’s been too long.

“Seamus, my man!” I greet as I make my way towards security.

“I hear it’s your bye week.”

“It is, best week of the season.”

There’s a long pause. “Best week of the season? Since when?”

Okay, so I’ve never said that before. I’ve always enjoyed my bye week, but I loved playing more. “Did you call for a reason?”

Seamus laughs. “Matt was hoping you might want guests this week.”

“Guests?”

“You know…Thanksgiving?”

“Oh, yeah, well I’m actually heading—” I walk backwards, retracing my steps. “—into the grocery store. You and Matt are more than welcome to come. In fact, I’d love that.”

“Awesome. Matt’s dad is on a dad’s trip or something. With everything going on, we need a distraction. Maybe some babysitting…”

“Yesssss,” I say, fist bumping the sky. “Me and Aido will do all the things together.”

I can practically see Seamus sinking into the sofa in relief. “I’ll book the tickets now and let you know when we’re landing.”

“Tell Will and Scott to come. We’ll have a whole thing. It’s been forever.”

“They have plans with the in-laws.”

“Shame,” I say as I head back outside. “Anyway, I need to let you go. Once I have your itinerary, I’ll send a car, okay?”

“Thanks man. See you soon.”

As I summon a car, I smile. I know Loren is busy. I will not rain on his parade. If he’s too busy, then so be it. If he needs help with anything, then we’re here for it. Worst-case scenario, I spend a week with my best friend and his two dads.

I pull up my contacts and put the phone to my ear. “Hey Dad. Miss you, too. Yeah, about that…there’s been a slight change of plans—”

Copyright © 2022 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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