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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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Jay's Loelife - 20. Played like a blitz on third down

chapter
twenty
jay

 

It just so happens we play in Denver on Christmas. By some grace and mercy, Loren doesn’t need any persuading to come along. I thought for sure it would be a hard no. Celebrating Christmas is lower on his list than Thanksgiving.

I don’t make a big deal of it. I play it off like it’s no biggie. Just a casual hangout. Nothing to get psyched out over.

Multiple bags, carry-ons and two professionally wrapped boxes; big enough to fit a large dog are sitting by the door, waiting to be loaded. Curiosity gets the best of me and I crouch in front of the bigger of the two boxes and give it a shake. It’s heavy as all hell. Loren and I have never done gifts. Not once. Not for Christmas or birthdays. There is literally nothing I can buy him he doesn’t already have. I frown. “I thought we didn’t do gifts?”

“It’s just a couple of things I got for Aidan and—” he tilts his head like a wary alley cat curious over something new in its territory. “I didn’t know we didn’t do gifts. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll return what I got you.”

My jaw drops. “You got me something?”

“It would be rude to get stuff for everyone else, but not you. Stop wagging your tail, it’s nothing special.”

He returns his attention to the laptop while I stare at him like he roped the damn moon. “You got presents for everyone?”

“I’m not keen on being the asshole that shows up on Christmas empty handed. That’s a sure-fire way to be hated.”

“No one hates you.”

“They will if I show up with nothing.”

“They don’t care about that stuff.”

He shrugs and goes back to work. My tail keeps wagging.

****

Loren: Do you know what car Seamus lined up?

Since I had to travel with the team, Loren and I flew separately. He beat me there, picking up the rental that Seamus had ready.

Me: He didn’t give specifics. It’s cool tho, right? He always gets the best cars. He once surprised me with a Hemi Cuda for me to drive.

Loren: Oh, I’m surprised alright…

He sends me a video. Loren’s sitting in the driver seat with his arm bent out the driver's side window. He’s bundled up with a hoodie under his winter jacket and a wool beanie. His cheeks and nose are pink from the cold and he looks absolutely gorgeous. I can’t see the car, only that it’s white. A sports car? It would match Loren perfectly. Nah, Seamus would never do that with the winter weather Denver is having. So maybe a Jeep? Or perhaps a cool truck? Ooh, maybe one of those semi trucks pickups.

The video pans out, revealing Loren doing a slow drive-by in a white minivan while listening to Wars: Low Rider playing, which punned Loe Rider in the caption. He’s rocking the minivan so hard.

After the game, he’s waiting outside the stadium, leaning against the hood and smiling. He puts his arms out, as if he’s revealing something special. “Whaddya think?”

As I do a loop around the car, I hear my name. “Jay!” I open the back door and find Aidan grinning excitedly from his car seat. He’s got a show playing on the DVD and a small bag of popcorn, pieces already on the floor.

Loren opens the door opposite of me and leans in. “Needed to truly test out the ride, you know?”

I look at Aidan, then back at Loren, raising one brow. “And to truly test the minivan, you and Aidan need matching beanies?”

“The beanies were just for fun, right Potato Poop?”

Aidan grins and pulls the beanie off his head, leaving his hair static fried. “Cool hat, see?”

I take the hat and try to put it on. “Is this for me?”

Aidan frowns and holds his hands out, grabbing for the hat. I smile and put it on his head. It’s freezing, so we close the doors and get in.

He drives like a sixteen-year-old who took his dad’s convertible for a spin without permission, head banging to some fast-paced pop music with Aidan.

“You know this is a dad-mobile, right?’

“I’m just sayin’—" keeping one hand on the steering wheel, he casually leans his elbow against the console. “—I can see the appeal.”

I glance back at Aidan, who’s still awkwardly nodding his head to the music. His eyes closed tight in concentration.

He sees me eyeing the situation, serious judgment happening on my part. “This van is for anyone who wants a smooth, quiet ride, with all the luxuries including auto doors.”

****

Welcome!” Will says with an easy smile as we crowd into Seamus' upscale but not overly hostable loft apartment. Loren and I both have bags hanging off our shoulders, luggage dragging behind us, and of course, the boxes Loren refused to drop off earlier because he felt uncomfortable without me here.

Scott and his fiance are unloading a giant box of Chinese take out and arranging it on the table while Matt and Seamus set out plates and silverware. Aidan, for his part, is running around like a lunatic, feeding off all the energy.

Will pulls me into a hug. “I can’t remember the last time we got to spend a holiday with you. And you—” he grins at Loren, then pulls him into a long but really awkward hug. He squeezes him like he’s a favorite stuffy and picks Loren up off his feet. “—so excited to spend time with you!”

Loren looks over Will‘s shoulder at me, wide eyed and frightened. ‘Help’ he squeaks. I laugh and pitch our bags into the spare room.

We eat our weight in Denver's best Chinese food. Aidan runs around, soaking up the attention, jumping from one uncle to the next before Loren brings out his giant clown car gift box full of a bunch of smaller gifts. The poor guy can’t keep up. He’s barely done unwrapping one gift before he moves on to the next.

Matt looks mortified at Aidan’s behavior. He keeps trying to slow Aidan down. “Aidan, what do you say? Do you thank Uncle Jay and Uncle Loren?”

“Fank you!” he shouts, not sounding like he means it as he continues to demolish the gifts until at last, he reaches the end.

After a while, Matt looks around. “Where’s Aidan?”

I point to the side of the sofa where Aidan is passed out in a pile of wrapping paper. He’s starfished, holding a truck in one hand and gripping a police car in the other. Spudman never stood a chance.

After a few bottles of wine, Loren disappears. He comes back wearing a Santa hat and dragging the other giant box. Everyone looks at me, wondering what he’s doing. I raise my hands and shrug. I have nothing to do with it. This is all Loren.

“It’s nothing big,” Loren says as he opens the box, which is full. Curiously, Will and Matt lean in. Whatever is inside has their eyes wide with excitement.

Will pulls out the newest gaming console, the one that’s been sold out for an entire year. “Nothing big my ass!”

Like honey, everyone beelines it to the box, shoving their way into the middle, oooing and awwing as they rummage through the treasure chest.

Loren seems happy to let them behave like unclassed swines. He might be okay with it, but I’m not. I grab two of them by the back of their shirts and pull them away. The others scramble back before they get tossed. I walk around and grab the stuff they took out. When everything is back in the box, I drag it back to my seat. I glance down. Yeah, okay, there’s some badass shit in the box.

I clear my throat. “Here’s how this will go down. You Neanderthals…and ladies are going to take turns. Then you’re going to thank Loren for bringing all these gifts.”

Everyone straightens in their seats with their hands folded in their laps as they wait for further instructions. I grab dice and make them roll for their turn. There’s enough crap in the box for everyone to go a few times.

Matt rolls the highest number, so he gets to go first. He jumps up and fist bumps the sky. Everyone bites their nails as they wait to see what he’ll grab.

Yes,” Will says quietly when Matt bypasses the game system for the new kitchen mixer. Scott’s fiance, Viv and Monica both grab brightly colored travel bags that have had them whispering excitedly in the corner. It keeps going. He really packed a lot in that box. There are shoes, clothes, a nice watch, electronics, gadgets, and even some beauty products (for men and women).

When everything has been picked through, I clear my throat.

My friends look at me, then at Loren. “Thank you Loren!”

Loren laughs at their obedience. I think it made him feel good that everyone was excited about his gifts.

“Seriously though,” Scott asks as he hugs his new crystal whiskey decanter set. It includes two beautifully etched Glencairn glasses and a bottle of not-in-the-least-bit-cheap Macallan twelve-year double cask whiskey. “Where’d you get this stuff? I mean, this is good stuff!”

“It’s all stuff that was sent to me. They’ve been lying around for a while so I figured...”

“Gifts?” Will asks. “All of these were gifts?”

Loren can be a cocky little shit sometimes, but it’s not who he really is. He shifts in his seat, obviously uncomfortable and not wanting to appear ungrateful.

“Loren gets a lot of unsolicited stuff,” I tell them. “Lets face it, it’s just good business to make sure Loren has their stuff.”

“So, you regifted,” Seamus says, an amused smile tugging the corners of his mouth.

“Who cares?” Will retorts as he wraps his arms around the console, squeezing it to his chest. “Didn’t you start as a gamer? Don’t you want this?”

“I already have one…”

Will narrows his eyes. “Just one?”

Loren’s lip curls, showing a little of his cocky side. “Well, you’re not the first to get one as a gift.”

That leads to a whole Q&A. They’re curious about a lot of things. Lucky for them and for me, Loren isn’t bothered by the inquiries. By the end of the evening, the conversation has shifted away from Loren, but he’s still the center of everyone’s attention. They’re crowded around him, laughing and sharing funny anecdotes. Even Seamus. Loren has done and seen a lot, but with thirty-seven million followers, he has enough material to keep everyone laughing as he recalls the most bizarre and almost unbelievable tales you’ve ever heard.

I sit back and enjoy the best Christmas ever.

****

It’s one in the morning when Will and Scott decide it’s time to head out. As the door closes behind them, Aidan comes out of his room with squinted eyes and crazy hair. His lip quivers. “Daddy?”

Seamus picks him up and takes him back to bed, but that only seems to poke the sleepy bear. Aidan’s cries get louder as they come back to the living room. Now, call me a sucker, but it’s Christmas and I can’t bear to see an upset kid. I put my hands out. “Do you want to sleep with Loren and me?”

Aidan’s eyes grow comically wide. He immediately starts clapping. “Sweep wis you and Lowen!”

Loren looks at me like Oh really? Meanwhile, Matt grabs Seamus’ hand and drags him out of the room before Loren can convince me it’s a bad idea. A very bad idea.

“C’mon,” I pout, trying to get Aidan to pout with me. “It’s Christmas.”

“Ya! Crisssmus!”

Unamused but not really against the whole idea, Loren sighs and makes a big production of his personal displeasure, which Aidan finds hilarious. We quickly get settled in bed with Aidan in the middle. He quickly quiets down. It’s all a lie. Every time we think he’s asleep, he sits up or rolls over or grabs my face and giggles.

I think it’s hilarious. I probably encourage it more than I should. He’s too cute. I can’t stop.

Loren isn’t as thrilled by the constant disruptions. I don’t think he has an actual problem with it, he just doesn’t know what to do. Liking Aidan and knowing what to do with him are two different things.

“Is he ever going to sleep?” he asks after an hour of ‘just kidding, I’m not really asleep’.

“It’s just one night, it won’t be so bad.” I pull Aidan with me as I give Loren a kiss, encouraging him to do the same. Which he does, a few dozen times. By the time Aidan finally stops, Loren is trying not to smile.

****

Loren flips the comforter off his body, careful not to disturb the sprawled out kid between us. “Why’s it so hot in here?” He shifts a few times, tugging at his shirt and fanning himself off. “Seriously, it’s fucking humid,” he grumbles in a whisper.

He looks between us. “Why is Aidan naked? Jay? Where’s his—” he tugs his damp shirt then jumps out of bed. “Oh god!” His hands pat his chest. “He peed. He fucking peed all over me.” Loren reaches back and pulls the shirt up and over his head, gagging as the wet fabric slaps against his face.

Aidan lifts his head, jostled from sleep by Loren’s commotion. Blinking, he sits up. His hair is wet and matted. It’s gross, but it’s not that big of a deal.

“It’s just pee,” I tell Loren as I help a naked Aidan into my lap.

“Just pee?” He dry heaves again as he takes off his damp shorts. “Oh god I need a shower!”

I give him a minute to calm down before picking Aidan up and heading to the bathroom. “Can you turn the temp down a bit?” I ask as I strip off my wet clothes.

Loren peaks out from behind the shower door. He looks at me and Aidan in a confused panic. “What are you doing?” He grips the shower curtain and pulls it against his body like it’s going to keep Aidan and I from entering.

I pry the curtain out from his hand and push him back so we have room. “You’re not the only one who got peed on, just the only one freaking out about it.”

I admit, I enjoy making Loren uncomfortable. He’s been mostly naked in front of millions of people, but being naked around a toddler sends him into a crazy head space. He told me he was never sexually abused, so I can only assume his uncomfortableness comes from a lack of exposure.

The only cure is over exposure.

His eyes widen when I hand him a naked Aidan. “C’mon, I need to get in.”

Reluctantly, he takes the pee potato, grimacing the same way he did when the pee shirt touched his face.

Matt is mortified that his little brother peed on Loe Patrick while Seamus thinks it’s hilarious. Loren posts a couple of polls online. It turns out 89% of people think Loren over reacted, but only 52% would be okay being peed on by a little kid. 100% think Aidan is ‘too-cute-too-boot’.

****

“Catch ya tomorrow, man,” Garrett says as we part ways in the parking lot of the practice facility. I haven’t seen Loren in a few days. The week leading up to the SuperBowl is always insane. Lots of media rounds. Lots of training. Lots of meetings. Loren’s been busy with his own stuff, including giving away the two allotted Super Bowl tickets.

Halfway across the parking lot, I pull the keys out of my pocket and unlock the truck. As I reach for the handle, Sven pops out of nowhere. I stumble back. “What the fuck?!

Sven glances around nervously. “Do you have a minute to talk?” I haven’t seen him in almost a year. He kind of vanished when he realized Loren and I were dating. I’m more than a little shocked he’s here.

“Sure. Here?”

“Uhhh…” There are a few people milling around, teammates walking to their cars, etc. “Somewhere more private?”

I nod for the SUV. He hurries around to the passenger seat. Once inside, I wait for him to explain what’s going on.

“I’m really sorry about coming on to you that one time. I’m so embarrassed.”

“Seriously, no biggie. You didn’t know Loren and I were dating. Heck, I wasn’t sure just how together we were. You weren’t disrespectful or anything.”

“I still feel like an idiot.”

“Well, there’s really no need to feel that way. I was never offended, and Loren was never upset. I hope that’s not why you came here.”

“No, no,” he says, running his fingers through his hair and looking out the window. “The weirdest thing happened at the last home game and I don’t know what to do.”

“Okay…” Not sure what this has to do with me, but I will not turn Sven away. He sought me out for a reason.

He turns and faces me. “Okay, so I’m at the last game, minding my own business. This guy sits next to me. At first, I think nothing of it. Why would I? I always sit by strangers. It’s cold. We’re all bundled up. He’s pretty quiet. It’s how quiet he is that finally gets my attention. He’s wearing Seahawk stuff, but when you guys score, he doesn’t react. My friend, who was sitting on the other side of me, decided to use the bathroom, so he scooted out, passed me, and passed the guy next to me. It’s when we’re both shifting to make space that I finally see him. I know there are such things as doppelgangers, but I swear to whatever you want me to swear to, I was looking right at Loe. It was the eyes. I was looking into the same fucking brown eyes.”

My heart picks up. “Okay…”

“Just—” he nervously wiggled his fingers in his lap. “I’m not crazy, okay? I started paying attention to him more. He wasn’t really watching the game, he was watching the crowd. We weren’t far from where Loe was sitting with his fans. Maybe ten rows? This guy was staring at him the whole time. I’ve been around Loe a lot. I know how people look at him; this wasn’t that look.

“Then I heard him talking to his girlfriend. They weren’t talking loudly or anything, but I was listening. He was definitely there for Loe and I think…” He shakes his head like he knows I won’t believe what he’s about to say. “The guy wasn’t as built as Loe. He wasn’t scrawny or anything, just average, but they could’ve been twins. Like, identical fucking twins.”

“Twins?” I say, knowing he was right on the mark. I’m also panicking because I’m not sure how Loren will take this.

“Maybe separated at birth?”

I wish.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I think he should have a heads up? I mean, if I had a long-lost twin looking for me, I’d like to know. The movies make these things out to be really epic, but what if they’re trying to extort him? I want him to be prepared but I don’t think this should come from me.”

“Do you have any info on the guy?”

“His license plate number. That’s it. I tried to strike up a conversation, but he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t rude, but his head was somewhere else.”

Sven gives me the license plate number. “I hope it’s not a rental.” And then he says, “Again, I’m sorry about the ‘proposition’.”

I sit for a while longer. A million scenarios play in my head. In the end, I decide to stick with the simple truth. This is Loren’s life. It’s not mine to play with or manipulate, even if I have the best of intentions.

When I finish my day, I head straight for Puyallup. I put my phone on the dash clip and listen to Loren’s stories, trying my hardest not to glance at what he’s doing. I just want to know what he’s been up to, gauge what I’ll be up against when I get there. Overall, his day seems good.

His house is full of people. It seems like the only time he’s alone is when he’s with me. I mingle and chat until it is just Isaac and Corey left.

“Sven tracked me down today,” I say out of the blue. The guys stop what they’re doing and look at me. I wasn’t the only person Sven disappeared on. Everyone liked Sven, he was a good video editor and apparently a decent friend.

“Still trying to tap that?” Loren says, joking.

“No, he was concerned for you,” I tell him. “I think Lars sat by him at the last game. Sven didn’t know who it was, just that he thought you might have a long-lost twin brother, maybe separated at birth. He said Lars was watching you the entire game and that you should know in case he approaches you or worse, tries to extort you.”

“Extort me?”

“He was worried it could happen, said the movies lie and these things don’t always turn out the way we want.”

Loren laughs. It isn’t a happy sound. “He has no clue.”

“I know, and I didn’t tell him anything.”

Loren and his friends share a look. An entire conversation passes between them.

Lore sighs and sits back in his chair. “Isaac saw him over the summer, at the open practice. Nothing since then though…that we know about.”

“That’s two sightings,” Corey points out.

Isaac nods, conceding to Corey’s point. “We need to be prepared.”

We sit for an hour while they talk through it. Corey and Isaac are the perfect combination of being aware of Loren’s history/trauma, his emotional needs, but also understanding that there needs to be some preparation. Hypothetically seeing Lars after all these years will probably be different from actually meeting him.

I give them the license plate number in case they want to track him down. They take it but I get the distinct impression it will get trashed as soon as this conversation is over.

Corey and Isaac leave just after ten. Despite having to work early, I stay. Loren’s quiet, but he doesn’t stray too far as we get ready for bed.

“What can I do?” I ask as I make sure he’s good and comfortable, tucked in nicely with me pressed against his side.

He rolls on his side, facing me, and sighs. It’s a content sigh, kind of strange considering everything happening. He pushes his boxers down and grins. “A blow job would be nice.”

I smile and move down his body. “I was thinking more along the lines of emotional support, but if this is what you need…”

****

From the screen in the locker room, I watch Loren pre-gaming. He’s the best hype man. No one knows how to work a crowd quite like he does. Seeing him decked out in my gear—my number—my stomach flutters. From stylish winter beanie to specialized kicks. If he was good looking before, he’s downright sinful all marked up. CAUTION: I’M TAKEN

The game hasn’t even started and the air is electric. From the breezeway to the field, I watch Loren being brought down to the field where he and Blitz do cartwheels. A little friendly competition that quickly escalates into some serious mat work. After Blitz does some fancy flip, Loren waves a white flag. He can’t possibly top that. Halfway back to the stands, Loren stops and runs back, doing some backflip combination that has the crowd for both teams going wild. I don’t know why I’m shocked, of course Loren can do backflips. With a twist.

As Garrett, Shawn, Marcus, and I enter the field, I know we’re going to win. You can feel it sometimes, when the team is vibin’. It’s that feeling that makes our entrance more electric than ever. Three and half hours later it’s an electric storm as the fireworks explode and confetti rains down.

The field is total chaos. With the help of Garrett and Shawn, I recorded a record number of sacks. I’m shoved around for interviews.

Loren rarely comes to the field, opting to finish tailgating with whoever scored the tickets. That’s his job, I get it, so when I see him standing there, surrounded by all the people, I can’t move. He smiles like he knows this moment couldn’t get any better. And it can’t.

Bypassing one camera, I jog to him, grabbing him by the thighs and hoisting him up so he’s around my waist. “Best way to end the season is right here.”

He wraps his arms around my neck. “You worked hard.”

Cameras from the media and fans alike circle us. Football’s only ‘out’ player kissing his boyfriend on the field after the SuperBowl win? A first.

He continues to stare at me. “No one is more deserving of this win than you.”

“I wasn’t talking about the win. I was talking about you.”

Loren rolls his eyes so hard it has to hurt his head. “Look who’s trying to get a good, sappy quote in the paper.”

“Don’t think I don’t see your secret spy of a cameraman,” I say, nodding my chin towards Isaac, who’s not too far away with his phone pointed at us. “You can thank me later for the ratings.”

Loren glances at his secret spy and laughs. As a distraction, he kisses me.

We’re surrounded, everyone trying to find that perfect shot. I spin slowly, putting on a show before letting him slide down my body. I wrap my arm around him and pose properly. When the photo op wraps up, I pull Loren around the field. I refuse to let go of his hand, even during interviews. I don’t know if I’ll win again before I retire, so I want him here.

Gary, my favorite correspondent from ESPN, grins widely, happy for such a rare interview. He shoves the mic in Loren’s face. “We have to know. What do you think was Jay’s most notable play out there today?”

Loren looks at him and laughs. “The one where he did the thing with the ball? Or the one where he hugged the other team's quarterback until they fell on the ground?”

Gary throws his head back and laughs. He turns to me. “You make it a habit of hugging quarterbacks?” he asks, trying and absolutely failing to hold back his amusement.

“Every chance I get.”

Loren’s quote makes every article the next day. I have a feeling hugging the quarterback is about to become my new slogan…when I’m not doing the thing with the ball.

The winning team takes turns spending the day with the Lombardi. I try to get Loren to do it with me, but he refuses.

“I feel like people who care about the Lamborghini trophy–”

“Lombardi.”

“Lavardi,” he mocks. He thinks he’s funny.

I glare at him and his smart face. “I hate you.”

“Which is why I shouldn’t spend the day with you and the Lugarda.”

****

He spends the day with me and the Lombardi. We spend the day filming funny videos with the trophy. He’s creative in a way that I adore, so I let him do whatever he wants. Professionally, there’s no downside. Personally, there’s no downside.

The rest of the week is nothing but traveling for interviews, photoshoots, and guest appearances but it’s okay, because the first two weeks of February will be Loren and I at an undisclosed location that David, the master of secrecy, has carefully arranged.

I have never had less privacy than I’ve had since dating Loren. I enjoy it, wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s great. Better than great. Loren is truly something special. He’s a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s like eating skittles and getting a sour patch. The few guys I dated were easy. I guess that’s why they didn’t work out. There was never a challenge. I’m not saying Loren’s a challenge, but he keeps me on my toes. He makes me feel like a million bucks one minute, then makes me realize I can be better the next.

But with the season over, every fiber of my being needs to be cut off from the rest of the world.

****

“Are you saying we can’t snowboard until you retire?” Loren asks twice since we started the hot and terribly humid hike. Loren wanted to spend two weeks at a ski lodge. David couldn’t arrange that given my contractual restrictions. Instead, we’re in Costa Rica, hiking our third mountain in five days.

“Pretty much.”

“What else aren’t you allowed to do?”

“Rock climbing.”

Loren steps over the large tangle of roots that stretch across the path. “Then why the hell aren’t we snowboarding right now? You already broke the contract.”

“Because I’m not trying to impress you anymore.”

Loren huffs. “When are you retiring?”

“I have one more season on my contract. They’re pushing for an extension, but…nothing is official,” I say carefully, wanting to make sure he understands everything clearly.

The trail narrows. I slow and let Loren lead. He’s wearing a cut off tee and athletic shorts that are both short and hug his thighs, distracting me as his legs flex. He’s all sunned up, a colorful headband keeping the sweat from his eyes. When the pathway widens, he slows until I’m by his side once more.

He grabs my hand. “You think you’ll extend?”

“I always thought I would, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Oh.” He looks surprised. “I don’t want you to retire because of me.”

“That seems like the best reason there is. I’ve loved football with everything in me, but it’s changed. I’ve never dreaded the schedule like I did this last year. I hated away games. I hated getting on the plane and leaving you.”

We walk in silence. I can tell he’s in his head. This is the sour patch part of Loren. I give him time to over analyze the situation.

“I didn’t say I was going to retire,” I assure him. “But this is a conversation I’d like to revisit with you, maybe when you’ve had more time to think about it. I can always sign a one or two-year extension if I need.”

“Just feels like a big step. What are you going to do? Follow me around all the time?”

“I could be your personal cameraman. I’m pretty good at it.”

Loren blows out air. “That would be a lot of togetherness.”

I roll my eyes and keep hiking. Sometimes he likes to play a game where he pretends like we aren’t in a deeply committed relationship. Like he doesn’t have the key to my house and I don’t have the key to his. Like we don’t spend every available moment together. Like David and Jason don’t share our calendars.

“It would make commuting a lot easier,” I reason, grinning slightly. I can’t help it, I kind of like push, push, pushing. He can’t stay in his comfort zone forever. “Maybe we could even move in together.”

He trips over himself.

“Oh, and Momma called and said she can’t wait to meet you in April.”

Loren looks like I just whipped him with a commitment switch. “Jesus Christ, Jay.”

“What?” I ask innocently. “There’s no holiday, no ulterior motive. It’s been eighteen months. I want my parents to meet the love of my life.”

The view from the top of the mountain is stunning. Lush green vegetation as far as the eye can see. Loren puts his hands on his head and stares at the best views Costa Rica has to offer. Eventually, he turns around, his anxious brown eyes find mine. “I’ll go with you.”

We finish the hike with very little conversation. Loren tosses his water bottle in the back seat of the rental cruiser, then settles in the driver's seat. “Next time, don’t come at me from all angles. I mean, fuck. One thing at a time, ok?”

“All angles?”

“Retirement, moving in together,” he says, emphasizing the living arrangements thing like it’s a curse word. Then slowly, and with great deliberation, adds, “Meeting your parents…”

“Sometimes you have to throw a bunch of stuff against the wall so one of them sticks.”

Loren’s mouth drops when he realizes he just got played like a blitz on third down with two to go.

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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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