Then Came You... - 3. Chapter 3...Anger
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. One must be willing to feel their anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.
Maxwell is angry and looks for ways to just feel better. Drake is doing his best to live up to his promise to all those depending on him at what ever cost.
“I don’t know, Mom,” Cody sighed as he sat down.
He had just poured himself another brandy and was feeling a little melancholy. Whenever he was feeling this way, a ‘good dose of Mom’ always seemed to do the trick. He thought back to what brought him to seek solace from his mom. He and Drake were in the middle of making love and Drake answered the phone, right in the middle of the act. Who does that? Drake does, apparently, he thought.
“I don’t mean it like that,” he clarified. “I just mean, I don’t think Drake has had time to process the fact that Brad is dead. He’s running himself ragged. If he’s not at the hospital, he’s with Max making sure he doesn’t self destruct.”
He rested his back against the sofa listening intently to his mom’s motherly advice, nodding his head to indicate that he was listening every so often. He took a small sip of brandy before carefully setting the glass on the table.
“No, you’re right and I’m trying. I want to be there for him… for them both,” he insisted. “Honestly, I feel like…,”he frowned, “I don’t know what I feel like.”
The New York air was brutally cold, stinging his cheeks, but he didn’t care because he was on a mission. Drake hurried up the stairs, taking them two at a time, sidestepping the tall, bronzed man working the door. He yanked it open forcefully and stepped inside the dimly lit club. He tried to steady his breathing as he scanned the crowded bar for Benji. Benji was tending the main bar tonight and he was the one who had called him. Their eyes met with a sense of urgency. Drake furrowed his brow, following Benji’s gaze to the right, mouthing ‘okay’ as he headed in that direction.
Drake plowed his way through the sea of men, hoping he wasn’t too late to stop Maxwell from making a grave mistake. He continued to push his way through when someone grabbed his arm.
“Hey sexy, can I buy you a drink?” the man asked as he ran his tongue suggestively over his top lip. Drake wasn’t sure, but at first glance, his face wasn’t one that he’d seen in the club before.
Drake gently removed his grip on his arm and shook his head, “Um, no thank-you.”
The man persisted, stepping in front of him. “Oh come on, just one drink, that’s all.”
“I said no,” Drake declined with more venom in his voice than he had intended as he pushed the man aside.
The man turned up his nose and scoffed “What a dick!” he spat as he casually sauntered over to his friend, Drake rolled his eyes and continued his pursuit. “That’s why I hate coming here. The men are so sidity!”
“But gorgeous and they have lots of money,” his friend snickered peering over the rim of his glass. “He’s a doctor,” he smirked as Drake disappeared into crowd.
Drake stood in the doorway of the Cigar Room, squinting through the smoky haze as the sweet aroma of expensive cigars and cologne tickled his nose. As long as he’d been coming to the club, he had never ventured into this room, it held a reputation. He had passed it on his way to restroom but never had a desire to step inside. The atmosphere in here was completely different from that of the main lounge. The main area had a large bar, where most of the clientele hung out, and provided the latest club hits and hip-hop, catering to the younger, carefree crowd.
The cigar room was for the more mature ‘heavy hitters’. The bar was smaller and well stocked with expensive brandy, whiskey, and single malt scotches, while, of course, offering a variety of cigars from the clubs private collection. The room was quiet and the guests in here were being serenaded by live piano music, giving the room a more quant, intimate atmosphere. The guests were older and of a serious nature.
It was also filled with young, beautiful men mingling about, all looking like Ralph Lauren models that just walked off the cover of the latest edition of Esquire. Even a blind man could see what was going on here. The business deals being made tonight were cash only. Drake’s eyes darted to an outburst of laugher. He was only slightly relieved that it wasn’t Maxwell.
He stepped further inside; scratching behind his ear as he carefully scanned the place. He purposely tried to avoid the prolonged gaze of the handsome man sitting at the bar, whose seductive blue eyes had been staring at him since he entered the room. Drake smiled kindly as the man saluted him with his glass, but maintained his focus on the task at hand…Maxwell.
Drake’s eyes widened when he spotted him in the back of the room. Maxwell had clearly had too much to drink. The muscles in his stomach contract so tight he felt the burn and the taste of bile that splashed against the back of his throat. The once warm ambiance that filled the room was now bitterly cold and all Drake saw was red.
Though they were mere feet away, he couldn’t reach Maxwell fast enough. He ground his teeth, feeling sick as the older man’s hand eased under Maxwell’s shirt, exposing his smooth bare skin. Maxwell fell flaccidly against the man’s chest as he ran his tongue hungrily up the side of his neck. The deep-throated moans and grunts erupting from the stranger as his hands and mouth molested Maxwell made Drake’s skin crawl.
He was too far gone to ward off the predator’s advances and Drake was sure that if he hadn’t got there when he did, the man would have taken Maxwell right there, humiliating him in front of everyone. The man’s large hand wrapped roughly around the back of Maxwell’s neck, pulling him into a hard kiss. Drake reached out and grabbed Maxwell by the arm.
“He’s drunk, you asshole!” Drake spat as he pulled Maxwell off the man’s lap.
“Hey!” Maxwell objected as he staggered backwards. His arms flew aimlessly as he tried to catch himself from falling but all he managed to grab was air before hitting the floor.
“What the fuck are you doing?” The older man demanded heatedly as he jumped to his feet.
“Yeah, what the fuck…” Maxwell slurred as he tried to hoist himself off the floor. The entire room fell silent and all eyes were on them. The last key struck on the piano was off cord, as the guy playing stopped suddenly due to the outburst.
“He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing!” Drake yelled, pointing to his friend who was now being helped off the floor. “He’s drunk off his ass!”
“He and everyone else!” The older man retorted angrily.
“I’m fine!” Maxwell stammered as he tried to adjust his clothing.
“Like hell you are!” Drake replied giving in to the rage consuming him.
“Look around. Everyone in here is either drunk or drugged up.” The man gestured to the sea of men surrounding them. “Your friend here is no different.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” Maxwell’s words were slurred as he stumbled back against the man standing behind him.
“Saving your ass!” Drake hissed between clenched teeth.
“From me?” The man asked incredulously, placing his hand to his chest feigning insult. “I’m no threat to Max here.” He smirked, his eyes filled with amusement.
“See that’s were you’re wrong.” Drake glanced over his shoulder when he felt Maxwell lean into him after trying to catch his balance. “He’s dealing with something, or rather something is dealing with him.” Drake corrected.
“Hey!” Maxwell objected as he tried to stagger his way past Drake, whose arm instinctively reached out knocking him backwards.
“Whoa…” Maxwell giggled drunkenly.
“He and the rest of the world,” the man replied unsympathetically. He reached for his brandy and took a sip. He waved flippantly to the piano player, signaling him to continue, before sitting back down. He nodded his understanding as his fingers resumed playing. A jazzy rendition of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ drowned out the mummers of the on lookers and soon most of them had gone back to what they had been doing. Drake stared the man down, eyeing him with loathing, his fists clenched by his side. It took all his willpower not to knock the smirk off his face.
“You’re making a spectacle of yourself,” the stranger said casually, in a condescending tone before taking another sip of his drink.
“And you should be ashamed of yourself,” Drake replied, this time lowering his voice an octave. “Do you come here regularly?” He tilted his head slightly.
“What’s that have to do with anything?” The man asked, lifting his eyes to meet Drake’s.
“If you do, then you know.” Drake frowned as he reached behind him to keep Maxwell from falling. “You know why he’s here…why he’s doing this.”
“Drake?” Maxwell slurred, tapping him on the back as his body swayed from side to side.
“Oh, you mean…” he smiled, clearly aware of what Drake was referring to. “Everyone deals with grief in their own way,” he stated, crossing one leg over the other.
“Drake…” Maxwell mumbled again. “I think…I think I’m going to be sick.” He gagged. “I think I’m going to throw up.”
Drake reached back over his shoulder soothingly patting him on the top of the head. “Come on, let’s get you home.”
He turned around carefully pulling Maxwell into his arms to guide him toward the door when he felt a strong hand on his shoulder.
“Wait!” The man objected, standing to his feet. His voice carried over the music causing a few people nearby to look their way. Drake slowly glanced over his shoulder at the man’s hand then up disapprovingly meeting his gaze head on.
“You can’t take him,” he nodded at Maxwell as he removed his hand from Drake’s shoulder.
“What?” Drake furrowed his brow in confusion while trying to steady his friend. “What the hell do you mean?”
“Oh. I think you know.” He arched his brow with a short nod.
“Did you…” Drake accused with a heated glare.
“I’ve been watching your friend for some time now,” he admitted shamelessly. “Tonight he belongs to me.”
“Bullshit!” Drake spat stepping forward until their chests were almost touching. The man staggered back trying to put some distance between them.
“Ask him.” He crossed his arms defiantly over his chest.
“Maxwell?” Drake turned glaring at his friend in disbelief.
“Yep…” Maxwell giggled cupping his hand over his mouth. He clumsily reached inside his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “See…”
“Give me the damn money,” Drake demanded.
“No!” Maxwell pouted pulling the money to his chest. “It’s mine.”
“Give me the god-damned money, Max!” Drake yelled as he snatched the roll of bills from Maxwell’s hand.
“Take your fuckin money, you bastard!” Drake hollered, forcefully pushing his fist against the man’s chest. “And stay the fuck away from him! You got it!?!” He demanded while jabbing his fingers at his chest.
The man stumbled backwards clutching his chest and the money tightly in his fist. He combed his fingers through his salt and pepper hair, laughing mechanically while shaking his head.
Drake eyed him for a moment before he grabbed Maxwell’s hand. “Come on,” he said pushing his way through the throng of men.
“You can thank me later!” The man yelled over the crowd. “He’s nice and full of the best whiskey money can buy. Don’t let a good drunk go to waste. This fuck is on me!” He laughed menacingly. He ran his hands down his jacket, smoothing out the fabric. Before he knew it, Drake had grabbed him by the throat knocking him backwards in his chair.
“Shut the fuck up!” Drake growled through clinched teeth, his chest rising and falling with every labored breath.
“What? Did I hit a nerve?” The man smirked as he felt Drake’s grip tighten around his neck. “Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.”
“Calm down, Drake,” the voice behind him warned. “It’s not that deep. Let him go.”
“Yeah…it’s not the deep.” The man parroted as he felt Drake’s hand slowly release him. Drake turned around to see Jake, the club’s Security Manager and another man, both dressed in black suits carrying matching cell phones, towering over them. One held Maxwell by the arm while the Jake tried to defuse the situation. It was obvious someone had reported what was going on.
“You don’t understand.” Drake tried to explain.
“We understand,” Jake assured him with a knowing nod. “Everything is fine now, see.” he stress as he glanced back to his partner and Maxwell.
“I think I’ll have another drink.” He older man smiled smugly rubbing his hand up and down his bruised neck. He placed his money deep inside his pocket as he headed toward the bar, stopping at the guy playing the piano. He traced his fingers over the white, Baby Grand, before placing a fifty-dollar bill into the crystal ‘tip bowl.’
Drake sighed, tilting his head back as he combed his fingers through his hair in frustration. He guessed it was true what they said about the goings on in this room and it was obvious that security wasn’t going to do anything about the man offering Maxwell money for sex. He wasn’t sure what upset him the most. Was it the fact that the man disrespected Maxwell by offering him money, suggesting he could be bought or the fact that Maxwell accepted it? He knew the man would just offer the money to someone else but he didn’t care as long as it wasn’t Maxwell.
“It’s okay, really,” Jake said as he placed a reassuring hand on Drake’s shoulder. “Take Max out the back door, we don’t need the guests seeing their favorite bartender lit. It’s bad for business.”
“Yeah.” Drake nodded, as he walked towards Maxwell. The other man carefully released his hold on him and handed him over to Drake.
“Thanks,” Drake said as he wrapped his arm around Maxwell’s shoulder. Jake led them through the crowd that parted like the ‘Red Sea’ allowing them to pass.
Drake extended his hand to shake Jake’s after they got Maxwell into the car. “Thanks…” he said appreciatively. Jake had led them out the back way and waited with Maxwell while Drake pulled the car around.
“Take care of him,” Jake smiled sadly. “I know this is hard for him but Max is resilient. He’ll be fine. Not to mention he’s got you. I know Brad would have wanted someone he trusted to look out for him.”
Drake’s mouth twisted as he chewed on the inside of his cheek as he peered inside the car. “Yeah.” He sighed. “Thanks again, man.”
“No problem. Tell him to call Pat when he’s ready to come back,” Jake instructed before heading up the stairs. Drake watched Jake go inside before walking around to the driver’s side and got in. He glanced over at Maxwell who had his eyes closed and his head resting against the window.
The ride back to Maxwell’s place was a quiet one. Maxwell was sleeping, or so Drake thought, and he was lost in his own contemplations until a soft voice captured his attention.
“You didn’t have to come, you know. Who called you anyway?” Maxwell asked turning his head to him.
“Does it matter?” Drake inhaled deeply as he gripped the steering wheel hard.
“I guess not.” Maxwell frowned as he ran his fingers through his hair and leaned his head against the glass again.
“What the fuck were you thinking, Max?” Drake blurted out after a moment of silence, his tone filled with disgust. He waited before glancing over at his friend who just shifted in his seat and sighed.
“What?” Maxwell replied defensively. “I don’t have to answer to you.” He shrugged his shoulders before relaxing into his seat.
“Well, you need to answer to somebody because you’re doing a bang up job!” Drake quipped. “What you did tonight was stupid!”
“Says you!” Maxwell snapped haughtily.
“Hell yeah, says me.“ Drake barked back. “What would you have done if I hadn’t gotten there and saved your ass?”
“What?” Maxwell sat up in his seat. “I would have handled my business, that’s what.” He countered.
“Well, that’s just rich.” Drake chuckled humorlessly. “You fuck a stranger for money. What are you now, a whore?” Drake spat. “Your husband’s body isn’t even cold yet and you’re doubling as a rent boy.” He quipped harshly.
“Oh, fuck me? How about fuck him because that what you would have been doing if I hadn’t got there when I did. And probably right there in the club!”
“Asshole… You have no right to talk to me like that or about my husband!”
“Who was my best friend…remember? I have every right!” Drake retorted. “And… and,” He frowned, his lips quivering as he bit back the words he was going to say. Mostly because he didn’t know what he was going to say. In reality, he had said enough. He was angry but he knew if he kept talking, he would say something he couldn’t take back. Seeing Maxwell with that man repulsed him.
“Do you know how horrible you would have felt waking up to that tool beside you?” He sighed shaking his head.
“At least I would have felt something.” Maxwell frowned. “Anything is better than not feeling...better than being numb.”
“You’re afraid to feel, that’s all.”
“Who died and named you Dr. Phil?”
“Jesus Christ…” Drake huffed though an exasperated sigh.
“Fuck you, Drake!” Maxwell yelled. “You’re no better than Brad or me! Just because you’re doctor and shit doesn’t give you any right to talk down to me!”
“Is that what you think?” Drake challenged. “That I think I’m fuckin better than you?” He asked incredulously.
“That’s the most ridiculous and insulting thing you’ve ever said to me. Not to mention totally untrue. The fact that I tried to keep you from making a mistake and called it foolish…”
“You called me stupid!” Maxwell interrupted abruptly.
“I did not!” Drake defended himself as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel yet again.
“The hell you didn’t. Um.” Maxwell rolled his eyes. “Let me see. You said I was drunk…”
“You are,” Drake interjected matter of factly.
“And you said I was stupid.”
“I did not call you stupid,” he clarified. “I said what you were doing was stupid. There is a difference you know.”
“Don’t whatever me.” Drake demanded. “You’re not stupid, you’re hurting. Brad is gone…”
“And it hurts like hell, okay!” Maxwell grabbed his hair with both hands pulling so hard he pulled a few strands off between his fingers. “It hurts like hell!”
“So you feel now?” Drake laughed humorlessly.
“I hate you!” Maxwell crossed his arms tightly over his chest before turning his attention out the window.
“I’m sorry, that was mean,” Drake replied, his tone softer. “I get it. I… I do. It’s hell for me too, Max.” he sighed slowly while keeping his eyes focused on the road.
“He was my best friend. I miss him every day. We did everything together. Hell, we even did nothing together better than anyone I know.” He chuckled lightly.
“Man…” He inhaled deeply. “But you’re here, Max. Alive. You’ve got to keep on living.” He sighed.
“You’ve got to keep going for Brad and the people that love you.” He took his eyes off the road for a brief second.
“DON’T!” Maxwell shouted frantically while recoiling into a tight ball. He covered his face as his body shook uncontrollably
“What!” Drake reacted quickly reaching out for Maxwell. “Oh my god, Maxwell. I’m so sorry!” he apologized profusely once he realized what was happening. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
He immediately pulled the car off the road, turning on the hazards and cutting the engine. He flipped up the console and slid toward his friend.
“Maxwell, it’s okay,” he promised as he pulled him into his arms. “Shhh…” Drake whispered as he ran soothing circles over Maxwell’s back.
“No... No…no,” Maxwell chanted as he rocked back and forth within Drake’s embrace. “I can’t. I can’t do this.”
“It was an accident, Max. It was a terrible accident.”
“I know and now Brad is dead because of it,” he sobbed as he buried his face into Drake’s shoulder.
“I know, baby, I know.” Drake sighed as he tightened his embrace. “I know.”
“You go shower and I’ll make coffee,” Drake said as Maxwell disappeared down the hall. “Did you hear me!?!” He yelled over his shoulder as he closed and locked the front door.
“Yeah…yeah.” He heard Maxwell grunt as he entered the bathroom.
He smiled as he shook his head and headed for the kitchen.
“Yeah, he’s taking a shower now,” Drake replied. He had the phone wedged between his ear and shoulder as he filled the carafe with water.
“Washing that creep off him, I hope. It was disgusting,” he sighed as he turned off the water.
“Well, I agree it’s too soon for Max to get into a relationship, but to say it was disgusting… don’t you think that’s a little harsh?” Cody replied.
“The asshole offered him money to sleep with him.” he explained as he leaned back against the counter. “You should have seen it. He was making a spectacle of himself.”
“Don’t be so hard on him. He probably feels lost and alone, so he’s dealing with it the best way he can.”
“Are you making excuses for his behavior?” Drake crossed his arms over his chest as he crossed one leg over the other.
“No. it’s not that,” he explained. “It’s just I think you’re being too hard on him that’s all.”
“I’m just looking out for him, like Brad would have wanted.”
“And who’s looking out for you?”
“You…” Drake laughed as he pushed himself from the counter. He shifted the phone to his other ear as he pulled two cups from the cupboard.
“I’m trying to but I feel like you’re not letting me.”
“That’s not true. Wait…” Drake knitted his brows together. “Are you talking about tonight, because I said I was sorry and I promise I’m going to make it up to you, I swear.”
“I know,” Cody sighed. “And I’m not trying to make this about me. I’m not.”
“I believe you,” Drake assured him. “It’s been hard on everyone including you. You’ve been great through all this and I love you for it.”
“I love you too. Let me take care of you.”
“I’m trying to, it’s just… Max needs me right now.”
“So do I. I miss you,” he admitted softly. “I don’t want to sound needy but…” he sighed.
“It’s been almost a month now and you’re still running yourself in the ground. Did you know we have an appointment with the realtor in the morning?”
“Oh shit, is that tomorrow?”
“That is if you still want to get a house together?” Cody said hesitantly.
“Of course I do. Nothing has changed,” he stated convincingly. “I love you Cody.”
“Good,” he sighed, sounding relieved. Drake could sense he was smiling which made him smile too.
“When can I expect you home?”
“Let me get him settled in and then I’ll be on my way.”
“Then I’ll wait up.”
Drake ended the call and set the phone on the counter before pouring the coffee. He smiled when he heard Maxwell enter into the kitchen.
“Hey…” Maxwell tilted his head slightly while combing his fingers through his damp hair.
“How you feel?” Drake asked as he set the cup of coffee on the table and watched cautiously as Maxwell made his way to the table. Maxwell frowned and shrugged before sitting down.
“Thank you.” He smiled sadly while reaching for the cup Drake slid toward him.
“You’re welcome.” He watched as Maxwell took a careful sip of coffee, before sitting down across from him and taking a sip of his own.
“I thought I heard you on the phone. How’s Cody?” He asked as he peered over the rim of his mug.
“You should go home.” he stated as he set his cup on the table.
“What? Are you still mad at me?” Drake pouted playfully before taking another sip from his cup.
Maxwell chuckled softly sending Drake a kind smile.
“I can’t stay mad at you.” He ducked his head shyly. “Even when you’re being a jerk.”
“Hey.” Drake objected feigning offense.
“I know it’s just because you care.” Maxwell admitted as he watched Drake idly playing in his hair. He noticed how long it had gotten and how wavy it was. He’d never noticed that before. Maybe it was because Drake had never let it get that long. It was actually becoming on him.
“What?” Drake asked as he felt Maxwell’s stare.
“Nothing…” Maxwell rubbed his temples before running his fingers through his hair once more. He rested his chin in the palm of his hand and sighed. “My head feels like it’s about to explode.”
“Come on. Let’s get you some aspirin and get you to bed.” Drake suggested as he stood and extended Maxwell his hand.
As Max reached for it, he stumbled backwards, using the counter to prevent himself from falling.
“Hey. Are you okay?” Drake reached out to catch him.
“Yeah…yeah,” he sighed a little disoriented. “Just a little dizzy that’s all.”
“Here, let me help.” Drake wrapped his arm carefully around Maxwell’s small waist and helped him out of the kitchen.
“Thank you.” Maxwell took the cup and aspirin from Drake and tossed them into his mouth, chasing it down with water. Drake reached for the cup and set it on the table.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Drake asked with concern as he carefully sat on the bed beside him.
“Yes, now get.” Maxwell shooed him off. “I’ll be fine.” He smiled up into Drakes gray eyes that were filled with worry.
Drake squinted skeptically. “I’m gonna wait for a few minutes then I’ll go.”
“Suit yourself.” Maxwell shrugged before turning his back to Drake and snuggling under the covers.
“Scoot over,” Drake said as he kicked off his shoes.
Maxwell shifted over to give him more room. Drake propped the pillows behind him and rested his back against them, crossing his legs and resting his hands in his lap as he looked around the room. He smiled when he noticed the book on the nightstand. He took a deep breath and glanced over at Maxwell, whom he assumed had fallen asleep, before reaching for it.
“What do we have here?” He flipped through the pages casually. ‘Let The Great World Spin.’
He smiled thinking about his friend. Brad loved to read. He laughed as he thought about Brad’s personality. Some would consider him over the top, a little on the wild side, but he loved his books. Drake’s mind drifted back….
He paced back and forth looking at the clock every few minutes. It was true, the old saying, ‘A watched pot never boils.’ Soon he would be standing in front of a room full of people with all eyes fixed on the three of them. He stopped and glanced over at his friend who was cool as a cucumber. ‘How does he do it?’ He wondered. He’s hasn’t even broken a sweat and he was nervous as hell.
“You’d think you were the one getting married,” Brad peered over his book. He sighed, crossing his legs as he flipped the page.
“Well…” Drake threw his arms in the air. “Why aren’t you nervous? You’re about to get married. Your life is about to change forever and all you can do is read a book!”
Brad laughed as he dog-eared the page he was reading. He placed the book down and made his way over to Drake.
“Listen, I’m getting married, not receiving a death sentence. What’s there to be nervous about?” He asked as patted Drake’s shoulder. “You know I never understood that,” he stated whimsically while moving in front of the mirror.
“Well, it’s a big step. A big commitment,” Drake replied as he joined his friend.
“All we’re doing is making it legal.” Brad lifted his neck to allow Drake to adjust his collar. “We committed ourselves a long time ago.” He added.
“Yeah.” Drake nodded.
“Max is awesome,” Brad stated admiringly. “You should have gone after him yourself.” He said teasingly.
“Nawh,” Drake patted Brad on the chest, “he’s more your type.”
“Just saying.” Brad smirked as he reached inside his pocket. “Here.”
Drake glanced down at Brad’s empty hand and laughed.
“What?” He leaned forward trying to get a closer look.
“I thought I’d give it to you.” He motioned for Drake to take it.
“There’s nothing there.”
“It’s my little black book.”
“Your little black book eh?” Drake chuckled as he reached into the palm of Brad’s hand, humoring him.
“There’s some pretty hot guys in there.” Brad nodded to Drake’s hand. “Not as hot as Max, but hot enough.”
“Well, I don’t want your sloppy seconds. Thanks but no thanks.” Drake waved his hands while shaking his head vehemently.
“I don’t need it anymore.”
“Neither do ,” Drake countered, almost insulted. “I can get my own guys.”
“Like Cody?” Brad teasingly bumped his shoulder.
“Whatever. Cody and I are just friends.”
“Friends my ass. Look me in my eyes and tell me you ain’t hittin that.” Brad challenged.
Drake side stepped him and stood in front of the mirror adjusting his tie.
“Can’t do it, can ya?” Brad asked as he walked up behind him. “It’s all good. Even if he has a boyfriend, Just don’t get caught.” He warned.
“We’re just friends.” Drake reiterated.
“If you say so.” Brad shrugged. “Hey.” His voice took on a serious nature.
“What.” Drake glanced back over his shoulder.
“Thank you.” He pressed his lips together in a tight line.
“For what?” Drake smiled.
“This… everything.” he stated with appreciation. He took Drake’s hand into his own giving them a gentle squeeze.
“For being the best friend a man could ever have. For being that friend I couldn’t call when I landed in jail a couple of times, because you were sitting right there beside me.”
He took a deep breath while sharing a knowing glance with Drake. “For being here with me today. Standing beside me on the most important day of my life. I don’t know what I would do without you.” He tilted his head and smiled.
Drake returned the smiled and pulled Brad into a tight hug.
“I’m so happy for you both. I love you,” he whispered in Brad’s ear. Brad pulled back and tousled Drake’s hair.
“I plan on living forever, but if that doesn’t happen, promise me something.”
“That you’ll look out for Max.”
“Of course.” He declared without hesitation.
“He’s young, and he thinks he’s so strong and doesn’t need any help with anything or anybody, but it’s all an act.” Brad assured him. “He makes me happy. I love him,” He said with a dreamy faraway look in his eyes.
“And he loves you.” Drake smiled. “And don’t worry, you’re going to live forever so you can take care of him yourself and keep him out of trouble.” He winked.
“Ready in five!” The voice called out from the other side of the door interrupting him. “Hurry up guys. We’re waiting.”
“That’s our cue.” Drake nodded toward the door. “Ready?” He patted his friend on the back.
“Let’s do this.” Brad grinned before taking a deep breath.
The sun’s rays peeping through the blinds kissed him gently, causing him to stir from his slumber. He blinked a few times trying to focus; the messy blond hair that came into view was too long to be Cody’s. He tried to shift his weight only to find his arm trapped beneath the body lying next to him. He didn’t remember being that tired but apparently he was. Drake reached for his phone with his free hand to check the time.
“Fuck.” He mumbled through a heavy sigh. Cody was going to be pissed. How did he not hear the phone? He had four missed calls, all from Cody.
Drake slowly slid his arm from under Maxwell‘s sleeping form so as not to wake him. He eased off the bed and quietly grabbed his shoes before tiptoeing out of the room.
As soon as he was sure it was safe and Drake was gone, Maxwell opened his eyes and sighed heavily. He felt a pang of guilt as he snuggled deeper into the covers. He had been awake for some time lying in Drake’s arms. He hated to admit it, but for the first time in a long time, he didn't feel so alone.
More to come as the guys wander through the stages of grief...
A/N Thanks to all for reading and liking the story and super thanks to Rabble_Rouser for agreeing to edit for me though his schedule is already pretty busy. :D
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