"I'm Alex, nice to meet you," Alex said, offering a hand. The guy gave him a cute crooked smile and shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you too, I’m Jeremy.”
Alex gave a friendly nod to the guy. So he isn’t Melissa’s boyfriend after all. Makes sense, he thought. They didn’t look like a good match at all.
The two guys kept walking behind Liz and Melissa, who had already moved on to girl topics that Alex didn’t particularly care about. He was gay, but not that gay to talk about waxing and gossip about girls who went to school with them.
“So what are you guys up to?” Alex asked the guy walking next to him.
“Your sister and Mel were passing by my place so I joined them for a walk. Got some time to kill before I need to go back to work,” Jeremy replied.
Even though he wasn’t looking directly at him, Alex could see in his peripheral vision that the guy was intently observing him, his gaze fixed on Alex’s face. It seemed strange, but Alex chose to ignore it for now. Maybe I’m imagining things. I’m probably the one being weird, not him.
“Where do you work?” Alex asked, turning to him.
“Down at the Promenade. Got a bakery, just opened it a week ago,” Jeremy said with a proud smile and Alex couldn’t help but notice the cute dimples in his cheeks.
“Your own business, that’s nice!” he grinned. “And that’s a great location, right next to the quay. Got a nice view of the ocean?” he asked, feeling the tourism student in him waking up.
“Yup,” Jeremy confirmed, casually brushing the brown curls off his forehead.
He always loved that part of town. The Promenade was an all-pedestrian area, with rows of big trees and wide cobblestone paths. It was great for tourists and locals alike. There was no traffic, which also meant almost no noise, so you could freely walk around and explore at your leisure.
As he thought about visiting that area, Liz interrupted his thoughts.
“Alex, you coming home with me or is dad picking you up?”
“Sure, I’ll walk with you. Lemme just text dad.”
Taking his phone out, Alex texted his father to let him know he wouldn’t have to pick him up. The walk home wasn’t really that long, and besides, he found himself enjoying the company. There was friendly banter and laughter, even some teasing – mostly from his sister – but none of it malicious. This Jeremy guy also seemed nice, if a bit quiet, Alex noticed.
“So what do you do? Still in college?”
“Uh, yeah. I have one semester left,” Alex replied, diverting his look, pretending to see something really interesting on the other side of the street. “I’m taking a little break from it right now.” That was all he needed to know.
“That’s cool. What’s your major?” Jeremy asked. He didn’t notice Alex’s hesitation, or at least it didn’t seem like he did.
“Marketing and tourism – my big passion.”
“I like it, good choice! Especially if you plan on living here.”
The guys spent the next few minutes sharing their favorite spots around town, until Jeremy announced he had to go back to work. The other three said their goodbyes, wishing him a great day. Before leaving, the brown-haired guy turned to Alex once again.
“Hey… So, Liz already came to the ‘grand opening’, but you gotta stop by some time too, ok?”
“Yeah, man, I will,” Alex nodded.
“Cool. Mind if I take your number so we can make plans?”
“Uh, sure…” Alex shrugged, a bit surprised by the question. What’s up with everyone giving me their number today? First Brandon, now this guy.
After the two exchanged their numbers, Jeremy said goodbye once again, turned around and left.
“So how do you know Jeremy?” Alex asked, joining his sister and her friend.
“Oh, our families have known each other for ages,” Melissa said, making a waving gesture with her hand. “He’s cool, right?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Alex shrugged.
As they approached their home, Liz and Alex said goodbye to Melissa, who turned right and headed down the street toward her own place.
Ever since he returned from Paris, Alex had wanted to talk to his sister in private, but for one reason or another, he didn’t. At home, someone was always there with them – mom, dad or some of their many relatives and friends who came to see him once they heard he’d returned. Of course, they knew nothing about why he came back, so everyone in the family had to be careful about what they’d say. They had to make sure their stories matched. It was all very annoying and exhausting, he thought. He didn’t particularly care if people knew, but his mom and dad were adamant that the secret be kept within the family.
On the rare occasions when he was left alone with Liz, they ended up chatting about trivial stuff, not the things he wanted to talk about. He wanted to see where he stood with his sister. Mom and dad were disappointed in him and he needed to go a long way until he redeemed himself in their eyes, but maybe he still had a chance with Liz. Maybe she would understand him and even lend him some money to pay off that ogre Kris. It was worth a shot.
Liz was four years younger than Alex, but you’d never tell by her looks. She was almost as tall as he was, and very athletic. As much as they had gotten along in the past, Alex knew she was always a bit of a wild card. You never knew when she was going to come home drunk, bring a strange guy and present him as her boyfriend, or say something to embarrass you publicly. Sure, he wasn’t much of a model son either, so maybe they had more in common than Alex thought. Maybe that’s why she annoyed him so often.
In any case, he decided he wasn’t going to chicken out this time. He knocked on the door of her room and waited a few seconds.
“Yeah, come on in!”
Entering his sister’s room, Alex found it was even messier than his.
“Ha!” he chuckled. “And I thought girls were supposed to be all tidy.”
“Shut up,” Liz rolled her eyes. “I’m rearranging my stuff, that’s why there’s all this chaos. But since you’re here, can you help me? I wanted to move this dresser to this corner,” she explained, pointing to the opposite wall.
“Sure, let’s do it,” Alex nodded. After they removed the last few items from the dresser, they somehow managed to pick it up and move it against the other wall.
“Great, that’s perfect right there!” Liz exclaimed happily. “See, wasn’t that hard!”
“Easy for you to say when I did all the heavy lifting,” Alex smirked.
“Bitch please, I helped!” Liz pursed her lips and pretended to smack him on the arm. Dashing to the side, Alex dodged her and grinned.
“Need me for anything else?”
“Nah, I’m good. Thanks tho!”
“No problem,” he smiled and stood awkwardly. Finally, he decided to take a chance. “Hey, uh… Can I ask you something?”
Closing the door, Alex approached her and spoke quietly, afraid their mom might hear.
“Would you have, by any chance, some money to lend me?”
“Uhh, how much? And for what exactly?” she eyed him suspiciously.
“Six hundred. I, uh… I got a debt I need to pay off,” Alex said slowly, already regretting asking her anything.
“Are you for real? Let me guess, gambling debt?”
“It’s not what you think, it’s from before I went to college. I just forgot about it.”
“Alex, I don’t have that kind of money. And even if I did… How would I know you’d pay me back?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Her determined gaze met her brother’s insecure one.
“Ok, fair enough,” Alex said, dropping his head in defeat.
“I mean, you really messed up, bro.”
“I know, I don’t need a lecture from you! Mom and dad already gave me one. I didn’t think YOU’d react like this.”
“How did you think I’d react? This affects me too. You think mom and dad are gonna let me go study abroad after what you did?”
“Why wouldn’t they? This has nothing to do with you. I’m the one who screwed up, they trust you,” Alex said, frowning in confusion.
“They trusted you too until you pulled this shit. I don’t think they’re gonna risk it with me now,” Liz shook her head.
“I think you’re wrong.”
“Well, I hope so.”
“Anyway, at least don’t tell mom and dad about what I asked you. They’d kill me,” Alex asked as he turned to leave.
“I won’t. But you need to get your shit together.” Was that concern in her voice that Alex heard? He wasn’t sure, but it sure sounded like it.
“I know… I will.” he nodded and left her room.
Great, so that chance is gone, Alex thought. Now where am I going to get all that money by Sunday? I have no other choice but Brandon. Maybe I could somehow convince the guy to lend me the money. Even if I have to go on a date or sleep with him, would that be so bad? The guy is hot and I think he’s interested in me, Alex tried to rationalize. Plus, he looks as if he’s loaded, so it’s not like he’s going to miss the money.
Having convinced himself he was doing the right thing, he found his phone and typed:
- Hey, it’s Alex from car wash. How are you?
It wasn’t until half an hour later that Alex’s phone buzzed. He quickly grabbed it, smiling when he saw a message from Brandon.
- Hey. I’m good, been thinking about u. U free tomorrow?
Free as a bird!
- Nice, been thinking about you too. And yeah I’m free.
Merely seconds later, another message came.
- Would u like to go on a date? I can pick u up around 7?
Would I ever!
- I’d love to. See ya at 7!
Typing his address, Alex pressed ‘send’ and smiled. A date with a sexy guy was definitely something to look forward to, but the icing on the hot hunk cake was the possibility of paying off his debt and getting Kris off his back.
Once I pay that troll, I’m not stepping into his place ever again, he thought.
Seconds later, the phone buzzed yet again and he unlocked it, expecting another message from Brandon. However, a name he did not expect appeared on the screen. Jeremy.
- Hey, what’s up? Wanna stop by tomorrow evening?
Oh shit, I didn’t expect him so soon. Sorry, Jer, but you’re out of luck this time.
- Sorry man, would love to but already got plans. Raincheck?
Alex couldn’t deny Jeremy seemed like a nice enough guy, but he certainly wasn’t going to cancel his plans with Brandon for him.
- No worries, some other time then. See ya!
Back when he was younger, the thought of spending hours every week lifting heavy objects in ridiculous repetitive motions seemed silly to Alex. Now, however, he was very pleased with how he looked. All the hours he spent at the gym were definitely not a waste, as he once used to think.
As much as he hated to admit it, all the gay guys he knew were incredibly shallow. He liked to believe he was different, but he could hardly resist some nice eye candy. He was only human, after all.
Thirty minutes of cardio and another thirty minutes of chest workout later, he put his dumbbells down and laid on his bed, panting. He always felt much better after a good exercise, and today was no exception. The release of endorphins gave him such a good feeling. Plus, working out made his muscles pop even more.
After a nice, refreshing shower, he dried himself with a large, fluffy towel. His body looked toned and pumped, especially after all the lifting he just did. Rubbing the towel over his well-defined pecs and tight six pack, he was happy with the results of his hard work.
He put on his tight, mint green briefs and went back to his room, trying to figure out what to wear for his date with Brandon. Wherever he’s taking me, it’s probably going to be upscale, so I need to bring my A-game, Alex thought. With that in mind, he opted for a silk lavender long-sleeve shirt, dark grey pants and grey shoes. He was not a big fan of jewelry, so the only thing he wore around his neck was a tiny silver amulet on a simple black string under his shirt.
Briefly checking himself out in the mirror, he nodded with approval. Let’s hope I didn’t go overboard with dressing up! If he shows up in jeans and a tank top, I’m so gonna make him change!
Luckily, his intuition served him well, as Brandon appeared at the door in a stylish deep blue shirt and smart black pants, paired with black shoes and a silver watch around his wrist. It took Alex a moment to soak up the view in front of him – the guy’s perfect long, brown hair, his dazzling smile and his shirt, tight in all the right places.
“Hey, you look great!” Alex smiled, giving him a hug.
“Thanks, look at you! No car wash uniform, I’m glad about that!” Brandon said, letting out a laugh of relief. “Come on, let’s get into the car.”
“So, where are we going?” Alex asked, looking around what was probably the fanciest car he was ever in. It looked like something straight out a James Bond movie, with the interior custom made of the finest leather and equipped with the latest technology.
“We’re almost there,” Brandon said as they entered the town center and started slowing down. “Ever been to The Pinnacle?”
Sure enough, Alex looked in front of him and there it was, the most expensive restaurant in town. And no, of course I’ve never been here, he thought. I’ve heard all about it, though. One dinner probably costs as much as my monthly salary.
“Uh, nope, I haven’t.”
“You’ll love it, come on,” Brandon flashed him a cocky smile as they got out of the car.
A parking valet came and Brandon reluctantly handed him the keys, as if the poor guy was going to take off the moment he got into the car.
“Careful, darling, not a scratch,” Brandon said with an eyebrow raise. Standing behind him, Alex just gave the guy an encouraging smile and followed his date inside.
Ok, just act normal and focus on your date. You have a hot guy sitting in front of you, who cares about everyone else. Just try and have a good time!
And try he did. Even though the dinner was delicious and the conversation seemed to flow easily, it was mostly Brandon who did the talking. As they were eating dessert, which consisted of a tiny marzipan cake with some sort of pink cream squirted all over the plate, Brandon was in the middle of one of his anecdotes that were funny only to him. As any good date would do, Alex just sat and nodded.
“So my brother hid the keys to the Lexus and I hid the Royce keys. By the time the chauffeur found them, he was almost late to pick dad up,” Brandon said, making breaks between each sentence as if expecting applause and laughter track to be played. “Dad was so pissed when he came home, he almost fired the guy. But we apologized and it was all ok.”
Oh yeah, I bet the driver found it hilarious, Alex thought, almost rolling his eyes. He’s lucky he’s hot, or I would’ve ditched him hours ago. Seriously, can I even ask this guy for money? I don’t want to go on another date with him.
“Hey, you ok?” Brandon asked, reaching out and covering Alex’s hand with his own.
“Huh? Yeah, I’m good. Sorry, I got a little distracted.”
“Hey, mind if we take off? I hate to cut it short, but I got a really early start tomorrow,” Alex said, making his best ‘I’m sorry’ face.
“Sure. I hope I didn’t bore you,” Brandon asked half-jokingly.
“Not at all,” Alex smiled, deciding that a little white lie was totally appropriate at that moment.
About half an hour later, the guys stood in front of Alex’s family home, saying their goodbyes.
“I had a great time tonight.”
“Me too. Again, I’m sorry we had to go so soon, but I do need to get up early. Got this new job, and some family problems, it’s just… It’s been an exhausting couple of days.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you can tell me more about it next time,” Brandon flashed another one of his signature Colgate smiles as he wiggled his eyebrows.
“Sounds like a plan,” Alex nodded.
Ending the date with a hug and a brief kiss, he got into the house and went straight to his room.
That was… I don’t even know what that was, Alex thought as he lay in the bed with nothing on but his briefs. What have I gotten myself into?
And he wants a second date? Did he seriously have such a good time with me?
And do I have a choice? I wish I did, but… You know what, I started this and I have to see it through.
Thanks to everyone who's reading this story, and for being patient while I sorted this chapter out, it took me a while! I hope you enjoyed it. 😛