Wedding Favors (A Bluewater Bay Novel)
Lucas Wilder’s best friend is a traitor. First, Audrey moved back to their hick-infested hometown, Bluewater Bay, and now she’s marrying a local. His own brother, in fact. And as her man of honor, Lucas gets coerced into returning for an extended stay. Although, between his unfaithful ex-boyfriend and his artist’s block, going home isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Even if the best man is Gabriel Savage, Lucas’s first crush, first hookup, and first heartbreak.
The only reason Gabe hasn’t been waiting for Lucas to return to Bluewater Bay is because he never thought it’d happen. Not that it matters now that Lucas is back—Gabe’s still a logger who’s never been anywhere (Canada doesn’t count), and Lucas is now a famous sculptor who’s been everywhere twice. Plus, there’s that shared past.
When Audrey asks Lucas to make her wedding favors, the only place to set up a kiln is at Gabe’s tree farm. Soon, they pick up where they left off twelve years before, then blow past it, discovering why neither of them forgot the other. Now they have to choose how much of their history they’ll repeat, and what future they’ll make together.
- Finalist: Best Gay Romantic Comedy in the 2015 Rainbow Awards
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Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:drug use
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So. Much. Stuff.
Lucas shook his head, surveying his friend Corbin’s garage, close to horrified by the amount he’d packed into it. He’d always thought of himself as a guy who left a small footprint on life, but apparently he’d been a bigger consumer than he’d realized. It hadn’t seemed like so much when it was still at his old studio, but now, after cramming it all in what had seemed like ample space? The buckets of glaze and the mess of tools and the furniture . . . the number of just things was overwhelming.
Even in the back of Corbin’s truck it hadn’t looked like this much stuff—though they’d had to bring it over here in two loads, so that might have tipped Lucas off if he’d been thinking. But he’d been in a fog of urgency this morning, needing to get the goods and get out without running into his ex. Besides, Corbin had said he could only get away from the office for a couple of hours.
Lucas shouldn’t have insisted they get it today, probably. It wasn’t as if he’d been dying to get his hands on his stuff to actually use it. He’d felt compelled to move it, though, because he couldn’t handle one more phone call from Drew insisting he could come by anytime. “It’s as much yours as mine.” Dick. As if he didn’t know that? Drew couldn’t have annoyed Lucas more if he’d pissed on all of it.
So. Now it was here, after languishing for more than three months at the house Lucas used to share with his partner. Well, technically, it had been languishing in his former studio.
Lucas stepped toward his kick wheel, still under a tarp held on with bungee cords. He hadn’t touched the thing since before he’d left Los Angeles for an artist’s residency in Missoula last August, long before he’d ended things with Drew in November. He hadn’t produced any work at all since returning from Montana in mid-October, and pretty damn soon he had to—in December he was supposed to show at the gallery store of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. That gave him only nine months to come up with a large body of work.
The thought of the looming deadline made his heart seize for a moment. Fortunately, his phone—tucked into the shirt pocket over said heart—rang, shocking the organ back to its normal rhythm and preventing him from dwelling more. Yanking the cell out of his pocket, he glanced at the name. Audrey.
About fucking time. “I haven’t heard from you in forever,” he said in greeting, and if that wasn’t revealing of his mental state . . . It had only been a week since they’d spoken. In college they sometimes went a month between conversations, and two weeks wasn’t unusual even now. What could he say? If he couldn’t expose his vulnerability to his best friend, then what the hell did he keep her around for?
“I know,” she sighed. “I’ve just been . . .” She sucked in a breath with such force it whistled in his ear. “I’m getting married.”
“You’re—” Lucas wasn’t used to having to untangle Audrey’s words like this. They normally communicated so well. All the important stuff, at least. Well, he’d thought they were communicating important stuff, mostly about his breakup and Drew’s infidelity and his state of mind, but apparently he was the only one who’d been sharing. He yanked the phone away and stared at it, while birds chirped happily in the sunshine outside this cramped, dark space, oblivious to his confusion. He brought it back to his ear, knuckles digging into his cheek. “Wait, you’re what?”
“Getting married.” The timidity in her voice was a bit reassuring. A sign she cared enough to be worried about his reaction to her blindsiding him.
“Married,” he repeated. He leaned forward, as if it would help express his bafflement. “Married?” That was just— “I didn’t even know you were dating anyone. Why wouldn’t I know that? Oh my God.” The full implication hit him—worse than her keeping a significant life event secret from him—and he straightened up again. “You’ve been seeing a local. You’re engaged to one.” No wonder she hadn’t told him. Since she’d moved back to their mutual cesspit of adolescent angst—i.e., the redneck town in Washington where they’d grown up—this exact fear had been lurking in the back of his mind, and occasionally it leaked into the front and then out of his mouth when they talked.
“He belongs to one of the pioneering families of the area,” she said, a totally justified twinge of shame in her tone.
Worse than he could’ve imagined. “I told you no good could come of returning to Bluewater Bay. We were gonna get out of that town and never go back!” If she tied herself to some hick into that incestuous backwater, she’d never leave.
“I know,” she verbally cringed. “It’s just . . . It’s your brother.”
“My—” Seriously, he couldn’t breathe. She’d knocked the literal wind out of him from a thousand miles away. Or maybe it was figurative wind. “Zach?” Obviously. He only had the one.
“Yes,” she said in the most pathetic voice he’d heard from her, ever. “I’ve been seeing him about six months now.”
“You only moved back there seven months ago!” His fingernails dug into his palm as he screwed his eyes shut, trying to make this all disappear.
“I didn’t mean to?”
Not disappearing. “I cannot believe you didn’t even tell me you were seeing him, now you’re marrying him?” Lucas swung around, staring out into Corbin’s backyard, thinking about going out there to pace. It might help his agitation, because he couldn’t take it all out on Audrey. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Zach wasn’t violent, stupid, inbred, or on meth, which were all viable options in that part of the world. The guy definitely had flaws, though. “He’s a thirty-two-year-old man who lives with his parents.”
“Because your mother asked him to move back in and help when your dad was injured, which you totally know.”
“Yeah, but Dad’s fine now.” According to Mom, at least. She claimed early retirement was the best thing that had happened to his father since the microbrewery opened in town.
“Well, he’s staying there until the wedding to save up for the house we’re going to buy in the next couple of years.”
“Oh, is that the wedding you didn’t tell me—yourbest friend—about?”
“You haven’t always had a great history with your brother.” The tentativeness in her voice was drying up—she’d given him all the time to register complaints that she would. “I didn’t need you being all bitchy and pessimistic.”
“Don’t say that.”
She huffed. “You can totally be bitchy.”
As he was demonstrating. “Yeah, but ‘pessimistic’? If you were worried about that, it means you had hopes for the relationship from the beginning.”
“Well . . . duh.”
“So, if you had hopes, why didn’t you tell me about them?” Even knowing he would have been resentful listening to her wax on about her glowing love life while his domestic situation was in the shitter didn’t mean he was okay with her excluding him. “I would’ve listened.” To at least half of it. Probably that much. Enough to give her his perspective. “Normally, you’d want my opinion, even a bitchy one, but since you didn’t, that means you were serious from the get-go. Like, you’ve wanted him to get down on bended knee since your first—”
“He did, actually, you know. Kneel. In the middle of the Resort at Juan de Fuca’s dining room. He even had the waiter bring the ring on a tray and present it to me with a flourish.” There her voice went, going all gushy and soft.
“Oh my God, I don’t want to know.” His brother. Being sentimental and adoring and probably gazing at her like a Disney prince who’d found his cartoon princess, except straighter. Blech. He covered his eyes, trying to stop the mental image from forming. Too late.
“I’m sorry.” And she was, he could hear it. “It’s true, I did have hopes and I didn’t tell you . . . exactly. I mean, remember our sophomore year when we didn’t go home for Thanksgiving and got drunk in San Francisco instead, and I told you—”
“You said you’d kinda had a crush on Zach. Past tense. When you were in high school. Not that you wanted him as your husband, now.” Why hadn’t she told him how much she actually liked Zach? Running his fingers through his hair, he explained that away as the answer occurred to him. “You didn’t tell me how much you liked him then because it made you feel too vulnerable.” If it had meant that much, even ten years ago . . . this really was happening.
“You’re really that into him?” How could he begrudge her getting her secret wish? Well, other than because she’d been keeping it secret from him.
“Yes.” Audrey sighed. Not a sad sigh, more a settling one. Like she’d successfully cleared a hurdle. Telling her closest friend something she knew might upset him.
“I can’t believe you’re getting married.” Nice. A hint of wistful nostalgia had wormed its way in where it wasn’t invited.
“Me either. It’s so . . . amazing.”
“It is,” he admitted, giving in completely to the part of him that wanted what was best for her. He wandered over to a stack of dried clay in bags and leaned against them. “Sorry. I really am glad that you’re happy.” He hadn’t been very supportive so far, and he’d been trying to be better about that. Ever since Drew told him he wasn’t responsive enough. “You are happy, right?”
“I really am.” A wash of certainty flowed through the phone with her words. “This is so right, Zach and me.”
Okay, fine. He believed. Possibly even approved. “I guess if someone arranged a redneck lineup and made me pick one out for you, he’d probably be my first choice.”
“Thanks.” Her voice would dehumidify Puget Sound. “We’ll work on your enthusiasm.”
And probably not get very far. “So, I suppose this means I have to be the best man?” Wasn’t it tradition for the groom’s brother to do that?
“Noooo,” she said. “Not the best man . . .”
Zach didn’t want him? That hurt a little, to his surprise. Enough to make his free hand fly up to touch his chest. “What are you going to have me do?” Whatever she wasn’t saying couldn’t be worse than being rejected by his brother. Sort of rejected. “Just tell me.”
They’d probably made up some bullshit position for him, afraid he’d get pissed otherwise. Wise move.
“I want you to be my man of honor.”
“What’s that?” Although he had an inkling, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t bullshit.
“Like the maid of honor, except, you know, you aren’t a maid.”
“Well, that’s true.” In spite of his mood, he cracked a smile. “I could be your man of honor.”
“Thank you.” She may have tried to hide her sigh of relief, but he caught it. Was he really so difficult to deal with?
“I’m flattered.” White-lie time, but she was his best friend. “Am I going to get to wear a tux?” Would he look good in one? Didn’t everyone?
“You don’t have to. There aren’t any rules about what a man of honor should wear—whatever you want, within reason.”
“Of course I’ll wear a tux, what else would I wear, a dress?”
“Weeeell . . .” she teased.
He snorted, holding his palm up to the empty air in front of him. “No. It’s fine if that’s what you’re into, but I’m not.”
She giggled, and it was good. Gave him a bit of a warm feeling inside. Then she told him all about the deep-red silk charmeuse she’d chosen to make her dress out of. “It’s a perfect match for the ring Zach bought me—it’s the most beautiful ruby in an antique setting, you won’t believe—”
“My brother bought you a ruby?” That seemed incredibly insightful of Zach. Lucas would have pegged him for a big-box diamond store guy. “Did you tell him to?”
“Nooo. I had no idea he was going to ask me to marry him so soon. He picked it out all on his own.” Her voice fairly preened.
Maybe Audrey and Zach were meant to be, if his brother knew her well enough to get exactly what she’d probably choose herself.
“You’re really doing this.” It slipped out alongside a wistful breath. “And I’m going to be your man of honor.”
“Believe it, Lu. You will be.” Then, like the good friend she was, she took their conversation from too close to the bone back to a level he could handle. “You have to be my—let’s just call it ‘MOH,’ okay—you have to be my MOH, because you promised you would.”
“When?” How? He hadn’t even known she was getting married.
“Do you not remember that conversation in high school? I offered you groomsmen in return.”
Oh, wait, maybe he had promised something like that . . . “Uhhhh.” Squinting, he could almost see Audrey sitting in the booth across from him at their hangout, going on about nebulous future weddings. In his defense, it had been over twelve years ago.
“You don’t remember it at all, do you?”
He did, mostly, but he played along. “Well, vaguely . . .”
“Rest assured, you said you would.”
“I so rest. Let’s go back to you offering me groomsmen.” That he could recall clearly, her telling him the maid of honor always slept with one of the dudes in the wedding party, so she’d hook him up too. “Are any of them into guys?” And how hot were they? Hot enough to interest his quasi-inert libido?
“Gabe Savage is the best man.”
Oh no. “No, he’s not.”
“He is.” He could imagine her nonexpression, the one she’d have if she’d told him that in person. Tightened mouth but everything else slack and blank.
Yeah, he wasn’t going to let that slide like she was hoping. “That’s supposed to be an incentive? I have a history with him, which you know all about because I told you when it happened.” The morning after Gabe had taken Lucas home, acted like he was into him, and given him his first handjob, then left, dropping the I have feelings for you act. It wasn’t so much that Gabe had used him, it was that Gabe was the kind of guy who thought he’d had to manipulate his way into Lucas’s pants. Seriously, he wouldn’t have been that hard to get, even back when he was clueless about sex. “He played me.”
“He was just a stupid kid twelve years ago, he’s a pretty nice guy now.”
“He’s great at making people think that,” Lucas snarked.
“I like him.”
“He’s not trying to seduce you.”
“C’mon. Imagine him in a tux.”
While compelling, it didn’t cancel out his past with the guy. He hated being lied to like that. “I’ll be your MOH, but I’m not sleeping with the best man.” Snippy, but under the circumstances she’d have to accept it.
“No one’s gonna make you,” she said with a bit of a grumble. “Okay, how soon can you get up here?”
“What?” She almost sounded like she expected him tomorrow. “When’s the wedding?”
“A month and a half. May twenty-third.”
“See, it’s things like this that make it so obvious you’re gay.” She totally avoided the question. “People in actual danger of getting pregnant? They know that no one really gets married anymore simply because they’re knocked up.”
Does not compute. His confused thinking process did the robot. “So you are pregnant?”
She snorted. “Not likely.”
Now he believed. “Okay, but a month?”
“Month and a half.”
He let his silence do the speaking.
“I know,” she sighed. “It’s soon, but it’s either May or not until next winter. Zach’s too low on the totem pole to get fire season off.”
“There aren’t any wildfires on the Olympic Peninsula.” He could count on one hand how many he remembered hearing about, and he didn’t need fingers to do it.
“But he works for the Washington Department of Natural Resources, not the Olympic Peninsula. He could get sent anywhere, and Eastern Washington has fire season into November.”
“So have a Christmas wedding.”
“No,” she barked, then softened drastically—what he’d call whining if her voice hadn’t gone so airy. “I want to be married to him now, Lu. I want to know he really is mine.”
To puke or to melt? That was the question. He settled for muttering grudgingly and kicking the concrete floor with the toe of his shoe. “Fine. I understand.”
“That’s why I need you up here as soon as possible, sweetie.” Ah, the wheedling had begun. “I need your help planning it.”
“What do you mean, you want me to plan your wedding? What makes you think I’d be any good at it?” If she says it’s because I’m gay, I swear to God, I’m going to—
“I said help plan, and I’m asking you as a professional artist. Helloooo.”
God bless her for calling me an artist. A lump of gratitude formed in his throat, which he had to clear out before he could talk. “Well, I’m trying to be.”
Few seconds of silence. “You thought I was going to say it’s because you’re gay, didn’t you?”
“Please. I’ve known way too many gay guys to believe you all get some kind of decorating gene. And what do you mean, ‘trying to be’?”
He swallowed. “Well, I mean, I haven’t really been producing any—”
“Lucaaaaas . . .” Drawing out his name like that meant only one thing: she was putting on her teacher hat and going to school him.
“Audrey, c’mon, don’t—”
“You’re a famous artist who actually manages to support himself on his work—”
“I’m not really famous.” Only craft people knew who he was.
“—How is that not ‘producing anything’?”
“I’m talking about how it feels, now. Since . . . you know.” Since dumping Drew and losing the income from Drew’s gallery. Since returning to Los Angeles and discovering his life wasn’t as ideal as he’d thought.
“I get that, but think of all the people who’d love to be in your shoes.”
“I like being well-known for what I do. I do. It’s just . . .” His partner had spent years telling him he wasn’t good enough to make it in a real fine arts discipline.
“It’s that fucking dick you were hooked up with.” She’d never liked Drew, not even in the beginning, back when Lucas had liked him enough for both of them.
“It was a little more than hooking up. We own the house together, and all my sales went through his gallery, so untangling all that stuff is like getting divorced. We even have a lawyer. Let me take the opportunity to encourage you to sign a pre-nup.”
“Oh, Lu, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make light of it.”
He shrugged, even though she couldn’t see it. “’S’okay.” It was, too; all of it was ground they’d been over. He’d whined about it numerous times while she, apparently, had been falling for his brother. No wonder she hadn’t told him, he was probably a total buzzkill.
“That’s all the more reason for you to come up here, to get away from Drew and that whole scene.” She meant the fine arts scene, or Rarified Elitists on Parade, as they referred to the uber-hip gallery hoppers in their less sober and more giggly moments. “You don’t have a reason to stay there anymore.”
“I have friends.” He scowled at the form of a male torso that had partially exploded in the kiln. It was missing all of its left thigh and most of the groin. Emasculated sculptures were generally a failure. Sensing a theme. He, too, felt like something essential was missing, he recognized that—it was the reason he’d lived in the one-room loft over Corbin’s garage for months with no amenities but a hot pot. “So what if my relationship ended? Rub it in, why don’t you?”
“I’m not rubbing it in; I’m just pointing out that there’s no reason you have to be in LA. You can work up here just as easily. Seattle if not Bluewater Bay.”
“I can’t afford Seattle. And my studio is here.” Surrounding him. Didn’t matter that it wasn’t actually functional at the moment; he didn’t feel inspired anyway.
“Last time we talked you told me you were moving your stuff out of it. Are you still staying in Corbin’s ‘guest apartment’?”
She was going in the most obvious direction, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. So he propped the phone to his ear with his shoulder, crossed his arms over his chest, and slouched, but kept the sullenness out of his voice. “Yes.” Most of the sullenness.
“You’re storing everything there, now? In his garage?”
“Yeah,” he muttered. “So?”
“I’ve seen Corbin’s guest loft, he had it built when I still lived in LA—”
He snorted because of course he knew that, he didn’t need to be told all the obvious things in the world.
“And I know how much you had packed into your studio. There’s no way you have room to work. You don’t even have a kiln, do you?”
“Where would I set up a kiln here? Where would I even set one up there?” He couldn’t work up the spirit to argue for staying in Los Angeles, but he wasn’t ready to give in and agree to leave, either.
“Well, you can keep some of your stuff over my store, and probably rent studio space in an industrial building or something. Bluewater Bay has to be about ten times cheaper than LA.”
“Prices haven’t been driven up by that movie they’ve been filming there?” Apparently there was some kind of Twilight-esque hype going on with some books centered around the town. He tried to remember the details, but all he could come up with was that it had been going on a couple of years, and the place had “really changed for the better” according to his mother, brother, father, and every dog in town.
“It’s a television series,” she corrected. “Wolf’s Landing—I can’t believe you don’t watch it—but no, they haven’t gone up that much. Just enough to save the town from financial ruin and make my opening a dress shop here viable.”
Cheaper would be good, and Audrey had really been successful with her store, Tiffany’s Breakfast. This could be the shock to the system I need. Or not . . . “I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t leave until the ‘divorce’ is final.”
“Would it ruin your claim on the property if you left?”
No. He’d made sure before he’d moved his stuff out of the house, then again before moving the studio. “Not really.”
“Come up here, then. I need my best friend by my side for support. That’s what the man of honor does.”
She presented a compelling argument. God, was he really considering this? Los Angeles might be sunny much of the time, but he’d felt like a gray cloud had settled over him months ago, before he and Drew ended things. Things had been bad since he’d returned from his residency in Montana.
Audrey knew him well, jumping on his hesitation to object again. “Oh, just come up here and help me with my fucking wedding.”
“Well, when you put it like that . . .” He huffed theatrically. “I guess I will.” Immediately, his gloom began to lift, for the first time since he’d come back to California. He just couldn’t believe it was because he’d decided to return to a place he’d been so desperate to escape twelve years before.
“Yay!” she cackled. “So you can be here by next Friday, right? The engagement party your parents are hosting is that night.”
Gabe was looking forward to spending the evening in bed right up until around the time Seth was in the shower. That’s when Zach texted him. Shucking his jeans—he was planning to join Seth in that shower, after all—he glanced down at his phone on the nightstand and read the message.
Audrey talked Lucas into coming home for the wedding.
That stopped him cold, fingers frozen on his waistband for a second while his gut and heart clenched up expectantly. Then he brushed away that spark of longing like flicking dandruff off his shoulder, the same way he had for the last decade plus—it was only some conditioned reaction that’d started in high school—and snatched up the phone. Gripping his tongue between his teeth, he typed out a response, trying to hit the right damn tiny letters the first time. I’d fucking hope so since his brother is marrying his best friendand he’s the man of honor. Hadn’t that been what Audrey had called him?
It only took seconds for Zach to respond.He promised her he’d be here in time for the engagement party.
The spark in his chest that he’d been ignoring flared up, consuming a little too much of the available oxygen. He’d known Lucas would come up for the wedding sooner or later, but the reality of being face-to-face with the guy in less than two days made some things he’d probably been avoiding thinking about crystal clear.
He and Lucas Wilder had unfinished business, and this might finally be his chance to settle things between them.
Zach texted more, grabbing his attention again. She says he’s living over some friend’s garage and he’s “rootless.” Told him to come up here until the ceremony, and he is. Guess things are pretty bad.
If he’s moving home? Gotta be. Lucas had always believed he didn’t fit in around here. Far as Gabe was concerned, Lucas had fit just fine, but it wasn’t about what he’d thought, was it? Lucas’d figured he stuck out like a sore thumb, and staying in Bluewater Bay would have chafed and rubbed him raw in places Gabe couldn’t imagine.
God knew the place had chafed him some over the years before and after Lucas left. Still, though, it was his home.
Back when Gabe had found out for sure Lucas was going off to school, he just hadn’t been able to let the guy leave without a taste of him. So he had it—one taste, a quick jerk, and Gabe walked away. Then, for the next few months while Lucas was still around, Gabe had stayed as far away as he could. Nothing had happened between them other than that one night. Yet Gabe never forgot him. It wasn’t so much that he’d been pining after the guy for twelve years, only that he measured every other guy against him—although he was pretty sure it wasn’t really Lucas he was measuring everyone against, because he’d barely known the kid, not as a lover, at least. It was the idea of him that Gabe had kept using as a yardstick. His ideal vision of what they could have had together.
Working out the why hadn’t worked out the problem, though. But hooking up a few times now just might clean up that old baggage. This’d be the first time Lucas would be around for an extended amount of time since escaping Bluewater Bay.
The phone in Gabe’s hand dinged at him, reminding him he was having a chat with his best friend.
You and Seth work on those last few acres today?
Zach’s question startled him. Because, shit . . . Seth. He’d had the guy up to help out as a second sawyer. And now the dude was taking a shower, expecting they’d hook up, just like usual.
Gabe’s feelings for Seth were best described as I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers. As far as he could tell, Seth’s sentiments toward him ran along the same vein. It worked out—they were friends, they hooked up when one of them was horny and not getting it anyplace else (usually Seth—dude had a real big appetite for sex), and they sometimes picked up a third for some extra fun. About the perfect setup.
Am I interrupting something? Zach added a sly winky face after that.
Nope. Gabe texted right quick, because he really didn’t need Zach thinking what he was thinking, or saying anything to Audrey about it. God knew who she’d tell. Nothing to interrupt. Except for Seth’s shower, which, come to think of it, he didn’t hear running anymore.
You telling me he isn’t still there?
He’s here. Cleaning up. Gabe winced as soon as he hit Send.
Then he’s going home.
The bathroom door opened behind Gabe, and Seth’s voice floated out on a cloud of humidity. “Thought you were gonna join me.”
Gotta go. TTYL. He muted the phone before tossing it onto the mattress and turning to face Seth. Then he found himself saying, “You’re a pretty damn good time, but I think we need to cool it for a bit.”
Seth screwed up his brows and shook his head. “What the hell?”
Yeah, what the hell? Flopping onto the bed next to his phone, Gabe settled against the headboard like he was as relaxed as could be. “Just, you know, we been seeing a lot of each other, maybe it’s time to take a break.”
“Huh.” Now Seth was nodding, walking over to the chair where he’d thrown his pack. Silently, he started digging through it, and the whole time he had a twisted smile on his face. Or maybe it was a sneer. “So, you don’t think we should hook up anymore?” he finally asked after taking out some clothes.
“Pretty much that’s what I’m saying.” He thought it had been clear, if a little out of left field.
“It’s not like we were dating or anything. This is just, you know, a convenient arrangement.” With a flick of his wrist, Seth lost the towel. “Not much to end.” As he stepped into a pair of briefs, his eyes flashed under his lashes—checking to see if Gabe was watching him.
Which he was, but that suddenly seemed kind of rude since he was no longer going to partake. He sat up, getting out of bed and finally stripping off his dirty jeans, angling away from Seth. “Guess I’m ready to rearrange things.” He pulled on the semiclean pair of sweats he’d found by stepping on them, tucking his junk away before turning back to the guy. “Thought it would be polite to let you know.”
“Thanks.” Seth’s voice bit at Gabe’s guilt. “It’s ’cause Lucas is coming back, isn’t it? You want him.” The guy yanked up his jeans and buttoned them, then crossed his arms over his chest and planted his legs wide.
Shit, he already knew about that? Small-town gossips. Apparently they were a real thing. “Lucas who?” That probably wasn’t going to fly.
Seth didn’t even need words to express his scorn, he just flared his nostrils and quirked his brows.
Bending over to search for a shirt allowed Gabe to hide on the other side of the mattress for a few seconds. The whole time he was looking for it, Seth was silent. Probably waiting until Gabe came out from under cover, then he’d blast him with some kind of crap about waiting twelve years for Lucas Wilder to remember his existence. That kind of misinterpretation was enough to make a man want to crawl under the bed and refuse to budge. But then he found a damn shirt, which meant he had to straighten up or admit cowardice.
Seth let him have it. “You always were weird about sleeping with more than one guy at a time.” Now he was all derision and shit. He flicked a negligent hand toward Gabe and started dressing again.
“I never cared if you fucked around with other guys.” He sometimes even thought it was hot.
“Yeah, but you’d care if Lucas did, wouldn’t you?”
That wouldn’t be hot. Gabe paid close attention to his shirt, careful to do it up right. ’Cause he left the house and wandered around misbuttoned all the time. Not.
“What I meant was, you’re weird about guys you’re romantically involved with messing around.”
“Who said shit about romantic involvement?”
That twisted smile-sneer reappeared as Seth threw his shaving kit into his bag. “No one needs to, man. All they have to do is say his name and watch you try not to react.”
“You’re delusional.” Gabe made a scoffing noise to back up his lie.