Aubrey walked into school Monday morning feeling like shit. All weekend, he'd slept in his own bed. It was this unspoken rule now, they just couldn't sleep in the same bed anymore.
Should he be surprised? Wouldn't he never sleep with his dad again once he left for college? And once he got a girlfriend?
He shook his head as he headed to his locker. Getting a girlfriend wasn't in the cards for him anymore. But going to college was. Truth was, even before things had gotten physical with them, he'd not thought about leaving his dad. He'd not thought about what would happen when he went away to college or got a girlfriend.
Now, Everything was different.
"You look like someone died," Banner said as he leaned his shoulder against the locker next to Aubrey's. "Who was it?" He tilted his head. "It wasn't your dad, was it? That would suck big time." Banner stared at him. "He's the love of your life, how are you even able to stand right now?"
Aubrey sighed and shut his locker. "No one died." He frowned at Banner. "And if someone did, your bedside manner sucks."
"I wasn't trying to be sympathetic, I was just asking a question."
Aubrey sighed. "You're really strange, Banner."
He shrugged. "I get that a lot."
"Don't look now, but that girl you dated for two seconds is headed your way."
"You mean Tiffany?" Aubrey was too tired to deal with this. But he'd avoided her last week, and now it seemed he couldn't anymore.
"With that blond chick." Banner sighed. "She's a bitch."
"Wow, that's pretty harsh." He switched his books to his left hand.
Banner just stared at him. "It's true."
"I've never seen Shannon act like that."
"It's always the quiet ones that are the worse." He shifted his stare to just behind Aubrey.
"Hi, Aubrey," Tiffany said.
Aubrey forced a smile to his face as he turned around. "Hey, Tiffany."
She smiled softly at him as she hugged her books to her chest. "I haven't seen you in a while." She looked at her feet. "Or heard from you."
Aubrey internally cringed. Yeah, he knew he'd been a dick to her. He needed to clear this shit up and move on.
"Was it something I did or said?"
Shannon put her arm around Tiffany.
"Did I scare you away?" Tiffany said quietly.
"No, you didn't do anything wrong." Which was true. This had nothing to do with her.
She perked up a bit. "Oh good, I'm happy to hear that."
Shannon beamed at her. "See? I told you he was in love with you."
Aubrey's eyes widened. "What?" he croaked.
Banner snickered from behind him.
Aubrey looked at him. "Really? You choose now to have some form of human emotion?"
He shrugged. "It was funny."
"I don't see how any of this is funny." He glared at Banner.
"I do, because I know the truth." Banner blinked at him, all traces of laughter gone. Jesus, Aubrey had no idea how he did that.
He shifted his attention back to Tiffany. She looked really happy. He cleared his throat. "Um, I, uh, don't know how to tell you this, but..."
Tiffany clasped her books tighter and smiled up at him. Shannon was practically bouncing on her feet.
Damn, this was going to suck.
"The thing is, I'm with someone else." That was not what he'd meant to say. Fuck, he wasn't with anyone at the moment.
Tiffany paled. Shannon stilled.
"Well, not with someone, but into someone else."
Aubrey kicked him in the shin.
"What?" Shannon said.
Tiffany's lip trembled.
"What the hell does that mean? Into someone else?"
"Shannon, you don't have to swear," Tiffany said shakily.
Shannon turned towards Tiffany. "I think this warrants it." She faced Aubrey again and crossed her arms. "So you led her on?"
"He didn't say that," Banner spoke up from behind him.
"I don't recall asking you, you freak,” Shannon said.
Banner came around Aubrey and stood next to him. He just stared at Shannon.
She rolled her eyes. "You're such a retard."
"Shannon," Aubrey warned. "That's fucked up."
Tiffany gasped. "You curse?" She stared at him like he'd just grown horns out of his head.
He raised his brows at Banner before looking at Tiffany. "Uh, yeah."
Shannon clicked her tongue. "Tiff, really, you need to get over that church stuff. Everyone cusses nowadays."
Aubrey shoved his hands in his khaki pants and rocked back on his heels. "So..."
Tiffany looked like she was going to burst into tears any second, Banner looked...uh, like Banner, and Shannon was glowering at Banner.
"Stop staring at me, you freaking psycho," Shannon ground out.
Banner didn't even blink.
Shannon moaned in annoyance. "I can't believe I ever liked you."
"Am I supposed to care about that?" Banner said flatly.
Shannon growled. "Oh! You are a horrible, disgusting, revolting human being!" Her face turned red and her blue eyes looked like they were going to pop out of her head.
Banner didn't so much as flinch. "I didn't know you knew that many adjectives."
Tiffany looked scared, while Shannon looked like she was going to hit Banner any minute.
Aubrey just wanted the thumping in his head to go away.
The jocks were coming down the hallway, being loud and stupid as usual. It was 95 degrees outside and they were all wearing their tacky ass varsity jackets. They weren't even any good; they always lost more than half of their games.
Jeremy, the Captain of the loser football team, was leading the bunch. They were all seniors this year, and they thought they were the shit.
"Hey dick face," Jeremy said to Banner as he passed by.
"Such flattery," Banner deadpanned. "I may just fall at your feet and beg for a taste of your cock with that kind of talk."
"You're a sick fuck, Chambers," Jeremy said.
"And you're a douchebag, but I'm not saying it to you every day in the hallways." Banner didn't even look at him.
Jeremy flicked him off as he continued down the hallway.
“You’re so gross,” Shannon said to Banner. “And he’s so hot,” she sighed after Jeremy.
"If you like giants with black hair and weird as fuck gold eyes," Banner mumbled.
Shannon humphed. "You're just jealous because he's tall and hot." Her gaze slid down Banner's frame, her mouth turned down. "And you're...not."
"Shannon, can you shut the fuck up?" Aubrey rubbed his temples. Damn, his head was killing him. And this dumb shit wasn't helping it.
Tiffany gasped and covered her mouth. "Aubrey..." she breathed.
"Jesus Christ," he said under his breath.
The bell rang.
"I'll see you later," Aubrey said. He turned around and headed to his first class. He didn't care whether Tiffany was shocked or not. He just wanted to get this day over with and head home.
"Hey, Stephanie wants to go out tonight."
"Then take her the fuck out, what the hell are you asking me for?" Sterling grumbled.
It was Friday, and the end of the day. They were all packing up to head home for the weekend.
"I'm not asking your permission, dumbass, I'm trying to invite you out with us."
He wished he had something better to do, but Aubrey wasn't coming to his place this weekend. His boy rarely missed a weekend with him, but just yesterday he'd texted and said he was heading out of town with his mom because her aunt was in the hospital.
He shouldn't have been so pissed about it, but he was. It was goddamn messed up that he didn't even care that Allyson's aunt had had a heart attack; he just missed his kid.
They'd hardly spoken or texted all week. Everything was fucking awkward, no matter how much he tried for it not to be.
"Sterling?" Travis was standing in front of him, waving has hand back and forth.
He batted the stupid hand away. "The fuck are you in my face for?"
Travis frowned. "Because you were like a million miles away and I couldn't get your goddamn attention." He shook his head. "Geez, you've been a bigger asshole than normal lately." Travis put his hands on his hips. "What the fuck is up with you?"
"Nothing," he snapped. He grabbed his stuff and headed off the job site.
Travis hurried to catch up with him. "Dude, you need to chill the fuck out, I'm just...worried about you."
Sterling threw his shit in the bed of his truck. He sighed. In all the five years they'd known each other, Travis had never said those words to him. They weren't those kind of friends. They partied together, drank together, and picked up women. But they never had real conversations.
Sterling crossed his arms and leaned against the back of his truck. "I know, man....I'm just..." he didn’t even know what the fuck to say. I’m just thinking about my son more than is healthy? What the hell would Travis say to that?
"Look, it's fine, you don't have to tell me anything." Travis put his hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "Just know that I'm here if you ever need to talk."
Sterling looked at the ground. "Sure."
"Now," Travis said more upbeat. "How about we go out tonight? Stephanie is bringing along some friends."
Sterling couldn't even be happy about the suggestion in Travis's voice. The idea of picking of a woman didn't have the same appeal it once did.
"I don't think so," he muttered as he walked around to the driver's side of his red truck.
"C'mon man, what else are you going to do tonight?" Travis asked as he followed him.
He paused. What else would he do tonight? Nothing, that's what. He was thirty-four years old and he didn't know what the fuck to do with himself without his son. Well, that wasn't true. Lately, he hadn't known what to do with himself without Aubrey. Before, well, before he'd fucked women and drank beer at bars.
Sterling didn't want to admit how pathetic that sounded. How much of a life he really needed to get.
"Fine, lets go the fuck out."
Travis smiled. "That's the Sterling I know."
The drive up had been a quiet one. His mom was worried about her Aunt Sarah, the woman who'd taken her in after her parents had died when she was 15.
Aubrey sat in the waiting room at the hospital while his mom saw Aunt Sarah, since the doctors had said one at a time. He didn't mind waiting alone, he had too much crap on his mind to be good company to anyone. He also didn't know Sarah too well. She had moved two hours north of them, to Orlando, when his mom had been in college. She was in one of those assisted living residences.
"She's still sleeping," his mom said as she dragged her feet into the waiting room.
Aubrey stood up. "Mom, you look exhausted, sit down."
She waved his concern away. "I'm fine." She fell into a chair with a heavy sigh. She was still in her work clothes, black dress pants and a ruffly white top.
Aubrey took the chair next to her. "So she'll be okay?"
She nodded. "The doctor says she will be, but it'll be slow going. At her age..." she trailed off.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Hey, it'll be okay."
She dropped her head against his shoulder. "I don't know why she'd insisted on moving so far away. There were plenty of great assisted living places near me."
Aubrey gave her shoulder a little shake. "Mom, you told me she'd always wanted to move to Orlando."
She sniffed. "I know," she said softly. "She was just so old when she moved...and I...felt— feel— responsible for her."
Aubrey didn't say anything.
After a few seconds, his mom said, "I was going to move with her. But I didn't want to take you away from your father." She sighed. "You were already two and so attached to him." She gave a dry chuckle. "And there was no way your dad was going to move to Orlando."
Aubrey swallowed at the mention of his dad.
"You were so attached to him,” she said again.
Yeah, and he still was.
They waited a few more hours at the hospital, until the nurses told them visiting hours were over and they'd have to come back tomorrow.
They got a hotel room nearby, and by the time they got their keycard and entered their room, his mom was about to pass out.
"I think I'll just shower in the morning," she mumbled more to herself than to him.
After she'd brushed her teeth and changed into pajamas in the bathroom, she fell onto the other bed.
Aubrey shut off all the lights, and tiptoed into the bathroom guided by his cell phone light.
He wanted to call his dad, but part of him held back. In the past he wouldn't have hesitated, but now everything was messed up.
"Dammit", he said under his breath.
The bathroom was small, with one sink, a toilet next to it, and a bathtub with a simple shower head. It was clean though, and there were little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Aubrey hadn't brought any of that since the trip was a rushed one. He'd barely remembered his deodorant and toothbrush.
He turned the water in the bathtub on and undressed. He stared at himself in the mirror. His body was thin and his skin was fair with a few freckles sprinkled around. He wasn't tall for a guy, and he didn't think he'd get any taller. He was still growing into his muscles, but he didn't have the same body type as his dad, who could easily build muscle. He ran his hand over his flat stomach. He didn't even have much body hair. His fingers slowly smoothed over his stomach and down into the trimmed pubic hair. He felt his cock twitch as his fingers brushed over it.
He closed his eyes at the memory of his dad's tongue licking over the head of his cock. His only regret was not getting the chance to see his dad's cock.
He slowly wrapped his fingers around his half hard cock. He bit his lip as a moan rose up his throat. Damn, that felt good. When was the last time he'd masturbated?
His dad's dark eyes, with that freaking perfect blue smudge, filled his mind as he started stroking his cock. He opened his eyes and stared at his reflection. He watched his fist going up and down over his leaking, now fully hard, cock. He imagined it was his dad's hand. It would be bigger than his, and he would be standing behind him, whispering in his ear.
Aubrey's chest heaved as he breathed deeply, in and out. He watched the muscles in his arm flex as he picked up the pace, jerking his cock faster and faster. His dad wouldn't be gentle, he'd be just rough enough. He'd know exactly how far to take it. How much Aubrey could handle. He'd press his hard dick against Aubrey's back.
Aubrey bit his lip harder to stop the groan from escaping.
His dad would stick out his tongue and slowly — so damn slowly — lick a path up his neck. Aubrey's mouth dropped open. His toes tingled. His breath hitched. Heat consumed his body. He arched as cum shot from his cock.
"Fuck," he moaned, gently stroking until there was nothing left and he was too sensitive. But he didn't stop. His dad would keep the steady pace, torturing him until he whimpered.
"Damn," he whispered.
He panted as his senses cleared. The shower was running, steam fogging the mirror and swirling around him. He felt sticky, sweaty...and sad.
His dad wasn't here, and his dad didn't want things to be like this between them.
He got in the shower and stepped under the spray.
Was it okay to miss his dad this much?
Stephanie and her friends were fucking ridiculous. They'd been here a little over an hour and they were all half way drunk already.
Remy was the only sane one, and the only one Sterling could handle being around right now.
"If I didn't know any better I'd think you were gay," Remy said from beside him. They were at a place called, "Come and Go" — what a goddamn stupid name — and he and Remy had hardly left the table. The others were all on the dance floor.
"And why the fuck would you say that?" He sipped his beer.
Remy leaned back in his chair and furrowed his brows. "Hm, I don't know, probably because you paid zero attention to Stephanie the other night, and now you've not even looked at Meghan or Allie." He shrugged. "A guy has to wonder."
He scoffed. "What are you? The fucking sexuality police? What the hell does it matter to you?"
Remy took a drink of his jack and coke. "It doesn't, just curious."
"I'm not interested. Besides one of them has the same name as the mother of my kid." He shook his head. "No thanks."
"Which one?" Remy gazed at the dance floor. Stephanie and Travis were grinding against each other and the other two women were dancing with some guys Sterling didn't know.
"The blonde one."
"So your ex wife's name is Allie?"
"We were never married, and it's Allyson. But that's close enough."
Remy nodded. "Must’ve had your pretty young."
Sterling didn't want to talk about Aubrey, he could barely think of him without having fucking conflicting emotions.
"Allyson got pregnant when we were both eighteen.”
He remembered that day so clearly, which was fucking odd because he didn't remember a lot about his life before Aubrey. He knew what he did and how fucked up his life had been, but he didn't remember particulars. But that day, the day his whole damn life changed? He remembered everything.
They sat there, quietly drinking, and watching the dance floor. His phone vibrated in his pocket.
He pulled it out and his fucking breath hitched when he saw it was a text from his boy. Goddamn.
There was a picture attached to the text. It was a head shot of his boy smiling sleepily at the camera. He head was lying on a pillow, and his blue eyes were goddamn glowing in the dim lighting.
Christ, he couldn't help the sappy as fuck warm feeling that spread through his chest at the sight of Aubrey all relaxed and in bed. He wished he was there with him; he missed holding his son in his arms as they both fell asleep. What's that goddamn saying? You never know what you have until it's gone? He couldn't help but feel like he lost a vital part of his life.
"Is that the reason you're not out there dancing?" Remy asked from beside him, tipping his chin at Sterling's phone.
Sterling jerked his head up. "You're fucking nosy tonight." He looked at Remy. "And why the fuck aren't you dancing? Or trying to pick up a guy or girl, or what the fuck ever you're into?"
Remy's mouth tilted up. "I'm interested in the person, so it could go either way."
"I don't even know what the fuck that means."
Remy shrugged as he glanced away. He ran his finger through the condensation on his glass. "I have my reasons for not wanting to pick someone up tonight."
"Then why're you here?"
"Same reason you are." Remy looked him in the eye.
Sterling didn't say anything, and neither did Remy. They didn't need to say a thing, they both understood why they were in this bar. They each had shit to escape and knew they couldn't. Distraction was the next best thing.
Sterling swallowed a gulp of beer. If Aubrey was here, he'd take his beer and drink half the bottle before he gave it back. The thought made him smile a little. He grabbed his phone and texted him back.
There was so much more he wanted to say, but he didn't.
Aubrey: love you
Sterling swallowed. Those words meant so much more now.
Sterling: love you too, kid
He fingered his phone as the music thumped around him and people laughed and drank. He felt removed from it all. Which had never happened before.
"This is my son, Aubrey," Sterling said as he slid the phone to Remy. It was the picture Aubrey had just sent him.
Remy leaned down and looked at the screen. "He's a good looking kid." He squinted. "Damn, those eyes are something else. Are they real?"
Sterling chuckled. "Yeah they're real." He took his phone back. "I've always told him he's good looking." He picked his beer bottle up and took a sip. "Too good looking for his own good." He stared off into the crowd of dancing people, not really seeing any of them. "And he doesn't give a fuck about it."
Remy shifted in his chair, turning slightly towards him. "One of those who's handsome, yet not cocky? Best kind out there."
Sterling nodded. "He is the best."
Remy stared at him, his elbow propped on the table. "It's nice to see a father love his child as much as you clearly do."
He felt his stomach drop. "What the fuck does that mean?" he growled.
Remy pinched his brows. "Uh, just what I said it means. That you really love your son."
Goddamn, Sterling, chill the fuck out.
"Right," he muttered. "Yeah, I do." And what an understatement that was.
Remy suddenly leaned forward.
"The fuck? Get out of my face." Sterling leaned away from him.
"Your eyes," Remy said. He didn't back away. "That blue in your left eye, it's the same shade as your son's."
Sterling clenched his fingers around his beer bottle. Like he needed a reminder of that fact; his boy was always telling him that.
"It's a sign that I was made for you."
Sterling closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. "Yeah," he said roughly. "It is."
Motherfucker, he couldn't escape his son. Aubrey was everywhere.
"I think I'm gonna head out." He pushed back his chair and stood up.
"I'll come with you," Remy said as he stood up too.
"I'm not interested." Sterling tossed some bills on the table and turned around.
Remy chuckled from behind him. "I'm not trying to fuck you, I'm just trying to be a friend."
Sterling paused and looked at Remy. He was a bit shorter than him, but taller than Aubrey. His green eyes looked sincere as he gazed back at him.
"Fine," he muttered. "But I'm not going anywhere else. I'm heading home."
Remy gave a crooked smile. "Sounds good to me."
Aubrey and his mom had woken up early. After they'd eaten breakfast in the hotel lobby, they had gone straight to the hospital.
"Are you sure you don't mind waiting out here?" His mom asked him.
"I'm fine. I'm going to call dad anyways."
She checked her phone. "Are you sure he'll be awake at this time?"
It was 9am. "He always wakes up early."
"Alright then, I'll see you in a bit." She waved as she left the waiting room.
Aubrey hadn't slept much better last night, but he felt better this morning. All he wanted was to talk to his dad. He loved him and missed him. Regardless of everything, his dad was still the first person he wanted to talk to when things happen in his life.
He sat down in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs, and called his dad.
After a few rings, he picked up.
Aubrey sat up straighter. That was not his dad's voice. He checked his screen; Dad was the name on it, so that meant...
"Who's this? Where's my dad?"
The guy moaned. "What're you talking about?"
Aubrey clenched his fist in his lap. "My dad? I called my dad's phone." He pronounced each word slowly, through gritted teeth.
"Huh?" This guy sounded like he was drunk off his ass.
Aubrey tried not to jump to conclusions, but damn, his thoughts were whirling around like a hurricane.
Why was another man answering his dad's phone?
Where was his dad?
Had he spent the night at a guy's house?
Did that mean his fear that his dad would hook up with another man came true?
Why didn't this man know who he was?
"I think you have the wrong number," the guy mumbled. Then he hung up.
Aubrey stared at the phone in his hand. What. The. Hell?