Beyond the Pines (Part 2)

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“Then there is Mr. Suarez,” Gen, a pretty brunette with large blue eyes, said after she downed another tequila shot. “He is delicious, but apparently he doesn’t shit where he eats, which is very, very sad.”

“She only says it because she slept with almost everyone in the graphic design department,” Adelia, a poker-faced black woman with thick dark curls, told me with a wink.

“Shuddup,” Gen retorted with a tipsy drawl, then turned her eyes to me. “But you, Paige darling, got the best of ’em all. Diego Rios,” she sighed dreamily. “I would’ve done everything to have him penetrate me from every position possible.”

I snort-laughed, almost knocking over a half-filled cocktail glass with how hard I was laughing. “My God, Gen,” I said, wiping tears from my eyes, “if I was anyone else I would’ve kicked you for that remark.”

She wriggled her eyebrows. “Please tell me he fucked you everywhere. Please.”

I grinned and shook my head, to her endless disappointment.

It’d been a few days since I finally caved and got an interview with Elijah and Marco the day after Christmas, in which they told me I was fit for the job and hired me on the spot. I was now an event coordinator in the Boston branch of Workeen, and my two coworkers, Gen and Adelia, were the best. They were so full of life, and of wisdom, and I clicked with them almost at once.

Diego had asked me if I wanted to keep my relationship with him discrete, but I voted against it. I’d rather people knew I was seeing him now and deal with consequences sooner rather than later, and it seemed to be the best solution. Gen and Adelia didn’t take it so seriously, and others in the company who frowned upon it, kept their opinion to themselves.

Working at Workeen was quite the experience. Wayla was a really small company, and there were about twenty workers in total, meaning that everyone knew everyone. Workeen was a monstre-corporation that kept on expanding, with their main branch being in Silicon Valley, and the others scattered all over the States, with their second-largest one in Boston, and there were so many workers and departments, I knew I couldn’t possibly get to know everyone.

Which worked for me. I was never the type of woman to enjoy the company of many people, and so I liked that I had my niche, especially since that niche included Gen and Adelia, who were both fabulous.

“You need to get a boyfriend,” Adelia now told Gen, who pouted at my refusal to spill the tea. “Maybe then you’ll butt out of our lives.”

“Just Paige’s life,” Gen corrected, “since you’re married and thus even more boring than I am.”

Adelia smiled cryptically. “If you only knew what Mikhail and I did the other day as we baked a cake for Charlie’s birthday party…”

“Now, this is making me sick,” Gen scowled. “Making another kid while baking for your other one? Gross.”

Adelia snorted. “You’re such a child.”

Gen stuck her tongue out as if to prove just that, and I laughed.

We stayed at the bar for hours until we were all completely drunk. Then Mikhail, Adelia’s husband came to pick her up, while Gen ordered and Uber and I waited for Diego, who would take me to his place.

He glided over with white Mercedes and I got in, giving him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. “Guess what?” I said as he started driving, grinning.

“What?” he asked dutifully.

“I love Gen and Adelia,” I told him in a hushed whisper. “But don’t tell ’em. I don’t want ’em to think I’m too easy.”

He smirked. “Babe, you’re the opposite of easy.”

“Don’t call me ‘babe’,” I pouted. “My name is Paige. Paige. D’ya hear me?”

“God, you’re cute when you’re drunk,” he murmured.

We got to his apartment building, but I found it hard to stay even on two feet. Diego then decided I was a hazard to myself, and lifted me up in his arms, carrying me to the elevator, and then into his apartment. There, he let me down and I threw my arms around his neck. “Guess what?” I said again, grinning widely.

He chuckled and put his arms around me. “What?”

“My period’s over,” I murmured, and as his eyes flashed, I crushed my lips against his and forced my tongue to mash with his.

He grunted, his hand in my head while the other wrapped around my waist, but he pulled back and said rasply, “Let’s get you to bed, first. You need to sleep this off.”

“But I wanna fuck you,” I protested, rubbing my breasts against his chest, causing him to groan. “I’m so wet,” I murmured, “so, so wet… You should feel my panties. It’s like the Niagara Falls down there.”

“You had me at the start,” he said, laughing, “but this weird analogy killed it.”

Without warning, I jumped in his arms and wrapped my legs around his torso. “Fuck me, Diego,” I murmured against his lips, “you know you want to.”

His eyes glazed over. “How am I supposed to be a good man and let you sleep it over when you act like this?”

“Simple,” I said, nuzzling at his neck now, pressing my lips against his skin, feeling him shudder. “Don’t be a good man.”

He swore, and moments later we were in his bed, and clothes found their way to the floor, and then he was inside me, fucking me senselessly until all I could feel was him, his warmth, his sweat, his coffee breath mixing with mine, as he drilled me almost to the headboard, both of us completely consumed by lust, passion, and love.

A cry made me open up my eyes and sit up. Diego, who was laying next to me, still deep in sleep, turned over to me, his arm played over my waist, but then I heard that cry again, muffled but present, from the room next to mine, I gently removed Diego’s arm and went to see my brother.

Peter was in his bed, thrashing, tears coming out of his closed eyes, his hand a fist stuck in his mouth. I knew exactly what was happening, even though it hadn’t happened in the past few months, and so I sat next to him on the bed and hugged him. He resisted at first, tried to fight my hug, but then he broke down and sobbed hard, clutching my shirt, tears on my thighs.

He didn’t calm down, though. He wouldn’t calm down so easily from that nightmare. And so I straightened myself, and, still seated, I caressed his head and sang, “There is a place unseen by the eye…”

I had to sing through the whole thing and then repeat from the top again, until Peter finally relaxed, and no more tears came out. He then fell asleep, and I stopped singing and made sure he was in a comfortable position before I rose to my feet and turned around.

Diego was at the door, looking at me with a serious face. I gave him a small smile and ushered him out, closing Peter’s door behind me. Then I took Diego’s hand and led us back to my room, where we settled in bed and he scooped me in his arms.

“What was that all about?” he asked in a low, quiet voice.

I sighed. “After what happened six years ago, Peter’s been having nightmares. This is the first one he’s had in a few months, though.”

Diego grimaced. “Do you have nightmares, too?”

I gave him a careful look. “I barely slept, for some years, and when I did, my nightmares were of a different kind.”

“What kind?” he pushed, cupping my face.

“My dreams recounted every time you pushed me away,” I replied a little hesitantly, “and always ended with how you threw yourself at me to protect me from that explosion, yet in my dreams’ version of the event, I lived and you died.”

It was dark in the room, but I could see his eyes. They were full of emotion, full of love, and he crushed me to him, hugging me as if he was afraid I would disappear, and I let him lay there, with me in his arms, until he could reassure himself that I wasn’t going anywhere.

The next morning, Diego left early for some emergency meeting, and I made a quick breakfast meant for me and Peter. I’d already called in my new workplace that I was going to be a little later today, and the true reason for it was, I needed to know Peter was alright.

As I finished cooking, Peter came into the room and took a seat at the table. “Morning,” he murmured, and I saw his eyes were bloodshot. He looked like he’d just visited hell.

“Morning,” I said as I put the French toast and coffee at the table and took a seat before him. “How are you feeling?”

He looked at me wearily, his lips thinning. “Like I was run over,” he answered candidly, which was a relief; sometimes, in the morning after the nightmare, Peter would refuse to acknowledge that anything happened, but since he was now, it meant there had been a trigger to the nightmare, and he was willing to share.

“You’re going to tell me what happened?” I asked.

He grimaced. “You know how I’ve been going to those study groups in the past three months?”

“Yeah,” I said, frowning, “you even told me you were going to a study group during the break, which was obviously a lie.”

“That’s because I was seeing someone,” he said, and I realized he was tense. “A girl.”

I blinked, stunned. After what happened six years ago, Peter had come out as gay officially to Patrick and me. I was already used to the idea of him being seen with some guys he was hooking up with, so to think of him with a girl was strange. “Okay,” I said, unsure how to react.

He gave me a pained smile. “I just wanted to… to forget, you know. About him. And every guy I met was… They always had… I needed a break,” he shook his head, as if trying to get rid of a mosquito. “I wanted to date someone I knew I would never, ever want to be with, so I started dating this girl, Ellie.”

In a fucked-up way, it made sense. “What happened, then?”

“We had sex last night for the first time,” he said flatly. “At her place.”

I didn’t expect that. “How did that go?”

“Badly, obviously,” he shook his head, seemingly angry at himself. “I had a melt-down halfway through. We had to stop, and I literally broke up with her and ran for my life.”

Fuck. “I’m sorry, Peter.”

“I feel like such a screw up,” he scowled. “I hurt a nice girl, and hurt myself, and just acted like a complete psycho. I can’t go on like this, comparing everyone to Juan, thinking only about him, dreaming about him to a breaking point, and just hurting people because I can’t forget about my first love even after so much time has passed.”

Tears burned bright in his eyes, and I didn’t think twice; I went to him, enveloped him in my arms, and let him cry as I tried to quelch an irrational wave of guilt.

Because in my case, Diego had come back, while Juan… Juan would never come back for Peter.

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