Thinking About You
“But aren’t they the same?”
“I think? I don’t know—my mom says that they’re different.”
“Nick, we need an opinion!”
Nick rolled his eyes from his place in front of the stove. “No way. Your wedding, you plan it.”
Andrew made a faux-insulted kind of noise. “You’re the co-best man! Isn’t it like your social duty to help us?”
Nick gave the two of them a look, ignoring both Andrew’s and Maddie’s puppy eyes. “I am helping. I’m making dinner.”
“Yes, because cooking fish in the oven requires you to watch it for the whole time,” Andrew pouted. “Please? We’re tired and I didn’t even tease you about two weeks ago.”
“That was because I told him not to, by the way,” Maddie chimed in.
Nick shook his head at them, amused, but he did step forward to look at whatever they were doing. He supposed that it was true that Andrew hadn’t said a word about the day that he’d been supposedly alone in his room.
“Hey, I wouldn’t have made fun of him anyway,” Andrew argued to Maddie.
She shook her head at him. “Uh-huh.”
“So, you want to know whether these colors are different?” Nick interrupted, looking at their pictures. “Yeah, they look different to me. Are you two actually looking or are you just sleep deprived?”
“If we ask you to pick one, would you?” Andrew begged, ignoring his other questions.
Nick put the pictures back on the table. “No way. What makes you think that I’m fashionable enough to pick out any wedding anything?” He extended his arms to show off his very fashionable choice of sweats and a tee shirt.
Andrew smirked at him, but it was Maddie who asked, “Aw, but I’m sure you’ve thought about your wedding at some point, right?”
Nick wasn’t ashamed to say that, yes, he’d thought about it. It was only recently, however, that he’d begun thinking about marrying someone in a suit rather than a wedding dress.
He pushed that thought aside quickly, lest thoughts of Vincent made his face flush.
“Come to me for the cakes. I’ve thought a lot about those,” Nick said instead of voicing his thoughts, returning to the oven to check the fish.
“What if we asked you to bake a cake?” Andrew asked curiously.
Nick raised an eyebrow at him. “You think I’m good enough for that? I’m flattered, but you’d be better off buying four Walmart cakes of different sizes and stacking them on top of each other.”
A moment of silence accompanied his suggestion, followed by Maddie murmuring, “That’s not a half-bad idea.”
Nick rolled his eyes at the two of them, removing the fish from the oven and setting out the chopped veggies and onions for some very low budget fish tacos. “Time to eat,” he said, grabbing some utensils. “So, if you guys get any pots or pans as wedding gifts, do they just go right to me, or…?”
“Very funny,” Andrew laughed, helping his fiancé clear the table.
“Start cooking and you can have the cookware,” Nick shot back, smirking. “Actually, no, don’t start cooking.”
Andrew shoved him playfully. “You’re an ass.”
“Well, now I’m definitely not baking you anything,” Nick teased.
Maddie tilted her head at him, setting out the plates on the now-clear table. “Yeah, what did you do with all those brownies from the other day anyway?”
“Some work potluck thing,” Nick answered with a shrug, and this time, it was true. “I ate some really nasty something at that thing that didn’t agree with me.”
As unfortunate as his stomach had felt that night, Nick still smiled lightly at the memory. Vincent had come over armed with some medicine to keep an eye on him. Nick had watched a movie on his computer while Vincent read beside him in bed. The whole thing had been very domestic—and thankfully hadn’t ended with Nick in the bathroom for an extended period.
Andrew made a tsk noise. “You should have skipped the party and given us the brownies.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “Cookware for brownies. That’s my price.”
Andrew and Maddie kept up their conversation while they ate. Even a few months of wedding planning couldn’t stop them from making eyes at each other and sitting so close that Maddie was more or less on Andrew’s lap.
Nick had to wonder if he was like that with Vincent. He knew that he was affectionate, but he wasn’t sure if he was as shameless as his friends.
When they got to the point where Nick was wondering what their hands were doing underneath the table, he chose to excuse himself.
He resolutely ignored whatever the two of them were doing when he had his bedroom door closed behind him and could lie back in his bed, phone in hand. Nick felt a little like a teenager again, texting Vincent to chat for a while in the evenings when work made them too tired to leave home.
He felt bad that he fell asleep in the middle of their conversation, but he awoke to a goodnight text. It made him smile despite the fact that his eyes were drooping again.
Nick sighed and hauled himself out of bed, shuffling to his bathroom and grunting when he accidentally knocked into the doorframe on his way in. “Damn thing,” he murmured, too tired to feel anything other than muted annoyance.
It took a shower for him to feel less dead to the world, but he honestly would have liked to have some coffee before his phone started ringing.
There was no way Vincent would call this early, so Nick wasn’t too surprised that it was his brother instead.
He sighed heavily, rubbing a hand over his face and putting it on speaker. “Jacob, why the hell are you calling me this early?”
“It’s like eight in the morning. It’s a perfectly acceptable time to call people,” his brother responded with no guilt at all.
“Yeah, I’m hanging up.”
“Wait, wait! I can’t just call my brother to talk?”
“What do you want?” Nick asked, far too used to having a brother to be fooled by this point. A part of him wondered what it would be like to have as many brothers as Vincent had sisters. The thought almost made him shudder.
There was a sigh on the other line as Nick moved to button up his shirt. He tried not to think about how it felt to have Vincent’s hands ghosting down his chest to undo those buttons with his brother on the phone. “Okay, so you know how it’s Cass’s and mine anniversary next week?”
Nick raised an eyebrow. “I don’t follow your life that closely, so no, but get on with it.”
“I’m going to be insulted one day, Nick.”
“I’m going to hang up the phone, Jacob.”
“Okay, okay! I just wanted to do something special for her, and you have that recipe for chocolate cake that she says almost makes her wonder if she picked the wrong brother.”
Nick smirked, belting his pants. There were times when he thought that Cassidy was just too clever for his brother. “You want that recipe to bake for her?”
Jacob sighed in relief. “That would be great. In a lot of detail? I’m not an awful chef, but I always mess up recipes.”
“I can tell it to you now while I make coffee if you want.”
Nick left his room, listing out ingredients and steps from memory, which was only possible because he’d made the same cake for birthdays for years. He rolled his eyes at Andrew when the man tugged at the parts of his shirt that he hadn’t tucked in correctly, but gratefully accepted the coffee from his friend nonetheless.
“I really should have made coffee before I showered,” Nick murmured into his too-hot cup. He already felt that tired kind of pain behind his eyes that accompanied his exhaustion.
Andrew patted his shoulder. “And miss talking to your brother? See you some time, Jacob!” he called.
“Have a good one, Andrew! Hey, let me know if you want to know some of the people we used for our wedding.”
“Oh, that’s a great idea. You know we were—”
“Jacob, text him yourself,” Nick interrupted, “I have to get to work.”
“You’re just as rude in the morning now as you were when you were sixteen,” Jacob lamented, which caused Andrew to laugh.
Nick rolled his eyes at the two of them. “You’re just as annoying. You used to come into my room and be all loud and cheery.”
“I really hope that you find a wife who hates waking up as much as you,” his brother quipped, and Nick’s mind immediately went to the way Vincent woke up just as tired as he did. The other man was probably less cranky in the mornings though.
He didn’t know how to respond to his brother, so he only said, “Bye, Jacob. Tell me if you need more help.”
“I appreciate it, bro. Have a good day at work.”
Nick made a noncommittal noise and hung up, gulping down the rest of his coffee and listening to Andrew chat idly when they walked out together. He was already yawning by the time he sat down at his desk in his office.
It was a long day of papers and tax forms, which would have been fine if he hadn’t been filling them out with an ever-worsening headache. Nick was legitimately relieved when he was able to leave to kiss his boyfriend hello, which he probably did with more intensity than intended based on the way Vincent chuckled when he pulled back.
“Did you miss me that much?” Vincent teased. The early evening light reflected off of his glasses for a second.
Nick felt absolutely no shame in saying, “Yes. It’s been… a day.” He sighed. His shoulders slumped. There was still a muted pounding in the back of his skull.
“Oh, Nickolas,” Vincent said sympathetically. “Movie night at my place? I’m cooking, and like actual cooking instead of easy stuff.”
“I do like your hot dogs though,” Nick joked, a smile etching itself onto his face. His shoulders already felt lighter, like just a few minutes with his boyfriend had lessened the weight of the world.
Vincent pulled them along with an adorable smile, and instructed him not to help with anything when he had the food on the stove. “I’m serious, Nick! No helping—which includes setting out the plates.”
“I’m your guest though! I should at least get the dishes for you.”
“While I appreciate the thought, you’re not my guest,” Vincent said lowly, stepping forward until Nick was lowering himself back into his chair at the tiny kitchen table.
His breath hitched when Vincent sat himself in his lap and Nick needed to hold onto his hips to keep him steady. His heart jumped at the sensation of Vincent’s breath on his neck, and he was suddenly hyperaware of the man’s hand on his chest and his lips near his ear.
“You, Nickolas,” Vincent continued, “are my intelligent, good-looking, very sexy boyfriend.” He kissed Nick firmly on his lips. “Which means that you’re always welcome here, and that you’re obligated to let me take care of you sometimes.”
Nick flushed in the face of so many compliments. And because Vincent was still sitting on his lap. “You always take care of me,” he said, his brain too fuzzy to even think about filtering his words.
Vincent smiled sweetly. He leaned forward to press their lips together.
Nick pulled his boyfriend flush against him, shutting his eyes and groaning at the friction between them. He sighed at the now familiar feeling of Vincent’s lips and the drag of his hands down his chest and stomach.
He had never felt more betrayed by the sound of a kitchen timer going off. Vincent kissed him on the cheek before he scrambled off to quiet it and check on his pots.
Nick took a deep breath, blinking when he turned and noticed something on the coffee table. “Hey, you kept the flowers,” he said with a breathless kind of laugh.
Vincent followed his line of sight. “Of course, I did. I still can’t believe that you sent me flowers for my birthday.” He turned to stir a pot and add some salt to another.
“Now you’re four years older than me,” Nick quipped, watching him move to turn off the stove.
“You’re sure that you’re okay kissing an old man?” Vincent joked, although it wasn’t hard to hear the insecurity in his tone.
Or maybe Nick just knew him well enough by now to pick it out. Despite Vincent’s warning for him to sit and take a load off, Nick figured that he would be okay with this.
He pulled his boyfriend close for another kiss—once, twice, three times, before he responded. “Thirty-one isn’t old. You’re the sexiest man I know,” he murmured, leaning down to kiss Vincent’s neck.
He could feel his boyfriend swallow a second before he was able to speak. “Oh, really?”
Nick smiled into his skin. “Really. Although to be fair, I haven’t ever cared to look at any other men,” he said, his voice light. “So, would all this taste bad if we ate it in like ten minutes?”
Vincent’s breath tickled his hair as he chuckled, “I’m pretty sure that it would take us longer than ten minutes.”
“You’re making it difficult to not drag you to the couch right now,” Nick quipped, relishing in the sound of Vincent’s breathy laughter.
It was Vincent who pulled him over to the couch to lie atop him. “It’ll all be good for half an hour.” Nick groaned when the man connected their lips firmly. He made some other noise when he felt the man shift on top of him, rubbing against him in the best way possible.
“Vincent,” he moaned, grabbing him by his shirt to kiss him again, slowly and sweetly and with all the fire in him.
Nick moved his hands down to Vincent’s belt, something which he had gotten better at doing over the past few weeks. Still kissing him, he sat up so the man was in his lap again.
“Vincent,” Nick breathed in between kisses. “Do you mind if I do something for you instead?”
Vincent raised an eyebrow, his chest heaving in and out. “And what exactly do you have in mind?”
Nick teasingly reached forward, so slowly that he knew Vincent was using all of his self-control just to breathe, to put his hands on Vincent’s hips. His hands slipped underneath the waistband of his pants, right to the front. He held Vincent’s gaze, and that part of him—the one that was usually fiery and warm—was filled with pride at the look in his boyfriend’s eyes.
The way Vincent was looking at him, it was as if he was somehow special, irreplaceable, loved. It left Nick with a heady feeling that nearly stole his breath away.
He needed to remind his lungs to draw in a breath as he gently pushed Vincent back into the couch without breaking his gaze. Undoing the button on Vincent’s pants, he smirked at the way the man swallowed.
“I’ll definitely need more than ten minutes,” Nick teased, leaning in to kiss him before he shifted to his knees to give them a little more room.
Leaving the food out somewhere between ten minutes and half an hour—Nick lost track of time, to be honest—definitely didn’t make it any less delicious, and not just because Nick was feeling both particularly hungry and at ease.
“You should cook more often,” he said in between bites of a chicken and rice meal with spices that he would love to add to his own cooking.
Vincent hummed, swallowing. “I would, but I’m kind of lazy about cooking,” he said apologetically.
“Good thing that you have me then,” Nick quipped casually.
The man smiled, pausing for a second just to look at him. “Very good thing,” he said in this fond sort of tone. “I’d still like having you around even if we ordered out all the time though.”
“That’ll happen a lot around March and April, so I’m glad to hear that.”
“Tax season?” When Nick nodded, Vincent went on, “I’ll have to step up for those two months to cook for you.”
Nick took another bite of his food, which tasted even more delicious when he thought back to all the granola bars and ham sandwiches he had basically lived off of last April. “Compared to my usual diet around that time, you could literally make me anything and I would eat it.”
Vincent chuckled to himself. “You think you’ll still want me around by March?”
Nick stopped eating to meet his gaze fully. Those sparkling green eyes bore into him from behind Vincent’s glasses, making it utterly impossible to look away—not that he wanted to. “Yeah, I do. Try not to get too tired of me.”
“Well, that won’t be hard,” Vincent snorted, leaning forward to give him a simple kiss.
Nick smiled, relishing in the comfortable atmosphere that surrounded them. He was idly wondering how Andrew and Maddie managed to eat when they sat basically on top of each other when Vincent’s phone vibrated on the table.
“Oh, my sister. Do you mind?”
“Not at all. At least your sister calls at a reasonable time,” Nick murmured grudgingly, “Oh, wait: which sister?”
“Oldest one,” Vincent shrugged. He pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“The one who’s pregnant with her fourth kid?”
“That’s the one. Good memory,” Vincent smirked, answering the phone. “Hey, Isabella. What’s up?”
Nick couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, but he watched Vincent push food around on his plate while his sister spoke. He ended up putting his fork down to trace his finger over the bones in Nick’s hand, making him shiver with the light touch over each of his fingers.
“Yeah,” he said after a second. He shook his head in exasperation. “No, that’s fine…. Yeah, it’ll be good to see you and the kids before the baby comes…”
It went on like that for a little while longer, Vincent still tracing his finger over the veins in Nick’s hand. After a few minutes, Vincent nodded again and ended the call. He was oddly quiet for a long enough moment that Nick frowned in his direction.
“Everything okay with your sister? Nothing’s wrong, right?” It hadn’t sounded like serious news, but Vincent looked pensive.
“Oh, she’s fine,” Vincent responded easily. “She’s really excited for the baby. She says that this one will be easy since it’s her fourth, but…” He rolled his eyes in disbelief. “I was planning to see her in August though while the kids are out of school and she doesn’t have a newborn.”
He met Nick’s eyes with a calculating gaze, the one Nick knew he used when he was choosing his words carefully. “If you’re okay giving up a weekend next month, you’re welcome to come along.”
Nick kept his eyes on Vincent’s. He couldn’t muffle the surprised pleasure in his voice. “You would want me there?”
“You’re my boyfriend,” Vincent said matter-of-factly. “I’d like you to meet my family if you’re comfortable with it. It’ll just be my two older sisters, my brother-in-law, and my niece and nephews. I haven’t really told them about you because they’re so nosy,” Vincent went on saying, “so it’s really not—”
“I’d love to come,” Nick interrupted. Something like pride or maybe happiness—whatever it was, he didn’t know, but some kind of positive feeling bloomed in his chest. It made him smile.
Vincent continued looking at him carefully. “You would?”
“Yeah. You love your sisters, so it would be cool to meet them,” he nodded. Nick felt sort of special to have the opportunity to meet the people who were such an important part of his boyfriend’s life. Or at least to meet a subset of them.
Picking up his phone, Vincent kept looking at him. “Alright, I’m pulling the trigger then.”
Nick chuckled. “Good. Just tell me which weekend and maybe I’ll take off that Monday.”
Vincent leaned forward for a kiss before he texted his sister. It took a second for his phone to begin vibrating excessively. “She put it in the group chat. My sisters have been thinking I’m lonely for years now,” he said in a would-be annoyed tone, but which was marred by the smile on his lips.
He picked up his phone and shook his head at his sisters, silently handing the phone to Nick. He almost spit out his food in laughter. “’Does he have a nice ass?’ Wow, that’s the leading question here?”
“That’ll be Marianne—the second oldest. Gracie—the youngest—wanted your name at least,” Vincent said through his own laughter. “Oh, and by the way, yes, you do have a nice ass.”
Nick smiled, but he couldn’t say anything before the phone vibrated in his hand again. “Your sisters love you, I think,” he noted, handing it back.
“They do, even if they’re nosy,” Vincent agreed. “But I can answer them when they relax for a second. We’re eating now.”
He said that like it was obvious, but Nick felt tingles run through him at having his boyfriend’s complete attention. “You went through all the effort to cook for me, after all,” he responded, hearing the soft note in his own voice.
Vincent smiled at him, completely ignoring his phone—for just a little while before his sisters had an aneurism—to listen to Nick tell him about his boring work day. Nick couldn’t put into words how much that meant to him.