Dreamy Dylan

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#14 Thank you, thank you, thank you

Once most of the customers are served, a big bloke steps up to the counter, slamming his hand on the surface. “A black coffee, stat!”

“You already had two, so fuck off,” Andre shoots back before I can say anything. “Don’t want you bouncing off the walls.”

This must be one of Andre’s friends. I take him in, trying to figure out which one. Andre has three best friends: Malik, Chase, and Ivan. Since he described every single one to me, I’m pretty sure I know who this huge mountain of a man is.

“Ivan, right?” I hold out my hand. “So nice to finally meet you. I saw your house, and your kitchen is to die for.”

“That makes you Dylan,” Ivan replies, grinning. “You look exactly like Andre described you.”

“Unbearably sexy?” I bat my lashes at both guys. “Why thank you.”

Ivan chuckles. “You also act exactly like Andre said you would.”

“Like a total moron?” Andre steps in, nudging me. “Yeah, he does.”

I roll my eyes at him, knowing he loves my shenanigans. “Okay, you obviously don’t need my help anymore. You go talk shit about me to your friends, and I’ll go see if Kian is still alive.”

I take off the apron and toss it at Ivan. “You’re on duty now. Good luck. Andre is a terrible boss.”

“Shut up!” Andre calls after me as I walk off. “And thank you!”

I look over my shoulder and see that his smile is genuine. I wink and then turn back to where I was headed: the corner of the bakery, where Kian has Alex on his lap as he talks to Tracy and Mila.

“Hey babe.” I kiss his cheek before sitting down next to him. “Sorry for disappearing.”

“That’s fine.” His smile is a little strained, though.

“Mila was just telling us about the porn actor she met up with in Australia during her travels,” Tracy says, giving me a pointed look.

“Right…” I get Kian’s expression now. He’s not comfortable with Mila’s job, even though it has nothing to do with him. “The guy you fucked in the woods, right?”

She wiggles her eyebrows. “And then some. The sex was awful, truly awful, we needed so much lube, because he was just not doing it for me at all, but damn the clips we made are off-the-charts hot. It earned me so many new subscribers.”

“Ahw, are you bragging again?” Scarlett asks as she joins us, wrapping her arms around Mila before kissing her hard. “You’re so cute.”

Kian looks down at little Alex, who is getting fussy. “Do you need your mama, little man?”

Tracy is already holding out her arms, ready to take Alex from him. Alex, however, has other ideas. He wants his uncle Dylan. I happily oblige, and before I know it I’m in the kids’ corner, reading a story to all the kids. I do all the voices, and they’re all quiet as I act out the entire plot of this terrible story about two bears going on some lame adventure. The only good thing about the book is that the bears are obviously a gay couple, so the writer at least gets points for being progressive.

Half an hour later, I return to Kian, standing alone in the corner, looking out the window. He looks so lost. No matter how hard everyone is trying to talk to him and make him feel welcome, he just isn’t fitting in.

“Do you want to go home?” I ask, putting an arm around his waist.

He shakes his head and kisses my cheek. “You love it here, and no one is leaving yet. Besides… we do have news to celebrate. Go get us some cupcakes.”

I do as I’m told, returning with the treats. “Now tell me.”

He’s grinning now, his eyes alight. “Annabel just told me I got the job. One year trial period as a junior partner, and if I do well, I’ll no longer be working at Connor and Johnson. I’ll be a senior partner at Connor, Johnson and Miller.”

I scream so hard everyone turns to look at us, and then I kiss his goddamn face off. I hand him my cupcake and skip over to Annabel, hugging her tightly.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

She pats me on the back and laughs. “He’s an amazing lawyer. Our workload has been way too much for a while now. We could use a guy like him.”

I squeeze her one last time, and then I turn back to Kian, grabbing a cup of coffee right out of Mila’s hands so I can use it to toast. “To my boyfriend Kian, who is starting a new job!”

“Hear hear!” Aston’s booming voice chimes in. “To Anna finally having more time to get freaky with me instead of working late all the damn time.”

“Aston!” She’s giggling as she chides him.

“And to Liv and Andre, opening the best bakery and coffee shop in the city,” James finishes the weird impromptu coffee toast.

Everyone raises their mugs, and as people congratulate the awesome shop owners, I kiss Kian again. This is amazing. He so deserves this. Now he can finally quit that soul-destroying job that doesn’t make him happy at all.

***

That night, Kian and I go out to dinner to celebrate his new job. I’m not hungry after all the cupcakes, so I just watch him eat while I drink wine. We chat about the opening of the bakery, how he’ll quit his old job, and our plans with my little brother Blaze that weekend.

Finally, during dessert - which I do eat, of course, because… hello, dessert! - I finally ask the question that’s been bothering me since we left the bakery.

“Why don’t you like my friends?” I blurt out without warning.

Kian blinks, lowering the spoon of ice cream he was about to put into his mouth. “I like them just fine, babe.”

“No, you don’t. You hate Mila, you don’t connect with Thom and Tracy either, and you don’t even seem too fond of Andre and Liv.”

Kian sighs and puts down his spoon completely, intertwining his fingers almost nervously. “I like Liv just fine. She’s lovely. I don’t know Andre well enough to have an opinion on him.”

“So you do hate Mila, Thom, and Tracy.” I knew it.

“No, I don’t hate them. I just don’t feel comfortable around them. All your friends are…” Kian groans as he looks for the right word. “They’re very… present.”

“What does that even mean?” I’m anxious, because my friends are like family to me. If he really hates them, that’s a problem.

“They’re quite outspoken. Mila always talks about sex.” He grimaces. “Not even sex with her girlfriend either, but sex for her job.” He says the word like it’s dirty. “Scarlett is nice, but I don’t get why she’s with Mila, to be honest. And Thomas and Tracy… they are so… I don’t know. Free-spirited, I guess? They don’t really care about social rules, do they? The whole gender neutral thing when it comes to raising their kids, all Thom’s tats and piercings, and the four of them… all the PDA!” He looks like even the thought makes him uncomfortable. “Not just the four of them, but… everyone. Even Liv and James. So much PDA all the time. I don’t know where to look!”

Wow. Okay. That’s a lot of things not to like about my friends. And all of those things are reasons I love them.

“They’re not bad people,” Kian says quickly. “I can see they are about you, and they tried very hard to talk to me today. To like me. But I can tell they don’t. I overheard Thomas tell Tracy that he doesn’t think we’ll last another two months. She seemed to agree with him. And Mila… she goes out of her way to make me feel uncomfortable. She senses I don’t know what to make of her job, so she talks about it loudly and often, staring me dead in the eye the whole time, daring me to say something.”

I don’t know if that’s true. I’m replaying everything from today in my mind, but I truly don’t think Mila was making him feel uncomfortable on purpose. “They’re just worried about me, because… well… we’ve been having problems,” I say at last. “I haven’t told them everything, of course, I know you don’t want me to, but they’re not stupid. They can tell when I’m off. Thom senses when you and I have been in a fight, because I get cranky and quiet. They just want me to be happy. They’ll warm up to you, I swear.”

Of course, I’m gonna need to talk to them about this. I won’t have them making Kian feel uncomfortable when he’s trying so damn hard to connect to them. At the same time… I would never ask them to change.

“Thom will always be a pierced, tatted, open-minded guy,” I tell Kian. “Tracy will always be a wicked, weird, intense woman. I love them for that. They’ll always have an unconventional relationship and raise their kids the way they see fit. That’s up to them. And Mila will never stop being a loud, obnoxious, sex-crazed girl who works in the sex industry. Just like Aston will always be loud, he’ll always be grabbing his wife’s ass, and he’ll never stop making jokes about his big cock. Liv and James will always be all loved-up, kissing and snuggling all the time. And all of them… they will always be my friends, Kian. Always.”

“I know.” Kian’s voice is soft. “I know that. I respect that. I will continue to try and understand them. But I’m never going to be best friends with them, Dylan. That needs to be okay, too. I can be nice to them, and respect them as your friends, and spend time with them because they’re important to you. They’re your friends, though. Not mine.”

In a way, he’s right, but that doesn’t make his words hurt any less.

I don’t know what to say to fix this. Maybe it needs to be enough that he accepts that they’re in my life. The guy quit his job for me, and is fighting tooth and nail for our relationship. I can’t force him to be friends with the people I love. I just wish… I wish he’d see them the way I do. As the wild bunch of crazy wolves they are. I love them to pieces, and I’ll never stop calling them my family, no matter what Kian thinks of them.

The question is… Where do we go from here? Do I force them together time after time, or do I accept that my boyfriend and my friends will never see in each other what I see?

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