Kian and Jim join me at the table, and without saying a word, Jim digs in. I look at Kian, who shrugs, and we both start eating in silence as well.
“How is your new job?” Jim asks Kian without looking at him.
“It’s going great,” Kina replies, looking happy his dad is asking anything at all. “My colleagues are amazing, I’ve got more clients than I can handle already, and I even kept some cases out of court.”
“Is that good? Isn’t a lawyer supposed to go to court?” He sounds like he’s doubting Kian’s professional skills.
“Court often means a terrible divorce with lots of fighting,” I explain. I asked the same question recently, but not in a judgmental way like Jim. “Kian still gets paid if his client ends up fixing things out of court, and it’s often better for the kids if the parents find some sort of compromise instead of fighting over every little thing.”
“I was talking to Kian.” He doesn’t even look at me. “Not you.”
Kian and I don’t say anything for a moment. Then I grab my wine and down half of it. This is going to be a long night. I want to stand up for myself, but I know that will end in the same shitshow as last time, and this is Kian’s birthday.
To my surprise, Kian does speak up. “Dad, could you be polite to Dylan, at the very least?”
“I didn’t want him to be here,” Jim says like I can’t hear him. “I told you that over the phone.”
“And I told you that he’s my boyfriend, and it’s our house, and my birthday. I invited you here, and dinner with me includes the man I love. You either accept that I’m with him, or you can leave.”
Did hell just freeze over? Did Kian just tell his father that he can choose between being nice to me or getting the hell out? Am I hallucinating?
“I get that you’re gay, but this guy… He’s so…”
“Still here,” I mutter, hating that he’s still acting like I don’t exist.
Jim turns to me. “You keep sex toys in your car.”
“Not usually. That was a one time thing, and I’m sorry you had to see that.”
“You have a whore for a friend.”
I clench my jaw, trying not to smack him. No one talks about Mila that way. “She’s a webcam girl and she does porn. She’s not a whore. Besides, even if she was a prostitute, she’d still be my friend. It’s up to her what she does for a living.”
“This is what you’re dating?” Jim asks Kian, motioning at me. “I get that you’re into men. It’s not what I want for you, but okay, if it makes you happy, I guess it’s fine. But not this guy.”
“This is the man I love.” Kian gets up from the table, and although his hands are trembling, his voice remains steady. “Apologize to Dylan. Right now.”
Jim rolls his eyes. “Sit down, boy.”
“No.” Kian walks to the door that leads to the hallway and pulls it open. “Out. Now.”
I think I’m definitely hallucinating.
“Am I speaking Chinese? Am I stuttering?” Kian motions for his father to get up. “I want you out of there. Right now. You don’t come into my house and talk to my boyfriend that way. You don’t get to do that, Dad. If you won’t apologize for the way you’re treating him and the way you talk about his friend – who you don’t even know, and who’s a lovely woman, in case you’re wondering – then I want you out of here.”
“Fine.” Jim shoves his chair back to the table so hard it almost falls over. “If this is the way you treat your father, I don’t want to sit here pretending any of this is okay anyway.”
Without another word, he storms out, slamming the front door shut behind him.
“Kian, that… You didn’t have to…”
He leans against the wall, all his bravado gone. He looks lost. “Let’s be honest, Dylan. I should have done that years ago.”
I get up and rush over to him, pulling him against me. “I’m so proud of you. And I’m so sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong.” He squeezes me tightly. “I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for you last time. He’s not welcome here anymore unless he can act civil. He’ll probably never be nice, but I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect my father not to insult my boyfriend.”
It’s not, of course, but I know this is huge for Kian. He’s never stood up to his father before, and for him to do it for me… Even before tonight, he must have made it clear over the phone that having dinner on his birthday without me here was not an option. That took balls too.
“How about I give you one more birthday present?” I ask, finally making up my mind.
“What?” He looks confused when we break apart.
“Let’s do this. For real.” I take a deep breath. “I want to move in with you.”
His entire face lights up. “Really? You’ll move in with me? Here?”
“If you promise to buy me the softest rug in the world for me to pet.”
He laughs, pulling me back against him. “Deal.”
When Thomas moved in with Tracy, we all helped out. I know that all my friends would do the same for me, but I don’t ask them. In fact, I don’t even tell them I’m moving in with Kian at first. I text Andre that very same night to let him know I made a decision, but I refrained from telling no one else.
The next couple of days, I give my landlord my two weeks’ notice, and Kian calls a moving company to get all my furniture here. Well, half of it. Some of it is pretty shitty since I never cared to replace anything after I moved in there straight out of college, so we donate that to charity. It still works, it’s just not very pretty anymore.
It’s not until everything is set into motion that I finally tell Thomas, Tracy and Mila. All three of them at once, when we’re lounging around at the Riley’s house, drinking beers and eating chips.
“What?” Mila asks, sitting up straight and staring at me like I’m crazy. “Moving in with him? But… but… the guy is an asshole!”
“Mila,” Tracy says with a sigh.
“Come on, we all know he is! Dylan, you can’t give up your apartment for a relationship that will never last.”
I knew she’d react like this. That’s why I didn’t ask for help moving. I knew once I told one of them, they would tell the others, and Mila would stage a goddamn intervention. “I know Kian and I have had our issues in the past, but we’re doing great now, and I want to live with him, so… I’m moving in with him.”
“When do you need us to help you move?” Thomas asks. He doesn’t congratulate me or even so much as smile, but of course he is always willing to help out.
“No need,” I assure him. “The moving company is taking all my stuff to his place tomorrow, and we already repainted a few walls and went shopping for some new stuff that will get delivered in a month or so. We’ve got it covered.”
“Tomorrow?” Mila still sounds upset. “When did you decide this? And don’t lie and say yesterday, because I know that’s not true.”
“A week and a half ago.” I wince at her cold stare. “I know, I know, but can you blame me? With how you react? I love him, Mila. Whether you like it or not. I always supported you and Scarlett, and I still do, even when you’re having ups and downs because of long-distance. Can’t you do the same for me and Kian?”
She groans. “Scarlett is not a dick like Kian.”
“Scarlett also doesn’t have a past like Kian,” I snap. “You don’t know what his youth was like. You didn’t meet his dad. He’s new to all of this, Mila. He’s never been in a serious relationship, and neither have I. We’re bound to mess up sometimes, but we love each other, and I could really use your support. I was there for you when you were with James, wasn’t I? Do you think that was easy for me? Is it too much to ask for you to have my back?”
“Of course not,” Tracy says firmly before Mila can react. “We’re really happy for you, Dylan. Does this mean your big birthday bash is at Kian’s house this time?”
Thank God for Tracy diffusing the tension. “Yeah, it will be.”
“So no weed?” Thomas asks with a grunt.
“We celebrate like we do every single year,” I tell him firmly. “Wildly and irresponsibly. Kian is okay with it, trust me.”
Mila wants to say something else, but Tracy clamps a hand over her mouth. “We’ll be there,” she promises. “So will Mila, and she’ll behave.”
“Hmmpf,” Mila grumbles, pushing Tracy off. “Fine. I’ll shut up.”
Thomas does a good job at pretending to be happy for me, and Tracy seems genuinely pleased that Kian and I are doing so well, but Mila remains grumpy all night long. I get it. She’s protective of me. Still, it hurts that she won’t get on board. At least Thom and Tracy are trying.