#30 If I was single
“IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Andre smiles ruefully. “It’s more than just being lactose intolerant. It basically means my body doesn’t know how to process lots of different foods. I’ve tried to figure out what it is that triggers me, but I only know lactose for sure. And I can’t eat raw vegetables, so salads are out for me. My body reacts to stress too. It’s actually why I don’t have my driver’s license.”
“You get diarrhea a lot?” I sense that he hates to talk about this, but he is the one who brought it up, and I desperately want to know whatever is wrong with him. To understand him.
“Yeah, but it also means I get obstipated at other times. Or first one, then immediately after the other. Sometimes I know why, for example because I had too much pizza like at your birthday, or I ate cheese, or had a cappuccino. Other times, it’s a total mystery and I don’t know what triggered me.” He’s staring at the wall, not looking at me while he talks. “It started when I was 16, took a year to get diagnosed. When I’m stressed, it gets way worse. The idea of being in a car, learning how to drive, unable to go to the toilet… It stresses me out, and it ends with me spending the whole damn lesson on the toilet instead of learning how to drive.”
“Damn,” I breathe. “That sucks.”
“I tried three times, but it’s just not worth it. I’d rather take the bus. I’m not saying my IBS is the reason I’m fat, but it doesn’t help either. Also…” He shrugs. “I don’t like to work out, and I love junk food.”
“You and me both.” I scoot a little closer, putting my hand on his arm. “You know you look great, right? No one is perfect, and IBS sucks balls, and yeah you’re overweight, but that doesn’t make you any less gorgeous.”
He’s still not looking at me. “I’m fine with who I am. I’m fine with how I look. But let’s not pretend I’m anyone’s wet dream.”
“Andre.” My voice is firm, causing him to look at me, finally. “Stop it. That’s bullshit. I’ve told you from the day we met that you’re cute. I don’t lie. Ever. You know that. When I tell you that you look good, I mean it. You’re a very attractive man.”
He finally smiles. “Thank you. You’re beautiful too.”
“Oh honey, I know.” I stick out my tongue, making him laugh. “Even with my small dick, I’m still quite happy with myself. And normally, I know you feel the same way about yourself. You’re confident and at ease in your body. That’s what makes you sexy. Your energy. Your vibe. Your personality. If I was single, I’d be all over you.”
His eyes are still on me, and something flashing in those dark depths. Something that renders me unable to move or speak. “You would?” he asks, his voice deep and raspy.
I nod, my voice no longer working.
“If you were single…” Andre doesn’t end his sentence, leaving the unspoken words to create a thick kind of tension between us.
I don’t know what this means. What was he going to say? My skin prickles at the options, but I refuse to think about what might be if I was single. Fact is I’m not. I love Kian, and I live with him, and Andre is just a friend.
“More beer?” he asks, jumping up from the couch. That effectively breaks the spell. “I need a beer.”
“Yeah,” I agree. “Me too.”
He sits down further away from me, and turns on the TV. We both drink our beers in silence while he turns on Gilmore Girls. We watch in silence, uncomfortable around each other for the first time ever. Nothing happened, not really, but still… Did I cross a line? I don’t think I did, but it sure feels like it.
When I leave after watching one episode, we hug goodbye, both patting each other’s backs in the way you do when you’re trying to make it very obvious to everyone involved that you’re just friends. He walks me to the door like he always does, and I make a joke about him now being able to get back to his gay romance novel and his left hand. He smiles, but his heart isn’t in it.
All the way home, I try to figure out exactly when the mood shifted. Was it when I told him I think he’s beautiful? Or before that, when I touched his arm? When I made a joke about his big hands? Sooner even, when he confided in me about something that I think not many people know about him? Or was it when I said I’d be all over him if I wasn’t taken already? I think it was that last comment that did it. Fuck. He must think I’m terrible, saying stuff like that when I’m in a relationship. It just came out. I didn’t mean anything by it.
When I come home, I make a decision. Kian and I need to work this out. Our fight is messing with my head, and I want to be clear-minded again. He’s already in bed, so I undress and slip in with him, folding my body around his and softly kissing his neck until he wakes up.
“Hey,” he murmurs drowsily. “You’re home.”
“I want to make up. I hate it when we fight.”
“Me too.” He kisses me hard, his hands moving over my body. “I missed you. I missed this. I’m sorry I was a dick.”
“I’m sorry I humiliated you.”
That’s all we say about it. Next thing I know, we’re kissing, clothes come off, and we’re jerking each other off in a frenzy. We stop when we’re about to come, taking turns going down on each other. We both come in record time, needing to let off steam quite badly after the past couple of days.
Afterwards, he goes right back to sleep, snuggled up to me. I lie awake for a long time, staring at the ceiling, wondering when our next fight will be. I should have listened to Andre’s warnings. Kian asking me to move in with him was another band-aid to fix the mess we were in back then. Our fights are still about the same things. Nothing has been resolved.
The only thing that changed is that I’m stuck here now. I’ve got nowhere to go when we fight. No more apartment of my own, and my friends all hate him and want me to leave him. Everyone but Andre, who has been my rock through all of this. I hope I didn’t mess that up tonight, because I can’t lose him. He’s one of my best friends, and he keeps me sane. He’s where I run when things get tough. My safe haven.
Kian should be that for me, but I’m starting to realize he’s not.
That sucks on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin to unpack this whole mess. For now, I should just try to get some sleep. Maybe things will feel different in the morning.
Big shocker… They don’t. In fact, I feel even worse in the morning, because Kian seems to think everything is okay again. I can’t even blame him. I said I wanted to make up, we both apologized, and we had sex. That’s what we always do after a fight. Normally, it’s enough. This time, it’s not.
I think part of it is that I didn’t make up with him because I truly wanted to apologize. I just wanted things to go back to normal because I was fed up with feeling blue.
“Do you want to come tonight?” Kian asks during breakfast.
“Hmm?” I’m not sure what he’s talking about. “Come where?”
“Out with me and my colleagues. It’s just Silas, Kyle, and Chloe’s husband Cooper. You know them.”
A few weeks ago, I’d have rejoiced at being invited to hang out with Kian and his friends. He calls them colleagues, but I have a feeling they’re already more than that. Cooper isn’t even a colleague, he’s just married to a lawyer. I have good instincts about this kind of stuff. I could tell Silas is looking for friends. In town only six months, working extremely hard at the firm, and sticking around at the birthday party of a guy he doesn’t even know, trying to connect to everyone over pot brownies and anal beads. The guy is lonely, and so is Kian. They’re similar in age, interests, even demeanor. They’ll make great friends.
“I’m not sure I’m up for that tonight. You have fun though. I think I’m just gonna stay in, watch a movie.”
“Okay.” He doesn’t seem upset about me not wanting to have a beer with him and the guys. Maybe he’s even relieved, who knows? I do humiliate him all the time, after all.
“How did things end between Kyle and Chase, by the way?” I ask, looking for something else to talk about. “Did he say anything?”
Kian grins. “Andre didn’t tell you? Apparently, they hit it off so well Chase has been coming over every night since. Not sure if it’s anything serious, but it sure sounds like how we started. We both know a one-night stand can turn into way more than that.”
“Yeah.” I try to mirror his smile. “It really can.”
“Are you okay? You seem off.” He looks concerned now. “Do we need to talk about what happened? I know we made up, but if you still want to talk it out some more…”
“No,” I reply quickly. The last thing I want right now is to rehash it all. What good will it do? We tried to talk things through all the other times we fought, and nothing really changed, did it? “We’re good. I’m just tired, I guess. I’ve got the morning off, so I might just take a nap or something.”
“Sure babe, go back to bed.” He gives me a kiss when he gets up from the table. “I’ve got to get to work. Can you clean up? I promise I’ll make up for it by cooking tonight and doing all the dishes.”
“Sure.” I get up as well, picking up the plates. “Kick ass in court today.”
He fastens his tie. “Will do. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
I do. I really do, and I know he does too. But is it enough? I’m not so sure anymore.