#41 Crossing lines
The next couple of days I distract myself from all the Kian drama by looking for apartments, working my ass off on design work for the few websites Thom and I are working on – no rush this time, we’ve a couple of months to complete the work – and finishing up the Valentine’s Day campaign for Liv and Andre.
Oh Andre… We have a very hard time staying away from each other, so we basically… don’t. No, we don’t kiss again, but we flirt like crazy, have lunch together every single day, I help out at the coffee shop when I can, and we call every night for over an hour. It’s almost easy to forget about Kian, but I know that I need to see him soon. In two days, in fact. Today is the day before Valentine’s Day, and I’ll see him the day after. He found some stuff I left behind, and I accidentally packed up some of his books. He texted me, asking me to meet up, and I agreed, but not to coming to the house. I don’t want flashbacks of him and Silas in bed together. Don’t want to imagine them sitting on the couch, having wine, kissing and talking.
No, I don’t want Kian back, but fucking hell, it still hurts that he did this to me. I thought he loved me. I was willing to change for him, forgive him for all his fuckups, and work hard to save our relationship. All that time, he was sleeping with someone else.
When the workday is coming to a close, Sandra is on her phone behind the counter. It’s almost closing time and the bakery is empty. Andre is cleaning up, and I am finishing up a sketch I was making to win over a new client when Thomas and I pitch our proposal to him in a few weeks. When Andre is preoccupied, I get up and motion for Sandra to follow me to the back. Liv never allowed me in the kitchen, but when she’s not here, no one tells me off for breaking the rules. Well, Andre does, but he’s not paying attention right now.
“Are the cookies ready?” I whisper to Sandra, referring to the order I placed a few days ago.
She grins and motions for me to follow her. The box she shows me is black with little red hearts on it. Pretty but not too girly. Inside are 14 cookies, spelling out “be my Valentine?” Extremely cheesy, I know, but I couldn’t help myself. Andre and I are not even close to being anything official, but I want him to know I’m serious about him. He is not a rebound. No matter how fast or slow we’ll end up taking things, he’s so much more than that.
“Dylan?” Andre calls out from the bakery. “Please tell me you’re not in the kitchen! Liv is going to kill you.”
Laughing, I join him out front. “Drama queen. Liv is upstairs, nursing Aurora. She’s not going to pop in here to bust me. Wanna grab dinner with me?”
“I’ve got plans with the guys.” Andre hesitates. “You’re welcome to join, if you want to. I mean, please don’t feel like you have to, but if you want to… It’s just me, Malik, Chase, and Ivan eating pizza and watching movies.”
“I’d love to join.” I love that we’re still doing the things friends would do. I’m certain we’ll eventually get to the actual kissing and dating part of our relationship, but for now this will do. Hanging out with him is always amazing.
We say goodbye to Sandra and get into my car together. Everyone is gathering at Ivan’s house tonight. His wife Jayne is home too, but she’s upstairs reading a book, only coming down for a moment to greet everyone and grab some pizza before going back up.
“It’s guys’ night,” Ivan explains when I look at him with raised eyebrows. “Tomorrow, I’ve got all my attention on her, but not tonight. Last week, she had her girls’ night and I was the one upstairs taking care of the kids and doing laundry. We take turns.”
That’s kind of sweet. In fact, it’s very healthy. I understand that not all couples have the same group of friends. This is how Kian and I could have handled things too, if we’d been able to figure out a healthy way to cope with our issues. Jayne and Ivan are both fine with this arrangement, and it’s not like Jayne hates Andre and the others. She just doesn’t feel like hanging out with the guys the entire night, just like Ivan would probably rather hang himself than listen to her friends yapping all night.
Malik, Ivan, Andre and I sit around drinking beers and eating pizza for a while, chatting about our lives. Finally, when we’re almost done eating, Chase arrives. He’s not alone. Just like Andre, he brought someone.
Kian’s colleague Kyle.
The moment our eyes meet, the mood shifts and things get uncomfortable.
“Dylan,” he says in a tight voice. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
I manage a fake smile. “Andre invited me. I didn’t expect to see you either.”
“Sorry guys.” Chase grimaces. “I didn’t know Dylan would be here, or I wouldn’t have brought Kyle.”
Ivan waves away his apology with his big hand. “It’s not like Kyle cheated on Dylan, right?”
That’s true, but that doesn’t mean I feel comfortable around the guy. “I bet he knew, though. About Silas.”
Kyle’s expression says it all. He definitely knew. “I’m sorry. They’re my friends, so yeah… I knew. I didn’t like what they were doing, but it didn’t feel like my place to tell anyone.”
Chase gives his boyfriend – or whatever Kyle is to him – a disappointed look. “If you ever pull anything like that on me, I will cut off your balls and feed them to you. Then I’ll chop off your dick as well and rape your ass with it. Not even kidding. I will fucking end you.”
Kyle shudders. “Duly noted. I’m really sorry, Dylan.”
“It’s okay.” Of course it’s not even close to okay, but I understand why he didn’t tell me. We only met once or twice, and it’s not like we’re friends. He doesn’t owe me anything. I didn’t tell any of Thomas’ girlfriends years ago that he held a candle for Franny all that time. I didn’t tell Tracy’s boyfriend Michel that she’d fucked Thomas up against his front door. You always pick your friend’s side, even if said friend is being a dipshit. Of course you can use tough love on them, but you don’t rat them out. Ever.
“Should we leave?” Chase asks.
“No, of course not. Sit down. There’s still some pizza left.” I get up to give myself something to do. “Beers?”
“White wine,” Chase replies. “And a coke for Kyle. He’s got a big case tomorrow and he can’t afford to be hungover for that.”
I turn and walk into Ivan’s kitchen like it’s not the second time I’ve ever been in this house. Andre follows me closely, leaning against the counter while I pour drinks for Chase and Kyle.
“Hey,” he breathes when he sees my hands are trembling. He takes the bottle of wine from me and finishes what I was doing. “It’s okay, Dylan. It must be tough seeing one of Kian’s friends, especially since Kyle knew all along that Kian was cheating on you. If you want to go home, that’s alright.”
I shake my head. “No, it’s fine. I can handle it. Kyle didn’t do anything to me. Kian and Silas did. Of course Kyle wasn’t going to tell on his friends. That would be insane. He seems like a nice enough guy, and if he’s with Chase now, I’ll have to get to know both of them eventually, right?”
“You don’t have to,” Andre argues. “Why would you?”
“Chase is one of your best friends, and he’s with Kyle now. Once we start dating…” I trail off, but I’m pretty sure my meaning is clear.
Andre comes closer, putting a hand on my shoulder. “Dylan, if being here makes you uncomfortable and you want to leave, that won’t change anything between us. You know that, right?”
That small touch is already setting my skin on fire, making it hard to be upset about anything. “I know. Let’s just go back to the guys and start that movie.”
“Fine.” He grabs the drinks for Chase and Kyle while I carry my water and Andre’s beer. I’m our designated driver, of course, and I already had two beers, so I’m not gonna have any more tonight.
We all settle into Ivan’s huge corner sofa, except for Chase and Kyle who are awfully snug in the love seat.
“No,” Malik groans when Ivan turns on the movie. “Not another chick flick. Seriously, I have nothing against being friends with a shitload of gay men, but why do we always have to watch chick flicks?”
“Hey, I love this movie,” Ivan tells him sternly. “Jayne hates my romcoms, she’s all about action movies, so these movie nights are my only chance to get in a sappy flick.”
“Plus, I may be gay, but I hate romcoms,” Kyle adds.
“The Choice is not a romcom,” Andre says, his arm resting on the back of the couch behind me. He’s not embracing me, but I still feel all tingly. “It’s a romantic drama, and I love it.”
“Hey, isn’t this the movie we’ve watched and not actually seen a million times already?” I laugh when everyone gives us knowing looks. “No, not like that. We talked through it, nothing exciting.”
“Then let’s finally watch it.” Ivan shushes us and turns his attention on the TV screen.
For the first time ever, Andre and I pay attention to the storyline instead of discussing anything and everything like there isn’t a movie on the screen. As the story progresses, I get more comfortable on the couch, pulling a leg underneath myself and leaning slightly against Andre. He puts his arm around me, his fingers tracing patterns up and down my arm. It’s all still innocent, sort of, but it doesn’t feel like it. Not at all.
We stay that way for a long time, both of us pretending we’re not wanting so much more than a little snuggle on the couch. It’s nice though, watching a movie with his friends, and I adore how he oh-so-casually pulls me a little closer every few moments, and how he rests his head on top of mine.
Still, I manage to watch the movie. It’s basically about a girl who is in a crappy relationship with a boring guy she should have left ages ago because he doesn’t seem all that serious about her. He’s not a bad guy or anything, just not right for her. When she moves to a new place, she absolutely hates her new neighbor, but of course she ends up getting a mad kind of connection with him. The flirting becomes more and more obvious, and the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
At one point, there is this scene where they just had dinner together, and he’s trying to get her to dance with him, but she refuses. He asks: “Why do you make it so hard for me to flirt with you?” She answers: “Because if you made it easy, you wouldn’t flirt with me anymore.” In that instant, the moment she admits she feels it too, everything changes. You can actually see the shift in energy in both of them. There’s some more back-and-forth, but then, finally… they kiss.
I turn my face up to Andre’s at the exact same moment he looks down at me. Finally, I understand why he chose this movie to watch with me every single time. It’s like watching us. No, we didn’t kiss while I was still with Kian, but we did have that same energy between us that the man and woman on the screen do. We still do.
“Do you like the movie?” Andre asks quietly, his arm still tightly around me.
“Yes,” I murmur. “Very much.”
We both go in for a kiss at the same time, our lips fusing together. It’s only been a few days since our last kiss, but damn, it feels like coming up for air after hours under water. We don’t go all in, there’s no tongue or anything, but it still feels like an electric current moves through my body. Before pulling back, he brushes his lips against mine one last time for the sweetest, most tender kiss.
When we turn back to the movie, no one is watching the screen anymore. Instead, all eyes are on us.
“What?” Andre asks innocently, pressing a kiss to the top of my head almost provocatively.
“Nothing.” Ivan grins. “I thought you were taking things slow.”
“We are,” we reply in unison.
“God, you’re cute together,” Chase comments from Kyle’s lap.
He’s not wrong. The rest of the movie, we stay wrapped up in each other. The movie gets pretty sad at the end when she has a car accident and slips into a coma, and I tear up a little. Andre finds that cute and teases me about it. I wipe my eyes and kiss him again, loving that somehow, that seems to be okay tonight. This doesn’t change that I need to have closure with Kian, but this night feels too good to stop snuggling with Andre. He won’t let me anyway, his arm always firmly around my shoulders, and his lips constantly finding mine.
It takes every ounce of self-control we have for me not to go in with him when I drop him off at his place later that night. We do kiss goodbye for five minutes straight, way more hot and heavy than with his friends all there with us on the couch, but that’s it. Nothing more than kissing. We agreed to take things slow, and while we’re not too great at that, we should at least stop here and not cross any more lines.