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Double or Nothing

By Stephen Littlewood All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Romance

1 - New Beginnings

‘Does it really matter?’ I called into the bedroom, where Caleb was dissecting my wardrobe.

‘Of course it does!’ He yelled at me, astounded that I could think anything different. ‘It’s your first day of work, you need to make an impression.’ He stepped out of the room with a hanger containing plain white shirt, a suit jacket I hadn’t worn in 3 years, a pair of plain black trousers and a rather lavish tie that I wasn’t aware I owned. ‘It’s my tie, but you can borrow it.’ He winked at me and handed the hanger over to me and pointed toward the bedroom. ‘Go, get changed. You can NOT wear jeans to your first day of work. You’re an administrator, not a mechanic.’

‘Oh relax, they said it was informal.’ I told him, though neverless I headed through the door to get changed out of my pale blue jeans and black shirt. ‘I guess I’d better wear decent shoes as well, then? My converse aren’t gonna go well with this suit.’ I laughed.

‘If you really think you can wear converse with a suit I am running for the hills. I can not be with a man who would think such a thing.’ Caleb laughed, kissing my cheek as I walked into the room. ‘Now get changed. You don’t want to be late.’

‘You know you love how uncoordinated I am.’ I told him just as I danced out of his reach and closed the door behind me.

I quickly changed and when I stepped out Caleb was busy in the kitchen.

‘Okay, so we have ham sandwiches, a couple of chocolate bars and a bottle of orange juice. Am I missing anything?’ Caleb asked, smiling at me.

‘You didn’t have to make my lunch for me.’ I said, smiling nonetheless.

‘Actually I did. Go get your coat. I’ll put this in your bag. If you don’t leave in the next 5 minutes you’ll miss your bus. Come on, I’ll walk you to the stop. I need to head in that direction anyway, I have an interview in town.’

‘I didn’t realise I was running that late!’ I checked my watch quickly and realised he was right. I ran into the hall and grabbed my coat, shrugging it on quickly and turning to find Caleb stood inches away from me.

‘Come on then, we don’t want you to be late!’

Caleb walked me to the bus stop and I gave him a kiss on the cheek as we said goodbye. I got on the bus, sat down, and put my earphones in, willing the time away, while he walked to his 4th job interview that week.

The morning went by in a blur of meeting people and learning the ropes. Most of it was pretty straightforward, there didn’t seem to be anything I would be incapable of. There were a few complexities but I had someone I could go to with any questions or concerns.

On the afternoon, a guy around my age walked into the office and sat down on the desk nearest mine, which I had assumed was to remain empty.

After a quick exchange, I introduced myself for what felt like the millionth time that day.

‘Ryan, Ryan Green. And you?’

‘Joshua Spearing. My friends call me Josh.’ The guy replied. He was one of the few people who had actually stuck out to me that day, it was a few things that made me notice him. First of all his desk was only a few feet from mine, but he had that morning off, so I hadn’t met him until the afternoon. Second, he was the only person in the building anywhere near me age. Everyone was at least 30+ in the office, and at 19 I was the baby of the office, evidently. Josh was 22, and I only knew that because everyone had mentioned how he wouldn’t be the youngest any more.

‘Oh! I’ve heard about you. You’re my predecessor as the youngest guy in the office.’ I laughed, a little nervously.

‘You heard about that, huh?’ He blushed slightly and scratched the back of his head. ‘I was your age when I started, so I’ve been the youngest for 3 years. It’s good to pass the baton, so to speak.’

‘I’ll bet.’ I smiled a little. ‘Although I think that, instead of me being the new young one, we should stick together as the youngest guys in the office. We can be the cool young guys and talk about things no one else will understand.’ I suggested.

‘You see that could work, but to talk about things, we’d need to find common ground, some interests that we both have.’ Josh pointed out.

‘Well then we may have to go through the horrible process of getting to know each other.’ I made a face which led to Josh laughing and started off our friendship.

‘So, where are you from? Your accent doesn’t really ring a bell.’ Josh asked.

‘Oh my accent is kind of generic now. I’ve lived in so many different places. My parents liked to travel a lot. When I turned 16 we stayed in this area so I could actually go to college and finish it in the same place. When they moved on, I decided to stay with my boyfriend. We have our own place now and everything.’

‘Ah, sounds interesting.’ Josh said, taking more of an interest than I had expected.

‘Not really. More of an inconvenience. My parents liked to move every little while so I never really managed to make friends properly, and I was constantly moving from school to school. It was a nightmare. I’ve stayed in contact with a few people, but mainly I just had whirlwind friendships that lasted as long as I was there and then would cut off. Now I actually have a chance to have a proper life and make friends and work and be normal.’

‘Take my word for it, normal is over-rated. I’d rather be friends with someone weird, they are far more interesting.’ He chuckled.

‘I’m not weird. I’m just not totally like everybody else.’ I protested.

‘Oh I didn’t mean you! I wasn’t trying to be insulting or anything!’ He blushed again and I smiled.

‘Chill out. I’m winding you up.’ I grinned and he smiled sheepishly. ‘So anyway, now I’m living just outside the city limits. Near the grammar school. What about you?’

‘Well I was born here, raised here, and I’ve basically only ever left for holidays. I actually live not too far from you. I’m just inside the city limits, and I can see the school from my house. We should meet up some time. I would offer to show you the local area, but if you’ve been here for 3 years, you’ve probably got most of it down by now.’ Josh suggested.

‘You say that, but I only really ever to bother to learn how to get to where I need to go. I don’t really many local places. To this day I don’t have many friends, so I’ve never really had any reason to learn the places people could have fun here.’ I laughed. ‘You may be able to impart some wisdom yet.’

‘Well if you ever feel like it, here’s my phone number.’ He told me, scribbling down a number on a sticky note and handing it to me. ‘Give me a call any time.’

‘I hope you’re not hitting on me, I’m taken.’ I grinned, and he chuckled.

‘Yeah, you said. Don’t worry, I’m happily spoken for as well. I just figured you might be able to use a friend is all. Anyway, we should probably get on with some work, I know I have a lot to do, and you probably do as well.’ He said, thereby cutting off the conversation.

‘Yeah, I do. Well I’ll chat to you later.’ I replied, and went back to work.

The work was dull, it wasn’t the most interesting of jobs, and hardly rewarding, but it paid decently and it was the best I could ask for at that point in time. My skill set was severely lacking, I was intelligent, but with very few actual qualifications, and I refused to spend so much money going to university. So I was glad I had gotten the opportunity to have a job, and it was mainly just a way to bring in enough money to live. And I was pretty good at it. The challenge was staying focused, and I had a lot of focus, it took a lot to distract me from doing anything.

After a few hours it was nearing the end of the day, and I had worked my way through a list of tasks which were required for me to catch up on what my predecessor had left. I was around half way through. The issue was that I had to work through that list, while also making sure everything new that came in was dealt with there and then. The last thing I wanted to do was leave everything new to fall behind as well, because that would mean I would be perpetually behind on all the work.

‘So, what are your plans for the evening then?’ Josh asked me, I looked up and noticed he was stood in front of my desk, smiling at me.

‘Probably relaxing on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and some crappy tv. Why?’ I asked.

‘Just curious. Me and my partner are going to a show, and we were meant to be going with another couple, but they dropped out at the last minute. I was wondering if you and your boyfriend wanted to tag along?’ He suggested.

I smiled. ‘I’ll have to ask Caleb. He might be a bit hesitant, as he’s not always up for meeting new people, but I’ll give him a call and let you know.’ I told him, taking my phone out and heading outside the office.

I quickly dialed Caleb’s number and within 2 rings he answered. ‘Ryan? What’s wrong?’ He asked, as always, assuming there must be something wrong.

‘Nothing, I just wanted to ask a favour.’ I reassured him.

‘Oh, what is it?’ He asked.

‘I’ve been chatting to one of my colleagues and they have 2 spare tickets to a show tonight, and I wanted to know if you would come? I know you might not be up for it but I just thought you might do it for me.’ I smiled slightly.

‘How much are they going to cost us?’ He asked.

‘The tickets? Nothing. Josh and his partner were going on a double date but the other couple cancelled last minute so he’s invited us instead. No point in wasting tickets. I think we should probably buy them a drink in return at the very least though.’ I explained.

‘Fine. I’ll come along. What time is it?’ He was asking the questions I hadn’t, and I didn’t want to lie.

‘I don’t actually know. I’ll let you know all the details shortly. I just had to make sure you were up for it first.’

‘Okay. Well let me know all the details and I’ll make sure I’m ready to go before you finish work.’

‘Okay, see you tonight. I love you.’

‘I love you, too. See you soon.’ He hung up the phone and I walked back into the office. I walked to Josh’s desk and smiled. ‘It would appear we will be happy to join you this evening.’

He grinned at me. ‘Great! I can pick you guys up, shall we say 7:30?’

‘Perfect.’ I smiled and walked back to my desk to turn everything off and get ready to head home. It was time for me to head home, and it appeared Josh was doing the same.

‘Want a ride home?’ He asked me, smiling.

‘You drive then?’ I aksed him.

‘Indeed. And I don’t live far from you, so I can drop you off if you like?’

‘What makes you think I don’t drive?’

‘No new cars in the car park.’ He winked at me and I couldn’t help but smile.

‘Sure, I’d be grateful for a ride. Thank you.’ I told him.

‘No worries. It’s quicker than the bus, so it’d give you a little extra time to get ready for tonight.’ He smirked.

‘Very true.’

We walked outside and got into his car. It wasn’t especially fancy, but it was comfortable and functional and I was quite impressed. It can’t have been the most inexpensive car in the world, despite it’s deceptive external appearance.

‘So, what’s your full address?’ Josh asked me.

I told him the exact address and he nodded, knowing where it was without needing his GPS system. He started the car and pulled out of his parking space, leaving the car park behind and heading towards the city outskirts, in an attempt to get us both home with enough time to get ready for the evenings events.

We didn’t really speak much in the car, mainly just small talk, and I was a little relieved when we pulled up outside of my house. ‘Thank you for dropping me off. I’ll see you at 7:30.’ I said to him, stepping out of the car and walking towards the door of my home.

‘Ryan.’ I heard his voice from behind me and turned to see he had rolled the window down.

‘Yeah?’ I asked, walking back to the car.

‘Wear something… Smart.’ He said, simply, winked at me, and then rolled the window back up, driving away quickly.

I was a little confused, not really sure why he said that, but I paid no attention to it and headed inside.

‘Welcome home.’ Caleb said, smiling and giving me a hug as I walked into the door, he kissed me on the cheek before releasing me and headed back into the living room.

‘Thank you. How did your interview go?’ I asked, taking off my jacket as I followed him.

‘It seemed to go well. They said they would let me know. Are you going to get changed?’

‘I am indeed. We’re getting picked up at 7:30, so if you need to sort anything out, now would be the time.’ I told him.

‘Okay, well you get changed, I’ll make sure I’ve got everything like keys, money and so on.’ Caleb told me. We generally didn’t really bother about who paid for what. We figured that we lived together and we were an equal couple, so going out and stuff balanced out anyway really, as one of us would pay at a time. Last time we went out, I paid, this time he would pay, next time I’d probably pay again. We split living costs equally, but going out and doing things were generally pretty disorganised.

‘Okay, well I’ll try and hurry up.’ I winked at him and headed into the bedroom. The only thing that went through my mind were the words “wear something smart”. What did I have to wear? I didn’t want to wear the clothes I’d warn to work, and they were the smartest clothes I owned.

After a little while I figured I would wear what I wanted, it didn’t really matter what Josh had asked me to wear. I picked out a black shirt and a pair of black skinny jeans. That was as smart as I got on social events.

I quickly changed and put on my good watch, which had a silver strap and a rather steam-punk looking dial, but still looked quite amazing.

I headed out of the bedroom and into the living room, where Caleb was sat on the sofa, his jacket was over his legs, he was wearing a shirt and a pair of jeans as well, and the jacket he had decided to take was his leather jacket that he reserved for when he wanted to impress people. I wasn’t sure it was the appropriate type of jacket for where we were going, but I figured it didn’t really matter. If it was an issue, they just wouldn’t invite us again, and I wasn’t going to be uncomfortable just to try and fit in to get re-invited to a similar event that would require that sort of behaviour.

I smiled at Caleb and he stood up, coming over to me. He was just about to kiss me when we heard a honk from outside. I laughed and grabbed his hand, pulling him toward the door and grabbing my own jacket on the way out. As we walked toward the car we noticed that Josh and another guy were stood leaning against it, rather than actually being inside.

Josh whistled. ‘Don’t you both look amazing. If I wasn’t in a happy relationship, I might even be tempted.’ He winked, mainly at me, and I chuckled. The other guy, who I assumed was Josh’s boyfriend, elbowed him in the ribs.

‘Sorry about him. He’s a bit of a flirt. He doesn’t mean it seriously though. I’m Liam. And you guys?’

‘I’m Ryan, this is Caleb.’ I introduced us, holding out my hand, which Liam shook, and Caleb did the same.

‘Pleasure to meet you.’ Liam said, beaming at us both. ‘Anyway, come on, we’d better go.’

He walked around the car and got into the passenger seat, where I had been sat less than 2 hours before. I got a sudden, inexplicable, bout of jealousy, which passed as quickly as it came, and left me very confused.

‘You okay?’ Caleb asked as he walked around to get in the seat behind Liam.

‘I’m fine.’ I said, shrugging. ‘Just a bit of a weird feeling is all. I’ll talk to you about it later.’

I got in the seat behind Josh and moved my hand to hold Caleb’s in the back seat. He smiled at me, but it wasn’t his usual cheery smile. It was a sad smile, because he understood why I had done it. My anxiety was on the rise, and if he couldn’t keep me calm, I might just have to abandon all thought of going out.

He pulled me toward him and I rested my head on his shoulder, focusing on breathing, and trying to relax.

Josh was glancing at me in the rear-view mirror as he drove, his expression worried. Evidently he had picked up on the fact that something was wrong. Liam seemed oblivious, but he didn’t know me from Adam, he might think that it is normal for me.

Eventually I managed to calm myself down, but I didn’t move away from Caleb. He had somewhat of a medicinal effect on me. He was the only person who could keep me calm when my anxiety threatened to strike, which was, in itself, a rare thing for anyone. It had always been an unusual part of our relationship, but one that I had loved, as it made us special.

We approached the theatre and Josh found a parking space in a nearby car park, we didn’t have to walk too far to get inside. I, reluctantly, moved away from Caleb to get out of the car, and he quickly got out his side and moved around to plant himself right next to me. He kissed me cheek and grabbed my hand, holding it firmly in his, knowing that his grip made me feel safer.

Liam walked around the car and smiled at Josh as he approached, but, I noticed, he kept a short distance between them, so they weren’t touching. There was at least an inch gap between them at all times, and if Liam tried to close it, Josh would look at him, not aggressively, but with a kind of exhaustion that Liam evidently recongised and didn’t like.

I felt like I had walked in on a very private argument.

We walked into the theatre and Josh presented the four tickets, and indicated our group. We headed inside and took our seats, we had a little while until the show started, we had decided to get there a little early so we didn’t have to move through a crowd to get to our seats. Out of the four seats, Liam sat on the end, next to Josh, then I sat between Josh and Caleb. I silently thanked my lucky stars, I hadn’t quite taken to Liam, and with an anxiety attack bubbling below the surface, he would not have helped. It was no fault of his, but that’s just how I was.

‘Are you okay?’ Josh whispered to me, so the others couldn’t hear.

‘I’ll be fine.’ I told him, turned away from him.

‘That’s not what I asked.’ He replied, looking at me with the most serious expression I’d seen him have. Although that might have been because I’d only known him for half a day. ‘If you don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine, but if the only reason you’re not saying anything is because of these, we can go somewhere private and talk if you want.’

‘Like where?’ I asked, beginning to realise that I could trust Josh, and he actually made me feel secure. Not in the same way as Caleb, but he just seemed genuine and easy to get along with.

‘Follow my lead.’ He turned to Liam and smiled. ‘I’m just going to show Josh where the toilets are. He doesn’t want to miss any of the show by taking a toilet break mid-act.’

‘Okie doke.’ Liam shrugged.

Caleb raised and eyebrow at me and I just smiled at him and nodded. I had always liked how we could silently communicate. He moved so Josh and I could get out and we headed out of the main theatre.

‘So where are we going?’ I asked him.

‘Outside, we’re not gonna find a quiet spot in here, not as people start flooding in, anyway. We’re gonna go to the car.’ He told me.

‘You sure that’s wise? Every time I’ve been in your care I’ve either been tense or anxious.’

‘You’ve been in it twice, give it a chance.’ He joked, but he didn’t laugh. Even his smile didn’t touch his eyes.

‘We’re getting in the back?’ I asked as we approached the car and he opened the back door.

‘Easier to face each other than in the front.’ He told me, smiling.

‘Good point.’ I said, though I wasn’t sure it was.

We both got in and we sat, turned slightly so we were facing each other.

‘So, what’s up?’ He asked me.

‘There’s a pretty long story which I am going to try and skip in the interest of making it back in time for the show, but here’s the gist. I have problems with anxiety. It tends to be more likely to be a problem when I’m in new situations or with new people. Caleb is one of very few people who can calm me down, but even then it’s only before I go into full attack. He can keep it from coming up, but he can’t push it back down.’ I explained.

‘Okay, that makes sense. And it was bad when we were on our way here?’ He asked.


‘Okay, can I ask why?’ He asked me. ‘I mean you don’t have much reason to be anxious around us.’

‘I don’t know you guys, and I’ve never been in this situation before, I was worried I was going to do something to embarrass myself, or Caleb, or you guys, or that you guys wouldn’t like us and would stop hanging out with us, or that something bad was going to happen, there’s a lot that goes through my head once it starts.’ As I started thinking about it, tears threatened to fill my eyes.

‘Oh…’ He looked at me and noticed that I was starting to get worked up. ‘Ryan, you have nothing to worry about, everything is fine. I’m not going to go off you guys over one night, and Liam is just a bit weird, but he’s lovely really. Tonight he’s in a weird mood anyway, so don’t pay too much attention to him.’

I smiled and a tear slid down my cheek.

‘Oh come here you silly, silly man.’ He pulled me in for a hug and I was so shocked the tears stopped and I just sat there wondering what was happening. ‘Feeling any better?’ He asked, before he released me.

‘Less anxious. More confused. A little bit shocked. Actually, make that a lot shocked.’ I was staring at one spot just above his shoulder, where my head had been.

‘Right, not a hug person, got it.’ Josh said, chuckling, evidently trying to lighten the mood.

‘No it’s not that I’m not a hug person. I’m just not used to being hugged by someone I’ve known for a grand total of 8 hours.’ I told him, finally looking at him. ‘And I’m kinda reserved. I don’t do physical contact much, the reason I’m confused is because it didn’t bother me all that much.’

‘Oh. Well maybe I’m just special.’ He winked at me and we both laughed. I couldn’t explain why I felt comfortable with him, but I knew that if he wasn’t a good guy, I wouldn’t. I had always been a very good judge of character, and this was one guy who I knew I could get along with fairly easily.

‘Shall we head back? Caleb will be wondering where I’ve gotten to, and if I take too long, he won’t hesitate to come looking for me.’ I warned Josh. ‘If he finds out you weren’t telling the truth, he’ll be very wary of you as well, at least until I explain everything.’

‘You’re very open with him aren’t you?’ Josh asked, and somewhere in his expression there was a sadness that seemed to consume the light that normally inhabited his eyes.

’Yeah, we’re always honest with each other. We find it’s easier to work together if we are open with each other in what is happening, what we think, our opinions, ideas, activities. We prefer it that way.’I told him. ‘It’s not how all relationships work, but it helps ours a great deal.’

‘I wish Liam was like that with me…’ He shook his head and smiled again. ‘Not that I should tell you that. Pretend I didn’t say anything, at least for now. We can talk about it another time. We should really head back now.’

We got back to the theatre just as Caleb was getting impatient. He looked at me, sternly, knowing I hadn’t just gone to the toilet. I put a hand on his shoulder. ‘Relax.’ I told him, and he did. He knew I wouldn’t ask him to if there was a reason for him to be tense, and he trusted my judgement more than his own. We both knew he could be rash and impulsive with some opinions, but I was calm, collected and a better judge of people and situations.

The show appeared to be made of 3 acts, with a short interval between each act. After the first act we went out and got ourselves a round of drinks, but we didn’t bother for the second interval, as we had gotten stuck in the crowd on the way back in at the first interval, and we decided it wasn’t worth it.

As we sat there, I talked to Caleb while Josh and Liam had their own discussion. I kept hearing snippets of their conversation, but I tried not to listen, as it wasn’t my place to know what they were talking about.

‘So what did you really do?’ Caleb asked me, he was being quiet enough so that Liam and Josh couldn’t hear us, and I knew it was because he knew that Josh had lied to Liam, and he wasn’t sure how Liam would react if he found out.

‘We just talked. I explained about my anxiety, I know, I know.’ I saw the shocked expression on Caleb’s face which led me to reassure him. ‘But I’ve just taken to Josh really well. He’s a good guy, and he wants to help. He can calm me down, too. Not as well as you can, you’ll always be my superhero.’ I smiled at him. ‘But he has a calming presence, and he’s the only other person I’ve met like that.’

‘You want to keep him around, so you want to make sure he’s aware of everything in case anything happens and he just thinks you’re being weird and decides not to hang out. I know your thought process, Ryan, and I know what you’re doing, but I’ve seen how he’s interacted with you. You’re not going to lose him easily.’ Caleb looked at me, seriously. ‘I’m more aware of things than you might think. Josh likes you. I mean, seriously likes. If you weren’t both in relationships he’d be following you to the ends of the earth likes.’

‘You’re misjudging the situation.’ I told him, laughing. ‘We’re just friends. Besides, even if he did, I have you, and he knows that. He’d be stupid to try and get between us.’ I chuckled.

‘Of course, judging by the comment when he picked us up, I think between us might be just where he wants to be.’ Caleb winked and we both laughed.

‘You are terrible.’ I told him.

‘You love it, though.’ He replied, and we both just sat grinning for a little while.

It wasn’t long after that when the show continued and we all settled down to watch.

Once the show was finished, and the clapping had ceased, we headed out to get ourselves some drinks and have a chat, but we decided to go elsewhere rather than the bar right by the theatre, as that was going to be packed with people.

We headed to a bar a little ways away, and we had all decided that we wouldn’t stay out too late, as we did need to get some sleep as it was a Thursday night which meant that me and Josh had work in the morning. I wasn’t sure if Liam worked or not, but judging by the way the conversation went, I had guessed that he didn’t.

We went into the bar and ordered our drinks. Cola for myself and Josh, and Liam and Caleb both ordered a pint of lager each. We sat at a table in a corner where it was relatively quiet and got chatting.

Caleb and Liam ended up talking, but it was mainly because Josh and I were caught up in our own conversation and had left them to entertain themselves. There was music playing, and a small dance floor was being used by a few patrons, but Caleb wouldn’t dance with anyone but me, partly because he knew how jealous I could get.

As I chatted with Josh I began to notice how I was inching closer to him, and away from Caleb. I tried to convince myself that it was just because of the noise and I wanted to hear him better, but I wasn’t entirely sure that’s all it was.

After a little while Caleb, becoming rather annoyed at the fact that I was basically ignoring him, decided to get my attention and ask if we wanted to dance. I smiled and stood up and we walked off to the dance floor, leaving Liam and Josh behind, I was aware that there was some tension between them, but I wasn’t sure if it would affect the remainder of the evening or not.

After dancing for a little while, and another round of drinks, we all decided to head off home in order to get a decent nights sleep for the early morning that myself and Josh would need for work the next day.

As Josh parked the car outside of my house, he stopped me quickly.

‘Hey, Ryan, do you want me to pick you up in the morning and take you to work? I’ll be doing a full day tomorrow, so we should be starting at the same time.’ He offered.

‘That’d be great, thanks!’ I smiled, and he smiled back at me through the rear-view mirror.

I got out of the car, and Caleb and I walked into the house. I was exhausted from the days events, a full day of work and then a social event afterward led me to a mental state where I would have loved to sleep for several days.

‘I’m just gonna go to bed.’ I told Caleb. ‘I’m exhausted.’

‘I’ll be in in a minute, I just want to sort some stuff for the morning.’ He replied, smiling at me.

I walked into the bedroom, changed into a pair of shorts I used to sleep in, and climbed into the bed, falling asleep quickly. I was disturbed slightly when Caleb came to bed, but after that I slept like a baby until the shrill sound of my alarm going off the next morning.

I climbed out of bed, which seemed to take a lot of effort, like I had weights attached to my arms and legs, and walked into the kitchen. I needed caffeine, immediately.

I poured myself a coffee and drank it while arranging my lunch for the day ahead, and once I had prepared my lunch I headed to get dressed. With a little caffeine in my system I was like a new man. I was awake and being productive and I was proud of myself for it.

Once I was dressed for work I headed back into the living room and grabbed my backpack, put my lunch in it, along with my wallet and keys and that was when I heard the honk from outside.

I grabbed my jacket as I headed outside into the cold morning air, which awoke me further, and walked towards the car that was waiting for me. I got in the passenger seat and smiled.

‘Morning.’ Josh said to me.

‘Good morning!’ I sang, smiling to myself.

‘You’re very chipper this morning.’ He commented, and when I looked at him I realised why. He looked like he hadn’t slept at all.

‘A mixture of a good night’s sleep and coffee.’ I told him, smiling a little. ‘You don’t look so good, are you okay?’

‘I just didn’t sleep well. Me and Liam had a bit of an argument. It’s fine though.’ He reassured me. ‘I had to convince him that there was nothing going on between me and you, how crazy is that?’ He scoffed. ‘It’s like he doesn’t trust me enough to believe that I wouldn’t cheat on him with someone I hardly know.’

‘That is a bit mad. If you’re in a relationship with someone you should be able to trust them. I mean, I can get jealous, but if I say something to Caleb, and he assures me everything is fine, I believe him, I’m not going to fight with him over something that hasn’t happened.’ I shrugged. ‘I guess it’s not my place to say that, sorry.’

‘No, don’t worry about it. I get what you mean. And I know you’re just trying to help. You’re a nice guy. I just wish Liam wouldn’t take me talking to you as me going behind his back. I’ve never done anything to warrant his suspicion, and I don’t know why he would start saying stuff like that.’ He sighed. ‘Anyway, I’m gonna try not to focus on it too much. There’s not much I can do right now, and worrying about it won’t help. I’ll talk to him tonight when I get back from work. I’m sure he’ll come around eventually.’

‘Yeah, that’s the best way to look at it. And if you need anyone to talk to, you know where I am.’ I told him, smiling sadly.

‘Thanks, I appreciate it.’ He pulled out of the parking space and started driving towards the office. The car was quiet again, but it wasn’t tense, or oppressive. It was a comfortable silence, a morning where talking wasn’t really required, and we were thinking about different things. We didn’t feel the need to break it because we were both comfortable with the idea of just sitting.

When we arrived at work I smiled at Josh. ‘Shall we?’ I asked, gesturing towards the building.

‘I guess we should. Not like I can put it off.’ He smiled and stepped out of the car. I got out as well and he locked it as we walked toward the building. We walked through the doors and into the office where we worked. We both went to our own desks and started everything up and running.

‘Coffee?’ I asked, walking toward the kitchen.

‘Please. I think I need a good shot of caffeine.’ He answered, looking at me like I had just answered his prayers.

‘How do you take it?’ I asked.

‘White, 1 sugar.’ He told me, smiling.

‘Okie doke. I’ll be back in a minute.’ I said, walking out of the door and heading toward the kitchen.

I found 2 clean cups and placed them near the kettle. The company provided instant coffee, which wasn’t the best in the world, but it was enough to keep you going through the day. I put a spoon full of the coffee granules into each cup followed by the sugar, and added a little bit of milk to each cup. When the kettle hit the boiling point I filled the cups, stirred each drink so that everything mixed together, and then took them back into the office.

‘Here you go.’ I placed one of the cups on his desk. ‘White with one sugar.’ I told him, and then walked toward my own desk.

‘Thanks.’ He smiled at me and then turned back to his keyboard where he was furiously typing. I figured it was an important email and sat back at my own computer. I checked through my emails and found a few things that needed to be done that day and so I set to work.

4 hours and 6 cups of coffee later, it was lunch time. I didn’t like the idea of eating at my desk, so I headed into the kitchen, where there was a small table and 3 chairs around it so you could sit at it and eat, not that many people did.

I sat down with my lunch box and smiled as Josh walked into the kitchen and, after seeing me, sat down in one of the other chairs. ‘So, what’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?’ He asked, winking at me and smiling.

‘Ummm… Having lunch?’ I shrugged my shoulders and he laughed.

‘How are you finding the job?’ He asked me, taking out one of his own sandwiches.

‘It’s not too bad. Pretty dull, and not something I plan to do for too long a time, but I can stick at it until something better comes along.’ I told him, trying to be as honest as I could be.

‘And by something better you mean?’

‘More interesting and pays more.’ I said, chuckling.

‘Well don’t we all want a job like that?’ He smiled.

‘I guess, but I’m determined.’ I chuckled. ‘A lot of people say that’s what they want and then sit idly by doing the job they don’t want while the job they do want is there for them to just reach out and grab.’

‘It’s not easy to get a new job.’ Josh said, with a tone suggesting he was warning me against disappointment.

‘I know, but I’m not easily swayed from my goals.’ I told him, smiling. ‘I can be very stubborn when I want to be.’

‘I’m sure you can.’

It wasn’t much longer when our lunch break was over and we returned to our desks, continuing with work. I was counting down the hours at that point. It was Friday, so that evening was the start of the weekend. I couldn’t wait.

When the clock on my computer reached 5pm I closed it down and grabbed my jacket. ‘Time to go home.’ I said, smiling to myself.

Josh nodded, he was taking his jacket off the back of his chair as well. ‘Want me to drop you off?’ He asked me.

‘I don’t really mind getting the bus. I feel like I’m imposing with you picking me up and dropping me off all the time.’ I said, shrugging.

‘It’s not a problem. I’m coming here and going back anyway, it’s not like I’m going too out of my way. You live like 2 minutes away.’

‘Well if you’re sure…’ I said, not completely convinced.

‘Stop being silly. If I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t offer.’ He said, smiling at me. ‘Come on.’

I followed him to his car and we got in. ‘So, any plans for the weekend?’ He asked, starting the car and pulling out of the parking space, heading toward the exit.

‘Not really. We don’t get out much. We might go and see a movie on Sunday, but we haven’t properly planned that yet.’ I shrugged.

‘Any idea what movie?’ He asked.

‘Well I was thinking about that new one with the robots.’ I said. The name of the movie had completely escaped me, but Josh knew what I meant.

‘Oh, yeah. I’ve been meaning to see that, myself.’ He said, nodding.

‘Oh, well you and Liam could always come with me and Caleb, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.’ I said, smiling.

‘I’ll have to have a chat with Liam about it first, because I’m not entirely sure he’d be interested, to be honest, but I’ll let you know tomorrow.’ Josh said, nodding.

‘Okay, well you can always text me.’ I said.

‘I don’t have your number.’ He said, sounding confused.

‘That’s why I’m going to give you it.’ I chuckled.

‘Ah. Makes sense.’ He said, handing his phone to me.

I put my number in his phone and took his number to put in mine.

‘There we go, all done.’ I said.

‘If you could just put it down there, that’d be great.’ He said, gesturing to a little holder which was just big enough for a phone.

‘Okay.’ I put the phone in the holder and put my own phone back in my jacket pocket.

‘And we’re here.’ Josh said, parking outside my house.

‘Thanks for the ride. I may see you on Sunday, but if not, have a good weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.’ I told him before I got out of the car.

I walked in the house and hung my jacket up, taking my phone out of the pocket before I walked into the living room and saw something I wished I hadn’t.

‘What are you doing here?’ I spat, the venom in my voice a sharp contrast to the peaceful attitude I had just had.

‘It’s nice to see you, too.’ My father replied, without any shock at my reaction.

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