“No Aleah, absolutely fucking not. I love you but you can’t make me do that.”
This girl is either high or still wacked out on post pregnancy hormones because like fuck am I spending the only week I’ve had off from work all bastard year looking after a bunch of hormonal fucking teenagers. She may be my best friend but even friendship has its limits.
“Josh, please! Jayce already signed on but his shoulder is fucked and the rehab guy said it’s crunch time so he can’t be throwing baskets with his kid brother right now. I know it’s a lot to ask babes... Please... Hang on, Chase just unlatched again. Where the fuck are those nipple shields?”
I don’t know what’s worse, that I’m so used to her breastfeeding in front of me I know exactly where her shields are or that she’s emotionally blackmailing me with Jayce’s injury. He’s been really down since it happened and she knows I don’t want to see that husband of hers drop further.
“They’re in that cupboard by the sink Al, second shelf... Ask Steve to go, there’s still a few months before the wedding so he’s got time.”
Charlie waves at me from across the office, half looking at me and half checking himself out in the glass walls. He’s wearing that fucking pink suit again; Why doesn’t he just wear the rainbow flag dress he had on at pride instead? It would be more fucking subtle. I know I’m a crap gay for saying it, but pink just isn’t my colour.
Al huffs and puffs trying to find the thing that is probably right in front of her face, so I shove her on speaker phone and continue with the notes for this meeting. I really can’t wait for this break, this project has been a fucking nightmare.
“Got them... Steve can’t do it, the first weekend they’re away is his last fight before the wedding. Brie said if he did one closer and fucked up his face for the photographs she’d marry him just to rinse him in the divorce. You went on this basketball training trip thing in high school didn’t you? So you know what happens there if the boys aren’t properly supervised. Please Josh...”
Oh yeah, I remember. My father was supposed to be our supervisor but conveniently disappeared about five minutes after meeting one of the single mums. I ended up crashing on some cheerleaders floor to escape our dorm while Jayce and Chad made their way through every pretty blonde in a five mile radius.
Seriously, how the fuck did I not realise I was gay back then?
“Come on Josh, it’s for Milo. You know how hard shit has been with him since... the accident. He can’t go there without someone he knows, Tara won’t let him, it’s hard enough this is his second time sitting this year and all his other mates are in college already.”
College. How the fuck has Milo grown enough to be going to college already? The last time I saw him he was like thirteen or something, I don’t actually think I’ve laid eyes on him since Aleah and Jayce’s wedding.
I’m getting so fucking old, that’s how. Two months and I’ll be the big three-O; still no marriage, no kids, no business - nothing compared to everyone else.
Obviously it would’ve helped if I hadn’t have spent the last five years on the other side of the country, taking care of everyone but me like always. I’m not complaining, I love them all. I’ve been back six months now but it still feels weird to be in Westbrooke again. Although, when I was away at least they couldn’t drag me into shit like this.
“Fuck... Okay, but tell coach I ain’t practising with them. I haven’t thrown a ball in ages and I’m not going to get laughed at by a bunch of fucking kids when I miss. I’ll keep him from alcohol poisoning and getting some chick knocked up but that’s the best I can do.”
I can hear her laughing but trying to keep it quiet not to wake the sleeping baby.
“I love you, you know that right? He’ll be fine, he’s a good kid, he just got himself into a fucked up situation. He should be there any minute for you to sign the forms anyway.”
Wait. “How the fuck did he know to come here already? I only agreed like a minute ago.... For fucks sake Aleah!”
She’s not even holding in her laughter anymore, she knows I can’t say no to her. Or Brie for that matter, the both of them own my bloody soul or something.
Hanging up on her quickly, I try to finish these notes only for my office door to swing open, Charlie admiring his own reflection once more before turning to me.
“Okay, I’ve got the last agreement for the Gearson project for you to check before we finally get to meet the mysterious Mr Hunter, and that bitch from marketing with the bad weave sent these over to my office instead of yours. Where’s your receptionist?”
Probably with my bosses cock half way down her throat, it’s the only explanation I have for why he won’t let me fire the useless woman. What kind of receptionist forgets who called when giving you the message?! I’m a pretty chilled guy but I’m already doing three people’s worth of work around here, I can’t add her job to the pile too.
“Fuck knows, pass it here. Can’t go to Rate on Friday anymore, I’ve got a thing.”
Charlie’s face drops slightly, I think since him and his husband have been looking for a surrogate things have been stressful at their place, our after work Friday drinks are the only break he seems to get anymore.
“Well fuck you then. I’ll just go with that hag from the coffee place and scout the talent with her instead.”
Rolling my eyes I try not to laugh, he hates that girl but he’d happily sit next to Donald fucking Trump himself if it meant he could have an hour of drinking something fruity with an umbrella.
“You do remember you’re a happily married man right?”
His curly auburn hair falls in front of his eyes as he attempts to glare at me but I just chuckle, he looks fucking constipated.
“I’m just looking, I’m not buying. It keeps me smiling.”
Pretty sure that’s a Stereophonics song. Charlie and me have been mates for a few years now, he was the only other person to transfer out west and back when I did, but even after all this time he still doesn’t get the hint that when my eyes are on my computer I’m actually working and not in need of his distraction. I really like the guy but he’s a worse gossip than Brie and he can talk for hours without taking a breath.
It’s nice though, seeing him and Han starting a family. They had only been together a year when Charlie started working here but now they’re seven years strong and moving forward.
Just like everyone else. Everyone except me.
Al and Jayce have a house, two kids and jobs they love. Brie and my brother Steve both have their own businesses, are getting married soon and take off on a new adventure every other weekend. Even Kal and Drew are living it up in Oz with their kid and their own fucking zoo practically.
Then there’s me. Still at the same company that signed me up out of college, back living in the house I rent from Steve because I couldn’t be bothered to look for somewhere new after he came back from Germany and moved in with Brie.
Even my own mother barely steps foot in the country anymore, she’s always off gallivanting on a cruise ship somewhere with her latest Spanish toy-boy.
It seems like everyone is moving on, taking steps and making advances. I’m just not going with them.
Although let’s be honest, how could I? Half the teenagers at this camp will probably be further ahead in life than me. At least they won’t still be afraid to fuck someone.
Ten years ago I lost the love of my life and I can count on one hand the number of guys I’ve even let kiss me since then, never mind anything else. It’s fucked up, I know it is, it’s just who I am now.
I’ve got close a couple of times, met some really great guys, but nothing sticks. They all quickly realise I’m just too fucking damaged and I can’t really offer them anything, my heart will always belong to someone else.
“Fuck! Speaking of talent...”
I’d honestly forgotten Charlie was even still here until his little outburst. I glance over to where he’s looking and see some guy in a skin tight black t-shirt and black jeans resting his chiselled arms on the counter and flirting with the giggling receptionist.
Fuck, well he’s not wrong.
Over six foot easy, I can see his jaw line from here and there’s no part of his abs being hidden by that t-shirt.
“Holy fuck he’s coming over here, shit, do I look okay? If he’s your new sexutary I’m stealing him... fuck me...” Jesus Christ Charlie, calm the fuck down.
As the seriously handsome guy steps closer, he rips his eyes away from all the women undressing him in their minds around the room and locks them with mine.
I don’t know what’s brighter, those pale Hazel optics or his paper white smile. He’s really fucking beau-
Walking through the door it all finally hits me, the realisation of who I just found myself gawking over smacking me like a sharp punch straight to the jaw.
Holy fucking shit.