“C’mon.” Trevor Grant said. “It’ll be fun. You need to get out more.”
Nicholas Fenton sighed. He hadn’t remembered when his roommate had been this insistent they go out. On a work night no less. “Trev, it’s Thursday, can’t it wait until tomorrow? Ask me tomorrow and I promise I’ll go.”
“Nope,” Trevor bounded off their thrift store couch, twisting to avoid the stack of boxes they used as a coffee table. “We’re going out tonight. Get showered, or I’ll toss you in myself.”
Nick laughed. “Yeah, right. I’d like to see you try it.”
Not that Trevor couldn’t do it, Nick just knew he wouldn’t.
“I’m serious, I want to go out.” Trevor reached out and started to pull Nick to his feet. “We never hang out anymore.”
“Because you’ve always got a date and I . . . .” He didn’t need to say how sparse his dating calendar had been. Nick knew he wasn’t ugly, but he seemed to repel every decent looking guy he met. Well, all except those who wanted to use him for something.
“That’s why we need to start hanging out more. You need to get laid more often and I’m going to help.”
Letting Trevor pull him up, Nick resigned himself to his fate. “Fine, but one condition.”
“Condition? When did you become so assertive?” Trevor flashed him a huge smile. “I like this side of you.”
“Fuck off, Trev.” He yanked his hands free, but couldn’t stop a small laugh. “Your charms stopped working on me when we moved in together.”
“Please?” Trevor’s smile faded and his lips drooped.
“Not the pouty face.” He tried to laugh it off, but he knew he couldn’t resist when Trevor gave him this look.
“Pretty please?” Trevor used his finger to simulate a tear rolling down his cheek. “I promise we’ll have fun.”
“Fine, but I still get my condition.”
Trevor’s smile returned. “Just one.”
Seeing how happy he made Trevor, gave Nick a jolt that set his body tingling. “No hook ups. You can’t ditch me if you meet someone, and you can’t bring anyone home tonight.”
“What?” Trevor’s head snapped back. “Have I ever…? Okay, no hooks up, no leaving you and no bringing anyone home. Deal.”
Holding out his hand, Trevor gave him a wink. When Nick shook on their “deal” he saw something in his roommate’s eye that almost made him back out. Trevor had something planned.
“Go shower.” Trevor push him gently toward his bedroom. “And don’t take too long or else I’m going to jump in and wash you myself. I don’t want to hang around here all night.”
He knew Trevor would never join him. More likely he’d get a pot of cold water over the top of the curtain if he kept Trevor waiting too long.
“Fine, just stay out of my room. I don’t need you picking out what I’m going to wear.”
“No can do, you only got one condition.”
Shaking his head, Nick already regretted his decision.
* * *
Packed. Why did Nick expect anything different going to Finnegan’s? But on a Thursday? When did Thursday become the new Friday?
Before the door shut, he already regretted saying yes. What possessed him to agree?
Trevor turned toward him and smiled. Oh yeah, that. When he felt a hand reach for his, Nick quickly scanned down. Trevor laced their fingers together and nodded toward the back.
Holding Trevor’s hand, Nick’s emotions started to twist him around. Their friendship anchored his life; the one constant in a crazy, hurt filled two years. He felt closer to Trevor than any of his siblings. Trevor was his family.
Some times, however, he wished they could be more. Times like now, when Trevor thought nothing of grabbing his best friend’s hand in public. The causal, easy way Trevor approached their friendship kept Nick’s belief alive that good people existed when he wanted to write off the human race. Long after Nick no longer needed the contact to heal, Trevor continued the practice, mostly out of habit. Or so he said.
Seeing Trevor perk up inside the crowded bar, Nick found the tamp to push his feelings down; Trevor didn’t believe in monogamy. They both knew dating would likely destroy their friendship. Neither wanted to risk that.
“C’mon, let’s get a beer.” He barely heard Trevor’s voice.
Trevor squeezed himself into a small space between two guys at the bar. One of them eyed Trevor up and down, licking his lips as Trevor leaned over to speak to the bar tender. A mixture of jealousy and anger propelled him forward. Putting his arm on Trevor’s back he ignored the glare he got from the guy to his right.
Beers in his hand, Trevor turned and handed one to Nick. Ignoring everyone, he smiled. “Creep alert?”
“Mr. white tee and jeans to your right looked about to grab your ass.”
He watched to see Trevor’s reaction. He’d either cock blocked his best friend or saved him. More times than not it was the latter. The few times Trevor had been interested in the guy, he shrugged it off and found time later to get the guy’s number.
Clinking bottles, Trevor led them toward the dance floor. Nick knew the routine. They’d stand and watch until Trevor finished his beer, then he drag them both out onto the floor. With all the hot guys dancing, Nick wondered if Trevor regretted when they danced together.
He took a long pull on his beer. No sense pretending he could stop the inevitable. Besides, dancing together bought Nick attention. Most of it directed at his roommate, but they still noticed him.
Nick knew trying to find someone like Trevor cause part of his dating “problem.” He compared everyone to his best friend. So far that hadn’t work out so well for him.
Downing the last of his beer first, he set the bottle on a ledge. Trevor raised an eyebrow at him and chugged the rest of his bottle. Grabbing Nick’s hand he guided them to a semi empty spot on the floor.
Lost in the music and the deep, loud pounding bass, Nick cleared his thought to focus on not making a fool of himself. Trevor kept them close, but never crossed the line from friends dancing to something more.
Bodies appeared then left as the crowded floor pulse to the beat. Several times Nick saw guys attempt to get Trevor’s attention, but his friend never acknowledged them. He smiled at how Trevor always keep his word.
Thirty minutes of dancing left them both soaked with sweat. Trevor led them off the dance floor then motioned with his head toward the bathroom. Pointing to the bar area, Nick got a nod from his friend.
Getting the bar tender’s attention proved harder than when Trevor tried earlier. When the shirtless guy finally made his way to Nick, he flirted the minimum amount necessary to earn a tip, gave Nick his beers and disappeared into sea of hot men clamoring for his attention.
The crowd had increased while they danced, making it almost impossible to find Trevor. Camping out in near the bathroom felt dirty, so Nick stopped near the dance floor. Trevor would have to walk by on his way to the bar.
The deep voice to his left nearly caused Nick to drop the beers. He glanced over and the speaker smiled at him. Tall, dark hair, handsome, built like an athlete, the guy must have mistaken him for someone he knew.
“Um…hi.” Nodding his head for lack of anything better to do, he quickly scanned the area for Trevor. No sign of him. Checking the way he’d come, Tall and handsome stood in Nick’s line of sight, still smiling.
“I saw you dancing. You looked good.”
Was this a joke? This guy, this really hot guy, watched him on the dance floor? Nick twisted, checking the others around him. No one else look their way, so the guy must be talking to him.
“Thanks, but I think you’re mistaking me for Trevor. He’s the one who can dance.”
“Trevor? Is that your boy friend?”
Now Nick understood. It had been a while since someone tried this approach to get to Trevor. How did he miss the signs?
“No, he’s my best friend.” The smile he got reinforced his suspicion. “We’re roommates.”
“Cool.” Tall and Handsome didn’t look around, but kept is eyes on Nick. By now, most guys would be searching for Trevor so they could ask Nick to introduce them. “I’m Alex.”
Alex extended his hand as he spoke. When Nick stared blankly at offering, Alex shook his head and looked down.
“Sorry, forgot you had your hands full.”
“It’s okay, I usually drink three at a time, but it’s a work night so I cut back.” Nick smiled and grabbed the two bottles by their necks with his left hand. Wiping his hand on his jeans, he reach over to Alex. “I’m Nick, nice to meet you.”
“Work night?” Alex moved a few inches closer. “Do you go out often during the week?”
Not the question Nick expected. “No, almost never, but Trevor had an itch for roommate bonding time.”
“Sounds like fun. Where’d he go?”
It had taken a bit more small talk than the average guy, but Alex finally got to the point. “He went to the bathroom, he’ll be right back.”
Nick tried not to sound disappointed. How could he be? He knew almost from the moment Alex said, “hi” he’d come over to meet Trevor.
“Oh,” Looking serious, Alex searched around them. “Should I leave?”
“Okay, sorry I bothered you.”
“What?” What just happened. “No! I mean you don’t need to leave.”
“You sure?” The small quirk to his lips gave Alex a bit of a bad boy image. “I mean for a minute it sounded like you were directing me to leave.”
“No, not at all.” He wished Trevor would get back and save him further embarrassment. “I just didn’t expect the question. I figured you wanted to meet Trevor, not leave before he got back.”
“Why would I talk to you if I wanted to talk to him?”
Hearing the confusion in Alex’s voice, Nick let out a rueful laugh. “Believe me, you wouldn’t be the first guy to try to meet Trevor through me.”
Alex winked at him. “I’m talking to guy I wanted to meet.”
The direct answer stifled the “why” Trevor wanted to ask. “Um…oh. Sorry.”
“Is that bad?” The smile disappeared amidst the deep furrowed on his forehead.
“No!” God, now he sounded desperate. “I mean no, everything’s fine.”
“You sure?” Alex hitched a finger over his shoulder. “I can leave if I’m bothering you.”
Confused, Nick managed to shake his head. “It’s all good.”
“Ah, there you are.” Trevor grabbed Nick around the shoulder and reached for one of the beers. “Thanks bro, I need this.”
“No problem.” Sandwiched between the two, Nick didn’t know what to do about Alex. Catching Trevor’s eye, he motioned toward Alex. “Trev, this is Alex. Alex, my roommate Trevor.”
Beer bottle to his lips, Trevor eyed Nick, before his face split into a wide grin. Taking a small drink, he switched the bottle to his left hand and extended his right hand. “Nice to meet you, Alex.”
Nick divided his attention between the two, unsure what to say next. Trevor quickly solved his problem.
“I saw Steve Riley near the back room. I told him I’d come back once I found you.” Trevor’s smirk drew a scowl from Nick. “I’ll be back in a bit. Come find me when you’re ready to leave.”
Stunned, and a bit put off by the awkward moment Trevor created, Nick glared at him. “Okay, but it won’t be too long, I still have to work tomorrow.”
“Take your time.” The grin told Nick his friend was enjoying the situation. “I’m in no hurry.”
He watched Trevor melt into the crowd before turning around. Whatever else Alex thought, he seemed amused by the exchange. “At least he took a hint.”
“Trevor’s good like that.” Using his beer to stall, he watched Alex over the bottle as he drank. “So, no work for you tomorrow?”
“Yeah well,” Alex stared at his feet for a moment. “I can go in whenever or work from home if I want.”
“Nice job.” Trying to think of something interesting to ask, Nick took another sip. “Did you come here alone?”
Ugh! No wonder he didn’t date much.
“My friend was supposed to meet me here, but I got a text right before I arrive saying his dog chewed up some pillows and he needed to clean up.” He shrugged. “I was already here, so I decided to come in and see if I knew anyone.”
Alex’s smile sent a jolt through Nick’s body. People exiting the dance floor caused them to step apart, giving Nick a better look at Alex. The Khaki’s revealed nothing, but the tight black tee shirt stretched with his bicep when he took a drink. Stepping closer, he scoured the bar for a better place to talk.
“Can we move away from here? I’ll be hoarse in five minutes if we stay.”
“There’s a restaurant next door we could sit and talk.”
Nick laughed at the way Alex’s eyes lit up. Sadly he couldn’t. “I can’t. Trevor and I need to go soon. We both work in the morning.”
Seeing no good place to go, Nick shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Can I give you my number?”
It took a moment to process the question. When he nodded, Alex perked up. Reaching into his pocket, he slid a business card from the small leather money clip. He checked it before handing it to Nick.
“Use the cell. I don’t have a receptionist right now so the business line goes to voice mail.”
Scanning the card, Nick wedge the paper between his finger and the bottle. Fishing his phone out, his heart threatened to pound a hole in his chest. Dialing the number on the card, he waited for it to ring. A moment later, Alex’s hand shot to his pocket. The momentary confusion quickly morphed into a huge smile.
“I should have thought of that.” He shook his head. “Am so used to giving out my card.”
Nick laughed. “I don’t have a card, so….”
“Will you call me?”
Trying for an indifferent shrug, Nick couldn’t hold back a smirk. “Maybe. But I promise to answer if you call me.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
Okay, so going out on a work night wasn’t so bad after all.