“Thanks,” Zane said as the bartender placed three glasses of beer in front of him. He spun on his heel with the three glasses and walked to the table where Chris, Gray, Thom, and Simon sat. “Gray, Simon.”
“Thanks,” Gray said, grabbing his beer and sliding Simon’s to him. Taking a drink of his beer, he relished in the savory taste of the ice-cold beer. “How did you guys find this place?”
“Dean,” Thom answered. “Weird for a gay man but he said he came here once and knew it was the guy’s bar us straight ones needed.”
“We didn’t know if we should have been insulted or not,” Simon tossed in, “but once we came here, we all fell in love with it.”
Zane nodded. “We call it the straight bar in the inner circle. No women and no Dean are allowed.”
“No one takes offense to that?” Chris asked.
Thom shook his head. “No. Heather does a little because she’s a sports nut, but she understands why. We don’t bitch and moan when the girls decide to have girl’s night out.”
“Does Dean go to those?” Chris asked.
“Sometimes but it really depends on the night out,” Simon answered. “Even he says sometimes they are too girly for the gay man.”
“I like the idea behind it all,” Gray replied, glancing up at the flat screen in hopes to catch the score but not seeing it. “The separate but equal time apart.”
Zane glanced at Simon and Thom and then at Gray. “You and Olivia have a fight or something?” he asked, feeling a sudden level of defense rise in his system.
“No. Not at all,” Gray answered, feeling Zane’s intensity slide through the air towards him. “We haven’t even had one fight. She told me she was in the process of moving and had to find a place quickly so I asked if she wanted to move in with me either temporarily or permanently that’s all.”
“You did?” Zane asked, hoping the sheer surprise didn’t register on his face.
Gray nodded. “She said she had to be out within a week or two. I think I might have freaked her out.”
“Why do you say that?” Thom asked and reclined in his chair.
“She seemed as surprised as Zane just was.”
“I hope she says yes to your offer,” Simon said. “You’re a good catch. She digs you. We dig you.”
“Dean would have said that if we were at a gay bar, that would so have been a come on,” Zane said with a shake of his head.
“Whatever,” Simon replied. “Whether any of us admit it to you or not, we’ve all discussed you and Olivia and your friends have probably done the same. Right Chris.”
Chris nodded. “This is a big step for my man Gray,” he added. “He doesn’t like cohabitating with anyone or any species.” He took a drink of his cocktail and continued, “I hope you don’t kill her. I mean she’s a living being so you have to feed her and stuff.”
“Fuck you,” Gray replied, throwing a beer coaster at him.
Chris deflected it and laughed.
Zane laughed and added, “You’re going to come home one day and find Olivia belly up in the tub like a goldfish.”
“Or wilted in the corner like a dead plant,” Simon added as the laughter amongst them continued.
Gray buried his head in his hands as the guys laughed harder and came up with more jokes at his expense.
“You’ll be just fine,” Thom leaned over and whispered. “All she needs is regular feeding and watering.”
Olivia leaned forward over her legs and held onto the soles of her feet. Taking a deep breath, she exhaled slowly until the tension in her back let her lean further into her legs.
“What’s going on?” Dean asked, turning his head to look at her.
“What do you mean?” she asked, still staring at the light gray line in her yoga pants.
“You’re over there sighing and breathing like you’ve never done this before. What’s going on?”
Turning her head towards Dean, she sighed. “It can wait,” she answered. “We’re in a class right now.”
Sitting up, he stood and held out his hand. “Come on.”
Straightening herself, Olivia took his hand and let him lead her out of the classroom and into the hallway. “This is more than a hallway talk,” she said.
“Then wait here,” Dean replied and disappeared back into the classroom. When he reappeared, he held both of their yoga mats, towels, and water bottles. “Shall we walk to the coffee bar?”
“Yes,” she answered, taking her belongings. “Meet you in the lobby in five minutes.”
“All right. What’s going on?” Dean asked, holding the door open for Olivia.
“Gray found out I was moving,” she answered, stepping into the coffee bar.
“Well that was a secret that was going to be hard to keep,” he replied as he studied the coffee menu.
“A medium soy vanilla latte please” Olivia said to the young cashier, “and whatever he wants.”
“Same thing,” Dean replied and then continued, “it would have been a bit awkward if he showed up at your place and it was empty.”
“I know. I just wanted to be the one to tell him.”
“If you didn’t, then who did?” he asked as they walked to down to the pick up counter.
“Heather inadvertently did.”
“Two soy vanilla lattes,” a freshly scrubbed teen said as he placed their drinks on the counter.
“Thanks,” Dean said as Olivia dropped two dollars into the tip jar. “How did Heather inadvertently tell Gray?”
“She told Chris who told Ellie who told Gray,” she answered as they walked to a large overstuffed couch. Collapsing onto it with a sigh, she took the lid off of her latte. “He thought I was trying to hide it from him.”
Sitting down next to her, Dean turned until he was sitting facing her. “Were you?”
Olivia shook her head. “No. I told him I just didn’t want him to feel obligated to do anything for me.” Taking a drink of her coffee, she looked at her best friend. “He said I could move in with him if I wanted to. He said I could make it a temporary move or a permanent move. He said whatever I wanted to do was my choice.”
Dean let out a long sigh. “Wow.”
“I know wow.”
“What are you going to do?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. We just became a couple. I’m not sure if I want to live with someone right now.” Looking away and across the room, she watched a couple sitting at a table. They were so close to each other they were practically on top of each other. “Is that what Gray and I look like?” she asked, pointing to them. “That overly affectionate couple that needs to get a room?”
Looking to where she pointed, Dean smiled and patted her on the leg. “You’re lucky, you two are not that way,” he answered. “You can tell you guys are a couple or at least two people who are with each other, but you are not the overly affectionate couple. You guys give each other space and that’s rare. You’re not attached at the hip or smothering and that’s even more rare.”
Olivia looked at Dean and smiled. “What do I do?” she asked. “I like him. I really do and I fall for him more and more minute by minute. I never expected our random meeting on a Friday night to become more, to become this. I am glad it has become what it is, but I am petrified I’ll fuck it up.”
“We all get petrified,” he answered, turning to put his arm around her. Pulling her close, he let her rest her head on his shoulder. “You have to go with your gut. You have to do what’s best for you and best for your relationship.”
“What would you do if you were in my shoes right now?” she asked and drank some of her latte.
“I wouldn’t move in,” he answered. “I know that’s not what you want to hear, but me personally, I wouldn’t move in with him or anyone I’ve known less than a month.”
“So not a good idea?” Olivia asked with a sigh.
“Afraid not sweetie,” Dean answered with a kiss on the top of her head.
This page copyright © 2009 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved | This is a rough draft and not the final version
Categories: The Dumbing Down of Love