I hopped up, turning away from Mohyeldin to brush the tears out of my eyes. Behind me, Seb said, “Un moment, Z.”
Clearing my throat as I faced them again, I said, “No, now’s fine. Everyone’s waiting to watch your presentation, Seb.”
“Don’t say that,” Mohyeldin said, sounding amused but looking concerned, the way that used to get me spitting mad. I’ve learned to accept it now, so I let him see in my expression that I was okay. He shook his head and smiled. “You’ll undo all my good work making him relaxed.”
“I’m still relaxed,” Seb said, sliding off the bed with the stuffed unicorn.
Mohyeldin took it from him and then, before I could blink, reached around him and smacked his ass. Not lightly, although to look at Mohyeldin’s face, you’d think it was playful. It must’ve hurt over what was already there. I’d seen it earlier, the scarlet skin halfway up Seb’s cheeks. No sign of bruises, though, which had surprised me after watching Mohyeldin light into him with that hairbrush. It shouldn’t have. Mohyeldin does everything with controlled purpose.
Seb flushed and screwed up his nose at him. “Stop it. I am.”
“Just making sure,” said Mohyeldin with a grin. “So, you ready?”
He nodded. Mohyeldin dropped the unicorn on one of the pillows and gestured for me to go first. Seb followed, and Mohyeldin came at the rear until we were downstairs in the living room. Then he crossed to the sliding glass door onto the patio. I took a step after him, stopping when he opened it.
Everyone was gathered around Theo, who sat on the table with one foot up in a chair and his guitar on his lap. JJ and Nak stood on either side of him. His husband, Quint, was smiling a few feet away, and Diaz was bobbing his head, and Myrick and Cameron (my heart skipped, throat dried up, stomach clenched, like normal) sat in one of the other chairs, her on the arm of it, swaying with the music, steadied by his hand on the curve of her hip. Theo was singing. The words were what made me stop.
“It’s been a long time living this way,
Worrying what people say,
Feeling like I don’t fit in,
But I won’t give up, no I won’t give in.
We’re looking for something more.
What you’re really looking for,
Has been with you since you were born,
Since you were born.”
I listened from inside the house with Seb, because if I went out, he’d be singing it to me, and so would Nak, JJ, and Mohyeldin as they joined in.
“I’m good, I’m good, I’m good, I’m good,
Living life just like I should,
Wouldn’t change it if I could,
I’m good, I’m good, I’m good.”
Myrick turned his head and caught my eye, his dark gaze forceful even through the glass, pinning me down. I watched him lean into her, and her bend so his nose almost brushed a golden lock of her hair as he spoke into her ear. Swallowing, I made myself look away.
Seb was watching me. Fight for it, he mouthed.
But what if I lose? I thought, and waited out the rest of the song with my face turned to the concrete of the patio.When it was over, Mohyeldin announced that Seb was ready to present and herded them all into the house. Seb went over to his laptop by the entertainment stand and started fiddling with it. I was pretty sure he just didn’t want to look at them all as they settled down on the couch and chairs. The TV already had the first slide pulled up, with the words Urbanization during the Industrial Revolution centered on the screen. I dropped to the floor next to the coffee table on crossed legs.
Mohyeldin stood behind the couch and cleared his throat so silence fell over the group. “Thanks, guys,” he said. “Babe, take it away.”
Picking up a stack of index cards next to the laptop, Seb faced us. His freckles stood out starkly from his pale skin, and he tapped the edges of the cards against his palm as he looked around without saying anything. He swallowed.
I glanced over my shoulder. Quint and Theo, both in one armchair, were nodding encouragingly. Everyone else had various degrees of curious expectation in their expressions, except Mohyeldin. He crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out at Seb, before giving him a thumbs-up while mouthing, you got this.
The corner of Seb’s lips twitched up. He riffled the corner of the cards with his thumb, then took a deep breath and said, “The Industrial Revolution changed not only how people lived, but also where they lived. That’s my topic today.” Pressing a button on the laptop, he made the slide change and kept speaking.
I remembered, as I watched him, all the emails over the past two weeks where he mentioned he was terrified of giving this presentation, and how Mohyeldin and his friends kept making him practice. Clearly, even now, he wasn’t comfortable. His hands shook, and his voice was weak in places, but I could tell every time his eyes met Mohyeldin’s. The bolster of courage it gave him was easy to spot.
Once, when I was little, I skinned my knee falling off my bike. My dad was there, and I felt so ashamed about crying in front of him that I asked him how he always stayed so brave. He told me that bravery comes from above and from others as much as it comes from inside. “God makes me brave. Your mother and you make me brave,” he said.
I was too young to understand then. Now, I looked over my other shoulder to Myrick and Cameron crowded together at one end of the couch because JJ, Nak, and Diaz were taking up the other. The thought of going out with them paralyzed me. Could they be the solution? The source of bravery?
Seb’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Um, and this is my bibliography, so that’s the end, I guess. Thanks for listening.”
I joined the claps and cheers. Nak wolf-whistled, and then grunted when Mohyeldin smacked him upside the back of the head. Seb flushed, crossing one arm in front of his chest to hold his opposite bicep until Mohyeldin came around the couch and kissed him in front of us all. I heard him say, “Told ya, babe,” under further catcalls.
“Merci, Z,” replied Seb, smiling. For just a moment, they stood in an echo of what I’d seen upstairs: a bubble of safety and love made only for them. It reignited the ache in my throat. I closed my eyes and prayed once more.
Lord, if I’m meant to have that, give me the courage to do it. Please.
Another old memory surfaced, of going out to the pasture down the road and seeing how long I could keep my hand on the sparking wire of the fence, the small shocks making me want to yank back and hold on tight at the same time.
When I opened my eyes again, the TV was off and almost everyone was outside. Mohyeldin frowned down at me on the floor. “Alright, Platypus?”
I nodded, getting up and turning away from him, to where Cameron and Myrick still sat. My feet carried me toward them. “Can I talk to you both?” I asked, my voice shaking and too high-pitched.
“Of– of course!” said Cameron.
I looked to Mohyeldin and Seb. “Uh, in private.”
“Is this–?” Mohyeldin started, but Seb pushed and shoved him out the door onto the patio, sliding it firmly shut behind them and only glancing back once.
“The garage,” Myrick said, standing. “No one will overhear us in there.” He took Cameron’s hand and led the way. His fingernails turned white at the tips where they pressed into her skin, and I realized he must squeezing hard. Was he dizzy too?
The van Seb had driven to pick me up was parked in the garage, the nose of it almost butting into a workbench covered with tools and greasy rags. Cameron stopped by the passenger side door, and Myrick leaned against it and dropped her hand to cross his arms over his chest. They both waited without saying anything.
This must be how Seb felt with all us watching. My lips parted an inch, wavered, and came together. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. An invisible string was attached to my chin like a puppet, and I had to yank on it to make myself nod, and just hope that would be enough.
Cameron’s eyebrows arched. “Yes?” she asked, confused.
I nodded again, this time able to stammer, “Y-yes.”
She frowned at Myrick, but he was looking at me. “Yes, you want to date us?” he asked. “Justine and I?”
Her given name sounded like a burning. I had said it over and over in my head, but never aloud, and his… his I avoided even thinking.
“Yeah,” I breathed. “Yes. I’d, um, yes. That.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Because you don’t seem very sure.”
Myrick said, “Try again. Use full sentences.”
My spine stiffened. Why did they have to make this so fucking difficult? I said it three times already, didn’t I? “Do you need me to have it engraved or something?” I asked.
He pushed off the van and stepped closer, broad and looking down from inches above. His dark gaze bore into me. “We want this,” he said, jerking his chin at Cameron. “Maybe too much. You’ve been under pressure to give us a chance, and we haven’t been fair to you at times. We have to know you’re not just giving in, so say what you want.”
“You, alright?” I snapped, thinking, Fucking hell, of course I’m giving in! I’m giving in to myself! “You and her. I want to be in a relationship with you both. The three of us, together forever. Playing pool and arguing about baseball and whatever the hell else. I want it all, and I’m ready to fight for it now.”
My breath punched out of me in a woosh at the end of my rant, evaporating along with my anger. Forever? What if they weren’t thinking–?
His eyes were softer than I’d ever seen them, though, and Cameron had a blinding smile, and he said, “That’s all we wanted to hear,” as she asked, “Can I hug you, then?”
I had no air in my lungs still, so I nodded and held absolutely motionless as she came around him, opening her arms to me, pulling me in. She was soft and strong at the same time, and her hair smelled like crisp, sweet apples. I hugged her back because I had to hold onto something, and her dress slid under my palms, so thin I could feel the fastening of her bra through it, and my fingers shied away. Myrick was standing right there; he might–
“You have no idea how happy this makes us, Platt,” she said into my shoulder, rocking back and forth a little as she held me tighter.
“Y–you can call me Bradley,” I whispered, and prayed I wouldn’t wake up.
“Does that go for me, too?” Myrick asked, his voice sounding rough. He was watching us like we were water and he hadn’t had a drink in days.
Is this what it’s like? I wondered as I nodded. To be in that bubble?
Then Myrick asked, “Can I get in on this action?” so I nodded again, expecting them to trade places or something, but he went behind me instead, and an instant later, I felt him pressed against my back from shoulderblades to hips.
My brain melted as I stepped into an oven. His firm angles and her yielding curves, and me sandwiched between, unable to move or think, just like in the judo dreams when he’d pin me to the mat. I felt my dick go rock-hard in my pants.
“Oh!” Cameron lifted her head and curved her full lips into a wicked smirk. “Why, hello.”
Instantly, all the heat in my body went to my face. I tried to wiggle free, but that made it worse. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I can’t help it.”
“Don’t apologize,” she said. “I don’t mind.”
“Myrick, though–” I started.
“Brian,” he corrected, sending a current of electricity into my ear with the name. “And I don’t mind, either.” His hand snaked between her and I to nudge my chin up an inch, and my eyes met her sparkling ones. “Justine is hot, isn’t she?”
I nodded dumbly. Brian and Justine.
“Actually,” she said, twirling a strand of her wavy hair around her finger, “he didn’t get hard until you were snug up against his ass, sooo….”
I wanted to explain that it was the combination of both of them that had done it, but he growled, “Stop teasing him, little girl,” and tingling sparks flew through my blood. It felt heated past boiling from just that, and then she hugged me again, but even harder, and went up on her toes to kiss him across my shoulder. His hand kept my face turned towards them, giving me an intimate view of their lips meeting and separating and meeting once more.
I’m part of that now, I thought, in awe.
“Mmm,” Cam– Justine said, when he let her go. She smiled at me. “May I kiss you? I don’t want you to feel left out.”
“Uh.” I blinked a few times. “Okay.”
She did immediately, gentle and slow, which I gave thanks for, because anything more and I might’ve creamed my pants. It felt like the honey my mom puts in her tea, soothing on my nerves. When she drew away, my head turned mindlessly to him, and he was already leaning to converge with me, both of us twisted because he was still at my back, his stubble scraping my lips first, an undeniable reminder that he was a guy, before he found my mouth, and it was different from hers but just as perfect.
“My men,” Justine sighed, at some point when I could hear again. Her cheek was resting on my shoulder. “I didn’t know I could be this happy.”
“Me either,” I said, holding her while Myrick… no, Brian held us both.
Then he stepped back, though, and Justine lifted her head to look at him and did, too. Cool air came rushing in where they had been.
“What?” I asked, uneasy.
“Brian’s right,” she said. “We should talk about how this is going to work before we lose our heads here.” She backed up to the hood of the van and boosted herself onto it, swinging her feet as she shifted and then crossing her ankles and smiling.
“How it’s going to work?” I asked.
“Everyone at the Academy thinks Brian and I broke up,” she said, “which means you two can date publically. When I’m in town, I’ll pretend to be just a friend unless we’re in private, but if you guys come visit me in San Francisco, it doesn’t even matter. No one will look twice there.”
“Wait a minute,” Myrick said. “That’d mean we’d both have to be out as bi.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Of course you were planning to stay closeted.”
“It’s not only my decision,” he said. “Bradley, what do you want to do?”
“I– I don’t know,” I said, feeling like I was suddenly on the edge of a cliff. “I didn’t think about that.” Tried not to think about it, more like. If I came out at the academy, Mohyeldin would have my back. I was pretty sure Nak and JJ would, too. But what if it got to my mom somehow? She was so fragile. I’d never forgive myself if I drove her back into the bottle.
Justine studied me for a few seconds, then said, “Well, we don’t have to decide now what the public face will be, but we should talk about our expectations for this relationship amongst ourselves, at least. Have you read about polyamory?”
“Yeah, um, a bit,” I said. “Seb sent me a website, and I did some googling. A lot of what I read mentioned… open relationships?”
“That’s not what we want,” Myrick– Brian said, and I sighed with relief. “Fidelity among the three of us is important to me.”
“Me, too,” I said.
“Good, so that’s settled,” said Justine. “Although I do wish I wasn’t leaving tomorrow to go back to California alone.” Her voice carried a note of humor. “I have to make do with electronic communication while you two get to touch all you want.”
I flushed at the thought of touching Myrick. Was he going to expect that? How much?
“I won’t initiate anything physical until you give authorization,” he said, like he’d read my mind. “I know you haven’t been with guys before.”
Ducking my head, I whispered, “Or girls. I was, um, waiting for the right one.”
“Oh, you are so adorable,” she cooed.
My shoulders hunched up. “Having principles doesn’t make me immature, you know.”
“Hey,” said Myrick, his voice steely. “She wasn’t calling you immature.”
“No, just adorable, like a baby,” I said, feeling my face twist into an ugly scowl aimed at them both.
His eyes went hard and sharp, chipped arrowheads beneath his heavy brows. “Stop overreacting. That’s not what she meant.”
“It’s not,” Justine said, sliding off the hood to come closer to us. “Really, Bradley, I think it’s charming. You’re a true gentleman. I should’ve phrased it better, though. I’m sorry.”
I took a deep breath and tried to let go of the defensiveness. “Thanks.”
“Communication is the most important part of a relationship like this,” she said, locking her gaze with mine. “We have to be honest with each other and talk about what we want, without judgement. Okay?”
“So, what do you want?” she asked.
“To know more about you both,” I said. They’d had over a year longer than me to be together. I was starting three steps behind, like always.
“Okay,” she said, nodding. “What do you want to know?”
I shrugged and tucked my hands into my pockets. There was so much, I wasn’t sure where to start. But one question burned my tongue. I turned to him, summoned more courage from somewhere, and asked, “Have you been with guys?”
“A couple of times,” he said, quiet. “Once in high school, and once after, to verify the first one hadn’t been because I didn’t have any other options.”
I frowned. I couldn’t imagine high school girls not going for him. “Why didn’t you have other options?”
He glanced away a moment. “I went to an all-male, military boarding school from seventh through twelfth grade.”
“I know,” Justine said, smiling at me. “It explains a lot, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. Back when he was my squad leader during Plebe Summer, I remembered wondering if he’d been taught to speak by someone reading out of a regulations handbook. I bit my lip and asked, “What about you?”
“I went to a regular high school outside Charleston,” she said.
Shifting, I said, “No, I meant… are you straight, or?”
“Oh!” she said. “Straight, as far as I’m aware.” Her grin faded into something more thoughtful. “So I can’t truly understand what you two would go through, coming out, but I think hiding the poly part is going to be stressful enough already, isn’t it?”
“We’ll take that into consideration,” said Brian. “For now, let’s see how this goes.”
Sighing, she said, “Alright. Well, at least there’s a few people who know. I just want you guys to have support while I’m away.” Reaching out, she brushed her fingers over my bicep, sending another thrilling hum through my nerve endings, and said, “I feel like I’m abandoning you right from the start.”
“You have to go back to school,” I said. “That’s not your fault.”
Brian put a one hand each on either of our shoulders. “You can Skype with him during his free periods,” he said. “I can’t promise I’ll always be available to join, but I will as much as I’m able.”
“Group texts and emails, too,” Justine said. “Do you have Snapchat, Bradley?”
I shook my head.
Her eyes sparkled. “You should download it. Very helpful for sending pictures you don’t want to be saved, if you get what I mean.”
“We’ll also see you over Thanksgiving break,” Myrick said, as I cursed my pale skin that so easily showed a blush. “I’m sure we can arrange to meet up for a few days then.”
“Two months,” she mused. “I suppose it gives you guys time to be more comfortable. Maybe I could even introduce you to my parents then.”
My mouth dropped open, and Brian let his hands fall and said, “Justine, you’re scaring him.”
“No,” I said, quickly. “I’m not scared. I just, uh… you’d tell your parents? That you’re dating two guys at the same time?”
She laughed a little. “Don’t worry, I’m my mama and daddy’s princess. I can do no wrong in their eyes.”
“Spoiled. This is why she needs me to keep her in line,” Brian said, voice on the edge of a growl. My stomach flipped.
Justine crossed her arms and aimed a haughty look at him. “I cannot believe that you would say such things in front of our new boyfriend.”
The last three words echoed in my head (my beating heart beneath). Our new boyfriend. A perfect phrase.
She went on, “Just because–”
“Oh, stop,” he said, rolling his eyes, and I was surprised to see his lips twitch. “You know it’s true.”
“That’s what I was going to say,” she said, smiling again. “Just because it’s true doesn’t mean you should give him a bad impression right from the start.” She transferred her attention to me. “I am not spoiled. I simply know what I want.”
Brian leaned towards me. “She’s spoiled and she hates it. Relax, though. Telling her parents will only happen if we all decide we should.”
“Well, of course,” she said, suddenly concerned. “I wasn’t going to without your consent. It was just a thought, Bradley, okay?”
“Yeah,” I said, and tried not to imagine being welcomed by her family, sitting down to dinner with them and hearing myself referred to as our boyfriend. Stupid idea. No one was that accepting, were they?
She was saying, “Thanksgiving is too far away. What if I came back for some of your judo matches? You still do judo, right?”
Before I could nod, Brian cut in, with an odd glance at me. “Don’t talk about judo.”
“Why not?” Justine asked, with a frown that matched mine.
He shook his head. “I’m not sure. Mohyeldin forbade it without giving a reason.”
“What does Mohyeldin have to–?”
“The dreams,” I said. They both stopped and looked at me, and I felt my face going blank, weight shifting in preparation to run. “I had dreams,” I said, voice robotic. “Over the summer. Myrick and I having a judo match, and they’d end when he won and I… woke up.”
He stepped directly in front of me. My gaze was glued to his collarbone, visible through the unbuttoned V of his shirt. “Say my name again,” he said.
“No,” he said. “Brian.”
Right. “B– Brian.” My head dropped out of the full-attention posture as it slipped past my lips. My face unfroze.
“Good,” he said, with a small sigh. From the corner of my eye, I saw him glance towards Justine and her shrug before he looked back to me. “Are you still having these dreams?”
“Week before last,” I said. “That’s when I told Mohyeldin about them. Haven’t had one since.”
“You probably won’t, now that you’ve started accepting what they were trying to tell you,” Justine said.
“True,” Brian said. He licked his lips. “I’d like to go back to talking about judo, and maybe sparring like we did before. If it makes you uncomfortable, though, it’s alright.”
That was it? They weren’t going to comment on how only inexperienced adolescents had those kinds of dreams? I looked from her, smiling gently, to him, watchful and patient, as they waited for me to say something. Remembering how it felt to have private judo lessons with him last year, his pride at my progress, I said, “That’d be, um, okay.”
He smiled, and it sat warmly in my chest, like always. It was so hard to earn.
“I’ll see if I can arrange to come back and visit for one of your matches,” Justine said, “But I want video of these sparring sessions, too. Maybe you can FaceTime me during them. The wrestling gym has good wifi, right?”
“Why wait?” Brian said. “We could go now and you could watch in person.”
“N–now?” I stammered, like an idiot.
“Would that be too soon?” she asked. “We’re rushing things, aren’t we? I’m sorry.”
“No. No, it’s…” I swallowed. “Sounds like fun.”
Brian studied me for several long moments, his eyes unreadable. Then he nodded. “Let’s say goodbye.”
We never got as far as the patio, though. The moment we stepped into the house, Mohyeldin shot through the sliding glass door, with Seb behind him, and said, “You guys were in there forever! What’s happening?”
“Zain, stop being nosy,” Seb said, tugging on his sleeve like he was trying to pull him back outside.
“It’s okay,” I said. Both of them had done so much to help, the deserved to know. I shoved my hands in my pockets as my face heated. “We’re together now.”
A beaming grin split Mohyeldin’s face nearly in two. “Fucking finally,” he said. “Congratulations!”
Seb was smiling, too, and coming forward with him to meet us in the middle of the room, and for a minute there was just a confusion of them both hugging me, one after the other, and Seb whispering, “You look happy,” in my ear while Mohyeldin spun a laughing Justine around in a circle and then hugged Brian, who blinked and patted him on the back a few times.
When he let go, Mohyeldin said, “I can kick Nak and Diaz out if you guys want to be open about it today. I’ll just tell him I’ve had enough of him flirting with Seb.”
“You will not,” Seb said.
Justine frowned. “Does everyone else here know? I thought it was just you two and JJ.”
“I talked about it with Theo,” I said. “I guess he must’ve told his husband.” That annoyed me a little. I should’ve made him swear to keep it a secret.
Mohyeldin and Seb exchanged a glance, and then Seb said, “You can trust Quint. He’s the most discreet person I know.”
I nodded. There wasn’t much I could do about it now, anyway.
“Well, thanks for the offer, but actually we’re headed back to the Yard,” Justine said, and her arm came around my waist. “We’ll take Brian’s car and pick mine up later.”
“To the Yard?” Mohyeldin asked.
Brian draped his arm over my shoulders from the other side. “Judo,” he said.
“Oh.” Mohyeldin’s eyes narrowed and his lips quirked. “Like, judo judo, or like… fun ju–”
Seb smacked him. “Zain!”
“Like judo judo,” Brian said, in a complete monotone, while I glared.
Mohyeldin laughed, of course. “Alright. Have fun anyway. I’ll tell everyone you said goodbye.”
“Thanks,” said Justine.
As a unit, we turned to go, but he called after us when we reached the door. “Oh, one more thing…”
We stopped and looked back.
He was smiling, perfectly pleasant, with his head cocked to the side, and his eyes went from Brian to Justine like I wasn’t between them. “If either of you hurt my Platypus,” he said, “bad things will happen.”
That’s Mohyeldin for you. I just had to be grateful he was on my side. From the look Seb shot me, he felt the same. Brian nodded solemnly. “We have no doubt.”
“We’ll take good care of him,” Justine said, and my shoulders rose up to contain the urge to point out I wasn’t helpless. Then she smiled at me, and they relaxed again. “Ready to go?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
She took my right hand, and Brian took my left, and we went out to the car together.
The next night, Nak pulled a sweatshirt over his head, closed his closet door, and asked, “You sure you don’t want to watch a movie? JJ promised to gag Dad if he tries to make everyone sing all the songs.”
“I’ve got too much homework,” I lied. “I’ll be doing it all night.”
“Alright.” He shrugged. “See ya later.”
“Bye,” I said, not watching him leave. A notification for a new email had just popped up on the corner of my computer screen. I clicked it as the door shut behind him.
I hope everything went well after you left yesterday. Myrick and Cameron looked happy when they came to get the other car, and Zain said they told him you all had fun, but I haven’t heard from you yet. Not that I’ve been great at contacting you, either. Sorry. I meant to write last night, but Quint, Theo, and I got back to the city late, and I was a little down from missing Zain. Then today I had classes.
Speaking of, I just gave my presentation. I won’t know my grade until next week, but my professor told me privately after that she could see it was hard for me and she thought I did an excellent job, so I guess that’s a good sign. All the practice really did help. There was one moment when I first got up in front of everyone where I thought I was going to faint, but I pictured my classmates as everyone from the barbecue and pretended I was just giving it to you all again, and then it got easier.
It also helped that Quint did what you saw Zain doing before the practice one. He and Zain planned it together, I’m sure, because Quint would never get the idea to do it at home and then accompany me to the building and take me into the bathroom right before class started for a… refresher. (I’m sorry if this is weird for me to be telling you. I can’t believe I am, but I wanted to give you a chance to ask any other questions you’ve thought of since yesterday.) Anyway, it helped.
I hit reply, planning to ask him if that meant Theo got spanked too, maybe for something like telling other people’s secrets, but before I could start typing, there was a knock on the door. My stomach flipped. Of course he was right on time. Getting up, I answered it.
Brian smiled down at me. I took a step back so we weren’t so close, but he followed and shut the door behind him, and suddenly my room shrank in size.
“Hi,” I said, ducking my head to hide my blush as his strong hold on the judo mat the day before flashed through my brain, mixed up with images from my dreams last night (him and Justine both holding me on a surface that felt more like a bed, waking up in a jolt, yet without the familiar sticky wetness).
“Hi,” he said, softly. “May I kiss you?”
I nodded. He bent down.
After our second kiss, he asked, “Ready to call Justine?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Have you spoken to her?”
“Not since I dropped her off at the airport,” he said, grabbing Nak’s chair and setting it beside mine at my desk. “I miss her already.”
“Me, too,” I said as I sat down and opened Skype.
The call connected on her holding a sandwich. A fridge was visible behind her. “Hi!” she said, waving her free hand. “Sorry I’m eating. This is my only time to grab lunch today.” She smiled, beautiful even with the grainy video quality. “So, what have my men been up to?”
Her men, I thought, while Brian began speaking.
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