Descending the stairs, my stomach knotted seeing the living room empty, Ember had already left. I knew he had to leave early but, there is part of me that had hoped he would still be here when I got up. The glass I had left him with was empty, the ibuprofen gone, the throw abandoned at the end of the couch. I picked it up, it still smelt of Ember’s cologne, I held the throw to my face, his scent filled my nostrils creating a shockwave through my body. God, he even his smell is… I put the throw on the back of the sofa, I could feel the desire and want flooding through me my face felt like it was about to catch fire. Shaking my head, trying to dislodge those thoughts; I picked up the glass and ibuprofen packet taking them to the kitchen. I tossed the empty package into the rubbish bin, turning on the ‘Nespresso’ and grabbing two pods from the rack and dropping one straight in.
It whirred and rinsed its way to life.
“I think I’m going to need a double,” I said to myself out loud as I slipped my cup under the outlet and pressed the ‘GO’ button.
I leaned against the kitchen bench, waiting for the first of two pods to distill its sweet salvation into my waiting cup. My mind wandering back replaying the last twelve hours, the clunk of the mchine finishing its cycle of the kettle brought me back to the kitchen. Adding in the neatly frothed milk while absently yawning, I put the cup to my lips as my brother Cameron come bounding down the stairs two at a time, showered, dressed and ready to take on the day.
“Where’s the fire?” I asked him smirking.
“What? Where? Shit! Did my pager go off! Fuck!” Cameron said looking around the room, I watched as he picked up his pager, quickly clicking buttons like a child of the eighties with his adult Tamagotchi when I heard the front door lock click closed, he tossed the pager back on the table, he was clearly trying to distract me.
“Hook up last night little brother? Maybe… Justin?”
“So how did it go with Ember?” he asked reaching for a cup loading another pod into coffee machine without even acknowledging what I had asked him.
“Shit,” I sighed looking at the floor, holding my cup in one hand, the other holding my weight as I leaned against the bench. Cam raised his eyebrow quizzically, more knowingly if I had to guess.
“I don’t know what I see in him, I honestly don’t. He was drunk and…” I bitched at Cameron.
“The heart wants what the heart wants.” I looked at Cam stunned that had come out of my brother’s mouth, a smirk appeared on his face, he followed on, “a hook-up always helps though.
I stared at the glass Ember had drunk from…
It took a lot of convincing to get Ember to let me drive him home after chasing him on foot for a few blocks. The car had gone quiet somewhere along the way, Ember had been incoherently spouting rubbish for close to twenty minutes. I could pick up on the occasional “Brady,” “Oh why,” “Douglass,” “Hot,” none of it made any sense, it was hard to not burst out laughing. The man had been a hot head all night, probably best not to push it after he’d been so over the top. Man, this guy has some issues, I thought I was fucked up. Looking over at the passenger seat, Ember had nodded off. I turned on the stereo for a bit of noise, put the windows down taking in the fresh air, it smells like a bar in here.
Ember mumbled, sitting up quickly. “I’m gonna puke.”
I hurriedly pulled over into the emergency lane, unbuckled Ember’s seat belt then rushed around to the curb, swinging the passenger door open. Ember leaned out against the door frame, his face staring into the gutter. A car pulled up behind, the red and blue flashing lights grabbed my attention. Just fucking great. I stepped back as Ember started taking deep breaths like he was going to lose his lunch. The cop walked over, the beam of his torchlight shining into my eyes, then moving it to see what Ember was up to.
“Is everything okay here?” the policeman asked with his light steadily focused in my eyes.
“All good, I’m driving my friend home, he’s had too much to drink,” I answered apprehensively, just my luck I’ll get a fine for stopping in the emergency lane.
The officer shone the light over on Ember, who was now drinking water from a bottle, groaning and slinking back into the passenger seat. Thank god, it was a false alarm, I wasn’t in favour of driving home with someone smelling of booze and vomit. The officer pulled out his breath analyser and asked me to blow into the machine., I blew into it until it beeped, the cop pressed a button checking the results. He then said, “You’re free to go, drive home safely,” as he turned to walk away he followed up with, “I hope your friend buys you breakfast at least,” with a knowing smile. I rolled my eyes, the officer laughed walking off. I checked on Ember, clipped his seat belt in then slammed the passenger door.
“Fucking November,” I muttered before getting back in the car.
Ember was now wide awake, I could feel his eyes boring into me as I drove.
“What November?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“Why what?” I asked glancing at him, my eyes returning to the road ahead.
“You know what! Why me, why did you have to torture me, what the fuck did I ever do to you?” He asked tersely.
How the hell am I supposed to answer that, with him in this state? I took a deep breath, a thousand thoughts running through mind, concentrating on the road, I looked over momentarily what do I even say. Nothing! It’s just better to say nothing. My saving grace, the driveway to my residence - Cameron’s house. Thankfully, my brother had let me and Novy move into his place. I do not think we could have lasted another week with my Mother, I love her, but that woman knows how to push a button. I cut the engine, exiting the car. Ember scrambled following me.
“Answer me, damn it, Brady. Tell me why?”
Well, he seems to have sobered up, the nap and fresh air seem to have done him wonders.
“Keep your voice down, damn it,” I hushed him while opening the door to get us inside as quickly as possible before he wakes up the entire freakin’ neighbourhood. Wanker! As I walked in flicking the lights on, I threw my keys into the bowl, dragging Ember with me by the upper arm while closing the door.
“Answer me damn it!” Ember demanded shaking out of my grasp.
I turned to walk away from him, he grabbed me by the arm, spun me back to face him, “Why won’t you answer me?,” Ember’s voice was pissed off, although his face just seemed pained and pleaded with me.
“What, November? It was twenty years ago. All of us did stuff in high school that we regret, but we’ve grown up, not everyone in this room has.” I spat back at him.
Ember glared at me.
“Nothing to say November, what is it you want to hear?” the anger rising up my neck. Twenty years of frustration eating its way to the surface.
“Brady, you had it all,” His eye’s fixed on me with an intense, almost piercing gaze. “friends, good at sports, got good grades, life was good for you. I had to live with your constant attacks, taunting, haunting me through high school. Do you even know how hard that was…?”
“I had to watch you walk past me every day, what else could I do, I couldn’t touch you, hold you, be with you. The only way I knew to get close to you was to be an asshole. Fuck, Ember, ‘I had it all,’ are you kidding, you were Mr. November McCain, out and proud, didn’t care what anybody thought. Can you even understand what would have happened to me if I’d let my true feelings out?”
November scoffs, “You and your friends,” – waving his hands up and down in front of his body – “you created this cynical asshole. The whole “nothing gets to me,” is a giant act. I can’t get close to anyone because I just wait for them to start pulling me down. Do you have any idea what it feels like to constantly think you’re not good enough for anyone, Mr. Brady Douglass, who has it all.”
I wiped my hand down my face in frustration, “You have no idea what I’ve had to go through, it was all my own doing, I ruined my marriage, and wasted twenty plus years because I was too chicken shit to do this.”
I reached out with both hands, one hand around his neck the other cupping Ember’s face, closing the distance between us quickly, smashing our lips together. I felt him relax his lips, taking the opportunity I speared my tongue into his mouth. Our tongues danced like old lovers, meeting up again, Ember deepened the kiss, I felt his hand on the back of my head tousling with my hair. Our bodies pushed together our hands running up and down each other’s back. I could feel myself melting with his touch. Ember moaned when I slipped my hand, under his shirt and up his back. We rutted our groins together trying to get closer. Ember’s hand slid down the front of my jeans, gee that guy is good I didn’t even feel the buttons pop. He grabbed my hardness, his touch was like an electric shock, I don’t think anything has ever felt this right. I backed us to the couch, my knees hit the couch, we landed together in a heap, I was fumbling trying to undo his belt when Ember pulled away for a moment.
“Engineer, huh?” Ember smirked as he undid his belt for me. We looked at each other for a second before renewing our kiss. He had a tighter grip on me this time, oh my god. I couldn’t get my hands into his pants quick enough, finding what I’d been waiting for all these years, it felt so hard but soft, smooth but rigid, fuck, and big!
“Ember,” I groaned, thumbing his pre-cum down his shaft. Man, I wonder what he tastes like. Ember started pulling my jeans down, I could feel Ember’s hands grabbing at my hips, his fingers slipped inside my boxers, sliding them and my jeans down past my knees. As my boxers hit my knees, reality lifted me from my haze, what the fuck are we doing, Ember’s drunk, I don’t want it to be like this.
“I need to get us both a drink of water,” I said scrambling off the couch pulling up my pants, trying to stuff my hard-on back into my jeans.
Wow! Ember’s not going to remember this.
He let out a disappointed huff, “Okay.”
I walked out of the room willing myself to keep walking to get our water, it would only take me a moment of thought to end up back on the couch if I hesitated. I quickly filled one glass gulping it down, trying to buy some time. What am I going to do? How did things get so fucked up? I let this happen… Ember is going to be pissed if he remembers this in the morning. Fuck! What have I done? Taking a deep breath, I filled the other glass from the tap. Walking back into the living room, I cringed. How can I want something so bad and not at the same time?
Entering the room, eyes cast down on the floor not wanting to look at Ember for fear I would not be able to stop myself going to him. Lifting my eyes as I approached the couch, I saw Ember sprawled on the sofa, he had passed out with his pants still undone and his package on display. Oh, God damn! I put the water on the coffee table, sitting next to it. I couldn’t help but watch the man sleep. Ember looked so peaceful, one hand tucked under the cushion, the other hanging off the couch. His long eyelashes resting against his cheek, Ember’s lips had a slight upward turn at the ends giving the appearance of a smile, even though his brow was still creased. It took every bit of willpower I had not to reach out and smooth the worry lines away. I dragged myself off to the bathroom grabbing some ibuprofen for when he woke, leaving them nestled next to his drink. I carefully tucked him back in to his pants, pulling the throw off the back of the couch down to cover him. After fetching a bucket from the laundry, I placed it on the carpet below. I walked up the stairs reaching for my phone from my pocket. Novy had sent me a message. Shit! Ember is supposed to go to the auctions in the morning with the boys.
I quickly went back to where Ember laid, taking his phone I set the alarm for the morning. Going back up the stairs to get ready for bed, I called booking a cab for the morning so Ember would be home on time.
“Brady… Brady… Oi…” Cameron called out snapping his fingers in front of my face.
“Huh? What?” I answered slowly swinging my focus to my brother.
“What. Are. You. Doing. Today?” he said each word elongated like I was the village idiot.
“Uh…” I hesitated shooting daggers at my brother, “I have a lunch date with…” my face pinched together as I tried to remember the guy's name from last night, “Warren… no, uh, Wade… Wayne, that’s it, Wayne.”
“Geez, Brady, you’ve been openly gay for five minutes, and you already can’t remember your dates names. Nice,” Cam said smirking, as he moved placing his coffee cup in the sink, “my brother the player.”
“Shuddup, asshole,” I chuckled.
Cam clapped his hands together, winking at me, “As much as I’d like to stay here and discuss your slutty ways, I’m off to work.”
Yeah, my dates name is Mikey, really Mikey? What he’s five years old? Anyway, Mikey is thirty years old, he’s an actuary and duh-ull. Pix suggested we make it a double date with him and Hawko since Mikey was Pix’s friend, plus I’d only met Mikey last night. I happily agreed because let's face it, I didn’t really know the guy, it would be my first real date with a guy. Pix made reservations at ‘The Yard’ for us, so I’d at least be in familiar territory. So familiar in fact, that I was comfortable enough that I was teetering on the edge of nodding off at the table. Pix tapped my leg under the table. We’d finished our lunch half an hour ago, but here we are stuck in a statistics lesson and the formula of blah, blah, blah…
“Huh?” I said my eyes opening in a flash, sitting up quickly, wiping my mouth in case I was drooling, this is a nightmare.
“You see, you have to understand the principles…” Mikey went on and on and on and on… my head tilted back threatening to go to sleep again. I wonder if it’s a real possibility for someone to actually bore you to death. I honestly think I’ve earnt it.
A rowdy group sat down a table away from us, I looked over praying for a saviour, but no, there was my son, Novy, waving at me. He was sitting with AJ, Basher, Aaron, and of course, November, who is scowling at me. I was wrong this is where the nightmare begins. November looked like crap, he is apparently still suffering from a hangover. He looked exhausted, unwell, and had dark circles under his eyes. The perils of drinking my friend, I guess he better suck it up. I turned my attention back to my date because if anything, it would be easier to focus on his dull arse than endure whatever slight November thinks I have bestowed upon him now.
Mikey stood from his seat, “I have to tinkle, back in a minnie Babe,” he squeezed my shoulder before walking away. Ugh! Yuck!
I heard November growl, he stood and walked behind me knocking my chair, making his way to the bar. As soon as my date was out of sight, my forehead hit the table with a thud, rolling it back and forth with a laugh that had no humour in it, “I judge you a little bit Pix for being friends with Mikey.”
“I’m sorry Brady, we’ve never really hung out in this type of setting before, I usually just meet up with him at the club. He’s not that bad…” Pix apologised.
My head shot up from the table, I glared at Pix and pointed to Hawko, “He’s asleep Pix,” Hawko sat almost slumped in the seat next to Pix, his head drooping, chin virtually touching his chest, arms folded, with his eyes closed. I even had to stand to wake myself up, twisting and stretching my body, as I turned I noticed November was no longer at the bar. I looked over at their table, he wasn’t there either, maybe he went home.
Mikey came back to the table, “Well, I’d better head out, thanks for lunch, maybe next time Brady you should tell a person you're involved before you ask them on a date.”
My brow furrowed, I’m not involved, “I’m not…” oh well too late Mikey had stomped off, my eyes wandering back to the table, I saw November glaring at me, but he seemed a little too smug. Asshole, he doesn’t want me but cockblocks me. What the hell? It’s not up to him to decide who date.
Clenching my hands against my jeans under the table, staring daggers at Ember. I’m gonna…