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    K.C.
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Pour Me Another - 22. The Past Comes Knocking

 Michael shoved his cell phone into his front pocket.  Tucking the small brown package under his arm, he grabbed his keys off the table and headed for the door.  Big red letters spelled out ‘FRAGILE’ on every side of the little box.

He glanced around, making sure he had everything he needed.  Rushing out the front door, Michael suddenly collided into Ian standing in the hallway.  The man’s hand was raised as if he was about to knock on the apartment door when Michael raced out.  Michael’s large frame knocked Ian off balance, smacking him into the wall behind him.

“Ooomph!” Ian let out a gasp.

“Shit,” Michael shouted, as the package slipped from under his arm.  With quick reflexes, he caught the box before it hit the floor.  As he snatched it out of mid-air and clutched it safely to his chest, Michael let out a long drawn out sigh. “That was too close.”  Anger flashed across Michael’s face as he straightened to his full height and tucked the package firmly under his arm again.

“Asher’s not home,” Michael grunted, before walking away without waiting for Ian’s reply.

“I didn’t come here to see Asher.  I wanted to talk to you--”

“Nope, not happening!”  Michael hurried down the steps two at a time.  His stride was rushed, but his back was straight as he moved stiffly down the stairs.

“Come on Mike, let me buy you a cup of coffee so we can talk about this,” Ian tried again.  His busted lip was purple and swollen and pulled at the corner of his mouth when he flashed Michael a fleeting smile.

Michael stopped on the narrow landing and glared at Ian.  “I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Fine, then you can just listen while I talk.”

Michael rolled his eyes at Ian’s persistence. “Why the hell should I give you the time of day?” He turned and headed down the stairs, yet hollered over his shoulder at Ian as he went, “You have three-fucking-blocks to get whatever you have to say off your chest.  I’ve got to make it to the post office before they close.  Let’s see if your legs and your mouth can try to keep up.”  Michael finished with a dry chuckle.

Ian dashed down the steps behind him.  They exited the building one after the other, but with the vacant sidewalk, Ian was able to quickly match Michael’s pace and keep them side by side.

“Look, I know that you think I don’t like you…”

Michael snorted, but didn’t break his stride.  His long legs moved fluidly, yet his posture was stiff and rigid, locking his emotions behind an unbendable wall.

“…but, I don’t even know you--”

“You’ve got that right,” Michael growled.

“Yeah, I know that I was wrong.  I shouldn’t have judged you, but I do know Asher.  I know him a hell of a lot better than you do, and I don’t want to see him get hurt, again.”

Michael suddenly stopped and pivoted on his heels.  “Again? What do mean, again?”

Ian slowly nodded his head.  “Has Asher ever told you about Paul?”

The muscles flexed in Michael’s jaw, making him look predatory.  His nostrils flared as he stared at Ian.  “He said they were just friends.  I thought Paul had been engaged to his sister, Allison.”

“That’s true--”

“If Paul was in love with Allison, what does any of this have to do with Asher?”  Michael’s words were clipped.

Ian ran his fingers through his short blond hair.  His pale cheeks flushed red under Michael’s intense glare.  “It started as a harmless crush.  Paul is a straight arrow and Asher was always fine with that.  He accepted it and simply admired Paul from a distance, knowing that it could never turn into anything more than friendship.”

Michael swallowed the lump in his throat while listening to Ian explain.

“Paul dated a lot of different girls in high school, but none of them were ever serious until he started seeing Allison.  It was easy for Asher to hide his feelings when Paul was messing with random girls at school, but it devastated Asher when Paul fell in love with Allison right in front of him and then asked her to marry him.”

“I thought Asher and his sister were really close.”

“They were, and Allison was always supportive about Asher being gay, but she never knew about Asher’s feelings for Paul; nobody did, except me.  All Asher ever wanted was for his little sister to be happy, so he suffered in silence while watching them plan a life together.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Michael demanded, inching closer to the smaller man, forcing Ian to step back.

Ian took a long deep breath before letting it out on a sigh. “I wanted you to know that Asher’s had his heart broken before, mainly because he always wants the kind of guy he can’t have.  Asher has a habit of falling for overly masculine type guys, you know,” Ian cocked his head to the side and glanced from Michael’s shoes to his clothes, before stopping so they were face to face, “ones that don’t register on the rainbow spectrum.  I don’t want to see him get hurt again.”

~~~~~

“Come on, Asher, push harder!  Concentrate on the muscles in your arm.  Feel the burn.  Push, push, push just a little bit more,” Jackie cheered him on as she directed Asher’s workout.  She clapped her hands when he picked up his pace.  Her smile was radiant as she watched him work before grabbing her clipboard and writing down his achievement.

“You can do it.”  Her tone remained upbeat while sweat beaded Asher’s forehead.  The woman’s long black hair was pulled into a tight ponytail that bounced around her shoulders, while she excitedly watched Asher’s progress.

Asher grunted and bit his bottom lip.  The machine’s resistance had his arm muscles shaking as he forced himself to finish the difficult set.  Counting down each rotation, he let out a long whistle when he finally reached the end.

Jackie whooped and hollered.  She danced around, joining in Asher’s celebration.  “I knew you could do it.  Just think, when you walked in here on that first day, did you ever think that you would be able to not only complete the entire set, but to do it in record time?”

The grin on Asher’s face wouldn’t disappear.  He beamed from ear to ear with pride.  Shaking his head, Asher playfully clucked his tongue. “Well, most of your patients aren’t much competition, since half of them once rode dinosaurs to school.”

The remark earned a mischievous swat from Mr. Prambleton’s cane from the workstation beside him.  “I might have witnessed the invention of the wheel when I was a child, but I certainly did not ride a dinosaur to school; that was so last millennium, sonny.”  The good natured seniors had taken Asher under their wing when he started physical therapy, and they had continued to encourage his recovery, every step of the way.

“Your recovery has been difficult, but you’ve been a great patient.  The range of motion and strength in your right hand have improved tremendously and are almost equal to your left hand. I will prepare a report for your doctor to update him of your progress.”

Asher smiled at the good news. “When do you think I can get my medical clearance to return to work?”

Jackie scanned her clipboard, reading his chart.  “You will need to return to your doctor for a follow-up visit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they give you the approval to go back to work next week.  Make one more appointment with me after you see Dr. Edwards, and I’ll gather a packet of exercises and instructions on how to continue strength training after you’re discharged.”

~~~~~

 

The waiter had just placed two drinks on the table when Michael walked into the restaurant.  His dark eyes scanned the dim room.  It was early evening and the late day sun was still bright in the sky, but the wooden slats covering the large windows blocked out most of the natural light in the Italian restaurant.

Asher watched Michael make his way towards the table.  His slow saunter was stiff.  There was no doubt that Michael was sore after their adventurous morning.  Memories of Michael’s body had Asher’s groin tightening in his pants.  He had experienced Michael’s amazing body like no other person on earth had.  The thought made him shiver with anticipation.

The restaurant was crowded for a weeknight.  Michael stopped in the narrow aisle when an elderly woman exited her chair.  She fumbled with her shawl.  Michael assisted her, helping wrap the silky fabric around her narrow shoulders.

“Aren’t you a darling,” The older woman purred at Michael, patting his arm.  Her date quickly shot from his chair, rounded the table, and captured her hand in his weathered mitt.  The small man glared at Michael and shooed him away with an angry scowl as he escorted his date towards the door.

Asher couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.  If Michael had stopped to help a younger woman, he would be seething with jealously, yet rushing to the aid of a lady who was old enough to be his grandmother had Asher grinning like an idiot.

“You’re late, sleepy head,” Asher teased, “Did you at least wait five minutes after I left to fall back asleep or were you sailing off to dreamland as soon as I walked out the door?”

Michael gingerly settled into the chair across from Asher.  He winced and frowned.  It was the first sign that something was wrong, but when Michael’s sexy smile didn’t light up his handsome face, Asher knew there was something more going on.

“Is everything alright, Mike?  Did you make it to the post office on time?” Asher nervously waited for an answer.

“Yeah, I made it there before they closed.  Mom’s gift is now in the trusty hands of the United States Postal Service.”  His smile appeared forced.  Asher waited for Michael to continue, but he didn’t.  His attention turned to the menu in front of him as his eyes glanced over the meal choices.

“I know you miss your family and Hovatter Hills is only a couple hours away, so why don’t we rent a car and drive up there to surprise your mom for her birthday?”

Michael’s gaze was fixed on his menu.  He shook his head and scratched at the back of his neck. “It’s not that.”

Asher bit his lip.  “If you want to go visit them alone, I’ll understand.”

The sob that escaped Michael was unexpected.  When he looked up, his dark brown eyes were red and laced with unshed tears.  “Why didn’t you tell me that you were madly in love with Paul Ryman?”

“I—I—I,” Asher stuttered.  Panic crushed his chest.  He struggled to breathe, caught off guard by Michael’s question.

Michael rolled his eyes and looked away.  “Well, you’re not denying it.”

“And I’m not admitting it,” Asher hissed.

“Which is it? You told me that you guys were just friends.”

“We are just friends--”

“That’s not what Ian told me.” The muscles in Michael’s neck corded as he steadied his breath.

Asher leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.  “You know, Michael, you’re right! I should have told you that I had a humiliating, unrequited school-boy crush on my best friend when I was growing up.  I’m sure Michael Waters has never experienced anything as degrading as rejection in his entire life.  I bet every girl that you’ve ever batted your long brown eyelashes at or flashed those big-ass dimples their way, they just fell madly in love with you…or better yet, they fell into your bed!”

The sounds of the restaurant faded.  The silence between them was deafening as they sat at the table glaring at each other.

A red flush peppered Michael’s cheeks.  His tone softened when he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?”

Rubbing his fingers over his face, Asher shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t think it was important.  It was embarrassing enough to live through it the first time.  It’s not something I think about anymore.  I’m not in love with Paul.  I swear to you, we are just friends.  Believe it or not, I was very happy when he and Allison announced their engagement.  Friends sometimes drift apart, but a brother-in-law would be there forever.”

Michael reached out and covered Asher’s hand with his.  “I’m sorry, Ash.  I didn’t mean to embarrass you.  It’s just…” Michael took several long breaths.  “…it’s just…when Ian told me that you had feelings for Paul it made me so jealous.”

Asher shook his head, “Well, there he goes again, sticking his pointy, freckled nose where it doesn’t belong.  When will he learn that he can’t meddle in everyone else’s business?  That being friends doesn’t give him carte blanche to do or say whatever he wants.”

“I think somewhere deep inside, Ian has your best interest at heart, he just has a really fucked up way of showing it.”

Chuckling, Asher rolled his eyes and agreed.  “Ian is a good guy, but too bad he’s also a pompous jackass most of the time.  He might have been trying to help, but his ass is still in the doghouse.  I’m not going to just forget about the crap he’s pulled, no matter how noble his intentions were.”

Michael cocked an eyebrow. “Well, just think, if Ian hadn’t been a giant dick then we would have probably stayed at their party and last night…and this morning, might never have happened.”

Heat flooded Asher’s face.  His heart raced watching Michael sit across from him with a deliciously sexy little grin.  “I guess if Ian’s intention was to prove how straight you are, his plan backfired, now, didn’t it?”

Michael’s smirk turned mischievous when he leaned across the table and whispered, “Can we get our food to go? I’m getting hard just thinking about all the things I want to do with you--”

“Waiter,” Asher croaked, “Check please!”

Shiny new chapter. I'm working hard to make this a great story. KC :)

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Chapter Comments

Oh boy, that could have been bad. I was wishing that Michael would punch that slimy Ian in the eye and give him matching with his lip :P

So glad that Michael didn't let what he said ruin everything that he and Asher have worked for. :worship:

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I like that all chapters have names now - Little blue one is confused no more :lol:

"Slimy Ian" - great name, Shadow Runner :thumbup: I don't like him.. Michael admitting he is jealous - so cute. Good thing he and Ash talked about what "Slimy Ian" said.. :)

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I cant disliie Ian much since he caused a great step forward in Micheal and Asher's relationship. Were they in that restaurant for a date? It definitely didn't look that way :)

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I am glad they talked about it. Too many times in stories or on tv, etc, couples jump to conclusions and it's all "ok major cliffhanger while everyone wonders if these two can make it!"

 

You did leave us a sexy cliffhanger though! Tease

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The work is paying off. The chapter was really good. You could feel the emotions falling off Michael. I felt so badly for him since being told the guy you care for deeply (if not love) had or may still have feelings for someone and be with you b/c he can't be with that person would suck, esp after what they shared hours before. Ian really needs a talk about boundaries. It's not right to tell Michael things he was entrusted with that are so personal for Asher and that should come from him.

I am still holding back excitement for this relationship to a point b/c the reality is that Michael's biggest problem was the idea of letting others know he was gay. It's easy to be with Asher in this bubble of no work and amongst Asher's friends whom he doesn't know first hand. I am really afraid that he won't be able to come out. I think Asher needs to talk to him about it soon or he stands to get his heart broken again. I understand wanting to give Michael time, but with how far the relationship has progressed, they need to talk about it. I believe Michael has the best intentions but could find he can't do it.

I look forward to them getting to know each other better, maybe visiting parents etc.

great stuff.

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So sick of Ian! Why does he think its his right to tell Michael anything? Its like he has other motives for what he is doing and I DONT LIKE IT! Let them be happy, maybe he isn't so happy, so that's why he has to meddle so much! Announcing Asher and Michaels engagement would be a perfect end to this story (hint,hint) <3 :kiss:

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I dont care if Ians heart is in the right place, I still want to kick his ass.

I am glad however that Ash and Michael talk this stuff out, way better than letting it stew and fester.

Great chapter K.C.

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wow Good intentions or not Ian really is a top notch dick lol. But on a good note the guys do have it right the more he tries to "help" the more Michael gets bent lol so I guess if you use a strong magnifying glass you can see where he is helping......but he really is a dick

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On 09/10/2013 09:28 AM, Shadow Runner said:
Oh boy, that could have been bad. I was wishing that Michael would punch that slimy Ian in the eye and give him matching with his lip :P

So glad that Michael didn't let what he said ruin everything that he and Asher have worked for. :worship:

Haha, I like 'Slimy Ian' ;) I might have to use that! I didn't want their argument to fester over several chapters and I'm really trying not to leave readers dangling on a cliff. I like that they worked it out. ((But how cool would it have been for Michael to have punched Ian in the eye? :whistle: ) Wishful thinking? Thanks for reading! :) KC

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On 09/10/2013 06:10 PM, Slytherin said:
I like that all chapters have names now - Little blue one is confused no more :lol:

"Slimy Ian" - great name, Shadow Runner :thumbup: I don't like him.. Michael admitting he is jealous - so cute. Good thing he and Ash talked about what "Slimy Ian" said.. :)

You better like the new chapter names, I did it for you!! :lol: I have a friend like Ian, he can be such a pain in the ass!! I'm glad that Michael and Asher were able to move past the trouble Ian is trying to cause. Thanks so much for all of your support during this story! :hug: KC

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On 09/10/2013 06:32 PM, nostic said:
I cant disliie Ian much since he caused a great step forward in Micheal and Asher's relationship. Were they in that restaurant for a date? It definitely didn't look that way :)
Ian is an annoying friend and most of us have one of those buzzing around, LOL. No, it wasn't an official 'date' just them meeting up for dinner. Since Michael has practically living at Asher's apartment, and since they had busy days they met up for dinner :) Thanks for reading, NLY :) KC

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On 09/10/2013 08:59 PM, kitty1940 said:
I am glad they talked about it. Too many times in stories or on tv, etc, couples jump to conclusions and it's all "ok major cliffhanger while everyone wonders if these two can make it!"

 

You did leave us a sexy cliffhanger though! Tease

I've had bad habits of doing some major cliffhangers in the past and I'm really trying to refrain. It's overused in lots of other mainstream media. I'm also going to do some fade-to-black sex scenes since I don't want this to turn into one of those stories that has to be sex everywhere (but there will be some...just not main focus) :P Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know what you think! :) Kc

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That last part was funny; they couldn't get out of the restaurant fast enough. lol ;)

 

Michael being jealous is a good thing. But luckily he doesn't have to be jealous of Asher's feelings for Paul. And Ian, although I do believe he's looking out for Asher's best interests, just may by going about it the wrong way and ruffling even more feathers. =)

 

Ok, on to chapter 23. I moved three days ago and I'm sitting in the middle of a tidal wave of boxes, but I got my internet hooked up and I just had to catch up with one of my favorite stoiries, KC! :)

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On 09/11/2013 07:46 AM, Cannd said:
The work is paying off. The chapter was really good. You could feel the emotions falling off Michael. I felt so badly for him since being told the guy you care for deeply (if not love) had or may still have feelings for someone and be with you b/c he can't be with that person would suck, esp after what they shared hours before. Ian really needs a talk about boundaries. It's not right to tell Michael things he was entrusted with that are so personal for Asher and that should come from him.

I am still holding back excitement for this relationship to a point b/c the reality is that Michael's biggest problem was the idea of letting others know he was gay. It's easy to be with Asher in this bubble of no work and amongst Asher's friends whom he doesn't know first hand. I am really afraid that he won't be able to come out. I think Asher needs to talk to him about it soon or he stands to get his heart broken again. I understand wanting to give Michael time, but with how far the relationship has progressed, they need to talk about it. I believe Michael has the best intentions but could find he can't do it.

I look forward to them getting to know each other better, maybe visiting parents etc.

great stuff.

I love your reviews, they are always so insightful! Ian needs to be put in his place. Friends still have boundaries and he has overstepped them a lot. I agree with you about Michael being comfortable in this safe 'bubble' he hasn't had to experience the reality of the real world yet, it's all been safe and we will have to see what happens when these two worlds cross. Thanks so much for reading and I always enjoy your reviews. :D Kc

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On 09/11/2013 09:40 AM, bevagale said:
So sick of Ian! Why does he think its his right to tell Michael anything? Its like he has other motives for what he is doing and I DONT LIKE IT! Let them be happy, maybe he isn't so happy, so that's why he has to meddle so much! Announcing Asher and Michaels engagement would be a perfect end to this story (hint,hint) <3 :kiss:
Ian has overstepped several boundaries. He thinks his rights as a friend gives him liberties that it doesn't and he will be in the doghouse for a while. He has a great guy at home but some people are just busy-bodies! LOL

 

:P Engagement? :huh: ......we'll see :P Thanks for reading!! :D KC

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On 09/11/2013 01:44 PM, Breeze said:
I dont care if Ians heart is in the right place, I still want to kick his ass.

I am glad however that Ash and Michael talk this stuff out, way better than letting it stew and fester.

Great chapter K.C.

I should take a sign-up and let readers take turns kicking Ian's ass :lol: He has good intentions but he's way way out of line. I'm glad you liked it :) Kc

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On 09/12/2013 03:55 PM, Daithi said:
wow Good intentions or not Ian really is a top notch dick lol. But on a good note the guys do have it right the more he tries to "help" the more Michael gets bent lol so I guess if you use a strong magnifying glass you can see where he is helping......but he really is a dick
I like Michael's responses to Ian ((and kind of wish he would punch Ian again)) ....maybe in future chapters, LOL. The more Ian sticks his nose in Asher and Michael's business the closer A & M will get. Thanks for reading! :) Kc

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On 09/19/2013 11:26 PM, Lisa said:
That last part was funny; they couldn't get out of the restaurant fast enough. lol ;)

 

Michael being jealous is a good thing. But luckily he doesn't have to be jealous of Asher's feelings for Paul. And Ian, although I do believe he's looking out for Asher's best interests, just may by going about it the wrong way and ruffling even more feathers. =)

 

Ok, on to chapter 23. I moved three days ago and I'm sitting in the middle of a tidal wave of boxes, but I got my internet hooked up and I just had to catch up with one of my favorite stoiries, KC! :)

Awwww, thanks Lisa :*) I like to hear when readers are enjoying my stories. Ian is an ass. He's a good friend but he's going about this all wrong, but sometimes friends do that, over step boundaries and it backfires.

 

Now that Asher and Michael have taken their relationship to the next step this is going to get a lot more interesting.

 

I hope you don't get crushed by waves of boxes and everything gets put away! :hug: KC

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Got behind in my reading, and what do I come back to? A jealous Michael! Now, we know his feelings are stronger than he is letting on Sex doesn't seal a relationship, but gut feelings that give you a jolt do.

I'm not sure that I would've told Michael about Paul either. It had to be humiliating in some ways. Asher has grown a lot since then though, but that being said, I'm glad it's out in the open now..

I can't decided if Ian is really a friend or an instigator. He doesn't sound too genine to me. -_-

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On 10/22/2013 02:08 AM, joann414 said:
Got behind in my reading, and what do I come back to? A jealous Michael! Now, we know his feelings are stronger than he is letting on Sex doesn't seal a relationship, but gut feelings that give you a jolt do.

I'm not sure that I would've told Michael about Paul either. It had to be humiliating in some ways. Asher has grown a lot since then though, but that being said, I'm glad it's out in the open now..

I can't decided if Ian is really a friend or an instigator. He doesn't sound too genine to me. -_-

I can't believe that I missed these reviews while I was in the hospital. I had put this story on a shelf and was afraid to even look at it. I'm scared to disappoint so many people. I'm glad to see that you're caught up with the story, now it's up to me to get off my ass and get writing again. Thanks so much for reading!!!! :)

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Ok...I decided to give it a chance. I still think Michael's an asshole and I wouldn't trust him any more than I would trust my ex. I have to wonder if he's not like a kid with a new toy and when he suddenly finds another new toy that he likes better, ordecides that he just can't give up women, is Ash going to end up with a broken heart?

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On 06/20/2014 07:36 PM, Gene63 said:
Ok...I decided to give it a chance. I still think Michael's an asshole and I wouldn't trust him any more than I would trust my ex. I have to wonder if he's not like a kid with a new toy and when he suddenly finds another new toy that he likes better, ordecides that he just can't give up women, is Ash going to end up with a broken heart?
I'm glad to hear that you came back to give this story another chance. Michael isn't perfect by a long-shot, LOL but he's a great character to write and have fun exploring his darker, imperfect flaws. As a writer, I love to hear that what I've written strikes a chord with readers, to not illicit emotions would just fall flat. :)

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