Greg walked up to the nurse’s station and took a phone call. “Dr.Marshall, can I help you?”
A familiar voice was on the line. “Hey, Greg. It’s me.”
Greg’s eyes lit up with surprise at hearing the voice of his friend.He was hesitant about the tone he could hear in Josh's voice.He wanted desperately to see his friend again, to make amends, but he was worried after the last time they'd spoken. “Josh, hey, how are you?"”
“Oh, I’m okay. I need to see you, please? Can you meet me by the fishing pond in half an hour?”
“Let me tie up some loose ends here, and I’ll be right there.”
As soon as Greg got out of his car, he saw Josh by the lake. He stayed back at first, still a bit wary, but Josh stretched out his hand for his friend to take. “I won’t hurt you. I’m really glad to see you!” He threw his arms around his friend and pulled him in for a long hug.
Greg held him close. “Good to see you too. I was worried sick about you. I’d call your office sometimes just to check up on you. Lacey’s a good friend, I owe her a bouquet of flowers. So...what’s up?”
Josh smiled softly. “I needed to see you, to tell you I found someone else to fill this void in my life. I found another man.”
”That’s terrific!" Greg grinned, excited that Josh wasn't upset with him anymore and had moved on from his obsession with being in love with Greg. Maybe now, they could be friends again."Well, what’s he like? What’s he look like, what’s he do for a living? Does he make you happy?”
“He’s wonderful, his name is Glenn. He’s twenty-six and only about five-foot-eight. He has brown hair and eyes and a thick mustache. He’s a shipping supervisor, and just damned sweet. He’s a wonderful guy. He really helped me get over you. He’s still helping.”
Greg cocked a brow hopefully. “What’re you saying? That we’re good again, just friends?”
Josh sighed. “I’m saying I’m sick of hiding. I was very much in love with you, but since the feelings weren’t mutual, I had to move on. Every time I held Glenn in my arms, I focused on him, not you. I still love you, but only as my friend. I still want us to work together at my practice. No hidden messages, no innuendo, no anything like that. I love you a lot, but just as friends. I have finally accepted that you can’t be with me. Besides, I’m happy with Glenn.”
Greg smiled. “Damn, that’s a relief to me if you don’t mind me saying so. I’m sorry for hurting you like I did. I’ll never forgive myself for that.”
Josh brushed his friend’s cheek quickly. “It’s okay. It let me know you really care. I don’t hate you at all, I never really did. What I said was in the heat of the moment, you understand.”
Greg nodded. “I know. I get it. I don’t hate you at all, and I’m thrilled to hear you don’t hate me. I didn’t know what to think when I heard your voice on the phone earlier. I do love you, as my best friend. I always will.”
Josh cracked a smile. “You know, I’ll tell you a secret, I was apprehensive about having sex with a man, especially doing it that way, until…”
A rosy flush fell over Greg’s cheeks. “Stop. Don’t need the details. Imagination still works. “You love him, don’t you?”
“Yes, I think I do. He’s been a marvelous influence on me. I’d like for the three of us to get together and maybe have dinner sometime. I want you to meet him and really get to know him.”
Greg nodded. “Sounds good to me. I’ll let you know my schedule, and we’ll go this Saturday maybe?”
“Saturday works. We’ll meet you at Risa’s Bar and Grill.”
“Perfect. See you guys around five.”
Greg turned to leave but paused. “I’m glad we’re speaking again. Really couldn’t imagine not talking to you again. I’m really happy for you and your new boyfriend.”
Josh sighed in relief. “Thank you. He’s been such a help to me. That doesn’t kill what I feel for you entirely, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for you, but I had to move forward.”
“I understand that, I really do.”
They hugged for a long moment and finally parted.
That Saturday, the men met at the restaurant. Greg was there alone, waiting by the front door. He saw Josh holding hands with a much shorter man, a look of joy on his face.
Josh spotted his friend. “Greg! How are you?” They hugged.
“Great, how are you?”
“Wonderful! Here’s the reason why.” He stepped aside and brushed his lover’s arm. “Glenn Parker, meet my oldest friend in the world, Dr. Greg Marshall.”
Greg outstretched his hand. “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Glenn’s brown eyes gazed up at the tall man. “As I have you, Dr.Marshall.”
“Okay, Greg,” he conceded with a smile.
Josh put his arms around both men. “So, are we on the waiting list? I’m starving!”
“We are. We should be called any minute now.”
"Oh, hey," Greg started, "I wanted to ask you, would you be willing to pick up some extra shifts in the ER.A couple of doctors have left, and we're really short-handed.I told them I'd ask you about coming on a couple nights a week."
Josh exchanged a quick glance with Glenn, who smiled and nodded, indicating that he understood and didn't mind."Yeah, I can do that.I'll call up the director tomorrow and let him know.
The men sat down in the waiting area and chatted about the weather and work while ten minutes passed. The hostess called out their name. “Marshall, party of three.”
“That’s us,” Greg stated as he stood up. The other two followed him as they were led to a booth in the corner. After menus were passed out and drinks ordered, the three got back to conversation.
Greg took a sip of his iced tea. “So, Josh tells me you two met at a biker bar.”
Josh laughed. “Right, well, a bar, not the biker bar though. I was playing pool and we got in a challenge, and he beat me, and then I beat him, and we stepped outside and he kissed me.”
“And the rest, as they say, is history,” Glenn added with a quick glance to his lover.
Greg lowered his voice and leaned forward a bit. “Not to assume anything, but does Kim know?”
Josh nodded. “Yes, I told her myself. This hasn’t been easy for her, but she’s adjusting. Her quick affair with Dr. Bates didn’t last too long, and I didn’t want to make it worse by showing off my new man.”
“Smart move. You told her about your old feelings for me too?”
“Yeah, actually, but she already knew about that too.She said she had already suspected something, but when she saw the way I was looking at you that morning after we got drunk as hell...well, she just--" he cut himself off, a flush forming over his face as he glanced between Greg and Glenn.He looked down at his lover. “Sorry, babe. Didn’t mean to dredge up the past there.”
Glenn brushed Josh’s hand and eyed the man across from him. “It’s alright. I know you two are just best friends and that’s all.”
Greg took another sip of his tea. “Yes, Glenn. That’s all. I’m a family man, like your man.”
Josh interrupted him and looked down at Glenn. “I’d like you to meet my kids someday, if we stay together long enough, which I hope we do.” He smoothed his finger over his lover’s mustache.
Glenn kissed his hand. “In time, once they realize they weren’t the cause of you two splitting up. I’m sure you’ll both let them know they’re loved and spend time with them equally. It won’t be long; I’m sure, before I meet them.”
“Gawd, that’s sweet. Isn’t he sweet, Greg?” Josh gushed.
Greg nodded. “Very nice. That’s a helluva lot more thought than most people put into their beer order.”
Josh petted Glenn’s smooth hair. “I’m super lucky.”
“So am I.” They shared a mid-length kiss without any worry of who might be looking.
Greg felt a blush suffuse his face, paranoid that other eyes were on them. “Uh, guys? We’re in a restaurant here.”
Josh pulled away and scowled at his friend. “So? I can’t express my affection for my lover in a public place?”
“Well, I’m sure you can, just don’t start taking your clothes off or something, geez…” He squirmed in his seat and buried his nose into the menu to study the appetizers. “You guys want to split some quesadillas while we wait?”
Josh tried to meet Greg’s eyes but was unsuccessful.
Glenn piped up suddenly. “Will you two excuse me? I gotta go to the lil biker’s room.”
Josh scooted out of the booth to let him exit. “Okay, hon. I’ll be here.”
Once Glenn had left, Josh sat back down and pulled Greg’s menu down. “You’re jealous, aren’t you?”
“What?” He nearly shrieked. “Get over yourself and quit being absurd. Damn, didn’t you check your ego at the door?”
Josh flipped the menu up, which bopped Greg in the nose slightly. “Give me a damn break, Greg. I can practically see you turning green with envy. You see me with my lover and on some level you wish it were you.”
As Greg rubbed his nose, his mouth gaped open to respond, but he shook his head and went back to studying the menu. “You’re crazy. I told you where I stand. I’m not attracted to you sexually," he hissed quietly."How many times do I have to repeat it?”
Josh whisked the menu out of his hands. “Come on, Greg, level with me and admit it. You are kind of jealous, aren’t you?”
“Will you give me that back? Look, I have never even lusted after you! I'm the one who broke your heart, remember? I was the bad guy, according to you. Now you’ve got a good guy. Be happy. He seems to really care about you.” He reached for the small alcohol menu, but it was taken away by the other doctor’s quick fingers.
Josh tossed the wine list onto the table. “I’m happy, but at least tell me why you look upset? You keep averting your eyes from mine.”
Greg harrumphed. “I’m not upset. Your imagination’s in overdrive.”
“That’s a crock. Just admit something for the first time in your life.”
The waitress walked over at that moment and stopped in her tracks. “Need a few more minutes, gentlemen?” she asked in a truly professional manner.
Josh glanced at her. “Yes, please. We need a few more minutes.”
She nodded and walked away.
Greg didn’t miss a beat. “Admit what? Okay, yes it makes me uncomfortable to see you kissing him in public. I’m not exactly sure why.”
Josh brushed his friend’s hand. “Be truthful with me, what do you really feel?”
“You know that answer. I love you, but I’ve always loved you. I want to be your best friend, and only that.”
“You’re not in love with me?” Josh asked one final time.
Greg looked him squarely in the eyes. “No, I’m not.”
“Then what the hell’s the problem? Oh shit…are you disgusted by watching me kiss him?”
“No! That’s not it at all. I just don’t want anyone else to see and make you the victim of a hate crime. Now will you please get off this topic?” He let out a frustrated sigh. “Let’s talk about this new life of yours. You did a nice job with choosing your new man.”
Josh patted his hand and withdrew it. “Thank you, I think so too. Rather he chose me; I’ll have to tell you all about how we met.”
“Yes, you will. Glenn seems like a very nice guy.He’s handsome, thoughtful; he wants to meet your kids. How long have you two been together?”
“Almost two months.” He saw the biker walk towards the table. “Ah, there’s the man of the hour.”
They hugged slightly as Josh got up to let him back into the booth again. The waitress returned to take their order and all three men chatted about how the couple met.
It’d been nearly two months since Josh and Greg last spoke. He and Kim had had their ‘conversation’ about breaking up and were already separated, in the process of finalizing the divorce. It was time for him to move on. Josh got up the nerve to put himself out there and went out to a local bar. He was spotted right away by Glenn. There was an instant attraction. Glenn looked like Greg, but shorter. He tried to erase the image of his ex best friend from his mind and focus on this new man. They shot darts and pool until closing time. They went out to the parking lot and Glenn kissed him.
“Want to go out on a date?”
Josh pulled back. “Uh… I’m not sure what that means.”
Glenn kissed him again. “Your place or mine, handsome?”
“Oh… uh. My place, I guess.”
The two headed to Josh’s apartment and talked inside. They kissed for a while, but Josh pulled away.
Josh pulled away a bit. “I don’t think I can sleep with somebody I just met four hours ago. I’m sorry, but I just won’t. I hope that you understand.”
Glenn breathed a surprising sigh of relief. “Whew! You know what a refreshing phrase that is?”
Josh smiled. “Still, I can’t take my eyes off of you. You remind me of… never mind.”
“Wait a minute, you were talking. Who do I remind you of?”
“My ex best friend on earth. We haven’t spoken in two months.”
Glenn played with Josh’s hair. “Were you and he really close?”
“Yes. I miss Greg a lot.” He bowed his head.
Glenn saw a familiar look in Josh’s eyes when he uttered the name. “You’re still in love with him, but he can’t return it, right?”
“How in the world—?”
“I’ve been there myself, Josh.”
Josh clasped his hands together. “I wasn’t going to tell anyone.”
Glenn kissed his cheek. “It’s written all over your face. Did this happen recently?”
“Yes, two months ago. That’s why we haven’t spoken.”
“I’m sorry.” He put his hand on Josh’s broad shoulder. Josh looked at the hand and took it in his and bent down to kiss him.
“I’m trying to forget.”
“Do you really want to forget?” Glenn pressed.
“Yes, Glenn. I do.”
“What time is it?”
“Three am. Too dangerous to drive alone, especially on a motorcycle.”
Glenn whispered into his ear. “Do you want me to stay?”
Josh hesitated. “Yes, but—“
“I insist on the sofa. No pressure.”
“A-are you sure? I could—“
Glenn shook his head. “No, no, Joshua. Don’t do that. Trust me; it’s very difficult, I know. It happened to me once before. I was in love with someone, and he couldn’t bring himself to feel the same way.”
Josh hugged him spontaneously. “You’re so nice. I’m happy we met.”
“Me too. You’re a very sweet man.” They kissed again and got up off the sofa. Josh brought out a blanket for his guest and put on his pajamas to go to bed himself.
Josh slept for a little while, but the insecurity of having a stranger in the house as well as dreams of Greg kept coming to mind, and he hugged his pillow tight.
Glenn had gotten up to use the bathroom when he checked on Josh. He paused at the open door to the bedroom and startled the man.
“Glenn! Hi!” He didn’t let go of the pillow but held it tighter.
“Are you alright? What’s wrong? How can I help?”
“I just have had a really tough time of things with this coming out of the closet thing—“
Glenn stepped closer and knelt down beside the bed and stroked his new friend’s hair. “Can I hold you for a minute? Looks like that pillow is being strangled to death. No funny business, I swear.”
“Not yet anyway,” Josh joked.
Glenn kissed him and got into bed with him. He held him tight the rest of the night.
The following morning Josh awoke, surprised to find Glenn in his arms. “You’re still here? I was expecting to find a note with your phone number and a gimme a call when you’re over him.”
Glenn kissed his forehead. “Not from me, I promise you.”
They kissed again.
After dinner was over, Glenn excused himself again. Josh and Greg waited in the parking lot.
Greg cleared his throat. “I didn’t ask you the same question. If you were still in love with me or not.”
Joshran a hand through his hair. “Trying not to be.Glenn helps with that.”
Greg smiled and brushed Josh’s arm. “That’s good. Does he love you?”
“I think so, he’s implied it.”
“Bikers aren’t real emotional sorts.”
Josh laughed. “Neither was I at one time.”
Greg nodded. “We were both rather stoic. Something else we both are is stubborn.”
“Very, very much. I know I love Glenn, but I haven’t told him yet. I intend to find out if he feels the same way tonight. We’ve been having sex, but I want more than that. I think he does too.”
“I hope he does. I’m pretty sure he does just by how he acts around you. Hey, while we’re on the subject of wanting more and I’m happy for you, have you spoken to Kim lately?”
“Yes. They’re usually very short conversations though.”
“She’s hurting. Ben and Nat keep her going, so do her sisters, but I think you two really need to talk.”
“We did, the night we divorced. We’re keeping it civil for the kids, but we hurt each other, and it’s going to take a while.”
“I take it she didn’t understand?” Greg asked.
Josh shrugged. “As well as she could I guess. Better than Heather and Paula took the news of their men coming out. Remember that? Heather slapped Dan and Paula punched Adam. That was messy! I’m glad they’ve all moved on from it, though it wasn’t easy at all. It’ll take time.”
Greg played with his hair. “I can’t even imagine what Amber would do.”
“Don’t know. Hey, quick question here…does our whole friendship change now that I know I’m gay?”
“It’d already changed, as soon as you told me you were in love with me. That changed a lot of things.”
Josh bowed his head a bit. “Oh, yeah, I guess that's true."
Greg embraced him. “You’ll always be my friend. Forever.”
Josh let out a sigh of relief and held him tighter. “I’m so glad. I couldn’t go on without you in my life in some capacity.”
Josh turned to see Glenn hovering near the restaurant, giving Greg and him a few minutes of privacy.Josh hoped it didn't bother him seeing him hugging Greg like that.
“Glenn? Come on, baby. We’re leaving.”
The two men joined hands and said goodbye to Greg.