“Just ask him already.”
Andy’s back was turned away from where Grant stood with some of their friends, blowing up their outrageous inflatables, but he was pretty sure Misha’s comment—which had managed to pierce through the booming chorus of Pnau’s Chameleon—was directed at Grant, and probably accompanied by a jab with his infamously pointy elbow.
The lack of immediate retort was Andy’s clue that the entreaty had been directed at Grant. Andy might not have been able to work out the actual words over the din, but anyone else in that grouping would’ve sassed an immediate comeback. Grant often would, too, but not when it was something important to him.
That was Andy’s second clue—that it was something important to Grant. Which probably meant it was something they thought Grant should ask Andy, because Grant was hypersensitive about anything to do with their fledgling relationship.
Just what was to be asked remained a mystery. Surely Grant didn’t still think Andy had issues with that garish pink flamingo float, did he? Just because it wasn’t conventional—at least not per the conservative segment of society’s vision of what was acceptable for adult men—and wasn’t something Andy would’ve chosen for himself, didn’t mean it bothered him that Grant loved it.
Or—Andy shuddered—was jealousy rearing its ugly head because Misha was dating Andy’s ex, “Dreamy Daniel,” who was, of course, in attendance? Who was, in fact, preparing to execute another perfect pike position in an otherwise simple dive. No doubt Daniel knew just how delightfully it displayed his…er…assets.
Andy paused in his application of SPF 50 sunblock to his shins and turned his head in time to catch the tail end of the glare Grant was leveling at an unperturbed Misha. Grant set his jaw and straightened his shoulders because he always strove to project a sense of dignity no matter the turmoil brewing in his mind or churning in his gut.
That was one thing Andy loved about his longtime best friend but newly minted boyfriend. He refused to let anything hold him down.
Grant’s gaze slid to Andy, confirming Andy’s suspicion that he was the person Misha was pushing Grant to “just ask him already.” Grant only paused another moment before striding purposely in Andy’s direction.
Andy stayed seated on his beach towel as Grant stopped in front of him. Dreamy Daniel splashed into the pool beyond, but Andy pointedly didn’t look in that direction. Instead, he lifted a brow while Grant kept his lips pursed and silent.
“Um…” Andy lifted the bottle of sunblock. “Would you mind doing my back for me?” Because maybe giving Grant something to do with his hands would relax him enough to say whatever was on his mind. Besides, he really did need help with his back.
Grant narrowed his eyes but took the bottle and moved behind Andy. A snap and a squelch later and Grant’s warm hands were rubbing circles on Andy’s back. “So you heard that?”
There was an element of skepticism in Grant’s tone. Andy craned his neck to glance behind him. “I heard Misha say you should ask me something. At least I kinda assumed it was me you were supposed to ask.”
Silence followed with a brief tensing in the strokes on Andy’s back. “That’s all you heard?”
“Yeah. What did you want to ask?”
Grant ignored the question and narrowed his eyes. “Why did you just ask me to do your back?” His tone went beyond simple skepticism and into the range of outright suspicion.
But why wouldn’t Andy ask Grant to do his back? Perhaps Andy’s confusion was evident on his face because Grant added, “Quit overanalyzing and just give a straight answer.”
“Okay.” Andy pulled in a deep breath. “I really can’t think of anything more than ‘because I can’t reach it myself,’ and I don’t mean anything sarcastic by that.”
“Well, I mean, I’d rather have you do it than anyone else. Because, you know…”
The glint left Grant’s eyes, and his voice softened. “So you didn’t hear me tell the guys I needed one of them to do my back, then Misha smirked and said I should have my boyfriend do it, and I said you hate PDAs, and the guys started taking bets on whether or not you’d do it or make an excuse, and I told them to back the hell off of you, and that’s when Misha said I should just ask you already.”
Andy blinked as he processed that conversation. “I just like to avoid overt public displays of affection in situations that could get us beat up.” Which was fucking sad that it had to be considered, but although the world had made progress, it was far from being completely safe for LGBT people. Visions of black and blue friends from his teenaged years flashed through his mind every time the situation came up.
But this was a private and very gay-friendly party, so that worry didn’t apply. To emphasize his point, Andy turned and cupped Grant’s face in his hands and planted a big, showy kiss on his boyfriend’s lips. He only pulled off when Grant giggled into his mouth.
“Okay, I believe you.”
Water spattered on the other side of the pool as Dreamy Daniel heaved his golden Speedo-clad perfectly sculped body out of the water. Not that Andy was looking. He well-knew what Daniel looked like. Fully naked, even. So he pointedly avoided looking. Although he did catch a glimpse of Misha’s self-satisfied face as he openly stared.
Grant followed his gaze. “Misha can be a dick sometimes, but mostly he’s a good guy.” He smirked. “He’s just full of himself right now because he landed Daniel.”
“He’s welcome to him, because seriously, speaking of someone who’s full of himself.” Andy retrieved the bottle of sunblock. “Turn around. I’ll do you now.”
Grant did and it was obvious from the angle of his head that he was tracking Daniel’s dripping progress as he made his way back to the diving board.
Andy snickered. “Fine, but I get to look, too. Without you getting jealous.”
Grant’s shoulders shook. “Yeah, I’m cool with that.” He sighed. “But it hardly seems fair that you’ve got more than your imagination to work with to picture the bits hidden by that Speedo.”
“He’s a shower, uncut, and very proportional.” At Grant’s stiffened shoulders, Andy quickly—and truthfully—added, “Yours is perfect, and you’ve got better moves.”
Grant twisted enough to spear Andy with a sharp glint of side-eye. “And don’t you forget it.”
Andy grinned. “And not a false-modest bone in your body.” Which Grant somehow managed without coming off as being conceited. Andy planted another kiss on Grant’s neck. “One of the many things I like about you.”