Misadventures with Andy and Grant
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🔽 🔼 Carnival
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Uses the prompt word (hamburger) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post, and 14 prompt words (bike – screw – conduct – degree – square – print – clever – existence – boot – famous – crack – hungry – hands – ignite – stiff) from a random word generator.
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
“Screw that,” Andy said. “I’m hungry. Let’s go get some hamburgers or something before we get on any more rides.
“The line’s not going to get any shorter, you know.” Grant stood stiffly with his hands on his hips, tapping one gleaming ankle boot on the asphalt, and one eyebrow hiked up so far its very existence was in question, since it was out of sight behind his—admittedly long—side-swept bangs. Grant was famous among their circle of friends for his over-the-top theatrical conduct. “And I can’t stay late, I’ve got to get up at the ass-crack of dawn for work tomorrow. Boss-man from hell doesn’t care that today’s St. Patrick’s Day.”
“But I’m so hungry, I could…” Andy’s gaze landed on a strikingly good-looking man with green-streaked blond hair who’d just gotten into the line in question, and his attitude took a sharp one-hundred-eighty degree turn. It wasn’t a guarantee, but there was a good chance the guy was gay, wearing a shirt with rainbow lettering printed on a black square, stating, “He who is born round won’t die square.” Which was a clever Sicilian proverb meaning people don’t change their fundamental nature. So, yeah, the rainbow lettering was a clue. “Actually, come on. Like you said, it’s not getting any shorter.”
Grant’s eyes about popped out of his head. “What the hell ignited a—oh.” He turned and started walking. “Just because you saw him first does not mean you have dibs.”
🔽 🔼 Trash
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Uses the prompt word (disappointment) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post, and a writing prompt (List 10 things you would find in your protagonist’s rubbish bin. Write about them in your antagonist’s viewpoint.), from “Writers Write.”
Told from Grant’s 3rd-person POV:
It had to be in here. Grant used a finger and thumb to gingerly pick up a rotting banana peel and toss it aside. He shuddered. Who put food remains in their bedroom trash can, anyway. No wonder the room reeked.
“Ew,” he muttered. The used condom could sift to the bottom. He wasn’t touching it despite the fact that Dreamy Daniel from the carnival had worn the thing. At least he assumed it had been Daniel and not Andy wearing the rubber. Either way, no doubt it was a contributor to the funky odor. The crumpled tissues and wet wipe were probably related, and also not anything Grant wanted to touch. He fetched a pair of tongs from the kitchen, because clearly this job needed either that or rubber gloves. This mission had better be worth it.
An empty chocolate syrup container, a candle stub, and an empty can of Reddi Whip came out next. Grant shook his head. Had they made banana splits in the bedroom, or drizzled this shit all over each other and licked it off? He could get behind the latter option, at least if he was one of the participants.
Good grief. An empty champagne bottle and about a dozen bitten off strawberry tops? On a first date? Andy’d pulled out all the stops for this guy. Even if Grant managed to finagle a date with the man, he’d be hard put to compete with this shit.
As he lifted off the last few strawberry greens, the paper he was after emerged. Grant’s shoulders slumped with disappointment when he saw it. Daniel’s name was readable, but the ink for the phone number underneath it had run and smeared into an illegible mess. Andy’s phone was the only hope of retrieving it, now. That or flirting with the man right in front of Andy. No, he felt low enough going through Andy’s trash. What plausible excuse could he have given even if he’d discovered the number, anyway? It was time to concede defeat. He sighed and returned the garbage to the plastic can.
Andy stood in the doorway with a hiked eyebrow when Grant turned to leave. “Find what you were looking for?”
“My self-respect? No, left it behind.”
🔽 🔼 Bromance?
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Uses the prompt words (butter – bees – bromance) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post.
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
“It’s not a bromance when you acknowledge that you want to sleep with the guy. That’s more like…I don’t know…unrequited love?”
“What are you, the grammar police?” Andy crossed his arms, instantly regretting the peevish tone of his reply, but the incessant tapping of Grant’s foot was getting on his last nerve.
“Just because things fell apart between you and dreamy Daniel, and you didn’t end up married with two-point-five kids and a hefty mortgage, doesn’t give you the right to get bitchy with me.”
Grant needed a lesson on the birds and the bees, but that was beside the point. “What does Daniel have to do with anything? I was over him a long time ago.”
“Whatever.” At least Grant quit tapping that sparkly boot on the floor. But, if the way he pursed his lips was any clue, Grant was the one still mooning over Daniel. Speaking of unrequited love.
“I don’t think he even knows,” Andy said. “And I have no idea how to tell him.”
“Take him out. Wine and dine him. Butter him up.”
Andy snorted as a more literal vision than Grant had intended flashed through his mind.
“You know what I mean,” Grant said. “Who is this joker, anyway? Anyone I know?”
“If I go for it, you’ll be the first to know.”
“Oh, come on…”
Andy glanced at his watch. “I’m hungry. Want to go get something to eat?”
🔽 🔼 Doing Laundry - Part 1
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Uses the prompt words (whiskey – laundry – electric guitar) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post.
Further inspiration for this scene comes from this image found on Pixabay:
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
“What’s your deal?” Grant asked.
Andy jumped and shifted the bulky laundry basket he was carrying. “What do you mean?”
Grant held open the door to All Washed Up, and Andy stepped through. “I asked you a question three times. You ignoring me?”
“Sorry. Just zoning.” And stressing out, second and third guessing his earlier resolve to see if Grant wanted to—hell, he didn’t even know what. Simply add “benefits” to their friendship or explore a relationship? He shook his head and heaved a heavy sigh. Would a failed attempt ruin their easy rapport? Would simply suggesting it make things awkward between them?
“Duuuuuude.” Grant hitched his head toward the bank of dryers.
Andy’s eyes bugged at the sight of blue jean covered legs sticking out of one of the upper dryers, ass wiggling to the strum of an electric guitar as Chris Stapleton sang the chorus of Tennessee Whiskey over the laundromat’s speaker system.
“Dibs,” Grant said.
“What? Look closer. I think that’s a woman.”
Grant kept his gaze glued to that squirming behind as they strode farther into the room. “Shit.” Then he shrugged and opened a couple of washers. “You get all the luck.”
“Bullshit. I’m single, too.”
“Two words: ‘Dreamy Daniel.’”
Andy’s jaw tightened as he sorted the dirty clothes. “He ditched me after a month!”
Grant loosed one of his trademark theatrical groans. “Quit going into every relationship hoping for a happily ever after. Live for the moment and appreciate the memories.”
“Is that all you really want?”
A stiff jerk of one shoulder was all the reply Andy got as Grant tossed socks into one of the open machines.
“I know it’s not.” Andy gentled his tone. “You’ve been burned too many times, but underneath, you still want your Prince Charming.”
“Whatever.” Grant flung a pair of jeans into the other open washer with far more force than needed. “Prince Charming never wants me.”
“But, what if…” Andy stopped and bit his lip. What if, indeed. What if Grant got pissed at the mere suggestion?
Grant stopped taking his frustrations out on their mingled underwear long enough to stare back at Andy with his eyebrows reaching for the ceiling fan. At least it wasn’t a glower.
“What if…” Andy swallowed and dropped his gaze to the marred linoleum as if the words he searched for were hidden somewhere in its random pattern. “What if he’s not Prince Charming? What if he’s just Prince…Average but Amiable? Who maybe already likes you?”
The silence between them stretched through at least a third of Reba McEntire’s Promise Me Love. Finally, Andy raised his face.
Grant’s expression was thoughtful. They stared at each other through the chorus before Grant finally replied.
“Promise me this won’t fuck up what we already have.”
🔽 🔼 Doing Laundry - Part 2
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Uses the prompt words (suck – my – dick – because – if – you – don’t – you’re – gonna – be – dead) left in the comments of the previous week’s Flash Fiction Friday post.
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
Andy pursed his lips but nodded. “I promise I’m gonna try not to fuck up what we already have.”
“You won’t be weird?” Grant raised one neat brow. “Because if you turn into a dick and this friendship goes down the crapper…well…” Grant sighed. “That would suck. And not in a good way.”
“Why would I turn into a dick?” Andy rubbed the back of his neck and ignored the comment about things getting weird. “Weird” was probably an inevitable phase considering they’d been best friends since middle school. “Just…don’t set unrealistic expectations, or give up too early. Give us a chance.”
Grant lifted his chin, but Andy was one of the few people who understood that the reflexive tough-guy facade Grant displayed was cover for a fragile young man. “I need someone I can trust to pour my heart out to.” Grant’s voice quivered, and the troubled look in his eyes sent a shiver up Andy’s spine. “You’re that someone. I can’t lose that…you. Our friendship is the only thing that keeps me from being dead inside.”
Andy smoothed down his shirt. Maybe Grant was right. Maybe the risk was too great. But, he couldn’t help thinking that it might actually be the best idea he’d ever had. He took a deep breath and gazed steadily into Grant’s eyes. “We can take things really, really slow.”
“Okay.” Grant nodded and tapped the tip of his index finger on Andy’s chest. “Really slow.”
🔽 🔼 Worries and Kisses
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Uses the prompt words/phrases (inflatable flamingo – soda – orange – edamame – goldfish – lawyer – castle) that were left in the comments of the April 27 FFF post, plus the 5 words (retreat – rider – bite – goal – ankle) that I picked up from a random word generator.
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
Andy froze with the bag of edamame halfway in the freezer. The hair on the back of his neck bristled, and he turned. Grant stood leaning against the door jamb, silently tapping one ankle boot while sipping a can of orange soda.
“When did you get home?” Andy asked. He’d left Grant at the laundromat to pick up a few things at the grocery store.
“Just now.” Grant grabbed a bag of goldfish crackers out of the pantry and tossed a bite into his mouth. Apparently, he wasn’t going to elaborate, although his carefully neutral face indicated he had something on his mind. No surprise there—not after their decision, barely over an hour ago, to bump their friendship up to a relationship.
“What’s bothering you?”
“Misha texted after you left. He’s already planning his Memorial Day pool party.”
“Oh?” They always had fun a Misha’s parties. “Don’t you want to go this year?”
Grant lifted his chin. “Of course I want to go!” His voice had a brittle undertone.
Full retreat would probably have been Andy’s safest course considering Grant had his back up about something, and Andy had no idea what it was. But experience told him Grant would let whatever it was fester until he erupted over something completely unrelated. So, Andy squared his shoulders and repeated his earlier words. “So, what’s bothering you?”
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the vicious side-eye you leveled at my inflatable flamingo float last year.”
“Vicious? Seriously? What are you even talking about?” Andy shook his head. That pink monstrosity? Sure it was over-the-top, but so was Grant. And so what? So, the fuck, what? He’d never had anything against that crazy float. Well, he wasn’t going to get in line to be a rider on the damned thing, but he had no problem with Grant and his buddies having fun with it.
Grant pursed his lips. “Fine,” he huffed. “Maybe that was a bit strong, but…”
“But, what’s your goal with this whole relationship thing you want to try on?”
Andy rubbed the back of his neck. What did relationship goals have to do with that floating eyesore? “I don’t know…the usual?” What does any couple hope for?
“Are you going to try to change me? Don’t try to deny you didn’t like my flamingo.” Grant stuck a finger in Andy’s chest. “You know I’m going to have this whole castle in the sky view on this relationship thing. I can’t help it. That’s me. That’s who I am. Just like the flamingo is who I am.”
Andy wrapped his hand around Grant’s wrist, stilling the poking finger. “And the flamingo isn’t me. But I’ve tried dating guys like me, and it doesn’t work. I’m attracted to you.”
“I know I already said this, but I can’t stop thinking about how hard I’m going to crash when this all goes to shit.” Grant’s eyes glittered. He wasn’t going to cry, was he? “Especially if it works for a while before falling to pieces. What’ll I do when you decide you can’t look at me and my glitter and flamingos and hello kitty anymore, and before I know it you’ve got a lawyer telling me to clear out?”
Andy’s jaw dropped. “Grant, stop it.” He dropped Grant’s wrist and placed one hand on the side of Grant’s face, and the other at the man’s waist. “In your heart, you know I’m not like that, right?”
Grant’s lips quivered, but he didn’t reply.
“I know you know that.” Andy’s thumb rubbed across Grant’s cheek, and the man’s eyes dilated. “And I know you can’t help picturing the worst-case-scenario. You’ve done that as long as I’ve known you, and I’m still here.” Andy raised his brow. “Right? You’ve always been a drama queen and I haven’t left yet.”
Some of the stiffness in the muscles under Andy’s hands relaxed. “But, I irritate you.”
“Now and then.” Andy’s mouth quirked into a smile. “And I get on your nerves sometimes, too. Welcome to the human race. You’re still my best friend, and I’m just as scared to death of losing you.”
Grant’s nod was barely perceptible. If Andy hadn’t felt the movement with his hand he might have missed it. Grant’s gaze dropped to Andy’s mouth.
Was it too soon? Andy leaned forward. Or was it the perfect, natural opening for their first kiss? Grant’s lips parted, and a soft sigh escaped them.
Andy whispered, “We both want this to work, so it’s gonna.” Then his lips grazed Grant’s. Warm breath with a hint of cheese and citrus wafted into Andy’s mouth, and a soft squeak reached his ears, sending a sweet quiver down his spine.
When Grant’s hand landed at Andy’s waist, Andy added pressure. No tongue—but an easy compression as their lips moved, delicately nibbling. He withdrew when Grant pushed a hand lightly against his chest.
“Okay,” Grant murmured. His eyes no longer glistened, but he’d added a curious slant to them. “This might work.”
🔽 🔼 The Morning After
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Uses the prompt words/phrases (coffee – pause – disorder – snap – expertise) that I picked up from a random word generator.
Told from Andy’s 3rd-person POV:
Andy blearily blinked the sleep from his eyes as the coffee slowly drip…drip…dripped into the glass carafe. The dribble paused before giving up its final spurt of the anticipated brew with a familiar hiss. He almost failed to notice the faint swish of silk pajama material rubbing against itself as taut thighs—far stronger than Andy had anticipated—brought their owner to the kitchen doorway. Almost.
Should he turn and face Grant to see how his longtime best friend, but newly designated boyfriend had handled their first night sleeping together? Actually, “first night sleeping together” wasn’t technically true. They’d shared a bed for sleeping in the past. It was what had come before that sleep last night that was a first between them.
What would work best? Dance around the lumbering elephant that had taken up residence in the kitchen? Address it head on? Or should he wait to see what Grant did or said first?
Grant cleared his throat. A sound that could sometimes be taken at face value. It was morning, and throats need to be cleared. But Andy’s familiarity with the nuances of Grant’s…well, everything…had him snapping to attention faster than if a judge had banged his gavel while bellowing “Order in the court!” In this case, “disorder” was more likely to follow, but it had to be faced.
Andy turned and smiled. “Coffee?”
“Really? That’s the tact you’re going to take? Like it’s just another morning, and we didn’t get off with each other…twice…last night?”
“Sorry.” Andy grimaced. “I’m trying not to overthink things.”
Grant’s snort was laced with mirth rather than with suspicion. “You’ll always overthink things. That’s part of who you are.”
And apparently not a big problem. Andy expelled a soft breath. “So, um, you want to hash it all out or something?”
The signature eye roll Andy should have expected was, of course, executed along with a set of air quotes. “Hash it out?” Grant lifted a shoulder in a deceptively casual manner. “Whatever.”
“I just mean, you want some reassurance that last night didn’t screw up our friendship? That’s cool. So do I, I suppose. I just feel a little more secure about it based on how well everything went. Or seemed to?” Andy knew he was babbling, but that was another one of those things he couldn’t seem to stop himself from doing. “But I know you feel better when things are said, so yeah, let’s talk it out.”
Grant pulled a couple mugs out of a cabinet. They didn’t thump too loudly when he placed them on the counter, which was a good sign. Verbalizing things might be how best to clear the air with Grant, but understanding the man was all about recognizing all the non-verbal cues he gave out. And he gave out plenty.
“So, it wasn’t too weird for you, either?” Grant said. “Because we both know you’re not my usual type, and I’m not yours, either.”
Andy snickered, remembering how they’d both chased after “Dreamy Daniel.” He shrugged. “I guess my ‘type’ has less to do with physical qualities, and more to do with being with someone I care about and can trust with my heart.”
Grant’s lips pursed as he stared back silently. What had been wrong with that statement?
Oh. “Not that there’s anything wrong with your physical qualities. It’s just…you know.”
Grant sighed. “Yeah, I know. We’re not musclebound hunks with deep rumbly voices and just the perfect amount of chest hair to rake our fingers through.”
Andy laughed. “But dude, your expertise with your tongue…”
One side of Grant’s mouth lifted, and he waggled his eyebrows with comedic flair. “Liked that one move, did you?”
The coffee could wait. Andy put his hands on Grant’s waist and gently drew him closer. “You have to ask?”
Grant went straight for the spot on the side of Andy’s neck that he’d oh-so-quickly figured out drove Andy wild. At Andy’s gasp, Grant murmured, “Maybe we should have another go before making any rash decisions.”
Andy’s lips curved into a smile. He was pretty sure the decision was pretty solidly made—for both of them—but he tipped up Grant’s face for a proper kiss anyway.
🔽 🔼 Misha's Memorial Day Pool Party
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Uses the prompt words, ask – dignity – refuse – glare – conventional, given by a random word generator.
~ ~ ~
“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 sculpted 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.”
🔽 🔼 Misha's Halloween Party
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PROMPT WORDS received and used:
Kareni: betrayal – demise – battle – grieve – spoon
Pen Umbra: autumn – thunderstorm – visitor – kittens – scarf
Nell Iris: fireplace – tea – sleepy – fog – fox
~ ~ ~
Crisp autumn leaves crunched underfoot as Andy and Grant navigated the nighttime radiation fog that was the perfect backdrop for a Halloween party. A little less chill in the air, considering their sparse costumes, would’ve been welcome, though. Misha answered his door wearing a skintight glittery skeleton costume with spookily realistic full-face makeup.
“Fabulous!” Grant gushed. Misha’s makeup was indeed amazing. “You’ve posted to Insta?” Grant raised an expressive eyebrow.
“Of course!” Misha executed one of his classic eye rolls that looked downright creepy surrounded by his skull-face makeup. “And Arin made a video of the process for TikTok.”
Arin, a professional makeup artist, was Misha’s shiny new boyfriend. Rebound boyfriend, probably, considering Misha and “Dreamy Daniel” had only split a few weeks back.
Misha returned the once over, raking his gaze up and down Andy and Grant’s mostly bare bods.
“Nice.” He bobbed his head in approval. Their Mario and Luigi costumes consisted of boots, suspenders, and short shorts with matching hats, neck bandanas, and socks. Their chests and arms were bare. The look might have worked better on a pair of gym bunnies, but he and Grant pulled it off well enough with lean and toned.
Andy had wanted to substitute a woolen scarf (color coordinated, of course) for his bandana, but Grant had nixed the idea with a sardonic, “I’m pretty sure we can survive the walks between house and car without compromising our costumes.” Andy hadn’t bothered to point out that Mario and Luigi didn’t wear shorts and bandanas, they wore overalls and long sleeved shirts.
The blaze roaring in Misha’s fireplace beckoned, as did the tinkle of a spoon stirring a hot beverage in someone’s Irish coffee mug. Something that definitely was not coffee or tea and was no doubt spiked with—if not mostly—alcohol.
“Come on.” Andy hitched his head toward the fire.
Grant shivered and didn’t need additional prompting. He got their beverages as Andy warmed his hands over the flames.
“Mmm.” Grant gave Andy a hot-buttered-rum-flavored kiss, then shivered again when the front door opened to let in another couple. “Huh.” Grant cocked his head. “Trent didn’t mention he was bringing anyone.”
“Which one is Trent?” Both of the newcomers’ costumes included head coverings.
“Headless horseman.” Grant squinted at the visitor from outer space in a head-to-toe body-hugging green costume. “Why does that alien seem familiar?”
Andy took a sip of the hot buttered rum Grant shoved into his hands and studied the man’s form and stance. He stiffened when realization struck.
“Oh, hell no,” Andy muttered. “That took some nerve.” What was Trent thinking, bringing Daniel as his plus-one to Misha’s Halloween party?
Grant pursed his lips and gave a vigorous nod. Obviously he’d figured it out, too. “At least we can count on Karma to sort this out.”
Andy snickered. “True that.” Daniel probably couldn’t even define monogamous, let alone do it. Which was all well and good as long as everyone in the relationship was on the same page, but Trent wasn’t known for sharing.
Trent also clearly didn’t know Daniel or he’d have gone for sexy with his costume—not that his Legend of Sleepy Hollow costume wasn’t top notch, but it wouldn’t keep Daniel’s attention in a sea of gay men dressed to display their…assets.
Until the recent breakup, Misha and Daniel had been together since Memorial Day, and they’d had the monogamy conversation. Maybe Daniel had had good intentions. Maybe he’d just flat out lied.
Whichever it was, Daniel’s betrayal with some random guy he’d picked up, his confession that that hadn’t been the first time, and his and Misha’s subsequent breakup had been rough on Misha, resulting in his spending an evening of drinking with Grant and Andy as they’d taken turns coming up with assorted methods for Daniel’s messy (though imaginary) demise. If memory served, the method of choice had involved a trio of rabid kittens and a ravenous fox uncontrollably drawn to Daniel’s…ah…delicate bits as a thunderstorm drowned out his screams.
For fuck’s sake, Trent hadn’t even given Misha a full month to grieve the end of the relationship. Odd, because Trent was generally empathetic…and a better judge of character.
Something wasn’t adding up.
Sparks flew from the glare Misha shot at Daniel—or maybe that was the glitter in his makeup—and he turned theatrically on his heel and stalked into the adjoining kitchen.
A little too theatrically, even for Misha.
“Huh,” Grant said, obviously picking up the same vibes. “Something’s afoot.”
Even through the full-face mask, Andy was pretty sure he detected a smirk on Daniel’s face. Bastard.
Battle lines clearly had been drawn, but just as clearly, each side had its own idea of where the frontline was. Knowing Misha—which Daniel should, but probably didn’t—this whole drama might be a setup.
Trent had whatever you called the opposite of a poker face, so for the sake of whatever was going down, it was just as well his head was covered. In fact, assuming Trent was in on it, that was probably a deliberate tactic.
Grant scowled, but if Andy was reading it correctly, his ire had more to do with his not being included in the unfolding spectacle than for any feelings in support of Misha’s apparent mistreatment. To be fair to Misha’s decision, though, Grant had even less of a poker face than Trent.
“Just sit back and enjoy the show,” Andy murmured near Grant’s ear.
“Whatever. I’m still pissed,” Grant muttered as his Luigi-booted foot tapped a more muted beat than his usual ankle boots.
Andy rubbed his warmed hand up and down Grant’s back, and Grant’s stance relaxed into it.
Meanwhile Trent and Daniel mingled with the crowd, who weren’t giving them anything close to the cold shoulder they would have been getting if everyone present—unlike Daniel—hadn’t twigged to the understanding that Misha had a scheme in play.
Andy gave Grant a gentle pat. “What do you think he’s up to?”
“Wish I knew.” Grant harumphed. “I guess I get it, though.” Got why he’d been kept in the dark.
Andy straightened and looked around when the general buzz in the room dropped a couple notches. He snickered when he saw the Karma Grant had spoken of earlier swooping in for the “kill.”
Misha’s new boyfriend, Arin, was dressed as the Goddess of Karma—the recognition and implication of which was probably lost on Daniel—elegant, bejeweled, and heavily beaded, green and gold with lucious white feathers. And of course, his makeup was exquisite. Basically, precisely the kind of look Daniel would be attracted to.
Arin seemed like a nice guy, but Karma…she was a bitch. And a fairly good actor, judging by the moves Arin was putting on Dreamy Daniel, who was now completely ignoring Trent and putting his full focus on Arin, laughingly oblivious to the buzz of muffled giggle snorts erupting around the room.
“What I wouldn’t give to be able to hear what they’re saying.” Grant briefly went up on tippy toes as if that would give him hear better. He dropped back down, pursed his lips, and put his fists on his hips. “Fuck.”
“Look.” Andy gestured toward the kitchen door where Misha was peeking with a smirk stretching across his face.
Grant snorted. “Yeah, if we needed any confirmation, that’s it.”
“I almost feel sorry for him,” Andy said.
“Almost? Who, Daniel?”
“Yeah. Almost, but not quite.”
Almost, because Andy had briefly dated Daniel, and though he’d been a bit disheartened when Daniel had ditched him, he could acknowledge to himself that Daniel wasn’t irredeemably horrible. Besides, the end of that short-lived relationship had triggered the introspection that had led to Andy finally asking Grant to be more than just his best friend.
But not quite, because Daniel was so full of himself, and he really needed to work on his honesty.
Andy and Grant both jumped when a loud peal of laughter reminiscent of something Maleficent would emit reverberated around the room as Arin took a couple steps back from Daniel. “In your dreams, you cheating bastard!” Arin shrieked.
“God, I wish I could see his face,” Grant whispered.
“Fuck you, you teasing bitch,” Daniel yelled back.
“I’m Karma,” Arin hissed. Raised voices were no longer needed in the suddenly quiet room. “I’m supposed to be a bitch. Especially to fuckers who give a bad name to all the decent and honest polyamorous people and all the couples in consensual open relationships out there. Fuck you and your lies.”
The silent room erupted in cheers and whoops of “Hear, hear!” And mutterings of “True that,” and “It had to be said.”
Daniel stood stock still for a few seconds, then the material covering his face twitched a few times and he raised a pair of middle fingers and yelled “Fuck all y’all!” before turning on his heel and storming out, slamming the door behind him.
“Daniel is southern?” Grant raised a querulous brow.
Andy shrugged. “Dunno.” If so, he did a good job of hiding the accent and avoiding colloquialisms…until under duress.
“Good riddance,” Misha hollered as he emerged from the kitchen and shared a high five with Arin.
Grant sighed. Perhaps he shared Andy’s misgivings. The fact the confrontation had been a setup didn’t sit well with him, though in all honesty, if the scene had happened organically, he’d probably be cool with it.
“Well,” Grant said, giving Andy a light hug. “Maybe this’ll trigger a little self awareness, because Karma made a good point. None of that shit’s inherently bad. It’s only wrong if it’s not out in the open and mutually agreed to. Dude needs to find a partner who’s into it, not fucking lie to people who aren’t.”
“Yeah.” Andy nodded. Hopefully so, but regardless, Daniel would be fine. With or without that introspection, he would most likely be heading straight to another party.
Speaking of parties, Misha jumped onto the fireplace’s hearth and hollered, “Let’s get this party started!” He pointed at Arin, who pushed a button, and music filled the room. “Freeze dance!”
A new scene, “Misha’s Halloween Party,” was published in Addison’s November, 2021 newsletter.