Copyright 2013 Theo Fenraven
This chapter may contain material meant only for adults.
Ren’s sister’s name was Vivian—Viv for short—and she was turning thirty. I’d met her on previous occasions, usually at the bookstore when she filled in for Ren behind the counter. Mostly, she was in graduate school, trying to finish up a degree in anthropology.
The party was at a popular restaurant in Los Angeles, in a private room reserved for the occasion. Besides Ren and myself, their parents were there (having flown in from Florida), as well as various relatives and friends. Except for Viv, I had met none of them.
Ren introduced me around, I said hello, shook hands, and kissed Viv on the cheek. “Happy birthday.”
Her eyes twinkled at me. “I’m almost as old as you. Think I’ll ever be able to kick your ass?”
Laughing, I hugged her. “Let’s hope you never need to.”
Ren kept me close by his side, touching me often, giving everyone quite a show while proclaiming silently to all and sundry we were together. I was uncomfortable with this kind of public display, and just before everyone sat down to dinner, I excused myself to go to the restroom.
I pissed and flushed, washed my hands, and then looked at myself in the mirror. “What the fuck are you doing?” I asked my reflection softly.
A guy came out of one of the stalls, marched to the sink next to me, and soaped his hands. His eyes met mine in the mirror. “Hey, aren’t you that guy on the TV show?”
“Which one would that be?” I asked, starting to move toward the exit.
“You play a bad guy, right? You know.” He punched the button on the air dryer and held his hands under it.
Shrugging, I turned and left. I tried not to meet and greet fans in the can. That’s private time, damn it.
When I returned to the party, Ren waved me over, and I took the chair beside him. “Miss anything?”
“Nope, just started serving.” He looked at me. “Something wrong?”
Shaking my head, I said, “Some guy tried to corner me in the restroom, asking about the show. Forget it.”
He leaned close to me. “You okay?”
“Fine.” This shit happened to me all the time. I would never get used to it, but it was not unexpected.
Dinner proceeded, accompanied by wine. I downed a couple of glasses and relaxed. Buzzed, I became more outgoing and friendly. When I was drunk, I was happy and loved everyone. I didn’t let myself get to that second stage, but I was feeling no pain. When Ren slid his hand over my thigh and squeezed, I liked it and showed my appreciation by whispering something dirty in his ear. He laughed quietly and moved his hand higher.
I noticed Viv watching us with a smile and grinned at her. She knew and approved, loving her brother enough to accept anyone he loved. And that Ren loved me, I had no doubt. Once he’d overcome his natural reticence toward me, he’d embraced me and the relationship whole-heartedly. Sharing with me what had happened to him as a teen had unexpectedly forged an emotional connection between us.
But did I love him? I wasn’t sure. I was fond of him, yes. I liked spending time with him, he was great in bed, he could hold up his part of an intelligent conversation, but love? It had only been five or six weeks. I didn’t know.
After dinner, there was chatter among the guests and people got up and wandered around. They looked at me curiously but overall, were friendly and welcoming enough. His parents were unsure but polite, which was nice. I knew the look, the one gays sometimes got from straights, as if they didn’t bathe or indulged in demonic practices, but there was none of that here.
A waiter appeared with a cake, on top of which were a multitude of lit candles, and everyone sang happy birthday to Viv, who blushed and thanked them. She then opened presents, and there was lots of squealing and thank yous. Ren and I had gotten her heavy coffee table books on (what else?) archeology, which she seemed to like very much.
We took our leave, said our goodbyes, hugged everyone, and walked out the front door into a nest of photographers.
The minute we appeared, they were all over us, their flashes going off like some crazy fireworks show. Someone at the restaurant had made a call, I supposed, or maybe that guy in the restroom had ratted me out.
We’d exited bumping shoulders and laughing about something. The minute he realized what was happening, Ren stepped back and to the side, away from me. I ducked my head and made for the car, which we’d parked half a block down. My standard practice was to ignore them, and I had it down pat.
I was unlocking the doors before I got there, so I was able to yank it open and slide into the driver’s side in one smooth move. I glanced up to see where Ren was, only to discover he was nowhere in sight.
Last chapter posted Friday!