Kyle surprised me by running out of the apartment building at my heels. He actually panted lightly from the strain of running. Then he held up his hand and I saw what made him chase me.
“You forgot your keys, Brian.”
I accepted them gratefully but dodged the kiss he offered. We were outside, after all. His happy expression deflated and I felt bad. I squeezed the fingers that gave up the keys but Kyle pulled his hand away.
“I’m sorry. I forgot where we were.”
“That’s okay,” I answered honestly.
The night before had been heaven hanging out at an openly gay bar. With pride and joy I’d let Kyle wrap himself around me. This neighborhood was a different story, however. We’d just moved in, for one thing.
At least I didn’t make him set up the extra bedroom as if he’d be sleeping there. I’d done that to my last guy for those occasional apartment inspections. It hadn’t gone over well but I did learn my lesson. I exhibited that now by what I said next.
“Are you free for lunch today?”
“You packed,” Kyle said, pointing to my lunch bag.
“I can save it for tomorrow. Come out with me to that Thai place you love.”
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”
“Okay, Brian. You always could twist my arm.”
“And what a fine arm it is,” I pronounced luridly.
The morning at work crawled as I looked forward to my lunch date. I’d decided to make a concerted effort not to act like a closet case. Then my former wife and good friend called. Could I host a surprise birthday party?
“You can use my house,” she offered cautiously. “My mom is in the hospital or I wouldn’t do this to you, Brian.”
“Of course I’ll do it, and I hope the best for you mother! I take it this is for one of Sarah’s friends?”
“Yes. Molly is turning twelve and her parents are getting divorced. We wanted to make this birthday special by inviting a bunch of friends.”
“How many in all?”
“All right then. I guess I’d better go make arrangements.”
The worst part was cancelling my lunch date. Darling Kyle understood, though. Sarah was my former wife’s daughter by her second husband. I acted as more of a dad to her than that loser. Kyle had become like an uncle.
I left work early and swung by to pick up Sarah from school and the cake from the baker. Sarah already had a pair of skis as a gift to Molly. We popped a giant bow on them and called it a done deal.
Kyle had agreed to help chaperone, so he showed up before the first guest. He bore a bowl of green goop.
“I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, but what is that?”
Before he could answer, guests started to arrive and we were swamped with giggling girls. The catered food went over well, dessert complete with trick candles was a hit, but the games my ex had prepared didn’t hold anyone’s interest. The girls quickly became restless. One girl who looked way beyond her age suggested spin the bottle. She had her gaze pinned on my boyfriend like a tail to a donkey’s butt. Desperate, I looked to Kyle for a different reason. He went into the kitchen and reemerged with the bowl he’d brought.
“Who wants some gelatin salad?”
That earned him disdainful glares. Wondering what we could do to wear down their energy, I thought of going outside. The latest storm would make for great snowball fighting.
Before long, everyone was laughing and having a good time. Sweet Sarah even came up with the idea of building a fort, started with a large hole dug in a towering, crusty snowdrift. That project enthused the girls and tired them out even better than running around making targets of one another.
By bedtime, we had them warmed up and relaxed with a chick flick and tons of popcorn. The girls all collapsed in their sleeping bags and we prepared to hit the sack, ourselves.
At the top of the stairs, Kyle said, “You know we can’t share the master bedroom.”
“They’ll sleep through the night. They’re not little babies. Besides, Sarah understands we love one another.”
“We don’t know about the other girls or what their parents might think. We have to do this for Sarah,” Kyle continued. “This is one time I believe in maintaining the ruse.”
“All right. For Sarah.”
At least tomorrow was Saturday. All we had to do was survive breakfast and get everybody carted off. Sarah’s mom would be returning either to stay or pick up her daughter, depending upon the seriousness of the grandmother’s illness.
I kissed Kyle with promise of much more when we returned home. He cooed in my ear in a way that made me want to tell the world I loved him. We had time for that tomorrow.
To continue reading, please click to follow along on my steamier blog:
Sand Castles: Key to My Heart - Chapter Two