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Brewer Blue

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“You sure you don’t want any?” David held out a slice of his pizza.

I shook my head. “I ate breakfast late.” We both knew that was complete bull, but he let me have the lie. Our conversation had turned my stomach sour and pizza would tempt fate.

David’s piercing eyes softened around the edges as he covered my hand with his and gently squeezed. Somehow he managed to eat the pepperoni with extra cheese one-handed. Not an easy feat with the floppy nature of Gino’s pizza, but I appreciated the gesture. His touch soothed the scattered spirals of thoughts whirring around in my head. It’s like David was my own spreadsheet software. Helping me classify and sort my thoughts into something I could understand. Something I could address.

Cell A1: Immediate fears.

Cell A2: My parents are in town. I haven’t seen them in a long time. What if I seem like a completely different person? What if I don’t seem any different after it feels like everything about me changed?

Cell A3: My parents don’t know I’m gay. What if they can’t accept me for who I love?

Cell A4: My parents don’t know David is my boyfriend. What if being confronted with the evidence of me being gay is too much too fast?

Cell A5: David is actually upset with me and holding it in or saving it for a fight later. After Rachel, why wouldn’t he be upset? I promised to never hide anything from him again. With the only other big thing in my life, what did I do? Kept it from David like a fool.

Cell B1: Best case scenario

Cell B2: They tell me I seem happy. I am.

Cell B3: They love me unconditionally, and who I love isn’t going to change that.

Cell B4: They adore David. My mom already talks to him more than me when she calls the store.

Cell B5: He’s still here. Holding my hand. Right now.

David studied me closely as he ate. Letting the silence settle in and expand into all the nooks and crannies of my flat. Letting me stay in my head for a few more minutes. I pulled out of my own thoughts enough to notice he wasn’t fidgeting. No nervous tics. No tapping a finger on the table or bouncing his thigh. No visible evidence he sat there fighting his growing anxiety. That was different. That was David understanding me on a level I’d never experienced.
No matter what happened with my parents, David would be there. I saw it in the happy hum as he finished another slice. The way his thumb traced a path on the back of my hand. The relaxed drop to his shoulders.

His stillness.

I hadn’t scared him away. He wasn’t going to leave me.

We were okay.

“I love you.”

David’s eyes widened for a moment. “I love you too, Patrick. So much. You know I’m not mad at you, right?”

I turned my hand over and intertwined our fingers. “I do. Thank you for being so understanding. I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you this.” I looked down at our hands and shook my head. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”

He kicked my shin gently. “I’m only here because of your sweet ass and pancake making skills.”

“And back rubs.”

“Mmhmm. And back rubs.” He winked. “I wouldn’t say no to one tomorrow.”

“Why not today?”

“Um, because it’s your birthday, obviously. You aren’t going to give me one on your birthday.”

I trailed my fingertips across his wrist, and he shivered. He’s so incredibly responsive. “What if it’ll make me happy to give you a back rub.”

David twisted his lips, pinching them to one side, and shook his head with a cute little laugh. “You’re such a service top.”

“Here we go again.”

David threw his hands in the air. “I’m just saying. For someone who refutes that label, you sure get off making sure I get off.”

“Pretty sure we both enjoy getting each other off, David.”

He leaned forward, and the rapidly shrinking space between us left me breathless. All this time together and still, still, simply being near him scrambled my brains and made my heart beat faster like a freaking teenager. I loved every second of it.

“Service top,” he whispered as his lips brushed my ear. He nipped the lobe then pulled back like he hadn’t just plugged me into a generator. “What are you going to wear tonight?”

“No idea.” I kissed his neck.

David stood and cleaned up his lunch. “I should head back to the store in a few. Want help picking anything before I go?”

I stood and walked over to my tiny closet. Large enough for my clothes, but it wouldn’t even hold just David’s Givenchy sweaters from 2013-15. Sliding the hangers back and forth, I clenched my jaw at the sea of blue. Wearing the same color all the time was supposed to make these decisions easier, not harder.

Strong arms wrapped around my waist. I leaned my head back onto his shoulder and sighed. “I don’t know.”

He clicked his tongue, so I did what any reasonable boyfriend of David Rose would do. I braced myself for his incoming smartass comment. “How does one choose from fifty shades of blue? Difficult stuff.”

I pinched his hip. “How do you choose from fifty shades of black?”

David hooked his chin over my shoulder. “Okay. That’s enough out of you, birthday boy.”

Sliding some more hangers, I huffed out a sigh. “I haven’t seen my parents in a long time, and I guess I want to feel good. Confident.” I considered one of the sweaters. “It’s stupid.”

David kissed my neck and tightened his grip around my waist. I wrapped my arms around his and let myself be held. Comforted. Loved. It was tempting to ask him to stay home with me until the party, but we needed the sales. Though I could already hear him using my words against me in his annoyingly adorable mocking tone. But consistent store hours develop brand loyalty, Patrick. It would almost be worth it just to hear him tease me. Our love language.

“You’re literally talking to someone who uses fashion like a mood ring. There is nothing stupid about wanting to use your clothes to give you a confidence boost. Clothes can help me feel more confident, more bold, more vulnerable. It’s normal.” I felt his shrug.

“But they’re all blue. They barely look any different.”

“I’ll help.” He unwrapped his arms from around me. I’m not proud of the sound I made at the loss. “Hey, you’re the one who asked me too. Don’t give me that pouty lip.” He chuckled as he kissed my lower lip. Fine. I stepped back to give him room at my closet.

David slid the hangers back and forth. Sometimes I wished I take a peek into his brilliant and wonderful mind, but in that moment he was probably just making a show of trying to thoughtfully select something only to pick it out at random. I knew he hated my clothes. Well, not exactly my clothes, but hated their quality. If I had a dollar for every time he not so subtly encouraged me to upgrade an item or snuck fancy underwear into my drawer, I’d be able to take David out for one hell of a nice dinner.

He pulled a pale one out and held it up. “How about your I’m gonna get the money one?”

I blinked at him. “My what?”

David glanced at me over his shoulder. “You know, your… “ His eyebrows shot up and eyes went wide.

I took a step forward and didn’t even bother fighting the grin on my face. I loved this man. So goddamn much. “My I’m gonna get the money shirt? I believe that’s what you called it?”

David shifted his weight to one leg and placed his free hand on his hip. The sigh he let out was Oscar worthy as he turned to face me, but I didn’t miss the almost imperceptible twitch of his mouth. “It’s just. That day.” His hand made a swooping motion in front of my chest. “When you came in and offered to be my business partner. There was something about you. You wore confidence like some sort of pheromone.” David flashed that lopsided smile I loved. “It was actually quite hot.”

“Confident? That was the last thing I felt that day.” I studied the shirt he held out. Nondescript. Pale. “More like hopeful and optimistic and terrified.”

David shrugged. “Doesn’t sound that different from today.”

I blew out a breath. “Wow. Yeah. I guess you’re right.” For someone who pretended to be allergic to genuine human emotion, David had an alarmingly high emotional intelligence.

“So, we have a winner?”

I could say yes and let David go back to work, but where was the fun in that? “I’m not sure yet. How about you run me through some of my other shirts. I may be going for a different vibe.”

“A vibe. Really.” He arched an eyebrow at me. He wielded those things like a weapon of mass snark.

“Mmhmm.” I blinked up at him in the way I learned long ago pushed his buttons exactly how I liked.

David huffed out a breath. “Fine.” He hung the shirt with more force than necessary and flipped through a few more.

“Your thank you for making that happen for us blazer won’t work.”

“Why not?” I couldn’t keep the laughter from my voice. David shot me a glare.

“Because it’s supposed to be a surprise party, and it would look really suspicious if you showed up to a normal dinner in your blazer.”

“That’s my thank you for making that happen for us blazer, David. Please get it right.”

“You’re insufferable.”

“I’m delighted. Keep going.”

David pulled out another one. “This is a classic. The been thinking about stuff blue.”

I bit my bottom lip. “I thought about a lot of stuff that day.”

“Including how you thought I was attempting to debauch you on the first day of our relationship?”

“Oh, I thought a lot about the ways you could debauch me.”

David waggled his eyebrows. “Maybe someday I’ll share with you the names I have for some of your underwear.”

My brain buffered. “Y-you have names for my underwear?”

Of course David wiggled his shoulders. That shimmy would be the death of me. I knew David didn’t let his guard down around many people, let alone allow himself to be silly. Each shoulder shimmy felt like a personal achievement. “Well.” I cleared my throat. “You’ll have to share those with me sometime.”

“I think that can be arranged.” He turned back to the closet. “Ah. This is a personal favorite.”

The thought of David having a favorite anything of my boring wardrobe, aside from the hoodie he liked to steal on cold nights, sent a jolt of electricity through me. With the seemingly endless barbs about my clothes, I’d have never guessed he’d attached memories to them.

“The threw you a changeup blue.”

“You remember the word changeup but you can’t remember it’s called a championship instead of a finale?”

David turned around and leveled me with a look that made my knees weak. “Obviously I Googled changeup as soon as I walked out of Ray’s. You did this thing with your mouth when you said it and I had to know what it- That! That exact thing with your mouth!” He pointed a finger at me and bit his fingertip. He laughed and pulled me in for a kiss.

The comfort of his lips against mine, the scratch of his stubble against my cheek, the warmth of his body unfurled the tension in my neck and shoulders that had settled over the past half an hour.

With how I thrived under work deadlines, I should’ve figured out that having a deadline to come out to my parents would help in the end. I liked structure. Boundaries. Timelines. Formulas. Instructions.

David was chaos. Flighty and opinionated. Unreliable with schedules. He lived outside the box.

David was perfect.

I’m proud to be David’s boyfriend, and I want my parents to know him and love him too. They’re going to love him so much when they see how happy he makes me- Yeah. It’ll be fine.

David wrapped one arm around my shoulders as his other put the changeup shirt back. “Ah. This is a personal favorite of mine.” David’s mouth twisted to one side as he pulled a grey-blue shirt out.

Warmth spread through my body at the sight of it. “Can I guess this one?”

David pressed his lips together and nodded.

“The I love you blue?” I turned toward him like our hearts were magnets.

“Mmhmm,” he said breathily.

I grabbed his hip and pulled him toward me. “I remember what you wore that day, too.”

“You do?”

“Black sweater.”

“Shocking.” He rolled his eyes.

I kissed his cheek, and he leaned into it and hummed a little. “Thin grey lines over your shoulders and upper arms making wings. My very own angel.” His throat vibrated against my lips as he scoffed.

“While that’s a ridiculous assessment of my heavenly qualities, it’s also quite lovely. Thank you.”

I cupped his cheek and hoped he could read the love in my eyes. “Thank you. You always have a way of making me feel better.”

“Hopefully I make you feel better more than I make you feel worse.”

I lifted my hand and teetered it. “Eh.”

David grabbed it and kissed my palm. “Rude.” He let out a long-suffering sigh. “I should get back to the store.”

“You’re so responsible.”

He crowded further in my space and kissed my neck at that spot he knew made me whimper. Brat. “I don’t have to, you know. I could stay here and celebrate with you. Give you a nice back rub.”

“Nice try.” I tried to sound stern, but probably failed miserably. I turned to the closet, clutching his hand. “How about this one? It’s a bit darker than my I’m gonna get the money blue.” Looked like the names were gonna stick.

“Perfect.” David nodded once.

“What are you going to call it?”

He wrapped his arms around my shoulders as mine gravitated around his waist. Home.

“Ask me tomorrow. It’s too early for me to call it,” he said as he dazzled me with a full, toothy smile. “Tonight is going to be great, you know.”

“With you by my side? Yeah, it will. Best birthday yet.”

David groaned. “Ugh. Now I’ll have to top this next year.”

If I have my way, he’ll have dozens of opportunities to do just that. Though, any birthday with David Rose is the best birthday I could have.

Brewer Blues