**Note**- This is a spin-off from “Can’t Hide the Truth Anymore”. It’s not necessary to read that first, but doing so will give you a better idea of Gage and Devin’s story and how Travis came to be a friend. This is the story of Travis and Brett.
I pulled my ’98 Explorer parallel to the curb, parking in front of an old, white two-story house badly in need of a new coat of paint. Two small cars sat side by side in the double driveway right in front of a detached garage. The garage door was open and a cursory glance showed a few boxes, bags and a ladder, but otherwise seemed empty.
Turning off the power, I leaned back into my seat and scanned the rows of houses lining the street. Typical one and two-story homes from the 60’s and 70’s; cookie-cutter homes that were most likely a suburbanite’s dream at one time. Now, though, they all looked a little sad: missing shutters, unkempt lawns, flapping shingles. Probably mostly college rentals like the one I sat in front of.
I hopped out of my vehicle and felt a wave of heat roll over me. It was only 9:00am, but it was already hot as hell and the temperature was supposed to keep climbing all day. Record heat. That’s what the weatherman kept saying, anyway. God, I was tired of hearing that every day. Not the greatest weather for moving day, but it had to be done.
Deciding to let Devin and Gage know I was here before I started dragging crap in, I moved across the lawn toward the front steps. An occasional red brick peeked through the tangled, overgrown grass alluding to a long forgotten walkway. I reached the small concrete porch and took the two stairs in one jump up to the door.
My hand hovered over the doorknob, hesitating. Should I walk in? I mean, this was my place, too, although I didn’t have a key. Hell, I hadn’t even seen the place, yet. Devin and Gage had talked me into renting with them the week of finals last spring, but I never had a chance to take a look at it.
I reached for the doorknob, but then the idea that they may be ‘busy’ flashed through my mind. Crap, I certainly didn’t need to see that. Knocking seemed safer, so I reached up and rapped the door with my knuckles.
“Hey, loverboys, you guys up?” I hollered, knowing that would irritate the hell out of Devin.
The door opened within seconds and Devin glared at me. “Loverboys? Seriously, Travis?”
I smirked. “Hey, you can never be too careful! It’s not my fault you can’t keep your hands off Gage.”
He chuckled, a smile breaking out on his face. “Shit. I can’t deny that one. Come on in,” he said, pulling the door back so I could pass through.
I stood just inside the door for a moment and scanned my new home. Cream walls, with a dark paneling on the far wall. Ugly green shag carpeting covered the almost empty living room. A hideous orange and brown recliner sat in the corner next to a floor lamp that had an old faded blue lampshade perched precariously at the top. A large flat screen hung on large wall and a rickety entertainment center positioned directly below it held a shitload of video games and movies. I would have to add my Xbox as soon as I unpacked.
“So, one chair, huh?” I quirked an eyebrow at my friend.
Devin laughed. “Yeah, for now. When Brett arrives later he’s bringing an old sofa that was his grandmother’s, a coffee table…” he paused as he ticked off the items on his fingers, his brow furrowed as he tried to recall everything. “Oh, yeah, some drapes for the large front window and a vacuum. And some sort of surprise that he was pretty excited about.”
My gut flip-flopped at the mention of Brett. I didn’t know him that well, but I always felt awkward around him. Tongue-tied. He had those eyes that looked right into yours, like he could see everything; as if he knew what was in your soul and there was no way to hide. They were the most incredible blue…
At Devin’s touch on my arm, I realized I had zoned out. “Uh, sorry. What did you say?”
He looked at me, his eyebrows raised, but didn’t ask anything. “I said your bed arrived yesterday and it’s all set up in your room. Want a quick tour?”
I nodded and followed him through the house. The kitchen was much larger than I had imagined, although the 70s themed daisy wallpaper was a little disturbing. An old green refrigerator hummed over in the corner and a matching oven stood nearby. The cabinets were old but, surprisingly, appeared freshly painted. Unfortunately, the sky blue paint only served to highlight the light blue and orange checkerboard linoleum. It made my head dizzy and I shot Devin a wary glance.
Devin laughed. “Yeah, I know. Hideous. Come on, let’s go upstairs and you can say hello to Gage, too.” He clapped my shoulder and guided me to the stairs, pointing out a small half-bath just off the kitchen.
“No table or chairs?” I asked, glancing back at the kitchen as I followed him.
“No, not yet,” he informed confirmed.
Guess we’ll be eating on the Çapa Escort shag carpeting.
I followed him up the carpeted, narrow stairs, noting the walls were (thankfully) painted a basic cream like the living room. At the top of the stairs, the carpet gave way to a hardwood floor, extending down the hallway, leading to four closed doors. Devin pointed to the right and I ducked my head into the bathroom we would all be sharing for the year. Pink ceramic tile covered half the walls, while pink and green striped wallpaper clung to the walls. Hideous was definitely becoming a theme. There were two sinks and a plain white, almost see-through, shower curtain already hung at the tub. Someone had placed some purple bathroom mats on the floor and some beach towels hung on the rods. It was ugly, but roomy. I could deal with it.
He pointed to a closed door next to the bathroom. “That’s our room.” He knocked on the door. “Baby, you decent?”
The door opened and Gage smiled up at his boyfriend. An odd ache filled me as I watched them greet each other. The love they felt for each other was evident in every look between them, every touch. I wondered if I would ever have that; the one person that makes you feel complete.
They had been roommates in their dorm last year and both had fallen hard and fast for each other. Their relationship was the real thing; they were sure of their love and the plans they had for their future.
They were good guys, too. When I had come out last year, they had been both been very supportive of me and our friendship had only grown over the year. I knew how lucky I was to have them as friends, although I sometimes felt envious of what they had. But that was my problem, not theirs, so I smiled at Gage and leaned in for a quick hug.
“Travis! So glad you are here!” Gage leaned up and hugged me back. He was only about 5’4″, so he had to stand on his tiptoes.
“Okay, that’s enough,” Devin said, clearly irked. He was a little jealous and I knew it pissed him off when I hugged Gage, but I loved to rile him up.
We pulled apart and Gage immediately slid his arm around his boyfriend’s waist, standing up on his tiptoes again to kiss him on the cheek and quickly smoothing over any upset feelings. They looked good together. At 6’5″, Devin stood over a foot taller than Gage and he was definitely more muscular.
I was just as tall but I probably had about twenty pounds on Devin. He was leaner but strong. He was also a damn good basketball player and we teamed well together on the court.
I watched as Devin slid his arms around tightly around Gage and began nuzzling his neck. Gage began making little sounds in his throat and I turned away feeling like I was intruding on a private moment. I headed down the hall, checking for my room.
“Last room on the left, Travis,” Devin called after me, his voice muffled as his lips were still pressed against Gage’s neck.
I nodded and walked past a closed door. The next door was mine and I turned the knob and walked in. My bed was already set up against the far wall, but otherwise, the room was bare. White walls, no furniture, plain hardwood floors that looked like oak, but badly needed to be replaced or stained again. Going to need a rug, and some blinds, I thought.
My window looked out on the backyard and it was in the same state as the front yard. A large, very old wooden deck wrapped around the back of the house and I imagined some pretty great parties had been held over the years. Some of the railings appeared to be broken or missing and I wondered how many drunk students had fallen off the deck.
Eager to get the day started, I headed down to my SUV to start hauling boxes and furniture upstairs. Knowing I didn’t have a large room, I had only brought one small, four-drawer oak dresser, a matching nightstand and a desk chair. I found a desk and bookshelf at the local Wal-Mart and was planning on picking those up later today and putting them together tonight or tomorrow.
As I opened the back of the Explorer, I heard a truck coming down the road and music blasting out the windows and turned to see a U-Haul pulling up to the driveway. I glanced at the two cars in the drive and knew there was no way that was going to fit. I couldn’t tell who the driver was, but I held up my hand and yelled to hang on a second. I was going to go tell the guys to move their cars.
They must have heard the truck, too as both came out the front door, keys in hand.
“Go tell Brett to back up so we can pull out for him,” Gage told me.
Brett. I didn’t think he would be driving a rental truck. He was… not the truck driving kind of guy. I grimaced, shocked at my own stereotyping. Small guys can drive trucks, idiot, I admonished myself as I walked over to the cab of the truck.
The music stopped as Brett rolled the window down farther, flashing me a smile. “Hey, Trav, what’s going on?”
My stomach did that flip-flopping thing again and I momentarily forgot Çapa Escort Bayan what I was supposed to tell him. His ocean blue eyes held my gaze and I leaned in closer, marveling at how long and thick his lashes were. His eyes widened a little, but stayed on mine. A heady scent of musk and something else- maybe vanilla- filled the space, overwhelming my senses for a moment. I felt my cock twitch and instantly stepped back. What the hell was I doing? Drooling over a sexy guy, that’s what you’re doing. Right in front of him. Brett tilted his head, watching me as I tried to tear my eyes from him. His smile widened and I was struck by how absolutely adorable his dimples were. One in the middle of each cheek. Cute and sexy at the same time.
What the hell? Brett wasn’t usually my type. Not at all. I shook my head and pulled myself out of my haze and finally looked away and cleared my throat. “Um, they said to…um, oh, yeah. They said to pull back so they could park on the street. That way you can pull into the driveway.”
He nodded and began to reverse. For some reason, I hurried back to his door, catching him as he was rolling his window back up. “Brett?” I called out.
His brow furrowed and he rolled it back down, leaning out the window. “Yeah?”
“Hey, I’ve driven a lot of moving trucks for my dad’s moving company. Want me to back that up into the driveway?”
Brett’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me. “You don’t think I can do it?”
Fuck. That’s not what I meant. Not exactly. “No, man, that’s not what I was saying at all. I just know it can be difficult and I’ve done it a lot, so I offered. It’s not a big deal. You can do it.” I held my hands up, palms facing him, as I backed off and then turned around.
Why did he always call me that? Nobody else called me Trav, but whenever I heard it from his lips, heat coiled in my belly and I had to fight the urge to ask him to say it again. I spun back around to face him, my face blank.
“Umm, if your offer is still good, then yeah, could you park it?” he asked, a little sheepishly, his eyes looking everywhere but at me.
I tried not to smirk. “Sure, slide over.”
As he moved over to the passenger side, I climbed and worked on adjusting the seat and mirrors to fit my taller frame. Within minutes, we were turned around and I was reversing into drive, with Gage standing back and waving me on. Brett hadn’t said a word and wouldn’t even look at me, but I figured he was embarrassed and left him alone.
Once we parked and turned off the truck, I passed the keys to Brett.
“Thanks,” he muttered.
“No problem. Glad I could help. Now, what do we have to unload?” I asked him, biting back a smile.
We hopped out and he unlocked the back door and I yanked it open. Gage and Devin had joined us and we all gasped as the first piece of furniture came in to view.
“Dude! Where did you get that?” Devin crowed.
Brett beamed. “It was my neighbor’s and he was moving and was going to pitch it! He gave it to me free. It’s in great condition and I thought it would be a great addition for a house full of college guys.”
We all jumped up into the truck and looked over the poker table. It was in almost perfect condition. Even had cup holders.
“This is awesome, Brett,” I declared, clapping my hand on his shoulder and instantly regretting it. Heat shot up my arm and I pulled my hand away, probably a little too quickly.
He blushed at the praise and smiled as he watched me. Those long lashes fluttered a little as he turned and pointed over his shoulder at the rest of the boxes and furniture in the truck. “Now, who wants to help move this stuff inside? I also have another surprise.”
The second surprise ended up being a pretty decent kitchen table and chairs. By the time we moved all the furniture into the house, it was beginning to look a little more like a home. His bedroom furniture was in the truck, too, so we helped him get his room set up and then they all helped me get my stuff out of the Explorer. The sun was beating down on us and by the time we moved the last piece of furniture in, we were all drenched in sweat.
My stomach growled, alerting me to the fact that we had worked past lunch. I was starving.
“I have to take the truck back. Anyone want to follow me? I need a ride back,” Brett explained. “My car died last week and I may not have it back for a few weeks.”
“That sucks,” I said. “I can follow you, if you don’t mind me stopping at Wal-Mart. I have a couple of things to pick up.”
“That’s great. I do too!” He grinned as we both grabbed some Gatorade from the fridge.
Gage was going to make some sandwiches so we could all eat when we got back. Luckily, they had already filled the fridge with food and beer when they arrived a couple of days ago.
I followed Brett to the truck rental place and by the time he slid into my SUV, the a/c was finally blasting some cool Escort Çapa air. Sweat made my shirt stick to my chest and back and my shorts were even feeling a little uncomfortable.
Brett’s red t-shirt was clinging to him, outlining a small, but well-defined chest and shoulders. I found myself wondering what his abs felt like. His blonde hair was damp with sweat and my mind drifted to images Brett, naked and sweaty as he writhed under me. That musk and vanilla scent filled my nostrils and I breathed in deep.
I looked over at him. “What?”
“You groaned something, I thought,” he offered.
Fuck, had I groaned out loud? What the hell was wrong with me? To be honest, Brett had somewhat irritated me last year. He barely spoke to me the few times we hung out together as a group and I got the feeling he thought I was some stupid jock.
I hated being labeled as a dumb jock. Just because I played basketball, didn’t mean I wasn’t smart. But, sometimes people jumped to assumptions and I had the feeling he had done that with me.
He wrinkled his nose. “Man, I need a shower,” he said, his dimples growing with his smile.
Great, now I was thinking of him in the shower. Naked. All soapy and wet. Water dripping down his back…
“What?” I asked, irritated to be torn from my daydream.
“You missed the turn,” he huffed.
Crap. It was going to be a long day.
We finally made it to Wal-Mart and he headed off to pick up some things he needed and I waited in the pick-up line for my ordered items. My stomach growled loudly and the kid in front of me turned and looked up at me. He was probably only 5 or 6 years old and was holding his mom’s hand.
My stomach growled again and his eyes grew wide as he tugged at his mom’s hand. “Mom,” he whispered, “that guy is roaring.”
His mom turned back to see me and I smiled. “Sorry. Missed lunch. My stomach,” I shrugged, feeling a little self-conscious. She smiled back and whispered something to her son. He looked at me again and finally gave me a little smile.
The wait was long and before I even picked up my desk and bookshelf, Brett had already finished up and joined me in line. He was eating a granola bar and right on cue, my stomach growled again. He glanced up at me.
“Want a granola bar? I bought a couple of boxes. I snack on them like crazy.”
I took one and thanked him, devouring it in seconds. He watched me, a smile playing on his lips.
“What?” I asked him, wiping my face for crumbs.
“Nothing. Just never seen anyone eat that fast.”
I laughed. “Yeah, I guess I am pretty hungry.”
Brett dug into his bag and pulled out another granola bar. “Here,” he said as he handed it over, “we can’t have you passing out from lack of nutrients.”
His eyes danced as he teased me. I took the offered granola bar and ripped into it. “Thanks, Brett. I owe you.”
An hour later, we finally returned to our new home and devoured the sandwiches Gage made, along with some chips.
We all decided to meet downstairs at 7:00pm to play some poker and hang out. Classes didn’t start for a week, so we had time to relax and have some fun. Devin was going to give Jack and Jeremy a call to see if they could join us.
I grabbed my toiletries from my room and headed into the bathroom for a much needed shower. Brett obviously had the same idea because we ran into each other in the hall.
“Oh, sorry. Were you going to take a shower?” he asked.
“Yeah, but you go ahead first. I can wait. Just leave me some hot water,” I said, smiling at him.
He nodded and looked at me quizzically for a minute before he closed the bathroom door behind him. I stood there staring at the closed door for a moment until Gage came up the stairs and asked me what I was doing. I shrugged, not really sure.
He followed me into my room and looked around. “Want some help putting the blinds up?”
“Sure, that’s a good idea. And I want to move my bed to this wall.”
“Are you sure? That’s up against Brett’s room.”
“So?” I shrugged, not sure what he was getting at. “I don’t want to be on the outside wall, because I have a feeling this old house is not that great at keeping out the cold.”
“That makes sense. Okay, let’s move it.”
We spent a few minutes moving things around and getting the bed situated exactly where I wanted it. I grabbed some sheets out of one of my boxes and started to make the bed, when his words came back to me.
“Wait, what did you mean about Brett?” I stood across the bed and looked at him, waiting for him explain.
Gage sighed and walked over to the end of the bed, patting the space next to him. I took a seat next to him and waited for him to speak. He was one of my favorite people in the world and if he had something important to say, I wanted to hear it.
He patted my knee and let go. “Look, Travis. I’ve seen how you look at Brett.”
My breath froze, my heart thumping hard.
“Don’t freak out. I think I’m the only one that’s noticed. I guess I was just wondering if you really wanted to have your bed next to his wall…in case he…well, what if he brings home a date? Do you really want to hear that?”