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Episode 18


Grandma Tazinski used to say that every man faces a crossroads in his life and if you took the wrong turn you were screwed in the ass with the corncob of destiny. God I loved that woman’s way of turning a phrase.

I wasn’t sure if Sam had taken the right road or the wrong one to be honest. I mean, sure, coming out is good. It’s freeing, it’s like an emancipation proclamation that eases the soul and heart. Let’s just forget the fact that I was now in a sort-of relationship with a man and we’d not made our grand announcement. That ate at me, I won’t lie.

Steering Sam, who was rubbery and mumbling about family details that I was sure Henry did not want me to know, I tamped down the bitter taste of deception coating my tongue.

Then, he was at my side, the man I was being secretive with. He hoisted one of Sam’s arms over his shoulder, gave me a look that I couldn’t read, and helped get the drunken artist to my car.

Once we poured Sam into the passenger seat and buckled him in, I shut the door on the now weeping drunk, and faced my secret lover. Mike was tense, his kissable lips flat, his brow pulled into tight furrows.

“Why are you out here?” I had to ask.

“I belong at your side.”

“No, you belong inside pretending that you’re straight and that none of this means a shit to you because it shouldn’t, Mike.”

He bristled up like a bantam rooster Grandma Tazinski had once owned. “We’re dating, how can this not mean something to me?”

“We’re covertly dating, Mike. You getting tangled up in something like this with Henry and Sam is only going to—”

Never got to finish that thought as Henry exploded out of the community center, his gaze latching onto me and Mike arguing about hidden gay love affairs.

“We’ll talk about this later. Take Sam home.” Mikey had his dander up. It was incredibly hot to see him get aggressive and toppy while also being monumentally stupid. He pushed his glasses up his nose then marched off to intercept Henry.

There was no way I was letting Mike face down Henry alone. Goog appeared out of the night, the slim blonde babe who had been on his arm all night gone.

“Give me your keys, I’ll take Sam to my place,” Goog stated as he held out his hand palm up. I stared at the palm for a long, long time. “Seriously, he’ll be fine with me. Just go back up your boyfriend.”

“Mike is not my boyfriend,” I defensively barked even as I lobbed my keys at my friend.

“Right. I’ll pick you up in the morning.”

With that pronouncement, Goog left me standing on the curb staring at my taillights. The exchange between Mike and Henry behind me was growing in volume. I spun and stalked up to them just as I was needed. Although, in retrospect, perhaps I should have just tossed the keys to Goog without mulling the decision over. Maybe that would have gotten me into the rather heated discussion a few seconds earlier which would have possibly prevented Henry from shoving Mike forcibly away in his attempt to catch his son.

Hindsight being twenty-twenty as they say, me arriving when I did and catching Mike before he tumbled into the street to be run over was great. It was the flash of anger and defensiveness that seeing anyone lay a hand on Mikey caused that was probably the bad choice at the crossroads of life. I gave Henry a two-handed shove that sent him flying into several people with phones and cameras watching the fiasco. He tripped over a small cement planter devoid of flowers and went to his ass while I stood in front of Mike like an overly-protective mama Grizzly, hands in fist, chest rising and falling, lip raised in a sneer.

“You don’t ever touch that man like that again,” I growled at the man who could make or break me with a swipe of his pen. Henry’s face turned a fine mottled puce as he scrambled to his feet.

The GM waved a finger at me then at Mike. “You two are done on my team, you hear me? Done!

And off he went. I heard Mike huffing behind me, his breaths short and shaky.

“I think I just took the road that leads us to the corncob of destiny,” I muttered and squinted at the flashes going off in my face. We needed to get away from the nosy fans and local reporters. This night had supplied them with enough fodder, they didn’t need any juicier nibbles for the morning edition of whatever paper, radio station, TV show, or blog they worked for.

“Nick, my God, what the hell possessed you?” Mike finally said after I took him by the wrist and pulled him to the parking area behind the community center. “Why did you assault him?”

“He touched you in a manner that I felt indicated he was going to – he fucking pushed you! No one hurts you while I suck oxygen, Mikey. No. One.”

He stared at me wordlessly for a moment and then stepped up to press a kiss to my lips.

“That was quite chivalrous.” I wrapped my arms around him, his cologne caressing my senses, the firm feel of him tight to me cooling the urge to kill and maim. “And incredibly stupid. How can one man be such a combination of gallantry and recklessness?”

I shrugged and held him close because I had no intelligent reply to his query beside, “Me crunch bad man who touch my Mike,” in my best imitation of the cartoon character on my pectoral.

“Nick, this is going to bite us both on the ass, hard,” Mike whispered into my neck.

I just cinched him closer. “Then we better get to your place and make the most of this night while we can, huh?” I murmured into his hair.

God knew if we’d have another or not…


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