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.“Please.”Pete gazes down at him.A series of emotions flash across his face – anger, grief, helplessness – and Pete closes his eyes.When he finally opens them, he appears washed-out and tired, but he’s his normal, poised self again.“All right,” he says, heavily, as if the concession’s been pulled out of him against his will.“I’ll meet him.”And that’s it.Ryan can’t do any more than this.If he can get Pete and Javier to meet, and hopefully to carry on meeting, then gradually, their relationship will change for the better.Or might change for the better.Maybe Pete will only punch Javier in the jaw, like, a couple of times.As if to prove the probability of incipient violence, Pete continues: “But you oughta remember that while Mom’s okay with Javier now, she won’t be okay if she ever finds out what he’s been doing to you.If she does, she’ll knee him in the balls so hard his nuts will end up in his throat.”“Ouch.”Pete shrugs.“I said it before.She worries about you.”“Like you do?”“God knows why.” Pete tugs at his hand.“You can let go of me, now,” he says.“Quit holding my hand, man.I ain’t no Disney princess.”“Nope.Not gonna let you go.Not until you say we’re friends again.”“We were always friends,” Pete says.“Dumbass.”- EPILOGUE -The light of dawn slips past the blinds, pink-tinged and soft, turning all the objects in the room hazy and distant, like the remnants of a dream.Ryan yawns, unwilling to stir from his semi-comfortable position under Javier’s arm.It’s like being pinned under a sleeping lion, huge and heavy and warm, all muscle and idle power, velvety to the touch.Javier’s still unconscious, his features oddly young in repose.Javier’s been more relaxed recently, and while Ryan can’t be sure that it’s because Pete’s resumed talking to him, he has a hunch that it is.When Ryan trails a fingertip down Javier’s nose, Javier wakes up, grumbling, and pulls Ryan in tighter.“Stop that,” Javier mumbles, drowsily, which of course means that Ryan has to do it again.Javier bats at him irritably, and when Ryan doesn’t stop, Javier finally seizes Ryan’s wrist and presses it to the bed.“I was wondering when you’d resort to bondage-y behavior.”Javier’s half-open eyes are dully accusing, and his voice is hoarse.“If you use the word ‘bondage-y’ again, I will have to discipline you.”“Is that supposed to discourage me?”Javier grunts.“Greedy brat.”“Mm.A glutton for punishment, that’s me.By the way, um… Do you want to come over to my dad’s, this Christmas?”Javier’s eyes open all the way.“You’re joking.”“I’m not.I… I think it’ll be nice if, y’know, everyone turns up.Pete, Fiona, me, dad, you…”“Sounds like a disaster.”“No, see, what it will be is a brilliant way for you and me to celebrate Christmas together while making it seem like a harmless family reunion.Between two families that may as well be a single family, because of how long they’ve known each other.Trust me.It’ll be a blast.”“It’ll be a nuclear explosion.”“My dad kinda likes you, now.He’ll be happy to have you over.”“Let’s see how long that lasts.He has a gun, doesn’t he? It’ll be me he shoots as soon as he guesses we’re seeing each other.”“No disrespect to my old man, or anything, but he isn’t that great at picking up on romantic undertones.My mom almost had to hit him over the head with a corsage before he realized she wanted him to ask her to the prom.”“I hope you don’t expect me to assault you with flowers.”“I prefer kisses.”“Like I said.Greedy brat.”“Don’t you get it? This is my genius plan for him to grow even fonder of you by the time I graduate from college and tell him we’re dating.I’m… how do I say it? I’m preparing the fields for a rich harvest.”“Prepare a grave for me, too.”“Don’t be morbid.”“Don’t be stupidly optimistic.”“That does it.No blowjobs for you.”Javier’s eyelids dip lazily, and his lips quirk in a sly smile.“Like you can resist giving them,” he murmurs, and damn it, he’s right.“Shove over,” Ryan gripes, nudging Javier’s unreasonable bulk with his shoulder.“You’re smothering me and I can’t sleep.I still have three hours left before I have to go to class, and I plan to use them well.”“Too bad.I’m awake, now.And I plan to use you well.”Ryan genuinely tries to argue his case in favor of sleeping – he really, really does – but, when he inevitably loses, he can’t say he minds.- FIN -Thanks for reading!Liked the book? Rate/review it on Amazon or Goodreads!And remember to check out the author’s other books! [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]