“I’m coming! I’m coming! Don’t beat in my new door!” Thaddeus Blythe cried as he struggled to tie his towel at his hip, his skin covered in goosebumps as a result of being interrupted in getting out of the shower. “I said, I’m coming!”
Unlocking the deadbolt and the chain lock, he yanked the door open, his large blue eyes widening when he found his best friend Emrys Marlowe on his stoop. Thaddeus blinked, but moved aside to let Emrys in as he shut and locked the door back up, asking, “You and Linds on the outs?”
“Sort of,” his friend snapped.
“Oi!” Thaddeus growled, running his hands through his still-dripping brown hair. “I’m being nice enough to invite you into my home and to call to cancel my plans because you look like someone just ran over your puppy. The very least you could do—”
Emrys lifted wide mocha eyes to Thaddeus’ sparkling blue ones. “I’ve met someone, Thad.”
“You—you have? That’s—”
Emrys slid out of his jacket, and he let his satchel slide off his shoulder to the floor. “His name is Ísarr. He’s Lindsay’s brother.”
Thaddeus blinked again, nodding as he pointed to the bathroom. “Make yourself at home. I’m gonna go put on some clothes.”
“Did you hear me?” Emrys queried, his brow furrowing. “Did you hear what I said, Thad?”
“I heard you, but I’ve never heard you talk about liking men before, so it startled me.” Thaddeus shrugged. “It’s not like it bothers me, dude. I’m good friends with Carlisle and Rumi and that guy, man, that guy can make anybody uncomfortable with his lack of inhibitions. You liking a guy ain’t gonna scare me.” He made a face at Emrys. “Now go get us a couple of beers and let me put some clothes on.”
Emrys nodded and headed towards the living room as Thaddeus returned to the bathroom, his mind awhirl with his friend’s news.
I’ve met someone. His name is Ísarr. He’s Lindsay’s brother.
When the heck had Emrys started liking guys? More to the point, wasn’t he supposed to be staying with Lindsay? What the hell had he done to now be crashing at Thaddeus’ home? As he furiously toweled his short hair, Thaddeus set his jaw.
Did he do something to get his ass kicked out of Lindsay’s house?
The thought of them fighting to that extent was immensely sobering and he shoved his legs into his jeans and yanked a tee-shirt over his head. Tossing the towel over the shower rod, he hit the lights on his way out the door before jogging down the hall to the living room. He found the sliding glass door open as cigarette smoke and seawater tickled his nose. Going over to lean against the doorjamb, he looked out to see his buddy leaning on the deck railing, gazing out at the fading sunset over the ocean. A lit cigarette dangled from his left hand, the light breeze catching the smoke and the loose russet curls of Emrys’ hair.
“You wanna talk about it, Em?” Thaddeus finally asked from the door.
“He’s beautiful… he’s absolutely beautiful… and he’s mine… he’s—” Emrys’ shoulders slumped and he ducked his head. “Did you know that I still remember most of my lines from when I played Romeo at Guildhall?”
Thaddeus nodded, folding his arms over his chest. “I remember you said that you very rarely forgot your lines. You did all of the Queen Mab speech for me, Nowaki and Xavier one night.”
“I played Romeo and it was bloody well the highlight of me career, but I didn’t know how it would feel to be Romeo,” Emrys murmured. “I know what the words mean when he first sees Juliet across the party. I know what they mean because I’ve lived it.”
“Remind me, can you?” Thaddeus replied, his voice quiet.
Emrys smiled, nodding as he turned to look over at him for a brief moment before returning his gaze to the ocean, reciting, “The measure done, I’ll watch her place of stand, and, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”
Turning his muted, yet dreamy gaze back to Thaddeus, he whispered, “Act 1, Scene 5, lines 50-53. Entirely applicable in my current circumstances… and gods, but he does kiss by th’ book.”
Arching an eyebrow, Thaddeus chuckled and joined him at the railing. “You kissed him already?”
“Best kiss I’ve ever had. I could feel it in my toes.” Emrys gave a dry laugh at his forgotten smoke, tossing it in the coffee can of cat litter that Thaddeus kept just for him. “And I just…”
“Linds is mad, then?” Thaddeus interjected.
“In both definitions of the word, both Hatter and she got out the Chevelle,” Emrys answered, hugging his arms. “Mum always told me that I’d know it when I met my match. He is my match, Thad. I know it in me soul. Ísarr and I belong together… I just don’t know how to make Lindsay see it!”
“Persistence has always won in the past.” Thaddeus arched an eyebrow as he hip-checked Emrys. He smiled as he met his friend’s rueful gaze. “Perhaps it will win again?”
“I can but try.” He leaned his temple to Thaddeus’ own, murmuring, “Did I mention that he is the god of my idolatry?”
Thaddeus laughed loudly as he shook his head. “Ah, god, Em! Too far!”
He pressed a kiss to Emrys’ hair, snorting, “Yeah. Way too much Shakespeare for this dude.”
“Ah, cor… you’re so American, Thad!” Emrys whined.
“And yet… I’m one of the Welshman’s bestest buds.”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“It means you’re a twat—”
“And that I like waffles?”
The two of them dissolved into peals of laughter, and Thaddeus knew that whatever had happened to Emrys and Lindsay would resolve itself. After all, how could Lindsay deny herself a friend like Emrys Marlowe? He hugged Emrys tightly, whispering, “Whatever happens, mate, I’m here and you’ll always have me. We’ll see this through, Em, and no matter what happens, I will never leave your side.”