Read A Beautiful Struggle Online

Authors: Emily McKee

Tags: #Fiction, #Gay

A Beautiful Struggle (3 page)

BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
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Bending at the waist
, I held out the ice cream in one hand and the brownies in the other. “Behold, I give you the best cookie dough ice cream known to man, woman, and Louis Vuitton,” and handed it to her. She took the ice cream. “And I give you the bestest in the world chocolate fudge brownies.”

With the ice cream and brownies in hand
, she asked, “Patrick?”

“Britt Thomas
, are you up for the mission?”

She giggled.
“I’m so ready! The real question is, are you?”

S
miling at my best friend, I actually thought about her question. Was I ready for her to leave? No, but I knew she would be happy, so I was. Looking down at the ice cream and brownies, I chuckled and said, “It’ll be a struggle, but it’s sooo going to be worth it in the end.”

At least I hope it is.

Chapter 3

Derrick

“Derrick, I need to talk to you for a second.”

Hearing Ash’s sweet voice turn into one of turmoil
, my heart dropped and my stomach tightened. I was nervous for my best friend. I knew I needed to be strong for her.

Looking down at Ash
, I nodded my head towards the café. “You want to get a drink? My treat.” Ash barely looked at me when she shrugged her shoulders and started to walk off in that direction. I started to wonder if I had done anything wrong so I started to think about it.

“What would you like
, sir?”

Feeling someone nudge me in the side
, I looked down at Ash. Then realizing we were in line to get coffee, my head popped up to look at the barista. “Sorry. I’ll have a caramel macchiato, please.” Seeing her write my order down on the cup, I knew she was annoyed with me, so after paying for my overpriced, yet delicious drink I left a three dollar tip in the jar by the cash register.

I stood stock still
, waiting for my drink. I was so nervous. Over the loud music playing on the speakers I could hear Ash’s foot tapping and saw her biting at her nails. I knew when she was nervous she would either bite at her nails or twist her hair in her finger.

Holy
shitballs, she’s doing both. Well, goddamn, I’m in for some deep shit.

Once our drinks were ready we grabbed them and went and sat in the corner on the comfy chairs.
On any other day I would feel relaxed, but this wasn’t that type of day.

Setting my creamy drink down on the table in front of us
, I looked straight at Ash. She was looking anywhere but at me. Bringing her hot chamomile tea to her lips, she blew lightly. I watched all of the heat blow in my direction. Very carefully she brought the hot drink to her lips and took a light sip. Swallowing the tea, she placed the cup back on the plate on the table.

I loved the lipstick mark
she had left. Ash always wore a bright red lipstick. On anybody else it would be trashy, but Ash rocked it. She was old school like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. She was just classy in every sense of the word.

Reaching my hand over to where hers were resting on the armrest of the chair
, I rubbed my thumb along her hand. She didn’t move her hand away, which I took as a good thing. “Ash, what’s the matter?” I asked.

She
slowly looked up to me. Her brown eyes were glossy from water which hadn’t run down her soft pale pink cheeks yet. I felt my heart breaking and I just wanted to comfort my friend. Taking ahold of her hand in mine, I pulled her, motioning her to come sit on my lap.

Within a second Ash was sitting on my lap with her arms wrapped around my neck
, crying into my plaid button up shirt. Holding tightly onto her, I kissed her on the cheek and whispered into her ear, “Ash, everything is going to be okay.”

Ash
unwrapped her arms from around my neck and moved away from me. She smudged the mascara around her eyes as she wiped her tears. Licking my right thumb to moisten it, I lightly removed the mascara from around her eyelids.

Looking at Ash’s puffy eyes, rosy cheeks
, and trembling bottom lip, I could tell something was really wrong. “What’s the matter, Ash baby?”

I saw a few tears fall from
her eyes. She whispered, “I think it’s time we break up.”

Without thinking
, my head fell back and I let out the loudest laugh. I knew the other customers were probably getting annoyed with me but I didn’t give the smelliest of shits. I couldn’t believe that that was what Ash was so worried about.

I felt Ash slap me on my shoulder
. “What the hell are you laughing at, Derrick Miles?”

Sucking in a breath
, I held onto my stomach. I couldn’t believe how bad it hurt from laughing. With my other hand, I wiped the tears falling from my eyes. Ash was back to sitting in her comfy chair across from me.

Slowly breathing in and out to get back to normal
, I let out one more chuckle. “That’s what you were so worried about, Ash?” Breaking up with me?”

S
he nodded her head and I couldn’t help it—I swear!—but I broke out into another laughing fit. That time I fell to the floor and laughed as hard as I could in a fetal position.
No, I actually did. People were staring at me. They probably thought I was on crack—I wish.

Leaning over in her chair
, Ash ground out through her teeth, “Get up, you idiot! People are staring at us!”

Rolling over onto my back
, I barely got out, “I’m sorry! It’s just too damn funny, Ash baby!”

S
he stomped her feet on the floor. “That’s it! I’m leaving.”

I waited for her to step over me because I had barricaded her in
. As she did so, I grabbed her around her knees and down she fell. Rolling over to my side so she laid down next to me, I looked at her. I thought for sure she would be pissed, but Ash fell onto her back, closed her eyes, and burst out laughing.

“Excuse me!” It was the
same annoyed barista from earlier. Quickly getting up from the floor, I gave her my best panty-dropping smile and huskily said, “I’m so sorry.” I knew I had her exactly where I wanted her. I could tell her legs were trembling, her breath was shortening, and her lips were puckering.

S
he shook her head back and forth. Introducing herself, she said, “I’m Leslie.”

I nodded.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Derrick.” I made eye contact with Ash lying on the floor then looked back at Leslie. “I need to help this hot mess of a friend I have right now.”

Looking down at Ash, Leslie broke out laughing
. “Yeah, good luck with that,” and walked back to the counter.

Turning back to Ash
, I saw her mouth was hanging open and her eyes were glaring at me. Snickering at her, I bent down and wrapped my hands around her arms and picked her up. Nodding towards her seat, I said, “Sit your ass down, you hot sexy mess.”

She shook her head.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say, Der-bear.”

I waited for Ash to plop back down in her chair
then I asked, “You were really that nervous to tell me?”

Shrugging her shoulders
, she said, “Well, yeah, Derrick. I just don’t want to disappoint you. I know you’ve struggled a lot through this whole process.”

“Thanks
, Ash baby, but you could never disappoint me.” I paused a moment. “But I have to ask, why now?”

Taking a sip of her tea
, she swallowed and said, “I’ve just come to the realization that nothing will happen between Jason and me, so I just think I need to move on. Plus you need to move on, too. The guys aren’t giving you
shit
anymore.” Shrugging her shoulders Ash shook her head. “I just think we both need to move on with our lives. We’ve both struggled in different ways, but I think we deserve some happiness. What do you think, Derrick?”

Lips forming into a smile I nodded
. “Sounds like a plan, babe.” I noticed she was giving me an odd smile. “What are you smiling about?”

She smiled again and whispered, “I love you
, Derrick Miles.”

I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.
No one outside my family had ever told me that before. Closing my eyes, I dropped my head and just took steady, even breaths. I didn’t want to have a mental breakdown in front of all of these coffee fanatics.

I felt someone wrap their hands around one of mine. Opening my eyes
, I looked over and saw Ash kneeling down in front of me with tears in her eyes. I tried to make light of the situation. “Do people always cry this much in a coffee shop?”

Quietly giggling
, she shook her head back and forth. “Probably not.”

She started to get back up on her feet when I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and squeezed.
Hearing her gasp, she then wrapped her arms around my middle and rested her head on the middle of my chest.

Kissing her on the side of her head
, I said, “I love you too, Ashlynn Miller.”

We held each other for a few minutes and then we both slowly
unwrapped our arms from around the other. Helping Ash up from where she was kneeling on the floor, I watched as she turned around, and being the devil I was, I lightly slapped her on the ass.

“Ouch!”
Turning around, she said, “You slimy son of a bitch,” with a huge grin on her face.

Shrugging my shoulders
, I jokingly said, “I couldn’t help it. You have a nice ass.”

Turning around
, she took a step toward her chair and I couldn’t help but smile at her. I knew it was a struggle for her coming to that conclusion. I mean, hell, it was a struggle for the both of us. I had to deal with jackasses on the football team always asking me why I was never getting the pretty little pussy. Meanwhile, Ash had to deal with Jason never being able to man up and grow a pair.

I knew the little shit had feelings for her.
Fuck, you saw it whenever she walked into a room and he was there. His eyes would light up and he would always smile at her. I didn’t think anybody else had noticed but me. I just didn’t understand why he had never done anything about it. But that’s his mess, not mine.

We sipped
our drinks in a quiet state of contentment—that’s exactly where we both were with our lives. We were both content with our decisions. With who we were. Looking down at my watch, I looked up at Ash and asked, “You want to go to the gym with me?” I grabbed my pudge of a belly. “Lord knows I don’t need this extra cushion for the pushin’.”

I knew that comment would get her to laugh.
I loved hearing Ash laugh. It was like birds singing, rainbows shining, and stars twinkling. It was a rare treasure and anybody who heard it, felt it. Anybody who witnessed it automatically loved her.

Ash just deserved someone amazing
, and I honest to god wished that Jason could be that guy. But then it got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, he had to deal with his own sort of mess. I wanted to help him out but that would give mine and Ash’s dirty little secret away and I knew I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him. Ash had to tell him in her own way, whenever that was.

In the beginning when we first started “dating
,” I tried to convince Ash to just go for it with Jason, but she wasn’t like that. She was shy, quiet, and timid. But when she loves something, it’s amazing. She’s kind of like a nut that’s really hard to crack.
But trust me
. When you crack that nut, it’s so worth it in the end. I just hoped Jason would see it someday.
Hopefully soon.

***

I was drenched when I collapsed on the mat. Ash and I had really kicked our asses at the gym tonight. Lying down on my back, I lifted my arms up and over my head and closed my eyes. I was trying to catch my breath from the cardio class we had just taken. Even though I was fit from playing football my entire life, that class was brutal as shit.

I
placed my arms underneath my head. Ash was too busy fixing her hair and taking sips of water here and there to notice, but this beautiful guy walked by with this blonde twit of a girl.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him.
I got up to get a better look. He was gorgeous and I just wanted to know his name. Ash must have said something to me because she then slapped me on the arm and said, “Earth to Derrick. Come in, Derrick.”

Breaking away from staring at the beautiful man in front of me
, I looked over at my best friend. “What?”

“You think he’s cute?”
She let out a giggle.

L
ooking over at the guy, I took him in. He had beautiful brown curly hair and dark brown chocolate eyes. He was pretty tall and really thin, but he had on a tank top so I could see he had some muscle and definition to him. Looking lower, he was facing away from us, so I got a look at his ass. It was small, but it was… cute. It had a little meat to it and I just wanted to take a bite out of it.

I didn’t want to drool all over the gym floor
, so I quickly swallowed and looked back at Ash. I didn’t have to say anything, because from the look on her face she knew exactly what I was thinking.

Smiling
, she asked, “Why don’t you go over and talk to him?”

“He’s with some
smokin’ hot chick. They’re probably dating.”

Tilting her head to the side
, she looked at the guy and girl and pursed her lips. Looking back at me, she said, “I don’t think he’s with her. Like that, I mean.”

“Uh
, oh well, what can I do?”

Ash patted me on the shoulder
, then she grabbed an unopened bottle of water and handed it to me.

“Thanks.”
Untwisting the cap, I brought the bottle to my lips and poured the cold water into my mouth and down my throat, trying to cool myself. After drinking half the bottle, I put the cap back on and placed it beside me on the floor. Ash had this look on her face. “What?”

BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
6.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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