Authors: Kat Watson
He was right; I was utterly spent. I nodded, giving in to my fatigue. The sheets were cool and soft against my skin, a wonderful contrast to Jay’s warm body against mine as he pulled me close. I snuggled up in his arms, resting my head on his chest, and was happier than I had been in a very long time. If only it weren’t going to come to an end so soon.
I’d never been so grateful to see my own doorstep the next morning, the comfort and familiarity of my space enveloping me even before I’d set foot inside. I didn’t want or need any of my nosy neighbors to spot me in my disheveled state.
Once the door was closed, a torrent of emotion smacked down on me, and I slid down to the floor. What the fuck had I just done?
The rest of the day I spent lounging and thinking. I watched television as I tried to figure out why the boys had invited me to join them. Was it a fling? An experiment? Did they get what they sought from it? Were the questions eating them up inside like they were me?
I wasn’t really sure what I had wanted to get out of it, but the affectionate attention, not to mention multiple orgasms, had been very nice.
As I folded laundry, I replayed everything in my mind. Of course it had been sexy, but in the light of day, it reminded me of how alone and lonely I was. Starting a new job wasn’t the time to think about finding someone to date, so I tried to push it all away. I had to focus. The new firm I was going to work for was my dream job, and I took great pride in being a successful lawyer.
That night, I realized my phone was missing; I decided I must’ve left it in the cab, which was fine by me. I wasn’t feeling particularly social, and it gave me a good excuse to get some distance from Jay and Noah. Maybe in a few days I’d email them, but not being able to call or text was actually a relief.
I used my lunch break on Monday to get a new cell phone, after calling the cab company to no avail. I even upgraded while I was at it. I deserved a smartphone, right? I was successful, and it was long past time.
The entire first week at my new job was brutal. I worked more than I slept. I met more new people than I could keep up with. By Friday, I needed to close and lock my bathroom door and soak in the tub for about a day with one of those expensive bath fizzies. I brought a bottle of wine home with me and planned to do just that, but after I almost fell asleep chin-deep in the water, I decided it was prudent to get out. Drowning in the tub would have been a very bad choice; I’d never make partner.
On Saturday, I slept in until a little past eleven. When I finally crawled out of bed, it was well after noon and I was starving. Still in my pajamas, I made lunch and walked only as far as my couch. The rest of the day was a binge of ice cream, bad reality TV, and napping. Sunday was almost exactly the same but with an early bedtime due to work.
It was the perfect slacker weekend.
During the next week, things seemed to slow a tiny bit at work, perhaps because I was finally settling in to a routine. I still left my apartment as the sun rose and returned well after sunset, but there were suddenly a few hours of downtime at home in the evenings before I dropped into an exhausted heap. Wednesday morning, I spotted a note on my porch as I left for work. When I opened it, I recognized Jay’s handwriting. It was full of questions and had my phone wrapped up in it. I wondered how in the world I’d left it there after I used it to call the cab but didn’t beat myself up too much about it. I had been in a rather odd state of mind at the time.
All morning at work, I obsessed over the letter, reading and rereading it.
Finally, I decided to acquiesce to some of his requests. He wanted to talk to me, to find out why I’d left without saying goodbye, and to clear the air, I guess. I wondered how he’d gotten my address, so I carefully typed the cell number he left at the bottom of the note into a new text message. Once I had my question written out, I pressed send and tossed my phone in my purse—reading his reply would have to wait until much later.
When I had time to check at lunch, he’d replied and tried to call. He left a voice mail asking me to call him back, and I was surprised that he sounded distressed. I had no time to call him back though, so I went to my texts. He’d asked when we could see each other so we could talk about what happened, and I honestly didn’t know what the answer to that was. I wasn’t really in the mood for a play-by-play dissection of the night. After thinking it through, I decided to stop avoiding since he seemed so intent on talking, so I asked if Saturday night worked. Thankful that I didn’t have time to wait for his reply, I dropped my phone into my bag again before I inhaled lunch in the remaining few minutes I had away from my desk.
I honestly forgot about checking for his reply that night. My brain was exhausted to the point of no return. The next time I looked at my phone was lunchtime on Thursday. Jay had replied that he and Noah were available on Saturday, and that made me feel even more awkward. Did the three of us really have to rehash everything?
Sighing, I replied and let him know I’d meet them at their place for dinner—he’d insisted on not going to a restaurant since he wanted everyone to be comfortable. They would make me dinner, he promised. We would have wine. What was to argue with? I could use a home-cooked meal, wine, and the company of my friends, I reasoned, even with the potential awkwardness.
The rest of the week moved painfully slowly considering it was only one and a half days. Every free moment was consumed with thoughts of what we would talk about, how uncomfortable the night might be, and wondering what I would say if they wanted more. Was I game for another no-strings threesome? I wasn’t sure, but I knew I had to decide before I even left my house, to make sure I had my boundaries defined and reinforced.
By Saturday, I knew I definitely didn’t want another one-night stand. Hell, I was practically falling apart from the first one. It had been good, but it was so much more than that for me. Beyond the physical side of things, if I was being brutally honest with myself, I had feelings for Jay. And Noah. I’d been glad to be so wrapped up in my new job that I barely had time to think about it, but I
thought about it during those quiet moments.
The idea made me nauseated. How had I gotten to the middle of my life and fallen for not one, but two men? I was a well-educated, mostly rational woman. Nothing good could come of this. Nothing.
I was restless all day Saturday. I tried to distract myself, picking up a novel I was in the middle of reading, but I just couldn’t focus on the story or words. My brain was a mess of emotion. I reminded myself that I needed to pull it together before I went over to their house.
My brain seemed to be running a thousand miles a minute with possibilities. Oh Jesus, what if they want something insane, like for me to be their surrogate?
Could I do that?
Hell no, I couldn’t. There would be absolutely no way I could remain unattached enough. What if they just wanted to reassure me and thank me again?
I even tried to take a nap just to get the thoughts to quiet down, but I was too wrung out to sleep.
By the time I showed up on their front porch, I knew I had huge bags under my eyes and probably looked like I hadn’t slept well in days. Which was the truth. I was wearing my comfiest jeans and tank top, which I desperately hoped sent a we’re-not-hooking-up-again-tonight message.
“Hey, Liv,” Noah said, answering the door and opening his arms wide for a hug. “How are you? You look like hell.”
I settled against his broad chest, the soft fabric and Noah-smell wrapping me up. “Thanks, Noah. Fucker.”
“Well, come on inside and let’s get you some wine.”
I shook my head and followed him. There was no sense in arguing since he was absolutely right. A little social lubrication was exactly what I needed.
“Hey,” Jonathan said. “I’ve missed you, Houdini. Come here.”
Laughing, I allowed him to embrace me as I absorbed his warmth. “Houdini?”
“Yeah, ’cause you’re an amazingly gifted escape artist. I sleep so lightly, I hear everything. How’d you get out of here?”
Shrugging, I gave him a look that said I really didn’t know, and I hoped that would put the topic on the back burner for a while. I needed at least one glass of wine in me before we talked.
“What’s for dinner?” I asked, not-so-subtly steering the conversation elsewhere. “Smells so good.”
Jonathan smirked from the stovetop, and then I noticed he had an apron on. “Chicken marsala. My specialty.”
“Ah, but dessert is all mine,” Noah added. “Apple pie.”
I made a few obscene noises at the thought of the dinner and dessert, and my whole body relaxed a bit. So far, so good. It didn’t seem like anyone was immediately trying to get back into my pants, so that was a plus.
“Can I set the table?” I asked.
“Sure, sweets. Silverware’s in that drawer.” Jay pointed to show me where to go. “Dishes are up there, and Noah can get the wine out while you do that.”
We moved around the kitchen together, each handling our designated tasks, and the feeling of it all being so very normal and routine struck me. I wasn’t awkward or the odd man out at all. They seemed happy, smiling at me, and there was definitely no pressure in the air, though there was the hum of something more throughout everything we did. I chalked it up to past events. It had to be at least slightly awkward to be around someone you’d tag-team fucked, right?
The boys plated up dinner, directing me to sit. I watched them interact, pinches and flirty comments exchanged, which was completely normal for them. It was so nice to see two people in love after so long; they’d been together for more than ten years. So many other relationships had faded and fizzled before my eyes, including my own parents’, so I appreciated that they worked to maintain their bond.
They put the plates on the table and sat on either side of me. As we ate, they peppered me with questions about my new job. Eventually, the conversation wrapped around to my escape again.
“Hey, why’d your text come from a different number?” Jay asked.
“By the time you dropped my phone off, I’d already thrown out the charger and gotten a new smartphone,” I said, feeling rather smug.
“No way! Welcome to the twenty-first century, baby,” he said.
His grin was wide and genuine. It made my heart beat just the tiniest bit faster. He’d always liked to tease me about the piece of shit clamshell phone I’d held on to for years. Hey, it got the job done.
After dinner, Noah got up to serve the apple pie with ice cream, and I leaned back in my chair, looking at Jonathan.
“It really is nice to see you again. I miss you around the office,” he said, his features softening. “No one could ever replace you.”
“Thanks, Jay. I miss it in a weird way, but I’m too busy to think about it much, you know?”
He nodded then reached his hand out for mine. “You okay?”
I was taken aback by his question and the sincerity behind it. I mean, I always expected him to be genuine, but for some reason, I hadn’t quite expected him to care so much. It didn’t make sense, even in my head.
“Yeah,” I said cautiously. “I am.”
“So not convinced.” He gave my hand another squeeze then let go. “But you’re off the hook for now so we can stuff our faces.”
And we did. When my pie was nearly finished, I almost asked for a second slice but then came to my senses.
“So, Liv,” Noah said, “I know Jay likes to play good cop. I’ll play bad cop. Why’d you run?”
My fork paused in my mouth, saliva pooling around the sticky sweet apples. I pulled the metal out slowly and tried to gather my thoughts.
“Well, it seemed like we were…done. So, I left.” I pushed bits of pie around my plate. “What was I supposed to do after I got drunk and made a fool of myself?”
Noah’s face crumpled, and I could see them looking back and forth at each other, communicating nonverbally.
“I think what Noah meant was, we wanted you to stay,” Jonathan clarified, turning to look at me.
“Okay,” I said, drawing out the last letter. “But why?”
“Because we like you,” Noah said, looking incredulous as frustration wove into each word he spoke. “Isn’t that obvious?”
It was my turn to be frustrated. “Sure, it’s obvious we all like each other. We’ve gone to dinner, and you’ve had me over before. We all like each other, but I was embarrassed and I wanted to go back to the comfort of my bed. I needed time to process everything we did if I was ever going to be able to face you two after that night.”
“You’re totally not getting it,” Noah said, moving closer. “We
you.” He took my hands in his, distracting me from the nonexistent bits of pie left. “We want…I don’t know. Something more?”
I shook my head, trying to sort through and figure out what he was saying. My thoughts went in circles every time, always ending up at
Noah and Jonathan are married.
“I don’t get it,” I finally said, defeated. “You’re married.”
“We are, but from the first time I saw you, I felt something. Don’t you?” Jonathan asked.
I looked at Noah for approval, hesitant to confess my sins. “It’s okay,” Noah said. “I feel something, too. If you don’t, we can just blame all of this on Jon’s bad cooking and the wine and call it a night.”
“Hey! Dinner was great,” Jonathan scoffed.
“It was,” I confirmed. “And, well, yeah. I mean, I guess I feel like I
feel something more. I’m just…you’re not supposed to…and you guys are…
It had been a long time since anyone
liked me, and here it was a couple. A couple I had been previously convinced was gay. My brain ached and my heart twisted with confusion and disapproval at my own feelings.
It was too much.
“I don’t know what you’re asking me…or telling me,” I said. “I mean, what happens now?”