Adios Pantalones

By: J. Sterling

Dedication


This story is for everyone who found love with someone they thought couldn’t give it. For the guys who changed our perspectives, who were better than we thought they were, who not only rose to the occasion but owned the whole mother ’effin thing. :)





Foul Mood


Ryan

Something was definitely wrong with me tonight. I was in a shitty mood, and for no good reason. At least, not one that I could pinpoint.

“Hey, Ryan,” a female voice shouted at me from across Sam’s, the bar my brothers and I owned, and I knew what was coming before I even turned to face her.

The fact that the woman shouting at me was a gorgeous brunette did nothing to improve my state of mind. Beautiful women were a dime a dozen in Los Angeles, and I got to see them every single night. Hell, most of them screamed my name and left me their phone numbers on their way out the door, each one hoping I’d call.

Part of me no longer wanted to indulge in this game of let’s get Ryan to take his shirt off, but like a good fucking sheep, I did what was expected of me.

“Yeah, sweetheart?” I forced a grin, my teeth grinding together as I fought the urge to run.

She looked around at the bar, still packed even though it was closing time, and gave me a grin of her own. “Can I get an Adios . . .” Her lips pursed and her eyebrows raised seductively as she waited.

“Pantalones,” the rest of the bar crowd sang out in unison.

So I did what I always did—took off my damn shirt and tossed it onto the register, screams and whistles filling my ears like we were at a strip club.

As I made the last drink of the night, I got lost in my own thoughts, my mind a scary place to be when I was in one of these rare moods.

I couldn’t remember how this tradition got started in the first place, but I was fairly sure that I brought it on myself. You would think it would be every man’s fantasy to have a roomful of women screaming his name each night. You would think that every guy on God’s green earth would love to have women falling at his feet the way women seemed to fall at mine.

But if you thought that about me, then you didn’t know me at all.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love the attention, because I did. I simply wanted more. I wanted to be more than the guy everyone claimed to be in love with, but no one really knew. I wanted to be the guy women brought home to their parents, not the one they brought home to their apartment for a one-night stand, or offered to suck off in the bathroom.

Some nights I felt cheap, like I was little more than a piece of meat, not worthy of having an actual conversation with.

Feelings like that weren’t exclusive to women, although you’d swear women cornered the market on the notion. Women could be just as bad as guys, if not worse, when it came to ogling, catcalling, or treating someone like they were nothing but a hot body with a pretty face. I wasn’t sure they always realized it, but sometimes they could make a guy feel about an inch big with the things that came out of their mouths.

Yeah, I know I sound like a fucking chick right now. If my older brother, Frank, knew what I was thinking, he’d make fun of me and call me a princess or some shit like that, but it doesn’t change the way I feel.

I, Ryan Fisher, want to fall in love—true love, real love, authentic love. I want to fall in love like both my brothers did. Well, not exactly the same way that they did . . . because, hello, Drama 101.

But still . . .

Maybe that was my problem tonight. Maybe I was jealous that they’d both found the loves of their lives, and here I was, taking my damn shirt off night after night and going home alone. There was something fucked up about being adored, but knowing the feelings weren’t based in anything real.

It didn’t make you feel loved. It made you feel lonely.

“What’s the matter with you tonight?” my younger brother, Nick, asked as he peered over his shoulder at me. His blue eyes matched mine in shape and color, and sometimes it really tripped me out to look at them.

When I shrugged but didn’t respond, Frank grinned at me.

“Is it that time of the month?”

I glared at him, not amused at his joke.

Frank used to be a real stick-in-the-mud, the one Nick and I picked on, but now that he was with his girlfriend, he was a changed man. Frank was actually fun again and seemed truly happy, something that had been missing from his life for years. I hadn’t realized how miserable my brother had been until I saw him come to life when he met her.

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