Color Me In (Last Chance #2)(13)

By: Riley Hart

Ryan frowned and wiped his greasy hands on his coveralls. Did Shane think he would take offense to his teasing? “I know. You might be my boss, but you’re my friend too. I know you better than that.” Ask him… Ask him about Caleb…

Why do I want to know?

Instead, what came out of his mouth was, “You gonna help me with this fucking transmission or what?”

It was a rebuild, which always took a while, but first, they had to get it out and taken apart.

They got to work, and Ryan tried to ignore the burn of his scratchy, tired eyes and his ridiculous Caleb freak-out from earlier. Still, it was only a few minutes later that Ryan found himself asking, “You knew Caleb from when you were kids, you said?” Obviously, he’d said that, and obviously, Ryan knew it. Again, what the fuck was his problem?

“Yeah,” Shane replied without looking at him. “He was my best friend—my only friend really, but no one knew. I was too determined to be strong and not need anyone.” His voice was rougher than usual, making Ryan wonder if there was more to the story than that. “He and his family left town last-minute, didn’t tell anyone they were leaving or where, so I lost track of him until now. It’s strange… I always wished he’d come back. I’m glad he did, but…it’s different. Never mind, ignore me.”

“He never called? Emailed?” Ryan asked. That didn’t sound like the Caleb he knew, but did he really know Caleb at all?

Shane didn’t answer right away. Ryan was just about to say never mind when Shane spoke. “It’s a long story.”

Fuck. He was being nosy, and he didn’t even know why. “Sorry. Not my business.”

“I wouldn’t mind telling you, but it’s not all my story to tell.”

Realization hit Ryan and made him feel like even more of a dick. He was nosing around for information on Caleb when he shouldn’t. He hadn’t given Caleb all the answers last night, and it was shitty not to respect Caleb’s limits as well. “You’re right. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Lack of sleep is fucking with my head.”

They were quiet again, but Ryan felt Shane’s eyes on him. He spent a few minutes trying to ignore it, but when he couldn’t, he tilted his head up to let his gaze snag on Shane.

There were all sorts of questions playing at Shane’s mind, peeking out through his eyes and his body language. His mouth opened, closed, and he shook his head as if he wasn’t sure what he was doing. Finally, Ryan said, “Spit it out, man.”

“Are you interested in him? In Caleb?”

He jerked his hand back at the question—why, he didn’t know. He hadn’t expected it, but his response still made no sense. Pain pierced his finger, a delayed reaction of sorts. “Fuck.” Ryan pulled his hand close to his body, blood running down his skin. “Motherfucker.” He squeezed his finger and made his way over to the sink, turned the faucet on, and let the water run over it.

“Gonna need stitches?” Shane asked.

“Don’t think so,” he replied without turning around. “Paper towels and duct tape should do the trick.”

Shane walked over, opened the cabinet, and pulled out the first-aid kit they kept in the stall. He grabbed Ryan’s hand and started cleaning the wound with ointment and then wrapping it, obviously not agreeing with Ryan’s way of handling it. “You know a simple yes or no would have sufficed. You didn’t need to try and take your finger off.”

“Ha fucking ha. You’re a real comedian today.” When Shane didn’t reply, he said, “I’m not gay or bisexual.” He was pretty sure sex just didn’t appeal to him at all, which was hard to admit, even in his own head. But I loved it with Danielle…

“I didn’t think so, but Van’s always wondered. Plus you never date, and then when you were asking about Caleb…”

“Wait. Van thinks I’m gay?” His father had asked him once before too—only Dad wouldn’t have been okay if the answer had been yes.

“He thought you were bi…or bi-curious.”

Whatever the fuck bi-curious was. Well, he had a pretty good idea what it meant, but he didn’t know that was a thing. He wasn’t that—bi-curious. He didn’t think he could be. The curious part had to mean he’d felt some interest, but he hadn’t—not in men or women until he’d fallen in love with Danielle. Those thoughts weren’t something he’d say aloud, though; they weren’t something he’d ever said. Ryan cleared his throat. “Nah, just happy on my own,” he forced himself to say.