His Truth(5)

By: Riley Hart

“It’s not a joke, and I think you know it.”

Roman’s gut churned. He felt like he was going to be sick. What the fuck? Why would she bring him here? “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not”—he looked around, lowered his voice, and said—“gay.” But really…did he have to be gay to go to a gay bar? He didn’t. There was nothing wrong with it, yet his past twisted up his gut.

All he could think was that he wasn’t gay, yet she’d taken him here. He’d been in a relationship with her. He cared about her. It wasn’t as though Amy was the only woman he’d been with.

Roman’s stomach cramped. He felt like he’d been hit in it. His father’s and Anthony’s fists raining down on him again.

“It’s okay if you are. You know that, right?”

She tried to grab his hand again, but he held it up, warning her off. “I don’t know what I did to make you think I’m gay, but I’m not. And I don’t appreciate being called out like this. God, Amy! Springing a fucking gay club on me? Even if I were gay, couldn’t you think of a better way to ask me?”

Without meaning to, he’d raised his voice. People turned his way, gave him dirty looks. Guilt kicked around inside him. This wasn’t a big deal. He could be here and be straight. He didn’t want to offend anyone.

And he had no right to treat Amy like this. No matter what, he knew she cared about him, and she only did what she thought was best for Roman.

“Okay, okay. You’re right. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“No…I’m sorry. I just…” He just what?

What he wanted to know was why. What had he done to make her believe this? The hairs on the back of his neck rose. His pulse sped up. He wasn’t gay. He wasn’t. He couldn’t be. That wasn’t Roman Cipriani.

His hands still shook. Suddenly, he really fucking needed a drink.

Roman turned, pushed his way through the crowd. Without looking, he knew Amy was on his heels. He’d almost passed the club, almost cleared it to head for another bar, when his eyes veered to the side. Roamed over the patio. Men danced, kissed, drank. They held hands; some sat at tables. Servers walked around with drinks.

And that’s when he saw him.

Roman’s feet rooted to the ground, held still as though it was impossible for him to move. And it was. He couldn’t fucking breathe, much less take a step as he watched the man set a drink on a table. He winked his right eye. They weren’t close enough for Roman to see the color, but he knew they were hazel.

His skin was the same shade of light brown as Roman’s. He had the same dark hair, slightly curly on top. He was muscular in ways he didn’t use to be, broader than Roman himself, but still slightly shorter. He had earrings in his ears that hadn’t been there before either.

He touched an African-American man’s shoulder, clearly flirting with him. He said something to the guy before he locked their fingers together, even though the guy wasn’t alone at the table.

There was another wink, and then he pulled his hand away.

And in that moment, every fucking thing in Roman flipped, twisted, and tied into knots.

“Roman? Are you okay?” Amy asked, her voice distant like she was a mile away.

No, he wasn’t. He really fucking wasn’t.

He felt Amy grab hold of his arm. He felt her tension and confusion, but he couldn’t make himself turn to look at her. Couldn’t make himself speak at all.

Just then, the man looked up. They were standing less than ten feet apart. Their gazes met and he saw the recognition there, but then the man’s eyes went hard. It wasn’t the way he used to look at Roman. Not at all. Hate blazed a fierce fire in the other man’s stare as Roman let himself speak the name he hadn’t let himself think, let alone say, in years: “Leo.”

God, he’d never been inside a house this fuckin’ big in his life. It was like a mansion or somethin’. A place he saw on TV shows, a place where celebrities lived. “Are you sure I should be here? Won’t your parents care?” He knew the answer to that. Leo’s parents would lose their minds if they knew Roman was here, and he wouldn’t blame them.

“No one’s home. They won’t be here until late tonight. They’re at a benefit for the children’s hospital.”

Roman had never even heard of such a thing. Not in real life at least. Maybe on TV. Dude, he watched too much fuckin’ television.

“Let’s go upstairs.”

He should tell Leo no. Should get the fuck outta there before something went wrong. It was more than the fact that he shouldn’t be in this house. He shouldn’t be friends with Leo at all. The kid was fucking loaded, and his parents wouldn’t want him hangin’ out with someone like Roman.