Timing(9)

By: Mary Calmes


I was glad.

“And what started it all?”

“I have no idea,” I yawned, folding my arms on top of the table and laying my head down. Six hours on a plane after pulling an all-nighter at work the previous day was taking its toll on me. Not to mention the copious amount of alcohol I had downed.

“You idiot.” She bumped my side. “You took Ben’s folks over to my mom, and since everyone is crazy about you, they were all so open and receptive. It was awesome.”

“Okay,” I placated.

She pinched my side, but I didn’t even flinch.

“God, Stef,” she said, running her hand down my torso. “Feel that stomach under that shirt; it’s hard as a rock.”

“Not fair,” Kristin Barnes, one of her bridesmaids, said from the other side of the table. “If you’re over there feeling Stefan up, then we should all get a turn.”

“Well, then, come here.”

“Kris, leave him alone,” Ben ordered even as he made room for two other girls on either side of me.

“You’re a big help,” I told him.

There were hands in my hair, under the back of my shirt, on my chest, my biceps, and Kristin’s fingers sliding over my eyebrows. I was drowning in women.

“Holy shit, Char.” Someone laughed. “Your best friend is gorgeous.”

“I know.” She laughed. “I’ve been telling him since freshman year. With those eyes and that hot body, he could have whoever he wants.”

“Oh, most definitely,” Kristin chimed in. “The boy is smokin’ hot.”

I arched a brow for her, and she dissolved into giggles.

“Do you dye your hair, Stefan?”

Before I could answer, Charlotte did.

“No, honey, that’s all natural. The gold tan, the dark green eyes, the dirty blond hair, that’s all him. He looks like that every day when he first rolls out of bed in the morning. The only thing he works at is the body, and he doesn’t work that hard, let me assure you.”

“Hey,” I protested. “My gym workouts are exhausting.”

“Please.” She put up her hand. “An hour a day out of your life is nothing, Joss.”

“I think he’s right, Char,” Kristin agreed. “I mean, there are washboard abs here; I’m thinking he works hard.”

“Oh yeah, lemme see.”

“Enough.” Ben laughed, getting up and shooing all the girls away, taking a seat beside me. “Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves, groping a gay man. The boy ain’t even enjoyin’ it. Go grope Rand, he’s straight.”

“Oh, I would love to get my hands—” Alison Ford, another bridesmaid, began.

“Gross,” Charlotte groaned.

“Or my mouth,” Kristin added, “on that man.”

“Oh God, that’s so disgusting.”

“He’s your brother, that’s why,” someone else said. “But Char, the man is absolutely edible.”

“Yeah, but he’s way too serious and dark to mess with.”

“‘Brooding’ is a good word.”

They were all talking at once, and I just smiled. I loved girls. They were so much fun.

“And he always looks mad,” another voice suggested.

“But so hot.”

“Any of us would do him, Char, but he seems… angry.”

“Really angry,” Kristin agreed. “Which is why even when he looks like that, I wouldn’t go near that man on a bet.”

“Me neither.”

There was a chorus of agreement from the table.

“Which is why we love Stef,” another of the bridesmaids put in. “He’s beautiful and sexy and the sweetest guy I’ve ever met in my life.”

“He’s not broken, he’s healthy.”

“If you weren’t gay,” Alison said, “you’d belong to me, Stefan Joss.”

“Bullshit,” Kristin assured her. “He’d be mine.”

“You’re all high; I would have married him in college if he was straight.”

“Pardon me?” Ben interrupted, and the table dissolved into laughter.

“Oh honey,” Charlotte soothed him, getting up to take a seat in his lap.