BradyEight Years Earlier“Hey, thanks.” I said to the really cute guy who’d helped me find the store I’d been looking for all day.
“No problem,” he said with a lopsided grin. He had the biggest, brightest blue eyes I’d ever seen and his blond hair was in one of the faux-hawks that seemed to be fashionable lately. If he wasn’t so well-toned the guy would definitely be a twink, but the guy had some serious biceps and sexy forearms. He wore black, thick-rimmed glasses that sat just right on his very Greek nose and went well with his pointed chin and chiseled jaw. He was model pretty in a nerdy way, but you could tell he didn’t know he was. He seemed entirely too nice.
“I’m Brady, Brady Novak,” I said, holding out my hand. He studied it for a minute then gave me another of his winning smiles, taking my hand to shake.
“Nice to meet you, Ryan. You from around here?”
“Oh, yeah. I grew up here in Decatur. Go to school over at Emory’s Clairemont campus.”
“Hey, me too. Must be a freshman? I’d remember you if I’d had a class with you.” Yeah, I flirted shamelessly, but no way was this young’un gonna go for a single dad. The attention was nice, though, and he was sweet enough to deserve a little attention himself. And I wasn’t lying. It was almost the end of the school year and if I’d not seen him in my mixed level courses or around my friends (what few I had, baby haters) he had to be a freshman.
“Yeah.” He said. “My sister goes there, too. It’s sort of in the blood. Wait. You go to school here but you don’t know where the Flying Biscuit is?”
“Oh, well, I’m not from here. Grew up down in Valdosta. I don’t get out a whole lot other than work and school having a little girl and all.” And there was that look. It didn’t seem to be the usual eew fuck off look so much as disappointed. He probably thought I was straight. Story of my teenage life. Gay men preach all day about being tolerant but they sure ain’t when it comes to bisexual guys, and even more judgmental of the single father. Though, it can’t be easy since teenage parenthood isn’t exactly in the cards for most of them—being gay and all.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you around.” I said. “If you need any help on campus that your sister can’t give, you holler.”
“Yeah, uh, same here.” He said. I sighed and turned to walk away. I knew my face was probably showing how bummed I was, but I can’t rightly help it. I take quite a few ego hits for someone who’d fucked up but done the right thing.
“Hey!” He hollered as I was almost across the parking lot from where he still stood. I turned to see him jogging toward me, that lopsided smile there but a little uncertain. “You should hang out with me and my sister sometimes. She’s going to be a teacher and we’re both pretty good with kids. You know, so if you needed to get out sometimes.” Nobody offered that. No one was that nice. I looked him over carefully.
“What? Too weird?” he asked. “I’m not exactly a social butterfly, okay? My sister is my best friend so I’m not sure how this whole ‘trying to be normal person and offer help’ thing works.” He blushed underneath that golden hued skin on his cheeks so I didn’t doubt his honesty or his sincerity.
“Damn, Freshman, where have you been the last five years?”
“Yeah. With the little one it’s taken a bit longer to graduate.”
“Well, I’m impressed you did either way. My sister will love you.” He rolled his eyes at that. I wondered what that was about. He’d obviously decided I was straight and I figured I wouldn’t see him again so I just went with it. Boy was I wrong, though. That day we ended up having lunch. And when it got close to finals he helped me cram for exams. He was quiet but funny. His sense of humor sucked about as bad as mine but he cracked me up. Turned out I’d accidentally made the best friend I’d had in a long time just in time to leave him. That sucked.
I was also incredibly attracted to him, and the way he was with my little girl did wonders for my heart. He even babysat her while I went on a date with this bangin’ chick that had actually asked me out. A hippie chick named Ellie.
“Her name is what?”
“Ellie. Didn’t catch her last name though. Met her on campus.”
“Blond hair, blue eyes?” He asked, looking a little annoyed.
“Yeah, ‘bout as light blond as yours.” Then it dawned on me when he grimaced. “Oh, shit, dude. Your sister isn’t this Ellie is she?” Yeah he’d said his sister was his best friend, but aside from a random story about her wild dating ways he’d never talked about her and she hadn’t come up in the couple weeks I’d known him.
“Yeah, that’s her. I guess that’s why she ditched movie night with me tonight, huh?”
I winced. “Oh, damn. Do you want me to cancel?” I really would have if he’d asked. Honest. I didn’t know anything about Ellie and he was such a good guy. Plus, if he was to be believed about her dating habits, and I had no reason not to believe him, she was a flake.
“No. Don’t worry about it,” he laughed. “Not like you’ll get laid here tonight.” Ouch. He made a face when he realized he was talking about his sister. “Just go. Have fun,” he said, shutting the door in my face.
And that is how I embarked on the craziest relationship ever. For two months I dated Ellie, but we never worked toward sex. Not enough time on my part, plus it was hard to ask Ryan to watch Delilah just so I could hang out with his sister. It worked out that they were so tight, though, because we all started hanging out together. It felt like just a good friendship, honestly, so it was no big surprised when I mentioned my job offer after I graduated the next month was taking me to Phoenix that Ellie made her excuses quick-like and dumped me.
Now, I wasn’t all that into the relationship, mostly because I felt guilty that the one time did some heavy petting and dry humping, I’d almost said her brother’s name when I came. But I was so drawn to him. Ellie was fun, though, because she always pursued me just enough to make me feel like some kind of prize, even knowing about my little girl.
But so did Ryan with the way he looked at me. At some point, though, he’d stopped looking at me like someone he was crushing and started looking at me like—well, his sister’s boyfriend. And that sucked because I’d known him first, liked him first. I didn’t realize until the night Ellie and I broke up and I’d gotten drunk feeling like a loser for losing Ellie and never having a chance with Ryan (and totally fucking it up dating his sister) that I’d never told him I was bisexual. So when Ryan came over to help me pack, I thought I’d told him, but I ended up just making out with him.
Now I was drunk so mostly that night in my mind was the hottest kisses of my life, him saying he was sorry for Ellie, and the best fucking hand job ever. Then he said he felt guilty and I sure as hell felt guilty for making him feel guilty so being a fool I let him leave.
Two months. Two fucking months I’d known both of them and in two months it had been such a whirlwind. All I was walking off with was these snippets of memories, having traumatized Ryan whose smiled had really changed my faith in humanity and back to being just me and Delilah. So when my mama brought Delilah back from her last visit before the move and drove us to the airport, I didn’t think about them. It was all for Delilah anyway.
We had a life to get to, We’d both waited long enough and Ryan and Ellie Borja would just have to be a memory.
And that’s what they’d been until now. Goddamn them.