Chapter 7: Surprise!
“Happy Birthday to us!”
“That’s not until tomorrow, nitwit.”
Simon pouted and hooked a strong arm around Nate’s shoulders, pulling him closer to his face as he spoke,
“But I’m at work tomorrow! Tonight we dine in... Your house!”
Nate sighed and ducked out of his twin’s embrace. Kyle and Alex were sitting at a table in the large café and the Lairds were ordering their food. It all felt very right somehow but there was a strong knot in Nate’s stomach that refused to loosen. Simon had organised a joint party to celebrate their twenty-fifth birthday and, being the thoughtful brother that he was, had invited everyone round to Nate’s house. It was bad enough that he would have to endure any party but the fact that it was being held in his own house meant he couldn’t even escape early if he wanted to.
They grabbed the four drinks and joined the others at the table. Alex was wearing one of his new pale blue shirts and skinny jeans and he looked much more at ease in Simon’s presence than he had only a few weeks ago. Nate handed him his Coke and stared down into his own fizzing drink, poking at the ice cubes with his straw as Simon and Kyle talked about what they were going to wear later that night.
“So, what do you want for your birthday?”
Alex’s voice jostled Nate from his reverie and the redhead looked into his blue eyes,
“Nothing.” Nate answered without hesitation, knocking Alex from his stride a little, but Alex smiled nonetheless,
“Oh, I was hoping you’d give me an idea. I want to get you something nice.”
“Oh!” Nate ran his hand through his tousled locks and gave Alex an apologetic look, “Sorry, I didn’t know you meant what I wanted from you. Not that I actually do want anything from you! Not that something from you would be bad!” he inhaled deeply and exhaled loudly, “I’m babbling, sorry. I just meant that you don’t have to get me anything, its fine.”
Alex still hadn’t managed to find a job, he was paying his way in the house by doing the housework and cooking now and then, which was fine by Nate.
“No, I want to get you something,” Alex took a sip of his coke, “I’m just not really sure what you like.”
“Boobs,” Simon injected himself into the conversation and then left just as swiftly as Nate glared at him.
Alex didn’t continue after that. The food came and they ate quickly and quietly, Nate still worrying about the oncoming party. When they’d all finished, Kyle paid for everyone (his idea of a cheap birthday present for Nate) and they piled into Nate’s car. Simon had decided he wanted to decorate the house before the guests arrived and his brother had no complaints; he wanted as little to do with the party as possible.
It wasn’t that Nate was particularly against having a party, it was just that he wasn’t one for drinking or socialising much. He couldn’t hold his liquor like his brother and whenever they drank together, Simon would try and make Nate keep pace. The nights always ended with the younger twin hunched over a toilet.
An hour before the guests were due to arrive, Nate decided a bath might calm his nerves. Only the downstairs bathroom had an actual bath, the upstairs one only had a shower, and so he started the water and poured in some sweet-smelling lotion to try and soothe himself. Parties were definitely not his cup of tea; he hated the false happy-clappy show everyone seemed to put on and he hated having to get dressed up and make an effort.
Slowly, Nate lowered himself into the steaming bath and closed his eyes as the sweet aroma of jasmine entered his pores. His mind wandered to the past few weeks; meeting Alex, bringing him to his home, shopping with Alex, eating with Alex, Alex’s bright blue eyes, Alex’s strong back, Alex’s arse-
Nate’s eyes shot open and he wiped his hands down his face.
“What the fuck.”
Why was he thinking about him so much? Was it just because Alex was a new edition to his life? Or maybe because he saw him everyday and didn’t have much else to think about? Or maybe it’s because I’m gay.
“No! Nope. I think not! I like boobs and legs and vagi-” he grabbed the sponge and started scrubbing at his face manically, which was why he didn’t notice the bathroom door open and Alex step inside.
“Oh, shit! Sorry!” Alex had opened his belt and was about to relieve himself when he spotted Nate in the bath, “I thought you were upstairs!”
Nate stopped scrubbing, his hands slapping back into the bath water, and stared wildly at Alex, “Fine. It’s fine!”
Alex’s eyes had wandered to Nate’s crotch where not all of him was under the water. Nate followed his gaze and sloshed around in the water like a drowning madman in a desperate attempt to hide his ‘excitement’. Finally he shoved the sponge down there and stared straight ahead with cheeks that felt as though they might explode, avoiding Alex’s gaze as much as he could.
The blonde silently exited the bathroom, a wry smile on his lips.
It was almost ten thirty and most of the guests were milling around in the kitchen and living room; Nate stood in the kitchen as his brother introduced him to various work colleagues and handed him beer after beer. One of said colleagues was a young blonde lady with pale blue eyes and a short red dress that complimented her flawless figure. She looked about as into the party as Nate felt and, when she turned away from Simon’s work discussion, Nate caught her eye.
“Having fun?” she asked in a sarcastic tone as she took a sip from her vodka and tonic, red lipstick staining the glass.
Nate took a swig of beer and nodded, “Sure.”
“I’m Kate,” she smiled and stepped closer, her strong perfume enveloping him.
“Yeah,” Nate puffed out his cheeks and tried to spot Alex amongst the crowd but to no avail. He smiled politely, “My full name’s Nathan though.” He finished off his beer and grabbed another from the kitchen counter.
“Katherine.” Katherine traced a manicured finger along Nate’s jaw line and gazed into his emerald eyes, “You know, I think you’re better looking than your brother.”
“Really?” Nate cleared his throat and took a long gulp of beer, “Don’t let him hear you say that.”
She stepped closer, her delicate hips almost grazing his own.
“Definitely,” Kate bit her bottom lip, “Are you spoken for, Nate? Or are you gay like Simon?”
He shook his head, a small giggle escaping his lips, “Nope.”
He was onto his seventh or eighth beer and the room seemed to be slanting slightly, blurring around the edges.
“You know,” Kate spoke confidently as she gestured around the room with her glass, “This is a nice house, I’d love to see upstairs.”
“I bet you would,” all Nate could do was be led by the arm out of the kitchen.
Kate attempted to pull Nate upstairs but his balance was wavering and so she opted for the downstairs corridor. She tried a few doors until she came upon Alex’s room and dragged Nate inside. He plonked himself down on the bed and finished off his drink before letting the bottle clink to the floor. He could tell that he was well and truly drunk but for once he didn’t mind it, at least it was distracting him from awkward socialising with people younger and more successful than him. He let Kate take his shoes off and lay back on the bed as she climbed over him.
She kissed his neck and whispered into his ear, “This is a nice bed. It’d be a shame not to use it.”
“’S’not mine,” he drawled.
With a little more force than necessary, Kate tore open the buttons on Nate’s shirt and exposed his bare chest. She traced her finger down his torso and let it rest a moment on his trousers before undoing his fly. He moaned in response but didn’t move as she tugged his trousers down.
She frowned at his crotch and spoke through a pouted mouth, “You don’t seem too happy to see me, Nate.”
She was right. He didn’t really feel at all aroused by this gorgeous young woman. Sure, she was curvy and sexy and a little bit loose but something was missing. Nate chalked it down to copious amounts of alcohol and continued to lie still as she whipped off her dress in one swift movement.
Kate began to grind on his hips and then moved closer to him so that she could kiss his neck and chest. Nate closed his eyes but found no pleasure in the moment and so opened them to look at her face. Her blonde hair fell onto his face and her blue eyes seemed to sparkle as she smiled down at him, reminding him of Alex’s inhumanly gorgeous eyes.
“Oh, Nate! It seems you’re getting into it now!”
Kate smiled and moved her hands down to his crotch, where he felt the first stirrings of arousal. He closed his eyes and pictured Alex’s naked body the day he’d seen him in the shower and moaned loudly,
“Mmm, that’s good.”
Kate’s movements intensified and then suddenly stopped.
“Don’t st-“ Nate opened his eyes to see what the hold-up was and saw Alex standing in the doorway to his room, eyes wide and mouth twisted down, as though trying not to cry.
Kate bundled up her clothes and shuffled quickly out of the room as Nate scrambled for his trousers. Alex stared at the floor as he spoke in a monotone voice,
“I wanted a jumper.”
All Nate could do was nod. He watched Alex grab a jumper off the floor, knocking the empty beer bottle aside, and chewed on his lip as his lodger quickly exited the room. Nate ran his hands through his sweat-drenched hair and slammed his fist against the bed.
So what? he thought, I was enjoying myself with a lady friend. What does it matter to him? And why do I feel so guilty?
Slowly, he pulled his shirt around him and readjusted his trousers before heading to his own room. He met Simon, who was seemingly almost catatonic, on the landing and avoided a bear hug from him. Before he could escape to his room, however, Simon called out,
“Did you do something to Alex? He ran out before!”
“I dunno!” Simon slurred, “Do I look like bloody Columbo?!”
Ignoring his brother’s jibes, Nate dashed down the stairs and pushed past the last of the guests out of the front door. He stumbled into the biting cold in his bare feet, a sense of clarity hitting him now that he could breathe fresh air, and squinted into the darkness.
“Alex!” he wailed into the night like some sort of lunatic and saw a few of the neighbours’ curtains twitching as he called a few times more.
He was about to go back inside when his fingers clasped something in his pocket. Car keys. Without thinking, Nate headed for his car and after struggling to fit them in the lock, flung open the door and got behind the steering wheel. He turned on the ignition and had his hand on the handbrake, ready to set off in search of his missing friend, when a loud bang stopped him in his tracks.
Alex stood outside the car next to the driver’s door with his hands folded across his chest and a look of disbelief on his face. Nate didn’t respond and so Alex kicked the car again, this time with more force.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Alex yelled through the closed window.
Nate was taken aback at Alex’s sudden outburst. He hadn’t heard the youngster raise his voice like that before and he didn’t know how to react, he simply stared at him, drunken eyes like big marbles in his skull.
“You can’t drive in that state!” Alex yanked open the car door, exposing Nate to the freezing wind, “Are you an idiot?!”
The interior light of the car had come on now that the door was open and Alex’s face was illuminated in it. Nate could see wet tracks down his face where tears had fallen and red blotches surrounded his eyes. He’d obviously been crying.
“Alex, I was coming to find you!”
The anger dropped slightly from Alex’s voice, “Yeah, well. I’m here.”
“I found you.” Nate slurred and smiled weakly at Alex, “Did you cry?” he held his hand out to touch Alex’s face but the blonde slapped it away and turned to head back inside,
“You should go to bed, you’re drunk.”
“Yeah,” Nate got out of the car and locked it up before following Alex back into the house. His swaying made the short journey twice as long but he finally made it back inside and into the warmth. He flopped onto the sofa and stared grumpily at his feet, his socks were soaked through.
“I’ll make some coffee.”
Alex pottered around in the kitchen as Nate relaxed into the comfort of the couch; he was nodding off when Alex returned with his coffee. Nate took it carefully and sipped the hot liquid in silence.
“I’m going to bed now,” Alex went to stand up but Nate caught his arm and held him in place, “What? Let me sleep.”
“Don’t you think she looked like you?” Nate looked at Alex as he asked, a serious expression on his face.
“Kate! The woman who-“
“Oh, her!” Alex rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and shrugged, “I don’t know.”
“She did!” Nate put his mug down and turned to face Alex, “She had the same hair,” he tugged on a loose strand of Alex’s blonde hair, “Same eyes,” he looked into Alex’s baby blues, “Same lips…”
Before he knew what he was doing, Nate’s lips brushed against Alex’s. After a second or two he pulled away and Alex got to his feet, Nate allowing it this time,
“I’m going to bed,” Alex marched out of the room.
Nate licked his lips and, confused and drunk as he was, one thought clearly pierced through: He kissed back.