My teaser this week is from Gone Away.
“I just wanted to know…,” Mason said in a low voice. He paused, then continued, “When I saw your name and found out someone would be assigned to take you around, I asked for the job. It was my good luck you were coming in a few days early, and Tyler said he’d set us up. I thought if I could have a little time without worrying about jobs or other people, you’d explain to me what I did wrong.”
“Nothing,” Riece said. He was beginning to see what Mason was getting at, and he didn’t know what else to say. He grabbed the napkin in front of him and twisted and turned it.
“Riece, you called me one day and told me you were moving across the country. With no explanation, you ended what I thought was a good thing.”
“It was a good thing,” Riece confessed, more to the napkin than Mason. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Mason reached across the table and laid one hand on Riece’s. “I’m not expecting to get back together or anything, but, Riece, you could at least tell me why.”
“I told my mom about us,” Riece said.
Mason shrugged. “I met her lots of times. I’m sure she figured it out, and you said she knew when you were a teenager you were gay.”
“She liked you, but she said I couldn’t depend on anyone wanting to stay with someone like me. Especially someone like you.”
“Someone like you and someone like me,” Mason echoed. Riece could see the anger well up in Mason.
They fell silent for a few minutes when their food was brought to the table, along with fresh drinks. Riece watched Mason relax a tiny amount after a few deep breaths.
When they were alone again, Riece said, “She told me I’d end up hurting you, and you’d hate me eventually because of how I am. You know, not really normal.” He shoved his food around on his plate. “I couldn’t stand it if you hated me.”
“Look at me, Riece.”
Riece glanced up. Mason was always gently reminding him when it was polite or appropriate or necessary to make eye contact. He opened his mouth to apologize but changed his mind when he remembered a few arguments with Mason over the fact he tended to apologize too much.
Mason leaned forward and rested both arms on the table. “I’m saying this once and for the last time. There is nothing wrong with you, Riece. Yeah, I’ll agree sometimes you see the world in a different way than I do, but that’s not… hell, I don’t even know what. I know your mother meant well but splitting up like we did hurt me far more than any of your quirks ever could’ve. Do you think I stayed with you out of pity or something?”
“No. Of course not. Why did you stay with me?”
Mason shook his head and chuckled. “Partly because you have no clue what you’re really like. What I see is someone sweet and funny and smart and caring. I like spending time with you. And, you stayed with me despite the fact I rub most people the wrong way.” He turned his attention to his plate of food.
“So my hot bod was not a consideration?”
Chewing, Mason shook his head. He swallowed and said, “Nope.” Then he went back to his meal. “Oh, and you are paying for our meal,” he said, took a long draft of his beer, and offered Riece a snarky smile.
Gone Away is available in eBook, paperback and is in Kindle Unlimited.
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