There’s Always Something
Schuyler L’Roux © 2019
All rights reserved
The redhead sat down with a fluid grace, sweeping the kilt under his ass and keeping his knees demurely together. The knees dropped apart when he scooted back in the chair, dropping the kilt between his legs. He licked his cone with a tongue even pinker than his lips, though his thick, flexing forearm distracted Thom. The left arm was covered from wrist to elbow in a splash of water, colored wings on fire, and streams of blue.
“I’m Gerry, by the way.”
Thom wrenched his eyes away to look at Gerry’s expectant expression. “Thom.”
“Short for Thomas?”
“Nope, just Thom.”
“Damn, I always had a thing for Thomases.”
Shit, Thom thought.
Gerry looked him up and down, a question sparking in his eyes. “Strange name for an Italian boy.”
Thom shook off the rust and pushed himself along for the ride. No expectations, he reminded himself. “It’s spelled even stranger.”
Gerry blinked in surprise. “With an ‘h’?”
“My mom loved the Scots.” Thom pointed down to Gerry’s kilt. “Must be genetic. You popped up like a fantasy from when I was thirteen.”
Gerry laughed, waggling his cone like a warning. “Oh, careful there boyo. I’m Welsh. We don’t take kindly to mistaken identity.”
“At least I didn’t call you English.”
Gerry grinned. “Fair enough.” He pointed at Thom’s forgotten ice cream as he took another lick. “Aren’t you worried about that melting?”
Thom shrugged and shot Gerry a sly smile. “I’m easily distracted.” He bit into a large chunk of ice cream and cone, shivering at the burst of cold. “What brings you here?”
“Just a little treat before I get to business.”
“Oh, what do you do?”
Jesus, Thom thought. This guy is a walking hard-on with my name written all over it. Thankfully, he managed to say something else. “Which firm?”
Gerry shook his head. “I’m from L.A. Just in for the day.”
Thom nodded, hiding his disappointment in another bite. “I don’t want to keep you,” he said before catching himself with a smile. “Sorry, that’s a lie. I do. What are you up to after work?”
“More work,” Gerry said after a lick. “I’ve got an overrun project and frayed nerves to placate. They’ve tied me up in meetings from now until midnight.”
Thom looked skeptical. “Now? You’ve got a strange definition of ‘now.’”
Gerry laughed. “Like I said, frayed nerves. I’m hoping that by the time I roll in, tragically indisposed by inexplicable summer traffic, everyone will be desperate for a solution.” He smiled again, and Thom’s stomach flipped. “Anyway, I never come into Minneapolis without stopping by Sebastian’s.
“Look who’s talking,” Gerry continued. “What’s your excuse for skipping work on a Friday afternoon?”
Thom arched a dark, plucked eyebrow. “Priority number one for a small business owner is the sanity of his employees.”
“My air conditioning’s broke,” Thom said with a shrug. “My place is like a sauna. I had to get out of there.”
“So, ice cream instead of the library?”
“Like you said, who can come downtown without stopping by?”
Gerry swirled his ice cream. “What do you do?”
“I teach and write.”
Gerry considered Thom with a light smile. “So, I’m trying to think of a more interesting question than the obvious.”
“What’s the obvious?”
“Hmm…I’m guessing the popular choice is ‘have I read anything of yours?’”
“Basically. Want to guess the second?”
Gerry narrowed his eyes, rolling them up to think. He shook his head.
“I’ll give you a clue,” said Thom, leaning over his ice cream. “It was one of the first questions my mama asked me when I told her I landed a writing gig out here.”
Gerry barked a laugh. “‘Do you write for a gay magazine?’”
Thom cocked his finger like a gun and ‘shot’ Gerry. “Hers was more heavily inflected with disappointed sighs, but pretty much.”
They smiled at each other as their laughter faded. Gerry broke the spell, looking at his wristwatch. He looked up with apology evident in his suddenly knit eyebrows.
“Gotta go?” asked Thom.
“Sad to say,” said Gerry, standing up. “It was fun chatting.”
Thom’s heart stammered. He licked his suddenly dry lips. “I know you said you’re busy with work. But if you get out early, I’m going dancing with some friends.” Keeping his eyes on Gerry was near impossible with his heart hammering so hard, but he kept it up. “Can I give you my number?”
“I leave tomorrow, Thom.”
“And I’m not looking for a fuck and run.”
“Who says I am?” Thom asked, more out of reflex than honesty.
Gerry placed a hand on his surprisingly slim waist. “You’re saying if I wasn’t down, you wouldn’t mind coming with me and then never again?”
Thom couldn’t help the smile that danced over his lips. He leaned back in his chair to look up at Gerry. “I wouldn’t mind coming, sure. But I may very well regret the never coming again part.”
Gerry grinned. “Clever boy.”