August 30, 2005
by Matthew Haldeman-Time
I am writing about men having sex with other men. You must be eighteen or older to read my fiction. This site is for consenting, responsible adults only.
The second apple had a bruise.
The third apple had a bruise.
The fourth apple had a bruise.
The fifth apple looked a lot like the second apple. Suddenly, all of them looked the same. Kent no longer remembered which ones he’d already examined.
He had to find a new grocery store. This one was closest to his house, but their apples tended to look abused and their soup cans were always dented. He tried not to think about what he’d found inside that last cantaloupe.
Snapped from his reverie, Kent looked up from the apples and turned towards the oranges and found himself face-to-face with Isaac Eaton.
Whoa. Um… “Hi,” Kent said, not sure which expression to put on his face. Should he smile in friendly recognition? Scowl in utter loathing? He didn’t have a problem with Isaac, himself, but since Isaac had broken up with his best friend, Kent thought that he should dislike Isaac out of loyalty to Garrett.
“I haven’t seen you in a while,” Isaac said, holding out a hand.
Kent shook it. “A long time,” he said, realizing that he couldn’t have used more inane words. Isaac Eaton. Six feet of sex appeal. Great taste in books, horrible taste in music, a complete inability to wear socks that matched, brown hair, light green eyes, and a crooked smile.
“How’ve you been?” Isaac asked. He looked happy to see Kent. A little too happy, considering that the last time they’d seen each other, Garrett had been throwing shoes at Isaac’s head. Garrett had bad aim, but Isaac was even worse at ducking.
“I’ve been fine,” Kent said. “How about you? What have you been doing?” He was trying not to sound too friendly and trying not to sound judgmental, and as a result he sounded nervous, strained, and rushed.
“I’m great,” Isaac said. His smile went up on the left side. Garrett had never liked that about him. Personally, Kent had found it oddly charming. “I got a promotion last month, so-”
“The one you thought that other guy would get?” Kent asked, memory triggered. “The guy with the ties, the-”
“Edwards,” Isaac said.
“I can’t believe they chose you over him,” Kent said, happy for Isaac. “That’s great. I thought you said that he was the CEO’s nephew or something.”
“They caught him stealing,” Isaac said.
“Edwards?” Kent asked, shocked.
“The CEO,” Isaac said with a grin. “Once he was gone, they could stop sucking up to him, so I got the promotion that I so richly deserved.”
“It’s about time.” Kent was proud of him. He’d worked really hard. Garrett required a lot of care and maintenance, and Isaac’s long hours at the office hadn’t gone over well, but Kent had admired Isaac’s work ethic. “Does this promotion come with any interesting perks?”
“I can buy things that aren’t on sale now,” Isaac said. “That’s pretty exciting.”
Kent laughed. “Sounds great.”
“Are you still seeing Ty?” Isaac asked.
Oh, god, Ty? “No, no,” Kent said with a suppressed shudder. “He dyed his hair pink and started cheating on me, so I decided that we might not be compatible.”
“I liked the green hair,” Isaac said with a smile.
“It was better than the zebra stripes,” Kent agreed.
Isaac’s gaze flickered away for a second; his smile faltered. “How’s Garrett?” He didn’t sound embarrassed, merely uncomfortable.
“He’s okay,” Kent said. “He’s taking karate classes and dating a cop and redecorating his kitchen.”
“Did he finish the bathroom?” Isaac asked.
“Yeah,” Kent said. “He went with the carnation theme.”
“Really?” Isaac asked. “I wanted him to do the, what was it called?”
“Majestic,” Kent said. “White and gold with purple accents.”
“It would have looked great,” Isaac said.
“I know.” The carnation looked terrible. Kent tried to pee before visiting Garrett, so he wouldn’t have to look at that hideous shower curtain. “The cop wants him to do the kitchen in tiger stripes.”
Isaac stared at him with a look of horror. “You’re not going to let him, are you?”
“At this point, it’s either that or clouds. At least the tiger stripes will match the animal theme of all of the cow print in the living room.”
“God, those pillows!” Isaac remembered, laughing. “Does the one on the sofa still moo?”
“It still moos,” Kent said. “He still refuses to warn anyone who’s about to sit down.”
“Garrett’s crazy,” Isaac said, shaking his head with a smile.
“He’s always been special,” Kent said. “Are you seeing someone?”
A slight blush; Isaac shifted his weight, crossing his arms over his chest. “Not really. I’ve had a few dates, here and there, but nothing panned out.”
“I hear you.” It was hard to find anyone interesting. Anyone he had anything in common with. Anyone he could really talk to. His dick got interested, but no one really engaged his brain anymore.
Kent realized that Isaac was nervous, uncertain, and trying to smile at him. Oh, shit. What was he supposed to do? What if - - he couldn’t date his best friend’s ex, that was disloyal, that was a betrayal, that was - - Garrett would kill him. Garrett never just reacted; Garrett always overreacted, every time, without fail. Garrett knew karate now. Garrett was dating a cop, and that cop had a gun.
“Maybe you and I could see each other again sometime,” Isaac said. “We could have lunch.”
“Lunch,” Kent repeated, to buy himself time. Lunch with Isaac Eaton. Sexy, smart, interesting Isaac Eaton. He hadn’t let himself get interested in Isaac before, because he hadn’t been willing to interfere in Isaac and Garrett’s relationship. But he did have to admit that most of the time, he’d seemed more appreciative of Isaac’s better qualities than Garrett had. After Isaac and Garrett had broken up, he’d missed Isaac.
But…lunch? A date? He couldn’t date Isaac.
Except that lunch with Isaac was the best offer he’d had in a long time.
“Just lunch,” Isaac said, apparently sensing his dilemma and trying to help him out. “We were friends once, and I’d like… I’d like…
Isaac never had lied well. “You’d like to be more than that,” Kent finished for him.
Charmingly helpless smile. “I’ve missed you.”
God, that didn’t help at all. Kent wished that he hadn’t run into Isaac. Wished that he didn’t want to take Isaac up on that lunch offer and make a few offers of his own. Wished that the produce section weren’t filled with bananas and cucumbers and other phallic items that reminded him of Garrett’s descriptions of how very, very hot Isaac was in bed.
“You’ve been on my mind a lot,” Isaac said. “Sometimes, since Garrett and I broke up, I’ve wondered what would have happened if I’d met you first.”
Kent couldn’t believe that this was happening to him.
“You and I are perfect together on paper,” Isaac said, his voice quieter now as he stepped closer. The green of his eyes was a light, shimmering shade. The nearness of his body made Kent slightly dizzy with repressed arousal. “I want to know if we’re as perfect in the flesh.”
Flesh. Perfect. Flesh. How could he get away with talking like that? “Garrett’s my best friend,” Kent said, but his resistance was weakening. Isaac’s gaze was too direct and too full of desire. Isaac’s mouth was, was…
Slowly, Kent opened his eyes as Isaac eased away from his embrace. “Shit,” he whispered, and licked his lips, swallowing. His skin was hot with guilt, with shame, with lust.
“I’ll talk to Garrett,” Isaac said. “I’ll tell him that I didn’t even know how much I wanted you until he and I were over.”
“He’ll hate me for this,” Kent said. “He’ll get over it later, but this is such a shitty thing to do. I can’t be the guy who dates his best friend’s exes, I hate that guy.”
“I’ve been here every day after work for two weeks,” Isaac said. “I don’t shop here, this is a terrible store. I’ve been trying to run into you.”
Kent stared at him. “You’ve been here every day for two weeks just to ask me out?”
“I can’t get you out of my mind,” Isaac said.
Kent realized, a few minutes too late, that at least three different produce buyers and one store clerk were watching their drama unfold. “Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this here.” Not that there was much more to say that hadn’t already been said.
“Meet me for lunch tomorrow,” Isaac said, his voice calm, his eyes desperate.
His morals told him no. His body told him yes. His loyalty to Garrett told him no. His heart told him yes. His mouth wanted him to go back for at least one more kiss. His dick wanted to go back for a lot more than that. “Somewhere cheap. Somewhere crowded.”
“Anywhere you want,” Isaac said, a wide smile breaking across his face.
God, this was unethical but he wanted it more than ever after seeing that smile. “I’ll pay for myself, and you’ll pay for yourself, and I’m telling Garrett about it tonight.”
“Okay,” Isaac said with that lopsided grin, clearly so happy that any conditions Kent placed upon their lunch couldn’t possibly bother him.
“The McDonald’s on Broad at noon.”
Cheerful smile. “I’ll be there.”
He’d just kissed Isaac in the middle of a grocery store. And now he had to finish shopping, with all of these people watching. “I might have to shop somewhere else from now on.”
“You should,” Isaac said, still happy. “Their produce sucks.” He kissed Kent’s cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Bright green eyes. “Bye.” A slow, sweet kiss, a delicious hint of tongue, and Isaac walked away.
Kent felt like reality had shifted at some point in the last few minutes.
One of the onlookers moved on to the next aisle. The other two shoppers and the clerk kept watching, waiting for him to do something interesting.
He fumbled open a plastic bag, dumped a few bruised apples into it, and rushed on to buy stale bread and dented soup cans. He had to stop by Garrett’s on the way home, to explain a few things.
He wondered if the store had a bathroom he could use. He’d hate to be stuck in a room with those hideous carnations.