I awoke the next morning at 8:00 AM to my phone ringing. I groaned, bleary-eyed, and yanked the phone to my ear.
“Yeah?” I whispered into the mouthpiece, and my co-worker Paul answered.
“Hey man, are you okay? We heard about your leg, that blows dude,” Paul said, and I could hear the sounds of construction in the background. Shit I cursed to myself, I was late for work.
“It’s fine,” I said as I eased myself upright, trying to ignore the horrible pain in my leg. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
“Are you kidding?” Paul asked, laughing, “There’s no way you’re coming in today. Just stay home and take it easy for the next few days. We have this under control, there’s no point in hurting yourself more.”
I frowned and patted Bear, who had just jumped onto my bed next to me. I winced as his tail thumped my leg and pain shot through me.
“Thanks man, I really appreciate this. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” I told Paul, cursing the damn door that incapacitated me.
“It’s fine, you have trained us well, Sensei! It’s nice to see you’re actually human for a change.” Paul said laughing.
Not sure how to respond to that, I mumbled something and hung up the phone. Bear lay down next to me, resting his head in my lap, and I fell back down. Almost immediately, I was asleep again.
I awoke again at 11:00, and popped some pain pills immediately. The apartment looked brighter than usual, and the sounds of the street below drifted up to my window. For a second I relaxed into my bed and enjoyed the quiet, sunny space around me.
My leg felt like an entire house was sitting on it, but I ignored it and tried to remember the last time I had slept this late.
It’s been a long time, I mused to myself, and briefly wondered when my life had become so robotic. I pushed the thought from my mind and flipped open my phone.
There were a few texts from Paul and James, asking about pipes. I replied to their messages, then closed my phone and stared around my apartment. What was I going to do today? Paul was right, they had the site under control, and I had already done all I needed to do on the upcoming projects. Bear decided to sit on my lap, which is a big fucking deal when your dog weighs 80 pounds. I groaned and Bear licked my face, panting like the oaf he is.
“Okay pooch, let’s get up,” I sighed, and pushed Bear off me. He thumped into the kitchen, awaiting his breakfast, and I slowly eased myself up.
I dragged myself to my kitchen, opened a cabinet, and threw some dog food in Bear’s bowl. I also made coffee, and put some water in Bear’s water bowl. He lapped up some water eagerly, and I felt instant guilt that I hadn’t fed or given him water last night.
I leaned against the counter, drinking my coffee, and watching the sunlight stream through my window. It was so warm and peaceful in my apartment, and if my leg hadn’t been trying to detach itself from my body, it’d would be a damn perfect day.
Then, of course, someone had to fucking knock on my door. And I knew who it was. And my fists clenched involuntarily, and my heart started to thump quickly. What could I say to Laurie? Sorry for being an asshole yesterday? I don’t understand why I’m attracted to you and I don’t know how to deal with it? Will you kiss me or leave me so I don’t have to decide?
I briefly considered not answering the door, but Bear was barking up a storm and Laurie had to know I was there. My leg was broken–where else would I be.
I put my coffee cup down and limped to the door, pain lacing through me with every step. I undid the latch and pulled the door open, my heart beating uncontrollably.
It was my landlord asking for rent.
For the rest of the day, I tried to find things to do and tried not to think about Laurie. I didn’t think about his laugh. I didn’t think about his dark head, or teasing grin. I didn’t think about his fingers, and how nice they looked. I didn’t think about his body, and what I didn’t want to do to it. And I didn’t think about his eyes at all.
I tried to read, and I tried to do work, and I even tried to take a nap, but nothing worked. Finally, around 5:00, Bear was way too restless so I decided to let him out. I felt bad for cooping him up all day long, usually I walk him in the morning, when I get back from work, and at night, but I’d been too chicken to walk him this morning.
The pain meds the hospital had given me were very strong, and I was feeling a little loopy but the pain had dulled.
I put on some basketball shorts and a soft sweatshirt. I limped over to Bear, who was literally jumping up and down, and put on his collar.
“Hey now, you have to take it easy on me until we get to the park. I’ll take you off your leash there, but until then, don’t break my other leg!” I told him, ruffling his fur.
I think I’ll just take Bear to a big lawn, take his leash off, and sit down, I thought.
He jumped out the door in front of me, and I barely closed it before he tugged me along. I fell Çankaya Escort forward but caught myself on my good leg.
My eyes snapped to Laurie’s door, which was closed thank god. I locked my door quickly and tried to heard Bear towards the stairs, but of course, he bounded over to Laurie’s door, sniffing it excitedly.
“BEAR!!” I hissed, limping over to him. “COME!”
But the door opened before I could pull Bear away, and my heart sank and I looked up to see Laurie grinning at me. Those eyes were alight with amusement and I could almost feel them burning me.
“Hey there neighbor,” He said, and his voice sent shivers down my spine.
I nodded gruffly and tried to pull Bear away, but he pushed past Laurie and into his apartment.
“BEAR!” I called sharply, shocked that he had just pranced into Laurie’s apartment.
Laurie laughed and walked in after Bear, and I had no choice but to follow him.
I stepped into Laurie’s apartment and stopped, just staring around me.
There was sheet music EVERYWHERE. Taped to the walls, on the chairs, on the kitchen table, and surrounding the piano that was in the center of the room. It looked like a hurricane had hit, and I watched as Bear ran around the room, sniffing everything, and especially sniffing Laurie, and was bending down to play with him.
My eyes went back to the piano, and something clicked. Then I looked around again, and on the bookcase next to me, saw a plaque that said “Lawrence Deviviller, Piano, Philharmonic Symphony”. I looked up at Laurie, again, slightly amazed. He played piano for the Philharmonic Symphony? The Philharmonic was one of the most prestigious symphonies in America, and one of the best in the world. Had it been Laurie playing the piano, and had I been telling one of the best pianists in America to stop playing? I cursed to myself, and wanted to walk away. How is it possible that I have been this rude to Laurie? Why can’t I just be normal??
Bear was now trying to tackle Laurie in adoration, and Laurie was laughing and scratching his ears. Laurie’s hair was in a small ponytail, and his lean frame looked great as usual in a grey sweater and black pants. He looked like the professional that he was.
“Bear.” I said, and Bear immediately dropped off Laurie and came over to me. I stepped further into the apartment, and closed the door behind me, letting Laurie’s eyes meet mine, and I held his gaze for once. Laurie grinned, like he knew all about the war that was going on in my heart, but as our eyes met, the confusion that I felt melted away and was replaced by a burning desire to know Laurie both mentally and physically. Maybe that feeling, which I’d never really felt before, was actually all that mattered. Maybe this was never going to make sense to me, but maybe that wasn’t nearly as important as what was happening.
Laurie broke the gaze and walked over to the kitchen. He stood and poured himself a glass of water, and I watched how his black pants gently hugged his ass and I could feel myself getting hard.
“Want some water?” He offered me, and I shook my head.
“No thanks.” I still had no idea how to act around him, and I was uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I shoved them in my pockets.
I cleared my throat. “Um, thanks for all your help yesterday,” I said, and Laurie walked over to me.
“No problem,” He said, and the side of his mouth twitched, probably remembering how brusk and rude I’d been. Whatever. I never asked him to help in the first place.
His gaze ran over my body, and I could feel my skin heat up where his gaze fell. Unfortunately, his gaze fell at my crotch, and I wondered if he could see my hard-on beginning to grow. But then his gaze dropped to my leg. “How does your leg feel today?” He asked, concern in his voice.
I shrugged; I had actually forgotten about my leg, being in such proximity to Laurie.
“I’ll survive,” I said, and Laurie grinned at me. Thanks to him, I’ll survive. Or he might be the death of me.
I nodded at the piano, and I saw the recognition in his gaze. He knew that I knew who he was now. “So that’s been you, playing all these nights?” I asked.
Laurie watched my expression closely, and I wished I could read his mind.
“Yeah. Well, mostly. A few times it was the stereo.” He looked at me, and I couldn’t tell at all what he was thinking. “The stereo plays louder than I do.” My gaze snapped to his and I frowned.
“You were trying to be loud at 3:00 AM?” I asked, annoyed, despite the fact that he was a professional.
Laurie grinned at me. “Well yeah, I had to draw you out of your shell.” He smirked at me, and I could feel my blood boiling and my heart pounding.
“What the fuck for?” I asked, dreading the answer but also needing it.
“To meet my new neighbor, obviously,” Laurie said smiling at my reaction, and probably loving it.
I raked my hand through my hair, telling myself Keçiören Escort it was anger and not excitement that I was feeling .
“Are you always so angry?” Laurie asked, taking a few steps closer to me.
“No.” I growled, staring into his eyes and feeling very hot. “You just make me mad.” Laurie grinned, and of course his teeth were fucking perfectly straight and white.
“Why is that?” Laurie asked, taking another step closer toward me. I looked into his haunting face and was instantly lost in his eyes, and their crazy color, and the way he made me feel. I could feel his body warmth on mine, and I felt like he was a magnet, and I couldn’t help but moving closer. He reached up and pushed my hair back a little, and his eyes darkened. I’m pretty sure I had a full hard-on now, and my heart was racing, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything, but it also took every ounce of strength to restrain myself from closing the distance between us.
I shook my head, unable to answer. Thankfully, I didn’t have to, as Bear leaped up and barked, and I realized that I had been about to grab Laurie and do…things to him.
Without saying anything, I turned and stalked out if the apartment.
At the park, I took of Bear’s leash and he bounded away joyfully as I sat on a bench. He knew not to go out of my sight, but the lawn was huge so he had plenty of room to roam.
I still felt funny from seeing Laurie, and wished I didn’t. How was I going to live next to him for the foreseeable future and not boil over and do something stupid?
You don’t even know that he’s gay, a voice inside me said, but the way that Laurie looked at me make me sure he was. Or else he was really fucking good at gay chicken.
I was interrupted from my dangerous thoughts by my phone ringing.
I glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was Sophie, my sister, calling from art school in Rhode Island. Grinning, I flipped open the phone.
“Hey sis,” I said, smiling as she squealed.
“Vaughn!” She almost screamed, and I chuckled, remembering how excitable she was. Sophie was always the light of our family.
“How’s it going Soph?” I asked. We chat over email often, but I hadn’t seen Sophie in months. We try to spend some of her vacations together, but last summer she stayed at school to take summer classes so I hadn’t seen her in six or seven months.
“It’s great! My classes are incredible as always, and I’m working on some fun pieces, but I miss you! How’s life? How’s Bear?” She asked.
“Bear is…his usual self,” I responded, as I watched Bear bound across the lawn with a group of scraggly dogs in tow.
“And how are you?” She asked, and I could hear the slight concern in her voice. I knew she worried about me, that I work so hard and sometimes withdraw into my shell.
“I’m alright,” I responded, hesitant to tell her about my leg. But she’s my baby sister, and I’d want to know if she was hurt.
“There was an accident at work,” I said carefully, “a fancy door on a balcony we were putting in decided to fall onto me while I was on the ground instead of staying in the doorway where it belonged. My leg has a tiny break but it’ll be fine, I’ve already been to the hospital to have it checked out.”
“Vaughn! Why didn’t you tell me earlier? Does it hurt?” Sophie admonished angrily, and I could imagine her face, eyebrows drawn together in concern, in the same way mine do.
“No, I’m fine,” I told her and tried to sound light hearted. “I’m taking pain meds and I have some time off work, so there’s nothing to worry about,” I said.
Sophie sighed, and I could picture her rolling her eyes.
“Well I’m glad you aren’t trying to work, I wouldn’t put it past you to be out on site with a broken leg, pretending you’re back to normal,” she scolded, but there was humor in her voice.
I decided not to mention that I had actually planned to work this week before Paul persuaded me to stay home.
“Don’t worry, I don’t plan to go to work for two more days at least!” I joked, and Sophie laughed.
“Oh ha ha,” she said sarcastically, “don’t make me come down there and tie you to your bed,” she threatened, and I laughed.
“I’d like to see you try!” I challenged.
“Oh I could totally take you, I lifted weights twice this semester! You’d be amazed at my muscle tone,” Sophie retorted, and I grinned at the image. Soph likes to run, but I have never seen her enter a gym in her life.
“I think all those paint fumes are going to your head,” I teased, and I could hear Sophie laughing and it made me happy.
“I think it is you that is going soft in your old age,” she retorted.
I heard someone calling her name in the background, and the sound of shuffling feet.
Sophie said something to the person who had called her, but I couldn’t hear.
“Hey,” she said, returning to the phone, “I have to go talk to a professor, but I’ll call you again later! Please be careful with that leg, Etimesgut Escort and don’t let Bear pull you around on it.”
I smiled at the image, which was definitely a possibility since now I only have one leg to resist Bear’s enthusiasm.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine. I’ll catch you later,” I said.
“Bye Vaughn, I love you!” Sophie said earnestly, and my heart softened.
“I love you too, sis.” I said, and hung up.
I sat watching Bear for a while, letting him roam free and wishing that I had that sort of unconscious abandon.
When it grew dark, I stood and called Bear to me, and we walked together back to the apartment, my heart thumping quickly at the prospect of running into Laurie.
But I didn’t, and I spent the rest of the night reading and trying to ignore the pain in my leg. I heard the piano start up, but it was softer and for some reason I just knew that it was Laurie playing and not the stereo. The song was slow and haunting, both happy and sad, and as I feel asleep to the beautiful sound, I let myself imagine that Laurie was playing for me.
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of knocking on my door. I glanced at the clock: 8:00 AM.
Wondering who it could be, I pulled myself out of bed and limped to the door. Cautiously I opened it, fearing and hoping that it’d be Laurie, but instead I was greeted by a familiar squeal and face.
“VAUGHN!” Sophie screamed as she threw herself into my arms, and I hugged her back, in shock.
“Soph, what are you doing here?” I asked, very confused.
She pulled back, smiling uncontrollably, and I grinned back, so happy to see her.
Her hair was longer, dark blonde like mine, but her eyes were the blue of my mother’s eyes, and I felt a tug in my gut at how much Sophie looked like her.
Sophie walked past me into the apartment and was immediately pounced upon by Bear, who began to lick every part of Sophie he could reach. She laughed and scratched behind his ears, which Bear loved.
“Well after our conversation yesterday, I decided that it’s been way too long since I saw you, so I took the red-eye last night! I only have one class today then it’s the weekend, so I’m not missing much. I wanted to see my one and only brother!” She said, and grinned up at me, and I couldn’t help smiling back.
“This is great Soph,” I said, taking her backpack and putting it on the couch, “although I have a sneaking suspicion that you are really here to make sure that I don’t go to work yet,” I said, and Sophie threw back her head and laughed. She had such a great laugh, loud and infectious.
“Hey that’s only, like, 30% of the reason I’m here, I also really wanted to play with Bear,” she teased, and Bear thumped his tail excitedly at the sound of his name.
I couldn’t quite believe she was here, but as she stood and hugged me again, I hugged her back and let myself be happy.
“It’s great to see you,” I muttered into Sophie’s hair, and I could feel her smile against my shoulder.
“It’s been too long,” she agreed, and we hugged for a minute longer.
The rest of the day was damn near perfect. I took Sophie to brunch at a nice place downtown, then we went to the museum where she fawned over some artwork that I had never heard of, and bounced around enjoying everything. Then we went to the park with Bear, who was loving all the attention Sophie was giving him, and the two of them played fetch while I rested my leg and watched. It still hurt like a bitch, but I was taking the meds and I refused to let anything ruin my day with Sophie.
We had returned to the apartment, and were walking up the stairs discussing dinner, when I heard a door open on the landing. My heart froze, and as we reached the top of the stairs, I looked up to see Laurie emerging from his apartment.
His head was down, searching for something in his bag, and he somehow looked more beautiful than he had yesterday. The tips of his hair was wet, like he had just taken a shower, and the image of water running down his skin flashed into my brain before I could stop it.
Then he looked up and saw us, and his crazy eyes lit up when they saw me, then moved to Sophie and changed to confusion.
“Hey,” he said eyes meeting mine questioningly, and I nodded.
“Hey.” Like yesterday, I felt like he was a magnet and I was fighting the pull toward him that I felt.
Sophie nudged me and I tore my gaze away from his eyes.
“Oh, uh, Sophie, Laurie, Laurie, Sophie,” I mumbled, unable to speak like a normal fucking human, and Sophie smiled big and reached out to shake Laurie’s hand.
“Hi! I’m Sophie, Vaughn’s much better mannered sister,” Soph said, and Laurie laughed and shook her hand.
“Laurie, Vaughn’s much more musically inclined neighbor,” Laurie joked, and I refrained from rolling my eyes.
Sophie was grinning at Laurie, and I could tell she liked him. In the same way I liked him?
“Do you live in the city?” Laurie asked, unconsciously tucking a piece of dark hair behind his ear, and I wanted to do it for him.
“Oh no, I live in Rhode Island at RISD, I’m visiting my old bro here for the weekend, just to make sure he doesn’t inflict any more injury on himself,” Sophie said, and I frowned at the implication.
“It’s only happened once,” I defended myself, and Laurie smiled at me.