A Year in the City Ch. 01

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Babes

A word about this story – I wrote it as one single story, which means that, although it is split into chapters to make reading it easier, there are long sections that are about character development and it’s not all about the sex – this expository first chapter for one, which has none.

Additionally, this is the first time ever for me writing a story in first person – I’m trying to get it right but please bear with me. I do have a couple of ideas for further stories within this world if it goes down well.

*****

I sit back in the armchair, feet crossed in front of me, sipping a smooth bourbon.

“So, Grayson,” James wheedles, “club?”

I glance over at Jay, who’s grinning. It lights up his All-American handsome face, which I’m finding eminently punchable right now.

“How did I get to be deciding vote?” I grumble, but I don’t really mean it.

“Well you know Andy isn’t going to be bothered either way.”

I look over at Andy, who has his messy surfer-boy head bowed over the joint he’s rolling. He knows he’s being discussed and shrugs. James isn’t wrong.

“And Jay will go, but only if you do.”

I suspect that’s a lie. Jay will go whether I do or not. They’re trying to make me feel part of things, like I used to be.

“Dude, you need to get out. Get laid. You haven’t been yourself since you split up with Tom,” Jay said, matter-of-factly.

He’s right. Getting dumped will do that to a guy I suppose. And our default solution to pretty much any problem always used to be to get laid.

Get dumped…get laid. Bad day at work…get laid. Argument with family…get laid. Erm. Restaurant out of favorite dish…get laid. So, the advice isn’t exactly out of left field.

I look at James again; he has a hopeful look in his liquid brown eyes. James is a resident pediatric oncologist in one of the busiest hospitals on the West Coast. He works long hours in an incredibly stressful job, and I know he needs regular outlets for the stress.

He’s had a bad week, losing a fourteen-year-old patient who’d been hanging on by a thread for several months. He wants to let loose, and I can’t blame him. Of course we’re going out.

“Yes, let’s do it,” I say, with a grin.

James claps delightedly; he’s like an enthusiastic child in many ways.

I’m less enthusiastic; things ending with Tom really knocked my confidence, and I have work tomorrow, though I was always going to say yes – for James if nothing else.

Everyone wants to make James happy; to receive one of his stellar smiles or a clinging full-body hug. He’s literally the nicest person we know, and I sometimes wonder what he sees in the rest of us. We’re a pretty cynical bunch and he’s like a ray of sunshine from the ass of a rainbow sparkle unicorn.

“You’ll come too, won’t you Andy?” James asks.

“Sure thing,” Andy drawls, putting his joint back in the tin for later, “not wearing hot pants though.”

James laughs; it’s a usual bit of banter between them, and the reason why Andy doesn’t get embroiled in the voting.

Andy is straight, and the chillest of all of us. He never has a problem hitting the gay bars and clubs with us, and actually says it’s a more relaxed night out for him, but he doesn’t get involved in the decision-making process.

“We gonna pregame then?” Jay asks, his hand running up James’ ankle, stroking his shin.

“Yup,” James confirms, “don’t want to get there before eleven. Got to keep ourselves occupied in the meantime.”

James and Jay have a slightly weird relationship. The three of us met at college and pretty much since they laid eyes on each other they have been inseparable – as friends.

They spend a ton of time together, with the group and on their own, and they hook up regularly. But they get annoyed at people who assume they’re dating, or suggest that they should be, which happens often enough with people who don’t know them well.

Within the group we know better by now. So Jay’s tender stroking isn’t enough to warrant comment from me or Andy.

“So, who else is coming?” I ask, bringing a tray of bottles from the kitchen and placing it on the low coffee table between us.

I pour myself another bourbon and make up a vodka cranberry for James, who’s empty.

“I’ve messaged Vic and Troy, they’re on their way,” James tells me.

They’re James’ roommates, and that will round out our group to the usual suspects. James coughs and glances at Jay.

“Why don’t you ask Spencer if he wants to come?” he asks me.

“Umm, I don’t think it will be his scene,” I grin wolfishly at James, who pulls an ‘innocent’ face.

“Don’t look at me like that buddy. You freaked him out last time he came to one of our parties; I haven’t even dared invite him to another,” I growl.

These five are my best friends. They are there for me regardless of anything, and I for them. Even though it’s not always sunshine, we all know we have each other’s backs. New people getting into the group is…rare. I güvenilir bahis guess you could argue that Troy and Vic are the only ones that have done it on a permanent basis.

I met Spencer a few months ago through Jay, who’s a personal trainer, and we hit it off straight away, having a similar sense of humor and values. Jay is a big fan, and Spence and Andy have a shared love of sports. It means Spence spends time at our place, I suspect to escape a less than perfect relationship, though that is the one thing he doesn’t really talk about.

From my point of view it probably doesn’t hurt that he’s gorgeous, but it doesn’t go anywhere as he’s straight as an arrow and engaged.

Then, when I’d known him a few months he came to work at the same place as me. We’re in different departments but we grab at least a coffee or lunch together every few days.

“I don’t think he was as freaked out as you think, Gray,” James grins at me, “you shouldn’t go assigning motivations to people without talking to them first.”

Hmm maybe, but I think watching James give Jay head in the middle of the living room at a party is enough to freak most people out, especially as it had been the first time Spence had met James.

It doesn’t bother the rest of us, or most of the rest of our circle of friends and acquaintances; we’re used to James’ exhibitionism. But to a newbie, and a straight one at that, I’m sure it was a bit much.

We talk about other things for a while. Andy has to meet his dad at the weekend for what is pretty much their bi-annual catch up. He’s not looking forward to it. I can get why and yet again I can’t. Andy’s dad is richer than Creosus – he owns the house that Andy, Jay and I live in – this one. He basically gave it to Andy for his twenty-first.

It’s his own long-term investment but he’s happy for Andy to live in it and collect rent. The place is huge; a candy-colored, six-bedroomed, three story town house. Andy only rents to Jay and I, and only collects what, in San Francisco at least, is a minimal rent – enough to cover all the bills and only a bit more, which I know he saves, even though his dad is generous to a fault with money, and Andy never wants for anything.

Andy’s passion is anything that comes with a board. Surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding. He’s really good, and I have wondered why he never went pro, though I haven’t asked him as it’s one of the few things that makes him shut down.

Andy owns a coffee cart that he works in a popular park in the business district. His dad bought it for him as soon as he asked, and he makes good money from it. I think that’s the problem though. His dad is more than happy to throw money at his problems to make them go away, and I know Andy considers himself another one of his father’s problems. He’s laid back enough to take advantage of the situation, but it doesn’t stop him from feeling shitty about it.

I get changed for the club. I’m not going all out, like I know James will, but I’ll strike a middle ground between him and Andy’s expected pants and shirt combo.

I pull on some tight low-slung black pants that hug in all the right places; I have a pretty nice ass, even if I say it myself, and these pants do it all the favors. I decide on a black mesh long sleeved top – my favorite because it shows off my piercings and tatts, and my super flat abs, which I’ve been working on lately with Jay. I run some product through my unruly hair. I guess I need a trim, but the wax will sort it well enough for now.

When I get downstairs I whistle at the sight of James. He’s wearing tiny leather hot pants and a crop top, revealing his lightly toned abs and Mediterranean-tanned skin.

“You could get it,” I grin, giving his pert ass a smack as he gives us a spin.

“I know, and I frequently do,” he winks at me.

Looks like he’s on the prowl tonight. It’s a standard side effect of him blowing off steam. Mothers, hide your sons.

Vic and Troy arrive then, all set to party. James and Vic hug and jump up and down squealing for, I swear, at least five minutes. Jay and I roll our eyes at each other, knowing they only saw each other this morning.

If anyone can come close to James’ warm nature and lust for life, it’s Vic. She’s also the only one who can match James’ clubwear. She’s dressed in a skin-tight leather-look dress with strategic cut-outs down the sides. Her golden-blonde hair is 80’s big, vibing with her neon eyeliner and bright pink lipstick, and her heels are towering five-inchers in candy-lilac, making her almost as tall as James as she bounces up and down.

Troy gratefully accepts a bourbon from me and gives me a quick hug. I sometimes wonder how he copes, living with James and Vic’s excited bubble. He has thoughtful, dark features and just generally takes himself pretty seriously, which is apt for an ER doc.

Troy and James met at the hospital where they work and became firm friends straight away. I know James likes to think he brings Troy out of himself, and I suspect türkçe bahis he’s right. Troy, in his turn, calms James down a little and makes him consider his actions.

James had already moved in with Vic after finding her apartment in a Craigslist ad. I don’t actually know why James didn’t just move into Andy’s, they get on really well with loads of fun back-and-forth, but we’re all pleased he didn’t as Vic merged seamlessly with the existing group – injecting a welcome dose of femininity to the dynamic.

When Vic’s old roommate moved out James suggested Troy to replace her. The natural thing was then for him to become part of the group, although we were a bit more uncertain about him at first. He is quiet and often unsmiling.

But it didn’t take us long to work out that he does have a sense of humor – a dark one in fact – and is hands down the most loyal person out there. We just have to be careful about mocking him in any way – something the rest of us do freely and often. He claims it’s his South-East Asian upbringing that makes him unable to cope so we leave him alone when the claws come out.

We’re chilling before grabbing Ubers down to SoMa, and I’m finally starting to feel relaxed. My job is pretty stressful – nothing like James’ and Troy’s, but I don’t have the same satisfaction they get either. I work six days a week without fail, and I’ll be in tomorrow, regardless of the hangover. I don’t care though. I’m determined to have a good night, and maybe, just maybe, take Jay’s advice. It’s been too long.

It’s been two months since Tom ended things and I’ve felt like I’ve been swimming through molasses since then. I was so involved, mentally, in the relationship, that I felt like I’d had a lobotomy. The others would say that I was acting like I’d had a lobotomy whilst the relationship was actually going on – but that’s because they’re can be a bunch of bitches when they want to be, and they never liked Tom.

That sounds meaner than it is – we throw insults pretty freely, so it certainly wouldn’t faze any of them; but there’s no doubt that he’s an example of someone who didn’t crack the group, despite being strong and handsome and funny.

I did spend a lot of time away from my friends while I was with him; he always said he wanted to snuggle up and keep the world out and I was happy to go along with that.

Since the end, I have felt myself feeling guilty for crawling back into my friendships like nothing happened. They’ve accepted me fully, but that just makes me feel more guilty in some ways. Spence has been a bit of a savior during the transition – he never actually met Tom which means he has a distance from it that has helped me come to terms with things. Plus I know the advice he gives me isn’t colored by disdain.

I’m thinking these thoughts and, honestly, considering how fortunate I am to have this group on my side, when I sense Vic staring at me. I can’t tell whether her face is a mask of concern or evil intent – she has that kind of countenance.

“Let’s play ‘Never Have I Ever’!” she suggests brightly.

Standard. She’s always the first to demand a drinking game, and can match the rest of us easily. We agree, and the game starts. It’s just an excuse to speed up the drinking really. We know pretty much everything about each other by now, though, because of our strict honesty policy for games like this, there is the occasional gem.

I can help but notice that they’re being careful about relationship-type questions – and I know it’s for my sake. Awww, they love me really (though, actually, they really do – feeling lucky again).

After the usual ‘Never have I ever been arrested’, or ‘masturbated in the work bathroom’ type of questions, it gets round to James again.

“Umm… never have I ever…” he’s thinking hard, I can see. “fucked a straight guy.” He finally finishes.

Vic laughs, and downs the rest of her drink, moving forward to make a new one. Jay takes a gulp and, slightly to my surprise, so does Troy. Obviously, Andy doesn’t, and neither do I.

“Really, Gray? Never?” Jay asks me.

“Never, dude. It’s not really my thing. Not up for being some guy’s bi-curious experimentation. Or worse, an embarrassment for them.”

Troy looks a little put out.

“It’s not always like that. We all have points when we’re working out what we want. It doesn’t have to turn out bad,” he insists.

Dammit, I didn’t mean to shit on their experiences with my words – although Jay is unfazed, as usual. But I can’t admit I have a particular reason for feeling strongly about this. But then it seems I may not be as good at hiding my feelings as I think…

“Weeeeell,” Vic laughs, “we all know Gray would love to. Well, one straight boy in particular.”

I blush, and I thank God that my summer tan will hide it a little, as I’m hoping they don’t notice how much of a reaction Vic’s words get. No such luck…

“And it’s my turn, now,” she trills, with a wicked glint in her eye. “and in honor of the theme güvenilir bahis siteleri James began: never have I ever had a long-term crush on my straight friend.”

What the fuck? Obviously, no one drinks. I am stunned. I’d really thought that my growing feelings for Spencer had been flying under the radar. I must be the worst actor. It isn’t what I want, and it’s definitely not something I had ever intended for my friends to know.

They’re all staring at me. Waiting for me to drink. Or maybe to argue. When the doorbell rings I’m out of my seat before the chime has ended.

“I’ll get it,” I say, too loud, before taking a moment in the cool, dark hallway to suck in a few deep breaths and calm down.

I can vaguely console myself with the thought that my friends must feel like I’m becoming my normal self again – to mess with me like that.

When I’ve composed myself, I pull open the door, and am immediately discombobulated all over again. Spencer stands there, with an uncertain smile. I just stare at him.

“Hey, Gray,” he steps up and wraps me in a friendly hug.

“Hi, Spence,” I finally find my words, “why are you here?”

The uncertainty returns to his face.

“Um, Jay messaged a couple of hours ago. Asked me if I wanted to come out. I hope that’s okay. I can go if you don’t think that’s cool.”

I should have known Jay was involved. There’s clearly a nefarious plot in action, though I’m not yet clear on what it is. I finally find my manners.

“Of course it’s cool, I’m glad to see you.”

I usher him into the house. He looks good. As usual. But definitely more in the Andy sphere of what to wear to a club than the James sphere. He’s got slim-fitting navy pants with turn-ups and heavy soled Doc Marten shoes in rubbed brown. He’s wearing a narrow fit white tee and a lightweight navy jacket. I can’t help but cast my eye over the definition of his pecs that the tee does little to hide.

“Where are your glasses?” I ask.

“Contacts tonight,” he grins anxiously, “do I look okay?”

I look directly into Spencer’s charcoal-gray eyes and gulp nervously.

“Um, y-yeah. Okay…” I stutter.

I lead him toward the others before I can say anything else stupid. Jay stands and greets Spence, hugging him. Luckily for me and my sudden social inadequacy, he takes over the introductions. Though we’ve been friends for months Spencer only really knows Jay and Andy as he met the others at that fateful party where he left rapidly after seeing James’ show, so I suspect he’s blanked them out.

James jumps up and hugs Spence, kissing his cheek.

“It’s great to see you again Spencer,” he grins.

“Oh, hi, James, you too,” Spence blushes, looking adorable.

The others greet him warmly, but there’s no way I can miss the ‘meaningful’ glances Vic and James are shooting at me. I just have to hope to God Spence can’t tell there’s something up.

To my relief the Ubers arrive then, and we all head out. I grab shotgun to avoid the intense discomfort I’m suddenly feeling in Spencer’s presence. Jay and James have slid into the back seat on either side of him, so he’s trapped between them.

“So, Spencer,” James begins, all bright and chirpy. “I thought you couldn’t come? Jay said you were spending the evening with your girlfriend.”

“Fiancée,” I growl it, but quietly.

“Oh, yeah, that’s right, fiancée,” James corrects himself to what he already knows.

I can’t work out why my friends are doing this to me. Sure, we mock and push buttons, but this feels next level. Almost cruel. And really it’s not even about me. Spencer doesn’t know our world; there’s no reason why he would – and he doesn’t deserve to fall into the middle of whatever this head fuck is.

“Umm, we had a fight. She gets kind of…unreasonable. Sometimes… I just thought it would be a good idea to give her some space. So I messaged Jay to say I would come along after all.”

I feel bad for Spence. And it’s all the more reason what James and Jay are doing is too mean. I change the subject.

“So, James, are we going straight to the club?”

I use my ‘no nonsense’ voice and look back sternly, and I can tell by the way James looks at his feet he knows he’s crossed a line. He has the sense not to do any more winding up on the journey.

The two cars arrive at the same time and we all spill out in front of the club. One of the handy things about being friends with gregarious James; the doorman immediately calls him over to the front of the line and ushers us all straight through. We find our way to the main bar and get drinks. James is off to shake his ass on the dancefloor, dragging Vic with him. I see Spence is talking to Andy, and I turn to Jay.

“You want to tell me what the fuck is going on?” I hiss.

“C’mon man, it’s nothing. We’re just jerking you around. Don’t take it to heart, loosen up,” although he has the grace to look guilty.

“Well, listen. Just don’t. Spencer is important to me. As a friend. Sure, I’m attracted to him, I mean look at him,” Jay nods appreciatively. “But it’s a no-go and I’m not ruining a really good friendship because you guys don’t know when to quit.”

Jay pats my back, agreeing to my demand. Hopefully I can relax now.

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