Nightmares Deferred, Chapter 5

Chapter 5: EFFECTIVE

“The Most Effective Way to Do Something Is To Do It…”

– Amelia Earhart

Two years have passed since the last time I’ve spoken to him. I don’t think about him much anymore. After our last conversation, Troy cut me off. I just remember feeling almost sick afterward. I’m not sure why. I’m thinking it’s because I did get along with him. I did think he was a good person. And I saw he was being taken advantage of with his family. I wanted to help him. I really did, but now he’s not even around. Maybe that’s a good thing.

The only thing I have left from him is a necklace that he gave me a few years ago for my birthday. It was real gold. He’d literally saved up for it. Troy saved every penny and got me a necklace that stated: FOREVER. That was the only word:: FOREVER. Deja hated it. Thought that it had some sort of intimate meaning outside of friendship. I used to tell her that it didn’t, but honestly, I didn’t know. I had a feeling Troy had some sort of crush on me or something so maybe this was that. For some reason though I never felt completely comfortable taking it off. He’d put his heart and soul into it.

Right now I’m not wearing anything but that necklace and I flicker it through my fingers.

“That was amazing.”

Deja rolls over. She’s dripping sweat. She looks like she’s just come out of the sauna. She rolls off of me wrapping herself in a towel and leaving me there. I’m sweating as well. My dick is still hard and it’s pulsating at this point. My bulging head is still wet with precum and she looks at it with this desire in her eyes.

“You enjoyed it?”

“Best sex in the world,” she states.

She makes me feel extra sexy sometimes. I mean I knew I was a good looking guy. Sure I wasn’t the best looking guy. They had models on Instagram that didn’t look real. But I knew I was good looking. Whether it be my even face, good skin or my toned body. Or maybe it was the dick that drove her crazy. She’s looking at it right now and she can barely walk to the other side of the room where she lights a cigar that has already been piped with weed.

“No seriously,” she continues after a second or two, “You notice anything different?”

“Like?”

“No drama. We get along. We’re not beefing. We’re not having fucking drama. And more than anything you are actually making money now. Nia says we have the perfect marriage.”

I think about it for a second.

“Damn…maybe we do.”

I walk over to her, letting my big dick swing because I know how much it drives her crazy. She folds up as I approach her. I can almost see her pussy dripping from here wanting some more of my big man meat. I think about it. Maybe I pull her down right now and fuck the dog shit out of her, just to prove exactly how perfect we were together. She melts in my arms wondering if I’m going to do it, but my dick is hard and I’m going to lift her high into the air and drop her down my dick shaft, I stop. I stop because someone’s here.

A horn was blowing in the distance.

I knew exactly who it was.

“Your brother’s outside…”

“Oh go ahead.”

“It can wait.”

I’m so horny. My dick is damn near throbbing. Usually, when I get in these kinds of moods she seems scared of me. It’s almost like I have the ability to fuck her into ecstasy or something like that. She tells me my sex is a drug.

“20 minutes…”

“You know damn well it takes you a lot longer than that once you get started,” she states, “Besides we need the money. Jr. needs braces…”

She had a point. She didn’t work. Not anymore. So, for the most part, me selling drugs was our way to support our family. So she was always the first one to push me towards the streets. I think about having a conversation with her and letting her know I’m thinking of stepping away from drug dealing completely. It’s dangerous. More and more guys I know from the hood were going to jail. I wanted to be there for my son. I wanted to find something legit.

But I know Deja.

She wasn’t going to be cool with that.

So instead of forcing it I get dressed, kiss and her leave. But even though I’m going back to the streets I have a calm feeling. My life was finally at peace. My world was finally perfect. What had changed about it?

I’m not sure. But I was happy…

~

“Where we going? We’re never on this side of town…” I state.

“Kaori wants to meet with you.”

Kaori Sims. Why the hell did his name keep coming up? He’d been running the drug game for years now and was getting more and more powerful. The more I avoided teaming up with him the more he seemed to be interested. It wasn’t a huge surprise that he had approached my brother-in-law.

“Actually would you mind stopping here?”

“This building?”

I nod, “I actually got a little side hustle. Just got to pick up my check.”

He nods and shrugs. All the favors I’ve done for him, I’m sure he’s not going to make it a big deal. What’s weird out of all of this is the fact that Jermaine and I have actually gotten really close over the last two years as well. He was my brother-in-law after all so him doing me favors isn’t really out of the blue. The closer Deja and I got, strangely the closer that me and him got.

~

We arrive at the building. I’m running in but for some reason, the idea of ‘skinny-tight-ass-blonde-model-bitches (his words not mine) got Jermaine excited enough to come in the building with me. Almost immediately I regret it when I see how he starts reacting to being in a place like this.

“Ayo—” he starts off, “This shit is fly. Why you ain’t tell me that modeling shit you were doing was actually legit…”

Where were from front desks weren’t made out of marble. There weren’t grand chandeliers hanging in the lobby. Even the way people dressed as they walked in and out of the Bautista and Rose building was something that none of us were used to. This is a whole new world. A powerful world. I’d been in it only partially. Small jobs here and there. Nothing serious. Mostly I didn’t get into it because of Deja. She didn’t want her man walking around showing his big dick to the world. Honestly, I think the real reason Deja wouldn’t really let me put effort into the modeling thing was another reason. It wasn’t the hot girls. It wasn’t me being naked. It wasn’t even fear of me making it big and leaving her behind.

She was afraid of him.

She was afraid of Troy. And weird thing is—so was I.

“Whattup shorty,” Jermaine is talking to a receptionist at this point who is looking down at a computer barely acknowledging him, “Oh word shorty? That’s how you feel? You not even going to let me holler at you. Damn girl. You ain’t even that cute.”

I look at Jermaine and he turns away. She was that cute Jermaine. She really was that cute. Jermaine was a nice looking guy but for some reason, he attracted the most unattractive girls. So the fact that this girl who was beyond gorgeous was not even paying him the time of day was a blow to his self-esteem. I reach over and touch his shoulder a little bit and that even pisses him off even more. At this point, I’m barely able to hold back laughter but I turn back to the receptionist.

“I just wanted my check for that small job that I did.”

“Editorial, Commercial or runway.”

“Neither… I just go in when Stefano Bautista is sewing and needs a fitting.”

“Oh, you’re a hanger.”

“Yo shorty doesn’t try to play my boy like that,” Jermaine interrupts rudely.

I push Jermaine and give him a look. I could explain to him what the environment around Bautista and Rose was but he really wouldn’t understand. He doesn’t get that in this world people like me are disposable. Models walk in and out of this place all the time. To this woman, I literally was nothing more than a walking hanger. And I got it. Hell, that’s all I wanted to be anyway.

The woman is getting me my check when I see Stefano Bautista walk into the building. He was what a lot of girls considered tall, dark and handsome, but I didn’t get it because the guy wasn’t black. He was a white guy, Italian clearly with a tan that made him look really dark to the point that you really wouldn’t consider him white. At the end of the day, to me at least, Italians were white. They were European, but I was sure guys like Jermaine were thinking right now, “Oh there goes that Italian, non-white guy”.

Stefano is on the phone, “Winter is coming. Winter is coming!”

Jermaine gives me a look. It’s not just what Stefano is saying but it’s how Stefano is saying it. A 6’2” attractive striking rich important guy walks in the room freaking out quoting Game of Thrones and you kind of notice.

“What the hell is happening here?” he asks me.

“The owner of this place is this dick named Diamonte Rose. Let’s just say he’s basically got the nickname of the Night King because he’s that bad. Lately, I’ve been hearing people here scream that when he’s in one of his moods.”

Jermaine is laughing at me. I think he says something about he would smack the shit out of the night king, but I’m ignoring him. I’m ignoring him because Stefano looks over my way and almost immediately I know he’s headed towards me. Stefano was a big deal in B&R. He was basically Diamonte’s stepson from his dead husband. I wasn’t sure but during one of my “hanger” sessions I could have sworn I’d heard Stefano’s aunt claim she still thinks that Diamonte had a part of her brother’s death. I wondered if Stefano believed that too.

“You. Hanger. What’s your name again?”

“Me?”

“Yeah. You.”

I am nervous. Usually, they just call me Hanger. The fact that Stefano Bautista of Bautista and Rose actually wanted to know my name was a big sort of deal.

“I’m Malone.”

“Malone come upstairs. We need every model that we can find. Winter is Coming and let’s just say Diamonte is on a dragon and we are the city beneath it. I’m not trying to fucking burn. I am not Cersei Lannister….ok?”

Jermaine gives me a weird look not understanding a damn thing he just said, “What?”

I shrug.

B&R went hard with their Game of Thrones metaphors. I literally had to watch episode recaps to understand what the fuck they were talking about half the time.

“You come too,” he says to Jermaine, “We need all the help we can get.”

“Nigga. I ain’t no fucking model or hanger or whatever…” Jermaine says.

Stefano is unmoved. He is really cocky to the point that it is a bit irritating especially when he says, “Name your price…”

“Oh, it’s like that.”

I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all how he so easily buys Jermaine. By the time we get to the elevator, Jermaine is literally Stefano’s little bitch. All of a sudden he goes from wanting to smack the fuck out of the night king to kissing the ass of the night king’s desperate stepson. It irritates me and honestly makes me think of Troy. I hoped these people weren’t taking advantage of him in this world.

~

We get upstairs and even before we enter the room we can hear the raucous.

“He doesn’t like the models for the upcoming men’s show,” he explains to me, “There was this boy named Tatum St. Clair that he wanted but supposedly the boy drove off the cliff with his boyfriend this past weekend.”

“What the…fuck.”

“Right, it’s a dream deferred isn’t it?” Stefano asks.

“More like a nightmare deferred,” Jermaine responds, clearly ass kissing because he realizes these guys actually have a bunch of money.

We walk in the room to Diamonte Rose. He’s a cute little guy. Older guy but he’s fuckable in every sense of the word. Not that I ever stood a chance even if I wanted one. His boyfriend is close by and seems like the only one able to keep Diamonte Rose from completely going nuclear in the room. His boyfriend or fiancé or husband or whatever keeps following him around like a love-sick dog saying, “Hey Diamonte, it’ll be OK. It’ll be OK babe.”

It’s not OK. It’s far from it. Alessa Bautista sends a model down the runway and Diamonte Rose literally throws his book at the guys head. LITERALLY at the model’s head. The model ducks and busts his ass. Instead of apologizing for Diamonte’s behavior Alessa gives the model the craziest look as though he did something wrong.

“I wanted the Fresh Prince!” Diamonte states, “You guys keep giving me these Carlton. I wouldn’t let a single one of these guys fuck me. A single one of them. They all look like they didn’t release their tucked dicks when they started walking.”

I’m not sure what he’s talking about but I look over at Jermaine and I hear him laugh.

“This little gay guy is bossin these niggas around like this?” Jermaine whispers to me.

“He’s the one with the strings to the purse.”

That shuts Jermaine up, but I know that wasn’t completely true. From working here it had become kind of clear that the Bautistas was the money and that Rose was the vision. And I knew how serious he was about his vision when I look to the other side of the room and see there is one person who seems completely oblivious to Diamonte Rose going nuts.

That was him.

Troy.

My mouth drops open. He looks at me. I look at him. We don’t speak. How could we? It’s been almost 2 FUCKING years since I’ve seen or spoken to him. The last time we talked wasn’t that good. I feel this nervousness build up in my stomach. At this point, I’m kind of happy Diamonte Rose is going nuts and causing this scene because it’s making it less awkward that I’m in the room again with Troy.

“Isn’t that…” Jermaine starts.

“Don’t,” I tell Jermaine.

I didn’t want Jermaine looking at him. I didn’t want him making a big scene and embarrassing me in front of Troy. Troy looked nice. He looked different. What was it?

“Next boy…” Diamonte states.

That’s when I watch Diamonte pick up the next thing. It’s a tomato. Jermaine looks over at me with a ‘hell no’ sort of face. I knew Diamonte Rose though. You can’t even walk into B&R without feeling his presence. So when he picks up that tomato there is a good chance the next person to walk for him was going to end up looking like the beginnings of a salad.

And that was just part of working at B&R. Take it or leave it.

And trust me. In the fashion world. A lot of people would have put up with much worse than a Diamonte Rose to be great.

“Diamonte we’ve had so many boys already, clearly what you’re looking for isn’t here,” I see Troy get up and say.

Troy looks at me. He is different. I see now what it is when he stands up. He has on a fitted suit. He had money now. A LOT of it. He looks a bit more confident too when he walks across the room. Maybe he was happy now. Was that the case?

“Thanks,” I hear Diamonte’s partner whisper over to Troy.

I was wrong. Diamonte’s partner was able to keep him from going over but it’s Troy who somehow is able to get Diamonte to calm down completely. When he says it I see Diamonte put the tomato down for a second and it looks like the volcano that was Diamonte Rose was finally calming.

“My fiancé is right,” Stefano states, “We should fire all the models and start from scratch…”

Fiance? I don’t know why I feel heaviness when I see Stefano walk over to Troy. I watch Stefano wrap his arms around Troy’s little waist. His waist was so slim now. They have dressed alike. All expensive and shit. They had on their fancy suits. They looked like they belonged together. So why was I feeling so uneasy? I should have been happy for him. I used to think Troy needed me. Clearly, he didn’t. Clearly, Stefano was a positive influence in his life.

But really, Troy? Stefano is the best you can do?”

“I didn’t say that,” Troy states.

“Shh baby—-I know what you meant,” Stefano states.

I almost find myself cutting in. It’s the point that I even open my mouth to check Stefano for talking to my homeboy like that. Who the hell did he think he was hushing? Just when I’m about to say something though I remember we aren’t homeboys anymore. It’s not my job to protect Troy anymore.

So I shut up.

Stefano leans over and kisses him. I mean I get what Troy saw in Stefano physically. He was a nice looking guy. All suave and sophisticated and what not. He was Italian so he had a bit of that cool swag to him but at the same time he could go into a business meeting and shut shit down. I get all that stuff. But at the end of the day did Stefano believe in him the way that I did? At the end of the day, why was I even comparing myself to Stefano?

Alessa seems to agree, “Great. Let’s end the sessions for now. We are all drained. I’ll hire all the new models.”

“No. Fuck no. I refuse. You have the social awareness of a Tibetian monk,” Diamonte jumps in, “I will NOT have you in charge of this any longer. I’m bringing in a third party consultant.”

“Who?”

“You’ll find out when I’m ready,” Diamonte responds, “She’s going to come in and fix this. Matter of fact she is pulling up right now. Put everything in order. You think that’s a good idea, Troy?”

Troy?

He’s asking Troy? Was Troy that important now?

“It’s a great idea,” Troy responds.

“I don’t mind walking,” I jump in, “You know…since I’m here and all.”

The fact that a hanger had the nerve to speak in a B&R meeting was somewhat unheard of. I look over at Diamonte and I can see the irritation almost immediately. Everyone is looking at me as though I kidnapped their first born kids or something. I get the fact that they were finally able to get Diamonte calm enough to leave but at the same time, I wasn’t ready to leave. I kind of wanted Troy to see me. I wanted Troy to know that I was there. To know that I was still alive.

I just wanted him to feel my presence. So I take the chance and walk. And almost immediately when Diamonte seems to be ready to go off, Troy interrupts.

“Fine. Walk for me.” Troy states.

He says ‘for me’ and not ‘for us’. I felt the difference when our eyes settle on each other. Butterflies almost immediately. Butterflies that I hadn’t felt in so long. I was so happy in life. I was stable. I was secure. So why the fuck was I concerned about butterflies? Sure it’s this weird feeling that I never felt with Deja even while the sex was amazing, but maybe I didn’t need those butterflies. My life was calm.

“I can send them away,” Troy’s lover Stefano states giving Troy a look.

Troy shakes his head, “No it’s up to the model.”

“He’s a hanger, send him away,” Alessa Bautista says rolling her eyes.

Troy smiles, “Right.”

I know he’s hating. He knows I know I’m hating. He even smiles over at me as though he’s won some sort of argument. These fashion guys were a fuckin handful.

Diamonte sets his eyes on his dead brother’s sister at that moment and I almost feel sorry for her when I see her approaching.

“It’s not up to you, Alessa. You are an untalented, basic, Suave Shampoo using, Coupons-in-email, Birkenstock wearing, Target frequent-visitor-pass having, Sam’s club discount owning, Thrifty car renting, Forever 21 labor slave. Troy is the future of B&R. What he says matters.”

It’s very clear the role that Troy plays now.

I look at him. I’m happy for him.

He has to be happy now. That was the point of it all right. I guess I would be sending his mother a message and let her know that her plan to fake her death worked. Troy had finally fulfilled his true potential.

He was finally happy.

“It’s up to him,” Troy responds.

He’s challenging me. It’s that weird moment when you connect with an old friend and it feels so familiar. Like it feels comfortable, but at the same time, you want to let them know that you’ve grown up as well. I was a different person too. I may have looked the same, but I was mature now. And I had practiced my walk.

Why did I want to impress Troy though?

I literally had Troy’s phone number saved in my phone as “Leave Him Alone, Malone.” And it worked for SO long. But now that I was in person things just fucking changed.

“I’d love to walk for you.”

I lick my lips. HARD. Like a fucking idiot. Why the fuck was I licking my lips? He could easily take that as flirting, which I really wasn’t doing. Right? Of course not. I would never flirt with him.

“Confident,” Diamonte states, “He looks familiar too. Send him to the back.”

I go back.

And that’s when Diamonte calls out, “Shirt off. Matter of fact…take the pants off…matter of fact…take it all off.”

“Diamonte—-” Troy tries to interrupt.

Diamonte isn’t having any excuses, “I need to know how my clothes are going to fit. I need to see his full figure so my imagination can go wild. I don’t need to see his cheap clothes…

Anyone else would have been offended but I’d been around long enough not to take it personally. I get to the back of the runway and realize how nervous I am. I know Troy was trying to avoid me being naked. He knew it was going to be awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I was VERY confident with my body. I was around Stefano all the time naked. I didn’t think anything about it. But Stefano wasn’t Troy. Being around Troy naked was different.

It had a whole different meaning. And I wasn’t quite sure what that was.

“Only if you want,” Troy states.

“I want to walk for you.”

“Then take everything off..” Troy states.

“Including the necklace?” I ask.

I show him. No one knows in the room that Troy was the one who gave me the necklace. They don’t see the FOREVER sign. It’s something between us and when I see Troy smile, my heart almost melts. He likes that I have it on. He fucking LIKES it. And I don’t know why I’m so excited by the idea that he likes it. I don’t know why his smile makes my entire day.

“I’ll put it right here for you,” Diamonte states.

He puts the necklace down in front of him. And when he turns around I start getting naked. I’m close enough where Troy can see me up close and personal. Maybe in some weird way, I wanted him to see. I don’t know why he made me so nervous but I did know I needed to face my fear. So fuck it. I know I looked good. I wanted to face this fear of Troy seeing me naked thing.

“Oh damn…” Alessa Bautista states when I drop my underwear.

A few of the nameless nobodies who form Diamonte’s entourage whisper as well. It’s a good whisper, but right now I don’t care about all these beautiful people in the room. At the moment when my drawers are down with my nuts hanging in the wind, I look over at Troy. He asked me to walk for him. Not for them. For HIM.

And I was going to do it.

I walk towards him. My eyes flirt with him every moment that I move closer to him. I am licking my lips again. Not because they are dry. Not because I even want to. It’s something that just happens for some reason every time I see Troy. And I think they feel like it’s me being sexy but I don’t consider it. He just really makes me lick my lips. He makes me squint because I want to see him clearer. And as I approach him, I’m standing there with my rock hard abs, my big dick, and my muscular body hoping that he was at least impressed.

“Good enough for you?” I ask.

I’ve walked up to Troy. In a room full of people butt naked, presenting myself to him in the most humble way I’ve ever done before. He looks down at my dick. He looks up at me. The tension between us is so thick that his boyfriend literally coughs and grabs him up.

“That’s enough of that,” Stefano states.

Was it? Was it really though?

Because even as Stefano pulls Troy away from me, my eyes follow him like some crazy stalker. I can’t help it. I’m hoping Stefano doesn’t notice but I don’t see how people don’t feel the tension that I feel with Troy. It’s like literally so thick that you can cut through it. Troy has continued to look at me. His heart has continued to beat fast. He forcibly looks away after a few seconds but I know he doesn’t want to.

“Him. He has what it takes,” Diamonte finally states.

I’m shocked when he says it but even more shocked that people are nodding in agreement. Everyone is nodding except the one person whose opinion I care about. Troy has retreated into himself almost completely. He looked almost sad. Was that what that was? It couldn’t be sadness, right? He was so fucking happy in life right now. I had to be picking up on something else.

There’s one other person in the room who doesn’t seem to be reacting to my walk, but for an entirely different reason. That is Troy’s little boytoy or whatever the hell he was.

Stefano doesn’t seem to be having it, “Diamonte, he’s kind of green. He’s been working with us for a while but he’s just been a hanger. You want him to walk on your show?”

“He’s not a hanger now,” Diamonte states, “His name is Malone. He’s a natural. He has what it takes to be one of the biggest models in the world…”

More looks. I guess just because Diamonte actually officially recognized me as a name and not some nickname like he does most of the other workers meant something because no one tells me to shut up this time when I speak. No one tries to cut me off. They just give these little weird stares like irritated that this meeting was going in this direction.

“Diamonte, you know I respect your opinion. We can try him if you prefer,” Stefano states.

He says it with reluctance though. He nearly spits the words out. I can see like all the other people here, Stefano was desperate to please Diamonte and he would go out of his way to make sure that happened.

“We don’t need to try him,” Troy states, “He’s perfect…”

“That means a lot,” I respond.

“Dammit,” Diamonte states, “I have the consultant coming up. Louisiana, please escort Malone out and give him information on his salary.”

Diamonte had a thing where he named his assistants based on the state they came from. What’s weird is that after he did it, the girls literally were called that state even after they left. Let’s just say there were a lot of girls with odd names in the fashion world because of Diamonte Rose. This girl is different from the one I’d seen him with last time, but I’m not surprised. Just from working with Stefano I knew that the assistant job basically a revolving door.

“What salary?” Louisiana asks.

“Whatever he wants,” Diamonte states, “But he only gets paid AFTER he walks.”

“Whatever I ask for?” I ask.

“You heard me.”

This could change my life forever. All I had to do was get through the fashion show and make Diamonte happy. It was an easy concept. Deja and I wanted to buy a home. Maybe I could get him to give me the downpayment for the home. Hell…maybe I can get him to PAY for the entire home.

This would be a game changer.

“I’ll actually walk him out,” Diamonte suggests.

~

Just at that moment while Diamonte is walking me out, he lets in someone else. The person is a woman. She’s striking. I’ve never seen her before but she has a presence about her. It’s not loud and demanding like Diamonte. It is more subtle….almost TOO subtle, but at the same time, it’s a powerful subtlety.

“Who is that?” I ask Diamonte as he walks me out.

“The new consultant.”

Most of the room clears out after she walks in letting me know that she was important enough for Diamonte to kick out everyone from the room to have a conversation with…including Stefano who was now standing down the hallway waiting for his boyfriend and giving me a side-eye because he clearly didn’t trust me around his boyfriend, after all, that weird tension.

“Yo—-you bout to be ballin!” Jermaine says, “Fuck going to see Kaori Sims. I’ll text him now and let you know that we canceling.”

Jermaine was finally seeing what I had seen all along. This may be my real shot out. I should be putting all of that into modeling instead of trying to meet up with Kaori Sims and putting my life on the line. Not only was this legit money but it was BIG money. It was more money than I could ever make with Kaori Sims.

The only thing is if I did this show I would have to work with him.

I turn.

I see Troy. Fuck.

“Jermaine, can you give me a minute?” I ask.

I’m nervous as fuck and Jermaine ain’t going to help.

“Yo—Deja got beef with this guy,” Jermaine states right in front of Troy embarrassing the hell out of me.

I know what he means when he says it. He means he didn’t feel comfortable leaving me alone with Troy because he knows his sister would feel some type of way. I knew that as well. I shouldn’t talk to Troy. I should just leave him alone for the sake of my marriage.

So why don’t I?

“I’ll deal with it,” I state.

I know he is going to tell Deja about me wanting to be alone with Troy. I know it’s going to cause problems. I know it’ll bring drama in my life that I don’t want. I also know that this is what I want to do right now. I want to have this conversation with Troy more than I’ve wanted anything in a long time.

Once Jermaine reluctantly walks away I feel at ease. I’m surprised Jermaine gives me the room that he gives me. I know his sister would be mad he did. He isn’t like Stefano though standing there. He actually leaves and that is shocking when it happens.

And now I’m alone with Troy.

“Hey,” he states.

Hearing his voice, talking to me alone, just kind of makes me emotional.

“Hey,” I state, “So how you been?”

“Good,” he states.

“Yeah?” I respond.

He nods, “Yeah.

He looks down in a way. A way that I don’t like when he answers that question. A way that makes me kind of nervous. I turn at that moment and see Stefano Bautista watching. He is standing there literally watching us, but he can’t hear us. He’s too far away.

“So you and that guy?” I ask, “You really getting married, man. You think you ready for that.”

“Were you ready when you married Deja?”

“It’s not the same…” I state.

“Why not?”

I can see this isn’t going the right way. Not at all.

“Listen I didn’t mean it like that,” I admit, “Do what you want. I’m just concerned. I know we don’t talk anymore but…you’re my little buddy. Forever…remember?”

“So you want me in your life?” he asks, “With all the bullshit I brought into it.”

He’s confused. He’s looking at me the way I imagine Deja would look at me right now. Our life was finally at peace. Our life was finally stable. The thing that did that was me cutting off this tragic kid and no longer trying to fix all his issues for him. I should have been focusing on my family. Deja knows that I know that and by the way, he was looking at me…Troy knew I should be focused on my family as well.

But I wasn’t. Like an idiot, I was focused on this boy.

“I never wanted you out of my life,” I respond.

And in a way, I was telling him the truth.

“Forever right?”

He leans in. I think he forgets his boyfriend is there because he’s touching me. It’s not in an intimate way. He’s just touching my shoulder. Or at least it shouldn’t be in an intimate way. With Troy though it felt like everything was multiplied. Him touching my shoulder was enough to make me tense in my stomach. I’m not the only one who feels the awkwardness.

Stefano is interrupting us in no time, “You want to go eat babe.”

“Give me a second.”

“Actually no, go ahead,” I state, “I have to go get my necklace. Forgot I left it in Diamonte’s office…”

I had to let Troy go. I just had to. Sure, I wanted to be in his life as a friend and hopefully, I can assure Deja that we are just friends, but at the same time, he had moved on to someone. He had a boyfriend now.

~

I watch as Troy and his boyfriend leave. Excuse me, his fiancé. How the fuck did that engagement go down? He probably didn’t even know that Troy didn’t like fancy shit based on the size of the ring that he’d gotten Troy. Troy liked the simple thing. Things with personality. He didn’t know Troy like I knew Troy. If I was Troy’s fiancé he would have loved my ring.

Ok.

I admit it.

I’m thinking wild shit. I’m crazy around this guy and I don’t get why? Why the fuck am I standing in the hallway like some kid who just met his idol? I just honestly felt confused.

~

I get to Diamonte’s door. I’m about to knock but then I realize that one of the people might have forgotten to lock the door. So as I’m about to knock I hear voices. I hear the voices of the mysterious woman who was going to see Diamonte.

“You couldn’t lose Troy,” she tells him, “He is the best designer in the company. Perhaps the best clothing designer in the world. I had to do it.”

“This is too far…though, even for me,” Diamonte states, “To kill a man and make Troy believe that it was him?”

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

My mouth drops at this point.

“Man up Diamonte,” she states, “If I didn’t have that old man killed, Troy would have never agreed to come work for you. He’d be following that stupid dream of being a model. You brought me in to consult for your company. I told you that the goal of a successful B&R is to get Troy at all cost….”

Diamonte looks unsure.

“But to kill a man. To frame Troy. To pay his mother to fake her death. This just all seems overboard, doesn’t it.”

“That’s my style.”

“I should have known what I was doing,” Diamonte says with a hint of regret, I think, or at least reluctance in his voice, “But you are right. I need Troy.”

“Troy is effective,” she states, “And I’m Patience Crane. If anyone knows about Efficacy…it’s me.”