Absolutely smitten, Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones have decided they’re prepared to give a relationship a try.
What they’re not prepared for is the reaction from their families, who try to force them apart. Both men are about to learn that there are lines that define us. Sometimes the lines blur, sometimes the lines become crystal clear.
The view from my office was spectacular. It was a beautiful clear day, the sky was a brilliant blue and while most people would have cursed having to work, I was still smiling. Line five on my desk phone lit up. My personal line. I picked up the receiver knowing who it would be.
A familiar voice spoke in my ear. “Mr Elkin.”
I chuckled into the phone. “Mr Jones.” It was the third phone call that day. “Don’t you have enough to do?”
“Oh, I have plenty,” Cooper answered. “But you haven’t agreed yet.”
“I told you it wasn’t really my scene,” I told him again. “Why don’t you take one of your other friends?”
“You mean younger friends,” he replied. “I don’t want any of them to come with me. I want you to come with me.”
Cooper had two tickets to see some god-awful too-loud band at Madison Square Garden, and right or wrong he wanted me to go with him.
“Is this not something we could discuss over dinner?”
“I like annoying you at work,” he said cheerfully. “Usually if I pester you enough, you’ll just agree with me to shut me up.”
I groaned. “Is that a skill you work on, or is it a natural-born talent?”
“It’s a Gen Y thing.”
“It’s a Cooper Jones thing.”
He chuckled into the phone. Then his tone of voice changed to a playful whisper. “Come on, baby. You know you want to. It’s Linkin Park. They’re my favourite.”
He burst out laughing this time, and I sighed. “I’ll talk to you about it tonight,” I told him. “Will you come over?”
“That depends.” I could tell he was still smiling.
“On you saying yes to the concert.”
“I have a lot to do today…”
“Then agree with me.”
I hung up, still smiling, and not even half a minute later, my private line lit up again. I pressed the flashing button and laughed. “All right, I’ll go with you if it will shut you up so I can get some work done.”
But Cooper didn’t laugh. There was only silence. I quickly checked the line to confirm it was on my personal line and not a business call, just as another familiar voice said, “Excuse me?”
Sofia. My ex-wife. I cleared my throat and said, “I thought you were someone else.”
I could have reminded her that she had called me on my private line at work, but instead I took a breath and started again. “Sofia, what can I do for you? Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine,” she said in a cool tone, like I had no right to ask. “I was just calling to remind you that Ryan’s birthday is in three weeks.”
“Yes, well, he’s thinking of having a party up at the Casa. I told him he needs to let me know by Friday so I can get it organised.”
Then, not being one for small talk, she said, “He tells me you’re seeing someone.”
“Yes, I am,” I said slowly, wondering—dreading—what Ryan had told her. “What else did Ryan say?”
“Nothing really,” she said. “Just that you were getting serious.”
I exhaled in relief. “Yes, well…” I wasn’t sure what to say. I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of Cooper in any way…it was just that I wasn’t about to explain to my ex-wife over the phone that I was dating a man the same age as our son.
“Mmm,” she hummed. I could picture the look of disdain on her face. “Well, whatever Ryan decides to do for his birthday, be sure to bring…your friend.”
Sure, she was ready to admit I was gay, but she wasn’t ready to say ‘him’, or ‘he’, or ‘boyfriend’.
The line clicked in my ear. Sofia also wasn’t ready for amicable goodbyes.
Given I’d already just made one faux pas on the phone by assuming it was Cooper and been blindsided by my still-mad ex-wife, I decided text would be safer. At least I could see who the incoming messages were from.
I pulled out my cell and selected Cooper’s cell number and typed out a message.