Have you ever thought about sharing someone you love with another person?
It was hell. Utter rubbish not being able to talk to anyone about this idea running round in his head. It was the craziest idea he’d ever had, but he couldn’t just shove it to the side and ignore it. He wasn’t blind, wasn’t stupid. He knew his best friend was in love with his wife. There wasn’t anything he could do about it, unless...
He sighed. It wasn’t like he could ask Jaime, either. The question would hit him in all the wrong places, especially after that thing with his wife and his brother.
He knew that the person he should really talk to about it was Juliet. What did she think? He’d talked to people who said they could love more than one person at the same time, who said that it wasn’t a big deal, that everyone loved each other and were happy. It was better, they said, than sneaking around. Than cheating.
Was Juliet one of those people? Did she have feelings for Mark? And -- his biggest, scariest question -- if she did have feelings for Mark, would they eventually be more important to her than her feelings for Peter?
He was afraid to ask, afraid to know the answer. But even more, he was afraid that not asking would lead to secrets and lies and losing. And before he could ask her, he had to know his own feelings. Could he share if it was the only way to keep her?
He turned over and wrapped his arms around his sleeping wife, breathing in the scent of her hair. She stirred, lacing her fingers through his and snuggling into him.
“You’re thinking too hard,” she murmured, squeezing his hand. “I can feel it in your fingers, how tense you are.”
“Sorry.” He kissed the back of her neck, and she sighed. “Go back to sleep.”
“Only if you stop thinking.” He could hear her teasing smile when she added, “Forever.”
He laughed quietly, but long after she relaxed in his hold, her breath evening out in sleep again, he lay awake.
Does love need words to grow?
The Portuguese-English dictionary was worn, molded to the shape of her fingers. She knew the feeling of it against her hands almost better than she knew her own skin or the cold edges of the cross around her neck. She thumbed through it endlessly, scowling when the words didn’t make sense -- she couldn’t tell if it was something in her understanding of the language or if it was just Jaime’s writing. But she had jumped into a cold lake to save those words, and she wanted to read them.
She sneaked pages, one or two at a time, and he never missed them. She wanted to be done with the whole thing before she told Jaime she’d read it. She’d started this so she could have something to tease him about, to tell him that his book wasn’t worth the jump they’d taken into the lake that winter day, but now that she’d gotten into it, she wanted to finish so that she would know what he’d written, know what was inside him. Even with all the fictional violence, she could see pieces of Jaime in his words, and she wanted to know more.
“Aurelia! Você viu meu... dicionário?”
She jumped, scrambling to hide the papers, and knocked the dictionary off onto the floor. She bent over to pick it up, and pain exploded through her head. She heard Jaime yell, and they both straightened up, rubbing the spot where they’d bumped into each other. They laughed, and Jaime rubbed Aurelia’s head too, fingers soft and tender as they sifted through her hair.
“Eu te amo,” Jaime said, his eyes shining, and Aurelia smiled as warmth bloomed through her.
“I love also you.”
Can you bear to take a chance on love?
“Sweetheart, are you sure you want to do that? If it makes you this nervous, maybe you should --”
“No, I’m going to do it.” Joanna took a deep breath. “It’ll be fine. I do it all the time. It’s not my first solo.”
“But it’s the first one you’ve been this worked up over. It’s not that big of a deal, sweetie.”
“It is. Sam is playing the drums. He’s got calluses on his fingers from practicing so hard. I can’t let him down.”
Joanna saw the smile on her mother’s face, quickly hidden, but then her mother took her hand. “All right. Well. We’d better go shopping for the perfect outfit, then. You want to look your best for your drummer.” Her mother stroked her hair and tipped her chin up. “This is the boy you’ve been talking about since the beginning of the year, right? The one whose mother just died?”
“Yeah. I really want to do this for him. I’m going to point to him at the end, on the last ‘all I want is you.’ Do you think that will work?”
“It’s a good start, sweetie. Let’s go find you that shirt.”
What’s the big deal with love? It’s like wishing for indigestion. Or really bad gas. For yourself instead of your principal.
“Bernard! Are you coming down for dinner?” A pause. “Well, just don’t blow anything up that costs more than thirty pounds, all right?”
He listened until his mother’s footsteps faded, then he put his earphones back in and dialed up the volume on his MP3 player. His cell phone vibrated against his hip and he pulled it out, flipping it open to see a text from Craig. They’d been best mates since primary.
“Any of ur mates ever push u abt getting a grlfrnd?”
“No, thank fuck. Ur mum?”
“Yeah. She thinks I’m queer.”
There was no response for long moments, and Bernard ran his thumb over the buttons of his phone. He wondered if he’d pissed Craig off, or if maybe he was just thinking about it. Maybe Craig was afraid of answering. Did he think Bernard would be upset?
Bernard didn’t think he’d care if Craig was gay. It wouldn’t make a difference. It might be a bit awkward if Craig fancied him, because Bernard couldn’t imagine wanting to kiss anyone. At all. Ever. But he’d still be Craig, and they’d still be best mates.
When the phone finally vibrated against his fingers, he breathed a sigh of relief as he opened the text.
“Don’t think so. I fancy birds. I just don’t want one. What abt u?”
“I don’t fancy anybody. Don’t know what that makes me.”
Bernard smiled, closed his phone, and turned his music up louder.
What if love doesn’t meet your expectations? What then?
Carla was pretty. And nice. And definitely real friendly, as she put it. But he couldn’t get over the feeling that he wanted something more. Colin was happy with Harriet, but all Colin wanted was to put his cock in a soft, warm place that wasn’t his own hand.
Tony saw the way Jack and Judy looked at each other, and it wasn’t anything like the way he felt around Carla. Mostly he just wanted to get away. Which would be why he was sitting in the pub at three in the afternoon on a Wednesday, staring into a pint of Smithwick’s, grateful that the radio was playing anything except Christmas music.
Tony nodded without looking up. A few moments later, the new pint glass was set down beside the new one, and then a pair of arms folded on the bar. The bartender rested his chin on his wrists and gave Tony a searching look.
“Need a listening ear, mate? I’m a professional.”
The smile on the bartender’s face was charming, knowing, and most of all, open. No one had ever looked at Tony like that, like they cared about what he had to say.
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to bother you. You must be tired of hearing about strangers' problems.”
The bartender straightened up and held out his hand. “Matthew. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Tony took Matthew’s hand hesitantly, feeling the shock of warmth all the way up his arm. “Tony.”
“There.” Matthew took his hand back slowly, his fingers skimming along Tony’s palm. “Now we’re not strangers. Tell me everything.”
The shock of warmth settled low and deep in his stomach and slowly blossomed outward.
“I think I’d like that.”