Ben calls him as the season is wrapping up to invite him to come visit this summer. That means something different than it did all those years he was playing. But maybe not as different than it would have been a few years ago. He traveled to do rink-side commentary the last few years when he needed to not be home. But he can handle the summer; he’s learning how to be alone. But Ben is persuasive.
“Vicky is going to some spa weekend for her sister’s birthday. It’ll be a guy’s weekend here,” Ben says over the phone.
“She’s taking the kids?” Liam asks.
“No, but they’re teenagers. They try to be home as little as possible.”
It’s nice at Ben’s. He’s right about the kids. They all have things to do, friends to see, cars to get them places.
It’s that last one that becomes a problem. Ben, Luke, and Liam are sitting on deck chairs, out by the lake. They’ve outlasted the twilight mosquitos, and it’s night now the sky a real deep dark you only get out in the country. The only lights are the intermittent clusters of where other houses sit around the lake. It feels like they’re a million miles from the rest of the world. But they’re not. And Ben’s cell phone has plenty of reception to get a call from the twins. Their car won’t start.
“I have to go jump them,” Ben tells Liam and Luke.
“Have they called CAA?” Luke asks.
“And have them tell Vicky I wouldn’t come help when she was out of town? No thanks.”
“Go, we’re fine,” Liam says. And so Ben goes.
“More beer?” Luke asks. Liam nods. Luke disappears and when he reappears he’s got a six pack for the two of them. “I know it should be shots for old time’s sake, but I don’t think I can handle those anymore.” Luke frees two of them, hands one to Liam, puts the rest on the ground between them.
“So, what are you doing these days?” Liam asks. Luke drove down after work, arriving just as the steaks were coming off the grill for a late dinner. But Liam missed what exactly his work is.
“Oh.” Luke sounds surprised Liam doesn’t know. “I took over the family business. I run a local hardware store.”
“Cool,” Liam says.
Luke shrugs. “It’s alright,” Luke says. “None of the other Morris’s wanted it and doing nothing got old fast.”
Liam wouldn’t have made it through the last few years without the expectation of getting out of bed and showing up at work, so yeah. “I get that,” he says before they lapse into silence.
“You seeing anyone?” Liam eventually asks, because small talk.
“No,” Luke says, definitively.
“That sounds like there’s a story.”
“No. It’s just been a long fucking time,” Luke says. “So long Ben’s stopped asking me about it. So long my mom has stopped asking me about it.”
“Oh,” Liam says. “You were supposed to tell me dating fun and I’ll meet someone.” It’s what everyone else tells him. Liam is pretty sure everyone else is full of shit. Come to think all his friends who say that have been partnered up for years. What would they know about dating?
Liam finishes his beer in one long drag. He swaps out his empty can for a full one, passing a second to Luke when he asks for one.
“You’re dating?” Luke asks.
Liam makes a handwavey gesture. “Trying to get laid, dating, whatever.”
“If you and your ass can’t get laid, there’s no hope for the rest of us,” Luke says.
“I do have a great ass, don’t I?” Liam says.
Luke snorts. “So what’s the problem?”
What isn’t a problem? “In Minneapolis, people recognize me. I didn’t write that piece so guys could tell me who sorry they are in bars. Or talk about it. Like, that should go without saying.”
“Oh, ouch,” Luke says. Liam is glad he doesn’t have to explain that one to Luke.
“Guys who don’t recognize me aren’t any better,” Liam says. “Then there’s like some expectation there’s a reason you’re still single in your 40s and want to know your ‘men are the worst’ story.”
“You are doing entirely too much talking,” Luke says. “Get on Grindr, find someone you like the look of, get laid.”
Ugh. Liam’s tried that one too. He wasn’t good at that type of one night stand hookup at 18, and he hasn’t got better with age. “If someone’s gonna pound my ass, I want to know they’re gonna be good at it,” Liam says, and more importantly that he can trust them, but he keeps that one to himself. “If it’s not gonna be good, I don’t want to bother.”
“I mean, sex is still sex,” Luke says, shrugging. “It’s better than not sex.”
“Nuh-uh,” Liam says. “If it’s gonna be bad, I’d rather stay home. I’ve got toys.”
“I guess you’re allowed to be wrong,” Luke says.
“Oh, fuck you,” Liam says with no heat. He is not wrong, and he says as much. “I have yet to meet a guy who’s cock has a dozen vibrating settings just for my pleasure. But I’ve met plenty of guys lying about how big they are. There was one guy who claimed to be 6 feet tall on his profile. He was shorter than me. Like Grindr profiles should come with rear-view mirror warnings, objects on this profile may be smaller than they appear.”
Luke laughs at Liam’s rant, good natured and entertained. Luke shoots back with his own Grindr hookup story, and they go back and forth trying to one up each other with alternately hilariously terrible (Liam) and pornographically amazing (Luke) hookup stories.
Liam forgot how much fun Luke is. Liam is Ben’s friend first, but he’s known Luke almost as long, and Liam should really think of him in his own right.
Luke ends with a story about a general contractor who Luke’s pretty sure was only ordering a day’s worth of supplies at a time so they’d have an excuse to hook up in Luke’s truck every morning when Luke made daily deliveries before opening the story. Not that Luke was complaining about the extra work. “That guy was like a blowjob savant.”
“Okay, fine. No toy can replace a blowjob.” It’s Liam’s turn to laugh at a story. “And, you’re cock’s just that good?”
“No profile warnings needed,” Luke says.
Liam groans at that terribleness. They’re chairs aren’t really positioned in a way that allows for touching, but Liam kicks at Luke’s sprawled legs for that and leaves his foot hooked over Luke’s ankle when he’s done delivering retribution. “You’re one of those dick-pic profile guys, huh?”
“Put your best foot forward, they always say,” Luke says. He doesn’t move his feet away.
“Let me see,” Liam says, holding out his hand.
“My dick?” Luke says.
“I meant your Grindr profile,” Liam says. “But if you want to show me the real thing.”
“Oh,” Luke says, and maybe he sounds disappointed. But he plays it off well, pulling out his phone and unlocking it. Liam grabs for it, but Luke doesn’t let go. It leaves Liam’s hand wrapped around Luke’s wrapped around the phone. “I want yours too. It’s only fair.”
Liam lets go. Liam didn’t feel cold before, even though the temperature’s dropped since the sun’s gone down. But compared to the warmth of Luke’s skin, he suddenly feels it, shivers.
He gets his phone out of his pocket and opens it for Luke, handing it over.
He looks down to check out Luke’s profile. He wasn’t kidding about leading with his best feature. His main photo isn’t just a dick pic, it’s a good dick pic. Liam has unfortunately seen a lot of bad ones. But Luke’s isn’t a weird top view, or a mirror selfie, or in terrible florescent bathroom lighting. Luke is lying on his back on a bed in daylight. Luke must be holding his phone at hip-level, to get that profile view from mid-abs to the top of his thighs. He’s still thick through the middle; still has the body of a guy who could fuck you up. And curving up out of a tangle of hair is his hard cock. He’s packing some serious heat, nice and big around, perfect to choke on and no wonder dudes are lining up to blow him.
Luke mutters a “Jesus,” and Liam glances over. He wonders which of his sexual fantasies got that response. Liam’s photos aren’t that explicit, but his ‘looking for’ reads like porn. He’s pretty proud of it.
Luke’s is the opposite. Liam flips through all of Luke’s photos. They’re all like that. His thighs, his ass, fuck, Luke even managed to get a not-stupid looking picture of his balls.
But, Luke’s profile doesn’t say much. With those photos it doesn’t have to. Just a “Message me if you like what you see,” and Liam can’t see how anyone wouldn’t like what they see.
He thumbs over and searches for himself, clicks to send a message that says ‘Your body is (smirking face emoji)(sweat droplets emoji)(eggplant emoji).’
Liam looks over in time to see Luke jump when Liam’s phone buzzes in Luke’s hand.
“You got a message,” Luke says, squinting suspiciously and looking around. They’re not in proximity for anyone to be messaging him.
Liam smirks. “Why don’t you open it.”
Luke takes a closer look at the phone and then glares up at Liam. “Asshole,” he says, opening the message.
Luke is typing and then a second later his phone buzzes in Liam’s hand. ‘Well, I do lift heavy things professionally.’
Out loud, Luke says “What’s the expiration date on a promise?”
It’s out of nowhere. Liam looks up but Luke is still looking at Liam’s phone. But doesn't see how it's related to their flirting messages. “What?”
“So, a very long time ago, I promised Ben I wouldn’t sleep with sad Liam Fitzgerald.”
“I hope you gave him shit for being a cock-block,” Liam says. Liam remembers all the times he hung out with Ben and Luke in the early years, all the times Ben had to listen to them flirt and might have said something. It could have been almost any of them. Luke’s always been good looking and fun to flirt with.
Luke shrugs and Liam goes on. “Well, I am going to give him shit for it, just fyi." Liam lives to give people shit. Lots of times he would have said no anyway, because things with Mike were going well. And then there were the times he would have said no because things with Mike were going badly. But there were times he might have said yes. Liam looks at Luke’s profile pics and thinks now might be one of those times. “I think whatever it was,” Liam pauses, not running his mouth this time, thinking about what he means when he says, “it’s passed.”
“You wanna?” Luke says.
Liam looks up from ogling the photos of Luke, to give the real flesh and blood Luke sitting next to him a performative, once-over. It's more than Luke being hot, looking like he could throw Liam around. He's a friend, he's fun, and Liam knows he can trust Luke. And, “yeah, I do.”