“Dude! We’re going,” Ray said to the kid with the ridiculous popped collar, crocodile polo shirt. “No need to get your little pink panties in a bunch.”
Brad and Ray darted away down the sidewalk after that little gem because tonight’s plan didn’t include getting in a fistfight in the Valley with a bunch of drunk preps. Ray had dragged Brad out here on the premise of liberating rich kids of their beers and maybe even scoring with a couple of their cute boys.
“Mingle. Blend in,” Ray had said, however that was supposed to work. People were looking at them like they were freaks. Brad could accept his freakishness -- it was part of his considerable charm -- but he wasn’t thrilled about hanging around a crowd of judgmental pricks with weird food and ten word vocabularies.
“I told you this place was going to be a total waste,” Brad said after watching Ray strike out for the second time with this blond kid. Brad’s timing couldn’t have been more ironic though. Standing right there, not five feet away from him and smiling, was the ridiculously hot guy from the beach this afternoon. He was definitely looking at Brad, long eyelashes low over his intensely green eyes. “Or not.”
“Who? Which one?” Ray asked.
The hot guy’s friend bailed as soon as hot guy smiled at Brad. Brad said, “Yours is getting away, Ray. He winked.”
“He did?” Ray was trailing after the blond kid in an instant.
Brad felt weirdly nervous as he walked over. He never got nervous. Ray implied more often than necessary that Brad was famous for it in certain circles. Never afraid of the big waves, the fast bikes, the loudest music. But right now, he finally understood what ‘butterflies in my stomach’ meant. Brad was being reeled in by this guy, and all Brad could think about was how gorgeous he was and how much it would blow if he wasn’t interested.
“Who invited you?” The hot guy teased, plucking at Brad’s Plimsouls t-shirt.
“Oh, is that how this kind of thing works?” Brad asked dryly. “If I’d gotten an invitation I’d have known it was a costume party. That explains why everyone is dressed so weird.”
Nate smiled broadly and stepped a little closer. His eyes ran down Brad’s body. Brad’s stomach fluttered again. His mouth felt dry.
“I saw you once before, you know,” Brad said quietly.
“You did not. Where?” Nate’s eyes were so fucking green.
“That was you with the surfboard today?”
Brad smiled and nodded. “Guilty.”
“I didn’t think punks, like, surfed. Aren’t you supposed to be all pale and stuff?” Nate’s hands found the placket of Brad’s vest and pulled him a little closer. He was teasing. The twinkle in his eye gave him away, and Brad kind of loved it.
“I’m full of surprises.”
Brad’s hands found Nate’s hips and it was beyond electric.
Brad looked back toward the houseparty after the cro-magnons that kicked them out went back inside. “That guy Nate is truly amazing, man.”
“Yeah, but he’s not one of ours, homes,” Ray replied, turning Brad by the shoulders and pushing him toward the car. Brad resisted.
“I’m going back,” Brad said, reversing direction and crossing the neighbors’ well-manicured front yard and readying himself to jump the fence into the backyard.
“Brad! Homes! Wait! You really are going to ask him out? He’s a Valley guy, homes,” Ray sneered like the words disgusted him despite being the one who insisted they come here. “And those dudes are going to try to beat the shit out of you if they see you in there.”
Brad stopped midstride and eyeballed Ray. “No one is going tell me who I can score with, Ray. I want this guy, and he wants me. So, fuck it. Fuck them. I’m going back.”
“I’m not too enthused about getting my ass kicked--”
“His blond friend was cute.”
“Very good point. Let’s go,” Ray said.
“Like, so totally gross, Nate,” Walt said. “Did you see his vest? It was like so... gag me with a spoon.”
“Walt, come on. He’s cool. Like, really interesting to talk to,” Nate said. “And did you see that bod?”
“Whatever. His friend was grody too.”
Nate smiled. “He was totally into you, though.”
Nate laughed at Walt’s horror. “Let’s get another beer so you can think about him some more.”
“What is your damage, Nate? I mean, seriously,” Walt said, but he bumped Nate’s shoulder with his and smiled. "It's like breaking up with Craig broke your brain."
Halfway down the hallway, two sets of hands reached in through the door to the garage and yanked Nate and Walt into the darkness.
“Hey,” Brad said, pulling Nate close.
“Hey,” Nate said, sliding his hands into Brad’s back pockets in the dim light. “I thought you left.” Nate felt that buzz of heat and nervousness in his chest. Brad was firm muscle everywhere that Nate dared to think about.
“You’re totally going to get in deep shit if my friends find you here,” Nate said. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.
“I thought it was worth the chance.”
Nate stopped breathing for a second. Brad’s smile was practically electric and was totally genuine. Just a little bit goofy with a tiny overbite, and Nate felt a surge of want. Brad still smelled faintly of the ocean, where Nate had first seen him earlier today coming out of the surf with his board under one arm and his sky blue eyes locked with Nate’s.
When Brad had come in through the front door of Tim Bryan’s house tonight, it was a total rush. He wasn’t just a (really frickin’ gorgeous) guy in a wetsuit now. (At the beach, Mike had even said, “Nice pecs,” when Brad had come out of the water and Mike was way picky about guys.) Now Brad had his hair all spiky and was wearing a totally badass leather vest and these ripped up jeans that were so tight over his ass that Nate felt himself blush. Brad didn’t fit in here at all, and Nate really, really, really wanted him; like, this can’t be normal amounts of liking someone.
If Craig hadn’t been so epically lame, kicking Brad and his friend out, Nate would probably already be halfway to Hollywood. God, it was stupid that Nate had even been dating Craig anyway. It was only because they’d known each other since elementary school and now he was the football captain and Nate sorta had to date him for popularity reasons even though Craig was dumber than a box of rocks. They all had the same friends, so there was that too. Really, though, they’d barely done more than hold hands. Plus, Nate had a strong suspicion that Craig was hooking up with Ray Griego on the side. Totally juvenile. They could totally have each other. Nate was good right here.
Brad studied Nate’s face, raising a hand to brush a strand of Nate’s hair off his forehead. Nate felt like he might be floating. He leaned closer, tipping his head slightly. Brad did the same.
“Get off me! Gross to the max!” Walt said nearby in the dark, interrupting the moment.
“But I’m so awesome,” Ray said.
Brad smiled and whispered in Nate’s ear, “Come with me. Let’s get out of here.”
Nate slipped his hands deeper into Brad’s back pockets. “Where are we going to go?”
“What are we going to do?”
Nate pulled the corner of his lip into his mouth and looked into Brad’s eyes. “Yes,” Nate said with no more hesitation. “Walt, you are coming too.”
“Nate! Come on!” Walt hissed. Walt dragged Nate out of Brad’s arms and back to the door to the house. “These guys are from Hollywood. I mean, like, Hollywood. You can’t just, like--”
“We’re going,” Nate said firmly.
Walt was obviously annoyed and clicked his tongue. “That Ray guy keeps trying to feel me up. I’m so sure!”
Nate shrugged and reached for Brad’s hand, completely unable to look away from his electric blue eyes.