Just a Bit

By: Alessandra Hazard

Ryan opened his mouth and closed it without saying anything. He honestly didn’t know what to say. There was something vaguely…distasteful about Jamie allowing that sleazy guy to touch him that way, but it really was none of his business.

So he sighed and said, “Just don’t fuck him here. I’d have to burn the place down.”

Jamie gave him a cheeky smile. “Who says I haven’t already?”

“You’re lying,” Ryan said flatly.

“We did it in your bed,” Jamie said before he burst out laughing. “Oh my God, your face!”

“You little—” Ryan flipped him over and started tickling him. Jamie laughed hysterically, thrashing under him.

It didn’t take Jamie long to beg for mercy. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry—stop! I didn’t, okay?”

Ryan stopped. “Tosser. I almost threw up in my mouth.”

Still flushed from laughing, Jamie smiled at him. “Don’t worry, your precious bed remains unsullied. Well, I had a nap after I got here—I was tired—but I told Paul the bed was off-limits for him when he wanted to join me there.”

“I want my key back,” Ryan said with a pinched look.

Jamie’s face became serious. “Your flat is pretty much the only place Paul and I can hang out without being seen. He’s renovating his place.”

“Your parents still don’t know?” Ryan said.

Jamie shook his head, grimacing slightly.

Ryan studied him. “Are you even planning to come out?”

“Yeah. At some point.” Jamie chewed on his lip. “When I’m ready, will you come with me? For moral support.”

Ryan wondered why Jamie didn’t want Lambert for moral support if things were that good between them, but he couldn’t deny it was immensely satisfying to know that Jamie still needed him when it mattered.

“Sure,” he said with a lazy grin. “I want to see Arthur ’s face when he finds out. Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Jamie smacked him on the head. “Are you ever serious?”

Ryan dropped his grin. “I’m serious now,” he said, looking Jamie in the eye. “You know you can always count on me. No matter what. If you ever need anything, I’m here. Always.”

Something flickered in Jamie’s eyes before he smiled. “I know.”

“And if Lambert hurts you—”

“I’m happy with him, Ryan. Really.” Jamie smiled brighter.

Ryan eyed him skeptically. Maybe his dislike was just clouding his judgment, but he couldn’t bring himself to believe it.

Paul Lambert wasn’t good enough for Jamie.

Chapter 5

A month later, Ryan was stretched out on the same couch, his arm around Hannah’s waist as they watched a movie together, when he heard the sound of the key turning in the lock.

Jamie stood in the doorway, blinking at them owlishly. “Oh,” he said. “I thought you were at Zach’s house. Sorry for barging in.” He turned away.

“Jamie, wait!” Ryan scrambled off the couch and strode toward his best friend. Taking Jamie’s shoulders in his hands, he studied him. Jamie’s eyes were suspiciously shiny. “What’s wrong?” he asked quietly.

Jamie shrugged and shook his head, avoiding his gaze.

Ryan’s lips pressed together. “Sweetheart, could you leave us alone please?” he said, raising his voice.

“Sure,” Hannah said, ever so understanding. “See you, James.” She grabbed her handbag, pecked Ryan on the lips, and then she was gone.

“You shouldn’t have done it,” Jamie said, wrapping his arms around himself, his face pale.

“Sorry. I just wanted to crash here for the night. I thought you were at Zach’s.”

Ryan locked the door, took Jamie by the arm and led him to the couch. He forced him to sit before going to grab a few bottles of whiskey. He opened them, silently handed one to Jamie, and sat beside him. “Wanna talk about it?

Jamie shook his head and took a big gulp from his bottle.

An hour later, Jamie was leaning heavily into Ryan’s side, his cheek pressed against Ryan’s shoulder, his bottle grasped loosely in the hand that didn’t have a deathly grip on Ryan’s shirt. “I really liked him,” Jamie muttered, slurring the words out. “I liked him, Ryan.”

Ryan bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from saying ‘I told you so.’ That wasn’t what Jamie needed right now.

“I mean,” Jamie mumbled. “I didn’t love him, but I thought I  could—someday, you know?”

“I know,” Ryan said soothingly, running his fingers through Jamie’s hair, massaging his scalp.

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