Just a Bit

By: Alessandra Hazard

“You were right,” Jamie said. His voice sounded firm. A Grayson. He was a Grayson. The Graysons stood firm in their beliefs. The Graysons smiled even when it hurt. James smiled. “I want to be loved. I want a real relationship, but I’m not ready to come out yet. For the time being, I want you to cover for me if my parents look for me while I’m with my boyfriend. That’s why I’m telling you now.”

“A boyfriend?” Ryan said after a moment.

“Yeah,” Jamie said. “I’m gonna get a boyfriend. I want to.” He pulled away from Ryan and got out of the pool. It felt like his lungs were full of water. His back to Ryan, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath in—

And he let go.

It was the hardest thing he’d ever done. Tearing away all the illogical hopes and dreams of Ryan loving him back was so damn painful and difficult. But he did it. His throat hurt, his chest hurt—

everything hurt—his eyes stinging with tears he would never shed. But when he opened his eyes, Jamie’s— James’s—face was calm and collected. James. He was James. Jamie had been the foolish boy who’d fallen in love with someone he could never have. Jamie was in the past.

He was James William Arthur Grayson and it was time to move on.

Chapter 4

The thing was, Ryan Hardaway was perfectly cool with gay people. Just ask his brother—two of his brothers.

It didn’t mean he had to like the guy who was currently all over his best friend in Ryan’s own flat.

Ryan cleared his throat, which made the couple spring apart. Jamie was flushed, his eyes looking anywhere but at Ryan, while the red-haired guy simply looked a little smug. Ryan felt his jaw clench.

“Hey, you’re Ryan, right?” the dickhead said, stepping forward and stretching his hand out.

“Paul Lambert.”

His hand was clammy. He winced a little when Ryan clasped it.

“Thanks for letting us hang out at your place,” Lambert said with a smile. “Nice to finally meet James’s best friend. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“Can’t say the same,” Ryan said, scrutinizing him from head to toe.

Lambert glanced at Jamie uncertainly before giving a short laugh. He had a slight gap between his front teeth. “I’m hurt,” he said playfully, putting a hand on Jamie’s hip and giving him a peck on the lips.

Ryan unlocked the door and opened it. “It was nice to meet you, Paul.” He ignored Jamie’s glare.

“See you around,” he said, opening the door wider. “Sorry, I’m not really in a social mood today.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Lambert said with another annoying smile. “Finding a stranger at your place after a long day wouldn’t make me happy, either.”

“Glad we understand each other,” Ryan said, putting on a matching smile. “See you.”

He shut the door after the guy, locked it, and flopped down onto the couch.

“What the—” Jamie spluttered. “What the hell was that? Care to explain yourself?”

“I’ve had a shitty day,” Ryan said, closing his eyes. “I’m not in the mood to tolerate some dickhead with a fake smile and a sweaty hand.”

“With a—What do you have against Paul?”

“He looks like the sleazy type,” Ryan said. “I don’t trust him.”

“You don’t even know him!”

“And I don’t want to. Come here.”


“Why?” Jamie said at last.

Ryan cracked his eye open. “Because I’ve had a shitty day.” The client had changed his mind about something fundamentally important after he had spent two bloody weeks on that design. Even thinking about it still pissed him off. “I’m angry and knackered and I just want to cuddle my best friend. If he’s still my best friend.”

Jamie’s mouth fell open. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Ryan held his gaze steadily. “Don’t pretend you don’t know, Jamie.”

Jamie dropped his gaze, chewing on his lip. “Is this about me being busy lately?”

Ryan chuckled. “Is that what people call ignoring your best friend for a month?”

“I haven’t been ignoring you,” Jamie said, his pale brows furrowing.

“Let’s see,” Ryan drawled out. “We’ve hung out together a grand total of four times this month, and two of them you cut short because of something your dad wanted you to do. The third time you had to leave early because you had a date with Paul.” He didn’t make any effort to soften his voice. It hadn’t been a good day.

“You have Hannah now,” Jamie said, pulling his phone out and checking it.

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