Just a Bit Confusing

By: Alessandra Hazard

“Okay, this is still weird,” Ryan said, opening his eyes and glancing at Zach and Tristan.

“Why?” James said. “You have a brother who has been out and proud for ages.”

“Not that,” Ryan said. “You know I couldn’t care less where my brothers put their dicks.” Ryan shrugged, glancing at the couple again and smiling. “It’s just still strange to see Zach so…smitten. He was never like that with Donna. He was always so rational around her, and now look at him.”

As they watched, Zach kissed his boyfriend deeper, his hand slipping into Tristan’s trunks to cup his buttock.

“Eh,” James said, his face warming.

Ryan catcalled. “My virgin eyes!”

Breaking the kiss, Tristan glared at Ryan. It didn’t look very convincing, considering how flushed and blissed out he looked. “Piss off, Ryan. And take your bleached shadow with you.”

“I told you: I’m a natural blond,” James said with a sigh. He had no clue why Zach’s boyfriend disliked him so much.

“He is,” Ryan said, throwing an arm around James. “Come on, prove it to Zach’s boy.” He hooked his finger on the waistband of Jamie’s trunks. “Take it off, show him.”

James didn’t move.

“You’re so gay,” Tristan said. “And I’m not Zach’s boy.”

“Says the guy who moans my brother ’s name every goddamn night.” Ryan grinned and said in a ridiculous falsetto, “Oh yeah, Zach, harder—”

Tristan grabbed a Red Bull and threw it at his head.

Ryan ducked.

“I don’t sound like that!” Tristan said.

Zach was laughing. “You kinda do.”

“I hate you,” Tristan grumbled before glowering at Ryan. “Even if I am, you two are still gayer.”

Ryan didn’t look impressed, all traces of amusement gone from his face. He sighed. “All right, it’s fun and all, but it’s really getting old,” he said, starting to sound seriously irritated. “There’s such thing as friendship, you know. I mean, I love this git for some reason,”—he smirked when James elbowed him—“but even thinking of him that way grosses me out. It would be like shagging a brother.”

James forced out a wan smile. “Yep. Like shagging a twin. Gross. I mean, have you seen him naked?” His voice sounded good—lighthearted and playful—and no one could probably tell he felt like someone had shoved their fist down his throat and squeezed his heart, hard. Brother.


Ryan grinned and planted a loud, obnoxiously wet kiss on Jamie’s cheek. “I’m hot and you know it, babe.”

Sometimes he fucking hated Ryan.

Jamie thought he rolled his eyes and made a suitably disgusted face, but he wasn’t sure. His face felt wooden. Like a broken toy’s.

“Like shagging a twin?” Tristan said, wiggling his eyebrows. “You guys ever heard of twincest?”

“You’re a terrible person,” Ryan said with a pinched look.

“Yep,” James managed after a moment. Get a goddamn grip, Grayson.

“He is,” Zach said with a laugh.

Tristan elbowed him in the ribs and Zach smiled.

“But he’s my terrible person,” Zach said, dropping a kiss on Tristan’s head.

Tristan hid his face in Zach’s shoulder. “You’re turning into a sap,” he said, the tips of his ears turning red.

James smiled. He teased Tristan for blushing. He laughed. He ribbed Tristan for being so sweet on Zach. He did and said all the expected things. Things Ryan would expect him to do. But it all felt distant, like some other person was doing the talking, the smiling, the laughing.

Like a brother… Thinking of him that way grosses me out…

He felt sick. Maybe he was sick.

“All right, that’s enough,” Zach said suddenly, a touch of steel appearing in his voice. His arm around Tristan tightened. “Leave him alone.”

Ryan exchanged a look with James and motioned with his head. They swam away to the other end of the pool.

“Strange bloke,” James commented quietly, without looking at Ryan. His nerves still felt frayed, a familiar hollow feeling spreading through his chest. He knew he must keep talking, must distract Ryan, because otherwise Ryan would notice something was off. He always did. They had always been attuned to each other.

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