“What was that for?” I yelp as Alexander pinches me.
“Just checking this is real.” Alexander sighs contentedly on my chest.
“Silly I am still real.” I say kissing his head and rubbing his arms.
“Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.” Alexander says kissing my chest.
“What are you so happy about?” I ask.
“I had lots of dreams about our house. I even told myself off in the dream for drawing it without you. It is the best idea you ever had. I am so happy. I was so worried you were going to leave yesterday and you didn’t and we worked things out. I’m going to look at places today. For land or somewhere to knock down. I am so excited.” Alexander says.
I love that he’s so happy. All my resentment and worry has melted away. I still have a few niggles of worry but I also know things will be okay. I have to stop babying him and feeling hard done by when he has no clue I’m upset.
Knowing he’ll be back late Wednesday I arrange drinks with a few colleagues and Felix. Wednesdays having been his date night with Brendan, he still keeps it as his night off.
Work is going better. I’m having some difficulty with some code and ask a friend in CS if he knows anyone who can help, he sends over a colleague who he says is really keen.
“How come you got the short straw?” I ask.
“I did Physics and CS as a double major undergrad and I’m interested in your work so I volunteered. Don’t worry, I’m not a stalker.” Gavin says.
“You’ve been great. Are you new here?” I ask.
“Yeah I only started this semester, I was due to start last August but I asked to delay a semester and they agreed much to my surprise. They’re really flexible for the right people here, big ambitions.” Gavin says.
“Yeah I’ve been lucky being able to take a badly timed sabbatical.” I say.
“Well that was a major deal for here. Imagine you bring in a lot of grant money as it is, the extra, free publicity must have been the chancellors we dream.” Gavin says.
“How are you finding it? Are they welcoming you okay?” I ask.
“It’s pretty good. A few have pretty big chips on their shoulders about where I went to school and why I’m slumming it here but the guys I work with and my students are great.” Gavin says.
“Same for me, it was great for a while but it’s been a bit more hostile since I got back. Still there is money coming in and work to do and you’re right the students are pretty great.” I say.
“Here if you try this, you should get what you need.” Gavin says making some changes and further suggestions.
“Thanks so much. Come for drinks on Wednesday, a few of us from here are going, me trying to reintegrate.” I say.
“I’d love to. I’ve barely been out since I arrive, the odd faulty event. I’m not very outgoing, I think people forget me easily.” Gavin says.
“But you’re so cute.” I blurt out. “And smart, sorry, gosh I can be embarrassing.” I laugh.
“It’s okay, coming from the boyfriend of Sandy Green it’s a huge compliment.” Gavin says blushing.
“Are we on the same team?” I ask curious.
“Yes. Though I’ve been single so long I’m not sure I remember the rules.” Gavin laughs.
“I would really like to set you up with a friend. Am I being too pushy?” I ask.
“I’d be grateful, even if it is just a conversation with someone. I’ve been finding it tough going out here. I thought it would be easier moving here, where I’m from so few people were out and you had to travel to get dates, I guess we were all less picky as we had fewer options. Here it’s just so difficult to even get a conversation.” Gavin says.
“I know, I have always done okay with guys. I had lots of boyfriends and I was never short of dates but when I got here it was a desert. So difficult, I lost all my confidence.” I say.
“You couldn’t get a date? No wonder I can’t.” Gavin laughs.
“So are you fussy about type?” I ask.
“Are you saying he’s fat and ugly?” Gavin asks.
“No he’s wiry and tiny. Actually I have 2 single friends right now but one is going through divorce.” I say.
“I like almost all men. I don’t go for bigger guys often but if he’s smart and interesting I really don’t care.” Gavin laughs.
“I’m so excited. Let me get your number. He’s coming Wednesday anyway so you have to come now. Do you want to see a picture?” I ask.
“Sure. Oh he’s really cute and really tiny. I mean I know I’m not exactly tall myself but he is really small.” Gavin says as I show him a few on my phone.
“You interested?” I ask curious. Felix has amazing results with men in person but never does so well on apps and the like.
“Yes. I imagine if he’s friends with you he’s pretty interesting. I can’t see you having boring friends.” Gavin laughs.
“Ah we’re all pretty normal nerdy guys.” I say.
“Will your boyfriend be there on Wednesday?” Gavin asks.
“No he’s not around much this week.” I say.
“You must have a lot of time apart.” Gavin says.
“We’re only just back together really, we had 2 months apart but that was because it was booked before we got back together. We’ll try not to in future, we both hate it, it is why we broke up last time.” I say, surprised at myself being so open with someone I just met.
“I was long distance with my boyfriend for the first 2 years of college and it was hard but it meant we did well in school. Then he transferred closer and we lasted about a month.” Gavin says.
“You like long distance?” I ask surprised.
“No, I just didn’t like him full time.” Gavin laughs.
We share a few dating stories. I really like him, he’s so easy to talk to and interesting. Man why wasn’t he around when I was single.
Alexander picks me up right on leaving. He has spent all day researching and driving round potential sites for our home and spent time talking to the money guy. He is really keen and I don’t think it’s just to make me happy.
“I think I found it. I hate that I did as I wanted us to find it together. But it is perfect and I know you’ll think so too. I hope it’s still light when we get there.” Alexander says.
“I made a new friend today, he came over to help with my code and I’m setting him up with Felix.” I say on the drive.
“From your department? How did you not know him before?” Alexander asks.
“No from CS, he just started this semester.” I say.
“Hope that it isn’t awkward with Jasper.” Alexander says.
“I didn’t even think of that. I’m sure Felix will like him and he never cared about stepping on toes.” I say.
“He’s changed.” Alexander says.
“Sure but I’m pretty sure they will get along and I already arranged it now.” I say.
“I hope it works out. I feel so responsible for the Jasper thing.” Alexander says.
“Me too. I was a jerk.” I say.
“I like it when you’re not nice to people. I forgot to read it as a strong signal. You rarely get it wrong.” Alexander says.
“Oh I absolutely do.” I say.
“I remember you not liking Casey, and you always know when Jay is on the turn.” say.
“Casey?” I ask confused.
“I dated him after the trio and he turned out to be trying to make money from me.” Alexander says.
“I hated him because he had you.” I say.
“Oh. I suppose you did. We were such a mess back then.” Alexander says.
“We were just too young to admit we were ready to settle down. We needed the drama.” I say.
“Did you think we could last back then?” Alexander asks.
“I asked Jay to join us in order to not lose you. I was doing all I knew how,” I say a bit annoyed. I know I made mistakes but I fought hard too.
“I was an idiot.” Alexander says.
“Yet you always go back to him. Always seek him out not me.” I say suddenly feeling a bit down and bitter.
“What does that mean?” Alexander asks.
“It’s always me who has to beg to get you back. But you always seek Jay out and get back with him, whatever he does to you. Even trying to kill your career and split us up wasn’t enough, you still made him your agent and went back to his bed.” I say,
“Is there any point going to see this plot?” Alexander asks.
“Yes. I’m sorry, this is supposed to be exciting and I’m ruining it. I don’t deserve to be happy with you.” I say.
“Jay won’t kill our relationship but your paranoia and insecurity might.” Alexander says.
“I’m sorry. I am. Just having bad thoughts.” I say.
“It’s okay. I know you’re mine. I told you to not keep things bottled up. Jay is something we have to work through. I wish you’d never found out I’d been there.” Alexander says honestly.
“Me too.” I admit.
Alexander brings the car to a stop at some tall gates, enters a code and they open.
“You already have the code?” I ask.
“The seller was up here earlier. She likes the idea of a local couple buying it, I didn’t set her straight that we’ve not lived here long. She knew who I was but kept saying she didn’t want it to go to Hollywood types. Anyway she was happy to give me the code so I could show you.” Alexander says.
“Why is she selling?” I ask.
“It belonged to her great uncle and he left it to her. She has 4 kids and selling it will more than pay for college for them all and clear her own mortgage.” Alexander explains.
“Wow the view is amazing.” I say as Alexander leads me down the side of the house. It faces the ocean and there is a zigzag path down to a small beach which looks pretty inaccessible from anywhere else.
“I knew you’d love it too. The house is falling down anyway and there is a fair bit of land. I got lucky that I saw the sign and she was showing someone else round so had all the details to hand. I know we should see other places together but I think this is it. The current house is 6 bedrooms, we don’t want that much and it has a pool and pool house which has 2 more bedrooms.” Alexander says.
“Feels like ours.” I say reaching for Alexander’s hand. All my niggles and doubts disappear when something like this happens.
“I know. I doubt it will be ready for straight after the wedding.” Alexander says.
“We don’t need it all ready. We can camp out in a room or the pool house if that can stay. Can we afford it?” I ask.
“That will keep me grounded. Eating out and showering at the gym.” Alexander says laughing.
“I can’t believe there’s no fence.” I say sitting down on a small boulder at the edge of the cliff.
“I love it.” Alexander says.
“But how much? Will it be too much?” I ask worried I shouldn’t fall in love.
“When did you last check a statement?” Alexander asks.
“Probably when you were on the island.” I say.
“I’ve worked a lot since then and yes we lost some of our portfolio during various crashes but I lived simply most the time. We can afford this. In a year we can sell the east coast house, and we can decide what to do with the houses here. But we can afford this and the build without selling anything or using your trust.” Alexander says.
“Are you sure you want to? I know you love your house.” I say.
“I really want to. I told you I had dreams of this. It feels so right.” Alexander says putting his arm around me.
“I know. I’m scared something will go wrong because it feels perfectly right.” I say.
“I know. I knew the minute I got let through the gates. I drove round a few places and they were good but this one felt like both of us. Like the island does.” Alexander says.
“I love the island. We will call this place Jade Diamond.” I say.
“We will. People will think we’re talking about a stripper.” Alexander laughs.
I finger my engagement ring and kiss Alexander on the cheek.
“Did you offer already?” I ask.
“No, I waited for you. I did speak to our lawyers though and the accountant is on notice that we need cash.” Alexander says.
“I am so sorry for earlier. I know you would have turned to me if you could have, I need to let this jealousy go. I have so many regrets and I know you do. I need to leave them behind. I’m ready to be married.” I say. I feel Alexander relax a little against me.
“Soon?” Alexander asks.
“Okay.” I say quietly, suddenly needing him to be as happy as he can. I love him so much and I’ve been pushing him away or holding him off for the most stupid reasons.
I need to get my head sorted out. I can’t lose him.
“I love the idea of building this place as we build our marriage, as corny as that sounds. I hate the waiting. I think the waiting is part of the problem.” Alexander says.
“I’ll quit my job if you want me to. If waiting for me to finish is still a problem.” I say quietly.
“No, baby I’m okay with it now, I really am. I am very proud of you and what you do.” Alexander says.
We stand together arms around each other breathing the sea air and staring at the ocean. Happy and secure. We walk to the car slowly and drive home.
The following night I work late knowing Alexander will be late. He calls me when he’s close to home and I get back at the same time.
“I don’t like being apart so long.” I say when we’re inside cuddled up together. I’m sorry. I promise I will never do this again, not multiple days like this.” Alexander says.
“Was it worth it?” I ask.
“Yes. The movie I want to do they really want me. So that was good. Lots of talks still to do but no audition or anything required, I might need to read with a few people later on but that is to cast them not me.” Alexander says.
“Wow baby that is amazing. I’m so proud of you. That’s for next July?” I ask.
“Yes June or July so just after you finish, if you choose to finish then.” Alexander says.
“I promised I would.” I say.
“If things turn around and you’re happy I won’t hold you to leaving. I know we said we’d work one at a time but I don’t want us to hold us to anything too strictly. We’ll find a way to make things work.” Alexander says.
“This is a change. I’m happy with what we agreed. I need a break.” I say.
“I know. I’m just saying that we don’t have to lock everything down.” Alexander says.
“Okay baby.” I say and squeeze him tighter.
“I also met with some people about your show. It is so positive baby. There is a strong buzz about you and lots of people are swarming.” Alexander says.
“Now you want me to have 2 jobs.” I laugh.
“I want you happy. I think you’d love doing it. Hurry up and finish your books and you’ll have the headspace to help me with ideas.” Alexander says.
“We’ll see.” I say. He knows I’ll do it eventually, if the concept is right. I’m terrified of the idea too and am kind of annoyed that he is controlling it rather than letting me explore my options. But I guess he knows the business and maybe it is better him than someone I don’t know or trust.
Wednesday I say goodbye to Alexander early again and I feel grumpier than ever about it. I want him with me always. I’ve gone from being indifferent about being married to ultra-anxious that it happens soon. I’ve turned into Alexander.
I don’t pre-warn Felix about Gavin, I want him to be relaxed, to spring it on him as thanks for all the setups he tried for me before Jorge.
“How is business?” I ask Felix.
“Great, I have a good mix of moneyed and poor clients out here. The office back east is running itself. I could do with a few more people on board. Losing Brendan, Jorge and Bobbie is really annoying. Jorge has since approached to ask if I’d consider throwing him some work this summer and I’m actually considering it.” Felix says.
“I wouldn’t object but he did fuck Brendan.” I say.
“I know. He is good though.” Felix says.
“He was. Uh theres someone I want you to meet.” I say.
“For work?” Felix asks.
“For pleasure.” I grin and wave Gavin over.
“Gavin meet Felix, Felix meet Gavin. I think you two have very little in common and are still going to hit it off.” I say and walk away.
I have a few drinks and chat with my colleagues, trying to show them I’m still me. I’m still the same guy I was before my tour, before Alexander and the TV stuff. Of course they expect me to buy far more than my share of drinks and I happily oblige.
Finally people begin to relax around me and we start sharing ideas and I feel normal again. No one stays too long, being midweek but I know it was enough to begin getting things on track.
I walk over to Gavin and Felix, still deep in conversation. They look really cute together, their eyes are dancing. There is clearly a lot of chemistry there.
“So am I a great matchmaker or what?” I ask laughing.
“Thank you so much. Best conversation I’ve had since moving here.” Gavin says.
“You did it. Another thing you’re good at, as if there wasn’t enough already.” Felix says with a laugh.
“Don’t stay out too late.” I say as I leave. I smile all the way home in the cab. I hate walking in to an empty house. Alexander is only a few minutes behind me.
“We don’t need to build a new house.” I say quietly wrapping myself around him.
“But we love it.” Alexander says.
“This is home. We have a beautiful view and easy access to the beach. We don’t need to waste money building somewhere new. I only need you.” I say.
“I only need you too.” Alexander says kissing me hard. I know he loves me. I also know he really, really wants to build that house. He’s funny my man.
“Can we get married in 2 weeks when Tom is here?” I ask.