This is a role play by Quin&Perin.
Please check the warning section inside the book.
I sipped on my beer, swallowed, and nodded thoughtfully. “So I’m stayin’?”
“Figured you would,” Juste answered casually, taking a long drink from his beer, the same one that he'd been nursing since dinner.
“Thanks.” Then I added, “Appreciate it.” Juste was a good guy. He knew I had no place to stay tonight, even if I had said nothing. And I guessed he put two and two together that I hadn't been eating much lately either given how fast I cleared off my bowls of stew. Yeah, good guy.
It was still warm outside, even though the sun had gone down. My feet were aching, and I was getting kinda sleepy, but my belly was full. We went silent for a while. The comfortable silence I recognized from having a good friend. Only we weren't friends. We had just met. From where we sat we should have been able to see the town in the distance. But it was dark, and there were barely any lights on.
“So,” I cleared my throat, rearranging my legs, switching ankles. “No wife? Kids?”
“Nah.” Juste didn’t look at me, just stared out over the distance. His profile was sharp. I wondered what his story was. “Not for me, y’know?” Did I know what it was like? I wasn’t sure. I guess deep down I did want to have someone, whether it’d be a woman or a man, it hardly mattered. But someone. To come home to, to wrap my arms around, to cherish and protect.
“You?” Juste suddenly asked, facing me.
I turned my beer between my fingers as he swallowed another mouthful. “Someday, sometime. So you livin’ here alone?”
Another nod. “Yeah.”
The longer we sat there with the crickets interrupting the silence, the more I arrived in the present moment. I’d been on the run for weeks. Running from my past, from memories. I just couldn’t. I had to get out. Had to start over somewhere new. My heart couldn’t bear it. My momma had always said I ran from problems, real problems. Whether it was relationships, jobs, or pain. I ran when it got rocky. Like an urge I couldn’t control, I packed my shit and left.
“So, stud, what’s your story?” I blinked at his words, specifically at the nickname stud. I couldn't figure him out. He was handsome and had a great smile that made his eyes shine. And sometimes he said things. Tiny slithers that could be misinterpreted, making me wonder if he was into guys. But then again, one, how likely was that out here in the country and two, he could also easily be the kind of guy who’d beat ya up for checking out a fine looking male ass. Though...I couldn't see him doing that.
“Stud?” I laughed. But he just grinned, eyes twinkling in the fading sunlight.
“C’mon, gimme some credit, guy lookin’ like you gotta have the ladies fallin’ head over heels. Plus, I know a fella from outta town called Chase, he’s a douche, so I figured I could rename ya.”
That had been a stupid mistake. I didn't know another Chase, but I knew I needed to be more careful. Even playful flirting could be dangerous around here. Least if you were the “funny” sort, Chase might not have been from the town, but I recognized the faint drawl in his voice. It was just as likely he'd laugh at my flirting as he'd get pissed off and try to fight me.
Instead, he just laughed and shook his head. “I could be a douche too,” he pointed out.
“Could be,” I agreed. “But I don't think so.”
“I'm honored,” he chuckled. “And hope that you won't be mistaken.”
I didn't think so. Chase seemed similar to me. Like someone I could relate to. The kind of guy to take things as they come. I liked that.
I wanted to ask him his story. What he was doing out in bumfuck nowhere. People didn't pass through often, so there had to be something he was hiding from, running from. It was none of my business though, and I wasn't the kind to pry.
I finished off my beer, and Chase downed the rest of his. Rising to my feet, I lifted my arms over my head and groaned. My body felt stiff, and I was tired. I still needed to wash the sweat of the day off from me, and it would probably be best to let sleep shut my mouth, so I didn't say anything too revealing. “Lemme show you where you're gonna be sleeping,” I told him.
“You don't have to put me up in a room, I can sleep on the porch,” he said, getting to his feet.
I blinked at him. “Why the hell would I make you do that?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Some don't like strangers in their house while they sleep.”
Laughing, I shook my head. “I don't care. Ain't like I got anything to steal, and I know where all the guns are. So I ain't that worried.”
Chase's grin was wide, and he ran his fingers through his hair. “All right. I won't argue with you.”
The stairs creaked beneath us, and I led him to what had once been my room. Once both my momma and daddy had passed away, nearly a year later, I'd moved into the master bedroom. So I guessed my room was technically the guest room especially since the actual guest room didn't have a bed.
“Here ya go,” I said, pushing the door open.
My room hadn't changed since I was a teenager and first moved out. There were still posters plastered over the wall. Cars (that I had no interest in), a fair amount of wrestlers (shirtless and oiled up), and bands. The bed was small, just a twin, and there was a blue and white quilt on it that my grandmomma had made before she died. “It ain't much but…” I rubbed the back of my neck. I needed to go clean out this room one day, so it wasn't so embarrassing. Lord only knew what the hell was still lurking in there.
“It looks good,” Chase said, setting his bag on the edge of the bed and collapsing next to it.
“If ya stick your dirty clothes outside, I can toss ‘em in the washer in the morning,” I told him. He probably wanted to run off as quick as he could, but I wouldn't mind if he stayed a while.
I knew all the regulars. I knew their drinks. Their complaints. I knew everything that went on in this little town. But they didn't know me.
And I didn’t know him.
Momma always told me to be kind to others, so I didn’t even think twice when I invited him into my house, into my life, my heart.
I was happy being alone, until I wasn't.
Little did I know that once you get a taste of happiness, nothing will ever taste the same. Especially when it is taken away.
***WANDERLUST is a slow burn romance, featuring hurt/comfort and friends-to-lovers elements as well as detailed adult m/m content