Asher watched as Ollie slipped a wad of bills into the limo driver’s outstretched hand. “From my mom…” He explained, smiling. “Thanks again!”
With a smile and a tip of his hat, the man rolled up the window and drove away down the long and winding drive that led back toward the main road.
The three friends watched as the limousine disappeared out of sight.
Asher was so tired from his evening spent at the dance, yet he’d managed to find a second wind. All three of them had. And now, suddenly, the night felt like it was only just beginning.
“Y’know, now that I think about it…” Asher began. “There was totally an ‘option C’ we never even considered…”
Oliver smiled at him. “Oh yeah?”
“I mean, Option A was crash someone else’s party, right? Option B was come back here and hang out by ourselves… But why not just have a party HERE?”
Ollie laughed out loud at the suggestion. “Seriously?”
“Your mom’s out of town til Monday, right? Plenty of time to clean up. She’d never have to know…”
“Dude, you say that every time my mom’s not here.”
Lily smiled, chiming in. “Well… a huge-ass mansion would be a pretty epic place for a party.”
“Right? And it’s prom night!” Asher grinned at his friend, knowing the idea would get shot down. He and Lily were just having fun, at this point. “But, uh, we probably should’ve thought of this whole party thing sooner, huh?”
“Uh, yeah.” Ollie shook his head in amusement. “Would’ve given me time to hide all the super valuable shit… and barricade my mom’s bedroom door. I can just picture people trying to steal her stuff and sell it on the internet or something.”
Lily laughed, though they all knew just how true Oliver’s words really were. “Okay, fair. And everyone else is probably off getting shitfaced somewhere else anyway. I’m not sure we’d be able to get the word out in time…”
“It’s alright… There’s always next year.” Asher replied brightly.
Ollie’s smile flickered. “Yeah… Well, let’s worry about this year first. All that fancy shit in mom’s liquor cabinet isn’t gonna drink itself.” His smile returned suddenly as those words passed his lips.
“Let’s not go too crazy though!” Lily replied. “I wanna actually be able to remember tonight.”
Asher smiled. “Me too.”
Though he’d had his doubts at first, prom night was already shaping up to be one of the best nights Asher had had in a very long time.
Not having to deal with Penny at the dance had immediately gotten the night off to a better start than Homecoming, as did their mutual agreement to not drink anything before the dance. They’d certainly learned their lesson last time.
And with the night already off to a great start, prom itself had been a total blast. Of course, he’d failed to muster up the courage to make any sort of move on Ollie, just as he knew he would. But Asher was still able to enjoy his time laughing and dancing with his best friend — they’d even gotten a bit of one-on-one time while Lily ran off to hang out with her other friends for a while.
The only bittersweet moment of the night had come in the form of Landon, as Asher had feared it would. In the months since their breakup, they’d finally gotten back to speaking kindly but awkwardly to one another in Math class, or exchanging shy smiles when they crossed paths in the halls.
But seeing him at the dance was different. Asher’s breath had caught in his throat at the sight of him and, for a moment, so many thoughts crossed his mind, each one more heartbreaking than the last.
But as soon as they’d gotten it over with — the awkward hellos, the “you look great”s and the “hope you have fun tonight”s — Asher was amazed at how easy it was to go back to enjoying his evening with Ollie.
He’d be lying if he said that vague thoughts of Landon did not linger in the back of his mind for a while after their encounter, but it felt much like how his thoughts of Ollie had been during his time with Landon. Present, but not overwhelming. Easy to ignore and focus instead on what was right in front of him.
And boy, did he have a hell of a view in front of him that night.
Though he’d made jokes about a party, in truth, Asher was grateful that they’d opted for a more low-key evening at Oliver’s house. It eliminated the risk of running into Landon again, and it meant that he, Ollie, and Lily could enjoy more time together.
Luckily, both Asher and Lily had had the foresight to bring overnight bags to Ollie’s house before they left for the dance. As soon as they walked through the door (and began their evening with a celebratory shot), their first stop was to change into their swimsuits and take advantage of Ollie’s enormous heated swimming pool.
Then they cracked open some beers and hung out in the hot tub for an embarrassing-but-hysterical game of “Never Have I Ever”.
And finally, as the clock began creeping close to 2AM, they changed into pajamas, took another shot, grabbed some more beer, heated up a frozen pizza, and piled onto the couch to watch a movie.
Asher smiled at the rush of warmth that washed over him as he sat between his two best friends, and he knew that it had nothing to do with the pleasant buzz from the alcohol. With all the ups and downs they’d been through that school year, it had been literally months since the three of them had spent a night together like this. And Asher had missed it much more than he realized.
He found himself paying much more attention to his friends than what was on the screen… Especially Ollie. As ashamed as he was to admit it, seeing Ollie in his swimsuit had been driving him wild. And now, sitting so close to him on the warm couch…
“Oh! I don’t think I ever told you guys this!” Ollie cried, talking over the movie for what had to be the fourth or fifth time. He was always extra-talkative when he’d been drinking. His deep voice was enough to snap Asher back to reality. “This girl right here, the one playing Cecilia… She’s totally hot, right?”
Asher laughed awkwardly. “You’re kinda asking the wrong person… But yeah, she’s pretty, I guess.” He paused, studying her face for a moment and searching his slightly-foggy brain for a name. “Felicity Ryder, I think?”
“Yeah, her!” Ollie nodded. “Hot as hell, but lemme tell you, most spoiled, entitled brat I’ve ever met in my life! Don’t believe any of this ‘America’s Sweetheart’ crap the media tries to sell you. She’s a nightmare! Even worse than all those chicks who always go after my dad.”
“I believe it… Mom tells me tons of stories about all the assholes she’s worked with over the years. I wish everyone in this shitty industry could be more like your Mom.” Asher’s words slurred together slightly as he spoke. He was nowhere near as wasted as he’d been on the night of Homecoming, but he was definitely feeling a pleasant buzz. “But they’re a bunch of fake, elitist douchebags who think they’re better than everyone else.”
Ollie nodded in agreement. “And they all want something from you. Like… see, I never told you guys this because it’s so goddamn embarrassing… but I actually went on a date with her once.”
Asher’s eyes widened. “Who?! Felicity?!”
Oliver nodded. “Uh-huh. And all she cared about was bragging about her latest movie and trying to suck up to me and ask questions about my mom.” He paused to roll his eyes. “She didn’t give a shit about me at all. She was just using me because my mom’s more famous than she’ll ever be.” He finished bitterly.
“God, sounds like Penny.” Asher shook his head.
Ollie hesitated before responding. “Kinda, I guess.” He admitted. “But worse, trust me.”
“Still… No wonder you dumped her.”
His friend shook his head. “That’s not why I dumped her, Ash. You know that.”
It took Asher a moment to realize what his friend had just said. “It’s not? Then why did you?”
“I… I mean, um…” Oliver suddenly looked horrified, as though he regretted the words that he’d just said. “That’s not what I –”
A loud and sudden snore ripped through the air, causing both of them to jump. After recovering from the unexpected scare, Asher looked beside him to find Lily seemingly passed out.
“Should’ve known… Lily’s never that quiet.” Ollie’s voice was a whisper now.
Asher had to suppress a chuckle. “Should we wake her up? Move her to one of the guest beds?” He suggested as she let out another loud snore.
Oliver shook his head. “You know how much she hates it when people wake her up… We can just leave her here.” He quickly turned off the enormous television. “But we should probably finish the movie somewhere else.”
Not like we were watching it anymore anyway, Asher thought to himself as he rose to his feet. The room swayed for a moment, but he was able to find his balance again quickly. “Good idea.”
As he turned off the light and followed Ollie back out into the hall, he heard Lily let out another snore. That’s weird… I’ve never heard Lily snore before, he realized. Must be the alcohol or something… That’s backed by medical science, right? Something about jaw muscles and crap? His mind was too tired and fuzzy to remember the specifics.
He followed Ollie all the way to his bedroom, and took a seat beside him on the small sofa. But when Ollie tried to lift the remote and resume their movie, Asher stopped him. He’d allowed his curiosity to get the better of him.
“Wait… Ollie… What was that you were saying before? A-about why you dumped my sister?”
His friend suddenly looked incredibly uncomfortable. “It was nothing.”
“No, it wasn’t. It felt like… like you were maybe gonna say something else.” He paused. “What was it?”
“Look, can’t we just forget I said anything and move on or something? I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“So why’d you say it?” Asher wasn’t backing down without an answer. He couldn’t exactly explain why, but those few simple words were nagging at him.
Ollie let out a soft sigh. “I don’t know. Because I’m pretty damn buzzed right now? I’m not thinking straight. I don’t know what I’m saying.”
He shook his head. “I think you do.”
Asher fell into silence then, letting his foggy mind travel back to what Ollie had said just a few minutes earlier. ‘That’s not why I dumped her, Ash. You know that.’ And Ollie was right, wasn’t he? Somewhere deep down, he’d always known why Ollie broke up with Penny. Of course he did, he just didn’t wanna let himself see it. But it was time to finally take off the blindfold.
This was his chance. This was why he couldn’t let it go. Goddamn it. If there was ever a time to go for it, it’s now, huh? Fuck. Lily’s right. I’ve gotta do it.
This time, Asher was fairly certain it was the alcohol that had given him this sudden feeling of warmth, this inexplicable courage. And whatever the source, he was grateful for it. This could be his only chance. He mustered all the strength he could to push every single thought of Landon out of his mind before finally opening his mouth to speak once more.
“You’re right, you know.” Asher continued, breaking the uneasy silence. “I do know the real reason. I think… I think you broke up with Penny for the same reason Landon broke up with me. Sorta. Okay, it’s not a perfect analogy.” He stumbled awkwardly over his words. “‘Cause, uh, Penny was really more like the ‘Landon’ in this scenario, right? Except you dumped her and not the other way around. But um, like… I think… The reason is similar? Just reversed? Fuck. I dunno. My brain isn’t working right now.”
Instead of amusement or confusion, Ollie’s expression held nothing but sadness. “Don’t say it.”
“No, I have to. I’ve been waiting way too long.” Asher took a deep breath. It was now or never. “I like you, Ollie. A lot. Maybe even more than like you.” He almost couldn’t believe just how easy it was to finally say those words out loud. “I have for a long time. Like, I don’t even know how long. It kinda snuck up on me or something? I dunno. And… And I think you like me too. Or at least I really fucking hope you do, or else I’m about to go curl up in a ball and go die in the corner.”
“No, I do.” Ollie’s voice was a whisper. “You know I do.”
Asher smiled, slowly closing the distance between them. “Good.”
And the next thing he knew, their lips and bodies were intertwined.
It was so much like how Asher always imagined it would be… But so, so much better. Because it was real.
They completely melted into one another, hands, lips, and tongues moving clumsily together as they dove headfirst into what they’d been holding back for so long.
Asher wasted little time in letting one of his hands trail down the firm surface of Ollie’s chest and stomach toward the waistband of his pants. Through the thin cotton fabric, it was easy to see that Ollie was just as eager as he was — He needed this just as much as he did. He slipped his fingers beneath the waistband, slowly moving them downward, and then —
Oliver’s hand gripped his wrist firmly, pulling him back. “Asher, stop.” His voice was breathless. “We’ve… we’ve gotta stop.”
Asher pulled himself off of Ollie instantly, much as it pained him to do so. “Sorry, sorry, sorry…” He muttered guiltily. “I got too excited, and I went way too fast, and I…” His voice trailed away as he saw Ollie slowly shake his head. It almost looked like he was going to cry. “What’s wrong?”
“We can’t do this… I’m sorry.” This time, Asher was sure it was not his imagination. Ollie’s eyes were glistening with tears.
It was like someone had dumped a bucket of cold water over his head. What was happening? What did he do wrong?! “I don’t understand… I thought you wanted this.”
“I do.” Ollie insisted. “I swear, I do.”
“Then what the hell’s the problem?!”
Oliver did not immediately reply. In fact, neither of them spoke for what felt like a very long time.
And, as the seconds ticked by, Asher sat in the heavy silence, sobered by shock and wondering how things had gone so terribly wrong.
Sorry for the cliffhanger! (Okay… maybe only a little sorry 😉 hehe) The next chapter will pick up right where this one left off 🙂 And Happy Easter to everyone out there who celebrates! Hope it’s a good day for you all, despite the craziness going on in the world right now!