Mike woke with a start. He froze momentarily, listening but hearing nothing, and then tightened his arm around Crandall. They’d dozed off, still naked and damp with sweat and cum, front to back, spooning. In response to Mike’s embrace, Crandall wiggled against him and sighed softly.
“It’s just Ash,” Crandall said, his voice thick will sleep.
“Mm…” Mike pressed his face against the nape of Crandall’s neck and canted his hips, pressing his crotch to Crandall’s ass. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift with thoughts about how warm and comfortable and happy he was curled around Crandall, flesh to flesh from head to toe.
“I bet he was with that girl all night.”
“Hm?” Mike kissed Crandall’s neck. Then his mind kicked in. “Oh, the girl you work with? Wasn’t that this afternoon?”
“Yeah, and they blew me off.” Crankiness crept into Crandall’s tone, pushing back the sleepy comfort of their afterglow haze.
“Must’ve gone well.”
Crandall snorted and sat up as Ash’s silhouette darkened the doorway.
“You’re awake? I can go–”
“Nope. Done.” Crandall slipped from Mike’s embrace and stood up.
“Sorry!” Ash turned his back.
“For what? What do I care if you see me dress?” Crandall grabbed a pair of pajama pants off the top of his bureau, and then stepped into them.
“I don’t like it.” Ash glanced over his shoulder. “Seeing you–” Ash swallowed the word “–reminds me of my own inadequacies.”
“How’d your date go?” Mike asked. He remained stretched out and covered up in bed, more aware of Ash’s discomfort around the nude male body than Crandall would ever be.
“Well,” Crandall said. “Otherwise he’d have been home hours ago.”
Ash laughed, but it wasn’t all mirth. “Right, I suppose. Though I could’ve been wandering the city trying to soothe a broken heart.”
“In just one afternoon, doubtful.” Crandall turned to face Mike. “You going back to sleep?”
“Nah, I want to hear about this big date.” Mike grinned and waved Crandall away. “Just give me a minute.”
Crandall rolled his eyes, but had the sense to do it with his back to Ash so only Mike could see. “I’m going to grab a beer. You want one?”
Mike nodded. Once Crandall and Ash left, he slipped out of bed, dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, and headed out to the living room. Crandall handed him a bottle of beer as he sat beside his lover. Crank had found a shirt somewhere along the way.
With a nod to Ash, Mike first took a long drink from his bottle, and then asked what Ash wanted to share. “So, spill it, man. How’d it go?”
Mike waited patiently. Ash had never tried to be a macho man, but he had often vented his frustration at emotional responses. Mike had always done his best to remind Ash that men had emotions too and not to worry about it. He could tell Ash was wrestling with his emotions now, but at the same time, the grin that kept popping across Ash’s lips told Mike enough despite his friend’s silence.
When Ash spoke, he’d clearly surrendered. The big smile remained. “She’s wonderful, Mike. She’s beautiful and smart, and I can tell already she’s strong too.” He shifted his gaze to Crandall. “Thank you, for setting this up.” He paused, staring off between Mike and Crandall as he sipped at his beer.
“Did you get laid?”
Mike frowned at Crandall. “Really? That’s what you want to know?”
“Coffee doesn’t take that long.”
“I wouldn’t tell you if I did.” Ash’s frown melted away as quickly as it formed. “I did tell her I was transgender.”
“And?” Mike couldn’t wait for Ash to collect himself again. He’d broken new ground today, and Mike was eager to hear how it went.
“She kissed me.” Ash laughed, and then slapped a hand over his mouth. When he lowered it, a rare curse slipped out. “Shit, guys, she actually kissed me.”
They finished their drinks, including a second round, while Ash filled them in on his afternoon. After that kiss, Ash had walked Ginger back to the office. As soon as she left him on the sidewalk, he pulled out his phone to research the perfect restaurant for dinner. He called ahead for a table by the window so they could watch people walking by on the street. He also found a bouquet of rainbow colored daisies at a nearby flower shop. At first, he almost passed them up, thinking rainbows were too cliché, but she’d mentioned daisies over coffee and he had to buy them for her.
“I’m going to see her again Friday.” Ash grinned. He stood and collected the empties.
“You still owe me a coffee.” There was a hint of a smile on Crandall’s face as he said it. Mike had noticed Crank paying close attention to the conversation. While he complained about the girl, Mike would place money on Crandall being genuinely happy for Ash’s success.
“Crank, I owe you an entire coffee shop.”
Crandall just snorted and said nothing, but the smile snuck through once Ash disappeared into the kitchen.