Public Display of Everything (19 page)

Luke shakes his head and pulls me in for another hug. "I've said many terrible things to you, Cory, but know that the only words I stand by are the ones I wrote to you." I release a breath and nod, having needed to hear that out loud. "Will you introduce me to Flynn?" He takes a step back and tilts his head, a ghost of a smile on his face. "I'm guessing he's one of the reasons you look so peaceful and happy in that photo."

I smirk and shrug. "He's the best part of me."

His smile turns rueful. "You still sell yourself short, I see. But—" he gestures toward Flynn, and we start walking over there "—felicitations to you. I'm glad you've found happiness."

So am I. Side-eyeing Luke, I'd say he's happy, too. But…there's something missing. Having read his messages several times now, I'm willing to bet he's reveling in the freedom of being true to himself. The only question is how long it'll be before he wants more.

When we reach Flynn, I join him at his side, busy reveling myself. Because I have the opportunity to introduce my boyfriend to the only family member who really matters to me.

"Sweetheart," I say, linking our fingers together, "this is Luke, my uncle. Luke, my boyfriend Flynn."

Flynn nods politely and extends his right hand. "It's nice to meet you."

"Likewise, Flynn." Luke smiles warmly. "I hope you two will join Dylan and me for dinner." He checks his watch. "The tour should be over shortly."

I hesitate, 'cause as much as I wanna catch up, I gotta remember it's Dylan's birthday. Which I should've considered before I showed up here unannounced. Running into Luke without his boys nearby was a miracle.

"Uh, maybe we should let Dylan decide?" I suggest. "The day's supposed to be about him."

"True," Luke agrees with a nod, "but I can't exactly let you drive away just yet. Unless you have other plans, of course." I shake my head. "Wonderful. I'm sure he'll be happy to see his cousin, too. He remembers you, you know."

Shit, really? Dylan couldn’t have been more than…huh. Yeah, I guess I have memories from when I was four, too. Earlier than that. "That’s cool. And Jayden…?" I understood from Luke's phone call he's not here.

Luke chuckles wryly. "That boy isn't interested in much unless there're animals. A neighbor is watching him." He shakes his head fondly. "Hopefully, he won't scare her by bringing home a wounded bird or something. We already have a three-legged cat to look after." I grin. "He's turning our house into an animal shelter."

"And you don’t deny him," I laugh. Luke hasn’t changed there.

He smirks. "I indulge them, I admit." His eyes flicker to Flynn, then back to me. "So, dinner?"

"Yeah." I nod and look at Flynn, who nods too. "Sounds good."

"Good," he echoes, appearing relieved. "I want to know everything." He pauses and grows serious. "I also want to make sure I'm really forgiven. I'm willing to make it up to you, Cory—"

"No need." I cut in. "I'm not gonna lie; I'll probably need some reassurances, but…time will help, yeah? We'll start over."

Flynn tilts his head and kisses my shoulder in silent support.

I squeeze his hand.

Luke smiles at our exchange. "I'll go fetch Dylan. Don’t leave."

"We're not going anywhere," I promise.

When he turns and walks toward the castle, I slump back against the hood and hug Flynn to me. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, a weight I wasn’t fully aware was there in the first place. I've never been able to put a finger on what was wrong. I was just looking,

"You're happy," Flynn murmurs. My throat feels thick, so all I do is nod and pull him closer. Half-sitting on the hood, I'm level with his collarbone, and I rest my forehead there.

I shiver in pleasure as he weaves his fingers through my hair.

"I love you." He presses a kiss to my forehead.

Feeling emotionally tired, I don’t move a muscle. But he has to know how grateful I am. If it weren't for Flynn…I mean, shit. I wasn’t lying when I told Luke that Flynn is the best part of me.

"You have no idea." I squeeze him to me. "I owe you so much."

"Nonsense." He grasps my chin and makes me look up. "Besides—" mischief flashes in his eyes "—you'll feel differently when I tell Luke all about your job issues."

I throw him a mock scowl. "Are you saying there's something wrong with being a waiter or a construction worker?"

He laughs and bumps his forehead to mine. "You know I'm not, and you're neither of those things. You're wasting your knowledge, brilliance, and passion." His expression softens. "You may not realize it, but you have made me feel more comfortable with myself. It's only fair I return the favor by making sure there's nothing holding you back."

Why do I get the feeling he knows me better than I do?

"You're perceptive." I'll give him that.

He purses his lips. "I learn new things about you every day. And—" he grins and dips down to kiss me "—unlike the Rosetta Stone, there's plenty left to decode."

I snort a chuckle at the cheeky bastard. "You're just using that as an excuse to be my private little voyeur."

"Not always so private."

Touché. "In public, too."


Drawing him into a hug again, we stand there—or half-sit in my case—in comfortable silence. I bask in the easy touches and, for the first time, consider us like any other couple, regardless of genders. Maybe I'm slow on the uptake, but I can
it now. Really feel it.

There must've been some lingering fear…or doubt…in the back of my mind—not about my love for Flynn, but that all this is
—and it caused me to take things to the next level so quickly. Because I pushed hard to bring our relationship out in public; I pushed
, rather. It was only the day after we got together that I asked Flynn out for breakfast in the middle of one of London's largest parks. And a small part of me did it for the wrong reason: to prove a point—to myself, not others—that we shouldn’t hide, that we had the
to be there together.

Perhaps Luke's acceptance has erased that miniscule doubt, and next time I take Flynn to the park for breakfast, I'll do it solely because I want to. Not because I feel we're entitled.

My actions and desires have been right all along, but now I can stand behind them fully. Wholeheartedly.

Talk about liberating, to be able to smile at my boyfriend and pull him in for a kiss—in public—and honestly believe we're no different than the man over by that red car who is kissing his wife.

It'll only get better, downright blissful, to experience it all with a boyfriend I want to spend the rest of my life with.

The End


Work in progress:

Luke's story

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The Touch Series


On the Offensive


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