Categories > Books > Anita Blake > Friends1 Reviews
Caleb tries to adjust. 2/10
Work sucked. He'd been on time, for a change. He hated his job, hated his boss, and hated the customers. Maybe he should ask Jean-Claude for a job. Then he wouldn't have to hide what he was. He'd get fired if anyone here figured it out. He usually didn't stay long enough for that to happen. It was almost time to go home. He'd call and see if he could get a ride, maybe Nathaniel would pick him up.
No answer at Anita's, he guessed he'd try to hitch a ride, which meant he'd probably have to walk. It was cheap to live at Anita's but it was damned inconvenient. At least he could go now. He stood on the sidewalk thinking about getting something to eat before he started home when he felt someone staring at him. He turned and saw blue eyes, blonde hair. Gregory.
"What are you doing here?" He growled at Gregory, who frowned at his tone. What did Greg want anyway? They hadn't said two words on the way to Greg's apartment last night. By the time they'd made it to the car Caleb had started to fantasize about why Greg had invited him over. He'd thought about how Gregory looked in those jeans, tempting, teasing skin visible through the rips.
But at the apartment Greg had given him a quick tour and he had noted the twin bed in Gregory's room with disappointment. He'd made a joke, "Not much room in that for, uh, entertaining." Gregory had given him a cool look and helped him make up the sofa bed. He could smell the lingering trace of Nathaniel's scent from the club mixed with arousal and desire; Greg and Nathaniel....no, maybe. But he didn't leave with Nathaniel.
Gregory closed the door while he took a shower. When it was his turn Caleb left the door wide open and when he'd walked out in nothing but a towel Gregory had already gone to bed, alone. Caleb thought about knocking at Greg's door, about just sliding into bed next to Greg.
Caleb pictured himself wrapped around Greg, blonde curls spilling across his chest. He wondered how Gregory would look out of those jeans, what his mouth would feel like when Caleb kissed him. Caleb hadn't pushed his luck and suggested they share Greg's twin bed. All he needed was Gregory complaining he'd made a pass at him. Merle would love it.
Gregory was asleep when he left for work; Caleb had slipped out without waking him. He'd watched him sleeping, just for a minute, standing in the doorway, before leaving. Tousled curls, tangled sheets, pale skin exposed. Caleb held his breath and closed the door; he used the walk to work to think. He had been surprised at Greg's offer to give him a ride home and that he'd let him stay the night. Caleb was wary of people doing favors, experience had taught him well. People always wanted something. Caleb didn't have anything to offer anymore; no money, no power. Greg didn't seem interested in anything else. Caleb's fantasies of a naked, willing Gregory aside. Now, here he was, standing on the sidewalk, big blue eyes watching him.
"Merle thought you might need a ride, he couldn't get away. Micah and Anita are at work. Nathaniel's rehearsing for tonight. I wasn't busy, I didn't mind picking you up." Gregory explained at length and shrugged, like it was no big deal. Gregory didn't mention that he'd called Merle to find out if Caleb needed a ride home. He waited for Caleb's reaction; Caleb was touchy. First he was friendly and more, then he was distant and grouchy.
The thought of Merle looking out for him made Caleb uncomfortable. And the thought of Merle taking an interest in Gregory was even more unnerving. Merle hated him and maybe it was his way of letting Caleb know he was looking out for Gregory. Maybe it was on Micah's orders; that wasn't much better. Well, he could use a ride. "Thanks, Greg. And thanks for last night." Gregory smiled; looking pleased to hear Caleb's thank you. Caleb was surprised to hear himself offering to buy Greg dinner. Well, he hated eating alone.
The meal was good. Gregory seemed relaxed, friendly; he had a sharp sense of humor. That surprised Caleb; he'd only seen the abrasive side of Gregory, the one that annoyed Anita. He annoyed Anita, too; he guessed they had that in common. Gregory gossiped about things that went on at the strip club; laughed at the women who hung around and especially about Nathaniel's fan club, or rather, Brandon's fan club. Caleb tried to steer the conversation to Gregory, trying to find out if he was seeing someone. Greg didn't answer, he just changed the subject.
There were other things they didn't discuss. Gregory didn't ask him about his past and he didn't ask about Gregory's. Caleb thought his history was unpleasant enough; hearing about Gregory's wasn't his idea of a good time. He'd heard rumors about the films and what a sick kitty the old Nimir-Raj had been. Caleb knew all about living with a twisted leader, he didn't need to hear anyone else's sad story.
They didn't talk about what had happened to Gregory in the Room of Swords. Caleb hadn't seen it, hearing about it was enough. Gregory didn't like pain, he wasn't like Nathaniel. He'd just been in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. Caleb never wanted to talk about it; he never wanted to think about it. Nathaniel didn't blame Caleb, did Gregory?
Gregory didn't want to think about it either. He was relieved Caleb hadn't asked about his past; hadn't discussed what the old Pard was like. What had happened at Narcissus in Chains was like a bad dream. He had learned a long time ago not to think about the bad things; there had been so many bad things.
Gregory concentrated on the present; on right now, sitting there with Caleb. Caleb laughed at the stories about the club; didn't seem put off about the stripping. He felt an electric thrill when Caleb's leg casually brushed his under the table, when Caleb's hand met his when he reached for the bill. Caleb didn't even seem to register it.
Caleb paid for dinner, refused Gregory's offer to pay or split the bill. He was just full of surprises suddenly. He couldn't remember the last time he'd just spent time with another person like this, just talking. It was...nice. Greg drove him back to Anita's after dinner. They were quiet in the car; tonight Caleb didn't know what to say.
The car seemed dark and intimate. He inhaled the sweet masculine spice that was Gregory's scent. He watched Gregory as he drove towards Anita's, looked at his hands on the steering wheel, fingers moving restlessly, his face turned to the road. It crossed his mind that Gregory was uneasy about something. Gregory ran his tongue across his lips and shook his hair back from his face. Caleb watched as passing headlights highlighted the pale gold.
It had been almost like a date; Caleb inviting him to dinner. Gregory pretended it was he just didn't know what a real date was like. How was he supposed to act? Even friendship was hard. It was all out of his realm of experience. He liked making Caleb smile and laugh. Caleb didn't ask him stupid, embarrassing questions about his old life; didn't make remarks about where he worked. It had been going so well.
"Caleb, did you hear me?" Gregory was speaking. Caleb realized he was watching him but not hearing, too caught up in the long soft spill of yellow curls, pink tongue moving between Gregory's lips.
"Sorry, what did you say?" Caleb saw Gregory's lips twist into a frown when he thought Caleb hadn't been paying any attention to him. He hadn't realized he had Caleb's attention.
"I asked if you needed a ride to work tomorrow?" Gregory didn't look at him; he was concentrating on the road. He touched his hair, pushing it away from his face. Caleb recognized it as a nervous gesture. What was Gregory nervous about? Caleb reached over and pulled a long strand of silky blond hair through his fingers, his hand slid down to the end of the curl and brushed across Gregory's shoulder.
"How can you stand all this hair?" It wasn't what he meant to say. He wanted to say something about how soft it felt; that he liked it, that he wondered how it would feel on his bare skin. He rubbed the end of the curl between his fingers. Gregory moved his head, pulling the strand of hair away from Caleb's fingers. He liked Caleb but he wasn't comfortable with him, not yet.
He hated his hair, he kept it long for Stephen, he owed Stephen; he owed him a lot. Even keeping his hair long, he never understood how Stephen could stand it. Too many memories of people who liked long blonde hair, people he didn't like.
"I don't mind, Stephen likes it long." He lied, better than telling the truth. "We're supposed to play up the identical twin thing for work. Jean-Claude likes it long." Gregory shrugged. Caleb twitched at Jean-Claude's name. Jean-Claude liked it long? What did that mean? Did Jean-Claude take more than a business interest in this?
"So, do you need a ride to work tomorrow?" Gregory repeated his question. Caleb felt like his hand had been slapped; Jean-Claude's property, don't touch. It made him pull back.
"Why are you being so helpful? Did Micah put you up to it?" Caleb voiced his suspicions; people weren't nice to you for no reason. He should have known it. They wanted something. He and Gregory weren't friends. They hardly knew each other. Dinner and a couple of favors didn't make them anything. Gregory had made it clear; he didn't want Caleb to touch him.
Gregory's blue eyes narrowed. "Maybe I wanted to be friends." They were in Anita's driveway now. Greg looked over at Caleb and added in his head. "Maybe I like you. Maybe I didn't want to be alone. Maybe I wanted a kiss." Gregory sighed, just when he thought Caleb was showing some interest. It had almost been like a date; Caleb had been nice to him, noticed him.
Caleb laughed, it was bitter. "Yeah, right, friends." He hadn't wanted anything to do with him last night. "Thanks for the ride and for letting me stay over. I'll see you around." These people weren't his friends. They knew too much about what he'd done. How could anyone want to be his friend, want him? It was some game.
He slammed the car door and didn't look back. Friends. What a joke. It would be nice to have friends; the thought was wistful and came to him out of nowhere.