Etiket: love game

Rivers to Follow Ch. 08

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Blonde

Hey. Don’t hate me. I have a life too.

Okay, alright, it’s been too long. Like, way too long. I know this.

But I’m here now, aren’t I? And check out this nice long chapter I brought you! Don’t worry. I’m way too excited about the ~new potential romance~ that arises in this chapter to abandon this story.

Anyway, some notes:

1. Yeah, so my material is getting more and more pretentious and intellectual and political. But, though it may seem gratuitous, I stand by its place in the story. And I can’t wait for all the calm, rational comments! That is, if I ever do decide to post this mess anywhere.

2. Malik makes me happy because I’m finally able to write dialogue in my own vernacular. I know that sounds insincere because I just used the word vernacular, but I speak differently in conversation, and I feel like I never get to see that in online writing.

3. There’s not a ton of sex in this chapter. Just fair warning.

4. The pacing in this chapter kinda sucks. I’m sorry. I just wanted to get this out for y’all.

Next chapter should be up… well… in less time than this one took.

– Leon xx

P.S. The f-slur is used in this chapter.

*****

Matty

There were a lot of advantages to Julian’s parents visiting. For one, I finally got him to clean his apartment for the first time since our second date. Ruby’s presence had made it considerably more disgusting, and I wasn’t one to nag, but, goddamn, that place was gross. Another benefit was that he shaved. Controlling your partner’s appearance is shitty and abusive, but his facial-hair exploration had begun to verge into goatee territory, and I wasn’t a huge fan.

Julian was not handling the impending arrival well. I had a lot of experience dealing with garbage parents, but, nervous as he was, he gave clear indicators that his mother and father did not fit into that category. Their interracial, interreligious love affair didn’t go over particularly well, so when Julian came out to them, they were with him every step of the way. I would’ve been jealous if I hadn’t so long ago come to terms with my luck. In any case, his anxiety was a puzzle.

The day of their arrival I woke up bright and early, expecting to sneak out and grab coffee and scones before he rose. To my confusion, however, I woke up to only one furry body in the bed, and it was trying to lick my feet.

“Juli?”

I tugged on the comforter until Ruby begrudgingly moved and allowed me to pull it from the bed. Cloaked in cotton and down, I trudged out of the bedroom to the couch where Julian sat, holding but neglecting his cup of coffee and staring into space. I took the lukewarm mug from his hands and wrapped him up in the blanket.

“Good morning, Juli.” His icy feet brushed against my knees.

“Hi, darling.”

I smiled at his scratchy morning-voice and kissed his ear. “Do you want me to reheat your coffee for you?” He gazed at me and gave a nearly imperceptible shake of the head.

“I love you,” he said quietly.

“I love you too,” I replied. “Your happiness is important to me, and I am here for you.”

I sat with him for a while before getting up to shower and get dressed. Julian was sitting in the same spot when I returned, and I had to drag him to his closet. He plodded about getting ready as I went out to do a sweep for junk in his car (and thank God I did, ’cause I found a cum rag in the back, though I refrained from mentioning this to him).

I put on some Christmas music for the ride, which usually put him in an exhaustingly cheery mood, but he barely seemed to hear it. I honestly couldn’t figure it out. He’d never spoken of his parents with anything but love and admiration (if a bit of familial irritation). Their visit, however, had incited a brand of anxiety I had never before seen in him. It was truly some Matty-level drama. I really, really wished that he would talk to me about it.

******

Julian

They just can not tell him about Lolo.

I should’ve fucking told him about Lolo.

******

Matty

Julian was biting his lip like crazy, and it was driving me crazy. I gently pulled it from between his teeth, and he shot me a glare, but I simply laid my head on his shoulder and took his hand. After a moment of stubborn tenseness, he relaxed his stance and gave my hand a squeeze. That squeeze became a death grip as the first deplaned passenger came into view.

“Hey. Hulk Hands. You’re gonna break my fingers.” He frowned at my tentative smile, and I decided to shut my mouth. We turned our attention back to the jet bridge just as the Osmans appeared.

Mrs. Osman surprised me with her height. She almost matched Julian’s 6’3″ and towered over her husband, who stood well shorter than my six feet. Her gray-blonde hair was wound into a neat bun, leaving an unobstructed view of her blue eyes and peachy skin. It seemed that she and her son shared only in height and strong bone structure.

Mr. Osman looked a lot like his son, and he was totally hot.

“Lili,” acıbadem escort Mrs. Osman said sweetly as they met us at the gate. She took her son’s chin in her hand and inspected him, as though looking for signs of pain or distress. I sensed that I should hang back. “You look beautiful, as always.”

Julian pulled his mother into a hug. “As do you, Maman, as always.” He broke the embrace to step to his father and hug him as well. “Baba.”

“Son. Let me get a look at you.” Julian did as instructed, releasing his father and standing still. “Beautiful. Your mother was right.”

Julian grinned. “As always.”

My heart fluttered as Julian’s loud, booming laugh came from his father’s mouth.

“You.” My heart stopped fluttering. Scratch that—my heart stopped, period. Mrs. Osman extended a delicate finger and drew me forward. I walked over, willing Julian to come to me or say something. My chin was soon found in the same grip that had previously captured Julian, and I waited patiently for the verdict. She relinquished her grasp and patted my cheek. “Beautiful. Much more beautiful than my son, actually. You sure about him?”

I exhaled a laugh that matched hers. “You’re just saying that because he’s blond like you,” Julian fake-whined. Mrs. Osman shot me a wink and then snapped her head around.

“Lili, are you planning on taking us home anytime soon?”

I chuckled as Julian started to protest before sighing and grabbing his parents’ bags.

“So, loulou,” Mrs. Osman started, her husband and son chatting and walking ahead. I blushed at the nickname. “How did you meet my son?”

She caught me smiling at the memory. “We met one night when he was bartending.”

Mrs. Osman raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know he was a bartender.” A cold rush of panic chilled my bones as she called to her husband, “Saïd! Did you know that Lili is a bartender?”

Mr. Osman turned to Julian. “You are a bartender?” Julian nodded, and his father turned back to us. “Lili is a bartender!” he replied.

“I know that! That’s why I asked.”

“Okay,” Mr. Osman said blankly. Mrs. Osman rolled her eyes, and we shared a smile. Julian looked over his shoulder.

“Hey, Mum, did you know that I’m a bartender?”

******

Lili

I snuck a glance behind me to see Matty and my mum laughing together. Breathing so easy after a week of heartburn was a weird sensation.

“Il est beau.”

I turned to my father in horror. “Ugh, Dad, don’t be weird.” He chuckled and thumped me on the back.

“You realize he looks like your mother, yes?”

“Dad!”

******

Loulou

The car ride back to the apartment was interesting. I mostly just observed quietly as Julian and his mother chatted and chirped over each other and Mr. Osman sat without a word. My nickname was dropped a few times—apparently Mrs. Osman had no intention of calling me anything but loulou—but I could barely get a word in edgewise. The Cleveland airport was only about 40 minutes from Julian’s, but by the time we’d arrived he’d relayed the events of his past six months in America.

“And when did you two meet?” Mrs. Osman asked, tapping her foot as we retrieved her bags from the car.

“The very end of August,” I replied, closing the trunk with a huff. Julian squeaked, and his mother glared daggers at him before turning toward the building.

“Hmmph. And I hear about it from Connie Crawford three months later.”

Her words rang in my ears. Three months? Three months. Mrs. Osman walked on ahead, either unaware of or indifferent to the mess she’d just made. A silent conversation played between my eyes and Julian’s. I could feel Mr. Osman watching for a moment before following his wife.

“Later,” I said quietly. Julian nodded, and we headed inside.

The rest of the morning passed without incident. Mostly we just exchanged facts and anecdotes and discussed life in America versus in Britain. They got along with Ruby, who seemed to sense that Mrs. Osman was not to be messed with. It was surprisingly comfortable, considering how stressed Juli had been about the whole affair. Although I suppose I had that one figured out. Connie Crawford, I had quickly pieced together, was Eddy Crawford’s mother. I felt awkward keeping so much distance from Julian, but I didn’t want to pretend that things were okay. At least not until we’d talked.

That opportunity came around four, when Mr. Osman went to nap and Mrs. Osman pulled a book from her bag. Julian nodded toward the kitchen and I followed.

I leaned back against the counter and watched him pace for a while. He kept looking up at me, pleading without words that I speak first, and finally I relented.

“Why didn’t you tell them?” I asked. No frills: Julian-style. He stepped toward me and took my hand. It didn’t feel right, but pulling away seemed harsh, so I let it be.

“My family seems simple, babe, but it’s not.” His tone was much more desperate than I had anticipated, so much so that I was disturbed. I stroked atalar escort the back of his hand with my thumb. “I didn’t wanna scare you off—” I dropped his hand.

“Julian.” I was beginning to feel more pissed than hurt. “Don’t lie.”

“Fine! I didn’t want them to meet you. Alright?” Okay, no, I was back to hurt. Yeah, that really fucking hurt.

“No,” I said quietly. “Not alright.”

“No, I—I’m sorry, Matty, that’s not what I meant.” He always did hate to see me cry, and I was pretty close at that point. “It’s just—All my mother does is pry. You know how… I told you, once…” I looked up from the floor to see him looking down at it. “I told you that I was in a bad relationship.” I nodded, even though he wasn’t looking to see it anyway. “Well, it took its toll on my family, too. It brought out the worst in me, and it ruined my relationship with my mum. I ruined my relationship with my mum. So she interferes. It’s not that I didn’t think they’d like you—not that that even really matters.” I was in his arms by that point, snuggled into his soft knit sweater. “I want us to move at our own pace, and I can’t trust her to let that happen. Honestly, it’s part of the reason I came to study so far away from home.”

That struck me. “I thought you were 18 when you moved to America?” He didn’t look at me. “This relationship was in high school?”

“Well, I was in high school.” My stomach twisted. I was flooded with this nasty, ugly, hateful anger, and Julian must’ve noticed the change in my breathing because he looked down at me and chuckled. “Down, boy,” he murmured, and I shot him a glare before returning to my home in the weave of his sweater.

“I’m not happy that you didn’t tell me before your parents actually showed up,” I said, “but I want us to move past it. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said quietly, and he kissed my head. I nestled further into his arms and he squeezed me tight.

“You know, I thought I got you into trouble earlier—when I let slip you’re a bartender.”

“I did too, for a second,” he replied, a smile in his voice, “which would’ve been hypocritical considering the summer my mom was a topless bartender at a beach in Marseille.”

I choked. “Why do you know that?” He just laughed.

The day went really well after that. I loved watching Julian interact with his family, even when they were speaking French and I had no idea what they were saying. Finally, after weeks of quiet, antsy Julian, I got my goofy boy back. At first, I was unsure of the extent to which I was meant to touch him. His parents were accepting of his sexuality in theory, sure, but seeing it in practice is another thing. Julian showed no reserve, however, giving me constant touches and kisses and even pulling me into his lap at one point, to his mother’s amusement and my chagrin. I ended up learning very little about his parents beside the fact that Mrs. Osman was a very private person and Mr. Osman a very quiet one. They clearly loved Julian, though, and that was all that mattered to me.

It was around five o’clock when I made my exit.

“Unfortunately, I have to go prepare Sunday dinner for a bunch of ingrates,” I said with a sigh. Mrs. Osman rolled her eyes and Mr. Osman laughed—I had already explained the nature of my work to them. I collected my things and said my goodbyes, promising to return in the morning, and Julian walked me down to my car. He had managed to cajole his landlord into giving him one of the vacant parking spots in the garage a few weeks ago, so now I was able to just park and hop in the elevator.

The elevator doors closed and Julian wrapped his arms around me. “Thank you for today, Matty.”

I kissed him softly on the cheek. “I really like them.” He gave me a look and I gave it right back. “I do! They remind me of you, in different ways.”

He groaned. “Oh, don’t tell me that!” I laughed.

“They’re great. And I’m glad you get to be with family on Christmas.” His gaze started to turn guilty and I clucked my tongue. “No, no, Juli, I’m with family too. Phoebs and Tali and the kids are my family. Really.” He smiled sadly and tucked my hair behind my ear.

The elevator dinged. “What’s the frown for?” I asked, stepping out and tugging on his hand.

“Nothing, lou,” he replied, and I raised a brow. He shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Okay, liar,” I said, with a cheekiness to my voice, and that earned me a little tiny grin. I poked his ribs and dashed away before he could retaliate.

“Hey!” he called after me. I galloped away, laughing and spinning, and he gave chase. I stopped on my heels just short of ramming into my car, and before I knew it, Julian was in front of me, pressing my body against the back door.

“You caught me,” I panted, trying but not really trying to hold back an impish smile. He pushed the backpack off my shoulder and it fell to the asphalt. I began to protest, but he cut me off with a kiss.

I knew Julian’s moods well enough to know that he wasn’t feeling gentle. The past few days he’d been so wound up about aydınlı escort his parents that I hadn’t even been thinking about sex; I had just wanted my Juli to be okay. Now, however, with his lips on mine, his warm skin pressed against me, my sex drive was rearing. I held her back a moan as he grabbed my hips and pulled me into him. We stood there for a while, making out and grinding like teenagers, until the sounds of another car prompted me to pull away.

My boyfriend wasn’t done yet, it seemed, and grabbed my hair to pull me back in. “Julian,” I laughed, evading his kiss and pushing our bodies up and away from the car. “I have to go.”

“Can you come by later?” he breathed, running his hands over my ass. I suppressed a snort as he pulled me closer by my ass and began to kiss my neck. Tops.

“Lili. We’re not gonna fuck with your parents in the next room.”

He huffed into my neck. “We can just watch a movie.”

I laughed and kissed his head. “Nice try, love. See you tomorrow.”

He stood there and sulked as I pulled out of the spot and drove away.

******

Julian

I returned to my apartment frustrated. I opened the door and set my keys down, rounding the corner to see my mother sitting beside my father on the couch, his arm around her shoulder and her head resting between his shoulder and his chest.

A newspaper sat on his thigh, folded neatly into quarters to present the day’s crossword. My mother held it down as he penned in an answer. He murmured something and she laughed, and he looked down at her like she was made of sunshine and stars.

“Viens, Lili, join us,” she said, without looking up. I obeyed, walking over and sitting on the other side of my dad. He ruffled my hair, and my mother reached over his lap to squeeze my hand. “I like him,” she declared. “He’s kind, and he clearly cares for you.” I nodded.

She took the pen from my father. 14-Across: Four letters; “where icicles may hang.” E-A-V-E.

“His profession is noble, too,” Baba added. 38-Down: Nine letters; “Western Italian food?” S-P-A-G-H-E-T-T-I. My mother chuckled at him, and he grinned at her.

“I love him,” I concluded. They turned their smiles to me.

I was surprised by how nice it felt to prepare dinner with my parents. In my tiny galley kitchen, me tending to the couscous, my mother to the vegetables, and my father to the meat, each of us swearing as we elbowed each other sides and stepped on each other’s toes, it felt like we were back in our first shoddy little flat, before my father got published and everything changed for us. The only thing missing was Lolo.

By the time my parents turned in, I was absolutely drained. All in all, the day had gone well, but it had been extremely trying and tiring.

I missed Matty.

These days, any time I finished up a bad shift or a difficult exam, all I wanted was to go home, mine or Matty’s, it didn’t matter, and snuggle up with my lou.

I threw my comforter off and sat up. I stepped into my slippers, grabbed my keys, and tiptoed out the door.

******

Matty

Honestly, I thought he might show up. And, of course, I was hoping he would. I didn’t want to ask that of him, but my buzzer sounded off all the same, and I didn’t even ask who it was before allowing them up.

He arrived exhausted, his slow walk looking more like a crawl. I hadn’t realized how hard this day would be on him. I waved him over to the couch and guided his body into my arms. He snuggled up to me like a sleepy cat, and a cute little smile appeared on his face. “Hi handsome,” I murmured, running my fingers lightly through his hair.

“I missed you,” he replied.

“It’s gonna be awkward when your parents catch you sneaking back in.”

“I missed you.”

I suppressed a smile. “Let’s go to bed, then, sweetheart.”

******

The next day, I was early to rise; I had lots of Christmas planning to do at the House. Luckily, I had awoken as the big spoon, so I retracted myself from bed fairly easily.

As I scrubbed at various nooks and crannies, I attempted to conjure the day’s schedule in my head. A speaker, a new volunteer from Planned Parenthood, was coming to speak to the high-school-age kids since they were out of classes. She—I think it was a she, I had yet to meet her—was coming to deliver what our county educators had failed to: some proper sex education.

I wish Juli would come give me some proper sex education.

Fuck. I hopped out of the spray, washcloth still in hand, and trotted over to the open door to my bedroom. I hesitated for a moment before grinning and throwing the wet rag at Julian’s sleeping form.

“Hey!”

Oh. Not-so-sleeping, I suppose.

I laughed and rushed back to the shower, sliding the curtain closed behind me. I heard the door open and listened carefully as he slipped his clothes off and pitter-pattered over to the shower, my body tense with anticipation. He slipped in behind me, attempted subtlety in placing down the lube and condom he’d brought, and laid a gentle hand on my back. I took the hint, leaning over and placing my hands against the wall. He bent over and nibbled along the curve of my ear, as though he meant to distract me from the fact that he was adjusting the water temperature.

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