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Cover art: L.C. Chase,
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Gigi Rosenberg is living his best
life: performances in the big city, side gigs at a dance company, a
successful drag act, and the boy of his childhood dreams who now
adores him. Even if the boyfriend part isn’t the sparkly ride of
passion he expected it to be, life is sweet. So when his sister’s
wedding calls him back to his hometown, he sees an opportunity to
show the hicks from his past how wrong they were about him. Only, his
boyfriend isn’t quite on board.
Brock Stubbs left their hometown and
his parents behind for a reason, and the prospect of facing them
again is terrifying. He swore he’d never go back, but Gigi has made
it clear refusal isn’t an option, and Brock will do nearly anything
for him. There’s just one deal-breaker of a problem: Brock promised
Gigi he was out to everyone, including his parents. He lied.
It’s magical to run
into the sunset together, but staying the course takes work. For Gigi
and Brock, going home feels like the finale of a long, disappointing
year. Sometimes love isn’t all you need.
For anyone who’s ever had a really crappy weekend.
by Cass Lennox
Gigi Rosenberg sat
in the driver’s seat of his rented car and glared through the
windshield at his boyfriend. Brock stood in the driveway, hands in
pockets, his face set to that miserable expression Gigi was starting
to despise, not least because it always tugged at his heart, and
definitely not least because Brock had been using it a lot
And why the fuck
was that again? Oh, let’s think.
Ire fully loaded,
he lowered the driver’s-side window and leaned out. “Last chance,
Brock seemed to
curl in on himself. It would have been pathetic if he were any less
built, those big shoulders rounding by his ears and his chiselled
face dipping into his chest.
No, actually, even
with the muscles it was still pathetic.
A red haze clouded
Gigi’s peripheral vision, and he slammed the car horn multiple
times as he bellowed, “Fuck you!” Then he pulled his head back
in, released the car from park, and began reversing down the
Unbelievable. This had to be a sign right? Yeah. This is
totally a sign that I’m meant to be wild and free and not
attached to some overbuilt—he turned into the
road—oversensitive—shifted into drive—overworked—stomped
on the accelerator—asshole of a dude who would rather stay home
than support his beloved boyfriend.
Gigi looked in the
rearview mirror as Brock’s house fell farther behind him. In the
backseat, he could see his duffel bag, suit bag, coat, Toronto gift
hamper, wedding present, and snacks for the journey. Too many snacks,
of course, because his supposed boyfriend wasn’t coming anymore.
He paused at the
corner, then made a right. Brock’s street was behind him now, out
of sight in the rearview mirror. At the next red light, he punched at
the GPS and glared as it began chirruping directions to Highway 400.
Highway 400, which
then turned into the Trans-Canada Highway. North on that for almost
four hours of forest, then a turn off after Sudbury for another hour
of more fucking forest. God, Gigi thought he’d never have to
deal with nature again after leaving home, or if he did, it would be
a nice distance away. Like Niagara Falls, all safe behind a viewing
platform and some cliffs. Being in a car would help, sure, but he’d
have to drive through kilometres and kilometres of goddamn trees and
leaves and moose and shit, and all he’d get for his trouble was his
hick hometown in the middle of Nowhere, Ontario. Alone.
After all, it
wasn’t, like, important they go or anything. So what if his
big sister, Sophie, was getting hitched to love-of-her-life and
all-around-decent-heterosexual Alan, and Gigi was so excited and
happy for her he could barely express it? Sure, no big. No big at
Brock get what a big deal that was to him? To his family? Sophie
deserved all the happiness he could imagine.
happiness apparently meant holding the wedding in their hometown
because Maney in the autumn was lovely and beautiful
and she wanted her poor fiancé to see where she came from.
Please. She wanted
to rub her yummy fiancé and big, fancy wedding in the faces of all
those hometown hosers, the ones who’d told her she’d be lucky to
get a boyfriend, let alone a husband, especially with a brother like
hers. Part of him was ecstatic at the idea of helping her, and
another part was scared shitless.
Brock might have
been grumpy as shit most of the way there, but his grumpy company was
always better than no company at all. And no company was what the
journey now promised.
No, wait. That’s
good. Fuck him.
tightened on the steering wheel.
Thing was, he’d
had such hopes for rest stops. “Rest” stops where they
rested their mouths on each other’s dick and maybe swapped drivers.
But no, he wasn’t even going to get pit stop blowjobs now.
It almost made him
pull into the nearest parking lot to turn around.
What the hell was
Brock’s problem? Okay, he hated their putrefied waste of an
ex-hometown as much as Gigi did, but he’d definitely had an easier
time of it there as a teenager, and he wouldn’t be the only
openly gay guy there this time around. Gigi remembered their teen
years like they were yesterday, and he knew Brock did too, but those
years were gone. Past. Freaking Sean Penn to Guy Ritchie to
Independent Madonna. All Brock had said was that he didn’t want to
go back there ever, and not even Gigi’s sister’s wedding
was enough incentive, apparently.
Did other divas
ever have to put up with shit like this? Probably. He could see Guy
Ritchie being all whiny and clingy and Madonna having to bitch-slap
his English ass into behaving. But they were divorced now, so
obviously she hadn’t put up with whatever bullshit he’d dished.
Beyoncé and Jay Z had been tight . . . but then Lemonade had
happened. Nah, Kylie did things right: all gorgeous boy toys and
nothing long-term. Smart girl.
Actually, he was
seeing a pattern there that he wasn’t entirely sure he liked.
The passenger seat
was empty and it seemed wrong, but Gigi elected to ignore that and
focus on the drive, on getting the car through Toronto’s Friday
traffic. It was just before lunchtime but somehow still bad. The red
haze faded from the edges of his vision the closer he got to Highway
He hadn’t even
left Toronto, yet the 400 still felt too close to home.
If he were being
honest—and Gigi prided himself on knowing exactly when to be honest
and when bullshittery was needed—he couldn’t blame Brock. Going
back to their hometown, The Place Where Death Went to Be Bored, was
in their top-five Things They Never Wanted to Do. It was also in
their top-three things of Stuff I’ll Only Do With You.
For him it was a
no-brainer: he’d left the relentless homophobia of his adolescence
behind and was so uninterested in visiting it, he might as well wrap
it in grey and stripes and call it a police cell.
Brock, though, was
being totally closemouthed about whatever his exact problem
was. Who knew what it could be? From what little he’d mentioned
over the year and three months they’d been dating, and the fact
that Gigi had never heard him speak to or mention his parents, Gigi
guessed that it had something to do with Brock’s family. But he’d
never said anything, so Gigi didn’t actually know.
And when that
lousy, traitorous wimp had dropped that I can’t this
morning, shut down and pulled out—and not in a sexy way—it
had really hurt. Gigi was furious and fucked—also not in the good
way. There wasn’t even an excuse this time. Just I can’t.
If Gigi could make himself go—not like he had a choice or
anything—Brock could put on his big-boy pants and come with.
were all tight on the wheel again, knuckles showing white. Oooh, that
couldn’t be good for his skin. Age showed in the hands. He took a
few deep breaths, forcing his hands to relax.
All right. So. He
was going all toned, sexy, fabulous, and alone.
Well, if Kylie and
Gaga could do it, so could he.
He flipped his
hair—not that there was much to flip, but that wasn’t the
point—and at another red light, dug around for his iPod. If he was
going to be driving for the next five-ish hours without any prospects
of blowjobs or bitching about this stupid hometown wedding, he needed
the next best thing: spiritual sisterly support. He found the iPod
and stuck the cable into the car’s USB port.
opening of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” beat into his car and Gigi
He emphatically did
not think about Brock, or Brock’s expression as Gigi had
yelled at him, or how tense and monosyllabic Brock had been in the
last two weeks. Nope. And, okay, his phone chimed and lit up
repeatedly beside him on the passenger seat, but like hell he was
going to check it. He was driving and he was going to Maney
and nothing was going to stop him.
He reached the
junction that fed onto the 401 Expressway, the road that would then
feed onto Highway 400. Fuck. Here we go.
over in his brain, and before he’d realized it, he pulled off the
road, into the parking lot of the Yorkdale mall, and stopped in the
first bay he saw.
Centre yourself. Think about this.
What was he doing?
Was he really going to go back to Maney alone? Okay, Sophie and his
parents would be there, and it was only for four days, but they
wouldn’t be with him all day. They’d be focused on the wedding,
not on dealing with any shit from the neighbours or from people he’d
known at school.
Gigi could handle
himself. He’d been handling himself since he was twelve and Turk
Rogers had caught him reading men’s health magazines in the only
bookstore in town. He was twenty-five now and a queen. If he wanted
to, he could go full Priscilla on their asses, stroll down Main in a
frock and ten-inch stilettos, and use those stilettos to punch holes
in anyone who so much as looked at him wrong. Maney was going to get
Gigi LaMore, because his queen was who he channelled these days, who
he really was, not shy, scared, chubby Toby Rosenberg. Toby was long
The problem was, no
one else would see him as Gigi. They’d still call him Toby, still
know him as the gay kid who ate his feelings and did theatre and sang
too much. He didn’t mind his family calling him that, because they
loved him, but having no one else there who knew and appreciated Gigi
as his full and complete self was going to be hard.
Brock knew him.
Brock loved him.
Or so he said.
Gigi felt tears
threatening, and leaned forward to rest his forehead against the
wheel. Fuck. He did need Brock. He really did. Why the hell couldn’t
Brock be there for him? What was four days of crazy and a
wedding? Four days.
Maybe Gigi could
have tried to persuade him instead of throwing down a Mariah and
driving away. Brock’s expression was starting to seem less selfish
and weak, and more scared stupid. Still stupid, because they’d
had a year to discuss this. A year. And all Brock had said was
yes to going, right up until he’d said no.
Maybe Gigi should
reconsider that last chance thing.
His phone buzzed
again, and he picked it up. Fifteen missed calls from Brock. Three
messages. Gigi didn’t even read them, he just called Brock.
Brock answered. “Babe, I’m sorry.”
The anger was back,
but it was caught up in a bucketload of relief. “Sorry isn’t good
enough, but I’m glad you called.”
“I know.” Brock
hesitated. “I have never seen you that angry. Not when we had to
cancel Montreal. Not even when Woody’s dropped your show during
And that really had
been some bullshit. But it was liveable bullshit. And Brock didn’t
get to use Montreal like that. “Hey, we cancelled Montreal because
you had to work. Again.”
“Fuck you for
bringing that back up again, by the way. This is not Montreal. This
is my sister’s wedding. This is not a weekend trip or a fancy
restaurant or one of my shows. And by the way, I’m over you
cancelling that shit too. If you tell me right now that you couldn’t
go to my sister’s wedding because of work, I will fucking end you
when I get back.”
Brock took a deep
breath. “It’s not work. It’s not.”
His voice quivered
slightly. “I promised myself I wouldn’t go back there. Not for
“So did I, but
life’s a bitch, honey.” Gigi paused. “Not for anything? Not
even for me? What about what we talked about? You and me, together.
Brock was silent.
“So, not even for
me. Thanks a lot, boyfriend.” Tears were close again. Gigi sat back
against his seat, staring out at the parking lot. He hated this. He
really, really hated these kinds of conversations. “What are we
“What do you
“What is this?
I’m sitting in fucking Yorkdale, staring at cars—by
myself—because you can’t man up and visit the shithole that is
our hometown. I hate it too, but I’m doing it, and I’m the one
who got more shit for being gay there than you ever did.”
“I’m not done
yet. What I can’t do is explain to my sister why my boyfriend isn’t
going to be there, because all I got is his principles are more
important than my family, and that’s too crappy a reason to
give her, by the way. Because I’m wondering if it’s not something
more like he doesn’t want to be seen with his femmy queen
boyfriend in public there. Because why else would my boyfriend of
over a year keep cancelling on me? Why do you keep doing
“I don’t mean
to. I want to do well at my job. You know that.” Brock sighed. “I’m
sorry. I’ll try harder, and I won’t drop plans again. I promise,
it’s nothing to do with you. I love you exactly the way you are.”
Gigi had heard that
before. He’d heard that the first night they’d gotten together,
one year and a summer ago, and he’d heard it since, and somehow it
no longer meant anything. “Yeah? Prove it.”
A note of anger
appeared in Brock’s voice now. “What do you mean, ‘prove it’?
Haven’t I already done that?”
Crap. That hadn’t
come out right. Deep breaths. Collect and try again. “Look.
Babe. What I mean is that this is important. You don’t cancel a
wedding unless it’s an emergency, and this isn’t. People in
relationships don’t do that to each other. So this thing that’s
happening right now? It doesn’t feel like a relationship.” As
soon as he’d said it, Gigi realized with a shudder how true it was.
“You’ve been a grumpy asshole for how long now? Since you
graduated? And you won’t tell me why. You don’t tell me anything.
You just work and let me come over to suck your dick and cook food.
You’re not happy. And I’m not happy. And now you’re letting me
down big time, and I’m tired of all of it. Is this how we
Brock was quiet for
what felt like a long time before he said, “Are you . . . are you
breaking up with me?”
“Like hell I’m showing up unattached at my sister’s wedding.
I’m going to Maney and telling them all about my hot boyfriend and
sweet job so they see how awesome my life is, then I’m going
to come back and dump your ass.”
Which he was angry
enough to do right now. When Sophie’d announced the engagement last
year—and once Gigi had stopped flipping his shit at the location of
the wedding—he’d slowly concluded that maybe this wasn’t an
entirely bad thing. He’d pictured returning home, all toned and
sexy and fabulous, with his gorgeous boyfriend on his arm, showing
off just how wrong everyone there was about him and his sister and
Brock. He wanted to fuck his boyfriend in the room he’d had as a
bullied, outcast teenager. He wanted the dumb hicks who’d tortured
him to see him happy and out and attached. He wanted to dance with
Brock at his sister’s reception. It would totally bring things full
And if he couldn’t
do those things, he was going to do the next best thing and lie
through his winningest smile with a pic of his boyfriend at the ready
on his phone.
But, damn it, he
really wanted to do those things.
He also wanted to
take everything back. Brock had a quaver in his voice that Gigi
hadn’t heard in a long time, which had him checking himself. Had it
really come to this? Was he really going to dump Brock over this?
What was he doing?
Gigi cast back over
the last year. The last three months or so had fucking sucked, like
seriously sucked, but it’d started out so well. How had they
reached this point?
Regardless of good
beginnings, they couldn’t keep going. Not like this. So now was as
good a time as ever to—
voice growled through the phone. Goose bumps rose on Gigi’s
skin. Oooh, he knew that voice. He liked that voice.
“No to everything
you just said. I don’t know if you’re trying to threaten me or
manipulate me, but there is absolutely no way I want to break up with
you, babe.” His voice lost the edginess. “Are you really that
unhappy with me?”
A lump lodged in
Gigi’s throat. “I don’t want to go to Maney. If I have to go, I
want to go with you. You keep saying that you have my back, but
you’re not here and I don’t understand why. I feel like you
haven’t been with me for months now.”
A long silence
followed his words.
believe he’d fucked up this badly.
He’d been trying.
Ever since he’d convinced Gigi he was serious about him at the
start of last summer, Brock had made sure he was the perfect
boyfriend. They’d met each other’s friends. Taken weekend breaks
in Niagara, Syracuse, and Buffalo. He’d gone to as many of Gigi’s
shows as he could—the dance performances, the small stage roles,
the drag shows when Gigi LaMore came out to play. None of them had
been left out. He’d been nothing but supportive of Gigi’s drag
and creative pursuits. He even called him Gigi instead of Toby at his
request, even though Brock’s memories of Gigi were irreparably
tangled with seventeen-year-old Toby Rosenberg. Guilt alone over
their history would have ensured his game was up and on point, but he
did love Gigi. When Brock thought about it, he wasn’t sure there
had ever been a point since he was a teen when he hadn’t loved him.
And he’d assumed
he was doing okay there. Making ads was earning Brock the most money
he’d ever made, and even though he sometimes had to cancel stuff
lately, he’d helped Gigi out with money for other things. And he
was building some savings so they could do something together for
their future, like buy an apartment or go on some crazy overseas
trip. He knew he wasn’t around as much now, but Gigi’s jobs had
led to cancelled plans too, so it wasn’t as though he was the only
one who prioritized work.
Only, somehow he
was standing in his living room, on the phone with a very upset Gigi
and feeling like everything was falling down around his ears. Gigi
sounded so far away, and not just physically. He sounded like he was
poised to go and, apparently, to never come back to him. To Toronto,
yes, but not to him.
How had he let
things get this way?
Brock flopped down
on his sofa, a tattered and ripped thing he and his housemates had
dragged off the street when they’d moved in. The cell felt hot in
his hand, as though Gigi’s anger had infused the metal and plastic.
His stomach roiled.
He didn’t have a
choice. Not really.
“I hear you,”
he said. “I’ll go.”
A slow exhalation.
“You saying that because you think it’s what I want to hear?”
“No. I’m saying
it because I don’t want to have this conversation on the phone. And
I don’t want . . .” you to stop loving me. You to leave me.
“. . . to let this go. I’ll go to Maney with you.”
He heard some
muffled movement from Gigi’s end. “I’m still angry at you,
asshole.” Gigi’s tone had lightened slightly, which gave Brock a
sliver of hope. “But I know it sucks. I promise, it’ll be better
if we’re together, okay? I’ll try too. You have an hour to get to
Yorkdale. I’m going to walk around and resist buying the entirety
of Zara, but I’m not waiting forever for you, got it?”
Gigi hung up, and
Brock rose heavily to his feet.
So, he was doing
this after all. Going back.
Returning to their
shitty hometown for Gigi’s sister’s wedding had seemed . . .
well, not fine, but kind of doable when Gigi had first mentioned it a
year ago. There were awkward things about that which he’d meant to
discuss with Gigi before they went. But life had been too perfect to
screw up with an argument, and there would be an argument if
Gigi knew just how not-out Brock was to his parents, and how he
wanted to remain that way. Three months into this relationship at the
time felt like too soon to have that kind of argument. He’d wanted
Gigi too long to wreck it.
So there was no
choice now. Stay and lose him, go and maybe try not to lose him. A
He called a taxi,
then quickly packed a bag. He’d started packing the night before,
but midway the thought of going back had paralyzed him to the point
that he’d crawled into bed instead, mind playing through how he
could tell Gigi in the morning.
All the scenarios
he’d thought of paled in comparison to reality. Gigi had been
absolutely livid. Of course he’d been—and honestly, Brock was
kind of dumb for expecting anything different. He knew Gi. The man
was a queen who saw life as a permanent stage and any hiccups as
attempts to upstage him. He’d flipped his shit in a display worthy
of Mariah Carey and barely paused before sweeping out and screeching
away. No questions, no concern for Brock at all, no attempt to try to
understand that Brock could not and did not want to do
this. Nothing except some scathing one-liners and insults Brock
couldn’t bear to respond to.
The thing was,
Brock got it. He totally did. But, and not for the first time, he
wondered if it would kill Gigi to calm the fuck down for once.
Also not for the
first time, he wondered if it would kill him to actually fight
back and stand his ground instead of folding like this. Seriously, it
wasn’t like it was the worst thing in the world, right? He could
have explained himself a year ago, six months ago, six weeks ago. He
could have sat Gigi down and explained just how fucked up his family
was, and why his gap year had turned into two gap years, and why he
never spoke to his parents, and why he never ever wanted to be in the
vicinity of his parents ever again. But he hadn’t, and now it was
too late. Now any excuses would just show how much of a coward he
And he was a
coward. Big time. Because despite refusing to go back and hiding that
he was still in the closet where his parents and Maney were
concerned, there was one thing he was especially scared of: killing
this relationship. That was enough to make him backtrack on
Problem was, he’d
trapped himself. Too scared to go back, too scared to stay. And while
it was so tempting to sit here and pretend his promises to himself
mattered more than his boyfriend, Brock knew Gigi wouldn’t forgive
him if he stayed here this weekend.
So. He was going.
Because if there was a sliver of a chance he could mitigate that
whole coming-out thing better while being there, he might be able to
keep his relationship. Hopefully.
As he tossed in
boxers and a clean sleep shirt, he paused at the sight of lube and
tissues on the dresser. A new bottle, unopened, ready for action.
Would it be too presumptuous to take it with him? Maybe. Maybe not.
He tossed it in the bag.
One suit, shoes,
phone charger, some spare socks, and a shirt, and he was good to go.
His stomach tied
itself in knots as he put on a jacket and got into the taxi, twisting
further the closer he got to Yorkdale. By the time he paid the driver
and went into the mall, his stomach was a lead weight. He was well
within time, but the centre was huge and his boyfriend wasn’t
He texted that he
was at Starbucks, bought some coffee, and waited.
Oh God, he
was really doing this. He was going back. With his boyfriend.
They’d be open as boyfriends in front of the homophobic assholes
who’d made Gigi’s high school years a genuine misery and Brock’s
a closeted wreck. He’d be out in front of everyone who’d once
known him. The idea of being out in front of Mrs. Sable from down the
road and his English teacher who’d hated him and anyone from school
who was still there and his parents was horrifying. Being
boyfriends in Toronto wasn’t a problem, just as being out in
Toronto wasn’t a problem. But in Maney?
And having to deal
with all that in front of Gigi as well as dealing with Gigi .
The coffee was a
mistake. The lead in his stomach had turned into heavy roiling acid,
ready to be ejected all over the shiny mall floor.
He saw Gigi before
Gigi saw him. Not difficult—the man stood out in a crowd. He was
practically walking art: lean and muscular from dancing, spangled
with jewellery from earlobe to glittery shoes, and hair dyed to a
deep red like fallen leaves. There was a now-familiar surge of blood
as Brock watched him, and his stomach somersaulted before settling
back down again—a little lighter and steadier this time.
Under the red hair
and sparkles, Gigi’s face was wan and frowning as he walked towards
the store. “I’m not happy” replayed in Brock’s head,
and he fought to keep from laughing hysterically. If Gigi wasn’t
happy with him now, despite everything Brock had done to be the
boyfriend Gigi deserved, he was going to be miserable by the time
they came back to Toronto. Guaranteed.
This weekend is
going to be a fucking disaster. Maybe I should just stay here
and save us all a lot of trouble.
Yeah, no. Going
back was happening.
Brock took a few
steps to meet Gigi, coffee in one hand and weekend bag in the other.
Gigi glanced him over, unimpressed. “That’s all you’re
“I didn’t want
to be late.”
“Please tell me
there’s at least a suit in there.”
everyone needs five outfits a day.”
That took Brock
back to their Syracuse trip, when he’d taken two shirts and a
mountain of lube and condoms, and Gigi had brought a massive suitcase
stuffed with clothes. They’d teased each other in between kissing
and fucking and eating and taking in the sights of Upstate New York.
It had been Gigi’s first time out of Canada. Granted, it hadn’t
been exactly far out of Canada, but it still counted.
That had been an
Gigi stiffened, his
eyes narrowing. “You’re meeting my family.”
sure I can buy anything else I need in Maney.”
Gigi crossed his
arms and looked aside. That set jaw meant he was either angry or
nervous. Maybe both. If he was nervous too, that was something. Brock
gripped the handle of his bag tighter and watched Gigi refuse to
react—he could tell, he knew how Gigi’s mind worked. The sounds
of the mall filled the silence between them. His coffee warmed his
fingers through the thin cardboard cup.
So stupid. And
weird. Why all this over a trip? Over clothes? How could
someone he understood this well also be someone whose reactions
sometimes completely confused him?
“You done here?”
Brock gestured to the mall.
Gigi nodded, the
movement jerky. “Let’s do this.”
Brock followed him
out into the parking lot. The day was bright and sunny, a pleasant
autumn day, which was a perfect contrast to the black mood between
him and Gigi. Brock trailed behind him, sipping his coffee and
watching Gigi’s ass flex as he walked.
One year and three
months ago, he’d watched that ass walk up to a dance audition stand
and he’d been unable to look away. Not that he’d been expecting
to know the owner of the ass at the time—Brock was only there to do
a documentary with his friend and project partner, Katie. As far as
he’d been concerned, Gigi was just another dancer in the dance
competition they’d be filming.
Brock had been
setting up the camera, gauging light and focus and watching the
dancers congregate next to the stands. Strong, lean, tough bodies
flexed and stood and sipped coffee, completely unaware of their
beauty or the looks they were getting from passersby. Brock lifted
weights and jogged, so he knew he was built, but the athleticism here
was something else.
And so was the last
dancer to show up: tight jeans and a T-shirt that gave everything
away, iced coffee in hand and wide grins for his fellow dancers. His
hair was dyed an electric purple, earrings sparkled from both lobes,
and his ass looked tight enough to spank back. Beautiful and crazy
So obviously when
he and Katie approached the dancers to introduce themselves, he’d
approached the hot guy with a grin.
Sexy Ass smiled
widely back at him, a thrilling, cheeky smile that seemed familiar
and made Brock’s blood surge. One dextrous, elegant hand was held
out—not for Brock to shake, but to kiss.
Brock took it
gently. “I feel like we’ve met before.”
Sexy Ass frowned
and cocked his head. “Hmm. Possibly. You . . . Wait, maybe you know
me as Gigi LaMore.” His expression turned sultry. “I’ve had
some very fun shows.”
“How would he
recognize you out of drag?” his fellow dancer, Tyler, asked.
Gigi batted his eyes at Brock. “Enchanted.”
A drag queen. That
explained a lot. Smiling, Brock bowed over Gigi’s hand, almost but
not quite kissing it. Queens could be temperamental about that.
“Pleased to meet you, Gigi.” He straightened. “I’m Brock
Gigi stiffened and
went pure white, grey eyes wide. He whipped his hand out of Brock’s.
“Y-you don’t say.”
Just like that, the
flirty vibe was gone. Looking back, Brock could see this was when Gi
had recognized him, but at the time, he’d just been taken aback by
Katie had stepped
in, given them some spiel about looking forward to working with them,
then hustled Brock back to their equipment. Throughout the auditions,
Brock had kept eyeing Gigi, a feeling that he knew him niggling away
in his gut. No particular thing stood out, but the guy just seemed so
very familiar. Had he slept with him and forgotten? Brock doubted it.
Gigi looked like he’d be a memorable lay.
Gigi kept glancing
at him too.
A few long hours
later and Gigi was finally assigned to a sporty guy named Mark, who
had a very supportive girlfriend in the audience. Katie groaned when
Mark and Gigi met, Mark shaking his hand enthusiastically and Gigi
looking like he’d touched something gross.
“Christ, this is
going to be a mess,” Katie murmured to Brock.
“Look at them.
Hetero überjock with gay sex kitten.” She popped her gum. “Guy’s
practically allergic to Mark. It’ll either be hilarious or
mortifying on film.”
Brock let his eyes
linger on Gigi. “What’s Gigi’s deal?”
“Deal? He’s a
dancer. He’s . . .” Katie looked between Brock and Gigi, the
penny obviously dropping. “Him? Really? I thought you went
for the serious, conscientious type, not—” she waved towards the
“Hey, what do you
mean by ‘that’?”
She gave him a hard
look. “You remember telling me about Toby?”
A bolt of guilt
went through Brock. Toby. He’d never get over Toby. Wait, how did
she know about him? “No,” he said honestly.
“Thought not. You
were wasted. End of semester party at my house, remember? I got you
to the bathroom okay, and after throwing up, you mumbled something
about trying to find Toby because he was the love of your life and
you wanted to make things up to him.” She shrugged. “I figured
you wanted to find your high school boyfriend and play house, not
“But look at the
Her jaw moved as
she frowned at him. “Brock, you’re the kind of guy who wants to
settle down with a nice man, adopt a few babies, and grow old
together. Do you even do flings and one-night stands?”
“Uh, yeah?” Was
that how he came across? He knew he wasn’t sex on legs like Gigi
over there, but he didn’t do badly in the gay scene. Especially
once he’d dropped his hang-ups about his sexuality, which had
happened during his extended gap year. After doing charity work in
Indonesia for a year, then working and fucking his way through Europe
for another year, he’d definitely sorted through the mental scars
his upbringing had left about sex and same-sex relationships. No more
closet for him. That meant having fun in Toronto’s Village and gay
bars while also keeping a lookout for Toby’s face. Because yeah, he
had to find him and at least apologize for what he’d done.
“It’s just that
the way you were about this Toby guy made it seem like that’s who
you’re holding out for. You were so into him.” Katie
snapped her gum again. “Gigi, on the other hand, is a
high-maintenance queen; even I can see that.”
“Maybe so, but he’s fucking hot.”
“Ugh. Just don’t
do anything that jeopardizes this project.” She pointed at the
dance machine where two girls were waiting. “Film them. I think one
of them knows Tyler. She might get through based on friendship.”
After the auditions
were over, Brock had packed up the camera and headed to lunch with
Katie. Thoughts of Gigi warred with memories of Toby throughout lunch
and well into the afternoon.
Brock had moved to Toronto specifically to find the guy and make
amends with him, and to finally attend university, but he’d been
here for three years and hadn’t seen so much as a hair. He wasn’t
on Facebook, none of Brock’s gay friends knew of him, Brock hadn’t
spotted him out in any of the gay clubs and bars, and Brock was
starting to wonder if Toby had given him the wrong information about
his university plans back in school.
The Toby in his
memories had been tall and overweight, with big grey eyes, floppy
dirty-blond hair, and a filthy mouth. Adorable. A drama club member
who could sing and dance, Toby had haltingly told him about his dream
to move to Toronto, leave Maney behind for good, and take the stage.
The Maney gossip mill backed that up; he’d gone to Toronto, been in
a few plays. But Brock hadn’t seen him, so was he still here? Or
had he moved on to somewhere more exciting for actors, like New York?
It had been seven
years since he’d last seen him, and, sure, Brock had figured Toby
would have grown up a lot, but he’d been counting on recognizing
him by the eyes and hair. Maybe a secretive part of him had hoped
he’d recognize him no matter what, that their connection had been
deep enough to keep them attuned despite the years.
Yeah, no such luck.
Then Gigi had
introduced himself to Evie the next day, in front of Brock and Katie,
as Gigi Rosenberg, and that had been it.
Seriously, it was
like electricity shivering through him, lighting up every nerve and
cell, and afterwards Brock had been overwhelmed by absolute and
complete certainty. Gigi was it. Brock had never been more
sure about anything in his life, and it felt so good. He
wasn’t religious, but this moment came damn close. It was like the
clouds had parted and a freaking ray of sunlight had beamed onto
Toby/Gigi’s head and revealed all the features Brock had once known
like the back of his hand. The wicked eyes, the wide mouth, the long
nose, all of those were still there and so obviously Toby’s that
Brock had wondered how he hadn’t recognized them before. Okay, he’d
gained a ton of definition and muscle, and sure that changed his
outer shape, but the core of him was still there.
So, he’d finally
found Toby Rosenberg. The search was over. Brock had decided then and
there that he wasn’t letting him go ever again.
Now, in this
parking lot, that decision was laughable in its optimism.
They reached the
car. Brock dropped his bag into the back, then settled into the
passenger seat. Gigi fussed with his seat and belt, avoiding Brock’s
What was the
phrase? Cut the tension with a knife? This felt more like a
suffocating cloud of bad energy.
He could try to
clear the air? Or give Gigi an opportunity to speak his mind? Things
tended to go better if they spoke (ranted) openly about problems.
Brock took a deep
breath. “It’s a mistake that I’m coming.”
Gigi turned to him,
eyes flashing. “You trying to convince me, sweetie?”
“No. But you’ll
see once we’re there.”
Gigi rolled his
eyes. “I’m supposed to be the dramatic one. It’s not a
mistake. It’s a wedding. And it’s four days.” He stared at
Brock. “We can handle four days.”
“It’s not the
time, it’s the people.”
Gigi blinked, then
his expression softened. “I know. I’m scared too. But we can
handle them. We’re adults now, you know?”
Brock wasn’t so
sure about that. “I . . .” I don’t want to go back there. I
don’t want my parents to know I’m in town. I don’t want you to
be exposed to them. I don’t want to come out to them.
He couldn’t say
that. Not with their history. Not when Gigi had no sympathy for
closet cases. Saying he was scared to be out in Maney and could they
maybe please not be all over each other would get him dumped and out
of the car quicker than it took Gigi to rip a heckler to shreds.
His throat closed
up, and he looked out the window.
“What? You what?”
Gone was any softness or understanding from Gigi’s voice. “Finish
the fucking sentence.”
Gigi made a noise
of frustration and started the car. “See, this thing you’re
doing? Right now? This is driving me fucking nuts.”
Oh, like he
could talk? “And you getting on my case because I decided to not
finish a sentence is getting real fucking old.”
Gigi shifted into
drive with unnecessary force. “To think I was vaguely missing you
before you came here. Clearly absence does make the heart grow
Brock’s own heart
panged. “What is this? You were the one saying you wanted to break
“I do not
want to break up!” Gigi glared at him. “But this isn’t working,
babe. This fucking sucks.”
That’s what you wanted.”
“I didn’t want
to make you come to Maney with me! Not like this!”
“Then like how? I
don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be here. I can’t
suddenly want to go just because it’s important to you. I want to
be at home, with you, queuing up some shitty movie on Netflix, and
settling into the weekend.”
Gigi’s eyes took
on a glistening sheen, but he scowled and blinked it away. “Then
how about you queue up some shitty movie on your phone so that at
least you’re doing something important to you?” He took
his foot off the brake, and the car began rolling forwards. “And
don’t talk to me. I want to drive, not crash into a tree for some
freaking relief from bullshit.”
Fine. Fucking fine.
Brock pulled out
his cell and headphones and turned to stare out the window, wishing
this weekend was over already.
Gigi curled up in
his chair, hands over his eyes so he could block out the screen in
front of them. Oh God. It was unbearable. Too horrific to watch. So
Brock nudged him.
“You can look now.”
Gigi uncovered his
eyes to see Carmen and Claude stumbling around on the screen instead
of him and Mark. He breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Katie and Brock’s
documentary about the summer’s dance competition, Fierce,
was being shown in a U of T screening room, and Gigi and Brock were
watching along with the other participants and most of Katie and
Brock’s film class. So far it was kind of amazing to see each
couple progress through their routines, to watch them become friends
and discuss LGBTQIA issues on screen. Seeing the progress condensed
into twenty minutes alone was awesome.
Or it would
be if the camera hadn’t added like twenty pounds to Gigi. Why? Why?
He looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man galumphing around with
Mark. You’d never know the guy behind the camera was dating him.
He jerked up
straight, struck by a horrifying thought: what if the camera wasn’t
lying? What if that was actually how he looked? Omigod what do I
Brock took his hand
as the film went from Carmen and Claude to Tyler and Evie. Gigi
watched them dancing, totally oblivious to the camera. It really was
very sweet the way they looked into each other’s eyes and kept
blushing and laughing. It was less cute when they were doing it now,
in the seats next to him. Practically vomitous. That was a word,
Brock gasped, dropping Gigi’s hand.
that about? Gigi looked over at him, then heard the questions
start on screen. Katie was asking Evie and Tyler about the routine,
then Brock interrupted with some kind of freaking monologue
about how great they were.
Gigi watched in
disbelief as Brock sat in a circle with Evie and Tyler, getting love
advice from them. The audience around them chuckled as Brock
blatantly broke documentary fourth wall logic or whatever the film
rules were, but Gigi barely heard them. Brock’s face on screen was
totally desperate. He was begging for help with Gigi. With him.
Brock had done
this? Why hadn’t he said anything? Didn’t he realize how totally
. . . how unbelievably . . .
Gigi didn’t even
have words for this.
He glanced over at
his boyfriend. Brock’s hands covered his face as he slumped in his
seat. So cute. He turned back to the documentary and watched
Evie hatch a plan to get Brock together with him. A plan that had
worked very well, incidentally. Three months later, they were
totally dating and serious about it.
Like, Gigi had
daydreamed about being boyfriends with someone and doing all the
cutesy shit couples seemed to do, but it turned out getting to that
reality was difficult. Not that he had problems meeting guys and
hooking up or whatever, but sometimes he’d thought it would be
impossible to meet someone and actually be with them.
But Brock was easy
to be with. And right now, Gigi wanted nothing more than to fuck his
adorable, devoted, completely amazing boyfriend until they both
were in public, so Gigi reached over, pried one of Brock’s hands
off his face, and held it tightly instead. Brock made a whimpering
noise, then sunk farther back in his chair, only relaxing once the
scene was over. They didn’t let go until the film was over, then
the lights came on and the audience began buzzing around them.
“I begged Katie
to edit it out but she wouldn’t,” Brock said immediately.
Gigi leaned over
and kissed his cheek, then whispered in his ear, “We need to go
home so I can fuck you.”
Brock went bright
red. “Uh. Okay. So that wasn’t as embarrassing for you as it was
for me? Good to know.”
“I wondered how
you’d react to that,” Evie said behind Gigi.
He turned around.
Both Evie and Tyler were grinning knowingly at him. Gigi channelled
some LaMore and arched an eyebrow. “I am amazed that you two
could watch yourselves up there. Practically screwing on screen.
Evie scoffed. “Not
quite sure how you pulled screwing out of stepping on each
other, but all right.”
“Gigi is just
uncomfortable with portrayals of honest intimacy,” Tyler said
teasingly. Gigi knew he was joking, but that was totally unfair. He
could do intimacy!
“Just so you
know,” Gigi said, “the only reason I’m even discussing this
with you right now is because you’re blocking the way out of the
“I’m stoked you
all liked it. Katie and I really wanted to capture the three
different kinds of relationships that evolved over the competition,”
Brock started behind them. “So, Evie and Tyler falling in
love”—they blushed—“Claude and Carmen doing this
student-teacher thing while exploring alternative ways of expressing
female desire, and you and Mark becoming friends even though you’re
very different people. It was all really honest and open, and
I think it’s one of the best pieces in my portfolio.”
His baby was so
smart. So smart. He was going to do great things when he
graduated next spring. Gigi turned and kissed him. “You made a
movie, sugarplum, and it’s wonderful. Even if you made my ass look
Brock cocked his
head. “It’s a documentary, and I don’t know what you mean? The
camera lens we used was the standard—”
“But it’s okay.
I forgive you.” Gigi turned back to Tyler and Evie, who weren’t
even trying to hide their laughter. “You still here?”
Tyler rolled his
eyes. “Come on, Evie, I think we’re delaying something.” He
began shuffling along the row of seats. They left en masse and joined
the audience filtering through to the bar next door, where a bunch of
people descended on Brock and began asking him questions.
Hmph. Well, Gigi
guessed fucking until they passed out could wait. People were
coming up to him to ask questions too, given his lardy butt
had been captured teaching Mark proper hold for twenty minutes, and
that apparently merited attention from complete strangers.
Okay, being asked
questions because he’d been in a movie was kind of awesome too.
In fact, he was
sort of enjoying it all until he noticed two guys talking to Evie and
Tyler. One of them was tall and looked like an artist, if that artist
had five hundred dollars to spare on a jacket. The other was compact
and a little shorter, with sandy hair, and an ass to kill for. He was
also cruising Brock from across the room like it was open season on
didn’t seem aware of him. And he wasn’t going to be. Gigi excused
himself and went over to his boyfriend, winding his arm around his
waist and kissing his cheek. “You almost done, lover?”
The people in front
of Brock smiled, and Brock went red. “Almost. Everyone, my
boyfriend, Gigi.” Gigi nodded at them before glancing back over at
Who winked at him,
then turned to the artsy guy next to him and put an arm around him.
Some people needed
to be kept on a leash.
Finally Brock was
done and Gigi could hustle him outside into the brightly lit streets
of downtown Toronto. He dragged him onto the TTC and off it again
near his house.
“Gi, what’s the
rush?” Brock asked as Gigi marched them through suburbia.
“I need to get
voice was oddly strained. “Did I do something?”
Did he do
something? Did he do something? Oh, only made the most
romantic gesture Gigi had ever seen on film. And Gigi had seen a lot
of rom coms. God, Brock’s cluelessness was adorable sometimes.
Gigi spun around on
him. “Why didn’t you tell me about that scene in the documentary?
The one where you asked my friends for help?”
rose. “Um. Yeah. That was super embarrassing, so I kind of just
decided to forget about it. I, uh, didn’t really think that one
Gigi took Brock’s
face in his hands. “Sweetie. No one’s ever done that for me
before. That was amazing. You totally blow my mind, you know
Brock smiled, a
tiny little ray of sunshine in the autumn night cupped in Gigi’s
up in Gigi, burst into a warm, searing heat, and he leaned forward
and kissed Brock. “I am so fucking in love with you.”
widened, and his hands gripped Gigi’s waist. “You are?”
He was. He really
was. It wasn’t even the stupid documentary or how sweet Brock had
been since they hooked up or the weirdly messy tangle of feelings
Gigi had always had for him (well, strictly speaking that Toby had
had for him, but that was ancient history now). It was that Brock was
completely, absolutely into him, and had been since the beginning.
That just screwed
with Gigi’s head in all the right ways. That never happened
to him. Or to guys like him. The swishy femmy ones who wore sparkly
things and spoke too much.
said. “I am.”
“Me too. I love
No shit he did. It
was kind of obvious by now. But hearing it still made that messy
tangle of feelings loosen and settle down just a little. A warm glow
in Gigi’s chest matched the one in another, lower part of his body.
His (thinking) head was so pleasantly screwed now that the rest of
his body needed in on the action.
Gigi drew him
closer. “Do you understand now why I need to get you home?”
bobbed up and down. “Hell yeah. Let’s go.”
Once at Gigi’s
house, Gigi barely paused to lock the door, he was so focused on
getting Brock to his bedroom and pulling all his clothes off. They
stopped to kiss in the hallway, Brock slamming Gigi against the wall
between pictures of Gigi as the drag queen Gigi LaMore, all bedecked
in glitter and feathers and eyelashes. Gigi had put them there
deliberately to test the people who visited him and his roommate; the
first time Brock had seen them, he’d touched one and told Gigi she
himself against Brock, needing to feel that solid body along his.
Hands dug behind him to cup his ass, Brock’s tongue flickered along
his lips, and Gigi groaned as Brock rubbed his groin into Gigi’s.
So, so good.
muttered against Brock’s mouth.
Brock lifted him
with a heave, and Gigi wrapped his legs around Brock’s hips,
kissing him hard. Brock staggered them both into Gigi’s room and
clumsily kicked the door shut with one foot. Then Gigi was pushed up
against the door, Brock ravaging his neck as his hands dove under
After that, it was
a frenzied mess of hands under clothes and murmured instructions that
somehow resulted in them on the bed and semi-undressed, touching each
other as though there wasn’t enough time to spare for unnecessary
problems like ties and socks.
“You feel so
amazing,” Brock breathed against his neck before sucking.
Gigi tugged at
Brock’s shirt, wanting it off. Brock leaned back enough for him to
do that and pull off Gigi’s, then returned to attacking Gigi’s
neck. Ugh. Gigi could barely think when he did that. His body
felt like it was consumed in flames, Brock’s hands were so hot, and
Gigi was so desperate. He pushed his head back into his duvet and let
go, finally coming into the perfect heat of Brock’s mouth minutes
later, stars exploding behind his eyelids.
Brock finished a
moment afterwards, shuddering against Gigi’s chest, eyes closed and
face screwed in an expression of total abandon. Gigi drew him close
with jelly arms, sleep clouding the edges of his mind. Brock still
breathed fast and heavy, and when he finally opened his eyes, they
held a sated, happy expression that twisted something deep in Gigi.
He’d never expected to be the reason for someone to look like that.
Had anyone ever gazed at him with that much emotion before? He didn’t
think so. He had also never thought he’d see that from Brock, not
after what had happened between them at high school. If he was
honest, it was bringing out some Toby in him. He wanted to pet Brock
and keep him around, naked and wearing that look for, like, ever. It
was too much. Too big. But somehow, also perfect.
And so not cool.
He’d left all this sappy shit behind with his teens and his
virginity. Hadn’t he? Thankfully, sleep dragged him down before he
could think too much about that.
Brock watched him
sleep, mind churning over this evening.
expected Gigi to be impressed by that scene. Fuck, it had been
embarrassing. But embarrassing was what got him on a date with Gi in
the first place, so maybe it was a pattern that more embarrassment
got him a declaration of love.
This was possibly
the best day of his life. He relived that moment when Gigi had
grabbed him and said it, then rolled onto his back and let himself
have a little swoon. Oh God. What had happened to him? How could
anyone deal with this much happiness?
napping, then waking up for another round. Somehow everything was
more intense tonight, more real and focused. The sweet breathy sounds
Gigi made when he was turned on, the rub of their bodies and the
urgency with which they moved against each other—it all melded
together with Brock’s feelings into something like a natural high,
something he could barely express in words or in touching Gigi.
Actually, it kind
of reminded him of being sixteen again. Even though back then he’d
been tongue-tied every time he tried to speak to Toby in between
stolen kisses, Toby had still known what he meant. The connection
they’d had, the understanding and silent communication, all of that
And in the morning,
they woke up, looked at each other, and couldn’t stop smiling. It
was like a scene out of a rom com or something. Brock honestly
thought this was it: they loved each other, they were together, he
could finally be with Gigi Rosenberg the way he’d always dreamed
of, and everything was going to be okay.
They stumbled into
the kitchen, hair askew and yawning every few minutes. Brock busied
himself with making eggs and toast while Gigi brewed coffee and
checked his phone. Brock plated up and was trying to get Gi to put
his phone down so they could talk over breakfast when Gigi gasped at
something on his screen.