Excerpt for Our Boys by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Our Boys

By Trina Solet

Copyright © 2017 by Trina Solet

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locales or actual events is entirely coincidental.

Our Boys

Gay Romance

Trina Solet

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 1

His day at work was over, and Trevor was waiting for Mrs. Keegan to answer the door to her small, yellow house with the neat garden. She was his old teacher, now retired, and they had kept in touch. When he lost his aunt and started taking care of his one-year-old cousin, Zane, Mrs. Keegan stepped into the role of Zane's honorary grandmother and babysitter. With only a part time job, it was a struggle for Trevor to pay for babysitters and daycare. She was a lifesaver.

As she opened the door to him, Mrs. Keegan greeted him with a warm smile. "The way you rush over here straight from work, that is true dedication."

"I can't wait to see Zane and to let you off the hook," Trevor told her.

"I know it," she said as they went in. "You've always had a very strong sense of responsibility, but Zane is a little sweetheart. I am in no hurry to be rid of him."

Trevor smiled at her. "How was Zane today?"

"My VCR and all my video tapes fascinate him."

"Maybe he'll grow up to be an archeologist," Trevor told her.

"Oh, you," she said and looked at him sideways from behind her glasses. "Other than that, he was exploring away and eating like a champ."

"He looks happy," Trevor said as he went over to Zane who was sitting on the rug and playing with the fringe. Zane looked up at him and smiled big then he reached up with both arms for Trevor to pick him up.

"He's such a friendly boy," Mrs. Keegan said as she watched Trevor holding Zane in his arms.

"Not like me, right?" Trevor looked at Zane fondly. Zane was playing with the metal snaps on his shirt, staring at them like they were the most fascinating things he had ever seen. Considering how Trevor spent the first five years of his life, he couldn't imagine that he was ever a happy child like Zane.

"You were just shy," Mrs. Keegan told him kindly. "The quietest boy in my class. But you warmed up to me as soon as you found out that I used to be your Aunt Christina's teacher too."

That was because his Aunt Chrissie was a truly special person in his life. After a terrible childhood with his father, going to live with her turned Trevor's whole life around. Losing her was devastating to him, and her death left Zane without a mother. Trevor had to step in to take care of him, not only because he loved the little guy with all his heart but also because he wanted to give Zane the kind of home his aunt gave him, a home that was safe and full of warmth and love.

If only he had a full time job to better be able to support him and Zane. At least his work situation had a silver lining – Trevor loved the extra time he got to spend with Zane.

"Always so deep in thought," Mrs. Keegan teased him noticing how serious and preoccupied he was.

"Just thinking about work. I keep hoping Mr. Dundee will turn my part time job into full time so I can prove to social services I can take good care of Zane."

"It will happen," she assured him.

"I hope so."

After thanking Mrs. Keegan, Trevor gathered up all of Zane's things and they were out of there. On the way to the apartment building where they had moved only last week, Trevor showed Zane the sights.

"One day we'll get sandwiches from there," he said as they passed Sal's Deli.

This was a nice neighborhood, perfect for raising Zane but a real strain on Trevor's budget. It would be worth it if it helped get him permanent custody of his little cousin. They went inside the building courtyard with its arched doorway and a shaded area where the mailboxes were. Though he knew mail didn't come until later, Trevor checked his mailbox just in case. He didn't want to miss any official mail about Zane's custody.

"Empty," Trevor said as Zane craned his neck to look inside the mailbox. "You close it." Trevor helped him shut the mailbox and Zane was happy with the noise it made. He probably wanted to open and close it a million times now. That kind of thing could keep him occupied for hours.

Trevor decided to go up the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. On the landing right between floors there was an opening with an archway that looked out onto some empty fields and, further on, a big construction site. Every floor had one. When they got to the one right below their floor, floor six, Trevor stopped. Since they moved in, he had taken Zane over to the landing with the archway every chance he got so he could have a look around.

It was sort of like having a balcony. The empty fields probably had a future as construction projects, but for now they were a featureless green. On the construction site beyond, some steel beams had already gone up as well as a framework of scaffolding.

Trevor liked to watch the work going on. He wasn't sure if Zane did, but he seemed to enjoy being out here. With the summer in full swing, the day was warm and sunny, but there was a nice breeze. Zane blinked and squinted into the wind blowing on his face and ruffling his fine hair.

Shifting his gaze to the sidewalk below, Trevor saw two figures walking toward the building. One was a dark haired man in his late twenties or early thirties with a great body and a big laugh that carried up to Trevor and made him smile. The other was a little boy with dark blond hair and a determined walk that set his colorful backpack to bounce against his back. He had said something to make his dad laugh.

Trevor expected to see them pass by, but then he saw them disappear right below. They must have gone inside the side entrance of his building. It would be nice if they lived here too.

He didn't expect to have much in common with that man though. That boy was almost certainly his son with no threat of being taken away. And that man probably had a blond wife or girlfriend waiting for him at home to complete the picture.

Having moved for his job and to be close to good schools and daycare, Trevor felt alone. The only person he knew who lived nearby was Mrs. Keegan. Moving away from his friends was hard, but he had to do everything he could to show that he was the best possible person to take care of Zane. Nothing else mattered to him, only giving Zane a good home.


Diego was bringing Jamie home from daycare. While they walked home, Diego got an update on all of his adventures. The highlight of his day was when another kid sat on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Diego got a kick out of that too.

The little guy was all talked out by the time they reached their apartment building and got on the elevator. That gave Diego a chance to check his work emails and texts. As Diego was busy on his phone, he let Jamie handle the tough job of pushing the button for floor six. Then he got engrossed in a lengthy reply to an email, and Jamie practically had to push him off the elevator.

"We're here, Dad. It says six. Six," Jamie said while he steered him toward their apartment.

"Thanks, son. You're a great elevator guy."

They were just about to take the turn to go to number 608 when something got Jamie's attention, and he stopped and pulled on Diego's shirt.

"Who's that?" he asked pointing.

They were at the top of the stairway, looking toward the balcony at the landing. Standing there was a young man holding a very small child.

"I guess those must be our new neighbors," Diego said and gently pushed down Jamie's arm. "Don't point. Someone said a young guy had moved in and he had a baby." The attractive young guy and his little boy made a nice sight, and to his credit, Jamie had spotted them first.

"A neighbor baby?" Jamie said. He looked at the guy and the baby with such intense curiosity. Jamie was four and it had been ages and ages since he was a baby. Diego wished he could have been there to get to know baby Jamie. Of course Jamie from age two and a half to four was plenty to deal with.

"You want to go meet them and say hi?" Diego asked him.

Jamie agreed and marched over. With Jamie at his side, Diego put away his phone and went down the steps. Thanks to Jamie stomping on each step, the guy with the baby heard them come down the short flight of stairs to the landing. He turned and the boy in his arms greeted them with a random baby noise.

The baby boy was actually about a year old maybe a year and change, so not exactly a baby, a brand new toddler maybe. The guy was gorgeous – blue eyes, thick eyelashes, dark hair and a slim physique. No one said the guy who moved in was so hot.

With Jamie peering at them eagerly, Diego greeted the young guy and his kid. "Hi, I'm Diego Dominguez. This is my son Jamie. We're in number 608. Are you guys our new neighbors?"

"I guess we are," the guy said. He was reserved, not unfriendly but cautious. He hesitated for a beat before introducing himself. It seemed like the sight of Jamie put him at ease a little bit. "I'm Trevor Yeager and this is Zane."

"I like his name," Jamie said looking at the little boy with approval.

Zane only blinked.

"Say hi, Zane," Trevor instructed him and the little guy said bye and started waving.

"That's bye not hi," Jamie objected, but Zane didn't care about his disapproval. He just kept waving and waving.

"Waving is like his favorite thing. Once he starts there's no stopping him," Trevor said and gave the little kid in his arms the most beautiful smile Diego had ever seen.

Seeing that he couldn't beat him, Jamie decided to join him. He started waving too. This delighted Zane and he giggled.

"So were you guys watching the construction?" Diego asked as he looked over Trevor's shoulder.

Out of the corner of his eye, Diego noticed that Trevor was slim with a firm body under slacks and a buttoned light blue shirt that looked touchably soft. Everything about the man was touchable from his dark brown hair, broad shoulders, nice chest and abs and further down.

Trevor had turned to face the view and Diego stepped up next to him. "I like looking at the construction site, but Zane was looking at the cars over there. Every time one passes by, he follows it with his eyes," Trevor said and brushed a strand of blond hair from the little boy's face.

"I want to see too," Jamie said since he was the only one who couldn't see over the wall.

Diego picked him up.

"They're building a big building," Jamie said. "Look over there." For Zane's benefit he pointed at the construction to the west. Jamie was fascinated by what he saw, but Zane was not.

"I think we'll be looking up the names of some construction equipment later," Diego decided. "I'm pretty sure that thing sticking way up is a crane."

"Crane," Jamie repeated like he was memorizing a magic word. Then he repeated it to Zane, who was leaning forward.

"Why can't we see the building from the windows, Dad?" Jamie wondered.

"Because we're on the other side," Diego told him.

"We can't see it either. We're in 602. It's one of the smaller ones," Trevor said.

Diego had seen those apartments. They had one decent bedroom and one very small one, but big enough for Zane. "Ours has a third bedroom I use as my office," he said then he heard his phone chime with a new email. "Speaking of which, I better get back to do some work."

"Already," Jamie said and pouted as Diego set him down.

"Don't you want your snack?" Diego asked him.

Jamie nodded. "OK."

"The snack wins out," Diego said and smiled at Trevor. "It was nice meeting you. We'll see you around."

"Nice meeting the two of you too," Trevor said.

"Bye, Zane," Jamie told the little boy. "Now you wave. Wave."

Zane hesitated then he started waving and saying hi.

"He got it wrong again," Jamie said as Zane just kept waving.

Trevor laughed and Diego stared at him for a moment. He just met the man, and when he laughed it went straight to his heart. That Trevor was trouble.

After going home and serving a snack to Jamie, Diego settled down in front of his computer to get back to work. He got a good deal done before he took a break when he saw that Lance was calling him. If he didn't answer him, he would have to deal with a barrage of texts. Lance was a good friend though, and one of Jamie's favorite people.

"The coffee shop cutie wasn't there today. I'm a very sad guy right now. What's new in the world of fatherhood?" Lance asked.

"Not much, but I met a hot new neighbor," Diego informed him.

"Gonna jump into his pants?" Lance asked, getting right to the point.

"I'm not even sure he's gay."

"That means you think he might be," Lance concluded.

"Or maybe it's just wishful thinking." Diego didn't trust himself to make a clear-headed judgment about Trevor.

"Then he must be really hot," Lance guessed right once again.

That was exactly why Diego didn't trust himself when it came to him. "He is, but I'm in no rush to jump into anything anyway." Diego wasn't about to start something with a neighbor. He liked to keep things casual, and that would be tricky if the guy lived in his building and on his floor even. Plus they both had kids to think of. The whole setup was a recipe for a messy situation. This was strictly a case of look but don't touch.

Lance didn't see it that way. "I know you aren't in a rush, believe me," he said with a loud sigh. "You can't let Simon ruin you for all other men."

"Simon was a cautionary tale. The next guy I let into my life will be rock solid," Diego said and heard the fierceness in his own voice.

"Are we talking muscle?" Lance asked.

"You are. I was talking character," Diego told him, but he didn't really expect to find the right man any time soon.

"Oh yeah, let me lie back, close my eyes and picture some rock solid... character."

"That's not what character is for," Diego told him, but if he let his mind linger on Trevor for more than a second, he might be picturing all sorts of things. "OK. Let me do some work. Talk to you later."

"Be good," Lance told him.

That was smart advice and Diego planned to take it. He would be a good dad and a good neighbor and nothing more. Plus there was something about Trevor, a look in those pretty, blue eyes that was a little fragile and vulnerable. It might as well be a warning sign. It said, "Don't you dare break my heart."

Chapter 2

On Saturday, Diego wasn't surprised that he was seeing his new neighbors again. The gorgeous young guy and the kid were in the same place where he and Jamie had spotted them before. They were looking at the view and Trevor was pointing out some clouds to Zane.

"Look! They're there again. Trevor and Zane," Jamie exclaimed and stuck his arm straight out to point at them.

"Yes, they are, and you're pointing again," Diego told him then he waved to Trevor and Zane.

As he went down with Jamie leading the way, Diego noticed that Trevor still looked guarded and Zane was still adorable. Zane burbled at them, and Jamie took that as a sign.

"Zane wants to talk to us, Dad."

"I'm sure he has a lot to say," Diego told him then he greeted Trevor and Zane. "Good morning, you two. I guess these boys have important things to discuss."

Jamie jumped right in and greeted the little boy with a loud, "Hi, Zane." He only got more babbling in return. "He's talking a lot. Do you know what he's saying?" Jamie asked, looking up at Trevor.

"I think he's getting a little ahead of himself, trying to have a whole conversation, but he hasn't learned to talk yet," Trevor told him.

"Maybe he's saying he's hungry?" Diego guessed. "We were just about to go for breakfast. What are you two doing?" Diego had noticed that Trevor had a bag over his shoulder, probably with stuff for Zane, so they might be on their way somewhere.

"We're just going to be strolling around, learning the neighborhood," Trevor said.

"You want to go to breakfast with us?" Diego asked and looked from him to Zane, like he was expecting the little chatterbox to answer him.

"Oh, no. Thank you. We're good," Trevor said but there was something odd about his refusal. Diego wondered if he thought he was hitting on him.

"We're going to have pancakes. Pancakes are really good," Jamie told him and Zane too. Zane shook his head at him and gave him a gummy grin. "It's pancakes. You can't say no." Jamie looked at both Zane and Trevor.

Noticing how reluctant Trevor looked, Diego backed down. "He can say no if he doesn't want to go. Sorry, we're two pushy guys," Diego said and ruffled Jamie's hair. "We won't be offended if you have better things to do. Right?" He asked the last of Jamie to let him know to back off as well.

Now Trevor looked kind of guilty. "You're not being pushy. I'm just trying to save money. I'm on a budget right now. This place isn't cheap and my current job is only part time."

"I was going to treat you. Like a welcome to the neighborhood, but instead of a casserole, you get breakfast. So what do you say? Breakfast is on me," Diego said. He was being pushy for sure now. But knowing that Trevor had money issues, Diego wanted to take them out to breakfast even more than before.

Trevor was still reluctant though. "I don't want to take advantage."

"You're not. Jamie isn't the great conversationalist you would think he is. It's all, 'Dad, are you listening?' And then he pulls on my sleeve. That makes it really hard to drink coffee. I need Zane to distract him."

Jamie looked like he wasn't sure what to make of all that, but he agreed that Trevor and Zane should come to breakfast with them.

Trevor looked from Diego to Jamie, both of them so eager for him and Zane to join them. "I guess we could go," he said and looked really shy about accepting the invitation.

"Zane, we're gonna have pancakes," Jamie said, all excited that they had company for breakfast.

"The best place is The Golden Stack Pancake House. Their pancakes are the fluffiest," Diego said as they all walked down the stairs. "But as far as Jamie is concerned, there is no such thing as a bad pancake. Right?" he turned to Jamie who was walking down the steps cautiously while holding Diego's hand.

"They're bad when you burn them," Jamie said.

"I was trying to forget about that, but I guess you won't let me." Diego pouted. "Yours is too young to complain," he said to Trevor.

"He refuses to open his mouth, turns his head or spits it up," Trevor said while coming down the stairs behind them with Zane in his arms.

"I guess they're never too young," Diego said while looking behind him and seeing Zane grinning at him. "Look at him, so proud of his mischief. Jamie was already almost three when I met him so I don't know how babies are," Diego said and looked down at Jamie.

"You don't know about babies, Dad?" Jamie asked almost like he thought Diego might know everything. He then looked back at Trevor. "You know about babies?"

"Sure I do, I've known Zane since he was born. He's my cousin."

"Zane is a cousin, Dad," Jamie said and looked at the little boy again.

"You'll be a cousin too as soon as your Uncle Arturo gets around to having some kids," Diego assured him.

"Tell him. Tell him to have some kids," Jamie said.

"OK," Diego said. He stopped at the last landing before they reached the lobby and got out his phone. "Here we go. I'm texting him, 'Hurry up and have some kids. Jamie wants to be a cousin.'" He said as he typed it up.

"When?" Jamie asked like Arturo's still nonexistent kids were supposed to come over and play any minute.

"I'm sure he'll get right on that when he wakes up at noon or 2:00 pm. He's still in college," Diego told Trevor. Once again he noticed how young he was. "You look like you're about the same age as him," Diego said as they continued to walk downstairs.

"I just turned twenty-one."

"Close enough."

"I'm four," Jamie volunteered and raised four fingers.

They all stepped outside and squinted at the morning sunlight. Diego stopped for a minute to take in the sunshine and the leaves shimmering in the light breeze. Growing in a line along the sidewalk, the trees were still young and didn't give much shade.

"It's a nice day isn't it," he said. The sun was shining off the boys' hair. "Look at these blond boys." Diego noticed that Zane's hair was strawberry blond while Jamie's was a darker blond.

Jamie touched his hair then looked at Zane and from him to Trevor and Diego. "Everyone's hair is good."

"We're a bunch of handsome guys," Diego agreed. "Let's go have pancakes." He had such a good feeling as all four of them headed down Barlow Street. A morning stroll with two kids and a gorgeous guy by his side then pancakes – this was the life.

They grabbed a table at the Golden Stack, one of the few that were free. The advertising posters near the register had a cartoon mouse hiding behind a giant stack of pancakes while holding a giant fork. Jamie pointed him out to Zane. "Look at him. He's going to try and eat all those pancakes."

While sitting on Trevor's lap, Zane was more interested in trying to grab anything that was in front of him. Trevor gave him a soft toy that had something rattling inside it. Zane examined it for a while. When Zane started to bang it on the table, it made only enough noise to keep him happy but not enough to disturb anyone. Good choice.

Meanwhile, Diego and Jamie were sitting across from them and reading the menu together. When the waitress stopped at their table, Jamie ordered for both of them. Afterward he managed to look both proud and shy about his accomplishment.

"You're getting to be a real pro at ordering pancakes," Diego told him and saw Trevor smile at both of them. "Look, you impressed Trevor."

Now both Trevor and Jamie looked a little shy.

When their order arrived, Zane got a pancake of his own from Trevor's plate.

"No syrup?" Jamie said seeing that Zane's pancake was plain.

"Watch what he's doing with it," Trevor pointed out to him.

"He's smushing it," Jamie said as he saw that Zane was demolishing his pancake in his tiny fists.

"If he had syrup, he would get all sticky."

"He had some of the pancake," Jamie said when he saw that instead of just mashing it Zane stuck a piece in his mouth. "Is it good?" he asked then he turned to Diego and found that he was busy on his phone.

"Don't play on the phone, Dad. Pancakes are dad and son time," Jamie complained then he noticed Zane slobbering on his second bite of pancake. "He likes pancakes too, Dad."

Diego put away his phone. "Sorry about that. I work from home. I have ever since I got Jamie. So I have to keep up with things," he explained to Trevor.

"What do you do?" Trevor asked.

"I work for a nonprofit this group of tech CEOs started to promote science education. We get tech companies to sponsor events like contests, and special programs like science camp for kids in low income areas. My job is to prod the companies to fork over the dough and anything else we can use. Official title Resource Coordinator, but I'm a glorified telemarketer," Diego said then he decided he had talked enough about himself. "Where do you work?"

"Dundee Lighting Emporium," Trevor said with a shrug like his job wasn't worth talking about at all.

Diego disagreed. "That place is right around the corner. But the job is only part time?"

"I'm hoping my job goes from part time to full time soon. Mr. Dundee hinted that it might when he hired me. I've been working on improving our online ordering to show him I'm worth it, but he only believes in brick and mortar," Trevor said.

"He is going to get steamrolled. You said our building was pricey, so how come you moved here?"

Trevor cleared up some crumbs Zane had made and offered him a piece of pancake to eat. "The apartment was a little out of my price range, but I wanted to impress the child services people so I can keep Zane. I have temporary custody since my aunt passed away. I want permanent custody and this neighborhood has a park, daycare, preschools. Where I lived before was kind of grubby and not child friendly."

"Probably like every place I lived a few years ago, but I only had myself to worry about back then." Diego looked over at Jamie who was pointing out to Zane which piece of pancake he should eat next.

"This one. This is good," Jamie told him.

Diego smiled. "I've never seen Jamie with any little kids. He surprises me."

"He's good with Zane. I didn't know little kids could be so patient," Trevor said and smiled at the two little guys.

"I'm seeing a new side to him," Diego said in wonder. He was always making new discoveries about his little boy.

"You said you didn't know him when he was a baby," Trevor said.

"I adopted Jamie from his grandfather," Diego smiled sadly and looked over at Jamie.

Trevor nodded as if he instantly understood what Diego wasn't saying, that there was something about the circumstances that wasn't easy to talk about in front of Jamie. His grandfather knew he didn't have long to live and needed someone to adopt his grandson. That sad fact is how Diego became a dad. Then there was Simon and how he failed both him and Jamie.

But Diego didn't want to dwell on him when he was sitting across from someone like Trevor. He noted how quiet and thoughtful Trevor was, and also kind of mesmerizing. But he wasn't a date sitting across from him in some dimly lit restaurant. Diego couldn't just blurt out to him, "God, you're beautiful," then take him to a motel room, fuck him and forget him.

Chapter 3

At some point while they spent time together, Trevor became pretty sure that Diego was gay. It started out as a question, but it turned into almost a sure thing. Maybe it was in the way he leaned over to whisper in Trevor's ear, getting right in his personal space with no hesitation.

It happened while they were taking a walk around the neighborhood after breakfast. The nearness of Diego's body as it was almost touching his made Trevor shiver and grow short of breath. And all that happened was that Diego told him that there was a really good pediatric dentist down the block.

Apparently Jamie was deathly afraid of dentists though he had hardly ever been to one. Diego said some other kid had scared him with horror stories. That was the kind of thing they talked about, but the whole time Trevor felt like some kind of tension was ratcheting up. It was like Diego was becoming more attractive and irresistible with every minute they spent together.

Trevor's gaze was drawn to his lips. He would have bet anything that Diego was a great kisser. He could imagine his fingers closing around fistfuls of Trevor's hair. If he was brave enough to touch this man, what would it be like? It would be too much for Trevor to handle. He wasn't very experienced and he wasn't exactly a hunk especially next to someone like Diego.

To run his hands over Diego's strong body, starting with those broad shoulders then down the biceps that bulged every time he moved was just a fantasy. Diego was the kind of guy Trevor could stare at for hours if he had been posed in a photo. He could let his fantasies play out. But in real life, he couldn't stare and let his imagination run wild.

Most of all Trevor couldn't stare at those dark eyes for too long. The intensity in Diego's eyes made him freeze up, hold his breath and lose his head. He could picture that look in dim lighting, seen close up as that body hovered above him and Diego's luscious mouth swooped in for a kiss.

For the next few days, Trevor tried to put Diego out of his mind as anything but a kind neighbor. Trevor had no business noticing hot guys right now. He had one mission in life and that was getting custody of Zane. Thinking of that terrible uncertainty, he envied Diego his peace of mind, knowing that Jamie was his and no one would take him away.

Despite telling himself to knock it off and stop obsessing about Diego, Trevor found himself wondering when he would run into him again. If he and Zane went for a walk or to the store, it might happen sooner rather than later. What was he thinking trying to arrange running into a guy he had sworn he would stop thinking about?

He didn't need to get involved with anyone, not even someone as sexy and nice as Diego. His love life could wait until things with Zane's custody were settled. Not that Diego wanted to get involved with him either. They just happen to be two neighbors with kids.

Around the time when he knew Diego would be picking up Jamie from school, he was tempted to just step outside, maybe go check the mail before it even arrived or something. He stayed put and helped Zane with his chunky numbers puzzle. Mostly Zane just liked to bang the puzzle pieces on the coffee table.

In the early evening when the mail did arrive, Trevor took Zane to go get it and noticed that the box for number 608 was still full. Now he wanted to hang around, a maybe sort his mail right there. There was a trashcan by the mailboxes for that very purpose. Might as well.

Zane got a kick out of the junk mail, but Trevor saw no sign of Diego while he lingered there. Trevor marched himself back to his apartment. He was acting like a dumb kid with a crush, hanging out by a guy's locker. He might be only a few years from being a high school kid, but he had no excuse for acting that way.

Instead of giving in to the temptation to arrange a run in with Diego, Trevor decided to clean up and pick up all the things Zane scattered while crawling around the apartment. Right now Zane was jumping in his playpen, waiting for his dinner. Trevor had it going in the kitchen. It was too early for Trevor to eat, but Zane ate early so he did too. That was as it should be. His life was about Zane.

As he was straightening up, he heard voices just outside his apartment door. It was Diego and Jamie, and Jamie was asking, "Which one? Is this one Trevor's and Zane's? Is it? It has a six like our door, and it has a zero and a two."

Trevor heard Diego answer, "Good eye. That's 602."

Since he heard them, Trevor couldn't ignore them. On impulse, he decided to open the door.

"It's Trevor!" Jamie said looking happy to see him.

"Hey, looks like you were right," Diego said to him.

"Good afternoon, guys. I was just on the other side of the door and I heard you," Trevor explained. Maybe he was a little too eager opening the door just because he heard their voices. He hoped Diego wouldn't think he was weird.

"We didn't mean to disturb you. Jamie was proving to me that he was good with numbers," Diego told him.

"Is Zane in there?" Jamie asked and peered inside.

"He is. He's in his playpen right now," Trevor said. "Do you want to come in and say hi to him?"

"Are we visiting?" Jamie asked his Dad eagerly.

"Guess so. We can't stop by and not say hi to Zane," Diego said and Jamie started to wipe his feet.

"When we visit, we have to wipe our feet," Jamie said as he kept at it for a while.

"You're done now. Good job wiping your feet. You can go in," Diego told him.

They walked right into a small living room that only had enough space for a couch, a coffee table, a small TV cabinet and a playpen where Zane was. Trevor's TV was way smaller and older than Diego was probably used to, but Trevor didn't know why he was worrying about that.

Was he picturing them watching TV together and snuggling on the couch? Trevor knew his place didn't look like much, but it's not like he wanted to impress Diego. Except he kind of did. Too bad for him, his place would impress no one.

Seeing the two of them come in, Zane was no longer satisfied to stay in his playpen. He raised his arms to be picked up and clamored to be release from his little prison.

Jamie went over to him and asked, "Can I pick him up?"

"It might be fun to see him try," Diego said to Trevor, but to Jamie he said, "Not yet. Give it a few years."

Trevor picked up Zane. "Look, Zane, we have guests."

Jamie said hi to him and a whole lot of waving started.

"I better check on some food actually," Trevor said remembering what he had cooking. The small kitchen was right off the living room and Trevor carried Zane in there. Diego and Jamie followed him in. "If you guys watch Zane, I can set him down. I can't let him go where he wants in the kitchen. It's child proofed but he likes to fiddle with everything in here."

"I'll watch him," Jamie volunteered.

"We'll watch him together," Diego said.

Trevor set Zane down by the kitchen table and he was thrilled to be there and grabbed onto a chair right away. He banged on the seat of the chair then moved on to the next one.

"Look at him toddling all over the place," Diego said as he watched Zane go from holding on to one chair to another.

"He can walk," Jamie said.

"As long as he holds on to something, he can," Trevor told him. "And he loves those chairs because he can push them around. He likes to hide under them and peek out at me. He has even tried climbing on them."

"Who needs toys?" Diego said, alarming his son.

"Kids need toys, Dad," Jamie said urgently.

"I don't know about that. Zane loves any kind of box. A cereal box can keep him busy for hours," Trevor said.

He noticed that Diego was looking at the kitchen table and the rubber guards on the corners. Kitchen cabinets were held together with rubber bands. Trevor had bought some proper cabinet and drawer locks. He just needed to put them on. The rubber bands were Zane-proof, so they did work. But he was worried his jury-rigged safety measures wouldn't pass muster with the child services people.

Diego checked out the rubber bands. "I bet Zane has fun with these."

"He does. I think he'll miss them when I put the real things. A social worker is going to be making a home visit the day after tomorrow. I don't want to take any chances."

"You want me to put them on for you. I'm a pro. I removed and donated our old ones, just kept the ones on the cabinet with cleaning supplies. I don't want Jamie to start cleaning when I'm not looking," Diego joked.

Trevor wasn't going to accept his offer, but the cabinet locks were sitting right there on top of the microwave. Diego got busy with them and they both kept an eye on the boys. Jamie was playing with Zane, hiding behind a chair then popping up to make him laugh.

"What's cooking?" Diego asked when Trevor opened a pot to check if the water was boiling.

"I'm making some pasta and carrots for Jamie. The pasta is for me too. Do you guys want to stay and eat with us? There's plenty. I'm just going to throw some sauce on the spaghetti." As he made the offer, Trevor was already trying to think of something else he might add to make the dinner more worthwhile for his guests.

"We don't want to impose," Diego said but Jamie contradicted him.

"I want to watch Zane eat spaghetti."

"I should treat you guys to something better since you treated us to breakfast," Trevor said. Plus Diego was putting in the cabinet locks for him. There weren't that many so he was almost done.

"We like spaghetti just fine. Right?" Diego turned to Jamie who nodded. "OK. We'll stay for dinner, but you have to let me contribute. I have two steaks in the fridge. I'll bring them over."

"Steaks?" Trevor said.

"You don't hate steaks, do you?" Diego asked.

"Me and dad like steaks because we're guys," Jamie said.

"For the record we also like strawberry parfait and rainbow sherbet," Diego said. "We call that a well balanced diet. Jamie can't eat a whole steak. I usually only make one and share mine with him. So what do you say?"

"Are you treating me to steaks because you know that I'm on a budget?" Trevor said.

"What? I just want to eat steak. It's a package of two, and it's too much for us. I'm only asking you to help me out, as a neighbor." Diego gave him an innocent look.

"Aha," Trevor said. He couldn't help smiling.

"That smile says yes. I'll go get the steaks."

"I'll watch Zane," Jamie said.

"OK. You and Trevor watch Zane," his dad told him.

As his dad left, Jamie turned to Trevor. "You can help me watch Zane."

"I'll do that," Trevor told him and they both watched Zane poking around the underside of a chair.

Jamie then crawled under to see what he found. "He found a sticker."

"He loves tags, labels and stickers," Trevor told him. Zane's tiny fingers were always poking at them. The funniest things were irresistible to that little boy.

Soon, Diego was back with two very nice, rib-eye steaks. "These will fry up nice and I have blue cheese to top them."

Jamie objected to the topping. "No blue cheese, Dad."

"You don't have to have any," Diego told him.

"Zane doesn't want any either," Jamie said. He and Zane were still sitting on the floor exploring the undersides of chairs.

"You OK with blue cheese?" Diego asked Trevor.

"I like it. A place where I used to bus tables served buffalo wings and blue cheese. I couldn't get enough."

"Now I know what to treat you to next," Diego said with an evil gleam in his eyes.

Trevor hoped he was joking. He already owed him for breakfast and now for the steaks for dinner. He couldn't remember the last time he had steaks, but he remembered Aunt Chrissie's cheerful voice when she announced, "I got a raise and I spent it all on steaks." Even though she was gone, she could still make him smile but always with tears in his eyes.

Zane's carrots were done so Trevor seated him in his highchair. Jamie climbed into a regular chair across from him and got some carrots too. He wasn't thrilled with what was in front of him, but he was willing to eat the carrots to set a good example for Zane. Zane's spaghetti was served plain and it got cut into small pieces so he didn't put on as much of a show as Jamie was hoping for.

While they were busy, Trevor and Diego made the steaks. They were elbow to elbow in the small kitchen. The closeness made Trevor nervous so he got a little clumsy, but Diego didn't let him mess up anything.

Making dinner together with a guy while an undercurrent of tension and heat made things interesting was a new feeling for Trevor. It was something he imagined might happen one day when he had a boyfriend. He had also imagined leaning in for a kiss on the lips, on the side of his neck, maybe a nibble on his earlobe – every one a promise of what was to come later.

That wasn't what was happening here. Not at all. This was just a friendly gesture from a kindhearted neighbor who was unbelievably hot with a hard body and smoldering eyes. While they worked together, Trevor didn't dare look at him, and he hardly trusted himself to speak. He was relieved when it was time to get the plates.

By the time they sat down to eat, it was a little past Zane's bedtime but Trevor didn't have the heart to put him to bed. It wasn't every night they had guests and Zane was having a good time with Jamie. As for Trevor, he was wrapped in a warm glow of companionship and attraction. It was no different than being drunk and happy for no reason. But damn, it felt good.

To top it off, that night Trevor had the best sex dreams of his life. Then in the morning he had to remind himself of the stark reality of his life. He had Zane for now but making ends meet was a struggle, and he had no room in his life for love or reckless passion. Trevor might be a real flesh and blood sex god living just down the hall, but he could only reach for him in his dreams. He was off limits.

Chapter 4

Around noon Diego was telling himself to keep working and not to take a break for lunch. He wanted to be able to spend as much time as he could with Jamie. If he pushed through with work, Diego could take a break after he got Jamie from daycare. That's when he heard his doorbell ring a few times in a row. The ring didn't sound right for a package. He went and opened the door.

"What's the trouble?" Diego asked when he saw Trevor standing there holding Zane and a shopping bag, and looking panicked.

Trevor rattled off the facts. "My fridge died and the social worker is coming for a home visit. The super is sending someone to fix it today or tomorrow maybe. Can I put some stuff in your fridge? If Zane's caseworker sees milk for Zane in a fridge that doesn't work..."

"When is the social worker coming?" Diego asked.

"In two hours, two and a half," he said after awkwardly checking the time on his phone with the same hand that was holding the shopping bag. To help out, Zane leaned way over and grabbed for his phone of course.

"Come in here," Diego said then led the way into the kitchen. He thought for a minute. "We have room in the fridge, but maybe we could switch them out instead."

"Switch what?" Trevor wondered as he set the bag on the kitchen counter and tried to keep Zane from getting adventurous with the top cabinets.

"Let's switch my fridge for yours. We'll take my fridge over to your place so when the social worker comes, she'll find a working fridge," Diego told him.

"Seriously? That's crazy," Trevor said as he looked from the fridge to Diego.

"You need to make a good impression, don't you? It's better to show her a working fridge than to give her a explanation for why it isn't working, and why you have the milk stashed over at the neighbor's," Diego pointed out.

Trevor frowned. He still seemed doubtful, but he could see Diego's point. "OK. I'll take the fridge, but this is still crazy."

"Let's see. Carl, the super, has a dolly. I'll ask if we can borrow it," Diego said and he got on the phone with him.

While they waited for Carl, Diego looked inside his fridge. "We'll leave the good stuff in there, the vegetables and even better, the organic vegetables. I'll take out the vodka chilling in the freezer, the beer and the other beer. My friend likes this one." Diego held up the Corona he kept in his fridge for Lance.

"We better take out the jars so they don't break when the fridge is being moved," Trevor said.

"Oh, look, Zane wants to help," Diego said as Zane made a grab for stuff on the fridge door. "No, not the hot sauce. Want the mustard?" Diego gave him the bright yellow bottle to hold and he was happy.

Carl brought the dolly and then helped switch out the fridges. "I'm not supposed to do it, but I'll do it for that little Zane. A personal favor to him," Carl said.

"Did you hear that, Zane? You owe him one. One day you might have to help him grout the shower or something," Diego told him and Zane let out a noise and made a goofy face.

"I definitely owe you both. Thank you," Trevor said.

Diego stayed behind at Trevor's to make sure the fridge was clean. On his last visit to the apartment, he noticed that Trevor's place was spotless as was his fridge. Diego's fridge wasn't too bad, but he wanted to make sure Trevor had nothing to worry about with a social worker on the way.

"How come your aunt didn't name you Zane's guardian?" Diego wondered and hoped it wasn't some kind of thorny issue.

The answer turned out to be fairly simple. "She thought I was too young. Her best friend was supposed to take care of Zane if anything happened to Aunt Chrissie. Unfortunately, she was with my aunt in the car crash. She died as well. The next person in line moved to Belgium when she got married. I contacted her and told her I wanted Zane to be with me, and she agreed and wrote to social services to say that she believed I was the right person to take care of Zane. She's the one who is paying for the lawyer representing me in the custody case," Trevor explained solemnly. Diego could tell how difficult it was for him to talk about what happened.

"That's generous of her," Diego said.

"It is. I'm really grateful that she's supporting me in this." He looked over at Zane and smiled at his antics.

Sitting on the floor, Zane was playing with an empty water bottle that had its cap removed. The noise it made when he squeezed it was grating, but Zane loved it.

"I should have never given it to him. Now I don't have the heart to take it away from him," Trevor said, so he must have hated that noise too.

Diego had to get back to work, so Trevor walked him to the door. "I can't thank you enough for the fridge."

"Sure you can. Have us over for dinner again. We don't have a working fridge at my place, you know," Diego said.

Trevor agreed right away. "That's the least I can do."

"OK. I'll order us a pizza," Diego told him.

"Wait. That's not having you over for dinner," Trevor pointed out.

"I'll order Chinese," Diego offered.

"Why don't you let me take care of dinner?" Trevor insisted. "Cooking will help me de-stress after the social worker's visit."

"OK. Looking forward to it. And good luck with the home visit. I'm sure it will go great." Diego gave his arm a quick squeeze. He hoped it came off as a supportive gesture not a grabby move.

Leaving straight from there, Diego went to get Jamie from daycare. On the way he found himself getting anxious, hoping that the visit from the social worker would go well. He couldn't imagine that anyone would look at Trevor and Zane and not know immediately that they should be together.

Jamie was happy to hear that they were going to Trevor and Zane's for dinner. After he got him home, Jamie kept asking if it was time yet and what was for dinner. For his part, Diego waited until after the social worker was gone then he texted Trevor to ask if he could come over and help with dinner, then if he could bring anything. Maybe he was just as bad as Jamie. Finally, Trevor texted that it was OK to come over.

"Something smells amazing," Diego said as he and Jamie went in.

"It's nothing fancy, just baked chicken and rice. It was my aunt's specialty." Trevor smiled sadly at the mention of his aunt.

Diego could tell that he was still grieving for her. He had seen some photos of her with both Trevor and Zane. She had strawberry blond hair like Zane and a bright look in her eyes. Next to her, Trevor always looked so serious. Even as a child, his big blue eyes seemed so solemn.

At dinner, Zane made a mess of his serving of rice and tiny pieces of chicken. Jamie liked the food but tried to eat around the vegetables that were mixed in with the rice.

"I see what you're doing there. Eat the veggies too. They're good," Diego told him. "You have to set a good example for Zane, you know."

Jamie sneaked a look at Zane to see if he was watching, and of course he was. For his sake, Jamie bravely ate some vegetables.

"This food is great. Thank you," Diego said. The rice had been baked with some chicken quarters and the flavor was really good. "This might be the best tasting rice I ever had."

"Thank you. This dish means a lot to me, so I wanted to make it for you guys to say thank you. I hope my fridge crisis didn't interrupt your work," Trevor said.

"Work went fine. There's a robotics fair coming up and the kids from low income areas need all the hardware they can get. The things these kids come up with are amazing. There was a long wish list for equipment they need. I hit up some tech companies for whatever I could get my hands on. When they start saying I'm robbing them blind, I know I've done my job."

"And it's for a good cause too. That's great," Trevor said. "I sold a fancy chandelier to a lady and her decorator."

"That needs doing too," Diego told him, but he imagined that Trevor must be a very low-key salesman. When he was shopping, that's the kind of salesperson Diego preferred so he might do fine. Plus he was gorgeous. Who wouldn't want to buy anything he was selling?

After dinner, with all of them there, Zane wasn't eager to go to sleep. Every time Trevor tried to put him in his crib, he started crying really loud. Seeing that he wasn't cooperating, Diego had an idea.

"Jamie, you want to help? Go and lie down next to Zane's crib and pretend to sleep. When he sees you're sleeping, he might fall asleep too."

"Trick him?" Jamie said and frowned at Diego.

"Yeah, but it's OK since it might keep him from crying," Diego told him.

Jamie agreed and the two of them went to Zane's small room, which was only lit by a night-light. Diego waited at the door and Jamie walked in to join Trevor.

"There's a big pillow in the corner. It's for sitting, but you can lie down on it," Trevor said.

Jamie dragged the pillow over to the crib and curled up on it. Now that he was there, Zane didn't cry. He chattered at him for a while as Jamie did a bad impression of someone who was asleep.

Trevor and Diego left them to it. It would either work or it wouldn't. There were dishes to be done and Diego figured he should help with that. He hated doing dishes with a passion, but he didn't mind being in close quarters with Trevor in that small kitchen of his.

After dishes were taken care of, Zane had gone quiet so they went over to check on him. Peeking inside Zane's room, they were surprised to see that it wasn't only Zane who had gone to sleep. With his eyes closed in a darkened room, Jamie had gone from pretending to sleep to the real thing.

Trevor and Diego tiptoed away then slumped on the couch together.

"I can't believe Jamie fell asleep while trying to get Zane to go to sleep," Diego said.

"I guess it's pretty close to his bedtime too."

"It is," Diego confirmed. Since they had some quiet time now, Diego thought it was a good chance to talk and get an update. "How did it go with the social worker today?"

"Not too bad. Mrs. Rivers seemed nice. I didn't see her frown at anything," Trevor said and he looked relieved but still apprehensive.

"What would she have to frown about? You're ahead of the curve. Your place is spotless." Diego waved his hand all around. "You take great care of Zane. Anyone can see that he's a happy, healthy kid."

Trevor smiled. "Once I got to borrow your fridge, I think the apartment made a pretty good impression." He spoke like he was afraid to be too optimistic.

Diego didn't blame him considering what was at stake. That's why a broken fridge sent him into crisis mode. "You just moved in and you had to deal with appliances breaking down. This place isn't quite the palace it was supposed to be."

"My old place had a huge leak over half the ceiling. The management company kept saying they would fix it, but they kept dragging their feet. My roommates and I put up with it because of the low rent, but I couldn't take Zane there."

"They're pretty good about fixing things here. I'm sure they'll fix up your fridge in no time. That would be my fridge now," Diego realized.

"We should switch back," Trevor said. He was obviously feeling bad that now Diego was the one stuck with a fridge that didn't work.

"The fridge will get fixed wherever it is. Don't worry about it," Diego told him.

"I just hate that I had a crisis right before Zane's social worker came here. I got lucky this time, but I don't like depending on the kindness of strangers when it comes to Zane's future."

"A stranger. That stings," Diego said.

"Sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I have to be careful who I lean on," Trevor said.

"Don't make me sound untrustworthy," Diego told him.

"Sorry. I keep saying the wrong thing. I appreciate your help. I really do. But I feel guilty that helping me means you end up with a broken fridge," Trevor said.

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