Here’s chapter 23 of my free Wednesday Briefs story, Noah’s New Plan.
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With a lull in library traffic, Noah took the opportunity to grab his planner. Standing at the counter, he opened the notebook to a new page. At the top of the page he wrote:
Eli’s Valentine Plan
As he racked his brain over what he wanted to do, he chewed on the end of his pen. Realizing what he was doing, he pulled the pen free, then began tapping his bottom lip with the still wet instrument.
His thoughts were interrupted by the tinkling chimes of his cell phone. Noah looked at the screen and groaned.
"Hello?" He answered, trying to bite back an exasperated sigh.
"Noah. The realtor is showing the house tonight at six. I won’t be able to make it. I’d like you to be there."
"Derek, I have plans."
"This is important. I need you."
Noah let out another exasperated sigh. “Fine.”
* * * *
When Noah unlocked the door and entered his old place, it felt so strange. Despite the fact that he’d lived here for twenty years, this condo was almost unfamiliar.
The tiny little apartment he’d been in for the past couple months was more of a home than this place had been for a very long time.
Noah walked through the condo, making sure it was presentable for the showing. When the realtor arrived with a young couple, Noah gave them his friendliest smile.
"Please make yourselves at home," he said. "I’ll be around if you have any questions."
They were a young couple. The young lady gushed over the place, especially the kitchen. Her husband seemed to want to make her happy; he agreed with everything she said.
Noah hoped they would be happy here if they ended up buying the place.
After about an hour, the realtor thanked Noah, then left with the couple.
Noah checked his phone. He still had plenty of time to make it to Eli’s place. When Noah told him about Derek’s “request,” he could tell Eli was annoyed, but the man didn’t say anything. Instead they made plans to meet at Eli’s. They’d order take-out and stay in. That sounded really good to Noah. Curling up on the sofa and watching a movie would be perfect.
Just as Noah was about to lock up, the door opened and Derek stepped in. Closing the door behind him, he pulled off his trench coat and hat, then hung them on the coat rack by the door.
"How did the showing go?" he asked.
"Fine. The realtor said she’d be in touch."
"Good." Derek let out a soft breath as his eyes drifted around the room. "It’s a shame… We had a lot of good memories here."
"I suppose," Noah answered noncommittally.
"Don’t be like that." Derek moved closer to Noah. "Things weren’t always bad. You were happy here once."
"Yeah, well, I was blind… in denial…"
"It’s that gorilla you’ve been… dating." He said the word like it tasted foul. "I don’t understand what you see in that man. He’s beneath you."
"Eli treats me well… He loves me. He loves me for who I am."
Noah realized then what a mistake it was not telling Eli how he felt. He was in love with the man. He should’ve told him. Eli had told him more than once, and each time Noah had been silent.
"He doesn’t really love you, Noah. He’ll never love you the way I did."
"God, I hope not. The way you loved me included you fucking other men behind my back."
Derek frowned. “You picked up that language from him. He’s a bad influence.” He reached up and brushed Noah’s hair over the top of his ear. “Your hair is nice this color. The darker shade is growing on me.”
Noah jerked his head away. “Don’t.” He stepped back, bumping against the wall. Nervously, he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
A little smile ghosted across Derek’s face. “I remember the first time I kissed you. You were so nervous, you kept fiddling with your glasses. I had to take them off.” Derek reached for Noah’s glasses, but Noah moved away.
Derek moved his arms to either side of Noah’s head, boxing him in.
"I remember the first time we made love. You were so scared, it being your first time, but you told me you loved me. You so wanted to please me."
Before Noah could react, Derek pinned him to the wall. He kissed Noah, hard, pushing his tongue into the smaller man’s mouth.
Noah pressed against Derek’s chest as hard as he could, but the man was strong. He began to panic as Derek’s body started to grind against his.
The front door suddenly opened and Derek finally backed off.
Noah looked over Derek’s shoulder to find Eli standing there, his hand still on the doorknob.
The man was fuming, his rage completely undisguised. His face had gone beet red, his fist clenched at his side while the other looked as if it was going to rip the knob clean off the door.
Eli opened his mouth, then shut it. Without a word, he turned and walked out, slamming the door behind him so hard the frame rattled.
Noah shoved Derek as hard as he could and ran after Eli. It was all a horrible misunderstanding. He couldn’t lose Eli, not like this.
He threw open the front door.
* * * *
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