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Second Shot – The Senior Year: Chapter 34

 

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Dinner had been the raucous event Blake expected. Ethan added a weird energy when he was around Jason and the others that he didn’t display when they were alone. Even though they’d only been dating a few weeks, Blake recognized Ethan’s outgoing, extroverted behavior was something he turned on when he was nervous.

Blake heard someone scream “no” just as Jason handed him a plate. He didn’t need to turn to know Darryl and Ethan were going at it—again. This time it the topic was Pearl Jam versus Linkin Park and which band would sell out Yankee Stadium faster. When Peter interjected that neither would sell out faster than REM, Jason snorted.

“Figures he’d say that.” Jason kept his voice lower and winked when Blake looked over. “Feel free to jump in, I can finish.”

“I’m good.” Blake turned just in time to see Ethan roll his eyes and slap his knees. Whatever he said got drowned out by Darryl and Peter ganging up on him.

Dean sat at the table with the three, but he might as well have been a thousand miles away. Blake motioned with his eyes toward his friend. “He okay?”

The smile drained from Jason’s lips when he followed Blake’s gaze toward his brother. “I think so.”

“Why doesn’t he just walk away if he’s this unsure?” He accepted the bowl and began to dry.

Jason plunged his hands in the soapy water and moved them around until he came up with a couple utensils. He stared at them for a moment and Blake wondered if he’d asked the wrong question.

“I suppose he’s trying not to believe the worst. Dean’s always been pretty tolerant. I mean he barely blinked when I told him I was gay. I think he finds it hard to imagine she’s homophobic.”

“Why? Because she’s pretty?”

“No.” Jason searched the sink again. “Because, otherwise she seems just like all his other friends who don’t care that I’m gay.”

“And she’s pretty.” Blake deadpanned. When Jason looked over, he winked.

“Is there something I need to tell Ethan?” Jason released the stopper and swiped the towel from Blake’s shoulder.

“You can tell him, but he knows that I think she’s pretty. Just be ready for him to make a face like he smelled rotten eggs.” Blake let out a soft laugh remembering how disgusted Ethan looked when they’d talked about the last time Blake had kissed a girl.

The doorbell rang and the conversation quickly died. Everyone at the table looked at Dean, but he stared at his brother.

“I’ll get it.” Jason dried his hands and tossed the towel back to Blake.

Blake finished drying the pot, taking extra time so he didn’t have to look over when Jason returned. He heard voices—female voices—approaching, but when Jason laughed, his curiosity got the best of him and turned.

“Wendy!” Ethan practically flew from his chair. “Girl, it’s been too long.”

Wendy did her best to roll her eyes, but her smile never faded. Blake felt a tiny pang of jealously that he quickly tamped down.

“This is my roommate Monique.” She pointed toward a tall, woman with brownish-red hair. Blake thought she played volleyball or something, but he didn’t pay much attention to Graydon’s female athletes. “This is Ethan, he’s visiting his boyfriend, the cute, quiet guy doing everyone’s dishes.”

Blake turned red, but managed to nod. Darryl, however, had already crossed the space to stand next to Jason.

“I need a boyfriend like that.” Monique gave Blake a wave.

“Hands off, ladies.” Ethan suddenly appeared at his arm. “This one’s mine. And yes, I know how possessive that makes me sound.”

“For the record, Monique, we did not make Blake wash the dishes.” A scowling Jason hugged Wendy. “He volunteered to dry for me.”

“What about you two?” She looked at Darryl, then Dean. “I know Peter cooked, so why didn’t either of you help?”

“We were being good hosts and entertaining our guest.” Darryl spared Wendy a brief glance before turning toward her roommate. “Hi, I’m Darryl.”

Blake missed the response because Ethan has stepped in front of him. He took the bowl and set it down. “She does make a good point, let the others finish. I only get a short time to be with you.”

“Yeah, well you all were talking, so…”

“And now we’re not.” He winked and led Blake back to the table.

The doorbell rang again and Dean stood up. He took a deep breath and let it out loudly through his nose. Blake felt a little sorry for him even if it was a problem of his own making. He’d always like Dean, the Hanna issue notwithstanding.

“Is that….” Wendy arched an eyebrow at Jason.

“I assume so. We didn’t invite anyone else over.”

The room turned silent and Blake could hear muffled voices at the front door. If Dean returned to a totally quiet room, it wouldn’t make the situation any better.

“So Wendy. “ Everyone turned to him and he struggled to find something intelligent to say. “Um…how’s…”

“How’s my favorite woman?” Ethan grabbed his hand and squeezed. “I’ve not heard anything about what you’re up to all summer.”

She glared at Jason. “I’ve been good. I worked on campus this summer. And have a lead on a work study internship for the spring.”

“Awesome.” Ethan turned his head slightly toward Monique. “How about you? Good summer?”

Monique didn’t get a chance to answer as Dean and Hanna appeared in the doorway. She scanned the room and seemed to turn paler when she noticed Ethan and Blake holding hands.

“Um…” Dean drew attention to himself. “This is Hanna. Hanna I think you know most everyone. That’s Darryl, Wendy, and Monique. You know everyone else.”

Hanna managed a believable smile. “Hi.”

Peter, despite how much Blake knew he disliked Hanna already, stood up and pulled something out of the refrigerator. “Who wants dessert?”

 

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