Trevor went to jam his key in the lock when the front door swung open. He did not — could not — move as those dreamy, sapphire-blue eyes bore into him. Something was different. It wasn’t Oliver’s usual intent look of desire that could have them devouring each other before they made it to the bedroom. No, it was something worse. Disappointment.
Oliver stepped forward and reached for Trevor’s suitcase, dragging it into the house. He set it by the foot of the staircase, then slipped his hands in his pockets. “Are you going to come in?”
Trevor stepped into the house and closed the door. The dominant silence that followed, broken only by the tick-tock of the wall clock, had his chest tightening. It was like, all of a sudden, they didn’t know how to speak to each other or how to act.
“So what happens next?” Oliver asked with an edge.
“I’m not sure,” Trevor said quietly, his gaze held to the floor.
“Do you want to stay?”
Trevor looked up. “What?”
“Do you want to stay?” Oliver repeated brutishly. “Or do you just want to … end this. I mean, you won’t look at me so maybe you didn’t want to come back here after all.”
Trevor levelled his gaze at Oliver. “I didn’t know what I was coming back to.”
“I told you when I called that my mother was gone.”
“It took you four days to get her out of this house,” Trevor said, almost shouting, “out of our house.”
“She’s my mother,” Oliver countered. “She was upset. What was I supposed to do?”
“Stand up for me. Stand up for us.” Trevor folded his arms. “She has ridiculed me since you took me to meet her. All she’s done is make me feel like I’m second-rate because I’m black. And it’s always been clear that she’d rather you be with anyone but me. And you’ve never stood up to her, always telling me, ‘She grew up in a different time. Things were different then.’ Fuck, Oliver, it’s 2016. Maybe … maybe you’re ashamed to be with me.”
Oliver’s eyes went wide. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“Then maybe I shouldn’t be here after all.” Trevor adjusted the strap of his satchel on his shoulder. “There you go again, not saying anything. You’re still defending her.”
“I kicked my mother out of the house two days ago,” Oliver spat, moving to intercept Trevor. “I told her to leave because she kept hurting me, hurting you in our home … and that it had to stop. Two days, I called you, told you she was gone. Why…” He blinked rapidly to force back the tears banking in his eyes. “Why didn’t you come home then? Why did you wait so long?”
Trevor looked down. He’d waited because he needed time to think. When Oliver had invited Phyllis to stay, without them discussing it, Trevor was no longer sure where he belonged. After he left, he wasn’t sure if this house could ever be home again. He felt the warm hand envelope his and raised his head. Was it the touch, or Oliver’s dreamy eyes? Trevor didn’t know, but he felt his lips curling into a smile. “Your nostrils flare when you’re angry. I never noticed that before.”
“That’s because this is the first time I’ve ever been mad at you,” Oliver said, smirking.
Trevor, chuckling, matched Oliver’s pressure. They’d never really argued, never let things stick to them. Four years after their first date, they were like newlyweds who couldn’t get enough of each other. Life was perfect. Absolutely perfect. At least until his mother-in-law’s last visit.
“Your mother’s a battle-axe.” Trevor pulled his hands out of Oliver’s loosening grasp, then set his satchel on the floor. “Maybe I should have come back sooner. Maybe I shouldn’t have left at all, but your mother … she’s —”
“Impossible,” Oliver broke in, making a play for Trevor’s hand. “It took me a while to see that.”
“‘Impossible’ isn’t exactly the word I was going to use.”
“I know.” Oliver winked, wrapped his arm around Trevor’s waist and led him into the living room. They sat down on the sofa, their legs touching. Oliver placed his hand on Trevor’s knee. “I am not ashamed of you,” he said with emphasis. “I hope you know that.”
Trevor shook his head. “I know. I’m sorry I said that.”
“You’re the man I love.” Oliver leaned in and pressed his lips to Trevor’s, held them there briefly, then pulled back. “And no matter how angry my mother makes you, or if I do something that pisses you off … please don’t ever leave like that again. I was sick every night not knowing if you were going to come back.”
“Then let’s make a deal,” Trevor said.
Oliver brushed his dark wavy hair out of his face. “A deal?”
“I won’t leave again, if you don’t ever invite your mother to stay the night without discussing it with me first.”
Oliver held out his hand. “Deal.”
Trevor, accepting the handshake, found himself being pulled forward. The next thing he felt was Oliver’s mouth on his. As their tongues danced, he wrapped his arms around Oliver and drew him tight. Their bodies shifted and, working to stretch out on the sofa, they fell onto the floor and started laughing.
Oliver climbed on top of Trevor. “We’re good?”
“We’re good.” Trevor touched his hand to the side of Oliver’s stubbly face. “I love you.”
“I’m glad because…” Oliver leaned forward and whispered into Trevor’s ear, “Mom’s coming over for dinner.”
Trevor shoved Oliver off him and shot up off the floor. He charged into the foyer and stabbed his feet into his shoes.
“Trevor…” Oliver rushed to Trevor and pinned him against the wall. “God, I was kidding.”
Trevor raised an eyebrow. “You think that’s funny?”
“Kind of,” Oliver said, smirking.
Oliver smiled. “That’s why you love me so.”