Notes: On to happier times! I’m having fun with this one. I have to ask, though—has anyone reading ever been to a Red Sox game in Boston? If so, care to email me and give me some atmosphere for the next post? I always like getting first-hand accounts of the memorable things.
Also, on a different note, Changing Worlds is up for consideration as one of the Goodreads m/m group’s books of the month for June. It would be lovely if it were chosenJ If you’re a member and care to vote, here’s the link: http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/84404-which-of-these-new-releases-from-storm-moon-press-would-you-like-chosen
Title: Love Letters
Part Eighteen: Much Ado About Something
The hardest part of this whole experience was actually getting on the plane. Writing up the proposal and sending it off to Linda in under two hours, buying the ticket, even packing up his bag—all of that was easy compared to the nerves that shot through Ben the moment he stepped into the airport. He was flying across the country to see his probably-boyfriend, whom he hadn’t even told he was going to see, and he had no back-up plan ready for if it went bad: no hotel reservation, no rental car, no ready excuse…well, no, Ben had a good reason for being in Boston that had nothing to do with Ryan. But that, as Heather had emphasized to him, wasn’t the point. The point was he was going to surprise his boyfriend and make him very, very happy.
“Don’t puss out,” Heather told him before she left his house in the morning. She’d ended up spending the night again, the two of them sharing the bed this time. It was warm, friendly and completely platonic, and reminded Ben just how badly he wanted to share a bed with someone who curled up next to him during the night. “Just do it.”
“Why shouldn’t I tell him that I’m coming, though?” Ben asked for what felt like the fifteenth time. “So he can let me know if now is a good time?”
“Because the whole point is to be romantic! Spontaneous! To do something that shocks and awes him, not something that might make him wonder if you really want to even be there or not. Don’t check in. Do not,” she warned, heading for the door. “Just do, there is no do not.”
“I didn’t know you liked Star Wars.”
“Bite your wicked tongue!” Heather exclaimed before slamming the door shut.
Heather’s encouragement helped, it definitely did. Ben made it to the airport, got through security and was all the way down the concourse waiting for his flight when his nerves overtook him again. Not having many other options, he called Michael. “Tell me this is the right thing to do,” Ben demanded.
“Well, that depends. What are you doing?”
“I’m taking a surprise trip to Boston.”
“What, to see Ryan?” Michael’s voice instantly rose an octave. “That’s great! Good for you, I’m glad you’re taking the initiative…actually, wait, who’s idea was this really?”
“It was my idea,” Ben said, stung. Then, compelled to be truthful, he added, “But Heather talked me into it.”
“Of course she did, good for her. Ben, take a breath. Relax. Where are you?”
“You made it all the way to the airport and you’re just calling me now?” Michael whistled. “That’s even better than I thought. Look, you don’t need to talk to me about this, you’re fine. You know Ryan’s going to love it.”
“Even the surprise part of it?” Ben asked. That was the hardest part, really; it wasn’t that he didn’t want to see Ryan, or that they hadn’t talked about him making a trip to Boston. It was the idea that he might be doing something to inconvenience the other man.
“Especially the surprise part of it. Ryan’s a pantser, not a planner, so he’s definitely going to appreciate this. You’re fine.”
“Right. I’m fine.” And Ben did feel better now, actually. “Thanks.”
“What are friends for? Have fun banging your boy.” Michael hung up before Ben could tell him to fuck off.
It was a four hour flight to Boston and Ben spent most of it on his computer, working to flesh out his new book proposal and identify resources he could seek out once he got there. Ben hadn’t been kidding Linda when he told her this trip was for research; Boston had some excellent libraries and Revolutionary-era document archives, and Ben always preferred to get his references straight from the source rather than secondhand. Plus, if his timing was inconvenient for Ryan, he’d have an reason to make himself scarce.
Ryan lived in an apartment on Strathmore Road, not far from Boston College. Ben took a cab there and made an effort at small talk with the driver; anything to distract him from the butterflies in his stomach.
“First time in Boston?” the man asked. He wore a Red Sox cap and had a quintessential Bostonian accent, with broad “a”s and dropped “r”s. Ben prompted him just enough to get the guy waxing poetic over his baseball team, and then let the shibboleths roll over him. Ben had dated a linguist for a brief period of time, and the Boston accent (or Eastern New England dialect, as his date had put it) had been one of the man’s favorites.
“You’ve gotta make time for a game while you’re here,” the cabbie continued as he pulled in in front of Ryan’s building. “They’re playing the damn Yankees on Wednesday, that’s the one to go see.”
“I’d really like to, actually,” Ben said, remembering how he wanted to take Ryan to a major league game. “Where can I get tickets?”
“There’s these sites online, but that’s a sucker’s game. You want tickets?” The cabbie scrawled a number on a piece of paper and handed it back to him. “This is my cousin Eddie’s number, he’s got a line of some real good seats and he can get ‘em cheaper than anyone else. You give him a call in the next day or two and he’ll hook you up. Tell him Rory sent you.”
Ben took the paper. “I appreciate it.” He handed over cash for the ride, along with a generous tip, and Rory gave him a grin.
“Enjoy your time in Boston, buddy.”
“I will, thank you.” Ben grabbed his carry-on, got out of the cab and stared up at the three-story red brick building in front of him. 187 Strathmore Road. Time to call Ryan. Ben fished his phone out of his pocket and tried to ignore the way his hand was shaking a little. He dialed Ryan’s number and waited.
Ryan picked up almost immediately. “Hi!” he said. “Wow, an actual call, what’s the occasion?”
“I can’t just want to hear your voice?” Ben teased, relaxing as soon as they started talking.
“Of course you can. Do you really?”
“Yeah, that’s part of it,” Ben said.
“Just part of it? What’s the rest of it?”
“Well…so, I came up with a book proposal. One that I actually like.”
“That’s great!” Ryan knew how agonizing the last month had been for Ben. “What’s it about?”
“Broadly speaking…love letters.” Ben went on before Ryan could say anything. “Did you know that the Boston Public Library has one of the best letters collections from the Revolutionary War in the entire country?”
“Oh yeah?” There was an edge of hope in Ryan’s voice now, and it stabbed straight through Ben’s chest. Why had he taken so long to get out here? The thought that Ryan was practically close enough to touch right now was making his heart beat faster, and he shut his eyes for a second to help him get it together. “Are you planning a trip here, then?”
“I’ve already planned it, actually.”
“Omigod, really? That’s great! When are you coming out?”
“Well…how’s right now work out for you?”
There was complete silence on the other end of the phone for a second, then—“Holy shit, are you serious? You’re here, where are you? Are you at the airport? Don’t leave, I’ll come meet you there, I’ll—shit, where the hell are my socks—”
“Baby,” Ben laughed, “calm down. I’m right outside your building.”
“What?!” There was a sudden clatter, then a window on the top floor was slammed open. There was Ryan, staring down at Ben like he couldn’t quite believe his eyes. Ben pocketed his phone and waved.
Ryan’s mouth worked silently for a moment, and then he vanished from the window without saying a word. Thirty seconds later he burst through the front door of the building, barefoot and definitely not dressed warmly enough for the day, jumped down the three stairs leading down to the street and leapt into Ben’s arms. Ben had time to brace himself enough to keep them from falling over, but that almost changed when Ryan picked up his legs and wrapped them around Ben’s waist. He let go of the carry-on’s handle and held onto Ryan as hard as he could.
For almost a minute neither of them said anything, they just stood there wrapped up in each other and ignoring the world, but Ben’s arms started getting tired and he reluctantly loosened his grip, just enough to set Ryan back down onto the ground. “So,” he said lightly, “I take it you’re glad to see—”
Then he couldn’t speak anymore, because Ryan was kissing him a ferocity and devotion that consumed Ben completely, unable to think or move or do anything except focus all his attention on what was happening right now, on the warmth and softness of Ryan’s mouth, the feel of his back under Ben’s hands and the growing hardness of his groin pressed against Ben’s. Ben kissed him back, over and over, unable to get enough of Ryan now that they were together again.
They finally eased apart to take a breath, and Ryan cupped Ben’s face with his hands and just stared at him, peppering his mouth with little kisses. Ben smoothed his palms over Ryan’s sides, calming, affirming the fact that he really was here, and he wasn’t going anywhere. “Hi,” he said again.
“Hi,” Ryan breathed, then kissed him again.
“You look chilly.” There were goosebumps rising on his bare arms.
“I’m fine, I’m awesome,” Ryan assured Ben. “You’re, wow, you’re here.”
“Yeah. Is now okay?”
“Now is completely amazing,” Ryan said. He sounded a little dazed. “There’s no bad time for you to be here, I would…seriously, you could come here anytime and it would be perfect. Just, man, this is so…how long are you going to stay?”
“I actually haven’t booked a return flight yet,” Ben admitted. “I don’t know how long my research is going to take, or what your plans were.”
“I don’t have any plans,” Ryan assured him, then frowned. “Wait, not true, I’m actually on a deadline, I’ve got panels to finish and some storyboarding to do for the next issue.”
“I figured you’d have to work,” Ben said. “If it’s not convenient I can find a hotel.”
He barely got the last word out before Ryan was kissing him again. “If you think-” kiss “for one second-” kiss “that I’m letting you sleep anywhere except with me-” kiss-kiss “you are completely delusional. I can work with you around, and you’ve got stuff to do, I get that. I just don’t want to give up any time I could spend with you if I don’t have to.”
“That’s convenient,” Ben told him. “Because the feeling’s mutual.”
They kissed again, and it might have gone on longer if someone hadn’t yelled, “Hey! Quit fucking in the street, guys, get the hell up here!”
“Aaand there’s Jasmine,” Ryan said with a sigh. “And she won’t stop until we give in. Are you ready for introductions? You’re going to get grilled, I’m warning you.”
“I figured as much.” Ben could handle tough questions. He picked up his carry-on and gestured toward the door. “Lead on.”