Chapter 3 : Chapter Three
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Honestly, I feel like screaming. It's almost unbearable that a man of twenty, maybe twenty-one, would let his mum drag him off. He seemed so terrified of her catching us together. Part of me is furious, but I know that I shouldn't be. It isn't always easy for someone to come out to their parents. Not everyone has a family like mine.
I remember my coming out speech. It wasn't so much a speech as my mum looking at me across the dining room table and saying Louis, you're gay, right? and me nodding. I'm one of the lucky ones and I know it. Both of my parents and my sisters are completely accepting. They've never done or said anything to make me feel bad or out of place.
But I don't know Benjamin's parents, so I can't assume he has the privilege of being his true self around them. So, as he requested, I wait until I hear their voices fade away to peek out of the tiny window in the kitchen door. I barely catch a glimpse of Benjamin throwing one last, longing glance back towards the kitchen before vanishing away with his mother.
His disappearing acts should be enough to make me stop bothering with him, but that isn't how I operate. I've never been one to give up and I'm not about to start now. I shuffle my way back to my room, grateful to find that Julian is already curled up asleep on the bottom bunk. After a long shower I change into my night pants and climb up the tiny ladder to the top bunk.
It doesn't matter that I brushed my teeth three times, I can still taste him on my lips. Maybe it's all in my head, but my skin still tingles in every place he touched me. I pull my pillow into my arms and wave my wand at the tiny lamp, plunging the room into darkness.
Sleep comes fast and I dream of him.
Embarrassingly enough, I need another shower upon waking. It's been two years since that's happened to me, but I'm in too much of a hurry to think about it. I've woken up late thanks to Julian turning off the alarm and not telling me.
“I don't see why you needed to get up an hour and a half before your shift.” Julian is baffled as to why I'm mad that he's left me with only twenty minutes to get ready.
He doesn't understand that it takes time to look as good as I do. I can't just roll out of bed, pull on some clothes and be ready to go. I don't care if it's annoying or that people accuse me of primping, I take pride in my appearance. I just scowl at a confused Julian and shove him out of the bathroom so I can work on my hair in peace.
I manage to pull myself together in the allotted time, but I'm nowhere near satisfied with my reflection. I don't even have a chance to check that my outfit works before Julian's dragging me out of the room. “I shouldn't have worn these shoes.” He isn't paying attention to my mutterings but I don't care, I'm not actually talking to him anyways. It's more for my own sake. “Maybe I can go back real fast and -”
“No.” Julian's dark brown eyes narrow as he thrusts a notepad into my hands. “You're not going back.”
“What's this for?” I turn the pad over in my hands and raises my eyebrows.
“You couldn't remember the orders last night. You can write them down until you're more...accustomed to the job.” He doesn't even hide the smug look on his face. “Try to watch where you're going a little more. The other guys didn't exactly enjoy being knocked over.”
“Oh, they didn't? I never would have guessed.” My lips purse in pure annoyance. Excuse me for not being a top notch waiter on my very first attempt. I bite back the desire to call him something foul and walk away. The last thing I need is to get into an argument with my roommate. I'm stuck with him for another night, then the entire trip back. It wouldn't bode well to make things more tense than they already are.
Serving breakfast is a lot easier than dinner. There's only about four things you can order and after that it's just How would you like your eggs?. I even make it the entire shift without spilling anything on anyone. There's still the whole issue with bumping into the other waiters, but by now they should know to move if they see me coming. I can't be expected to do everything right on my second try.
In all honesty, I could probably be doing a better job if Benjamin wasn't here. He's sitting at one of the main tables with who I can only assume are his parents. The man on his right is quite tall and has neatly arranged dark hair. He's been wearing a pissed off look on his face since the moment he stepped into the dining hall and he hasn't even looked up long enough for me to see his eyes.
The woman to Benjamin's left is very obviously his mother. She has that same dirty blonde hair and those same dark blue eyes. Her lips are shaped just like his and I wonder if her face would light up when she smiles, the same way his does. She doesn't look the type to smile too often though, not a real smile at least. She's been throwing those fake, people-pleasing smiles to every person who passes since she walked through the door.
I'm just thankful that I don't have to wait on their table. Benjamin's mother keeps snapping her fingers at the waiter and she's made him take her plate back three times. And poor, poor Benjamin, he looks so miserable. Four times now, I've caught him looking at me across the dining hall, but I'm trying to be coy about all of this. Doesn't matter that I feel like running over and dragging him out of the room, I just pretend like I didn't see him looking and keep on with my work.
When they finally leave, my heart sinks. I try to forget about it all for now because it's time to clean up the dining hall before the lunch crowd arrives. I'm just straightening out the tablecloths when I feel a tap on my shoulder.
One of the other waiters, his name is Conner, is giving me a big smile and has that up-to-something look in his eyes. “You did better today.”
“Thanks.” I turn away from him, but he just lingers behind me while I finish with the table I'm working on. “Did you...need something?”
“Well....” He pushes his shaggy brown hair from his eyes and quirks his head. “I heard around that you're kind of good with fireworks.”
Kind of good? Kind of good? Who the hell does this guy think he's talking to? I am not kind of anything. I am amazing. I've been helping my Uncle George with his designs since I was thirteen. I've already managed to craft my own – You know what, it doesn't matter. The point is, this guy wants something from me involving fireworks and I am all ears!
“Yeah, I'm kind of good.” Hey, it's called modesty. Fake or not, it's required sometimes.
“Well the crew's all getting together tonight. We're gonna have a few drinks and play some music on the far deck since there's some kind of big tournament going on at the other end of the ship and most of the guests will be down there.”
“What's that got to do with fireworks?”
“The bride, she's like Belgian or French or some crap and she has these two really, really hot friends. And when I say hot, I mean wow! So last night, me and Derek were talking to them and -”
“Can you get to the point?” Seriously, this guy....
“Okay, okay, sorry! The point is that we told these girls we could show them an awesome firework show. But the only fireworks on the ship are kind of lame and we thought that maybe you could help us out.” Conner stuffs his hands in his pockets and puts on one of those puppy dog faces.
I laugh a little because he looks ridiculous doing it, but I agree to help him out. “Under one condition.”
“If you get caught with them, or if you get in trouble for shooting them off, you cannot say where you got them.”
“My lips are sealed. We get busted and I've never even met you.” Conner gives a little nod and I turn back to my work. “You should come up to the deck party too. It's gonna be pretty fun. And...I'm sure if you asked Katelyn she'd come with you. She's been staring at you half the morning.”
“Katelyn? You mean the hostess girl?” I laugh a little and shake my head. “She's not my type.”
“Not your type? It's one party and you've never even spoken to her.”
“She is not my type,” I repeat, giving Conner one of those get-my-drift? type of glances. He makes an “Oh” sound and quickly drops the matter. “Come on, I'll get the fireworks for you.” I leave the table I've finished and start for the dining room door, the other waiter right on my heels.
I had only brought a few of my fireworks along for the trip with the intention of using them once we got to San Sebastián. But I don't mind sharing if there's a good reason.
Yes, impressing dates is a good reason!
They aren't even my best ones, but Conner is amazed by them. He thanks me like fifty times as he collects the small offering and stuffs them into a bag. “This is gonna be great. Those girls are gonna be putty in our hands after they see these.”
I shrug a little. “Good luck with that.” It's all a bit amusing, really. From the little experience I've had with girls and fireworks, they hate the things. Then again, that's just been my sisters and cousins and my gods, some of those girls can find something to hate about everything!
Just as I'm leading Conner out of my room, I see him. Benjamin is walking very slowly down the servants' quarters' hallway, peeking towards each door he passes. I cross my arms over my chest and put on a rather smug look. He's looking for me.
He spots me. Then spots Conner and a frown crosses his lips. “Am I interrupting something?”
“No, he was just leaving.” I wave Conner away and he hurries off, clinging to his bag like it's filled with gold. I don't bother to explain the other guy's reasons for being in my room. For one thing, it's not really Benjamin's business. For another, I'm rather enjoying that jealous look in his eyes.
I know, I know...playing games is immature, blah blah blah....
Benjamin steps past me and walks into my room without a word. I have to admit, I like this intrusion. If only he didn't have that worried look in his eyes. He pulls me inside and closes the door behind us. “I need to apologize for last night.”
“No you don't. You can't help that your mum came -”
“No, not for that.” He holds up his hand and lets out a sharp breath. “I need to apologize for all of it. For teasing you, for kissing you, for...even showing up like that.” I try to speak but he shoots me a look that keeps me quiet. “I shouldn't have done it. This...this me and you thing, it can't happen.”
“Because your parents don't know that you're gay?”
He chews his lip and turns away from me. “My life is kind of complicated right now. I can't be running around messing with guys like you.”
“Guys like me?” I'm not sure if I should be offended or not.
“You know...hot, bold...secure.”
Okay, I'm definitely not offended! “You're pretty hot yourself, you know?” He scoffs but I just ignore it. “And you can be secure too. I wasn't always this confident.”
“You don't understand.” He turns back around and grabs my shoulders. “We can't happen. Last night was a mistake and I want you to stay away from me.”
“Stay away from you?!”
I push his hands off my shoulders and scowl. “You came here. You hunted me down and now you're telling me to stay away from you? That's real rich. Do you get some kind of thrill off playing with me? Does it make you happy to watch me dance around on your little strings.”
“Don't be so dramatic.” Benjamin scrunches his face and stares at the wall. “It was one stupid kiss and you're acting like it mattered.”
“It did matter.” I huff. “That was not a one time type of kiss. That was a leading kiss. It was a we-should-take-this-elsewhere kiss!”
“Maybe it was. But it isn't going to happen.” He shrugs and starts for the door. “Just see it as me changing my mind.”
“More like someone changing your mind for you,” I argue. I back against the door to keep him from leaving. “Tell me that you're not interested. Look me in the eyes and say that you want nothing to do with me. Go on. Do it and you can be on your way.”
Benjamin puts his hands on the door beside my head, trapping me between. He stares right into my eyes and I feel my knees go weak again. It kills me how quickly how he can have that effect. My heart is already speeding up and I'm terrified he's going to say it. I swallow hard and wait for him to brush me off, but the words don't come.
Instead of a hasty goodbye, I'm met with a kiss. It's warm and soft and over way too soon. I grab his shirt and pull him closer. He doesn't even resist. He pushes me against the door and lays his hands on my shoulders, then rewards me with another kiss. I don't allow him to pull away so quickly this time; I wrap my arms around his neck and hold him desperately.
It's hot, it's passionate, it's amazing and it's...interrupted!
A banging on the door breaks us apart. “Louis, are you in there?” There's no one I would want to hear less at this moment than my sister, but there she is. She sounds annoyed too.
I wave my hands for Benjamin to hide in the bathroom and pull open the door wearing the most innocent expression I can muster up. “What's up?” It sounds a little too innocent and she notices.
“I don't know what you're up to, but put an end to it.” Victoire barges into the room and crosses her arms. “I've been hearing a rumor going around that some of the staff are planning a little party for tonight. Have you heard anything about this?”
I pout out my lips and answer with a shrug, pulling a heavy frown from my sister. “Don't look at me like that. I haven't heard anything about a party.” Her face is skeptical and I sigh. “Fine, I heard something. But it's none of my business and I'm not telling you anything else.”
“You tell me who's planning it.” She shoves her finger in my face and strikes a pose that makes her look identical to our mother. “I'm serious, Louis.”
“I think his name was...Gabe. Yeah, Gabe something.” I'm a bit of a lousy liar, but surprisingly she relaxes and steps away. “Is that all?”
Victoire's entire body tenses up as she goes to leave the room. “You stay away from that party. I went out on a limb for you with this job and I will not have you throwing my effort overboard.”
“I didn't plan on going.”
“Is that it?” There are days that I can go hours stringing along one of my sisters until she's so mad her face goes purple, but considering the flight-prone guy I have hidden in my room, it's better to just let her walk away with her sanity this time.
Victoire bashes from the room and I listen for the click of her heels to fade away down the hall before locking the door. “Alright, she's gone.” I free Benjamin from the bathroom and take him by the hands. “That was my sister.”
“She's charming.” He grins and puts his arms around my waist. “Why are you so damn hard to stay away from, blondie?”
I flash a huge smile and play with the ends of his dirty blonde strands. “Why do you keep trying to get rid of me?” I counter. “Am I being too easy? You like those hard-to-get types, don't you?”
“No! Gods no, I like when someone is open about what they want.”
“Then what is it?”
“It's not you. I know that sounds like complete rubbish, but it really is me. And my family.”
I nod and pull Benjamin closer. “There's no family here now. You don't have to run off.”
Benjamin's eyes move to the door and back to me. I can practically see him mulling it over. Stay or go? I can only wait and hope. He chews the side of his bottom lip and lets out an adorable little whimper. “Alright, I can stay for...an hour.”
“A whole hour?!” I feign over excitement and laugh. “An hour sounds great.” My hand passes over his chest and tugs at the hem of his tee-shirt. “What did you have in mind for this hour?” I give him a sneaky grin.
He licks his lips and glances towards the bunk beds. “Which one is yours?”
“We could go to your room.”
“No!” Benjamin looks near horror struck. “We can't go there.” He slips his hand behind my neck and pulls me into a deep, needful kiss. I lean against him and he takes a step back, walking us closer to the beds. “Good thing I'm not afraid of heights.” He chuckles softly and drops his arms from my body so that he can climb the small ladder on the beds. “If we fall, I'm blaming you.” He looks back and winks and all I can do is smile like a complete idiot.
I hurry up the ladder after him and we lay down on my pillow. I can't help but replay last night's dream over in my mind; it brings a wide smile to my face. My fingers play with the hem of Benjamin's shirt but he bats my hand away.
“We're not having sex.” Benjamin gives me a little smile and pulls me closer.
“I...I thought that's why we came up here.” I laugh nervously because I'm not sure if he's joking or not.
He shakes his head and brushes his fingers up and down my arm. “You don't seem like the kind who goes for one night stands.”
“It's not even noon yet.” I smirk and he laughs, but the resolve in his eyes doesn't change. “I'm not a one night stand type of person, but that's not what I'm looking for either.”
“It's all I can offer.” Benjamin gives me a sad smile and a soft kiss as he pulls me further into his arms. I'm a bit confused, but he smells so good and looks so sweet that I can't even form the words to ask for an explanation. He must see the distress in my eyes because he answers without prompt. “We can just kiss a little. There's nothing dangerous about that, right?”
“Right.” I'm still confused, but I'm past the point of caring right now. I wrap my arms around Benjamin and pull him to me for another kiss. He can explain later....
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