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Cupcake Kissin’ 49 – Alex Ankarr
He does feel it behooves him at some point to try to be a little businesslike, and this moment is as good as any other. ‘So,’ he says, and clears his throat. ‘We’re still all on for the party, then?’ He figures he’d better get it established one way or another. Still, it seems as if –
‘What? Oh, yeah? Uh, why not?’ Mack only sounds puzzled, bewildered. ‘You’re sorting the furniture moves and the buff and polish for the dance-floor tomorrow, right? Sara said…’ His voice seems to constrict down the line, to go loud then soft. ‘I think Sam is organising that. So you should be meeting him to take a look at the surface and see what needs doing. Tomorrow? I guess you can talk to him sooner than that, though. It’s your call, you’re managing it.’ His voice is getting still quieter.
‘Oh, I’m not in any hurry to talk to him,’ Caspar says, sniffing. ‘I wish he hadn’t been such an asshole this morning. He’s the one who should be apologising.’ And maybe so should Caspar, Caspar thinks uneasily now. He’s the one who went along with Sam’s idiocy, after all. Too late to fret over it now, though.
‘Well,’ Mack says softly. ‘You’re not responsible for what your boyfriend does, any more than me,’ he points out. Which would be fair and valid, if true.
Caspar wonders a moment, whether to point it out. Then he finds he’s doing it anyway, so that’s all too late for that. His mouth’s open and the words just pop out unbidden. ‘Ah, I’m not seeing him any more. Actually. That was just… kidding around, this morning,’ he admits. Kidding around, and Sam playing stupid games, seeing if he could make you jealous, that’s the bit that Caspar is at least too smart to add.
Again he wonders if the call’s cut out, because the line goes entirely quiet. He’s just said, ‘Mack. Mack?’ when Mack talks over the top of him. And he can’t believe what he actually does get in response.
It’s way too fast, and it’s fast enough to be insulting. There’s really no mistaking the tone or the meaning, not here. ‘Okay, how about I come round?’ Mack asks. The words all run together and there’s a soft exhale mixed up amongst them, and hell no is the least that Caspar instinctively comes up with in response, and just as quickly shuts down on.
Because. Because Caspar had in no way meant that simple bit of information as a booty call, because perish the thought. He is not that guy, he is not so easy, so easily had. But he doesn’t think he’s in any way mistaken in thinking that Mack is taking it as one. ‘If I come around to your place?’ Mack presses on. He doesn’t seem to catch any tone in the echoing silence, only to assume that Caspar hasn’t caught either his words or his meaning. ‘We could talk,’ he adds, and to Caspar it’s a clear afterthought. ‘I think we have things to talk about at this point. You know?’
And Caspar swallows, and it feels like swallowing down on bile, because he needs to breathe steady and be pleasant. ‘Maybe not,’ he says, and is glad it comes out calm. ‘But feel free to text me or email me anything you need to, about the party. We’re still on for the party, right?’
‘What? Oh, sure,’ Mack says, with a slight hesitation and sudden speed, like he’s been wrong-footed and is busy trying to work out where they are in the conversation. ‘But about that talk, we should definitely – ‘
‘Okay then,’ Caspar says determinedly, making like he hasn’t heard a word, steam-rollering right over whatever further persuasions Mack might have up his sleeve. (Because you never know. Caspar might just be weak enough, stupid enough to listen to them, even now.) ‘I guess I’ll see you when I’m doing the last-minute arrangements at your place before the big event, then! Or in the bakery some time!’
It’s easy to ring off. It’s less easy to sit and stare at his phone after he’s shut it down, to look at it and feel his heart pounding with, well, with anger. And with regret, maybe. He likes Mack, he really likes Mack, he still likes Mack. More than he should, almost certainly. But he is not that guy, who can be had so easily, who stands and waits in the wings. His life, his body, his company is worth something more than that, now.
An hour into the evening and the second bottle is some way emptied, and both Sara and Sam have come around to hang out and discuss matters of importance with him. It may not be the greatest idea – they are the worst sort of friends to have around when you are in the mood to rant and to whine and to engage in a pity-party, the kind who will only encourage you and egg you on – but it’s too late now anyhow. He’s hanging over the back of the sofa – because Sam has some terrible, ridiculous talent show on the screen, and Caspar can’t bear it and is making a grand show of refusing to watch it – and ranting some more.
‘So then,’ he says, flinging a hand out, the hand holding his glass so that he almost spills a few beautiful scarlet drops, ‘he thinks that, hey, he’s got rid of Adam – however long that’s going to last’ – and Caspar isn’t counting on it being more than about ten minutes, given that Adam is apparently the perfect boyfriend with total parental approval – ‘and he wants to know if he can come around. Because, hey, neither of us currently have anything like a significant other, so why not fuck, huh? Because I am clearly the go-to person in his life for that kind of thing! Which has to make me wonder, what the hell kind of a signal am I giving out? Tell me, S1 and S2, do I have a slut vibe or something? Because I have to say, if so then it’s deeply misleading.’ He sighs heavily, and puts a hand to his heart. ‘If I was giving off a nun vibe at the moment, then it would be a lot more accurate.’
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.