So, back to our regular story! When we last saw them, Ryan and Ben were going to have breakfast, but Cameron showed up and Ben lost his appetite! What's up with that? Ben took Ryan out of the house, let's see what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
In Pieces #26 (7.6)
Walking in the door, they were greeted with a warm smile by a tall uniformed redhead. She reminded Ryan of a waitress from a sitcom his father had liked to watch years ago. “Welcome to Liz’s, y’all! Grab a seat wherever you like and I’ll be right with you.”
Ben took Ryan’s hand and led him to a booth in the far corner, the only one that didn’t look out over the parking lot. He motioned for Ryan to slide in first then followed him so they sat on the same side, hip to hip. The diner wasn’t large—it was comfortably small, and had a distinctive retro look. A turquoise counter was lined with matching bar stools, and the fixtures and furniture carried the same color scheme. Large and small peace symbols had been randomly slapped on the walls. The whole effect was to remind Ryan of an old fifties-style diner.
The redhead sashayed up to their booth and set a glass of water on the table in front of each of them, along with a plastic-coated menu. “My name’s Becky, and I’ll be taking care of you today. Would you like a few minutes?”
“We won’t need those today, thank you,” Ben said. “Can you bring us two Big Easy Benedicts, please, and coffee?”
“Sure thing, sweetheart.” She tucked the menus under one arm. “I’ll be right back with your coffee.”
A bell over the door tinkled before she’d even reached the counter. Another couple walked in, and they heard her give them the same welcoming spiel.
Ben shot Ryan a questioning look. “I hope you don’t mind that I ordered for both of us. These are really good, trust me.”
“I do trust you,” Ryan assured him. “What’s in them?”
“Fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, poached eggs, all topped with a Cajun Hollandaise sauce.”
“Sounds delicious.” Ryan unwrapped his straw and poked it into his glass. He sipped at the cold water as he glanced around them. The diner was maybe a quarter to a third full, but no one sat near them, affording a feeling of privacy. It dawned on him that this was the first time they’d truly been alone since he’d arrived. Cameron’s house didn’t count, always someone else around. And he’d been too nervous on the cab ride across the huge lake to be very companionable.
“Sorry about that little… encounter with Cameron,” Ben apologized. “Sometimes he… he… Well, sometimes he’s a little hard to take, to be honest. I try not to let him get to me, but I don’t always succeed. It’s like he knows what buttons to push, you know?”
“That’s okay, don’t worry about it. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it. Flirting seems to come naturally to him.”
Ben smiled wryly. “Maybe. Or maybe he’s just not blind and he can see how sexy you are.”
Ryan’s cheeks grew warm at the unexpected compliment.
“I hope you don’t mind that I set him straight about us. That I… said what I did.” Ben turned his head toward the wall, away from Ryan, a shy gesture that went straight to Ryan’s heart.
Ryan didn’t have to think hard to realize what Ben meant. Ben had claimed him, said he was his, in no uncertain terms. Of course he didn’t mind. He reached for Ben’s hand and squeezed it. “I’ve been yours for a long time,” he said softly.
Ben exhaled, as if he’d been holding his breath. He turned his head to face Ryan once more. His blue eyes shone brightly. “We’ll make up for lost time, you’ll see. And once the tour’s over, and Salvation’s on its way to stardom, we can take some time out to travel, just the two of us.”
“I like the sound of that,” Ryan said. “Where would you like to go?”
“Anywhere,” Ben said frankly. “As long as it’s with you.” He pulled Ryan’s head down until their lips met, and they breathed each other in until the clatter of dishes drew them apart.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt.” The waitress was smiling at them. Ryan had been afraid she’d meant that sarcastically. He was relieved to find no judgment in her eyes.
She refilled their coffee cups, as well as their water. “Let me know if you need anything else, guys. Enjoy!” She headed back toward the counter, filling cups of coffee as she went.
“You know I love you, Ryan, don’t you?” Ben sounded suddenly anxious, for no reason Ryan could think of. Ryan hadn’t heard those words from anyone since Ben had told him that ten years ago. He hadn’t sounded half as anxious then as he did now. What had happened to him in the last decade? And would he be willing to talk about it if Ryan asked?
“I know, and you know I love you too. Nothing’s changed.” Nothing except the tenuous legal thread which once bound them was long gone now, and there was no reason they couldn’t be together at last.
Before he could frame any of the multitude of questions he needed answers to, Ben had picked up his fork. “Eat up,” he encouraged him. “I want to know what you think. After we eat, you and I can go shopping. I’d intended to take you before Cameron ever said anything. I want to show you off at the party. I don’t have a choice of what to wear, my wardrobe’s fixed, but you… we can make you shine.”
Ben looked so excited, so hopeful, and so happy that Ryan didn’t dare say anything that might change that. They could talk about things later.
They kissed once more then began to eat.
to be continued
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