Zak sat across from Nick at the small hotel bar, Nick’s cell phone in his hand. He had no words to explain the picture in front of him. There was nothing he could say. I’m sorry even seemed cliché. “Did you sleep with him too, Zak?” Nick asked, his words full of pain.
Zak shook his head. “No.” That was the one solace he had. It had just been a kiss. A very poorly timed, public, kiss. “Who sent this to you?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
Zak dropped his head. He was right. It didn’t matter, because it didn’t take back the fact that it happened.
“Matching shirts too? That’s a little overboard, don’t you think? How long, Zak? How long has this been going on behind my back?” The pain had turned to an angry whisper.
Zak wanted to drop the phone and just run out of the bar. “Nick, we’re not together. We’re not dating. It was just a moment…”
“Just a moment? What the fuck, Zak? Is what we had just a moment?”
The words stung him. “No. I love you. I’ve dedicated my life to you.” You just never returned the dedication, he wanted to say, but this wasn’t that argument. Zak knew that would turn this ugly and he didn’t want to have that conversation at a very public bar.
Nick took his phone back and put it in his pocket as the waitress dropped off their beers. Zak looked up at his face. He looked like he had aged ten years since the last time he had seen him. The lines had grown deeper, and a redness, a puffiness, that had never been there before seemed to dominate his features. Zak wanted to reach up, touch his face, run his fingertips over the soft beard. The feel of it against his skin had been at the top of his favorite things list for the past ten years. Nick sighed. “I can’t do this, Zak, if you’re going to be with him.”
Zak shook his head. “We can fire him, not take him on trips, anything. Please don’t leave, Nick.” His voice, his eyes, begged, “Please?” Zak dared to reach a hand across the table and grab Nick’s, squeezing it. “I can’t do this without you.”
Nick snatched his hand away angrily, putting it under the table on his leg. “Seems like you’ve been doing just fine without me. Or have you forgotten that I still get all of your twitter posts on my phone?”
Zak sighed, but the anger in him started to bubble up. “What? You want me to put what I’m really feeling? That I wish it was just you and I at places like it used to be? That when things get a little scary, I know I can hold my hand out and you’ll take it? That I miss you like crazy when you have to stay home for that extra day? Is that what you want me to put on my twitter? Because if that’s what it takes, I will.”
Nick looked down into his beer. “I don’t know, Zak.”
Silence fell over their table. Nick stared hard into his beer as Zak watched him. Over his shoulder, he saw Billy and Aaron enter the bar. Both men waved and started walking towards them but Zak quickly shook his head. Aaron stopped walking, grabbing Billy’s arm and pulling him away. He made a mental note to buy that man some Starbucks later. If Billy had walked up to their table right then, he thought for sure Nick would just be done with the whole thing and leave town that night. Nick wasn’t a violent person, and at this moment, he thanked God for that. Because if anyone made a move on Nick in Zak’s presence…
“I love you,” Zak said again, a little louder.
Nick smiled slightly, still not looking up. “Love you, too,” he mumbled.
Zak kicked his foot softly under the table. “What happened to us, Nick?”
Looking up, his face was etched in pain and heartache. “Too much.”
Zak nodded, his own emotion swelling up in him.
Nick cleared his throat. “You know, if you want to… be… with Billy, then be with him.”
“Are you breaking up with me?”
Nick looked up at him, tears threatening to cascade over his bottom eyelashes. “No, you did that for me.” Zak’s phone vibrated in his pocket. “Answer it. I know its him.”
Zak shook his head. It couldn’t be Billy. He wouldn’t be that stupid. Pulling the phone out, he looked at the text message. It was a sucker punch to the gut. Billy had texted him. What’s wrong? Are you ok? Zak closed his eyes.
Nick shrugged, finishing his beer. “I told you. It’s fine, Zak. Invite him down. I was just leaving anyways.”
“No. I’m not inviting him here. This is between you and me. There is nothing going on with Billy, Nick. I fucking love you and you know that.”
“Do I?” Nick pulled out a $20 bill, laying it on the table.
“I’ve spent ten years waiting for you to leave your wife,” he whispered angrily.
“Oh, is that what this is about? Well you can forget that happening now.”
“I had forgotten it six years ago.”
Nick stood up. “Well then, this is it. See you for filming tomorrow afternoon. Hope you and Billy sleep well tonight.”
Panic rose in Zak’s blood. He grabbed Nick’s arm, pulling him back as he started to walk off. Pulling him in, Zak took Nick’s face in his hands, kissing him hard. Letting go, Nick stood there, in complete shock. The bar continued on around them as the two men stood there staring at each other. “Don’t leave me, please,” Zak begged.
“You fucked up,” Nick shook his head. “I’m sorry, Zak.” And he turned and walked out of the bar.
Zak watched as he left, praying for a miracle as his phone buzzed on the table.