One thing Derek has always searched for is perfection. And in Nick's love, he thought he'd found it. But marriage is rarely perfect and Nick Lund isn't a myth, but a human being, faulted as anyone.
With their relationship on the rocks, Derek faces loneliness and doubt, estranged from the man he's adored for most of his life. When he learns that he has a cousin living in the city, a young man named Myles he never knew existed, Derek seeks him out. The two men begin a beautiful friendship that provides Derek with some solace and perspective.
But in spite of the affection he feels for Myles, Derek's heart belongs to Nick, who's willing to do anything to get them back on track. Nick is ready to forsake his restaurant Split, the city life he adores and all of his ambitions to win Derek's trust again.
Derek is convinced that a quiet existence in the burbs is the solution to all of their problems. Or will it be the biggest mistake of their lives?
"There was a tire swing on that tree," Myles said, slowly walking to the only tree in the huge yard, that was in fact a field. In the distance, there was a house. Far away neighbors. "That house over there ... I ran to that house once. It was winter and my dad threw me out. I was in my pajamas and it was -- it was so fucking cold. I ran through the field here, knee deep in snow, and knocked on their door."
I put my hand on his shoulder. Watched his face.
"They threw a blanket over me and drove me home." He looked at me and anger flashed through his green gaze. "My dad acted like he'd been worried about me and told them I was a sleepwalker."
I can only imagine the terror that ensued when those jerks had left and that door had been shut.
"I always wondered what it was in my face that triggered my old man so much." Myles frowned, staring at something in the distance. "No matter what I did. If I was quiet, he'd smack the back of my head and tell me to lose the grim face. And then, if I had the -- the audacity to show a hint of joy, you know, maybe I'd won a medal in gym class or, I don't know, was feeling good for some odd reason -- those were the worst beatings. When he caught me being happy. It enraged him. He thought I was weak when I laughed. He hated my laugh. I didn't laugh for years after I left here. I'd hold it in. Like everything else."
It literally blows my mind to think of Myles's journey. That he could go from being a man who didn't laugh for fear of being ridiculed, to being an out and proud hairstylist in a matter of ten years, is to me, one of the most impressive personal stories I've ever heard.
He inspires me to work harder on my own insecurities and misconceptions.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, turning away.
"Why are you sorry?"
"I shouldn't have brought you here." He was walking back to the bike. "I shouldn't have told you all that."
He can't be vulnerable. I'm finding that out now. It terrifies him to let people close.
I hurried to him and turned him around. "Don't ever be sorry for who you are and where you come from. Ever." I took his face inside my hands. "Not with me." I pulled him into my arms and hugged him tight in front of that haunted house. I held him for so long, looking at the boarded up window of his old bedroom, imagining him there, age fourteen, staring back at the two of us hugging on the side of the road. How I wish I'd have known him then. We could have given each other comfort and affection.
"It trickles into everything," he said, pulling away and wiping his face with the back of his hand. He was shaken, his breath ragged. "All my relationships. Everything gets spoiled 'cause I'm rotten to the core."
He's a challenge, Bump. A beautiful, messed-up man. Of course I want to come to his defence all the time, to contradict every self-hating comment that comes out of his mouth, but his feelings are what they are and they are valid. I can't keep dismissing how badly he blames himself.
"Well, I already love you, Myles." I grabbed his tear-streaked face and kissed his cheek. "And the word spoil is a tricky one. Because you have been spoiling me lately." I handed him his helmet and smiled. "With friendship and attention."
"Yeah, but now your husband is coming back and everything is gonna turn to shit again, you'll see."
This was a side of him I hadn't seen before. He can get a little nasty when the emotions get to be too much. I guess anger is easier than sadness.
"Nick is gonna adore you, Myles, and we'll all get along. You'll see." I pointed to the bike. "Let's find a spot and have our little chip and beer picnic."
"He's not gonna like me and you're not gonna wanna spend as much time with me now." Myles put his helmet on, the dark visor now hiding half of his face. "It doesn't matter," he grumbled. "I didn't expect this to last, anyway."