When Gabriel “Gabe” St. James leaves the city behind and moves to a small town with his dad, the first person he meets is Lucifer Beelzebub “Beebub” Beaumont, who becomes his best friend. Now Beebub is quite the character, loves anything purple, and is larger than life in every way. Gabe simply tries to keep up, dreading the day his partner in crime and secret love will grow up and leave him behind, breaking his heart.
It’s many years before Beebub returns home, with scars both physical and mental. But he’s still the overly confident, arrogant person he’s always been, and expects Gabe to fall at his feet and declare undying love.
Just the opposite happens, however.
Both men must start over and learn who they are after all this time, and how to trust each other again. Will it be worth the trouble in the end?
The engine shut off with a cough and I got out, shutting the door with a slam. As I walked to where Beebub sat, I called out, "How long have you been sitting out here?"
"A while." He stood, shivering, and followed me inside the house. I was glad for the heat, and he was, too, probably. "Marlene didn't say where you went," he said. "Everything okay?"
I nodded as I removed my outerwear, hanging the worn coat on the hooks in the wall. I did the same with his before leading the way to the kitchen.
"I spend time with my dad every Christmas." I set about making coffee while Beebub sat at the table.
"Oh, that's right. It would have been his birthday today." I was surprised he'd remembered. And secretly pleased.
I handed over a steaming cup and sat across from him. "It's my way of keeping him close, even though he's gone." For a moment, my mouth trembled, and I hid it by taking a sip.
"It must have been hard, losing him like that. I'm sorry you had to go through that by yourself."
"I had Marlene. We comforted each other."
Beebub was silent for a minute, then he said, "I'm glad."
I stared out at the setting sun through the window, enjoying the peace between us. After a while, I made more coffee. It was something to do, at least. "How are you doing?" I asked.
He tapped a finger on the rim of his cup. "I'm looking around for a place of my own. The house two miles down the road is up for sale and I'm keeping an eye on it. I also have some projects lined up for the new year, and a few proposals to send out."
"That's great to hear, but I meant on a personal level. Are you ... okay?"
A glimmer of his old smirk made an appearance. "You want to know if I've moved on? If Sean ruined me for relationships, in general? Or if you still have a chance, is that it?"
I came really close to pounding his head with a skillet, but Beebub must have seen murder in my eye, because he sobered immediately. "Forgive me. That was uncalled for. I'm okay, really. The trauma has passed, and the nightmares are mostly gone. I've even gone out with a few men, here and there, but nothing serious, so far." He seemed hesitant as he continued, "There is this guy, though, who I really want to get to know again, but I'm afraid of moving forward." And the way he stared at me said it all.
"You can't be serious! First, you make fun of my feelings for you, and now you want --"
He raised a hand as if to ward me off. "I know. I'm an ass, and self-centered, but I wish you would give me a chance, to really show you I've changed. Haven't I been through enough? Aren't my scars ..." He sighed and rubbed a hand over his forehead. "I need someone stable in my life, and you were always there for me. I know I abandoned you, and flaunted Sean in your face, but --"
"And it's still all about you!" I said, talking over him. He made me so mad. "Didn't the Sean debacle teach you anything? Just because someone loves you doesn't mean you can take advantage of them."
"That's not how I meant it! I want to build something with you. What am I missing here?" Everything, moron.
Tired, I said, "Just go home, Beebub."
"Gabby, come on. Don't be like this."
My fingers twitched. "Unless you want me to punch you again and add another bump to your nose, I suggest you never call me that again, and leave." Before I embarrassed myself by sobbing in front of him.
Beebub scowled as he stood. "God, you can be so frustrating. What happened to the kid who would follow me anywhere? Like goddamn puppy?" That dig wasn't fair, even if it was true.
"He grew up and realized that the love of his life was an egotistical, self-centered son of a bitch who thinks he's God's gift to men everywhere. And he really isn't."
"Fine, Gabe. Fine." Seconds later, he was gone, but I still had trouble breathing, and my vision was blurry, for some reason.