The next few weeks flew by for Samantha, as she continued to play with fire; dating both Allen and Jason. Well actually, she dated Jason while sleeping with Allen on the side. But she thought that sounded sleazy.
She had lunch with Jason most everyday and spent the weekends at his apartment. Once or twice a week she would run into Allen in the hall, or he’d give her a call and invite her over to share some dish he had prepared in his kitchen and before the evening was over she’d be back in his bed. Not that she was necessarily trying to stay out of it.
She felt a little guilty when she realized she was avoiding Seth. But then again he hadn’t made any attempt to contact her either. She had forwarded a few funny emails to him and he had done the same, but no personal comments or phone calls had been exchanged. She wished for the old Seth back, the one she knew in college. She didn’t know what had happened but Seth had changed. He wasn’t the same guy she knew in Green Bay. That Seth she could have told about Allen; but not this new Seth, he would be disappointed in her. And guessing from his lack of contact, Sam assumed he had already surmised what was going on and was distancing himself. She feared Seth asking her to justify what she was doing and she had to admit, she really couldn’t. She liked and cared for both men; admiring different qualities in each. She knew her fault was not being honest with Jason, but she just didn’t see him being okay with it. Not like Allen was; Allen wasn’t interested in a relationship, he was just having fun. Samantha knew Jason looked at her differently. What she didn’t know was whether she wanted a relationship with Jason.
Seth found solace in his work. He hadn’t heard from Samantha since her phone call on the weekend he had gone to San Francisco. She didn’t understand his concern with Toby and seemed to be too involved with her romance with Jason to care. He had emailed Toby a few times but received no reply. As for Cole, he was trying to forget he had ever met the blond.
Seth had gone out, but only once and to a straight club with a couple of guys from work. That had been a disaster. Sitting around, drinking beer and fending off women was a far cry from what Seth considered fun.
He knew that staying home pouting wasn’t the way to get over Cole. What he should be doing was getting out there and finding himself another blond, or brunet, or hell, even a red head. Any hot body would do. But that was the problem; for the first time in his life Seth wasn’t interested in going out and chasing after sex. And if he were honest with himself, he would have to admit that scared him more than a little.
For Toby the weeks were a blur measured by the gram. He felt a twinge of guilt as he deleted Seth’s emails, but really, the guy just didn’t get it. Toby knew Seth was worried he’d get addicted, but he had it under control. Besides, Seth was one to talk, considering all the drugs he did.
“Anderson.” Toby’s boss was at the open doorway to Toby’s office. “How are things coming?”
“Things are good, Mr. Johnson. I should have the Cummings file ready by Monday.”
“That’s great,’ Johnson said starting to leave, then he paused and turned back to Toby. “Son, are you all right? You… ah… look a little under the weather.” That was putting it mildly, Toby’s eyes were sunken with dark circles; his wrinkled clothes hung on his too thin frame and looked as if he had slept in them.
“I’m fine sir, just stayed up a little later than I should have last night.”
Johnson nodded. “Well, it’s Friday, get some rest this weekend.”
“Yes sir, I will,” Toby assured. He did plan on catching some sleep this weekend. He had been up for forty some hours. His record to date was four days, but usually he would keep it to two or three day binges, finding he started losing his ability to concentrate after the third day.
“I don’t know, Chase.” Later that evening Toby had stopped by Chase’s apartment. “I think one of the other junior engineers has said something to Johnson. I mean why else is he in my office checking up on me?”
Chase shrugged. “Maybe. Or maybe he just wanted to see how the project he gave you was going.”
“I think its Evans,” Toby continued. “He’s jealous that Johnson asked me to work with him. I can tell by the way he looks at me. I bet he said something, I think he’s trying to get me fired.”
“Or maybe you think too much,” Chase said laughing. “Let’s go out and see what’s going on at the clubs.”
Samantha was exhausted when she got home from work. It had been a hell of a week at the advertising firm and all she wanted to do now was to soak in a hot bathtub when fall into bed.
Jason had a big trial starting on Monday and would be tied up all weekend getting ready. He had told Sam over lunch that he’d try to get away for a few hours on Sunday to see her.
“I know you think I work too many hours, but this trial is… Well, I’ll be putting in a lot of hours,” he had said.
“It’s okay, I mean, you don’t owe me an explanation. It’s not like we’re….” The look on his face stopped her cold. She had known he considered them to be in a relationship, hell, she had too before Allen came along. “I mean….” She sighed. “I understand,” she tried, but the damage had already been done.
“I better get back to work,” Jason said, throwing some bills on the table and giving her a peck on the cheek. “I’ll call you later.”
Now as Samantha stood in her kitchen pouring herself a glass of wine she went over it in her head again. “Fool,” she said to herself. “You’re going to fuck this up.” Once again she wished she could call Seth and get his advice.
She was pulled from her thoughts by the ringing of her phone. She looked at the display. Allen.
Sighing she flipped the phone open, “Hello?”
“Are you home?”
“I made rigatoni.”
“Your place or mine?”
“Allen, I’ve had a really rough day.”
“Your place then. I’ll be over in a few.” And he was gone.
“Shit,” she muttered to herself.
It wasn’t more than five minutes when she heard a knock on the door. “It’s open,” she yelled.
“Hey,” Allen said, carrying in a casserole dish.
“Mmm, it smells good,” Samantha said as Allen set the dish down on her stove top.
“How are you?” He kissed her on the tip of the nose.
She sighed, “Exhausted.”
“Poor thing,” he grinned at her. “Here,” he said as he pulled out a chair for the table. “Sit, I’ll take care of everything.”
Samantha sat down in the chair and smiled. She was powerless to his charm.
She awoke to someone knocking on the door to her apartment. She momentarily wondered who it could be. The only people that have been to her apartment were Allen, who was snoring softly beside her, and… shit…. Jason.
She quickly decided not to answer the door. She could always claim tomorrow that she hadn’t heard him, had slept through the knocking. But then she heard the front door open.
“Samantha?” Jason’s voice called out.
Shit. How had she not locked her front door? Fuck. She knew she should have made Allen leave after the sex. She would have locked the door behind him. Of course if he weren’t there then it wouldn’t matter whether Jason had stopped over or not.
“Hmmm?” Allen moaned, waking from his slumber.
“Shhh!” Samantha jumped from the bed and grabbed her robe, to rush out of the bedroom. Alas, she had not moved fast enough. There stood Jason in the doorway.
“Jason,” she gasped.
The look on Jason’s face as he looked from her to Allen said it all. He turned and headed back in the direction he came.
“Jason,” she tried again, following him into the front room.
He simply held his hand up to silence her and shook his head; then he was out the door.
Seth was just about to walk out of his office on Friday afternoon when Scott stuck his head in the doorway. “Hey, I heard you went out for a beer with Rich last week.” Rich was one of the straight guys Seth had gone for a beer with after work in a moment of weakness.
Seth smiled and nodded his head. “Yeah. Did he tell you what a disaster it was?”
Scott laughed. “He did mention that as well. So how about I take you out to some place more our style?” Scott was one of the few other gay men working in Seth’s department.
Seth really wanted to say no, but he also knew it would do him good to get out of the house. “Sure, sounds great.”
“Have you ever been to Sidekicks?” Scott asked.
“No, can’t say that I have,” Seth answered as he turned off the light in his office. “Let’s go.”
They walked into the little pub and found a table. A waiter came by and took their order of cocktails. Seth was relieved to not be with a beer drinker. What was it with straight men and beer?
The waiter brought their drinks and just as Seth was about to take a sip he spotted Cole sitting across the room with a blond who barely looked old enough to even be in there.
“Shit,” Seth muttered.
“What?” Scott asked, looking around.
“Nothing. Just the guy over there.”
“What? You haven’t been in Austin long enough to have an ex.”
“No, but, well…. Sort of.”
Scott nodded and glanced over in Cole’s direction. “Which one? Not the kid, I hope.”
Seth chuckled. “No, the other one.”
The conversation turned to topics dealing with the office and how Seth was getting along there and in Austin in general.
Seth was engrossed enough in the conversation that he didn’t notice Cole approach until he heard the blond’s voice. “Hi Seth. I haven’t seen you around lately.”
“Hey, Cole.” Seth tried to not let his face give away his feelings. “I’ve been working more hours the last few weeks.”
Cole turned to Scott. “Hi, I’m Cole, a friend of Seth’s,” he said extending his hand.
“Scott. Seth and I are co-workers.”
Cole nodded then turned back to Seth. “What ever became of your friend out in San Francisco? Is he okay?”
Seth frowned. “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
“That’s too bad,” Cole frowned then reached out and touched Seth’s shoulder. “Hey listen, I’ve got to go. My nephew has plans this evening and he’s waiting on me to give him a ride home. Maybe I’ll see you later?”
“Sure,” Seth said. “Later.”
“Damn,” Scott said once Cole was out of earshot. “He’s even hotter up close.”
“Yeah,” Seth smiled. “That he is.”
After another round of drinks Seth begged off to go home. Scott was a nice enough guy but Seth was already growing tired of the bar scene.
It wasn’t until the next afternoon that his cell rang. “Hello.”
“Hey Seth,” Cole said. “How’s it going?”
“So that guy last night…”
“No,” Seth cut him off. “Just a guy from work.”
“Do you want to get together later on?”
“Sure.” Seth was glad Cole couldn’t see how much he was smiling.
“Great. I’ll be by to get you in a couple of hours.”
Toby awoke with a start, his alarm blaring. Looking at the clock he groaned. It read 7:45; there was no way he’d make it to work on time.
He threw the blankets back and jolted to the bathroom. He would have to try to not be too late. Sometimes his boss didn’t come in until nine; if he hurried maybe he could still beat Johnson in.
He walked into his office and looked at the clock - 9:15. Damn. Well, if any thing were said he’d offer to stay late – something he did most every night anyway. Toby sat down and started pulling out his files as he waited for his computer to boot.
“Hey, there you are.” One of the other engineers called out as he stuck his head in the doorway.
“Hey, Andrew,” Toby answered. “Yeah, I overslept. Is Johnson looking for me yet?”
“Not yet today, but he was asking everyone about you yesterday. Where were you?”
“Yesterday?” Toby was confused.
“Yeah. I covered for you. I told him you have called me Sunday night and said you had a family emergency. Said I had forgotten to tell him when I came in. But don’t expect me to do that for you again. So where were you? Did you party too hard over the weekend?”
Toby glanced over at his computer screen to see the date. There it was Tuesday, the 23rd. Shit. What had happened to Monday? Had he slept through an entire day? Was that even possible?
“Toby? Are you okay?”
He pulled himself from his thoughts. “Yeah, I was just trying to remember. I can’t believe I didn’t call in yesterday,” he covered. “I mean, I was pretty sick, but I really thought I called in. I guess I must have dreamt it or something. Anyway, thanks for covering. I owe you one.”
“No problem. Just give me a heads up next time.”
Toby nodded and Andrew took off down the hall, leaving Toby to wonder how he had managed to miss out on Monday. He remembered laying down Sunday afternoon to take a nap for an hour or two. Shit, that means he had slept for almost forty hours.
“Shit,” he muttered. “What the hell?” For the first time he had to consider that maybe Seth was right. Maybe he did have a problem.