Molly was singing. Singing.
“Going to see the boyfriends, going to see the boyfriends, we’re going to see the boyfriends today!”
“I hate you.”
She giggled. Then stopped herself. Because giggling was not something she thought grown women should do. (He’d asked if there was a rule book or something, maybe a set of cheat sheets for the acceptable behavior of grown women, and she’d snapped, “Yeah, Sun Tzu, The Art of War,” so he’d shut up after that. Grown women: not funny.)
“I’m so excited,” Molly said. (In lieu of giggling.)
“Okay, so, pretty much we’re here.” Will swallowed and squeezed her hand, and it probably made him a tool of oppression or something, but he kind of got off on how pale his skin was next to hers. Not like a fetish, just like, that’s Molly, and that’s Will, and look, kind of they’re together.
He could ask her later if that made him a tool of oppression, or just a tool. Probably right now he should go up to the door and like knock, or something.
“Will, you’re making me nervous. You embarrassed or something?”
“Hell no. God, no, Moll, come on. Just, Hugh’s gonna smirk when he doesn’t think anyone but me’s looking, and Andrew’s gonna say, ‘Ms Evans,’ and Truman’s—well, Truman’s gonna be cool. Yeah. So that’s one good thing.”
“Because if anyone’s freaking out right now, it should really be me.”
“I’m not freaking out! I’m—okay, I’m so excited I could puke.” Which was totally true. “They’ll love you, you’ll love them, it’ll be a big love-fest of loving love.”
“Hey, have sex with the boyfriends on your own time, boy. You promised me good food.”
“Oh man. You’ll love it. Andrew’s restaurant is fucking delicious. Okay, we’re here. This is it.” He led her up the steps and knocked, holding his breath like he had the first time he’d ever knocked on this door.
Oh good. Truman. In his relief, he forgot to speak.
“Hi, Will,” Truman said, not-quite-rolling his eyes. “You must be Molly, I’m Truman.”
“Hey! I was gonna do, like, polite introductions and shit!”
“It’s so good to finally meet you,” Moll said, and didn’t even try to hide her grin as they shook hands.
“You, too.” Truman waved them inside. “Hugh’s tinkering anxiously in the kitchen.”
“Are we late? I didn’t think—”
“No, Will. Maybe you should see if there’s something he needs help with? I’m sure I can entertain Molly for five minutes.”
Moll really did roll her eyes. “Remember you promised me dinner.”
“Will says you’re working on your thesis?”
Oh, good. Moll could talk about her thesis all freaking day.
He found Hugh half-inside the refrigerator.
“Are you cleaning right now? We have a reservation, you know.”
“I needed something to do with my hands, and Truman forbade polishing silver.” Hugh backed out of the fridge. “I like that shirt. And the tie is inspired.”
Will’s toes curled with the familiar pleasure of Hugh’s approval. “Emerald,” he said, and straightened it. “Moll said it went all right with this shirt.”
“So it does.”
“I, uh, pass the good breeding test?”
“Grandmother would appreciate the tie, though she’d probably recommend something darker for the shirt.” Hugh glanced down at the rag in his hand, then tossed it in the sink. “Forgive me. Nervous energy.”
“Why are you nervous? I mean, I’m like gonna be the butt of all the jokes, but no one’s gonna be smirking at you.”
“Really?” Hugh rinsed and dried his hands, then turned. “Hi, Will.”
“Fuck me. Come meet Moll.”
“Yes to both, if they’re invitations.”
“Shut your face, jerk.”
Hugh reached out to kiss his cheek. “Introduce me, Willie.”
And watching Hugh and Moll shake hands? Yeah, worlds collide, right? Will gnawed on the inside of his mouth and tried to remember how to breathe.
* * *
Of course, everyone was totally cool. Everyone except Will. (And Andrew totally smirked. Even if he’d doubted his own impression, Hugh grinned at Andrew like he was agreeing.)
He sat there at dinner, sweating through his clothes, mostly freaking out. Until Moll elbowed him in the side.
“What? Did I—did you ask me something?”
“You gotta take some deep breaths, Will. Everything’s fine.”
He blinked. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, okay.”
Hugh pushed back from the table. “Molly, would you mind if I borrowed your boyfriend for a minute?”
“Not if you’re planning to smack some sense into him.”
“Oh, not in public. We’ll save that for later.” Hugh collared him and he followed—of course he followed—to the bathroom.
“Isn’t this, like, a single—okay, or we’ll just go in. Andrew probably isn’t down for sex acts in his bathroom, Hugh, and I don’t really want to—”
Hugh backed him up against the door and clamped a hand over his mouth. “Hush. Take a breath, count to three, let it out.”
He obeyed. Like always. And even that made it better. Just obeying, not thinking about it. He could feel his body stop buzzing like a live wire.
“Look at me.” Hugh took his hand back, which was a loss, but then he clamped both of them down on Will’s shoulders.
And that was even better.
Will blinked, suddenly overwhelmed. “I’m sorry.”
“I can’t imagine any reason why you would be. I like Molly, Will. She’s clever and funny, and she clearly adores you.”
“Yeah. Yeah, she’s great.”
“I’m so glad we agree. Take a few more deep breaths.”
He wanted to lean into Hugh, let Hugh hold him up. But it felt weird to do that with Molly twenty feet away. So he tried, instead, to square his shoulders and stand tall.
Hugh smiled. “I left the armoire unlocked, in case you want to show her, later.”
“Oh, god. Shut up. Don’t talk about the armoire to me.”
“No? How unfortunate.” But Hugh was just fucking teasing him.
“You’re an ass.”
“Yes. Dinner, Will. Dinner, and tea, and then we’ll say goodnight. Very sedate.”
God, that’s so not what he wanted. Like, at all. But Will nodded and followed Hugh back to the table.
Molly looked up and grinned at him. “You okay, there, slugger?”
In his peripheral vision, Hugh and Truman exchanged smiles.
* * *
They drank tea, and chatted, and he acted more normal. He could feel the tea helping, and the library. (Moll, of course, fucking loved the library.) He could act normal in the library. It was totally fine.
Later, in bed, Moll rolled on top of him and poked his chest.
“So? Thought you were gonna ask him.”
“I—I meant to, but—fuck, I don’t know. You still think I should?”
“Are you kidding? Will, seriously, the boyfriends are awesome. What’s up?”
“Uh huh.” Molly pulled his hands to her hips. “You worried he’ll say no?”
He hadn’t mentioned that, for awhile, Hugh was an escort. He didn’t generally think about it, and there wasn’t a reason to tell Moll. But now, because he hadn’t said that, he couldn’t say, “I don’t know how to ask for a favor without offending someone who used to kind of do it for a living.” It was a little like the thing where another friend of Beccs’ was a doctor, and all the time people were like pulling up their shirts or their sleeves, trying to show her rashes and shit like she owed them an explanation.
“I’m not worried he’s gonna say no. I mean, he wouldn’t exactly. He’d distract me until I forgot what I was asking. But I’m not worried about that. He likes you.”
“So? Will, you want me to ask him? I mean, it’s basically all my questions anyway.”
He shook his head. “Nah. I’ll do it. Tomorrow, before we take off.”
“Sure thing, lover. Train tickets can be changed, you know.”
Moll and Hugh, Hugh and Moll. What the hell was he gonna say? How was he gonna…say it?
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