There comes a day in every man’s life when his best friends conclude that he is an idiot. For Jeremy Johnson, that day had passed some time in kindergarten and every day after had done nothing to change that.
Kyle Franklin and Shay Matthews watched Jeremy explain his way out of yet another situation at the police station and both friends made no attempt to help.
Jeremy was known for pulling all sorts of pranks and stunts and the local police stations all knew him by name. He had become something of a mascot for them and the officers seemed to love him, especially as he went in with donuts every time he brought himself in. There was also the fact that he never did anything that was actually illegal and so they could never really charge him.
People often thought Jeremy was lucky he was so good-looking or he wouldn’t get away with half the stuff he did. The boy’s face was made for magazines and he was well aware of his beauty. His dark hair fell into his bright green eyes, a beautiful shade that made people think of everglades and spring and a slightly curved nose and lush lips adorned his face like perfectly placed trinkets. Kyle and Shay almost groaned when Jeremy gave the female officer a dimpled smile and she blushed.
The guy was going to hell.
“Why are we even here?” Kyle asked Shay, openly glaring at Jeremy from across the room.
“To make memories,” Shay said, taking pictures of Jeremy that she would no doubt sell to his grandmother later.
Jeremy’s grandmother thought his antics were cute and she had scrapbooks of any of his documented pranks, including those that made it to the papers.
The three friends had grown up on the same street in quiet suburbs with respectable neighbours, at least until Jeremy had been born, or so the rumours said.
“The guy in the chair over there has been staring at you,” Shay said, tilting her phone as if to get a better view of Jeremy in action. She tucked some errant strands of long, black curly hair behind her ear and motioned at the man who was sitting a couple of rows away from them.
Kyle snorted. “What makes you think he isn’t looking at you?”
The corner of Shay’s lips quirked up and she spared him a second to give him her full amusement. Kyle rolled his eyes at her.
Shay was beautiful. Flawless brown skin, big brown eyes, perfect little nose and full lips… There was no way she wasn’t aware of her good looks. Hell, even her body was soft and curvy.
If he wasn’t gay-
“Because my gaydar is a real thing and you need to stop doubting it,” Shay replied, now going through her pictures and selecting ones she thought Granny Johnson would pay good money for.
Before Kyle could retort that Shay thought everyone was gay, the man stood and walked toward them.
“Hello,” he said with a smile that Kyle found a bit lecherous. “I’m Peter.”
Kyle raised an eyebrow at him, waiting for the point of that. Shay shot Peter an apologetic look and decided she didn’t want to stay and watch Kyle be rude. It was always painful.
She stood just as Jeremy reached them.
Apparently he was done with his police visit.
“Am I interrupting something?” Jeremy asked, amusement rife on his face as he looked from Peter to Kyle.
Kyle motioned toward Peter with his hand, “This man came all the way over here to tell us his name.”
“Hello,” Jeremy said, offering his hand to shake.
Peter seemed off-kilter and nodded at them before he mumbled something and walked away.
“Dude, you need to stop scaring away perfectly good guys,” Jeremy said, shaking his head at Kyle and dropping his hand.
Kyle snorted and stood up as well.
Shay watched her two best friends and surreptitiously took a picture for her personal collection.
Jeremy and Kyle were both hot and standing together, she could almost feel the money entering her pocket from all the offers she would get from interested parties.
Both boys were tall but that was almost where their similarities ended. Jeremy was dark-haired, pale and lean, and was one of those accursed people who could eat what they liked without their body realising a thing. He dressed in a laid-back manner and even now, he was in jeans, a t-shirt with some sort of indie rock band on the front and a pair of converse.
Kyle was more meticulous in his dress, preferring chinos, button-down shirts and loafers to anything Jeremy would have worn. Kyle was also toned and well-built. He worked out for health and not for building muscle but he certainly couldn’t help the muscle he had built. Kyle was mostly serious, quiet and when he felt like it, delivered biting sarcasm that left his recipients winded.
He was also undeniably gorgeous.
With golden hair that was haphazardly swept off of beautiful blue eyes that were currently behind frameless glasses and lips that were made to be kissed but were usually in a thin line because he was an antisocial bastard, Kyle was easily one of the most attractive guys on campus.
But he didn’t seem to know, or care.
Shay wondered if she would be able to trick them into a photo shoot by saying it was something else. Getting Jeremy to do it may have been easy enough but Kyle was just so damn stubborn.
“You need to keep your options open,” Jeremy was telling Kyle as they left the building with Shay in tow.
Kyle bristled for a moment and then ground out, “Did you forget I have a boyfriend?”
In the comfort of their shadows and luckily being right behind Kyle’s back, Shay rolled her eyes.
Jeremy had no such qualms. He rolled his eyes in Kyle’s face.
“How could I forget Harold?” Jeremy asked, walking ahead of them to Kyle’s car. “How could anyone forget Harold?”
Shay made a strangled sound that seemed like a cut-off laugh.
Harold was about as memorable as a piece of dirt and just as interesting.
That comparison was possibly even insulting to dirt as at least soil had some organisms in it that led important lives.
Kyle had met Harold in their first year of university when he was eighteen. His parents had thrown a party for his father’s business partners and for reasons that no one could comprehend, Kyle was smitten with the older man who spoke only of investment portfolios and the stock market.
The first time Jeremy had met him, he had barely resisted yawning the whole time because he had assumed Kyle was messing with him. Harold had a plain face, wore thick glasses and had a lisp. That was about as far as things got when Jeremy tried to remember the man’s most defining features.
Shay had been more polite and had asked appropriate questions and nodded at intervals as she planned her escape.
Kyle had known they both thought the forty-three year old Harold was much too old for him and that they didn’t fit at all but he had decided his best friends weren’t exactly the best sources of relationship advice.
Jeremy didn’t even know what relationships were. He enjoyed ‘playing the field’ and when Kyle told him he didn’t have to play every position, Jeremy would just wink and make strange hip thrusting motions. Kyle hoped that was not his actual technique.
Shay on the other hand, was as good as an extra reclusive hermit in her experience. The girl hadn’t dated anyone since her first relationship in high school had crashed and burned when the guy left her for a cheerleader and told everyone that Shay was a cold fish who couldn’t put out. She hadn’t minded the name-calling because she assumed it wasn’t really damage to her image but she had been hurt pretty bad. The guy had been hurt pretty bad too once Kyle and Jeremy were through with him. The two boys had always been overprotective of Shay, who was a year younger than them. They had been suspended for two weeks after the incident and Shay had spent those two weeks home with them. Shay’s mom had explained what happened to the boys’ parents and though they had tried to appear stern in front of the principal and gave vague standardized lectures to their sons, they had all been pretty proud of them.
Jeremy rode shotgun while Shay got in the back of the black Toyota cellica, already texting Jeremy’s grandmother. Kyle got in, wondering if it was too late to change his friends. Between the idiot playboy and the extortionist honours student, his options weren’t great and he knew he could do better.
Kyle drove them back to Ilian university, turning up the music in his car so he would be spared the effort of listening to them speak about Harold. Besides, it was almost noon and he had to hurry back and get everything ready.
As much as Shay and Jeremy teased him about it, they did care about Kyle’s relationship and wished him every bit of happiness someone like Harold could squeeze out of his pudgy hands.
Jeremy watched Kyle out of the corner of his eye and knew the guy was already planning everything perfectly for the next night. Kyle and Harold’s anniversary was the next day. They’d been together a whole year. Jeremy cringed just thinking of being with someone that long. He figured he would get bored or murderous and then the next trip to the cops would be his last.
He did wonder what the hell Kyle and Harold did together.
What did they even talk about?
He’d seen Harold kiss Kyle’s cheek once and he had been filled with the psychotic urge to wash his friend’s cheek until the memory was erased.
It was just so weird.
Kyle had later confirmed that he and Harold hadn’t gotten that far, or anywhere really. They went on dates, they talked and sometimes Kyle spent nights at Harold’s apartment but they had never had sex. Harold had seen Kyle naked of course but Kyle hadn’t seen the banker in less than a large vest and briefs. Jeremy had wanted to ask if they touched each other or anything but he suspected he didn't want to know the answer to that.
Kyle may have been serious, taking life with all the somber carefulness of a meerkat and being sure to do the right things at the right times but he could be fun when he wanted, which was every last Saturday of the month when they went to the paintball arena.
Jeremy sighed. Even his fun was planned.
Kyle never took part in Jeremy’s antics but was always nearby if he thought his best friend would get hurt or would need him in some way.
They reached the university in record time and Shay waved at them as she went to her hostel, Jayne. Jeremy and Kyle were both second years in Spence hostel and their rooms were right next to each other.
Jeremy laughed in amusement as Kyle shooed him from his car. The guy was no doubt going to go in person and doublecheck to make sure all his arrangements were ready and were perfect. He told Jeremy he would pass by Harold’s house just to make sure the man was still available the next day and hadn’t had anything come up. Kyle didn’t plan romantic surprises, he made romantic assaults instead. If anyone could force their carefully dished out love on anyone, it would be Kyle.
Jeremy wished his friend luck and went to his room, his own phone out, texting someone he thought might be interested in having a little fun.