Excerpt – Relationships 201 with Alix Bekins

December 13, 2010

A section of the first chapter is available at the Dreamspinner website, so here’s a bit from a little later on, to tease you…

IT’S hard to connect with Eric. Stephan texts him the next afternoon, asking what he’s up to. When Eric calls back he says he’s fine, if busy, and maybe they can get together on Friday if Stephan’s free. Of course he’s free; why wouldn’t he be? Like he’d go off and make plans for the weekend without his boyfriend? But instead of letting his irritation out, Stephan takes a deep breath and suggests they get together for lunch or something before then; after all, it’s only Wednesday.

There’s a pause. “I want to, but I’m just kind of buried in homework,” Eric says.

“We could study together,” Stephan offers, suddenly thinking about sex.

Eric laughs. “Yeah, because that worked out so well last time.”

“Hey! I can behave. You were just all stretched out on my bed and moaning and licking your fingers and stuff. A man has needs, Eric.”

His boyfriend snorts. “I’m actually a man too, remember? I know all about your needs.” There’s a pause and then Eric suggests, “How about the library or Student Center or something? If we’re in public, you can’t grope me.”

“I thought you liked it when I groped you,” Stephan pouts, his tone suddenly a little more bitter than he meant to be, as he realizes that it’s been a long time since they had full-on sex.

Luckily, Eric seems to miss it. “I do, just not when I’m studying. So, Student Center? They have those awesome fries…. And we can make some plans for the weekend, if you want.”

There is either something really off in this conversation, or Stephan’s having PMS, or… something. It’s like their words match up, but Stephan feels like they’re having two different conversations, and he has no idea why. They make a date for tomorrow afternoon and hang up before he remembers that he was going to tell Eric about his drink-slash-dinner with Jeff tonight. Ah well. It’s not like it’s a big deal; he’ll tell Eric about it when he sees him.

THE pub is dim and reeks of a few decades’ worth of smoke, despite smoking in bars having been banned in California for a while now. Jeff’s got a stack of papers in front of him and a half-eaten ploughman’s lunch at his elbow. Stephan throws his messenger bag onto the opposite bench and slides in, accidentally kicking Jeff as their feet tangle for a moment. It takes Jeff’s eyes a second to focus on him, but Stephan just grins and grabs the beer menu, checking to see if they have his favorite microbrew.

“You’re going to order the most expensive beer they have, aren’t you?”

“Maybe. I hear professors make actual money, unlike starving grad students,” Stephan points out. “Ooh, they have the Seabright Blur. That’s seven dollars a bottle.”

“So you just want me for my money?” Jeff teases, pushing his papers to the side.

Stephan blinks. “Uh.” He has no idea how to answer that without saying anything incriminating, and he can feel his heart rate double, so he looks down at the menu and says, “Hey, they’ve got Arrogant Bastard.”

“No kidding.”

The waitress saunters over, and Stephan grins at her. “What’s the most expensive localish microbrew you’ve got on tap?” He winks at Jeff in response to the older man’s groan, and the girl giggles. She sets him up with an Anchor Steam from San Francisco, and Jeff has her bring a pitcher of it, along with food menus.

“So, Arrogant Bastard, huh? Guess you’ll be expecting me to pick up dinner too.” Jeff looks more amused than put-upon, fortunately, and Stephan’s not above someone taking pity on his financial state. After all, he picks up the tab most of the time when he goes out with Danielle—so she won’t have an excuse not to eat—and also Eric—or at least Stephan did when he was working and Eric was in school. Scott and Billy frequently get Steph’s tab when he’s a student. Everyone sort of takes turns buying, depending on who has a job at the moment. It all works out in the wash.

Apparently Jeff’s in the circle now too.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” Stephan says, wiggling his eyebrows. The waitress helpfully brings over the beer as he says it, and she does a little wiggle that makes her boobs bounce as she smiles.
“God, you’re all so damn young,” Jeff groans, and downs over half his pint in one drink.

“Nah, you’re not old; you’re just tired,” Stephan argues. “Long day? What’re you working on?”

“Lecture notes, mostly. It’s been a while since I taught the intro classes, but you know how it is. New faculty get the ones no one else will take.” He shrugs. “And it’s kind of fun, actually, even if the freshmen seem to get younger every year. But I was given a syllabus and outline just a few days before classes started, so I’m playing catch-up for a while, figuring out what I’m gonna say.”

Stephan nods in sympathy, and they spend a while bitching about classes and how disorganized the university administration is and then get into talking about research projects they’re both interested in. The beer helps, as always, getting ideas flowing, and soon it feels easy and comfortable to be hanging out with Jeff, as if Stephan’s known him forever. At the same time, there’s a little… spark or something, a feeling Stephan is totally going to attribute to the liquor and his apparent inability to stay sober.

Laughing, Jeff offers a steadying hand when Stephan lists to the left as he gets out of the booth. He guides Stephan out to the street and offers him a ride home. The bus always sucks when you’re drunk, so Stephan accepts; besides, they’re going to the same place anyway. He can walk home from Professorland, no problem. The night air’ll be good for him, he proposes, and Jeff laughs again. Stephan likes the sound of it a lot.

The car window is cool where he rests his head against it, and Jeff’s got some quiet music playing. They’re not talking, but it’s comfortable. He really likes Jeff. Like, more than a crush, maybe, but that’s stupid because it’s just a friend-crush anyway, even though he’s attracted to Jeff. The guy’s straight, after all, and it’s okay to have a crushy-type-thing on a mentor-slash-friend. It’s fine, right? Everyone has random crushes. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’ll probably wear off as he gets to know Jeff better.

Jeff pulls up to Grad Student Housing, and when did they get here, anyway? Stephan was totally going to walk. For a fleeting moment after he unbuckles his seatbelt, he thinks about leaning over in the car and kissing Jeff goodnight, wondering what the scratch of Jeff’s stubble would feel like on his mouth, what Jeff’s mouth would taste like. Then he opens the door, and the cool night air is like a refreshing slap across the face reminding him that he’s an idiot.

Only idiots let crushes get out of hand when they already have a totally awesome boyfriend. Only idiots have stupid crushes on their straight professors. Only drunk idiots jerk off thinking about their new friend’s dick.

Stephan’s kind of an idiot sometimes.

4 Responses to “Excerpt – Relationships 201 with Alix Bekins”

  1. melanie marshall says:

    And another great tease. It makes me want to read it immediately. Sigh.

  2. Danae says:

    Great excerpt! Can’t wait to read the book :)

  3. Nikyta says:

    *sigh* Great teaser. You’re gonna make me buy this when I should be buying presents instead!

  4. Dreamspinner Press says:

    That was my secret evil plan to (slowly, ineffectively) take over the universe, yes. ;)

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