“I think I left my cell in Stacey’s car,” he explained. “Did your text mention anything about a baby shower?”
“What are you talking about?” she asked. Adam pointed. His mother turned to the reflective Mylar faces of the balloons behind her.
“I get the congratulations and the scary-looking happy face,” Adam said. “But the other balloon? Should I be concerned? I enjoy being an only child.”
Becca’s mood lightened. Her face relaxed. “They’re from Marge. She’s the senior teller. Emphasis on senior. It’s quite possible she thinks I got promoted and pregnant in the same week. She’s confused.”
“I want her to wait on me from now on.”
“You better hurry,” his mother said. “She’s about to retire. Next Tuesday, I think.”
Adam grinned, amused by his thoughts as he often was. “Maybe she’s the pregnant one.”
Becca popped open the plastic to-go container. “Thank you for the salad,” she said. “I’m starving.”
“I wanted to do more,” he said. “I know how long you’ve wanted this promotion.”
“This is perfect.” She took a bite.
“Once I find a job, I’ll take you to dinner. Somewhere worthy of a celebration.”
Becca swallowed and said, “That’s fine, but I’m paying. How’s Friday night? Bring Stacey. Bring Victor.”
“Fine. Have it your way. We’re college students. And we’re broke. We won’t argue.”
“You usually don’t when I foot the bill.”
“I have a question,” he said. “Who designs those obnoxious posters in the lobby? Your marketing team should be fired. Have you seen those things?”
Becca raised an eyebrow. “Should the bank hire you instead?”
“Only if they know what’s good for them,” he replied. “Let them know I graduate in June. My rates will triple then. I’m already in huge demand. They’re looking at a three-year wait, minimum. But since I completely support all forms of nepotism and I’m flat-ass broke and I blew my only chance at a decent internship, I’m willing to make an exception.”
“I’ll mention it to Marge,” Becca said. “She’s in charge of the…décor. I think she’s in charge of everything, actually. I don’t know what everyone will do when she’s gone.”
Adam stood up. He had homework to do and a boring history class to attend later. Then maybe cheap drinks and half-priced appetizers with Stacey and Victor, if they could scrounge up enough cash to hit their favorite happy hour spot.
Chicago is no place to be an unemployed college student. There’s so much the three of us want to do we can never afford.
Adam started to move backward.
His mother’s words stopped him. “Do you like the office?”
He nodded. “It’s twice the size of your old one,” he said. “But you need a secretary.”
“I have one. Her name is Mindy. She called in sick this morning. I think she puked while we were on the phone.”
Adam smiled again and met his mother’s eyes from across the room. “My advice?” he said. “Save the baby balloon for her.”
Becca grinned. “You’re probably right. She’s been obsessed with a guy she met on the L train a few weeks ago. I think it’s serious.”
“Sounds like it,” Adam agreed.
Becca’s tone changed. She was approaching a new topic of conversation with caution. “Speaking of which, any news?”
Adam appreciated his mother’s attempt to show some interest in his nonexistent love life. “Are we talking about subways? Or men?” he asked.
His mother shook the plastic fork at him, a gentle reprimand. “You’re too clever, Adam. You have a smart-ass comment for everything. Men don’t always like that. It doesn’t matter if they’re gay or straight.”
When did my mother become an expert on the dating do’s and don’ts of gay men? Is she writing an advice column on the side I don’t know about?
Adam folded his arms across his chest. He’d been working out more lately. He wondered if his mother could tell. Could anyone? Even Victor hadn’t mentioned it, and he noticed everything. “Perhaps I need to dumb myself down, then,” he said.
“You just need to meet someone who’s as intelligent as you,” Becca said. “And that won’t be easy. You need to get out more. Talk to people. Make yourself available. Or do the right thing and elope with Victor. You know I adore him.”
“But he doesn’t like me,” Adam said. “At least not like that. You know what I mean. We’re just friends. Besides, he’s too good for me. He needs someone…nicer.”
“You’re out of your mind,” she said. “The two of you are perfect for each other. Once you stop acting like an idiot and you show Victor the sweet boy I know you really are, everything will work.”
“Any particular reason why you’ve suddenly become determined to marry me off?”
She didn’t hesitate. “You’re lonely.”
Adam gave her a look of mock shock. “No, I’m not.”
“Don’t lie,” she said. “I’m your mother.”
“Don’t tell anyone.”
“That you’re lonely or that we’re related?”
He shrugged. “It depends on who’s asking.”
She poked at her salad with the tip of her fork. “I don’t like what college is doing to you. You’re more arrogant than anyone I know who’s twice your age. You haven’t earned it yet.”
“I think you’re right,” he said. “And twenty-two is too young to be this jaded.”
“Enjoy your youth,” she reminded him. “I’d kill to be twenty-two again.”
“What were you doing then?”
She looked into his eyes with fondness. “I was raising a sassy four-year-old.”
“Gee, I wonder whatever became of him,” Adam said.
“You might like him,” she said. “He’s gay and single. He thinks he knows it all and he’s too thin for his own good, but he’s definitely a catch.”
Adam shook his head. “No, thanks. He sounds like an asshole.”
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Genre - Gay Romance, Suspense
Rating – R
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