Box Shaped Heart – Ch. 21
By Laura S. Fox
Copyright © 2019 Laura S. Fox
All Rights Reserved
Intended for Mature Audiences Only
This story will contain graphic depictions of sexual intercourse, strong language and it is not meant for readers who are less than 18 years of age.
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Chapter Twenty-One – Happy F*pping Everyone!
Sleeping next to Aron was the best thing ever. Especially since the guy now had a signature way of waking him up, with slow kisses and caresses.
"Hey," he smirked, as he stretched like a cat into the man's arms.
"Hey back," Aron chuckled. "I hate not being able to cuddle some more, but I need to go to work early. They're sending someone over from New Entertainment, to ask us about a new motivational book we publish. Apparently, these guys like to wake up with the chickens."
"Why do you have to be there? Are you the one giving the interview?" Carter asked, and wrapped his arms around Aron's strong shoulders.
"No, but I have to show support for the author, and they may ask me about some technical aspects. Or I might be as good as invisible. Trust me, I would like nothing more but wake up slowly with you."
"I think I can live with you leaving early for work once. But don't make it a habit," Carter joked.
Hello, we're not supposed to get used to this!
Hey, since when we're talking like Deadpool again?
Admit it, it's pretty cool.
Yeah, Deadpool is the awesomest.
Wait ... are you trying to change the subject?
Smart brain is smart, psh, what to say?
"Don't worry, I won't," Aron placed a wet sloppy kiss on his ear, making him giggle. "And you go wreck them, tiger. I bet your Instagram has gazillions of followers by now."
Carter rolled his eyes. That was the last thing on his list of concerns.
"Hey," he caressed the ridge of Aron's shoulders slowly. "When would you say we should go see Carter together?"
"As I said, baby, when it's convenient for you. You'll see, the guy's on the mend. The doctors are very optimistic."
"Eh, what do you they know?" he shrugged.
"Hmm, I'd say much more than us," Aron replied. "They went to med school, and we didn't."
"Ha, seriously?" Carter smiled.
"Yeah, they have all those diplomas and stuff," Aron joked further. "So, pick your day, and we'll go."
"I don't know if today or tomorrow is the right day ... but I'll check with Mark. I really want to see the bo ... the guy," Carter correctly himself in time.
"The boy? Was this what you were trying to say?" Aron questioned, a bit puzzled. "He's older than you."
"Yeah, but he behaves like a child, right?"
Nice save, bro.
Aw, do you really mean it?
No, not really.
"I suppose," Aron sighed.
"Well, we'll go together and kick him to wake up," Carter said quickly.
"I'm pretty sure the nurses and the good doctors there would have something to say about such barbaric acts," Aron shook his head and smiled. "Really, baby, I'm so happy you're not upset with him anymore."
"Eh, let bygones be bygones," Carter said. "Weren't you supposed to be out the door already?"
"Kicking me out of the bed?" Aron pretended to pout.
"I think you're in danger of me not letting get out of it, but have it your way," Carter sighed for dramatic effect.
"All right, here's your last kiss, until we meet again," Aron smooched him loudly on one cheek.
"Okay, okay, just go already," Carter pushed him away.
That was the right thing to do. Push Aron away, even though it was pretty damn redundant at this point. How the hell was he going to live in his good ol' shell? What? Was he getting used to Instagram fame already?
No, that wasn't it. But he was not going to say it. Even his smartass brain knew to shut its trap on the topic. They were never going to go there.
"Hey, Alex," Simon greeted him cheerfully, the moment he went through the door to his office.
"Did Mark let you in?" Carter asked, eyeing the guy suspiciously.
"No, I ... just waited for him to be a moment out, and I sneaked in," Simon said with a small snicker.
Ah, this was getting weary. Fuck with the no interfering rule. Aron didn't deserve to be cheated on. Not with Simon, not with anyone. And this was one thing he needed to take care of properly. Mark was right. He could not have his cake and eat it.
"Simon," he said solemnly and placed one hand on the guy's shoulder. "Look here, man. We're over."
Women used to break up with him, not the other way around. This was new. And frigging hard.
"What?" the guy stammered and recoiled as if he had been slapped.
Carter's fingers squeezed to keep him in place.
"I thought I could play this game. I thought that it was enough to mistreat you and you would go away. But it's not okay. It's not okay at all. And it's not fair."
Simon was looking at him, chewing his bottom lip and frowning, like he was trying to make sense of the guy.
"I ... I could tell Aron," Simon said hesitantly.
"If you do that, that's on you, man. I'll deal with my husband. I will figure out a way to get him back, because sure as hell that he'll drop me after something like this. If this is what you want to do, I cannot stop you, and you know it."
He was taking a huge gamble here. But he just couldn't stand this anymore. Simon was too willing to take just everything his so-called lover threw at him. Aron was getting hurt, even if unconsciously. And Carter was too damn stupid to juggle two men at the same time. Plus, he only was in love with one.
Gimme a break.
"But I hope you won't," he continued. "I hope that you care enough about what we had that you won't decide to destroy it like this. I will tell Aron myself."
Yes. I don't care about cosmic mistakes and whatnot.
It was maybe crazy and stupid, but it felt damn right. Yes, he knew, it was not his secret to tell, and he needed to find a way to come clean to Aron, for the sake of the guy's marriage. Maybe when Alex was going to get back to his own body, he would just have to hack it, and finally admit that Aron was the best husband in the universe, and not supposed to be cheated on like a shmuck.
"You really mean it," Simon said bitterly. "After all I did for you."
"Boy, you don't know what you're talking about. What did you think you did? Have your romp smacked with a paddle? Wore some leather thingie under your shirt? Really, what kind of compromise or life-changing decision do you think you took?"
"This one," Simon shook his hand and opened his shirt with hurried moves.
"Oh, dear," Carter felt his jaw getting slack.
The sight of red, oozing skin was a shock. But even more was the message imprinted in black ink on Simon's smooth chest in round calligraphic letters.
"Alex's Property? Pardon my French, but are you nuts?" he whispered in a low voice. "When did you have this one made?"
"Over the weekend," Simon whispered back. "I was planning to have my nipples pierced, too, but I was too afraid of the pain!"
"Too afraid of the pain? How the hell did you live through this?" Carter pointed out at the guy's chest.
Simon shook his head and made such a face that Carter almost felt the need to hug the guy and comfort him. Well, maybe not hug him, because probably his chest hurt like fucking hell, but still.
"All right," he covered his face with both hands. "Simon, man, you really have to reconsider your life choices."
"What's to reconsider?" Simon asked, and he definitely looked like he was in pain. Physical pain, most probably. "I love you. What the hell do I have to do so you can understand it? And I was really hoping we would go to one of those cool BDSM clubs now, that we're into that lifestyle."
Carter drew one long breath. Then another. Then another. Simon was staring at him with pained puppy eyes.
Ah! The proverbial light bulb appeared.
"So, do you want to be owned and shit?" he asked Simon.
The guy's caramel eyes lit up.
"No, not by me," Carter raised both hands. "But, well, I know a guy."
"Wait, are you, like, lending me?" Simon asked. "Alex, I'm not sure if ..."
"Simon, my good dude," Carter caught the guy's head in his hands and looked him straight into his beautiful eyes. "I'm a shitty owner, okay? But this guy, he's like, top-notch master material. I'm sure he can introduce you to someone who could treat you right."
Or otherwise, he was in serious trouble with PETA or RSPCA, or whoever was in charge of animal protection around. He had no idea about stuff like that.
"I cannot believe you," Simon pursed his lips and proceeded to button back up. "Okay, Alex, in your own words, if you want war, you got it."
"In my own words? What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Carter wondered out loud.
"It's what you said when you discovered your beloved husband was cheating on you."
"He wasn't cheating. I know all about his so-called cheating."
"Like hell you do," Simon shot back. "Think about all the things you have to lose. Not just Aron. Your image."
"My image? Being a lying scumbag, a cheater, and a two-timer? Isn't that my real image?"
Simon looked at him like he could not comprehend the question.
"Do what you want," Carter added. "I thought you could be a decent guy."
Simon stopped for a second, but then he set his eyes down and stormed out of the room, without another word.
Damn, now he had to get to Aron before that idiot. That definitely didn't go down well. But, still, it felt right.
Why on Earth was Aron not picking up? In the end, he decided to call his office, but a dutiful secretary informed him that his husband was caught up in a meeting, and he could not be disturbed.
"Is it an emergency?" the secretary asked.
"No, not exactly," he murmured.
"Unless it is an emergency, we cannot help you," the woman said apologetically.
"No problem. Sorry to bother you," he answered.
"I will let your husband know you called the moment he is out of the meeting."
"Thanks a lot. Have a nice day."
"Have a nice day, too, Mr. Ruskin."
Okay, so he needed to postpone telling Aron about Alex's cheating, for now. Was it really such a good idea to tell off Simon? Yes, it was. He was just keeping up with a lie, otherwise. And no one was getting anything out of it. Aron was a cheated husband, Simon was led by the nose, and he ... well, he just didn't want any of it. If Alex was going to be pissed once back, that be it. He was not supposed to be a cheater in the first place.
He spent the rest of the day shooting ads, and in long meetings with Yolanda. His phone remained dead. Well, he wasn't going to leave a message or send an e-mail. That was the kind of thing to at least prepare in advance, over a phone conversation. The rest had to happen face to face.
It was late in the evening that he finally managed to get home. To say he was not exactly looking forward to talking to his husband – not your husband! – was an understatement. What if Simon had gotten a hold of Aron before him?
Aron's phone was still unresponsive. What if something bad happened? He walked through the door, anxiety like a knife in the pit of his stomach. No, that couldn't be. Someone would have let him know, call from a hospital, from Aron's work, without a doubt.
Still, he let out a big exhale, the moment he saw Aron sitting on the sofa, with the laptop on his knees, and a focused expression on his face.
"Hey," he called out.
"Hey," Aron said and raised his eyes from the screen.
"Didn't your secretary tell you I called?"
"You called?" Aron asked, surprised. "No, she didn't tell me anything. Who did you talk to?"
Aron gestured for him to come closer, and kissed him on the lips, as Carter leaned in. Yeah, that was something really nice to get used to. No, no, he needed to focus.
"I don't know her name ... I don't think she said it," Carter scratched his head.
"We have some interns working with us this time of the year. Probably one of them answered the phone instead."
"But, hey, how come you didn't pick up? I think I called a thousand times," Carter spoke, as he sat next to Aron on the sofa.
"Damn, can you believe it? I lost my phone. One minute, I had it, and the next, it was gone. I searched everywhere. I'm so sure it was on my desk when those reporters from New Entertainment came. For some reason, they needed to use my office as their home base. Between you and me, Alex, those guys are pretty damn annoying," Aron explained. "I had people from nearby offices to help me search for my phone, but no trace of it. I have no idea how I could lose it like that."
"Well, it's just a phone," Carter hooked his arm over Aron's shoulders. "Did you buy another?"
"Yes, it's not like I can stay without a phone. I was just busy getting in contact with a lot of people to let them know of my new number. But I really liked that phone. Plus, it had our little homemade amateur video on it. I really hope anyone who finds it hasn't the means to hack into it."
"Like who would do that? Plus, what's to fret about? It's consensual sex between two adults, married, on top of everything," Carter shrugged, feeling philosophical about the entire situation. "At worst, they'll just fap to us going at it."
"Baby, you really know how to cheer up a guy," Aron laughed. "It still upsets me. I should be more careful. But what did you want to tell me?" he asked.
Ah, damn. Carter unhooked his arm from Aron's shoulders and began rubbing his palms against his jeans. How the hell was he supposed to start?
Hello. I am Alex Ruskin and I am a cheater.
Hello! This is not AA.
I'm not Alex Ruskin either.
Nor a cheater.
Technically, we spanked Simon once, let him rub his junk with our foot, and stuffed his mouth with our limpy boy.
Psh, that cannot even be called experimenting. We were just trying to ...
Yeah, trying. We're always trying.
It didn't matter. He had to start. He opened his mouth when his phone started ringing. Well, not that was bad timing. He looked at the phone screen with an annoyed expression.
"It's Mark. It doesn't matter, I'll see tomorrow what he wanted," he rejected the call. "Now, I was saying ..."
The phone began again, this time more hysterically if that was possible for an inanimate object.
"I think you should get it," Aron spoke. "We have all evening to talk. Whatever you want to say is not time-sensitive, right?"
Well, in a way, it was, but it was not like Simon had the means to get to Aron if Aron didn't have his phone. He doubted Simon had Aron's e-mail or other ways to contact the guy. He shrugged and answered.
"Hey, Mark, how's it going? What's with you calling out so late? What? What news? Website?"
Aron was looking at him, while he was trying to make sense of his secretary's babbling.
"Go to New Entertainment's website," he told Aron. "Mark is upset over some news or something."
"Okay," Aron nodded.
He returned to his conversation with Mark.
"Sex tape?" he asked, this time alarmed.
The look in Aron's eyes was speaking volumes.
"Fuck me sideways," he murmured.
Aron buried his face into his hands.
"Oh, fuck, baby, I'm so sorry," he began.
All right, no need to panic. He slowly turned the laptop towards him, using just two fingers.
"Beauty X" Model Alex Ruskin Wows In Hot Sex Video Shot With Hunky Husband! We Didn't See THAT On Instagram!"
"O. M. G."
It was all he could muster at the moment.
"I'm going right there, right now, and I'm making those scumbags eat that phone!" Aron stood to his feet.
Carter caught his hand.
"Chill, man. Not that I don't appreciate you standing up for your husband's honor here, but I guess that, by now, the video has been leaked to all the major porn sites."
"I cannot just stand here," Aron protested. "Those guys stole my phone, they hacked it, and used a private video to ... ah, fuck, how can I be so stupid? I should have not let my phone on my desk!"
Carter was busy typing something while trying to appease Mark on the other end who was talking about what a failure he was for some reason.
"This has nothing to do with you, Mark. Those scumbags are to blame. Yeah, don't worry about damage control too much. Tonight, my man and I will go there and ... make them eat Aron's phone," he added, for lack of anything better to say.
"We will?" Aron turned to look at him, more than a bit surprised.
"Yeah, just for the sake of watching them shit their pants," Carter said with a small shrug. "Oh, as I suspected. We're already trending on PornRub."
"Really, Alex, how can you be so chill?" Aron asked.
The guy looked worried. Carter took his hand.
"It's bad, I know. But what can we do?"
"I don't know. Maybe I should not be so stupid in the future to shoot porn videos in the bedroom," Aron shook his head and flopped down next to Carter on the sofa.
"Or hop into a time machine, get back to that moment, and not shoot it altogether," Carter said. "Ah, damn, people are such assholes. Just look at these comments."
julionerve – Jeesh, no money shot? What the fuck? Screw you, Alex! Can't you even hold a phone?
alowyin – Aron is soooo husband material.
trentboss – @alowyin get your hands off my husbando, you bitch!!!
mekinglord – One second I'm diamonds, and then dark screen?! Alex, you fucking douche!!!
arania pleenese – Meh, this guy's overrated. Aron's hot AF, tho.
farinismere – Stop complaining, people! Just admit it already that we're lucky to see this. Both guys are hot. I'd do them both. So happy fapping everyone!
xxcdcmemexx – fuck. Aron, you fucking lucker. I'd rail that twink ass so hard, too.
"And it goes like this ..." Carter scrolled down with a long sigh, "for 17 pages? For realz? Are these people jerking off when they go to porn sites, or they're just here to write literature?"
"Ah, fuck, ah, fuck," Aron continued to fidget next to him, probably not knowing what else to do.
"All right," Carter said. "I think it's time we go over there and give these guys a piece of our minds."
"I'm totally for that," Aron flexed his fists.
Carter covered Aron's hands with one of his. They could not get physical with those idiots, no matter how much he could feel his hands itching, too. Hmm, bingo, he knew exactly what to do.
"Boss?" he heard Mark's worried voice from the phone he had thrown on the coffee table.
"Mark, go drink some hot milk, grab some cookies, too, and chill. It's an order, don't give me lip. Take your dog for a night walk if you cannot sleep. See you in the morning."
He was barely off the phone, that it started ringing again.
"Oh, fuck," he murmured. He doubted he could send Yolanda to sleep with milk and cookies, too. But he needed to get that. "Yes?" he answered.
"Alex, stop your man from doing something stupid," Yolanda began right away.
"So, you've seen it," he breathed out.
"Yeah, like the rest of the universe with an Internet connection, most probably," Yolanda replied with a sigh.
"Well, technically, only those interested in gay porn, and then supposedly interested in me, plus, if we count out those who are working, sleeping or doing anything else during this time ..."
"Alex," Yolanda stopped him. "We need damage control."
"You and Mark are like peas in a pod, seriously," he replied. "What damage control? What is this? A DEFCON situation sort of thing? Should we let the president know my ass got caught naked on camera? Maybe he wants to address the nation!" he exclaimed, finding everyone's reactions so far a bit too dramatic.
Well, it's not YOUR naked ass on camera.
True that. Ah, well, DEFCON it is, then.
"We need to spin this in our favor," Yolanda spoke, this time in her most professional voice.
"Okay, as you say, but first, let me know. Just how bad is a thing like this? For my career and such?"
"Well, there are many factors that come into play," Yolanda said thoughtfully. "It's not like you were with another man, but with your lawfully wedded husband. That's good. You two weren't engaged in something too extreme or kinky, so, again, that's good. Also, you've never hidden that you're out and proud, so no issues there, either. But," she added.
"Ah, there's a `but', after all," Carter sighed.
Not a but, a butt. Naked. On camera.
Seriously, not the right time for puns.
"Some of our clients might not be too thrilled. You know the kind," Yolanda said with a small huff. "They're all okay with everything, on the surface, but on the inside, they're a bunch of stupid bigots, assholes, two-faced scumbags ..."
"Yolanda, Yolanda, okay, I get it," Carter said. "Just tell me. What's the fallout we can expect? And what do you think we should do?"
"Well, first of all, do you two lovebirds have other naughty bits you wouldn't want to share with the world, yet it might happen?" the woman questioned.
Hmm, something like a lover on the side? Nah!
"No," he answered after a short moment of hesitation.
"No for real, or no, not exactly no?" Yolanda continued.
Damn, shit was getting real, and he hadn't even told Aron. He could not have had a worse timing telling Simon off. Now he really needed a crisis team to handle everything, and not only to save Alex's model career.
"No," he tried to sound like he was really convinced of his own words.
Next to him, Aron was squeezing his knee in assurance. He didn't dare to look at the guy.
"Then we should send a statement tomorrow to all the media interested in such stuff, to express our sorrow regarding the incident, but also to emphasize that phone hacking is illegal ... wait, it wasn't you guys who leaked this, right?" Yolanda asked, alarmed.
"No. Fucking scumbags stole Aron's phone."
"Oh, that's bad," Yolanda murmured. "That's bad for them!" she added, more energetically this time. "Ah, we can so work this to our advantage. They will have to eat out of our hands for all eternity so that you don't sue."
Now, Yolanda was laughing. A bit hysterically, even.
"Wait, shouldn't I sue them?" Carter asked. "They clearly committed a felony. They should pay for it."
Says the one with a pristine snow white conscience.
"Nope, don't sue them. Celebrities and tabloids live in symbiosis, and you should know that, Alex," Yolanda said.
"Talking about the strangest of all bedfellows," Carter commented wryly. "Forget about that. I'm suing these guys' asses."
"Alex, c'mon. They'll just be a pain in the ass if you really do that," Yolanda tried to convince him.
"Yolanda, you're my boss, and I respect your opinion. But, with all due respect," he added with a sigh, "it's not your naked ass on camera."
Yolanda remained silent for a few seconds.
"Okay, I understand," she said. "I'm not only your boss, I'm your friend, too. And things that are private, should remain that way. I guess I should prepare for a full-blown war with New Entertainment then," she sighed in turn.
Hmm, he had to be better than this. He stole a look at Aron and his pain-stricken face. Alex was maybe a douchebag, but he didn't deserve to be the laughing stock of some assholes thriving on garbage like rats and shit eating flies.
"Don't worry, Yolanda," he said brightly. "I know exactly what to do."
"Why isn't this giving me peace of mind?" Yolanda chuckled. "Oh, Alex, I know you can be scary, but remember who you're dealing with."
"Well, I think they should know WHO they're dealing with," he replied with a small smile. "Ready, partner?" he turned toward Aron.
"Wait, what are you two planning?" Yolanda asked, a bit alarmed this time.
"No offense, boss, but it's a secret," Carter chuckled. "The less you know, the better."
"As long as I don't read another shocking title in the papers tomorrow ..." Yolanda trailed off.
"Trust me," Carter stopped her. "New Entertainment scumbags are born a century too late to be a match for me."
"Wow," Yolanda laughed. "I'm counting on you, then."
"Be sure of that. Now go to sleep."
"So, what are we going to do?" Aron asked after he said good night to Yolanda.
"We'll just pay a visit to the idiot who wrote this," Carter began typing again. "Ah, here's the scumbag's Twitter ... A small party with friends ... Okay, let's hijack the idiot a little," he said, turning off the laptop and standing up. "Let's go."
Aron listened carefully as he explained the plan. It was so definitely going to work.
It wasn't difficult to reach their destination.
"Are you really sure?" Aron whispered.
"Yeah, we'll deal with this as we should. Gloves are off," he whispered back.
Aron put his hands on Carter's shoulders, squeezing them.
"I had no idea you were such a warrior," Aron smiled, and Carter could barely see his face in the semi-dark.
"Better that than a worrier," Carter punned right away.
"I like you when you're this determined," Aron came closer, forcing Carter to throw his head back so they could watch each other. "I think it's hot," he murmured and leaned in.
The backstreet was almost deserted at that hour. He only had to angle his head and kiss Aron. But no, he needed a clear head for the show they were planning.
"Let's not offer some PDA for free," he said as he stepped back. "I think they saw enough of us, as it is."
Aron was a tad disappointed, but he nodded gravely. The door to the remote club where the scumbag reporter was partying with his douchebag friends opened brusquely. A guy came out, barely keeping on his feet, took two steps and vomited loudly on one side of the stairs.
Carter grimaced and walked over. Weren't they lucky?
"Excuse me, are you Lionel Drew?" he asked, in his most innocent voice.
The guy turned and wobbled like a magnetic toy, returning to its original position after a short knock over the head. He squinted, pushing his hipster glasses up his nose.
"Wait, I know you," the guy mumbled. "You're Alex Ruskin! Wait, what are you ..."
"Aron, let's take the suspect into custody," Carter said smoothly.
The guy blanched when Aron emerged from the shadows. He turned to run, but Carter was quick to grab him and drag him toward Aron who caught him swiftly.
"I'll scream," the man threatened, but Aron pushed him inside the car, and climbed inside before the guy managed to say anything more.
Carter grimaced as he climbed behind the wheel. The guy reeked of cheap booze and fear. Good, that last bit was perfect. The fact that the idiot had just puked, not so much. He ignited the engine and drove off.
Adjusting the rearview mirror, he took a look at their temporary prisoner. Good thing they took Aron's car that wasn't two-seated. The Spyder could have been more intimidating to outside lookers, but Aron's station wagon was less conspicuous. Why was Aron driving that kind of car? Was he hoping for kids later, maybe? The image of his best friend holding a little girl and a little boy, one on each of his strong arms, and wearing the biggest smile ever, crossed his mind.
Well, he had to stop derailing with these thoughts. Now he needed to put on his scary face.
"So, Lionel, was it difficult to break into my husband's phone?"
"What are you talking about?" the guy squealed. "I just saw your video on some porn sites! Aren't you the ones who put it up?"
"Nice try," Carter showed his teeth, knowing that the guy was watching him, too. "Well, I don't have the same hacking skill, but I have something better. Aron, get the scumbag's phone."
"Hey!" the guy protested, as Aron searched his pockets and produced his smartphone.
"Well, let's stop a little here, and let's see what you might be hiding."
Aron threw him the phone, as soon as they stopped, by the side of the road.
"So?" Carter asked. "How do I unlock this?" he gestured toward the guy.
"I'm not telling," the guy set his chin high.
Carter sighed theatrically.
"We can do this the hard way or the easy way, you choose."
"I can sue you!" the guy threatened.
"Not if we sue you first," Carter replied. "Tell me, Aron, was this the idiot that was today in your office?"
"Yes, he is," Aron confirmed.
"As you can see, my husband is a man of few words when it comes to private matters that piss him off," Carter spoke. "There is footage, Lionel."
He was bluffing, but it didn't matter.
"We know who took the phone. And we know you profited from it. So, unlock your phone now, or you might lose something more precious."
The guy looked at Aron who only had to frown a little to make him piss his pants. With trembling hands, he reached for the screen, as Carter held it for him.
"What you guys are doing is illegal," the guy squealed. "You'll pay!"
"Hmm, well, we need to make sure you won't tell on us. And, if you do, we'll make sure to come after you, again."
He was speaking casually, but he could feel the guy trembling in the back.
"I will tell," the guy continued. "Your fingerprints are all over my phone."
Carter raised one hand, flexing and showing the latex glove. Good thing Aron had plenty of cleaning supplies around the house. Damn, he was thinking like a criminal. Well, he had watched plenty of crime shows. Now, all that knowledge was paying off.
"What are you guys going to do to me?" the man whined.
"Nothing, if you play nice. Now we're going to make sure that you won't bother us again. You and your publication. You could go to jail, man, and, frankly, it doesn't look to me like you're jail material."
Apparently, the mention of the penalty that could incur as a result of hacking Aron's phone made the man fall silent. Maybe not silent-silent, as he began to mumble something incoherently. Aron was dead silent, though, and for the first time in a long time, Carter wondered what his best friend might be thinking.
"Hey, look at that," Carter commented, as he began to browse through the guy's phone. "Did you know that the boss at New Entertainment has a huge, 10-bedroom villa in Mauritius that doesn't appear in any legal papers? I suppose the competition would have a fit with this kind of information," he whistled.
"C'mon, man, you're killing me here," the reporter mumbled while keeping his head down.
"Ah, and you were planning later this week to do a small article on a certain politician who likes going to striptease shows a bit too often? Aren't you a cheeky brat?" Carter shook his head. "Are you that sure you can play the big boys' game?"
"I wasn't going to sign it," the man glared at Carter in the rearview mirror. "All the sensitive material goes by the editor in chief. He's signing those."
"Ah, it looks like I'm not that big a star," Carter feigned being affected by this new discovery. "Because you signed the little piece you did on me and Aron. And wasn't it a bit too reckless of you, seeing that you took the phone?"
"All right, I took it, but I wasn't the one to hack into it. I don't have the skills, and frankly, I don't look like a hacker, now do I?"
"I don't know, man," Carter deadpanned. "How does a hacker look like?"
"Whatever," the reporter scowled. "Just what the fuck do you want?"
"Watch that tone, or I'll have my hunky husband slap you upside the head."
The man kept his tongue and his breath along with it.
"What I want," Carter exhaled, "is a huge ass apology written in the biggest font you can possibly use on that shitty website, your printed publication, and on TV. Then I want your shitty company to never go after me or anyone close to me again. Also, some free ad space for Beauty X, because why not."
"No way," the man protested. "My boss will have my head."
"Well, then I think that the perspective of having the story of that beautiful villa all over the news tomorrow sounds swell to you. Whatever, man, I tried."
He made a move like he wanted to ignite the car engine again, but the man reached his shoulder and squeezed.
"No, I'll do it. I'll probably have to seek employment at some shitty fast food after this, but I'll do it."
"My heart is bleeding. Hmm, Lionel Drew," Carter said slowly. "But that's not your real name, right? Why don't you use your papa's name, hmm?"
The man became hesitant again.
"What do you mean by that?"
"How drunk are you usually when posting these tweets?" Carter shook the phone to make a point. "With my dad," he recited, as he flicked through the guy's social media and looked at a particular pic that had only two retweets and 20 likes. "Of course he had to be your dad. How else could you have turned into such a shmuck," he said with a tinge of disgust. "So, seeing that your father practically runs the media company you're writing for, I'd say that you might just get away with a slap over the wrist. Of course, your old man will be pissed, but, hey, that's life. Who said it was easy to make it into showbiz," he added with a grin.
"Okay, man, you won this round," the man said, raising his hands in surrender.
"Not just this round, be sure of it," Carter looked at the man in the mirror. "Be thankful that I'm a nice person."
"A nice person?" the reported snorted. "You're a mean son of a bitch and you ... What the fuck, man? Get your hands off me!"
Carter turned to witness Aron catching the man by the neck and pressing him into the door.
"Let the idiot go, Aron," he intervened.
Aron's eyes seemed darker than usual in the faint light inside the car. But he did let go, after two full seconds that made the reporter squirm and thrash.
"Now we are going to let you where we gave you the lift, and you're going to keep up your part of the deal. If not, well, you know how things will go down. And they won't go down well. Here's your phone. Make sure to mail Aron's back to him."
"Okay," the man murmured. "Just ... don't mention this to anyone, okay?"
"Okay," Carter said with a sigh.
"You've been awfully quiet," Carter finally decided to break the silence, seeing that Aron was still keeping to himself after they left off the reporter in front of the club.
"Alex," Aron breathed out. "I'm not sure how to say this to you."
"Just say it," Carter encouraged the other, as he took the last turn toward their home.
"I'm sorry I ever doubted you. I'm sorry I ever compared you to Carter. It wasn't fair and I was the one to drive this wedge between us. I pushed you away with my behavior, even before we got married."
Aron took a moment to exhale loudly. Carter stopped the engine, as soon as they were in the driveway, and it was his turn to remain silent. This was important, he could feel it.
It is frigging important.
Really, I don't need the extra reminder.
"The moment we met, I wasn't sure you would be the one. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't like in the movies. I felt that it was extraordinary, how we met when I felt so down, and you practically picked me up. But I thought it was going to be just a fling, something short like I had with others. And I knew that I had no intention to continue like that after hitting 30."
"So you wanted to settle down. That's a good thing."
Thank you, Dr. Phil.
"I was afraid, in the beginning, that it was just my wishful thinking. That I was projecting on you. That I was projecting ... Carter on you. I know how you must feel hearing me tell you all these. But it's like a huge burden on my chest and I need to let it go."
"It's okay. Go on," Carter nodded, mostly to himself.
"I doubted you a few times during those first months. I thought that I might not be the only one ... I'm so sorry. And I thought that I should put you to a small test, ask you to marry me, to see what you would say."
Oh, fuck! Was it some kind of joke? This whole thing?
Shut up, brain, I need to concentrate.
Yeah, `cause this is fucking huge!
"So, you like, didn't mean it when you asked me to marry you?" Carter asked, trying to look every bit shocked as he was supposed to be.
His voice was doing a strange little squeal when he tried to pretend being outraged. It made Alex's voice sound like a small piglet, for some reason. Completely unattractive.
Admit it, it's a bit cute.
Aron shook his head.
"I felt I was falling for you hard. You were everything I wanted. I hoped you would say yes. But I was surprised as hell when you did say yes. I was so happy with you, like I could not believe how happy, and then, there were such moments when I felt like you were slipping through my fingers and you were suddenly somewhere, far away, away from me. But, I guess now, those were just signs of my own indecision and doubt. You were indeed tired sometimes, you were working so hard to make it into the fashion business, and seeing how your family ... But I won't talk about that anymore. That reporter really had to use those words, I thought I was seeing red in front of my eyes."
Carter's ears felt like they were making small gyratory moves. What the hell was that supposed to mean?
"I'm sorry I'm unloading everything on you like this right now. And after such an eventful day. But I need to say it all."
"Just let it all out, man," Carter placed one hand on Aron's knee and squeezed in sympathy.
"You know what's the stupidest thing of all?" Aron chuckled. "That despite being so insanely happy, having found my better half, finally," he joked, "I still had moments when I was unhappy. I know you'll not like what I'm going to say, but after this, I'm going to shut my trap on this topic forever."
Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God!
Could you please stop it?
"Just say it," Carter smiled, looking at Aron, sure that the muscles in his cheeks were stretched and twisted beyond the point of no return.
"I thought of Carter. I thought how he was no longer the one in my heart. And I felt stupidly unhappy because of that. I tried to convince myself that he would always be like a brother to me, my best friend, through thick and thin, but nothing worked. So, in a way, I think I was the cheater. It was like my heart didn't want to let go of him, despite knowing so well that he could never be with me, not the way I wanted him to."
"So what did you do? You said that ..." Carter could feel the words turning into rubber on his lips.
"I didn't lie. I fell in love with you, and out of love with him. But it was like everything was in such a fragile balance. In a way, I think I was lucky that he came to the wedding and made a fool of himself."
"Why? I don't get it. Why?" Carter babbled, his eyes prickly for no reason at all.
"He tipped the balance. He made me angry with his stupid homophobic shit. And broke the thread, the trust between us. He broke my heart that day. I was so lucky to have you. Oh, no, Alex, are you crying?"
He felt his cheeks with his fingers. Yes, there was water coming out of his eyes. Such a strange thing.
Shut up. Just shut up.
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