**I’m going to preface this one with the disclaimer: the Admiral said I could! Enjoy an end of summer barbeque and an unexpected but welcome kiss. Also, you can find the Admiral’s version of the story here.**
The barbeque was Katie’s idea.
I wasn’t exactly up to a party, but she deserved to relax and have a good time with family and friends. My sister was rock star awesome, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better. So if she wanted to take Labor Day off, and just party all day, then I was not going to stop her. Everyone else seemed to think it was a good idea, swarming in and bringing so much food I wasn’t sure that it would all get eaten. Uncle Jimmy was manning the grill, with Uncle Tommy standing close by and assisting. Katie’s best friend Cindy was flitting around, making sure every dish was full and that everyone had what they needed. Katie herself was standing in a group of friends and family, laughing her head off at something, and looking radiant in the sunshine. My sister deserved this, and it made me happy to see her so carefree.
I pulled the afghan a little tighter around me and leaned back deeper into the Adirondack chair. It was comfortable, much more so than any of the other deck chairs, and I was happy to be sitting in the fresh air. It had to be at least eighty degrees out here, though it was cooler where I was sitting in the shade of the awning, but I was still cold. Losing thirty pounds over the course of a couple of months would do that to a person.
Chemo was the devil and radiation was its evil twin.
Being sick sucked so badly I didn’t even have words. But I was fighting the cancer trying to eat my body. And my beloved sister was the one to drag my ass to appointments, clean me up when I was too sick and weak to move, soothe me when the pain was too great, take care of me in all the ways I needed. She was the best, and if she wanted this barbeque then that’s what she got. Even if all I wanted to do was curl up and take a nap.
“Kate says this round worked.” Trent’s voice startled me, making me jerk, but I found a smile for my friend. He’d been there, helping us both out, since my diagnosis. I was lucky to have him, I knew it. But I was also glad I’d never made my move when I was healthy. He’d have been stuck with a sick boyfriend, and that just wasn’t fair. At least now I got the pleasure of his company, and when he helped out, I knew it was because he wanted to instead of because he felt he had to.
I glanced up at him with a sheepish smile. He grinned back and perched on the arm of the chair. He radiated heat, and I couldn’t help but cuddle in. “Yeah, we’ll see.”
“You don’t sound hopeful,” Trent said, his voice ever so slightly disapproving.
I sighed, and then snuggled in a little more. “They said it worked last time and I had to have another round so…”
“Yeah, I hear ya,” Trent agreed. One big hand started rubbing up and down my arm. “You look better than you did last week though.”
I smiled for him. “Yeah, I feel better. Not great, mind you. Not yet. But a little better.”
“Good,” Trent said. Then he cupped my chin in one hand, tipped my face up, and kissed me.
For a second I was so surprised, I didn’t even react. Trent’s patient exploration didn’t cease though, and a moment later, I made a hungry noise and pushed into the kiss. He felt so warm, so alive, his lips soft and coaxing, his tongue a wet, hot heat filling my mouth. I reveled in it, whining just a little as I tried to get closer. And then I realized I was kissing Trent, and I pulled back with a gasp.
“What?” The kiss was unexpected, but I was definitely all for it.
Trent’s smile was serene, and he was stroking his thumb along my cheek. His eyes were filled with affection and something more that I didn’t dare put a name too. I wanted it, but I was scared to believe it.
“I’m tired of waiting for you to get better. I should have done this a year ago, before you got sick.”
Oh, that was a harsh reminder. I pulled back a little further, but Trent wouldn’t let me go. I scowled at him. “T, you can’t—” I made a frustrated sound. “I’m sick and I might not get better. I might have months, maybe a year more. If this didn’t work, then there’s a time limit on—”
He cut me off with another quick kiss.
“Days, months, years–and I’m hoping for a whole shit ton of years–whatever time you have left, I want to be with you.”
For a long moment, I didn’t say anything at all. I felt like I should be noble, to push him away and save us both from heartbreak. But he was so warm and alive. Someday my dick would work again, and I’d be able to enjoy that a hell of a lot more with Trent than by myself. But even more than that, his smile eased my soul. It always had. It was selfish to say yes, to tie him to me that much. But I’d wanted him for a long time, and he was now telling me he wanted me too. Sickness and all.
“Yeah,” I said softly and something settled in my soul. “Okay. Yes, please.”