Of course, the other person I had yet to connect with, besides Ziggy, was Colin. When it comes to people who don’t change if you don’t see them for a while, I figured Colin would be one. And I was right about that, other than he’d gone bleach blond. When he came in the front door that afternoon he startled me. Which was only fair since I startled him just as much.
“Daron!” He jokingly put his hand on his heart as if he needed to recover from the scare. “When did you get home?”
“Couple of days ago. When did you get blond?”
“Eh, when tax season ended.” He tugged at where a lock of it hung in his eye. “Huge mistake. It’s breaking off all over the place now. Man, if I’d known you were here, I would’ve come back sooner.”
“Come back from where?”
“Some girl you don’t know and don’t want to.” He ducked into the kitchen and came out with a can of Coke. “What’re you up to now?”
“Waiting for Chris to get home and telling you all about Spain, or so I’m betting since you don’t look like you’re going anywhere.”
He threw himself down into the arm chair. “Sounds like a plan.”
So I filled him in on the adventure, including the trip to Japan and a little about Australia, which he’d heard about from Bart. I wanted to go back to Japan at some point to see the actual country. Colin said I definitely should, and that I should bring him with me, even though I told him the story about Flip’s tattoos freaking the locals at the bath house.
Colin filled me in on what he’d been doing which lately was mostly nothing. After the forensic accounting stuff he’d done for us, helping out Bart’s dad, tax time had rolled around, and he’d hooked on with a tax prep office for two months of absolute crunch work running up to the April 15th deadline—for which he’d been paid well. He’d been coasting ever since.
I had a sudden pang of panic remembering the subject of taxes, then remembered Carynne had already told me she’d filed an extension for me. I still wasn’t clear if that meant she forged my signature or if she had the power to do that.
“You’re staring at my head,” he pointed out.
“Put on a hat or something, man, you’re too pale as it is and with bleach-white it’s like you’re a ghost, or a dandelion… or something.”
He sniggered. “Dandelion?”
“You just look wrong.”
“Well, I guess adding black on top of the already bleached can’t actually make it worse.” He twisted the strand in front of his face and wrinkled his nose at it. “Give me a hand with it?”
“Sure.” I followed him up to the second floor bathroom, the same one where Ziggy had dyed his hair the previous spring.
I got out the box of latex gloves that lived under the sink and Colin gave me one of those inquisitive eyebrows.
“You said give you a hand,” I said. “I’ll give you two, even.” I pulled on a pair of gloves and pulled off my shirt.
He gave me a grin. “You been working out?”
“Working. I was moving a lot of heavy stones and things.” I shrugged and looked him up and down. “You going to take yours off, too?”
“It’s actually best to get stripped down to nothing.” A hint of blush hit his cheeks when he said it.
“So Ziggy used to tell me. He also said it was better to get in the bathtub.”
“The man spoke the truth,” Colin said solemnly, as he began undoing his belt buckle. “I swear.”
Pretty soon I had a naked Colin in the tub, a plastic garbage bag over his back and shoulders, and a squeeze bottle of dye in my hand. I held his hair in one hand and soaked it with the dye from the bottle in the other. When it was pretty well sopping I set the bottle aside, wrapped Colin’s hair into paper towels, and clipped the bundles on top of his head.
“Ah, this shit burns,” he remarked. “Thanks. Doing it solo always makes a mess.”
“No problem.” I realized I was casually appraising him. He was sitting in the bathtub with his legs bent, his arms resting on top of his knees, and his erection pointed at his chest. I think Colin liked having his hair touched.
Or maybe he just liked having me around. He cleared his throat. “So this lover you had in Spain, what was his name again?”
“You were safe with him?” Colin gave me one of those looking-out-for-me looks.
“I should probably get tested just on the theory that it’s a good idea,” I said. “But you know. In the short term, it wouldn’t matter as long as you and I were safe with each other.”
There was a twinkle in his eye. I swear. An actual twinkle. “By the short term, do you mean today?”
“I mean before Chris gets home.” Hey, look who learned to quit beating around the bush.
Colin turned on the water. “I’ll get this shit out of my hair and be right in.”
“All right. My room or yours?”
“Your bed still needs breaking in.”
“True.” I went to my bedroom and pulled back the covers. I stripped the rest of the way down and then crawled onto the bed, looking through the wall unit of shelves at the head of the bed where the milk crates had been. Everything that had been in those crates, Courtney had rearranged neatly into the cabinets and shelf modules. A few years’ worth of Guitar Player, including the recent issues I hadn’t seen. Demo cassettes. My old lyric notebooks. The clock radio.
I wondered if there were condoms somewhere in there. I looked into one small cabinet with a sliding door. Yep. A couple of “gold circle” were sitting there. I blushed a little, wondering if we’d get to using them or not.
I lounged under the top sheet then, paging through a magazine that had come while I was away.
Colin came in, still damp, and lay down next to me, mirroring my pose. “I didn’t know if you’d still be interested in being physical with me,” he said.
“Honestly, I didn’t know if I would either,” I said. “But I really can’t think of a good reason not to be right at the moment.”
That was when I discovered just how loudly a brand new futon frame can squeak.
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