The four of us left the hotel, I was still wrapped around Alex, or rather I wrapped myself around him as we walked. It could be just a bunch of guys walking down the street together but I was being possessive – not my usual thing. Alex’s smile grew at my thought. It’s my thought. He said.
I didn’t much care who’s thought it was, I wanted to touch Alex and walking made that difficult but I leaned into him anyway and he had no problem wrapping his arm around me to keep me close.
Ant asked, “Where are we going? And why are we walking?”
Alex answered quickly, “It’s not far.” He smirked. “I didn’t think you wanted to watch Nox and I in the back seat of a car.”
“At least we can choose to not see it right?” Benji shook his head, “As if that’s even a possibility with Mr. I Have No Shields.”
I looked at Alex’s friend with a frown and closed my mind off from everyone. Alex gasped as if I were choking him I started poking holes in my shield and soon Alex relaxed back into me That’s better. he thought at me. “It’s harder, but I can manage.”
Ant frowned, “I hate when you do that.”
“I can’t just block Benji, I’m not a telepath.”
Ant nodded, “I know.”
Benji sighed, “You don’t have to block, I just wonder why you don’t shield like every other Fera…. Venatori I know.”
“Feras is fine, I don’t mind. I’ve been called much worse.”
“What’s worse than Feras for a Venatori.”
“Faggot.” Both Alex and Ant said at the same time and then looked at each other with a frown. I wasn’t sure if either of them liked that they knew me as well as the other.
Ant continued on as he watched Alex for his reaction, “Nox has a thing about people who are homophobic. He gets even a small inkling that you don’t like gay men, and he makes it a point to make you uncomfortable.”
“That has nothing to do with being Venatori.” Benji added.
“I know. Feras doesn’t bother me. I’ve been called so many names in my life I don’t let it bother me.”
“How evolved of you.” Benji said.
I shrugged. “Be an outcast your whole life…” I said and pulled away from Alex and walked ahead of the group. Alex would tell me when I needed to turn or whatever, he didn’t follow me but I felt his gaze on my back.
Ant spoke as I walked off. “Don’t take his tantrum the wrong way. He’d rather not think about his childhood except for the boy in his dreams. Everything else is a harsh memory.”
“He didn’t have friends?” Benji asked “Other than Tinman here?”
Ant laughed as I assumed Alex glared at him, “There was Sage and Mia and Jace if you call him a friend.”
“We don’t.” Alex growled.
“Mia led the boys down one path that lead Nox to explore things and Sage well, for a boy who didn’t like to be touched he was and is very touchy feely with Nox despite his own wife and child on the way. Nox never had a normal life.”
Benji laughed, “He’s Feras. That’s the way it should be.”
I glanced back and growled. “More stereotypes.” The fuel to the anger was sitting in my gut and the only thing keeping me from running back home or away was Alex. My promise I wouldn’t leave him. It wasn’t about him, or a fight with him.
“That’s enough Benj.” Alex said. “This is supposed to be a friendly dinner.”
“I’m not…” Benji said but his words cut off and there was a long drawn out pause between what he started to say and what he ended up saying, “Look, sorry, Nox. Venatori are the pricks of the world, it’s hard to get past that. I won’t judge you based on that.”
“So kind of you.” I said, I turned around and looked at Benji, I walked a few steps before stopping to the words in my head telling me too. “You always do what he says?” I asked
Benji smirked, “Never do what he says. I usually do the opposite. But he’s right, I’m his best friend, you’re his boyfriend, we should try to get along. Just like he tries to get along with your friends.”
“He hasn’t met my friends.” I said.
“Hey!” Ant shouted playfully, “What am I chopped liver?”
I grinned at him, “You are more than a friend.”
“Like that doesn’t make it sound worse to a guy who already hates me.”
“I don’t hate you.” Alex corrected, “I just…”
“He’s jealous.” Benji grinned. “You and Nox have something he can’t.”
Ant just laughed and opened the door for the rest of us. “I have nothing on your tinman. Nox is fully in love, and completely taken. And by the way, I don’t do men.”
“Just Nox.” Alex grinned as he took my hand and dragged me into the casino with him. He pulled my hand up to his lips and pressed a kiss. “It’s alright.”
I nodded knowing it was, but I was already in that place – a place I didn’t want to be and a place I needed to be away from. I was hoping good food, and good company would fix that. If not my plans for Alex were about to fall apart.