In addition to the Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge, Long and Short Reviews has added the Friday Five to their arsenal. Each week, you’ll get a set of five prompts to work into a piece of writing of your choice. Sound like fun? You can find the prompts here.
Okay, I’m going to apologize in advance because this got away from me. Which happens a lot when Zayne is left alone. Boy needs a nanny. And a muzzle.
“Hey, Reyes, I heard an interesting bit of gossip about you today.”
Zayne looked up from the tapas menu in his hand and frowned at the man approaching him. McAvoy was a decent detective, but he had a tendency to be a bit of a busybody. Today he seemed to be on a mission to prove whatever bit of chatter he’d heard, and then likely spread it even farther than it had already spread. He set the menu aside. Zeklos had texted to say he’d gotten hung up and would be late, giving him a few minutes to decide what to order. He could indulge this rumormongering long enough to call it false and send McAvoy on his way.
“What kind of gossip could you have possibly heard about me,” Zayne asked.
He well knew what was generally said about him. That he was a hot head (guilty), that he was a womanizer (previously guilty), and/or that he was a lazy bum who let his partner do all the heavy lifting (not precisely guilty but debatable). He’d reformed his philandering ways and was working hard at being a better partner. The other? Well, that was something he figured was a lost cause. Especially where a certain redhead was concerned.
McAvoy slid onto the stool across from Zayne and waved for a waitress. “I heard that you were dating your partner, Reyes. Now, we’ve known each other for years and I just can’t believe that you’d be dating him. Or any man, really.”
The waitress arrived before he could respond, which was probably for the best. It gave him a chance to phrase his answer so he didn’t wind up with his boot in his mouth. McAvoy ordered a beer and Zayne followed suit. Zek had said something about trying some Spanish wine he’d heard about with their dinner. Since he was not the sommelier of the group, beer was the safer option when ordering on his own.
The waitress left and Zayne gave it a few beats before he responded to McAvoy’s accusation. “Who the hell told you something like that?”
“The redheaded narco,” he said. “You know the one, right? Tall, pale, full of attitude?”
Of course, it had been Rosewood who spilled the beans, but why? And what the heck was he doing to talking to a guy from the cyber unit? “Yeah, I know who you’re talking about,” Zayne said. “James Rosewood is his name. Maxwell in homicide is dating his partner, Jake Hansen.” McAvoy smiled and it made Zayne want to punch him. It was just that kind of smile. “What?”
“Weren’t you two an item once?” He leaned an arm against the edge of the table, leaning forward, waiting.
More than once, but this idiot didn’t need to know that. “Yeah, but she got tired of me, so she traded me inf or a newer model.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. Hansen was a couple years younger than he was. Zayne couldn’t complain, Jake was a good guy, treated Hil well, and served as a central link between himself, Zeklos, and Rosewood.
“And now you’re dating Zeklos?” He shook his head. “That’s quite some… leap there, Reyes.”
Zayne knew that if he punched this guy, Zek would drag him out of the tapas bar by his ear and drop him on the curb. There would be no dinner, no wine, and certainly no medal for defending his partner’s honor. If he was lucky, Zek might phone a lawyer as a precaution, to keep his stupid self out of jail, but that was only if he was lucky. Which, more often than not, he wasn’t.
He took a deep breath and reminded himself that being rational and calm was a plus in Zek’s mind. “Can’t understand why it’s such a leap, McAvoy,” Zayne started. “Zek’s smart, he’s funny, and he’s pretty hot, too. As an added bonus, he’s one heck of a cook.”
“Just like you to be thinking about your stomach,” McAvoy joked. “I just don’t get how you go from someone like Hilary Maxwell to him?’
That was a story he wasn’t about to tell anyone who didn’t already know it. There were too many mitigating factors and honestly? It was none of this guy’s business. Shrugging, he said, “You wouldn’t understand, but he makes me happy. And, I hope, that I do the same for him.”
“So, it’s – it’s true?” He paused when the waitress arrived with their drinks. McAvoy took a long pull off his before continuing his thought. He looked like he needed a couple more swigs to wrap his brain around it all. “You’re dating Zeklos?”
“Sure is,” Zayne said, waiting for the inevitable backlash. “And he ought to be here in a few minutes. We’re meeting for dinner.”
“I – um, okay.” McAvoy polished off the rest of his beer and stood up. He was looking a bit pale, almost as if he wasn’t expecting it to be true. Or, he had predicted Zayne would lie. “So, that’s interesting.”
Zayne snorted. “If you want to call it that,” he said. His eye caught on something near the entrance. Lifting a hand, he waved at his partner. “My dinner date’s here so, if you don’t mind…” He let his sentence trail off, hoping McAvoy got the hint.
Looking over his shoulder, McAvoy saw Zeklos making his way towards them. Swallowing, he nodded. “See you around, Reyes.”
“Bye,” Zayne said, a little too happily.
“Was that John McAvoy,” Zeklos asked, coming up behind Zayne and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Sorry I am late.”
“You’re fine,” he said, smiling at his partner. “And yes, it was.”
“Did he need something from one of us? I am not sure if I have ever seen him speak to anyone in a strictly social manner.”
“He wanted information,” Zayne said, picking up the menu again. “He’d heard a bit of gossip about us and wanted to know if it was true.”
Zeklos smiled at him, one of those soft, warm types that always melted his heart. “And you confirmed, no?”
“Yes, I did,” Zayne agreed. “He was not happy about it either. Which is strange, I figured someone who liked to snoop like he does would have been happy for the affirmative.”
“People like that only like to spread salacious bits of information, Zayne,” he said. “It is much more scandalous if we are being clandestine and denying our involvement.”
“I could never,” Zayne said with a wink.
“You could,” Zeklos countered lightly. “But you do not want to. I believe you wanted to see the look on his face when you told him it was true.” He tapped the wine list with his fingers. “Half bottle or two glasses?”
“What’s two glasses? Not even a quarter of a bottle? Zek, honey, please.” Zayne gave him an exaggerated eye roll. “We need a whole bottle.”
“You are awful,” Zeklos sighed. “Fine. A full bottle. But only one glass until we have food, okay?”
“Okay,” Zayne said.
When the waitress returned, they ordered six rounds of tapas and a bottle of overpriced wine. Two glasses in, they ordered more tapas and decided that this was a dangerous way to have dinner.
“We might have to call Jay,” Zeklos said. “To drive us home.”
“I’d rather call Maxwell and Rollins,” Zayne said. “They’re more likely to join us than scold us.”
“By the time we finish this bottle,” Zeklos said, refilling their glasses, “we might need scolding.”
Laughing, Zayne lifted his glass towards his partner. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Only when you are a detective,” Zeklos said, “being observed by another.”
He pointed his chin towards the back of the room. McAvoy sat there, watching the two of them. Zayne made a face. “He can suck it.”
Chuckling, Zeklos shook his head. “I do not understand you sometimes, Zayne, but I am happy to have you in my life.”
“Right back atcha, honey,” he said. “Now, eat up. I saw drunken pineapple on the dessert menu and I have to know what that’s all about.”
Zeklos laughed loudly, slapping an embarrassed hand over his mouth. “You and your dessert.”
“What can I say? I’m partial to sweet things,” he said, winking at Zeklos. “The fact that I’m with you proves it.” Before Zeklos could deny it, Zayne waved towards their waitress. “One piña borracha, por favor,” he said.
Zeklos rolled his eyes and chuckled. “You make me happy.”
“I’d better,” he said. “I spent way too many years making you crazy.”
When they were done, Zeklos ordered two specialty burgers off the menu to-go, plus dessert, to thank the girls for bailing them out and getting them home safely. Hilary always said it wasn’t necessary and Trish always told her to shut up. Zayne knew they were both always happy to help out, which is why Zeklos always made sure to make it worth their while. He really could not have ended up with a better man. Honestly, he could not have found himself with a better person, period.
“Ready to go home,” he asked Zeklos when he spotted Hilary’s car in the parking lot.
“More than ready, Zayne,” he replied. “Let’s go.”