Here goes everything.
Ash reached into his pocket, pulled out the copy of his house key, and held it out to Cael.
“I’d really love it if you’d move in with me.”
After racking his brain for what to say, overthinking his words over and over, he decided fuck it. He wasn’t a poet. He’d never been great at expressing his feelings, other than anger or annoyance, and although he was open with Cael, he was still not the pretty prose type of guy. He wanted Cael to move in with him, so that’s what he said.
Cael’s eyes went huge as he stared at the key in Ash’s hand. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him, but he ignored them, and focused on Cael, his heart pounding in his ears.
Cael nodded and flung himself into Ash’s arms, and with a laugh, Ash caught him, squeezing him tight before kissing him.
“Yes,” Cael murmured against his lips. “Always yes.”
The words sent a shiver through Ash, and he let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He gently put Cael on his feet then took his hand, leading him back to the table. He braced himself.
Dex put his elbows on the table and let his chin rest on his hands. “So… what’s new?”
Ash rolled his eyes. Dork. He sat down, pulling Cael close to him. “I asked Cael to move in with me, and he said yes.”
Dex put a hand over his heart as he leaned against Sloane. “Our little lion Therian is growing up so fast.”
Ash flipped Dex off as he hugged Cael close. His heart was beating so damned fast he thought it was going to explode. Cael said yes. He glanced over at Letty who was not even being subtle about her “I told you so, asshole” look. He was pretty sure she was just dying to say the words.
Sloane sighed. “Seems like only yesterday he was threatening to stab me with knitting needles.”
Dex let out a bark of laughter.
From across the table, Taylor looked at Angel. “Hey, you know what you should get Cael as a housewarming gift?”
Angel’s eyes went wide. “Oh fuck. Don’t say it, bro. Please don’t—”
The table broke out into peals of laughter, and Ash glared at Angel. “Why? So you can piss on it?” Who the fuck went around pissing on people’s houseplants? He didn’t care how drunk the guy had been. The plant had been in his fucking living room! Who did that? Just because he had a dick and needed to piss did not give him cart blanche to go around relieving himself wherever the fuck he wanted. Asshat.
“Fuck me,” Angel groaned. “One fucking time. One time.” He narrowed his eyes at Ash. “Okay, Keeler. You want a fern, I’ll get you a fucking fern farm.”
The rest of the evening was spent laughing, teasing, dancing, and drinking. By the end of the night, Ash was looking forward to getting home, especially since Cael was coming home with him. When they arrived at his apartment, he’d closed the door, hung up his jacket, and stood there, taking in all the evidence of Cael’s presence. The number of pillows on his couch had tripled since they’d started dating because Cael loved to be cozy, especially when Ash wasn’t home. There was also a super soft blanket in almost every room, and in some cases more than one.
Cael had his own drawer in the bedroom with everything from underwear and socks to pajamas and jeans. Ash had made space in his closet ages ago, so Cael could keep a spare uniform. That soon grew to include other items of clothing. Cael’s toiletries were in the bathroom, his favorite baking utensils in the kitchen, snacks in the pantry, food in the fridge. In the living room, half the movies were Cael’s, and Ash had extra shelves put in to house all the video games. Holy shit!
“Figured it out yet?” Cael stood on his toes and kissed Ash’s cheek.
“When did you start moving in?” Ash removed is boots then let himself be led into the living room. He sat down on the couch, and Cael dropped down into it, his boyish smile wide.
“From the first night you asked me to sleep over.”
Ash thought about it. “But we hadn’t even been dating.”
“True.” Cael’s cheeks flushed, and he shrugged. “But whenever I brought something over, instead of letting me leave with it, you’d say, “why don’t you just leave it here?” and so I did. It happened more and more until I realized that in your own Ash way, you were making me a part of your life. You wanted me here with you, but you weren’t ready for what that meant, so I just happily went along with it, hoping you’d realize what you wanted and ask me.”
Ash’s jaw went slack as Cael dropped that truth bomb on him. How the hell had he been so oblivious? Had he really been slowly moving Cael in with him without even realizing? Well, damn.
Cael laughed softly and kissed his cheek. “You’re so adorable.”
Only Cael could get away with calling him that.
“So,” Ash said, clearing his throat. “When do you want to move the rest of your stuff in?”
“How about after the wedding? Dex and Sloane will be on their honeymoon, and we can ask the rest of the team to help.”
Ash nodded. “Okay.” He smiled at Cael as he wrapped an arm around him, and brought him in close. “We’re really doing this.”
Cael cuddled up close, and Ash turned on the TV, smiling when Cael stretched his long, slender frame across the couch, and lay his head on Ash’s lap, lifting up when Ash moved one of the throw pillows beneath his head. Ash wasn’t really paying attention to the comic book based TV show. He was too busy being in awe of his beautiful boyfriend. All this time, Cael had known what Ash wanted before he did, but instead of pushing, he waited until Ash was ready. How the hell had he gotten so damned lucky? He brushed his fingers through Cael’s hair, his heart full. This right here, was everything he never thought he’d have.
You know what comes next, right?
“When do we pick up the rings?” Cael asked, looking up at him with big gray eyes.
“What?” Ash croaked.
“The rings? Sloane and Dex’s rings.”
Holy shitting fuck.
Ash coughed into his fist to give him time to collect himself. “This weekend.”
“Yep. Great. Perfect.” He smiled, and Cael squinted at him.
“Absolutely. Hey, isn’t that guy from that other show you watch?”
Cael turned his attention back to the TV. “Yeah. It’s the same universe, so they can do crossovers.”
Thankfully Cael became engrossed in his TV show like he always did, and Ash could breathe again. It was fine. He’d be fine.
One step at a time.
Cael turned his head and smiled up at Ash. There was so much love and adoration in Cael’s eyes, it stole Ash’s breath away.
“I love you, Ash.”
“I love you too, sweetheart,” Ash said softly as Cael sat up, and straddled his lap. He kissed Ash, and nothing had ever tasted sweeter.
Maybe one day….
Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.