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A young couple, their hands in each other's back pockets, were the next to descend on the jukebox. While Anton watched them make their selections, Mason watched Anton. Pedra didn't even realize how lucky she had it, he decided. Did Anton consider himself bisexual then? Or gay and settling for the life he thought he wanted? So many questions, not nearly enough beer in him yet to ask them.
"Is San Antonio so different?" Anton finally shifted his attention back. "If I was Miguel, and we were there, would you and he be able to be yourselves right now?"
"More or less. There are still places it's best for openly gay men to avoid, but it's gotten better over the last decade. And I have friends who tell me it's even better in Austin." Mason leaned forward. "Do you ever get to be yourself, Anton?"
"This is myself." But the evasive duck of his eyelashes said otherwise.
"But you're going to live the rest of your life pretending you're cured of something that's not an affliction."
"No, I'm going to spend the rest of my life with a woman I adore. Not everyone can be as lucky as you are, Mason."
Mason's first impulse was to argue with him, but he understood that even though they were sitting at the table, they were living in two different worlds. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have ... I was out of line."
Anton's mouth canted into a sad smile. It panged even more when Mason realized the sadness extended to his dark eyes. "You said what you believe. Nobody should ever be faulted for being honest."
"Even if the honesty isn't exactly asked for or prudent?"
"We'll just blame the beer." He lifted his bottle in a salute before tipping it to his mouth again."Though if I drink much more of these, I think I'll be blaming it for more than a few words."
"Anton..." Mason rubbed his face. "If you keep saying things like that, I'm going to forget that I'm trying to keep my hands to myself."
"You won't," Anton countered. "You're a better man than that."
"What makes you say so?"
Pushing away his empty bottle, Anton shifted to face him more directly than he had since they'd sat down. "I've seen you with Miguel." The intimate tone of his voice sent another shiver through Mason, and he wished irrationally that Anton would go back to looking at everything but him. "I've watched you set aside your own needs for his. I've listened to the way you two are together. I didn't give you the answer I should have earlier, when you asked why I took the risk with you. I should have told you that I thought the man you are was worth the risk. And the fact that I didn't just goes to prove why pretending is still best."
Mason didn't know how to respond. Long seconds passed, and he still didn't know how to respond. But he did want to be the man Anton thought he was. At that moment, he felt more like the sleazeball ready to cheat on his boyfriend many, many times with a man that, objectively, he barely knew.
"I think I like the man you are too much to pretend forever."
Anton's broad hand stretched across the table. Every inch it approached drove Mason's temperature up another degree, and his skin itched for the contact. Those callused fingertips he'd fantasized about so often almost touched his bare arm when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. The heavyweight woman was coming back to the jukebox.
Anton saw it, too, and immediately sat back. His hands disappeared below the table.
"It's good for us that five days is less than forever, then." Pushing back his chair, he stood and jerked his head toward the exit. "We should go. If I have anything more to drink, I won't be able to drive you back to the house."
"Maybe they've sorted out the all-important guest list by now," Mason said, standing as well. "One more thing, though. Can I still hide in the shed?"
"Whenever you want. Consider it yours while you're here."
Mason smiled. "Gracias. You're a lifesaver. Or a sanity-saver, at least."
Anton briefly returned his smile before leading the way out of the cantina. Being near Anton was difficult, but he thought they both proved with their discussion that they could be honest about what they wanted and respectful of boundaries.
That would make a difference. It had to make a difference. Because, if nothing else, Anton stood to lose too much if Mason couldn't keep himself under control.
Posted August 20, 2010
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Posted November 10, 2010
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