I

 

GOD, RYAN hated business trips, he really did.

He used to like them—used to love them in fact. He’d felt so damned grown-up—business airfare, business class, business credit card—hey, let’s get the hell out of our hometown on the boss’s dime, won’t that be awesome?

But it wasn’t any fun anymore—not when he had to leave Scotty at home.

Of course, Ryan’s law firm didn’t pay for wives to come on business trips, much less live-in gay lovers, so Ryan was pretty much shit out of luck. He had to admit that the joy of the business trip had seriously palled over the last two years, ever since he’d brought Scott Davidovitch home after a party and fallen head-over-heels for the love of his life.

Who was currently pissed as hell with Ryan, but that didn’t mean Ryan was hanging up anyway.

“Jesus, Ryan, it’s your fucking birthday tomorrow. You had to sign on for this business trip? I mean….” Scotty’s voice lowered to a sulk. “You’re turning thirty. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Don’t you want a cake or a keg or a sex toy party or something?” Scotty was twenty-four. According to him, Ryan was ancient and venerable. Brat.

Ryan could picture his boyfriend, lying on their bed on his stomach, holding the phone to his ear. His beach-boy cut bangs would be wisping in his gray eyes and his legs—probably wrapped in skinny jeans—would be crossed at the ankles and waving over his ass like a ’50s schoolgirl getting ready to go to a sock hop. He’d be wearing pale yellow or blue, because he knew those colors looked stunning, and even, Ryan often thought, because they looked good with the décor in their bedroom. Scotty was wonderful, but wonderful didn’t mean “not vain.”

Abruptly Ryan wanted to be stuffing his sock up Scotty’s hop, without any intervening miles between him and their Sacramento home.

“What I want, Scotty,” Ryan said miserably, looking at his suitcase, “is for this deposition to be over so I can come home. I want to watch a movie, eat some pizza, and sleep with you. I want to not give a fuck about making partner before I’m thirty—’cause it ain’t gonna happen, obviously—and I want to just be fucking home.”

On the other end of the line, Scott gave a sigh, and Ryan pictured him rolling over onto his back. “Are you saying you didn’t sign on for this trip?”

Ryan sighed. “It’s complicated,” he muttered. And it was. He’d started out signing up for them. He’d been the business trip king before he’d met Scotty. It was a good way to get noticed, he’d thought. He had a niche. He was indispensable, and his bosses would know it. And for the most part it had worked: he’d been an up-and-comer, and his position with the company had been golden.

And then the economy had stalled, and then hiring had stalled, and then people had started running around like headless chickens squawking, “Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck my job!” Ryan had simply held fast to his niche, anxious that he and Scotty not suffer, not have to trade their really good apartment in for a crappy one, that Scotty, who had finally chosen a direction in which to take school, wouldn’t have to quit school to work at Starbucks full time. Ryan was a good lawyer. He did a good job. He would keep his niche and he and Scotty could keep their lives; all he had to do was fly away two, three times a month and….

God, it sucked.