Hi everyone. I know it's been a while since I've posted a chapter and I sincerely apologize for it being so long. But for a little over three months, I haven't been able to write a word. Why, you ask? Because a friend of mine accidentally slammed my hand in a car door and broke three of my fingers :/. Yeah, I know. Just my luck.
I had a cast on my hand from February to May while my fingers healed and during that time, I wasn't able to write. Have you tried writing a story with your non-dominant hand? It's actually quite difficult. So during that time, I focused on my schoolwork and finished my second year of college. And when I got my cast off a few weeks ago, I got back to work.
So here's the product of a few months of waiting. It's a tad shorter than my previous chapters because I didn't want you guys to wait any longer, but I hope you enjoy what I have. Thank you all again for your continued support. Here's Chapter 18 of 'Is It Possible...?'
The last two weeks have been absolute hell. With the whole thing about my photos with my so-called 'mystery kisser,' I've been constantly harassed by hounds of reporters trying to get their big news story (as opposed to something more important like the economy, the environment, or elections).
It's made me want to pull my hair out. Not to mention the strain it's put on both me and Tanner. I know Tanner wants to come out to the public, but at the same time I don't want him to risk his career with it. It's been the brunt of several arguments between us and it's really sucked for both of us.
Even thinking about it now causes me to sigh to myself. "Hey, you okay?"
Snapping out of my daydream, I find Tanner looking at me. "Yeah, I'm good. Just didn't sleep a lot last night because I was reviewing game plans."
"You must've really zoned out because we've been sitting here for almost five minutes."
Looking out the window, I see Tanner's parents' house sitting there. "Sorry," I say. "And thanks again for inviting me to your parents' for lunch."
"Don't worry about it. I know you have a lot on your mind and I thought this would help us both. Anyway, we shouldn't keep them waiting anymore. God knows my Dad is practically pissing himself at the thought of seeing us again."
Nodding, we climb out of the car. The front door to the house bursts open before Tanner even locks the car. Looking up the walkway, I see the hulking figure that is Hank barreling toward us. "Brace for impact," Tanner says.
Clenching everything I could, the feeling of a freight train hitting me at top speed resonates through my body as Hank lifts us both up, squeezing the life out of us. "How're some of my favorite boys?" he asks, still hugging us.
"We're suffocating," I choke out.
Hank laughs and sets us both down. "Good to have you boys here. I know you need a bit of a break from hockey and whatnot."
We follow Hank inside and find Allie and Ethan already sitting in the living room. "Hey Ms. Doctor and Mr. Rock Star," Tanner says.
Allie and Ethan both give Tanner a hug and I'm quickly joined into the fray. "Something smells good," I say.
"Mom's cooking paninis for everyone," Allie says. "It was Ethan's request since she hasn't seen him in person in a couple of months because of his tour."
"I'm just glad to finally have a break," Ethan follows up, stretching his long body out. "But I'm flying out to Melbourne in a couple days, so that kind of sucks."
"Aw, the poor baby has to fly to Australia," Tanner mocks. "I'll weep for you."
Ethan rolls his eyes and we take a seat. Hank reaches for the remote to turn on the TV. And the first thing that's on is a news channel. "Rumors and speculation are still flying about who Gregory Natick's mystery man is," the anchor says.
Jesus, there's no escaping it, is there? "I remember when the news covered actually important stories. Not this kind of bull," Hank says.
He changes the channel to another channel and falls back into his seat. "Has this been going on since this came out?" Ethan says.
"Well...things have kind of died down," Tanner says.
That being an overstatement. People haven't shut up about this and it's really been getting on my nerves. What people really should be focusing on with me is if I can lead the Kings to a Stanley Cup. Not who I make out with on my own time.
Amanda steps out of the kitchen, shaking her head. "I don't see why the news just can't keep someone's private life private life."
"Because we're all secretly voyeurs," Ethan pipes in.
That's more true than I want it to be. "So what're you two going to do?" Allie asks.
"What do you mean?" Tanner says.
"I mean this isn't going to go away any time soon, so how're you keeping" she gestures between me and Tanner "this, a secret?"
Tanner glances over at me. "That's the thing," I say. "Tanner doesn't want this to be a secret." The room stays silent. "There are so many others out there that don't have to hide. Look at Josh and Eric. They're out and proud and loved by nearly everyone. I want to have that.
"But at the same time I don't want to risk my career. I mean I love hockey and I don't want to give it up. But I also love Greg and want to be out in the open with him."
I can practically feel mental gears turning around the room (Hank's being the loudest). "Sounds like a hell of a bind," Keith says.
"Do you guys have any ideas on what to do?" Ally asks.
"So far, we're sticking with what we know: being player and coach. Yeah, it sucks. And yeah, there are times I want to scream at the first person that I see that I'm dating Tanner. But I can't. So I'm just hoping this crap goes away soon because if I see another news crew outside of my building, I will flip my shit."
Tanner pulls me next to him and I immediately start to relax. "Don't let them get to you. They're just doing their job, as annoying as they are."
I grunt and ease into Tanner's shoulder. "The paninis should almost be ready," Amanda says. "Hope everyone's hungry."
Everyone gets up and follows Amanda into the kitchen and as I'm about to follow, Tanner grabs my elbow. "Hey, I know you're nervous about this. I'm nervous too. But no matter what happens, I will not break up with you, Greg. I barely survived the last time. And I'm not letting you go."
His words warm my chest and I feel myself smile fully. He kisses the side of my head and we head to the kitchen.
Just another day of practice and I'm feeling pretty good. Gunnar, Vladimir and I are getting better and better at silent communication, so that'll help us as we get to the playoffs. "Alright guys!" Greg calls out. "Grab some drink!"
We all skate to the bench and I grab my water bottle and take a long drag from it. "Okay everyone," Greg says. "I just got a call from the board. We have a couple days off because a few teams are missing some games and we've played a few extra. So there isn't any practice for the next three days."
A few guys cheer at hearing we have some rest. "But that being said," Greg continues, "no fucking around. You can have some fun, but don't go too hard. You can drink, but not to the point of a hangover. And you can screw whoever you want, but if I get wind that one of you knocked up a girl, your ass is mine."
A couple of the guys laugh, but I know he's being deathly serious. "So because of these days off, I'm going to end practice early today. Get some rest and relax a bit, but keep at it at the gym. Minimum of one hour a day. Head out!"
I grab my stuff and head for the locker room before hopping into the showers. "Hey Tanner," Gunnar says. "A couple of us are heading out tonight. You want to join us?"
"We were thinking about that sports bar you go to a lot. Don't some of your friends own it?"
"Oh yeah, A.J. and Ulrich. Sounds fun. Count me in."
"Sweet. We were thinking about going there at around seven. Sound good?"
"Works for me. You mind if I bring Greg along?"
Silence washes over the showers as all eyes turn to me. Oh shit! I said Greg! He fucking hates it whenever someone calls him that except for me! "What was that, Tanner?"
We all look to the shower entrance and find Greg standing there, still fully clothed and looking pretty pissed. A lot of the guys cover up their bits and pieces at seeing our coach. Greg walks through the showers and right up to me, not even caring about everyone around us. "Tanner, you and I have talked about this," Greg says. "Do NOT, call me Greg. Got it?"
Unsure of what to say, I simply nod. Greg turns and leaves the showers. "Oh, and two more things," he says as he's about to leave. "One, yes, I would enjoy going to Get The Puck Out. And two, you guys don't need to cover up since I'm here. I may be gay, but I'm not attracted to any of you."
He leaves the showers and we're all left in uncomfortable silence. "Well," Ian says. "That was awkward."
We all manage to finish showering and I quickly change into my clothes and head out. As I'm heading for the front door, I find Greg already standing there. "So what was that about?" I ask as I walk up to him.
He signs to himself. "Sorry. I was thinking about that stupid photo and I wanted to prove to everyone that nothing is going on between us. You know I love it when you call me Greg."
Taking a quick glance around, I give him a quick peck on the forehead. "I forgive you. But I expect some kind of return for that."
An evil gleam lights up one of his eyes. "And what would that be?"
"I'll give you two options. One, your mouth and my dick. Or two, ass and my cock. Take your pick."
"Can't I pick both?"
I laugh to myself. "And that's part of the reason why I love you so much. C'mon. If we get back to my place soon, we can have a few hours of fun. Adam isn't home and the guys aren't expecting us for a while."
Greg grins at me and he walks to the door. As soon as we step out, we're met by flashing cameras and microphones being thrust at us. "Gregory!" a reporter yells out. "Any comment on the recent allegations about your mystery man?"
Greg steels himself before stepping forward into the crowd of people. "Do you have anything to say about him?" someone else yells.
"Have you two been dating long?"
"Is he out of the closet like you are?"
Greg keeps walking until he finally reaches the sidewalk. He furiously turns and walks down the street in the direction of the bus station. "Tanner! Do you have anything to tell us about your coach?"
All microphones are turned toward me. Looking past all of them, I see Greg still walking down the street. I can feel my anger building up inside of me, but Greg's soft voice fills my ears. "Don't let your anger control you. Show them you've changed, Tanner."
I take in a deep breath and slowly let it out before facing all of the reporters. "Can't you all just get a life?"
Many faces register with shock. "You're acting like someone's personal life is worthy of front page news. And frankly what goes on in Coach Natick's life isn't any of mine or anyone else's business. He's dating a man. Big deal. He's a great coach and that's all that matters. And no matter what happens, the Kings and I will continue to support him.
"The Kings franchise prides itself on being accepting of all people, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Coach Natick is no exception to that. And who he wants to date is his life and no one should have any say in what he does. So how about all of you get the hell out of here and actually report on something worthy of making the papers?"
Securing my bag, I walk through the sea of reporters and get to my car. Quickly pulling out of the parking lot, I drive up the street and find Greg still walking toward the bus stop. "Hey, hop in," I call out the window.
He comes to a stop and looks over at me. "Tanner, someone could see me getting into your car."
"Well I just told that group of the reporters that the Kings are pro-gay, so no one will give a shit if they see a Kings player giving their head coach a ride. So get that sexy butt in here before I grab it and pull it in."
A smile lights up his handsome face and he throws his bag in my trunk before climbing in. "Aren't you afraid of what'll happen?" he asks me.
"Nah, not really. People can say what they want. But most people will see that I'm just a player giving his coach a ride."
Greg smiles as I pull back into the street.
A few hours later, Greg and I come to a stop outside of Get The Puck Out. "Ready?" I ask him.
"Not entirely. But I really want a beer so I'm doing this."
We climb out of the car and head inside before either of us can try to stop ourselves. Like any other Friday night, the place is packed and I can already see that A.J. is swamped at the bar. "Where do you think they are?" Greg asks me.
Looking around, I find Gunnar, Vladimir, Ian, and Alex sitting at a table, all of them wearing hoodies and sunglasses. "Found them."
Not like it was a challenge. We walk over to the table and I pat a few regulars I know on the back as I pass them. "You guys do know that you don't need to wear that stuff, right?" I tell them. "I'm in here all the time."
"Well this is our first time coming here," Gunnar says. "We didn't know what to expect."
They all take off their sunglasses and hoodies and immediately feel much more relaxed. "This place is pretty nice, Tanner," Ian says. "Busy as hell too."
"One of the best sports bars in the city, if I do say so myself."
Ulrich appears next to me, giving my shoulder a punch. He sets a tray of his wings on the table. "On the house," he says. "As thanks for helping to bring in customers. Oh by the way, Tanner. My new license came in the other day."
The tone of Ulrich's voice tells me that that license isn't a good one. Ulrich has a new recipe. "Sweet," Ian says. "Food!"
He and the other grab some wings while Greg and I stay put. "Ulrich," I say, watching my teammates sign their death wishes. "A dozen of your coldest beers."
"Already got A.J. working on it. He'll be here in about ten seconds."
Before I can say anything, the guys all take large bites of their wings. And cue the screams of pain and agony. The guys throw their wings down and start clawing at their tongues. "A.J.!" I yell across the bar. "Drinks! NOW!!"
A.J. and a waitress rush up to the table with two trays filled with drinks. People around us have their phones out, recording every agonizing second. "What the hell is this?!" Gunnar yells, grabbing a beer and chugging it down.
"My new recipe," Ulrich grins. "I finally got my license to handle full Trinidad Moruga Scorpions, seeds and all. One single pepper is plenty to get the results I want."
"I really should have put that sign on the door warning about it," A.J. says.
Ian is about to grab a beer when A.J. swats his hand away. "Sorry, kid. Can't serve booze to a minor. I brought you some milk instead."
Ian frantically chugs his milk and after a minute, I can tell by the sweet relief in the guys' faces that the majority of the burn is gone. "I will have the most mild thing on the menu..." Vladimir breathes out.
"Make that two," Alex says.
Ulrich heads back to the kitchen. "I'll start a tab for all of you," A.J. says.
I hand him my credit card and he heads off. "Goddamn, Tanner," Gunnar says. "Does he always do that?"
"It was worse when we both went to college. Whenever I came back home, he would have some new recipe for me to try out. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in pain."
Grabbing my beer, I take a sip and find everyone taking glances at Greg. Of course they wouldn't know what to do. Who goes out to a bar with their coach? Greg takes a hand and runs it through his hair, ruffling it to it's usual messy look. He grabs a beer and downs it in no time, slamming it on the table when he's done.
The guy's look at him with surprised looks on their faces. "Relax," he says to them. "I'm on my free time at the moment, so I'm going to drink a few beers, relax, and eat food I'll probably regret tomorrow. If one of you so much as even calls me coach, you'll get a fork through the hand."
Alex spits his beer out at Greg's usual bluntness. "Sounds good, Gregory," Ian says. "By the way, I think some guy is checking you out from the bar."
Looking around, I see some college aged guy propped up on a bar stool wearing a shirt that's probably two sizes too small for his lean body and jeans that scream 'fuck me.' And I think he's wearing eyeliner, which only accentuates the hungry look in his eyes.
Greg sighs to himself and rises from the table, making my heart drop. "Where are you going?" I ask him.
"To talk to him."
Before I can say anything else, Greg walks from the table to the bar and I watch his every step. "Weird," Gunnar says. "I thought he said he had a boyfriend. Weren't they doing well?"
"That's what I thought too," I quietly say.
Greg says something that makes the kid laugh and it takes every bit of will power to not crush my beer glass or walk over to the kid and slug him across the face. I take another mouthful of beer and get up from my chair. "Bathroom, priyatel?" Vladimir asks.
"Yeah, I'll be right back."
I walk through the bar and get to the bathroom. Thankfully it's empty when I walk in and press my hands against the sink counter, controlling my breathing and restraining myself from yelling out in anger. I throw a few splashes of water in my face to cool off.
Why the hell did Greg have to go and talk to that kid? Is he getting tired of me? Does he want a new model? The bathroom door opens and I tense up. "Tanner, what're you doing?" Greg's voice asks me.
"Shouldn't you go and keep that kid company?"
I take my fist and slam is on the counter before turning to face a surprised Greg. "Oh, so his name's Dillon? So what did you guys talk about? How he wants to be on his knees in front of you?"
Greg's face shifts from surprised to unimpressed in record time. "We talked about how he wanted an autograph from you and the guys." The fight flies out of me in a second. "Did you honestly think that little of me? Thinking I would try to get sex out of a guy who isn't even my type?"
I fall back against the counter in an effort to hold myself up. "I don't know. I just saw you and that kid talking and got...jealous I guess. Sorry."
Greg stares at me for a second before rolling his eyes and walking up to me, giving my cheek a peck. "You don't have to be jealous, Tanner. You're the only one for me and I plan on keeping it that way."
Feeling my lips pull, I give Greg a quick kiss. "I just want to walk out there and scream out that you're mine. Then no one will even try to get you in bed with them. Because this" I reach behind Greg and cup both of his butt cheeks through his jeans "is mine and I'm in the only one that should have the honor to see it."
Greg laughs and gives my butt a grab as well. "Only if I can get some of this too."
The tone of his voice goes right to my crotch. But before our moment can go any further, the door to the bathroom opens and Greg and I unlink from each other and quickly start to wash our hands. Glancing in the mirror, I find Ian standing behind both of us. "I really hope I didn't interrupt anything important," he says. "Like a game of grab-ass?"
My face flushes and I see Greg looking at me with a worried look in his eyes. "Hey, relax," Ian says before Greg can freak out. "I've played plenty games with my boyfriend back home."
Greg looks back at Ian, confusion on his face. "Let me give you the basics," I say. "Ian is gay, he has a boyfriend back home, he knows I'm gay, we keep each other a secret, and...yeah, that's pretty much it."
Greg shakes the shock from his face and turns to face Ian, completely serious. "So how long have you known that I've been secretly dating Tanner?"
Ian thinks about it for a moment. "About two months now." Oh Jesus... "It's not that hard to guess. You two arrive and leave together almost every day, you both were in that shit mood some time ago, oh and I'm pretty sure I heard one of you moaning when I was passing by Gregory's office to get to the bathroom one time."
My face flushes red and I can see Greg's ears turning a similar color. "Okay, both of you breathe before one of you blows a gasket," Ian tells us.
I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding and look at Ian. "So...how do you feel about this?"
"Frankly it's none of my business so you two can go about doing whatever it is you want to do. But if your relationship starts to affect the way we play, then I'll start getting pissed. And when I get pissed, I turn one of my skate blades into a weapon."
He smiles sweetly at both of us, but I can feel how genuine he is with this threat. "You two get out of here before me," he tells us. "You've both been in here a little too long."
Greg and I both nod and I leave the bathroom a little before him. I walk back to the table and take a seat, Greg taking his seat a few seconds later and Ian joining us after. The front door bursts open a second later and looking over, I see several familiar tattoos. "A.J.! I just sold another piece of art! Two drinks for everyone here!"
Zane really knows how to make an entrance. The bar collectively cheers at the sound of free alcohol. And filtering in from behind Zane are Eric (of course), and Josh and Leo. Well, this should be interesting. "Woo!" some tipsy girl yells. "Sexy famous people!"
Hordes of people start going up to the guys, snapping pictures and thrusting pens at them. Leo manages to sneak away from everyone and he finds me and Greg. "Fancy seeing you guys here," he says, patting Greg on the back and giving me a handshake.
"When you're friends of the management and the threat of revealing deep dark secrets about them gives you free food and drinks, you come by a lot," I say.
A sudden hand comes to the back of my hand and I'm met by the scowling face of A.J., carrying a try of drinks. "Ulrich and I have some secrets about you too, Tanner. Like that time when you were seven and you cried after..."
A swift kick to the shin shuts A.J. up easily. He manages not to spill any of the drinks he's carrying. "You're lucky I have my hands full, Tanner..." he grits out.
Josh, Eric, and Zane show up a moment later and A.J. hands them a few beers and a soda for Leo. Josh hands him a credit card in return. They grab some chairs and take some seats with us. Zane suddenly takes a sniff of the air. "Ulrich has a new recipe?" he says with a gleam in his eye.
"Yeah," I tell him. "But be careful. It's..."
A door from the kitchen suddenly bursts open and Ulrich comes rushing out with a plastic food tray. People cover their mouths and noses as he passes them, and for good reason. He reaches our table and sets the tray down in front of Zane. "Now this I know will make you scream, Zane," he evilly says.
God I can literally feel my eyes watering at the sight. The guys even reel back at the sight of it. But Zane simply looks at them with a curious look. "Smells good, Ulrich," he says. "Let's give it a try."
Without hesitation, Zane grabs a wing and takes a large bite out of it. Did the bar just go quiet? Zane silently chews on the wing for a few moments and suddenly lets out a cough. Several gasps fill the room at the sight. "Sorry," Zane says. "Accidently breathed in a piece of chicken."
He proceeds to take another bite, seemingly pleased with himself. And I'm just sitting here in shock. "Sweat!" Ulrich suddenly yells. "I see sweat!"
And sure enough, there's maybe two drops of sweat starting to pool on Zane's forehead. "Ulrich, he's still eating it," Greg points out.
"Small victories, Gregory! I finally did it!"
Ulrich woops runs back to the kitchen with hands high above his head. As soon as the door closes, Zane lets out another cough. "You didn't breathe in any chicken, did you?" Eric says as he wraps an arm around Zane.
"No, but I couldn't let him know that I actually did feel the heat from those wings. They're still damn good though."
Zane happily keeps eating the wings while a few more orders of food are brought out. "I've never been so happy to eat a cold sandwich," Gunnar says before chewing into his sandwich.
"You guys have the night off too?" I ask.
"Football season isn't for a few more months," Josh says. "I'm free for a few months now, so I'm free to spend time with my kids and do what I want to."
"I closed up shop early," Leo says. "We're ahead of schedule for a few projects, so I thought why not?"
"I have practice tomorrow," Eric says. "But I need to have a life somehow. And Zane here is free to do what he wants until he gets inspiration again."
Zane looks up from his wings for a moment before nodding and going back to eating. "He got a pretty penny for a few paintings he sold today, so that means we're going to get that massage chair he's been wanting for a while."
"You know you're going to want to use it too, Eric," Zane says.
Eric nods after a moment. There's a sudden crash that grabs my attention and looking over, I find a very drunk man staggering and hanging onto his friend, dancing around pieces of broken glass. A.J. walks over to them. "Are you okay, sir?"
"Yeah, I'm good!" the drunken man slurs. "Jus' celebrating!"
The man's friend looks like he wants desperately to run into a closet or hole in the ground. Probably whichever is closest. "Well, I'm going to have to cut you off, sir," A.J. says. You're clearly intoxicated, so I'm going to call you a taxi."
"Aw, fuck your taxi!"
Well this should be interesting. "I'm sorry about him," the other man says. "He and I decided celebrating our six month anniversary would be fun if we went out to his favorite bar. He celebrated a little too hard."
"Love ya, babe!" He looks across the bar and finds me and the guys. "Tanner White! We love you guys! Keep kicking ass!"
The man falls onto his partner laughing. "Love you too," the partner replies. He looks back at A.J. "He can't hold his alcohol for shit. He had two beers."
"Lightweight," A.J. nods in understanding. "I'll have one of my waitresses call you guys a taxi and grab some water for your boyfriend here."
The man thanks A.J. as he goes off to the bar. "Hey, fags! Get your lovefest out of here! That shit's disgusting!"
Well, that came a little later than I thought it would. Looking near the boyfriends, I find another man sitting there with a few others, who look like they don't share the man's thought process. "Excuse me?" the tipsy boyfriend slurs.
"You heard me, faggot." The man rises out of his chair, showing he's a bit taller than the boyfriends. "You two getting all gross and shit is making me sick to my stomach."
"Then turn your head the other way!" the drunken boyfriend says, struggling to stay on his feet. "Free fuckin' country, asshat!"
Oh this isn't going to end well. A hand suddenly rests on my forearm and I see Greg looking at me. "I know what you're thinking," he says. "And let me just say that it would not be a smart idea."
Looking down, I find my fist clenched. "Just let it go," he continues. "This shit happens all the time. It's best to let the guy blow off his steam and leave."
"Asshat, huh?" the bigger man growls.
"C'mon, man," one of the man's friends says. "Just leave them alone."
"We're seriously considering leaving you here and you can get our own taxi home," another says.
"Give me a minute," the man says. "I want to say a few words to cock breath here..."
"Why sure!" the tipsy boyfriend says, getting in the man's face. "No, your fake tan does not look real in the least and I must say, the cologne you're wearing smells like dog shit mixed with skunk spray!"
A few people nearby cover their mouth to keep from laughing, including the man's friends. And that's the final straw for the man, who grabs the boyfriend by the shirt. Oh hell no. Pulling my arm out of Greg's grams, I quickly stand up and cross the bar. Just as I see the man bring a fist behind his head, I move first.
My fist collides with the side of the man's face, sending him to the floor and almost bringing the drunken man with him. The bar goes almost silent as the man groans on the floor for a minute before sitting up and finding me staring down at him. "Tanner White?!"
"Get your homophobic ass out of this bar. I was holding back with that punch. You come back here again and yell some more slurs, I'll give you a real taste of what I can do."
"I'll second that."
A.J. has reappeared by my side. He hands the couple two glasses of water before looking back at the man and pointing at the bar. "See that sign right there, asshole? 'Management has right to refuse service to unruly customers.' End of discussion. Get out."
The man quickly get back to his feet and tries to get up in my face, but come up about six inches too short. "Defending faggots, huh White? Lucky I'm an Anaheim fan."
"Them's fighting words, dude. Better watch it."
Glancing behind me, I find my teammates standing behind me, glaring at the man, who seems to slowly be shrinking back into his shell. "Unless you want to find out what it feels like to have your nose snapped, I suggest you leave now," Ian says, his voice menacing.
"Yeah, man! Get the fuck out of here!"
"Quit making an ass of yourself!"
The bar quickly turns on the man, yelling at him. It quickly becomes too much for him. "Fuck this!"
He turns and walks out of the bar, his friends staying sitting at their table. "Not going to chase after him?" Vladimir asks them.
"The douche can find his own ride home. For tonight and the next few times too."
Nodding, I take a look around the bar to find every single eye on us. "Should we...like, say something?" I ask.
"Be our guest, captain," Gunnar grins.
They all take a large step back, leaving me standing in the middle of the bar. Dicks. Taking a breath, I address everyone. "Let this be a lesson: The Los Angeles Kings will support any and every fan, no matter who they are. Regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. If you're a Kings fan, you're one of us. And we protect our own."
There's a moment of silence before the bar erupts in cheers and applause. With a nod, I walk back to the table, getting a good number of back slaps along the way before making it to my seat. "Good stuff," Eric says.
"I'm just so sick of all the bullshit," I say, taking a sip of my beer. "Why can't things just be simple in life?"
"Because the world is full of assholes with backwards views," Leo says. "You get used to the fact that you can't fix everyone no matter how hard you try."
Sighing again, I look over at Greg, who's just watching me. "Look, I know you said..." I start.
"You did the right thing. That dick had that coming and standing up for those guys was a good decision. Good work."
Greg takes a sip of his beer, but the smile in his eyes tells me he's proud of me. Suppressing a blush, I drink and ease into conversation with everyone. But slowly, as the night goes on, I see Greg starting to look more and more down. I know he's thinking too much about something, but I know now isn't the best time to ask.
Later, I drive Greg over to his apartment (don't worry, I only had one beer a few hours ago). Coming to a stop outside, I notice Greg staring out the window. "Hey, you okay?" I ask.
He snaps out of his daydream and looks over at me. "Yeah, I'm good. Just tired I think. Long day, you know?"
"Do you need any help getting upstairs?"
"No." I notice how quick he was to respond. "I just...need to get some sleep. I'll text you tomorrow, okay?"
He doesn't wait for my response as he climbs out of the car and quickly heads inside. Something is off. I don't know what, but I know it is. I'll ask him what's going on when I see him again tomorrow.
The next day, I'm getting ready to leave to run a few errands. "Looks like you're front page news today."
Looking over, I find Adam sitting at the kitchen table with a newspaper in his hand. He turns it to me and I find my face pasted on the page.
'White Pledges Support for Coach Natick, Internet Praises White'
Huh. Hello progressivism. This must be from after practice. "Bet this is a great distraction from the playoffs, huh?" Adam asks, taking a drink of a protein shake.
"At least it'll give the Kings some good press. Have you seen any highlights on TV?"
"Nah, I haven't checked. Woke up a little late. There are probably some on though."
Walking into the living room, I flip on the TV and find ESPN. Sure enough, Liam and Lauren are sitting at a table. "It looks like Tanner White is making headlines again, and for a good reason this time," Lauren says. "Videos recorded at a Los Angeles bar from last night are spreading like wildfire all over the Internet."
The screen cuts to some cell phone video of me confronting the asshole from last night and that whole spiel I had after the fact. Wonderful. "I must say, Lauren," Liam takes over. "I really commend White on this. It helps to show the progress professional sports have made over the years in acceptance and diversity."
"Very well said, Liam," Lauren says. "And people are loving what White has said. From what we've seen, his Twitter account has gained a large number of new followers and other professional athletes, largely hockey players, are showing their support of the LGBT community."
Great. So I'm some LGBT messiah for the NHL. I shut off the TV and sit back in my seat. "So what're you going to do?" Adam calls from the table.
"Probably nothing. Why should I have to do anything? I've made my peace with whatever and now I just let this stew for a few days until it finally dies down."
"And what about you and Gregory?"
Hmmm. "I mean, yeah, he and I are still a secret to the world, but we've made peace with it. Maybe someday I'll tell everyone that he and I are dating, but until then, I think we're perfectly happy with the way things are going." Glancing down at my watch, I rise off the couch. "I'll be back in a few hours."
Downtown, after some shopping, I decide to duck into a coffee shop for an iced coffee. And after a few photos with some customers and staff, I take a seat with my drink and cool down from the warm spring heat. Pulling out my phone, I scroll throw a few social media pages, trying to see anything new.
Nothing much really, but I decide to retweet a few people who've posted to my feed. The sound of the coffee shop's television grabs my television and I see a gossip news channel. "In a breaking news story," says the anchor with the overly white teeth, "someone has stepped forward as the mystery man that was photographed kissing L.A. Kings coach Gregory Natick."
It takes every bit of my willpower not to spit my coffee all over my phone. Who the fuck?! "And who would've thought?" white teeth continues. "Young action star Jesse Wentworth has publically announced that he is the mystery man that has been dating Coach Natick, which has been a topic of discussion for some time now."
The feed cuts to a video of a reporter and the action star in question. Jesse is a very attractive man with a very fit body and rugged face, a face that I want to punch in at the moment. "So you and Gregory Natick have been dating for how long?" the reporter asks.
"About six months now." The asshole smiles a smile full of perfectly white teeth. "He and I met at a party of a mutual friend, got to talking and before you knew it, we went on our first date. To a private location of course. Gregory insisted that we keep it under wraps so he wasn't distracted from his first season with the Kings."
"So how does it feel to be dating such a high profile hockey coach who travels a lot for work?"
"It gets difficult at times, but we both understood that when we started dating. We both have our own schedules and we always make sure to keep in touch when one of us is on the road or busy."
That's fucking bullshit! That's what I do! "And what made you decide to come clean about dating Gregory?" says the reporter.
"I saw how much he was getting harassed by the press because of the photo of the two of us, so I'm telling the world about us to get some of the pressure off of his shoulders. He needs to focus on his work and he can't be doing that with the paparazzi hounding him for answers."
"That's very noble of you, Jesse. So tell us about your upcoming movie."
Just the douche's laugh makes me want to throw my coffee at the TV. Standing up I throw away my trash and storm out of the business, pulling out my phone and quickly dialing Greg's number. He picks up after two rings. "Tanner, I can..." he starts.
"What the fuck, Greg?!" I yell after I climb into my car for some privacy. "What the fucking fuck?!"
"Tanner, just calm down a bit."
"Calm down?! Some movie star douchebag just said that you and he are dating on national TV! How the hell am I supposed to calm down?!"
"Just come by my place. I'll explain what's going on."
The other end of the line hangs up and I toss my phone into the passenger's seat and throw the car into drive. I don't even care if I break traffic laws. I want answers. Greg is mine. He's mine and mine alone. I won't stand for some Hollywood piece of shit saying otherwise.
I skid to a stop outside of Greg's apartment and stomp inside. Riding up to Greg's floor, I walk up his door and bang on it. The door opens a second later. "Okay, I know you're..." Greg starts.
Taking him by the shoulders, I push him inside and kick the door closed behind me. "Do you know how I felt seeing Jesse fucking Wentworth go on and on about some made up bullshit about the two of you?! I have never wanted to main someone so much in my life!"
"Hey, I think I did a pretty good job making up that bullshit."
Looking into the living room, I see the son of a bitch himself sitting on the couch, legs propped up on the coffee table, wearing some fancy designer t-shit and jeans. Pushing past Greg, I storm over to Jesse. "What the fuck are you doing here?!" I roar.
Jesse slowly stands up, hands out in front of him defensively. "Um...Gregory? You didn't mention that your secret boyfriend was Tanner White..."
"Yeah, fucker. I'm Tanner White. Greg's boyfriend and the guy who's about to royally kick your ass!"
I hurdle over the couch to try and grab the asshole. But he manages to slip away and runs through the apartment as I chase after him. But as I'm about to catch him, I'm grabbing by the collar of my shirt and am thrown to the floor by Greg. Damn judo. "Seriously, Tanner," he says. "Calm down."
"But..." I lamely try to reply.
"No buts. I told you I would explain what was going on and I am. Go sit on the couch."
He helps me back to my feet. And with a sore hip, I sit on the couch with Greg while Jesse takes a seat in a chair. "I wanted to tell you before the interview got out," Greg says. "But it came out earlier than I thought."
"Wait, so you're cheating on me?" I carefully ask.
"No! No, I'm not! I promised you I would stay faithful to you, Tanner, and I have and am planning on keeping it."
"Then why the hell is that here?"
I point at Jesse. "The 'that' has a name," Jesse says, looking offended.
Greg sighs to himself. "Jesse and I have been friends for years. We met at a gym while I was still in Boston and I saw he was practicing judo for a role in one of his movies. I volunteered to help and we've stayed in touch over the years."
"I like to think of him as a brother with a couple of sticks up his butt," Jesse says.
Greg rolls his eyes and I resist the urge to slug the guy across the face. "Anyway," Greg continues. "After what happened yesterday with all the reporters, it got me thinking. I know I couldn't come out and tell all of them that you and I were dating, but I also knew that if an answer didn't come, they would keep wondering who it is I'm dating.
"So I gave Jesse a call. I knew he was in town for his new movie and told him about what was going on. He agreed to help me and set up an interview with that gossip channel, who agreed not to broadcast it until today. So now, everyone has an answer, and we can focus on the playoffs."
"You didn't think about telling me about this before that interview came on?" I ask. "I was in a coffee shop when I saw it. I nearly threw a chair out a window!"
"I know, and I'm sorry for not telling you. But I knew you would object to it."
"Of course I would! You're my boyfriend, Greg! Seeing you with another guy makes me want to punch something!"
"If you do, could it please not be me?"
Shooting a glare at Jesse, he ducks behind his chair. "I know it makes you upset, Tanner," Greg says, putting his hand on my arm. "But I also know that this is for the best. We couldn't have paparazzi constantly trying to get answers out of me, especially with the playoffs starting next week.
"And all those videos of you standing up for those guys in the bar yesterday, plus that article of you supporting me? Someone somewhere may have been able to put two and two together. And I didn't want to risk that."
"But who knows how long this will last?" I ask. "You both are high profile people, so you're always going to have press around you. And knowing the press, they'll want to know about the two of you."
"The press only want the good stuff," Jesse says, rising from behind his chair. "If Gregory and I make a public appearance together every once in a while, that'll satisfy them. And if they ask for more details about us, we'll simply tell them we like to keep our personal life quiet. They can't force us to say anything we don't want to say.
"Trust me, Tanner. I don't want to be the guy that steps in the middle of a relationship. I'm doing this as a favor to Gregory. I won't even kiss him. At most, I'll give him a peck on the cheek. And I already give him those."
Jesse leans over and plants a sloppy kiss on the side of Greg's face. Greg shoves him away and wipes his cheek, chuckling a little. "You have nothing to worry about," Jesse continues. "Gregory's a great guy. But he's not my type."
I look to Greg. "He's not lying," he says. "Jesse likes guys that are smaller than him. I'm about the same size as him, so he isn't attracted to me." Greg scoots a bit closer to me. "Please, Tanner. I hate this as much as you do, but if we want the press to lay off, I need to do this for us."
While my mind is telling to go to against this, I know that he's right. "I'm not going to like this," I say. "But if this is going to work, I'll trust you."
Greg smiles. "Thanks, Tanner. And with the playoffs going, you'll forget this is even happening."
"I doubt that, but I know it'll be my main focus."
"Well, I'm going to get out of here," Jesse says. "I have a script reading I need to get to. Gregory, I'll text you later. Tanner, it was nice meeting you."
Jesse heads out and I'm left on the couch with Greg. "I still don't like him," I say as the door closes.
"You don't have to like him, Tanner. But he is a friend of mine, so please be civil around him." Greg quick maneuvers himself so he's sitting on my lap facing me. "Seeing you so jealous makes me really excited."
Looking down, I see a very noticeable bulge in Greg's pants. Palming the bulge, Greg shivers. "You really do. And I like seeing you like this."
"Want to go over our game plan for our first round against the Oilers?"
"Absolutely. In your bedroom. All afternoon."
Greg shares my wicked smile. "Sounds perfect."
He wraps his arms around my neck and legs around my waist as I stand up and start toward his bedroom. Greg might be putting up a front about him dating Jesse. Bur right now, he's all mine. And I plan on drilling that into him well into the evening.
Greg really knows how to make a man work. Six constant hours of 'going over game plans,' and he's finally passed out from the exertion. If he's up and walking tomorrow, the man is a monster. Pulling myself out of bed, I step into the bathroom for a quick shower before bed.
Stepping out of the shower, I quickly dry off and walk back into the cool bedroom. I grab my phone to have one last check online to see if there's anything new. Other than my Twitter feed blowing up from a lot of positive messages (and a few negative ones, but you can't win every battle), I decide to take a peek over at Greg's profile.
Entering in his username, I find his Twitter has grown exponentially in the last day. People are asking him for more about him and Jesse, some have sent Photoshopped photos of the two of them together, and a few very forward people have edited it so some explicit photos of models have their faces.
Immediately, my anger and jealousy start to bubble up inside me. Greg is mine. He's mine and mine alone, and I want to scream it to the world. But Greg is adamant about me keeping quiet and I want to respect his wishes. But even the thought of him with Jesse Wentworth makes me want to drive my hand through a steel plate.
Looking over at Greg, I find myself staring at his absolutely adorable sleeping face. I'm only one who gets to see that nearly every night, and I want to keep it that way. If I could just tell that to even one person that doesn't already know, I would do it in a heartbeat. Just so someone would know that Greg is mine.
Shutting off my phone before I get even angrier, I climb under the covers and nestle close to Greg. He mumbles something before going back to softly snoring. God he's so freaking cute. I just wish I could let the world know that I feel that way about him.