Sunday, March 05, 2006

Small Town Boys - Chapter 30

My Boyfriend’s Back – 1993

Donny stared at the pen set on his desk for a full five minutes after hanging up. The birthday party was still going on. Eric had turned on his stereo and people were laughing and talking.

Mike was staying at Paul’s house for the rest of the week while he did some publicity for Silver Star, which was opening at Christmas. He was also there to talk to some people at Universal about another series, this time a sit-com mid-season replacement. He’d really like to see Donny; could they get together for dinner?

Donny had rehearsed it a hundred times in his head, always sure he’d know exactly what he’d say to Mike when he heard from him or saw him on the street. It wouldn’t be angry; that he was sure of. He was long over any feelings of loss, and besides, he was – until this moment – not really sure that he had ever loved Mike other than value his companionship and feel comfortable in bed with him. He wasn’t really sure what love was. (As if by some karmic coincidence, Eric put on his Journey album with I Want to Know What Love Is.) He would act as if it was just like hearing from an old friend who happened to call. There would be no emotion attached and there would definitely be no sexual stirrings; Donny could barely recall what making love to Mike was like. He would say it was great to hear from him, it’s really good to know that things are going well, and maybe they should keep in touch. He’d sign off with a crisp “thanks for calling” and go back to work. But when the voice came out of the phone, sounding as if they had last talked the day before with the familiar cadence and even the slight traces of the upper Michigan accent, the rehearsed speech vanished and Donny just listened, saying nothing but the occasional uh-huh. And try as hard as he could to not think about it, his cock got warm when Mike said, “I’d really like to see you tonight.” For an instant Donny almost caved, but then remembered that he and Danny and Eric and Greg had reservations for a birthday dinner, and he felt relieved to be able to say so.

“Okay,” Mike had countered, “how about lunch tomorrow? I’ll stop by your new offices.”

“Okay,” Donny said quietly. He gave him the address.

“Great,” replied Mike. “See you then.

Someone tapped on the door and he snapped out of it. It was Danny.

“Everything okay?”

Donny nodded at the phone. “Mike.”

“Mmm. Where is he?”

“Staying at Paul’s. Thank God Marc is still out in Palm Springs. That could have been weird.”

“What’d he want?”

“To see me tonight.”

“And you have plans. So...?”

“Lunch tomorrow.”

Danny sat down and smoothed out an invisible wrinkle on his pant leg. “You can handle that.”

“Yeah. I can handle it.”

“It’ll be interesting, twin; that’s for sure.” Donny reached in his pocket and pulled out a small box. He put it on the desk. “Happy birthday.”

Donny opened it. It was a small gold signet ring with his initials on it. Donny tried it on. It fit perfectly.

“I had a feeling it would,” said Danny. “I had them size it to me.”

“It’s great,” said Donny, looking at it in the light. “Thanks.”

Danny shrugged. “Hey, it’s the best I can do on second looey pay. I know we had the handshake, but what the hell.” By mutual agreement they had stopped giving each other gifts for their birthday when they were in junior high school; it had seemed at the time like a silly thing to do because they ended up giving each other practically the same things. They’d shaken hands solemnly on it ten years before. Donny smiled, opened his desk drawer, and pulled out a small, flat package.

“Yeah, I kinda figured the deal was off.”

It was a military watch with a gold band. His name was engraved in strong bold script on the back. “I don’t know what kind of jewelry you’re allowed to wear with your uniform,” Donny said, “but I guessed you could wear this.”

Danny fastened it on. “Yeah, I can. Thanks, twin.”

“And I got something for Mom and Dad,” said Donny, pulling another package out from behind his desk. It was a framed picture of the two of them at Danny’s graduation the previous spring, Danny with his grim officer’s smile, Donny showing a little more of a grin; Danny in his dress uniform, his wide shoulders set off by the new epaulettes of his rank, Donny in his civilian sport coat and open shirt. But they still looked alike; almost like the same man in two different worlds.

“Ready to take on the world,” Danny said. “So.... Lunch tomorrow.”


“Give ‘em hell, stud.”

Greg met them at the restaurant, a little Italian place complete with red checkered table cloths, which was close to the townhouse he’d just closed on. They ordered a bottle of Chianti and toasted each other on the birthday, the hiring of Marc to Greg’s great relief, and the general upward trend of their lives.

“Here’s also to beating the odds of every other start-up company that lasts about as long as a fart in a windstorm,” said Greg. “We’re good for the long haul, it seems.”

They clinked glasses, then Danny said casually, “So tell me about Eleanor.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “What do you want to know?”

Danny shrugged. “Single? Dating? Straight? Criminal record?”

“Ask Donny. He’s the one who keeps the personnel records.”

Donny looked at his brother with amusement. “What’s it worth to you?”

“Just curious.”

Eric gave Danny Eleanor’s background. “I thought I saw you chatting with here over the cake this afternoon. Gonna ask her out?”

“Thinking about it.”

“Go ahead,” said Donny. “It’d be nice to see you find a social life.”

“What makes you think I don’t have one?”

“Because you’ve spent every night since you moved into the house in your own bed, that’s how. So unless you’ve got something going on behind the O club or you’re sneaking off to a motel, you haven’t got a social life that I’ve seen.”

Danny laughed. “Well, yeah, but... I get around.”

Eric asked, “Did you date much at the Academy?”

“I had a couple of, uh, flings, I guess you’d call them,” he said. “I went out with a girl from Colorado College for a couple of months, but it’s not easy when you’re busting your ass at the Academy. Then there were some women that I’d hang out with at the base; fellow cadets, but nothing too serious. Dinner and a movie, mostly.”

“Wow,” said Eric, “you went four years without getting laid? That’s worse than Greg.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” protested Greg.

“I didn’t say I didn’t get laid,” replied Danny. “I just didn’t have a steady girlfriend for a long time, that’s all.”

“Hmm,” said Eric. “Well, Eleanor is all right as a person; she’s damn smart and can hold her own with the rest of the guys, so it might be fun to get to know her. I have no idea about her social life; she never talks about it.”

“She has an apartment that she shares with a roommate from college and two cats,” offered Donny. “She told me about the cats one day when she had to take off early to take them to the vet. And she listed her roommate as the emergency contact. Other than that, you’re on your own.”

“And good luck,” said Eric. “With the schedule she keeps, you’ll be lucky to get weekends off. Dating in this business is tough.”

“True,” said Greg. “When was the last time you went out?”

“Been a while,” conceded Eric. “’Bout the only guy in our group to have any kind of social life is Donny, and even now.... Have you decided what you and Marc are yet; friends, lovers, or just fuck-buddies?”

Donny shook his head. “Just.... I don’t know. Friends who.... After Mike, I’m not really wild about getting into something that could be....” He shrugged.

“You ever hear from Mike?” asked Greg.

Donny glanced at his brother. “Well, as a matter of fact, he called me this afternoon to wish me a happy birthday. He’s in town and we’re having lunch tomorrow.” Donny surprised himself at how casual he made it sound.

“Jesus H. Christ in a birch bark canoe,” whispered Eric. “He just pops in and says hi after, what, nine months without a word, and you’re going to have lunch with him?”

“What’s wrong with that? It’s just lunch.”

“Yeah, I guess. But I know what I’d tell him if that happened to me. ‘Fuck off,’ and I’d stick him for the lunch tab.”

“No wonder you’re still single,” said Danny.

“Look, after what he did, he’d be lucky not to find his tires flattened.”

“You’ll get your chance,” said Donny. “He’s picking me up at the office.”

“Well, I’ll be polite, but don’t expect roses and rainbows.”

They ordered their dinners. The waitress, a prototypical Valley Girl, seemed distracted and messed up the order when she read it back to them. Greg turned on the charm and she giggle-snorted as she read it again, this time getting it right. She left and Greg muttered “dingbat” under his breath. He suddenly looked around the restaurant as if someone had called his name or something.

“What’s up, Gruggie?” said Eric.

“Have you noticed that people are looking at us?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Check it out. Those people at the table across the way are staring at us.”

They all looked furtively around the room, and it seemed to be true; not just one table but several other groups of people were paying attention to them. A waiter passed by, nodded, did a double-take, grinned, and went away.

“Jesus,” said Eric, “that’s creepy. What is it, did one of us forget to wear our pants or something?”

Danny looked at them and then grinned. “It’s not what we didn’t wear; it’s what we’re wearing.”

The four of them looked at each other for a moment, and then burst out laughing. They were all wearing identical outfits; white polo shirts and Levi’s.

“Wow, it’s like...some weird karma,” said Eric. “I didn’t plan this out.”

“Me neither,” replied Donny and Greg.

“I’m so used to seeing people in the same outfit that it didn’t even dawn on me,” said Danny. “But we must look like... I don’t know....”

“A vocal group on dinner break,” said Eric. “’The Four Polos’ or something.”

The waitress came back with their salads, giggled again, and said, “Are you guys like twins or something?”

“No,” replied Eric earnestly. He pointed at Donny. “I don’t look anything like him, do I?”

This threw her completely, and she left to get more water.

Donny said, “Okay, let’s try not to do this again.”

Donny did not sleep well that night, wondering what lunch would be like, and the next morning there was not a lot going on in his office to keep him distracted. Finally at 11:30 Lily buzzed his phone. “Mr. Michaels is at the front desk.”

“I’ll be right out.”

He was wearing a cream short-sleeved silk shirt and grey slacks that made him look like he had learned how to pick out clothes that complimented his build and his complexion. Dammit, Donny thought, he looks good.

“Hey,” Mike said with his killer smile. They hugged quickly, Donny not letting the familiar feel and scent sink in too far. “Let me show you around,” he said by way of changing the subject.


They went past the reception area into the atrium where the secretaries and administrative assistants worked. Donny pointed out the spaces perfunctorily; “Bryce and Cathy’s offices are over there, that’s Greg’s, then the conference room, the war room, Eric, me, and vacant. In the middle are the secretaries. That’s Julie, Margaret, Sidney, and Lily. Past Eric’s office down the hall is the sales staff cube farm and past that is the warehouse and production office. Production is in the building next door with shipping and receiving.”

Mike looked around at the open ceiling and skylights, the modern office furniture, the potted ficus trees, the thick carpeting, and the quiet hum of business. “Wow, this is a little different from the last place,” he said.

“Yeah,” said Donny, trying to remember if Mike had ever been to the old office. “This is my office,” he said, leading him in but leaving the door and the blinds open.

Mike let out an appreciative whistle. “Damn, Donny, this is a nice set-up. And your own secretary, too.”

“Yeah, that’s Lily.” Donny felt a little awkward; he wasn’t sure if they should sit down or what.

“So, what do you do here?”

“VP of HR,” Donny said. “Uh, vice president for human resources, although I still handle some of the purchasing.”

“Nice, nice.” Mike looked out the window. “So, you’ve really got it...nice here.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

They looked at each other, and Donny smiled self-consciously. “You look good,” said Mike. “Still going to the gym?”

“Yeah, same place by the old office; it’s near the house.”

“Still live in the same place?”

“Yeah; Eric and me and Danny.”

“Your brother?”

“Yeah, he’s stationed at the base here.”

“Wow. Didn’t know that.”

Donny nodded, thinking, well, yeah, there’s a lot you don’t know. “Yeah. So, you want to go get something to eat?”

“Sure, that’d be great.”

“Okay.” Donny thought that if the rest of the conversation was as awkward as this, lunch was going to be torture.

They were leaving when Eric came out of his office. He shook hands with Mike, gave him a nice smile, and said it was good to see him again. “You too,” replied Mike.

Mike had a rented Lincoln. He drove to a small café on the edge of Beverly Hills that was favored by some of the younger stars. They sat out on the patio under a green umbrella table that was set with sterling silver and crystal glassware. The menu was understated, and the prices were high enough that Donny, even with his increased income, wondered who the hell would pay twelve bucks for a club sandwich. Mike ordered a Long Island iced tea, and Donny ordered lemonade.

After the drinks arrived and they ordered their food, Mike leaned back, put his Ray-Bans on top of his head, and smiled at Donny. “You look great,” he said. “You’ve gotten bigger in the shoulders, and man, your arms must be eighteen inches.”

Donny sipped his drink and smiled a little. “Never measured ‘em,” he said, knowing that Mike was flattering him to draw him out. But Donny had decided that he would let Mike be the one to do all the talking.

“Well, you’re headed for Schwarzenegger territory there,” Mike said. Donny laughed, and so did Mike. “Anyway. It’s good to see you. And.... I want you to know that there’s no excuse for me just dropping off the face of the earth. I mean, I know I should have called or something, and you have every right to be pissed.”

Donny shrugged. “I understand. Paul explained it to me. He invited me out to the Villa last spring for a weekend, I think, just to tell me what was going on.”

“He told me that. I’m glad. So you know that it wasn’t me just, y’know, skipping town. I had to go.” One of the stars of a number one rated sitcom passed the table and nodded at Mike, who returned the nod with a smile. Mike continued, “There wasn’t time for me to even pack up my stuff. Marty had someone go to the house, pack everything up, disconnect the phone, everything. I had twenty-four hours from my wrap before they had me on the red-eye to New York, and I was on the soap set the next day. It’s been like that ever since. This is the first time I’ve had any time off since I got the job.”

Donny nodded, thinking that it sounded plausible enough that if he was really pressed, Mike would stick to that story. “Yeah, I know what that’s like,” he said.

“Not that I’m complaining, y’know,” Mike continued. “It’s great to be working in something like a soap; it’s steady work, the pay’s great, and some pretty good actors make their bones doing them. Did you know that Ray Liotta started out doing soaps?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah. And since it’s in New York, a lot of producers and movie people work out of there, so I can be seen. I’m getting coached by some of the best people in the business. They got me this great furnished apartment, too, in the East Village, right near NYU. I can walk to anything or take the subway, and it’s not like, y’know, big scary New York; it’s like living in a small town.”

“That’s great. I’m happy for you,” Donny said, and he meant it.

“Yeah,” Mike said. He leaned back and raised his eyebrows. “Maybe you can come visit for a weekend or something.”

Donny looked at him sharply to see if there was any irony in his expression. There was none. He sipped his drink and finally said, “No, I don’t think so.”

Mike thought about this for a moment then nodded slowly. “Yeah, I guess I pretty much screwed the pooch, didn’t I?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“You’ve moved on?”

“You could say that.”

“Met someone?”


“Is it serious?”

Donny thought for a second about telling him who he was seeing, then decided now was not the time. “Well, we’re not living together or anything. We’re just – friends.”

“With benefits.”


The sun had moved past the umbrella and Mike put on his sunglasses. “I’m glad you’re not just jerking off.”

Donny remembered the night at the Villa and the times he and Marc had been together since. “No,” Donny replied evenly, “I haven’t been doing that.”

When the check came Mike grabbed it and paid cash. “The least I can do,” he said, and Donny didn’t object. On the drive back Mike sighed and said, “Look, I know I screwed up, but I’d like to at least still be friends, okay?”

“Sure,” said Donny.

“I’ll be in town for the rest of the week. You want to get dinner sometime?”


Mike pulled the up to front door of the building. Donny gave him a smile and opened the door. “Good to see you, Mike.”

“I’ll call you. And I mean it this time.”

An hour later Eric tapped on his door and raised an eyebrow.

“It’s cool,” Donny said.

Mike called the next day and offered dinner Friday night. “Come up to Paul’s and we’ll go from there.”

Donny arrived at Paul’s house just before six. The houseman – the same one from a year ago – opened the door, showed him into the living room. “Mr. Michaels will be down shortly,” he said and offered him a drink.

A moment later Mike appeared at the door. He was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, and he was carrying a Scotch on the rocks. He kissed Donny on the cheek. “Good to see you, man,” he said, and settled in the chair next to him.

“You too.”

He sipped his drink. “Something’s come up; I can’t leave the house tonight. I’m expecting a call from the producer back in New York.” He looked at his watch. “It’s almost nine-thirty there and he said he’d call by ten-thirty his time, so....” He spread his hands. “But I had Mr. Yang whip up some of his famous rib eyes and baked potatoes. You don’t mind eating here, do you?”

“No, that’s fine.”

“Great.” Mike patted Donny’s thigh. “It’ll be like old times.”

Dinner was served in the dining room with candles in the antique candelabra and some George Winston piano music on the stereo. Mike told him about working on a soap opera and the amazing number of fan letters the show got every day. “People actually believe we’re real people. I got a letter from this woman who told me that I would burn in Hell for getting this other character pregnant and then sleeping with her brother’s wife.” He shook his head. “Nobody ever wrote me to tell me Jarrod Chase was a ‘profligate sinner.’ But then, not too many people watched Capitol Hill.”

Mr. Yang appeared in the doorway as they were finishing. “Excuse me, Mr. Michaels,” he said quietly, “telephone.”

“Thanks.” He got up from the table slowly, the three glasses of wine having their effect. “Be right back. That’ll be the call from New York.”

Mr. Yang swiftly cleared the table. “Coffee will be served on the patio” he said.

Donny looked out over the manicured yard and shimmering pool. He remembered the dinner party; the lights, the tables, the conversations, his casual chat with James McGruder, bare-chested Marc in his swimsuit tossing the Nerf football, eavesdropping on the stairs, Mike’s sloshing wine glass and sullen mood after watching the pilot.

Everything was different now, he thought. James McGruder, Marc, and Mike had all shifted places in his life. Donny thought how naïve he must have seemed a year ago and yet he didn’t feel that much different; he still found it hard to believe that all of the things that had happened had happened to him. It was like watching a movie of someone else. Even in the here and now, sitting on the patio in the twilight, it was like he was seeing himself at a distance.

He glanced around as if he was being watched, then lit a cigarette, his first of the day. The building was non-smoking and although he didn’t make a special effort to go outside to smoke, this one tasted especially good. He leaned back and caught the faint sound of Mike talking; he was on the phone. He laughed, the sound echoing in the hall and out the door.

A few moments later Mike came out onto the patio and plopped into the chair next to Donny. “Well,” he said with a grin, “that’s over. Six more weeks and I am soap opera history.”

“What happened?”

Mike patted his shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “I’m done with it. My character goes off to Africa to work on an oil rig and I am free to come back here and.... well, Marty says that once Silver Star opens, I can write my own ticket. Stuart told Steven Spielberg that I was a dream to work with and I’d be perfect for his next project.”

“What is it?”

Mike shrugged. “Who knows? Who cares? It’s Steven Spielberg. The guy is a miracle worker. I’d play dead in a cowboy movie for him.” Mr. Yang brought out a tray with coffee and poured it for them. “Thanks, Mr. Yang,” Mike said. “I think we’re all set here.”

“Very good, sir. Please ring if you require anything else.” He bowed slightly and went back into the house.

Mike slurped his coffee a little and then smiled slyly at Donny. “And guess what.”


“Remember the house in Idyllwild? Remember how they were asking a million two but would look at any ‘reasonable’ offer? Well, it was still on the market last week, and so I called that realtor whatshername – Brucie – and told her I’d give ‘em six fifty and we could close the deal by the end of the month.” Mike smirked a little. “She hemmed and hawed a little and called me back. They accepted it.”

“Wow,” Donny said. “That’s a pretty good deal.”

“Yeah, well, I guess they were desperate.”

“Musta been.”

“So.... Look, I know we talked about buying it together.....”

Donny waved the words away. “Forget it.”

“Look, you can still come up there any time you want. I’ll just be using it on weekends or when I’m not working.”


“I mean it.” Mike he looked at Donny and bit his lip. “I really do. You helped me find the place, and we talked about it being our place.”

Donny said, “Well, yeah, but....”

Mike nodded. “Yeah, I know. But....” He looked at Donny with the same steady gaze that he’d seen so many times before; the one that usually precipitated making love. Donny felt a small surge of adrenalin and he glanced away, hoping that the feeling would pass. He lit another cigarette.

“So,” Mike said gently, “tell me about your new friend.”

It was an odd twist in the conversation, and Donny wondered why Mike was taking it in that direction, but he shrugged and said, “Not much to tell. His name’s Marc.” He waited for a flash of recognition, but he just nodded. “He’s a nice guy,” Donny continued, then couldn’t think of anything else to say. There was no point in going into the details.

“Well...” Mike said softly, “that’s great. All I want is for you to be happy.”

“Like I said, we’re just friends.”

“Still. How’d you meet him?”

Donny had been bracing himself for this one, and he felt himself tremble as he replied, “Through, uh, Paul.”

Mike nodded. “Oh, that’s cool. Someone from the Villa, then. Great. Paul’s good at that; looking out for his friends.”

“Yeah, well.... yeah.” Donny was about to tell Mike who Marc was, but Mike stood up and walked over the edge of the patio. He stared at the pool for a moment, then turned and looked back at Donny. In the soft light it looked as if he had tears in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered so quietly that Donny almost missed it. Mike shook his head. “I need to tell you what happened. Why I didn’t call. Why I....” He paused for a moment, bit his lip, and looked away. “I fucked up.”

Donny started to speak, to tell him that Paul had explained about Marty and needing to be focused on the job and that he knew that going in, but Mike held up his hand before he could say more than just “I under....”

“No, you don’t know.” Mike turned his back for a moment then said, with his back still turned, “That afternoon when I called you up and told you I got the movie. When you came over. The day you had your test.” He let out a deep breath. “I had sex with Stuart. Or I should say I let Stuart have sex with me.”

The first thing that popped into Donny’s head was “what’s the difference?” But he just stared at Mike’s back and let him go on. After a moment Mike turned and looked at him. “It wasn’t planned. We’d already signed the deal. I had the part. Marty had us together in his office to basically go over the last-minute shit like.... I don’t know, percentages and crap that meant nothing to me but had to be discussed as if Stuart could actually do anything about how much money I was going to be making or what kind of water they were gonna put in the trailers. It was just a formality. We had a couple of drinks, then Marty went off to get the contract Fed Ex’d and he left us – me and Stuart – in the office basically shooting the shit and him talking about how much he was looking forward to working with me, and ... he...” Mike waved his hand in the air, “put his hand on my leg and the next thing I knew I had my cock in his mouth.”

Donny nodded slowly. It made sense now; the sudden outburst in the kitchen, the overreaction to the HIV test, the suspicion that Donny was screwing around because an hour before Mike had been doing exactly that. In the back of his mind he had suspected it all along. Donny smiled a little, more out of the satisfaction of putting the pieces together than anything else. “It’s okay, Mike.”

But Mike shook his head. “You know what? In the ten-plus years I’ve lived and worked in this town, I never did that with anyone to get a job or anything. I know guys that do, too – even straight guys who wouldn’t give another guy a second look. If letting a director or a producer or a casting guy suck them off will get them somewhere, they do it like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. But not me.” He let out another long breath and sat back down on the couch, resting his hands on the bulge in his jeans and tapping it gently with his thumbs. “I’ve always been kinda proud of that,” he added, returning Donny’s little smile. He turned, moving close enough that he could feel his warmth and pick up the familiar scent of his aftershave. “I didn’t mean for it to happen,” he said softly, almost urgently. “It just did. And there are some things that – well, they defy explanation. But the one thing I do know is that you still mean a lot to me, Donny, and if there was any way I could make it up to you, I’ll do my damnedest.”

Donny stared at him for a moment, then leaned back and smiled. “I know you will,” he said softly, without irony, and without anger. He stood up. “Listen, thanks for a great dinner. It’s really good to see you. I’m really glad you’re back in town, and I’m glad you bought the house. It’s... great.”

Mike stood up. “Gotta go?”

“Yeah, we’ve hired a new finance guy and I need to make sure I have my shit together for him.”

Mike nodded, “Well, okay.” He gave Donny a strong hug, pressing his hardness against Donny’s thigh. Donny returned the hug and he let Mike kiss him quickly, then turned and headed for the house, doing his best not to seem rude and also not to cave into the warmth that was spreading and weakening his resolve.

At the front door Mike patted him on the butt and said, “I’ll call you. I’ll be back here in a month and we’ll go up to Idyllwild for the weekend, okay?” Donny just nodded, waved, and drove off, the trembling subsiding only when he was almost halfway home.

Eric and Danny were in the living room watching TV. Danny said, “So?”

“We had a good time.” Donny sat in the recliner and picked up the TV guide. Danny looked at his brother, smiled wanly, shook his head, then reached in his pocket, pulled out a five dollar bill, and handed it to Eric. “Ha,” said Eric. “Told you.”

“Told him what?” said Donny.

Danny looked at his twin dolefully. “He bet me five bucks you wouldn’t have sex with Mike.”

“How do you know I didn’t?”

Danny shook his head. “It’s not even nine o’clock, you’re not sweaty, you haven’t taken a shower, and .... I can tell you didn’t.”

“Ha,” said Eric again.

Donny just shook his head. “You guys,” he muttered, not letting on that if it hadn’t have been for that afternoon at the gym and catching that bit of the soap opera, Eric might well have lost the bet.

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