“Were you busy writing music?” my mom asks as she sets a basket of dinner rolls in front of Mason, but Bryce opens his big mouth before I can open mine.
“She was probably busy with her new boyfriend.”
“You have a new boyfriend?” Ryan asks, but it’s Bryce’s turn for silverware, and his stupid remark was magic—it turned the metal spoon I’m holding into a weapon. A satisfying “POP!” sounds against the back of his skull, and his hand flies up to his head with a holler.
Mason makes a move to grab the spoon from my hand, but I rap him hard on the knuckles, leaving both boys nursing their wounds and Kale chuckling openly at the other side of the table.
“No, I don’t have a freaking boyfriend,” I finally answer Ryan, placing a spoon peacefully on the napkin by his plate while my mom returns to the dining room with a big pitcher of water.
“That’s too bad,” she comments as she begins filling glasses.
I hold back a disgruntled groan. Every dinner, it’s the same thing from her. Kit, have you met anyone? Kit, why not? Kit, Mrs. So-and-So has a son I’d really like you to meet.
“How can you expect me to get a boyfriend when I have him?” I point to Mason, who grins ruefully. “And him.” I point to Bryce, who doesn’t even notice because he’s too busy grabbing a dinner roll before we’re all even seated.
Our mom gracefully circles the table, grabs a spoon, and cracks him on the back of the head.
Everyone except Bryce breaks out laughing, and Mom shoots me a wink from behind his chair before making her way back out to the kitchen.
“You had boyfriends in college,” Kale comments from the seat beside mine—because he’s a damn cold traitor who probably tried to absorb me in the womb and is still bitter I survived.
Now everyone’s eyes are on me, but there’s not a spoon in the entire world big enough to fix this. My brain stutters through a million responses that aren’t good enough, and I somehow end up sitting in my chair.
“And high school,” Kale adds, and I kick him so hard with the heel of my combat boot, he squeaks like a little girl.
“Who?” Mason and Bryce demand to know simultaneously.
“No one.” I glare at Kale while he cradles his shin in his palm. “Kale is full of crap.”
“Am not,” he mutters under his breath—because he clearly wants to get kicked again.
My boyfriends in high school were just friends I experimented with. In college, they were just . . . fun distractions. They weren’t puppy loves or true loves or any kind of loves. They were just . . . there, and then they weren’t.
I’m saved from having to lie my face off some more when our dad enters the room, patting his big belly loudly enough to break sound barriers. “Needed to make some room!” he proudly announces, sitting at the head of the table and laughing like he’s the funniest guy he knows. He’s been stationed in the bathroom for God knows how long, exercising his Sunday pregame in preparation for Mom’s big meal—a ham big enough to feed a literal football team.
“So, Kit,” she begins while the boys practically dive face-first into it, “have you made any friends other than the band?”
“The lead singer’s girlfriend is really cool,” I answer as I scoop some mashed potatoes onto my plate. “She goes to the school out there. And she has this friend, Leti. He’s awesome.”
“And cute?” my mom not-so-subtly suggests.
I nod while scooping some corn into my mashed potatoes—a habit I learned from my dad. My mom does this almost every dinner, so I’m ready for her. “And funny. And smart.” Her face begins to brighten. “And gay.”
She dims and sighs, her hopes for girl talk squandered again. I’ve never been the type to have tea parties or swoon over boy bands or wear frilly dresses. Instead, I come home with piercings and blue hair and boots. Two words, and her maternal battle is lost again—he’s gay.
“That’s such a shame,” my mom laments, and I cringe for Kale’s sake. Her words are like an invisible whip that lash right in his direction with no one even knowing it—no one but me, and it takes every ounce of restraint I have to not turn to my twin and throw a protective arm around him.
If my mom knew her youngest son was gay too, she wouldn’t be so insensitive. Or at least I don’t think she would . . . but I have no way of knowing, and neither does Kale. All he knows now is that she just heard I had a gay friend, and her response was that’s such a shame.
“I just don’t get it,” Mason interjects. “Why would any guy sleep with other guys when there are millions of gorgeous women just begging for it?”
“Guys are less drama,” Ryan jokes with a smirk on his face.
“Are you kidding?” Bryce says. “Gay dudes are the most dramatic of all. Always with the hand motions and shit.” He flicks both hands flamboyantly in the air, his voice a lispy stereotype when he says, “Everything is sooo fabulous.”
Anger bubbles somewhere down deep in my belly, erupting in my voice when I snap, “You’re an ass.”
Normally, my mom would lecture me about the cursing, but at the anger in my voice, she settles for a cautious, reproachful look.
Bryce starts laughing and grabs his third dinner roll. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Kit. I’m just playing.”