The Bet – Quit Smoking, Win My Body Ch. 03

Masturbation

Adrian’s made it to two months without smoking, and celebrated with Laura. She’s looking forward to him fucking her to celebrate the end of the three months – but can things go that smoothly?

_______________________________

It’s been a busy week. I’m knackered. Dave and I chill out over the weekend with takeaway and a film, and the token sex just so we don’t feel it’s our fault I haven’t got pregnant. It’s still good, though. Dave seems so laid back most of the time, it’s always great to see him getting all passionate, still wanting me, throwing my legs over his shoulders and fucking like a piston. Still good after fifteen years.

The next week is just as busy. Why did I get into bloody management? Dave says managing is like parenting idiots. Mine aren’t usually idiots, but one’s certainly had a few idiot moments this week.

Come Wednesday, it’s one of those mornings. I’m running a bit late, had an attack of stomach cramps, missed my train by seconds, next one cancelled. Nine o’clock already. At least there’s nothing crucial I need to be in time for this morning, just a catch-up with my minions later. I shouldn’t call them minions, but I ended up managing people before any of my mates did, so they all joked about me having minions. Just call me Gru. Will sometimes calls me Morticia, which he and Ade claim is a compliment. I figure they watched the film with Angelica Huston at an impressionable age, but I’ll take it. Lindsey reckons my team are probably like the Addams Family, sneaky but effective. I have to go home for the love and kinky sex, though.

My phone startles me by ringing, making me burn my tongue on my coffee. Not my work phone, so I’m assuming it’ll be a scammer, at this time in the morning.

It’s Will.

“Hey, man! To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?” It’s very unexpected. Oh. Ominous… “Everything all right, with you guys?”

“Us? Aye, sure! Fine, like.” So why…? “Ah. No.” He pauses. “It’s Adrian.”

Oh, fuck.

“What’s happened? What’s he done now?”

“I’ll tell you. I’ve just had a chat with that Dan bloke of his. Turns out our Ade is back to his old tricks. The buck eejit spent the last two days getting totally shit-faced. Like, big time, like just-after-Diane levels of out of his wee skull? Dan had to get a paramedic out for him, last night. He’s conscious now, but you know how the twat gets — he’s muttering about being such a bastard, he doesn’t deserve Dan, doesn’t deserve anythin’, blah blah… He’s fallen for the guy, big time.”

Oh, shit. I should have guessed he’d eventually hit a conflict between me and Dan. Arsebiscuits. Fuck. I never expected him to react like this, though. He’d got past his wife dying, for fuck’s sake. I figured he’d grown out of it, especially as he was finally managing to see a guy for more than one night. I suppose his appearance nowadays, blithely coping with everything, was more fragile than I thought.

“So I told the wee fella, I’d send you and Lindsey round to slap some sense into the fucking muppet. Can you go? Now?”

“Yeah. No problem. Glad he didn’t pick tomorrow, got client meetings all morning! Oh, no, don’t make Linz get up! She’s got the sprogs to deal with. I’d be better alone, anyhow. Right. I’ll go put the fear of, well, me, into bloody Adrian. Fuck. Anyone would think we were in our twenties again! He’s at home, yeah?”

“Yeah. Oh, thanks, love. Means a lot. I’ll call that Dan back — he answered Ade’s phone, see. Have you met him?”

Ade and I agreed our line on this, if anyone ever asked. “Only briefly, when he first met Adrian. Had a drink, I pushed off and left them to it. As it were. Seemed a nice guy. Relaxed, not one to take any crap.”

“What the fuck does he see in our wee fuckwit, then?” Will grumbles, as if they hadn’t been each other’s best mates for twenty years. “Aye, he seemed like a sound chap. Fuck knows why he’d want to stay with that pisshead!” Will’s exaggerating — we know exactly how charming Ade can be and all the good points he has.

When he’s not fucking his life up. Again.

“Let’s hope he doesn’t dump Ade over this. I’ll get over there as fast as I can, but it’ll be 45 to an hour.”

“I’ll leave them both in your capable hands. You can cope, yeah? Tell him from me, right, he’s a wee tosser and he’d better bring me some good stuff when he comes for dinner next week. He can bring his fella, too. Linz can do the shovel talk. For both of them.”

“Like you’d never threaten him in the slightest! I’m on my way. Love to Linz and the kids.”

I slump onto the train. Shit. I’m pretty sure I can poke Ade into seeing sense and not panicking and ditching this Dan guy. I bet Will’s right, and Ade’s realised he’s proper fallen for the chap. It’ll mean I still don’t get to sleep with him, though.

Ah, well. We got close. I guess some things really were never meant to be.

What I’m really praying for is that Dan won’t see this as a deal-breaker, but I could hardly blame the man if he did. If he does call it a day, it might break yalova escort Adrian completely.

I suspect we’d never get him back together, if that happened.

I stomp along to the Jubilee line and then round the various corners to Ade’s flat. Only forty minutes since I spoke to Will. I hold the buzzer down until someone answers it.

“Who is it?” I think it’s Dan.

“Laura. Let me up, would you?”

I bet I’m smiling in a really stupid way as I knock on the door. What do I even say? “Hi, Dan. We really must meet in better circumstances, sometime.”

I hold out my hand and he shakes it, still silent, tired.

“Where is the stupid sod?” I ask.

“In bed. I think he’s hiding, more’n sleeping, now.”

“Uh-huh.” I look around. Everything looks different, even compared to ten days ago when Ade said he was shifting stuff. There’s the new desk in the lounge, denim jacket over its chair. Piles of papers and notebooks, those new saucepans, some new cushions on the sofa, some army boots in the hall. I check the coat hooks. An army jacket and an anorak which definitely aren’t Adrian’s.

“Have you moved in?”

“Yeah, nearly three weeks ago. Trial basis, we’re not that daft. My flatmate wanted to move his girlfriend in…”

“And she’s a right annoying pain in the arse? Ade did say. He did not say you were moving in.”

I start pacing up and down, trying to make sense of it. “Has he admitted you’re in a relationship yet? Or is he still swearing blind he’s just having consecutive one-night stands?”

“He agreed it was more than a bunch of one-offs, more than a week ago. I’d been trying to tell him I hadn’t been seeing anyone else, didn’t see the need… Also I’d been seeing him every day or two since we first met; when would I have the fucking time?”

“Don’t need time. It took fifteen minutes to drum you up,” I snap.

“Fair enough, people find time to cop off. When would I have the energy, then?”

I exhale. A monogamous man. Doesn’t bode well. “Doesn’t matter. Look, Dan, I’m horribly afraid this is kind of my fault. Arse and fuck, trust Ade to have the communication skills of a pile of mud! It’s OK. He loves you, the cynical hard-boiled fucking twat that he is. Argh!”

I kick the floor and glare at it, then manage to look up at the tall guy again. “Has he ever said why he decided to give up smoking?”

“No. Just that you convinced him it were possible.”

“Oh, typical. Bloody headcase.” I keep pacing about, deciding what to say. “Yes, I gave him an incentive. Something to work towards. He’s clearly not wanting it now. Or rather, he wants you more and by taking what was on offer, he thinks he’s fucked up his life more than… Well, previous times. Argh, if only he’d said… I don’t want to get in the way of you two…”

“Just a… You and him… Ah. An incentive?” Hallelujah, the man’s cottoning on.

“Mm. Three months off the fags, I told him. Smaller favours after two weeks, then one and two months. You get me? So I last saw him on Saturday the 13th.”

“Night before I moved in. Most of my stuff was down here already.”

I go back to pacing in a circle. “Ade said he was ‘moving stuff around’. Didn’t mention you moving in… Tough enough getting him to admit he was still seeing you regularly, but oh! His little face when he mentions you! It just lights up!”

“What now?”

“Well. There’s a question. I don’t want to get between you guys, not at all. If you’re committing to each other, not seeing anyone else at all, that’s absolutely fine and I’ll cope just fine without fucking Adrian just like I have these last twenty years. I’ve got a bloke at home, after all. Yes, he does know, thank you — managed to time me seeing Adrian when Dave wanted to see his other partners, so that all went quite well.

But you and him need to have a really big chat about what you each actually want from the other, not thinking what you think you know the other wants, yeah?”

“Gotcha.”

“Um…” I pause, then have to ask, all quiet and nervous, “you aren’t going to dump him because he and I had a couple times being sorta friends with benefits, are you? I mean, he’d agreed to that before he even met you…”

“Course not. Just…thinking.”

Oh, thank fuck! “Please don’t think too hard. We need to go cheer him up, now.”

“Sure. Just, it’s odd. He was convinced I’d want to go with other guys, at a sauna last weekend. Really trying to push me into it.”

“Ah. So he was doing stuff — with me, and you weren’t? He’d see that as an imbalance… I can see that setting him off. Stupid bloody twit. OK, suppose I’d better face the music. Come with me?”

We both enter the bedroom. It still reeks of vomit, piss and sweat.

Dan stands by the door. I march straight to him and tug the idiot’s hair. “Oi, Adrian!” Hardly a movement, so I tap him smartly on both cheeks. “Earth to Adrian Cullinane! Oi! You in there, you daft muppet?”

He groans. “Fuck off.”

“No, I’m not fucking fucking off! You owe your chap an explanation! You yalova escort bayan haven’t been cheating in any way, as I’ve just been explaining, which I should not have had to do! He doesn’t mind what you’ve done with me, but I’m not going to be anyone’s dirty little secret and you should make clear what sort of commitment you actually want!” I haven’t yelled at anyone in years. I might as well take out the stress of the last hour on him.

He makes some deathly groan.

“Oh, sit up! That’s better. Here’s more water. For god’s sake, have you learnt nothing since you were a pisshead student? Now, I’m going to go back out to the living room, and the two of you are going to have a right heart-to-heart. Got it? Good.”

Dan points out to him, ‘If she hadn’t made that offer, and you hadn’t accepted, we’d never have met.”

He grunts.

“Is this why you’ve been telling me to go out and do other people, because you were going to? You don’t think there’s a difference between something nice, agreed with a friend, and random indiscriminate sex to distract from hating yourself? Good, cos I bet she’d be pissed off if you didn’t! Which gets us back to why the fuck didn’t you just tell me what was going on!” Dan’s voice rises to near a shout, losing control. Can’t blame the guy.

“Thought you’d…” I lip-read the silent words, which I’m pretty sure are ‘not want me’.

“As opposed to you going back to being a shit-faced alkie? Cos obviously that’s a step way above, ‘look, before we met I agreed to shag a friend; now we’re getting closer, would you prefer I didn’t?’ So many long complicated words…” I’m sounding as sarcastic as Laura was.

Adrian’s blushing. Some words clearly don’t come easy to him.

“God, you were right, you are a fucked-up bastard.” Dan pauses, wondering how to get through to him. “And you reek. Come on, into the shower and you’ll feel better. Cos you are my fucked-up bastard and don’t you forget it, matey. Come on, up and at ’em, quick march…”

“This has got to be against the Geneva Convention…” Adrian moans, once he’s forced up and moving.

I slip out, back to the living area. Ade may have happily been naked with me recently, but not like this.

“No, it’s natural consequences of you being a complete fuckwit. Tough shit. Step in. Kneel down in case you puke again. You OK? There, get that water all over you.”

Dan pops out into the main room, to find me. “Cheers, love. Could you get some tea and toast ready for him? Actually, for all of us.”

“Already on it. You look like you need it.”

Dan returns to the bathroom, looking exhausted but without the fear and despair he had on his face when I arrived. The door doesn’t shut so I can hear his running commentary. “Get you washed. Go on. That’s better. Better out than in… All done now, you think? Looks like you’ve run out of stomach contents… Rinsing you off again. There, that’s you done, our boy! Hup you get. Dressing-gown. Come on, have some breakfast. No, you are. Out you come, a little bit’ll do you good, boy.

“Yes, you damn well are! I’ve put up with a lot these last few days, so right now you’re having breakfast, then you’re calling up all your therapists for a refresher until you realise I love you, buck eejit and bastard that you are, and sort your fucking head out. Now shift it, before I get out that collar and lead and drag you…”

I might be the tiniest fraction disappointed that Adrian isn’t wearing a leather collar when Dan drags him into the room, looking thinner than usual in a huge white towelling dressing-gown and hastily-dried damp hair, but I’m incredibly relieved to see him vertical and moving under his own power. I welcome him with huge hug, nestling my face in the fluffy robe over his chest. It must be Dan’s, I guess.

Adrian’s face is tired and more worn than normal, but still with that sensual quality that makes him so damn attractive. Dan bends him into sitting on the sofa, and I set his tea and toast — scrape of jam, no butter — in front of him.

Mechanically, Adrian starts to eat. Dan says nothing, but mixes up another rehydration sachet and hold the glass in front of Adrian’s face until he silently drinks it.

Once Adrian’s managed a whole slice of toast and a mug of tea, Dan passes him his phone. “Call your therapists about an urgent appointment. Let me know if you need me to go with you.”

I take that as a cue to diplomatically head into the bathroom for a while, thanking all the gods for both psychotherapists who sorted Ade out previously, and that Adrian must have told Dan about them, which is a good sign for their relationship working. Not hiding key information about his life — though there’s a lot of that… Ade hangs up and speaks louder, to Dan.

“Tomorrow, at four. Would… would you come with me?”

The relief is clear in Dan’s voice. “I’ll be there for you. But you got to let me be there for you.”

I’ll leave it a minute before returning to them. Adrian sounds like a scared child, admitting to his bloke, “I… escort yalova don’t always know how.”

Dan’s calm Brummie voice is remarkably soothing. “No shit! Now, you tell me, you’ve pulled these benders before. Do I need to lock up your booze?”

“Nah. If I want to get shit-faced, I’m not wasting the good stuff. Bottle of Grant’s, you’ve put the pieces in the bin, I suppose. Cheap vodka. Bought it yesterday. Just as well it wasn’t the litre on offer, I suppose, just the seventy. You’ll notice, apart from a few shots of Glenfiddich, I haven’t touched that lot.” I’m guessing he’s waving at his collection on the dresser.

“You didn’t think you were worth it?” There’s a pause. “I think I’m starting to get it.”

Enough eavesdropping. I return to the lads. Dan hastens to reassure me, “This wasn’t your fault. And, you know what? Our boy here stopped at the offie for cheap alcohol to get blotto with, but you know what he didn’t buy?”

“No cigarettes?” Is that possible?

“Indeed. Still no fags, even under stress. I think he’s cracked it.”

“That’s what you think,” Ade mutters.

“Yeah? You want a fag, right now?”

He retches.

“Told you. So, you’ve got a lot to be thankful to our friend here for.” Dan points at me, as I try not to die of embarrassment.

“Mm.”

“And, you never asked my opinion on you seeing other people.”

“You were glad I wasn’t being fucked by all and sundry!” Adrian’s indignant.

“Yeah, because you had said it wasn’t making you happy — you were just doing it as a distraction from your demons. You doing someone because they’re hot and you like them and you really want to — that’s different. Or me doin’ the same, even.”

Ho, boy. I beat my hopes back down. I just want them to be OK with each other. “OK, boys, sounds like you’ve got a lot to talk about. Um, yeah. As Adrian certainly hasn’t told you, we had it in the diary for me to come round Saturday after this, to celebrate him staying non-smoking for three whole months. I’m open on what that celebration is — dinner will be just fine, honest — so I’ll leave that appointment in place for now. But let me know!”

I go give Dan a hug. The boy deserves nothing less. I take his number, too. “Thanks for looking after him. Someone has to.” And a giant hug for Adrian. “You are a daft, stupid, exasperating, stupid bastard, and I love you, gorgeous. You hang onto this bloke, he’s a good one.”

Adrian manages a little nod and tiny smile, as I leave him to work through his hangover.

Fucking hell. I feel like I’ve done a day’s work already. Once walking to my office, I text Will. ‘Mission accomplished. Ade’s booked more psychotherapy, Dan’s standing by him. So far so good. You check on him in a few hours, I’ll call back this evening.’

‘Ta, love. Back to the usual drill, then. Wind him up with regular messages and threats to come over.’

‘Best check with Dan, before turning up. He’s really not like Diane, you know. Much quieter, calmer, but you can tell that anything coming for Ade will have to get through him first.’

‘Good. So long as the fella knows that there’s all of us lot supporting him if he’s supporting our boy.’

I was just thinking that Will wouldn’t want to walk in on them fucking — I know he has a key! But he’s right. I don’t envy Dan, dealing with Ade’s latest wobble, but we’re all rooting for him.

*

Three days later, I get a spontaneous text from Adrian, confirming my invitation for dinner ‘and possibly more.’

He’s copied in Dan. An improvement in communication already!

I reply to them both. “Looking forward to dinner. L xx”

That evening, Will tells me that they’re obeying the summons from Lindsey to go visit her and Will for a Sunday roast.

Lindsey quizzed me the other day on how I met Dan and he met Adrian.

I stuck to our truth again. I convinced Adrian to give up smoking by saying some distraction should help, so puts an ad online with his postcode asking for volunteers — he was online looking for escape from his flatmate and his annoying girlfriend, saw it was someone in the same building, had to investigate. So he turned up a half hour later, I passed both of them a beer and we hung out a bit until I pushed off. They started hanging out, Xbox, pool, the odd meal at the Braukeller, you know. Linz doesn’t need to know that it started with a blow job and continued that way for a while. I get the impression they talked a fair bit from the start, however much Ade swears it was simple sex.

Obviously I get a readout of the evening, from Lindsey. Linz likes Dan, agrees with Ade’s summary he let on a while back, that he’s well fit and a right ride! Dan didn’t freak, even when Will gave Ade an earful, but waded in to pull Will off Ade’s shirt, when Will grabbed a handful of it and got in Ade’s face. Just as well, it was probably one of those soft shirts I like. Turns out that Dan can cope with talking engineering to Will, which means he’s a bright guy, even though he’d somehow missed that our ‘college’ we went to together was Cambridge. She explained that just means you got some A-levels at the right time. “Doesn’t mean you’re at all bright in any other way, like having common sense! Exhibit A, one Adrian Cullinane…” I laugh.

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