Three quick notes:
1. There is approximately a .00001% chance that I don't finish this story. I already have the entire rest of it outlined AND the entire sequel (yes, surprise! there is a sequel—clearly I am obsessed with this universe). So don't worry about it getting taken down or left as a WIP. I SWEAR it won't.
2. Literally nothing about the environment of this story is made up in any way. Pretty much the entire thing is based on my University—the weirdly themed frat pledge names, crazy library pranks, intense hazing—all of it is based on my undergrad. So if you've ever thought "no way this actually happens" or "wow, she has a crazy active imagination"; nope, all true.
[2b.] Relatedly, this story is actually set at my undergrad which I then renamed Berkeley to keep some distance between my real life and my writing, so I apologize for the blatant inaccuracies as to Berkeley's campus! I was waiting for that to come up and it finally did.
3. I LOVE all of your reviews; they seriously go so far to motivate me to keep writing when I am stressed over work/grad school classes, so please keep them coming!
The conversation made him feel better, but he also suddenly, urgently felt like he needed to talk to someone who wasn't Addison about the whole thing. Not the situation with Addison himself—Stuart refused to analyze his feelings with anyone else on principle because he wasn't a high school girl—but maybe everything else about having to hide who he was and what he wanted. Addison lived in an ideal world on campus with his similarly hippy friends. Stuart wanted to hear from someone who knew more about the upper echelon; the Greeks and the athletes.
At this point in college, Macon was pretty much his best friend. Stuart understood that the sentiment wasn't entirely reciprocated, but he knew the two of them were close, at least. Macon would listen and he would most likely be cool about it and he would probably give good advice. Satisfied with his decision, Stuart forced himself to go to his one remaining class of the day and wait until late afternoon when most of the university started to quiet down before trying to get in touch with Macon.
Macon's phone was off, but Stuart was vibrating out of his skin with anticipation so he walked over to Macon's dorm and banged on the door, hoping to find him there. It swung open after a brief pause. Standing on the other side; though, was Wilson, not Macon.
"Uh, hey," Stuart said, a little out of breath. "Is Macon here?"
Wilson frowned, peering curiously at him. "He's in a test. Do you want me to tell him you came by?"
Stuart hadn't prepared for this; he'd only gotten as far in his head as deciding to ask Macon to go somewhere else with him to talk if both of them were there.
He could feel his face falling. "Oh, no, that's alright. I'll uh, leave a message on his phone."
"Are you okay?" Wilson asked. "You don't look so good."
"Yeah totally," Stuart answered reflexively, but the words were hollow and unsteady. "Actually, not really, but it's…okay."
Stepping forward, Wilson lowered his voice. "Hey, I know we aren't very close, but you can talk to me, you know that right? I've known you longer than anyone else at school, except for Macon."
"I don't think you want to hear about my personal drama," Stuart waved a hand dismissively. "It's all going to sound like some stupid show, like Gossip Girl or something."
"I'm not that much of a jerk," Wilson countered. "See, I'm not even making fun of you for knowing about Gossip Girl. Try me."
Stuart hovered nervously in the hall for a long time before he stepped inside. He was going to go crazy if he didn't talk to someone about this soon, but he didn't think he could handle it if Wilson started mocking him about this, either. In high school, Stuart had been pretty mean to him, and he would likely deserve it if Wilson reacted badly. At the same time, Wilson had gone to Blackfinn knowingly, so he couldn't be too homophobic.
"No judgment," Wilson promised, like he could read Stuart's mind.
"Okay," Stuart caved, "but you can't tell anyone about this, I mean it. Even Macon— I'll tell him on my own time."
Wilson nodded seriously, stepping aside to let Stuart inside. He gestured for Stuart to sit in one of the dorm desk chairs, and then grabbed two sodas for them from the mini-fridge before taking a seat on the bed closest to where Stuart was sitting. The can was cold in Stuart's hand, and he took a long sip to steel himself before he started talking.
Staring hard at the floor so he wouldn't have to see Wilson's face, he opened by admitting: "So, sometimes when I'm really drunk at parties, I hook up with guys."
He heard a shocked noise beside him, but ignored it and barreled on. "I always told myself it was an accident when it happened, that I'd had too much to drink…" His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth and he took another sip. "But that's bullshit. I've known it was bullshit for a while now, actually..."
"I'm just really fucking tired of lying to myself and everyone else," he concluded. "And I'm freaking out about what to do now."
There was a quiet heaviness after that. Stuart chanced a look at Wilson. Wilson's lips were twitching upwards, like he was trying not to laugh. His hands flew to his mouth to try to cover it up, but Stuart could hear it now too. It felt like being punched in the gut.
He jumped to his feet, humiliated and betrayed. "I knew I shouldn't have come here. I can't believe I told you that."
"No, wait!" Wilson called after him. "Please let me explain."
"Screw you," Stuart sneered.
Wilson caught his arm just before the door. "I'm not laughing for the reason you think, hear me out."
"Sure, try me."
"Macon and I are dating," Wilson confessed. "So believe me, I understand what you're going through, I've been there. I wouldn't let him tell you because I thought you'd be an asshole about it. I was laughing at how wrong I was."
Stuart was struck speechless. His eyes widened, and he gaped at Wilson, struggling to process the words. "What?"
"We've been together about six or seven months now, but I've known I was gay for years."
"Holy cow," Stuart said. "Wow. Just wow."
He could feel himself relaxing now, and Wilson was starting to smile at him. As good as Stuart felt to get it off his shoulders, Wilson looked even better. His eyes were open and bright, and Stuart realized that they had always been shuttered before. Maybe Wilson came across as so closed off because he was scared of giving himself away.
"You know what though?" Stuart told him, still running it over in his mind. "That actually makes complete sense now that I think about it; you guys have always been very intense with each other. Macon had like a million girlfriends at Laurence, though. How'd that happen?"
"I have no idea," Wilson replied, his smile going fond. "He likes to joke that he made a special exception for me because he was worried I'd never manage to land anyone else otherwise."
Stuart rolled his eyes. "What a charmer."
Wilson leveled him with a considering look. "So you don't have like a secret thing for him, right? I don't have to worry about you two hanging out so much?"
"No," Stuart snorted. Then, an amazing idea struck him. He made his voice low and flirty. "To be honest, I have a thing for you."
It was hilarious how quickly Wilson went kind of green with horror. Stuart cracked up, falling over sideways. "Gross, as if, Reddington."
The indignant expression Wilson had quickly shifted over to something more scheming. "Yeah, neither of us are your type, are we? Considering that you like guitar players in skinny jeans."
Stuart went instantly, vividly bright red.
"What? No! I— No, I don't," he stammered out.
"Hah, busted!" Wilson said triumphantly. "You know last night on our walk home Macon and I were talking about how funny it was that you were totally flirting with some guy in a gay bar and didn't realize it, but the joke was on us, I guess."
"Oh my god, I wasn't flirting with him," Stuart protested, still embarrassed.
"You two were all over each other," Wilson told him.
Right away, Stuart was reintroduced to that light, hopeful feeling in his chest that he'd fought off that morning with Addison. Wilson thought Addison had been coming onto him?
"Yeah, whatever," he said, aiming for casual disinterest, instead of grilling Wilson about what else he thought he'd picked up on last night. "Do you want to order some pizza, maybe? Put on the UCLA basketball game?"
"Yeah, that sounds great, let's do that."
Stuart was having fun hanging out with Wilson, possibly for the first time ever. The two of them actually had way more in common than Stuart had ever realized. Apart from lacrosse, they both loved watching sports, they were both terrified of their parent's reactions to finding out they were gay (although Stuart was mostly worried that his parents would be disappointed in him or look at him differently; not that he might be forbidden from coming home again, which seemed to be a legitimate concern in Wilson's case and explained a lot about why him and Macon kept it so hidden), and they both felt a lot of pressure from overachieving older brothers.
For a long time they 'd hated each other because they were always rivals for the same positions—both on the field and in team leadership— and they he'd never bothered to learn anything else about each other. Stuart was glad they were finally getting over themselves.
Wilson told him the whole story about how he'd gotten together with Macon and Stuart lined it up with his own memories of senior year. After Wilson's first big fight with Macon—the night Macon learned Wilson was gay— Stuart had been the one to drive Macon home and he suddenly understood why Macon had been so shell-shocked and upset that whole ride. He also remembered all the times the two of them had been avoiding each other at school, and he'd listened to all the gossip at lunch over what could be going on, never suspecting anything like this.
"Huh," Stuart said at one point. "You know Tristan was the first guy I ever kissed—it was around this time senior year. He really got around."
Wilson laughed. "Yeah, but he was a nice guy. It was good of him to never let on about either of us to anyone else."
About an hour in, they heard a key turning in the lock. The door swung open and Macon called "Will?" from the hall.
"Hey," Will greeted, sliding off his bed to his feet.
Wilson's bed was to the left of the room, blocked by the door. Stuart was sitting on Macon's bed— to the right of the room—so Macon actually saw him first.
"Oh hey Stuart," Macon added, looking surprised but pleased, as he noticed the empty pizza boxes and the muted basketball game in the background. He glanced over to Wilson. "Wait, were you two willingly hanging out with each other? I can't believe it."
Instead of answering, Wilson crossed the room, tugged Macon forward by the straps on his backpack, and kissed him. It was a short kiss— nothing more than a peck— but when he pulled back Macon beamed at him.
"Hi," Macon huffed a surprised, happy laugh. His eyes darted to Stuart who shot him a thumbs-up sign in response. "I was only gone three hours. What on earth did I miss?"
While they caught Macon up to speed, Stuart grabbed another Coke and returned to his spot on Macon's bed. Macon joined Wilson across the room, tucking in close against his side.
"So are you going to start telling people?" Macon asked. "Like the team and Sig Ep?"
"I'm not sure," Stuart answered. "I really don't think it would go over well at Sig Ep; maybe the team wouldn't be quite so bad… I'm going to think about it. This is nice though—just having you guys know."
"Yeah," Wilson agreed.
Neither he nor Macon had stopped smiling for even a second since Macon came back to the room. Both of them just seemed overjoyed to be able to openly touch each other in front of someone else.
"What about you guys?" Stuart asked. "Do you think you'll ever come out?"
"Probably only to close friends," Macon said. "Wilson's sister knows, but otherwise, it's just you for now."
"Well thanks for telling me. That wasn't what I was expecting at all when I came over earlier, but I'm glad I did."
"Me too," Wilson told him, leaning down to kiss Macon again.
Stuart pantomimed gagging while both of them smiled stupidly at each other.
"You're just jealous because of your huge crush on me," Wilson retorted, without even looking away from Macon.
Stuart caught him in the face with a pillow and then hit Macon with another for good measure when his mouth dropped open.
After his eventful Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Stuart took it easy for a day. He went to bed really early that night, trying to catch up on the hours of sleep that he'd missed while drunkenly tossing and turning after Blackfinn. On Friday, he went to all his classes and then lacrosse practice before heading to the library for the first time since his conversation with Addison. He was oddly nervous to see the librarian again, but he still had 5 pages to go in his Legal History paper and he thought he'd be able to focus better in the library than in his quiet, empty room where he started bouncing off the walls when left in his own space.
To his relief, the reference desk wasn't occupied as he walked in. He settled in at a big table near the reference shelves, digging out seven textbooks from his backpack, all of them lit up by colorful post-it notes. There were ten different cases that he was working his way through in his arguments. That translated to hundreds of pages of legal commentary for him to cite.
"Stuart Vonner in the library on a Friday night… what a shocker," Addison commented dryly, sidling up to the desk.
Stuart realized that he was chewing on his highlighter while he stared at his laptop screen. Subtly, he tried to pull it out of his mouth without being too obvious about it.
"Hey," he greeted, turning in his seat to look up over his shoulder.
Addison was wearing an army jacket with matching combat boots. Intuitively, Stuart recognized that the outfit was stupid. That didn't stop him from finding it indecently hot, though.
"So…" Addison began.
"Don't you dare ask me how I'm doing," Stuart ordered him. "You told me you'd be normal. That means insulting me or avoiding me, not checking up on me."
That startled a laugh out of Addison. "Actually, I was going to ask you what you're doing on Sunday."
"Oh." Stuart had to finish this paper before Monday morning, while at the same time, starting to cram for all his finals. He really didn't have any free time to spare this weekend. "Probably just coming back here, why?"
"The community garden club is meeting at noon on Sunday to lay cold weather frames. We need some strong people to come out; they're really heavy."
"You want me to help?" Stuart clarified.
"Yeah, you work out a lot with lacrosse so I figured you'd be able to handle it."
It was a foregone conclusion that Stuart was going to say yes, but Addison was talking to him with a pained tilt to his mouth—like he couldn't believe that he was admitting he thought Stuart could lift more than him—so Stuart couldn't resist teasing him.
"Do you know what would solve this problem?" he asked rhetorically. "If you ate some steak every once in a while."
Addison's face went all pinched and offended.
"Or maybe a burger," Stuart continued. "Actually I'm surprised you can lift anything at all with the rabbit food you normally eat. Are you sure you don't need me to carry your books too?"
"Okay," Addison bit out. "Point taken. I'm sure you have better things to do."
Shaking his head, Stuart pointed out: "I didn't actually say no. You said noon, right? Where is it?"
At that, Addison lightened up, pulling out a school map from a library kiosk to draw directions for him. He had a neat, looping handwriting; Stuart liked it.
"I appreciated you being willing to come," Addison said, sliding the sheet of paper over to him.
"Don't worry," Stuart told him. "I'll definitely use this as leverage next time I need a favor."
"I'm sure you will. See you Sunday."
"Are you not working tomorrow?" Stuart couldn't resist asking.
"No, I have some papers due soon, too. I'm taking a day off to push through those."
"Okay," Stuart replied, not at all disappointed. "Good luck."
By dinnertime on Saturday, Stuart had finished a draft of his paper and a formula sheet for his Econ exam (one that he could bring into the exam, score!). He didn't feel like he needed to study much more for the class outside of that, and he was exempted from his Calc test because he'd done so well in the class all semester. That just left his law and his politics classes to focus on.
It was almost funny, the split in his grades: he had clear cut A's in Econ and Calc and borderline B-minuses/C's in his formerly pre-law classes. He was determined to bring those grades up with his scores on the finals, which would mean non-stop studying until his last test from 7-10pm on Thursday night.
On his way to the dining hall, though, he got a summons to Sig Ep from the hazing coordinator, Peyton:
Pledges- you have 30 minutes to report to the house. Don't be late.
What the hell? Stuart thought, staring at the message in disbelief. There had to be rules about suspending Greek obligations during finals. He'd thought that he was done with this shit for the semester. On top of that, he was starving and this window didn't give him enough time to go to the dining hall. By the time he reached the house he was fuming and fighting not to let it show.
Peyton led all the pledges into the house kitchen, where five 6-foot giant Subway catered subs and three sheet cakes were laid out on the counter. Several older brothers were milling around the dining room table. Stuart relaxed. It was just a party; he could handle that. Subway was way better than dining hall food, anyway.
Minutes later, he realized how idiotically naïve he had been to think so.
"Alright," Peyton announced, grinning, once the 16th and final pledge entered. "Here's our present to you for being so obedient all semester—look at all this delicious food we have for you."
The pledges all dutifully called out their thanks.
"Here's the thing though," Peyton continued. "We'd hate for any of our present to go to waste. That would be rude, wouldn't it? So, none of you are allowed to leave the house until it's all eaten. Slack on your part and we'll make you eat something much worse."
Stuart had never been so relieved to be hungry before this moment. Victor Frost was holding a crumpled McDonald's bag and looked queasy. Other brothers had probably already had dinner too. Doing the math in his head, he came out to 10 slices of sandwich each and 6 slices of cake on top of that. The sheer amount of food he was going to have to consume was sickening.
At first, they all tried to make light of it. Victor started in on the cake, taking a bite and joking, "Yum, dibs on this one."
The rest of them fought over who got ham and who got turkey and who was left with bologna. The sandwiches were tasty enough that for a while it didn't feel like a chore. Stuart had five pieces before he stopped feeling the gnawing edge of hunger.
By eight slices, though, he couldn't stand the thought of another bite of bread, meat and mayo so he switched to cake. The chocolate fudge was rich—dense and flavorful—and that got to be too much after only two slices. Stuart was reaching Thanksgiving dinner levels of full now—he thought he would burst if he had any more. He tugged his sweatpants down far enough that the elastic of the waistband wasn't pressing into his gut anymore. Around him guys were groaning and undoing the top buttons on their jeans.
"God, I feel like I'm going to have a baby," Evan complained.
"Thirty minute warning," Peyton yelled from the living room, where he was watching a Bourne movie with his girlfriend.
They all jumped in their seats. None of them had realized they had a deadline. Knowing that, and being able to do something about it; however, were not one and the same. There were still two whole subs, scattered slices of the sandwiches, and another entire sheet cake. They all dragged through, one agonizing bite at a time, but couldn't get the job done before Peyton's phone alarm went off.
"Pitiful," Peyton scorned them. "Luckily, we prepared for this. All of you follow me outside."
It was the first time that they had collectively failed a challenge together and they shared nervous glances, unsure about what to expect. Outside was a line of four cars waiting for them. They were ushered into the backseats and then driven off Berkeley's main campus and down past the popular bars and restaurants into a more residential area. In a church parking lot, they climbed out of the cars and stood, shivering as a freezing wind picked up, as they waited for their next orders.
"Start running," was all Cooper told them. "We'll be following you. Try to hitch-hike, call a friend…anything, and you're out of Sig Ep."
Stuart guessed that they were about four or five miles away from school. Normally, he could run this in less than forty minutes, but he was so full that he kept feeling a stabbing pain in his gut. His body felt weighted down; sluggish and slow. The group took off at a glacial pace—the bare minimum speed they could reach that wasn't walking.
It took them three hours to get back. They tried to stick together—everyone sharing the unspoken agreement that it would really suck to be left behind—but one by one, guys kept having to veer off to the side to puke; many of them over and over again. The sound of guys hurling took up far more of the night than anyone attempting to talk.
For almost an hour, Stuart staved it off, taking deep breaths and focusing on his feet hitting the pavement. Then, twice, he too found himself doubled over in a row of bushes, racked by violent heaves. He wasn't sure what was worse: being left under the house or this. Either way, he was getting increasingly nervous about what was left for them before they were initiated in late January.
Stuart took a long, meandering walk to the community garden lot the next morning. His stomach felt so full that he hadn't been able to eat breakfast and he hadn't slept well the night before, either. He was feeling grumpy and nauseous and sore all over.
There were three people there when he arrived—Addison's roommate Morgan; Marie, the Asian girl who worked in the library with Addison; and a strange guy who Stuart had never seen before, with hair so shaggy that he had it tied back in a bandana, and those ridiculous shoes on that separate out every toe. Stuart ignored him and went to say hi to the girls.
A third, very pretty girl in a crew neck sweater and running tights showed up, too, before Addison pulled up with Hugh. The bed of the truck Addison had driven up was loaded down with heavy wooden beams. Addison hopped out and came over to them all. His jeans were ripped in far too many places and he had on dirty, scuffed gray TOMS.
"Hey guys, thanks for coming out," he welcomed them. "This is a great turn out."
"I don't know," Stuart quipped. "Maybe you should offer some free beer or pizza next time. I don't think the offer of forced manual labor on weekends appealed to the broader Berkeley population."
He was gratified to get several laughs out of the group at that, but when he tried to chuckle at the look on Addison's face—pure why is this my life?—his bursting stomach protested the movement and he quickly stopped.
Addison divided them into teams: the pretty girl was his co-leader Abigail, and she was designated to mark locations for the frames in the ground. Marie and Morgan were flattening the dirt with shovels and hammering the boards of the frames together once they were laid. The four guys were unloading the beams from the cab and carrying them over to the spots Abigail was marking.
When Addison went to lift the first board out, Stuart ducked in smoothly to help him, aiming to avoid getting stuck with toes-guy and also maybe to show off a little.
"Here," he told Addison. "I'll take the back; that'll be heavier."
Addison took one end and started walking forward slowly. Stuart caught the end of the board before it could slide all the way off down to the ground.
"Oof," he breathed out, "this is really fucking heavy."
"No kidding," Addison agreed, ducking his head back to smile at him.
Every step they took jarred Stuart's stomach. Bile was rising up into his throat. He tried to zone out—to overcome it by focusing on the blue sky, the green grass, and the weight of the board in his arms—as they made their way across the field.
His world narrowed down to a mantra of: Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
He held out all the way to the first line Abigail had marked. Once there, he dropped his end of the board and gasped out "I'm really sorry," before he had to dash over to a trashcan on the nearby sidewalk.
"You have got to be kidding me," Addison demanded behind him, while he threw up for the third time in less than 12 hours. "If you're too hung over to work you should just leave now."
"Thanks for the concern," Stuart managed in between heaves, his voice raw and his arms hooked around the wrought-iron metal so that he could tilt his head inside.
"You knew you had committed to this already. What? You couldn't lay off the booze for a single night?"
"Screw you," Stuart choked out. "You should appreciate that I came out here considering how shitty I feel."
"Like you're such a huge help if you have to stop and puke every couple of minutes."
Stuart suffered through one last dry heave before he stood up, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his sweatshirt. Addison grimaced watching him.
"I'm good now," he told Addison defiantly, even though his eyes were watering and his throat burned.
His body, at least, felt better; like most of the worst was out. Addison was starting to piss him off now, though. He didn't appreciate the judgment, not at all.
"No, go home," Addison insisted angrily. "I thought you'd be more reliable than this. I don't want you here."
"No," he said, brushing past Addison. Being pissed was a welcome distraction from being hurt that Addison was giving up on him so quickly. "You need me, I'm staying."
"Fine, but I'm not working with you."
"Fine." Stuart squatted behind the truck, easing a board out and catching the weight with his legs.
It wasn't easy but he was able to balance it on his shoulder and walk it over to the next marked line. After that, he went back for a second. The fresh air and physical labor were helping him immensely now. He thought maybe he'd be able to eat later if he got in enough lifting here.
He warmed up enough to tug off his sweatshirt, leaving him in just an old lacrosse pinnie. While he carted the second board he thought about how sweet the muscles in his arms were starting to look. Since Thanksgiving, he'd been trying to make it a priority to go lift weights three or four days a week and it was showing. His delts and Triceps were bulging.
With a satisfying thud, he threw the board down in its designated spot.
"Great job Stuart!" Abigail called over. "You're crushing this."
"Thanks," he answered with a winning smile, making sure to project his voice loudly enough to be heard by everyone there. "I'll have another one for you in just a minute."
That was when he noticed Addison struggling to drag an entire board by himself. He looked like he was going to fall over at any second. His jeans were getting filthy. Stuart swooped in, catching the back and lifting it up off the ground.
"Hey, be careful," he chided. "You're going to hurt yourself."
Addison made an offended sound, but didn't protest the help. Together, they put the board down with the other two Stuart had already lain.
"Aren't you cold?" Addison asked in a strange tone, when he finally turned to face Stuart.
"Naw, I get used to cold temperatures easily since I practice outside so much during the year." Stuart told him.
They carried three more boards together and then Addison started to look tired so Stuart asked, "Want to get some water?"
Digging into his bag, he pulled out the old metal canteen he'd used since high school for lacrosse games. For the first time that afternoon Addison looked pleased with him.
"What?" Stuart guessed. "Are you happy that I don't have a plastic water bottle?"
"Yes, those are the worst, I would have gone out and bought you a Nalgene myself if I had to."
"Lucky you then that I came prepared."
Stuart downed the rest of the metal bottle and then reached up, stretching his arms across his chest and back behind his head.
"Is that really necessary?" Addison asked, in the same weird tone from earlier.
"I don't want to be stiff at practice tomorrow," Stuart told him, his voice muffled into his shoulder from the angle his arm was at. "Hey, do you have a lot of water left? Could I steal some?"
"Sure." Addison reached over and tipped some of his orange Nalgene into Stuart's canteen. "You ready to go back out?"
"Yeah," Stuart said, taking one last swig.
"Thanks," Addison said, catching the back of his pinnie to hold him back once they were finally finished. "You were actually a huge help."
"It was no problem," Stuart replied, slipping his hands into the pockets of his sweatpants. "It was nice to get outside."
"No seriously, I'm sorry I yelled at you," Addison persisted. "We couldn't have done it without you."
They were standing closer together than was probably necessary. His bare arm kept rubbing against the fabric of Addison's Henley and the toes of their shoes touched. Stuart scrubbed a hand along the fuzzy hairs on his forehead, deferring the praise.
"I was going to say you should give me something from the garden later to make up for it, but it's not like I would know what to do with it, or would even have anywhere to cook it, so no worries."
"I'll make you something then," Addison promised.
Stuart hesitated at that. He thought about what Wilson had said—that it seemed like they had been flirting with each other at Blackfinn. Promising to cook for him seemed pretty flirty too. Maybe he actually had a chance here.
He moved his leg to lightly kick at the side of Addison's foot and shared a smile with him. "I'll hold you to that."