100 Days

Free 100 Days by Mimsy Hale

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Authors: Mimsy Hale
and he somehow manages to pull it off without looking like a thirty-year-old poser. “And there he was. I walked into this shitty little hole in the wall called The Crow, and he was in the middle of changing his shirt, right there behind the bar.”
    “Love at first sight?” Jake asks.
    “Hardly. He took one look at me and mixed me one of these,” Andrew says, tilting his glass. “We ended up talking for most of the night, he gave me a place to crash and got me a job working at the bar for a few months, and it only took me half a year to get my act together and kiss him. The rest, as they say, is history.”
    “Who proposed?”
    Andrew’s laugh comes out as a sharp bark, and he wipes his hand over his face. “He did, behind a fucking 7-Eleven.”
    Jake hesitates, his brow furrowed, and asks, “How does that even happen?”
    “Oh, he didn’t plan it that way! No, he’d spent a month doing all these things for me… dinners he could barely afford, dropping by my office with a surprise latté, taking me to some of my favorite places in the city… you know, all the usual proposal set-ups. And there always seemed to be something on the tip of his tongue, but he just couldn’t get the words out. Of course, I had no idea. We never even talked about getting married before the laws changed.
    “Anyway, we were on our way back from another overpriced dinner one night and I was just… I was so frustrated with the way he was acting that I just picked a fight with him over the dumbest fucking thing. I don’t even remember what it was about now. We stopped for gas, and I just—I had to take a minute to get my shit together, because fighting never solves a fucking thing. So I was standing around, kicking up dirt behind this 7-Eleven and he just came out of nowhere and started in on round forty-six, going on and on about how I’m ‘so damn hard to propose to.’ And it must have been the adrenalin or something but I didn’t even blink, I was like, ‘You could ask me right here, right now, and I’ll say yes.’”
    “And he asked you, and you said yes,” Jake prompts.
    Andrew grins. “He got down on one knee and just looked at me like he hated me a little bit, and said, ‘So will you marry me or not, asshole?’ And after I kicked him in the shin for being such a dick about it… yeah. I said yes.”
    “It’s a great story,” Jake says, surprised to find that he genuinely means it.
    “It’s unique, if nothing else.”
    Jake smiles despite himself, and finds his gaze wandering once more to settle on Aiden, still dancing, surrounded by smiling people and having a good time. He’s gone dressy casual tonight, the same outfit he wore for the gig at The Cannery, and Jake watches the way his hips move, how he seems to have grown into himself. When Aiden catches his eye and grins, the low light casting shad­ows across his face, Jake’s stomach drops and he turns back to Andrew.
    “Jake, I don’t expect you to fully appreciate what I’m about to say to you. I’m not trying to be condescending, but you’re fucking young, and you still need to figure out a lot of stuff for yourself,” Andrew says, scratching at the stubble beneath his chin. “That said, there’s something that my dad always used to say to me, and that was, ‘Try everything once, but make the mistakes first. That’s how you learn to recognize them.’”
    “I don’t want to make this mistake,” Jake finally forces out, eyes trained on his glass as he wills his thoughts to quiet. He’s never been that great at telling lies right to a person’s face.
    “Is this guy bothering you?”
    Seemingly from out of nowhere, Toby is at Jake’s other side, and now glances down at him with kind, sleepy eyes and a lopsided smirk. He stands straight and self-assured.
    “Not at all,” Jake answers, as if all is right with the world and he wasn’t just getting his ass handed to him along with a side of truth. “Thank you for inviting us, by the way.

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