This is a short scene that features Scott, Ian, and Liam when they were at the charity ball. It’s been deleted and revised to what is in the book now, but it gives a bit more background to who Liam is.
“Let’s get something to drink.” Ian tugged my hand to get my attention, nodding to the bar at the side of the room. I nodded, a drink sounding great right now. The white wine we had in the limo did nothing to calm my nerves, and I desperately needed some liquid courage.
“Is that you, Ian? Hey, man! It’s been a while,” a voice called out when we were halfway to the bar. We turned to see a group of men around Ian’s age. They all had bleach blond hair that was swept back, and in their matching black tuxes, they reminded me of a group of Rockhopper Penguins. A tiny snort came out of me at that thought, and I tried to cover it up with a cough, to only draw their attention to me. “And this is…” the guy who appeared to be the leader of the group asked, gesturing to me.
“This is Scott, my boyfriend,” Ian said, pride filled his voice like he was showing me off to them. A smile filled my face and I puffed up my chest knowing that he thought I was someone worth showing off.
The group stared blankly at Ian, then exchanged glances with each other before the leader spoke again. “But Liam…”
“Liam is my friend and landlord, and is all he’d ever be.” Ian shot him a glare, cutting off whatever the other dude was about to say, and the dude backed off.
“Ian, did you hear about…” one of the guys in the back hastily changed the subject, but I didn’t have the heart to listen. My mind was in a swirling, a thousand thoughts going a mile a second. Who the fuck was Liam? I trusted Ian when he said they were only friends, but that didn’t explain why this group of men thought there was something between them.
“Babe, I’m gonna grab us some drinks.” I needed to get away and clear my head. I would only be trapped in my thoughts if I stayed here listening to their conversation. Ian nodded, looking a tad bit concerned but still released his grip from mine. They went back to catching up about things that had happened since the last time they’d seen each other, paying me no mind as I left for the bar, thank God for that.
Feeling like the fish out of water here and getting weird stares from everyone didn’t help, then add in this other guy… I ordered a shot at the bar and downed it. The burn of the liquid down my throat was a pleasant distraction from the negative thoughts that were running wild in my mind and helped sort my feelings.
The only thing that mattered was the two of us. Everything else was white noise. Extremely loud, white noise. I closed my eyes and took a deep, calming breath like I’d learned to do at therapy. I counted to ten before opening my eyes again, feeling the tiny panic attack my traitorous brain almost brought on disappear.
Feeling ready to socialize again, I grabbed our drinks to head back to Ian. He was standing where I had left him, alone and looking bored. I was about to call out to him when a handsome man beat me to it first.
“Hey fiancé,” the man said to Ian, easily lifting him up into a bear hug which Ian returned with a laugh.
I froze, standing there with our drinks in hand as I watched them together. I shook my head, praying that I had heard wrong. There was no way Ian had a fiancé… right? I thought the group of penguin men had misunderstood something but was I actually the one who was mistaken? I mean I was introduced to Ian’s parents as his boyfriend and they didn’t mention anything about him being engaged. But what if it was true? The trickle of doubt that lingered in the back of my mind itched. All the “what ifs” floated around in my head, each worry another notch closer to breaking the box I’d tried to stuff my insecurities into.
When the stranger let him down, Ian caught sight of me and happily waved me over. I trudged towards them, not wanting to face the handsome man who looked more fit to be by Ian’s side.
“Hon, let me introduce you. This is Liam Wright. He’s a childhood friend and the owner of Corio Heights.”
That was the dude that was mentioned earlier. My head was spinning, and I was thankful my hands were full with our drinks so that I had an excuse not to shake the man’s hand.
“He called you his fiancé…” I turned to Ian, my eyes wide, hoping that there was a reasonable explanation to this. That all these doubts were in my head.
“Oh, that’s Liam’s idea of a bad joke,” he grumbled, turning to elbow Liam. “I told you to quit it with that. People are gonna think you’re serious.” Ian turned back to me and continued to explain, “Sorry. Our moms’ are good friends and had this idea that we’d get married since we were both gay, but that’s ancient history. Liam doesn’t know when to cut it out.” Ian shot the man a playful glare, and Liam laughed.
“It’s good to finally meet you. I’ve seen you around a few times and Ian talks about you all the time, but never had a chance to officially greet you” he said.
“You’ve seen me around?” I asked hesitantly. I would remember someone like him especially if we’d run into each other on multiple occasions, but I don’t recall seeing Liam before.
“Oh, I live in the loft at Corio Heights. I’ve seen you two enter Ian’s unit a few times on my way out the building. You two always look like you’re in your own world so I didn’t want to disturb. Anyway, it’s great to meet the lucky guy who finally tied this guy down,” Liam thumbed toward Ian.
“Nice to meet you,” I nodded to him and took a step closer to Ian to hand him his drink.
“Thanks, hon.” Ian accepted the glass I handed him and took a sip. I copied him and took a sip of my own drink so I didn’t have to make small talk while I still processed everything.
Those who are curious about Liam, he will get his own book…eventually 🙂