I was sleeping in the next morning – one of my favorite things – when the harbinger of doom otherwise known as my sister jumped on my bed and woke me.
“Hunter. I have a great idea. Get up.”
Without removing my eye mask I said, “No. Your ideas suck. Let me sleep.”
As if I'd not replied she said, “Let's do a twin brain ask me anything – live!”
Sometimes I called her my other brain, and sometimes we called it twin brain when we were online.
“No. That's a dumb idea. Let me sleep.”
“It's not dumb!” She pushed me.
I sat up, still with my eye mask on in hopes I could lie back down and try to sleep. “Because if it's live then we can't weed out the stupid questions they ask every time we go live, like 'Top or Bottom?' or 'Have you guys had sex with each other?' It happens Every. Damn. Time.”
She giggled. “You look so bad ass being angry with your mask on.”
I sighed. My heart was pumping from her aggravating me – I wasn't getting back to sleep. I peeled the mask from my eyes and glared at her.
She crossed her arms, but her expression was still pleasant. Pleasant in that she wasn't scowling, not that I enjoyed it. “We can weed them out on the fly. Come on, Hunter. It'll be fun.”
I stared at her for a second then squinted in suspicion. “Why? What are you up to?”
She looked at me coyly – which was frankly disturbing – and she said, “I gave Bruce your screen name. I thought I'd announce that one of their questions is answered. Well, two. One is that I'm dating, and two is that I'm not sleeping with you because I'm sleeping with Bruce.”
I rolled my eyes and flopped back onto the bed. “That explains it.”
“Explains what?” she asked, tone laced with suspicion.
“You fucked Bruce after dropping Caleb off last night. It's made you overly happy. Go away until it wears off.”
“You need some dick,” she said firmly.
“Speaking of dicks, we had a record number of them in the house last night.”
I snorted. She must have given up for now as she climbed off my bed and left the room. I stretched out and lounged for a few minutes, but it was no use. I was awake, for better or worse. After a light breakfast and scoping out the chore list my mother left behind, I took a leisurely shower and then spent more than my normal time on my skin care routine.
After dressing in soft pants and a black tee shirt with a rainbow hued fractal design on it, I went down to clean the kitchen as requested. I thought about the night before and how odd Caleb was, and yet endearing. There was something sweet about his letting me in on his condition and how it made me see him – not as defective, but as honest. He was immune to peer pressure, in a sense, and other forms of social pressure – which explained his lack of grooming. In a very real sense he was free of some of the dumbest things people did to themselves. On the other hand, he could never experience the sweetness of hanging by a thread, waiting for something dramatic and romantic to happen.
That was sad. I wonder if he was capable of romance? Maybe it was why he was single. Well, that and his hair.
I made some coffee and went out to the workshop to look at the mess we'd made the night before. The plastic had done its job in limiting the spread, and the dial was completely covered, which was a miracle. With all the plastic and the paint, it sort of looked like a giant had come into a condom. I snorted at the thought and wondered if Caleb would find that funny. Straight boys were weird about their own bodily fluids.
I pulled the plastic away, bagging it up as I went and took a hard look at the large white disc. I liked Caleb's idea about making stencils, except they might bleed and I wanted these numbers to be crisp. I thought about that as I sipped my coffee, turning over ideas in my head. In the end I thought cutting them out with a ruler and blade would be best. That way I could trim things. I hunted around for more plastic to cover the disc with to keep it white, then headed back into the house.
I decided some card stock would work best to make my numbers, but that would mean going into town. Ugh. I'll have to ride-share, since Andy was still being a witch. I decided to have some lunch first; no sense going out on an empty stomach. I took my laundry down to the basement since I was headed down anyway and was disgusted to find Andy's things in the washer – leftover from a few days ago. Girl couldn't stay on top of her laundry. I added one of those things to take smells out and started her laundry again. I heard the doorbell ring and thought that was weird. Oh, maybe someone got a delivery or something? I headed back upstairs and went to the door, only to find Caleb on my porch.
“Hey, Hunt.” He smiled widely.
“Oh, hi. This is a surprise. Um, come in,” I said, standing aside. He opened the screen door and passed me into the hallway.
“I know, little unexpected,” he said. “But I wanted to ask your help.”
“Yeah,” he said easily. “You were pretty obvious that I don't dress right and my hair is a mess. Right?”
I blushed. “I might have said something, yeah.”
“So...help me out. I don't have a problem with how I dress,” he said, waving his hand toward his sweat ensemble. “But it's because I'm working in the dirt all the time out in the hothouse.”
“You do? I mean, I figured that was something you had employees for.”
“I am cross-breeding my own plants,” he said proudly.
“Oh?” What's the proper response to that? Feeling unprepared, I moved to safer social ground. “Um, I was going to get some lunch. Want a sandwich?”
“Sure, thanks,” he said, trailing behind me to the kitchen. “So I spend a lot of time out there getting dirty, so I don't want to wear anything decent, you know?”
I chuckled. “What about at school? Be honest, you'd rather just wear sweats.”
“They are comfy,” he allowed. “But I also didn't care that much what people thought of how I dressed. My philosophy is that I care more about the inside of people. I've met some that were really nice looking, but then you find out – sometimes a lot later – that their outside wasn't a reflection of their inside.” Boy, did he have a point. I'd have agreed with him out loud, but he continued, “My mom has been trying to make me wear other stuff for years, but she always says something about it being appropriate or more acceptable. Not things I cared about. But I was thinking about what you were saying about my clothes and hair, and I realized that the first thing we usually notice is how someone looks. If you don't notice them at first, you never get to find out who they are inside.”
I was setting sandwich makings on the counter as he spoke and I nodded at him. “Yeah, that makes sense. I guess you could have an interaction with someone and like them, and then realize later they looked nice – like they look nicer because you knew them. Does that make sense?”
“Totally,” he said with enthusiasm. “And that's why I need your help.”
“You know how to dress. Help me get some stuff so that the people I want to notice me, will.”
I looked at him and raised an eyebrow. This could be fun. Imagine making over Caleb Montgomery. What could he look like with a nice haircut and some clothes that didn't look like he was headed home from working out – having lost significant weight while at it – but also with stuff that showed his body to his best advantage?
“Sandwich. Roast beef okay?”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Thanks.”
I set about making up simple roast beef sandwiches, slicing some tomato and adding lettuce with a bit of mayo – not like Andy with her mayo sandwiches which were practically two slices of bread and mayo slathered between them, on them, surrounding them.
“Ohh,” the devil said, appearing suddenly – probably scenting food from her lair.
“No. I will not make your sandwich. They are disgusting,” I said immediately.
“Yours are too dry anyway,” she said with a snort. “Caleb.”
I placed two sandwiches apiece on plates and set them on the kitchen table. A bag of chips to add some salt and crunch to our meal, and I sat across from Caleb.
“So. An outfit and a haircut?”
He shook his head. “Nope. I figure if I get the attention I'm after, then I can only wear the old stuff when I go to get dirty. Kind of keep up the look, right?”
I thought that over as I chewed. “Tell me about the person you're trying to attract. What would they like on you, do you think?”
“Probably a jockstrap and nothing else, rawr,” Andy said and laughed.
“Maybe later in the relationship,” I said. “Not for going to the movies or something.”
Caleb seemed lost in thought as he chewed, which only left an opening for Andy. “So I set up the live Q&A for six-thirty. Make sure you're done with your Ken doll by then.”
“For fuck's sake, please tell me you didn't!”
“Live Q&A?” Caleb asked.
“Hunter has a lit Instagram and we post pictures to it with him as a model, most of the time,” Andy said. “We're going live today to stream a Q&A.”
“Except I said I didn't want to!”
“You say that now, but you'll be a total ham once the feed is live,” she said with an evil smirk. God, what a witch.
“It's called a persona, Andy. It's like being a character, not having fun. Jesus.”
“Is it fun?” Caleb asked.
“Not really,” I said. “If you Q&A live, people ask stupid things. I mean.” I rolled my eyes. “They ask the same shit-for-brains questions anyway, like top or bottom? Are you dating anyone? Will you show me your dick?”
Caleb started laughing. “They ask that?”
“Well, he has an Only Fans,” Andy said.
“You do?” Caleb's eyes were huge.
“It's not a big deal,” I said with a roll of my eyes. “No nudes.”
“Oh,” he said, with a weird tone to his voice. “I thought that was the whole point of Only Fans.”
“The point is money,” I said dryly. “You can make some without crossing that line.”
“Huh.” Caleb grunted, but said nothing else. I picked up my sandwich, figuring I should finish and get going so I could cut my sister's opportunities at conversation off.
“So what are you guys doing?”
“Hunter's going to help me get some clothes,” Caleb told her.
“Well, make sure you have him home by six – he likes to primp.”
I rolled my eyes and got up to get a drink. “Something to drink, Cal?”
Caleb smiled at me. “Just water, please.”
I shrugged and grabbed a glass, tossed in a few ice cubes and filled it from the tap. I grabbed a Coke and sat back down, pushing the glass to Caleb. We finished up while Andy made a mayo sandwich – just the sight turns my stomach. I rinsed our plates and put them in the dishwasher and headed out with Caleb.
“So. Are there any clothes you like besides sweats?” I asked as I buckled myself into the little truck Caleb was driving.
“Um. What do you mean?”
“Colors, styles, material. Anything that matters to you about clothes?”
He was quiet for a minute as we headed down the road. “Comfortable. I think that's my biggest thing.”
“Hmm.” I thought for a minute. “Why don't we go to the store I work at? I get a discount and I can borrow a measuring tape; I'm guessing you don't know your waist size or inseam?”
“Okay,” he agreed. “I got paid and my mom is actually excited for me to buy clothes, so I have cash to spend.”
“Well, some of it's on me. You gave me a hundred bucks in that card,” I said firmly.
“No! That's for your birthday!”
“And I want to spend it dressing you up! It's my first make-over!” I told him with all the seriousness I could fake. I've made myself over I don't know how many times.
He looked at me dubiously.
“Come on!” I whined.
“I don't...you should spend it on something for you.”
“Dressing you up will be for me. This will be fun!” I said and bounced in my seat a little.
He smiled a little crookedly and shook his head. “I guess I have a lot to learn about you, even if I have known you for years.”
“I'm complicated,” I said agreeably.
“So. You like jewelry?”
“Hello, change of subject,” I said, jerking my head around for emphasis.
He chuckled. “I just saw that chain on your ankle when you got out of the shower last night.”
What a sentence, I thought. Context makes all the difference.”Yeah, it was a gift.”
“From your Only Fans?”
I chuckled. “No. An ex.”
He gave a one armed shrug. “I thought people got rid of stuff when they broke up. Like gifts. Or gave them back. Sold them.”
I grunted. “Well. Yeah, some people do. We were out at this weird place next door to an art gallery where they had jewelry and – I'm not making this up – food. I mean, weird combination. But they had these really nice ankle bracelets, and he thought it would look nice on me, so...he was right. I like it.”
“What about the one on your wrist?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Damn. Did you take inventory or something?”
He grinned. “Besides skin, wasn't anything else to notice but sparkly things.”
I tilted my head from side to side. “Okay, I guess I can give you that. No, I bought this one for myself.” My ex still paid for it, since it was from my sugar daddy money, but that was a conversation for another day.
“So...silver is what you like?”
I held my arm out and looked at the tennis bracelet that glittered on my wrist. “My skin tans easily. Not like golden tan like some lucky people, but just a regular tan. I think silver looks better with my skin color is all.”
“What do you think would look good on me?”
I glanced over and considered him. “I think gold and silver wouldn't stand out because you're so pale. Do you tan at all?”
“Yeah. Have to burn once first, but I do.”
“Hmm. I think something dark would be best. A dyed leather or maybe one of those black cut glass looking things. Those glitter because of how they are cut and polished, but they'd show up really well against your skin.”
“Do you like jewelry?”
“Oh. No, not really. Not like anyone would ever see it on me anyway, right?”
“Well, we'll have to show off your neck and then decide if you need a little accent piece,” I said with a grin. We pulled up in front of my store and I swept inside with Caleb in tow. I waved to Nicole behind the counter. Kari was puttering by a display of chinos as she tried to look busy in the dead store.
“Ladies, take note of my friend Caleb. I will transform him and you will desire him, but back off. He is a work in progress and not for your greedy hands or eyes.” I said this with a breezy, arrogant tone and looked down at my fingernails.
“I have a boyfriend, but it's nice to see you have friends outside of work,” Kari said with a snicker.
Nicole burst out laughing. “Well, I'll have a look when you're all done with him.”
“Just remember,” I said in a mock-serious tone. “You look with your eyes.” I turned to Caleb. “Cal. Into the dressing room and strip down so I can measure your waist and inseam. Then I'll get started.”
Caleb nodded and headed into a dressing room while I went behind the counter – a no-no off shift – and fished out a tape measure.
“He for you?” Nicole asked with a lecherous grin.
“Straight boy, old friend. Sort of. He wants that someone special to notice him, so he asked for help. What you saw is representative of his wardrobe, and has been for a long time. Clearly he needs me.”
“Oh, well, maybe you can help Allen next, then. I'd love to see him in something besides a sports jersey,” Kari said.
“No help for you!” I said in my most arrogant tone. “You mock me, you get no help.”
“Oh, please? Please? My boyfriend is straight, too! He needs a real man to show him how to dress!” Kari said, playing up her part.
I stuck my chin in the air. “No! No help for you!”
We were all giggling when actual customers came in the door. I was still chuckling, but we needed to keep it civil while we had paying people in the store. Nicole greeted them and asked if she could help them find anything. I headed to the back and tapped on the dressing room door.
“Ready for me, Cal?”
I opened the door and was shocked to find him in his boxers. I had just assumed modesty would take hold and he'd be in shorts or something. “Oh. Um. Okay,” I said under my breath. “So just...hold still. No, wait.” I forced my gaze to rise from his mismatched socks to his legs; which I knew were soft and felt nice in my hands. Up from his flat, sparsely defined stomach – a baby six pack at best. Up past his pecs, which were subtle, but very masculine and to his face. “Dude. Boxers?”
He looked around at the walls before meeting my gaze. “It's what my mom buys me.”
I blinked a couple of times. “Okay. You're old enough that mom no longer chooses clothes for you, that's the first rule.” I said. “We are starting from the bottom up. Are the...things you have on comfortable?”
“The boxers you mean?”
“Yeah.” Is that his dick? Don't look!
“They're okay, I guess.”
“So the ones whose attention you're after, you'll want to be seen in your underwear at some point. Right?”
He met my gaze. “Definitely.”
“Okay. Well. You want something sexy, but comfortable. You can't wear strictly sexy stuff all the time because it's usually skimpy and you have to be a little practical.” Thank God we didn't sell skimpy underwear because I'd stuff his ass in them myself. Maybe Andy is right – it's been too long. If only his hair didn't look like a squirrel might run from it at any moment!
“Whatever you think.”
“Um. Okay. No briefs. I think they can chafe a little in the crease of the leg, and boxer briefs cover more leg than they need to to be sexy. So I'm going with trunks. Uh. Hold still, with your arms out flat.”
He obediently spread his arms and I worked the tape measure around his waist, then knelt and measured his inseam. The light in the dressing room wasn't harsh by any means, but the tiny hairs on his legs caught the light and made it look like small, golden red waves were cresting along his skin. It was delicate and sexy and – fuck. Measure the straight boy's legs, do not rate him or think poetic things. Or sexy things.
“Okay,” I said, standing and not staring at him. “Lose the cock – socks! Lose the socks!”
“Um, okay,” he said slowly.
“I'll be right back,” I said, turning and fleeing the room before I said something else moronic. Jesus. Lose the cock? What does that even mean? I wasn't even looking at his cock. I mean there is a bump there, but you can't blame me for that. I even sound stupid in my head.
Back on the sales floor I went over to our underwear displays and started looking through the trunk-style boxer-briefs. I was thinking about colors that would contrast well with Caleb's pale skin – solid colors like a deep red, jet black and a midnight blue came to mind. I paused, my hand hovering over a green pair that seemed very close to the shade of his eyes. Well, if his someone special sees him in those, how could they resist?
I was idly wondering who the girl was that Caleb was into when two guys came into the store, sort-of arguing.
“The prices are lower, so I get to buy you more.”
“No,” came the acid reply. “It doesn't. You ruin one shirt, you get to replace one shirt. And by the way, I'm noting you're getting rid of shirts I like in favor of ones you like – this doesn't seem spontaneous at all.”
“I like that shirt on you,” the other said and snickered. “But I like it off you better.”
I looked at them with interest. They were close in height. Though the blond with the damn electric blue eyes I missed out on was more of an average build with looser clothing, his companion was wearing more form-fitting clothes, and his dark hair was styled nicely.
“Jon. Stop. Put that back!” The blond demanded of the dark haired guy – Jon. I moved closer to them to look at the pants. Jeans are all purpose, but I was looking at the softer cloth of the chinos we carry. They are a bit stretchy and so very comfortable and soft against skin.
“Jake,” Jon said, his tone one of warning.
“Give my wallet back.”
“Come and get it.”
The door banged open and they were both gone, Jon chasing Jake and I looked at Nicole, who'd caught the exchange as well. We grinned and started to laugh. She walked over to me and lowered her voice.
“What are the details on that guy with you?”
I grinned. “His name is Caleb. As I said, I get to make him over. He wants some pretty girls to notice him, so swoon over him a little when I bring him back out, okay? Oh,” I said hurriedly, “but he needs a haircut. Don't be nice about his hair.”
“Right, nothing nice about the hair. What about the rest of him?”
I grinned wider and leaned forward. “He's actually pretty goddamn attractive under all those sweat clothes he's so fond of.”
“Hey, sweat-pant season is a thing, and this girl looks forward to it every year,” she said, fanning herself.
A small voice carried across the room. “Hunter? Are you coming back? Is this some kind of joke?”
I sang out, while grinning at Nicole. “Noooooo. I'm shopping for you, and I'm being picky.”
“He's way more than picky,” Nicole said loudly. “He's obsessive.”
I whispered, “If you'd seen him back there practically naked, you might be obsessed too.”
“You're so bad!” She laughed.
I slipped two pairs of our chinos over my arm – one black and one a vanilla that was sort-of-white but not really. They both should look good on him and let the world see his ass, which I admit I was curious about now. I wandered over to the different tops we had on display and picked a light green undershirt and a pale blue button up to leave open over it to pair with the dark pants. For the vanilla pants I grabbed a pale yellow undershirt with a salmon button up. He was going to look like he should be on the table and spread for eating.
I mean...he'd look good. Not like, naked on the table for that kind of eating. Of course, now the idea was in my head, so...yeah. It's a good thing I don't hang out with that many guys – I'd be a damned mess. One stop to get a pack of socks that were a knock off of the Nike Elites, but for Pottery Barn-type people rather than teenage wanna-be athletes. They were super comfortable, quite thick on the heel with a band that claimed to support the arch – I call bullshit – and they'd be worlds better than those...things he'd been wearing. They had looked like the things you get at a store that sold defects.