“Now that I think about it, you don’t see very many people doing this in November,” I say, rubbing my hands together. I take a sip of my hot chocolate and adjust my scarf.
“Whatever. It’s a gorgeous day.” Esau says. He looks perfectly comfortable in his T-shirt, even if he has muscled up a bit in the chest since it probably fit him just right.
He’s right: for November, it is a gorgeous day. Blue sky and sunshine, the leaves skittering across the sidewalk glittering gold and red. But the sunshine is thin, the blue sky is brittle. It’s a gorgeous day for a hike or a bike ride, anything that gets the blood flowing more than standing around pretending to know how to paint.
The botanic gardens are not at their most lush this time of year. Nothing’s green, nothing’s pink; nothing’s blooming or bursting, nothing’s full or fecund. But we both live close—me just a couple blocks to the east, him a mile or so south—and with my membership, we can rove the grounds anytime we want for nothing.
The painting was his idea. “You know how people do. We should set up easels, paint the flowers.”
“What flowers? It’s November.”
“Paint the koi, then. Branches? Come on, it’ll be fun. There’s beauty in every season.”
“Is that a crack about my age?”
“Oh phew, that was a close one. For a minute there I thought we were going to have to endure an entire conversation without obsessing over age. Nice save.”
“You’re not exactly November, babe, I hate to break it to you. Mid-September, maybe, and September’s always gorgeous.”
When Drew Schilling wakes up with a world-class hangover, he’s not especially proud of himself. He’s almost forty-five years old—really, by now he should know better. He certainly knows better than to bring home a hook-up like Esau Wallenberg. His friendly face, his super-hero physique—charming qualities that appeal to Drew, naturally. In a guy old enough to rent a car. This kid’s barely eighteen. Once they’re out of bed, Drew just wants to send Esau home and forget the whole mortifying incident.
But Esau thinks he’s in love. He’s even talking marriage, but what the heck do we know when we’re eighteen? The kid’s got his whole life ahead of him. And Drew’s got some life left ahead of him, too, thank you very much.
He just needs to figure out a way to undo a huge mistake so he doesn’t have to live it without Esau.