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Mack and Enzo are roommates and nothing more. While sharing the same apartment, they live separate lives. Enzo is sweet but painfully shy. Mack is gruff and kind of intimidating. He's had a hard life and doesn't let his guard down easily.Now Mack is anticipating a lonely Thanksgiving dinner, but Enzo won't let that happen. When he hears that Mack is going to be all alone for Thanksgiving, he gets up the courage to make him an offer. But things don't go as planned in more ways than one.With the best of intentions, Enzo has woken up something in Mack that he might not be ready for. Can Mack stop hiding and holding back? When Enzo asks for too much from him, can he say yes anyway?
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Pizza for Thanksgiving (Gay Romance)
By Trina Solet
Copyright © 2015 by Trina Solet
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locales or actual events is entirely coincidental.
All sexual activity takes place between persons eighteen years of age or older.
This novel contains material intended for mature readers.
Cover image is only for illustrative purposes. Any person depicted is a model.
Enzo was one floor down from his apartment. That's where he stopped to sift through the mail. His and Mack's mail arrived all mixed up. Mack was his roommate, but other than handing over their share of junk mail, they didn't have much to do with each other.
As he started walking up the stairs, Enzo heard Mack's gruff voice. "This is nothing new to me. I'm used to it," he said. He must have been in front of the apartment door, talking to someone.
"But Thanksgiving alone. Come on, man, that's some depressing shit."
Enzo recognized the other voice too. It was Mack's friend, Dave. "You don't need to get all lone wolf, tough guy about it. You can come home with me. I'm taking Kate to meet my family. What's one more? You can pitch in for gas. Maybe drive while I make out with Kate in the back."
There was a short silence before Mack said, "Damn, you make it sound appealing. Stuck in the same car with Kate, for what? Five hours?"
"More like six."
"No, thank you."
"She isn't that bad," Dave claimed.
"She hates me."
"A six hour ride will give you a chance to get to know each other."
"Let me upgrade that 'No, thank you' to 'No way in hell,'" Mack told him.
"OK. But this is why I told you to get a girlfriend. They are good for some things, you know. And if you got one that cooks, you could also have yourself a home cooked meal." Dave laughed at his own little joke but Mack didn't. Extra points for him.
"Yeah, whatever. I'll just order a pizza."
"You're breaking my heart," Dave said. "OK then. Be stubborn. I'll see you later, man."
Once the two of them went silent, Enzo hurried up the stairs. He didn't want to get caught lingering and eavesdropping. He passed Dave as he came down.
"Hey, Mack's roomie," Dave greeted him. Enzo was pretty sure he didn't know his name. Guys like him never did.
Dave was popular and tall, always ready with a devilish grin for any girl. Mack was the opposite. He hardly ever cracked a smile.
Arriving on their floor, Enzo got to take in the sight of Mack in the doorway of their apartment. He had close-cropped, dark hair and stormy, blue eyes, not to mention a great body. He was an incredibly good looking guy but seriously standoffish. The way he always held himself, like he was ready for a fight, made for an ultra-masculine attitude. Enzo had no complaints. Maybe one. Mack's clothes were a little looser on him than Enzo would have liked. It was almost like he was trying to hide his obviously gorgeous body.
"Hey," Mack said to him and reached out for one of the two thin stacks of mail Enzo was holding.
Their fingers touched only briefly, but long enough for Enzo to have to hold his breath as he waited for the zap of electricity to pass through him. That didn't mean he had a thing for Mack or anything. He just couldn’t help how his body reacted when he came into actual physical contact with a guy that hot.
Mack went into the apartment ahead of him. He only flipped through the mail to make sure it really was all junk mail. He dumped most of it in the kitchen trash just as Enzo was about to do.
Opening the fridge, Mack grabbed a bottle of water. Watching Mack drinking, his throat working, reminded Enzo that he was very, very thirsty. He went and got a bottle for himself.
As an idea started to nag at him, Enzo glanced at his reflection on the side of the toaster. He resisted the urge to push his hair back. Since he left home, he had let his hair grow long in front so that sometimes he had to brush it out of his eyes. His friend Alan called that his flirty flip, but it wasn't. He just had to get his hair out of his face. Or maybe it was just a nervous habit. Either way, it wasn't flirty.
Enzo leaned his back against the fridge, and spied on Mack out of the corner of his eye. He was busy doing something on his phone and didn't notice that Enzo was scrutinizing him. Just as well. He wouldn't have liked that.
Mack wasn't a friendly guy, but he was an OK roommate. Most days, they hardly said two words to each other. One time Enzo did get Mack's laundry out of the dryer because the girl who lived across the hall threatened to dump it on the floor. Some of Mack's boxers were in there, but Enzo tried his best not to fondle them.
It was totally crazy that he was thinking of asking Mack if he wanted to spend Thanksgiving with him. The way things stood between them, it was going to come out of the blue. There was no way he was going to say yes. Enzo could already hear Mack's gruff voice as he shot him down.
Why should he though? Sure, they didn't have anything in common. But they didn't need to just to eat some turkey together. He just had to make the invitation sound low key. He didn't want Mack thinking he was hitting on him or something.
Actually he wasn't even sure if Mack knew he was gay. So far Enzo was gay mostly in his heart. He didn't get a chance to put it into much practice yet. Being paralyzingly shy didn't exactly help him get his love life in gear.
Hell, he could hardly bring himself to ask a straight guy to a casual Thanksgiving dinner. If he did this though, if he asked someone kind of scary like Mack to have dinner with him, it would be a huge step forward for him. He would be all set to ask a gay guy on a date. Or just for coffee. Or at least it might help him to think of maybe talking to a guy.
OK, that's how he was going to think of it, as practice. One thing was for sure, none of the guys he was likely to ask out were going to be this intimidating. As Enzo fidgeted in the kitchen, trying to get his courage up, he couldn't believe he was going to be breaking out of his shell to ask a straight guy to dinner. Mack was so reserved, Enzo didn't even know how to approach him.
Seeing that Mack was about to go to his bedroom, Enzo stopped him with some stammering. "Um, if... I mean... About Thanksgiving."
Mack turned to him with a frown. "What about it?" He already sounded surly. Not a good start.
"I wasn't eavesdropping," Enzo said defensively. "But I heard you talking to Dave about spending Thanksgiving by yourself. I'm not going home for Thanksgiving either. All my friends are though. Um. I can get us a turkey. I don't mind cooking if you don't have anywhere to go." Enzo made the offer clumsily, grasping for the right words. That was all wrong. It was supposed to be thrown out casually like a "why not" kind of deal. He was so going to crash and burn.
"I'm not hard up, you know," Mack snapped at him. "Whatever you overheard, you overheard wrong. I'm not some kind of charity case."
Enzo drew back from his harsh tone. Damn, he totally fucked that up. Good thing Mack wasn't someone he wanted to date. Now all that was left was for him to try and apologize.
"I didn't mean anything like that. It was just an idea. No big deal. Sorry if I..."
Mack cut him off, "Never mind. I'm sure you meant well. It's fine." Like everyone in the history of ever, he said "it's fine" with an edge to his voice that clearly said that it was not fine.
As Mack walked away, Enzo wondered if he had screwed up more than just the invitation. What if he screwed up this whole peaceful coexistence the two of them had going. Mack was a guy who valued his privacy. Now he was going to think Enzo was some kind of busybody.
But maybe it was something else that made him say no. Maybe Mack did know he was gay, and he thought Enzo was hitting on him. Well he wasn't going to apologize for being gay, but he did wish he had just kept his mouth shut.
Now that his gesture had flopped so badly, all that was left was to call Miranda so she could commiserate with him. Too bad she was busy. She texted that she would call him back later. He wished he could call Nai Lin, but she was in class.
Enzo took a deep breath and called Alan. He didn't call him first because he wanted a sympathetic ear, not to get yelled at.
"How dare you waste that tiny spark of courage on a straight guy?" Yup, he was getting yelled at. "If you're going to ask a guy to dinner, he should be a hundred percent certified gay or bi. Straight guys are only good for looking at and jerking off to."
"I was being nice," Enzo told him.
"Nice is all well and good. Just don't waste it on a straight guy."
"You're starting to sound heterophobic."
"There's no such thing. Yet," Alan told him. "You're going out with me tonight and you're picking up a guy. If you can hit on a straight guy, you can damn well hit on a gay guy."
"I wasn't hitting on him," Enzo said defensively.
"I've seen your roommate. You were hitting. No excuses. Be ready at nine."
As Enzo hung up, he wondered what he had been thinking. Every decision he made today was crazy from his invitation to Mack to calling Alan. But he really wasn't hitting on Mack, not even subconsciously. Turkey day is the least sexy of all the holidays, and it was getting less sexy by the minute.
After Enzo ambushed him with that invitation, Mack didn't know what to think. Once he got over his embarrassment and anger for being pitied, he moved on to kicking himself for his outburst.
He didn't have time to dwell on being a jerk though. His job at the party supply store kept him busy these days. Because of all the extra business, the place was open late around holiday time. That was good news for Mack. Longer hours meant more money. He had a scholarship to cover tuition, but he had living expenses to think of, including half the rent.
Mack remembered seeing that little apartment for the first time. He looked up at a brownish gray building that only looked worse as the trees around it lost their leaves. Then it was up to the drab, cramped, depressing, two bedroom apartment. The place looked like an old lady might have lived and died there. Every single thing in there was decades old. Yeah, Mack could picture himself living there. In fact he couldn't picture himself living anywhere nicer.
But when Enzo moved in, the place somehow seemed more cheerful. Enzo didn't do any redecorating. It was all the same used and abused furniture in shades of brown. He did fill that one rickety shelf with books. Mack had already borrowed a few though he wasn't much of a reader if it wasn't required for school.
Mack had never been much of a student either, but he made sure his grades were good enough for a scholarship. It was a big help, but he still had to work to support himself. Enzo had a job too. And Mack had seen him clipping coupons, fitting in with that whole old lady vibe. Mack wouldn't stoop to that, but he could tell that they both lived on the cheap.
They had a few things in common, but they were just too different where it counted. Enzo was shy with apprehensive eyes when he was around Mack. But around his friends, Enzo had a quick, bright smile like the sun breaking through the clouds.
He certainly wasn't smiling earlier. Whenever Mack had a free moment, Enzo's disappointment came back to him to make him feel guilty. The brightness in his hazel eyes dimmed. His smile disappeared. All because Mack was a dick to him.
Why the hell was he obsessing about that? He gave Enzo the only answer he could give him. He had nothing to feel bad about, but what happened at the apartment still bugged him. The bad feeling dogged him even as he finished work.
At closing time, it was already dark. He stepped out onto the sidewalk and felt the chill of the evening air. Zipping up his jacket, he walked home.
He dreaded facing Enzo when he got to the apartment. That's why he decided to take a detour. Dave and his buddies liked to hang out at Tripp's. Dave had texted him to come and join them. They were too loud and laughed at all the wrong crap, but if he was going to be a coward about facing Enzo, he deserved the punishment of hanging out with them.
Maybe he even deserved what happened when he turned the corner on 7th Avenue. His plan backfired. He was trying to avoid Enzo, and he ended up face to face with him. They had come within inches of colliding with each other. Drawing back from Mack just like he had earlier today, Enzo stammered another apology.
Mack frowned. He was the one who turned the corner without looking. "No. It was my fault," he said, but even to his own ears, his tone didn't sound right for an apology.
"Damn right it was."
Hearing that, Mack turned to the guy who was right next to Enzo. Until he spoke, Mack didn't even notice him. How was that possible? He couldn't have been staring into Enzo's pretty eyes that hard.
The guy next to Enzo had spiked hair and pierced eyebrows, and he even had his arm draped over Enzo's slim shoulders. But standing next to Enzo, he was invisible to Mack. Now that he looked at him, he did recognize him as Enzo's bossy, loudmouthed friend who sometimes dropped by the apartment.
The guy had more to say to Mack, but Enzo shushed his friend, who only shrugged. As Mack stood there, not sure what he should say or do, Enzo smiled at him sheepishly.
"See you later, I guess," he said as he led his friend away before he could speak his mind and maybe tell Mack off the way he deserved.
Standing on the corner, Mack looked after them and saw Enzo's friend tighten his hold around his neck and pull him down almost into a choke hold. He heard Enzo protest then laugh as his friend messed up his hair. Seeing them like that, Mack wondered if they might be more than friends. He felt an unexpectedly strong pang of jealousy.
He didn't take his eyes off them until they went around the next corner. Once they were out of sight, Mack didn't know which way to go. There wasn't any reason to continue on to Tripp's. But he felt like there was no reason to go home either. All of a sudden, it seemed pointless and lonely to go back to the apartment if Enzo wasn't going to be there.
The days were getting shorter, the nights colder. Mack couldn't remember the last time he got up in the morning to daylight. Too many cloudy days weren't making things any more cheerful either. A Thanksgiving spent alone was just more of the same. Then suddenly there was Enzo with his invitation. At first he had been nervous, his eyes shining with a spark of hope, then crestfallen as Mack said no.
As Mack woke up to the gloom of an autumn morning, he thought of his face. That face was always meant to be cheerful. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, and maybe the image of Enzo as well, Mack got up with a groan.
He shuffled out of his bedroom and toward the kitchen. Groggy, the sound of the alarm still fresh in his ears, he wouldn't be really awake until he had his coffee. He was only a few steps into the living room when he saw Enzo. Or more like, he saw the back of him as he disappeared into his bedroom on the opposite side of the apartment.
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