A Short Conversation
by Sloan Parker
The following conversation between Sloan and Matthew takes place after MORE THAN MOST (More Book 2). Slight spoiler alert for MORE THAN MOST.
I rang the bell, and a short moment later the door flew open. Matthew’s eyes lit up the moment he saw me. “I’m so glad you called. I’ve been waiting forever to talk to you.”
I returned his smile. “Yeah, me too.”
“Come on in.” He stepped aside and gestured for me to enter, moving with an animated excitement I found contagious. “The guys should be home soon. I know they’d love to see you.”
“That’d be great, but I’m afraid I can only stay for a minute.”
“Oh, okay.” Despite his words, his tone demonstrated he wasn’t too disappointed that we'd be alone. Maybe he didn’t just want to talk to me. Maybe he needed to. “Let’s go in the living room.” He laughed as he pointed down the hall. “I guess you know the way.”
I laughed with him. “Yeah, I do.”
We settled ourselves on the couch, and he turned to face me, pulling one leg up onto the cushion between us. I matched the pose and didn’t bother getting out a pen and paper. With him, taking notes would’ve felt wrong. It was more like we were two old friends catching up.
Although he did seem slightly nervous, and that bothered me. But it didn’t diminish the smile he couldn’t seem to contain. He was wearing skinny jeans, a black T-shirt with gray lettering that read Keep Calm and Rock On, and white athletic socks that were too big for his feet and hung off the ends of his toes. Richard’s socks? I didn’t ask.
“You seem happy,” I said.
He nodded. Then he dipped his head and folded and unfolded the bottom edge of one pant leg on his jeans.
He shrugged. “Richard said you’d probably know stuff I haven’t told anyone yet, stuff I haven’t even realized about myself.”
“I hope that doesn’t bother you.”
He met my stare, and the anxiety melted away. “Nah. I trust you.”
“Thanks.” I paused, for the first time, unsure if I could push him the way I did Richard and Luke. But we both needed me to. “I think you just don’t like that I know something you haven’t told them yet.”
He bit his lower lip and fiddled with his pants again. He whispered his next words like Richard and Luke were there with us and might hear him. “I guess.” Then his head shot up, his eyes wide. “It’s not something I’ve been keeping from them. It’s just… stuff I think I’m finally starting to understand.”
“I know.” I offered another smile. I hated that I’d upset him. I leaned forward and laid a hand over one of his. “I think you’re worrying too much. You just need to talk to them.”
He nodded and drew in a deep breath like that was easier said than done.
Just then a puppy came barreling into the room. She pressed both front paws against the couch and tried to scramble up the side without success. Matthew reached down and scooped her up.
When she was situated on his lap, I spoke again. “She’s even more adorable in person.”
He laughed as he stroked her head between her ears. “She’s a sweetheart.”
“So are you.”
He blushed, his gaze never leaving the dog.
I decided to offer him a reprieve. I sat back. “So, Matthew, if there was one thing you’d want readers to know about you, what would it be?”
He stared off toward the hall leading to the front door. “I don’t know… I guess…” Then he seemed to settle on something. He confidently met my stare. “That I love Richard and Luke.”
I smiled at him once more. “I think people get that.”
“Yeah?” He sighed. “Good.”
I shifted around and settled my right leg on the floor again. “Well, I don’t have a lot of questions yet. I just wanted to touch base, make sure you were okay with what was going to happen next.”
He cocked his head to the side and studied me with curiosity.
I hesitated, searching for the right words. “There are still a few things you have to work through, Matthew.” I waited again in case he had anything he wanted to ask. When he didn’t say more, I stood. It was probably a good idea for him to think through what I might’ve meant and what he was feeling about it before we talked more. “I better get going.”
He stayed seated and watched me with wide dark eyes. “But…”
“I’m doing fine. More than fine.” He stared down at the puppy again. “Aren’t I?” The insecurity in those two words broke my heart.
“You are, but…” I was having a hard time offering more.
He lifted his head and searched my eyes. Then he looked to the hall again like he could see Luke and Richard standing there, or was thinking through what I’d said. With a deep breath, he sat taller, the tension fading away. He nodded. “Yeah. Okay.” He set the puppy on the couch beside him and got up. “I guess that means we’ll be talking more soon.”
“I hope that’s okay.”
He threw me another one of those killer grins. “I
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