“Okay, you’re all set. That was the last of it.” I pulled Caleb into a hug and kissed his temple.
Caleb dug the toe of his tennis shoe into the dirt at the base of the giant oak tree in the backyard. He sucked his lower lip between his teeth and worried at it. Reaching up, I tugged it loose with my thumb. “Your Daddy will kill me if you go back to the truck with a torn-apart lip.” With my other hand, I swatted at his thigh. “Do not get your new shoes dirty. Travis will never let you come back over here if you keep that up!” Even I had to admit the white sneakers with dinosaurs printed on them were adorable.
Part of me already missed Caleb living here. He’d moved in next door when we were ten, and we’d spent nearly every day together. He’d basically moved into my parents’ house when we were sixteen and we’d lived together or right next door to one another since. Then again, Caleb had hardly been at his place since he’d started seeing Travis, so not a lot would change with him moving. We’d still see each other at work, spend time together on the weekends, and have dinner at least once a week.
“Are you going to be okay?” Caleb looked so lost, his hazel eyes sad as a puppy’s.
My heart hurt for him but I forced a smile. “Of course I will, Cal. You’re in good hands. You’ve earned this, and you really should have moved in there two months ago.” I rolled my eyes playfully at him. “Cal, your Daddy loves you so much. It’s your time to fly, baby bird.”
And it was my turn to stretch my wings. Caleb and I had always been open about his little side. Okay, maybe I’d pushed just a little bit in the beginning, but it had been for Caleb’s benefit. He needed to get it out in the open, and I always made sure to drive him just insane enough that he wouldn’t take himself too seriously. It was a hard job, but someone had to do it. And I’d been damn good at my job.
I hugged him tighter, pressing featherlight kisses on his temple. “It’s going to be fine. And you and Trav are perfect for one another. I’ve never seen you happier.”
Caleb sagged into my arms. “I know, Dex, I know. But you’re going to be here alone.”
My eyes struggled not to roll. I could see Travis hovering in the back door of Caleb’s old town house, and part of me wanted to have him come over and save the day. I think Travis and I both knew Caleb needed to work this out on his own. Travis was giving him that time, yet was ready to swoop in and hold him close if needed.
Shifting foot to foot, I started a gentle swaying motion, effectively rocking us back and forth. The motion calmed Caleb and his shoulders began to sag as stress left his body. “I really do love Daddy.”
The snort of laughter I let out couldn’t be helped. “Oh my god, I know you love Trav. That’s never been in question, Cal. That’s why you need to go with him and not worry. Best friends move away from one another every day. You’re barely twenty minutes from here. You aren’t moving to the other side of the country.”
Caleb drew in a breath and I could feel his resolve strengthening. Finally. I knew he’d get to this point. “You’re right. And I’ll see you tomorrow at work.”
“Like you could get rid of me that easily.”
When Caleb laughed and pushed at my shoulder, Travis finally stepped forward. “Will you come to dinner at our place next weekend?”
I hadn’t spent much time at Travis’s house since Caleb had been living there, but I found myself nodding. “Absolutely. Wouldn’t miss it.”
Knowing we had a set time to see each other outside of work seemed to lift Caleb’s spirits even more. “Okay, I guess we really should get going.” He leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Love you, Dex.”
I squeezed his hand. “Love you too, Cal.”
Watching the two lock up the town house for the final time was more emotional than it should have been, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t choke down a few tears as they pulled out of the parking lot. My own home had a different feel to it, knowing Caleb wasn’t right next door to me.
I stepped into my house, shutting the door behind me and leaning against it. The air conditioning had made the metal cool against my back, and even through my cotton shirt, I felt the satin of the camisole I’d slipped on that morning slide against my back.
Caleb was well on his way to having himself figured out, but I had a lot to learn about myself. More than I’d ever realized.