Confusion is another relatively short prequel to Turning His Life Around that features Kenji (YAY! Kenji is my favorite! -Mr. Grace) and Ian primarily and helps establish more of their prior relationship after Kenji left to join the military.
Find the previous chapters below:
It took everything Kenji had in him to keep from holding his breath. Considering the blood had just drained completely from his face, he had no doubt he’d pass out if he didn’t remember to breathe.
“Uh… shit. He didn’t ask yet.” Kane paused and cleared his throat. “My fuckin’ mouth,” he muttered and sighed. “He was going to ask you to be his boyfriend. I thought he did last night when he went to get you, ‘swhy I thought you were as mushy as you were just now…” Kane looked helplessly from Ian to Kenji and back again. “Uh, I’ll just… grab some boxers and leave you two alone…”
“You’ll stay right there,” Ian said, firmly, eyes still locked to Kenji and Kane stopped dead in his tracks.
Kenji glanced at Kane then back to Ian. “Uh… Well, I… Um…” he stammered, sending another look at Kane.
Kane sighed. “He likes you—whether he’ll admit it or not—and he made a comment last night that he’d like to know he’s got someone at home he can call his, though I know that’s only a small part of it.”
Kenji’s eyes narrowed at Kane, who did gulp audibly then he looked back at Ian and forced himself to nod. “I was going to ask you, but I was going to wait for a little while before I did. ‘Til… I dunno, just… ‘til I figured out a better time to ask.” He swallowed his nervousness and forced himself to meet the brown eyes.
They softened on him and Ian stepped closer. “I thought… I thought you and Kane would get back together.”
Kenji managed to chuckle a little and shook his head. “He says you’re better boyfriend material. And look… I wouldn’t expect you two to not do stuff or anything like that. That wouldn’t be fair. But I… do… like you and it would be nice to know that I’ve got someone—you—here who thinks about me.” By the time he finished, his voice had gone quiet.
Ian glanced at Kane, the look obviously promising retribution, then back to Kenji. He bit his lip, swallowed then, to Kenji’s relief, nodded. “Okay. You know I care about you, Kenji. I don’t know that I could say I love you… yet… or anything but… I do care and I’ll be happy to be that for you.”
Kenji blinked down at Ian a moment, shocked. “You… will? You’ll be my boyfriend?” Ian nodded the tension drained out of Kenji. He grabbed Ian up into his arms and caught his lips in a fierce kiss. When Kenji pulled back, Ian was grinning. “Thank you. You’ve… made me very happy.”
The grin widened. “You’ve made me happy, too.” He paused to drop another light kiss on Kenji’s lips. “We’ll… talk more about it later, okay? I can smell pancakes.”
Kenji nodded and dropped another kiss on Ian—this time on the end of the nose; then the three of them turned to dress quickly. As they stepped out of the bedroom, Ian took Kenji’s hand and he glanced down into the brown eyes focused on him. He lifted the hand in his and dropped a kiss on it. “Thank you,” he said again and Ian leaned up, giving him a soft kiss on his lips.
“Don’t. I want to. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to really love again, Kenji, but… if I’m going to love anyone, it’ll be you,” he replied and Kenji couldn’t resist pulling Ian into his arms again. Kane, stuck behind them in the hall, sighed.
“Hungry here. Can we get to the pancakes?” he asked, but there was humor tinging his voice. Kenji looked over at Kane and grinned then turned a thoughtful look at Ian.
“Hmm. Does this mean we don’t kiss him anymore?” he asked and Ian, picking up the teasing pursed his lips.
“I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t… if he’s going to be like this.”
Kenji nodded and they both laughed when Kane protested with a, “HEY! I wouldn’t have suggested this if it meant I didn’t get anything.”
“Please,” Ian said, shaking his head. “I think you know better. Come on, Mom’s going to be impatient.” Turning, hand once more in Kenji’s, they headed for the kitchen, a grumbling Kane behind them.
“Kenji!” Mrs. Kelly shouted as soon as they got to the doorway. He had to let go of Ian’s hand because he had two arms full of his… boyfriend’s mom. He chuckled as he hugged her and she nearly squeezed him in two. She tightened her arms once more then stepped back. Looking him over, she clicked her tongue. “Your gorgeous hair…” she said, shaking her head, then sighed. “Ah, well. I’m glad to see you! Sit down, pancakes are ready. No, wait, wash your hands.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Kenji said, grinning.
“Mom. Stop that ma’am crap, you make me feel old. Ian, plates. Kane, silverware and when you’re done washing up, Kenji, you can get the glasses and coffee cups.” She turned back to the stove and Kenji, grin wide, met Ian and Kane’s equally amused looks.
They busied themselves with her orders, then settled in with breakfast. “So! Tell me about training! Wait, wait, when do you have to go home?” Mom asked.
Kenji frowned. “I don’t know. When I talked to Mom, she was with my sister and didn’t know when she’d be home. She hadn’t been expecting me and with the new baby my sister had, she’s been staying there to help.”
“Aww, that’s too bad. What about your dad?” she asked, turning to pour coffee for everyone.
“Well, uh, I won’t be seeing him,” Kenji said, staring at his plate.
“Why not?” Mom asked, blinking.
“He, well… he doesn’t want to see me,” Kenji managed, swallowing around the lump in his throat. He glanced at Ian and gave quiet thanks when his boyfriend put pancakes on his plate for him then fumbled with the butter.
“Why ever not? That’s ridiculous!” Mom asked, sounding outraged.
“Well—” Kenji started, then paused and set the butter knife down. He took a deep breath and looked up. “He doesn’t agree with my… ‘choices’ as he put them in, uh, my love life.”
Mom blinked at him for a long moment. “Well, he’s a damned fool and that’s his loss. Sounds like you’re better off not seeing him. I’d be thrilled if you stayed here until you have to go back.” She busied herself with her own pancakes but all three men could see her lips tightened in anger. If that anger was aimed at either Ian or Kane, they would have been terrified. Kenji had heard about it often enough.
She set her own knife down with very precise movements and picked up her fork, then glanced around when the boys didn’t move. Setting the fork back down, she cleared her throat. “Fool. Plain and simple. You don’t choose it. And he doesn’t deserve to have you in his life if he’s going to be like that. I’m sorry that it went that way, but know that I will never judge you. I love you like one of my own sons.” She reached out and patted his cheek. “Now. Eat before they get cold.”
All three of them echoed, “Yes, Mom,” then scrambled for their utensils and dug into their food.