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The next two weeks were crazy with work, Aidan, and finals looming. Even though he was as busy as ever, he found himself spending more time with Seamus. It started when Aidan had a bad day. Matt offered Seamus his apartment key so Aidan could be at home and settle. When he got home, Seamus had dinner going. It kind of progressed from there. School, work, Aidan, finals, and Seamus.

When school finished for break, Seamus filled the free time. The only time he didn’t see Seamus was a few days around Christmas when Matt stayed with his dad. Seamus even made it possible for Matt to have a personal life, to hang out with his friends outside of work and school.

Matt missed that the most, the freedom of doing what he wanted, when he wanted. Eating lunch with his two best friends at a restaurant where they didn’t work was as good as it was going to get for a while.

“The big question is—what the fuck are we doing for our birthday weekend?” Kase asked.

“There’s a million bars. We could do a bar crawl or something?” Hilary offered. Of the three she was the least into it. She enjoyed parties but didn’t like planning her life around being hungover.

“What about Purple Canary?” Matt asked.

“Yeah,” Kase scoffed. “You buying?”

Matt knew Purple Canary was a little on the high end but had underestimated just how much. The cover alone was insane.

“It would be dope,” Hilary rested her chin on her fist and ate a fry. “I’ve heard it’s legit. Not like those crazy clubs where everyone is standing on each other. Nah, this place is classy. Famous people go there when they’re in town.”

“Yeah right,” Kase eyed her like she was insane.

“They do. I’m not saying famous people are there all the time but I know for a fact Shae Bennett was there six month ago.”

“We could just ask Seamus,” Matt said.

“What does Mr. Ryan have to do with anything?” Kase questioned.

Matt was confused, he thought everyone knew Seamus owned the club. The only reason he hadn’t known was because he’d only just been in town for a few months. Kase and Hilary had been around for years.

“Because he owns it?”

His friends straightened in their seats. “Mr. Ryan owns the Purple Canary? Holy shitballs. You gotta get us in.”

“What? Me?”

“Yeah,” Kase nodded quickly. “You guys are like, married or whatever. He’ll say yes to you.”

“What? We’re not married.”

“Okay, co-parenting.” Hilary looked at Kase like there was some super secret inside joke.

“You guys are being ridiculous. I’m not going to ask him.”

“You literally just said ‘we could just ask Seamus’.”

“Yes. We could ask Seamus. Together.”

Neither Hilary or Kase pressed the issue until two days later they were all working.

Seamus came out with Aidan to get an afternoon drink. It wasn’t crazy busy so Matt took a second to see his brother. He was getting so big. It seemed like overnight he was practically sitting up on his own. Matt put his hands out and watched as Aidan brightened and leaned toward him.

Seamus rolled his eyes but as soon as he was settled on Matt’s hip, Seamus leaned in. “C’mere,” he held his hands out like Matt had just done. Aidan, who’d just wanted Matt more than anyone else in the world suddenly reached for Seamus.

This was a new war they fought, watching with humor as Aidan went back and forth between the two.

The next time Matt had hold of him, he walked away before Seamus had a chance to steal him back. He could hear Seamus grumble “cheater” but when Matt turned to give him the stink eye, he was smiling.

“Would you mind making me an ice breve?” Seamus asked Hilary. “Small.”

“Absolutely.” Hilary looked between Kase and Matt as she grabbed the cup. “Anyway,” she said casually as if she was picking up where she’d left off. “We need to figure out what we’re doing for our twenty-first birthdays. It’s a monumental event and I bought a new dress. I was thinking of someplace nice. I don’t want to hit the crappy bars on the east side. I want to go big, ya know. Hmm,” she hummed oh so thoughtfully. “Any ideas?”

Matt was glad his back was to Seamus so he could glare at Hilary for being totally and completely not smooth. Kase, however, thought it was genius.

“I second somewhere nice. I want to drink an Old Fashion that’s lit on fire.”

“I don’t know,” Matt smirked. “Isn’t getting drunk at dive bars on your first legal drink day a rite of passage?”

Hilary glanced at Seamus, who wasn’t paying attention, then quickly glared at Matt. “Not the kind of passage I want,” she bit out. “I want to dress up and Kase wants his drink on fire. Is that so much to ask?”

Seamus came over and waited for his drink. “I was gonna take Aidan home so he could practice rolling over. Are you good or do you want me to pick you up after work?”

“I’ll meet you there.”

“We were gonna stay a few minutes late,” Hilary added. “Our birthdays are in three weeks. The big two-one, so we gotta plan something epic.”

“All three of you have the same birthday?”

“Yeah. bahis siteleri Kase and I share the same birthday and Matt’s is the day before.”

“Older and wiser,” Matt said, earning himself playful digs from his friends.

“Cool.” Seamus took a sip of his drink. “Take your time.”

Hilary, not at all detoured by Seamus’ lack of interest in their big birthday, pressed on. “Any recommendations? I want to dress up and Kase wants his drink something that’s on fire.”

Seamus looked at Matt. “What do you want?”

It was the perfect opportunity to ask Seamus about Purple Canary. He could slyly mention wanting to do something nice, then casually say “oh, hey, what about Purple Canary. Any chance you could hook us up?” but Matt thought the power was better used to annoy his friends.

“I thought bar hopping at some dives would be fun.”

Yep, if looks could kill—

“Do you need someone to watch this little guy?” Seamus said more to Aidan than Matt.

Matt leaned close to Aidan and took his little baby hand. “Nah,” he said in a ridiculous baby voice. “Grandpa had dibs so Matt can be as irresponsible as he wants.”

His baby impersonation had earned Matt a smile. “I’ll see you at home when you get off.”

Matt could feel eye daggers slicing his back to shreds as he watched the two walk away. When he finally turned around, his friends looked sweet. Too sweet. It was the thing nightmares were made of.

“You will fix this or we will fix you.” They simultaneously turned their backs to him. They ignored him for the rest of the shift. Even when he tried to say bye, they looked at him then dramatically turned away, making him laugh.

****

“We need to talk,” Matt said as he walked through the front door. Seamus was laying on his back while Aidan practiced the baby yoga on stomach. Seamus put Aidan on the floor and sat up.

“I messed up the other day. We were talking about options for our party and I mentioned that you owned Purple Canary. They went crazy.”

“Is that why they were being weird today?”

“Yes.”

“And they want me to get you guys in?”

“Well, yeah,” he frowned.

“Is this what you want to do for your birthday?”

“It could be fun.”

“Okay, I’ll get you a table, drinks. Ten people, max. Dress code enforced.”

“Just like that?”

“All you had to do was ask.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He sat down on the floor and rubbed Aidan’s back. “You want to stay for a movie?”

“Sure.”

Matt enjoyed the peace of sitting on his living room floor with Seamus, watching Aidan be Aidan. It was a lot like watching a fire; boring but oddly satisfying and good for the soul.

“Mind if I shower? I stink from work,” Matt asked.

“Yeah. He’s about ready for another bottle. I’ll get it ready.”

“I can do it when I get out of the shower. You’ve done enough.”

Seamus gave him a thumbs up and went back to playing with Aidan. Matt excused himself and showered. He dressed down in a cotton shirt from high school and a pair of his favorite joggers. Matt looked at himself in the mirror. He was average size for his age; one hundred and sixty-two pounds though it had been a while since he stepped on a scale. He’d never look like Seamus, who clearly had a gym membership. Matt didn’t have abs or muscle bulk but he wasn’t overly soft either. The joggers fit his thighs and butt and his shirt clung to his flat-ish stomach in a not completely unflattering way. Average. He was completely average and totally okay with that.

“Are you kidding me?” Matt groaned when he saw Seamus on the couch feeding Aidan. “I specifically said—” he cupped his ear and waited for the answer.

“That you could do it, but so can I—so I did.”

The little guy was tired and his eyes were so heavy. A few more minutes and he’d be out. Matt sat on the couch next to Seamus. His head was practically on Seamus’ shoulder as he played with Aidan’s foot. Seamus smelled of day cologne. It was good and had a calming effect, no wonder Aidan drifted so quickly.

Seamus looked at Matt. “What do you want to watch?” His voice was soft as to not startle Aidan.

“I don’t care. We can watch a movie. I think there’s a few on Netflix.”

“Or we could keep watching NCIS.”

“Or we could keep watching NCIS,”

****

“You guys can stop ignoring me now,” Matt said. “Or I’ll have to tell Seamus to rescind his invitation for us and seven friends plus free drinks at Purple Canary.”

It was halfway through their shift and he had to give them props for their dedication to the shut out.

They froze and slowly turned around. Matt laughed as soon as he saw their faces, unbridled happiness with a splash of crazy eyes. Mostly Hilary. Kase tried to play it off more casually. It didn’t work.

“We’re going to Purple Canary,” they sang and danced. The tune was awkward as hell but he was happy to see them happy.

Hilary shimmied. “People are gonna flip when they find out.”

“That’s why we need to figure out who’s invited. We all have to agree on the list canlı bahis siteleri and if someone can’t make it we agree on the backups. When word gets out, we’re going to have a lot of best friends,” Kase reminded them.

Matt didn’t have a lot of friends so he decided to let them do the inviting. His two best friends were already going.

They were right about one thing. The second they invited the chosen few, everyone wanted in. Hilary and Kase thrived on that kind of attention. Matt didn’t. Thank God Seamus gave them limited numbers. Matt wasn’t sure how many fake conversations he could have.

He did get some good news, though. News he’d been waiting for. News that didn’t taste as good as he thought it would. Still, he put on his best smile, the one people had used when they tried to wrangle an invitation to Purple Canary.

“Founder’s Daycare called today. They have partial availability.”

Suddenly Seamus was interested in the zipper on his jacket. “I forgot you were waiting for them to call. Cool cool. When does he start?”

“They have Monday and Tuesday open but they close at four-thirty and I work until seven.”

Seamus looked up. “Oh, so it won’t work out?”

“I was going to see if you could pick him up? I understand if it’s too much. You’ve been watching him nonstop for a while now.”

“Yeah, no problem. I can do that. I’ll just bring him back here and we’ll wait for you to get off.”

“Are you sure? You can tell me no.”

“I’m sure.”

Matt looked at Aidan, who was sitting on Matt’s stomach, playing. “How much do we love Seamus?” Matt stretched Aidan’s hands into the air. “We love Seamus this much.”

Seamus chuckled then leaned over until his shoulder was pressed against Matt’s and gave Aidan a bunch of kisses. All the attention was too much. Aidan started laughing and kicking, accidentally pegging Matt in the face. Seamus grabbed the offending foot and nibbled his toes. Aidan laughed again, this time, he lost his balance and started to fall. Matt caught him and propped him back up.

“I never imagined my nights would be spent on a couch watching an almost six-month-old doing whatever almost six month olds do.”

“Same,” Seamus said as he continued playing with Aidan’s toes.

“Are you okay with this?” Matt asked. “I mean, you could be doing anything. I don’t want you to feel like you’re stuck hanging out with us.”

“Definitely not stuck. Can’t help that I fell in love,” Seamus growled like a dog and attacked Aidan’s foot again, making both Aidan and Matt laugh.

They played for a little while longer before getting Aidan ready for bed. As had become their routine, they turned on NCIS.

“Unpopular opinion,” Matt said. “Gibbs is a hypocritical asshole.”

Seamus leaned away, offended. “Come again? We’re talking about Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He’s the biggest badass on the show.”

“Is he?” Matt challenged. “He yells at his team members if they aren’t one-hundred-percent forthcoming about something, lecturing them about what it means to be a team player. Then, in the next breath, he does the thing he just demeaned them for. He does whatever he wants, doesn’t respect the Director, and he’s incredibly disrespectful to his team members. I actually can’t stand him.”

Seamus leaned back on the couch and watched the show as he took in what Matt was saying.

“Are you coming this weekend to the party?” Matt asked. “I wanted you to know you’re invited.”

“Oh? I’m invited to my own club? That’s incredibly generous of you.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “Okay, ass. You know what I mean.”

“I might be around the club.”

“But not hanging with us?”

Sheamus shrugged.

“Is it weird for you because we work for you?”

“Is it weird because they work for me? Yeah, a little.”

“They know we hangout.”

Seamus looked at Matt. “Was it a secret?”

“No. I just feel like you’re weird about it,” Matt cringed. Saying it outloud made it even worse. “Never mind.”

“Yes, Matt, I think it might be a little weird to hang out with three employees who are all a decade younger than me.”

“We hangout. I’m your employee and I’m a decade younger than you.”

“Yes, and I’m also your nanny. I guess we’re even. Now stop talking and watch TV.”

****

It was Matt’s birthday, the real one. School just started back up and he didn’t work Fridays so, yeah, it was a good day.

Aidan had woken up early. Matt made a bottle and brought Aidan in bed with him. It was his birthday; he could be lazy. Matt was scrolling on his phone and Aidan was playing with his empty bottle when there was a knock on the front door. It was barely eight-thirty. He was about to get up when he heard the door open. A few seconds later Seamus was standing at the bedroom door.

“Happy birthday.”

Aidan stopped playing with his bottle and started whining when he saw Seamus. Seamus smiled at his favorite little person. He sat on the edge of the bed and helped Aidan shimmy his way over. He was so patient and gentle.

“I bet you’re sorry canlı bahis he loves you so much,” Matt said as Seamus picked Aidan up and gave him hugs and kisses. Seamus didn’t look so sorry. Matt groaned. “You guys are the worst.”

Seamus settled Aidan on his lap. “I was thinking we could do brunch for your birthday. Alero’s has great Mimosas.”

“Brunch? It’s not even nine.”

“Brunch starts at ten. I figured you’d need time to get ready.”

They hung out for a bit then Seamus got Aidan ready while Matt got himself ready. Seamus was wearing nice jeans and a sweater so Matt used that as a guide.

Brunch was nice and lazy. The waitress didn’t even ask for his identification, so that was anticlimactic. When brunch was done, they walked around the nearby park. walking turned into errands, which turned into ice cream and before they knew it, it was four o’clock. Matt’s dad would be there soon so he could watch Aidan for the weekend.

“Join us for dinner?” Matt asked as he straightened his apartment while Seamus occupied Aidan in the bouncing chair.

“I don’t want to impose.”

Matt waved him off. “I’m pretty sure Dad would like to meet you and it’s my birthday and I want you to come.”

“Well, I can’t say no to the birthday boy.”

Matt stopped what he was doing and looked at his friend with his brow raised. “Does that mean you’re going to hang out with us tomorrow night?”

“Hilary and Kase don’t want their boss hanging out with them all night. They want to let loose and get drunk.”

“First, Denise is their boss. You’re just some terrifyingly intimidating guy who hangs out at the cafe holding a baby.”

“Terrifyingly intimidating?”

“Yes, and selfish. Don’t think I don’t see you still using the wrong door.”

“It’s quicker,” Seamus groaned.

“It’s irresponsible.”

Seamus turned to Aidan. “I only do it when I know Matt’s not in the kitchen. Yet, he still complains. I just can’t win.”

“Just for that, you’re letting me drive to dinner.”

“He’s so demanding, how do you live with him?” Seamus peaked behind Aidan and winked at Matt.

****

“We look like the guys from Miami Vice.” Matt looked at all four of them in the mirror. Purple Canary’s dress code was ‘jacket required’.

“Adam looks like he’s from Miami Vice. The rest of us look fucking classy as shit,” Kase corrected.

Adam, who wore chinos, a teal shirt, and a white blazer, smiled at himself in the mirror.

He was totally Miami Vice.

“Fucking classy as shit,” Matt laughed. “You can paint a turd but it still stinks.”

Kase flipped him off then went back to fussing over his hair. They took a couple group selfies that Matt was sure bordered on douchey but he was having too much fun to care.

Matt brushed and flossed but there wasn’t a whole lot he could do with his hair. Kase insisted otherwise and took a minute to style him up. He felt stupid but he didn’t look half bad.

“You frat guys really know how to clean up,” Matt said as he looked the group over.

“It’s what we do best.”

Hilary and Lainey showed up, dressed to the nines. Hilary was a low maintenance girl. She said she was too busy getting her MBA to worry about fashion. She was so naturally beautiful with flawless skin and curly brown hair that she hardly needed help. When she did try though, she knocked it out of the park.

The guys paid them respectable compliments. No doubt the girls had their pick tonight.

When Seamus arrived to chauffer them, Matt could hardly swallow. Now, Seamus was a good looking guy but damn did he clean up. Navy slacks with a navy/white checkered shirt, covered with a maroon sweater vest and a tweed jacket tied together with a green tie. It was a look only he could pull off, or maybe it was because he was a ginger and had their own set of rules. Whatever, it worked. He looked hot, hot, hot.

“How much trouble would I be in if I tried to seduce Mr. Ryan?” Hilary whispered as they walked arm in arm out of the house.

Matt smiled. “I’m wondering the same thing.”

Hilary elbowed him. “You had your chance. He’s been ripe for your picking for months. Time to move out of the way.”

Matt was going to offer her the front seat but she took it anyway. He shook his head and crawled into the very back with Lainey so the football players could have more leg room.

It was ten o’clock when they arrived. There was a line in the waiting lounge but a quick conversation with Seamus and the host was leading the group back. The place was amazing. Matt had never been in a Whiskey cellar but it was exactly what he imagined; old money, track betting, cigars. But it was also sleek and modern.

They were seated at a semi-circle leather couch that overlooked most of the bar.

“My name is Al and I’ll be your personal bartender this evening. Anything you want, I’ll make it happen—”

“Six old fashions, on fire,” Kase said before poor Al could finish.

“I’m sorry,” Matt apologized on behalf of his friend. “He was obsessed with the Hunger Games and about fainted when her dress caught on fire. He never did get over it.”

“That’s not true.” Kase looked at Hilary and Lainey with wide eyes then reiterated how not true it was. They both giggled and Kase glared at Matt.

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