* * * * CHAPTER ELEVEN * * * *
After the announcement that Derek was relocating became public, the people in Dominick’s life that were once outraged at their friendship were suddenly offering their sympathies. It was clear to everyone that they had become much closer than anyone could have expected. Unfortunately, it was equally clear that Dominick was hurting over the news.
Derek’s family arranged a dinner at their favorite restaurant before his short trip to Brooklyn. His friends were organizing a going away party as well, but this was more of a family event. Dominick was surprised when Derek’s parents invited him to join them.
Half way through the meal, Derek’s father cleared his throat and the surrounding family members grew silent.
“I just wanted to let you two know, whether the rumors are true or not, I am happy as long as you are both happy.” He announced. Dominick’s eyes widened and he nearly choked on his food. Derek laughed it off, shaking his head slightly. The rest of the table laughed at their embarrassment, agreed in various ways, and continued their meal. Dominick was delighted by the supporting nature of Derek’s family, even if he was straight.
“Well, I haven’t gone to the dark side yet,” Derek clarified, still laughing, “but thanks anyway.”
After dinner, Derek drove Dominick home. When he parked the car, he got out for the last hug they’d share for five days. Dominick had to fight the tears back again. He hated feeling so vulnerable in front of Derek.
“I’ll be back in five days!” Derek assured as he let go of Dominick.
“I know!” Dominick smiled. It was so difficult to balance the happiness he felt with Derek standing in front of him with the sadness he felt from the idea of losing him.
It was Monday, and the first day Dominick would not see Derek since they began spending time together two months ago. He resisted the urge to text Derek throughout the day. He didn’t want to appear clingy, and he also didn’t want to risk that his thumbs would take over and beg Derek not to leave. It didn’t take long for his phone to buzz, though.
Derek: Hypothetically speaking, would it be weird if I said I miss you?
Dominick: Haha. I miss you, too!
They continued texting throughout the night until Derek went to bed. He was three hours ahead in Brooklyn and had to go to his office early in the morning.
The next day Dominick maintained the same routine. He’d wait for Derek to initiate a conversation. It had almost become a game to him to see if Derek actually thought about him as much as he thought about Derek. As childish as it was, Derek didn’t let him down.
Dominick: What?! Why am I a jerk?!
Derek: You stopped talkin’ to me.
Dominick: I don’t wanna get on your nerves.
Derek: Haha. Not possible.
Dominick: Don’t lie!! Haha.
Derek: I’m not!!!
Dominick: Okay, but I’m saving this message so I can prove you asked for it later on down the road! Haha.
Derek: Psh. You won’t ever need it.
Their banter continued throughout the week. As much as Dominick loved it, he knew it wasn’t smart to let himself get even more attached to Derek.
The week finally passed and Dominick was waiting eagerly at the airport for Derek to return home. His whole body surged when Derek rounded the corner at the airport. He had to resist the urge to run toward him like a cheesy Hallmark movie, but in seconds he was once again in one the best embraces he’d ever felt. It always amazed him that Derek could deliver a better hug than the last every time.
On the drive home, Derek had many exciting things to share about Brooklyn. He sounded thrilled about the move. Dominick tried his best not to be selfish and sound equally excited.
“Dom has a car??” Derek’s father sounded shocked as they walked in the front door.
“Of course I have a car! I have to drive to and from work!” Dominick said as he and Derek laughed aloud.
After catching up with his family, Derek and Dominick retreated to his bedroom to watch TV and relax. Dominick hopped into bed with Derek with much less reservation than he once had. He was living in the moment, absorbing the best of every last second they had together.
“I’m gonna miss this.” Derek almost whispered. Dominick wanted to ignore it. He was trying not to dwell on the topic.
“I will, too.” He smiled, turning to make eye contact with Derek.
“Then come with me.” Derek half-asked.
“Wouldn’t that be nice?” Dominick laughed. He couldn’t tell if Derek was being serious or not.
“Yeah! That’s why I asked, dork. You’ve always wanted to see New York. You could drive with me and I’ll pay for a ticket to fly you home. And if you like it there, you can come back and get your things.” He reasoned.
“It’s not that simple, Derek.” Dominick turned serious.
“Sure it is. Why wouldn’t it be? You don’t have any kids, you’re not in college. I know you like your job, but it’s not what you want to do with your life. And most of all, I know you want to get out of this town. How many chances do you think you’re going to get?” Derek explained.
“That’s cute, and it sounds simple enough. But there’s no way I’ll be able to find a job in Brooklyn that pays anywhere near what I make out here. All of my family is here. And to be one-hundred percent honest, I’m nervous about where our friendship will go once you find a girl you want to get serious with. It didn’t work out so well for anyone last time.” Dominick rambled.
“So you still don’t trust me?” Derek asked. Dominick paused before answering.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you. I just know my luck and I assume the worst. The point is that I have responsibilities to other people here.” Dominick explained.
“That’s a cop out, but you have to do whatever you feel is best for you. Please don’t let your life pass you by worrying about what you owe other people. I’d hate to see you wake up one day and wonder ‘What if?’ after it’s too late. If you want to come, you'll make it happen. If you don't want to come with me, just look me in the eyes and tell me it's not what you want.” Derek pushed.
“I’m sorry, Derek. I just can’t.”
“I understand.” Derek said solemnly, turning away from Dominick to face the wall.
To be continued...