Dana nodded slowly, studying his face. “You’ve protected yourself, haven’t you? Every time?”
Again she slowly nodded. “Good. That’s good.”
“You’re not angry with me, are you?”
“Of course not,” she said, looking surprised he’d even think so. “Why would I be angry about something that happened years before we met?”
Dom exhaled, relaxing. “I wasn’t sure how you’d react–if you’d be offended or disgusted–“
“Not offended and not disgusted. Surprised. Your sexual history is a bit more interesting that I’d imagined.” She said after a moment, leaning her head against his arm, “Sexuality is so fluid in your generation. In a way that’s a good thing–love should have nothing to do with gender. You should love a person, not a body part.”
“But a lot of society isn’t ready for that kind of freedom, and that worries me. I have a friend who’s afraid he’ll lose his job if he comes out, and given the current atmosphere in Washington I’m afraid he’s right.”
“People don’t care so much out here. Sex is like a merry-go-round.” He chuckled. “People speculate about Billy and me. Me and Lij, too. I get the impression people think the filming was one endless orgy.”
“You mean it wasn’t?” Dana said, smiling.
“Well, if it was I wasn’t invited.”
She chuckled. “Fair enough. You didn’t really answer my question, though, about why it ended.”
“The cop is coming out,” he remarked.
“I’m curious. I want to know what happened. I promise I won’t sell it to the National Enquirer.”
“I think the Weekly World News would buy it first.” He said after a moment, “The lot of us went to visit Billy in Mexico while he was filming his boat movie, and it was like it had always been, lots of laughing and drinking and being ridiculous. But when Billy and I were alone the passion wasn’t there. The–urgency, I guess, was just gone. He’ll always be my friend. He’s just not my lover anymore.”
He could almost see Dana processing this–William did that too, he’d noticed, he would think things over before he spoke. “I’m glad it was a friendly breakup,” she said at last. “It would be terrible to lose a friendship like that because the sex issue got in the way.”
“It never really has, though. We’d rather talk than fuck now. I figure it’s a pretty good deal. His girlfriend likes me and I can’t wait for you to spend more time with him, and he and I are good no matter what, and our friends just accept whatever we do. They’re wonderful that way.”
“They are.” She stroked his wrist again. “I’m glad this weekend happened. Not exactly this way . . . but otherwise I might not have been able to talk to them so much. I like them. They’re not what I expected at all.”
“People tend to think Orli’s dumb because he’s so pretty.”
“I didn’t think he’d be dumb. I thought he’d be, I don’t know, aloof.”
“Only when he’s uncomfortable.” He put his arm around her shoulder and kissed her temple.
“He’s sweet. Elijah’s sweet.” She kissed his cheek. “And you are absolutely sugar-coated.”
Dominic laughed and kissed her back.
The umbrella was a mere red blur when they turned back, Dom carrying an interesting shell he’d found. The beach was starting to fill up: twice they had to sidestep little kids who were so eager for the ocean they weren’t looking where they were going or waiting for the rest of the family.
They walked past one young father holding his toddler in the surf for what was probably the first time. Dom paused to watch as the man swung his laughing child out of reach of the waves, and then noticed Dana looking at him and smiled, feeling odd.
She smiled back uncertainly and looked down at her feet for a moment. “You want that,” she murmured. “A baby. A child of your own.”
“Someday. When I’m ready, when I’m thirty or something.”
Dana exhaled and looked out at the ocean, holding her hat on her head so the wind wouldn’t blow it away. Dom put his arm around her neck and kissed her. “There’s plenty of time.”
“Yeah,” Dana murmured, giving him that uncertain smile again. He kept his arm around her as they walked back to their spot, where Orlando and Elijah were waiting to have lunch.
It was late afternoon when they returned to Dom’s flat, sunburned and salty. Elijah went to his own house, promising to be back in time to join Dom at the nightclub where he’d be DJing that night.
Dana had been quiet most of afternoon, and as soon as they were back in the house she said she needed to lie down for a while. Dom offered to sit with her a while but she said she was just going to sleep and he had things he needed to do before he left for the night.
It was true, but still Dom felt a bit put out as he booted up his computer. He’d been selecting music for this gig for two weeks, mixing tracks together and isolating beats, and if Dana wasn’t up to coming to the club he at least wanted her to hear what he’d made. Clearly she was in no mood to talk–and what he’d done to make her so was a mystery to him–but he liked to at least be in the same room with her.
He was scowling at the computer when Orlando wandered into the living room and flopped on the sofa, freshly showered and dressed. “Wotcher doing?”
“Making sure the music is how I want it. Listen to this.” He put on a transition he wasn’t sure about and sat back as Orlando listened.
After a moment Orlando shook his head. “Sounds fine to me. The beats blend really well. What’s the chord thing, that electric guitar? Sounds like someone’s playing it with a buzz saw.”
“It’s from the original ‘Spirit in the Sky.’ The yelp is from ‘Sexy Motherfucker.'”
“Whew. I don’t know how you do it, Sblomie.”
Dom shrugged. “Just whatever sounds right. I just think the Beyonce is too obvious.”
“It’s a good song, it’s popular, people will want to dance to it. Is Dana coming tonight?”
“I don’t think so. She says it’ll hurt to dance and she’s never liked clubs anyway.”
“So,” Orlando said, sitting up and hanging his arms over the back of the sofa, resting his chin on his folded hands, “what do the two of you actually *do* when you’re together?”
“We talk. We play with her son, we cook, we go for walks, we see movies. It’s very laid back.” He asked after a moment, “Are you still planning to come tonight?”
“I don’t know . . . the three of us together, photographers are sure to show up and I’m just not in the mood.”
“They haven’t advertised who the guest DJ will be tonight at all. Unless someone’s been watching the house I don’t think anyone knows you both are here. If you don’t want to I’m not going to make you, of course. Just stop trying to steal my girlfriend.”
“Dommie, stop that,” Orlando said, making a face. “It’s not funny.”
“She likes you.”
“I like her too, but she’s in love with you.”
Dom clicked on the next track. “Do you think anyone will get the irony of Blondie mixed with Avril Levigne? Think I ought to throw in some Siouxsie Sioux to drive the point home?”
“I know. I know she loves me. It doesn’t change anything, though. I’m still only going to see her every few weeks and we’re still going to have to hide our relationship because she’s afraid I’ll get hurt somehow, and it’s like I’m the only one trying and she’s only along for the ride, you know?”
Orlando considered this, brows knitting. He said, “You want her to move out here.”
“Of course I do. I miss her.”
“But her family and her job are in Washington.”
“Yeah . . .”
“So what’s the advantage of her moving?”
“We’d be together! I’d take care of her. She wouldn’t have to worry about anything.”
“And what? What else does there need to be? I want to look after her.”
“And does she want to be looked after?”