When Callum returned home after work at around three thirty, he spent an inordinate amount of time staring at his phone while lying in bed. He was not looking forward to six o’clock when Mason was supposed to call him. He was sorely tempted to turn his phone off and pretend that he never agreed to the dinner, which Mason most definitely considered a legitimate date. But, as tempting as the idea was, he knew for certain that Mason would not just let it go and would somehow find out where he lived, dragging Callum out by his hair if he had to, or he would take up residence in Callum’s apartment. Callum refused to think about what would happen if he and Mason were alone together, especially after what had happened in the bathroom of that club. Just thinking about it made him flush and groan, covering his face with his pillow.
Callum rolled over onto his side and stared at the wall. He had lied when he said he had stuff to do but he really wanted a buffer of at least a few hours. Besides, dinner would last up to two hours but ‘hanging out’ could go on for ages and lead into a dinner. With just dinner could leave early by saying he had work the next day, which was the truth. He could just avoid mentioning the fact that ran on a maximum of three hours of sleep on a daily basis. Even before being half turned he had never needed much sleep to function properly, he was most productive at night anyway.
Callum rolled onto his back again and sighed. Checking his phone once again he saw that he had a little more than two hours until Mason called, and then a little more time depending on where he wanted to eat at.
“I should at least take a shower or something…” Callum mused. Since it was better than staring at his phone for the next two hours, he got off his bed and went to the bathroom.
A long thirty-minute shower later, Callum felt much better. He still had quite some time so he pulled on a pair of snug boxer briefs and grabbed his sketchbook, planting himself on his bed.
He flipped open the book to a page he was working on the night before and got to work. No one knew, not even Georgia, but Callum was working on a comic. He had always liked to draw as a hobby and a year ago, he somehow started on a BL comic about a supernatural misfit that got roped into the world of the paranormal mafia. It was inspired by a BL webcomic he was following and impatiently waiting for updates. His addiction of BL webcomics was another secret of his that he was going to make sure he took to his grave.
Callum drew endlessly, right up until his phone started ringing, jarring him out of his concentration and making him jump.
“Shit!” he cursed when his hand jerked, drawing a line across the page. He scowled at his phone but picked it up without checking the ID and snapped, “Yes?”
“Bad time? I did say I’d call now though. It’s six on the dot.”
“Oh, Mason, right. Sorry, I was…doing stuff,” Callum said, holding his phone with his shoulder against his ear as he carefully erased the harsh line from the page.
“Were you jerking off?”
Callum spluttered, “N-No! What the fuck kind of question was that?”
Mason laughed, “It was an innocent question. You hesitated before you said ‘doing stuff’. It was a logical connection.”
“No it wasn’t!” Callum argued. He forgot about fixing the page and was trying to cool his face down. “Anyway, you decided on a place?”
“Yeah. There’s this Italian place down on Keynes.”
Callum narrowed his eyes, “Near that club from the weekend?”
“Yeah. It’s called Jacobo’s. It’s two blocks down from Haggard.”
“Right. So I’ll see you in an hour then. There’s no dress code, is there?”
“No, you can wear sweatpants for all I care, you look sexy in anything, or nothing,” Mason teased, and Callum knew for a fact that the wolf shifter was smirking. “I can’t wait to see you, love.”
Before Callum could tell Mason to quit calling him love, Mason cut the call. Callum stared at his phone for a moment before falling back on is bed with a groan. He could afford to laze about for another half hour or so before he needed to get ready and locate Jacobo’s. He only had a vague recollection of where the club, Haggard as it was apparently called (he hadn’t really been paying attention that night), was so he was definitely going to be spending a couple minutes trying to locate the restaurant.
Callum spent the next forty-five minutes fixing the page he was working on before he reluctantly went to his closet to pick out something to wear. He wasn’t going to be a complete asshole and go in sweats and an old t-shirt, no matter how tempting the idea was. Instead, he picked out a pair of comfortable black jeans and a fitted white shirt with three quarter length sleeves. He slipped into his only pair of shoes, a pair of ratty black Converse, and grabbed his wallet, phone, and keys before locking up and heading downstairs. Once on the streets, he sprinted down past other civilians towards Keynes, getting there within ten minutes. After asking around, he found Jacobo’s with five minutes to spare and looked around to see if Mason was there too. He was.
“Callum!” Mason called out, jogging up to him from the entrance of the Italian place. He was grinning, bright eyed with excitement. He was dressed a bit more nicely than Callum in a pair of form hugging blue jeans and a crisp white button down.
“Hey,” Callum greeted. He noticed the looks Mason was getting from surrounding girls and wasn’t at all surprised. Mason was gorgeous. It was an undeniable fact. An undeniable fact Callum hated.
Mason smiled broadly and looked Callum up and down without a hint of shame. “You look fantastic.”
Callum looked away and scratched his nose, “Uh, thanks. So, uh, should we go in?”
Mason nodded and grabbed Callum’s hand, pulling the reluctant and protesting boy to the restaurant.
“Table for two, please,” Mason told the host.
The boy nodded and grabbed two menus, leading the way to a table next to the window. Callum flushed when Mason pulled out a chair for him and swiftly moved to the other side of the table and sat down, pulling his own chair out for himself. Mason pouted but didn’t say anything.
“A waiter will come by to take your order in a minute,” the host said, nodding and leaving the two alone.
“I am not a damsel, Mason,” Callum said, picking up his menu and scanning over the prices. He grimaced. It’s not that he couldn’t afford it, he would just rather not spend so much money and be broke until payday.
“I just wanted to do something nice,” Mason replied. He too had picked up his menu but he hadn’t spared it a glance. Callum could feel the other man’s gaze on him and it was getting past the point of uncomfortable.
“So what’re you getting?” Callum asked, trying to get Mason to stop staring at him.
“The seafood ravioli, I think. It’s my favorite.” The staring hadn’t ebbed.
Callum looked up and made a face, “Gross.”
Mason frowned, “What’s wrong with seafood ravioli?”
Callum shrugged then looked back down at the menu looking for the cheapest item, “I’m just not a fan of seafood.”
“Well now I know to never take you out for seafood.”
Callum scoffed, “Who said you’d even have the chance.”
Just then a girl came to their table, flashing them both a pleasant smile, “Good evening. I’m Holly and I’ll be your server for tonight. Can I start you off with some drinks?”
Mason nodded then looked over to Callum, “Are you fine with wine?”
Callum shrugged, “I’m good with whatever.” Truthfully he didn’t know anything about wine. He had only had it a couple times and from what he remembered it was all right.
Mason grinned then ordered some fancy sounding wine that sounded French or some other Romance language.
“Are you ready to order, or would you like some more time?” Holly asked as she finished writing down the wine order.
“I’m ready,” Callum said when Mason looked to him. Mason nodded and the two placed their orders, Mason adding in an appetizer and then Holly left them alone once again.
Mason clasped his hands together on top of the table and leaned forward, smiling dreamily, “I’m so glad you agreed.”
“Not like I had much of a choice,” Callum grumbled.
“Eh,” Mason shrugged but his smile hadn’t even twitched. “So, what’s your favorite color?”
Callum blinked, then frowned as he asked, “Why the random question?”
“I want to get to know you. I want to know everything there is to know about you. From your favorite color to your favorite TV shows and movies to your deepest darkest secrets.”
“What, so you can tell the world and humiliate me?” Callum scowled.
Mason blinked in surprise, “No! Of course not. I want to know you because I love you. I’m not the same asshole from high school, Callum. I don’t care about social circles and reputations nor am I confused anymore. I know that I love you and I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
Callum blushed and looked down at his hands in his lap. He couldn’t handle Mason’s sincerity.
“Red,” Callum muttered.
“My favorite color, it’s red.” He peeked up to see Mason’s reaction and felt his cheeks warm at the elated expression on the shifter’s face. It was as if Callum had agreed to mate with the guy instead of just muttering his favorite color.
“Mine’s green,” Mason said. “Why red?”
Callum shrugged and sipped his wine, letting his tongue get used to the sweet taste. “I’ve just always found it pretty. Especially dark reds and, as typical and cliché as it sounds, blood red is my absolute favorite, even before I turned.” Feeling slightly embarrassed, though he had no idea why, Callum rushed on, “Why green?”
Mason’s grin turned into a smirk as he explained, “Well, I used to be obsessed with blue, typical boy that I was. But then, nine years ago I saw the most beautiful pair of green eyes and fell in love with the color ever since.”
“I walked right into that one, didn’t I?” Callum groaned, diverting his green eyes to the window to watch the city outside.
“Someone’s presumptuous. I never said it was your eyes.”
Callum flushed and tried to think of a comeback but only managed to imitate a hungry fish.
Mason laughed, “I’m kidding, love. Of course I’m talking about you.”
“So what’s your favorite TV show?” Callum asked suddenly.
“Subtle subject change, love, but I’m not sure. Maybe Game of Thrones or Bob’s Burgers or Merlin.”
“I haven’t tried watching Game of Thrones yet though I have started the first book. My current favorite TV show would have to be Brooklyn Nine-Nine probably because I’ve got a bit of a crush on Jake Peralta.”
Mason’s expression grew hard, “Oh.” He was so obvious it hurt.
Callum raised a brow, “You do realize that he is a fictional character right?”
Mason didn’t say anything and sulkily sipped his wine.
Callum sighed, “If we got together I’d have to deal with your jealous fits a lot, wouldn’t I?” When he saw Mason brighten up and about to say something, he hurriedly added on, “It was a hypothetical! We are never going to get together. Ever. I mean it. Stop smiling like that! Mason!”
Mason chuckled and reached over the table to grab Callum’s hand with both of his and stroke his thumbs over Callum’s knuckles. Callum spluttered and pulled his hand free, or tried to anyway. Mason’s grip was gentle but firm and he only let go of Callum’s hand after bringing it to his lips to receive a gentle kiss.
“You really need to stop doing things like that,” Callum grumbled. His hands were staying in his lap from now on with the exception of when he was eating or drinking.
Mason just smiled.
Just then Holly returned with their appetizer, a sampler platter of various entrées. It was pretty big and Callum’s eyes widened, wondering how they were going to finish it and then their own meals.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got a huge appetite, remember?” Mason said, noticing his look.
“Right…” Callum reached for a slice of bruschetta and bit into it.
Mason was watching him and just before Callum told him to quit staring, the shifter asked, “Can I feed you?”
Callum almost choked on the bread and tomato cubes. He coughed and tried to get himself under control before gasping out, “No! What the fuck, Mason!”
Mason pouted, “Please? I’ve always wanted to feed you.”
Callum was burning a couple million shades of his favorite color as he spluttered. He shook his head, “No! Shut up. Just, shut up and eat.”
Mason chuckled but did as told, though he didn’t stop staring at Callum who resolutely avoided his gaze. They ate the appetizer in silence and even for a bit after their main courses arrived.
“So, what happened to you after I left?” Mason asked eventually.
Callum forked some pasta and shoved it into his mouth, shrugging, “Nothing much. The bullying stopped though I guess that’s not too weird considering you were the only one who bullied me, with the exception of those few guys that decided to join in sometimes, but you put an end to those right away. Even after you left, people were scared you’d come back and kill those that touched me.”
“I would have,” Mason said. “No one can touch you but me. You’re mine.”
Callum ignored him and his own heated cheeks as he continued, “I finished high school, barely passing my exams, and decided to move out here. I went to this small community college but only lasted a year. School really wasn’t for me. I got a job at Tracy’s diner and three years later I got half turned and that’s pretty much it. What about you? Why’d you leave in the middle of the year anyway?”
Mason sighed and rubbed his face as if the memory itself tired him, “I had to go do some pack things, new alpha and beta and all that political pack stuff. I was one of the contenders for the alpha position but I didn’t want to lead a pack so I dropped out and decided to become a loner. Pack life just wasn’t for me, like school for you. I had to go through this silly ceremony to disconnect from the pack that took a long time, most of it being preparation. Then I got kicked out of the territory. They were kind of pissed that I’d rather be a loner than part of their pack. So I came down here since my uncle was here. He’s also a loner. He took me in and I helped manage his club before he passed it down to me and disappeared off to who knows where.”
“Your uncle’s missing?”
“Not exactly. He’s the adventurer sort of type. Last I heard, he was in some mountain range in Australia but that was like a month ago.”
Callum quirked a brow, “Aren’t you the least bit worried about him?”
“Sure, but he can take care of himself. Now, forget about my MIA uncle. Are you still a virgin?”
Callum choked on a piece of chicken and it took him a moment to get himself together. “W-What?”
Mason didn’t look the least bit perturbed as he sipped his glass of wine. “I need to know if I need to kill some people.”
Callum gaped at him and Mason chuckled, “I’m kidding, Callum. How would I even find the people that you’ve slept with, if you’ve slept with anyone? But you still haven’t answered my question.”
Callum blushed and looked away, “No.”
Mason looked disappointed, “Damn. And here I was hoping I’d be the first and last person to fuck you.”
“Jesus, so freaking direct…” Callum muttered, gulping down his drink to try and cool off.
“Well I didn’t do a good job in high school, so I’m going to make sure you can’t be oblivious of my feelings for you. I’m going to be blunt and honest and as direct as possible.”
“I’d really rather you didn’t.”
“But I love you.”
Callum refilled his glass and downed it in one go, just to avoid having to come up with a response.
They finished dinner without any more incidents of Callum almost choking to death and when the bill arrived, Mason made sure to keep it out of Callum’s hands as he paid for its entirety. Callum had to admit that he was slightly relieved. He knew there was no way he could have afforded to pay and in the off chance that he could, his wallet would be weeping and he wouldn’t have been able to pay his rent the next month.
As they walked out of the restaurant, Mason walked uncomfortably close to Callum, their hands brushing at every step and Callum knew that Mason was just barely holding back the urge to grab his hand again. Had he done so, Callum wouldn’t have hesitated to snap at him and run away and Mason was probably aware of that.
“You up for a walk? Ice cream?” Mason asked.
Callum pulled out his phone to check the time and saw that it was nearing nine-thirty. “I, uh, should probably head home. I’ve got work in the morning,” he said.
“Oh, okay.” Mason’s expression was the picture of disappointment and it made Callum feel just the tiniest bit guilty, but he quickly squashed the feeling. “Can I drive you home?”
“Mason, there is a reason I didn’t want you to pick me up from my apartment in the first place. I’ll just run. It’ll take me only ten minutes.”
Mason sulked, “Fine.”
Callum rolled his eyes and decided to throw the wolf a bone, “I didn’t have a horrible time.”
Mason grinned, “Really? So, I can take you out again?”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Callum snorted.
“I have fantastic lung capacity,” Mason winked. Callum wasn’t sure if that was an innuendo or a corny joke or both.
With that, Callum said goodnight to Mason and sprinted off down the street before the shifter could do or say anything else. When Callum got home and stripped down to get comfortable so he could continue working on his comic, his phone beeped, alerting him of a text.
Mason: I had a wonderful time <3
Callum rolled his eyes at the message and put his phone back down. No sooner had he done so did his phone beep again. And again. And again. And again.
Mason: Next time I’ll cook for you
Mason: You ever had Japanese?
Mason: I can’t wait
Mason: Good night. Dream of me like I dream of you xx
Callum grumbled, “Can’t he just send one message? And hearts and kisses, what is he, a twelve year old girl? Jesus.” Just then his phone beeped again and he let out a groan, and then blushed at the final message.
Mason: I love you