Preston woke with a start to the sound of the buzzer. His heart leapt with hope until he blearily looked at the clock and saw it was past eight. “Damned, stupid, idiotic pizza delivery people,” he growled. “Probably pushed the wrong button.” He debated ignoring it then figured the fool would just keep buzzing so he stumbled up and crossed to buzz them in.

As he started back to the sofa his cell rang. One look at the Caller ID and he answered, saying angrily, “No Tabby he didn’t show,” before she could ask.

“Oh Pres. I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault. Shit happens.” He was about to say more when there was a knock on the door. As he went to answer he asked with a small chuckle, “Did you order pizza for me so I’d eat?”

‘Umm, no, though that would probably be a good idea.”

“No, I guess you didn’t,” he said in a shocked whisper as he opened the door.

Cary stood there, a multitude of emotions crossing his face in an instant, surprise, shock, relief, and a flicker of compassion as he stared at his friend’s ruined face. “I…Pres?...Oh my god…Why the hell didn’t you tell me it was you?” The last came out in a burst of anger, followed by a soft, “Sorry.” Before Preston could reply Cary enfolded him in a tight embrace. “God I missed you,” he said, his voice filled with emotion as he finally stepped back to look at his friend. When Preston remained silent Cary asked, “Can I come in? I, umm, brought the champagne.”

Preston stepped back. The only words he could get out were, “I actually have some caviar strangely enough.” Then a squawk from his cell reminded him Tabitha was still there. He told her quickly, “I’ll call you later,” and hung up.

“Boyfriend?” Cary asked with a glance at the phone as Preston dropped on the table by the front door.

“You’re kidding.”

Cary was shocked at the relief he felt at those two words. He shook his head. “I wasn’t but…” He set the champagne down beside Preston’s cell and then put his hands on his shoulders, his eyes really taking in the damage to Preston’s face.

“Bad, isn’t it,” Preston said angrily as he tried to pull away.

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