“Empty Apartment, Dance Naked”
From Chapter 1
He takes the two flights up to his apartment quickly, past the first floor, where their landlord’s daughter is raising a bunch of kids, where the cry of an infant is almost a constant. The old wooden stairs creak beneath him, and as he gets closer to his third-floor flat, he realizes there’s music coming from behind the door.
He enters, and there’s George: naked and dancing.
Robin gets an eyeful of the muscular triangle of George’s back and the high, hard curve of his ass, shaking with the music. Prince’s seductive falsetto rings out over an amplified beat, I really get a dirty mind, while George shakes his index finger at some invisible lover, his masculine body softened by his sassy pose.
Robin feels the first smile of the day breaking across his face. “Is this a free show, or are you looking for tips?”
Through the bathroom door, George shouts, “I came out of the shower, and I heard this song, and I was, like — ”
“Empty apartment, dance naked.”
“You know I love me some Prince.”
“I’ll come in more quietly next time.” Robin affects this kind of flirtation with George sometimes, a little steam valve meant to release whatever tension might naturally build between gay friends sharing an apartment but not a bed. This tension wasn’t something he’d expected going into the summer, since he and George did not, it seemed, have any unresolved questions about who they were to each other. But George isn’t the diminutive science geek he was in high school. He’s been building up his body, dropping to the floor of the apartment once a day for push-ups and sit-ups in a tank top that reveals the sweet dusting of hair at the center of his developing chest. Robin has imagined running his fingers over those newly tight muscles, and he imagines more than that in this moment. But then George reemerges from the bathroom in his ugly plaid robe. Its indigo and turquoise stripes seem designed to make its wearer look as unattractive as possible.