28. FORWARD

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Tobias & the Angel Derail, Lippi, 1482
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𝟒 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫

"Are you Isaac Harley?" asked the local barista, handing him a cup of his daily coffee. Odd, considering the fact that he's been to this cafe several times since his arrival in France. To make matters worse, he's also seen this barista almost every visit.

Am I Isaac Harley?

It was a question he'd grown used to since his career took off two years ago, but it left him dumbfounded all the same. Yes, the name Isaac Harley was printed on his ID card in bold letters, but was he truly Isaac Harley anymore? Somewhere in the process of rebuilding himself it felt like he'd shed his name completely to become an entirely different person. A better person, but different nonetheless.

"Yes I am," he told her.

Her eyes lit up, glowing like the neon OPEN sign hanging from the entrance. "I love your work—modelling and art."

He flashed her a smile, one that made her knees weak and heart flutter. "Thank you."

As he stepped back out into the busy streets of Paris, he briefly shut his eyes from the bright sun, smelling fresh bread from a nearby bakery and smiling to himself.

He made it.

After Josiah left for America, the cover of Venus that he'd worked on with Jesse blew up, and he found himself bombarded with job opportunities. In a way he felt guilty for leaving the photographer because technically he'd be nothing without him.

But he made it, and now he bought his daily breakfast from a local Parisian cafe.

He made his way home in a rather positive mood. At least, it was positive until he opened the door to his apartment. He nearly dropped all of his belongings just so that he could shield his eyes from the monstrosity before him. Asher Alexander lay pale and bare chested on top of Charlie Franz, tongue down his throat, giggling and moaning like a freak.

"Ever heard of a room?" Isaac gagged. "I thought that's what you were paying me rent for. Your own goddamn room!"

Isaac never intended to have a roommate when he first moved to Paris. He was paid more than substantially where he modelled, and he was one who enjoyed his privacy. Then he let it slip once how occasionally it felt lonely in his big, multi-room complex, and Asher offered to fill his guest bedroom. It wasn't a bad idea at first, but he didn't realize that Charlie was included in this deal.

Hell, he even forgot that they were a couple. Not because they spent no time together, no, they spent all their time together in fact. But every time he'd asked Asher about what was going on between them he'd say the same thing: "It's complicated." He never explained what he meant, but Isaac soon found out that it basically meant: "We fuck like rabbits but with romantic feelings involved." Essentially a couple, but Asher tried to be discreet about it.

He failed miserably.

Asher casually pushed himself up and sneered. "We were only kissing," he said. "It's not like I haven't accidentally walked in on you with Josiah's entire thing down your throat."

"We're an exception," Isaac explained, "we don't see each other that often, so we're allowed to be affectionate as much as we can. You and Charlie are together literally every day, in my flat, and I hate opening my door to this."

"You're just jealous."

"Maybe I am."

"You hear that Charlie? He's pent up. I can tell because he's grumpy."

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