When up-and-coming Miami painter Martin Fonseca encounters youthful pretty boy Andre Bellamy washing dishes in the kitchen of La Candela, he swears he’s known him before, intimately. But Andre only arrived in Miami weeks ago, after running away from small-town Alabama and his abusive father. When Martin discovers Andre trading sexual favors for a place to stay, he offers him a room in his studio apartment. As roommates only.
What starts as a playful friendship turns into something more as Andre begins posing for Martin, whose true passion is painting fantastical portraits. Martin’s obsession with Andre grows until they are sharing more than just flirtatious conversation. But when an eccentric art collector buys one of Martin’s paintings, Martin’s past jealousies resurface and threaten to destroy what he and Andre have so lovingly built.
13. My Boyfriend
After that I told everyone Andre was my boyfriend, beginning with Nicky when he asked about him the next day while picking up the last painting.
“Where’s your handsome roommate?”
“He’s not my roommate, Nicky, he’s my boyfriend. And he’s in the shower. Will this take long? I’d really like to join him.”
I also told everyone at work: Hector, Melissa, the kitchen crew, the other servers, hosts and hostesses. I even told the guy who drops off the produce. And Fang, more than once.
“Stop bragging, already,” Fang said unhappily.
When we were out, I introduced him as “my boyfriend, Andre,” and said things like, “I’ll need to check with my boyfriend” or “let me see what my boyfriend wants.” It was kind of obnoxious, but the more I said it, the more I wanted to say it.
When the reporter came by to interview me for a lifestyle piece, he asked me about my subject, and I told him it was my boyfriend, Andre. The write-up was borderline scandalous, which thrilled Nicky to no end. A photographer came back to photograph the two of us, a very classy Ralph Lauren-esque black-and-white spread. The title: The Painter and His Muse.
Melissa called us a sappy cliché and was in a constant state of rolling her eyes, but I didn’t care; I was in love.
But even as I was shouting it from the rooftops, Andre and I spent less time together. Between promos for the upcoming show, work, and painting, my schedule was packed. One night after closing, I came into the kitchen of La Candela to find Andre and Fang leaned in together over some new dish they’d just whipped up. They were sampling from the same plate, like lovers, practically feeding each other, said the snot in me. I wanted to be happy for Andre, that he had friends and a life outside of me, but a serpent of jealousy wound its way around my heart.
If Andre is all I need or want, why does he need anyone else?
And there were still times when he went out without telling me where he was going. I consoled myself with the thought that I always knew where he’d end up, which was back in bed with me.
I wanted more from him, but I didn’t know how to get it without seeming like a controlling boyfriend. And I didn’t want him to think I didn’t trust him—he’d never given me a reason not to. My imagination had a tendency to spiral out of control.
And then it was the night of my gallery opening. Nicky and Melissa had me on a tight leash all night long, leading me from heiress to millionaire to art critic to reporter. I had to be charming and aloof and incisive all at once. It was exhausting. Andre tagged along at first, but eventually made his way to the food and then disappeared altogether.
I found him toward the end of the night, in the alleyway behind the gallery, getting high with one of the caterers. There was a moment before he saw me, when he was passing the joint over to his new friend—I assured myself they were only friends—and Andre was flashing his smile, dimples showing, and a bolt of jealousy struck me, kicking my senses into high gear. That smile belonged to me and no one else. He’s mine, I wanted to yell at them both, like some Neanderthal.
My boyfriend, Andre.
And when Andre turned his head and caught my eye, his smile bloomed again, even more brilliant than before because he was mine.
But for that one second, when doubt overtook me, a thought raced through my mind, one so disturbing that it scared me to admit I’d even had it:
I’ll kill him before I let anyone take him from me.
Laura Lascarso lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature. She aims to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society.
For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso. Website: http://lauralascarso.com