Tom and Cass, co-owners of a multifaceted food service company, have been together for nine years and have a love so strong that no one understands. Tom and Cass also have an open relationship and aren’t in the habit of hiding their bed mates, not that they flaunt them–no one understands that either. But their cozy arrangement that’s always worked for them gets turned on its ear when Tom seduces a fascinating guy named Jake.
Jake has a disorder, the effects of which can range from a mild inconvenience to perpetually embarrassing to a threat to his and others’ safety. Tom just takes it stride. Or does he?
Jake likes Tom, but is incensed when he wakes up the morning after to, not Tom, but his partner, Cass. It was business that allowed Tom and Jake’s paths cross that first day and business that kept Tom away from Jake after that first night. So it’s only right that it’s business that brings them face to face again.
Tom likes Jake, he’s drawn to him, and Cass can see it. It doesn’t happen often, but it isn’t strange for them to meet up with the same guy more than once, though Tom can’t figure out why Cass seems so intent on Tom seeing more of Jake. When they come face to face again, it takes some gentle persuasion from Tom for Jake to agree to hear Tom out in regards to his relationship with Cass. When it’s all said and done, Jake still doesn’t see things their way, so he leaves the restaurant, but not before he lets it slip that he’s out of a job. Tom gives Jake his card and offers him a position with his company. It takes some time and some urging from Jake’s reluctant interest in Tom, but Tom eventually gets a call.
Tom makes Jake the project manager of his company’s new venture; it seems pretty sudden and possibly ill-advised, but Tom knows what he’s doing. Yet he still can’t grasp the thread hanging from Cass’ push for him to get to know Jake, but he’s happy that Cass wants to meet him properly.
Jake and Cass’ second meeting was a triple-edged sword. By the time they all parted ways, Tom is somewhat dismayed, Jake is nervous and afraid, and Cass is sure that his machinations are for the best. Things only get more interesting from there.
I have always been baffled by open and poly relationships. Not necessarily the sex, although that’s peculiar to me as well, but the inner emotional workings and the timings of things. How does that work out for people? I am selfish, very selfish. I’m not into sharing. I’m kind of selfish to the point where it’s hard for me to even be in a one-on-one relationship, so the idea of sharing someone with someone else…it is simply beyond me. To each their own–really, I don’t mean that dismissively–but I just don’t understand it. I can’t comprehend how you could share someone. It’s just not something I’m capable of and I am endlessly perplexed by it. Almost in complete wonderment and, in a sense, I suppose I’m envious of people who are truly happy in that kind of relationship because I can’t…I can’t do it. I don’t have the capacity to love like that. I don’t know how to share in general, so I certainly don’t know how to share another person, especially the person who I’ve given my heart to. I would worry too much. I would certainly be disgruntled because I would never have all the time that I wanted with the person I wanted to be with. And that the ideal situation is for all involved to be equally invested… How do the stars align for that? Of course in this story, that’s one of the secrets that the characters keep even from themselves, but another secret is: Will it work?
My personal feelings about the notion aside, I see how the story developed, how the relationships developed between all three characters–it was pretty amazing and kind of devastating. It was good writing and I was easily convinced that Jake, Tom, and Cass all truly needed and wanted each other. Truly loved each other. I could easily see how they all fit together–their place in each others’ life. It took time and a lot of emotional landscaping, but they do make it to a point where no one is more important than another, even though two of them had known each other much longer and had been through so much more, and this third person came in and changed everything. It was a process of acceptance, awareness, and growth. And love, of course.
Still, it made me uncomfortable–initially–I felt bad for Jake because he walked into something that he had no idea what it was about. He backed away from it, but he was really torn. At first, he was just interested in Tom because Tom was rather charming, but then he fell in love with him, and that just turned out to be a hard thing for him. I can understand that. He knew that if he continued in any sort of intimate way with Tom he was just going to break his own heart because he could see how Tom felt about Cass. And if he could see that and he knew that his time with Tom would be measured against that, well, there might never be a time he wouldn’t wonder how he measured up. And who needs that kind of grief? Gauging whether or not the risk is worth it is a difficult thing to process when you’re in the middle of it. Always asking: Where do I fit in? Or how do I fit in? And the questions seem never-ending. Will they change their minds? Will I change my mind? Is this right? How will I know if I’m loved or just being used when everything is so confusing? Will I ever be loved enough? Will I ever be enough or am I just a stalking horse? All these things Jake would have to wonder.
Individually, the trio all had their lives and they all had their back stories. And even though Tom and Cass had known each other for so long, there was still a distance between; something that had been there all along, something that, even though they were madly in love with each other and they were the love of each other’s life, had just been an uncrossable chasm between them. But then Jake came along and bridged the gap somehow. Not that he did anything else but be himself and be concerned about them and love them, but his presence and influence put certain things into perspective for Cass and Tom. It allowed them to assess the things that we’re going on and where they stood and if they should continue to take up that stance going forward. Cass and his family history, Tom and his worry for Cass and the business, and Jake his worry for all of that and his disorder.
And that. Jake had of gotten to the point where he was okay with it; he couldn’t do anything about it because it just was. He couldn’t hide it, it wasn’t anything he would ever get over, so he’d arrived at this place in his life where all the things that came along with the disorder was his life, yet it didn’t define him. From the beginning, Tom’s approach to it was silent observation, acceptance, and, to some extent, he did ignore it, but he didn’t mean to diminish it in any way. Not in the way people say that they’re color blind–yeah?–it doesn’t do or mean much, and it certainly doesn’t make the issues go away. Tom didn’t want it to be a big deal, he didn’t want his acknowledgement of it to make Jake uncomfortable or feel othered.
But Cass, he had a completely different view on it. Cass was very upfront about it, asking questions, laughing at it, but not at Jake, you know? He got it. Which was actually was kind of beautiful. Cass got it; he actually understood some of Jake’s actions. He was able to sort them out, like they were keys to Jake’s emotional state. And even though Tom loved Jake and Jake was head over heels for Tom and they had spent more time with each other than either of them did with Cass in their relationship as it began to develop, Tom still didn’t catch on, not fully anyway. That understanding was something that was purely between Jake and Cass.
And their relationship, man, the development of Cass and Jake’s relationship was very interesting. It was the magnetic needle, the safe travels of the three-piece depended on where that duo headed. For a while, they were the reason why you never knew where the story was going; why you were never sure if they would all end up together. But then things changed and it was all back on Cass–the original orchestrator. And again, you were never sure that one wouldn’t leave because there were plenty of moments where somebody had a reason to just throw up their hands and go. Not because one or the other did something wrong, per se, but there was just a lot of things going on. A lot of emotions to decipher, a lot of spoken and unspoken rules and boundaries and feelings. All of these things to navigate and they spent a lot of time trying to reconcile the things that we’re going on in their lives–family issues, love issues, issues of security and assurance. So many things to figure out where everything had its place and if it was even important anymore or whether it needed to grow into something else or be forgotten for good.
From the summary on Amazon, I couldn’t tell how it would all end or even that some of the themes that were present in the story were even going to be there. But I was pleasantly surprised. Misfts was quite the story; now it’s been added to my extremely short lists for recommendable 3p and poly-amorous stories. Go read it.
Side note: Garrett Leigh does not like Tom Cruise or The Last Samurai. She managed to slip in a dig on both in the two stories that I’ve read by her so far. Or maybe she does and takes pleasure in saying otherwise, though I’m more inclined to agree with the dig. But I haven’t seen The Last Samurai. Doubt that I will.