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Roe St. Alee

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  1. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 21

    Chapter 21 I should have known better. I stayed up extra late last night and didn’t even play video games. I worked on my English homework like I was supposed to. I practiced my presentation and worked out exactly what I was going to say today in class. Apparently, no one else puts the same amount of importance on English homework that I do. When Mr. Boyle announced for the first group to get up in front of the class, they looked terrified. As he surveyed the room, he didn’t see a lot of confidence. So we got an extra ten minutes to practice with our groups. I like being an overachiever, but I like sleeping, too. I fish the notes I need out of my backpack and make my way back to the back corner of the room where the other two girls in my group sit. I grab the empty desk in front of them and take a seat. “It's not going to happen.” “Don't worry, you still have time.” Jen looks up at me and flashes an apologetic smile. I'm interrupting their conversation, but it's not like I have any choice. “I've been dropping hints all week,” Rachel says, “but he hasn't done anything.” “Ugh,” Jen rolls her eyes. “That makes two of us. Tyler's been avoiding me all week.” Rachel shrugs. “Maybe he's nervous because he's going to ask you.” “Or he's not going to and he wants to be as far away as possible when he asks some other girl.” Rachel turns to me now. “Sorry, Jackson. Winter Dance stuff,” she says. “Be glad you're a boy.” Jen gives me a dirty look, but not in a serious way. “Yeah, you get to ask whoever you want,” she says. “We have to sit around and drop hints, waiting for these oblivious boys to get it together and ask us.” If she only knew. Our school's Winter Dance is a few weeks away, and it's pretty much all the school is talking about. You can hardly walk to your next class without witnessing five proposals in the hallway. I'm not surprised it's on Rachel and Jen's minds. “Do you know who you’re going with?” asks Rachel, turning to me. “Um...” I can feel my cheeks getting hot. I've been fairly successful at not thinking about the Winter Dance, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. “I'm not sure yet,” I say, hoping they'll leave it alone. Needless to say, my situation makes it complicated. At this point my plan was to stay home and pretend it's not happening. “You have plenty of time,” says Jen. She lowers her voice and leans in closer. “Judging by the rate at which Tyler and Ben are operating, at least.” I can’t help but laugh at the way she says it. I know Jen from Drama Club, and she actually reminds me a little bit of Katy. Same sense of humor and a similar tendency to be dramatic about things, but mostly for comedic effect. Rachel is one of her best friends, and while I don’t know her quite as well, we’ve all had English class together since our freshman year. “I’m sure they’ll figure it out,” I offer. That earns me a pair of eye rolls. Boys are dumb sometimes. You won’t hear me arguing. “So do you know who you’re going to ask?” asks Jen. It’s an innocent enough question, but I was hoping they wouldn’t ask it. “Not... not really,” I say. Jen and Rachel exchange a look. It's like one of Katy's looks. I can tell that it means something, but I'm not sure what. It's in that secret best friend language that so many girls seem to have. “What?” I ask. They look at each other again and then back at me. “What?” I ask again. I'm equal parts amused and annoyed. It's so obvious that they have something else to say. “Are you gay?” asks Rachel. The shock of the question hits me and I instinctively start to put all my defenses up. I need to think fast to worm my way out of this one. But then I stop. I don’t need to run away, or create a diversion, or change the subject. I can just answer her. I can just say that I’m gay, and I feel like it’ll be fine. Maybe it's the way she asked the question. It was so neutral, like she could be asking me what color ink I'm using in my notes or what page number we should turn to in the book. But maybe it's just me. I haven't really thought about being ‘out’ at school in a while, figuring it would happen in its own time. I suppose that time is now. “Yeah,” I say, “I am. So that makes it tough. Not a lot of choices.” “I know, right?” says Jen without missing a beat. “We were just talking about that the other day - hypothetically, not about you. But what options do you even have?” “I mean, there aren't that many people you even could go with,” says Rachel. “Like, as a date,” she corrects herself. I shrug sheepishly. “I honestly haven't even thought about it that much.” I almost have to laugh at myself for getting worked up about telling them I’m gay. I should have known the girls would be more worried about who I want to go to the dance with than the fact that I’m not heterosexual. “Well, if you don't find anyone to go with, you're welcome to tag along with us,” offers Rachel. “Not that we have any idea what we're doing for it,” says Jen. “We'll probably end up going...” She looks at both of us with a confused look on her face. “What?” asks Rachel. “When a guy goes to a dance single it's called 'stag,' right?” asks Jen. We both nod our heads. “So what's it called when we get stuck going without dates?” Rachel shrugs. “I dunno. Crone?” Jen and I burst out laughing. “Excuse me, Mr. Willard?” Busted. Our English teacher looks at me disapprovingly over the end of his reading glasses. His look conveys an unspoken ‘Shouldn't you be working on your presentation?’ “Sorry,” I mumble as I turn back to the girls. Rachel and Jen lean in so we're quieter. “Anyway,” Jen says, “You're welcome to come with us one way or the other.” “And if either of us wind up going 'crone,'” Rachel says, “you can take one of us as your date if you want.” “Thanks,” I say. I mean it. That’s nice of them to offer. “But no pressure,” she adds. “With any luck we'll both have dates, but it doesn't hurt if we're all each other's plan B if we need it, right?” We all laugh again, but this time more quietly so that Mr. Boyle doesn't notice. We actually take a few minutes and talk about our English project. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who did my homework, and both girls are pretty much ready to go. It’s really just a matter of bringing our three parts together. After a few minutes of ironing out the details, Mr. Boyle calls the class back to order and sends the first group up to give the class an interpretation of the short story they were assigned. I manage to stay with it for about half the presentation, but then my mind starts to wander. Jen and Rachel brought up a good point: Who am I going to the Winter Dance with? I wasn't lying when I told them I hadn't given it much thought up until now. But it's not because I don't care. It's because I'm dreading it. The obvious choice is to go with Katy. We went together last year and had a good time dancing and goofing off all night. Only upperclassmen are allowed to actually go, so it was a good excuse for her to bring me along as a plus one. The best part was how low the stakes were for both of us. We didn’t worry about any of the usual drama that plagues people at school dances, we just had fun. While the entire school was completely wrapped up in who was going with whom and what they were going to wear, Katy and I were scouring thrift stores for a 'new' dress for her to wear. That's how little we cared, and it was awesome. But this year is different now that Jeff is in the picture. While he hasn't officially asked Katy to the dance yet, it's a no-brainer. And if she goes with him it means they'll go in a big group with the basketball kids. So while I can take comfort knowing that Katy will be there, she's not a valid option for who I can actually go with. My next best option, at least from my perspective, would be going stag with Ko. It would be fun, but mostly because of how much he would hate it. That would be amusing enough to sell me on the idea, but he wouldn’t go for it in a million years. If I even bring it up with him he’ll probably just tell me to come over to his house and play video games instead. Which, to be honest, doesn't sound that bad. But here's the problem: I really want to go. And let's up the ante on that problem, because I don't even have to mention what I actually want to have happen. I won’t mention it, because it's impossible. Completely impossible. If you made a Venn diagram with what I want to happen on the left and reality on the right, it wouldn’t even be a Venn diagram. It would be two sad, awkward circles about sixty feet away from each other. But even though there are about ten thousand reasons why it could never, ever happen, I still want to go to the Winter Dance with Carter. To start, it would basically mean coming out to everyone in the school. That's a huge deal, and regardless of how Carter actually feels about me and where this is all going, I wouldn't expect something like that to happen. Hell, I'm not sure that I'd want to be so public about it, much less make Carter go through the same thing. So I’ll give him a pass on that one. But even if we went as friends it would raise almost as many questions. If we were going with a big group of singles that would be one thing. If it was just the two of us, that’s totally different, and kind of weird. Even to me that seems weird, and I’m the one who’s over here fantasizing about it. You wouldn't be able to avoid some awkward speculation from the rest of the school. And if we wanted to throw a little cherry on top of all that, there's Beth. There's no way she would let Carter get away with that. Even with how little they're hanging out now and how tenuous their relationship might seem to Carter's friends, I'm sure she's going to lock him down for the Winter Dance. Anything else would be tantamount to a breakup, which Carter still doesn't seem like he's ready to do. So where does that leave me? No Katy, no Ko, and no Carter. Sam? It would be a good excuse for him to go, and we would have a good time. But it raises just as many questions as going with Carter would. If you're going to go stag, why choose to go with the only other openly gay guy in the entire school? Luckily I remember that I’m in the middle of English class before I let out a huge sigh. I guess I can wait a week or two and see how Jen and Rachel's plans work out. Plan B if we need it. With the delay caused by everyone else’s lack of preparation, we don’t even wind up presenting. Us and two other groups get pushed back to tomorrow, and by the time the bell rings I'm no closer to coming up with a good plan for the Winter Dance than I was the last time it rang, at the beginning of class. I gather up my books and head into the halls. I get to an intersection in the hallway and decide to take the long way to class. Next is a double period of Chemistry lecture, and I don’t really feel like sitting next to Carter with all this dance stuff so fresh in my mind. Even a couple extra minutes of walking around should be enough to clear my head. This route takes me through the fine arts part of the building, which is where a lot of the sophomore homerooms are. While they’re only a year younger than me at most, it still amazes me how much smaller the kids seem up here. Fifteen seems a lot younger than sixteen, or maybe it’s just another year of high school experience under your belt that makes you seem older. I’m passing by the drama classroom when I see Sam grabbing a few books from his locker. I figure I still have a minute or two to kill before class, so I move over to his side of the hallway and bump into him. “Watch where you’re going, sophomore,” I say in my deepest, gruffest sounding voice. “You’re not scary,” Sam replies, without even turning around. “What if I was going to beat you up and take your lunch money?” I ask, a little disappointed that he didn’t even flinch. If you can’t pick on kids smaller than you, what’s the point of high school? Sam laughs and turns around. “I would just curl up in the fetal position until you left me alone,” he says. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” I can’t help but crack up. The best part is, that might actually be his defense mechanism of choice. He’s not exactly big and tough, more small and cute. “It’s lucky you’re not here to beat me up, because I cannot be late for History again,” he says. History’s clear on the other side of the building, so even now Sam might be cutting it close. I better not keep him. “I was just saying hi,” I tell him. “I’ll beat you up next time.” “I’ll grow out my fingernails,” he says, swiping at me like a cat. “Alright, dude,” I say laughing, “I’ll see you tonight.” Sam turns back to look at me and tilts his head to the side. “What’s tonight?” he asks. I shake my head at him. “You know what tonight is. Do you want a ride?” Sam pouts at me. “Yeah, fine. Pick me up at ten to six.” With that, he walks away in the direction from which I came. We have our end of season soccer party tonight, and for some reason Sam doesn’t want to come. I know he was trying to, or possibly actually hooking up with Craig, our soccer team captain. I wonder if things got sour. I can’t think of why else he wouldn’t want to hang out. I figure if Ko and I show up at his house to pick him up, he won’t have much of a choice. It’ll nice to get to hang out with him outside of practice. Between the play, wrapping up the soccer season, and all the time I’ve been spending with Carter, I haven’t seen much of Sam lately, at least socially. Not to mention, it might be a good opportunity to bring up the dance. Even if I don’t ask him outright if he wants to come, I can at least plant the seed and see if he’s interested. I reach the door of the Chemistry classroom and I vow that will be my last thought about the Winter Dance, at least until after school. Up until my conversation with Jen and Rachel it was hardly on my mind at all, but now I feel like I’m swept up in Dance fever like the whole rest of the student body. I’m not going to think about it. I’m just going to go to Chemistry, learn some science, and flirt with Carter. If anything can take my mind off of everything else, it’s him. ------- ------- ------- ------- “What is it we're doing again?” asks Sam, for maybe the fifth time. I sigh and roll my eyes. “It's the end of-” “Yeah, I know,” he says, “it's the end of season party. But what are we doing?” “We do this every year,” Ko says. “Trust me, it's really fun.” I see Sam shaking his head in the back seat out of the corner of my eye. “When I think 'fun,' I think 'roller skating party,'” he says. He doesn't make much of an effort to hide the sarcasm in his voice. “It's not a roller skating party,” I say. “It's just... at the same place where they have the roller skating parties.” All three of us laugh as I say it, and Ko takes a left turn into the parking lot of the aforementioned 'place where they have the roller skating parties.' It's been a tradition for as long as anyone can remember, maybe ever since Coach Finlan took over as the JV coach of our soccer program. That could have been twenty years ago for all I know. Regardless of when it happened, the result is the same. We have our team's end of the season party at Roller Palace. Roller Palace has been our town’s dinky little skating rink for ages. My mom remembers skating there as a kid. It’s the family business for Coach Finlan, and it’s a huge point of pride for the guy to host our party. Sam can be as sarcastic as he wants about it, but the end of season party is awesome. Coach gives everyone thirty dollars worth of game tokens, and we get to play all the games we want. We can trade in tickets for the normal prizes he has, plus a bunch of ones that parents donate for us to win. He puts out tons of pizza and snacks, and opens up the bowling alley and skating area for us to do whatever we want. It's like a playground, but for tweens. The best part though, is the classic games. The Finlans take pride in their arcade, and most of the games are straight out of the 80s, meticulously cared for by none other than Coach, and his father before him. We’re talking original arcade hits. Pac-Man. Whack-A-Mole. Space Invaders. Frogger. BurgerTime. It’s stuff you can’t play anywhere else, and most of them are still only 1 Token to play. Needless to say, at least some of us are excited for the party. Ko parks his car, and the three of us hop out. From the number of cars in the parking lot it looks like most everyone is already here, but we see one or two other stragglers coming in from the as we approach the front doors. Almost late. Pretty typical timing when Ko is involved. When we open the front doors, I’m hit with the familiar cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells. Lights flash and alarms blare in every direction, with a multitude of games practically screaming to get your attention. The odor of bowling alley blends nicely with that of popcorn. It’s a strange mix, but a staple of my childhood. We check in with Coach at the prize area, collect our tokens, and hear a little bit about the prizes we can win. There's a really nice jacket with our team logo on it that catches my eye plus a cool looking iPhone speaker dock. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on either of those, but I secretly prepare myself to spend all my tickets on candy at the end of the night. “Same plan as always?” asks Ko, stuffing his pile of tokens into his pockets. I shrug. “I'm down if you are. Sam?” Sam raises his eyebrows at us. “What plan is this?” he asks. “We try to play every game in the arcade once,” Ko explains. “But we compete against each other on every one.” “If you beat the other players, you get to keep all the tickets from that game,” I say. “It should be even better with three people,” Ko adds. We both look at Sam expectantly, hoping he'll try it. It makes it a lot more fun, because you have to really crush it to keep the tickets from the game. “Alright, I'm in.” We stop in front of our first game, in the farthest corner of the arcade: Whack-A-Mole. I grab the whacker and line up in front of the machine. This game isn't my best, but it tends to spit out a good number of tickets. I take a few deep breaths and focus as Ko grabs a token out of my hand and puts it in the machine. The whole contraption erupts into life in an instant, blaring some circusey tune and flashing multicolored lights. Suddenly the first mole pops up and I nail it with the mallet. Another comes up, then another. I thrash the mallet in all directions, whacking mole after mole, only missing a handful throughout the course of the game. As the machine turns off, I check out my score. 210. Not bad. I grab the 21 tickets out of the base of game and step back to let Ko have a shot. He saunters up to the machine and feeds his token in. As I move in next to Sam to watch, I look over at him. He’s totally focused on the game, so he doesn’t notice me check him out. Not ‘check him out,’ but I take a look at him. As usual, he’s dressed impeccably, even for a thing like this. Well-fitted maroon corduroys with a slim gray v-neck. He’s so thin, but he makes it look pretty good. It’s hard to believe he only came to our school a few months ago. Maybe it’s because I see him so often at soccer practice, but it feels like he’s been around forever. Part of it’s the way he carries himself, though. He has a good sense of acting like he’s been there, and never making himself seem younger than the people around him. It’s probably because he’s switched schools a bunch. I imagine he doesn’t want to act like the new kid all the time. I can’t help but smile a little bit when I think about that. Sam came out to me the first day I met him, and soon after that I found out why he was switching schools. I never would have guessed that from the first time I saw him, the skinny little ginger kid coming by Nizen’s class so I could show him where the locker room was to get ready for soccer. What would this year have been like if Sam hadn’t shown up? He gets a lot of credit with my own comfort in coming out to a few more people. He makes it seem so easy and natural, and isn’t afraid to be freely out in school, which doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all socially. And that’s not the only way he’s helped me assert myself this year. It was amazing to hear how candid he was about blowing a bunch of guys at his old school, and even wilder to have him tell us that he planned to do the same thing here at ours. And then he actually put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. It’s weird to think of a blow job as changing my life, but maybe it did. Something about Sam’s confidence and camaraderie in doing what he did empowered me. I doubt I would have ever had the guts to make a move on Carter. My now familiar mantra, “bold action, bold action, bold action.” He’s the inspiration for that, his blowjob the original ‘bold action.’ I'm taken back to the conversation I had this morning with Jen and Rachel. I don't know what made me think of it, but suddenly I can't get it out of my head. I need to find someone to go with me to the Winter Dance. If Sam’s oral was the original, somehow wrangling Carter to go with me to the dance would be the ultimate bold action. But how the hell could I make that happen? You'd think being somewhere like an arcade would help me to forget about that. There are so many noises and distractions. It's literally a place filled with machines that are designed specifically to grab your attention, and still I can't stop thinking about the dance. I try to shake it off and get focused. Winning these games is important right now, not finding a date to the stupid dance. Ko winds up beating me at Whack-A-Mole with a score of 240. Sam is terrible at it, and barely manages to get 150. Ko grabs our tickets and leads us to the next game. We play a few more and each of us manages to win at least one of them. For everything he was saying earlier, Sam is having fun. He didn’t even pretend to be bored when he killed us both at Jumpin’ Jackpot. The smell of pizza hits us, and we decide to take a break for some food soon. Next up is Skee Ball, then Super Skee Ball (which, as far as I can tell, is the same game but with all the points multiplied by 1,000), and then a break to grab some pizza. The best part about Skee Ball is that we can all play at once, since there are four of each game and the three of us are the only ones here right now. While we line up and fish out our tokens, I start thinking about the damn dance again. I can't get it off my mind. I finally decide that I have to at least talk about it, if only to satisfy the urge and get it out of my system. There’s no way I’ll win Skee Ball if I’m all bottled up like this. “You taking anyone to the dance?” I ask Ko. He throws his head back and groans at the mere mention of it. “Oh god, you too?” he asks. “That's all anyone would talk about today.” Sam nods in agreement. “Even a bunch of the underclassmen were,” he says. “Yeah,” I admit, “some girls in English cornered me about it today.” Ko picks up his first ball and moves to the starting line. “To answer your question, not a chance.” He tosses it right up the middle and sinks a 50-point shot. “There is literally nothing I want to do less than go to that stupid dance.” That answers that. Looks like I won't be going with Ko. Sam and I line up and toss our first balls, then I turn to him while he’s grabbing his second. “What about you?” I ask. “I'm certainly not that opposed to the idea of the dance,” he says. There’s something in his tone but I can’t tell what it is. Is it disappointment that he isn’t able to go unless an upperclassman takes him? “I guess as a sophomore you can’t-” “No.” I freeze in my tracks. Maybe that’s not what he was implying. “I won't go to the Winter Dance with you,” he clarifies. “Ouch,” Ko mutters to himself as he throws another one of his balls. I was trying to play it cool and build up to subtly hinting that Sam could only go if he went with me, and then I'd ask if he really wanted to go, and then I'd make a big show of realizing that he could just come with me as a workaround. But instead I've been sniffed out and turned down hard, in front of Ko no less. I decide to play dumb and cover my tracks. “What?” I ask in disbelief. “I wasn't asking if-” “Yeah you were,” Sam says, giving me a playful punch in the arm. “You're a pretty good actor, but not when it comes to boys.” I hold up my hands in confusion. “Plus you're all red,” he adds with a smile. I feel my face get even hotter, and I lean down to get another ball to throw. “Ok, I was,” I admit, “but I actually thought you might want to go.” “I kind of do,” Sam replies, “and I’m flattered that you thought of me. But I can't go to the Winter Dance with you.” “Why not?” “Because you're going with Carter,” he says. I shank my throw high and to the left. It clangs off the cage on the top of the machine and drops back down into the 10-point slot. “No I'm not,” I say. Why would Sam think I’m going to the dance with Carter? Obviously I would have told them if something like that was happening. “Why not?” Sam asks. He tosses his ball up in air and catches it. “Because he's...” I trail off. If I don’t say it, I won’t have to admit it to him or myself. “Because he's going with his girlfriend.” Sam finishes the thought for both of us. I lean down to get another ball and stay there so Sam can’t see the crushed look on my face. We both know exactly why Carter can't go to the dance with me, I'm not sure why Sam feels like he has to rub my nose in it. “Hey now,” Sam says lightly. He steps up next to me and puts a hand on my shoulder. “I feel like you need to say it out loud sometimes. You know what’s going on, you just need to admit it.” “Thank you,” Ko says as he launches his second to last ball. It hits a 100-point hole and the machine lets loose a siren wail. The noise snaps me out of it and I stand back up. I take a deep breath and turn back to them. “Ok,” I admit, “you're both right. Carter isn't going to the dance with me, and it's because of his girlfriend. Are you happy?” “No!” they both say in unison. I shrug my shoulders at them and throw my ball, way too hard. “But you shouldn't be happy either,” says Ko. “He means you shouldn't be satisfied,” Sam adds. “Carter likes you, there's no denying that. But for some reason he's still hesitating.” “Yeah,” Ko agrees, “you can't hesitate.” With that, he throws his last ball up in the machine and hits another 100. He totally cleaned up on Skee Ball. There's no way I'm going to beat him now, especially with my angry, 10-point throws. I chuck my next ball in even harder. “Can you at least try to get me some tickets?” Ko asks. I laugh and it makes me feel a little better. If Ko wants to get under my skin, I’ll get under his. “You're a nice guy, Jackson,” says Sam. “Maybe a little too nice.” He sees the look on my face and reconsiders. “That’s why we like you, and that’s probably why Carter likes you, too.” “Whatever,” I say. “He wouldn't be doing this if he didn't like you,” Sam says. “And you make it easy for him, because you're such a nice, understanding guy. But you can’t let your understanding get in the way of getting what you want.” It makes sense, but it doesn't really solve my problem. If I flip out and make demands, Carter will bail, and then I'm right back where I started. I throw another ball and manage to hit a 40, much to Ko’s delight. “So what do I do?” I ask. Sam strokes his chin for a second and thinks. “Here's the deal,” Sam says, having apparently hit on a solution. “Carter, for whatever reason, can't take you to the Winter Dance. And I guess you can live with that.” He pauses, then adds, “I couldn't, but I am a selfish, impatient person.” Ko and I both laugh, because it's true in a way. “Carter can't take you to the dance,” he says, “but he sure as hell can't take Beth.” Ko nods and points his finger at Sam in agreement. “So he won’t go with me, but he can’t go with Beth?” “Exactly,” says Sam. Ko finally chimes in. “He has to choose you, even if only means that he doesn’t go with Beth.” They’re right. Damn it, they’re always right. Sam has a way of telling me things like this. Things I already know but have been trying to avoid thinking about. And Ko knows me way too well to let me fool myself. Carter can't have it both ways. I can't keep letting him have that escape route, just in case he suddenly decides that I was some kind of mistake. It's my neck sticking out on the chopping block indefinitely while he gets to pick and choose what he wants to do, whenever he’s ready to do it. It's not fair, and I need to put an end to it. As enlightening as this realization is, however, it sort of just makes me sad. Sam notices the sudden downturn in my expression and he softens his stance a little. “It's just something you need to think about,” he says. “I know,” I admit. “I'm sorry,” says Sam. “I wasn't trying to make you upset.” He looks around as though he might find something to distract me. “Skee Ball?” he suggests, handing me my last ball. I sigh and turn to the machine. I don’t even feel like pissing off Ko anymore. Maybe we should table Super Skee Ball until after we get pizza. That might make me feel better. I take a step back to line up my throw, but bump into someone behind me. “If you really want to feel better,” Sam says softly into my ear, “I know just the thing that might do it.” I pause and try to think of what he might mean. He knows just the thing that might do it... I look up and see Ko cracking up, so I turn around to see what he thinks is so funny. Sam drops his hands to his side as soon as I see him, but not fast enough that I miss what he had been doing. He was moving his hand back and forth in front of his mouth, miming a blowjob. He wags his eyebrows up and down suggestively at me. “I will seriously throw this ball at your head,” I say, trying to look threatening, but my laughter gives me away. As much as they lay into me about Carter, Sam and Ko are my friends. It’s good that they have my back, and they always know how to cheer me up too. “Is that your solution to everything?” I ask. Sam shakes his head. “Sometimes you have to use violence to solve problems,” he says, “but blowjobs do the trick like, ninety percent of the time.” I toss my last ball and pull out the handful of tickets I managed to win. I can't be mad at Sam. He’s just trying to help, and he can always make me laugh by being his usual, ridiculous self. I'm actually thankful to have him around for stuff like this, since Ko isn't usually too interested in trying to psychoanalyze me. I hand my tickets to Ko, but he shakes his head and points to Sam. I look up at the scores in surprise. I figured he would beat me, but Sam actually beat both of us. He’s a Skee Ball natural. “Pizza?” I suggest. Sam and Ko both nod in agreement. Looks like I wasn’t the only one getting hungry. ------- ------- ------- ------- “What do you think?” I ask. Ko isn’t usually the best person to ask about stuff like this, but I still haven’t come to terms with our conversation from earlier. Now that Sam’s run off, he’s the only other person to talk to. Ko shrugs before throwing his ball. We’re back at Super Skee Ball, picking up right where we left off. “I think he's right,” Ko says. He turns around, for no other reason than to see the frown that appeared on my face. “Don't get all mopey about it,” he says, laughing. “But he's not wrong, ya know?” I nod in agreement, but I don't like it. Ko rolls his eyes and turns back to the game. “Dude, you'll be fine.” Ko sinks a 100,000-point ball to finish his game. It's a decent score, but nothing amazing. If I can focus, I can beat him. I line up my first shot and sink a 50,000. Not a bad start. “I think you’ll be fine,” Ko says. “I mean, I've been with people in way crappier situations. But I guess with less at stake,” he adds. I turn back to him and raise my eyebrow. “All you care about is what's on your stake.” Ko nods. “Hell yeah, man.” I can see him grab his crotch in the corner of my eye and my burst of laughter sends the next shot wild. “You can't grab your dick in an arcade,” I say. “That's how you wind up on one of those lists.” Ko laughs and I finish the rest of my game. I wind up beating Ko with my eighth shot, so I can afford to play aggressive on the last one, and I sink another 100,000 for good measure. He begrudgingly hands me his tickets and we head over to the next game on our tour. “Anyway, if you ever stop getting... ‘staked,’ that's when you should get worried.” “You think so?” I ask. “For sure,” Ko says. “If he's hooking up with you, then he wants to be with you. If he answers when you booty call, then you have nothing to worry about. Everything else is just details.” If anyone would know how these things work when you're doing a causal relationship, it's Ko. He's been slightly involved with plenty of people, but he's never actually gone for a girlfriend. This is the kind of stuff he has to deal with all the time. I shake my head as I think about it. How could you not get more involved? “I don't know how you do it,” I say. Ko smiles. “Usually with my cock.” “Gross,” I respond. “No, I mean like you have to deal with this every time you're with anyone.” He shakes his head. “It's not the same. You like Carter.” “And you don't like all the chicks you get with?” “I like them enough,” he says. “But you want something real with this kid.” He thinks for a second. “Don't you?” “Yeah,” I say without hesitation, but then I have to think about it. Do I? Do I want a relationship with Carter? This all happened so fast. A year ago Carter was just this hot guy that I knew from summer swim team. Three months ago he was a boy that I had a big crush on and drunkenly kissed at a party. Now he's a guy I'm hooking up with fairly regularly, but still won't commit because of his girlfriend. Do I want to try and turn him into the guy who's my boyfriend? After everything we've done and how far we've gone together, I pretty much have to. Why wouldn't I? He's the man of my dreams. Hot, popular, smart, and fun to be around. Half the girls in our school would probably jump at the chance to even get as far as I have with Carter, much less to have him be their boyfriend. And while we haven't quite ‘sealed the deal’ yet as far as that goes, I'm making progress. “You don’t sound very sure.” Ko's words bring me back to our conversation. It isn't that simple. This isn't an easy thing for either of us. Carter has plenty of reasons not to want to be in a relationship with me. He still doesn't seem confident with his sexuality, and whether he's gay or bi it's not an easy thing to figure out. It's not just a change for him, but for his friends and family, and then of course his girlfriend. Ugh. Even thinking of Beth puts a bad taste in my mouth. That's the nagging thing that I can't push out of my head. Beth. It's one thing to keep your options open, but usually that means staying single and avoiding commitment, not staying in an entirely different relationship. Not only that, but a relationship he doesn't even seem to like very much in the first place. From day one Carter's done nothing but complain about Beth, and for some reason he won't take that final step and end it once and for all. My phone vibrates in my pocket and I pull it out to check my messages instead of responding to Ko's looming question. He probably imagines that he stumped me with that one, and he's already playing the basketball game we’ve stopped in front of. He can think whatever he wants for the time being. It's a Snap from Sam. I pull up the app and wait for it to load. A photo. I tap it to check- Holy shit! It's a cock. And it looks like a pretty nice one. Why is he sending me this? Not that I'm closing it. I get a full ten seconds to look at this thing, and I'm damn well going to enjoy it. It doesn't look like Sam's, at least from what I've seen sneaking a few glances in the locker room after soccer practice. After we ate a few slices of pizza, Ko and I rallied up for the second half of our arcade tour, but Sam had other plans. He gave me all the tickets he had won - Ko was not thrilled with that - and took off. He said he’d see us later, but didn’t give any more details than that. I was going to grill him for more info, but he took off before either of us could really respond. Another Snap arrives, and I glance up to make sure Ko is still fully focused on his game. He got enough baskets in the first round to get another 30 seconds on the clock. He won’t be paying any attention to me for a while. Another photo. I look around to make sure no one else is walking around near me and I open it. This time it's not just the cock from the first picture, but Sam's lips around it, buried about halfway down the shaft. I contemplate taking a screenshot, but decide against it, instead just savoring it for the ten seconds it gives me. I can feel a throbbing in my underwear, and I'm glad I chose to wear briefs tonight. Even under jeans you'd probably be able to see a good sized lump if I was wearing boxers. “Yo, you're up!” I gasp as Ko jams a basketball into my stomach. I slip my phone into my back pocket and move up to the machine. I look up at the game and try to clear my mind. Don't think about Sam sucking a cock. Don't think about Sam sucking a cock. Don't think about Sam sucking- “You have to put money in it.” I look back at Ko and he's cracking up. I worry for a second that he knows what I'm looking at, but that's impossible. Of course he thinks it’s funny that my cage is so rattled I can't even remember how arcade games work. I pop in two tokens and wait for everything to light up. I slap the start button and get ready to make some baskets. I feel a vibration in my pocket. I just got a message. The machine springs to life and I start shooting the balls. I make one, then miss one. Make another then miss two. Sam is sucking someone off right now and sending me pictures of it. I miss another one. “Come on, noob! Get it together,” Ko says. I can't think about that. I can't think about the boner trying to push its way out of my pants, or the hot photos that Sam is sending me, or how I want to hook up with Carter, or anything like that. I just need to play basketball. The machine stops, and the gate comes down to keep the balls from coming through the return. I look up at my score. Pathetic. “Dude, I wanted to win, but I don't want you to suck this bad.” Ko grabs the few tickets that the machine spit out and and adds them to his pile. He looks like he has about two hundred. I might have seventy, and that’s including what Sam gave me. “Sorry,” I say, “I'm just, uh, not on my game tonight.” “Beating you doesn't help me if you don't win any tickets for me to steal,” says Ko. I shrug and we walk over to the next game. That last thing on my mind right now is tickets, or prizes, or anything. I have a message burning a hole in my pocket, and I want to see what Sam has in store for me this time. He made some cryptic comment at dinner about figuring something out to cheer me up, but I'm not sure if 'horny' really equates to 'cheered up.’ Maybe, maybe not. I let Ko get set up for his next game, this one an old-style shooting gallery. It's one of those ones that you point the gun down in the machine, and then targets pop up. It uses forced perspective to make it seem like the targets are really far away, but the machine is only about three feet deep. As a kid I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and I’ve wasted enough tokens playing the thing over the years that I’m pretty good at it. Maybe after I look at this picture I can get my head screwed on and actually win some tickets. It's not a picture, it's a video. I take a deep breath and another look over each of my shoulders, then I open it. My cock immediately pushes against the front of my pants, begging for release. It's a full on video of Sam's head bobbing up and down on the dick. It's from the top down, which means Sam got the person he's sucking to film it. Sam pulls off and lets the whole thing out of his mouth for a second, and I suddenly realize who it is. Craig. The captain of our soccer team. He's the only person I know who's here right now who could possibly have a cock this big. I’ve only ever seen it in the showers after practice, and even then I’ve only seen it soft. But it doesn’t disappoint, even then. Hard, it's got to be eight inches long, and pretty damn thick. I’d love to try sucking on something like that... Suddenly, with only 2 seconds left on the Snap, Sam jerks his head forward and buries it to the hilt in his mouth. Holy shit! Not even Carter could pull a move like that, and he's way better at deep throating than I am. I can't believe what I'm seeing. “Ugh, oh god!” I close my phone before the snap ends and try to look casual. I forgot I had the volume turned up, and in the din of the arcade I hadn't even noticed that there was sound on the video. But as Sam's lips hit the base of Craig’s cock, he decided to moan super loud, and right next to the camera at that. On one hand, it was enough for me to hear that it was definitely Craig, but unfortunately it was also loud enough that... “What the fuck are you watching over there?” Ko asks. He still has his face pressed up against the gun and is shooting targets as they pop up, but I can see the smirk on his face. “Nothing,” I say. The smirk spreads a little bit. I can act in a school play, but I wish I was a better liar. “Sounds like something pretty interesting,” Ko says. “No,” I say. I try to think fast. “Just a stupid snap from somebody.” Ko shoots his final target and the game spits out about twenty tickets. “Alright,” Ko says, gesturing me towards the game, “you don’t have to tell me what you’re watching. But I am going to need you to win me some tickets on this one.” I line up the gun and look down into the game. I play through the order of the targets in my head. It’s always the same, and I’ve probably played this a hundred times. If I can focus, I can win. “I haven't seen Sam for a while,” Ko says. The first target pops out. I hit it. I get the next one too. This shouldn't be too bad. “You know who else I haven't seen in a while?” Ko asks. “Craig.” My heart starts pounding and I mostly feel the blood pulsing through my cock again. I miss a target. “I swear I saw him earlier, but I haven't seen him since.” I can't get the image of the video out of my mind. Sam taking him all the way, the way he moaned when Sam hit the bottom and held him there. It's the hottest sound a guy can make, that yelp of surprise at how good it feels to get deep throated. A cry and a shudder. “I wonder where those two have gotten off to...” I give up. I take my hands off the gun and let the last few targets pop up without the threat of being gunned down. I turn around to stare daggers at Ko, who's wearing the biggest smile I've seen all night. “You're a dick,” I tell him. I point over to my tickets and let Ko have them. Ko laughs as he takes my winnings. He's smarter than he lets on, especially socially. He likes to pretend he doesn't understand things, or that he doesn't care. But he hears all the gossip going on around him and fills in the blanks faster than almost anyone I know. He knows about Sam, and he knows he's been tagging around with Craig, and he knows they're both here tonight, and he heard the Snap. So he knows. Or at least he knows enough to use this information to harass me. “God I love beating you at stuff,” he muses as he walks by. “Let's go look at the prizes and make some plans. Maybe we can pool together and get something cool.” He looks back at me and cocks his eyebrow. “If you can get your shit together, that is.” I turn to follow him and shake my head. You can't fool your best friend. As we walk over to the prize area I try to will my boner away. I still have most of a raging hardon in my pants, and I need that to go away before I even think of doing anything else. This is an arcade, not really an ideal place to slip away and jack off, but I'm not sure what other options I have. I haven't been jacking off very much lately since I'm spending so much time with Carter. It's more like quality over quantity. Probably since about eighth grade, I jack off once a day. Hooking up with Carter seems like it's worth about a week. But at times like this, when I get all pent up, I just need to get it taken care of. We take a seat at a booth in the dining area, and Ko gets up to start scoping out prizes. I take the opportunity to adjust myself into a slightly less uncomfortable angle in my briefs. All I can think about now is Carter. Last time we were together was amazing. I've never cum that hard before. And the way he reacted when he let me eat his ass – all the squirming and moaning. It was heaven. No. We just talked about this. Carter isn’t my best option here. He isn't really giving me what I want. He's being selfish and refusing to put himself out on the line for me, when I'm doing it for him day in and day out. He's still clinging to his girlfriend and to his 'options.' And I'm getting left out to dry. That's what we decided, right? But... Carter's the one who came back to me, not the other way around. I had sworn him off and was ready to be done, and he came back to me. He showed up at my play with flowers in his hand and an apology on his lips. He kissed me. I didn't ask for any of that, it was all Carter. And he invited me out last time. Actually, the last few times have all been something he planned. He wanted me to hang out with his friends, and then to stay at his place afterward. He threw me down on the bed and pulled my clothes off. Plus, maybe Ko has a point from before. If I'm getting it, why should I worry? I take my phone back out and go to my text messages. I was originally going to head home with Ko after the party and hang out at his place. But now I think I might have some other plans. My mom is working a double tonight, so she won't be home until later in the morning tomorrow. Since I’m not home to watch them, the twins got shipped off to my aunt’s house. She’ll take them to school. That means I have the house to myself from now until I go to school in the morning. I reach down to adjust myself again. I definitely might have some other plans. [ What are you doing tonight? ] I don't even have to put the phone back in my pocket before I get a response. [ Nothin. You? ] I smile to myself. [ Come over? ]
  2. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 20

    Chapter 20 [ Yeah, they have somebody's ID. ] I send the text and immediately see the three dots on my phone, indicating that a response is coming. I lean out over the railing of the porch and look into the trees behind Lucas's house, but it's tough with my night vision being ruined from my phone. Just like the rest of his yard, the grove of trees behind his house seems bigger than it actually is. We can't be more than a few hundred feet from his neighbors back there, but I feel like you could get lost in the trees. My phone vibrates and I look back down. [ Gotta keep all you boys rowdy ] Katy happened to text me about something a few minutes ago and her timing was perfect. Carter and Gray had just left to do a beer run, and Lucas's parents called to check in. Before he went up to his room to answer, he shushed us – we need to be quiet while he's on his phone. Ricky and Matt turned down the volume on the game and started playing, so it was a good chance for me to slip out to the back porch and lay low for a couple of minutes. It wasn't that I needed to leave the party or anything, but I thought it would be nice to have a little alone time. I was able to put the beat down on these jocks in Mario Kart, but even winning, and thus solidifying my place in the group, wasn't enough to keep me focused. I kept thinking about Ricky. Why did he have to say all that stuff? Even if he didn't mean it, something like that doesn't just go away. It eats away at you. Even if I can convince myself he didn't mean any of it, I start wondering why he had to say it at all. I've heard a lot worse from a lot of people, and even then they're usually just messing around. But I can never be a hundred percent sure. If you call someone a 'fag,' I can't help but be uncomfortable with that. Even if the point was just to razz one of your friends, you chose that word for a reason. But there's something else too. It wasn't just Ricky running his mouth. It was Carter having to jump in and defend me. I know I'm the new guy here, and I'm only hanging out with all these dudes because Carter wanted to get me ingratiated into the group. But are they only cool with me because I'm under his protection? What would they be like if he wasn't around? And then there was the whole 'side action' comment. Am I side action? I had never thought of it like that, but it's true in a way. Or is Beth the side action? It's hard to know for sure. Obviously Carter spends more time with me, and obviously he's enjoying it – at least the important parts. And why should I care if he isn't shouting his love for me from the mountain tops? When we're alone together it's exactly how it should be, and I'm the only person who ever needs to know how Carter feels about me. But what good is love if it has to be a secret? ... So yeah, I needed a little time to decompress and think about all this stuff. [ What else are you kids up to? ] Katy's text manages to distract me from my thoughts. Ever since I responded she's been blowing up my phone. It's no surprise she was curious as to what a bunch of high school jock boys did when they were hanging out together. Katy is cool with a lot of the guys at school, but she isn’t tomboyish enough to ever get an invite to something like this. When she realized I was right in the thick of it, she immediately had a million questions for me. I get it. Up until tonight, I had sort of wondered about it myself. Ko and I hang out a lot, and even though we both play a few sports I wouldn't consider either of us to be ‘jocks,’ at least not like Gray and Ricky, or even Carter. Tonight would be educational, even if adding me to the crew was a total bust. Even if it hits the fan, I'm coming home with some stories. At least, that was Katy's idea. Neither of us were surprised that the conversation had turned immediately to blow jobs. Katy had plenty of questions about that, and I tried to fill her in as best I could. I wouldn't share all the secrets that the guys had divulged over the course of the night, but it wouldn't hurt to tease her with a few tidbits, right? “Yo, Jackson.” I turn around and see Ricky silhouetted in the doorway. I immediately bristle when I see him, and I tuck my phone back into my pocket. I'll catch up with Katy later. “I need to talk to you.” Carter isn't here to get my back, and the other guys are inside playing a game. It's just me and Ricky on the porch, and he looks like he's ready to pick up exactly where he left off after dinner. Ricky moves in closer and stands alongside me against the railing, but he doesn't turn out to face the backyard. He keeps looking at me. “You know all that stuff I said before?” I swallow hard and nod my head ever so slightly. “I didn't mean any of it.” I drop my guard a bit and let him continue. “I want to make sure there isn't any beef because of it,” he says. I study his face in the small amount of light that's leaking out from the sliding glass door. Even in the darkness it's hard to focus on anything but how attractive he is. That being said, it's tough to get a read on him, and even if I could I'm not sure what to say. Why is he doing this? Then it dawns on me. Carter. Carter must have talked to him before he left with Gray. I could tell he was still mad, but I figured he was just stewing for a while. Instead, it's Carter to the rescue, saving his dorky little friend – or whatever we are – from his crew. As much as I appreciate him trying to get my back, what I feel is anger. If he doesn’t mean it, Ricky saying he’s sorry only makes it worse. Carter brought me out to meet his buds, and now they have to pretend to like me because he said so. I'd rather not have any of it. I don’t need their pity. “Whatever, man,” I mumble, hoping he'll take the hint and go back inside. I resume my gaze into the darkness and wait for him to leave me alone. “Seriously, Jackson,” he says, “I'm sorry. I was just messing with you and it got out of hand. I never would have said any of that stuff if I thought that you...” I flinch as soon as I hear it, but he corrects himself. “If I thought that it would bug you.” Freudian slip or not? I'd rather not know. I'd rather just not be here right now. I turn to him, and I'm immediately struck by the expression on his face. With both of us turned sideways, there's a lot more light hitting him, and I can see him a lot better. And his face is talking loud and clear. He's earnest. “Look, I don't know you very well, but I could tell you took it personally when I said that stuff,” he says, “and I shouldn't have said it anyway, ‘cause I don't have any beef with people, even if they are gay or whatever. I don't have any problem with you, or Sam, or anybody.” He waits for me to respond, but I don’t. He goes on. “You don't have to talk to me about it or anything, but I want you to know that I'm sorry.” I finally find my words. “It's cool. Um, apology accepted.” He relaxes as soon as I say it. I can't believe he was so bothered by it. I never think of these jocks as being so sensitive, and even Carter has alluded to it before – they're not so into their feelings. But the change in Ricky is obvious as soon as he sees that I'm ready to clear the air. “Good,” he says, “that's a relief.” He nudges me in the arm as he leans back against the railing and I follow suit. “I was messing with you cause you're the new guy, and Carter's been talking about you all the time, so we had to like, give you the business, ya know?” I can't help but smile at that. Partly because I know where he's coming from, and partly because Carter's been talking about me. Either way I relax a little more, and I decide I’m willing to hear Ricky out. “It was the first thing you reacted to, so I jumped on it.” It makes sense. I could tell Gray was trying to get under my skin with his soccer comments, and I've heard the guys bust each others' chops about everything else under the sun. Maybe he didn’t mean anything by it. “We give each other a lot of shit,” he says, then laughs. “I think you'll be good though, you totally shut down Gray. He probably spent all week trying to figure out how to trip you up.” I laugh, thinking how he just read my mind. Gray wasn't dumb or anything, but he definitely wasn't quick on his feet during a conversation. Knowing that we're good, he reaches over and pushes something cold against my hand. I look down to see him offering up a can of beer. “I thought we were out,” I say, surprised. “Shh,” he says, holding his finger up to his lips. “I stashed a few for myself when I saw we were low.” I smile and grab the beer from him. It's the ultimate gesture from these guys. We each crack ours open and hit the cans together. “Cheers.” “Cheers.” They're ice cold and refreshing. He must have had them hidden in the freezer. I'm not a beer aficionado or anything like that, but I'm at least starting to get comfortable with the taste. We stand in silence for a few minutes and gaze out into the evening. I'm glad I put a jacket on before I stepped out. It's a cold, clear night. We can hear the last handful of insects out in the dark. Another few days of this weather, and there won't be much of anything left before the winter. “Can I ask you something?” Ricky pauses for a second and sips his beer. “Sure.” “Did Carter ask you to say something?” “Huh?” I can't tell if he's just processing the question or weighing his options as he pauses and takes another sip. “No.” “Ok.” It doesn't sound very convincing. We lapse back into silence, but this one is less comfortable than the last. I feel like he's not telling me something. It drags on for a minute before Ricky speaks again. “Do you remember my brother?” I rack my brain and try to think. He was older than Ricky, wound up going to college in New England, out of state. “Yeah,” I say, “but I didn't know him at all.” He waves me off. “After he left for college, he broke up with his girlfriend. She was still here, so I got to hear all about it from her.” “Yeah, wasn't that like, Tina?” I remembered her a bit better. She was only two years older than me. “Right,” he says. “She was really confused about it, but it was pretty obvious to me. He went off to college and didn't want to wait on some girlfriend back home.” I nod in understanding. Makes sense. “But I went to visit him a few months after that, right after the holidays. When I got there I met his roommate. But it like, wasn't his roommate.” He stops to let that sink in, but it doesn't register with me. What does he mean, 'wasn't his roommate?' If you live with somebody then they're your... “Oh, shit,” I say out loud as I make the connection. “Yeah, it was a total shock. He never said anything to me about it, and we were pretty close. He just like, let me see what was going on. And I was the first person from home he ever let it on it.” He sighs and shakes his head. “I was really freaked out by it at first. I wasn't mad or anything, but I was surprised. I've known my brother longer than I've known anybody, and I always looked up to him, wanted to be just like him. And now he was... gay. “But I got over that part of it. He was still my brother, and he was still the same guy I grew up with, he was just dating a guy now. And at the end of the day, that’s cool with me.” He looks at me and puts his hand on my shoulder. “So anyway, sorry I was an asshole before. I guess I'm not like, super sensitive all the time, but uh...” “I am.” My heart skips about ten beats as I feel the words slip past my lips. There's no going back from this one, but I'm getting the feeling that Ricky told me his story for a reason. “Huh?” I take a deep breath and steel myself for what's about to come. “I'm gay.” The words ring in my ears as I say them. “So you were right before. It was a guy.” “Ok, cool.” It takes me a bit to process it. Did he really just say that was cool? He senses my disbelief and laughs. “Yeah, it's cool.” Was that it? Is it really that easy to come out to people? They'll just hand you a beer and smile? “Jackson,” he says, “don't tell anybody about the stuff I just told you, ok?” “Yeah, of course.” “I don't think anybody else knows about Jake, and they all know him,” he says, jerking his thumb back towards the house. We both smile, now co-conspirators. “I guess we both have a secret.” Ricky chuckles and holds his beer out to me for another toast. “We sure do.” As we make contact and take a gulp of beer, Ricky shakes his head at me and smiles. “You're so easy to talk to, man,” he says. “Like, I never felt like you were going to be weird about what I told you.” “Uh, thanks,” I reply. It's the same thing Carter told me a few weeks ago. I hear rustling from the front of the house. The sound of a car pulling up the gravel driveway. The boys are back from their beer run. “Sounds like a delivery,” Ricky says, “and just in time.” He shakes his beer can indicating that it's empty. “You coming in?” I hold my own can up. “I've got a little left. I'll finish up and head inside in a few.” Ricky goes back into the house and I try to take a minute and decompress from what happened. I came out to someone. Not anyone I'm close to, either. But at the same time not a stranger. Someone I know, and someone who knows all the people I know. It's probably the most dangerous kind of person to share a secret with. I can't deny that it felt good though. It felt really good. It's one less person I need to be careful around, and one more person I know I've got on my side if it's ever an issue. Even though I don't know Ricky well, I feel like I can trust him. Part of it is knowing that he's Carter's friend, and part is because he was so open with me about his brother. But there's another part that's gut instinct, plain and simple. Ricky has my back. Just like Carter, there's more to these jock boys than meets the eye sometimes. Below the machismo and the playboy he pretends to be, there's a sensitive, empathetic, and accepting person down there. With that I finish the last sip of my beer and head inside, wondering what else I might find out about Carter and his friends before the night is through. ******* ******* ******* ******* “Hottest blow job you've ever gotten, huh?” I can smell the alcohol on Carter's breath as he places his fingertips against my chest, pushing me back slightly. It doesn't move me, but it makes me lean in toward him while he's talking. He shrugs and smiles. It's that damn smile of his. So coy. So sexy. “It's hard to pick favorites,” he says, “but I'd definitely put it in the top five.” I raise my eyebrows and slap his hand away gently, letting me lean in closer to him. “Top five?” With my face now only inches away from his, he leans down to complete the circuit and kisses me lightly. I push back into him and steal another kiss, and then another. His mouth tastes sweet. “Ok, top three,” he admits. I look into his eyes and think about how much I love when he's like this. When he's a little bit drunk or just feeling loose. His eyes get shiny and sparkly, and they crinkle up more when he smiles, making him look extra mischievous. I let my mouth get within a half an inch of his before I respond. “Top three?” I ask, this time barely in a whisper. I try to get as close as I can without touching him. He likes to be teased like that. He opens his mouth to answer me but our lips are touching and I give this kiss everything I've got. He responds in kind, and when I feel his tongue slip into my mouth I slide my hand over the crotch of his jeans. I don't have to guess whether he's interested – I can already feel the swelling outline of his manhood. Instead of an answer he pushes me back onto his bed. My legs hit the edge and I fall onto my back. Looking up at him I can see that his cheeks are flushed. He's breathing a little harder than normal. He's biting his bottom lip. It's all of his tells, and it takes all my willpower not to get back up and throw myself at him. As much as I want to give it to him, it'll be that much better if I make him come and take it. We're finally back at Carter's house. I was ready to leave ages ago, but none of the other guys were showing any signs of slowing down. Matt and Ricky were both crashing at Lucas's house, and we needed Gray to give us a ride home. In the end, a lot of puzzle pieces needed to come together before we could possibly get back to Carter's. Even though I was tired, I couldn't let it get to me. Partly because I didn't want to seem like a lightweight in front of Carter's crew, and partly because I knew what might be waiting for me once we got here. And I don't have to wait long. Now that he has me where he wants me, Carter shucks off his shirt and stands triumphantly at the end of the bed. My cock twitches as I sense what's about to happen an instant before it does. He jumps onto me and starts making out again, just as hot and heavy as before. He gyrates his hips as he does it, and I can feel the jolts of pleasure between us as our crotches grind against each other, even through a few layers of fabric. His hands slide under my shirt and feel around my stomach and chest for a few seconds before pulling it over my head. As our mouths reconnect, our tongues twist and spar, our bare chests slide across each other, letting me feel the muscles rippling underneath the skin of his upper body. I feel myself getting lightheaded, more from the sexual anticipation than any of the residual alcohol in my system. It's like the first time we ever made out. When he drunkenly fell onto me the in the woods at Matt's party. That night, that moment – it blew my mind. I made out with Carter Mulkins. We're here again, and this time he's not black out drunk. This time he knows exactly what he's doing, and there's no question that he'll be here with me in the morning. Most importantly, he probably won't pass out and fall asleep in the next thirty seconds. Just to be on the safe side, I start snaking my hands across the ridges of his shoulders, down his back, and then to the waistband of his jeans. I need to enjoy every inch of Carter while I have the chance, right? I slide around to the front of his pants and pull down the buttons on his jeans. I made the mental note that he was wearing a button fly earlier in the night, and it pays off as one fluid hand motion manages to pull the whole fly apart. Thus exposed, I let my fingers enter the newly-found opening. I can't help but smile as my fingertips make contact with the mound of flesh underneath the fabric of his underwear. “Uhhhh...” I moan out loud. I can't take it anymore. One of God's greatest, most perfect creations is in my hand, slowly being revealed in all its glory. I grab the innermost waistband I can find and start pushing it down, hoping Carter will get the idea. I want him, all of him, and I want it now. Carter catches on in a second, and with an impressively deft maneuver, he strips off his pants and underwear, all without breaking our kiss. He responds affirmatively as I pull his hips forward, guiding his now exposed member toward my head. He sits up fully before settling down on my chest, bringing all seven inches of him right in front of me, the tip bobbing with each beat of his heart, and just an inch away from my mouth. We make eye contact. It's one of those moments. It's like the first time we kissed, or the first time we fell asleep with each other. It's a moment that supersedes things like doubt, fear, and complications. It is a moment that is real. No matter what worries might plague my mind later, or what my friends might warn me about, or what might cause an all too familiar tightness in my chest as I lay awake thinking about it tomorrow, I can always know that this is real. At least right now it is – tomorrow and yesterday can be something different, but the look in Carter's eyes right now is one of love. In unison, I close my eyes and open my mouth, and Carter pushes forward until the perfect, swollen helmet of his cockhead is resting on my tongue. I swirl around it, feeling and savoring the ridges of it. He's so hard right now, so turned on by what's about to happen. I hate to correlate his inhibition with drinking, but it seems like when he can finally relax with a couple of beers he reaches a new level of arousal. I let Carter push forward and fill my mouth. It makes me feel complete to have him inside of me like this. He pivots in and out, and I bob my head accordingly, taking more and more of him in with each stroke. I reach around behind him and put one hand on each of his smooth, hard ass cheeks and help push him forward with each one of his thrusts. “Oh, god...” he moans in appreciation. I open my eyes and feel my own cock twitch at the sight before me. Carter's sculpted stomach and hips, rocking back and forth just inches in front of me. The pressure of his legs against the sides of my chest add to the thrill of looking straight down his shaft as I watch it slide in and out of my mouth. Like everything with Carter, it just makes me want more. When Carter reaches the bottom of one of his thrusts, I let him slip out of my mouth, then pull him back towards me, running my tongue from the tip of his shaft all the way to the base. I go back and forth a few more times, garnering another thankful sigh from Carter. As I move back to the base, I pull him in harder, letting my tongue wrap around one of his lovely, smooth balls. He doesn't make a move to pivot away from me this time, and I move my tongue over to the other, alternating back and forth between the two. I gently pull one into my mouth and suck on it, loving how big and full it feels. Carter slides even farther forward, granting me easier access to his goods. I greedily let him grind his nuts into my mouth, alternating between licking and sucking, popping one into my mouth and then the other. I'm in heaven. I move one of my hands forward and jerk him off while I bathe his sack with my tongue, and I feel Carter start to buck his hips again, ever so slightly in rhythm with my stroking. As he does it, I get new access to the back half of his nutsack and eventually can even feel my tongue going past that. He seems to enjoy it, so I let my tongue snake back with each gyration of his hips, reaching farther and farther along his taint. Suddenly, I feel the tip of my tongue hit something new. The texture of his skin changes, and Carter gasps. We both pause mid-stroke as we realize what's just happened. I'm licking his asshole. Carter slides forward ever so slightly, both giving me better access and wordlessly granting me approval to keep going. I take a few tentative licks and he shudders as my tongue slides across the surface of his rosebud. It tastes similar to the rest of Carter – a little salty, a little funky, and very, very manly. It's one thing to jerk someone off, and definitely something to put someone's dick in your mouth. But this is a whole new level. We've crossed another line, and I have no intention of going back. Nor it seems does Carter. His breathing gets heavier and heavier as I orally work my way around his back door, and half of his breaths seem to be coming out as whimpers and moans. He gyrates his hips into my face, grinding his dangling nutsack into my nose while letting me get even farther into his ass crack. He's loving it. Without warning, he pulls off and I start to wonder if it was too much for him. He unstraddles my face and swings a leg over me. “Do you want...” “No!” Carter says. He swings the other leg around me so he's facing the other direction. “I'm just turning around. Don't stop.” Now in a 69 position, Carter sets himself back down on top of me, putting his beautiful boy cherry right back in range of my mouth. From this position I have even better access, and definitely a better view. Carter's ass is just gorgeous. He has the perfect amount of definition but still with the right amount of cushion to it. It's soft when you touch it, but hard when it flexes. I hate to try and narrow it down, but it might be his best feature. And here it is, mere inches away from my face with an open invitation to dive right in. I reach up and grab his cheeks, one in each hand. I can't help but give a quick squeeze before I pull them apart, revealing the glory in between. Carter takes hold of my dick just as I start to lean forward in the space between those two flawless mounds of flesh in my hands. As I stick out my tongue I feel him start to stroke me. He makes contact at the same time I do, and his warm mouth on my aching cock is the perfect complement to the juicy, delicious ass that I get to eat. Honestly, I can't tell you if I eat Carter's ass for a minute or an hour. I lose myself, and let my lust consume every inch of my being, my world reduced to the warm, wet sensations of a blow job and the taste of Carter's cherry. When I feel myself getting close, I decide to change my tack. As much as I'm loving this – not to mention how much Carter seems to be loving it too – I want to make Carter cum, and I need it to be in my mouth. I reach up and grab his shaft, pushing it down towards my mouth. He's hard as a rock. He must be close to cumming. I put the head in my mouth and immediately have to swallow. He’s practically dripping precum, which leaves no question as to whether or not he was enjoying that rim job. I make a mental note to do it more often before turning my focus back to the task at hand. I bob up and down on his cock, loving how familiar it tastes and feels in my mouth. “Oh god, Jackson, I'm so close!” It turns me on so much when he calls my name. I slow down a little and try to savor the last few moments of the blow job. I'm getting pretty close myself, and it would be awesome to cum at the... Oh god! My cock feels like it's on fire as I feel it slip all the way into Carter's throat. He's getting so good at that, it's just ridiculous. I feel the burning spread down my cock and into my balls. I'm going to cum in about five seconds if he keeps this up. Without thinking, I slide a hand back to Carter's ass and brush a finger up against his hole. Already so wet from the lengthy tongue bath I gave him, the tip of my finger slides right in. It isn't much, but I immediately feel everything tense up, from the dick in my mouth to the tight squeeze his hole suddenly puts on my finger. Both of us fly over the edge at the exact same instant, and what has to be the biggest load of my life surges out from my balls and through my cock. I feel like I'm literally exploding. Carter, for his part, launches blast after blast of hot, sticky boy juice into my mouth. I swallow load after load, but both of us are still pumping away. I can't believe how much he's putting out, and I haven't stopped cumming either. Finally, after what has to be ten spurts apiece, I feel my whole body shudder and I know that I'm done. I clean Carter's cock off the best I can before leaning my head back in a post-coital stupor. Carter rolls off of me and flips around. Before I can react, he puts his mouth on mine and starts kissing me. I kiss him back, and before too long we're making again out, rubbing our still-tingling naked bodies against each other. As our kiss deepens, I can taste my own cum in Carter's mouth, and I'm sure he can taste his in mine. It's not really different, but I can tell that it isn't his. The different flavor and sexual energy of it kind of turns me on, and we both slide our tongues in and out of each others' mouths a few more times. Finally we break the kiss and Carter lets his head flop down on the bed next to mine. I push my back into him and make myself a little spoon. I fit perfectly into the space, and that's where we stay, too exhausted to do much of anything else. We stay in this position for minutes that thankfully feel like an eternity. It's one of those things. I need to get up and put on my PJs and brush my teeth and all that, but I'd rather just stay here forever, feeling Carter's chest expanding and contracting against my back with every breath. I almost hate to let myself think it, but it really feels like he's my boyfriend. ... He's not. He's fucking not. No matter how amazing it felt doing what we just did, and no matter how long I keep lying here with Carter nestled against my back, he's not my boyfriend. “Is that some pretty good side action?” The words come out before I can stop them, almost before I even have time to think about them. It was what I wanted to ask more than anything, and at the same time the last thing I ever wanted to let escape my lips. I close my eyes and brace myself for what's about to come. Carter stirs behind me, and I imagine he's lifted his head up off the pillow. I can't feel his breath on my neck anymore. “You know we can't...” “Yeah, I know.” I know we can't tell all his friends that we're dating, and that I'm blowing him, or that I just gave him a rim job. I get that. Even if we were out, those probably aren't the people I would choose to talk to about our love life. But that's not the point! “What's the deal with Beth?” Carter sighs. I'm sure he doesn't want to talk about it, especially not now, but I can't shake the idea of being “side action.” And unless I push the issue, I’m sure I’ll never get the closure I need to relax. Never go to sleep angry, right? “I'm sorry, Jackson,” he says. “I'm still working on that.” This again. I get it. It takes a while to figure out. I didn't wake up one morning and realize that I was gay, and even I wasn't ok with it at first when I thought I might be leaning in that direction. It takes time. But how long am I going to have to wait? “So what are we doing?” I ask. Carter tightens his grip on me. “Jackson, I'm still figuring this out. We're obviously more than friends at this point, but...” I cut him off. “Yeah, I know that we're friends, and we're something more.” I try to make words out of the thoughts that are going through my mind. “But I don't know if I can be both of those at the same time. Like, I don't know if I can be the person who's testing all this out for you... and then... and then there's still fucking Beth!” “Beth isn't important.” “She's your girlfriend.” “She doesn't matter,” he repeats. “So why are you dating her?” I ask. It's just like he told me when he was trying to push me away. “I have a girlfriend” is what he said. Back then it was kind of an excuse, but now it feels different. It's almost the opposite. It's like the last thing he's hanging on to, just in case he decides that's what he wants. That last little safety net if he wants to go back to how it was before. But how much is he banking on that? Why can't he just let go? It takes him a while to come up with an answer. I know this is hard for him, but I have to know how far he's willing to go. I can't just guess anymore. An answer from him directly is what I need right now, and I owe it to myself to get what I need. “Jackson,” he finally says, “if I go through all this and I lose her, I'm ok with that. Or if things go the other way and I still have her, that would probably work too, but...” He pauses to compose himself, and it’s a rare flash of vulnerability. “If it's you that I lose?” He doesn't finish the thought, and it almost makes me angry. He shows these moments of transparency, but can't finish his sentence when it's the most important one. I turn over to face him. “What?” I ask. “What do you lose?” “You're the one that gets it,” he says. “Yeah,” I say, “I know.” I'm not able to keep the venom out of my voice. It's exactly what I thought. “I know I'm the only person who gets it, Carter. And I get that you don't know what you want right now. But that's not fair.” He raises his eyebrows at me, not quite following me. He's so thick sometimes. “You get all the time in the world to figure this out, and I have to hang around and wait to see if you'll be here in the morning.” Carter smiles. “Don't worry, dude,” he says, “I'll be here in the morning.” “I'm not worried about the morning,” I say. Is he not understanding, or is he trying to avoid what I'm driving at? Carter thinks for a second. “You're right,” he sighs. “It's not fair.” I look at him expectantly, and he looks conflicted. “You don't have to wait,” he says. “What does that mean?” I ask. “You don't have to wait for me to figure it out. If you wanted, you could try-” “That's not what I want!” For some reason, that seems like the worst thing he's said to me. As though I want to be with someone else. Carter is who I want. Ever since the last few weeks when it's looked like it might actually be a real possibility, I can't pretend to myself that I'm not hopelessly, head over heels in love with him. I wish I was brave enough to say that to him, but I'm not. Even admitting it to myself is a tough pill to swallow. Luckily Carter jumps back in before I have a chance to betray my feelings. “It's not like that,” he says. He smiles at me. The real, genuine smile. “I need you to wait if you can while I figure this out. But I understand if you can't, that's all I'm saying. This is so new to me. And I'm really trying, because I know that I need to do it. For you.” I'm amazed as always at his vulnerability. He's so coy all the time with his friends, and he's so good at controlling situations and the people around him. But there are chinks in the armor sometimes. And when he lets you in, it's so endearing. I feel my anger being replaced with the need to care for him, understand him, and help him. Because at the end of the day, I really do get it. This isn't what I’d want to hear from him in a perfect world, but I have to respect that he's being honest. I can live with where he's at, at least for now. I turn around and nestle myself back into Carter, and he tightens his grip around me. It makes me feel better. More than I like to admit, I feel the tension and worry leave my body and mind. This is exactly where I want to be. Carter Mulkins. My pain and my pleasure. The wellspring of joy but the source of my sorrow. How can the person who tears you apart be the same person that holds you together? Carter gives me a quick squeeze and kisses the back of my neck. Fuck brushing my teeth. I'm not going anywhere
  3. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 19

    Chapter 19 I can't believe I let him talk me into this. The second I hear Ko's tires rolling out the end of the driveway, I have to fight the urge to pull out my phone and text him: Come back and get me! I would never hear the end of it. I turn around and shove any thoughts about bailing as far away from my mind as humanly possible. I can do this. I can hang out with Carter's friends. I look up at the house and I'm amazed at how out of place it looks. Most houses in our town are straight out of suburbia. Cookie cutter sameness all the way across, from end to end. Our little downtown area has a few older houses from way back, but everything else has popped up in the last twenty years as rich folks fled the city looking for greener suburbs. Lucas's house is totally different. It looks like it should be about thirty miles outside of town in the middle of nowhere. It has a much more rustic style, but with big windows all around the front. Instead of a garage, they have a big, old-fashioned looking barn with four full garage bays, but the depth to easily fit twelve cars. In lieu of the picket fence or hedges that everyone else has around here, the property is neatly tucked into its own little forest, effectively blocking the view from the road and the neighbors, and making it seem like you're anywhere but a busy street in the middle of town. “Yo, Jackson!” I hear a voice and look up to see Lucas waving at me from the front door. He's a year ahead of me in school, but I see him around enough that I know who he is. I crunch through the gravel of the driveway and walk up the front porch steps. He slaps me a sort of high five handshake combo and gestures inside the house. “Take off your shoes,” he warns me, “or my folks will be all over me for having people here while they're out of town.” I lean down to unlace and take a look around. Their house looks more like a hunting lodge than a home. Everything is wood paneled and rustic, but in a way that also manages to look expensive. It's really nice. “My parents are from North Carolina,” he says, picking up on my appraisal of the room. “They sort of brought it with them when they moved here.” He laughs as he finishes and I do too. “We're out back, so come on.” Lucas leads me through the kitchen and to a sliding glass door, which he opens to reveal a good-sized back porch, complete with a grill, two tables, and a hot tub. Not to mention a bunch of teenage guys drinking beer and carrying on. I guess I’m late to the party. As Lucas leaves me to go tend the grill, Carter hops off the bench he's sitting on and greets me with a big smile. I can tell he's had a beer or two. He's so cute. “Dude! I'm glad you could make it,” he says, giving me a hug. Not a real hug, but more one of those bro hugs, with one hand clasped and a slap on the back. Still, it's something. “Yeah, for sure,” I say, and I can't help but mirror his big smile. As usual, Carter's mood is contagious. “This place is awesome.” “I know, right? They’re gone for like two more weeks.” He shakes his head in disbelief that any respectable parents would leave their teen son unattended for two and a half weeks. “Yo, guys!” Carter calls out. “This is Jackson if you don't know.” Everyone turns to looks at me. “That's Lucas, Ricky, Gray, and Matt,” he says, pointing them out as he moves across the patio. They nod and raise their beer cans up to me in response and acknowledgment. I know most of them already, although I've never actually talked to Ricky or Gray. They all give off a good vibe, at least so far. I wasn't sure if they'd be cool with me being here. “Jackson!” I turn to look at Ricky, just in time to catch an ice cold can of beer as it whizzes toward my head. After an appreciative nod to the thrower, I crack it open and take my first sip as we walk over to the table where everyone is congregated. I'm surprised at how easy it is to get along with them. Within minutes we're all talking about all sorts of stuff, sometimes three conversations at once. It's hard to keep up with at first, but I eventually get a handle on who talks when and how the conversations tend to flow, and I fit right in. It turns out that Ricky and Lucas are both huge soccer fans. They follow the Premier League even more than I do, and both of them pull for Everton. Thankfully I know a lot about the team this year and we get wrapped up in a lengthy conversation about all the issues they've been having with their keepers. Ricky and I keep the conversation going, and Lucas jumps in from the grill whenever something we say catches his attention. Before too long Lucas interrupts all our conversations by bringing over a huge platter of grilled chicken and pork. He sets it down in the middle of the table without a word, and the rest of us dig in without missing a beat. All our discussions are momentarily forgotten in a flurry of grilled goodness. That’s the sign of a good meal. When everyone shuts up and eats. Ricky was actually the guy I was most nervous about hanging out with at this thing tonight. He plays wide receiver on the football team, just like Carter, so they're naturally pretty good friends. You'd think that would make it easy for me. He's buddies with Carter and I know a surprising amount about the football team this year. We should have plenty to talk about. But that's not what's intimidating about Ricky. He's intimidating because he's insanely hot. If anyone at school could claim to be the typical All-American football player, it would definitely be him. He's good-looking, friendly, and has just a little bit of that country boy charm to him. The girls at school swoon over him, and I'll admit, I'm no different. He's a little bit cocky for my taste, but that's pretty much the only thing preventing me from drooling about it like so many other people at school. And yet, here we are, talking about soccer and the implications of relegation at the end of the season. Thank goodness. I'm glad it was so easy to find an in with at least two of the guys, because I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about this whole thing. Honestly, I was surprised when Carter asked if I wanted to hang out with the guys tonight. It's not like he's bringing his boyfriend by for dinner or anything like that, but it isn't nothing. No. I need to stop thinking like that. Tonight is just a bunch of dudes, hanging out, drinking some beers. They don't know that Carter and I have anything going, and this isn't a big deal. But on the other hand, he's testing me out tonight, at least a little. Making sure I'm cool with the guys, and making sure the guys are cool with me. I know it's more than just a simple get-together, because of how Carter was acting when he invited me over. He was all flustered and nervous, stuttering a little and getting flushed while we talked about it. It was adorable, and it made me feel special, knowing that it was important to him. It's how I would feel if our roles were reversed, and that's a good sign, right? I feel like I can check the box for Lucas and Ricky. I already sort of know Lucas from swim team, and Ricky and I are hitting it off. Matt and I are cool, with him being Katy’s cousin and how much I see of him in the summer. That just leaves Gray. He’s a mystery to me, quiet and completely outside any of the social circles I run in. I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to get to know him after dinner, and more importantly I’m hoping the two of us can find some kind of commonality. “This is amazing,” I choke out a few minutes later through a mouthful of pork chop. The rest of the guys chime in with their own praises, prompting Lucas to stand up and take a bow. I wipe my face, which is fairly covered in meat juice, with a napkin. “Seriously, this is good, man. Where did you learn to cook like this?” I ask. Ricky jumps in to answer before Lucas has a chance. “His parents have a deal. They buy the meats, he grills 'em.” I raise my eyebrows. That's a pretty sweet deal for a dude in high school. Lucas shrugs. “I've been doing it since I was like ten,” he says. “My folks stock our freezer with all this stuff for me, and I crank out the magic a few times a week.” “And they don't notice when a few packs of pork chops go missing,” Ricky adds, getting a laugh out of everybody. We eat in peace for a few more minutes before Gray speaks up for the first time in a while. “So, Jackson,” he starts, already making me bristle with nervousness. When I said Ricky was the most intimidating guy here, I meant that in a social sense. Gray is intimidating in a completely different way. He's a lineman on the football team, and if being absolutely massive in every way wasn't enough to make him a little bit scary, he also tends not to talk very much. He's not an easy guy to approach and conversate with, and I don’t know much about him. “Why don't you play football?” Everyone goes quiet and turns to me. Gray has spoken, and he's put me dead in the center of the spotlight. “Um...” Is this some sort of test? It's hard to gauge what my response should be, but I better think of one soon, otherwise things will get awkward. I fumble for another second, and I feel like my face is under a heat lamp made of five pairs of staring eyes. “I guess I'm just better at kicking stuff?” I say. I flinch internally and wait for Gray's response. He mulls it over and I hear a snicker coming from behind me, probably Lucas. Finally he slowly nods. “That makes sense, man.” I thought it would break the tension, but it doesn't. Gray just keeps looking at me. Testing me with his eyes, sizing me up. I start to wonder if he didn't want me here tonight, some outsider trying to wheedle my way into their crew. And now he's thinking about what he could say to cut me down, prove to everyone that I'm not one of them. Or he could just punch me in the face, which I’m assuming would instantly kill me. Suddenly his expression breaks into a grin and he laughs. I don't think I've ever heard him laugh, and it's kind of terrifying. Huge laughs, like James Earl Jones doing Krusty the Clown. The rest of the guys all laugh too and I remind myself again to relax. These guys are alright. They joke around, just like anybody does. I can't be so damn sensitive. “Do you have a girlfriend?” Gray seems to have a knack for asking tough questions. So much for relaxing. “A girlfriend?” I repeat back to him. “Yeah,” Ricky says, punching me in the arm, “they're these people who make you buy them stuff so you can make out with them.” Everybody laughs again at that and I use the time to think of what I want to say. Obviously the answer is no, but I feel like they won't just accept that and move on. “Nah,” I say as the noise dies down. “Too much work.” That gets another round of laughter from the boys. “I hear that,” says Ricky. “I had to give mine the boot.” The guys perk up at that. Ricky can have pretty much any girl he wants, and last I heard he was dating Jessica Barton, unquestionably one of the hottest girls in the school. I imagine half of the guys' interest has to do with Ricky's personal life and the other half has to do with the outside possibility that one of them could pick her up on the rebound. “Dude, when did that happen?” asks Matt. Ricky shrugs. “A few days ago. She kept giving me crap about some other girl I'm supposedly talking to.” He holds up his hand next to his head and spins it around, signifying that she was crazy. “Were you?” asks Lucas. “Of course not,” he shoots back, but then reconsiders. “At least not any more than usual.” Ricky has a reputation as a bit of a playboy, and with his looks it can't be hard. He has a long frame, but ever since about 9th grade he's been packing on a good amount of muscle. Not so much that it's all you notice about him like Gray, but almost a deceptive amount of muscle. Like you think he might be skinny at first glance, but then you start to notice all the various ripples and bulges around his body. At least that's what I notice. “But you fucked her, right?” asks Gray. Gray doesn't mess around. And when the questions aren't aimed at me, I'm starting to appreciate it. Ricky sadly shakes his head. “All I got to show for it was one terrible blow job.” The porch erupts with laughter. It's not just the fate of Ricky's relationship, but the true, powerful sadness in his face as he says it. “I don't understand it,” says Matt. “There has to be a way to tell. The hottest girl in the world can give the worst head, it just doesn't make sense.” The rest of the guys nod in agreement. I didn't realize this was a problem. You learn a lot when you hang out with jocks. “You're just upset that no one will ever compare to Louise,” says Carter, directed at Matt. Ricky stops what he's doing and stares at Carter, then back at Matt. Then back to Carter again. Then back to Matt. It's fairly dark out on the porch, but I can still see that Matt's face is a bright shade of red. “What did he just say?” Ricky asks. “He's just uh... talking about Louise,” mumbles Matt. “What?!” says Ricky. For a second I think Ricky is mad about something, whoever this Louise person is. But no one else is reacting to it. In fact, most everyone else is snickering. “You didn't know about that?” asks Carter. I know Carter well enough to hear the smirk in his voice. It seems like everyone is in on this joke except Ricky. “I need you to explain yourself right now,” Ricky says. Matt throws up his hands in defeat, but he can't help smiling. “I got Louise to give me a blow job last summer.” Ricky can't believe what he's hearing. He can't even sit still. He's pacing back on forth on the porch and flailing his arms around. He looks like he's about to explode, or scream, or punch someone. I've never seen him act like this. Like a crazy person, I mean. Matt notices my blank look and laughs. “I guess I'll tell you the story, but not because of him,” he says, jerking his head towards Ricky. “Hearing it might actually destroy him.” “Ugh, I'm not sure I want to listen,” Ricky mumbles. He thinks better of it and sits back down at the picnic table so he doesn't miss a fragment of a detail. “Louise is this girl we all knew last year,” Matt begins. “She went to Green Lakes, and she was two years older than us. We all just started like, hanging out towards the end of the school year.” Gray and Lucas are nodding in concurrence. They all seem to know the story already, but I've never heard of this girl. I don't know but a few people who go to Green Lakes, and they're all our age or younger. Matt continues. “I dunno why, but she just started coming to everything we did. Anytime this group was hanging out, she was there.” “It's 'cause she could drive,” says Gray. The boys laugh. “Yeah, but it wasn't like we were just using her or whatever. She was sort of invited to everything by default because she had a car,” he admits, “but she was cool.” Matt is interrupted by a weird mix between a sigh and a growl from Ricky. “I was getting to that,” says Matt, patting Ricky on the head. “She wouldn't sleep with me!” he yells in the night, like a wolf howling at the moon. The rest of us sit in stunned silence for a second, all startled by his outburst. Then the dam breaks and we all laugh our heads off. Even Ricky smiles at his own misfortune, clearly more interested in seeming upset than he actually is bothered by it. “She wouldn't sleep with any of us,” adds Lucas once he catches his breath. “The whole summer single and hanging around these horny dudes, and she never did anything with any of us.” It never ceases to amaze me. The expectation these guys have that every single girl in the world is secretly trying to get with them. I mean, they aren't miles off target or anything like that. They're probably one of the most attractive and popular groups of dudes in our school, but it isn't always just about sex for everyone. At least not that I know of. Ricky shakes his head. “It isn't possible that you...” He can't even finish the sentence. I think it would hurt him too much to say it. “Anyway,” continues Matt, rolling his eyes, “it wasn't just the fact that she was a girl, it was more her reputation.” “She was a legend,” says Ricky. The guys notice my confusion and Lucas jumps in. “She was a legend at giving head,” says Lucas. “Gray’s buddy knew a few dudes from Green Lakes and told us about it. They made it sound like it would change your life.” Ricky shakes his head sadly again. “From that point we were obsessed.” “You were obsessed,” Carter corrects him. “We were...” “We wanted her to blow us,” says Gray. Again I’m struck by how much I appreciate his brutal simplicity. “But Ricky more than anybody,” Matt adds. “And yet, he managed to find the one girl who wouldn't do it.” Now it makes more sense. Ricky never gets rejected. He’s the ultimate boy for every girl in school. He’s hot, smart, and very well-mannered – you could bring him back to your parents if you wanted, and they would love him too. But not Louise, apparently. And while I know it must drive him crazy to think about that one elusive girl he couldn't have, I know it must be positively killing him to know that Matt was able to make it happen. “Ok,” says Ricky, “Just tell me what happened. I can handle it.” He's calmed down a little bit, but he still bouncing up and down with nervous anticipation. While he hasn't fully relaxed, I think it's probably safe for Matt to finish the story. “It was Thanksgiving weekend and my parents took me out to the lake. It was kind of warm and some people down the street were doing a bonfire.” Katy has told me about the lake house before. Matt's family has had it for a few generations, so she's spent a good amount of time out there, but I've never been. It's a little cabin on the lake where you can swim and boat in the summer, then ice fish and snowmobile in the winter. Typical stuff that we do around here. “We get to the bonfire, and it's all just old people. My parents were having a good time and all, but I was looking for anyone my age to hang out with. All of a sudden, someone grabs me from behind in a huge hug.” Matt smiles at Ricky with a devilish grin. “Guess who it was.” Ricky has been keeping it together for the most part, but now he's getting more agitated again. “Louise,” Matt says triumphantly. “Her family is friends with this guy down the street and she was there for the bonfire too.” He leans in towards Ricky for dramatic effect. “And she was drunk.” “No,” Ricky says. “I don't believe it.” “Believe it,” Matt responds. Ricky takes a deep breath and composes himself. He nods to Matt to continue the story. “She was all over me. Within five minutes she dragged me off to the dock and three minutes after that...” Matt raises his arms in triumph. “Three minutes after that I was getting the best head in my life.” Looking around the table I get the impression that no one else has heard the story either, except maybe Carter, which makes sense, as he's probably the closest to Matt of any of these guys. Lucas looks floored, in awe of Matt's big win. Even Gray is emoting a little, his usually stoic features contorted in slight amazement. Ricky is lightly pounding his head against the table and moaning in agony. I look over at Carter, and he's just laughing. He's definitely heard this before, plus he looks a little bit buzzed too. It's a good look for him, a little looser and he smiles more. The best is his eyes though, and even in this light I can tell that they’re sparkling in the way they only do when he's had a few beers or he's really excited about something. In this case, both. “So, how good are we talking?” asks Lucas. Matt scrunches up his face in thought. “Like, five times better than anyone else?” he asks rhetorically. “Ugh, I can't listen to this!” Ricky says, throwing his head back and pushing his chair away from the table. “I can't even tell you how bad Jessica was. All this pulling and tugging and twisting.” He notices some skepticism from the other guys and elaborates. “Not in a good way,” he adds, “in a very, very bad way. “Seriously though, how hard is it?” he continues. “There's like three parts, and you can see them right in front of you. Just get down there and...” He bobs his head up and down to show us what you have to 'get down there and do.' The thought of him giving someone a blow job makes my cock twitch, so I try to put the image out of my mind, at least for now. “What about Stephanie?” Matt asks, turning to Lucas. Lucas has been dating a girl at our school, Stephanie, for about three months if I'm remembering right. She's cute and is a cheerleader, but I don't know much about her besides that. Lucas smiles sheepishly. “That's why I was wondering about Louise,” he says, “because Steph is really, really good. So I was kind of wondering how good it gets. She's definitely the best I've ever gotten.” Ricky sighs and mumbles something to himself, probably wondering why everybody else is striking gold while he's striking out. Lucas turns to his left and fixes his eyes on Carter, the next person around in the circle. “Well? What about you?” Carter blushes and plays dumb. “What do you mean?” “What was your best blow job?” asks Matt. He must know about most of them, but he's probably never gotten to hear them compared. I have my own stake in this story. Carter hasn't talked to me at all about his past experiences, or who he's done what with, and I haven't asked. It feels like a touchy subject considering the situation we're in. Too touchy to bring up unless I want to make a big deal about it, at least. Plus as curious as I am, I don't necessarily want to talk about how I stack up against the girls he's been with. As far as I know he's always had a girlfriend, as early as middle school. It's only been Beth since the end of school last year, so there might be plenty to choose from, and I don't want to know if they're better at it than I am. “Um...” He thinks for a second and I'm treated to his 'thinking hard' face that I like so much. “Quit stalling and get on with it!” says Matt. “I know it isn't Beth, so pick one of the other ones and dish up.” The rest of the guys have a laugh at Beth's expense and Carter turns a little bit redder. I'm a little relieved to hear that. I know she's not great, but I'll take any Beth-bashing I can get. “Faster, funnier, faster, funnier,” Ricky starts to chant. “Ok, ok!” Carter throws up his hands to quiet everyone down. “I've got one.” I feel my stomach clench up. Nobody likes to hear about the amazing sex that somebody's ex was dishing out. “It was a quick one, but a good one,” he says. “Uh... They just really went for it, and I wasn't expecting it, so it was kind of a surprise.” “Surprise blow jobs,” says Ricky shaking his head. “You guys lead a charmed life.” Lucas punches him in the arm to get him to shut up so Carter can keep going. “So, that's pretty much it. Fast and furious, and really good,” he says. “Best I've ever had.” “Did she swallow?” asks Gray. Carter nods. “Yeah, every drop.” Gray looks skeptical. “That's it?” he asks. “Just a quick little blow and you're done? That's your best ever?” Carter shrugs, but then I see his snarky little smile start in the very corner of his mouth. “I was driving the Tesla.” The patio goes mental. The guys are laughing and hooting, slapping Carter on the back. And me? I'm trying not to let my smile actually split my head in half. “Who was that?” asks Matt. I'm not surprised he wants to know, since it's a story he hopefully hasn't heard before. Shit. Come to think of it, this could be awkward. I hope Carter has a plan to deflect, because he obviously can't tell the truth. Before Carter can answer, however, Gray surprises everyone and speaks up. “He can't tell you.” Everyone turns to him, waiting for an explanation. “He was driving,” says Gray. Matt holds up his hands in a shrug. “He was driving,” repeats Gray. He tries to let it sink in for a few seconds, but even I'm not seeing where he's going with this. “He was driving a car that's still brand new, and it wasn't Beth.” Slowly it starts to sink in. I see Lucas nod, and almost as though his recognition it contagious, I suddenly realize what Gray is talking about. The Tesla is only about six months old. If Carter was driving the Tesla, and the person giving him head wasn't Beth, then that means... “You're getting some side action?!” says Matt. Carter turns to him and shrugs coyly. “Yeah,” he says, as though there's nothing strange or surprising about it at all. “Why didn't you tell me? Who is it? When did you...” Carter shrugs again. “I can't really talk about it,” he says. His entire manner has changed. He's so confident and mysterious suddenly. Running with the story, he’s turned on the charm to hammer it home. And everyone drops it just like that. I can tell Matt wants to ask him more about it, and I'm sure the other guys would love to hear the details too, but no one presses him for more info. It's that quality Carter has sometimes, to take over the situation with nothing more than an easy smile and a few words. He can make you believe or understand anything, if only he tries to make it so. And thank goodness. We dodged a bullet. The interrogation to follow a story like that could have been a disaster. “Gray?” Carter turns things over to Gray, who is already smiling fondly at what must be the memory of his best head. “Ugh,” says Ricky, “I already know this story.” Gray sticks up his middle finger. “Don't be jealous,” he says. Ricky shudders and holds up one hand, as though to stop Gray from telling us any more. “I'm not jealous of getting my butt hole licked,” he says. The rest of the guys lose it when they hear this, and it takes at least a minute before everyone's regained their composure enough to let Gray continue. He's not the type to talk over people. Once things calm down, he goes on. “This chick from summer camp,” he says. “She gave me head a few times and it was good. But the last night of camp she uh...” He looks around the room for help. “She moved around to the back, I guess.” Everyone cracks up again. Even I can appreciate what must be a typical story from Gray. Short and to the point. “Dude,” says Ricky, “that's gross.” “No,” says Gray, “it's fucking amazing. And if you don't believe me, then you're just missing out.” Gray turns to look at me. “New guy,” he says. “You ever get your asshole licked? That gets everyone laughing again, but this time all eyes are on me. Gray's brutal simplicity and directness are awesome when they don't put you under the gun directly. “Yeah, let's hear about it,” echoes one of the guys. I was secretly hoping they would skip me since I'm the new guy, but that probably only makes them even more interested. I try to think of how I can downplay this or weasel my way out of having to answer. My experience is so limited, there's really only one person I can talk about, and he's sitting three feet away from me. “I haven't really been with a lot of people,” I admit, hoping they'll just give me a quick ribbing for my lack of options and leave it at that. It's bad enough having to admit that I'm so inexperienced, so that will be good enough, right? “And?” asks Lucas. The rest of their faces mirror his curiosity, except Carter, who has his body turned toward me but isn't making eye contact. I'm glad. This will be weird enough with him in the same room, even if he isn't looking directly at me. “I dunno,” I say. “It was just a regular blow job, I guess.” I look back at the circle around me and realize that won't be nearly enough. “It wasn't just the head,” I mumble, trying to figure out what I'm actually trying to say. “I was more like...” I risk a glance at Carter and it pulls me back to that first time he went down on me. What was it that made it so important to me? I'll never forget it, but what was so memorable? A big part of it was that he was finally taking the initiative, and it was almost like another line he was crossing, one more sure sign that he might be into me. No, it wasn't that. Even now I'm not totally sure where we stand, and the blow job raised as many questions as it answered. But there was something about it that made it stand out, even better than Sam's. And Sam’s was undeniably more skillful, at least from a technical standpoint. What was it that Carter said and did to make it so special? It was his questions. He kept asking what to do, or asking what felt good and if he should keep going. He was so unsure of himself, and so far out of his comfort zone. He hates being bad at things, and here he was, taking a huge step off the diving board and jumping into something new. And more importantly, doing it for me. “I think it was just that they were really trying, you know? Like, they...” I suddenly realize my error and correct myself. “Like she was just trying to make me feel good, and making that the most important thing.” I try to think of the best way to sum it up, to put it in words that even a bunch of horny teenage boys will understand. “When a person wants to do it, and wants to make you feel good. That's when it's really good.” Half of me expects them all to start laughing at my sappy story, but the reaction is more mixed. I see Gray nodding in understanding, and Matt shrugs like he gets it, even if he isn't a hundred percent on board. Ricky looks skeptical. Lucas, however, is shaking his head. “I dunno about that, man,” he says. “I'll take my dick in a mouth when I want it over a special little love fest any day of the week.” Against my will I feel the blood rush into my cheeks. I must have overdone with all that sappy, feelings bullshit. Lucas surprises me though, and he seems to pick up on my discomfort. “No, I totally get it,” he says. “But I've had both kinds of blow jobs, and to me, they were both just blow jobs.” “So you're like a 'technique' guy?” Matt asks him sarcastically. We all laugh and it helps break the tension. I was able to getting away with being a little bit sensitive. The guys didn't seem opposed to it, but I make a mental note to go easy on the deep, emotional stuff in the future. Just blend in with these dudes. Beer, ribs, and blow jobs. If I need to share my feelings I can go hang out with Katy. “So, who was it?” asks Ricky. Shit. I steel myself against giving anything away and try to imitate Carter’s sense of easy dismissal. “It's not important,” I say with a shrug. “Not you too,” Ricky says, rolling his eyes. “Come on, just tell us.” “No.” As soon as I say it I know I’ve made a mistake. A one word answer is only going to make this worse. “What, are you embarrassed?” he asks. “No,” I repeat, “it's just not important. You don't know her,” I add for good measure. “Come on,” he insists. “We've all been with people we're not proud of.” He's grinning now, and I'm sure he's enjoying having me on the defensive. “Was it a dude?” I will myself not to react, but I must have done something, because the rest of the guys start getting in on it too. “Holy shit,” says Matt. “It was a dude, wasn't it?” “What was his name?” asks Gray, snickering. I shake my head and redouble my efforts to just let it slide off. They do this stuff with each other all the time. They're just poking fun at me, and as soon as someone changes the topic no one will ever think about it ever again. “Ha!” says Ricky. “I bet it was Sam. That dude's a total fag.” “No, he's not!” I say, more forcefully than I was trying to. I instantly feel the rest of the guys back off, but Ricky keeps at it. “Yeah, he is,” says Ricky, oblivious to how angry I am. “He sucked off Brian Myers in the locker room, he's totally gay.” “Don't call him that!” “What?” he looks around the room for support. The rest of the guys have gotten quiet. “He's totally gay,” he repeats. I think he's done, but he suddenly turns back to me. “So, was it him? Are you a-” “Shut the fuck up, Ricky!” Before anyone can react, Carter reaches across the table and grabs the front of Ricky's shirt. It pulls him off balance so he just sort of hangs there for a second before Carter pushes him back down. He hits the edge of his chair and bounces off on his way to the floor. He looks up at Carter, then at me, then back to Carter, bristling with anger, almost like he has one more thing to say on the tip of tongue. I hold my breath and wait for someone to make the next move. Ricky seems to have thought better of whatever else he was going to say. “I'm just kidding around, man. Take it easy.” Carter doesn't respond, he just stares down at Ricky. I've never seen him like this, so serious and angry. If I could forget about the situation, I'd have to admit that he's really sexy when he's fired up. “I'm sorry,” says Ricky, holding up his hands in deference. “I'm drunk, and I'm being an idiot.” “Ladies!” We all turn to look at Gray, who's holding up a six-pack of beer in each hand. “How about a little less fighting and a little more driving? We all stand in silence for a few seconds before Matt lets out a whoop and jumps up from the table. “I thought you'd never ask,” he hollers, giving Gray a nice, crisp high five. En masse, everyone gets up from the table, and without another word the confrontation seems to be forgotten. Even Ricky pops up off the ground like nothing happened and joins the rest of us as we head inside. What is Gray talking about that could defuse a situation like that so quickly? Driving? As I'm stepping in the door, Lucas grabs my arm to get my attention. As he's the only person behind me, we're alone on the porch. “Jackson,” he says, once he makes sure that we're alone. I swallow hard and wonder what this is about. “You play Mario Kart, right?”
  4. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 18

    Chapter 18 Don’t worry. The story’s not over. I mean, if you want to freeze frame on this moment, and stop reading right now, that’s ok. It’s a happy ending if there ever was one, and I won’t blame you in the least. But it’s not the end of the story. And it’s not even some epic moment that’s burned into my brain forever. Honestly, it happened so fast I almost missed it. It’s almost like I didn’t know what Carter did until it was already over, like it never occurred in the present moment. He pulled away, took a step back, and then I understood that he had just kissed me. Don’t get me wrong. Holy shit. Carter Mulkins just kissed me. But it doesn’t sink in until a few minutes later. I follow up Carter’s kiss with my usual series of awkward noises and a complete inability to form coherent thoughts or words. I’m still in shock, and still processing. Carter has to take the reins after laying one on me like that. “Do you want to hang out this weekend?” he asks. For some reason, his question resonates with me even more than the kiss. He’s making the offer, and it’s my prerogative fo once. I’m in control, and my decision could turn him down. For once I have the power, even if I’m too shell shocked and surprised by what’s happening to effectively wield it. That being said, it’s simply an observation. Do you really think I’m going to say no? “What are you doing tomorrow?” I ask/ Carter laughs at me, but in that nice, genuine way that he pulls off so well. “You have the play tomorrow,” he says, “and I have football in Avon.” Shit. Why am I always so dumb around him? Oh course I have the play tomorrow. And Carter won’t even be at school for most of the day. The team has an away game that’s on the other side of the city, so they’ll leave after sixth period. “How about Saturday before your show?” he suggests. “That sounds good,” I say, like I never suggested Friday night to begin with. “The weather’s supposed to be nice,” he says. “You want to go for a run?” “Uhhhh…” A run? I falter again. We’ve never done anything like that together. I play soccer, but I wouldn’t consider myself a serious runner. The football team always seems like they’re doing more running drills than we are, and… “Don’t do that.” I look up at Carter and he’s grinning at me. “Don’t do what?” I ask. His smile is so pure, I can’t help but share it. “Don’t think so hard,” he says. “I can always tell when you’re thinking too hard.” Of course he can. It’s probably all the time. “Ok,” I say. “Let’s go running.” As baffling as his suggestion seems, there’s no need to complicate things. Not right now. His smile broadens. “Cool! I’ll want to loosen up after my game, and you’ll be ready for a little break from all your acting.” It does actually sound kind of nice when he says it like that. He continues. “I’ll text you tomorrow after the game to figure out details.” “Ok,” I say. Half way through the word, however, I start to have second thoughts. Sure, Carter just kissed me, but what is he really trying to do? He wants to hang out again, just like we were doing before everything happened. I haven’t talked to him in weeks, and now he wants to pick up like we never left off. Should I let myself jump back down this rabbit hole? “Jackson,” Carter interrupts, “you’re doing it again.” He’s right. I’m totally doing it again. “Just relax,” he says, grabbing my shoulders and smoothing down the edges of my shirt. It’s strangely comforting, like something my mom might do. “We can take it a day at a time.” Yes. One day at a time. I don’t need to worry about why I’m backstage with Carter right now and why he decided to come back to me. It’s ok. We can talk about it later. I can dwell on it some other time. right now it’s just me and Carter. He gave me flowers and told me I was amazing. He said he was sorry, and he wants to spend time with me again. I need that to be good enough for now, because it is. This time when he leans in for a kiss, I’m ready. Our lips touch, and I let myself ride a wave of happy, nervous energy. It’s quick and clean, but I feel it and taste it, and that’s the one I’ll remember. It’s real, I tell myself. Carter and I have had our first kiss - no booze, no games, and no problems. I wander out of the backstage area in a daze and find my family. I can tell that Ko and Katy know something’s up, but they do me a solid and leave me alone about it in front of my Mom. I get compliments from everyone, how good I was and how great the show was that night. Opening night was a smash hit, just like I thought it would be. But only one thing is on my mind: Carter came back to me. There are a million questions that I need answered, and there are a million things I’m not sure about. But Carter’s right. I can’t think so hard. I just need to take it one day at a time. ------- ------- ------- ------- “Ready to go?” It takes me a second to collect myself. It’s one thing to expect Carter to be standing there when I open the door. It’s quite another to see him. He’s wearing a bright teal tank top that only serves to accentuate the muscles in his arms and hint at the body that’s hiding underneath the parts that are covered. His shorts stop above his knee and hang loosely, just barely giving the impression of a nice bulge inside. It’s like a wet dream at the gym. “Just a second,” I say. I was in the middle of tying my shoes when the doorbell rang, and I squat down in the entryway to finish up. “Is your mom here?” Carter asks, poking his head inside. “Nah,” I reply, “she’s with the twins for some recital at school. I’m glad you’re here, ‘cause otherwise I’d have to go.” I stand up and step out the door, closing it behind me. “Ouch,” says Carter. “That’s why I’m here, huh? To keep you from having to go to a recital.” “No, I…” I catch the smirk on Carter’s face and stop fighting back. As usual, he’s just messing with me. Instead of parrying, I take off running and leave him standing in the doorway. If he wants to play games, then he can play catch up. I look behind me to see how far back he is and almost bump into him. I should have known better. He’s so athletic, there’s no way I could leave him in the dust. We settle into an easy pace and I start us out on one of my go to routes. I don’t run a ton, but I try to get out a few times a week when we’re getting ready for soccer season. This route is nice because about halfway through you can pick the long way or the short way home depending on how you’re feeling. That makes it either about three miles or five. Honestly, I usually pick the short way. The best part about today’s run, however, has to be the weather. For mid-November, this is insane. It’s in the upper 60s and the sun is shining so it feels even better than that. A few weeks ago I thought winter was in full swing, but as of this morning you would think it was barely even fall. Heck, Carter is wearing a tank top, and last week we were all decked out in our puffies. The pace seems to be good for both of us, but I hope I’m not slowing Carter down too much. I want to keep my breath so we can talk. From the looks of it we’re both starting to work up a bit of a sweat, but more from the heat than our actual effort. We swivel through a roundabout and I turn over to Carter. “How was the game yesterday?” I ask. Carter doesn’t respond but he shrugs. “You guys won,” I say. I get the feeling there’s more to it than that for Carter. He shakes his head. “It wasn’t a good game. We won, but if that’s how we play I don’t see us getting very far in the playoffs.” Last night’s game was a non-conference team. They were supposed to be pretty good, so I’m surprised that Carter doesn’t think a win was good enough. He’s such a perfectionist, it kills me. “I’m sure you were just working out some of the kinks,” I say. “You have two more games to make sure you’re ready.” “Yeah,” he admits, “maybe you’re right. What about you?” “I don’t think we’re going to make the playoffs,” I say. Our season started well enough, but we dropped a few big games and our postseason prospects aren’t looking especially good. I figure I won’t bore Carter with the details unless he asks. “Not soccer,” Carter says laughing. “The play last night. How did it go?” Oh yeah, the play. I think for a second. “It was good. Not like opening night, but it was good.” “You guys were incredible on Thursday,” he says. “It’d be hard to top that.” “Thanks.” Even mid run I can feel my cheeks getting hot in response to the praise. “No, seriously, like I said. You were amazing. It was like you were a totally different person up there.” That was what he said backstage. That I was amazing. And now he’s saying it again. Why would he say that? “Come on, dude, just admit it,” he says. “You were really good on Thursday.” He knows I can’t take a compliment, especially from him. “Yeah, ok, we were good.” Carter’s grinning at me and I can’t help but do it too. He always gets to me. “I’m glad you came. I don’t know if we’ll have a better night than that.” I hope it doesn’t sound like it was just because of what happened after that. I don’t think I’m supposed to bring that up. We’re just taking it day by day, right? I figure that means we’re not going to sit down and analyze every little thing that happens along the way. “Yeah, me too.” I try to read Carter’s expression, but I’m not sure what to think. He’s such an enigma. Here’s this beautiful boy jogging along beside me, telling me I’m ‘amazing’ and kissing me after the show the other night. Is this real life, or am I just imagining it? I smile a little and let myself get into the zone. We cover the next few miles without talking and I’m surprised how natural it feels to be with Carter again. I feel flustered and nervous when we’re talking, but actually doing stuff together feels easy. It’s just like it used to be with him. Here I was, all geared up to have a serious talk during our run, when all we had to do was hang out with each other. I’m surprised to see that we’re already coming around the final corner and back onto my street. We’ll be back home in just a few blocks. I slow my pace to a walk for a cooldown and Carter follows suit. Maybe I’m complicating things. We’re just going to see what happens. Carter as much as admitted he likes me, and that was a huge step. I can’t expect him to know exactly what he wants and needs right off the bat, anymore than I could expect to know that about myself. And that’s a whole different can of worms: What do I want? What do I… “Don’t do that,” Carter says, giving me a little push in the back to break my train of thought. “Do what?” I ask. He laughs. “Don’t think so hard. You’ll give yourself a headache.” I don’t even bother trying to deny it. Am I that easy to read? We step into the house and I start to unlace my shoes and take them off. It almost feels colder inside than it was outside. This weather is crazy. The whole front of my shirt is about soaked with sweat, not something I would usually expect in the middle of November. I look at Carter and he’s in the same boat. His tank top is wet and there are beads of perspiration running down his arms and the top part of his chest, visible in the V of his tank top. He looks sexy as hell covered in sweat. I’m sure it’s the same way when he comes in from football practice, but I don’t get to see nearly as much of him when he’s all bundled up in pads and a jersey. “You like what you see?” Carter asks, totally catching me staring. I look up from his body to meet his eyes. He doesn’t seem bothered by it. “Yeah?” I suggest weakly. He must not mind, because in response, he pulls his tank top over his head and tosses it down with his shoes. “I’m sweatier than I thought,” he says. He flexes his arms back and forth and twists his torso, checking himself out, presumably for sweat. He looks down at me and smiles devilishly. Something tells me he’s just trying to put on a show. If he looks hot with a shirt on, he’s twice as hot without it. I usually see the summer build of Carter. He gets a little leaner and longer during swim season, and tan since he spends more time outside running around, playing basketball, and all that stuff. It’s a damn good look. Mid-season football Carter, however, is a little bulkier, with maybe ten extra pounds of muscle packed on. He isn’t chunky by any means, but the extra weight makes him look so much more filled out, stronger, and manlier. It’s like having two different Carters, and there’s no way I could decide which one I like better. “We can go use my shower if you want.” It takes me a second to realize what I just said. I didn’t mean that we are going to use it at the same time or anything. Just that Carter can use it if he wants, and I’ll go hang out until he’s done. Honestly, can I go five minutes without saying something weird? “Sounds good, dude.” Again, if Carter noticed it he isn’t fazed at all. Instead he leads the way up to my room. I can’t help but notice his perfect ass in his running shorts as we go up the stairs, like two giant tennis balls trapped under the fabric, so firm. It’s all I can do not to just reach out and grab the thing. The instant we get into my bedroom Carter leans down and shucks off his shorts, leaving only a pair of tight, gray compression shorts with yellow trim. They’re a little bit damp from our run, and it makes them slightly more transparent than normal. Even after exercising, there’s a sizable bulge inside, and not a whole lot left to the imagination. “Well?” Carter asks, putting his hands on his hips. It juts his hips forward ever so slightly and I have to fight the urge to lick my lips. He definitely did it on purpose. “Well, what?” I ask back, somehow pulling my gaze up and away from the glory inside Carter’s underwear. He smirks and takes a step toward me. “Are you coming, or not?” he asks. I can’t help but look back down as he closes the distance between us. Those shorts give him the perfect amount of support. They make his bulge look so firm and solid. “Where are we going?” I ask. For the record, I’m not that thick. At this point, I can see exactly what Carter’s getting at, and I absolutely want to go where he’s headed. But he’s taking the lead for once, and it’s turning me on like crazy. I don’t want to give him what he wants, I want him to take it if that’s what he’s in the mood for. And apparently he is. He stops so his face is only about an inch away from mine, then he reaches down grabs the bottom of my shirt. I hardly have time to lift up my arms before he pulls it up over my head and throws it halfway across the room. A second later he pulls my shorts down to my ankles. “Get in the shower,” he says. I instantly chub up at his command. I can feel my cock straining against the tight fabric of my underwear. He’s never been like this before, so forceful and in control. I like it. I walk into the bathroom and I can feel his eyes on me the whole way. What’s gotten into him? Leaning into the shower, I flip the taps on to about where they need to be. We’ll have ten or fifteen seconds before the water gets… I stop moving and feel Carter push into me from behind. I’m still leaning slightly forward, so the only contact between us is what I assume is his semi pushing lightly into my backside. An erotic surge shoots through my body, and I push harder back into him. He reaches down and pulls me up to a standing position. He grinds his hips lightly into mine and runs his hands across my stomach and up to my chest. I go limp in his arms as he continues to explore my body. His right hand brushes over my nipple and I feel it stiffen. I can’t see him, but I know he has that same smirk on his face that he was using on me when we were in the bedroom. His hands slide up my ribcage then up to my back and… He pushes me into the shower. I stumble over the edge of the tub and flop down ass first into the shower. I’m soaking wet, and I didn’t even have a chance to take my compression shorts off. I look up at Carter, and he takes a second to laugh at me before glancing down at my crotch and raising his eyebrows suggestively. It’s probably quite visible at this point, wet and mostly hard inside my shorts. Rather than strip off his own underwear, Carter just steps into the shower to join me, helping me to my feet before pushing me back against the wall and pressing his lips against mine. I don’t even have time to react. For a second I stand there numbly, feeling his soft, wet lips pressed against my own, but then I grab the back of his head and return the kiss with everything I’ve got. I should have known that Carter would be a fantastic kisser. He’s good at everything he does, and there’s no reason kissing would have been any different. We shared a sloppy, drunken kiss a few months ago, but this is totally different. That was a tongue haphazardly getting rammed into my mouth. This is energetic, complex, and delicious. The whole experience is overwhelming, and I’m about to pull away to catch my breath when I think better of it and force myself to keep going. I’m afraid if I pause this, Carter might realize how crazy it is. We’re making out in the shower. I’m making out with Carter Mulkins, a straight boy who just a few days ago decided that he might like me and wants to see where it takes him. I can’t let this slow down or lose momentum for even a second. Instead of stopping, I slide my hands down Carter’s hairless back and pull his hips into me. He responds with a slight gasp as our cocks make contact through our tight, wet compression shorts. Mine is stretched tight against the fabric, and it feels like his is too. I grind forward and backward and side to side and a jolt of pleasure runs through my whole body. At first I thought it was weird that we were both still wearing underwear, but rubbing against Carter like this is even hotter with the little bit of clothing we have. As the erotic sensations grow, one of Carter’s hands starts to trace a line lightly down my spine. When he reaches my waistband, he slides his fingers under it and reaches down to gently cup my left asscheek. Given the tacit approval, I move both of my hands from his hips back onto the two perfect mounds of flesh on Carter’s backside. Even through his underwear, they feel amazing - firm yet supple. We pull each other in tighter and I relish the contact between our slippery, smooth stomachs when they come together. I slide myself up and down against Carter, causing wonderful, erotic sensations from our chests all the way down through our cocks. We’ve never had this much body contact before, and Carter responds by pushing his tongue into my mouth. This is my first real french kiss, and if things were hot before, they’re on fire now. I finally break the kiss to catch my breath, but I still don’t give Carter a chance to think about stopping. Instead, I drop to my knees in front of him and run my hands up his wet thighs. During our grinding, Carter’s now fully hard package shifted over to lie across his right hip, and as my left hand reaches the area, I roll my fingers across the highly visible ridge of his cockhead. The instant I make contact, Carter’s cock jumps in his shorts and a light moan escapes his lips. I wrap my hand fully around his rigid shaft and trace the outline of it down from the head to the base. It might be my imagination or just my raging libido, but he looks even longer and thicker than last time I saw him. I look up at Carter and he makes eye contact with me. His cheeks are flushed and the desire is written clearly across his face. Still looking up at him, I lean forward and wrap my mouth around the outline of his head. I follow the path of my hands and slide my lips all the way down to the base, never breaking our gaze. “Oh, fuck, Jackson.” Carter throws his head back and pushes his hips forward, trying to get more of himself into my mouth. I take a few more seconds to explore the shape of his manhood through his shorts before hooking my fingers up into the waistband and releasing him. His perfect cut cock flips out and sticks straight at me. I really missed this. While getting jacked off or getting blown feels amazing, I never enjoy it quite as much as I like getting to put my mouth all over him. The taste, the feel, the smell - I love every second of it. Warmed up from our run and then the hot water in the shower, Carter looks bigger and juicier than ever, like his cock is just begging me to put it in my mouth. I do. I take the head into my mouth, tasting it and loving how full it makes my mouth feel. I swirl my tongue around the end, savoring the contours and ridges of his big, flared head. I run the tip of my tongue up and down his exposed frenulum, feeling him twitch again under my ministrations. “Oh my god,” Carter moans, reaching a hand down to cradle the back of my head. He pushes forward gently, and I don’t fight him, instead driving my head forward onto his shaft. I bob my head up and down while Carter lightly rocks his hips in time with the motion, our smooth, toned bodies under the spray of the showerhead. This is heaven. Once we have a good rhythm going, I raise up my hands to explore Carter’s hips, stomach, thighs, and ass. He’s like an adonis, with all the right edges, ridges, and curves. I love the way his hip bones jut out ever so slightly. His rippled stomach is superb. His ass is taut with muscle but layered with the perfect amount of soft padding over the top of it. And then there’s the masculinity of the band of neatly trimmed pubic hair above his cock. “I’m so close…” Carter’s voice shakes me out of my reverie of body worship, and I look up to see what he wants, sliding back until just the head of his dick is resting on my tongue. He’s close, but does he want me to stop, or does he want me to finish him off? Carter looks down at me and implores me. “Oh God, dude, make me cum.” I don’t need to be told twice. I take him back into my mouth and take a few slow strokes over the first inch or two of his member. Then I extend to the first three inches. I know where I want to go with this, but I want it to build up a little bit. I keep up my rhythm, slowly taking more and more of him into my mouth. I can hear his breathing getting louder, and I know I have him right on the edge. It’s time to finish him off. I grab handfuls of both his asscheeks and pull him as far into my mouth as I can, burying him to the hilt. I hold him there in my throat, and I can feel his rod stiffening and swelling with the start of his orgasm. Here it comes! Finally I pull off just in time to take the first shot of his cum directly in my mouth. It’s warm and salty, just like I remember it. I swallow every drop, then hold him there for a few more seconds, gently cleaning off the last few drop of cum with my tongue as they leak out. Carter pulls out, probably overwhelmed by the sensation. “Holy shit,” he says breathlessly, “that was amazing.” He takes a few gulps of air and then pulls me up to my feet. I partly expect him to drop down and return the favor, but instead he turns me around so my back is facing him. He slides up behind me and reaches around to put his hands on my chest and stomach. I close my eyes as his fingers explore my body and bask in the sensations. He pulls away and I pop my eyes open, wondering what he’s up to. Then he’s back pressed against me, but now I feel a bar of soap in his hand as he moves across my torso. He sets the soap back down and resumes his explorations. The soap adds a new sensation to it, making everything slippery and erotic in a new way. Finally, his hands drop below my stomach and slip under my waistband. I relax back into Carter’s body and enjoy more of the flesh on flesh sensations that we were feeling before. He wraps his hand around my rock hard tool and starts gently stroking it, the soap acting as a lubricant. Needless to say, it feels amazing. As Carter continues jacking me off, I start to feel his dick perking back up, pressing lightly into my backside. It’s pushing directly into my crack, and I push back into him. The contact down there feels… weird, but good. To be honest, I haven’t done a ton in the way of self exploration down on that side of things. I’ve jacked off about a million times, just like any healthy teenage boy. But besides a handful of quick feels, I haven’t done much with my butt. I guess I always figured I’d be a top. I make a mental note to look into that though, because Carter’s semi pressing into the space around my ass is sending erotic sensations all through my body. I reach down and push my compression shorts down my legs to allow Carter free access. Now when I push back into him, I can feel his cock nestle directly between my cheeks. Feeling his fat, hot meat squeezed into my crack is all it takes to get me right to the brink. I twist my head around and let my mouth find Carter’s. He locks his lips over mine and I feel my cock start to swell in his hand. He stops jacking me, but holds his hand there as I blow my load, a huge explosion of cum blasting out across the bottom of my shower. I groan and almost lose my footing as I’m swept up in my orgasm, but Carter holds me in place, one hand around my waist and the other wrapped tightly around my spitting dick. My mind soars above the clouds through the height of my climax and comes to rest at a spot not too much lower than that. I start to catch my breath, wrapped in Carter’s embrace, with the hot water of the shower raining down on both of us.
  5. Roe St. Alee

    How I Got Carter

    I've thought about that as well... Maybe one day
  6. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 17

    Chapter 17 It’s finally here! Opening night. Or rather, it’s the early predawn hours of the day that will eventually turn into opening night. My alarm isn’t set to go off for almost another hour, but I’m so excited I can’t imagine I’ll be able to fall back asleep. Instead, I try to quiet my mind and focus on the day to come. I need to save some of this excitement for later. There’s still a full day of school. I have a math quiz. I need to turn in homework. After that, I can get stoked. Unfortunately, I don’t see myself being able to focus on anything. I’m already buzzing with energy, and after a few fruitless minutes of waiting for my brain to shut back off so I can snooze, I decide to get out of bed and officially make it an early morning. First things first. Breakfast. Usually I’ll shower and get dressed first thing in the morning, but I think today needs to start with a nice, hearty breakfast. I’m rummaging through the fridge for something to eat when my phone goes off. I pull out milk, yogurt, and an apple before checking my messages. It’s Katy. [ GET PUMPED!!!!!! ] Of course it’s Katy. She knows me too well. She doesn't even have to ask if I’m up already. Anytime I’m excited, I’m up and at 'em way too early. She’s the same way. [ I’m trying to get a jump start on my Tony acceptance speech ] She’ll get a kick out of that. I wolf down my food like any good teenage boy as we exchange a few more texts back and forth. Since she’s awake, I coerce her into giving me a ride to school. That’ll give me a few more minutes to get ready, so I run upstairs to shower and pick out clothes. During our breakfast, Katy and I also decided that we’re going to look good today, so I’ll need to pick something extra special to wear. I eventually decide on my favorite mustard yellow corduroys and a trendy purple sweater from Banana Republic. It’s a great look for me. Katy helped me pick out these pants, and the sweater was a lucky find at a thrift store a few months ago. I spend a few extra minutes getting my hair perfect and take a good long look at myself in the mirror. I look damn good. Not just regular good. Fantastic, in fact. And when you look good, you feel good. I’m sure part of it is the excitement of the show tonight, but there’s something else. I feel positive vibes, and it’s practically radiating out from me. Not just about the show. About everything. Today is going to be one hell of a good day. I’m sure of it. I shove my books in my backpack and realize, as I’m heading out the door to meet Katy, that this is the first time I’ve felt like this since… you know. I haven’t felt bad. But I haven’t felt like this. This is the feeling Carter used to give me. I used to pop off the pillow to a text from him and be energized to go to school, because I knew he would be there. I would count down the minutes until study hall when we might sit together, and then anxiously await the end of the day when we would both be in chemistry, whether we were working on a lab together or just going over some homework and casually talking and flirting in between problems. Even though we weren’t dating, I felt a genuine closeness to him. It was all friendly, besides the few times we fooled around of course, but he lit up everything inside me and made me feel like I was something really special. I mean, if you’re hooking up with a guy like Carter, you must be something special. In the weeks since, it’s been hard to tell if that feeling was only something I ever felt with Carter, or if it was something I was just now missing because my time with Carter had made it so strong. Had it been there before him? Was it inside me all along? Honestly, I don’t know. But today, I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it like I haven’t in weeks and weeks, and this time it’s making me even happier, because it’s just me. It’s not anything I’m depending on from someone else. I have myself and I have the things that are constant in my life - friends, family, and the play tonight. Those are all my things. Things that can’t get taken away from me. Damn that feels good. Before I can even blink it’s already lunchtime, and Ko and I are chowing down on today’s special, chicken alfredo. If anything it’s another omen pointing to a great day, as it’s one of the best things they ever make at school. According to me and Ko at least. Katy swings by for a few minutes as we’re finishing up to figure out our exact plans for tonight. We don’t have to be at the theater until a few hours after school ends, but Katy and I decide to head over there immediately after our last class. Opening night is a huge deal, and we want to savor and soak up as much of it as we can. The rest of the day comes and goes in a flash, and I’m back to practically purring with excitement by the time I get to chemistry. Today is a lecture day, and as riveting as Nizen’s discourse on valence electrons is, I can only think of one thing. In less than five hours I’ll be on stage. We wrap up class with about twenty minutes to spare, and I’m not sure what I’ll do. I’m so full of energy I feel like I might burst. And I need to sit here and pretend to do my chemistry homework for almost half an hour? Not likely. But I do need to get some of this homework done, and merely pretending to do it won’t help the time go by any faster. Tonight I’ll be busy with the show, and I already have at least half of tomorrow’s study hall locked up to finish an English assignment. I resign myself to my assignment. Tonight’s work is tedious, but not hard. I’m picking up well on this chapter, and my good mood surprisingly translates into a decent focus, so I knock one problem out after another. I should be able to get almost all of the assignment done if I don’t get stuck on anything. “Jackson.” I jerk my head up in surprise at the sound of my name. I get the impression that it wasn’t the first try to get my attention. “Yeah?” I turn to see Carter leaning over toward my desk with a piece of paper in his hand. “You’re really good at these, right?” he asks. “Does number seven look weird to you?” I grab his paper and look down at seven. His process is right, but he made a mistake on adding everything up at the end. That’s not like Carter. I’m more of a detail person than he is, but he still usually double checks all of his work. “You added it up wrong,” I say, and hand it back. Before he even takes the paper out of my hand, my focus is back on my own and I’m working on the next problem. I get the vague sensation that he’s still looking at me, but I ignore it. If he wants to talk to me he can say something. For now I have bigger fish to fry. This homework needs to distract me for ten more minutes, and then it’s opening night. I have to smile a bit as I get back into my work. Even Carter can’t distract me from my high today. This is what I was born to do. After what seems like a decade, the bell rings. From that moment, I feel like I’m floating through a fog. Out of the classroom and over to my locker. Then from the locker up to the drama classroom to grab a few things I stashed in there this morning. Then down all the way across the school to the auditorium. I don’t notice the people in the halls around me or the noise and commotion of the end of the school day. There’s a thousand little stories in a high school hallway, but for me it’s just a journey through limbo, the school day finally done and the big night only moments away. So let’s try that again: It’s finally here. Opening Night. I put my bag and a few other things in my cubby in the dressing room. A handful of other people have gotten here already, but so far no sign of Katy. I manage to finagle the promise of a few pieces of pizza from a senior on stage crew who’s leaving for a while to grab some food. I probably won’t have time to leave at all. Curtain is at 6pm for our show tonight, and I want to make sure there’s plenty of time to get my makeup and costuming done. Back in my freshman year, I had been pretty nervous about my first show. I hadn’t done much acting before, but thought that maybe theater was something I wanted to try. Imagine my surprise when I snagged a meaty role in my first ever show. The Reverend Hale in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Not bad for a rookie. From the first day of practice, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt on stage. It was easy once I was up there doing it, and I was getting along with everybody in the company too. Things were going great, and I came into our last week of rehearsal with a full head of steam and all the confidence in the world. Oh, the naiveté of Jackson the freshman. Opening night hit me like a freight train. The whole day leading up to it had been pretty similar to today. I was riding high on what I thought was almost guaranteed to be my smash hit, break out performance. I swaggered into the auditorium after school laughing and joking with the other kids in the show, a big smile on my face. Everything was looking up. Until the moment I stepped out onto the stage. Luckily it was still a few hours before curtain. I didn’t even have my makeup or costume on yet. I just wanted to get a feel for what it would be like once I got up there to perform. I pushed out from behind the curtain and walked onto the exposed part of the stage. At that exact moment, our technical director decided she wanted to run through the lighting cues one more time. The house lights came down, and there I was. Under the stage lights, all my confidence flew straight out the window. The lights suddenly felt hotter and brighter than they ever had during rehearsal. Instead of squinting out through the glare to see our director and a few other people, I saw row after row after row of chairs. In a few hours, they wouldn’t just be chairs, they would be full of people. From the looks of it, half the town would be there watching me. Heart pounding, I ran back through the curtain and into the calming blue lights of backstage. How the hell was I going to do this? It’s like all the nerves I hadn’t been feeling about the show for the past few weeks suddenly came to life in a giant wave of fear and anxiety. I closed my eyes and forced myself to breathe slow, even breaths. I willed myself not to cry, even though I wanted to. Maybe if I said I was sick, they would get someone else to... “Hey!” I looked around to see who was talking to me. I didn’t see anyone from stage crew, but I had definitely heard a voice calling me, a girl. “Up here!” I looked up into the grid and could just make out the shadow of a figure above me. There was a sort of catwalk above our stage where you can go to adjust lights, hook up set pieces, or even string up a harness for our school’s infamous production of Peter Pan. Let’s just say that having high schoolers in charge of your flying harness might not be the safest idea. But now there was a voice calling me from somewhere up there. I walked to the back of the stage where the access ladder was, and was surprised to find that it was open. Usually they kept it closed and locked unless someone needed to go up there to fix something. They didn’t want us kids wandering up there whenever we felt like it. I climbed the ladder and found the source of the mystery voice from above: Katy. At the time, Katy was a bit of an anomaly to me. She was a year older and seemed so serious about everything in theater. She was the person who showed up to the first rehearsal totally off book, and she wasn’t afraid to give you pointers if you needed it during our practices. Never in a snooty or off putting way, but it was still intimidating to work with her. She definitely wasn’t someone I ever had the guts to try and buddy up with. “First big show?” she asked as I popped my head through the ladder hatch and into the grid. “Yeah,” I said, shuffling over as best I could to sit next to her. The roof there was only about five feet tall, and there were loads of connectors, fixtures, and who knows what drilled into the ceiling, so you had to walk through all hunched over. “It’s a lot different when the chairs are out there, isn’t it?” she said. “Yeah,” I said again. Just a single word, but I could tell we were on the same page. An empty auditorium could never convey how many people were going to be out there watching me on stage for opening night. “Are you nervous?” she asked. I nodded and looked out again at all the empty seats. In less than two hours those would all be full. I’d have to walk on stage to deliver my lines, with all those people looking… “Good,” said Katy, giving my hand closest to her a reassuring pat. “‘Cause that means you’re excited.” I threw her an incredulous look. She made it sound so simple, and in my current state of near panic, I did not agree. That being said, she had been doing this for a while, so I figured I should hear her out. I still remember the feeling I got when she turned and smiled. I blushed. Not because a cute girl was getting close with me - even then I was pretty sure I wasn’t interested in girls - but because this girl who was so good at something I wanted to be good at was being nice to me. Even though I was nervous, I could feel the warmth from her smile. That’s the power Katy has, the same thing she does when she’s acting up on the stage. She can radiate a feeling straight over to you. “Don't worry, Jackson,” she continued, “you’re going to feel nervous for a little bit, but by the time we get out on stage, it’s all going to turn into a rush. When you actually step out into the lights, you won’t be nervous at all.” “Are you sure?” I asked, before I could stop myself from saying it. I sounded like an idiot, so unsure of myself. “I’ve done this before,” she answered with a wink. “Nervous and excited - it’s the same thing. Same feeling, just whether you’re scared or happy while you’re feeling it.” We talked for another fifteen or twenty minutes, until there wasn’t any time to spare. Katy took me down to the stage then back to the dressing room where she did my makeup for me. There was something so calming about being around her. Like she had done this a thousand times already, and that there was absolutely nothing to be nervous about. By the time the curtain rose, Katy was right. The nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach had morphed into an excited energy that wanted nothing more than to go out there and give those people the best show I could. Over the next few weeks we became best friends, and to this day she still does my makeup for me before every show. Usually she’ll do mine early, since it’s a little weird to have one of the actors doing makeup, instead of the girls on the makeup crew. Then I sit with her while she gets hers done. At this point we’re 3 years into the tradition and it’s still one of my favorite parts of a show night. “There’s my little superstar!” Katy’s voice pulls me back to the present moment and I turn around to see her practically strut into the dressing room with her makeup bag. She acts like she owns the place around here, which as a senior with her reputation and experience, she pretty much does. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s more like she’s invested so much of her time and energy here over the last few years that she’s as much a part of our theater as the dressing room itself. My makeup for this show is awesome, but it takes a while to get it right. I wear a mask over my eyes, but the bottom half of my face still shows. Katy colors it to match the mask, then puts deep, dark lines all around my mouth, giving my expressions a crazed, almost supernatural look under the lights. I don’t know how she figured it out, but I can’t wait to suit up. With a flourish, Katy pulls out the first couple items from her bag and gets to work. ******* ******* ******* ******* I know how it must seem to other people. Everything about the theater, from beginning to end, is cheesy and cliché. We put on musty old costumes with all sorts of velvety fabrics and tights and stupid looking hats. We speak trite, archaic words - you could just look them up in a book if you really care what we’re talking about - and prance around on stage between fake replicas of objects. Plywood and polyester, painted and sewn, with centuries old words that you’ve heard a hundred times before. And somehow, it’s magic. Everything we’re doing up there is fake, from the clothes to the set pieces, with our mediocre acting to top it all off. Yet somehow, on certain nights, with the lights shining down just right, a strange energy will take hold. On stage we start to feel it a few minutes into the show, and then it seeps into the audience and they start to feel it too. Then the actors start to notice that the audience is feeling it, and they feel it even more. And this magical, inexplicable feeling starts reflecting and intensifying back and forth between the two until no one’s noticing anything anymore. Maybe you’ve never experienced it, but I can assure you it’s very real. It doesn’t happen every single night, and most nights it’s not so intense. But every once in awhile it strikes a chord, like a low hum reverberating in a stairwell. And everybody feels it. That’s how opening night goes. There’s magic in the air from the moment we step on stage. By the time Quince and Bottom appear, there’s a palpable energy in the theater. We’re giddy with excitement as we wait for our entrances in the wings, and everyone on stage is on fire. When an audience is laughing at 400 year old jokes, you know you’re doing it right. The first half of the show flies by, and before we know it, the curtain is dropping for intermission. Backstage we can’t stop smiling and giggling. We’re crushing it tonight. As is our tradition, Katy and I meet at the ladder. ‘Our ladder,’ as we sometimes call it. We check to make sure the coast is clear, flip the latch that allegedly secures the ladder, and then climb up to the grid as fast as we can. I’m in the first scene of the second act, so we might only have a few minutes to take it all in. We scoot up to the front of the catwalk, which actually extends past the curtain. That way we can sneak a peek out into the auditorium without being spotted. This is where we first met, and ever since that first show we like to come up here during the break to people watch and get a quick breather. Within a few minutes I’ve spotted a bunch of my classmates and teachers, and even my favorite assistant principal, Ms. Zidnik. Nice of her to come out tonight. “There’s your mom,” Katy points out over the left side of the stage, near the front. I look over and see her with Randy and Sarah and my aunt. I told Mom to be over on that side of the stage since there’s a part of the show where I get to jump out at the audience in that corner. I’m hoping it will get a reaction from everyone, but the thought of scaring my little brother and sister is the best part. In the row behind them I can see Ko texting on his phone. At least he’s not asleep. Katy and I are pretty sure that he secretly likes coming to see our plays, but he always makes a big fuss about it, just like the football games. I know his mom and dad are coming to the play tomorrow and they’ll probably make him come with them too. Strange to see a play twice if you hate it that much. Closer to the middle section I spot Katy’s parents talking to a few older folks I don’t recognize. And sitting next to them… “He’s sitting with your parents?” I exclaim. Katy jabs me in the side with her fingers. “Don’t even start with me,” she whispers back. “He was picking me up to go to the movies last week and they asked if he had tickets yet.” “And they bought him one?” Katy sighs. “They didn’t really give him a choice.” Poor Jeff. Katy’s parents are nice people, don’t get me wrong. But that seems like a big step. Out to see a show with the in-laws. Yikes. I scan back across the aisles to see if I know any of the people coming back out of the lobby into the auditorium. I see the delivery guy from our favorite pizzeria and the lady who checks the parking meters in town. It’s not a bad turnout for a Thursday night… No. Shit! It’s Carter. He’s walking up the aisle. Why didn’t he say that he was coming tonight? He saw me in chemistry and could have mentioned it, then I at least would have had my guard up. Instead, I’m staring down at him and wondering if it’s too late to get an understudy to finish off the show. Slap enough makeup on him and people wouldn’t even know the difference. Just then, the lights flash in the auditorium, indicating the end of intermission and the start of the second half of the show. For the audience, that means it’s time to find your seat. For Katy and me, it’s time to get the heck out of the dusty grid and get back down to our dressing rooms. I try to shake the thought of Carter from my mind as I clamber back down the ladder. The same questions run through my head on repeat: Why is he here? Why didn’t he tell me he was coming? What does it mean? I’m not especially careful about checking to see if the coast is clear as we descend. Luckily no one sees until we’re almost to the dressing rooms, and we manage to slip seamlessly in with all the other actors like we were never even gone. I think everyone has something in their lives that can take their mind off of anything in a heartbeat. For Ko it’s his models that he likes to build. For Sam it’s archery. Thankfully, for me it’s acting. By the time I sit down for a quick touch up on my stage makeup, the thought of anything at all to do with Carter is miles away. I’m thinking of my stage directions, my lines, and a few key spots that I really want to turn up the intensity. I’m right back in the zone. Acting has always been like that for me. From the first time I was in a play - a ramshackle retelling of the story of King Arthur and his knights in second grade - I’ve always been able to get lost in the craft. When I was obsessing over Carter, Drama was always one of the best periods of the day. I would go an entire class without thinking about Carter once. Even when things were going well between us it was a welcome relief to get away for a little bit. And when it wasn’t going well, it was an absolute life saver. Tonight is certainly no exception. The first half of the show went well, and even in the dressing room I can feel the energy building back up. There’s a buzz around all the actors, and once something like that gets going, it sucks you right in. Forget about Carter. Forget about all of it. It’s time for the second act. It’s time to perform. The first half of the show was fire, and we need to keep it up. And we do it. If anything, the second half is even better than the first. I forget that Carter’s even here - hell, I forget about Carter completely. Katy’s not thinking about Jeff’s awkward date with her parents, and even Ko is probably sitting out there hanging on our every word. It feels natural, easy, and right. This is exactly where we’re supposed to be right now. The curtain swings shut as we wave our final goodbyes to the crowd. The applause is almost deafening. As the noise dies down, the cast and crew stand backstage together, basking in the afterglow of a great performance. I try to take a snapshot of the moment in my mind. That instant when the curtain closes and the world goes dark. Everyone is beaming from ear to ear, and we share one final, perfect moment together in happy silence. You can feel the energy and contentment radiating from everyone around. You might only get one performance like this in the entire run. It’s crazy that it’s opening night, but I’ll take it. We killed it, and a moment like this is a perfect one. The house lights come on, and that includes the lights backstage. The sudden return of our sight snaps us out of our reverie, but only partially. The success is still real, and the smiles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Except maybe mine. Because the instant the lights come up, there’s only one thing I can think about. Carter. He’s here. He’s out there. And after a whole night of not thinking about him for a second, it’s almost like my brain releases the flood gates and all of my pent up Carter thoughts and emotions come pouring out. Why was he here? What did he think of the show? Did he actually come to see me? There are thousands of questions racing through my brain, and I’m powerless to stop them. I should know better, especially now. The last few weeks have actually been great for me, and I’ve been avoiding Carter to the best of my abilities. My grades are great, I’m spending lots of time with my friends, soccer is wrapping up a good season, and tonight’s show was undoubtedly a smashing success. So why does thinking of Carter feel like opening up a massive hole inside of my heart? Ugh. I’m disgusted with myself for being so weak about Carter. I can’t even deny it. Ever since we split up I feel empty. Everything I’ve done seems drab and flavorless in retrospect. Perfectly decent memories, but suddenly whitewashed into blandness with the absence of Carter. Even now, in the middle of what should be the best feeling of my life - coming hot out of the gates with a killer performance in the play - I’m absolutely crushed by the thought of being alone. I make myself small and shrink back into the rear of the backstage area. I see my fellow cast and crew members shuffle out the wings, laughing and carrying on, floating away to the audience on the high of a great performance. I don’t want to rain on their parade. I grab a few props and try to sort them out, finding their homes in the cubbies we have on the wings. A few minutes, I tell myself, and I’ll be back to my normal self. I just need to keep busy and wait until my mind drifts back away from Carter and I can enjoy the success of the night. He’ll be gone out of the theater, and I can go see my mom and other friends from school, who I’m sure will stick around until I come out to wish me the best. I wonder if it’s always going to be like this. I’ll go the next few weeks feeling good and living my life and then… Bam. I’ll be struck with loss and resentment, and the inescapable feeling of missing a piece of myself. Something I feel even more stupid for, since I never even had it in the first place. I was kidding myself all along, and now I’m going to carry that around like a lead weight for the rest of my life. A few more minutes, I tell myself. I grab an extension cord up off the floor and start spooling it up. I decide that once I’m done putting it away I’ll head out into the auditorium. My mom, Ko, and Katy are probably waiting around for me at this point. I can tell them that I was putting some things away, or that I was trying to find my phone or something. Once I get out there I’ll be back to normal, distracted once again from the dark feelings that are always lurking beneath the surface. “Hey.” I freeze, and the half spooled cord I’m holding drops from my fingers back onto the floor. “That was amazing.” I turn around, and have to fight the urge to throw up or pass out, or… something! It’s a sight to behold. Carter, dressed up in khaki pants and a blue button up that fits perfectly, standing under the dim lights backstage. There’s an aura around him, a presence, and it takes my breath away. Not only to see him, but to see him like this. We haven’t been alone together since the morning after the football game. The last time we talked - more than just conveying information about chemistry back and forth that is - was when he told me what we were doing was gay. I agreed, but we both had very different opinions of what that meant. And that was that. Or so I thought. But now he’s standing here, one on one, and he’s absolutely resplendent as always. How attractive he looks only makes me angrier. At him of course, but more at myself. After all this, I’m still ready to bow down and worship this beautiful, infuriating boy. How stupid can I be? “You were amazing, Jackson.” He’s so earnest. He always is. He pauses before he says things, and it makes you think that he’s really thinking about it. He looks you dead in the eye when he speaks, and it makes you really believe it. And now he’s telling me I was amazing, and I’ll never ever forgive myself if I believe him for even a second. “Seriously. You were incredible.” I’m melting. My anger with him is withering with every word, and it only makes me madder with myself. I am in awe of this boy. His words, his looks, his sincerity. It’s all so damn infuriating. He broke my heart and I can’t even tell him off, I’m so busy getting butterflies in my stomach because he’s here alone with me backstage and he’s telling me that I’m amazing. Without saying anything else, Carter reaches out with a huge bouquet of flowers. I feel all the blood leave my head and I have to will myself not to pass out. With a shaky hand, I reach out and take the flowers. “Thanks,” I finally manage to sputter. “They’re beautiful.” I’m not sure what to say. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what’s happening here. Carter came to find me backstage, and then handed me a bouquet. Is it just some weird joke? I look back up at Carter from my flowers, and he’s smiling at me. He takes a step toward me, and now we’re only a few feet apart. “I don’t want to ruin your night, but there was something I wanted to tell you.” He tries to gauge my reaction, but I keep my face as neutral as I can. If what he’s about to say is going to ruin my night, I don’t want to hear it. “Go ahead,” I tell him. Since we’re both already here, he might as well get it over with. I can’t imagine what he could say that would ruin anything. We already aren’t speaking, and we’ve already blown up over the fact that I’m in love with him. How much worse could it get? “I’m sorry,” he says. His eyes drop and he stares down at the floor. A big part of me wants to really rub his nose in it and tell him that what he did to me was so messed up, and that I’ll never forgive him. But he’s so damn cute when he gets like this. “Hey,” I say, taking another little step in his direction, “it’s ok. I’m sorry too,” I add. “I shouldn’t have sprung all that on you. I shouldn’t have-” “No.” Carter cuts me off. “You don’t have to be sorry for anything. You’ve been…” He searches for the words. “You’ve been perfect, Jackson.” He moves a little closer, and our faces are less than a foot away from each other. “You’ve been perfect.” What does he mean, calling me perfect? He’s the perfect one! I’m the one who’s trying to pull him away from his normal, straight life. I’m the underdog here, trying to take our friendship to places it probably shouldn’t go. In his eyes, if nothing else, I can’t imagine how I’m perfect. “I don’t know what you mean, I tried to-” He stops me again. “You’ve been honest with me, and I know that was hard. The truth is, I haven’t been honest with you.” He shakes his head. “I haven’t been honest with anyone.” Maybe it’s just the stage lighting, but I’ve never seen him look this intense. His eyes are so powerful right now, bursting with meaning and sincerity. Fuck him, he’s so damn hot. “You can be honest with me,” I offer, drawn toward him, as though he’s going to whisper and I want to be sure I can hear it. “I wasn’t… I’m not... mad at you. You know you can trust me.” His eyes bore into me for a second, and his look intensifies. “I know I can.” Carter leans forward and kisses me.
  7. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 16

    Chapter 16 This might not be so easy to explain. Sure, I missed Monday and Tuesday, and while I know that a visit to the principal’s office counts as an excused absence, it’s not ideal to be missing another day of drama class. Opening night is only a few weeks away, and it would be good to get a couple of extra hours under my belt rehearsing lines or practicing stage directions. That’s typical. Called to the principal’s office and all I can think about is how I’m not getting enough time in to practice leaping back and forth across a stage causing mischief. The priorities of a high schooler. But why couldn’t I have been called down during some other class, like English? I have a solid A in English, and a lost discussion on the finer points of Lonesome Dove isn’t going to make or break anything, so far as I can tell. McMurtry’s thrilling cast of characters will still be there when I get back to class in twenty minutes. Oh well. I did it to myself. Monday morning was a true test of my acting, as I had to feign illness for my Mom. Upset as I was about Carter, it was easy to get the important stuff - no appetite, constant discomfort, sweating, nausea. It was all there, just not caused by a fever or a cold. Just a broken heart, which did the trick. That got me through Monday. Tuesday was the same song, second verse. I was mostly better, but it wouldn’t do me any good to go to school only half recovered from my illness. Even a nurse like my Mom had to agree that an extra day of rest would do me good after such a bad day on Monday. Wednesday, however, I wasn’t fooling anybody. I faked it as hard as I could, but nothing short of a hospital visit was going to keep me from returning to my education. Not with my mom, at least. And so I came back to school. It was easy to avoid Carter when I was spending all my time at home on the couch, but things got trickier when we were spending eight hours a day trapped in the same building. I had to be very, very careful. My first challenge would be the hallways. I mapped out Carter’s schedule in my head and estimated where he might be walking and when, and then avoided those places like my life depended on it. We have study hall together, but that’s a no brainer - I can sign myself into the library instead of going to the cafeteria. After school there’s always the chance we cross paths in the locker room, but if I change fast I’m in the clear, as the soccer team almost always finishes practice before the football team. Problem solved, at least ninety percent of the time. And that leaves Chemistry. It would be one thing in a lecture. Lay low, keep to myself and avoid any interaction with Carter. It wouldn’t be the most comfortable thing in the world, but I could do it. But how do you avoid your lab partner? You skip class, obviously. Which brings us back to our current predicament and also explains why I’m sitting here in the principal’s office. I cut a few classes, and now I have to face the music. I’ve never been to the principal’s office, at least not for anything bad. A few administrative issues here and there, but never for punishment. Everything I know about it, however, tells me it can go one of three ways: Delling, Marcos, or Zidnik. Our high school’s principal is Don Delling. From all my experience he’s a pretty nice guy, although I’ve only ever seen him at friendly, public events like awards dinners, sports games, and pep rallies. He’s always in a good mood, and always talking amicably with students and parents. He could be a totally different sort of person when you get called into his office for cutting class, but something tells me he wouldn’t be. Option two is Mr. Marcos. That’s the bad option. Marcos has a body like a silverback gorilla and a personality to match. If he’s not working out and becoming as large and intimidating as possible, he’s roaming the halls and badgering kids half his age for being two minutes late to class. Marcos is without a doubt the most feared authority figure at our school, and his intolerance is matched only by the size of his pectoral muscles. No thank you. My imagination is running wild on what Marcos might do with someone as dastardly as a class cutter when Ms. Zidnik pops out of her office and locks eyes on me. “Mr. Willard?” she announces. “Come in, please.” I make my way over to her office and I’m already feeling about a hundred times better about my situation. Dwelling on the wrath of Mr. Marcos wasn’t doing anything to make me feel less anxious about my visit. Zidnik doesn’t have a reputation as a pushover by any means, but anything’s better than having a sit down with Mr. Marcos. By the time I get into her office and sit down Ms. Zidnik is leafing through a handful of papers on her desk, one of which I recognize as the note my mom sent to the school on Monday to excuse my absence. I’m guessing that’s not why we’re here. Missing two days of school is nothing a note from mom can’t sort out. After getting through the rest of her stack, she purses her lips and looks at me over the top of her reading glasses. The sharp lines of her face give her an especially “no nonsense” sort of look in this context. I’ve talked to her a few times in happier circumstances, but this could be totally different. Now I’m the defendant, and Zidnik’s the DA, judge, and jury. Maybe she won’t be so nice this time. What do they even do to kids when they cut class? I don’t know. Isn’t it a crime? Again it’s my head getting the best of me, and I’m feeling a lot less confident when Zidnik starts to talk. “Mr. Willard, I’m surprised to see you in my office like this,” she says. Me too, I guess. “I know you missed class earlier this week because you were ill.” She gestures to the note. “But that doesn’t explain your extended absence from Chemistry. Mr. Nizen brought it to my attention this morning, and quite frankly both of us are concerned.” She pauses and searches my expression, letting her words hang in the air. I’ve been prepping for this moment all week trying to come up with reasonable excuses for skipping two extra days of only one class, but now that I’m here being questioned they seem less than convincing. I decide not to answer until she comes out and asks. It’s like a murder trial - you don’t have to say anything unless they ask you a question. “Attendance is important,” she continues, “but with your performance in class and all your extracurricular activities, we aren't overly concerned.” Again she pauses, looking for me to make the next move. It's the oldest trick in the book. I can outlast her. Getting nothing from me voluntarily, Zidnik sighs and takes off her glasses. She wipes them with a piece of cloth on her desk then replaces them. “I suppose what I need to know,” she says, “is what have you and Mr. Mulkins been up to?” My next breath catches in my throat and I try not to let my face betray the sense of immense panic brewing inside of me. This is beyond bad. Where to even begin? I could give her the simplest answer, but it's also the most shocking: We've done some petting, jerked each other off, and even swapped a handful of blowjobs. When it looked like it might be about more than sex, Carter freaked out and we haven't spoken since. So I guess it's a purely sexual relationship that never came to fruition - that’s all it was, and all it ever will be. No, on second thought I don't think I'll be saying that to our assistant principal. Another version is a tale of unrequited love: The crush I've had on Carter for over a year. The way I started to befriend him. The strangely natural progression we took to start something physical. My own escape from my shell and into enough confidence to always push things a little bit further. Then I pushed too hard and everything fell apart. No, not that one either. As touching as it may be – the gay drama nerd following his dreams and almost getting what he wants – it's also a little bit creepy. A lot of me watching and waiting, then suggesting and manipulating. It's kind of like the religious conservative nightmare. One of the gays swooping in and turning their son homo. It's not illegal or anything, but they've kicked kids out of school for things like this. Just look at what happened to Sam. “Uhh...” It's not a good start. Zidnik isn't impressed, at least. “I'm waiting, Mr. Willard,” she says. How does she even know about this? I never gave the slightest hint of what was going on between me and Carter to anyone except Ko, Katy, and Sam. And they wouldn't tell anyone - I'd stake my life on that. So who said something to the school? Were we that obvious about it? My friends all knew when something started to happen, but did everyone else, too? Was it Carter? That’s the only other explanation, right? Did he go to the school and tell them what I did to him? What did he even say? That would put me in one hell of an awkward spot. If Carter came clean and told them everything… I don’t even want to think about it. There would be problems. Big problems. No matter how you frame it, it doesn’t look good. There’s only one thing to do now: Lie about it. I’ll say that none of it ever happened. Carter’s been making up stories, and for some reason he decided to involve me in the whole thing. Luckily, before I can make a complete ass of myself, Zidnik continues. “As I said earlier, both of you are doing well in school, so it's not the performance or missed work that we're worried about. But both of you are minors. And when you're completely unaccounted for several days in a row, it puts everyone at risk, especially you and-” “This is just because I missed class?” The question hangs in silence for a few seconds. It wasn’t the most tactful way to test the waters, but the possibility of this being a thousand times less horrible than it was two minutes ago is something I can't wait on. “Yes,” Zidnik assures me. “I thought I had said that already. What else would it be about?” I shrug and try to look as innocent as possible. Maybe I’ll get my acting practice in after all. “I was just afraid that I would be in trouble,” I say. Zidnik smiles at me reassuringly and her whole look softens. “Don't worry about that,” she says, “we just need to make sure that you're in class where and when you're supposed to be.” I relax, but only internally. On the outside I make sure to paint the picture of a concerned young student, cowed by the weight of the mere possibility of being on the wrong side of the law. “But that being said, I do need to know why you and Mr. Mulkins have missed almost an entire week of chemistry.” That’s news to me. Carter has been skipping class too? I make a mental note to fully revisit that juicy piece of information in the future. For now, however, I have bigger fish to fry. Time to take it up a notch. “I was sick on Monday and Tuesday,” I explain, “and then I guess I was still just tired out from being sick and everything else. So instead of going to chemistry I...” I hesitate. I feel like I'm betraying an entire generation of students, but the best lies are sprinkled with just the right amount of truth. “I went to the gym to take a nap.” That gives Zidnik a very real look of surprise. “What do you mean you took a nap at the gym?” I decide to come clean, at least about where I was during chemistry. I explain about how the basketball bleachers get put away during normal school days, and that when they're folded up against the wall there's still a few feet of space behind them. If you're skinny enough, you can squeeze into the place between the bleachers and the wall, and it actually makes a dark, quiet place perfect for taking a quick nap or hiding out if you don't want to participate in gym. Someone even threw an old wrestling mat back there sometime last year for a sort of makeshift bed. I'm not sure how many kids at the school know about it, but I've gone back there a handful of times during lunch or study hall to catch up on lost sleep. On one occasion there was already someone back there, curled up with a blanket and everything. I know I'm not the only one who's been snoozing behind the bleachers. Needless to say, Zidnik is highly disturbed by my confession. “Do they sweep back there?” she asks, unable to hide the look of horror on her face. Again, my dramatic flair gets the best of me. “It's not too bad. Sometimes there are candy wrappers and stuff from the basketball games.” She shudders at the thought before regaining her composure to continue my interrogation. She doesn't seem like the sort of lady who likes messes, or dusty sleeping chambers behind the bleachers for that matter. Besides giving me a weird sort of pleasure in performance, her reaction tells me something even more important: I’ve got her on her heels. “If you were napping in the gym – which I am going to look into, for multiple reasons – where was Carter?” Her questions are still tricky ones, but now they have a little less force behind them. “I don't know,” I reply with complete honesty. “Did he miss class all week too?” “He did,” she says. “And you don't know anything about that?” I pause. I can certainly speculate as to why he was skipping chemistry. Maybe he’s just as upset as I am about the whole thing. In a way it’s comforting to think that’s he’s so torn up about it. On the other hand it’s almost proof positive that he hates my guts. Even though I’m keyed in to the reason Carter is skipping class, I don't think the why will be much help to Zidnik, and it will probably raise even more questions than it answers. “No,” I say. “I was hoping to get notes from him when I came back.” Now that Zidnik has an even bigger problem tossed into her lap - like how many students at the school are regularly crawling into a grimy crawlspace to sleep while they should be in class - I don't expect her to press the issue much harder, and thank goodness. I have enough on my plate already, what with Carter hating me and all. “Alright,” she says, “I'll speak with him about his own whereabouts then. And as for you, Mr. Willard, make sure you go to all your classes.” “Yes, ma'am,” I reply. “And if you have any further issues with exhaustion, you can always check in with the nurse. I'm sure she can let you lie down for a bit if you need to, in a more... sanitary environment.” She wrinkles her nose again at the mere thought of resting on a filthy gym floor before turning back to me. “You're free to go.” I stand up to leave and I can't believe my luck. After my initial scare, that went better than I could have imagined. Maybe I'll cut class more often, although I should find a new place to hide out before I do. “And Jackson?” Zidnik says as I'm stepping out the door. “If you see Mr. Mulkins in the office on your way, can you send him in?” ******* ******* ******* It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Breaking things off, I mean. I was half expecting weeks of pain, anguish, and suffering, thinking it would take me months to get back to functional levels. But no, nothing like that. Thank God I’m so busy. There are hardly enough hours in the day to get done what I need to much less moan and gnash my teeth over a boy who doesn't like me. Busy is my new emotion, and work is the way I feel. Next time I break up I'll get a part time job to top it all off. I'll never be sad again! I figured the hardest part of all would be chemistry, but even that was easier than I had imagined. Carter and I instantly settled into a very functional rhythm. We don't talk unless it's about the lab, and we don't even look at each other unless it's absolutely necessary. Don't get me wrong, it's not fun. But I'll survive, and our grades won’t suffer for it either. Doing something wrong would only mean more time together and more talking. We can't afford mistakes like that. Nizen never mentioned our time away from class, and seeing two people working as efficiently as we do with so little chatter probably makes him happier than anything. Less talking, more science, as he likes to say when the lab gets too noisy. That logic applies to my life, even outside of our one class together. Less Carter, more focus. I'm actually doing better in my other classes too, and spending time with friends and drama stuff as well. We're only one week away from opening now, and I'm more than ready to let something I enjoy doing come in and take over my life. The time I used to set aside for Carter? It's like it was never even there. As for Ko, Katy, and Sam, they've been great about the whole thing. Especially since I spent the last month or two neglecting them. I totally put them on the back burner while I was getting into it with Carter, but can you blame me? As shitty as it feels now, I don’t regret any of the time I spent with him. But that’s what having best friends is all about. I was MIA for a few months, no big deal. I’ve dealt with the same sort of thing from Katy and Ko at some point. Ko’s never vanished for months at a time, but the way his love life plays itself out, it’s more like every other week. Hot and heavy, then bone dry until the next one. Katy’s the exact opposite, but she was out of touch for most of the summer with the whole Jeff thing and her program in New York. And it doesn’t bother me in the least. When Katy’s in Jeff-World Ko and I hang and get more time to play video games. When Ko’s off with whoever he’s into that week, Katy and I watch musicals and gossip about kids in the drama club. If they’re both doing their own thing, I actually get all my homework done for once. We’re best friends, and we’re not going to let some guy or girl get between us. Even Sam’s been on that level for me recently. While he’s less established as a friend, he gets it better than anyone. Just like everything else, he knew almost before I did exactly what happened between me and Carter, and pretty much any moment I’m not spending with Katy or Ko, I’m hanging out at Sam’s house. He’s been a huge help not only in distraction, but in supporting me through the whole “breakup,” if you can even call it that. Granted, that’s not stopping him from rubbing my nose in how right he was about it the whole time. Tonight I’m crashing at his house. My mom thinks we’re hanging out just like we would any other day, but really I’m doing Sam a huge favor. I guess I owe him one after all his help getting over Carter. His aunt and uncle are in town this week, and while they both seem like lovely people, it only took me about ten minutes at dinner to understand exactly why Sam concocted this whole elaborate plan to have me stay over tonight. They come off strong, to say the least. So he had the idea of making me come over to act as a sort of buffer. It's easy to get a little time away from the relatives when you have to get a group project done. So what if it’s completely made up? We’re not in any of the same classes, much less the same grade, but Uncle Eddie and Aunt Tess don’t need to know that. Having made our escape from the dinner table, we've retired back to Sam's room. He told me earlier that we could spend the time working on my lines for opening night, only six days away. I thought he was joking, but the second we got to the bedroom he pulled out my script and starting running lines with me. “When thou wake, let love forbid Sleep his seat on thy eyelid: So awake when I am gone; For I go now to Oberon.” I look up at Sam and he’s shaking his head. Eighteen lines of monologue, and I would have said they were perfect. “It’s not ‘does,’” he says. “It’s ‘doth.’ And you botched a bunch of the verbs. And you ‘must’ to Oberon, not ‘go’ to him.” I put my arms Akimbo and glare at him. “It doesn't have to be perfect,” I argue. “The meaning is there, so it doesn't matter if I say ‘sleeps’ instead of ‘sleepeth,’ or whatever.” Sam dramatically throws the back of his hand against his forehead. “Oh?” he cries with a flourish. “Methinks he protests for lack of trying!” “I'm trying,” I say as sternly as possible, even though it's hard not to laugh at seeing Sam's attempt at acting. It’s not exactly what I would call subtle. “It's Shakespeare!” he says, as though that alone should stop all ‘protesting.’ “It's fine,” I say again. “You can't change Shakespeare.” He grabs a softball from his desk and strikes a pose. That gets me laughing. “Is MacBeth trying out for the team?” I ask, snatching the ball out of his hands. “To swing, perchance to hit - ay there’s the run…” My monologue is interrupted by a text alert from Sam's phone. He grabs it and types out a quick reply while I put the ball back on his desk. “Which of your boy toys was that?” I ask when he's finished. He sighs and flops down on his bed, still looking at his phone. “None of them, unfortunately.” I look down at him on the bed and I can't help but be jealous. Sam's a full year younger than me, but somehow he manages to swing all these crazy hook ups with all sorts of hot guys at school. I’ve hardly gotten with anyone, while he has more guys chasing him around than he can even keep track of. The cherry on top? Half of them are straight! “How do you do it?” I ask. I can't help myself. I'm back on the market, and I'd kill to even get one tenth of the action that he does. “Do what?” he asks. “You know what I mean.” He smirks from behind his phone. Clearly he knows exactly what I mean. “It's not as crazy as it sounds.” He finally looks up at me and sees the disbelief on my face. “Seriously, it's not.” I shake my head and flop down on the bed next to him. “I don't believe you. You talk about all these guys. Like half the guys on the soccer team, I've seen you hanging out with a few dudes from baseball, and then there's the whole football team I know you have your eye on...” “Yeah,” he cuts me off. “Exactly. I talk about it.” “What are you saying?” I ask. “You don't actually get with all these guys you hang out with?” He puts his phone down and furrows his brow. “No. Definitely not most of them.” We sit in silence for a second, and I can't help but ask the next obvious question. “How ma...” “Two,” Sam says, before I can even finish asking. “Just two?” I say. “This whole year at school? You've only gotten with two guys?” Sam laughs. “Yeah, just two. I flirt with everybody I think is hot, but that's as far as it goes for ninety nine percent of people.” “But you always say how everybody wants it. Just get them hard and they're all yours.” “Yeah, they totally want it.” He gives me a knowing look. “Everyone's a little bit curious,” he continues, “but most guys don't get over themselves enough to actually try it. Or if they know for sure they're not gay they'll never let themselves cross that line, even if it doesn’t mean anything.” Sam sits up in bed and looks at me. He shrugs. “That's the sad truth. It's that the truth is never as fun as you think it is.” He studies my expression for a second before continuing. “So, no. You're not missing much.” As usual, he sees right through me. I was hoping to pick his brain. To see what else there is out there for me. If I can't have Carter, maybe I could start up something like Sam has, with all the fun but none of the work or involvement. “Huh,” I say. I rack my brain, but don’t have much of anything to say in response to that. Maybe it’s not as exciting as I thought. But I’m one for one so far. If I put myself out there, I could make something… “It’s not your style at all,” Sam says with more finality than I like. “What do you mean it’s not my style?” I ask. He shrugs. “I’m more the.. unattached type,” he says. “I can live my life one way or the other. I don’t get hung up on stuff. I like to live -” He spreads his arms out in front of his as though presenting his room to me. “I live out here. You live -” He taps his head. “In here.” I brood in silence at his comments. I try to look tough, but it probably just looks like I’m pouting “There’s nothing wrong with that,” Sam insists. “You’re just different. When I get with a guy it’s not important to me. It’s fun and I like it, but it doesn’t mean anything. And I’m cool with that. But you wouldn’t be.” “So that means I can’t have any fun?” I ask defiantly. My question elicits another shrug from Sam. “Here’s the tradeoff, Jackson. I’m having more fun than you right now, but it’s not amazing. You’re really not missing all that much when it comes down to it. You, on the other hand, are going to have a lot less fun. You know why?” “Why?” I ask. “Because you’re too busy thinking about Carter. And you’ll always be thinking about Carter. What you want to say to him, what you wish he’d say to you, when you should text him, wondering if he’ll call. Carter, Carter, Carter, all day every day. And it’s not going to be fun.” “But…” “Carter,” he says, as though there isn’t any other point he needs to make. Frankly, there isn’t. “But one day,” Sam continues, “you’re going to get Carter. And it’s going to be real. And it’s going to be everything you ever dreamed it would be. And when you have Carter, whoever it is, you’re not going to think for a second about all the fun that you missed out on in the meantime.” I blush. Even the thought of it gets me excited. Will I really have a guy like that someday? Will things really pan out like Sam says they will? “See?” he says. “You get it. We’re both waiting. You sit and brood while you’re waiting for your perfect boy. I go out into the world and do what I do. And yet we’re both just waiting.” Sam smiles like a devil and sticks his tongue out at me. “But I get to play with a bunch of cocks while I’m doing it.”
  8. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 15

    Don’t worry! There’s more on the way. I’ll post the next chapter on Sunday
  9. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 15

    Chapter 15 “Dude, I am beat.” Carter strips off his shirt and tosses it into the hamper next to his dresser. I get an unobstructed view of his rippling back, and I will my heart not to beat straight out of my chest. It’s like a fantasy. I’m sitting on the edge of his bed and he’s getting undressed. He turns around and I try my best not to stare at his chest, six-pack, v-lines, or the telltale bulge in his sweatpants. It’s a losing battle. He’s the sexiest person in the world, and he’s mostly undressing himself right in front of me. “Are you good?” he asks. He bites his lower lips and tries to gauge my reaction. “I’m wiped from that game. We can play video games or something, but I’m pretty much ready for bed.” “Yeah, that’s cool,” I echo, somewhat relieved. Maybe it was the weather, but even watching the game took a lot out of me. I’d stay up with Carter as long as he wanted to, but I could fall asleep in about a second. I sit on the edge of the bed and try to temper my expectations while I wait for Carter to join me. I thought tonight was going to be another exciting sexual romp for the two of us - and it was already - but maybe he really is pooped and we’re going to go straight to sleep. Disappointing, but I can’t expect too much from this, just like Ko and Katy were saying. After our bout in the car, I might be getting greedy. As usual, I catch myself thinking too hard about the situation at hand and shake myself out of it only to notice Carter staring at me with a weird expression on his face. He looks somewhat quizzical, but doesn’t say anything. It’s not an unfriendly look, just a bit unnerving. “What?” I finally ask, tired of the silence and glaring. “Aren’t you going to get ready for bed?” he asks with a smirk. Shit. So wrapped up in my own head that I completely ignore the thing that a normal human would do. I sheepishly get up from the bed and rummage through my backpack for all the stuff I’ll need for the night. I eventually manage to find some pajama pants, a t-shirt, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. That should be everything. In the bathroom, I change my clothes, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I take a last look in the mirror before I head back out and decide that I look pretty darn good. Maybe it’s just the light in the bathroom, but I think I’m starting to see some of what Sam said he could a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t say I’m glowing or anything, but I’m taken up by a new sense of confidence with what I’m seeing in the mirror. Why wouldn’t Carter want this? With an eleventh hour decision, I strip off my shirt and toss it back in the bag. When I get out of the bathroom, Carter’s already in bed, with the blankets pushed down to his feet and just a sheet covering him up to just below his hips. There’s no way it’s an accident - he couldn’t look hotter or more inviting if he tried. I tuck into the other side of the bed and try not to think about how I’m fighting off a boner. I mean, I want one eventually, but maybe not right this second. I match Carter’s supine position and hike the sheets up to at least cover my crotch for a little more protection. Carter turns over a little to face me better. He’s less than a foot away and whether he wants to or not, he’s radiating a sexual energy towards me. “You can pull up the blankets if you want,” he says, “I’m pretty hot right now, but I’ll probably cool off soon.” I’ll agree with him on that one. He’s hot as hell. He continues. “I think I’m still flushed from that car ride.” He lifts his body to prop his head up on his elbow. “Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever cum that hard in my life.” With that he reaches his other hand over to me and places it on my stomach. I swallow hard and know that there’s no point in even pretending that I’m not hard anymore. Even out of the corner of my eye I can see a tent forming down under the sheets, just a few inches away from Carter’s hand. “Yeah,” I sputter out in a daze, “I liked it too, so don’t worry.” He slides his hand downward to my waistband, then moves across it back and forth, letting the tips of his fingers slide under it just the slightest bit. It feels like there’s an electric current coming out of them and into my body. I twitch a little in anticipation. “You make me feel so good, Jackson, it’s… it’s crazy.” I don’t manage to get more of a reply out than a breathy sigh. I can’t believe this is happening. “I just came like twenty minutes ago, but I’m still so turned on,” he continues. He’s definitely not the only one. “Me too,” I say in between breaths. “Jackson, can I ask you something?” As I much as I love where we’re at already, I turn over to face Carter. It sacrifices the easy access that his hand has on my waist, but I have to look at him. I’m struck immediately by the intensity of his look right now. He looks so… vulnerable. Like a completely new part of him is exposed to the outside world. He’s being so open and emotional. “Of course you can,” I assure him. His face softens. “Can I…” He swallows hard and refocuses. “Can I try it?” Are you kidding me? I try as hard as I can not to laugh at how crazy that question is. Asking a sixteen year old dude if you can try to suck his dick? Um, yeah, that’ll probably be ok. You can try it as many times as you want. Right? But then another thought strikes me. What’s he really asking me? Why all the fear and vulnerability? Is he asking... Holy shit. Because at the exact instant I’m on the verge of having what I can only assume is about to be a game changing revelation, Carter reaches into the waistband of my pants and wraps his hand around my cock. “Can I?” he asks again, stroking gently up and down along my shaft. I tell myself that it’s not real. He probably doesn’t actually want me. He just likes the sex. He just likes getting off with me. He pushes his hand farther into my pants and lightly grazes his fingertips across my smooth ball sack. It sends another involuntary shudder through my entire body. He doesn’t care about me. He has a girlfriend. It’s physical, nothing more. Ko and Katy tried to warn me... His other hand reaches in and he starts going to work on both sides. One hand slowly and smoothly jerking me off, and the other caressing my balls. It’s not real. It’s not real. This isn’t what I want! “Yes!” The word passes through my lips and I am powerless to stop it. No matter what my subconscious is trying to say, my cock is sending a message loud and clear. The hottest person in the entire world is telling me how good I make him feel and asking to suck my dick. The answer from Jackson Jr. down there in my pants is “Yes, yes yes!” I roll onto my back to allow easier access for Carter’s hand and eventually his mouth. He turns fully onto his side and starts slowly stroking me up and down. He’s been here before. The first few times he did it there was some hesitation and awkwardness - it was almost clumsy at first. But now Carter has a smooth motion that he knows I like, and adding to it is a new and exciting sense of anticipation. The best is yet to come. As much as I like how it’s feeling already, I want to move things along. I lift my butt off the bed the slightest bit. Carter takes the hint and releases my dick long enough to slide my pants down onto my thighs and throw back the sheets to the bottom of the bed. Now fully exposed, Carter works back into a steady rhythm, sending waves of pleasure across my body. I look down at Carter, whose face is about level with my chest right now, and I see him assess my tool in an entirely new way. I know exactly what he’s thinking. It’s one thing to touch, hold, or look at someone’s cock, but it’s entirely different when you’re looking at it and trying to think about how you’re about to put it into your mouth. The first time I went down on Carter, as much as I wanted it, it was still a little intimidating to think about putting that thing in my mouth. “Dude, please do it,” I encourage, trying to snap his hesitation before he gets cold feet altogether. I see Carter shuffle downward and lean over me, slowing his jerking. As he stops altogether, I close my eyes and brace myself for what’s about to happen. Suddenly I feel an incredible warmness on the exposed head of my cock and a bolt of pleasure shoots through my entire body. It stops for a second and then comes back. My whole head slips into his mouth and I moan lightly at the warm, moist feelings all over it. He pulls off again and I feel a tongue slide along underside of the head. I twitch involuntarily and I know a big drop of precum probably just slid onto Carter’s tongue. He stops and pulls off for a second and I tense up, waiting for his reaction to it. To my relief I feel another lick travel slowly up my shaft, starting a little bit lower this time. After a few more of those he takes me back in his mouth and starts working his way deeper and deeper down my dick. Over the course of a few minutes Carter starts to get less tentative, and after a little bit of initial exploration, he starts to settle into a steady flow. I open my eyes and look down, and it’s all I can do not to cum as I watch his dirty blonde head slowly bobbing up and down in my lap. God, this is amazing. After another minute or so, Carter pulls off and looks up at me. “Is this good?” he asks. With his eyes rolled up toward me and his mouth hovering a quarter of an inch above the tip of my dick, it might just be the hottest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Carter Mulkins is giving me a blowjob! “Yeah,” I tell him, “it feels so great.” I catch the faintest hint of a smile from Carter and it makes my heart skip a beat. Could he be any more beautiful? “What else can I do?” he asks. It’s a fair question. I try to think of a good way to explain it. When I gave my first blowjob I thought about what Sam had done to me and how it felt, then tried to duplicate it. It shouldn’t be that different for Carter. “Do you remember what I did to you in the car?” I ask. “Yeah, of course,” he says smiling. “It was amazing” He looks back down to my cock and puts a hand around it. He works it up and down a few times as though testing something out. “How about this?” he asks. He drops his mouth back down around me and works his hand in tandem with his mouth, sliding up and down. His mouth is only hitting the top few inches as it bobs up and down, but his hand is working the bottom half of me and it feels spectacular. “Oh yeah,” I moan, “that’s great.” Encouraged by my praise, he picks up the pace and it’s not long before I start losing myself in the feelings of pleasure that Carter is creating down in my nether regions. I thrust my hips up to meet his motions and within only a minute or two I can feel my orgasm building. “Oh god,” I moan again. He has me close. Without warning, Carter pulls off with his mouth and releases his hand. My wet, hard dick slaps against my stomach. I’m about to look down and see what’s happening when I feel the smooth wetness of Carter’s tongue trace a line along one of my testicles. I jump at the sensation, unlike anything I’ve ever felt, and I feel a few drops of precum ooze out. “Oh fuck, Carter,” I barely manage to squeak out between violent shudders. He keeps running his tongue across my balls and I cease to function for the duration. It doesn’t feel as good as having my cock in his mouth, but it’s sending jolts of electricity through my body every time he makes contact. I never really knew how sensitive I could be down there, and I’m entirely at Carter’s mercy. Finally Carter takes one last long, hard stroke across my smooth sack with his tongue, then runs it the rest of way back up all the way to the very tip of my penis, which I can only imagine is practically gushing precum at this point. It doesn’t slow down Carter though, as he gets right back onto it and starts engulfing my cock in his mouth. He doesn’t put his hand back on it, but instead starts taking more and more of me into his mouth as he goes. I can feel his lips moving down across the first few inches of my length, then past the halfway point, then even farther. He doesn’t quite have the whole thing in there like Sam was able to do, but it’s damn close, and it feels damn good. I can’t imagine I’m going to last much longer if he doesn’t... “How did you do it Jackson?” he suddenly asks, taking a short breather, jerking me off in the meantime. “How did you get it all the way in? I want…” He looks up and makes eye contact. “I want to get the whole thing.” Is this actually happening? As if the blowjob in general wasn’t enough, I feel like I’m in a dream, living my wildest fantasy in real life. I never thought I would be looking down at Carter and have him ask me how to get the rest of my dick in his mouth. “I dunno,” I answer. “You just kind of relax everything and try to open up the back of your mouth and your throat.” I try to think about the first time I ever was able to do it and what I changed up to make it happen. It’s sort of like trying to breathe it in while you’re moving your head forward. “Maybe try to think of it like… Ahhh!” I practically yell out loud as Carter suddenly takes me all the way to the hilt, putting his nose down into my neatly trimmed pubic hair. Holy shit! Carter pulls off and before I can react pushes forward all the way again. He repeats the process three or four more times and I can’t believe how good it feels. How the hell did he learn how to do this so quickly? “Oh god, I’m gonna…” I can’t even finish the sentence, because he buries me deep into his throat one last time and holds it there. My dick has never felt this good. The strongest orgasm I’ve ever had in my life spreads like fire across my body and I blast my load into the back of Carter’s throat. My cock surges so many times I lose count and still Carter is holding me all the way in. “Ah, shit!” I pull out, overwhelmed by all the sensation in the head of my dick. I couldn’t stay for another second, and I’m shocked that Carter was able to deepthroat me for that long. I gasp for breath and fall back onto the bed, completely numb from the orgasm that just ripped through my body. I can’t move, I can’t talk - I can’t even think right now. I float deeper and deeper into the fog of post-cum contentment. “Jackson?” Carter’s voice cuts through the haze and brings me back to reality. “Wha... What?” I say dreamily. I hope it’s not a hard question, because I don’t know if I can form a complete sentence right now. I crack my eyes open and see him leaning over me. His eyes are wide and he looks so vulnerable and sexy at the same time. “Was that alright?” he asks. I put my hand on his head and stroke it through his hair once. “That was… amazing.” I say, repeating back to him the same thing he told me a few weeks ago the first time I went down on him. I see him smile, then relax down onto the bed next to me. He doesn’t exactly cuddle with me, but he slides in close to my side and lets part of our bodies touch. “Good,” he says. I try to lock in this feeling, this moment, the image of Carter’s smile. It’s perfect. Right now, it’s perfect. ******* ******* ******* I wake up feeling more rested and content than I have in a long time. Maybe it was the blowjob, maybe I was tuckered out after being out in the cold during the football game. But really, I know it’s Carter. It’s not just the blowjob, in other words. It’s where we are right now, right this second. Carter isn’t exactly spooning me, but he’s nestled in just behind me, as close as he could be, but with only the slightest bit of actual touching. We’re not quite at that point yet, but it’s still an incredible closeness, and a sense of ease with one another. What was it he said last night? That I “make him feel good,” I think. After a few minutes of basking in the feeling, I turn over to look at him. I can’t help but smile as I watch him sleep. He’s so peaceful, and as always incredibly hot. His whole face is totally relaxed, and I study each perfect line and contour of his sleeping expression. Beautiful is the only word I can think of that really does it justice. It’s almost like he can feel my eyes on him, because he stirs in his sleep and his eyes begin to flutter. Carter smiles up at me sleepily, and I know what I have to do. I lean down to him, and before either of us has a chance to sprint for the exit, I plant a soft kiss directly on his lips. As I break the kiss, I open my eyes hesitantly. We’re here at the precipice, and I’m so scared of what I’ll find. I can feel the familiar tightness of anxiety in my chest as I watch Carter’s eyes fully open, and brace myself as he makes eye contact. I’m finally here, and the two of us and our “relationship,” or whatever it is, are teetering on the brink of oblivion. And it falls straight off the fucking cliff. “What are you doing?” The bottom of my stomach drops a hundred miles at the sound of that question. I suddenly can’t breathe, and the tightness in my chest washes down across my torso and into my limbs with an uncomfortable, cold burn. “Sorry,” I mumble, willing myself not to burst into tears right here and now. It’s all happening, just like Ko thought it would. “I didn’t mean to…” “That’s not cool,” he says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. It’s so matter of fact, like it’s in a science textbook or something. It is definitively not cool to kiss Carter Mulkins on the mouth if you are Jackson Willard. “It just… I don’t know what came over me,” I say, apologizing again. “That’s gay, Jackson.” He said it. It puts everything into perspective. I’m hit with the memory of him last night before he went down on me and he asked if it was ‘ok.’ Now I understand. He wasn’t asking if it was ok for me, he was asking if it was ok for him. Like he needed to know if trying it was going to take him past some mythical point of no return. Up to that point he was able to excuse himself for everything we’d done together, but he wasn’t sure if that would be possible to come back from. And that’s where I should have stopped myself. That look he was giving me last night and that question from Carter made it clear exactly what we were doing. He knows I’m gay and he knows that it’s no big deal for me to do down on a guy. That’s what you do when you’re gay. But if he, a straight boy, did it, then it would irreparably change something. Carter is loving how were getting off together, but doesn’t ever want to put himself in a position where he’s gay. He’s straight, and that’s all there is to it. How did I not let myself see it before right now? I’m a fool, and I’ve been letting myself fall deeper and deeper down the straight boy rabbit hole, and in the end I’ll be paying the price. I should have seen that Carter was trying to draw a line in the sand. He was pushing that line farther and farther along, letting us do more and more, but it was still there. And on his side of the line it’s straight. And on my side, it’s gay. There’s no crossing back and forth. But as the shame and fear washes over me, I feel something else. Anger. It pisses me off. It’s so fucking convenient for him to have this friend he can get with, and still not have it mean anything. Because that would be gay, and he’s not gay. He’s just using me. “You know what?” I finally say. “I’m not sorry.” Carter reacts to that. He’s taken aback by my sudden change in position, and I press on before I lose my edge. “It’s totally gay,” I declare. “Everything we’ve been doing, it’s gay. And I’m totally gay too.” “Jackson,” he stammers, now clearly on his heels. “I… I’m not… I mean… I have a girlfriend,” he says, as though if only I would understand that simple fact it would make everything ok. It doesn’t. “You have a girlfriend?” I ask venomously. I was almost hoping he would say that. “Where’s she at?” Carter recoils instantly at my words and I hope it hurt him as much as it looked like it did. “When’s the last time you did any of this stuff with her? When’s the last time she made you cum?” I ask, and I don’t care how deep my words cut. “It seems like it’s just been you and me doing all this over the last few weeks, and guess what?” Carter doesn’t seem interested in guessing, but I didn’t expect him to be. I’m sure he sees where I’m heading. “Everything we’ve been doing, Carter? It’s gay. G. A. Y. Gay.” He’s like a deer in the headlights now. Usually I love to have Carter on his heels, because it makes him look so cute, just tearing away that perfect, easy coolness he always seems to have. Now, however, his bewildered look just pisses me off. How is any of this a shock to him? It makes me so mad to think he was letting all of this happen without having any feelings for me. I take one last look at Carter, and I will myself not to cry. I’m so angry, so frustrated, and so hurt by what he’s trying to say to me. To negate any feelings we might have for each other, and to write it off as something purely physical, with apparently no emotions attached. My body is suddenly filled with a desperate need to get out of this room, this house, and get away from here. I get out of bed and grab my things, shoving them into my backpack. I pause just long enough to put on a shirt before I run up the stairs and out of Carter’s room. I head straight out the door, not even pausing to see if there’s anyone else home. It’s not until I step through the gate at the end of Carter’s driveway that it hits me. My eyes gush tears and I sob in big, stupid gulps as I walk down the street, vaguely in the direction of my house. The chilly morning air, the emotions of the last few weeks and especially the last few minutes - they all hit me like a ton of bricks. Everything built and built until last night, which I would have said was one of the happiest in my life. It couldn’t have gone better. But then this morning came, and everything I was holding on to and dreaming of came crashing down in a miserable heap on the floor. Everything he felt for me was a lie, and everything I felt for him was a mistake. Why did I do it to myself, even with everyone I know telling me that it wasn’t a good idea? I should have listened. I should never have gotten attached like I did. It should have been so obvious. I manage to fumble my phone out of my pockets and send a text to Ko. [ Come get me? ] it says. I only have to wait a few seconds before his reply comes through. [ Be there in 5. ] I sit down on the curb so I don’t get too far away from Carter’s house. I’m far enough that I can’t see it anymore, but I’m on the way from Ko’s place, so he shouldn’t have any trouble finding me as he drives by. I hang my head into the space between my knees and let myself cry as much as I need to. Ko will be here in five minutes, and I need to be finished before he arrives. I can’t have him see me like this. Even though he was right, he can’t know just how right he was. I promise myself I’ll be done by the time he gets here, but for now all I can do is sit on the side of the road and cry.
  10. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 14

    Chapter 14 The next few weeks are a blur. With November quickly approaching, my world is ramping up on all fronts. Now that we've settled into our routines at school, my teachers are starting to assign papers, reports, and midterm projects. We've played our first handful of games in soccer, and division play has started, which means we have games two or even three days a week now, with practice on all the days in between to hopefully revise our strategies before our next game. And that's only the beginning. Drama auditions came and went, and much to my surprise Katy won't be the only star player this season at the theater. My hard work and practice with Amhearst High's most talented thespian must have paid off, because when I checked on the assignment sheet taped to the outside of the drama classroom door, my name was written right next to the role of “Puck.” Three days a week after soccer practice I can count on heading back into the locker room, showering off as fast as I can and running across the school to play practice. But most importantly, there's Carter. Every minute I can find outside of soccer, drama, homework, and chores I'm spending with the one and only Carter Mulkins. Granted, those minutes need to co-occupy the same minutes that Carter isn't busy with school, homework, and football - so there aren't too many to go around, but I'm loving every single one I can get. It's not just the time I spend with him, either. It's everything. Everything I do is better because of him. At home on a Sunday doing chores, I find that I don't mind the hour or so it takes me to clean up and vacuum the house, because I'm interrupted halfway through by a text message from Carter. Homework is a breeze, because I take a break after a few math problems and daydream about the next time I'll see him. I'm starting to understand how everyone could tell when things started happening a few weeks ago. It's not like I was singing a joyful tune at the breakfast table that morning or running down the hallways of school shouting the news at the top of my lungs. But inside, whether or not I consciously knew it at the time, I was full to bursting with a special sort of happiness that you might call “Carter.” A few weeks later, it sure as heck hasn't worn off. Unfortunately, not everyone is as stoked on life as I am. Ko, for one, has not been taking it well that I'm involved with someone, and he's been mopey and whining up a storm about everything recently. For once the tables are turned and it's me getting some action while Ko is sitting deep in a dry spell. I don't feel bad for him in the least, but it's made him a bit difficult to work with. “Complain, complain, complain,” Katy says, putting her hands on her hips and tapping her foot impatiently. “You can moan about it all day, but are you going to the game or not?” Ko rolls his eyes and does his best to look as disinterested as possible, but I know how he works. Sure, a big football game is not high on his list of exciting things to do on a Friday night, but Katy and I are his best friends. If he doesn't hang out with us he probably won't do much of anything. Especially as he currently is without a girlfriend, or whatever the equivalent is for some who likes to play the field as much as Ko. “It's not my scene,” he says. “Take me to a soccer game any day of the week, but football?” It's almost a tradition at this point. Friday comes and I talk to Ko about going to the football game during study hall. He refuses. I text Katy and tell her to start bothering him about it. She tracks him down at some point during the day and demands that he attend. Under her persistence and pressure he cracks, then he steels his resolve all afternoon to make one final stand before our last class on Friday. “Are you going to go or not?” I ask. “As much as I’d love to stand here and watch you break under pressure, ultimately giving in and agreeing to come to the game with us - your best friends - I need to get back to class before the bell rings.” “Arghhhh!” Ko throws his hands up in frustration. “I don't want to go, and that's final.” Katy smiles wickedly and slaps one of his upraised hands like he was looking to get a high five. He wasn't. “But you ARE going, and that's final too,” she says. “What if instead of going to the game we go see the new Spiderman movie and then we go play video games at my house?” A feeble attempt. Any other day of the week, maybe. But on a home football Friday he's not going to get any traction with that argument. “Not a chance,” Katy says, shaking her head decisively. “There's only four games left this year, and I want to go. And Jackson-” “Wants to go watch his boyfriend run around groping a bunch of dudes in tight pants,” Ko finishes. “Shut up,” I look down the hall, but no one seems to have noticed Ko's accusation. “He's not my boyfriend,” I insist in a whisper. Ko sighs. “Fine,” he concedes, “we can go watch your boyfriend.” I bristle again and try to silence Ko, but Katy is too pleased with herself to help me out. I guess Ko has decided to trade his Friday night freedom for the chance to make fun of me for having a crush on Carter. If that's what it takes, I can live with it. “Just in time,” Katy says, glancing down at her watch. “I need to run to class, boys. I can drive tonight, I'll pick you up at 6.” With a dramatically blown kiss, Katy does an about face and runs down the hall to her next class. I'm not sure how many seventeen year olds can run in high heels, but unsurprisingly – to me at least – Katy is one of them. “Well?” Ko asks, “are you going to stand here and gloat, or do you need to run off to class to flirt with your boy toy?” “Stop,” I plead. Ko's locker is right across the hall from the chemistry lab, and Carter or some other classmate could walk by at any second. I know he's ticked off that we've yet again ganged up and forced him into watching a football game, but he shouldn't take it out on me, cathartic as it must be. He slams his locker and slings his bag over his shoulder. “You get it all at the end of the day, don't complain.” With that, he walks off to his next class, leaving me practically alone in the hallway. Taking it as a sign that I am running very late, I hurry back into chem lab just as the bell rings. Thank goodness our pow wows are right across the hall. Walking back into the room, I think more about Ko's reaction to our badgering. I get it all? What's that supposed to mean? Sure I'm making progress with Carter, but I'm not letting myself get too hopeful. I head to my usual desk in the back corner of the room. Chemistry is a double period, and on days when we don't have a lab scheduled we usually get the second half of class as a sort of study hall to work on our omnipresent lab write ups and homework. For how much of a stickler he is, Nizen is pretty casual about our off days in the classroom. As long as we're doing something productive and working on chemistry in some way or another, he doesn't mind if we talk. In other words, it's a prime opportunity to flirt with Carter. I was a little bit late getting back into class, so by the time I get settled into my chair and get my books out, Carter's nose is already buried in his own. I try to take a mental snapshot of how he looks, so focused and serious. It's so determined and adult-like and... sexy. Careful not to stare too long, I start working on my first problem. I force myself to get one question finished before I shift my focus back to the beautiful boy next to me. “Ready for your game tonight?” I ask. “Yeah, I guess so,” he responds. He still hasn't looked up from his work, but I know how to get his attention. “You guess so?” I fire back. “It's a conference game, you guys need to win.” He laughs and puts his pencil down to look up at me. “You don't have to pretend you care that much about football,” he says, “I know you don't.” “I do too,” I respond with admittedly less conviction than I should. “No you don't.” Carter looks back down at his homework, but he's smiling now. I'll never get sick of knowing that I can make him smile. For being a pretty big deal on the football team, Carter doesn't actually talk about it much. He'll tell me about funny stuff that happens at practice or the latest gossip about his teammates, but it's strangely hard to get him to open up about the game itself. I'm not sure if he holds back for my sake or his own, but I don't mind it. A lot of the other guys on the team live and breathe pigskin – it's all they ever talk about. Next it's Carter who breaks our studious silence. “You're going to the game?” he asks. “Yeah, definitely,” I say, “Someone needs to give you tips at halftime, right?” He laughs again. “Yeah? What did you see last game?” “Well...” I try to rack my brain for anything I can criticize. It was definitely an empty threat for my part. I know football well enough to enjoy watching it, but that's about the extent of my acumen. Our last game was at a private school just a few miles away, so a lot of people went even though it was an away game. Carter pulled in a touchdown with a really nice catch in the third quarter, and we won by two or three scores. Not a lot to complain about. “Your touchdown celebration,” I finally settle on. “Not your best effort.” “Oh really?” he questions, his lips curled into a wry smile. “And with your drama background, you could give me some pointers?” I shrug and shake my head. “I think it's just an intrinsic skill. You've either got it or you don't. It's all in the hips.” He makes eye contact and gives me a peculiar look. It makes me want to melt. “And you're gonna teach me how to use my hips?” I will my face not to turn beet red. Whether he was trying to be dirty or not, I wish we were having this conversation somewhere other than the chemistry classroom. I'd love to be involved on decisions regarding the movement of Carter's hips. He chuckles smugly to himself. “What are you doing after the game?” My stomach does a backflip and there's no longer any hope that I'm not flushed. The unspoken “speaking of which” before his question was abundantly clear. “Uhhh, nothing,” I say. “You want to hang out?” “Yeah,” I say weakly, “your place or mine?” If I was standing up right now, I'd probably need to sit down. This shit makes me rubbery in the knees. To anyone else, I'm sure it sounds like we're just setting up some time to hang out, play video games, watch sports, or whatever. Typical guy stuff. But the implication is obvious to me, and I know it's obvious to Carter too. This is how it's been going for the last few weeks. We've settled into this sort of casual, easy routine of hanging out and hooking up. We'll knock out some homework, play video games for a while, and then it's only a matter of time until the conversation turns. It'll just be a look or a word or a suggestion. We don't talk about it, but it's like a switch flips and next thing we know pants are off and hands are wandering. It's fucking awesome. Mostly we've been hanging out at my place, which is less exciting in terms of the video games, but plenty exciting in terms of what's been happening afterward. So far, I've given Carter no less than five handjobs and two blowjobs, and he's jerked me off six times. I've been hoping against all hope that he'll go down on me, and this weekend was looking promising. Maybe tonight? “We can hang at my house,” he says. A smile slowly makes its way across his lips. “Actually, I forgot. I have a surprise for you.” I swallow hard. A surprise? This could be even better than I was hoping for. After a few seconds of me waiting for more information or another teaser, I realize that Carter doesn't have anything else to say about it. He can't just leave me hanging like that. “A surprise?” I ask casually, doing my best to pretend I'm not incredibly interested in finding out what it is. “Hmm?” Carter is looking back into his textbook as though our conversation hasn't even been happening, and that my mention of a surprise is completely off the wall. Maybe he could teach me a thing or two about drama. Before I can pry further into the matter, we're interrupted by a quick double vibrate from Carter's phone. Text message. Carter takes a quick look to the front of the room to make sure Nizen isn't watching us and then checks his phone. His face falls and he puts his phone back down, now scowling into his book. I wonder what that's about. I try to think of a clandestine way to ask him what the deal is with the text he just got, but I can't think of one. Finally it's Carter who breaks the silence. “Anyway,” he says, “yeah, there's a surprise.” Again he doesn't take his eyes off his book. He's back to his normal self, messing with me. Whatever fleeting cloud passed over his head a second ago, it's gone now. Rather than give him the satisfaction of me groveling before him for more details on his surprise, I look back down into my own textbook and get to work on some of my homework for Monday. I can be patient. I don't need to know what the surprise is. I can’t always let him put me on edge like this. But he’s doing a hell of a good job. ******* ******* ******* ******* I'm already worried as I walk from my front door out to the road, where Katy's sedan is waiting for me. Surprisingly, I'm not talking about the football game or hanging out with Carter afterward. For now I'm just worried that I didn't dress well for the game. It's in the 40s already, and I think it's only going to get colder. I step into the car, which is about eighty degrees warmer than outside, and I'm thankful for once that both Ko and Katy are complete babies when it comes to the cold. Usually I'm sweating to death in either of their cars, but today it's a welcome relief from the bitter weather outside. After our usual greetings, we head off toward the stadium. “Why are we going to this game again?” Ko asks about halfway through the twelve minute drive to our school's sports complex. Even from the back seat I can tell Katy is rolling her eyes. I don't need to see it, I can feel it. “Because you are seventeen, in high school in the Midwest, and this is what you do on a Friday night.” “What if this isn't what I want to do on a Friday night? What if I can think of about twenty other things I'd rather be doing on a Friday night?” he asks, more whining rhetorically than actually looking for any kind of answer. Katy sighs before re-engaging. “When you agreed to come to the game this afternoon, I distinctly remember you promising not to be a baby about it. Jackson, do you recall this?” “Nope,” I say, prompting Katy to turn back and glare at me for a split second. “I remember Ko promising not to be a HUGE baby about it.” “I'm not being a huge baby,” Ko says, “I'm just seeing if by some miracle I can get you both to change your minds at the last minute and we can go do something...” “Not happening,” I say before he even has the chance to finish. “I know I'm not going to convince you,” he says, emphasizing the word 'you.' “But I thought there might still be hope for Katy. You need to go to the game to see your boyfriend play football.” “He's not my boyfriend!” I regret how worked up I sound as soon as I see the edge of Ko's smile. I forgot that Ko's plan to amuse himself tonight is to bust my balls about Carter. I can't bite when he dangles bait out there in front of me. Luckily Katy jumps back into the conversation to rebuke Ko one last time. “We're going to the game,” she says in a motherly tone, “and that's final. You can sit there and mope all night if you want, or you try to have a good time.” Ko stares out the window and sulks dramatically, apparently choosing the former. “I don't wanna have a good time...” he mutters to himself. Katy and I talk football the rest of the ride, and Ko continues giving us the silent treatment. By the time we get to the stadium from the parking lot, the first quarter is practically over. I promised Carter I would go to the game, but I never said that I would be on time, right? As we approach the entrance gate, Katy digs through her purse for our tickets and finally manages to find them among the bobby pins, chapstick, makeup, chewing gum, and whatever else girls keep in their purses. Tickets in hand, we step up to the ticket checker, an older guy who is completely decked out in our school colors from head to toe. It's bad enough that we're rolling up late, but this guy puts us to shame in the school spirit department. We hand him our tickets and try not to look too out of place. “Hold on just a second.” He squints his eyes and looks the three of us up and down. “The three of you are Eagles fans?” We all steal furtive glances at each other before looking back up to him and nodding as earnestly as possible. “Huh,” he says as though he doesn't believe it for a second. “I'm not so sure. You see, I only let Eagles fans through my gate, and I don't see a single piece of school spirit on any of you.” I look at Katy and Ko and realize that he's absolutely right. Not one of us wore anything school related. Unfortunately we didn't realize that we'd be stopped and interrogated by a superfan on the way into the game. “It's cold,” Katy says as cutely as possible, flashing her biggest, most innocent smile. “We had to wear all our warm clothes for the game.” “Hmmph,” the man replies. “I'll let you in. But you might want to stop at the souvenir tent and get yourself a nice Eagles scarf or maybe a hat.” We all nod in agreement. “Big game tonight, huh?” he says as he rips the short ends off all of our tickets. “Yeah,” Ko says, “it sure is.” I wonder if it's as clear to the ticket checker as it is to me and Katy that he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. “What do you think?” he continues. “If we win tonight do you think we have a shot at the conference?” Apparently the old man either hasn't figured it out yet, or wants to test us one more time before letting us enter the stadium. “Uhhh...” It's too late now to back down. “I think that...” Ko looks over to me for help. Getting nothing, he looks to Katy. She shrugs. “I think that anything could happen?” The ticket checker looks at him suspiciously for a second, then smiles and claps him hard on the back. ”That's the spirit!” He waves us through the gate. “Enjoy the game, you three. Go Eagles!” “Go Eagles...” we all murmur, trying not to laugh. We do a quick lap around the stadium and by a stroke of luck manage to find decent seats in the eighth row right above the 30 yard line. We make our way across the row and I glance up at the scoreboard. It's the beginning of the second quarter, and the Eagles trail 0-7. Not the score I was hoping for, but at least I didn't miss any of the offensive action. Then I'd have to figure out if Carter scored a touchdown or not, and make sure I knew exactly what happened, and then lie about it later and pretend I watched the whole thing. I get my head in the game and figure out where things stand. Looks like we have the Beavers backed up deep on their side of the field, and it's 3rd down. If we can force a punt, we should have decent field position on our next possession. I glance over to either side of me and wish that I could talk about something like this with Katy, who is paying close attention - but only to the hot boys running around the field - or Ko, who is furiously texting away on his phone. The Beavers fail to get the first down and punt the ball back just past the 50. As the return team celebrates the field position and comes back to the bench, I get my first good look at Carter as he comes onto the field. If I didn't know his jersey number – 87, just like his favorite player, Jordy Nelson – I would still be able to spot Carter from a mile away, even with his helmet and pads on. It's something about the way he walks. The easygoing confidence in his stride, the flawless shape and definition of every part of his body squeezed into that football uniform. It's the epitome of perfection, and I find myself slack-jawed every time I see it. At practice, if we ever happen to bump into the football team, I find it impossible to take my eyes off him. But here tonight under the lights with the crowd cheering around me, it's all I can do not to get out of my seat, jump the fence, and tackle that boy myself. “Uff!” A sharp pain in my ribs interrupts my reflection on the beauty of Carter Mulkins. I look over at Ko, who has put his phone away in favor of jabbing me in the side with one of his elbows. He's wielding one of his biggest, shit-eating grins. It’s not a particularly uncommon occurrence, but it still bothers me. “What was that for, asshole?” I ask indignantly. “Look who it is,” he says, directing me to the field with his eyes. “It's your not boyfriend.” “Shut up, he's not my…” I grit my teeth and frown in defeat. “You know what I mean.” Ko grins to himself at his trick, and surprisingly turns back to watch the game. I look to Katy for support but she just shrugs at me. “He's looking damn good in that uniform, I don't blame you for staring,” she says. “It's a football game, of course I'm staring at it, that's what you do!” Ko snickers. There's no winning with these two. The offense lines up and progresses down the field in short order. A few running plays to pick up some yards, a nice screen pass to the tight end for a gain of 15, and then a short pass up the middle to Carter. We reach the 15 before getting jammed up on a few plays, bringing us to a 3rd and 11. The quarterback takes the snap and throws a quick pump fake before twisting to his left and handing the ball off to our running back, Wes Wayton. Wes runs to the outside and finds a little space, picking up a handful of yards. He jukes his way past two more defenders, and breaks for the end zone. There's only one defender between him and the goalline, and BAM! Carter flies in from the outside and throws a massive block, clearing the lane for an easy touchdown. The fans go crazy, and even Ko is swept up in the euphoria of a touchdown. We jump around, hug, and high five all the strangers around us in celebration. Even though he wasn't the one holding the ball, I'm so proud of Carter for making that play. There's no glory in throwing a block, but if he hadn't done it, we wouldn't all be on our feet right now screaming the fight song. After things settle down, I decide to shoot Carter a text. He probably won't see it, but what the hell? [ Nice block out there ] I think about texting more, maybe something along the lines of “I want to get you naked and have my way with you,” but I decide against it, even though my fingers are itching to type it. Maybe if he gets a touchdown of his own. The next few possessions come and go with little in the way of an offensive spark, and before we know it, the whistle blows on the end of the 2nd quarter. Both teams head back to their locker rooms to talk about their strategy or whatever it is football teams talk about at halftime. I make a mental note to ask Carter next time I see him. Tied at 7-7 it's still anyone's game, but I'm feeling good about it. We're playing well, and the tide seems to be shifting in our favor, slowly but surely. The band is starting to play their entrance cadence when Katy suddenly pops to her feet. “It's freezing!” she exclaims. “Do you guys want some hot chocolate?” Ko and I both respond affirmatively and Katy bobs and weaves her way down the bleachers without so much as a goodbye. When she reaches the ground I see a tall figure in a varsity jacket at the bottom of the stands. Of course. Jeff. He and Katy are still head over heels for each other, but aren't an official item for whatever reason. If I ask Katy about it, she just responds cryptically about waiting until the right time and not rushing into things. Whatever. If you're obviously right for each other, you should date. It doesn't seem that complicated to me. Our numbers reduced, Ko and I scoot closer together and huddle for warmth. We sit in silence for a minute or two and try to think warm thoughts. That's what I'm thinking about at least, and I assume Ko is doing the same. He has a better jacket than I do, but he's a lot thinner than me, which is saying something. The Beavers marching band plays their first song, a Michael Jackson mashup, and Ko and I both watch with a moderate amount of attention and enthusiasm. Their band is about the same as ours – decent, but not spectacular. The break between songs lags on a few seconds longer than it needs to and Ko breaks the silence between us. “Not a lot of production from your not-boyfriend out there tonight,” he cracks. “He's...” I stop myself, finally learning my lesson and not acknowledging his joke. “He's doing what he can. They've only thrown him the ball twice so far.” “Yeah, I guess,” he responds. “He had a nice block on that touchdown though.” I'm pleasantly taken aback at Ko making that comment. He said something nice instead of being a brat. Plus, he was paying attention to football for possibly the first time in his life. As much as we give him crap for not caring about sports, he's smart and perceptive. He could get into sports if he tried. “We're worried.” I'm snapped out of my pride and admiration in a heartbeat. “What do you mean by that?” I ask. A second ago he was being cool, but now he's trying to take the conversation some place else, and I don't like it. The insinuation is clear, but I want him to spell it out for me. We're talking about Carter. I've never gotten the feeling that Ko is especially fond of Carter, and he's been making snarky remarks about it all night. If he has an issue, I think it's time he comes out and says it. “Carter,” he says, and leaves the word hanging in the air. I let the name ring in the silence between songs for the world's longest several seconds. Thankfully the band starts playing again before I have to respond. But Ko is a master manipulator, and try as I might to not let it bother me, he always knows exactly what to say to get me worked up. “Come on,” he insists, “I know you want to talk about him.” “What do I have to talk about?” I ask. I try not to get baited into it, but Ko's persistence is second only to Katy's, and he knows me even better than she does. “You know exactly what I mean,” he says. “And you're yelling, so I think you're probably worried about the same thing we are. I want to tell him that I'm not pissed off about it, and that I'm only yelling because the marching band is playing. He's right of course, but I’d rather not give him the satisfaction. I let my thoughts ruminate a bit while the marching band wraps up their song. Shouting this conversation is only going to make it worse, and I need a second to think. It's obvious what Ko's driving at. He thinks Carter isn't into me, and that he's just enjoying himself without any real attachment. I'm spending every minute with him getting more and more involved, and Carter's just hanging out. I get it, but I don't believe it. Finally they finish playing and I turn back to Ko to continue. “I'm not sure what you want me to say,” I tell him. “Carter and I are hanging out, and that's more than I ever thought would happen. I'd call that a win. And whatever happens happens.” Ko looks at me skeptically. “Is that really how you see it though?” “I... I don't know,” I stammer. I don't. I can tell myself a thousand times that I feel one way or the other about it, but I still can't put my finger on it. Ko puts his arm around my shoulder and pulls me in for a little bit of a side hug. “We just don't want you to get hurt, Jackson,” he says. “So don't let yourself get shit on. When you hang out tonight, think about it. If I'm wrong – and I seriously hope that we're totally wrong – you're going going to be so stoked about it that you won't even be mad at me.” I stare daggers at him, but I still lean into his embrace. Asshole. He always makes such a good argument, and I know he's coming from a good place. If Ko's wrong about me and Carter I won't hold it against him. I will instead proudly hold my body against Carter's, and I'll be damn glad that I'm doing it. “What the hell guys? Did you already talk about it?” Katy stands over us, carefully balancing three steaming hot cups of hot chocolate between her hands. She looks back and forth between me and Ko and few times then comes to the conclusion that she has in fact missed our entire heart to heart. “Well, fine.” She sits down in a huff and begrudgingly hand us both our beverages. “Don't worry,” I tell her, “Ko made your point.” “He wasn't too mean about it, was he?” That manages to get a laugh out of me, and between the hot chocolate and the fact that my two best friends care about me enough to brave an awkward conversation while a marching band is playing, I decide that I actually feel a little bit better. It's annoying that Katy and Ko are so up my butt about my personal business, but that's exactly what I need them to do. I've been worrying about this exact same thing non-stop since the day Carter drunkenly tried to make out with me at that party during the summer. The more we've hung out, and the more we've fooled around, the more it's made me wonder. What am I to Carter? I feel a vibration in my pocket. Text message. I can feel my heart racing before I even pull out my phone. It's Carter, I know it is. [ Don't worry, I got a TD for you in the 2nd half ] Despite how cold it is, I feel myself start to sweat. Why does Carter say things like that if he doesn't like me for real. I know we're friends and all, but I guarantee he isn't texting other dudes from class that he's going to score a touchdown for them. I consider showing the message to Ko and Katy, but decide against it. They've made their case, and I need to fly solo for the rest of the night on this one. I've been wondering about all this longer than either of them have, and I'm the one who needs to get to the bottom of it. But how? Thankfully I don't have to think about it any longer, because the crowd roars as the Eagles jog back onto the field from underneath our bleachers. It's a Friday night in the fall, the game is tied, and there are conference title implications. Even Ko can't stay seated as the team pours out of the locker room for the third quarter. The Eagles get the ball to start the half, and after a short glimmer of hope and a handful of first downs are forced to punt. The Beavers don't even fare as well as that, and they punt the ball back to the home team. Things go on like this through the rest of the 3rd, and both teams manage to pick up a field goal to keep the game tied. Finally, with 6:21 left in the 4th quarter, the Eagles start to get something going. They break off a huge run to the weak side, and then strike quickly with two short passes for another first down. The crowd starts adding a bit more noise and excitement, and the momentum continues to build with two more nice rushes for another first down. 1st and 10 on the Beavers 26. Our quarterback scrambles on the next play for 9 yards, setting up the the ultimate red zone situation. It's 2nd and short, within striking distance of the goal. This is what defenses hate. Literally every play is a good option for the offense. The obvious choice would be a quick draw for the 1st down. But if the defense plans on that, maybe you could go for a big passing play? But then again, if you try to stop the pass, maybe they'll throw a screen or run to the outside. The list goes on. This could be huge for the Eagles. Carter lines up wide on the left side. The quarterback takes the snap and drops three steps. He looks to the left side just as Carter hooks back in towards the line of scrimmage and... Pump fake left. It must have been part of the play, because Carter cuts over to the sideline and the safety bites. A second later the quarterback lobs the ball into the back right corner of the end zone and... Touchdown Eagles! The stadium erupts and the band blares the fight song across the field. What a play. The cheering hardly subsides by the time the Eagles hit the extra point, and no one in the stands has sat back down as they line up for the kickoff. One thing is abundantly clear. The momentum of this game has shifted. The Beavers' offense hasn't done much all game, but now with the crowd back into it and less than five minutes remaining, a comeback might be out of the question. There's only one little issue. Carter still owes me that touchdown. I crunch the numbers in my head and figure that the Eagles should get the ball back at least once before the game is over. However, they'll be trying to kill time when they get it, so they might not pass it again. Honestly Carter's best chance might be if the Beavers score. I know it's wrong to root against my own team like this, but I really want that touchdown. Shockingly, the Beavers are able to overcome their surroundings and move the football. They pick up a few successful plays, and then build on their new found momentum with a big gain, taking the ball up to almost the fifty. Maybe I'll get my wish after all. The next play, however, does not go well for the Beavers. The quarterback is under pressure and scrambles wide to the outside to escape one of our biggest, scariest linebackers. Even with the game on the line, I don't blame the guy for running away. He spots a receiver down the field, pulls his throwing hand back, and... BAM! He gets hit in the back and the ball flies out of his hand, just before he manages to throw. It's a fumble! Everyone dives for the ball at once, and after a few seconds half the players from each team are part of a huge pile of sweaty boys, all waiting for the referee to tell them who came out on top. I could see myself rather enjoying being a part of a pileup like that, and I sort of regret the fact that soccer doesn't afford any similar opportunities. After a decent amount of time spent trying to disentangle everyone, the head referee blows his whistle and points toward the far end zone. Eagles ball! The fans go crazy one more time as the offense takes the field. It's likely that we'll just run out the clock as much as we can, but I still have a little hope that they might try throwing the ball to Carter. After two quick running plays however, it seems unlikely. The next play is another easy handoff to the.. wait, no it's not! The quarterback and halfback made a brilliant fake, and as most of the defense tries to chase down the running back on the right side, the QB slips off to the left more or less unnoticed. He has a man open down field, unleashes a big pass, and... It's caught by Carter! He had his man beat by a few steps when he made the catch and doesn't let up a bit on his way to the end zone. Touchdown Eagles! And perhaps more importantly, touchdown Carter. I'm absolutely beaming as we give the team a huge roar of cheers and applause – he scored me a touchdown. I feel a little bit like I’m floating as the clock ticks down to zero. The Beavers fail to score and the Eagles run out the game with a few more easy, safe running plays. The fans are on their feet celebrating a perfect Friday night in the Midwest. A win for the home team on a cold, clear November evening. It really doesn't get any better than that. After we all sing the alma mater, the three of us slowly make our way into the flow of the crowd leaving the stadium. We get back outside the gate, but as Ko and Katy turn toward the parking lot, I make to head in the opposite direction. “So this is it, huh?” Ko asks with a smirk. “You're heading off to spend time with your boy?” Of course he wouldn't miss one last chance to razz me. “Yep,” I say. “What do you guys want to tell me about it?” Katy puts her hands on her hips and looks me up and down. “You'll think about what we talked about?” I send her back an annoyed look, which doesn't faze her nearly as much as I wish that it did. “It's going really well,” I try to tell them. I try to be mad at them for giving me so much grief, but I can't be. I know that their number one concern is me, and if they didn't want me to be happy, they wouldn't be hassling me in the first place. “You guys,” I assure them, “don't worry about me. I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself.” They still don't look convinced. “It's going really well,” I say again, half to them and half to myself. I really hope so. In the end, Ko and I shrug at each other and turn to walk away. Katy, on the other hand, decides it's a good time to leap upon me with a huge hug. I hate to admit it, but I kind of wanted one. As I walk over to the locker room exit where all the players come out after the game, I have a chance to think a little more about everything we talked about without all the noise, excitement, and distraction of the football game. The most annoying thing about having friends like Ko and Katy is that they know me well enough to pretty much always be right when it comes to this stuff. And as much as I do think (or at least hope) they're wrong, I know there's at least a bit of truth to their worries. Carter and I have gotten further along than I ever dreamed was possible, but it's still not in a good place, at least not by their standards. After all, Carter has a girlfriend. I've never heard him say a single nice thing about her, except maybe that she gave him head once, if that counts. But they're still together, so in the end he chooses her over me. I'm getting the sex, but she still gets all the love and affection, at least officially. I try to tell myself that it doesn't bother me, but it does. Being Carter's dirty little secret is fun and exciting, but I can't pretend that I don't want more. My thoughts are interrupted as the locker room door bursts open and the first couple of football players start pouring out, freshly showered. Is it weird that I'm here? Will it seem strange that I'm standing out here waiting with all the moms and girlfriends? I have to put my fears and doubts on hold though, because the next person to file out of the locker room is none other than Carter himself. He looks fantastic. Better than I've seen him in a long time, which is saying something. He's freshly showered and dressed in sweatpants and a training jacket. I can't help but notice as he walks that he doesn't seem to be wearing anything under the sweatpants, as evidenced by the subtlest little bulge I can see swinging back and forth as he walks. I feel my heart skip a few beats as I think about that. Does he do this stuff on purpose, or is he just naturally this sexy all the time? He's also beaming from ear to ear, clearly high off the excitement off a big win, capped off with his very own touchdown. Better yet, his smile gets even bigger when he sees me waiting, and he hurries over to meet me. “I told you!” he whoops as he approaches. “I knew it was gonna happen tonight!” I can't help but share in that infectious joy of his, and before I know it, all my doubts and worries are gone. We're together, Carter's happy, I'm happy. I feel like a million bucks as we start to walk to the student parking lot. Talking and joking about all the things at the game. We're most of the way there when it suddenly occurs to me: Carter doesn't drive. At least not that I know of. The few times we've hung out, his mom or dad have dropped him off at my house, or there was that one time he came over with his family's driver. But I've never seen him drive a car before. I don't think he even has one. “Do you have...” I start to ask the question, but he cuts me off. “No, the driver isn't here,” he says with a embarrassed sigh. I laugh. “I was going to ask if you had a car, but I guess I was wondering about the driver, too.” “I'm still upset that you even found out about that,” he says, with the cutest little hint of embarrassment. “Even I think it's a little bit weird sometimes.” Carter stops walking and turns to face the next car in the row. “Well, here we are,” he announces. I look up just in time to see the car's parking lights automatically turn on and the door handles slide gracefully out from the car’s sleek frame. We're standing in front of a bright, red Tesla. Holy. Shit. “Is this your car?!” I ask incredulously. I step around the car to get a better look at it. It's beautiful. Every square inch of it looks amazing from every angle. I've seen commercials, but I've never seen one in person. I didn't know anyone in our town even had one. He must be joking with me. Carter doesn't have a car, much less this $100,000 masterpiece sitting in front of me. Carter, however, instead of denying ownership of the Tesla, just shrugs and looks a bit uncomfortable. “It's my dad's car, but I was allowed to drive it tonight, as long as I went straight home after the game.” While I'm a little bit disappointed that we can't stop anywhere for food on the way home, I can't complain. We're driving home in a Tesla. Once I'm done gawking, Carter tosses his bag in the trunk and we get into the car. The inside is even nicer than the outside. All leather interior, insanely comfortable, with what had to be the largest set of computer screens I've ever seen in a vehicle. I feel like I'm sitting in the future, and the future is looking very bright. With the push of a button, the car springs to life and Carter silently pulls out of the parking lot and into the road. It drives like a dream. Carter's phone suddenly chirps that he has a text message and I'm struck with an interesting thought. “Where's Beth at tonight?” I ask innocently. I feel like Carter's chosen me over her tonight, and I want to rub it in a little bit if possible. Granted, maybe she's just out of town or busy with family plans tonight, but maybe she's sitting at home crying wondering how I'm stealing her boyfriend. It's a possibility, right? “She went home after the game,” Carter says nonchalantly. “She has a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow.” He pauses for a second, then decides to keep going. “Plus, I told her I already had plans.” He turns to me and winks, which I don't even need to tell you is the hottest thing in the world. I decide to push my luck even further. “Dude, you don't have to hang out with me tonight, I'll totally understand if...” I trail off and search Carter's face for a reaction. “I like...” He stops and decides not to continue. “What?” I ask. Carter shakes his head. “It doesn't matter.” I feel like when people say that something doesn't matter, they're always on the verge of saying something really important. You can't let them off the hook. “What?” I insist. “You obviously wanted to say something.” I let my words hang over his head in silence and I commit myself to not saying anything until Carter just tells me what he was going to say. After almost ten seconds of silence, he finally breaks down. “I was going to say that I like hanging out with you more than her anyway,” he quickly mumbles, as though if he says it slightly faster and quieter that I won't hear it. I can't help but smile at that, although I try to keep a look of concern on my face for his sake. Secretly, that's exactly what I was hoping for. “Sorry?” I say tentatively, even though I'm not at all. “Sort of,” I admit. Carter laughs when he hears me apologize, which breaks the tension. “Don't be sorry that you're more fun to hang out with than she is.” He looks over and makes eye contact for a split second before turning back to the road. “Especially, um... Especially lately.” I see him blush a little bit, which confirms that he's talking about exactly what I was thinking (and hoping) he was talking about. Add another point to Ko's tally on that one, because it seems like pushing my physical relationship with Carter has been working even better than I thought it would. Get a boy hard (or off), and he's all yours. We get to a stoplight, and when it turns green, Carter pulls over into the left turn lane and takes what is most definitely a wrong turn. “I don't get to drive this much, so I figured we’d take the long way home,” he says. “Is that cool?” “Uhhh, yeah,” I say. “I've never even seen a Tesla before, so I'm pretty stoked for an excuse to keep riding in it.” “Cool,” he replies. He smiles as he drives, and I wonder if it's because of me or because of the car. Both, perhaps? Reassured by Carter's words about me and Beth, I'm suddenly possessed with an unnatural courage. I would never do something like this, but it's getting to me, everything is. Maybe it's the fact that Carter chose hanging out with me tonight over hanging out with his girlfriend. Perhaps it's that he told me how much he likes all the fooling around we've been doing lately. Or it might just be the fact that I'm sitting in a $100,000 luxury car. Whatever the combination of factors it took to get me here, I get an urge inside me to do something crazy, and I don't stop myself. Instead, I reach over into Carter's lap and set my hand on his crotch. He gasps when I make contact, but he doesn't stop me. I slowly start rubbing my hand into the fabric of his sweatpants, and before long I start to feel the outline of his cock swelling inside of them. Without anything on under them (I was right about that), it's easy to make out the shape of Carter's long, full shaft through his pants, and I carefully wrap my fingers around it and gently stroke up and down. Carter's breathing gets heavier and he slides slightly forward in his seat to afford me better access to the area away from his seat belt. Encouraged, I increase my tempo and grip on the hard rod in his pants. I slide my hand down all seven inches of him and give his nice, full balls a squeeze before moving my attention back up and resuming my jerking. I know exactly what I want to do. I look up away from the action for a second and try to figure out exactly where we are. I'm glad Carter decided to take the long way home, because even with the extra time I estimate that we only have about five more minutes before we get to Carter's house. It's not a lot of time, but I think it will be just enough for what I have in mind. My hand runs up under his shirt and I regret not having more time to feel the smooth, tight skin of Carter's stomach before sliding it into his waistband. Commando was a good choice tonight, because without any other obstructions I have free access to everything inside those sexy gray sweatpants of his. Carter's dick is rock hard, and I run my fingers up and down its length, marveling at the smooth, warm perfection in my hands. Shit, there's no time for this! I can't be dawdling around relishing every square inch of this boy right now – even though I want to. We only have about four minutes left before we get home, so if I'm going to make this happen, I need to make it happen now. With that in mind, I reach my other hand over and tug down Carter's waistband a little, releasing his impressive manhood. Damn that thing is just perfect. Even if I wasn't so pressed for time, I wouldn't have been able to hesitate for a second. I push my head into Carter's lap and start sucking his cock. Estimating that I have roughly three minutes left in our trip to get him off, I don't waste any time with subtlety or foreplay. I bury him in my mouth right off the bat, and he half gasps, half moans in response. The flavor of his precum hits my tongue as I pull back off, which is a good sign. He's so ready for this. I take him in again all the way and let him out, then again a few more times. It feels incredible to have his swollen head banging into the back of my throat, and I know he's liking it just as much as I am from the increased pace and volume of his breathing. Two and a half minutes. “Holy shit, Jackson...” he moans as I continue to bob up and down frantically on his hard tool. “Oh god that feels amazing!” I glance up for just a second and see how flushed he is. Carter is concentrating as hard as he can on the road, probably willing himself to ignore what's going on in his lap and focus on driving. It'll be a losing battle if I have anything to do with it. Two minutes. Halting my rhythm, I pull back until just Carter's head is in my mouth and I swirl my tongue around it, savoring the sexy ridges and contours of his cockhead. That gets a response from him as well, as Carter jerks his hips up in pleasure and moans softly. I continue with my tongue, making sure to get all over the head and underneath it to his frenulum. Damn, his cock is so fantastic. I'd love to spend all day running my tongue all over it, but there isn't time. With just over a minute left of our car ride, I move back into a steady tempo up and down his pole. I start with just the head, then extend down to take him a little deeper into my mouth, then a little further, and so on, until I'm sliding up and down the top six inches of Carter's shaft with each stroke of my mouth. Less than a minute now. I slide my hand down to his balls and gently squeeze those two smooth, perfect globes. I can feel them starting to tighten up, so I know Carter has to be close. I'm still bobbing up and down across most of Carter's dick, and he's starting to move his hips in time with my ministrations. This timing might end up being about perfect, and I've got one last trick up my sleeve. Thirty seconds. With no time left to lose, I take a deep breath and plunge my head down as far as it will go, burying Carter in my mouth all the way to the hilt. I commit myself to staying there as long as it takes, and within seconds Carter starts writhing in the pleasure of my deep throating. “Jackson, that feels... oh fuck that's so... oh god, I'm... ah, ah, ah...” At a loss for words, Carter bucks his hips up into my mouth and explodes into the back of my throat, sending pump after pump of his hot sperm down into my stomach. I pull off a little to breathe, which is tricky given that Carter is still painting the inside of my mouth with a heavy load of jizz. I make a conscious effort to favor keeping the car clean over putting fresh air in my lungs, and I pull off with a gasp just in time as the last dribble spurts out of Carter glistening cockhead and onto his abdomen. “Jesus, Jackson!” he says between breaths. “That was amazing.” I knew it was, but it feels really good to hear him say it. After tucking his still throbbing member back into his pants, I pull my head up out of Carter's lap and notice that we've stopped in front of the gate leading to the Mulkins residence. Perfect timing. The gate is almost done swinging open, which means I finished Carter off with not a second to spare. I give myself an A+ for my efforts tonight, and if the dazed look on Carter's face means what I think it does, I think he would do the same. Still panting, Carter pulls the car down their long driveway and into the spacious four car garage at its end. As soon as he gets the car in park, he turns to look at me. “Jackson,” he says, his eyes blazing even in the dim light of the garage, “that was fucking insane.” I want to relish his words, but it occurs to me that he might mean the fact that I made a move on him while he was trying to drive something that might cost more than my house. In retrospect, I would agree that it was “fucking insane.” “Sorry,” I say meekly, suddenly deflated by the enormity of how dumb of an idea it was. Carter suddenly looks at me like I just sprouted a unicorn horn on top of my head. “Sorry? For giving me the best blowjob of my life?” “Oh,” I say, “I just thought that it was like, with the car, and then...” Carter cuts me off with his classic, million dollar smile. He gestures his hands around the cabin of the Tesla and then around his crotch area. “Not a drop in the car. So there's nothing to worry about.” I let his words sink in and try to savor the moment. The best blowjob of his life, and it was all me. Forget Katy and Ko and all their doubts and worries, because let me repeat that, straight from the horse's mouth: I just gave Carter Mulkins the best blowjob of his life.
  11. Roe St. Alee

    Cross Country - Full of Surprises

    Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the stories. I write them as fast as I can (which is very, very slow).
  12. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 13

    Chapter 13 It only takes about a minute. From first contact to Carter’s last pump into the back of my throat, I would be surprised if even sixty seconds go by. Short and sweet. Best fucking minute of my life. In my haste to make this happen, I don’t waste any time on subtlety or foreplay. It’s a full on blowjob from the second I go down on him. I’ve fantasized about this moment a hundred times and as soon as I make contact, I’m sucking for everything I’m worth. Technique? Not really. It honestly isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Giving a blowjob, I mean. Not Carter’s dick. That’s plenty hard. As I said, I’m not wasting any time or energy. I don’t want to give Carter a second to think that he might not want to go through with this. His only thought can be how good it feels to have me ravishing his cock. Without much effort. I take a little more than half of Carter’s cut dick in my mouth and start bobbing my head up and down. I keep my right hand on the base of his shaft and follow the motion of my head. I remember Sam doing that for me, and I remember it feeling really good. My other hand runs up across his smooth stomach, feeling the faint outline of his abs every time he moves. I don’t want to freak him out with something so intimate, but I’m enjoying myself way too much to worry about it. After a few seconds of that, and getting no feedback except an occasional gasp of pleasure, I start easing my way farther down his shaft with every long, determined motion of my head. Three inches. Three and a half. Four inches. Four and a half. Carter, for his part, is thrusting up to meet each movement which only encourages me to go deeper. When I hit five inches, things get a little trickier. I know my mouth is only so big, but I didn’t realize it would take any special skill to get all of Carter inside me. Sam made it seem effortless when he did it, and Carter’s seven inches aren’t that much bigger than me. When I watch porn they don’t have any trouble, unless they’re dealing with something huge. I feel Carter’s cut cockhead hit a sort of wall in the front of my throat with a little over two inches left to go. I’m sure I could finish the job with a little more work at this level, but I want it all. I want to feel Carter entirely inside me, buried to the hilt. I relax my throat as much as I can, but still can’t get it all the way in. There has to be a way. On my next pass I relax and sort of breathe in as I reach my limit. Suddenly, my throat gives way all at once and before I know it there I am, with my nose pushed up against Carter’s shaved pubic bone. “Jackson!” Part of me wants to back off. I need to breathe, but a hundred times more than that, I want to keep Carter calling my name, keep him in the throes of pleasure as long and as hard as I can. “Jackson… fuck… I’m… I’m gonna…” His breathing punctuates his words erotically and his hips buck wildly into my mouth as I feel his cock start to swell. He puts his hands on the back of my head and pulls down, not roughly, but enough so I know there’s no doubt what’s about to happen. “Arghhhh!!!” Carter cries out as he shoots pump after pump of hot boy cum deep into the back of my throat. Amazingly, I feel my own dick unload into my pajama pants untouched. That’s never happened before, but then again Carter has never cried out my name while he’s blasting a load into my mouth. Once the deluge subsides, I finally pull off to breathe. That was ridiculous. Lightly gasping for air, the first taste of Carter’s juice coating the inside of my mouth, and looking down at the greatest cock in the world, glistening wet and still twitching from my ministrations - that was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Carter’s eyes are closed and he looks like he’s somewhere a million miles away. Hell, he might actually be unconscious for all I know. “Jackson…” It’s Carter, and just barely louder than a whisper. He’s not asleep, he must just be in a sort of post-blowjob trance. Remembering from the time Sam went down on me, I can relate. “That was…” He pauses and sighs, leaving me to wonder. What was it? Was it wrong? Was it gay (or maybe “too gay” is what I mean)? Was it the last time he’s ever coming over? What does he think about what I just did? “That was amazing.” You’re goddamn right it was. It was amazing for me. If Carter enjoyed himself half as much as I did, he’ll never forget it in a million years. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I look over at Carter. At this point he’s completely passed out, with his boxers still around his ankles. If it wasn’t such a turn on to see him naked lying in my room, I’d almost have to say it’s just plain cute. Carter all tuckered out from a long day of school, football practice, and then a steamy blowjob. Now he can’t even keep his little eyes open. I get up and turn off the lights, and from the dim light of the bathroom, I can’t help but marvel at the sight before me. Two months ago, I never could have guessed that anything even remotely like this would occur. Not in a million years. Carter was the hot but nice jock on the swim team, cute as hell but impossibly out of reach. But then something happened. We started talking, we hung out a few times, and we became friends. And then something else happened. Somehow, inexplicably and without either of us realizing it at the time, a door opened to a sexual connection between us. I could never have dreamed up a plan to make this all happen. It just did. And now Carter’s passed out on my bed with his shorts around his ankles. Every inch of his body that I used to watch from afar, marvel at from across the pool, and lust after in the locker room, is comfortably exposed to me and barely a foot away. I can’t help but think it: I got him. I sigh and frown as the thought really settles in. I’ve come a long way, but I don’t have him. Not by a long shot. This should be the part of the night where I curl up next to Carter’s naked body and hold myself against him. He would wake up just the slightest bit from the movement and half open his eyes to look at me. A smile would appear ever so faintly, welcoming me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. I would lean in and we would kiss, a tired but content peck before bed. We would belong to each other in that moment and both drift off to sleep, fully comfortable in each other’s embrace. That’s the part that isn’t going to happen. No matter what, no matter when. It is not going to happen. I sigh again as I lie back on my side of the bed. Some of my wildest dreams have come true. But until the rest of them follow suit, it’s a bittersweet kind of a victory. ------- ------- ------- ------- “I know it’s here somewhere!” I mutter under my breath. Where the hell is it? My room isn’t that big. I don’t understand how I can lose a sock. Especially one that I had on yesterday. Don’t judge me. I only wore the socks for about an hour while we ran a few errands in town last night. It’s perfectly ok to wear them again today for school. That’s not weird. What’s weird is the fact that one of them was in plain sight at the end of my bed, waiting to be put on and stuffed into a shoe this morning, and the other is nowhere to be found. Maybe the twins can help me out, with their penchant for vanishing socks. Still grumbling, I do another sweep of my room and come up short again. The only other place they could be is the laundry basket, which hardly makes sense since I was wearing them last night and I clearly didn’t put the other one in the hamper. On second thought, however, I suppose it is the fate of most worn laundry to wind up in there. I dig through my clothes and turn things over a few times, hoping that a short black sock with blue trim will appear, when something else catches my eye. A flash of blue. Light blue. Something about it sparks in my mind and tells me to stop. What was it? I rummage around a bit more, now just as keen on finding the blue thing as I am on locating my sock. What is it about this thing that made me notice it? I finally give up, and in an act of desperation I turn my hamper over and dump its contents in the middle of my bedroom floor. And there they are. It wasn’t my sock that I saw, although I was already quite sure of that. It wasn’t some other item I was looking for. It was so much more than that, and now they’re sitting right on top of my pile of dirty laundry. Right here, in the middle of my room: Carter’s boxers. They were the same ones he was wearing the other night. The same pair I pulled down to his ankles before I sucked his cock. The same pair he left around his ankles as he slept. A perfect complement to his perfect body, and now they’re here. I look over my shoulder a few times to make sure I’m alone. I’m not sure who I expected might be sitting in my room at this hour watching me, but if I’m about to do what I think I’m about to do, I want to make absolutely sure that no one else is going to see this. I reach out and pick up Carter’s boxers. The thin, cotton fabric is well worn. Carter has had these for a while, and he clearly uses them a lot. Just holding them sends a jolt of electricity through my body. Despite how simple and understated they are, they’re so damn sexy. Part of that, of course, is imagining the guy who might be wearing them. I run them through my hands a few times, imagining (and even remembering) what usually resides inside. I pull open the fly, thinking about the way his cock pushed through like an iron rod before I stroked it up and down. And then how it looked and felt when I pulled them off, finally revealing Carter’s naked body to my eyes for the first time… I can’t jump down that rabbit hole right now. I still need to get ready for school, and while I could without a doubt sit here thinking about Carter all day, if I don’t get moving I’ll miss my ride. My mother is not known for her patience in the morning. Tossing the boxers on my bed and scooping up the errant sock, which finally revealed itself to me from my pile of dirty laundry, I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for another day of high school. Once all my hygiene is sorted out for the day, I come back into my room and pick out the rest of my clothes. Today I’ll wear one of my shirts from the summer swim team, a pair of dark gray jeans, and… There they are, sitting on my bed. I was just about to grab a pair of maroon Polo briefs to put on underneath those jeans, but suddenly I have a much better idea. And by better, I mean hotter. I shuck off my pajama pants and spread the upper opening of Carter’s boxers, giving me a good view of the insides. This is what he must see every time he’s about the wear them, I think to myself. Here goes nothing. I pull the underwear on and as they slide into place, it feels amazing. They fit like a dream. A big, sexy dream. They have all the right space in all the right places, and for being boxers, they’re incredibly form fitting, but not restrictive. Damn, I feel… sexy. If Carter feels this good when he puts them on, it’s no wonder he’s so cool and confident all the time. And that’s not the half of it. It’s not just the cut and style of these that are having an effect on me. These are Carter’s boxers, and not only that, he’s already worn them. It’s a rush that I’m wearing his underwear and I can feel blood coming into my cheeks, as well as a certain other part of my body... No, this will never work. I shake my head and sigh at the mere thought of it. No way. I need to take them off. As erotically charged as it might be to wear these all day, there’s no way I could make it. I’ll be hard at school every time I think about it, and that’s the last thing I need. Not happening. But on the other hand… Before I can change my mind, I put my pants on and finish getting dressed. It wasn’t easy stuffing my semi into my jeans and making sure it’s not sticking out for anyone to see, but I’m not going to let an opportunity like this go to waste. This might be the one and only time I ever have a pair of Carter’s boxers, and there’s no way I can’t do this. I’ll take the risk, because this might just be the hottest thing ever. “Jackson, are you ready?” My mom’s voice cuts through my thoughts and I check the clock. I grab my backpack and run out the door. It’s too late to go back. Mom needs to get to work and she’s dropping me off on her way. Good idea or bad, it looks like I’m rocking Carter’s sexy blue undies for the rest of the day. In the car on the way to school, I’m already thinking it was a bad idea. I can’t keep my mind off it, and every time I think about it, I swear I can feel an extra tiny jolt of blood rush into my penis. I try to think of other things. Schoolwork, the traffic, what might be for lunch today. Nothing seems to help. I move my backpack to my lap and pretend to dig something out, but in truth I just need to adjust myself and don’t want my mom to notice. Plus, I don’t like the way she’s been looking at me all weekend. It’s entirely too Mom-ish for my liking. Almost a knowing sort of smirk. She gets like this any time I mention a boy at school or someone I think is cute. Usually I can handle it, but now she looks like she knows something. Speaking in terms of the last three days of my life, there is plenty she might know. “What?” I ask innocently. “Did Carter have a good time at dinner?” she shoots back at me with the same feigned innocence. We know each other too well to play these games. “Yeah, he liked it a lot,” I reply in earnest. “Thanks for making dinner, it was great.” Sunday morning Carter got picked up for football practice a little before 8, while I woke up a bit after that. It was probably better that way, after what happened the night before. Bittersweet might be my new favorite word, because while I didn’t get a chance to talk to Carter and see what he thought about everything that went down, I also didn’t have to talk to Carter about everything that went down. Pros and cons. The rest of the day Sunday I went over to Ko’s and played video games, while Mom ran errands and went to some school event with the twins. Sunday evening she was out with a friend while I watched Randy and Sarah and worked on homework. I could tell Mom had something on her mind, but she never had the time or opportunity to pull me aside and bring it up. I was hoping it would never happen. “Carter seems like a very nice young man,” she continues, “and he’s welcome over anytime you want to have him.” “Uhhh… Thanks.” I’m not sure what she’s getting at. I’ve never talked to my mom about Carter and all my feelings for him, so she doesn’t know about any of that stuff. And all we did Saturday night was have dinner, which is not something unusual for one of my friends. At least that’s all we did that Mom knows about. Suffice to say she would never bring this sort of thing up about Katy or Ko. Not sure where the conversation is going, or if we’re even really having a conversation in the first place, I decide to look out the window and assume we’re not continuing her interrogation. “Jackson,” she says. Mom takes her eyes off the road for what seems like a dangerously long time. While she’s still sporting her knowing smile, her eyes have a more serious look to them now. “I want you to be sure…” She trails off again, searching for the words she’s trying to say. “If you… When you think you might…” In all my memory, this might be one of the first times I’ve ever seen Mom flustered. She took my coming out with limitless grace and never misses a beat anywhere. When my dad left, she was stronger than anybody. And now, whatever it is she’s trying to say is bothering her enough to fluster her. This can’t be good. Finally she nods to herself and looks straight into my eyes. Even if it’s only for a second, I know that I’d better listen, and listen good. She’s back in control, and you would never know from the seriousness and intensity she’s radiating now that she was floundering for words a minute ago. “Jackson, I am your mother,” she begins. I’ve heard a few speeches over the years that start like this and I know Mom means business. “I’m sure you don’t want to hear this from me, but I am your mother and I need to say it.” She pauses, and I nod in deference before she continues. “You’re in high school now, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time you bring someone over for dinner…” “Mom, it’s not like that,” I argue in a panic, trying to play it off. “We’re just friends, and we got put in the same chemistry lab this year, and…” “Young man,” she cuts me off, “I may be your mother, but I am not blind.” That shuts me up. We pull into the school parking lot, as though right on cue, and Mom is able to turn and face me fully before continuing. “I don’t want to snoop in any of your business, but I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.” She reaches over and grabs my shoulder commandingly. “I’ve always trusted you to make good, responsible decisions, and you’ve never let me down. So just remember to be safe and smart about any decisions you’re making now.” I nod. “Do you understand what I mean when I say that?” The intensity of both her gaze and her grip on my shoulders has increased to a critical level. “Yes,” I reply, not that I have much of a choice. “Jackson,” she reiterates, “do you understand exactly what I mean?” “Yes!” I reply again. I’m not sure how else to safely beat around the bush, so I just come out with it. “Condoms… and stuff.” My mom blushes, but nods approvingly. “Ok,” she says, pulling me in for a big, awkward hug over the bucket seats. “Now you can go to school.” I can’t help but laugh a little as we embrace. You can’t head off to school on a Monday morning in the Willard household until we’ve had a quick chat about condoms. As awkward as it is, in a weird way it feels good to know that my mom is looking out for me. Plus I can take some amount of comfort in the fact that it was just as embarrassing for her as it was for me. “I love you, Mom,” I say. “I love you too.” Well, if there’s one upside to this, it’s that an awkward, emotional talk with your mother kills an erection faster than anything else in the world. By the end of our conversation I’m sufficiently “relaxed” enough to exit the car and walk into school without anything to worry about. Thanks, Mom! I manage to get through homeroom and precalculus without incident, the former because it’s only five minutes, and the latter because finding limits could compete with “talking to your mom” as a surefire way to keep your sexuality in check. By the time I sit down next to Ko at study hall, I’m starting to think that today might not be so crazy after all, whether I’m wearing Carter’s boxers or not. Some days, study hall is dead silent, and everyone is putting their noses to the grindstone, hammering out the last of their homework, or studying desperately for a test. Today, however, is not one of those days. On days like today the mood is totally different, and it’s perfectly ok to have a dull murmur of conversation going on in the room. I’m thankful that my Aunt Kathy, our study hall teacher, can tell the difference. I’m especially glad, because today Ko and I have a lot to talk about. Most of the day Sunday we spent playing the hottest new shooter that just came out for the XBox. We got into a serious argument about what the best weapon and strategy is for taking out a Colossal Beast, one of the hardest enemies in the game. Ko thinks you should use the minigun, but I am one hundred percent convinced that the concussion rifle is the way to go. We both had plenty of time to think about it since, and neither of us is ready to budge. “But that’s exactly why you can’t use the minigun,” I contend. “The reload time is way too long. It starts regenerating. Or if it has enough health, it’ll just do a bunch of power attacks.” Ko shakes his head in frustration. “You can just back away while you reload. And so what if it regens some health? The extra damage is worth it.” That’s a solid point. I’m trying to think of a way to refute his argument, at least in a more convincing way than, “I’m better at using the concussion rifle,” but Ko beats me to it. “What’s with you today?” he asks. He catches me off guard. There’s nothing weird about today, is there? Oh shit. I’m wearing Carter’s boxers. In the midst of our argument, I had forgotten all about it. The sexy blue boxers that were on Carter’s unbelievably hot body only a few days ago - the boxers I stripped off before… “What do you mean?” I ask, entirely unconvincingly. My mind is racing. I’m trying to keep it focused on important things like “acting normal” or “not seeming like I’m incredibly turned on right now,” but my scumbag brain seems more inclined to be barreling at a thousand miles per hour into thoughts of “how big exactly is Carter’s cock” and “noises Carter makes as he blasts his load down my throat.” “There’s just something different about you today,” Ko reiterates. “I noticed it this weekend, but I wasn’t sure. Today though, I’m definitely sure. You’re just a little… different.” He squints his eyes and studies me intently. “I’m not sure what it is though.” I try to think of anything except Carter and the boxers, which has the opposite effect. Ko’s eyes suddenly go wide. “Holy shit!” he hisses under his breath. He glances around to make sure no one can hear us. We’re several places away from our nearest neighbor, a scrawny little sophomore with his earbuds in. “Did you get laid this weekend?!” If I was flushed before, I’m sure my face turns fifty shades darker. “No! That’s…” I try to calm my racing heart while I think of the right word for exactly what that is. “That’s stupid!” I finally conclude. It’s utter bullshit, and I’m sure Ko knows it. Or at least, I hope he thinks that he knows it. “Well,” he says jauntily, “if you don’t want to talk about it now, you just let me know…” He’s egging me on, and I know it, but I can’t help myself. “How would you even know anyway?” I ask. Ko chuckles. He scrunches up his nose and sniffs the air dramatically. “I can smell it.” We both start laughing, but I’m still not sure if he’s joking. Or maybe just half joking. I am a little different today, but I would blame it on the boxers and not on anything that happened over the weekend. I risk a glance over at Carter and immediately regret it. He’s talking to a few guys from the football team, and even just looking at his back from across the room I’m reminded of all the angles, muscles, and sinews of his body, twisting around as I pleasured him. The sounds of his breath and the light moans, and finally the way he grabbed the back of my head and thrust up into me as he came. And for fuck’s sake I’m wearing his boxers! Unfortunately for me, the bell chooses that exact moment to ring. It’s good that I won’t be in a room with Carter for several more hours, but I’m sure I’m packing half a stock right now in my pants. If only these were briefs, they would be helping to hide the issue as much as they were causing it. Small blessing that I’m wearing jeans, and before I get up I pretend to rearrange my books in my backpack. I’m actually figuring out how to rearrange my dick in my pants. It seems like it’ll work, at least as long as it takes me to walk over to English class. I say goodbye to Ko, who still won’t spare me a so-called “knowing” look, and head out into the throng of students moving through the hallway. I make it to my next class and surprisingly manage to stay engaged enough in our discussion of Lonesome Dove that my mind doesn’t wander to any hot, steamy places. Without a doubt you can add Gus and Call to the list of things that keep me from getting a boner. I’ll be glad when we’re done reading the book, but today I am nothing but thankful. Having survived English, I make my way across the school to my next class, Drama. We’re starting to gear up for our fall production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The official tryouts are in two weeks, and I have my eye on the role of Puck. I already have a good amount of the lines memorized, and I’m hoping to work with Katy a little bit today, as she’s a shoo-in for one of the other lead roles. Unfortunately, as I’m walking down the hall, something about the motion of my steps combined with the cut and fit of Carter’s boxers makes me acutely aware of what I’m wearing. While it’s not anything I can put my finger on, I can just tell it’s a little bit different. Sort of like when I go commando in basketball shorts and I start to notice the string dangling down and rubbing against my package. Normally it’s not something you can feel, but once you do it just drives you crazy. Every step I take, I can feel the boxers rubbing me in different places. Places I’m not used to, because my normal underwear doesn’t reach them or stretch and contract in the same way. And of course those feelings make me think of the fact that usually it’s Carter’s parts swinging around in them instead of mine. In fact, just three days ago, it WAS Carter’s stuff occupying that space. For the third time today I’m getting riled up, and it’s only third period. I briefly contemplate taking a few minutes’ detour into the bathroom to let off some steam, but I can’t risk it. I only have about another minute to get to class, and even though our drama instructor likes me a lot, she won’t hesitate to give me a tardy if I show up five minutes late. Not that it would take me a full five minutes right now. Hell, I might not even be late at all. But no, it’s too risky. Our bathroom stalls don’t all have the best fitting doors on them, and someone might see or hear something. Plus it’s between periods, and there will probably already be someone in there. No choice but to discreetly tuck it down inside my pants and make my way to class. Much to my relief, by the time I walk through the door, my little “problem” has receded and all is right with the world. Not a moment too soon on both accounts, as the bell rings just seconds after I take my seat. As I suspected, we’ll be practicing monologues for tryouts today, which usually means we get to partner up and work with a buddy for a good amount of the period. At the end, a few of us will perform and get notes in front of the class. Naturally, I pair up with Katy, and after a few warm up activities and some chit chat, we get to work. Since we’re doing a Shakespearean comedy, I’ve narrowed down my monologue choices to other comedies by the Bard. Since Puck is a little dark, I’m thinking I might go for one of Shylock’s. He’s an asshole, which is at least a large part of being a trickster. “He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million…” I won’t bore you with a full retelling of my recitation, but after a few read throughs, Katy stops me and gives me some pointers. As good of an actress as she is, she might be an even better coach. She helps me a little bit with pacing and when to breathe and then guides me through a few emotions and expressions I can try to get across while I’m reading. I give it another try or two and we’re both feeling good about my progress. I’m glad I went first, because as Katy starts her first monologue, I can already see that she’s going to blow it out of the water. Her performance is spectacular, as usual, and I don’t have much to offer in the way of criticism. A few tiny details here and there, but other than that, I’d be ready to give her the lead role. Hell, she can even be Puck if she wants. “So what did you think?” she asks after her third flawless reading. I shrug. “It looks good to me. You’re perfect, as always.” She smiles at the compliment and bats me playfully on the shoulder. She glances furtively around the room and then slides a bit closer to me and lowers her voice. “If you don’t have anything to say about my acting, maybe you want to talk about something else.” A mischievous grin spreads across her face. Puck, indeed. I shake my head. I already know exactly what she's getting at, but I can’t let her badger me like this. On Friday I told her all about how Carter was coming over and how nervous I was before it happened. Call it a moment of weakness. But now I’m ready to play hardball. “Nothing,” I answer with a shrug. “I have nothing else to say about anything.” “Ok,” she says, flipping her hair dramatically before locking a fierce gaze down on me. “We’ll do it the hard way. Did you-know-who actually come over on Saturday?” I was in a sort of post-coital daze all weekend and never got around to texting Katy any of the details. Starved for juicy gossip, she’s as nosy as ever. I decide that playing dumb is the best option. “Did who come over?” I ask. Apparently I’m not that great of an actor. Certainly not good enough to pull that off. Katy rolls her eyes. “You know exactly who I mean,” she says. “Yeah,” I shrug. “He came over for dinner, it’s no big deal.” “That’s it?” she says arching her brows quizzically. “Because you’re acting a little funny today…” Not this again. How can she tell? I was so wrapped up in what we were doing that I haven’t thought about Carter since I came in the room. Or these stupid blue boxers. Or the fact that everyone seems to somehow know that something is going on with me and Carter, even when I’m not thinking about it at all. What is with that? “Well?” she repeats. “What happened?” “What do you mean ‘what happened?’” I fire back. “Carter, a straight boy - who, yes, I happen to have a crush on - came over for dinner. We hung out, played video games, and he went home in the morning. Not much to tell. Typical Saturday night for a boy.” I look back at Katy and instantly realize the mistake I made. “Excuse me?” she asks rhetorically. “He went home when?” I sigh and resign myself to telling her the rest of the story. “His dad was busy and couldn’t pick him up, so he had to stay the night.” I keep it simple. No need to mention the driver, or the handjob, or the fact that I went down on him. But while I don’t say it, I certainly am thinking about it, and Katy knows me a little too well to not notice when I’m holding in a whopper of a secret. “Look at you,” she says almost proudly. “You’re turning all red.” She smiles her evilest, most shit eating grin. “What happened with you two?” Just like Ko, she can read me so effortlessly, and I can feel my cheeks getting even hotter at the mention of what exactly might have happened between the two of us. Ko can at least respect that a gentleman has his secrets and he won’t badger me past a certain point. Katy, however, is not likely to stop until she draws blood. “Mr. Willard! Miss Miles!” We’re both jerked abruptly out of our conversation by the booming stage voice of Mrs. Monaco, our drama teacher. Busted. “Are we practicing our monologues today, or are we gossiping about the events of the weekend?” That’s one of those questions you aren’t supposed to answer. We both send apologetic glances back to Mrs. Monaco before resuming our recitation. The rest of the period flies by. We practice a few more times before we take a few volunteers to perform for notes in front of the whole class. I am not one of them. My mind is still on Carter, the transgressions of the weekend, and a sexy blue pair of boxers, so I decide not to stand up in front of everyone. When the bell rings, I do my best to not make it seem like I’m running away while still getting as far from Katy as possible, but she jumps up and runs out the door almost as fast as I do, hungry for more info. “You’re trying to tell me,” she says as we walk through the hallway, “that a cute boy you have a big crush on came over to your house, spent the night, and then went home? No big deal and nothing to report?” I swallow hard and try to be a better actor. Katy’s turning the crank, but I need to be cool. “Nope,” I lie. “Nothing at all.” We’ve reached my locker, and as soon as we stop and turn to face each other, Katy pokes me in the chest and almost knocks me down. “You’re lying,” she declares loudly. “No, I’m not!” I insist. We both look around and see that a small cluster of students has stopped in the middle of the hall to watch us yell at each other. Katy laughs and snaps back to her normal self. All the intensity is gone, like it was never even there. I have a lot to learn from this girl. “For starters,” she says, “try not to look so nervous with your eyes. You look like I’m about to hit you.” Technically, she already did. But I’m not about to bring that up, or she might try to do it again. “Secondly, maybe I might believe you if you weren’t sweating so much.” With that, she saunters off to her next class, leaving me to pack up my books in a huff and double check my armpits for excess moisture. For all the excitement it’s generating, I’ll be glad when this day is over. Wearing the boxers wasn’t a fatal mistake, but it doesn’t seem to have made my life any easier. Just a few more classes, soccer practice, and then I’m home free... “Well, well, well… Look who it is.” A voice from behind me, very sassy in nature. I know who it is before I even turn around. “Hey, Sam!” The smile I usually have for my friend fades instantly when I see his face. It’s not that he looks unfriendly, angry, or mean. The only way to describe his look is ‘knowing.’ It’s like my mom all over again, and I don’t like it one bit. “So…” He unfurls his most pregnant pause, but I refuse to indulge him. If he wants any information out of me, he’ll need to come right out and say it. “How was your weekend?” he finally asks when he sees that I’m not taking the bait. I shrug, still hanging on to a shred of innocence. “It was fine.” Keep it simple and admit nothing. “I haven’t seen you in a while.” He raises his eyebrows suggestively. “I could say the same for you.” I raise mine right back at him. Two can play at this game. “You seem to be hanging out a lot with-” Before I can drop any names, Sam cuts me off. “True,” he says. “And believe me, it’s pretty goddamn amazing.” Then it’s back to the interrogation. “But enough about me. What about you? Who, er, what have you been up to lately?” How the hell does he know? Even though I only mentioned to Sam in passing that Carter might be by for dinner on Saturday, it doesn’t surprise me. Ko seemed pretty sure that I was up to something with somebody. Katy seemed damn sure. But Sam? Sam always seems like he knows way more than I do. “Not much,” I say. “Ok, sure. Not much.” He leans in closer and lowers his voice. “Spit it out, what happened?” For the hundredth time today, I can feel my cheeks betraying me. Damn them. “Nothing happened with anybody. Or anything.” Sam cuts me off before I can make an even bigger fool of myself. “Jackson Willard, he declares, “I can sniff out this sort of thing from a mile away. And you, sir, got laid this weekend.” “Shhhh!” I try to shush him, but it doesn’t look like anyone walking by heard anything. That’s the last thing I need. Even less than I need all these nosy friends. “Ok, something happened,” I finally admit. If I’m telling anyone, it’s going to be Sam. It’s only fair. He practically squeals with delight when he gets confirmation. “See? Was that so hard? Be proud.” He pulls out his phone and checks the time. “I need to run to my next class, but I want to hear all about it at soccer.” “Uhhhh…” I’m not sure I want to promise that. What, am I going to yell across the pitch all about how I blew another dude from school? Sam doesn’t seem bothered by my lack of agreement. He shakes his head happily. “Straight boys,” he laments. “They break your heart every time.” As guarded as I’m trying to be, even I have to smile at that. Sam’s been with who knows how many guys from our school, and who knows how many more before that. He chews them up and spits them out (sometimes quite literally) without a second thought. What’s he doing complaining about heartbreak and all that? If it’s par for the course, get me a tee time. “Straight boys,” I mutter to myself as I close my locker. I smile, remembering that through all this, I’m still wearing Carter’s sexy blue boxers. “They sure will…”
  13. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 12

    Chapter 12 I look up from my book for the four hundredth time in the last five minutes and check the clock on the cable box again. It’s 5:51. Same as the last time I checked. I recommit myself to reading and stick my nose back into my book. It’s one of those times where all the words make sense but my brain doesn’t create any useful information from them. Even as I’m reading I can tell it’s just my eyes scanning across the words with not a whole lot happening behind them. I manage to plod through three entire sentences before glancing up at the clock again. Still 5:51. Really this is all my mom’s fault. I came home the day after the party at the Rothson’s and mentioned casually that I had stayed the night at Carter’s place. My original plan was to stay at Ko’s house anyway, so I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal, plus I had my phone with me so she could have gotten in touch if she had wanted to. As I’ve said, Mom gives me quite a bit of freedom as long as I make good choices. I digress. The point is, this is all her fault. A few days after the party, she came home from work and seemed excited to tell me something. Usually that would be a good thing, but sometimes moms can have a strange idea of what the word ‘exciting’ means. “You’ll never guess who I saw at work today,” she said cheerfully during dinner. It was just the two of us that night, as the twins were at a skating party put on by their school. “Who?” I asked casually, not realizing what sort of bombshell she was about to drop on me. My mom works at a hospital as a nurse practitioner, so she sees a lot of people all the time when they come through the office. It could be anybody. A teacher, my soccer coach, a cousin, or even the mayor. “Jim Mulkins.” Jim Mulkins? Oh no, that must be… “We talked about how you are Carter were in the chemistry class together, and that you…” She continued on like this, oblivious to how uncomfortable it was making me. For one, I don’t particularly like chatting with my mom about the boys that I have crushes on, regardless of whether she knows about it or not. For two, I haven’t even met Carter’s dad, and he probably doesn’t even know that I was over at his house last weekend. For three, I absolutely guarantee he doesn’t know that I jerked his son off last weekend. “...and I told him that we’d love to have Carter over some time to repay the favor of you being over there…” I tried my best to hide all of my emotions and pretend that our conversation wasn’t the most mortifying thing I’d ever heard, but I could feel the heat spreading through my face and the sweat starting to bead on my forehead. “...and we thought it would be nice to have Carter over here on Saturday for the....” “What?!” I was jerked out of my embarrassment trance without warning. What did she just say? “Carter’s father is having some business associates over for dinner on Friday, and he was telling me how bored Carter always seems at their get togethers, so I offered that he could come over here on Friday.” Seeing my mouth agape, she quickly added, “If that’s ok with you.” That’s why I’m staring at the clock waiting for 6pm, when Carter is supposed to get dropped off at my house, and that’s why I’m fidgety, nervous, and still seething at my mother. Why in the world would she do this? In her defense, she thinks we’re just friends. Whenever I talk about Carter with my mom, I make sure to check myself. There’s a big difference between telling her about today’s chemistry lab and swooning over it because I got to spend ninety whole minutes with the Adonis known as Carter Mulkins. In her mind, she just happened to see my buddy’s dad, chit chatted for a while, one thing led to another, and she locked up my dinner plans for Friday night. No big deal. But she doesn’t know what this means! I can hardly keep myself together when I’m interacting with Carter without an audience, much less when my mother and little siblings are watching. What are we going to talk about? What if he doesn’t like the food? What if he thinks my house is stupid? What are we going to do after dinner? I feel like I’m having a boy over. Gross. To be fair, I am having a boy over, but I don’t want to feel sweaty and clammy and anxious like this. Especially in front of my mom and the twins! Ding Dong! The doorbell rings with finality, as though erasing any last possibility that tonight wouldn’t happen. At this point, it’s a sure thing. Carter is quite literally standing twelve feet away from me, with only a door separating him from what is almost certain to be one of the most awkward evenings of my life. An inch and a half of wood is the only thing between me and the terrible uncertainty of having Carter Mulkins over for dinner. “Well?” Mom is standing in the doorway of the living room looking down on me in my supine position on the couch. Some small part of me may still have been hoping that I could just never open the front door, but with the additional pressure of my mother, I suppose I don’t have any choice. I get up from the couch, walk over to the door, swallow hard, grit my teeth, and pull the door open. “Hey, Jackson!” Carter is beaming like always, and it only takes about one second for me to melt into a puddle of awe and awkwardness in front of him. He’s wearing dark jeans, right on the verge of being skinny jeans - fashionable but not too tight, but still tight enough to cling to some of the muscles and curves of his legs. His grey v-neck is in the same ballpark of fit, not obnoxiously tight, but enough so that I get a clear look at the faint outlines of his nipples against the chest of his shirt. It’s perfectly understated, and I’m hit like a freight train with how incredibly erotic and sexy he can look without looking like he’s trying one bit. “Uh… hi, Carter.” I stand awkwardly in the doorway for a few seconds before realizing that I’m preventing him from entering my house. “Sorry,” I say, stepping out of the way. “Come in, welcome…” Carter steps through the front door, smiley as ever, and comes into our living room. Mom immediately swoops over from the doorway and introduces herself. “You must be Carter,” she says. “I’m Jackson’s mother. Jackson had told me so much about you. I’m so glad you could come by for dinner.” She’s being nice. Too nice if you ask me. It’s almost as if she knows something. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Willard,” Carter says politely. I feel like my mom’s friendliness is cloying in situations like this, the way being set on fire would be too much if you were feeling a little chilly, but Carter doesn’t seem bothered by it. “Did Jim drop you off? I was hoping he might stop in to say hello.” “Uh…” Carter looks down at the ground somewhat embarrassed. “No, he was busy getting ready for the party, so his uh… his driver dropped me off.” Carter’s family has a driver? I’ve heard of kids at school who have them, but he doesn’t seem the type. “Well, that’s no problem,” Mom says without missing a beat. “Make yourself at home. Dinner’s almost ready, so you can just hang out for a few minutes while I grab the last few things.” Carter nods in affirmation, and with that, Mom swoops back to the kitchen to finish her cooking. I didn’t ask, but it smells to me like we might be having baked pork chops tonight. Now that Mom is gone, I can finally get it off my chest. “Your driver?” I ask incredulously as Carter takes off his shoes. “Shut up,” he says. I can see his cheeks turning a little red, and it’s good in a way to see that he thinks it’s almost as crazy as I do. “My dad has him through his company for driving between meetings. He’s working tonight and my dad can’t get away, so he brought me here.” I make the snootiest face I can in response, and Carter cracks up. I know that he’s wealthy, but it’s good that we can joke about it. As I look around our living room though, I suddenly see it in a new light. I tend not to think much about our living room, and I mean that in the best way. It’s well furnished and comfortable, with a decent sized TV and a good stereo. But after being in Carter’s house and hearing about his driver, I’m suddenly reassessing all of our possessions as being old, out of fashion, and shabby. “This is nice,” he says looking around the room, almost as if he was reading my mind and wants to put it at ease. “We only have one living room,” I tease, “and we had to lay off our driver ages ago.” Carter chuckles a little, but my comment obviously wasn’t quite as funny as I thought it was. Shit. I flop back down on the couch in defeat. Instead of sitting down, Carter does what anyone would do when they enter someone’s house for the first time. He starts looking at everything. The pictures on the wall, the books on the bookcase, and the magazines on the coffee table. It’s the sort of stuff that goes unnoticed by me on a day to day basis, but now that Carter’s here I’m suddenly forced to see everything with fresh eyes. He finally stops when he sees my copy of Lonesome Dove sitting on the end table where I threw it when the doorbell rang. Picking up the book, he smirks and looks back over to me. “How’s this going?” he asks sarcastically. I roll my eyes and shake my head. “I think I only fell asleep three times reading it today, so I’d say it’s going pretty well.” Carter laughs, a nice genuine laugh with that million dollar smile attached. That’s more like it. I don’t consider myself a funny person, at least not the way someone like Robert is on the swim team. But anytime I make Carter laugh, it makes my day. “That about sums it up,” he agrees. Before I can embarrass myself any further, Mom calls us for dinner. Carter and I head in and take a seat at the table, where we are loudly and discourteously joined by the twins a moment later. We go through introductions, at least as much as you can with the two strangest twelve year olds you’ve ever met, and then Mom lays out our dinner and joins us at the table. I was right about the pork chops, and buttered noodles, sweet corn, applesauce, and salad are joining us at the table as well. This menu is straight out of my grandma’s cookbook, and for the first ten minutes of dinner, nobody says a word. These pork chops are good. Keeping the twins quiet for ten whole minutes is no small feat. Finally, Mom starts up the conversation with the usual. “What did the two of you learn at school today?” she asks. I look over to her and I can see that she’s already bracing herself for what is almost sure to come next. “Nothing!” the twins chorus joyously. We go through this every night, almost like some sort of family tradition. I feel a little self conscious that Carter is here to witness it, but there’s no avoiding it. Mom is unfazed. “Nothing…” she starts. “Doesn’t count as an answer!” they finish together. I catch Carter’s eye and he looks like he’s balancing somewhere between baffled and amused, a normal place to be when dealing with Randy and Sarah. He loosens up when he sees my grin. This is how Mom and I entertain ourselves at dinner. “We learned that people in Japan eat squid ink!” says Randy. “And then we saw a picture of a cuttlefish!” Sarah adds. “See,” Mom says, “that’s hardly nothing at all. What did you think of the cuttlefish?” Randy makes a face that indicates exactly what he thought of it. He wasn’t a fan. “I want one,” Sarah counters. As usual, I’m not sure whether they’re joking or not, but I suppose it doesn’t much matter. I don’t see Mom letting them get a pet cuttlefish anytime soon. I look to Carter again, and I can tell he’s relaxing a little more. Once you realize that it’s all a dog and pony show with the twins, you can sit back and enjoy it. I probably should have briefed Carter a little more before he came over, but unless you see them in action, I’m not sure I could explain what it’s like to have dinner with those two. “So, Carter,” Mom says changing the subject, “when does your father leave for his big trip?” It turns out that Jim Mulkins was visiting my mom’s clinic to get a few vaccinations for a trip he’s taking to a law conference in Thailand. Jim is a trial lawyer, and from what Mom has told me, he’s managed to sign up for all sorts of conferences that take place in exotic locations around the globe. “He heads out on Monday,” Carter answers. “With all the flying, I think he’ll be gone almost the whole week.” “So it’ll just be you and your mom, huh?” “Yep.” That’s an unusually short reply from Carter, and something about the way he says it makes me think that the conversation is over. Mom unfortunately doesn’t know him quite as well as I do, and she keeps right on going. “What does you mother do? Does she work?” I can instantly see that my hunch was right. Carter fidgets in his chair like he just sat on something uncomfortable. For whatever reason, this isn’t something he wants to talk about. “She doesn’t,” he finally says, looking directly in the space between me and Mom, avoiding any eye contact around the table. “My dad works,” he concludes, hoping to put an end to the conversation. Luckily, Mom picks up on it, and I can tell from a quick look at her face that she isn’t going to hound Carter any further on the subject. Unluckily, however, neither of us are able to speak quickly enough to stop the twins. “But what does she do?” asks Sarah. “And nothing doesn’t count as an answer!” Randy chimes in helpfully. I turn to look at Carter and am suddenly torn between two possible routes of action. In the first, I leap to Carter’s defense and help him out. I could lightly scold the twins for being nosy. I could change the subject and pretend they never asked their prying question. Or I could bring up the possibility of dessert, a surefire way to distract any ten year old. That would be the nice thing to do, and you might even go so far as to say that it would be the right thing to do. But something makes me hesitate, and I realize I don’t want to stop the conversation. I have my own curiosity about Carter’s parents, ever since I went over there and didn’t meet them. I can assume that his dad was busy with work and can’t be bothered sometimes. But Carter’s mom? She’s still a wild card. And so, with Carter on the hot seat, I decide to sit back and watch what happens. After only a few seconds, the look of apprehension and anxiety on Carter’s face is replaced by the hint of a smirk, and he smugly fires back at the twins. “She does a lot of grown up things, so I don’t think you guys would understand.” It was an expert deflection. I couldn’t have done it better myself. While most kids might react with an uproar, ours react with a sort of admiration.” I see a look of defeat in their eyes, but also one of respect. They have been mastered at their own game, and Carter will be held in high esteem with the utmost respect, at least until the next opportunity arises to unseat him, likely within a few minutes. The rest of dinner goes smoothly, and by the time we finish our pineapple cake - one of my mom’s greatest and most reliable concoctions - I’m feeling a hundred times more relaxed about having Carter over for dinner. We’re all talking a lot and Carter is clearly enjoying the company of Mom, and even the twins, who can be an intense litmus test for anyone who comes over to visit. I try to clear the plates off the table, but Mom waves me away. She inclines her head towards Carter, silently instructing me to go play with my friend instead of helping with the cleanup. I can live with that. Carter and I head back to the living room, where we link our Nintendo DS’s together and play a few rounds of Mario Kart while the twins do their homework. It’s the sort of thing I do on an average night. Between the video games and listening to Randy and Sarah’s conversation, it almost always makes for an entertaining evening. It makes me happy every time I look up and see a smile on Carter’s face. He’s liking it here. After about an hour, Mom comes in to shoo the twins off to bed, and our electronic battles intensify as the room is now clear of distraction. The cup tournament we’re playing goes back and forth, all the way up to the final race, which ends in a flurry of lightning bolts, banana peels, and turtle shells. By the narrowest margin of victory, I come out ahead. I close my DS and set it on the coffee table. As the winner, I feel this might be a good time to stop for the night. With me coming out ahead, that is. My victorious musings, however, are interrupted by the sound of Carter’s phone. “Hey,” he says politely. If I had to guess I’d say it was a parent on the other end. “Just finished dinner. Uh huh. Yeah. Uh huh.” At his second ‘uh huh,’ his face screws up. “I’m not sure, I’d have to ask. Are you sure that… Well, I can ask, hang on.” Carter puts his hand over the mouthpiece and bites his lip. He’s about to ask me for a favor. That’s definitely his favor-asking face, and I make a mental note that I’d love to see more of it. “So,” he begins, “our driver probably isn’t able to make it back out tonight. I guess he was invited to dinner and he probably shouldn’t drive anymore tonight.” He hesitates and looks down, embarrassed. “If it isn’t a big deal, is there any way I could maybe stay over here tonight?” Considering that this is exactly how over ninety percent of my fantasies start, I think I’m ok with him staying the night. “Yeah,” I say, “that’s no problem.” I pause as a new thought enters my brain. “I mean, I have to ask…” “It’s no problem,” Mom says as she comes down the stairs. “Make yourself at home.” Carter and I both turn to look at her, and she suddenly looks embarrassed that she was eavesdropping. “Sorry,” she says guiltily. “I was in the hallway for a second listening if the twins were in bed yet and I heard you talking.” Carter and I both laugh and he gets back on the phone to tell his dad he’ll be staying the night with us. With the new plan in place, we decide to go and get situated for the night. After a quick goodnight to my mom, who sits down to watch one of her shows, we head upstairs for the night. “Well,” I say, “here it is.” I sweep my hands forward, presenting my room to Carter. Earlier today I cleaned up my room since I knew Carter was coming over, but I didn’t actually expect for him to spend any amount of time up here. With the sudden change of plans, however, it’s almost like I’m noticing my own room for the first time, and I wonder what Carter is thinking about it. You can tell a lot about a person from the way they live. When you go in Ko’s room, for example, you get a good idea of what he’s like. The anime posters on the walls, the models and toys everywhere - you immediately can guess that he’s a nerd, and that his brain runs at about a million miles per hour. But nothing is cluttered or out of place, so you can also see that he’s diligent and serious in a way. I’d say that’s Ko in a nutshell. If you look at my room, you’d probably think that I was boring and normal. It’s usually pretty clean - my mom wouldn’t have it any other way - but there’s always a few things lying around. Today, obviously, I picked up my clothes and tidied up my desk a little more than normal. I don’t have a ton of stuff in my room, and it’s not especially decorated. I have a poster of the US Men’s National Team, so you’d guess that I like soccer. Then there’s a few pictures of my family, a smaller soccer poster, a few postcards from friends, and a cool painting that Ko made last year. Overall, nothing too exciting. At least not compared to the massive entertainment center in Carter’s room. I look over at him and see if I can glean what his impression is. I expect him to be looking at something in my room, like maybe my family photos or Ko’s painting, but instead he’s made his way over to the window and is looking out at our small but tidy backyard, barely illuminated by the light above our back door. “It’s nice to have a room with windows,” he says, turning back to me and smiling. “I guess,” I reply. It’s true that Carter’s room doesn’t have any, but he has all that other awesome stuff. I can’t imagine being especially bummed about my lack of windows when I have all the newest gaming consoles right at my fingertips. “No,” he says sincerely, “this is nice. It’s really…” he pauses, searching for the word. “Normal.” Normal? I don’t want to be normal. I want to be awesome and cool. I want to be dark and mysterious. I want to be sexy and outrageous. I don’t expect to actually live up to any of those descriptions, but anything is better than ‘normal.’ Carter must have noticed my reaction, because he jumps in to explain himself. “Normal’s not a bad thing,” he assures me. “It’s good.” Despite my best attempts to play it cool, I still must not look convinced. “I get it,” he continues, “I have all that stuff in my room, and my house is big, and whatever. But this is so much better.” “How so?” I ask, raising my brows at him. “Having dinner with your family tonight was normal too, and that’s really cool. It’s not something that would ever happen at my house. So that and this,” he says gesturing to the rest of my room, “is what I always expect everyone else is like at their house. It’s normal, and that’s awesome.” “I’m sure you could get a room with a window at your house if you really wanted,” I say teasingly. Seriously, there must be at least five bedrooms in that place, and Carter’s an only child. He laughs in response. “I’ll keep my basement room.” “So,” I venture to ask, “what is normal like at your house?” “It isn’t,” he answers without hesitation. “Everything is just… what is is.” Now it’s my turn to laugh. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Look at all this,” he says gesturing around my room. Look at all what? I’m looking at the same thing he is, and I’m not seeing anything special. A bed, a dresser, a nightstand. That hardly stacks up next to a 55” TV and a PS4. I’m unable to hide my bewilderment, and Carter shakes his head at me as though I’m missing something completely obvious. “This is how it’s supposed to be. Like, I bet your mom found this house and thought, ‘This will be a great bedroom for my kids,’ and ‘This kitchen will be great for cooking meals for my family.’ The whole point of your house is what’s happening in it. “Nothing at my house is like that. It’s just a huge building with a lot of stuff in it. I took over the basement because no one used it for anything. I asked for a TV and some video games, and then I stuck those in the basement too. Now it’s sort of my space. But it’s the only room in our whole house that means anything to anyone.” I’m not sure what to say to that. I don’t think he’s wrong about my house, but I never thought about it in that way. I guess he has a point when he says that it’s all so ‘normal.’ It really is. It’s so normal that it never occurs to me that other kids I know who seem so similar on the outside might have something totally different. “I’m sure something happens in your house that has a purpose,” I shoot back at him. “Tonight your dad is having people over. That’s something.” “Is it?” he asks. Is it? That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know the answer. There’s a lot Carter and I have never talked about. Even though I feel the way I do about him, there’s a lot in his life I don’t know anything about.. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about his family, and while it’s easy to write it off as ‘it never came up,’ I’ve never asked. “What’s it like?” I finally ask. Carter shakes his head. “Not like this.” He doesn’t offer anything else, but I vow to remain silent as long as it takes to get him to continue. It takes a full ten seconds before Carter laughs and starts talking again. “You could probably tell at dinner that I didn’t want to talk about it, huh?” “A little bit,” I say. Carter cocks his head to the side incredulously. “Ok, yeah a lot bit,” I admit. “Do you really want to know?” he asks. Any trace of a smile has gone. He looks serious. Like he did at the party when we were talking in the spare bedroom. This is a big deal for him. I nod and sit next to him on the bed. He doesn’t recoil or move away at all, but he doesn’t look anywhere near comfortable. It’s not our closeness that bothers him though, it’s just talking about his family. “We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” I say. “But it seems like it matters to you, and you uh… you matter to me. As a friend,” I quickly add. That gets a little smile from him. “Ok.” He sighs deeply and then continues. “My dad works and my mom drinks. That’s about it.” He sees the look on my face and decides to go on. “They’re not bad or anything like that, but... we’re not a family. Not like yours. We’re just three people who live in a big house full of stuff. And that’s not the same thing.” Nodding in understanding, I smile reassuringly at Carter. Carter suddenly looks up at me with a strange twinkle in his eye, and I can tell we’re done talking about his family. “Since we talked about something I didn’t want to, now you have to talk about something that you don’t want to.” The melancholy, introspective Carter is gone, and the sassy, perky Carter has taken his place in the course of an instant. “Uh, ok?” I sputter weakly. He’s caught me off guard with this one. “Who are you into?” He nudges me in the ribs with his elbow as he asks, and it makes me feel weirdly like his kid brother all of a sudden. I can’t let him push me around like this. “What do you mean?” I ask, playing dumb. He laughs. He knows that I know exactly what he means. “Are you into anybody at school?” I shrug as innocently as possible. “No, not really.” He looks skeptical, and I hope it didn’t come off as even half as big of a lie as it was. I only have the biggest crush in the world on the boy sitting right next to me. No big deal. “What?” I continue playing dumb, hoping he won’t make a big deal about this. Even more, I hope this conversation doesn’t end with me tearfully confessing my true feelings to Carter. I need to stay strong. “You seriously aren’t into anybody?” Why’s he pressing the issue so hard? “No, I swear,” I respond. “Not right now.” “Ok,” he says, throwing up his hands. “I just thought that maybe you and Katy had something going on.” I try not to burst out laughing. Even if I wasn’t gay, that would be ridiculous. We’ve been such good friends for so long, there’s no way it could ever happen. “What’s so funny about that?” Carter asks. “You guys hang out all the time, and she’s definitely cute enough.” He has a point there, Katy is very cute. If only I liked girls. “No,” I say, “we’ve been friends for ages, but we’re not… dating or anything like that.” I think for a minute of how to explain it to someone who doesn’t know, and finally settle on “It would be like trying to date my sister.” Carter laughs and seems to get it, but it seems to have only whet his appetite for more questions.. “But you’re not into anybody? No one at all?” “No.” “Hey,” he says holding up his hands in defense, “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, look at me and Beth. That’s not something that…” He trails off and shrugs. “Whatever, we’ve already talked about that.” He has a point. At least I’m not dating Beth. I don’t think it’s exactly what Carter was trying to get across, but that’s my takeaway. “Don’t worry about it,” I reassure him. “It’d be one thing if I was crushing on someone and all that, but I’m not interested in anybody right now, so I’m not too worried about it.” “With as much action as I get, I might as well be single,” he jokes, playfully grabbing at his crotch. Even an innocuous joke like that sends an extra burst of blood down into mine, and I can feel it start to swell. Thankfully I’m wearing jeans, so it won’t be too noticeable even if I do get hard. When Carter pulls his hand away, it goes straight up to his mouth, where it covers up a big yawn. Naturally, I see it and yawn straight back at him. “Good,” he says, “I’m glad it’s not just me. It’s not even that late, but I’m getting tired.” “We can get ready for bed and then chill for a while,” I suggest. “Let me grab you a toothbrush and stuff from downstairs. Do you need anything else?” Carter shakes his head. “A toothbrush would be great, thanks.” “I’ll be back in second.” I grab my pajamas and run downstairs to our main bathroom where we keep all the stuff like that. I go through most of the drawers before I find what I’m looking for - a nice, new toothbrush. I make a mental note to buy a new one to replace it next time I’m at the store. I slip off my jeans and underwear and am starting to pull up my plaid pajama pants when a thought makes me stop. I’m going to be sleeping right next to Carter. Who knows what might happen to me during the night. One errant thought is all it might take to tent these pants up, and I don’t want to make things weird. Plus there’s the almost unavoidable possibility of morning wood when we get up tomorrow. No, on second thought I need to do better than this. I put my boxer briefs back on and then put on the pajama pants. With 2 layers on, I should be protected from any boner-related mishaps. Feeling more comfortable now, I grab my jeans and the toothbrush and head back up to the second floor. When I get back to my room, Carter’s nowhere to be seen, but the bathroom door is closed. He’s probably in there getting ready for bed. I suddenly realize he wasn’t planning on staying over tonight and that he won’t have anything to sleep in. I remember the pajama pants he let me wear last time I was at his house and smile at the thought. They were more than just comfortable. I open up my dresser and rummage through, looking for a good pair of sweatpants or maybe some shorts that I can offer Carter. I only have one other pair of actual PJ pants, and I’ve worn them a few times already. Something about Carter wearing something I’ve already had on turns me on a little bit, but I’m not sure it would be cool to offer him some dirty pants. I hear the bathroom door open, and I’m just about to settle on a pair of red basketball shorts when I’m suddenly interrupted by what might be the greatest sentence I’ve ever heard in my life. “Is it cool if I just sleep in my boxers?” he asks. “Yeah,” I say, “no prob…” I try not to let my eyes bulge out of my head too far as I turn around to see Carter wearing absolutely nothing but a pair of short, blue boxers. They cover just the right amount of his smooth muscular thighs. Plenty to see, but they still leave a little bit to the imagination. And my imagination is already running wild. And that’s not even talking about the rest of his body. I’ve seen it plenty of times at swim practice when he’s wearing even less than this, but it’s still an incredible sight to see. His abs, his pecs, his arms - he’s like a Greek statue, the epitome of male beauty. And now here he is, standing just five feet away from me, alone together in my bedroom. “What?” he asks me, grinning like the damn Cheshire Cat. He has to know the effect he’s having right now. “Nothing,” I sputter, “You just surprised me.” There’s no way he’s going to buy it. “You sure about that?” I look up at Carter and meet his gaze with a quizzical look on my face. He responds by nodding his head downwards and shifting his gaze to my waist, a slight smile starting to play at the edges of his lips. I glance down with horror to see that my plan of boxer briefs and pajama pants hasn’t done much to hide the growing bulge within. It would be worse without them, but it’s still not exactly discreet. I reach down to cover up and start to apologize for making it awkward, but Cater stops me. “What’s the issue?” he asks. “You don’t have to cover it up.” He’s smiling like it’s not a big deal, but I still feel weird about it. I slowly pull my hand away, and look up to see that Carter’s still looking down at the bulge in my pants, and he still has that same half-smile on his face. The fact that Carter’s looking down at my package makes it even harder. If something doesn’t give, I’m going to have a serious problem on my hands. Or in my pants, at least. “I owe you one.” Carter steps towards me, and before I can even connect the dots and realize what he just said, his hand slips down into my waistband and grabs onto my now raging erection. As soon as he makes contact, I can feel the last bit of the blood in my head race down my veins and pump straight into my cock. I feel faint. Carter is grabbing my dick. Unwieldy as it is in this state, Carter has to reach his other hand down to maneuver it around to pull free of both of my waistbands. He lets go as it’s released, and my penis stands straight up, hard as a rock, pointing directly at the ceiling. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever been this hard before. “Holy shit…” Carter murmurs, reaching his hand back down to grasp the iron rod he just pulled out of my pants. The way he says it turns me on even more, as though he’s impressed by what he sees. I usually measure in right around six inches, but right now I’m easily pushing six and a half, and my dick looks full to the point of bursting. He starts lightly stroking his hand up and down my hard tool, running it across the head as he reaches the top, then back down to base. Every time he goes over the sensitive head, I shudder involuntarily. This feels amazing. I love doing it to myself - I mean, who doesn’t - but having someone else beat your meat feels ridiculously good. What have I been missing all these years? Best of all, though? It’s Carter who’s doing it. And not just doing it, but doing it well. Sam’s blowjob was amazing, I’m not going to lie. As far as I can tell, he was an expert, and everything he did felt great. But even though Carter doesn’t have those skills, there’s something so incredibly raw and electrifying about him giving me my first blowjob. He strokes gently for a minute or two, then suddenly tightens his grip and pulls down, revealing the sensitive head of my uncut penis. I gasp out loud when he does it, and I hear him chuckle a little bit. I remember how it felt when I did it to him. It was cool having power over someone like that, and I know he must be thinking the same thing. At this point, I am putty in his hands. He softly runs his hand up and down a few more times before lightly pushing me back towards the bed. I catch his drift and first sit, then ultimately lie back on my bed. The whole time his hand never leaves my cock, as though he’s gently steering me down into position with a joystick controller. Now he leans over me, jerking my raging erection up and down. I’m in heaven. Awkwardly leaning over me, Carter gives a few more strokes before kneeling down at the edge of the bed where he can get a more comfortable angle from which to work his magic. I’m propped up on my elbows watching him work, and he looks entranced by what he’s doing. His face is only a foot away from my rock hard dick, and the view from where he is must be pretty good. I make a mental note to try this on him next time I get a chance. Carter starts to increase his speed, and I feel a tingling start to rise in my groin. I want this to last as long as possible, so I lay back on the bed and try to prolong the experience as best I can. Not looking at it seems to help, but I’m still not sure how successful I’ll be, because Carter is speeding up his pace, and I can tell I’m only getting closer and closer to blowing my load. Suddenly, he reaches up with his other hand and grabs my balls. As he does it, one of his fingers slips lightly past them, brushing ever so slightly up along my taint. Whether it’s on purpose or an accident, it’s way more than I can handle, and I moan loudly as I feel the building pressure reach a critical point. The combination of his rhythmic stroking, a nice cup around my balls, and the lightest little pressure on that sensitive spot beyond sends me flying over the edge with one of the hottest, most intense orgasms I’ve ever felt. I feel the first blast of cum shoot up to my chin, and then pump after pump fly onto my chest and stomach. It feels like a lot, and as I come down from the high of my orgasm, Carter confirms it. “Damn, dude!” he says in response to the deluge covering my torso. It makes me nervous but at the same time excited that he’s looking down at me all covered in cum, almost like he’s impressed or even proud of his handiwork. “What?” I say coyly. Something in me wants to hear him say it. I want to hear him talk about what just happened, to talk about jerking me off and how he just made me shoot my load all over everything. I want to hear him say how hot and huge my load was. I could probably get hard again in a second if I heard him say something like that. “You uhhhh… you just made a huge mess.” “No,” I shoot back playfully, “you made a huge mess. I didn’t do anything.” I can’t help but smile as I see his cheeks turn red. He didn’t say anything sexy like I was hoping, but nothing makes me happier than seeing Carter get flustered or embarrassed. As I get up from the bed and search for something with which to clean up, Carter sits on the bed and watches me. Again, I’m stunned to see that he’s just openly looking at me with no clothes on. I mean, this the third time we’ve jerked off together, but it’s never been so open like this. We’ve just done it and moved on without saying anything. Now we’re talking about it, and he’s making no pretense about looking at my cock. “When’s the last time you jerked off?” he asks. “I dunno,” I answer, finding a shirt in my hamper to suit my purpose, “actually…” “What?” he asks. “It was at your house,” I say, finishing with on last wipe and then tucking my now deflated member back into my pajama pants. I think for a second, but am pretty sure I haven’t jerked off at all this week. That’s rare for me to go that long, but I had a busy week and didn’t have a lot of time just chilling around my room, which is usually how it happens. As they say, “Idle hands spend time at the genitals.” Maybe no one says that, but it’s still true. Carter looks shocked. “Are you serious?” he asks incredulously. “Yeah,” I respond, shrugging. “I mean, I usually do it every couple of days, but we had all those papers and stuff this week, plus soccer and meetings for drama. I just didn’t get around to it, I guess.” I ask Carter the obvious next question. “How often do you?” “I do it every day. I can’t imagine going a whole week without it.” “From talking to other guys at school, I think I’m probably the weird one,” I say. “And it’s rare to go a whole week. I just get so…” “Pent up?” he finishes, glancing over at the shirt I used to wipe up the mess we just made. “Yeah,” I admit, “I probably should take care of that a little more often.” Carter is so comfortable talking about it, I get a little bolder. “It feels really good having someone else do it, though,” I say. Carter blushes a little bit at that, but he doesn’t recoil. “I can’t argue with that. Last week was…” He had a word on the tip of his tongue, but it seems like he was reluctant to say it. After a few seconds he breaks down. “It was awesome,” he says, smiling guiltily at the idea of liking it. “Yeah?” I say with a little bit of pride. I’m not sure how it’s possible since I just came about five minutes ago, but I’m starting to get horny again. “Well, if you’re down to keep doing this kind of stuff,” I say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, we all get pent up, and it feels good.” I bite my lip nervously in anticipation of Carter’s reaction. I hope I didn’t go too far. More than anything, I want to ask him about Beth. He must have some thoughts on how us fooling around with each other affects his relationship with his girlfriend. For him, I’m sure it’s just about “getting off together,” or whatever you might call it, but I’m even more sure that Beth wouldn’t see it that way. Bringing it up at a time like this, however, when he just made me cum five minutes ago, seems like a surefire way to ruin a good evening. Carter sighs thoughtfully and hesitates for a suspenseful second before replying. “Like I said last time, I trust you, Jackson. I can’t really see doing this with anybody else, but with you it doesn’t seem like a big deal.” I shrug as nonchalantly as possible. “Totally. It’s just, whatever.” “Yeah,” he says, “it’s whatever. And I trust you.” It’s bittersweet to hear all that. Carter trusts me. I’m different than everybody else. He likes what we’re doing. But it can’t mean anything, or it has to stop. The ultimate blessing, and the ultimate curse. Unfortunate as that may be, there’s no reason to sit here moping. Curse aside, there’s a big old blessing poking its way out of the front of Carter’s pants right now, and he more or less just gave me permission to do what needs to be done. “So,” I say as suggestively as I’ll allow myself, “there’s no reason for me not to do this?” I reach my right hand across to Carter and squeeze his half hard dick through the thin fabric of his boxers. It starts plumping up even more rapidly in response to my fingers, and I could almost swear that I can feel the heat radiating from it. Carter responds with nothing but a slight gasp, and I take it as a complete acceptance of what’s to come. I keep kneading his growing erection through his underwear until I feel that it’s about as hard as it’s going to get. I pull my hand away and admire my handiwork. Carters’ blue boxers are tented up about as far as they can go, with the head poking at the the fly, practically threatening to pop the button off of them. As straight as I think Carter is, there must be something I do to him that makes him like this. He’s been semi hard for the last ten minutes, and it only took a few squeezes to get him to this point. Whether it’s conditioning, anticipation, or just the plain and simple horniness of a teenage boy, it’s satisfying to know that he’s hard for me right now. Not porn this time, but me. I reach back down to Carter’s bursting underwear and slowly push the button of his fly back into its buttonhole. The second it pops through, the gates open and Carter’s bulging, magnificent cock springs forward through the fly. In this light I finally have a good view of it, and I take a second to soak it in, all seven inches of perfect, cut man meat. I could look at it all day. My eyes have hardly had their fill, but I don’t want to keep Carter waiting, so I lightly wrap my fingers around the base and start slowly tugging back and forth. I sneak a glance up at Carter’s face and he looks mesmerized, watching my hand go to work on his dick. It was cool watching Carter while he jerked me off, so I know exactly how he must be feeling right now. On my next stroke I decide to mix things up, so I extend the motion all the way to the head of Carter’s cock and drag my fingers lightly across his engorged head. It’s beautiful and so swollen with blood, so firm under my fingertips. I know mine gets like this too, but it’s awesome to see the whole thing without any foreskin. The head is so prominent and erotic. I keep working my fingers across the ridge at the base of the head and then across his sensitive glans, and I can tell Carter’s loving it. He bucks his hips ever so slightly and then lays back on the bed, unable to keep sitting. Anxious to see even more, I stop what I’m doing for just a second to hook my thumbs in the waistband of Carter’s boxers and tug them down. He lifts his butt off the bed and I slide them off, revealing Carter’s flawless body in all its glory. Even in porn I’ve never seen anyone this perfect. From his chest, across his abs, V-lines and into his shaved crotch, this boy is nothing short of a god. And for the next few minutes, he’s all mine. Sitting next to the naked boy of my dreams as he lays on my bed, I resume stroking. Being completely shaved, I have a great view of everything. There’s nothing in the way at all! I’d say Carter clocks in just a little bit longer than me at right around seven inches. I might be a little bit thicker than he is, but I can’t complain. Truthfully, his cock seems to be exactly the right size for my hand. And maybe other things as well... His hairless balls hang down past that and are the perfect complements to his perfect cock. They’re about the size of walnuts, and I can’t help myself - I reach out with my other hand and give them a feel as I continue to jerk up and down. They’re silky soft and wonderful, and Carter moans lightly as I expand my territory to another sensitive area. Based on the noises he’s making, Carter is having a great time, but it’s hard to imagine he’s enjoying this nearly as much as I am. Leaning over a little bit, I have my face even closer to Carter’s body, and I’m loving what I’m seeing. Full access and a clear view of the most beautiful sets of tackle I’ve ever seen in my life, attached to the most beautiful boy I can imagine. What could be better than this? Ok, well, I can think of one thing, but there’s no way. Right? There’s no way in hell I can do what I want to do right now. I mean, I’m only about a foot away at this point. Looking over at Carter’s face, his eyes are closed. He won’t even know until it’s too late. No, there’s no way! That takes things to a whole new level, and I’m not sure it’s a place that either of us are ready to go. Once again, if I was Sam, I wouldn’t even think twice about it, but I’m not. I don’t have that sort of courage, or whatever you want to call it. I can’t do something like that. But then again, Sam did it to me. He somehow made it seem cool and casual, like it wasn’t even a big deal. He made sure I knew that I was in control, and that he would stop at any time, no hard feelings. It wasn’t just the words he said, it was the whole vibe. I never felt uncomfortable, even though we were crossing a threshold that I would never have dared to cross on my own. And now here I am. Even farther along the path than Sam and I were when he made his move. So what’s stopping me? I already have Carter hard, and I’m already jerking him off. Is Ko right about it after all? Just get a boy hard and he’s all yours? He trusts me. He said it before. It’s not a big deal. I can do this. Bold action. Bold action. Bold action! “Tell me if you want me to stop.” Sam’s words coming out of my mouth. They sound natural and calming, just like they’re supposed to. Here goes nothing. “Why would I want you to… aghhhhh!” Carter’s question ends with a sudden moan, because I lean forward, open as wide as I can, and wrap my lips around Carter’s rock hard dick.
  14. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 11 What strange surprises this life has to offer. If you had asked me six hours ago what I thought was going to happen at this exact moment tonight, my answer would not have been anything close to correct. I would have said that I’d be hanging out with Ko and Katy, or maybe that I’d be playing some sort of drinking game with kids from school. My answer would never have been “I’m going to go home with Carter.” But here we are. Neither of us were feeling the party, and Carter suggested that we get out of there. Not only that, but he suggested that we head back to his place. He just had a blowup with his girlfriend, and he’s feeling alone and vulnerable. I’ve had a beer or two, and I feel like this is the closest we’ve ever been. On paper, this night could not have been constructed more perfectly in my wildest dreams. As always, however, it’s all about context. We’re not going home to have a passionate, drunken hookup, or even to cuddle and watch a movie on the couch. We didn’t have to leave the party because of the intense sexual energy between the two of us. Those are all the details we’d need to add in to make this just like one of my fantasies. Of course I’m not complaining. This is a great chance to get to know Carter a little more, especially with how shaken he seems after his spat with Beth. As much as I want to get with him in the carnal sense, the rest of me has a true and honest desire to be there for him as a friend. In situations like these, Ko always tells me I’m too nice, and that I’ll never get what I want. But if being too nice is my greatest flaw, I’m happy with that. The night is brisk but not uncomfortable, and as the din of the party fades into the darkness behind us, we’re left with a cool, quiet fall evening. It’s actually nice, just to be walking together, and in most situations, I’d be happy to just leave it at that. But I’m too curious not to keep prying at what we were talking about before Robert walked in on our conversation at the party. I look over at Carter and try to imagine what he might be thinking about right now. Is he still dwelling on our conversation from earlier? Before it was almost like he had a burning desire to share with me and get whatever it is off his chest. And we were so close. Will he still be game to talk about it? Bold action. That’s all it takes, I remind myself. I simply need to ask. “What did you want to tell me before?” I come right out with it. That’s one of the ‘bold action’ tricks I think I’ve picked up so far. You can’t slowly wade into something that you think is hard to do. It’s like a swimming pool in April. You need to dive in all at once. No dipping your toes. “Oh, that.” Carter doesn’t sound surprised or disturbed that I asked him about it, but he doesn’t sound excited to share it either. “I dunno, I guess I was just going to say that Beth and I aren’t doing great.” That’s Carter’s big secret? Beth and Carter are not doing great. No shit. I could probably have guessed it from the way she stormed out of the party and left Carter shirtless and miserable in the bedroom. That was my first sign. “We don’t really…” Carter continues, but still can’t find the right words. “We… we have problems.” It’s not saying a lot, but even that seemed like a struggle for Carter. Whatever these ‘problems’ are, they’re a big deal to him. “Everyone has problems,” I suggest helpfully. As little love as I have for Beth, I understand that a large part of my dislike is coming from an unfair, jealous place. Nobody has a perfect relationship, and no matter how much I want Carter all to myself, my conscience always makes me defend someone when they aren’t here to do it for themselves. Maybe Ko’s right. I am too nice. “Of course,” Carter says, agreeing with my simple truth about the universality of problems, “but I don’t know sometimes.” I take the bait. “What don’t you know?” “About us. About me and Beth. She’s great. She’s hot, and popular, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t want to be with her. But still, I’m just not sure sometimes.” If hot and popular are the only two prerequisites for a relationship in Carter’s eyes, I think I may see the problem. “What don’t you like about her?” I ask. I know what you might be thinking, but I say it in a nice way. More trying to get Carter to put his confusion into words, and less trying to make Beth’s problems more prevalent in his thought process. I’m certainly not going to complain if it happens, but that isn’t my goal. “Nothing really,” he replies. The answer doesn’t seem to satisfy him, so he tries again. “I mean, there are some little things that annoy me here and there, but nothing I can put my finger on and say ‘That’s it, that’s the one thing that I don’t like.’” “So what’s the issue?” I ask. If she’s all that and a bag of chips, what is there to complain about? Carter doesn’t offer up a response, so I think of a different way to say it. “Right this second,” I continue, “what is bothering you the most about you and Beth?” I’m expecting another long, drawn out explanation, or plenty of fumbling around through Carter’s thoughts and feelings. As I said, teenage boys are not so great at exploring their emotions. But Carter surprises me this time and answers with almost no hesitation at all. “We don’t even have sex,” he says, as though it’s the most shameful part of the entire story so far. Coming from a seventeen year old boy, he probably he has a point. “Like, ever?” The question comes off a little harsh, but I’m too curious to tone down my interest. “We’ve fooled around a little bit, but that’s it. And even that hasn’t been recently.” He pauses for a bit, and I can tell he’s weighing his words, considering how much to tell me. “It’s just like, there’s always problems with it. Like we can’t or we shouldn’t for some reason, and then… we don’t.” I try to think of what question to ask, or what other aspects of that we can explore. I am, quite frankly, very surprised to hear this. I tend to imagine that all the other dudes at school are hooking up and having sex pretty much nonstop, so it’s weird to hear that Carter, a prize specimen of sexual appeal if there ever was one, is not getting any at all. “She’s hot and perfect and any guy would probably kill for the chance to go out with her,” Carter says frustratedly, “but I’m not sure it’s for me. I almost feel like we think we’re supposed to be together, and that’s why we’re doing it.” He turns to face me as we walk, and I realize it’s up to me to say something, or even do something at this point. I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve fantasized about this exact situation. Carter having a fight with Beth and coming to me for support, comfort, and… maybe more. But now that I’m here and it all seems to be happening, I’m not actually sure what to do. In the end, I just feel bad for him. Fear, doubt, questioning - I’m no stranger to any of these feelings, and I know how hard it is. I need to be there for him. No matter how this ever ends up, I have to be there for Carter as a friend, and to make sure he’s ok. As much as it pains me to put my feelings for him on a bit of a back burner, that’s what really matters. “It’s ok,” I say reassuringly, “Everybody feels like that sometimes.” It’s generic, but it’s the notion of what I’m saying that I really want to get across to him. Good, positive vibes. “You really think so?” Carter asks. “Yeah,” I say, putting my hand lightly on his back as we walk, “I do.” We lapse into silence as we reach Carter’s street, but it’s a good silence. It’s comfortable and pleasant to hear nothing but the light rustling of breeze through the handful of leaves still clinging to their trees at this time of year. When Carter finally breaks the silence, I know I must have gotten through. “It’s weird,” he says. “I feel like you’re so easy to talk to. Like, you…” He wrings his hands for a second as he tries to think of the words. I wish I could see his face right now, because I love the expression he makes when he’s thinking hard. “You don’t use my words and take them away for yourself. You just listen, and then the things I tell you are still mine.” He chuckles a little embarrassed sort of laugh. “Sorry, that doesn’t make sense.” He sighs. “And it probably sounds really stupid,” he adds. “No,” I assure him, “I totally get it.” “It’s just like no matter what I tell you I know that you…” “I wouldn’t ever use what you say to hurt you?” We happen to be passing under a streetlight at the moment, and out the corner of my eye, I see Carter smile. “Exactly.” I know how he feels. That’s part of what has been so vital in my relationship with Katy and Ko. They both give me crap all the time about everything, but they know what I’m sensitive about, too. If it came to one of those topics that I can’t handle, like coming out or some stuff about my family, they would never make it into a joke or share it with someone I didn’t trust. Part of it is that they know me well enough to walk that line and not cross it, but a huge part of it is just what kind of people they are. As tough as Ko likes to act, and as much of a rebellious teen as he seems to be, he has a serious side. And Katy’s almost the opposite. She’s sweet and caring to everyone to an extent, but is fiercely, passionately loyal to her friends. In whatever way Carter sees that same thing in me, I’m honored. Even if I ignored my feelings for him, it’s cool to know that I can be there for someone, especially in his case where he might not have other friends in whom he can confide something like this. Come to think of it, I couldn’t see a lot of the football players having a sensitive, tender side where you can pour your heart out to them and get a hug for it. More like a towel snap while they tell you how “gay” you sound. I can’t imagine any of them openly showing that side of themselves, whether they have it or not. At last we reach Carter’s house. As we pass through the gate, a thought occurs to me. “Are you sure it’s cool if I come over tonight?” I ask. It probably would have made more sense to ask this before we left the party at the Rothson’s. “Yeah,” Carter replies, “it’s no problem.” He stops as we get to his front door and he chuckles. “What would you do if I said no?” He has a point there. We head into the house just like last time I came over and through the kitchen to the basement door. Just like last time, as we go through the kitchen, I see the glare of a television coming from the next room over. Before, I thought it was a bit odd that Carter didn’t introduce me to either of his parents. This time, however, it’s a little stranger. It’s a bit past midnight, and apparently one of Carter’s parents is still awake. While I don’t expect an introduction or formal welcome into the house, I find it strange that Carter doesn’t check in with his parents. If I get home late and my mom is still up, I go straight over to where she is and let her know I made it home safe. I make a mental note to ask Carter about it, but honestly I’m not sure if I will. In all the time we’ve spent together, Carter has never once mentioned his family. I know he’s an only child, and I know he has both a mom and a dad, because I’ve seen them at school functions once or twice. Beyond that, I have no idea, besides the fact that his family is loaded. He’s never said that specifically, but from the house and his bedroom, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to doubt the fact that at least one of his parents makes a lot of money. Granted, I don’t know that I’ve explicitly mentioned my family to Carter either. I’m sure I’ve made some comment here or there about my brother and sister. I almost always have a good story to share about their latest antics. But beyond that, I don’t think I’ve said much. It’s not something that comes up in normal conversation, about how my dad is gone, or that my mom has raised me since I was three years old. It’s important information, but it’s not something I would ever just bring up out of the blue. As I head down the stairs into the basement, I decide to table the family talk for now. It’s late, and I’m not sure about Carter, but I wouldn’t object to forgoing any more serious talks tonight. If it wasn’t for the sliver of hope that we repeat what we did the last time I was over here, I’d be fine with just going to bed. By the time I hit the last step, Carter’s already across the room at his dresser. Before I can say or do anything, he tosses a pair a of pajama pants at me. “Here,” he says, “these’ll be a lot better for sleeping.” Clearly sleeping is in the cards for the very near future. No complaints from me. I head into the bathroom and take a closer look at the pants Carter gave me to wear to bed. They’re well worn, and the thought of how many nights Carter might have spent with these on his body makes me a little dizzy. Now they’re going to be on my body. I instinctively look around the room to make sure no one’s watching me, which immediately strikes me as ridiculous, since I’m in a bathroom. Even so, it’s nice to be sure that no one will see me bring the pants straight up to my nose and take a nice, big whiff. Wishful thinking. They smell like detergent and fabric softener. Carter pulled them out of his dresser, which usually indicates that clothes are clean. Some musky Carter smells would have been better, but I can’t complain about having a clean, soft pair of pajama bottoms to wear to bed. I shuck my pants and underwear (after all that did you really think I wouldn’t go commando in them?) and pull them on. They’re comfy. Carter is a little bit bigger than me, but the pants fit well, meaning they must hug his legs and butt when he wears them. I’d like to see it. I check myself out in the mirror, and after determining that I look pretty damn good, I head back out into the basement. Oh, he’s done it again. When I come back out, Carter has mostly undressed himself in preparation for bed. He lost his shirt while I was in the bathroom, leaving himself barechested and beautiful. It literally takes my breath away, to have to look at all his smooth, rippley muscles. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because he’s in the process of taking off his pants. He shucks his jeans off and tosses them in his hamper, leaving himself clothed in only a pair of blue and green boxer briefs. And they look good. So damn good. I guess it makes sense if he was planning on maybe getting some action with Beth tonight. It’s not out of the ordinary to have a boy strip down to his underwear in front of me. It happens all the time in the locker room, and Ko and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go down to boxers in front of each other. But this is Carter. He’s way too hot to be peeling his clothes off in front of me. I duck over next to the couch and pretend to busy myself with folding my clothes and making a neat pile of my wallet and phone. Hopefully Carter doesn’t notice the intense amount of redness in my cheeks or hear the pounding of my heart. As much as I love it, he really shouldn’t do these things to me. Luckily he takes my place in the bathroom, and before I swoon or engage in noticeably heavy breathing, he’s gone. I shake my head in disbelief. That kid is so outrageously hot, and it seems like every time I hang out with him something happens where he takes most of his clothes. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but even if it is, it’s sure as hell a happy one. This is the second time I’ve been alone in Carter’s room. A slight pang of guilt hits me as I remember that the last time I was in here and I snooped through his computer. Along with the guilt, however, comes a wave of excitement as I remember not only what I found on his computer, but also what happened afterwards. It’s probably not good for me to think too hard about all that stuff. Not to mention the spectacle I was treated to about a minute ago as Carter paraded around the room wearing hardly anything at all. I can already feel a little pressure in my pants, as a little extra blood starts flowing down into my crotch. That’s the last thing I need when Carter gets out of the bathroom. A nice tent in my pants. I hurriedly look around the room for something to distract myself with until he gets out. There are some magazines over by the far end of the couch, but it seems weird to pick up a magazine and start reading it. I could turn on the TV, which might distract me for a few minutes, although I’m never sure what remote I’m supposed to use (there are four sitting on the coffee table) or how to make sure the cable, sound, and all the other stuff is working right. Or… No, that’s not a good idea. When Carter grabbed his pajama pants earlier, he went into the top drawer of his dresser to pull them out. He then got a pair for me, but after that he left the drawer open. And from where I’m standing, I can just see enough of it to see that it’s his underwear drawer. Again, not a good idea at all. But I can’t help it. It’s just sitting there, wide open and waiting for a pair of curious eyes to come over and feast upon its contents. Besides, I’m not going to rifle through it or sniff a pair, especially now that I realize they’ll just smell like clean laundry - what’s the point? I just want to take a quick look and see what sort of stuff Carter wears. Suddenly, I hear a buzzing noise coming from the bathroom and I tense up, worried that somehow Carter was reading my mind and came out to bust me. But it’s just his toothbrush. Which not only means that he’ll be occupied in there for another minute or two, but that I’ll have some kind of warning when he’s coming out. I’ll never have a better chance than now. I move quietly across the room to the open dresser. Looking inside, it’s like heaven. Carter has all sort of cute, fun underwear. I see some rainbow striped boxer briefs, a few pairs of brightly colored boxers, just a few tight little pairs of briefs, and then a handful of sports stuff - compression shorts and what looks like a jock or two hiding down at the bottom. The pair on the far left side of the drawer, however, would probably be the best. Light grey compression shorts, with an orange trim and waistband. They look small but stretchy, with thin fabric, so I bet they hug every nook, cranny, and bulge on Carter’s body. I try to picture what they would look like on Carter, but I stop myself after only a second, as it’s bringing me straight back to my original problem of getting turned on and creating an awkward situation. I take a few steps away and succeed at least partially in clearing my mind before Carter emerges from the bathroom. He looks so cute in his plaid pajama pants and a green tank top. It gives me a great view of his smooth, strong arms, and even little peeks at his chest depending on how he turns or moves. Even dressed down to the most casual level, this boy is gorgeous. We’re both back in Carter’s room and dressed for bed, so now what? It’s funny, because this is only the second time we’ve ever really hung out together, and neither of us seem sure what to do. At Ko’s house, we have an easy routine we fall into any time I go over there. We don’t discuss our desires or make elaborate plans, we just do stuff. Clearly Carter and I don’t quite have that same level of rapport with each other. “So, uh,” Carter begins, “what do you want to do?” I run through my head all the various sex acts and experimentation I’m dying to try with a boy like Carter, but nothing seems appropriate to suggest at this time. “I dunno,” I finally reply shrugging, “what did we do last time?” “You want to do chemistry homework?” Carter asks sarcastically. I laugh. “No, like after that, obviously.” I think for a second. “I think we just watched a little TV, talked about school and stuff, played video games, and then…” I stop before I say what comes next, and the awkwardness is leaking out into what I’m sure is a fascinating facial expression. Last time I was over, we watched porn and jerked it together on the couch. Carter fills in the blank for himself, because his face takes on an expression very similar to what I’m sure mine is. Eventually he shakes his heads and laughs. “No way. Don’t even talk about jacking off right now. I had…” He bites his lower lip sexily as he tries to think of the words. “I had a rough night as far as that stuff goes, so I’m a little pent up right now, and I don’t think…” He stops talking because my silent snicker has turned into a full blown laugh. “Dude,” he says with as much seriousness as he can muster, “it’s not funny. I’m seriously pent up right now!” “No,” I tell him, laughing even harder. “It’s not that. It’s just funny because that’s exactly what me and Ko call it.” “What,” he asks, “pent up?” I nod. Carter sighs. “I’m glad I’m not the only one. I don’t want to start talking about Beth again and all that stuff, but tonight is just…” He looks down at his crotch, then back up at me, and then he shrugs. “You’re definitely not the only one who gets pent up,” I reassure him. “I mean, we’re a bunch of dudes, right?” Carter nods and we lapse into silence. Nothing else is said, but I feel like over the course of the next few seconds, we both come to a consensus. At this point, it’s the only thing that makes sense. “Well?” I ask, gently testing the waters. I hope he catches my drift, and I hope even more that he’s game. “I’m down if you’re down,” he says shrugging innocently. I nod, and Carter smiles his sexy, mischievous grin that I love so much before getting up and heading over to his computer. I wonder what he’s cooking up for us this time. As he boots up some porn for us, I can feel the anticipation building. And by that, I mean that by the time Carter turns on the TV, I’m already doing a pretty good job of tenting my pants. For a second I wonder if I should try and hide it or something - I don’t want to seem too eager, after all - but when I look over at Carter I see that while one hand is operating the computer, the other is glued firmly to his crotch. He must be just as excited as I am. The TV suddenly lights up with a young, amateur couple in the process of taking each other’s clothes off. “Does this look ok to you?” Carter asks? “I was watching it the other day, but I uh…” I laugh. “You didn’t make it to the end?” Happens to everybody. “Yeah, you could say that.” “It looks good,” I reply. Honestly, he could have put on the evening news and I would be cool with sitting next to him beating off. In truth he seems to have decent taste when it comes to porn. Nothing too trashy, and the guys have been hot in both movies he’s put on while I’ve been here. “Cool,” he says, getting up from the computer and making his way over to the couch. “Somebody’s ready for action,” he says snarkily as he approaches, looking down at the extremely obvious bulge in my lap. I feel myself blush, but see an equally obvious lump in Carter’s as he passes in front of me. Maybe Ko has a point about these things - teenage boys just want to get hard and get off. I can’t say he’s wrong, at least not about me. And then the unthinkable happens. Instead of walking by me to the other end of the couch like last time, Carter stops the instant he passes me, turns to face the TV, and sits down right next to me. If my pants were a tent before, they’ve now become a circus big top. The horniness and awesomeness of the situation wash over me as I start rubbing my straining erection through my pants. My eyes are on the movie, but I focus on the motion of Carter sitting next to me and doing the same. It feels fantastic, but I need more. I undo the drawstring and pull down my pants, revealing my six inches of rock hard dick as it springs up into the air. “Damn, dude,” Carter says as he starts undoing his own. He has a point. I probably look like I just ate a fistful of Viagra. My eyes get huge as I suddenly realize what just happened. He was checking out my dick? Emboldened by my realization, I don’t hesitate to peek over as Carter slides his pants down. In the light of the TV, I see the most beautiful, perfect cock flip up out of his waistband and point straight into the air. It’s the best look I’ve ever had at the thing, and it only leaves me wanting even more. “You’re one to talk,” I respond. He looks over, slightly embarrassed, and catches my eye for a second before looking back down at his own crotch. He smiles and shrugs. It’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of. We both focus our attentions firmly on the task at hand, or at least I pretend to while basking in the closeness and sexuality of the mostly naked dreamboat jacking off next to me, and we stroke our dicks together. This is awesome. It’s almost all I can do not to blow my load in about five seconds. I’m so revved up, and everything tonight has seamlessly fallen into place. And it’s a very sexy place. Carter stops for a second to reposition himself on the couch. Sensing the sudden lack of motion on his side, I look over to see what he’s doing. He pushes his butt farther up the couch, and in doing so takes his hand off his rod for a second, giving me an unobstructed view. Again, I’m blown away by how perfectly touchable, kissable, suckable, and fuckable it looks. I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t take it anymore. It’s too much for me to handle. Maybe the blood flooding my dick right now is creating a shortage in my brain. Maybe listening to Carter’s breathing while he touches himself has intoxicated me to the point of no return. Maybe it’s the brief, electric contact when his thigh brushes against mine as he repositions himself. Maybe it’s the sweet, sweaty, sexy smell of two horny teenagers jacking off right next to each other. Whatever it is that pushes me over the edge, I can no longer stop myself. I take my hand off of my own dick, reach over to my side, and put it on Carter’s. The instant I make contact, the entire world freezes. I feel Carter’s body tense up, so I stop moving. “Don’t stop,” he whispers. Oh my god. He wants me to… “Keep going, it feels good.” Yes. I slowly, lightly start sliding my hand up and down the length of Carter’s shaft, just barely touching it as I do. It feels a tiny bit bigger than mine, and I can tell the difference of his cut head when my hand passes over it. Physically, it’s similar to my own, but I feel like it’s something so incredibly new and exciting. As I reach his engorged head, I sweep my fingers over it especially, giving it a light pull. Carter moans lightly and bucks his hips upward ever so slightly. He’s loving it. His hand moves slowly across to rest on my thigh, and he squeezes gently, as though to tell me not to stop. He shouldn’t be worried about that - I have no intention of doing so. I tighten my grip and move back and forth from tip to base, over and over. My left hand absentmindedly plays with myself, but all my focus is on the perfect, rock hard dick in my other hand. This is like heaven. As I build to a steady rhythm, Carter starts moving his hips in time with the motion. It’s subtle, but sexy as hell having him press upward into my fist every time I reach the base, almost like he’s trying to fuck my hand. I meet him with more force and pressure and his breathing gets louder. I pump his dick again and again, relishing the smooth, hot feeling of having another boy’s hard penis in my hand. It’s absolutely amazing, and I love having so much control over Carter, making him feel so good. As much as I want to do this forever, however, I want to make him cum. Sensing he’s getting close, I speed up and take over. Working at about double the speed and intensity, he relaxes back into the couch and starts breathing harder. His breaths become moans, and I hear a growl building in the back of his throat as I feel his dick get harder. Yes. Give it to me. My own dick starts tingling with pleasure as Carter suddenly bucks wildly into my hand. As I mutually fly over the edge, his cock explodes stream after stream of hot, sticky cum all over my hand and his stomach. Holy shit. That was amazing. The next few minutes are like heaven. It’s just the two of us sitting on the couch, slowly regaining our breath and composure. I glance over at Carter, and seeing that his eyes are closed, it lets me take a closer look at him. His smooth, perfect chest is covered with his cum, which is slowly dripping from just below his neck down to his waist. It runs across his abs and down to his gorgeous cock, which is slowly shrinking and receding with each beat of his pulse. I could spend the next hundred years staring at that sight and never get enough. It’s not just his hot body. It’s not just the obvious signs of his sexual pleasure and orgasm. It’s the fact that I did it to him. It’s because of me that he’s spent and breathing hard. I did that to him. I made him cum. Like all good things, the moment eventually has to end. Carter gets up to wipe himself off with an old shirt, and he tosses me a towel to do the same. Once we’re cleaned up, he turns to me. “Ready for bed?” he asks. I can’t help but smile at the thought. We just came together, and now we’re headed to bed. This night couldn’t get any better. “Yeah,” I reply. When I first came over, I had thought it might be weird to share a bed, or that maybe I would have to guess whether Carter wanted me on the couch or sleeping with him. But at this point, it’s not even a question. We’re sharing a bed, and my certainty in that fact feels as good as anything that’s happened tonight. Carter and I both settle down in bed and he turns off the light. We aren’t touching, but there’s an unmistakable feeling of closeness between the two of us. Sure, I have all my feelings for Carter, and he has… whatever it is that he feels for me. A friend? A confidant? Something a tiny bit more? It doesn’t even matter. Because right this second, I feel closer to him than I’ve ever felt, and it feels really, really good.
  15. Roe St. Alee

    Chapter 10

    Chapter 10 The second time I hear about the party is Friday night. After a few more hours trading the controller back and forth, Ko drives me back to my place. It’s a chilly night, and I’m glad I don’t have to ride my bike. I’m out of the car and on my way up the path towards my front door when I hear the window roll down behind me. I instinctively do a keys-phone-wallet pat down on my pockets, but it’s all there. “I almost forgot!” he calls through the open passenger window. “There’s supposed to be a party tomorrow. I can pick you up if you want to come.” I assume it’s the same party Sam was trying to tell me about after practice. Hopefully Ko knows a little more about it. “Yeah, I’d be down,” I reply. “Where is it?” Ko grimaces cartoonishly and shrugs. “I’m still working on that,” he says. “But I’ll let you know when I find anything out.” Dang, nobody knows anything concrete. At least I’m hedging my bets with two people searching for info. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. “Sounds good,” I call to Ko as I wave good night. “I’ll make sure I can go.” With that, Ko drives off. Maybe back to his house, maybe to troll for girls somewhere else. I’m sure I’ll hear all about it tomorrow. Having a friend like him is great. I’m not so into the dating and hookup game myself, but I can always live vicariously. That way I get to hear all the crazy, awkward stories without actually having to live through any of them myself. I get inside my house and after the usual pleasantries with my mom, I go upstairs to my room. It’s a little past ten, so my brother and sister are already asleep. I peek in their room and silently mouth “goodnight” before heading to my own. I know better than to risk waking them up, since they seem to run on an inexplicable source of infinite energy. Even at this hour, if they so much as open their eyes for a second, they might never fall back asleep. I’m brushing my teeth when I hear my phone go off in the bedroom. After a rinse and spit, I head back to the edge of the bed where I tossed my cell on the way in. It’s from Katy. [ You free tomorrow? ] I shoot off a reply that I’m free and throw my phone back down on the bed. Until I heard more about this alleged party I figure I should keep my options open. I strip off my pants and shirt, leaving me in a pair of blue boxers. They were clean after practice, and all I did since then was play video games at Ko’s house. I could sleep in them, since I usually wear boxers to bed, or I could trade them out with my usual PJs and wear them again around the house tomorrow. I’m still musing over the decision when my phone vibrates. [ Party at Kris and Laura’s place. You in? ] Finally, a location. I was starting to wonder if this party even existed, but apparently it’ll be at the Rothson’s house. They’re both in drama with Katy and I, or at least Laura was before she graduated last year. Their family is totally loaded, and they have a huge, ridiculous house. [ I’m in. ] That settles it. A party happening tomorrow at the Rothson’s. I’ve only been to their house once for a cast party last year, but it was incredible. And that was with parents and chaperones. If this party is unsupervised, which I’m assuming it will be, it could be amazing. I make a mental note to let Sam and Ko know about it tomorrow, and then I hop into bed. Blue boxers it is. I’m exhausted from school and soccer, and if there’s going to be an epic party tomorrow night, I need to save my energy. My head full of the visions of partying all night with all my friends, I quickly slip into a deep, restful sleep. ------- ------- ------- ------- When I wake up, I can immediately tell that I slept in later than I thought I would. Waking up so early for school every day, it’s hard to sleep in much past seven, even on the weekends. I blink my eyes in the morning sun and reach over for my phone to check the time. A few more blinks get enough of the cobwebs out of my eyes that I can well enough to read. 8:28. Wow. I really did sleep in. I lazily let my phone slip out of my hands as I take a deep stretch. Even with so much sleep, I still feel groggy. I’m in the midst of a big yawn when it occurs to me: Today is Saturday. I jump out of bed and practically run over to my dresser. I shuck off my boxers and pull on some sweat pants, then find an undershirt from the floor that seems reasonably clean. Within fifteen seconds of getting out of bed I’m out the door and rushing downstairs as fast as I can. Today is Saturday, and on Saturday mornings, my mom makes pancakes. My brother and sister, wired little monsters that they are, wake up at 6:30 without fail, every single day. On Saturdays they watch cartoons until exactly eight o’clock, at which time they dutifully turn off the TV and head to the kitchen, where Mom will be taking the first batch of perfect, golden pancakes off the stove. Saturday morning pancakes has been a Willard family tradition for years, and the only rule is “You snooze, you lose.” Having thus snoozed, I’m crossing my fingers that by the time I make it to the kitchen there will still be a few pancakes left for me to eat. I’m met with a glorious sight as I enter. My mom is just pouring another batch of batter onto the griddle, and it looks like there’s plenty left. She looks up at me and smiles “Morning, sleepy head. I was worried you might miss us this morning.” “Not a chance,” I respond. “Can I help, or…” Mom waves me off and gestures to the table. “I’ve got it under control. The kids are just about done, so these cakes are all yours once they’re ready.” ‘The kids”are my little brother and sister, Randy and Sarah. They’re twins. They smile mischievously as I sit down, but that’s the look they give me at least half the time, so I don’t let it phase me. Instead, I pour myself a glass of milk and stick my tongue out at them. They don’t react, but I know they got the message. A lot of people ask me if my siblings are weird, and that assumption bothers me. They assume that just because Randy and Sarah are twins, they must be strange in some way. Not all twins are weird, and I always try to tell people that. Unfortunately, my twins are the very definition of the word. Ever since I can remember, they’ve both been smart. Even as babies they were fast learners, and the following years have done nothing to change that. But maybe they’re a little bit too smart. They understand things insanely quickly without needing a lot of explanation, and what they understand better than anything is how to mess with you. They tease, they put on acts, they gaslight, and they trick, but it’s all just for a laugh. And the fact that there are two of them only makes it worse. It’s like they speak their own language sometimes. It’s only my years of experience in dealing with them that lets me remind myself that I am not constantly being outwitted by a couple of ten year olds. An innocent stranger wouldn’t have a chance. If was a drop of evil in them, they’d be the perfect little sociopathic serial killers. Fortunately for the rest of us, everything they do is harmless fun, and beneath their outward kookiness, they’re kind, caring, well-behaved kids. I try as hard as I can to pretend I can’t stand them, but it’s impossible not to love those little rascals. “Explain to me again why you don’t have any socks,” I say through a mouthful of pancakes. That’s apparently what’s on today’s agenda for my mom: Buy more socks for the twins. “We already told you. We keep running out.” Randy shakes his head but smiles at me, as though to reassure me that it’s not my fault for not understanding the situation already. “We need to wear socks, Jackson,” Sarah adds. Mom smiles as she sits down with us to eat the last few pancakes for herself. “Two weeks ago when I did laundry,” she says as she gives the twins the evil eye, “I thought they were a little short on socks. Last week there were even fewer. And this week…” she trails off and looks disapprovingly at the twins. They exchange glances guiltily. It’s no question that they’re up to something, but it’s beyond the older half of the room as to what that could possibly be. “It’s not as easy as you think!” Randy finally declares. Sarah puts her hand to her face, disappointed that Randy cracked so easily under pressure. “What’s so tough about socks?’ I ask. This ought to be good. “Well,” Randy says, “there’s two of them.” “It’s a lot harder to keep track of,” Sarah adds. “Right,” Randy agrees. He says it as though Sarah’s explanation would stand up in court. “I’ll have the two of you know,” Mom begins as she put down her silverware. Whenever Mom starts a sentence like that you know you better do exactly what she says. Before she continues, I can already see the twins’ eyes widen and both of them swallow. “I’ll have you know, that when we get home, I’m going to count how many socks you have, and if there are any fewer next week…” Moms don’t need to finish sentences like that. All three of us can perfectly well imagine what punishments might be in store if such a thing were to happen. Rather than waiting around to hear what fate awaits them if they lose any more footwear, Randy and Sarah ask to be excused and tear off into the other room to watch more cartoons and presumably plot how to do whatever it is they’ve been doing to their socks without getting caught. I scoop up our dishes from the table and make my way over to the sink to rinse and load everything in the dishwasher. “Any plans for the day?” Mom asks as I work. It’s an innocent enough question, but I know what it really means. This is the part of the morning where I get my chores for the day. If I play this just right, I’ll be in good shape. “Just a little homework, but I might put it off until tomorrow.” “Hm…” she says thoughtfully, looking around the room for things that need to be cleaned, swept, and dusted. Now’s my chance. “Tonight a few people were talking about a little get together.” I try to play it off like it’s no big deal. Just a little “get together.” “A ‘get together?’” The eyebrows raise up incredulously, and I know I’m not off to a good start. “Is that like a party?” The million dollar question. I need to somehow deflect the accusation and downplay how much of a rager this thing could be. I weigh my options. If I tell her that all my friends will be there, it’s a good thing, because my friends are good people that my mom likes and trusts. However, if I mention that everyone I know is going, it might indicate that I expect hundreds of other people to show up in addition. I decide to take the middle route. “It’s at the Rothson’s, and Katy wants me to go with her. I think it might be fun.” I bite the inside of my lip and wait for the answer. “How about this,” she suggests, “if you can get everything vacuumed and clean up the rest of the kitchen, then I’ll consider that a fair trade for you to go to this party. How does that sound?” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. “Sounds great,” I tell her. In my heart I want to jump up from my seat and run to the hallway closet where we keep the vacuum. But that might be too enthusiastic. I can’t act like I got away with anything. “I think I might try to get some of that homework done right now since I’ll be out a little later tonight,” I say diligently. That being settled, I exit the kitchen and head back upstairs to my room. Success! “We should be back before lunch,” Mom calls up to me, “but if we’re not there’s a little bit of pizza left in the fridge.” “Thanks!” I call down before closing myself in my bedroom. That went well. I didn’t expect it to be an issue, but selling the idea of staying out late with a bunch of crazy high school teenagers is not always the easiest thing to do. Maybe other kids my age don’t have this same issue, but I’m the oldest, so I feel like in some ways my mom is very protective of me. I do a lot to help take care of the family. I babysit, cook, clean, and do more than my fair share of chores. With all that responsibility, I appreciate that Mom gives me a lot of freedom. More than that even, I like how much she trusts me. Granted, compared to some of the kids I know at school, I’m not even close to getting into the sort of trouble that they will. I’m not a huge fan of drinking, and I don’t do drugs. Plus, it’s safe to say I won’t be getting anyone pregnant any time soon. I knock out about an hour’s worth of homework, then start with my vacuuming. I take a break when I notice that Adventure Time is on, then move on to the kitchen to finish up my chores. By the time I get everything done it’s getting on noon and I’m ready for a lunch break. Sure enough, there are a few slices of pizza left from two nights ago when Mom had to work late. Pepperoni isn’t my favorite, but at least I’m better than the twins. They ask for pepperoni or sausage, then they pick it off and eat the plain pizza. I think they like the nice, greasy flavor of it, but not the actual toppings. Weird, but not out of the ordinary when you consider who you’re dealing with. I throw two pieces on a plate and toss it into the microwave. I punch in twenty seconds on the clock and watch through the glass as my pizza spins its way towards delicious hotness. Within ten seconds the cheese is starting to bubble. Our microwave is powerful. In fact, almost disturbingly powerful. Five, almost there. Four, so close. Three, just a few more seconds. Two, I can almost taste it. One, it’s pizza time! BEEP BEEP BEEP I freeze. For some reason, it’s the microwave that makes me think of it. While my mind should be fixated firmly on my upcoming meal, it’s instead thrown a huge curveball by my subconscious. A single, terrifying thought floats up into my brain and takes hold. I have to invite Carter to this party. It would be stupid not to. He probably already knows about it, so it’s not a big deal. But on the off chance he doesn’t, I need to make sure he gets an invite and shows up. Plus, regardless of whether he has preexisting knowledge of the party, it would be good to give him a personal invite from me. Will it be weird if I ask him though? Is that where our friendship is these days? Are we at the level where I can just ask him to go to a party with me? Well, not WITH me, but at my request. Or invite. Or something. There I go again. Always overthinking things. It’s not that complicated. I just need to pick up my phone and text Carter that he should come to a party. I grab my phone and unlock it. I take a few deep breaths and try to keep my heart from exploding out of my chest, and then I start typing. [ Have you heard about the party tonight? ] I type it in and then stare at the screen as the huge, unnecessary spirals of doubt and second thoughts well up in my mind. Before they can work their usual paralyzing magic, I hit the send button and slide my phone across the table and out of my reach. There’s nothing more to be done until Carter replies. I nervously eat my pizza, then move over to the couch in the living room to try to read a book for english class. I skim through the same paragraphs over and over without making any real progress, my eyes scanning across the words, but none of the meaning getting through. I’m sure I’ll need to reread it all tomorrow, but it does help keep me occupied while I… A text message! Leaping up from the couch, I run into the kitchen and grab my phone. I open my new text, almost afraid to look at what might be inside. [ Yeah. ] What? That’s it? [ Are you going? ] Oh, ok, he sent more. And he wants to know if I’m going! [Yeah, for sure! You? ] [ Of course. I was actually about to text you and make sure you knew about it too ] Nice. He wanted me to come. [ Cool, thanks for thinking of me. ] Is that too much? [ For sure dude! See you tonight ] Woah, exclamation points and a smiley face. I think I’m in love. He already knew about it and he’s going, but more importantly he wanted me to come too. As usual, I’m putting a little too much thought and effort into these things. Life (and love) are a lot easier if you just relax. Eventually I think I might actually learn that. The rest of the day is uneventful. I finish my chores, play with the twins for a while, and get a little bit more homework done. Before long dinner has come and gone, and it’s a mere twenty minutes until Ko and Katy are supposed to pick me up. It’s time to pick an outfit. I’m not usually that sort of person, but I’m feeling pretty good about tonight. I want to look good. I rifle through my drawers and eventually come up with what I think will make a nice ensemble. First, red boxer briefs. They’re Calvin Klein. I slide them on and check myself out in the mirror. They look great on me, hugging in all the right places. Even though I’d consider my size to be about average, at right around six inches, the right presentation makes my package look plenty big. My heart skips a beat when I think back and realize these were the same ones I wore to the party a few months ago when Carter and I kissed. Hell, we didn’t just kiss, we made out. And we didn’t stop there. He was drunk and needed me to get his belt undone for him. Naturally, I complied. I remember the feeling of peeling down his jeans, revealing his bulging underwear beneath. Seeing it up close, it was so hot, perfect, and manly. A few seconds later, we were full on making out, and his hands were just sliding down to the point where they touched the waistband of these boxer briefs... Yikes! I decide to finish getting dressed before my own “bulging underwear” makes the task impossible. As usual, it’s just sex, sex, and more sex inside my brain. I decide to continue this thought process later when I have more time to explore all the possibilities my imagination can construct. For now I need to focus on getting ready for the party. I go for some tightish dark wash jeans and a plain grey v-neck. It’s a simple look, but these clothes fit me so well, and I honestly couldn’t ask for much better as I check myself out in the mirror one last time. My hair is short enough that I don’t need to put anything in it, but I put on a little extra deodorant for good measure and head downstairs. “Well, don’t you look handsome!” my mom exclaims when she sees me come down. Leave it to my mother to embarrass me before the night has even started. I guess it’s good that my mom thinks I look nice tonight - better than the alternative, that’s for sure - but it’s not something I want Ko and Katy to hear. Unfortunately, they’ve been sitting in the living room killing time while they were waiting for me to finish getting ready. “Mom…” I complain. Katy and Ko and loving it. “What?” she replies proudly. “I think you look handsome and I want everyone to know it. Doesn’t he look handsome?” She looks over to my friends, who are eating it up. “He sure does, Ms. Willard,” echos Katy. Jerks. After a quick kiss on the cheek from my mom and several of the standard warnings and admonitions every high schooler expects to hear before going out on a Saturday night with his friends, we’re out the door, down the driveway, and I’m squeezing into the back seat of Ko’s car. “My handsome, handsome man,” Ko mutters to himself as we drive away. That earns a laugh from Katy and poke in the back of the head from me. Damn right I look handsome. ------- ------- ------- ------- As I mentioned earlier, the Rothson’s house is huge. We park a few blocks away at the country club, and then walk past countless massive homes on our way over. Carter’s house is only a few streets away, but it has nothing on this place. I’m assuming the closer you get to the country club, the bigger your house needs to be, and Kris and Laura’s place is no exception. We stroll through the unlocked gate and into their yard. I hear Ko whistle as he gets his first view of the building in front of us. Katy and I have been here before, so we know what to expect, but his reaction only makes sense. It’s impressive. We get to the front door, but it has a note taped to it that says “Come Around Back!” The party must be happening in the huge sunroom on the back of the house. It’s one part atrium, one part screened in porch, and ten parts awesome. Imagine a huge, well decorated pool deck, and then replace the pool with a bunch of nice furniture and an outdoor kitchen. In other words, the ultimate patio. Especially tonight in the somewhat brisk autumn air, it’ll be perfect. As is to be expected, everybody and their uncle is crowding around the sunroom, waiting to get their hands on some beer. The keg has a sizable line, so we make our way over to get the waiting over with. I make a mental note to come buy beer for the next generation of high school kids once I’m of age. Even if I did it once, it would be enough to make me a celebrity around the school for who knows how long. Months? Years? “This is nuts,” Ko mutters almost to himself as he looks around the room. “Yeah,” I agree, “I knew it would be busy, but this is crazy.” There must be forty people in this room alone. And that’s only the sunroom. I know how big the Rothson’s house is, and it can hold a heck of a lot more people than this. I honestly think half of my school might be here. I’m not sure how kids pull this stuff off. I bring that up with Ko and Katy, and we decide that they probably don’t. What are the chances that nothing gets broken, nothing gets stolen, and the neighbors don’t call the cops or mention the fact that a hundred people showed up one night while you were out of town? We’re working out the odds that Kris and Laura get caught for having this party and trying to weigh those against the odds that their parents flay them as a result, when I’m suddenly interrupted by a soft punch in the back of my arm. I turn around to see Carter, looking radiant as usual. His perfect smile sends blood to my cheeks in an instant, but my good vibes are simultaneously dampened by the fact that Beth is in tow. “What’s up, Jackson?” Carter asks. “Hi, Carter.” I rack my brain and try to think of something cool to say. “Hell of a party…” Not my best effort, but it could have been worse. Carter looks around and shakes his head in disbelief. “I know, it’s crazy. I can’t imagine doing something like this at my house. How’s no one going to find out about this?” “I was just thinking the exact same thing,” I say in reply. I feel Ko and Katy rolling their eyes behind me. I’m not sorry in the least for taking credit for the conversation we were all just having in order to relate to my crush. They can deal with it. “When did you guys get here?” I ask. Carter thinks for a second and turns to Beth. “What do you think, like half an hour ago?” Beth shrugs dismissively. “Let’s go see if Kim and Steph are inside.” “Yeah, sure thing, babe.” Carter responds without any thought or hesitation, likely due to a conditioned response in having to deal with Beth’s constant, inconsiderate needs. “Catch you later, dude!” he says, unleashing that big, beautiful smile at the three of us one more time before they head back towards the door to the house proper. Ugh, Beth strikes again. Carter is the hottest person I’ve ever known, and the more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I’ve realized that he’s a sweet and caring person too. With that combination, he should be able to nail down any girl (or boy) that he wants, and yet he picks Beth. On paper, she’s a solid choice, but in practice, I can’t imagine what he sees in her. She doesn’t strike me as being smart, and I’ve never heard her say anything funny. She mostly just stands there clinging to Carter with all her might and making slightly unpleasant faces at everyone around them. As if that’s not bad enough, tonight she’s wearing this hideous aqua-colored shirt. The color would break the outfit in itself, but it doesn’t match her makeup, pants, or shoes in any way, shape, or form. Granted, it shows off her cleavage, which I’m sure was the primary objective. I try not to be a hater, but it’s impossible with a girl like that. I turn back to Ko and Katy to vent about how much Beth annoys me, but they beat me to it. “What’s that all about?” Ko asks through a shit eating grin. “I didn’t know you were friends with Carter,” Katy says with as much phony interest and surprise as she can muster. Drama queen. I cross my arms and turn away rather than dignifying the two of them with a response. I suppose this is my punishment for not being up front with either of them about how I feel about Carter. Usually I tell them everything, but for some reason I’ve been playing the Carter thing close to my chest. As stupid as it sounds, I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too much. That being said, I’m sure they know exactly what the deal is. When people know me, I’m easy to read. Even trying as hard as I can not to mention Carter every other time I open my mouth, I’m sure I talk about him incessantly. Ko and Katy are hardly in the dark. Thankfully, I’m spared any further interrogation or embarrassment, as we arrive at the front of the line and proceed to fill three cups with beer. We meander away into the sun room and sip our drinks. Having only drank a few times before this, I’m still not sure what to make of it. It’s foamy and bubbly, and tastes like beer. And as a high school junior, that’s pretty damn awesome. “So,” Katy says, wiping a swath of foam from her lips, “any plans to displace the insufferable Beth tonight?” So much for avoiding interrogation. “No,” I reply “of course not. I wouldn’t displace Beth, no matter how insufferable you think she is.” I say it as though I don’t think she’s the worst person in the world. “Unless you guys have any ideas…” I mutter, almost inaudibly. I can at least admit that much. Ko and Katy laugh and Katy puts her arm protectively around my shoulders. “Do you guys have any classes with her?” I ask. Ko shrugs. “I’ve had a few.” Katy nods in agreement. “Same.” “Is she always like that?” Ko laughs again, but Katy isn’t following. “Like what?” she asks. I try to think of a nice way to say it but my words fail me. “Terrible?” I suggest. “Yeah?” Ko says tentatively. He and Katy look at each other and weigh their options before nodding in agreement. “Yeah,” they both say, with a bit more confidence. “Ugh,” I say as I turn after in disgust. I kills me to think about this incredible specimen of a human being being squandered on someone so undeserving. The universe is unfair sometimes. “What does he see in her?” I ask. Ko doesn’t miss a beat. “Did you see those tits?” Katy scowls at his answer, but her argument against such a statement surprises me. “Did you see that shirt?” she asks, grimacing. They both make a good point, but more importantly I know they both have my back in their own way. Ko tells it like it, and Katy is on my side no matter what. It’s a good balance to have with your two best friends. “Let me ask you something,” says Ko. “When you see Carter-” “Oh, hey Katy!” I’ve never been so happy to see Jeff. Thanks to an interruption from Katy’s boy toy, I’ll be mercifully spared from whatever from whatever Ko was trying to ask me about. I’m not sure exactly what Jeff and Katy have going on, but they’re good for each other and it makes Katy happy. While they’re not technically dating, they’ve been spending a good bit of time together since Katy got back from New York this summer. Any social functions we attend with Katy almost always start and end with Jeff, whether we’re talking about him, talking to him, or he’s whisking her away to some place more romantic. The latter seems to be his intention tonight. Katy’s look to me and Ko is subtle, but I can read her face like a book. “Sorry this is happening again, but I’m really into this guy and need to make out with him,” she seems to be saying with her eyes. I give her a sympathetic smile and she prances off with her boy in tow. As much as I was looking forward to hanging out with her tonight, I would never try to box her out when there’s a boy involved, and I honestly can’t complain about Jeff. He’s alright. Let her go have her fun. I’ll just hang out with… As I turn back to get Ko’s take on the situation, I realize he’s vanished. I do a full 360 of the room and finally see him on the other side of the keg talking to Jamie, a girl who sits at the other end of our table in study hall. I’ve told Ko that she’s his type but he always denies it. While I’m pissed that both my friends have ditched me to pursue conquests tonight, I’ll at least be able to lord over Ko later with the fact that I was right about him, as usual. Sufficiently lubricated but suddenly on my own, I decide to do a quick tour of the party and see what all is going on. Leaving the keg room behind, I wander down a hallway and into the kitchen. As I would expect at a party like this, a lot of people are milling around and munching on snacks. It’s nothing fancy, but a bowl of tortilla chips is usually enough to hold a drunk teenager’s attention for a good amount of time. Scoops, Hint of Lime, a jar of mild salsa. The gang’s all here tonight. I wonder how many pantry cabinets were raided across town in the last few hours to cater the party. I say hi to a few people I know, then step out the back of the kitchen and into yet another sort of living room. My family only has one, so I’m not even sure what they must call all their different formulations of rooms with couches and chairs in them. This particular living room is huge, and it takes up almost this entire side of the house, with various arrangements of seating options, and everything imaginable, from leather bound books to wooden and metal curios in the seemingly infinite number of bookshelves on the wall. There’s a small entryway adjoining the room on the far side, so maybe this a parlor? Who knows? Wading through the crowd, I finally see a familiar face: Sam. Sam is positively holding court in his part of the room. Even with all the people and happenings going on in the vicinity, you can tell that Sam’s the focal point of his immediate area. And surrounding him, unsurprisingly (at least to me), are a bunch of big, tough football players. A skinny little ginger sophomore, and everyone’s crowding around to get his attention. Whether it’s obvious to anyone else or not, I can tell from a mile away exactly what they’re up to. They’re lining up to have their dicks sucked. I catch Sam’s eye as I pass and give him a thumbs up. He flashes a smile and winks at me. No question about it, he’s going to be busy tonight. If not talking to all his new friends, then perhaps other, more intimate things. Hell, another beer or two and I might hop in line. With no empty seating in sight and Sam indisposed, I at least manage to find an unoccupied part of the wall to lean against. For the next few minutes, I just sip my beer and watch the man work. The only word I can think to describe Sam’s game is “unstoppable.” Against all the odds, he navigates all the negative feelings people have towards him and gets them to overlook that, all just to get something that they want. Maybe Ko had a point about boys. They want sex, and it isn’t that hard to get them to sidestep and ignore a few minor things that might stand in the way, like embarrassment, clique, or orientation. Once a boy gets riled up, nothing will stop him, much less himself. That being said, I don’t want to shortchange Sam’s qualities. It can’t hurt that he’s funny and charming, and without a doubt interesting to talk to. While I’m sure a few guys over there tonight are trying to get him on his knees, everyone crowded in that corner of the room genuinely like him, I have no doubt. I have a nice, big sigh as I scope out the rest of the room, seeing everyone flirting, coupling off, or in the case of two sophomores immediately to my left, making out. Katy has Jeff, Ko’s hard at work with Jamie, Carter has Beth, and so on. Sometimes I feel like everyone in the world has someone except me, and that I’ll always be the odd man out. It’s tough being gay, because your choices are so much more limited. Heck, the only other gay person I even know is Sam. Sam. That’s a thought. If he winds up being free after the party, maybe I’ll hit him up. No. If I’m being truly honest with myself, that’s not what I want. We’re just friends, and if we try to make a regular thing out of it, it’ll get weird. That’s not something that needs to happen. Truthfully, he’s not my type at all. He just happens to be first on the incredibly short list of gay people I know, and one and only on the impossibly short list of people I’ve fooled around with. And who am I kidding? As if he’s not going to be otherwise occupied tonight. He’ll get his pick of who knows how many of the hot, straight dudes at this party. Worst case scenario, Craig is one of the many people gathered around him, and last I heard that was still happening on the regular. My thoughts are suddenly interrupted and I’m knocked forward into the two girls standing in front of me by someone pushing past. Luckily neither of them were holding a drink, and mine was almost empty, so we didn’t spill anything on the carpet. The girls turn around as though to demand to know why I just trucked into the two of them, but I shrug and point to my left, where we see a girl storming out toward the sunroom and bumping into plenty of other people. They both give me a look of understanding and turn back to their friends. Whoever that girl was, she sure was in a hurry. I turn around and notice that I wasn’t actually leaning against a wall, but against the edge of a door frame. That explains it. The girl must have come out of the door behind me. While it’s not an ideal place for me to be loitering around, it’s still not ok to barrel into people on your way out. Beth! It takes me a few seconds to put it together. The girl who pushed by us had shoulder length black hair and a horrible teal shirt. Put that on top of a bad attitude and there’s only one person it could be. Beth. Seriously, what is her deal? She launches herself out the door, slams into me, and then storms off without so much as a word of apology. I’ve never found her to be likable, but still, it’s a little ridiculous to think she meant anything by it. I always assumed she found me uninteresting at the worst, but not that she had anything personal against me. And then another thought occurs to me. If Beth just burst out of the room behind me, and Carter was nowhere in sight, then chances are good that Carter might still be in there. I wonder what he’s doing now that the harpy is gone. I let myself wonder for a few seconds, then I down the rest of my beer. There’s only one way to find out. Bold action. I quietly test the handle with a slight twist and find that the door is unlocked. I’m off to a good start. I take a quick look back into the parlor, and it doesn’t look like anyone’s paying much attention to me. I steel my nerves one final time, then twist the knob the rest of the way and go into the room. My eyes slowly adjust to the dim light in the room and I see that I’m in a little entry hallway leading into what seems like it might be a guest bedroom. Off to my right there’s a bathroom, and as I quietly walk farther into the room, I see the foot of a bed, confirming my suspicions. I hear a little bit of noise coming from what I assume is on the bed, but with the music and chatter coming through the door behind me, I can’t make it out. I pause at the corner and put my back against the wall, trying to hear more of what might be happening in the room. I’m suddenly starting to think that I might not be right about this at all. While I’m expecting to pop around this corner and see Carter, it really could be anyone, and they could be doing anything. And at a high school party loaded with hormones and fueled by alcohol, I have a pretty good idea what might have been going on. Which, now that I think about it, would also explain the hasty departure from Beth. She walks in here to use the bathroom, but instead is confronted by something she didn’t want to see. So she takes off in a hurry. I’m about to follow suit when a voice calls out from within the room. “Beth?” It’s Carter. Stepping out as though I haven’t been hiding in the entryway for the last thirty seconds scoping the situation, I try to act casual, like I just happen to be passing through. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. “Hey,” I say, feigning surprise at seeing him here. “Oh,” he says, returning my look of surprise with one of his own. Granted, his shock at seeing me here is real. “It’s you.” His tone is surprisingly dark, and not his usual friendly one. It almost implies an unspoken “of all people” at the end of his sentence. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask. “Did Beth send you in here?” Now I’m even more confused. “No,” I reply, “I just…” It’s not my best argument. I trail off, and redouble my efforts at looking nonchalant. “You just happened to walk in here, right this second?” He sounds skeptical. “I…” I can’t think of any reasonable excuse for it, so I decide to come clean. “I saw Beth storm out, and I thought you might be-” He cuts me off and dismisses the whole thing. “Whatever, it’s been a weird night.” All of a sudden, I notice Carter doesn’t have a shirt on. It would usually be the first thing I notice, but his interrogation caught me off guard, and the only light in the room is coming in from the the entryway. Now, however, it’s my turn to ask the questions. Namely, “Why the hell are you sitting in this bed with your shirt off thinking your girlfriend sent me in here to talk to you?” In reality, I try to be a little more helpful and a little less accusatory. “Are you ok?” I ask. He perks up for a second at my question, and even in this low light I can see thoughts racing in his eyes. There’s conflict happening behind those beautiful light green eyes of his, and I wish I knew what it was about. He wants to tell me something, but he’s holding back. His expression suddenly changes as he surfaces out of his thoughts. “Let’s talk,” he says with forced cheerfulness. He plasters a tentative smile on his face and looks back at me. I wonder if it’s an attempt to ease himself into sharing whatever it is that’s bothering him or just to change the subject. “Ok,” I reply. “What about?” The more I can get him to steer the conversation, the more chance I have of seeing what’s really on his mind. He thinks for a second then looks back at me. “You pick,” he says. Damn. He’s put the ball back in my court. I decide to go big. “What’s the deal with Beth?” Bingo. The smile falls from his face and his entire facade deflates before my eyes. Apparently, I hit the nail on the head. “Nothing good,” he mumbles. I make my way over to the edge of the bed and tentatively have a seat near him. “What sort of ‘nothing good?’” I ask. It must be hard to talk about. Teenage boys aren’t renowned for their ability or willingness to talk about their feelings. Maybe from my experience coming out to my family and friends I got more in touch with how I feel and how I can communicate it, but I remember how impossible it always seemed before that. Half the time you can’t figure out how you feel, and the other half you wouldn’t expect anyone to understand it anyway. I get it. “It’s just…” He stops short and looks more hurt and vulnerable than I’ve ever seen him before. My instincts get the better of me and before I can stop myself, I put my arm around Carter’s shoulder and pull him into me. But don’t get the wrong idea. While I’d love to have my way with Carter any day of the week, right now I’m just trying to be there for him. I was raised by my mom and she’s the person I know who’s always been there to comfort me. She’s the person I channel when I know someone is hurting, and this is what I think she would do if she was here. For a second he doesn’t say or do anything, and I worry I’ve overstepped my bounds a bit. Then, slowly, with a little hesitation at first, he leans into me and accepts my embrace. Once he’s there he relaxes a little bit - the closeness seems to be doing him some good. He starts a sentence a few more times, but nothing of substance comes out. Finally he sighs, and I give his shoulder a little squeeze in response, just to let him know that I’m here and listening. “What is it?” I ask him. “You need to get it out.” He still doesn’t say anything, so I do something I hoped I wouldn’t have to. I take another page straight out of my mom’s book and tell him something that she always tells me. “It’s hurting you a lot more on the inside than it will on the outside,” I say. It sounds surprisingly natural when I say it, and not hokey, which was my fear. I didn’t know I had it in me. Carter slowly but surely starts to nods his head in acknowledgment. Even he can’t deny it: Moms are always right. “If I tell you this, will you promise not to ever talk about it to anyone?” I nod my head. Of course I would never tell anyone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know every single one of Carter’s secrets and use them to make him fall in love with me. Thus, I do feel a tiny bit of guilt in accepting his trust in me, but I don’t ever plan on breaking that promise. He lets out another sigh, and I can tell he’s weakening to the critical point. “I don’t know how to say this” My heart is pounding so hard in my chest I’m almost afraid I won’t hear him. What I hear, however, is unfortunately not Carter’s confession of undying love for me. I don’t even get to hear some other juicy but equally crucial secret. It’s actually more like what I already heard and didn’t process due to all the excitement. It’s that the bedroom door opened, and someone walked into the room. And that person is now standing at the foot of the bed and looking right at us, with a very confused expression on his face. To my knowledge, time actually froze in that moment. We all stayed right where we were, not moving a muscle, and stared awkwardly at each other for thousands of years. My arm around the shirtless Carter, the two of us staring up at the dumbfounded Robert for the rest of time eternal. That’s what it felt like, at least. “Sorry,” Robert says, finally regaining his composure. “Not the droids I’m looking for.” He turns without further conversation and heads straight back out the door. Carter and I sit in stunned silence for several more seconds before we both burst out laughing. I’ve never seen Robert embarrassed in my entire life, and seeing him not only surprised and embarrassed but actually speechless is something I would never have expected. I’m not sure what bothered him more about the situation. The fact that he walked in what he probably thinks was something between a heart-to-heart and full on gay sex, or that it took him several seconds to think of something even remotely funny to say, and it wasn’t a particularly amusing quip at that. “Man,” Carter says shaking his head once we both stop laughing, “I’m done with this party. What about you?” “Yeah,” I respond, eager to agree with whatever he decides to do, “me too.” He looks off into the distance for a second and his face falls. He’s clearly dwelling on something, but I’m not sure what it is. Beth? Me? The fact that Robert, someone we all know loves to talk and tell stories, saw us sitting together in bed in what could be construed as some sort of intimate moment? Carter doesn’t elaborate, but he gets up from the bed and starts hunting around the room for his shirt. I didn’t see it anywhere when I came in, so I’m not much help. “I need to find Ko and Katy,” I mutter to myself while inching my way to the door, not eager to miss out on a second of Carter walking around without his shirt on. “Oh,” Carter says, looking a little bummed and turning back to face me, “did you guys have plans or something tonight?” He finally finds his shirt halfway under the comforter where it hangs off the side of the bed and touches the floor. He puts it back on, which is always a shame. “No,” I respond, “but Ko’s my ride home. I’m sleeping over at his place tonight. He’ll probably be ready to head out eventually, but…” I stop talking not a moment too soon. My words weren’t contributing much to the situation beside sounds and noises, and Carter looks like he wants to say something. “We can walk back to my house,” he suggests, shrugging. “If you want to hang out or something.” “Yeah,” I say with as much enthusiasm as I dare. “That’d be cool.” “Good,” he says, as his smile returns full force. “Let Ko know and I’ll see you outside. I need to…” He hesitates for a second before brushing aside whatever it is he’s thinking about. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

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