Waiting for the pain to start, I realized that Steve was pulling me into a hug. Huh??
"Chris, relax... Calm down... You mean that's it? Somebody found out you're gay, then threatened to tell me, and then you paid them five grand not to?" Steve asked.
I was stunned. Steve was still hugging me! I still couldn't meet his eyes, but I told him, "Uh, basically, yeah."
I was getting more and more confused, but my heart was soaring that Steve hadn't said a single negative word about me being gay, yet. Maybe he would be ok with this and we could still be friends after all?!
Steve eased back to sit on his knees facing me, his right arm still on my shoulder. He shook his head, a shocked expression on his face. "Dude, oh, shit, five grand? Chris, why didn't you just tell me? Did you think I'd be pissed or something?" he asked.
"Well, uh, yeah," I stammered.
"And you paid five freaking grand... Oh, fuck! Chris, I'm so sorry... Damn, I should have just come out to you months ago and this never would have happened to you!"
I felt my body freeze as my mind slowly processed Steve's words. I looked up and met his eyes. I stammered, "You... come out to... you... you're, you... huh?" My voice trailed off, my mouth hanging open in shock.
Steve looked back at me, his expression changing as he chuckled. "Dude, you really need to brush up on your language skills..."
I couldn't help it; I laughed hard, hugged Steve, and asked, "You're gay, too?"
"Uh, yeah, I am. I've been trying to get up the nerve to tell you for weeks now, but you were acting so weird I was scared to. Five grand, though? Shit, I must really mean a lot to you, and you must have really thought I'd freak."
I finally began to relax and calm down, my mind numb from the emotional chaos I was feeling. "Yeah, basically, but there was a little more to it. He said he'd tell your folks, too, and they would boot me out of my apartment. I wasn't too worried about that, 'cause I could just get another apartment. It was you that I didn't want to lose, and your folks mean a lot to me too. There's also a little more to it than me being gay." I said, as I started to grow anxious again.
Steve looked at me, perplexed. "Uh, dude, I'm out to my parents. They are fine with it, and they wouldn't have tossed you out. They like you a lot. But, you said there was more?" he asked.
I grew nervous all over again. Okay, Steve was gay. But, how did he feel about me? How would he react to finding out I had serious feelings for him? What would he think of me when he found out that I'd been staring at him when he was naked?
I felt myself begin to turn red with embarrassment as I explained, "This is really hard for me to admit, even now, but he caught me, well, staring at you while you were naked. Then he confronted me. I was rattled, and admitted... I admitted that I was in love with you, but told him it was his word against mine. But he had a tape recorder."
Steve's expression was unreadable, but only for a second. We locked eyes, staring silently for a few moments. I felt my hand slip into his, as if it had a mind of its own. It just felt right, as if I'd done it a million times before. Steve and I were still sitting on the floor facing each other, but then Steve leaned forward, slowly, our eyes still locked. I leaned forward too, and put my free hand on Steve's bare shoulder, as I saw the corners of his mouth turn upwards in a slight smile.
I moved my hand to Steve's side, feeling the muscles under his taut skin, and then moving my fingers around just a little, reveling in the feel of his skin. I felt Steve tremble, then he glanced down at my hand, smiling, before locking eyes with me again and pulling me in closer, placing his hand on my shoulder as he leaned in even closer, our mouths now just inches apart.
I eased myself closer to him, as I moved my hand to his back and traced my fingers slowly up his body, his bare skin hot to my touch. I watched as Steve tilted his head and squinted his eyes. I knew what came next; something I had always wanted but had never dared hope for.
Steve slid his hand up my back to the base of my neck, and then he used that hand to pull me in closer. I closed my eyes as I felt his lips brush mine, and heard myself sigh as I felt his tongue gently touch my lips.
I felt Steve's muscles tense as he pulled me into a tight embrace as our tongues met and our kiss deepened. I could feel Steve's muscles tense, I could even feel his heartbeat, as I drank in the taste, feel, and smell of him. The subtle scent of Dial soap and Old Spice filled my nostrils, and the room itself seemed to take on a golden glow. I was in heaven, wondering whether it was all a dream.
Steve pulled beck, breaking the kiss, and locked eye with me again as he slowly broke into a grin.
Steve ran his fingers through my hair while I ran my hand over his back and down his side. Steve trembled, laughing. "Chris, that feels so good. I sure wish the circumstances were different, but you said that about me? Oh, man, I'm so happy that we both feel the same way!"
If Steve thought he was happy, he should have felt what I was feeling... Steve felt the same about me. In seconds, the worst day of my life had turned into the best.
Steve eased back, his face clouding. "Chris, as happy as I am right now, this stuff can wait. We need to get this guy who is blackmailing you so we can get your money back! OK, so, it must have happened in the locker room, and the only time you have been there with me is for swim meets. OK, that narrows it down, but just tell me, who?" Steve asked, his eyes locked on mine.
I knew Steve adored his little brother, so I was very reluctant to divulge this last bit of the puzzle. But, I couldn't lie to him, not now. "Uh, no, dude. It wasn't in the locker room. I was sitting right here when it happened," I said.
Steve turned white and yelled, "You mean he was here, in my house?" I nodded, and Steve started to ask me again who it was, when suddenly his face froze, and I could tell his mind was elsewhere for a moment. Steve slowly sat back against his door, and then he looked straight up and stared at the ceiling for a moment. Steve asked, his voice a strange whisper, "I think I finally get it... Everything... it all fits... Eric, right?"
I nodded, sadly. "That's the other reason I couldn't say anything. I know how fond you are of him..."
I was startled by the sound of Steve's fist pounding the wall beside him. Steve had a bemused and angry look on his face and yelled, "Fond of him? Oh, shit! Dude, he and I never got along. He's been a total asshole since he was five! I've tried to get through to him, but its never worked. Mom and Dad have tried too, even dragging him to counseling, but he just gets worse. He's even been locked up in juvenile hall a few times."
I felt my confusion return with a vengeance. This made no sense, because I'd seen Steve on many occasions acting as if he adored Eric. So, I asked, "But, all the stuff you are always doing for him; doing his homework, buying him stuff, driving him around, letting him wear your letterman's jacket, hell, I've even seen you give him money when I know you wanted it for other stuff..." My voice trailed off.
Steve gave me a weird look, arching an eyebrow at me, and it was my turn to have a realization. I looked back at Steve and asked, "You, too, huh? How much is he into you for? And how did he find out?"
Steve sighed. "No fixed rate, just whatever he wanted, and whatever he thought he could squeeze me for. He's been making my life hell for months. Probably over two grand, and a fucking hell of a lot of time and work! He found out I was gay last year, when I came out to my parents. Eric likes to eavesdrop and he must have been listening. Later that night he came into my room and made a few smart-ass remarks, and so I knew that he knew. I didn't care until you showed up. I was getting ready to come out to you, but then Eric told me I had better be careful that you don't find out. I was already nervous by then, so I fell for it and asked him why. He told me he had overheard you on the phone a few days before saying you thought fags were scum, and how much you hated them. That freaked me out, and then over the next few days Eric started asking for this and that, small stuff at first, hinting that he would tell you about me if he didn't get what he wanted. He just slowly built into it and soon was into me for money and a lot of stuff. I guess I just never put the name 'blackmail' to it, or I'd have figured this out a lot faster."
We sat in silence for a few moments, as I looked around the room, its warm oak paneling seeming brighter than it ever had before. I had always felt at home here; but now it felt different, better in a way I had never imagined now that the fears and secrets no longer stood between us.
I glanced over to Steve as he met my eyes, and then shook his head sadly. "I don't know why the hell I ever believed him. He's always been a great liar, and I know it, but he just seemed so convincing because he was laughing about it and acting like he always does when he thinks he has something to hold over my head. But, he played me and I totally believed him. This wouldn't be so pathetic if it was the first time he'd run a con on me." Steve shook his head, blushing a little as he said, "Damn, he sure got us both, didn't he?"
I chuckled, nodding in agreement, and then Steve looked at me and asked, "So, where are we at Chris?"
"You mean about Eric?" I asked.
"No, about us. If we both feel the same way about each other, does that mean we are together now?" Steve asked, with a hopeful look on his face.
Hearing that made me happier than I could ever remember being, and I gave him the only answer possible: "I've never wanted anything so much in my life. If you want to be, I sure do!"
Steve grinned, his smile matching my own.
We were sitting side by side, and we leaned in towards each other, as I placed my hand on his. I closed my eyes, parted my lips, as I felt his face close in on mine. We came together, earnestly, eagerly, tenderly... our noses ramming hard into each other, each of us jumping back, startled by the unexpected pain.
We stared at each other for a second, rubbing our noses, before we both cracked up.
"Owww... I think we need to try that again..." Steve chuckled, still rubbing his nose.
I laughed, "I think we just need some practice. Lots and lots of study time," I said, staring into his eyes.
Steve stood up, reaching down to help me to my feet. I stood up, my eyes never leaving his, as he released my hand and stood in front of me. I saw Steve's gaze move to my chest and we both looked at my T-shirt, which was a mess in front from my tears. Steve looked me in the eye, serious at first, then the corner of his mouth turning up in a sly smile, as he told me "There is something I've wanted to do for a very long time..."
"What?" I asked.
Steve just smiled, squinting his eyes a little, as I felt him lean in, take hold of the hem of my shirt, and slowly pull it up. I raised my arms as Steve finished pulling my shirt off and tossed it on the floor.
I moved in closer to him, shuddering from the sensation as our bare chests touched. I put my arms around him, as we kissed again, lightly, hesitantly. I felt Steve's hand roaming on my back and the feeling was electric, raising Goosebumps on my skin. I hugged him tighter, closed my eyes, and ran my fingers through his hair as our tongues met and our kiss deepened. I felt his hair fall across my face, and opened my eyes to see his golden blond hair. I never knew that anything could feel so perfect.
Steve ran his hands down my sides, making me tremble, as I let my own fingers trace circles on his shoulders, feeling the hard muscle beneath his tan skin. I kissed him harder as his hands traced circles on my lower back, and I ran my fingers softly down his sides, feeling him tremble at my touch.
Reluctantly, I lowered my hands to his hips and backed away so that I could catch my breath. I looked into Steve's eyes as he smiled, but only for a moment, before he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in for an even deeper kiss.
I was in heaven, and never wanted it to end, but I broke the kiss, gasping for air, my head spinning, and promising myself that I'd remember to breathe the next time I kissed Steve. I leaned back a little, by hands clasped behind his neck, staring into his eyes for a while, until he glanced down at my chest and I felt his fingers tracing slowly down my pecs, until I gasped as he grazed my nipples.
Steve chuckled. "Like that, huh? Let's see how much," he said, as he traced circles on my nipples with his fingers, an impish grin lighting up his face. I felt myself shudder again, and let my hands roam over his back and sides, feeling his muscles through his hot skin. The flood of feelings, sensations, and emotions was exquisite. I threw my head back, a groan of pleasure escaping from my lips. I looked back at Steve, his smile, his blue eyes, and his golden hair backlit by the window. Something that I thought could never be had happened. He was perfect, and he was mine.
We hugged again, and the feel of his bare chest on mine was incredible. I never wanted the moment to end.
We kissed again, deeply, and when we came up for air, Steve said, "I've wanted to do this for so long."
"I've wanted to since the first second I met you" I replied, and then we kissed again, even deeper, as I let my hands roam over Steve's bare back. I was in heaven.