“Okay,” Matt Barber said, from the passenger seat of his new Mitsubishi Eclipse. “Go to the end of the row, hang a right.”
We were in the empty student parking lot at Las Palomas High School on a Saturday afternoon.
Matt Barber had taken it upon himself to teach me how to drive.
September of 2003, beginning of our junior year.
Matt had been gone for the bulk of the summer. Camp counselor at a Mormon summer camp in Big Bear. Ninety minutes away, but might as well have been on a different planet.
I was out of my mind without him.
But when he came back to me, it was like no time had passed.
At least, between us: physically, Matt had become a grown-up in a very short period of time.
Tanned and taller, face narrower, shoulders broader— “Swimming in the lake every morning,” he had told me, swaggering smile. He thought of himself as a swimmer now--had spent the whole week trying out for the JV swim team, found out the day before he hadn’t made the cut.
His hair had gotten shaggy, blonder. Hadn’t been cut since June, as he kept his frontier spirit alive for just a little bit longer.
Before accepting the inevitable return of the clean-cut Mormon kid in a Hollister polo.
And he was attempting a beard.
Attempting, operative word. After a full summer, it was still a morse code of blond stubble, stretched across his chin and cheeks, making him look vaguely homeless.
It was also the semester he experimented with green contacts, which made him look vaguely possessed.
Green contacts, later thrown to history after a second eye infection. Not the first.
Matt Barber: a true believer in the supremacy of willpower over biology.
He had never looked more handsome. To me.
“Blinker,” he commanded, and without waiting for me, he leaned over to turn it on.
Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch.
The smell lingered on my nostrils, the smell I always thought of when I thought of Matt Barber.
“We’re in an empty parking lot.”
“You’ve got to practice as if we’re on the road, dude,” he said. “That’s what my dad always said when I was learning. Hang another right at the tree.”
There was something empowering about this.
My foot on the pedal of the Eclipse.
I pressed, and it moved.
I braked, and it stopped.
Godlike in its magic.
Matt was smiling. “There you go. Quick study.”
“Oh, I’m very smart.”
“I know it.”
“How much longer do we have to go around in circles?”
“Until you’re ready.”
“No, but really.”
“Well, it’s four miles back to my house,” he said, “but you’re going to have to take Nason--forty mile per hour speed limit. Think you can handle it?”
“You know it. Pick up Los Hermanos on the way?”
“Took the words right out of my mouth,” he said, flipping open his cell phone. Speed dial five, after Mom Cell, Dad Cell, Home, and me. “California burrito, no sour cream?”
“Okay. Turn right at the light.”
“I know how to get to your house.”
“I will pull this car over right now, young man!”
Most days, we wound up at Los Hermanos, ever since Matt got his drivers’ license--dingy and delicious, tucked away in a nice shopping center about a mile down the road from Las Palomas.
I parked in an empty patch in the middle of the parking lot, pulled crookedly into the block of spaces.
“Giving me a workout, dude?” he asked.
Matt smiled. Slammed the door, jogged over to Los Hermanos, and came back out thirty seconds later with our phone order.
“They still recognized you, even though you look like Bigfoot?”
Matt Barber smiled, stroked his wispy, would-be beard. “Lucy Tang told me in fifth period that the beard was cute.”
A habit Matt had picked up, along with his alleged beard: wanting to talk about girls.
Obviously, I didn’t see the appeal.
There was never a moment where I made a private declaration to myself. I just was.
You don’t look in the mirror and one day admit to yourself that you have blue eyes. They’d always been blue, you always knew they were blue.
“Yeah, she’s lying because she wants to get in your pants,” I told him. “For either weed or dick, I haven’t been able to tell yet.”
Part of me died every time he talked about girls.
Because he was what I thought about.
Thought of his face, his body. Imagined what it would be like to kiss him, to hold him, to preserve him and me and us for the rest of time.
I could never say that to him.
“Maybe both,” he agreed, reaching down to turn on the CD player. Ocean Avenue, by Yellowcard. “I’m thinking of asking her to homecoming. Her or Jenna Hicks.”
“I thought you were all about Becca Alvarez.”
“Well, yeah, but only until I found out Jenna and Lucy were both into me,” he replied, dismissively. “They’re solid eights. But I don’t know: Lucy’s just a little bit crazy, which you know I love, but Jenna’s LDS.”
“The opposite of crazy.”
“Well, yeah, but she drinks too.”
“No she doesn’t,” I told him. “Remember the bonfire? She was literally holding a full beer the whole night. You were talking with her for like an hour and she didn’t take a single sip.”
“Only you would notice the rate of a girl’s sippage when she’s flirting.”
Did he know.
No. He didn’t know.
I cracked a smile.
“Just looking out for you, dude.”
Matt was still lost in his own decision-making. “So, like, I’d rather date Jenna long-term. But for homecoming, I think Lucy may be more…” He could barely contain a giddy, teenage smile. “...fun. Eyes on the road, not on me.”
I looked back out to the endless desert highway, the asphalt carpet stretched out far ahead of us.
“Fun meaning sex?”
I didn’t want to think about Matt Barber having sex. With a girl.
I thought about him having sex constantly.
“Of course fun meaning sex, dude,” he replied, leaning back in his seat. “Vivamus, moriendum est. The real question is, who are we going to get for you? Lena Taylor?”
“Ugh, not Lena.”
“What’s wrong with Lena? You like blondes.”
“She always, like, hangs on me.”
“Yeah, dude, that’s exactly why you should ask her to homecoming.” As if her unwanted physical attention should have been an obvious benefit. “She’s obviously into you.”
“She just wants free weed.”
“Dude, welcome to being an adult,” said Matt. “Money talks. How do you think those nothing guys wind up with freaking movie stars?”
“I'm sorry, did you just call me a ‘nothing guy’?”
“You’re a slab of Grecian marble,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Better looking than I am, anyway. Happy?”
“Maybe if I didn’t think you were full of shit.”
Matt smirked. “Turn left at the light.” He opened the glove box. Slammed it shut. Opened it again, slammed it shut. One, two, three times.
He did. “Maybe I’ll have to judge Lucy and Jenna at the party tonight. Throw a pageant.”
“Oh, just ask Jenna,” I told him. “If you like her. Don’t go with Lucy just because you think she’s easier.”
I was pretty confident this was sound advice, even if it was self-serving.
That was critical. I wouldn’t try to screw my best friend over.
“Ugh,” he said. “Maybe. Am I too nice?”
“Nicest drug dealer I know.”
“And you know quite a few, so I’ll take the compliment,” he replied. “Though I’m not so much a drug dealer, as I am the publicist for a small pharmaceutical sales firm.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
“Oh, I sleep like a baby,” he said, “cuddled up with all my money. Get into the middle lane, this one’s about to become turn-only.” He was looking at his phone. “Okay, text from Clara: wants to know if you brought enough weed for the party tonight.”
Clara was Matt’s older sister, a senior. Officially responsible for him this weekend, while their parents were at a wedding in Provo and their three younger siblings, Brig, Josh, and Madelyn, were staying at a neighbor’s.
Obviously, Clara and Matt couldn’t pass up the opportunity presented by absent parents.
“I’ve got you taken care of. She doesn’t know you sell it, does she?”
“No,” he replied. “I may have led her to believe it’s something you do independently.”
“Thanks for the support, dude.”
“Don’t mention it, dude.”
By nine-thirty, romance was already in the air.
Jenna Hicks winning by virtue of showing up at the party first.
She and Matt had decamped to the backyard. I tried not to watch through the window, but I did. The two of them: cemented to a lounge chair out by the Barbers’ pool, hands just beginning a tentative wander all over each other.
On his cheeks, on his nascent stubble. On her bare legs, her arms.
Laughing. Jenna leaning in just close enough to smell his Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch.
I pretended like I was talking to Tucker, Harry, and Hiroshi, but I was watching Matt.
When Lucy Tang did arrive, around ten, she was huffy.
I ran into her in the kitchen. She was dressed to the nines, clearly ready to make a move on a man that had only recently become unavailable--tight jean skirt and low-cut shirt, hair curled and dyed with ashy blonde streaks that she didn’t have in third period yesterday.
“I mean, Jenna Hicks,” she fumed to me, without greeting, as if I were an old friend.
I wasn’t. The only thing I knew about Lucy Tang was that, in the East Building boys’ bathroom, someone had scrawled, “Lucy Tang’s a kick in a glass,” in sharpie on the mirror above the middle sink.
And that, as Matt had told me seconds before he pounced on Jenna, that she was really more of a seven-point-nine.
No contest for Jenna Hicks’s solid eight.
I could tell Lucy was slightly drunk too.
“Mormons,” I told her, with a shrug. “They stick together.”
She didn’t seem too comforted by that story.
“Honestly, he was torn between the two of you,” I told her, as she shook her head and cracked open another can of Tecate. “He just started talking to Jenna, and one thing led to another. But there’s like fifty people at this party, you know? So many other people. Just because you can’t have Matt doesn’t mean there’s not some other guy who can make you happy. You’ll find him.”
Lucy smiled. “I think you’re talking a little bit about yourself.”
My heart dropped.
A sudden surge of panic.
I glanced around as if there was going to be an outward sign of the apocalypse.
“I think you like Jenna too,” she finished, before I had a chance to stutter my denials on Matt. “You were looking at them through the window with the same expression I had.”
Well. That was less incriminating. Yes.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my friendship with Matt,” I replied. Cryptically. “He’s my best friend.”
Lucy pursed her lips, then took a sip of Tecate. “If he was really torn between me and Jenna, he’d probably go crazy if he saw me with some other guy, right? See what he was missing, while he’s feeling up Little Miss Boring.”
I didn’t have time to adjudicate that statement; without warning, Lucy leaned in and kissed me.
My first kiss.
Not exactly rom-com caliber.
Her lips tasted cloying, chemical. Strawberry lip gloss.
People were staring at us. Acceptingly, not that it mattered.
“I’ve been waiting for you to do that for a very long time,” she said, loudly.
And before I could muster a response, she put on a seductive smile, grabbed my hand and led me out of the kitchen and into the Barbers’ downstairs bathroom.
She locked the door behind us.
I was cornered prey. At the mercy of a horny straight lioness.
“Maybe leave that open.”
Lucy wasn’t paying any attention. Studying herself in the mirror. Reached into her purse to apply more lip gloss.
“God, Kevin, don’t you know anything about flirting?” she asked, as she ran a goopy index finger along her bottom lip. “They only want you when they think they lost you. Now everyone’s going to be talking about you and me, and it’s going to drive Matt crazy.”
I sat down on the edge of the bathtub. “I don’t think that’s going to work.”
“Trust me,” she said. “You and I both ooze sex appeal. Everyone thinks so.”
I couldn’t tell if Lucy Tang was bullshitting. “Really?”
“Right about now, Matt’s probably in a coma from one of Jenna’s stories about yarn,” she continued. “He’s thinking, ‘Shit, maybe I made a mistake.’ And then he sees me, looking all hot, sucking his best friend’s face, and he thinks, ‘Oh, God, now I’ve lost her for good.’ And then he comes up to me, all slick, all, ‘So, you and Kevin, huh?’ and makes it very clear that he’s still interested because now he thinks he can’t have me. But he can so I flirt back and we have a few more beers and I take him up to his room, and Jenna sits there all sad and vulnerable and desperate, and that’s when you sweep up the mess.”
Lucy painted quite the picture.
Knowing Matt, it wasn’t something I didn’t see happening.
“I think you might be a sociopath.”
She fluffled her blonde hair, curls beginning to grow a little limp. “How do you think I got invited to three different proms last year, as a sophomore? Valley View, Canyon Springs, and Las Palomas.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
“You’re helping Matt discover his true feelings,” she replied. She had given up on her curls, was surveying her eyelashes. “That he doesn’t know he has. Isn’t that what a friend should want for another friend?”
“I don’t like lying.”
“It’s not lying,” she said. “It’s just two people making out and letting someone else draw their own conclusions. Close your eyes and pretend I’m Jenna.”
Exitus acta probat.
“Take off your lip gloss.”
She grabbed one of Mrs. Barber’s embroidered for-show towels. “Done.”
It was amazing how Lucy Tang could turn it on and off.
She really was a sociopath.
A teenage girl.
Macking against the picture window in the living room--a room strictly forbidden to party guests, by order of Clara Barber, but in full view of the backyard.
Better without the lip gloss.
Lucy was about a foot shorter than Matt and me, diminutive and breakable, but when I closed my eyes, she was right: the lips weren’t hers, but Matt’s.
“I’ve waited so long for this,” he said, wrapping his arms around my neck.
I put my hands on the small of his back. I pulled him in closer. Locked us together.
Bodies pressed against each other. Against the window.
Lips, on lips. Anyone’s lips. Matt’s lips. Mine.
And I could feel his hand running through my hair, could almost smell the Fierce on his neck, his shoulders.
And then: separation. A hand coming to my chest, pushing me off just slightly, backing off the kiss.
Lucy’s voice: “Shit. You’re a good kisser.”
I opened my eyes.
“Thanks,” I said.
“Well, Jenna and Matt just went back inside,” she whispered. “But they saw us through the window.” So now I have to accidentally run into Matt, and you have to accidentally run into Jenna. But first…” She holds up her purse, mouths, “Lip gloss.”
I took advantage of Lucy’s departure to beeline to the family room, back to the party, back to Harry, Tucker and Hiroshi, who had commandeered the corner of the sectional.
“Dude,” said Harry, giving me a fist pump but otherwise not moving from his perch on the couch. “Get some.”
I didn’t hate the celebrity. The praise that came with a girl like Lucy Tang.
Whether she was a seven-point-nine or an eight.
Matt Barber was coming down the stairs, Jenna behind him. Newly shaved: evidently, Jenna Hicks didn’t find his beard as charming as Lucy did.
And he spotted me, cut directly through the crowd towards me.
“So, you and Lucy, huh?”
He was smiling. I returned the favor.
“In vino veritas.”
Jenna might have said she didn’t like the way his beard scratched her chin when they kissed.
He looked better clean-shaven, objectively, but I wouldn’t have complained. I’d have taken Matt Barber however he came.
“Lucy’s a solid seven,” he continued, cracking open another Tecate. “The second I saw she was a blonde now, I knew you couldn’t help yourself.”
“You just know everything about me, don’t you.”
Matt nodded. “Better than you know yourself, dude.”
“Kevin and blondes,” said Tucker, shaking his head. “Really, any blonde. Could be Senora Lichtman, for all he cares.”
“Senora Lichtman’s hair is definitely a wig,” said Hiroshi. “Without a doubt.”
“Do blondes really have more fun, Kevin?” Harry asked me, with a smirk.
I didn’t, exactly, know how my alleged blonde fetish took hold in popular imagination. I had made maybe one discrete remark about blondes, but hair color wasn’t at all something I cared about.
I wanted Matt Barber, but it wasn’t because he was blond. I had seen my life before he walked into it.
“Has to be the right blond.”
Matt turned to Jenna, kissed her on the cheek. His own blonde. “Absolutely.”
Matt lay on top of his bed, fully dressed, holding his head, and looking up at the ceiling fan. Watching it spin.
“Dude, I think I’m drunk.”
Matt gave a drunken giggle. “Sorry Tucker passed out in the den. Are you sure you don’t want the other couch?”
Every bedroom had been occupied by Clara’s friends. I was supposed to have the den. Tucker and Hiroshi were supposed to split the family room couches, but Tucker had other ideas.
“It’s a loveseat,” I told him. “And Hiroshi snores.”
Which it was, and which he did.
But really, I didn’t want to pass up the chance to sleep next to Matt.
Which I knew was more than a little creepy, and more than a little sad, but I was drunk I never knew when I’d get this chance again.
Even though I slept over at the Barbers several times a month, it always in the den, always on the pullout. Lynn Barber was strict.
I think they took pity on me. Lynn and Van Barber. Didn’t know the whole story, but knew enough to let me stay whenever Matt asked.
They were good people. Lived together, worked together; realtors.
Finished each other’s sentences. He took out the garbage, she washed the dishes, all without asking. He’d tease her, she’d get him right back.
He kissed her goodbye when he ran down the street to Sav-On, she’d tell him to hurry home.
I wondered if they’d be nasty drunks.
To each other. To their kids.
They, of course, didn’t drink. Mormons.
“You don’t know I don’t mind you bunking with me, dude.”
I went into Matt’s bathroom, the one shared between his room and Josh and Brig’s room, and closed the door behind me. “It’s colossally unfair,” he had told me, the first time I came over, “that Madelyn and Clara both get their own bathrooms, but the three of us have to share one.”
As if I were expected to agree.
I brushed my teeth, and then I saw a red speedo drying on the back of the doorknob, the one he had used all week for tryouts.
I hadn’t actually seen him in it.
I assumed I wouldn’t. That it’d soon join his guitar, drum set, tennis racket, golf clubs, and rock collection in the Museum of Matt’s Forgotten Hobbies that his parents kept in the garage.
I spit in the sink.
And took the speedo off the doorknob. Still slightly damp. I could smell the chlorine, just from holding it, and spread it out on the tile counter.
I imagined that ass.
I imagined that bulge.
Those thighs, the faint V down his stomach.
Thought about Lucy’s lips, how they felt like Matt’s lips. How I would hold him in my arms and kiss him and not close my eyes, because I wanted to remember every inch of how he looked.
And, just like that, I was getting hard.
I was big enough where my dick was noticeable any level of hardness, but I was more than a little hard. I was tenting my shorts, dick creeping out past the elastic of my boxer-briefs.
But I kept looking at the speedo. Touched the wet crotch a little, imagined it was Matt Barber’s bulge, ready, expecting me.
I closed my eyes, pulled down my shorts and underwear; my dick sprang out in front of me, full mast, all nine inches. I grabbed it with my fist and, standing over Matt Barber’s wet speedo, slowly began to jerk my dick.
A knock on the door. “Dude, hurry up, I want to go to bed.”
Knocked out of my fantasy.
“Jeez, Dad,” I told him, and I turned on the sink, closed my eyes, thought about the most unsexy things I could think about until I had deflated to acceptable levels.
I pulled up my underwear, pulled up my shorts, and balanced the speedo back on the doorknob.
“Nice speedo, dude,” I told him, as I brushed past him.
“Being a dick won’t make yours any bigger,” he replied, with a smile, moving into the bathroom.
I could imagine.
I felt my dick getting hard again, just as the bathroom door closed.
But I wasn’t going to take any chances; I threw back the covers, climbed under the bed, and tried to think of anything but Matt’s body until he came back out.
And I saw him.
Wearing only a pair of gray boxer-briefs.
Clinging tightly to his legs, ass, thighs.
I felt myself getting hard again. Rock hard, straining the fabric of my underwear.
I just lay there in fear. Waited helplessly. As Matt casually turned the lights off, and went around to his side of the bed.
And there we were. Together. Both in only our underwear.
Side by side, in the dim light from the window.
As minutes trickled by.
After the next.
“I can’t believe you didn’t get any from Lucy tonight,” Matt said, finally. “You know she was game.”
I didn’t know what to say. They only want you when they think they lost you?
There was zero evidence that Matt Barber was gay.
And plenty of evidence that he wasn’t.
Still. My heart was pounding.
Next to him.
Talking about sex.
“Well, you know,” I said, vaguely.
“Jenna definitely wouldn’t,” he continued. “Maybe after a few months, but definitely wouldn’t have gone any further than kissing tonight. Do you think I made the right choice? Her and Lucy?”
I didn’t say anything.
“Well,” he said. “Silly question. Considering you’re with Lucy.”
“I’m not with Lucy,” I told him. “She kissed me because she wanted to make you jealous.”
“Well. You kissed her back though.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
A soft exhale from Matt. “Is she a good kisser?”
I hadn’t really kissed Lucy Tang. Not really.
I had kissed Matt Barber. At least in my head.
“Damn, dude,” he said. He rustled a bit. “I wish I had jacked off in the bathroom.”
“It’s still there.”
The thought of Matt Barber in the bathroom. Jacking off, five feet away from me. Even behind a door.
I had never been so incredibly hard, barely contained in the fabric, so hard it throbbed.
“I can’t really do it when I’m,” he added, “standing.”
My heart was pounding again.
Talking about it. Like this.
I exhaled. “What--you want me to go? Wait in the bathroom?”
“No,” he said. “That’s stupid.”
“I’ll go,” I told him. “Want me to go?” And I wasn’t sure how far to take this. But I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t. “Or are you just whipping it out?”
I felt drugged, almost. Cocaine or speed. Chaos in my mind, in my heart, in my crotch.
Matt’s answer took forever: “I’m not whipping it out.”
Matt Barber giggled, and he pulled back the covers.
His bulge. Hard bulge. Silhouetted against moonlight.
And fuck, how badly I wanted to reach over, to touch it.
But I didn’t. I theatrically averted my eyes, even as I kept Matt in my periphery.
Under my side of the covers, my dick had grown impossibly hard. And it was taking everything I had not to pull down my boxers, to start jacking my own dick.
There was a rustle. And Matt's shorts came down. His dick, hard, maybe seven inches, maybe more. Standing at attention.
I wasn't sure what to do. Not stare. I knew that much.
But what the hell.
I pulled back my side of the covers. Pulled down my shorts.
My dick, also silhouetted against the moonlight. Also rock hard. Also ready.
"Dude," Matt said, "where you been hiding that thing?"
I smiled at him. "You looking, dude?"
Matt looked back up at the ceiling. "Nope."
I spit into my hand.
And I tried not to look at Matt. Just tried to listen to him. To his slopping strokes.
Matt. Naked. Hard. Jacking off, two feet away,.
I started jacking my dick. Slowly. Quietly.
All I needed was Matt in my mind, in my periphery: his body, his face, his dick, standing up at attention.
I tried to listen to him. The wet slopping motion, his hand on his dick.
And I tried to match his rhythm the best I could. Stroking together.
Like we did everything together.
Everything except this, until now.
I imagined my hand was his hand.
Or his mouth.
Or his ass.
And how good he’d feel--how good I would feel. Enveloped in Matt Barber.
My best friend. The man who was never out of my head. The first thing I thought about when I woke up, the last thing I thought about before I went to bed.
It took every ounce of strength I had not to turn over, to grab his dick, to kiss him, to tell him I loved him.
But of course I wouldn’t do that sort of thing.
I continued to jack. Matt continued to jack. Same rhythm, carnal metronome.
Kept going like this, together, apart, until I heard Matt let out a sharp, quiet grunt.
And knowing he had… I felt my dick hit the point of no return. I bit my lip. The eruption.
Watched strand after strand of hot jizz land on my stomach.
And suddenly. I felt like I was in a dream, everything helter skelter.
Matt settled back into the mattress. Drunk.
Had I just jacked off with my best friend?
My heart was still racing. The orgasm hadn’t quieted my riotousness.
All I wanted to say was…
I had nothing to say, there was nothing to say.
I didn’t want to move, I couldn’t move, I wouldn’t move.
Instead, Matt hoisted the covers back over both of us. And we lay there, still, for a very long time.
Until I heard the soft breathing of Matt Barber, asleep.
A thud. A book slamming against our bedroom door.
A heavy book.
I could always tell if she threw a paperback or a hardcover.
I looked down at my trumpet, my dad’s trumpet.
Practicing my finger exercises. I didn’t want to make any noise. Not at a time like this.
“And you use the kids as pawns! You’ve already turned Kevin against his own mother, and I won’t let you do that with Nicky too.”
“They spend the whole fucking day with you--you ever think they just fucking hate you because you’re fucking nuts?”
“Then why’d you fucking marry me?”
“Because I was a kid who made the mistake of knocking up some dumb drunk slut.”
Nicky took my headphones off his ears. “This is Dad’s CD. Why’d you want me to listen to it?”
“Because it’s really good,” I told him, glancing back to the door. “Put them back on and listen, will you? You’ll see.”
Nicky turned the CD case over in his hands.
“I know they’re fighting,” Nicky told me, finally. “You think I don’t know, but I’m seven, and I know. And I’ve already heard Garth Brooks.”
“Put the fucking headphones on your fucking ears, Nicky!”
And Nicky did what I said. Nicky always did what I said.
At times like these. Back in those days.
“Then just leave!” she shrieked. “If you feel so trapped, then let the fucking door hit you in the fucking ass on your way out--the three of us don’t need you. And we never did.”
“Oh yeah. Leave the kids with some duplicitous drunk who--”
“I haven’t had a drink in six months, Mike, and you know that.”
“Only a matter of time. It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
Very heavy. The whole door shook.
And then, silence.
I looked at Nicky, who was suddenly interested in reading the back of the Garth Brooks CD.
I slowly got out of bed. And walked across the room.
And opened the door; my father, standing in front of the door, spun around.
There was a scratch on his cheek, blood just beginning to trickle.
Mom was crouched down on the floor in front of him. Cradling my fourth-grade textbook on Kansas history, which had been split in two down the spine when it had hit the door jamb.
The little apartment near Fort Leavenworth.
I still remembered too much about Kansas:
Border ruffians, free staters. Popular sovereignty.
Bleeding Mike Malley.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, either to me or my dad, to herself.
My mom had a vicious temper when she drank.
My dad had a vicious temper when she drank.
And how many moments, how many little explosions, had I witnessed.
“We can tape it back together,” he said, either to me or her. His face showed anger, bright red, but it was draining now. “It’ll hold through the end of the semester.”
He turned to go into the kitchen.
“I’m so sorry,” she said again, this time directly to me, and tears were falling from her eyes.
I turned away from her, followed my dad into the kitchen.
“We’ll fix the book,” I assured him, when I caught up. “You’re the best at fixing things.”
“You know it, bug,” he said, with a smile. “Nothing I can’t fix.” He paused. "Everything's going to be okay."
I didn't say anything. I didn't know what to say.
"I promise," he added. "Because I'm looking you right in the eye when I say it. You can always tell from the eyes."
Do you really feel trapped?
Do you really want to leave?
What happens to all of us if you leave?
I did not ask those questions. Because I didn’t want to know the answers.
Six years later, when he did leave, I still didn’t want to know the answers.
“It’s for you,” says Ross Garabedian, holding out the phone receiver. “Someone named J.D.?”
I don’t know any J.D.
Ross is suddenly intrigued that I don't know who's on the phone. Stands next to me at his desk while I touch the receiver to my ear, anticipatory smile on his face.
“This is Kevin.”
“Hey, it’s Duncan.”
I hold the receiver closer to my face, in case Ross Garabedian could hear anything.
He’s certainly trying to listen.
“Hey, you,” I say. “J.D.?”
“John Duncan,” Duncan says. “No, you cannot call me J.D. Don’t even ask.”
“Shucks, was just going to.”
“Your roommate picked up and I kind of panicked.” He pauses. “I’m sorry for not calling over the weekend. I was working.”
It’s Wednesday evening. I haven’t seen him since Saturday, at Le Manifeste when he picked up his keys from Sébastien.
When I kissed him on the street, his body against mine.
“It’s okay,” I tell him. “I’m glad you called now.”
“Yeah,” he says. “Well, I don’t have to work again until Friday, and I was thinking I owe you a drink for my rudeness. If you wanted to come by.”
And I can see Duncan’s face, his stoic smile, his pale eyes.
“What’s your address?”
“17 Boulevard Haussmann,” he says. “Apartment 8. Across the street from the Ambassador Hotel.”
“Enjoy your booty call,” Ross calls after me, settling back into his bed with his marketing textbook, as I leave.
I walk. Quickly. Ten minutes to Duncan’s apartment.
Duncan and Sébastien’s apartment.
Round the steep marble stairs, fourth floor.
Duncan lets me in. Brown cocktail in his hand. Black soccer shorts and a gray t-shirt with a green lion head sketched on it.
I take a moment to fully appreciate him.
His thighs. His ass. His arms, shoulders. Lean and toned.
“I’m glad you came,” he tells me. He leans in for what I thought was going to be a full kiss, but he instead goes for my cheek, that French way. “Do you want a drink?”
“Sure. Whatever you’re having.”
He nods, turns his back to me, heads over to the bar cart next to the fireplace.
I follow him.
And go for it: stand closely behind him, one hand on his hip, my chin resting on his shoulder.
Duncan doesn’t protest. He turns his neck, slightly, to smile at me, as he gets to work: pouring a shot of gin, vermouth, and campari over ice in a cocktail shaker.
“Always stir a cocktail when it’s mostly alcohol,” he tells me, picking up a spoon. “That’s the trick. Three years of dating a bartender.”
I kiss his neck. He again doesn’t protest.
“It looks delicious.”
“I’m no Sébastien, but I’m no slouch.”
Duncan picks up an orange, already missing half its skin, and peels another strip away.
“You’re so classy, look at this,” I whisper in his ear, as he rubs it along the rim of the glass.
“Your usual harem doesn’t mix you negronis?”
“My ex-boyfriend’s family owned a vineyard,” I tell him, “and he still drank screwdrivers.”
Duncan smiles a bit at that. “Glad I can use my advanced age for good, not evil.” He hands me the drink. “One negroni. This is good--I don’t like drinking alone.”
“So that’s your first?” I ask, with a smile.
Duncan rolls his eyes, takes a good-natured sip. “I said I don’t like to, not that I don’t.”
We sit down on the couch. Next to each other.
Not like last time, when Duncan sat in the chair across from me.
Now: our knees touching, ever so slightly.
The drink is delicious. Maybe a little bitter, a little sweet.
From the couch, I can see the bar cart. Two shelves underneath, each packed tightly with glassware. Wine glasses and water glasses and high ball glasses. Crystal decanters and liquor bottles on the top, a silver ice bucket.
And suddenly, I think about how I could walk over, and pull the whole thing to the ground.
Awash the world in glass fragments. Chaos.
Fuck. Not now.
It’s illogical. You would never do something like that. You’ve never done something like that.
This is not your thought.
Bleeding Mike Malley.
Get out, get out, get out.
Duncan is talking. Still.
I can’t look at the bar cart. I look at the fireplace. I look at the French doors.
I look at Duncan Rinehart. His face. His eyes. His pale green eyes. That I can get lost in.
Bar cart, bar cart, bar cart.
Not that I want to do this: I reach into my pocket, fish out my hand sanitizer. Squeeze a bit on my hands.
Swim back to the surface. Just like that.
Duncan abruptly stops talking. Smiles. “Promise it’s a clean glass.”
“It’s not that.”
He waits for me to say what it is, then. But I’m not doing that.
Obviously, I’m not. Not to a doctor.
Obsessive-compulsive is charming in the abstract, in the shorthand. Not to a doctor.
“Just feeling grimy,” I tell him, with a relaxed shrug. “How was dinner? With your mom?”
“Oh, same old,” he replies, leaning back into the sofa. “‘Duncan, pourquoi tu sors avec un barman? Malédiction sur vos deux maisons!’ And so forth.”
I get the gist.
“As one does.”
“As one does,” he agrees. “Maman means well. She didn’t grow up with much, and now she’s pioneering face transplants. But she likes to see promise in people, and I know she doesn’t see any in Sébastien.”
There’s a long pause, which answers my question.
But Duncan attempts with words anyway: “He’s twenty-seven. Dropped out of a master program in international affairs four years ago, been tending bar ever since. So, you know.”
I think of Nick.
Nineteen, not twenty-seven, but is doing far worse than bartending a second-rate bar in Paris.
How disappointed my dad would be to see Nick sputtering.
I think of J.C.
Who would have been sentenced by now, though I had made a point not to Google his name to find out for sure.
I briefly debate telling Duncan this. And I think of Becker, whom I did tell all of this.
Becker. Who doesn’t like to think about mess.
Which I knew, but told anyway.
“My brother’s like that,” I tell Duncan, finally. “Doesn’t know what he wants to do. Sometimes works at a drug store. Sometimes sells drugs.”
“Reckon it’s harder with family,” he says. “Family is permanent.”
“Well, I don’t talk to my mom or brother,” I tell him, finally. Duncan looks surprised, so I add just enough details to give context: “I came out to them in November. And now I don’t talk to them.”
“Oh,” he says. “I’m sorry. Lord. Religious?”
“No. Selfish.” Promise me one thing. “Either they are, or I am. I haven’t figured out which.”
“You’re not selfish,” he says. “I don’t believe that for a second.”
I’ve paid 61 months of rent on the Colton house.
And how many times had I been told that I was selfish anyway?
I want you to have something special.
“It’s hard,” I add. “You know, when you have commitments? And you have to constantly put those first, and your own happiness second?”
“Is it selfish to put your own happiness first, even if it means hurting someone?” he asks. “Or is it selfish to put someone else’s happiness first, knowing you’re just prolonging hurting them?”
“Are you happy?”
He takes a quiet sip of his negroni, then puts it down on the coffee table. On a coaster.
Duncan smile turns coy. Green eyes electrify.
Without warning, he grabs the bottom of my chin, pulls me closer, and kisses me.
Not for long. Just a soft, delicate peck on my lips.
And then he lets go before I have a chance to really reciprocate.
On his face: a thin, regretful smile. “Maybe too selfish, sometimes.”
“Maybe another drink will ease your conscience.”
And Duncan doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t move--not towards me, not away from me.
He stares, suddenly expressionless again, enigmatic. At me.
I don’t know what he wants.
Maybe that’s half the fun.
But I know what I want.
Even if it’s selfish.
I lean in, and I kiss him.
And he doesn’t back away.
He kisses back.
Our lips together, our tongues suddenly wrestling inside each other.
I have my hands on his biceps, he has his hands on my shoulders, and we fall into each other. I fall into him, he falls into me.
And it’s different. With him.
It’s not like what it was with Sébastien or Ben Farber or any of the nameless, faceless Tulane guys from freshman and sophomore year.
It’s temporary, but it doesn’t feel temporary. It feels like Becker, it feels like Matt, it feels like it’s not temporary even though it is.
His hand roams to my dick. “It’s even bigger than I remember,” he whispers, before falling back into the kiss.
And even though we’ve had sex before--even though I’d nailed him while his boyfriend was nailing me--it doesn’t seem like that counted.
It doesn’t seem like there was another moment before, with Duncan Rinehart. With this gorgeous and perennially square thirty-year-old obstetrician, from Paris, by way of Perth, by way of Chicago, by way of the rest of the world.
Who’s dating someone even more gorgeous, but who is unhappy, even if he won’t say it, who knows he’s unhappy because maybe he knows that’s only temporary too.
I kiss him harder. Pull him into me harder.
And Duncan knows what he was doing.
He breaks the kiss. Yanks off my shirt and throws it across the room.
And kisses his way down.
His wet, soft lips, on my collarbone.
On my chest.
Down to my stomach.
Down to the trail of hair heading due south from my bellybutton.
Unbuttons my pants.
Grabs my dick. With so much enthusiasm.
A smile on his face. His green eyes smoldering.
And he’s not tentative. And he’s not shy.
But he still winds up. Like Becker did.
Licks the shaft.
Licks the balls.
Licks the head.
And then, unexpectedly, plunges all the way down like a deep sea dive.
I let out a moan. Too loud.
He gives me as much of a smile as he can muster with a nine inch dick in his mouth.
Up. Down. Frenetic.
Until he stops. And my dick falls from his mouth. And he looks up at me.
“Do you eat ass?”
I gave an invisible shudder. At the idea.
Of sticking my tongue.
“I just used Purell while I was sitting on the couch with you.”
Duncan giggles. “Fair enough.” He grabs my hand. “Let’s go to the bedroom.”
He undresses, gets lube, gets a condom.
I try not to think about Sébastien.
I only try to think about Duncan.
And how he’s unhappy.
Unless he’s with me.
You’re going to wish you lived your entire life like this.
No, I am living my entire life like this.
Duncan, on the bed. On all fours.
“No. I want to see your face when I fuck you.”
Duncan turns his head towards me. Smiles. “Okay.”
I kneel between his spread legs. Grab him underneath both his knees, and hoist his legs onto my shoulders.
“You want to get fucked?”
Duncan’s eyes and mouth, together: “Fuck me.”
I pull on the condom.
Lube up my dick. My finger.
And play with his ass.
Which is clean. Like he was expecting a rimjob.
A bottom moan. Higher than his normal voice.
He wants it. More than anyone has ever wanted it.
Hungry. Unhappy maybe, but happy right now, with me.
And slowly, I slide into him.
He’s tight. God. He’s so fucking tight.
We both moan together.
I lean far into him, folding his body, so I can get to his lips.
So I can kiss him.
Feel his lips while my dick feels the inside of his ass.
And I slowly begin to rock my hips. And slowly begin to build a rhythm.
And Duncan is quiet. Quieter than Sébastien
Who I’m not thinking about.
I pump my hips faster. Harder.
Duncan is suddenly less quiet. “Oh, God, right there,” he whispers. “Right fucking there.”
And I go.
And I go.
And I grab his thighs. To fuck him harder.
To take almost my entire dick out, and slam it back in.
And if Duncan wasn’t moaning then, if he wasn’t loud then, he’s loud now.
Grunts. On rhythm.
Almost being forced out of his body by the invasion of my cock.
I put my hand one hand on his chest. And I fuck him hard.
I fuck him even harder.
My hand moves underneath his chin. Just a little pressure. Not anything.
Duncan loves that.
Is this what it’s like to have a life in your hands? I want to ask him. But I don’t ask him.
His staccato grunts turn into one, continuous moan. I know what’s about to happen.
“Cum for me,” I tell him.
His moan becomes more pierced. He jacks his dick, furiously. He shoots rope after rope, one, two, three, ropes, on his chest.
I keep going. Until he tells me not to, which he doesn’t.
He groans again. And I dump what feels like a giant load into the condom.
We’re there. Together. In the moment. Once again.
After sex. When I feel my most romantic.
That he just gave up his ass. That I just had him.
That we’re here. In his bed.
He turns to me. Still panting, just a bit.
“Do you always sing after sex?”
Oh. I hadn’t realized.
Maybe just a bit, to myself, under my breath.
“Only when it’s good.”
“So that was good? I can expect a flattering review in the next theater quarterly, is what you’re saying?”
I lean over, kiss him on the cheek. “Don’t you always feel happy after good sex?”
“I feel happy during good sex,” he replies. “I always feel nothing after. Like a wave pulling out to sea. Erasing the footprints. Wet sand.”
“You feel like wet sand?”
Duncan closes his eyes. “Bugger off, I was being romantic.”
I climb back into bed. “Romantic?”
“You know what I mean,” he replies, taking the rag. “Sentimental.”
I grin. “Wet sand is sentimental?”
Duncan smiles back. Gives a little bit of a giggle. “You’re such a dickhead.” He turns over, to face me, his face a breath away from mine. “We should feel bad about this. Or I should, at least.”
I grimaced. I didn’t think he was going to do this: feel guilty. Or make me complicit in his guilt.
“I thought you felt nothing.”
“I do,” he says. “I do feel nothing.” He pauses. “Technically, we’re allowed to have sex with someone once. And, technically, we’re allowed to have sex in a threesome with someone once. It’s technically not meant to be in that order, but technically, I didn’t break any rules.”
“It’s a lot of technicallies.”
I sigh. Lean back, onto the pillow. Onto Sébastien’s pillow.
“I don’t think you really feel guilty,” I tell him. “I think you want to be the kind of person that feels guilty.”
Duncan says nothing. He scoots backwards, cuddles up against the side of my body.
“Why do things always feel like a good idea when you’re tipsy and horny,” he reveries, “but never as good afterwards?”
I can’t relate. I always feel good afterwards.
Afterwards: that’s the best part. The wet sand, left behind when everything else is pulled out to sea. Knowing that he’s still here, still in your arms, not going anywhere for at least one more moment.
“I don’t know,” I tell him, instead. “I don’t know how you’re supposed to feel, but I know I like this.”
“Well, vacation sex is always satisfying.”
“I live here.”
“For your current series of moments, anyway.”
“Don’t be like that.”
“I’m not being like anything,” he says. He puts his hand on my cheek. “The things I’d do to you if you were here forever.”
I don’t say anything. What can I say to that? That there is no forever? That a series of moments is literally all there is--that we’re together now, that we should be together now, and who cares what comes next?
I settle on something more diplomatic: “You’d better do them to me now, just to be safe.”
Duncan exhaled, a smile. “There’s Sébastien to think about.”
“Does he think about you,” I ask, “when he’s fucking Boubou?”
Duncan wrinkles his nose, the smile vanishing, back to stoic. “What do you want me to say? You’re not staying in Paris. I’m not going to jeopardize my relationship of three years because I want to have an extended fling with a sexy American tourist.”
“He doesn’t make you happy.”
Duncan purses his lips. “I didn’t say he doesn’t make me happy.”
“You said exactly that. You deserve someone who does. Someone who’s perfect.”
“Someday you’ll be my age, and you’ll realize that being with someone means loving the good and the bad, because that’s the only way to make a relationship work long-term. The perfect man doesn’t exist.”
“Then how am I looking at him?”
Duncan smiles at me, those eyes smile at me. “Let’s just enjoy being here. Right now. And forget about what happens next.”
I smile at that. Too. Maybe.
At the very least, I lean in, and I give Duncan Rinehart one more kiss.
Look, I’m not going to pursue things with that girl.
I don’t want to be with her.
I want to be with you.
Because, oh, oh, oh, who did I see, the minute I walked into The Boot during Friday happy hour?
Peter Adam Becker.
Pursuing things with That Girl.
How could everyone else lie so easily?
How could people stand up in front of someone, in front some poor girl, and say, “I care about you,” when their eyes say, “I care about him”?
I could never do that.
Certainly, I understood discretion. In my line of work, I was a keeper of secrets for more than a couple people.
But I didn’t lie. Not when it counted.
That’s not me saying I’m a good person.
Because I’m not one. Because I don’t even know what being a good person means half the time, but I wouldn’t ever do a thing like that.
I was seething. I was heartbroken.
No one seemed to notice.
Chris and Brett were busy dissecting the physical attributes of the soon-to-arrive Meredith Greenblatt, and whether or not she looked like Shalom Harlow.
She did not, for the record, look anything like Shalom Harlow but Brett wanted to fuck her, and your eyes could believe anything when you wanted to fuck someone.
Over at the bar: Landon Marsh. Openly gay guy. We had science together.
Landon did not know I was gay, entirely because I didn’t want to sleep with him. At this point, I had no problem coming out to people I wanted to sleep with.
Ben Farber had returned a damning review: “Starfish.”
They only want you when they think they lost you.
“Hey, you,” I said.
Landon looked up, smile on his face. “Oh, hey,” he said. “Drinking away the results from today’s quiz?”
“Seriously, right?” I said. “It’s a class called ‘Great Ideas in Science 101.’ Why are they torturing us?”
Across the bar, Becker had noticed me.
He was trying not to stare at me, just like I was trying not to stare at him, but we both acknowledged that something was going on. Begun to dance.
Becker turned back to That Girl with a breezy smile, pushing the situation back inside his head where it could marinate, otherwise undetected to those on the outside.
The situation, of course, being that the guy who had deflowered him a week before was now talking to another guy.
They only want you when they think they lost you.
“How do you think you did?” I asked Landon, trying out a vaguely interested smile, tossed in Becker’s direction rather than Landon’s.
“Oh, shit, if it’s not curved, I definitely failed it,” he replied. “I’m hoping everyone else did so badly that I can escape with a B, B-minus.”
Becker was standing up now, his face staring at That Girl, but his eyes watching me.
You could always tell.
“Same boat, for sure,” I told him. “It’s got to be curved, right? They wouldn’t fail everybody.”
They were walking towards the bar, ostensibly, but really walking towards me and Landon, our corner at the bar, rather than a more accessible place to get a drink.
“Oh, Malley!” Becker’s smile was sweet, his voice bitter. He had his hand nestled on the small of That Girl’s back, a warning shot fired into my temple. “I didn’t know you were coming here tonight.”
Like fuck you didn’t, Becker.
So, you and Lucy, huh?
“Yeah, Becker,” I told him. And I knew that I shouldn’t be enjoying it quite as much as I was, but I didn’t really care at this point. “At The Boot, running into people you know? So bizarre, right?”
He did not appreciate the sarcasm.
And like everything Becker did not appreciate, he ignored it.
“So,” he said, smile still frozen on his face, “this is Jackie Hughes.”
Did it matter? If That Girl had a name?
“Oh, so this Jackie Hughes,” I fawned. Still getting enjoyment out of watching Becker squirm. “Becker’s been telling us so much about you.”
That made that poor girl’s night. Her face lit up. “Oh yeah? It’s been a fun night so far.”
Which made me feel bad.
Not for Becker.
Becker’s eyes were murderous.
“Yeah, he seems to like you a lot,” I told her, looking at Becker. “Becker doesn’t say that about many girls, so he must really think you’re special.”
Becker was, by this point, solely fixated on Landon Marsh. Who, like That Girl, didn’t realize they had become North and South Vietnam in our little skirmish.
“Who’s your friend?” Becker asked, finally.
“Landon,” I told him. Gleefully. “Just ran into him too. The world really is just so small!”
Later that night, back after I stumbled home from The Boot, I went to Matt Barber’s Facebook profile. Or what I could see of it: “Friend Request Pending,” for the past two years, neither accepted nor declined.
I could see: his new profile picture, him with some girl.
A blonde. Clean-cut and forgettably pretty, like Jenna was, perched next to him in front of the fountain at Universal Studios.
Ava. Nina’s friend. As I later found out.
We should room together. Then we can do this all the time.
I wondered if he looked at mine.
Thought about me whenever he opened his Pending Requests.
Saw my profile picture--me and Chris Baker, at last year’s Tri-Gamma formal--and wondered who that was standing next to me.
I hoped he did. I wanted him to. No matter how many pages had flipped, he was the ink that kept bleeding through.
I wondered if he still smelled like Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch. Probably not--he had probably grown into something else, something without a naked man on the bottle.
What would’ve happened if I had gone to Berkeley, even after everything?
Would things have been any different? Maybe not at first, but by now?
Or would I just be sitting in a house on Shattuck Avenue, rather than a house on Lowerline Street, waiting for someone I couldn’t stop thinking about be with someone else?
Only for a little while, and then everything will be different and better.
In a month, you’ll have new friends and a new school.
Did I ever? Did I ever have new friends, a new school? Or just a copy of a copy of a copy of the old ones, smudged and blurred together from generation loss?
There was a knock on my door.
"I just wanted to apologize," he told me. His face red, his eyes glassy, holding onto the door jamb to steady himself. “For, you know, tonight.”
His voice was so muted. Ashamed.
If I had been angry at Becker, it was gone now. I just wanted to apologize.
"We were both being dicks,” I told him, quietly. “Do you want to come in for a beer or something?"
"Yeah, sure," he said. "But, we're cool?"
Becker was so adorable, so insecure. So earnest and desperate to be liked.
"Yeah, nutcase. We're cool.” I didn’t know what to say. If I should have told him about Matt Barber, but I knew I wasn’t going to. “I just didn’t like your little show." “You gave as good as you got,” he said, following me inside. “You didn’t go out after Maple Street?”
“Everyone was going to the Hustler Club and I have to work tomorrow, so I figured I’d sit it out. As much as I’d love to spend a fortune on drinks and look at naked females.”
Which was true.
But really, I just wanted to come home. I had gotten drunk enough where I wanted to be alone and sad. There was an eerie stillness. That came with just the two of us being alone in a dark and empty house on Lowerline Street. The stillness that seemed to hang between each word we said, as we tiptoed around each other.
“I thought you’d be with Landon Marsh tonight,” he said finally. His heartbreak. I gave an uncommitted shrug. “So that was just for my benefit.”
What to say: that I had pulled a Lucy Tang?
That I had all but grabbed his face and made out with him and made him taste strawberry lipgloss, so Becker could think about how much he wanted me?
“I was just talking to him. We have a class together."
“I just…” His voice tapered off. “I just didn’t know.”
“You care too much what I think, Becker.” I smirked. Becker would always need a push. Becker would always need me to lead him directly to the answer we both wanted him to give. “Why do we think that is?”
He scoffed. “I appreciate friendly advice?”
Don’t lie to her.
Was my advice.
Don’t like to her, and don’t lie to me.
“There's a difference between a lie of omission by not telling your friends what you're doing,” I told him, “and actually lying to some chick."
“I’m not lying to her,” he told me. “I’m not making any romantic overtures whatsoever. If she reads into it, it’s still just a lie of omission.”
I bristled. And I thought of Lucy, of Matt, of Jenna, of that whole fiasco.
“Your hand on her back?”
He smiled. “Well, I wanted to put ideas in your head too, maybe.”
Don’t use her to get to me, I wanted to say.
But I didn’t.
“What kind of beer do you want?”
“Whatever you have.”
“Let me put on a shirt.”
Becker grinned. “Not necessary, when you’ll just have to take it off again anyway.”
And fuck. I wasn’t used to Becker being this forward.
But he was so adorable, in the dimness of the Lowerline house.
Both of us just a little drunk.A little horny.
How many opportunities had I missed because Becker dragged his feet and I let him? “Well,” I told him, “I’m not going to be the only one with my shirt off.”
For the first time since I met him, he didn’t need a push.
He began unbuttoning his shirt, and then he threw it at me. And he undid his jeans, yanked them down to the floor. “And I’m not going to be the only one with my pants off.”
I grabbed his bicep, and pulled him in close. “Well, let’s go in the room,” I whispered, “so my roommates don’t come back and see us going all Chippendales.” Slammed him against the bedroom door.
Kissed him hard.
My hand on his chest, my other hand behind his head.
In control. Pulling him into me again. As our lips explored every inch of each other’s mouths.
I didn’t want to wait.
I dropped my hand to the waistband of his boxer briefs.
Cupped his dick. Already rock hard. Already eager. I kissed his neck.
Sucked the skin just behind his ear.
Becker let out a trawling moan.
“I want you so bad,” I whispered.
And he wanted me too. He ground his dick into mine, just for a second, then yanked down my basketball shorts.
“God, I want that cock,” he said. “Yeah?” “I want it in my mouth.” I pulled down my briefs.
Motioned for him to get on his knees.
“Go on, then.”
Becker did. Drop to his knees.
Gave me two strokes, and then took his tongue to my balls.
Took one in his mouth, sucked it. Ran his tongue up my shaft.
Delaying the inevitable. Most guys did that. Everyone loved the idea of a big dick, everyone was terrified of a big dick.
His phone started ringing. Becker paid it no attention.
I wondered if it was That Girl.
Calling to see where he was, maybe.
I tried not to let her in the room. She was an impermanent object.
The phone stopped ringing. And immediately started again.
It was her. I knew it was her. “Want to see who that is?”
Becker glanced down at his pocket. Then back at me.
Smile on his face. Adorable. Attractive. Becker at his best.
“I’d rather do this.”
He was still courting my dick. Licked the tip. Licked the head, and back down the shaft and up again.
Took the whole head in his mouth. And I knew he’d need a push. So I pushed.
Just slightly. Just enough. Imperceptible. Until he was about halfway down my shaft. His phone rang a third time.
Becker pulled back. My dick bounced out of his mouth.
“I’m sorry,” he said, digging in his pocket. “I’ll turn it off.” He flipped open the phone. Stared at it for another second. “Shit, they’re all from my pledgemasters. Do you mind?” Was there any answer I could give?
I sat down on the bed. Stroked myself. Bitterly.
Listened to the one side of Becker’s conversation, which almost immediately turned into departure music.
“Right now? What happened?”
Becker was staring at me. “I’m indisposed. I can’t really talk right here.”
“Sorry, I’ll be right over.” He flipped the phone shut. Looked at me. No longer Becker at his best, but Becker snapped back into his costume, into his frat boy shit. "So I have to run,” he said, quietly but unapologetically. “Duty calls."
The fuck, Becker?
I didn’t have the words. And I was mad.
I was mad at him for his thirty second apology, before he dumped me to go back out into the wild to lie his way through the rest of the night.
But I was still horny. And deeply unsatisfied.
"Why don't we finish real quick?”
“I’m already late,” he replied.” As an afterthought, “I wish I could stay here. I'll call later.”
He propped himself up on his elbow, as I got out of bed. "You don't have to call," he said. "I’m not your boyfriend.”
And all of this was classic Becker, you know?
Him. Then everybody else. And then me.
Don’t let anyone fucking tell you you’re no good.
Giving Becker your heart was the fastest way to lose his attention.
He wanted to be liked more than he wanted to be loved. And he knew what he got from me, so when it came down to me or a chance to harvest surface-level affection from someone else, well…
Becker spent the next few weeks in the thick of the harvest.
Sure: errant texts. “What’s going on?” “How have you been?” “We should grab a drink.”
But I didn’t respond. Because I knew if I’d get any deeper with Becker, I’d fall for him.
You’ll always have me.
Then we can do this all the time.
Up until the moment I didn’t.
Don’t Fucking Do Stupid Shit.
Becker would leave me or I would leave him or we’d leave each other, and what would we be then, except alone, except sad?
You’re my platoon, but who the fuck needed an entire platoon?