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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Beard - 11. Chapter 11

“So, what’s up with you and this Blochs guy?” Glen asked as Dale tried to line up a shot on the pool table. They were in the game room at Cole’s house. Cole had gotten a call from one of his people in the YD’s, the Young Democrats and had left Dale alone here with Glen. For some reason, whenever he was alone with Cole’s friend, Dale felt nervous and this time was no exception.

“Huh?” Dale asked, pushing the question out of his mind just long enough to take the shot. He was quite happy when the last striped ball was knocked into the right pocket. Glen frowned, having failed to distract Dale with his question. Now he waited as Dale tried to line up a shot for the eight ball.

“You and that Blochs guy have been getting kind of close, or at least that’s what Cole says.” Glen continued and Dale felt a little stab of guilt. He had been spending more time with Jer lately, but Cole had been busy as well.

“Jer’s a friend.” Dale said as he sank the eight ball. He stood up with a smile on his face. “Oh, and you didn’t succeed in distracting me. I win.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re getting better.” Glen murmured with a frown. “Still, you know, I hear people are talking. They’re taking bets on whether you’re cheating on Cole and if Blochs is really gay.”

“Who’s doing that?” Dale demanded with alarm.

“Some guys from your team, according to Cole.” Glen said and there was a hungry look on his face. “If icicle Pritchard isn’t keeping you happy in that department, you know you should be discreet. I’m not going to follow you around like a puppy, so if you need to get off with someone, I’d be a better pick than that Blochs character. I saw the two of you the other day downtown, and he was looking at you like a love-sick puppy.”

“You saw us?” Dale asked, losing focus on the rest of what Glen said for a moment. Then he shook his head. “No, scratch that, it doesn’t matter anyway. Nothing is going on like that between Jer and me. I have nothing to complain about with Cole, but if I did, I sure as hell would not do it with you.”

“What?” Glen snorted. “I know I’m good looking.”

“That’s part of the problem.” Dale snapped as he began to grow angry. “What the hell business is it of yours anyway? How do you think Cole would feel if I told him you offered to be my piece on the side?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time he’s done that.” Cole’s voice came from the doorway, and Dale looked horrified. Cole’s expression was unreadable as he stood there looking at the two of them.

“You’re done with your call.” Glen said with a shrug as he put up his pool stick and turned to look at Cole. “Your boy beat me, so it’s your turn. He’s getting good.”

“He’s better than you’ll ever know, bud.” Cole said, stepping further into the room and standing to the side as Glen nodded before walking out.

“I’m so sorry.” Dale said as soon as Glen was gone. He knew his face was pale, although he was as embarrassed as he was frightened.

“Let me guess, he used the rumors I mentioned about Jeremy to make a proposition to get you into his bed.” Cole said with a grim expression.

“Uh, yeah.” Dale said with a frown.

“Figures.” Cole said with a shake of his head. “That’s how he got down Linda’s pants, as well as Jeanie’s, and then of course the whole ‘Pamela’ thing blew up in his face, too.”

“He’s done that before?” Dale asked with wide eyes. “Why are you friends with him?”

“We understand each other.” Cole said with a shrug. “Both of us come from similar backgrounds, and well, he wasn’t all that bad up until he started that private school he’s at now. Some of the guys there are pretty awful. Most of the time, Glen keeps it under control, but every now and then he does shit like this and well, we’ve figured out how to deal with it without destroying our friendship. We’ll leave each other alone for a few weeks, he’ll apologize and we’ll go on from there. At least this time he didn’t succeed, which is what I thought would happen if he ever did pull this shit.”

“You knew he might try to get me into his bed?” Dale was furious now, and his face was growing red with anger instead of pale with fright. “You knew that and you still let him…”

“I trusted you.” Cole said as he crossed the room in a hurry and took Dale’s hands in his, holding them firmly while looking Dale in the eyes. “You’re not like any of those girls I dated; you’d never cheat on me. I know that. You’re not the type to do something like that, no matter how handsome the guy is or how forward he gets. Glen was just getting warmed up there, so it’s good I came in when I did. That way you didn’t have to put up with a lot from him before you shot him down.”

“Of course I’m not like those girls.” Dale snorted as he pulled his hands out of Cole’s and turned away from him. The feel of those soft but strong hands on his had stirred feelings he didn’t want to think about. Damn it all to hell, why did Cole Pritchard have to be so damn good looking? “I’m your beard. We’re not really dating.”

“That’s not what I mean.” Cole said with a frown. “I mean you’re not the type that would cheat on someone you’re dating.”

“Well thanks.” Dale said with a frown, ignoring the fact that Cole stepped up closer to him so that he could feel the guy just at his back. For a straight guy, Cole had absolutely no problem getting close to another guy like this. There weren’t even witnesses to see them at that moment.

“Dale, do you remember that first dinner we had with my folks?” Cole asked him in a serious tone. Dale turned around, giving Cole a frown. The dark-haired guy was licking his lips nervously and was also frowning.

“Yes, I remember.” Dale sighed, not really sure what was going on, but at the same time he didn’t want to step back at that moment. Then a thought occurred to him and he did almost move back. He felt like he was cheating on Jeremy, who had come out to him and who had told him he did have real, genuine feelings for Dale. “Look, Cole, you don’t have to worry about Jer. I’m not going to ruin this little charade we’ve got going on here. Jer can wait until we’ve broken up.”

“What?” Cole gasped, taking a step back. “You mean I’m right? He’s gay?”

“Yeah, he is, but don’t tell him I told you, please.” Dale sighed, feeling guilty about having broken that confidence with Jer. “It was the other week, the day of the Pre-Endorsement Conference. He came out and told me he had feelings for me. I told him you and I were together, but that I was honored, and if we ever broke up, he’d be the first person I’d call.”

“You care for him too, don’t you?” Cole asked with a frown just as his phone began to ring. “Damn, it’s Dad. I’ve got to take this. Just give me a moment, okay?”

“Talk to your dad.” Dale said uncomfortably. Cole frowned but answered the phone and walked out of the room as he began to talk to his father. From what Dale heard about the conversation it was a follow-up on the call Cole had taken earlier with the YD person, and Dale lost interest immediately.

Ten minutes later he was feeling very uncomfortable and decided he’d get out of there. Finding a scrap of paper and a pen, he wrote a quick note to tell Cole he’d see him later and left the house. Fortunately, he didn’t see Cole on the way out, and was actually two-thirds of the way home before his cell began ringing.

“Dale.” He said as he answered the phone. He didn’t have his earpiece with him so he set it to speakerphone as soon as he answered.

“You left.” Cole’s voice sounded hurt. “I thought you were going to wait.”

“I need to get home.” Dale said with a sigh. “I haven’t spent any time with my mother lately.”

“You’re making up excuses now.” Cole accused him. Unfortunately he was right.

“What’s it like being so smart you know everything?” Dale shot back, and this time it was major guilt that welled up in him. Cole didn’t deserve that.

“Are you mad at me?” Cole asked worriedly. “Why don’t you come back here?”

“I’m almost home.” Dale said with a sigh.

“How about we meet at Sharkey’s for some pie?” Cole offered. “Please, we need to talk.”

“Look, Cole, just give me a little room, okay?” Dale said with a sigh. “I’m kind of feeling out of it at the moment.”

“I was going to talk to you about Jeremy.” Cole said gently. “I really wish Glen hadn’t pulled his little routine now. We do need to talk.”

“Damn it, I don’t want to talk right now.” Dale snapped with frustration. “I told you I’d do this and I’ll see it through. We’re not really boyfriends, so it really doesn’t matter.”

“Don’t say that.” Cole’s voice sounded hurt.

“Sorry, I know, we don’t want anyone to overhear, but there’s no one in the car, and I doubt they are listening in on some radio or something.” Dale snapped. “I’m not mad at you so much as I am frustrated with the whole situation. Jer was a friend, someone I thought I’d lost, who hated me, but it turns out it was the opposite. The timing damn well sucks, but you know what? I’d have never known how he felt about me, about the possibility of us being together if you hadn’t come to me with this whole ‘beard’ thing. So, yeah, it sucks I have to wait a few months to go after Jer, but if it wasn’t for you I’d have probably never known he had feelings for me, so no matter what, I’ve got you to thank for that. Just give me a little bit of time to get my head around all this crap. I promise, I won’t screw it up for you.”

Dale hit the phone’s little red button as soon as he finished speaking, not wanting to give Cole a chance to speak. His feelings were a mix, and he wasn’t sure exactly what would happen if Cole kept pushing him. Not only was he feeling guilty about basically spilling Jer’s secret, but he was feeling guilty about making Cole worry. Dale had really gotten to know Cole’s father and knew the man really was a good guy, and if Dale messed this up, it would really have a bad effect on the Congressman.

He parked the truck next to the sidewalk in front of the house and went inside. The sounds of the television from the living room announced his grandparents were watching it together, and he went into the living room for just a moment, even though he rather be anywhere but there. Some things just had to be done for the sake of politeness.

“Hi.” He said softly. His grandmother was in her lazy boy armchair on his left, and his grandfather was in his chair on the right.

“You’re back early.” His grandmother said distractedly. They were watching the news and absorbed in that. “You eat?”

“Yep.” He assured her.

“Good.” She said. “You should spend more time with your mother.”

“Thanks.” He said and left the room with a sigh. That was the good thing about them already being settled in their armchairs. They weren’t likely to grill him with too many questions.

“You’re back early.” His mother said as he reached the doorway to her room. She picked up the remote and turned down the television immediately, a signal she welcomed his company. Tonight she was wearing a new nightgown that looked real nice on her. He seemed to remember she’d bought it on a shopping trip with Jer’s mother.

“You look nice in that.” He said with a sigh as he moved into the room and sat in the chair next to her bed.

“Thank you, Dale.” She replied with a smile. “You look upset. Did you and Cole have a fight?”

“Kind of.” Dale sighed again.

“You want to talk about it.” The way she said it made it clear that it was a statement, not a question.

“Yes, but I don’t know if I should.” Dale said as he leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes.

“Dale, I’m your mother.” She said sternly. “You should be able to talk to me about anything. Wait, is this about sex? Is he trying to push you to have sex with him?”

“No!” Dale nearly shouted in embarrassment, his cheeks flushing as he stared at her with wide eyes. “Jesus, mom, it’s not like that at all!”

“That’s good.” She said with a nod. “What is it, then?”

“I don’t know if I should talk about this.” Dale said with a sigh. “I promised I’d keep it a secret.”

“Is this something to do with the Congressman?” She asked with a worried frown. “I always thought some of these things were too convenient. Are they using you, Dale?”

“No more than I am using them, I guess.” Dale said with a sigh, suddenly wishing he’d never thought about trying to discuss this with her. “Look, mom, it’s going to be alright. I’m just worn out, tired. Things have been way hectic at work and I’m stressing about it all. It’s not like the worst thing I can do anymore is hand out the wrong burger to a customer.”

“Are you sure, dear?” Dale’s mother asked with a frown.

“Yes, I’m sure.” Dale said with a smile as he stood. “I have homework to do, so I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Okay.” She said as he stood up and gave her a hug. He held on to her for an extra moment, taking in the nice scent from her last bath, and relaxing in the embrace of his mother who had always loved him. Life would have been so much harder without her.

He did do homework that night, although it was part of his semester project that wasn’t due for another five weeks. It felt good to get ahead on the project, and it certainly kept his mind off of Cole, the Pritchards, and the political machinations of the campaign. He’d had no idea before starting to work there how much thought went into every little detail of the campaign.

Later that night, as he lay in bed, Dale wondered just how anyone could stand to live like the Pritchards lived. Everything was a calculated move, in order to keep from making any big mistakes that would come back to bite them. He could see the little things that he’d never imagined before, how they had to think about every little move and its possible impact on the Congressman’s career.

Certainly it explained a lot about Cole.

If their relationship had been real, Dale would be worrying right now if he could live a life worrying about how what he did made the Congressman look. Sure, eventually the man would retire, that’s what most members of Congress did once they got a secure seat. The thing was, if their relationship was real, Dale wasn’t sure he could take living like that, no matter how nice Cole was to him.

That was the other problem with this. Cole was way too nice. Sure, they had to walk with Cole’s arm around him, or touch in public to make it look real, but Cole did it even when they were alone, and that made things difficult for Dale. Cole really was a good, kind, caring guy and he’d be a real nice boyfriend, if he were gay.

But he wasn’t, and Dale was just the ‘beard’ for Cole’s little plan to help the Congressman. Eventually their relationship would be ‘over’, and Dale would be free to go his own way. The only problem with that was with Jer, and would Jer still be there when the ‘relationship’ with Cole ended? Dale knew he was in a quandary, and he fell into a fitful sleep filled with dreams that could almost have been nightmares.

It didn’t help that the next morning, as he pulled into the parking lot at school; Cole was leaning against his BMW parked next to Dale’s spot. Somehow, ever since it had become public that they were an ‘item’, the parking spot next to Cole’s had been free for him. Dale didn’t know who had parked there before, but the two parking spots were always empty, even when every other spot in the lot had been filled. It was an unspoken rule of the school that Cole Pritchard had his own spot, and apparently so did his boyfriend.

“You ran out last night.” Cole greeted him as Dale got out of the truck. Today Cole was wearing tight-fitting black slacks, a dark blue button-down shirt, and his dark hair was perfectly in place. There was even just the trace of a frown on his face.

“I also hung up on you.” Dale said as he dragged his backpack out of the back of the truck and slung it over his shoulder. He was wearing one of his older pair of jeans, and an equally old t-shirt, having purposely passed over all the new clothes he’d gotten since that night Cole had come into the fast-food restaurant.

“Dale, we should talk.” Cole said softly, and Dale noticed that they were all but alone. None of the ‘team’ was there, and while some people were looking their way, no one was close enough to overhear.

“Does the entire damn school know we’re fighting?” Dale asked with exasperation.

“Huh?” Cole asked with a furrow of his eyebrows. “I just told the guys we needed to talk this morning, that’s all.”

“Oh, great, now everyone’s gonna think we’re fighting.” Dale said with an exasperated sigh. “Did you even think about that?”

“Yes, but it’s important we talk.” Cole said quickly. “Look, I’m sorry, really sorry about Glen. He’s a real damn asshole and thinks with his dick too much.”

“Meanwhile you don’t think with your dick at all, do you?” The words escaped Dale’s mouth before he could stop them, putting a frown on his face that matched the one on Cole’s.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cole’s voice went a full octave deeper as he asked that question.

“Nothing, it means nothing.” Dale said with another sigh as he leaned against his truck. He wasn’t sure what to say. “Look, don’t worry about Jer. Nothing’s going to happen there until after your father’s won the election. Now, why don’t we just kiss and make up for the people watching. I see Evelyn over there even has her phone out ready to take our picture.”

“That little bitch.” Cole growled as he looked over there. “She’s one of the one’s who…”

“Shut up.” Dale growled as he stepped forward and pulled Cole’s face towards his. He was angry enough that this time he took the initiative and kissed Cole. With a growl Dale decided to take a little bit of revenge and slipped his tongue into Cole’s mouth. At first the guy resisted, but he must have realized how it would look if he pulled back now and his mouth opened. Then Dale forgot everything as their tongues met, and he found out what it was like to really kiss Cole Pritchard.

“She better have gotten a good picture.” Cole whispered as they broke their kiss. They were both breathing heavy, and Dale let his head rest on Cole’s shoulder for a moment.

“Damn you’re a good kisser.” Dale murmured, trying to conceal the obvious reaction from all the people watching.

“Look who’s talking.” Cole murmured and Dale felt his cheeks flush at the compliment.

“I bet you say that to all of your beards.” Dale murmured.

“Yeah, about that.” Cole whispered, pulling Dale back just a bit so he could look in Dale’s eyes. His face was really serious. “I don’t want you to think I’m using you, Dale. You’re too important for that.”

“Thanks for saying that.” Cole murmured, taking a deep breath and looking away. “I understand – really, and I’m sorry about the kiss, okay? You’re a good friend, and we’ll be friends when all this is over, okay? Don’t worry. I’m not going to blow it for either of us.”

“Dale…” Whatever Cole was going to say was cut off by the warning bell. Dale just patted his arm and walked away, heading to his first class.

The entire morning was filled with whispering, giggling high school girls. By the time lunch came around, Dale was sick and tired of the entire breed and wondered what any man saw in any of them. It was a wonder every teenage guy wasn’t gay just from having to deal with the giggling girls. As for the guys, not even Jer was looking him in the eyes.

“That was quite some show you put on this morning.” Ray Johnson said, the pizza he’d just bitten into showing in his full mouth. Apparently he was the exception to the rule of guys not even looking at them. Dale had met Cole in the cafeteria as usual and they were sitting with the rest of the team. It was obvious most of the other guys were less than comfortable with the topic, and it was equally obvious from the pained look in his eyes that Jer wasn’t happy either.

“I heard Dale nearly tore Pritchard’s tonsils out.” Hector said, proving that Ray Johnson wasn’t the only exception to the rule.

“They were disgusting.” Jeremy said with a frown.

“Shit, Blochs, you just jealous.” Ray teased, and the table broke up in laughter even as Dale felt the same terror that he could see on Jer’s face at that moment.

“Me, jealous?” Jer finally managed to squeak out, but it was almost too late.

“Shit, Blochs, you really jealous of them?” Ben King asked.

“No!” Jeremy protested, and Dale worried it was too much.

“Hey, wasn’t Blochs one of the guys telling us to lay off him last semester?” Hector added in, and Dale started to relax. They were all smiling, and Jer didn’t see it yet, but they were teasing him, not serious. Next to him, Cole joined in on the act.

“You’re too late there, Blochs.” Cole said in a teasing tone. “You hid in your closet too long and I managed to snatch Andrews right out from under you.”

“Oh gross!” Ray Johnson barked, sending pieces of pizza flying everywhere from his mouth.

“Now that’s disgusting!” Ben called out, picking a piece of the half-eaten pizza out of his tray. “Johnson, you grow up in a damn pig sty?”

The friendly by-play of the rest of the team gave Jer a chance to recover, but it was obvious in that moment that he understood the message Cole was sending him. Dale, however, was growing angrier by the moment, and most of that anger was focused on Cole. Hadn’t Dale agreed to keep their fake relationship going and to make Jer wait? What kind of game was Cole playing?

“Excuse us guys, we got some tonsil hockey to play.” Dale said with a smile as he suddenly stood up, dragging Cole to his feet as well. It looked like the taller dark-haired guy was going to protest as he looked back at his lunch, but he let Dale drag him out of the cafeteria while the rest of the guys made various noises of disgust or teasing. Jer didn’t join in on it. He just sat there looking unhappy and Dale’s heart went out to him.

“What’s this about?” Cole asked as they reached an isolated part of the campus.

“What do you think you were doing back there?” Dale demanded angrily as he turned on Cole. “You shouldn’t tease Jer that way.”

“Jer?” Cole asked with a look of confusion on his handsome face. “Look, I don’t want to talk about the giant blond doofus. I want to talk about us.”

“What is there to talk about?” Dale asked with a frown. “You are safe; you don’t need to worry. I’m not going to blow this, I told you that. There’s no need to be so cruel to Jer. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Cruel?” Cole’s voice almost squeaked and from the expression on his face was totally flustered. “I’m not being cruel to the guy.”

“Like hell you aren’t.” Dale said angrily. “That whole comment about stealing me right out from under him was way over the line. Don’t do that to him, you hear me?”

“I hear ya, but I think…” Cole started to go on, but Dale cut him off by turning and walking away. He ignored Cole calling his name and headed back towards the more populated part of the campus.

“I thought you and Cole were…you know.” Jer’s voice from behind him made Dale jump a bit, and he blushed as he turned around to look at the tall blond. There was a look of pain on the big guy’s face and Dale felt guilt well up inside him.

“We had a fight.” Dale said and then he tried to smile at Jer. “Look, what he said, it was mean and he shouldn’t have…”

“You told him about me.” Jer said in a flat voice. It was obvious he wasn’t happy.

“I… yeah, I did.” Dale said as he hung his head. He felt ashamed at the moment. “I’m sorry.”

“Why?” Jer asked with a hurt tone.

“I… what you said, well it meant a lot to me.” Dale answered honestly.

“So you go and blab it to your boyfriend?” Jer asked and Dale looked around quickly, noticing that no one was really paying attention to them.

“It wasn’t like that.” Dale said as he suddenly felt angry. “I wasn’t going to say anything to him, but you keep on looking at me with those puppy dog eyes of yours and he figured it out. Hell, so did that friend of his.”

“What, other people know about this?” Jer’s voice almost squeaked and a couple of people looked their way. He noticed that and his face was suffused with red as he blushed. “That figures.”

“I thought you didn’t care who knew.” Dale said with a frown as he tried to keep from shouting in his growing anger.

“As long as I tell them, I don’t care.” Jeremy corrected him. “That doesn’t mean you go and blab it to everyone. I swear, you and Pritchard are two of a kind, running about making sure everyone knows your business. You might as well stay with him, you’re two of a damn kind.”

“You know what, Jeremy Bloch, fuck you!” Dale growled as he turned on his heel and stormed down the hallway.

Inside he was a mix of emotions, and he chose to do something he had never done before. Instead of going to his next class he went towards the parking lot, fuming inside all the way. When he got to his truck, he got inside, never so grateful for having his own transportation before, and took off.

He wasn’t sure where he was heading at the moment, but he was certain it wouldn’t be anywhere near either Cole or Jeremy. Both guys were equally infuriating in their own ways, and he didn’t know what to think. That was unique, and he found he was chuckling as he realized just how crazy those two had twisted his head in just a few days.

Whatever he did do, he’d do it for himself, he decided as he drove around aimlessly. The more that he thought about that, the more he decided it was the right decision. After all, wasn’t that how the whole damn world worked?

Copyright © 2012 dkstories; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Well, I am definitely guessing at the outcome now. I kinda thought Cole was trying to help Jeremy out, not tease him and Dale is too sensitive right now but I guess I can understand why. He has a lot to wonder and think about.

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Dale has a plan. He hasn't been writing his own script lately, so this has

definitely got my curiosity going.

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Arrgh, I just knew it, not only are Cole and Jeremy totally jealous of each other, but Glen makes his move at completely the wrong time and messes things up even more. Poor Dale, I can understand why he gets angry and walks off, but I wish he had stayed and let Cole explain. It's obvious he is trying to admit something important.

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Cole has a bit of mean streak when he's jealous. Maybe if Dale ever calms down enough Cole can explain. Excellent chapter, thanks.

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