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    Ethan
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Noah and Jordan - 20. Chapter Twenty

The following chapter is told completely through Noah's point of view.

*** NOAH ***

Nostalgia. It can induce a pleasant, yet at times deceiving, state of mind. We yearn to go back to a time when everything was simple, when we were happy. Or, at least we thought we were happy. When we thought all was well.

It can manifest itself in many forms, perhaps, a nostalgic feeling to return home. To return to the place where we grew up, surrounded by family and love. Without a doubt in my heart, I know I love my family. My parents and siblings mean the world to me. They’ve always been by my side when I needed them most. Growing up I never felt like something was missing or lacking in my life. Without them, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. We’ve always been close. Even now, living so far away, I keep in constant touch with everyone back home. I call my mom a couple times a week. I have a siblings WhatsApp group chat, and another with my extended cousins. My family has always been a big part of my life. They still are. I owe them everything I have.

I know deep within my heart they love me too. Or, at least the guarded version of myself I’ve pretended to be these past few years. The non-gay version. The version that follows their standards.

I’d like to think, if they got to know the real me, they’d still love me. After all, I still am the same person. Nothing is different, except who I love. But maybe that will be the only difference that matters. Maybe in their eyes I will become a completely different person. And maybe they won’t love or accept the true version of myself.

——— 

“Are you going to be depressed ALL day?” Jenn asks in a mock annoyed tone.

“Who said I'm depressed?” What is she talking about? I'm absolutely fine.

“Well, for one, your face.”

I glare back at her. “Stop being annoying. You know I'm perfectly fine.”

“Well, you look mopey, like someone just ran over your dog, repeatedly.”

“Whatever, Jenn,” I say back to her.

“You should be thrilled, you're going back home today.”

Indeed I am thrilled. I miss my family.

“I am. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again,” I say to her.

We go through our respective holiday plans. Jenn is leaving for her parents' house tomorrow.

“Do you think youll get both speeches?” she asks me.

“Absolutely.” Shes talking about the ‘what-are-you-doing-with-your-life’ speech my dad gives me all the time. And the ‘you-need-to-find-a-good-girl' speech my mom gives. “It wouldn't be a trip home without them.”

“But thats not why youre mopey.”

“I'm not mopey!” What is wrong with this girl!?

She starts to grin. Great. “Awe, you miss Jordan.”

“He’s only been gone a couple of days.” The longest couple of days! He was supposed to be here, spending time with me. Instead, I’ve been stuck with Jenn. Crazy, crazy, Jenn.

“Oh, how wonderful young love can be. Your heart is aching for him.” She says this in an over-the-top dramatic tone, complete with hand gestures.

“The only thing my heart is aching for, is for you to stop talking.”

It’s true I miss Jordan. But I’m not admitting that to Jenn. That would just give her more ammunition to use against me. This is the longest Jordan and I have been apart since we started dating. I miss his company. His lips. His body. Damn it! It’s only been about a week! And there are still two more to go.

“You can fight it all you want Noah, I can see it in your eyes, you miss him,” she says.

“Sure.” I nod back to her.

“How is Jordan doing anyway?” she asks.

“He’s okay. He's been out of town the past few days. He went up north with his mom to visit her sister. Weve been texting a bit. I tried to call but reception isnt great. We havent been able to FaceTime either because he’s been sleeping on the couch.”

“Ah, thats why youre mopey. You havent been able to talk to your boyfriend.”

“I'm not mopey!” I say throwing a pillow at her. “Now move, I need to finish packing.” It doesn’t help that Jenn is sitting in the middle of my bed and keeps distracting me!

“So, now that you’ve both professed your love for one another are either of you going to start to come out and tell more people?”

Naturally, I told Jenn what happened. I went to her place straight from the airport. I had to tell someone; I was flush with excitement. Her face went all red and she was giddy with excitement too. Even though Jenn doesn’t act very emotional, she really is into the whole idea of love, and romance and all that Disney fairytale stuff. She will never admit that though.

I pause for a moment. “To be honest, I'm not really sure. We talked about it before Jordan left. He’s worried about his teammates and how they’ll react. I think the two of us are still in this bubble where we’re just enjoying each other’s company. We’re still figuring out how to navigate this relationship. And I think it’s worked well because we’ve kept it private. Going public will present completely different challenges, and I'm not sure we are ready for that yet. I’m not sure I’m ready yet.”

“But youve known you’re gay for so long now. And you have a boyfriend who is crazy about you. What’s stopping you?”

“Fear. My own insecurity. My family. Look, youre right, I’ve known for a while now. Though, it’s not like I accepted it during all of that time. I just feel if I tell everyone ... that changes everything. There is no undo button, I can’t take it back. And besides it’s not everyone’s business who I sleep with.”

“True, it isn’t. But don't you feel like youre sure and that this is permanent?” she asks. “You asked him to move in with you! That’s huge.”

“It is huge. And I do know this is permanent. In my heart I know it’s true.”

“So, then whats the problem?” she asks.

“Losing him. I guess not coming out is my exit strategy or my plan B.”

“He’s not going to leave you, look how strong your relationship is.”

“Even 20 or 30-year-old marriages fall apart. Nothing is written in stone. Now, that’s not to say I’m worried. A small, small part of me sometimes is, but it’s not like before when I really had no idea how this would turn out. I am much, much more confident in our relationship.”

“I'm not trying to pressure you in any way ...”

“I know. Its good to talk about this from time to time. I know you mean well.”

“So, what are you going to say to your parents if they ask? Is Jordan going to tell his mom?”

“He’s thinking about it. He just wants to get a sense of how she might react. If he thinks it will be positive then he’ll tell her after Christmas. As for my parents … I just can't even begin to imagine how they would react …” How they react is my recurring nightmare. I know it won’t go over well.

“Yeah, they are quite conservative.”

“Quite conservative? Dude, I think thats the biggest understatement of the year!”

“You'll have to tell them eventually.”

“I will ... when I'm 50.”

“Yeah right, your mom is already bugging you to find a nice girl and settle down and get married.”

“I know. She brought it up a few weeks ago, reminding me how much easier it is to find a spouse when you’re still in school.”

“Can you imagine what your mom would say if you told her you found a spouse and then came home with Jordan?”

“I think her jaw would literally detach from her face and hit the floor. And then I would be banished for life. I'm honestly screwed …”

“It's not that bad, and besides you'll always have me by your side.”

“As I said, I'm screwed.”

“Fuck you, smart ass,” she says throwing one of my t-shirts towards my face.

“I kid of course. I couldn't function without you Jenn.”

“Oh, that reminds me, your gift!” she says jumping off the bed and running into the family room.

You didn't have to.”

“Yes, I did. Here, I think you'll like it,” she says coming back into the room.

I walk over to my closet and grab her gift from the top shelf. “And this is for you.”

“You broke the no gift rule too.”

Both of us made a pact not to buy gifts for each other because usually by now funds are starting to run low. But like last year, we both broke the pact. I got her a bunch of makeup. She’s been trying to become a makeup artist as I side hobby, so I thought I would get her different items she could use. She’s always talking about the brands she likes, plus I grew up with a fashion obsessed sister, so it was pretty easy to figure out what to buy. The lady at the store helped a lot too! Though, you know who wasn’t helpful? Jordan. We went to the mall together before he left. He was absolutely confused about everything!

“I think you’ll really like your gift, especially since Jordan is not here,” she says to me with that evil smile.

“And why is that?” There is always something sinister going on in her head. I don't fully trust her. She is way too crazy.

“Just open it.”

I rip off the wrapping paper, open the box and smile.

Only Jenn.

She got me a dildo.

A big, fat, long, bright red dildo.

——— 

There really is no place like home.

It warmed my soul walking through the door, into the home where I grew up. It helped that standing on the threshold, waiting for my arrival, was a woman I deeply love. A woman, whose warm embrace makes all of the world’s problems disappear; my mom. As is custom, even though I’m only one person, my mother cooked a feast for my arrival. She always goes out of her way and makes everything I love to eat. No wonder I always gain weight when I return home! My siblings always rib me that I’m the favourite child, because I’m the ‘baby’ of the family. I argue I gave up that title when my nephews and nieces were born. They disagree. When I saw the spread of food on the table, I did feel perhaps they are right, perhaps I am the favourite. I’ll never admit that to them, though.

A big reason why my parents do a lot for me is because I do a lot for them. I’ve always been a helpful son. My brother did a fair bit when he was around, but my sister did nothing growing up. And so, several responsibilities fell to me. Even now, even though I’m on holidays, I’m up and about, running errands, cooking and cleaning. My mom constantly tells me to sit down and relax, but I can’t. I feel now that she’s older, she should relax, and I should be the one mopping the floors, or lugging heavy laundry up and down the stairs. She did enough of that when I was a kid. Plus, she has to do it while I’m away. Now that I’m home for a couple of days, she deserves a break.

Now, I haven’t just been cleaning since I got home. I’ve also spent a fair bit of time with my parents, catching up, talking about school, family, and everything else I’ve missed. I’ve always had a great relationship with both of them, but especially my mom. We can sit, a warm cup of tea in our hands, and talk and joke for hours on end. Or chat nonstop as we cook or watch a cooking show. She is the one who taught me how to cook. Both of us love to make new creations together. We will spend hours in the kitchen trying new recipes.

Unfortunately, so far, we haven’t been able to try any new recipes, because it’s been pretty busy around here! The day after I returned home, my brother and his family arrived. My sister and her family, came the day after. The house is now full of screaming children! Since I haven’t seen my nieces and nephews in such a long time, all of them want my attention. I am the cool uncle after all. We spend hours playing games, watching movies, or going to the park. The first night all of them were together they were adamant that I read them a bedtime story. Putting a bunch of hyper children to bed at the same time? Mission impossible! One would be jumping on the bed, another needed to use the washroom, another was too hot or too cold, and another was thirsty. The task required a lot of patience, but I persevered! It was totally worth it to have them eventually cuddle around me (they of course fought over who got to sit right next to me), and see them hang on to my every word, as I read them a book that they’ve heard countless times. Being away from them for so long really is the hardest part of not living in the city. I really do love them.

As much as I love those kids, I was also glad when they all went to bed. That’s when I would actually hang out with my siblings and their spouses without being interrupted every few minutes. One night we all just stayed up and talked, and made fun of one another. My sister-in-law was shocked when she first heard how we sometimes speak to one another. We can be pretty mean! Though, no one takes it seriously. We all know that if I make fun of my brother since he has gained a few pounds, or my sister’s crooked nose, or when they call me Cinderella because I’m always cleaning, that we’re all just joking. We never get offended. That’s just how we are as siblings; we show our love through insults. Another night we stayed up playing board games. And yes, we can get pretty competitive too! We’ve had a few fights over the rules of Pictionary! But overall, we always have a lot of fun. I really do love my siblings.

So, between spending time with the kids, my parents, my siblings, and then last minute shopping, cleaning, and cooking, I have been swamped! It doesn’t help in a few hours from now our house will be packed for Christmas Eve dinner. My mom’s siblings and their kids are all coming over. I got up early so I could help my mom cook.

The only downside to being so busy, and in a house full of people, is I don’t get much time to talk to Jordan. We’ve texted one another a fair bit, and have had brief phone conversations here and there, but nothing substantial. He is currently at his father’s house. I’m not surprised he went. I knew he would. It’s obvious just how desperately he wants to repair his relationship with his dad. I hope he can. But so far, I get the sense that it’s not going well. It doesn’t sound like Jordan’s dad is really making much of an effort. I almost want to hop on a plane, fly across the country, smack some sense into that man, get back on a plane and fly home. If only I could. I just know that if this doesn’t work out, Jordan will be devastated. And I hate the fact that if that does happen, I’m thousands of kilometres away and won’t be able to comfort him.

“Noah, can you pass me that from over there?” my mom says interrupting my thoughts.

“What from over where?”

“That,” she says pointing at like fifty different objects.

“You have to be a bit more specific!” I laugh. “You mean the spatula?”

Yes. See, you knew what I was talking about.”

“Lucky guess!” I’m used to this by now. My mom rarely gives proper instructions.

“Are you almost done mincing the garlic?” she asks as she quickly moves around the kitchen.

“Almost,” I say. While I may cook just like my mom, the one thing I can’t do is chop fruits of vegetables with as much speed as she can. I’m always afraid I’m going to chop off one of my fingers!

“Here, let me show you,” she says lightly pushing me to the side. “The rate you’re going I’m going to finish cooking tomorrow.”

“Perfection takes time,” I respond.

“Tell that to a house full of hungry guests,” she says.

As we cook, I text Jordan about our progress. He seems to enjoy the fact that my mom is bossing me around. He says I deserve it, and that I’m getting a taste of my own medicine. I’m not that bossy! I’ll show him what it truly means to be bossy when we live together.

“Who do you keep texting?” my mom asks.

“Oh, no one,” I say. I made sure to change the settings on my phone so that only the senders name shows up on the locked screen, and not a preview of the message. Wouldn’t want anyone to see some of the R-rated messages Jordan has been sending me! Those would be a bit difficult to explain. “I’m just talking to Jenn.”

It’s true, I’m also texting Jenn. Everyone in my family knows and loves her. She’s even visited before. At first, my mom was convinced we were more than just friends, and that I was just too shy to admit it to her. Then, when she finally realized we were indeed only friends, she told me I was an idiot, and that I should ask Jenn out. She’s convinced we like each other, and that we’re only fooling ourselves.

Hows she doing? my mom asks about Jenn.

She’s good. She went back home to see her parents.”

“That’s great. You should invite her someday to come visit again.”

“I will. Maybe in the summer,” I respond.

“Maybe by then you guys will finally move out of the friend zone,” she says full of hope.

As I’ve told you before, nothing is going to happen, Mom.

“But she’s such a lovely girl, Noah. And she adores you! I think she’s just waiting for you to make the first move.”

Jenn is not the type of girl who would wait for a guy to make the first move. If she likes someone, she’ll make it known.

“Just friends, Mom. That’s all.”

“Okay, if you say so. Are you seeing anyone else right now?” she asks.

And there’s the question I’ve been dreading the most.

“I’m not, no.” I feel awful lying to my mom. I hate that I can’t tell her about Jordan, especially since he’s not just any guy. But I can’t. At least not yet.

“It’s been a while since you broke up with Stacey,” she responds.

“I know. I’ve just been busy with school. Okay, what else needs to get done?” I ask trying to change the topic.

“Um, you can start on the salad. Lord knows, the rate you cut vegetables, you may finish by tonight.”

“You’re hilarious!” I say. Good we’ve moved on from my dating life. “And actually, I found some pretty interesting salad ideas I thought we could try.”

“We don’t need to be super fancy,” she says. “We don’t need a repeat of last time.”

“It still tasted good, didn’t it!?” Last Christmas I may have gone a bit overboard with trying to create the perfect salad. It took me hours to make! In my defence, it was delicious and everyone loved it!

“Okay, make whatever you want.”

“I will!” Okay, time to be creative.

“Hey, do you remember my friend Beth?” she asks as I pull vegetables out of the fridge.

“Um, not really. The name sounds familiar, though.”

I’ve known her for a few years. I ran into her the other day at the grocery store. She was shopping with her daughter.”

Cool.” I have no idea where my mom is going with this.

“Her daughter is your age.”

Oh God, I think I know where she is going with this.

“Okay.”

“She’s cute.”

“Okay.” I’m just going to give one-word answers.

“And she’s single, my mom says looking directly at me.

“Okay …”

“I thought maybe …”

“I’m only here for a couple of days,” I respond. “And then I’m gone for at least a few months.”

“Yeah, but there is no harm in getting to know one another while you’re here. Maybe you’ll like her. Do you want her number?”

“That’s okay.”

“Look her up on Facebook. Trust me, when you see her picture, you’ll want her number.”

“I’ll look her up later.” I want this conversation to end!

“I know that tone; you're not interested.”

I never said that. I'll let you know.

Look, I know you’re still young, but it’s so much easier to find someone now. Both your brother and sister found someone while they were in school, and look how happy they are.”

“I know, Mom.” Both of my siblings got married practically right out of school. They set a rather annoying precedent.

“And they were able to enjoy marriage for a while, and then start a family at a good age.”

“I understand. I’ll look at her profile, okay? But as I said, I’m not here for most of the year, so I don’t really see the point.”

“You come back to visit a few times a year. Besides, if she’s the one, you’ll find a way to make it work. You’re here for a week. Just give it a try and see how it goes. It won’t hurt. Here,” she says handing me a paper with a phone number on it, “her name is Emily. Give her a call.”

“Fine,” I say taking the paper.

Clearly, my mom was planning on having this conversation. She had the number ready to go! Now I just need to figure out a reasonable excuse to tell my mom when she eventually asks why I didn’t called this Emily. And it has to be an excuse my mom will actually believe. I’m so screwed.

——— 

Food, wine, laughter, and love.

There really is nowhere else I’d rather be than home for the holidays. The rooms are bursting with people laughing, eating and joking. The kids are running around, playing, screaming and knocking down everything in their path. The Christmas tree has almost come crashing down at least twice now. Twice that I know of! But it’s okay. I’d rather have a house full of laughter, one that looks like a tornado just swept through, than be alone on Christmas Eve.

As for how my night is going, I’m practically living in the kitchen helping my mom with last minute preparations, and baking. I don’t mind doing all of this work. I always help my mom when we host big family gatherings. My siblings normally help too, but they’re a bit busy trying to tackle their wild and full-of-sugar children.

“Go and eat, Mom,” I tell her for the thousandth time. “I got this.”

“But you haven’t eaten yet,” she protests.

“I’m eating, don’t worry! Go, have fun!”

I’m on my feet all night hurrying back and forth between the dining room and kitchen to fetch more rolls, more gravy, drinks, sides, you name it. When I’m not running around, I’m checking on all of our guests, catching up with an uncle or aunt, or one of my cousins. I come from a rather large family. Because my mom is the youngest amongst her siblings, most of my cousins are older than me. A few are around my age. We all grew up together and are friends, but in the past few years we’ve started to drift apart a bit. Some got married, others, including myself, went away for school. Plus, some of my older cousins have started to become a bit too religious. That’s not a bad thing. To each their own, right? But they don’t see it that way. They have become a bit more judgmental and look down upon me because I’m not as religious as them. I think they’re a bit backwards. Whatever. They’re not perfect either.

For example, at one point in time, as I’m moving between different rooms, I overhear my cousins talking about a recent government funding announcement. The government is investing half a million dollars to improve the safety of the LGBTQ community after a recent spike in hate crimes. I think its a good initiative, since there has been an uptick in violence. But my cousins don’t see it that way. They see it as a waste of money, a move by the government to just buy votes. Yes, I’m not naïve and I know that almost everything is political, but sometimes there is also a need. I don’t add my comments to this conversation. I’d rather not ruin a rather pleasant evening.

As soon as dinner is over, I start clearing away all of the dishes so that I can set up dessert. I may have gone a bit overboard with dessert this year. I made candy cane cookies, gingerbread cookies, a pecan pie, a chocolate cake, a cheesecake, and pudding. This is why I’ve been living in the kitchen since this morning!

But as I start to set the table, I overhear one of my older female cousins say how it’s weird I do all of the work women should be doing. She says my sister should be the one cooking and serving, not me, since I’m a guy. Her husband adds in, he knows who will be wearing the pants in my relationship. Ass. I can’t believe some people still think this way, especially other women! They shouldn’t be defending antiquated and backwards traditions. It makes no sense. I know I shouldn’t respond, but I can’t help myself.

“If you have a problem that I baked,” I say as I pass by, “you’re more than welcome to not have any dessert. I won’t mind. Actually, it might be good if you don’t have any. You have been putting on a little bit of …” I touch my stomach to indicate I mean she is getting fat. I laugh so that she thinks I’m joking. I’m not. I’m sure I’ll hear about this later from my mom.

Not everyone though has an issue with how much work I do.

“This all looks amazing. Did you make all of this?” one of my aunts asks me.

“I did!

“You have the perfect son,” my aunt says to my mom. “I wish my son helped me this much!”

“He really is amazing,” my mom replies.

Once everyone has filled their plates with sugary goodness, a cousin of mine, Isaac, asks for everyone’s attention. He’s only a year older than I am. He’s studying to become an engineer and graduates in April.

“So, we have some news,” he says standing next to his longtime girlfriend. The two met in university and have been together for a few years. She is studying to become a nurse.

“We’re engaged!” she shrieks while extending her hand to show everyone a finger now sporting a rather large ring.

Everyone in the room bursts into congratulatory messages, including myself. I really am happy for them. Isaac is a good guy. A bunch of my female cousins walk over to take a look at the ring. Though, they don’t really need to get that close. I’m standing on the other side of the room and I can see it from here! Someone sure spent a lot of money on that thing. They start to talk about how Isaac proposed. It sounds romantic but I stop paying attention. I turn and notice my mom is looking at me. She has that ‘see I told you so’ kind of look on her face.

Watching my mom and everyone else in the room react to the news makes me wonder what kind of reaction I’d get if I was standing there next to Jordan. I can guarantee not everyone in the room would be as happy as they are now. We wouldn’t be met with the same well wishes. We’d probably be condemned, our love ridiculed and mocked, and not celebrated as it is being done now. Life can be so unfair sometimes.

——— 

By the time I’m finally able to flop down onto my bed I’m utterly exhausted. After the party, I helped my mom and siblings clean up the house. We then went to midnight mass. I really didn’t want to go. One, I was tired, and two, I wasn’t feeling very spiritual in that moment. But I went. I knew that wasn’t a fight I’d win with my mom, and honestly, I didn’t have the strength to fight.

As I sat there listening to the sermon, it struck me as the priest preached about tolerance and love, how truly hypocritical we can be as humans. My mom nodded along in agreement, as did everyone in our pew. They all agreed we should be more tolerant. But they don’t actually believe that. I wondered what everyone would say, how the priest would react, if I told him that I’m gay. That I’m in love with a man. Would they still be tolerant? Or would all those words disappear and hatred fill their hearts? I don’t have to guess. I know the answer. It’s the reason why I find myself slowly moving away from this institution. It truly does pain me, because I do believe in a higher power. I believe in God. But these days I’m often left with more questions than answers. How can I have faith, if the source of that very faith, doesn’t accept who I am? If the source of that faith condemns who I am? I honestly don’t know.

At some point, as I sat there in the pew, I stopped listening to the sermon. Instead, I thought about Jordan. I sat there wondering how his day went. We texted a few times, but we didn’t get a chance to properly talk. I wanted to give him a call, but I just couldn’t find a free moment, or a private corner! So, as I sat in church, I prayed everything was going well with his father. I also prayed for us. That our love would stay strong, that my commitment to him would not waiver, as we try to overcome all the obstacles that will come our way. That my family will one day look at us, just like they looked at Isaac and his fiancée tonight, with love and admiration. That they will one day accept who we are. I know it’s a long shot, but who knows, maybe this will be my Christmas miracle.

I know Jordan’s probably sleeping, since it’s only five in the morning where he is, but I decide to send him a message before I go to sleep. I want one of the first things he sees when he wakes up on Christmas Day to be a message from me.

“Merry Christmas,” I text Jordan.

I’m about to put my phone down when it buzzes. I guess he’s awake. That’s strange.

“Merry Christmas :) Youre up early.” 

“Couldn't sleep. Was thinking of you,” I respond.

“I was thinking of you too.”

“How was Xmas Eve?” I hope it was good. I hope his dad had something special planned.

“It was okay,” he responds.

“Did you have fun?”

“It was okay,” he responds again.

I guess not. Fuck. “I’m sorry, Jordan.”

“Why?”

“I know it’s not working. You’re not good at hiding things. I’m really sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is, Jordan responds.

How I wish I could just hug him right now. “Just remember, a lot of people in this world love you for who you are.”

“I know. How was your party?” he asks.

“Good. It was great to see everyone in my family. I had fun. But there was one small problem.”

“What happened?”

“You weren’t there,” I text.

“I miss you.”

“I miss you too.”

We talk for a little while longer. I tell him about the party, about the surprise engagement, my mom’s reaction. I don’t tell him shes trying to set me up with a girl. He’s upset right now, and I don’t think that conversation will help at the moment. But then I remember something that might make him feel better.

Guess what Jenn got me for Christmas?” I text him.

“Knowing her it was something weird or inappropriate. Or both.”

“Since you’re away for a few weeks she got me something to replace you with.”

“Replace me with? What did she get? A male escort?”

Close. A dildo.”

“HA! That’s awesome. Jenn’s honestly the best. Did you use it?”

“No. But I’m curious how it feels. It’s thick and long.

“Did you bring it with you?” he texts.

“HELL NO! Can you imagine what would happen if my mom found it in my bag!?

“I’m sure you could come up with a reasonable explanation.”

“Yeah, no. I figured when you’re back, I could try it on you :)”

“But it’s your gift. I think you should be the first recipient. I could help you out!”

“If you’re there why would I need a dildo when I could ride the real thing?” I respond.

“True. Fuck. I’m so horny right now.”

“Too bad you don’t have a dildo :)”

“I know. I guess I’ll just have to use my hand.”

That does the trick. Jordan is in a much better, albeit horny, mood now. I would love to continue talking but at one point in time my eyes start to close. I need some sleep.

“Merry Christmas,” I say.

“Merry Christmas.”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

My heart really does break for him. He deserves so much better. At least he’s trying though. He can hold his head up high and say he put in made the effort to have a relationship with his father. I really hope today is better. Maybe his dad will surprise Jordan. Maybe he will get a Christmas miracle.

——— 

It appears tis not the season to believe in miracles. When I woke up, I messaged Jordan, but I didn’t hear back. I thought maybe he’s busy with his dad. I was hopeful. And so, I went about my morning. We opened gifts, had breakfast. But as I’m sitting in the living room, watching my nephews and nieces play with their new toys, I get the one message I hoped I would not get. Jordan tells me he’s on a bus on his way back to his mom’s house. Fuck! Something must have happened with his dad. I quickly excuse myself and head to my room. I need to call Jordan. I need to know hes okay.

“Hey, Noah,” he says, his voice barely audible.

“Where are you? What happened?”

“I’m on the bus. I left.”

“Why?”

“It just didn’t work out.”

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

“I’m …” he sighs, “I’ll be okay.”

“What exactly happened?” I ask.

“I’m not really in the mood to talk about it right now,” he says. “I just need some time to cool down. Plus, I'm on a bus.”

“Okay. You can call me whenever you want,” I respond

“I just feel like such an idiot. I honestly thought he had changed.”

“You’re not an idiot. You gave your dad another shot, and that —”

I’m interrupted by a knock on my door. It’s my mom.

“Sorry, I was just going to make tea and wanted to know if you wanted some?” she asks.

“Just give me a second,” I say to Jordan. Then to my mom: “Sure. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“Is that Emily?” she whispers. That would be the girl she is trying to set me up with.

“No, it’s just Jenn,” I lie. But no sooner are the words out of my mouth that I realize I’ve made a grave mistake.

“Oh, let me wish her a Merry Christmas,” she says putting her hand out to take my phone.

“I’ll let her know,” I say tightening my grip.

“Or I could just tell her myself,” she responds.

Crap. “Okay,” I respond. “Hey, Jenn,” I say to Jordan on the phone. “My mom just wants to say Merry Christmas.”

“What?” I hear him say as I move the phone away from my ear. I quickly, and discreetly hang up on Jordan, and then pass the phone to my mom.

“Hey, Jenn!” My mom says taking the phone. “Hello? Hello? She hung up.”

“It must have disconnected,” I say. “My phone has been doing that a lot lately. I’ll call her back later. She was in a bit of a rush.

“Okay,” my mom says handing me back my phone.

I just have to use the washroom. I’ll meet you downstairs in a minute, okay?

“Okay, I’ll see you downstairs."

That was way too close for comfort! As soon as I’m sure my mom has gone downstairs, I call Jordan back to apologize.

What just happened?” he asks.

“I’m so sorry. My mom thought I was talking to Jenn, and she wanted to say Merry Christmas. I didn’t know what to do so I hung up the phone. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” he says. “It’s either your mom … or my dad … someone just hates we’re together … it’s just the way it is.”

“Your dad hates that we’re together? Did something happen? Did you tell him? Is that why you left?”

“No, no, I’ll tell you later. Listen, I just got back to the city. I’m going to grab my bag and head home, and then probably sleep for a while. I know you’re going to your aunt’s place tonight for dinner. Just call me back whenever you have the chance. And don’t worry if you can’t call today. We can talk tomorrow.

“I will definitely call today.” Now I really want to know what happened.

“Okay. Have a good Christmas.”

“You too. I hope you’re able to salvage the day and have some fun at least.” Then in a quieter voice. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

——— 

I’m distracted the rest of the day. I just keep looking for opportunities to call Jordan. I just want to make sure hes okay. But I don’t see any opportunities. The day is just packed with one activity after another. In the afternoon we all head to my dad’s sister’s place for dinner. This is usually our tradition. Christmas Eve we spend with my mom’s family, and Christmas Day, my dad’s family. My dad’s family is not as big. Hes the oldest of four siblings. Most of my cousins are younger than me. But they’re all good kids. It helps that my dad’s family is not as religious or judgmental as my mom’s family.

As the night starts to wind down, I realize my chances of talking to Jordan are waning. It’s almost midnight where he is. If I don’t call him soon, he’ll probably go to sleep. But then I notice a golden opportunity. My dad’s cousin and his wife need a ride home. They only live about twenty or so minutes away. I volunteer to drop them off and then head home. This way I’m guaranteed to have at least twenty or so minutes to myself, if not longer.

The minute I drop them off and am alone in the car I call Jordan. Much to my relief, he’s up.

“I’m so sorry I’m just calling now,” I say.

“It’s okay. I took a long nap, so I’m not too tired. Where are you?”

“Driving home. How are you feeling?” I ask.

“Okay.”

“Do you want to talk about what happened?”

Jordan explains why he decided to leave. It all breaks my heart. I feel so bad for him. He doesn’t deserve any of that. I honestly want to call his dad and berate him myself! I don’t blame Jordan for leaving. I wouldn’t want to stay there either. His dad honestly sounds like an awful human.

“And so, I just didn’t see a point in staying,” Jordan says. “Besides even if we had a great Christmas, in the end, I don’t think that would have mattered. I don’t think we will ever have a long-term relationship, unless I make some serious changes in my life.”

“Why do you say that? What sort of changes?”

“Turns out my dad doesn’t like gay people. He thinks it’s a choice and that we all need therapy.” He says this with barely any emotion in his voice. He doesn't sound angry or upset.

Shit. I’m sorry, Jordan. I can’t imagine that was easy to hear. What did you say?”

“I tried to defend homosexuality, but it didn’t work. His views are set in stone.”

“Did you tell him about yourself?” I ask.

“No. And not because I was scared, or I knew he would disapprove, but because he doesn’t have the right to know. He’s not part of my life. His opinion doesn’t matter. So I didn’t tell him. You probably think I’m a coward.”

“Of course not, Jordan! I would never think that. I totally understand why you didn’t tell him. You’re right, it’s not everyone’s business. And he doesn’t have a right to know what’s going on in your life, he has to earn your trust first. And clearly, he didn’t.”

“He didn’t. Now I’m even wondering if I should tell my mom.”

“Why do you say that?” I ask.

I don’t know if I have the strength. I just feel so … so … defeated, you know? I don’t think I can handle another negative reaction. I don’t know what I’ll do if my mom doesn’t accept me either. I would just … I would just …” he trails off.

“I understand,” I say.

“Before I was even thinking of telling Aiden … but now … I don’t think I can. I’m sorry I’m so weak ...”

“Jordan, you’re not weak! You’re the strongest guy I know. Coming out has nothing to do with being weak or strong. It’s about when you’re ready. When you feel comfortable for the world to know your truth. You'll know when you reach that point. And if you’re not there yet, that’s okay. There’s no rush. I’ll always be by your side to support you.”

“I know you will.”

“How did your mom react when she found out you were coming back home?”

“She wasn’t happy. She apologized a million times. She thinks its her fault, even though it isn’t. She also called my dad and the two got into it over the phone. She usually is really calm with him. But she was really angry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so angry. It was a very heated conversation.”

“It’s because she loves you,” I say.

“I know. You know it’s funny how we always go out of our way to have a perfect Christmas. People spend hours making food, finding the right gift, decorating. But in the end, all that matters is that you’re with the people you love. My mom ended up picking up Chinese food on her way home from work. We sat in the living room by our old plastic Christmas tree that really needs to retire, and watched some cheesy holiday movie. It wasn’t fancy. It was simple. But it was perfect. And that’s all I really needed from my dad. I didn’t need a big feast or a fancy gift. Just showing me that he cared would have been enough. That’s all I was asking for. Anyway, that’s enough of my sob story, I want to hear how your trip is going.”

“It’s not a sob story! It’s important to talk about these things.”

“I know. But I’d rather focus on something else for a while. How is your trip?”

“Good. Spending lots of time with the kids, my siblings, eating a lot. I think I gained a couple of pounds.”

“You could use them!” he laughs.

So could you! Overall, it’s been good. But I miss you.”

“I miss you too. Are you getting along with your parents?” he asks.

“Yeah, for the most part. My mom wasn’t too thrilled that I called my cousin fat.”

“Really? That’s not like you!”

I fill him in on what happened and her annoying comment. Of course, she called my mom and complained. Even though my mom agreed my cousin’s comment was rude, she told me that I was also rude, and because I’m younger, I should call and apologize. Yeah, that’s not happening.

“And theres one more problem, I say.

“What’s that?”

“My moms trying to set me up with one of her friend’s daughters.” I was always planning on telling Jordan, I just didn’t think before was the right time.

He laughs. That’s not the reaction I was expecting!

“You should go for it. I don’t see the problem, he says.

“Really? You don’t see a single problem?”

“Is she good looking?” he asks, I assume, to annoy me.

“Extremely.” I too can play along.

More than me?

A hundred times more.

Well then, you can't let an opportunity like this pass you by.

I’m not really sure what’s going on. Aren’t you angry or upset?” I ask.

“Why would I be angry or upset?” he asks.

“Because someone is trying to steal the boyfriend you love?”

“Look, from the start, I knew we were going to face challenges. I didn’t expect this one, I’ll be honest. But I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I’m choosing to just roll with what life throws our way. I can’t get angry at everything, especially since I know you’re not going to ditch me for some girl. So, I have no need to worry.”

Well, that’s a good attitude!

“I get that. But she keeps asking me if I called her! I’m not sure what to say.”

Try to delay, tell her you’re leaving soon, or that you’re not interested.”

“Tried all of those.”

You could always tell her you’re seeing someone right now, and just not tell her the gender of said person.”

“I thought about that. But she’s the type of person who asks a lot of follow up questions, and I’d rather not get into that.”

“I don’t know what else to tell you,” he says. “Other than enjoy your date!”

“For Christmas, my mom actually got me a sweater to wear on our first date. She’s really serious about this.”

“Is it at least a nice sweater?”

“That’s what your worried about?” I ask.

“No. But, you know, no one wants an ugly sweater.”

True. It’s a nice sweater.”

“Save it then. You can wear it when we go out on a date.”

That actually makes me smile. “Yeah, that’s not the type of date my mom had in mind.”

“That’s her problem. It’s your sweater now. So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping you would have a good idea! But no. I’ll think of something.”

“Good luck. Oh, and speaking of gifts, I got something much better than a sweater. My mom ended up getting me a new MacBook for Christmas,” he says.

I got more than just a sweater. But as for your gift, that’s great! Your other computer was kind of slow.

“I know, but all I got her was a stupid bracelet.”

I know! I helped Jordan pick it out. We didn’t have much of a budget to work with, but it was still nice.

“It wasn’t stupid. I’m sure she loved it.”

“She deserves so much better! Did you know a new MacBook costs like two thousand dollars! She works so hard and I feel guilty that she spent so much money. I told her to return it. But she said no. She says I deserve it because I listened to her and went to see my dad.”

“You do deserve it. And one day when you’re a rich doctor, you’ll buy your mom an even nicer gift.

Once I’m out of debt that is! Again, speaking of gifts, did you open mine yet?” he asks.

“No, I didn’t. I thought we could open them together.” We traded gifts with one another before we went home, but said we would wait to open them until Christmas. “Did you open yours?”

“Not yet. I was waiting for you.”

“Well, there’s no time like the present for presents. See what I did there?”

“Yeah, that was lame.”

“It was awesome. But even better, I just got home and no one is here! Everyone is still at my aunt’s place.”

“Sweet. Now I can be super inappropriate,” he laughs.

“When aren’t you inappropriate?”

“Good point.”

“I’m just heading up stairs. We can open gifts now,” I say.

“How about we video chat. I want to see your reaction when you see my gift.”

“Why? Is it also a dildo?” I joke.

“No, unfortunately, not.”

A few seconds later his beautiful face pops into my screen. God, how I’ve missed getting lost in those blue eyes.

Okay, I have your gift,” I say to him.

“And I have yours,” he responds. “You go first.”

I tear open the package to find am Under Armour workout shirt and pants.

“It’s perfect,” I say. But also expensive! “Thank you.”

“Now, when I drag you to the gym, you won’t have any excuse that you don’t have any proper workout clothes to wear!”

Dammit. I liked having that excuse.

“I’ll still find an excuse. Open yours.”

I got him a novel by Virginia Woolf ‘To the Lighthouse’.

“I love it, thank you,” he says.

“I told you, you’re not a good liar. Your actual gift is inside the book.”

He starts to flip through the pages until he finds his real gift. I got him two tickets to see a musical, The Book of Mormon. He's never actually seen a musical before!

“I totally want to see this. Thank you! I’ve never actually been to a musical before,” he says. Now he truly is happy.

“I know! You told me once. So uncultured. I’m sorry I couldn’t get front row seats, but you’ll still get a good view from where we’ll be sitting.”

“Who said I’m taking you?” he asks raising his eyebrow.

“You’re right, I shouldn’t assume.”

“Honestly, this is amazing. I look forward to seeing my first musical with you. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Alright, now you said something about being alone and being inappropriate …” he says smiling.

——— 

This never gets easier. I’m always so nervous! I’m sitting in front of my computer in the kitchen constantly hitting the refresh button. Our grades will be posted any moment. I’m sure I did well, but still, I’m nervous! Come on, post them already!

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Oh wait. There they are! I quickly scroll through my marks. Phew. I got an A in four my courses, including English, and an A- in one of my history classes. Not bad.

I quickly text Jordan the good news. He is also sitting and waiting for his grades.

“Straight As, bitches!” he responds back.

“Congrats.”

“I beat nerd boy! You don’t know how happy I am right now!”

“Clearly, you’re the true nerd!” How he manages to do so well in school when he slacks off so much is a mystery. I’m just happy we got the same grade in English. If my mark was lower, I would have been pissed!

“So, how did you do?” my dad asks as he sips a cup of coffee while reading the paper at the table.

“Four As, one A minus,” I respond.

“That’s really good,” my dad replies.

“Thanks, Dad.”

I’m not surprised. You’ve always exceled at school. And with marks like that you know you could do anything.”

And here is the conversation.

“I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

And have you thought about what you will do after youre done your undergrad?” he asks.

“I've given it some thought, but I haven't decided anything yet. I'm thinking I might get my master’s degree.”

“In history?”

“Probably.”

“Probably,” he repeats in a tone that reflects his disappointment. “And what exactly will you do with a master's degree in history?”

“There are many options. I think I could eventually work towards getting my PhD and then go into teaching.”

“You think Noah? You’re almost done with school and you dont know what youre doing with your life. Youve wasted enough time exploring what you like to do. You need to get serious now and figure this out.”

“I havent wasted any time,” I argue.

“Have you given any thought to law school?”

“Yes, I got your e-mail.” My dad sent me an e-mail listing different schools I could apply to, or wait, that I SHOULD apply to. He is of the notion that only certain fields will make good careers including law or engineering. The ship sailed on engineering a long time ago so he is now trying to push law.

“And?” he probes.

“And, weve had this conversation before; I don't want to go to law school.”

“And so, you'll just support your family on whatever income a historian makes.”

“There are many options out there for me right now,” I reply.

“Are there? Look at the job market and the unemployment numbers. Jobs are being cut. You need skills you can actually take to the bank, not a degree that isnt worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Relax. No point in fighting with him. Breathe. “I like what I'm doing, and I can make a career for myself.”

“Be realistic.”

We always have this conversation. It never ends well. “I'm not a failure, Dad.”

“I never said you were one.”

“You treat me like I am.”

“No, I think you have potential. Youre smart and you know that. You excel at whatever you try. You can do almost anything with your life, yet you decided to waste that potential on a dead-end degree.”

“Actually being happy with what I do, does that not matter?”

“It matters. But you could enjoy so many other careers. Just think about what I said Noah. Youll come to a point in your life when you have a wife and children and realize you need to provide for them, a house, mortgage, car, food. You will realize then what I said is right.”

“I'll think about it,” I say. As much as I hate to admit it, he is right. I do need to figure out what I’m going to do once I’m done with my undergraduate degree.

“Think about it. It’s time to get serious. If you dont then Im not sure your mom and I can continue to fund your education.”

Wow, so that’s what it comes down to now, a threat. “Okay."

——— 

I'm not the type of person who is usually glued to their phone. I usually just leave it in my room when I’m at home. I don't have that many friends, so I don’t usually get that many messages. Before this year, I mainly texted my siblings, and Jenn. My siblings are all here, so there is no need to text any of them. I do frequently message Jenn. But the person I am most keen on talking to is Jordan. We exchange messages frequently throughout the day. And some of them can be quite inappropriate. Jordan has been sending me some very explicit texts. I sure as hell don't want anyone in my family to see those, so I make sure to have my phone on me at all times.

Of course, others have picked up on the fact that I am on my phone constantly, including my mother. Even though I’m spending loads of time with her, she keeps telling me to put my phone down and pay attention. To appease her, I try my best to make sure I don’t look at my phone when she is around. But Jordan isn’t making this any easier. I feel like he keeps texting me on purpose!

I’m on my phone, texting away with Jordan, when my brother knocks on my bedroom door.

“Hey,” my brother says popping into my room, “Mom’s calling you downstairs. And she says to put on the sweater she got you.”

Why? I ask him.

He smiles. You have a date.

“What?” Oh shit. She didn’t.

“Her friend is over … and she brought her daughter with her.”

“You're kidding, right?” I hope he is kidding.

He shakes his head. “Good luck, bro.”

“Shit,” I text Jordan when my brother closes the door.

What's wrong? he responds back almost immediately.

My mom called her over,” I write in disbelief.

Who?

That girl she wants me to date! She is sitting downstairs!”

“That can’t be good.”

“It’s not. What do I do?” I ask.

Fake that you're sick?”

“That won't work with my mom,” I write.

“Then I guess you're going to go crush some girl's heart. Be gentle.

You're really not helpful, you know that, right?

I know, but you still love me all the same, he says adding a happy face emoji and a heart.

Unfortunately, I do.

“Now, have a fun and safe night. Remember to use protection.” He adds a bunch of laughing emojis.

“This isn’t funny! Shouldn't you be jealous or angry or something?”

As I told you before, sometimes it’s easier to just laugh at this stuff. We can’t get angry all the time, right? Besides, I know your preference so I'm not worried. Also, I want all the details when you're back!” he responds.

I send him the middle finger emoji.

I have to say it actually helps that Jordan finds this somewhat funny. I’m so glad he isn’t angry. I can’t control my mother! It’s not my fault she called the girl over. Who does that anyway? Now I need to figure out a plan. I need to figure a way to get out of this.

“Noah,” my mom yells from downstairs, “could you come down here for a moment?”

Coming, I yell back.

Time to get the show on the road. I don’t bother changing out of my pyjamas. I know that will irritate my mom, but it will give me a reason to come back upstairs if I need to escape.

“What's up?” I say as I walk down the stairs. My mom gives me an annoyed look when she sees what I’m wearing.

“I told your brother to tell you to change,” she whispers.

“Oh, I forgot.” I continue to walk into the family room.

“Noah, I want to you to meet my friend Beth, and her daughter, Emily,” my mom says. “Beth just dropped by to grab a few things.”

Yes, a few vague non-existent things, I’m sure.

“Hi,” I say to no one in particular. I take a seat on the far side of the room.

“Noah, I was just telling everyone that you’re studying history,” my mom says. “Emily is studying political sciences.”

“Cool,” I reply. I’m not really sure what else to say.

“I'm just going to grab some stuff from the kitchen,” my mom says standing up. “Beth, do you mind helping me?”

“Of course not,” Beth says joining my mom in the kitchen. They think they’re so smooth, but they’re not. They’re both way to obvious.

I could be an ass and just sit here staring at the floor. But it’s not this girls fault that she got dragged into this. I might as well just be a gentleman. I’m not sure if she even knows the real reason she’s here. We make small talk for a while. I ask her about school, where she is studying.

“I guess they’re having a hard time finding those few things,” Emily says at one point in time as our moms try to spy on us. Neither is really good at being discreet.

“Yeah, they’re not really good at this. I wasn’t sure if you knew the real reason you’re here.”

“Yeah, my mom told me in the car. It was too late to object by then. I’m assuming from your outfit that you didn’t know we were coming over.”

“No, I didn’t. Sorry about the pyjamas.”

“Don’t be, they suit you.”

“Has your mom done this before?” I ask.

“First, and I’m going to make sure, last time. You?”

“First time as well.”

“It’s not too bad. My mom promised not to bother me about cleaning up for an entire week, so there’s that. Plus, it’s only seven, and I’m not meeting my friends until after eight, and I figured this wouldn’t take too long. I can still meet up with them and you … you can go back to sleep, I guess,” she says.

Good! She doesn’t want to get together either. That makes this a lot easier. Our moms though, are not. They keep staring at us from the kitchen!

“Where are you meeting your friends?” I ask.

“At a bar close to downtown.”

“How are you going to get there?”

“My mom was going to drop me off at the bus station, and then I was going to take the bus. But I don’t know … my mom doesn’t seem to want to leave.”

“I can drop you off downtown if you like,” I offer. I really want to get away from here.

“Oh, no, that’s okay. I don’t want to inconvenience you. With traffic it’ll take an hour.”

“It’s fine, honestly. I kind of feel bad that you got dragged into all of this. And if we leave now, you’ll make it on time. Plus, we can get away from our moms who are absolutely awful at spying on us.”

“You don’t seem crazy … and if leave together that will placate our moms. If you don’t mind that would be great,” she says.

“Not at all. I’m just going to go change. I don't think the world is ready yet to see me in my pyjamas.”

I run upstairs to change my clothes. After I get ready, I send Jordan a text message. I want him to know whats going on.

All under control. Just going to go drop the girl off to meet her friends. Because some of us are gentlemen!”

He responds back. “Just remember she might be fun tonight, but I'm the one who loves you long term.”

“I'll keep that under consideration,” I respond.

I run back downstairs, but before I get to the family room my mom pulls me to the side.

“See, I told you she was a nice girl,” she says with a huge smile on her face.

“Sure, Mom.”

Have fun.

“I'll try. You ready?” I ask Emily.

“Yep, lets go.”

“It’s kind of sad,” I say when we jump into the car, “that our moms don’t think we can find our own dates.”

“It is. And it’s not that I can’t find a boyfriend, it’s that my mom has never liked any of the guys I’ve dated.”

“Why is that?” I ask.

Probably because I tend to be attracted to guys who are generally a hot mess,” she laughs. “But I can see why she wants to set me up with you.”

I’m going to take that as a compliment, but how do you know I’m not a hot mess?”

“Just a feeling, I guess. You don’t seem like a douche. Most douchebags don’t go out of their way to drop off a girl they don’t know. But I could be wrong.”

“Well, thank you, I guess.”

We start to have a pretty good conversation. She is smart, funny, and beautiful. I have to say my mom does have good taste! If I was straight, I would totally be into her.

“Thanks for the lift,” she says as we approach the bar. “You’re more than welcome to come in and have a drink.”

I hoping she means a friendly drink!

“Oh, no, that’s okay. I don’t want to intrude. Plus, I have to drive back.”

“Okay. Well, I have to say this ambush blind date, or whatever you want to call it, turned out a lot better than I expected. Maybe, if you’re interested, we could meet again?”

Yeah, I don’t think she means as friends. Why did I have to be so nice!

“I’m actually leaving in a few days to go back to school.”

“Right, of course. Well, you have my number, so if you’re ever back in town …”

Yeah, I’m definitely not getting a friend vibe. I don’t want to lead her on.

“Right. I probably should have mentioned this before, but I'm actually seeing someone right now. My mom doesn’t know. So, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell your mom.”

“Oh.” She isn't amused. “Okay, well, have a good night then.”

By the way she slams the door shut, I know she isn’t thrilled. I guess I am a douche after all. Dammit!

My one consolation is that at least I have an hour to myself now. I can call and talk to Jordan in peace. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled I wasn’t seduced by a random girl. It wouldn’t kill him to be just a bit jealous!

So, how did your big date go?” he asks with a laugh.

You know most people in a relationship wouldn't so happily ask that question.

I'm not most people.

“Ha, yeah, you're far crazier. Um, the night went well. The girl was actually really nice, smart, funny, good looking. We really connected and the time just flew by.”

Sounds like you had fun,” he says.

“Is someone jealous?”

“Yeah, sure buddy.

Well, you have no need to worry. It didn’t end well.”

“Why? What happened?”

She offered to meet again.

“How horrible!” he mock gasps.

“Again, seeing how I’m your boyfriend, isn’t that horrible!?”

Maybe she just wants to be friends, he responds.

“Yeah, I don't think thats what she had in mind. But it doesn’t matter. I told her I was already dating a crazy buffoon. She didn’t take the news too well.”

“Ah, well, your loss, my gain.”

“And how is that?” I ask.

I know you won't easily be seduced by some girl and ditch me.

Not if my mom can help it.

“Oh, I can take her on any day,” he says with a smug voice.

“Oh really? You clearly havent met my mom yet.”

No, but she can try all she wants to drag you away from me, I've got one thing that will always make you come right back, guaranteed.

“And what is that?” I’m curious.

“Oh, you know, its long, hard, and fits perfectly into certain tight spaces, over and over, and over again,” he says in what I’m sure he thinks is a seductive voice.

“Oh, I got all excited; you're only talking about that small, little

Hey, who you calling small? I don't remember you complaining when I had you bent over the bed.

“Wow, someone is sure defensive tonight,” I laugh.

Always. But going back to your earlier comment. Small? Someone clearly needs a hands-on reminder.

Anytime, anyplace.” I would kill for a hands-on reminder right now!

“I'll take you up on that,” he says. “Small, I'll show you small! We'll see what you think when I have you screaming my name in a few days.”

“You're acting awfully weird tonight even for yourself, you know that, right?”

“Some people call it character.”

Uh-huh, or craziness.

“Just the way you like it. All. Night. Long.”

He really is a buffoon.

——— 

The next few days are rather uneventful. My mom doesn’t try to set me up with any more girls, which is good. She does though ask me repeatedly how my ‘date’ went with Emily. Clearly, she is very pleased with herself. I tell her it was okay, and that maybe when I’m back home again I’ll see if we can go out on a proper date. Yes, I know I outright lie to my mom, but it’s just so much easier this way. I can’t tolerate the constant questions. As much as I love my mom, the one thing that truly does irritate me about her is just how invasive she can be. She really has a hard time respecting other people’s privacy.

Plus, I only have a couple of more days at home. Tonight is New Year’s Eve. It’s a family tradition to ring in the New Year together watching a movie. After that my brother and sister will go back home. And then I'll head back to school. So just a few more days to go until I’m back in my own world with Jordan.

As for Jordan, he also appears to be doing well. He’s in a much better mood now that he’s been back at home for the past few days. Though, I think he was starting to get a bit bored and restless. It doesn’t help that Aiden was out of town. He actually returned this morning. The two are at a friend’s house for a New Year’s Eve party right now. The last I checked Jordan was still certain he was not going to tell Aiden about us just yet. Especially not tonight at the party. The experience with his father really shook him. I don’t blame him for wanting to take his time. But who knows, maybe he’ll change his mind once he meets Aiden tonight.

As for how Jordan’s night is going, I don’t really know. I haven’t heard from him much throughout the night, which I assume means he’s having a good time. I did message him at midnight his time to wish him a Happy New Year, and that I wished I could be there to kiss him. He responded that he too felt the same way. A short while later, Jordan sent me another message to say he is on his way home and that his night was interesting, but not in a good way. He said he’d fill me in when he gets home. I’m just waiting for his call now.

And there he is.

“Hey,” I say answering the phone. “Happy New Year!”

“Happy New Year, Noah. How’s it going?”

“Okay. How was your night?”

“It was good. It was great to see Aiden … but then ...” he says.

Then what —”

I’m interrupted by a knock on my door. It's my brother. He wants to let me know they’re about to start the movie. I tell him to start, and that I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.

“Sorry, I’m back,” I say to Jordan.

“All good?” he asks.

“Yeah, just my brother calling me downstairs to watch a movie,” I say.

“You should go. I know it’s a family tradition.”

“I'll go in a bit; it usually takes them a while to start as it is. So, what happened with Aiden?”

Well, we were talking and —”

“Hey, hold on,” I say to Jordan.

My mom is at the door.

“What’s up, Mom?”

“We’re waiting for you to start,” she says.

“You guys go ahead, I’ll be down in a few seconds,” I say.

Whom are you talking to this late?” she asks.

“A friend from university.” I’m not saying Jenn again. I don’t want a repeat of last time.

Talk to them later. We’re waiting,” she says.

“I’ll just be a few minutes. Just start without me.”

“We'll wait. How long are you going to be?” she asks

“Like five minutes, Mom. Don’t worry, you guys can start.”

“Don’t be long,” she says before she shuts the door.

“Sorry about that,” I say to Jordan.

“All good?” he asks.

“Yeah, that was just my mom. They’re waiting for me to start the movie.”

“You should go. We can talk later,” he says.

“I’d much rather talk to you right now. Besides, if I miss the first few minutes of the movie it won’t be the end of the world. I’m sure I can catch up. Anyway, back to what you were saying. How was your night out with Aiden? You said it was interesting but not in a good way.”

“Yeah, it was. He kind of surprised me with some big news, that I was not expecting … and now I’m not sure what to do.”

“Okay. What exactly did he —” Oh, for the love of God! Someone is at my door again. “Give me a second, Jordan.”

It’s one of my nieces. My mom sent her up to see why I was taking so long and to tell me they’re all waiting. I have no idea why they can’t just start without me! I tell her I’ll be down in a second. She runs to the railing and yells that I’ll be down shortly. My mom is standing at the bottom of the stairs and tells her to tell me to hurry up.

“Hey, sorry. I'm going to call you back in five minutes,” I say to Jordan. “Don't you fall asleep on me, okay?”

I go out into the hallway.

“Mom, I said you guys can start without me. I'll be down in a bit, okay?”

“What is so important that can't wait until tomorrow? You and your siblings all leave in a few days. You can be on the phone all you want then. At least spend time with us while youre here.”

“All I’ve done since I’ve been here is spend time with you guys! I just need five minutes. Honestly, just start without me. I’ll be there in a second.”

She shakes her head and walks off. Man, she irritates me sometimes.

“Hey, sorry about that,” I say when I call Jordan back.

“No problem. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. My mom can be a bit intense at times. This is actually normal.”

“That's normal?” he asks surprised. It doesn't sound normal.”

“Yeah. She’s been like this since we were children. That probably explains why I’m so socially awkward! I honestly just can’t wait until I’m back with you. We’ll be together in the same house. And it will be perfect. Honestly, that is what gives me strength, just knowing I'll be living with you soon.”

Jordan doesnt say anything in response. All I hear is a sigh.

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

No.

What's wrong?

Um … I'm sorry, Noah ... I’ve been thinking … and um ... I don’t know if it’s still a good idea that we live together …”

What the fuck?

I'm so sorry for the long wait. I hope it is worth it. We now know what Noah is dealing with at home.
And clearly something happened with Aiden on New Year's Eve!
As always, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Copyright © 2018 Ethan; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Did Aiden confess to having feelings for Jordan? I got this vibe Aiden might be gay or bi earlier in the story though even if he was I don’t see why that news on it’s own even if he harbors feelings for Jordan would be any cause for him not to move in with Noah. The only thing I can think of is maybe more than just words were exchanged and now Jordan is confused. New Years is always linked with the whole concept of a kiss at the stroke of midnight so I’m assuming either Aiden kissed Jordan or sadly I’m worried they had sex. Jordan has never seemingly been attracted to a guy before Noah and while this whole concept seems like it’s out of left field the probably just seems high that in his highly emotional state over what happened with his father that Jordan ended up finding comfort in someone other than his boyfriend. If this scenario did happen while Jordan lied giving the impression he was dating Jenn Aiden still knew he was dating someone assuming he made the first move and obviously despite how emotional he may have felt Jordan still chose to cheat so despite their being no evidence I’m already feeling sorry for Noah. Here Noah is being already judged harshly without his family even knowing he’s gay and now he’s potentially been cheated on by the guy he’s in love with on New Years of all times.

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2 hours ago, JBR1977 said:

Im guessing Aiden has decided to move and will be going to the same school as Jordan, and has suggested they get their own place, thus derailing the move in with Noah. 

 

Yeah, that's my thought as well.

 

2 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

Did Aiden confess to having feelings for Jordan? I got this vibe Aiden might be gay or bi earlier in the story though even if he was I don’t see why that news on it’s own even if he harbors feelings for Jordan would be any cause for him not to move in with Noah. The only thing I can think of is maybe more than just words were exchanged and now Jordan is confused. New Years is always linked with the whole concept of a kiss at the stroke of midnight so I’m assuming either Aiden kissed Jordan or sadly I’m worried they had sex. Jordan has never seemingly been attracted to a guy before Noah and while this whole concept seems like it’s out of left field the probably just seems high that in his highly emotional state over what happened with his father that Jordan ended up finding comfort in someone other than his boyfriend. If this scenario did happen while Jordan lied giving the impression he was dating Jenn Aiden still knew he was dating someone assuming he made the first move and obviously despite how emotional he may have felt Jordan still chose to cheat so despite their being no evidence I’m already feeling sorry for Noah. Here Noah is being already judged harshly without his family even knowing he’s gay and now he’s potentially been cheated on by the guy he’s in love with on New Years of all times.

 

I sure hope Jordan didn't have sex with Aiden and I think that it'd be out of character for Jordan if he did. He was quite upset when his ex cheated on him so I can't imagine him cheating on Noah. If Aiden did kiss Jordan, that may cause him to feel bad and make him feel like he's cheated, but it shouldn't affect his decision to live with Noah after the break.

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First I was :pissed: with Noah's mom, but now I'm :pissed: with Jordan. I hope Noah tells both him and his mother to go to Hell.

I'm guessing Aiden is coming back and wants Jordan to share a place - but that's NO excuse, since Jordan should simply say he's already going to share with his boyfriend.

Edited by Timothy M.
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The holiday tightrope is almost over, and you tantalize us with incomplete information on Jordan’s situation. And what is up with Aiden and not living together? Not again. Come on, boys, time to find your courage together. 

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@JBR1977 I'm sorry! I know cliffhangers are mean. But I can't help myself. I got to find a way to make sure you all come back for the next chapter 🤓

Noah's mom, in some ways, is the exact opposite of Jordan's dad, she cares too much. She is the helicopter parent who it too involved and just can't let go. 

 

@NimirRaj I don't want to give anything away about what happened between Jordan and Aiden but I will agree with @Geoffrey257, that would be out of character for Jordan. 

 

@Tonyr I wouldn't say there was no progress. It may seem like they are where they left off before the holidays, but I think that discounts how much they have grown to understand their own surroundings, and that will be important once they're back at school and how they interact with one another. 

 

@Timothy M. @Parker OwensThere are always two sides to a story. Jordan may have a valid reason. And Noah's reaction will be important. 

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So....all the progress they have made and Jordan is just gonna throw it all away! What a douche! I would send Jordan the dildo Jenn gave him with a note telling him to go fuck himself! Noah deserves better.

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I’m really not feeling Noah’s mom and I think Jenn is a pretty awesome friend, I will wait and see on Jordan's last statement.

Noah may want to look into some grants or scholarships for the rest of his education, with his father basically saying that they will pull funding if he doesn’t do things their way.  It may also free him to be more true to himself, not being tied to their purse strings.  

There may be love in Noah’s family but it seems conditional;  I was waiting to see if Noah’s fears were unjustified (surely someone in his immediate family must suspect he may be gay) but his fears do seem legitimate, with Noah being as sensible as he is, I shouldn’t be surprised.  

Waiting....oh and Happy New Year 🎊🎆🎈

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I have to say I'm a bit surprised by the negative reaction towards Jordan ... I honestly didn't expect that at all. @jaysalmn

 

@wenmale64 I'm sorry you feel that way; it's not my intention at all, as you can imagine, to annoy readers to the point where the feel they need to walk away temporarily. Moving forward, all I can say without giving anything away, is that there will be points where things are settled, but there will also be some rocky points (as you'd expect in any relationship). I hope I can keep you engaged along the way. 

 

@FanLit Happy New Year to you as well ... and everyone at GA

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3 hours ago, wenmale64 said:

I think @Tonyr has it right. Getting close to stepping away for a bit and letting the cliffhangers settle out.

Cliffhangers are part of any series based medium (books, TV series, movies, etc.).. made to make you want to come back to see what happens. Curiosity is human nature and patience is not. Do you wait until an entire TV series is done before deciding to watch it just so you don’t have to go through a cliffhanger moment? 

I guess if you have a weak heart and can’t handle the anticipation/anxiety of a few days of waiting to find out what happens, it might be best for you to step away. 😜

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10 hours ago, Geoffrey257 said:
3 hours ago, Ethan said:

@JBR1977 I'm sorry! I know cliffhangers are mean. But I can't help myself. I got to find a way to make sure you all come back for the next chapter 🤓

Noah's mom, in some ways, is the exact opposite of Jordan's dad, she cares too much. She is the helicopter parent who it too involved and just can't let go. 

 

@NimirRaj I don't want to give anything away about what happened between Jordan and Aiden but I will agree with @Geoffrey257, that would be out of character for Jordan. 

I sure hope Jordan didn't have sex with Aiden and I think that it'd be out of character for Jordan if he did. He was quite upset when his ex cheated on him so I can't imagine him cheating on Noah. If Aiden did kiss Jordan, that may cause him to feel bad and make him feel like he's cheated, but it shouldn't affect his decision to live with Noah after the break.

 

The concept of Jordan cheating did seem really out of character and it was/is a large leap to that conclusion though Aiden’s involvement is what confuses me. You see while we don’t know much about Aiden I got the feeling he’d be ok with his friend being bi if Jordan revealed this fact to him so now I’m left wondering if I misread his character traits as one would assume he said something potentially homophobic. The more reasonable conclusion is Jordan is now paranoid people will think he’s gay because he’s moving in with another guy and it’s somehow linked to a conversation with Aiden. Aiden has been his friend for a long time and with him already being upset with his dad’s homophobic beliefs along with the fact he’s never been attracted to a guy before Noah I can see where he might be out of his comfort zone when it comes to living together. I’m just wondering how Aiden fits into it as while the theory above about how Aiden possibly wants to share an apartment is interesting the wording by Jordan just doesn’t fit that scenario as he’d likely have said that vs him saying that he is thinking that they shouldn’t move in together.

 

I suppose I jumped to the more scintillating/dramatic idea that Jordan may have cheated mainly due to his emotional state and the timing. By the timing I mean it’s very likely he was drinking on New Years and that combined with a touch of depression can be a bad combination not to mention I was reflecting back on how Noah said he was acting weirder than usual when they talked before which while it didn’t seem that weird to me at the time upon reflection I thought it might have been a hint he was upset and/or buzzed at the time. It’ll be interesting to find out what’s really going on and see if Noah & Jordan can work through whatever it is.

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55 minutes ago, Ethan said:

I have to say I'm a bit surprised by the negative reaction towards Jordan ... I honestly didn't expect that at all. @jaysalmn

 

 

Oh come on, Ethan....  you didn’t think anyone reading this would react negatively towards Jordan for backing out of the move in, especially on the cliffhanger you left it at? Silly boy. I’m sure once the reason is made clear, there might be some backtracking by the readers, but whatever the reason, we’re probably gonna think Jordan is a pussy for backing out. Noah’s year is starting out like shit, someone is going to have to take the blame... and that, my friend, is you. 😝 

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2 hours ago, JBR1977 said:

 

Oh come on, Ethan....  you didn’t think anyone reading this would react negatively towards Jordan for backing out of the move in, especially on the cliffhanger you left it at? Silly boy. I’m sure once the reason is made clear, there might be some backtracking by the readers, but whatever the reason, we’re probably gonna think Jordan is a pussy for backing out. Noah’s year is starting out like shit, someone is going to have to take the blame... and that, my friend, is you. 😝 

Honestly, I probably wouldn't have had as negative of a reaction if it weren't for the fact that Jordan was the one who pressured Noah relentlessly to take their relationship beyond just friends until he finally gave in, then out of nowhere backs out on moving in together. Whatever the reason is, yeah, that was a pussy move!

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@Ethan It is the right of every author to create their stories their way. With that said, you are a great writer with the ability to draw readers into the world of your characters.  This is why you are seeing the rebellion against Jordan and the developing situation.  If your goal was to develop empathy for your characters, you hit the nail on the head!  Now as for myself, I am a hopeless romantic and do enter the worlds of my readings. To see the lead characters hurt causes my negative reactions. This is not really your fault, as you are creating that world the way you need it to be for your story. Bravo.  I can and have waited until a story is complete to read it through. This allows me to sail through cliffhangers and rocky moments and quickly get to the happy solutions to the problem.  I will even admit to skipping to the end of the last chapter first to see if the main characters are still alive and happy. If they are, I read the story. If they are not, I move on before I grow attached to them.  Just my way of dealing with personal pain I guess.  Keep writing your story in YOUR way and us readers will read it our way!!  I do love the story, but I have developed a great empathy for both Noah and Jordan and do not want to see either one hurt. I know there are rocky roads in any relationship. This is life. But to have to wait for the next chapter, while feeling the characters pain, detracts from the enjoyment of the story. This is my style and others will disagree. I respect that.  Keep writing, your work is great!!

Edited by wenmale64
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Well, @JBR1977 @jaysalmn I knew people would react, but again, not like this. I guess that's because I know what happens next, and you don't 😜

But you will soon. The next chapter is almost done. I'll be very curious to see if you still feel the same way (part of me wants to write a spoof chapter where Jordan comes off as the hero, and Noah the one everyone hates, but that would distract from my goal of actually updating this story!) 

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7 hours ago, Ethan said:

Well, @JBR1977 @jaysalmn I knew people would react, but again, not like this.

 

Uh, you had Noah telling Jordan the thought of living with him soon gives him strength, and then Jordan says it probably won't happen. And then you're surprised we fall on Jordan like a ton of bricks ? Dude, no matter the reason Jordan is a jerk for blurting it out that way. He could at least have said it differently, not like he's gotten cold feet, but like something has happened to make it impossible, if that's the case. "I've been thinking" Honestly :facepalm:

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Still loving Jordan. He's so much fun. But, oh what a tangled web we weave...

 

Noah's Dad has a point, you know. Does Noah really want to teach? Doesn't seem as if he's given his eventual profession any real thought, and by now he probably should have.

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Back into the reading groove after a busy holiday.

Sheesh! It's impossible to get some private downtime at Noah's home.

I was so sure Noahs mum was going to overhear his conversation with Jordan and realise what was going on. As inquisitive as she is, I'm sure she's close to finding out.

Emily clearly had her hopes dashed and wasn't dragged along by her mom as an unwilling participant.

Glad Jordan got to enjoy the rest of his holidays at his mums home.

As for Aiden, my best guess is that he's been kicked out of home for whatever reason, and is looking to come back and stay at Jordan's, even as a temporary measure.

I suppose the alternative of informing Aiden that he was moving in with Noah wouldn't work either as Aiden would want to move in with them.

That was enough time apart. Looking forward to the next Chapter.

Edited by Bard Simpson
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GAH  What the hell did Aiden say to Jordan? Great chapter!  I'm not going to comment more because I want to keep reading. :P 

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