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    Ethan
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Noah and Jordan - 27. Chapter Twenty-Seven


*** JORDAN ***

All I feel is rage.

Fists clenched, eyes closed, jaw wired shut, I stand in the hallway seething.

I never expected my conversation with Noah would go so badly.

I never expected he would be so ungrateful.

“Jordan …”

I open my eyes. Jenn is standing before me.

“What happened?” she asks with concern.

“Ask him,” I say with acid in my voice.

I walk past her, not looking back.



*** NOAH ***

Maybe now hell finally get what he wants.

I repeat the sentence over and over and over.

Angry, insulted, infuriated … none of those are the right words to express how I feel right now. My blood is boiling, my body shaking.

What was Jordan trying to say, that I would sleep with Sebastian to convince him? He knows how things ended between us, how forceful Sebastian was that night in his apartment. Jordan wouldnt dare be so crass and insinuate I’m some sort of whore! How could he be so vile? It’s not like I want to talk to Sebastian. I just can’t let that video come out. I can’t. I thought Jordan would understand that but he didn’t! Instead he accused me of being a wimp, of being scared. I thought by now he would understand my life, understand the difficulties I face. He just doesn’t get it.

“Hey …” Jenn says walking in. “I just saw Jordan in the hallway. It looked like one of the nerves in his face was about to burst … and you look exactly the same. What in the world is going on?”

“Jordan is an ass. That’s what is going on.”



*** JORDAN ***

Five months ago, on a day similar to this, I left Jenn’s apartment in a hurry. I had just broken up with her and was on my way to see Noah. Back then, on that day in October, I had a destination in mind when I left. Today again Im leaving her place in a hurry. The difference though is that this time I have nowhere to go; I have no real place to call my home.

I wander the streets, going whichever way my legs take me. My steps are random, disorganized, sporadic. My movement erratic. After walking for what seems like an hour I end up in a familiar spot. Perhaps my brain was leading me here all along. I end up at the school gym, the place where it all started. It was on this volleyball court that I found Noah. Its here where I took that first step. Now it is volleyball and one of my teammates that is driving a wedge between us. I sit down on the bleachers to think.

“I’ll drop out.” I text the person back who sent me the video.

I sit on the bleachers for a while. It calms me down, clears my head. I know where I need to go. I know what I need to do.

I make my way to Aiden’s house. He’s not at home. I have a key so I’m able to enter on my own. It kind of makes this a bit easier. I don’t have much time. I just want to grab my bag (good thing I didn’t unpack) and get out of here. I’ll call him on my way to let him know I’m taking off. I pick up my bag and am just about to leave when he returns home.

“Hey, you’re back. How did it go …” He looks at the bag in my hand and his expression changes. “You going somewhere?”

“It went worse than expected.”

“Shit. I’m sorry to hear that man.”

“Noah freaked out and we had a huge fight.” I briefly try to sum up our conversation for Aiden. “He blamed me for the video, for going too fast. He said I was forcing him to do things he didn’t want to and to come out when he wasn’t ready. Even though that’s not true. I didn’t force him. And then he said I didn’t understand what he was going through, even though I’ve been nothing but supportive. You know that!”

“I do.”

And then he said I shouldn’t come to Jenn’s place on Sunday for dinner.

How did you respond?”

“I asked him if he was ever going to come out or if I was just wasting my time. And you know what he said? He said I was just wasting my time. And now I don't know. Maybe we both are just wasting our time.” I feel that anger returning inside of me.

“Dude, you know he didn’t mean that. He probably just said that out of anger. What did you say?

“I didn’t say the smartest thing in return. Noah said he was going to talk to Sebastian about the video. I said I thought that was a bad idea, but he wouldn’t listen … so … I said something I shouldn’t have.”

“What did you say?” Aiden asks.

“I said he probably trusts Sebastian more than he trusts me. Then I slammed the door and left. I know I shouldn’t have said it given their history. I was just so angry with him. It was stupid.”

“I think you guys both just need a bit of time to calm down. I’m sure once you’ve cooled off, you guys will patch things up.”

“I’m not sure we can,” I say.

“Everyone says dumb things in the heat of the moment and —

“But sometimes they tell the truth as well,” I say interrupting.

“I don’t think you should put too much weight on what Noah said. He was scared and angry and so were you. People say stupid things.” He pauses for a moment. I think he can tell he isn’t convincing me. “Look, I’ve only known Noah for a few months now, and I can honestly say I think he is crazy about you. I know you care about him too. You guys will figure this out.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Now, what’s up with the bag? Are you going somewhere?”


*** NOAH ***

I’m in no mood to rehash my argument with Jordan for Jenn, but she insists. I tell her about the video, the demand from Sebastian and our ensuing fight.

“My face is partially obstructed in the video, but it is obviously me! Anyone who knows me will figure it out in a second. And instead of understanding that, Jordan has the audacity to accuse me of being scared, of being a wimp for not coming out,” I say.

“Did he say you’re a wimp?”

“No. But I know he thinks it. Just because hes ready doesn’t mean everyone has to be. I said I would try to talk to Sebastian, but he told me not to

“I’m with Jordan on that one. Talking to Sebastian might not be a good idea, especially given what happened the last time ” she starts to say.

“I know that. I know he is manipulative, trust me, I spent time with him. But what other choice do I have? The other day … I brought up the topic of homosexuality with my mom … and you know what she said? She said she’d rather die than have a gay child. Death is preferable!”

“Oh, shit. I’m sorry, Noah.”

“And Jordan just doesn’t get that …”

“Did you tell him that?” she asks.

“I didn’t. But that’s why I have to talk to Sebastian. It’s my only option.

I don’t know … you have to be very careful with him.”

And you want to know the worst part?” The anger is back in my voice. “Jordan seemed to suggest I would have sex with Sebastian to stop him from releasing the video.”

He said what!?

Exactly!

Wait. Did he use those words?” she asks.

“No, but I know that’s what he meant.”

“What exactly did he say?”

“He said maybe Sebastian will finally get what he wants now. What else can that mean? The last time what he wanted was to sleep with me. He practically forced himself on top of me. Jordan knows how awful that experience was. I cant believe he would think I'm some whore who would just sleep with a guy to get something.”

If that’s what he meant then that’s not right. I’d be pissed too. But I don’t know … what he said could mean anything. I just … I don’t think that would be something Jordan would say.”

“So, you’re saying I’m wrong?”

“No … I just saying keep an open mind. He might have meant something else.”

She’s right it is possible. But that’s what I think he meant.

“So, what did you guys decide in terms of the video? Will Jordan drop out?” she asks.

“He says that was his plan all along.”

“You sound like you don’t believe him,” she says.

“I don’t know what to believe right now.”

We talk a lot more about what might happen if the video is released, and what that could mean. But also, if Sebastian does live up to his word.

“So, if he drops out, and the video doesn’t come out … then what’s next then for you two?” Jenn asks.

We need to figure out where this relationship is going. It can’t stay this way. We need to be on the same page, and if we’re not then …”

Then what? Would you break it off?”

“I don’t know. Maybe …”


*** JORDAN ***

I remember walking up this street not too long ago. It was last fall and I needed to get out of the city. Thoughts of Noah were driving me crazy. I wanted to get away from him so I could think. Now, here I am again a few months later, walking up the same street for the same reason. Again, I’m running away because of Noah.

I step up to the front door. Before I knock, I take a deep breath to try and compose myself. I’ve gone over everything in my head a dozen times. This is the right thing to do. It is what I need to do. I need to be strong.

I knock on the door and wait. I have my keys with me this time, just in case. But I hear a noise. She’s home.

“Jordan …” my mother says as she opens the door. “I … it’s so good to see you! What a wonderful surprise!” A smile spreads across her face. She leans in and gives me a big hug.

“Hi, Mom,” I say trying to smile back at her. But my weak smile starts to crumble. My defences fail. My strength evaporates. Wrapping my arms around my mother is all it takes. In the comfort of her warm embrace, I do something I rarely do. I cry.

——— 

By the time I wake up it is late in the evening. I don’t even remember falling asleep. All I remember is coming home, seeing my mom and crying. Seeing her just opened the floodgates. I told her I was going to go use the washroom, change and wash my face. I think after that I sat down on my bed for a few seconds just to relax and compose myself. The next thing I know I'm waking up close to midnight.

I make my way down to the kitchen. My mother is at the table. Dinner is still sitting there.

“Hi,” I say walking into the room.

“Hey. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.”

“Are you hungry? I can warm you up a plate.”

Yeah, a bit.” I actually haven’t eaten all day, now that I think about it. “Have you eaten already?”

“No. I was waiting for you.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Mom. You should have eaten.”

“It’s okay, Jordan. Besides, I don’t think I could’ve swallowed a single bite,” she says getting up to grab plates. “I’m really worried about you. Is everything okay?”

“Everything is fine, Mom, I say with a smile.

“Jordan, obviously something isn’t right. You show up out of the blue and then start crying. I don’t remember the last time you cried in front of me. Is it your health?”

“My health is fine. I’m 100 per cent completely okay.”

“Are you in trouble?” she asks concerned.

“No, no, no, nothing like that at all. Honestly, Mom, I’m fine. Everything is okay.”

“Okay.” She seems a bit more at ease. “You know you can tell me anything, right?

“I know.”

The reason I took the long five-hour bus ride to see my mom was to tell her the truth. I realized I was being a hypocrite for telling Noah that he needs to eventually come out to his family, yet I haven’t told my mom yet. And why haven’t I told my mom? I kept telling myself I was waiting for Noah, to give him time and space. Though, he did give me permission a few weeks ago to tell her about him. But I still felt I should wait. Now I don’t see a reason to keep waiting. I’m ready. I’ve been ready for a long time. She deserves to know the truth.

The only problem is I just don’t know where to start.

“I came home because I really miss you, and I wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Okay,” she says sitting back down, the look of concern back on her face.

Here goes.

“I’ve met someone. Someone really special. Someone who I can honestly say I’m madly in love with. And maybe someone I could spend the rest of my life with.” I start off here so she knows just how serious this is.

“Jordan, that’s wonderful!” she says, a smile finally on her face. “I’m so happy for you! That’s great news …” Her smile starts to fade when she sees my facial expression hasn’t changed. “But somethings wrong. Does she not feel the same way about you?”

“No, they feel the same way, I think.

“Okay. Then what’s the matter?”

I thought about giving this long, dramatic speech explaining how I slowly started to have feelings for a guy. I practiced it a dozen times on the bus. It’s all I did for the past five hours. I have the words almost memorized. But sitting here looking at her, I realize I don’t need to. If there is one person in this world who understands me besides Noah, it is her. That’s when I get an idea. I reach into my pocket and take out my wallet. I remove the picture of Noah and me, the one I gave him on Valentine’s Day. I was looking at it most of the way here. I hand it to her upside down so she can read the message on the back first. I say a small prayer at the same time, not that I’m religious. I’m just surprisingly really nervous all of a sudden.

“Forever yours,” she reads out loud. She then turns the picture around. Her eyes widen. “Oh.”

“His name is Noah.”

She looks down at the picture, and then at me. And as she looks into my eyes, she starts to smile. “You two look perfect together.”

I wasn’t expecting her to be angry, I assumed she would be surprised or shocked. But I’m the one who is surprised. I wasn’t expecting that reaction at all. I’m kind of caught off guard. I was getting ready to explain myself. But I don’t have to. A huge sense of relief washes over me. I can’t help myself. For the second time in one day, tears start to flow from my eyes. She leans forward and gives me a hug.

“Thank you,” I mumble in between tears.

“I love you, Jordan. I always have and always will, no matter who you love.”

It only takes me a few seconds to regain my composure. I lean back in my chair. “So, you’re not angry that I’m gay?”

“Angry!? Why in the world would I be angry? Im surprised. I had no idea at all that you liked men. You dated so many girls before. I guess I’m just the worst mother in the world that I never picked up on it. I’m so sorry —”

“No, no, no, you’re not. You’re amazing. You’re absolutely amazing. You have no need to apologize at all! All of this happened rather quickly. I didn’t even realize it until just a few weeks ago. It all started when I met Noah in the fall. And if anything, I should be the one apologizing to you for hiding this for so long.”

Of course not. I can’t imagine any of this has been easy,” she says.

I talk to her a little bit about the process, and how I learned I had feelings for Noah. “And that’s actually why I came home for Thanksgiving. I thought coming here for a few days would help. But my feelings didn’t change. Rather, they grew even stronger. I wanted to tell you earlier, honestly … I just … I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

Again, that warm smile returns to her face. “I’m not disappointed, and I’ve never been disappointed in you. You being true to who you are makes me happy. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better son. Well, maybe one that isn’t as messy, oh and doesn’t sleep in all the time, and maybe learned how to cook …” she says with a laugh.

“Hey, I thought you said I was perfect!”

“Ah, perfect-ish,” she says.

This is going much better than I ever expected. I’m actually laughing with my mom.

“You don’t know how much your support means to me,” I say.

“That’s my job as your mom. I love you with all of my heart. You are the world to me. All of this, everything I do, is for you, for your happiness. And if he makes you happy, then that’s all I need. But something tells me there is more going on here.”

She is a smart lady. “There is. We had a really big fight about our relationship and about coming out. Noah isn’t out. His parents are really religious. And, I’m not saying he has to come out now, or even soon, but at some point he does. But I’m not sure Noah will ever tell his parents, which makes me wonder what future we have.”

“How did you think I would react when you told me?” my mom asks.

“I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought you would be okay with it.

“Did you entertain the thought I wouldn’t?”

“I did. I even had a whole speech prepared in my head just in case you weren’t okay.”

At any point did you feel that maybe I wouldn’t want you in my life anymore?”

“It briefly crossed my mind.”

“And how did that make you feel?” she asks.

“Scared. Really, really scared.”

“Why?”

“Why?” I ask surprised. “Because you’re my mom and I love you, and I can’t imagine my life without you. I want you to accept me for who I am.”

“So, how do you think Noah feels?”

“Scared. I understand that, I honestly do. And I’m trying my best to be supportive, I really am. I just … I need to know there is at least a possibility we can be a normal couple eventually. Otherwise …”

“You would break up with him?” she asks.

“Maybe.”

Even though earlier you said he might be the one.

“I think he might be,” I say. “But I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.”

“You need to ask yourself this question is he worth fighting for? No relationship is easy. You have to work for it. But it shouldn’t be that difficult either, like mine was with your father. Only you know if the good outweighs the bad.”

“It hasn’t always been easy, but it does. Noah is an amazing person. And I honestly love him.”

“Can you picture your life without him?” she asks.

I pause. “No.” I honestly can’t.

“Then you know you’re answer. Look, Jordan, you’ve always been a courageous, brave young man. You’ve always been a risk taker; you don’t think about the consequences first, which isn’t always a good thing! But that is who you are, and you can’t expect everyone to be like you. I don’t know this Noah and I don’t know his circumstances, but you have to give him time and space. And I know that’s probably what you’re doing. I know you have an amazing heart. And I know with your support and your help that he’ll come around.

“I really hope you’re right.”

“So do I. Besides he’s cute. You two really do look great together. You have good choice in men,” she says with a smile. “Clearly, I’ve taught you well.”

I can’t help but laugh. I love her so much. “I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or I should be weirded out.”

My mom just shrugs as she laughs. She honestly is the best. “Probably both.”

“You know when I came out to Aiden,” I say, “he didn’t believe me at first. He thought I was joking and trying to pull a prank. I thought maybe you would think the same thing as well, and not believe me at first.” I used to pull a lot of dumb pranks when I was a kid.

“The thought crossed my mind, but only for a second,” she says. But once I looked into your eyes, I knew.”

“How?” I ask.

“Because I’m your mom! I’ve seen you go through every emotion possible. The good ones and the bad ones. And I know when you’re serious. I can just tell.”

“I guess I’m not as hard to read as I think I am,” I reply.

“No,” she says shaking her head. “Okay, I’m going to warm us up some food, because I’m starving. Then we can sit down and eat and you can tell me all about the man who stole my son’s heart. Deal?”

Deal.”

She honestly is the best.


*** NOAH ***

“You look distracted,” my mom says as we walk to Jenn’s house for Sunday dinner.

“What?” I say zapping back to reality.

“You look distracted.”

“Oh, no, just thinking about school stuff.”

That’s a lie. I’m thinking about that damn video and my fight with Jordan. That’s all I’ve been thinking about this weekend. I’ve tried to block it out, and that awful conversation I had with my mom the other day, but I can’t. All of those thoughts are clouding my brain. I can’t figure out how I should approach Sebastian. I don’t want to text him or ask him to meet up. I know this is a bad idea. Jordan and Jenn are right; I can’t trust Sebastian at all. I need to be very, very careful.

“Hey! Welcome, come on in!” Jenn says opening the door.

“Thanks for having us. This is for you,” my mom says handing her a cake.

“Thank you! Come in, have a seat. Sit down, relax. Can I get you a drink?”

“I’m alright, thanks dear. Will it just be the three of us today?” my mom asks.

“No, we’re waiting for one more person.”

I give Jenn an inquisitive look. Who else could possibly be coming? I’m pretty sure its not Jordan, so that only leaves Aiden. But I can’t imagine he would come alone. I ask Jenn the first opportunity I get.

“Who else is coming?”

“Aiden.”

Really? Why would he come?” I ask in a lowered voice.

“Because I invited him. He called this morning to say he thought it was best he didn’t come because, well you know why. But I felt bad for him and didn’t want him to be alone, so I forced him to join us. I hope that’s okay. Have you managed to talk to Sebastian yet?”

“No. I’m having second thoughts if I should …”

“If I were you, I would stay clear of him. He’s trouble.”

“I know, I’ve been going back and forth ... and wait, why would Aiden be alone? Wheres Jordan?”

She doesn’t answer my question because someone is knocking on the door.

“That’s probably Aiden,” Jenn says moving towards the door. “Hey, thanks for coming!”

“Thanks for having me. This is for you.” Aiden hands her a bouquet of flowers. “You said not to bring dessert, but I didn’t want to come empty-handed.”

“Thank you, they’re beautiful. I must say you’re looking quite spiffy today,” she says.

Aiden is wearing dark jeans that fit him perfectly with a snug white collared shirt. His top two buttons are open, showing a bit of smooth skin. He’s topped his ensemble off with a vest, and thick-rimmed glasses. He also has just a little bit of facial hair growing, enough to make him look groomed, yet scruffy at the same time. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t know you wear glasses,” I say.

“I don’t. They’re non-prescription. Just trying to go for a new look. And this must be your mother. Its a pleasure to meet you. I’m Aiden.” He extends his hand with a big smile.

One thing about Aiden – he's very amicable and friendly. He comes across as everyone’s best friend. He’s always laughing; I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a smile on his face. It only takes him about five minutes to become my mom’s best friend.

“Do you study with Noah and Jenn?” she asks.

No, I actually go to school in Australia. I’m just here on a co-op placement.”

“Oh, so how do you all know each other?” my mom asks.

“I met Aiden through a mutual friend,” Jenn says.

Yeah, my boyfriend I mutter to myself.

“Sorry, what was that Noah?” my mom asks.

“Oh nothing.” Oops.

Dinner goes by smoothly. The food is really good. Jenn jokes about her cooking skills, but she actually is a great cook. She won’t admit that because then she wouldn’t be able to force me to help her all the time! Most of the conversation is dominated by Jenn and Aiden. Both are very talkative. Aiden charms my mom. I think by the end of the meal she is in love with him.

“He’s cute,” my mom says to Jenn the minute Aiden gets up to use the washroom. “I really like him. And you two seem to really hit it off.”

“Oh, it’s not like that,” Jenn says. Is she blushing? Wow.

“I may be old, but I’m not stupid. I think he likes you. And I’m pretty sure you like him.”

“He’s just a friend,” Jenn says with a smile. “I’m just going to grab dessert.” I can tell that is her excuse to get away.

“I’ll help you,” I say.

“Well, that was awkward,” Jenn whispers to me so my mom doesn’t hear us.

“You’re not fooling anyone,” I whisper back.

“Did you not see how he looks today!? Well of course you did,” she says with a wink. “He is making this not-dating-my-ex’s-best-friend pledge very difficult.”

“I wish I could have a moment alone with him so I could find out more about what’s going on with Jordan.”

“Well, I can try to arrange something.”

“What do you have up your sleeve?” I ask.

“Just watch and learn. Here grab the cake and take it to the table.”

“Sure.”

As I set the cake down on the table Aiden joins us.

“Noah, can you do me a favour?” Jenn asks. “I just realized I’m out of milk. Can you run out and grab some, please? There is a small shop just around the corner that should be open.”

“Yeah, not a problem,” I say. So, how is she going to get Aiden out of the house now?

“I’ll join you,” Aiden says.

Well I guess that was easier than expected. The two of us walk out of the building in silence. I’m not really sure what to say to Aiden. I want information but I don’t want to be direct.

“Your mom’s really nice,” Aiden says.

“Yeah, she is. And she clearly likes you. Your charm has won her over.”

“I hope you don’t mind that I came today.”

“Not at all, why would I mind?”

“Because I know you didn’t want Jordan to come.”

“He told you what happened I assume?”

“Yeah,” Aiden says. “He texted the person that he’s dropping out of the race.”

“Oh.” I’m not surprised. I knew Jordan would keep his promise. “I hope you know I didn’t want any of this. I do feel bad that he had to drop out.”

“I know. But he did it because he cares about you. The person just responded with ‘I knew you’d make the right choice’. Jordan asked about the video but didn’t get a response back.”

“Did Jordan ask you to tell me this?”

Aiden hesitates for a moment. “Yes.”

I guess thats why he wanted to join me. Jordan is using him as his proxy.

“Well, thanks for telling me. You’re a good friend Aiden.”

“I try to be. Look, I don’t want to interfere in your relationship, but I care for both of you. I know we’ve only known each other for a few weeks, but I also see you as my friend. And I want to see both of you happy. So, when Jordan is back, if I can be of any help let me know.”

“What do you mean when hes back?” I ask. “Where is he?”

Oh, you don’t know. He went to see his mom.”

“Oh.” Interesting. I had no idea he was planning on going home. “Do you know why?”

“Um, I think it’s best you talk to Jordan about that.”

Fair. Maybe he went home to tell his mom about us? It’s possible. Though, he hasn’t mentioned talking to his mom in a while. A couple of weeks ago, he asked my permission if I’d be okay if at some point, he told his mom about me. I told him it was fine. He has every right to tell his mom about us.

“When does he come back?” I ask Aiden.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say.”

After we grab a carton of milk, we make our way back to Jenn’s place. Aiden says he cant stay much longer because he has a date. I look over at Jenn. I can see the disappointment in her face. She’s trying her best to hide it.

“I met him a few weeks ago at the gym,” Aiden says. “He’s a really nice guy.

I’m sorry, what? Both Jenn and I perk up. Did Aiden just say he is seeing a guy? What the hell?

“Oh.” My mom’s facial expression changes rather quickly. Her smile is gone.

The mood in the room changes drastically. No one says anything. My mom looks uncomfortable. Jenn looks confused and dumbfounded. I try to change the topic.

“So, any suggestions on what sights I should take my mom to see tomorrow?”

It doesn’t help. The conversation is just awkward. Aiden tries to engage with my mom, but she doesn’t really talk to him. That friendly banter is gone. She barely answers his questions. She gives one of her fake smiles. She isn’t being outright rude, but she isn’t being friendly either. All it took was one little announcement.

After about twenty or so minutes Aiden asks to take his leave.

“Jenn, thank you so much for the wonderful dinner. And ma’am,” he says turning to my mom with his hand extended out and his million-dollar smile, “it was a pleasure meeting you.

“Yes,” my mom says rather coldly. She doesn’t shake his hand.

“Jenn, Noah. I’ll see you two later.”

Well, that was interesting. And odd.

——— 

“Did you enjoy dinner?” I ask my mom as we walk back home.

“I did. Jenn cooked a lovely meal.”

“And what did you think about Aiden?” I ask out of curiosity. Her demeanour noticeably changed when Aiden made his announcement. I'm pretty sure my mom has never met a ‘gay’ man before. I put the word ‘gay’ in quotations because I’m pretty sure Aiden doesn’t like other men. The more I think about it, something tells me that was a social experiment on his part. Was it his or Jordan’s idea?

“I didn’t like him at all. He seemed fake.

“Really? Earlier you were telling Jenn how much you liked him, and that she should ask him out.”

“No, she shouldn’t. He clearly isn’t a good guy. You shouldn’t hang around people like him.”

“What do you mean people like him?” I ask.

You know, his kind of people. Is that the friend you were telling me about?” she asks.

The friend. Oh, right, my ‘gay’ friend. “He is.”

“Hm, yeah, just avoid him. Anyway, about tomorrow, I have to be at the airport …”

My heart sinks. His people. She actually means my type of people. If only she knew the truth.

When I get home, I take out my phone. I know what I have to do.

“Hey. I was wondering if we could meet up on Monday night for coffee?”

And send.

This is the right thing to do. This is the right thing to do. This is the right thing to do.

If I keep telling myself that than maybe I’ll eventually believe it. Maybe.


*** JORDAN ***

It was a short visit, but it was just what I needed. I’m glad I came home. Telling my mom was the right thing to do. I feel liberated. Free.

We had a great weekend. Sunday my mom called in sick to work, something she never does, so that she could spend the day with me. She wasn’t planning on making a big Easter meal, since she was going to be working, but we managed to put something together. It was nice. It was exactly what I needed. It was the reset I was looking for. I had another long talk with my mom about where I am in my life, in terms of school, my career, my relationship. It really helped me refocus my priorities.

Now though, I have to go back. I’m packing up my bag when my phone rings.

“Hey, Aiden,” I say.

“Hey, Jordan. How are you doing?”

“I’m good.”

“Feeling any better now?”

“Yeah, I am, thanks for asking. It was good to get away.

I told Aiden already about my mom’s reaction. He was really happy. And, as he pointed out, he was right. He knew my mom would be cool. And she was.

“How was dinner on Sunday at Jenn's place?” I ask.

Aiden had asked me before going to make sure I was okay with it. I told him I was. I wanted to get his impressions on Noah’s mom.

“It was good. Jenn’s a great cook.”

“She is. Though I’m more curious to know about Noah’s mom.

“First impression, she was really nice. Naturally, she loved me. We were talking and laughing. At first, we had a great time. But then, it kind of went downhill.”

“Why? What happened?”

“I told her I’m in a relationship … with a guy.” He puts a lot of emphasis on the last word.

“Wait? What? Did I miss something in the two days I’ve been gone?”

“No, you didn’t miss anything. It was a test. I wanted to see how she would react.”

Ah, smart guy. “And?”

“Yeah … it was not good, man. Before, she really liked me. Who doesn’t, right? But then when I made my announcement, she became really cold and distant. It was like night and day. Like she became a different person. I could tell she was uncomfortable. She wouldn’t even shake my hand when I left. I can see why Noah is afraid to tell her. She is clearly homophobic.”

“So, Noah’s fear is legit then.”

“I’m afraid so.”

I never doubted Noah even for a second when he said his parents are conservative. But still, hearing it from Aiden too really drives the point home. Maybe I was too hard on him?

“That’s unfortunate, I say. “He’s really close with his family,” I say.

“Yeah, I figured from that dinner,” Aiden says. “And —”

“Hey, Jordan,” my mom says knocking on the door, “we have to go or you’ll be late.”

I nod towards her. “Aiden, sorry man, I have to run. I’ll be back in town by about nine o’clock at night. And you’re sure I can come back to your place? I don’t want to impose? I have nowhere else to stay!

Dude, stop being an idiot. You’re welcome to stay as long as you need.”

“Thanks. Oh, and by the way, how did Noah and Jenn react to your news?”

“They looked surprised and really confused initially. But I’m sure they figured it out by now.”

“I bet Jenn was a bit disappointed too.”

She doesn’t like me!” he says.

“And people say I’m clueless! Anyway, we’ll talk more tonight!”

I grab my bag and run downstairs. My mom is waiting at the door.

“So, have you decided what you’re going to do in terms of Noah?” my mom asks when we are in the car.

Yeah. I’ll talk to him,” I say. I’ve thought a lot about our fight over the last two days. While I know Noah was wrong, I think I could have handled it better. We were both angry and said things we probably shouldn’t have. But at the end of the day, I still love him and want to be with him, no matter how long we have to stay in the closet.

“I think thats a good idea. You’ve both had time to think, and cool down, which will help.”

“I hope so.”

“And then when you do patch things up, you’ll let me know when I get to eventually meet him.”

“You want to meet him?” I’m surprised.

Of course I do! This could be my future son-in-law. Why wouldn’t I?”

Because you’ve never really asked to meet any of my girlfriends before.”

“I didn’t want to be one of those meddling moms. But this is different. I want to meet the guy who stole my son’s heart. It doesn’t have to be now. Whenever you both are ready.

“Well, let me first patch things up with him, then I’ll look into that.”

Noah meeting my mom … that would be interesting.


*** NOAH ***

I can’t say I really enjoyed the last day of my mom’s visit. I took her to some of the popular sights around town and to the mall to do some shopping. It was a beautiful day, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I was still so disappointed.

Was I surprised at how my mom acted this weekend? Not really. Though I never thought she’d say she’d prefer death to having a gay son. I was also surprised by her behaviour towards Aiden. I thought she would at least be amicable in front of him. Why did just one fact, one tiny fact about his life, which isn’t even true, change the way she felt about him? Why did it bother her that he said he was dating a guy? How did that affect her in any way? It didn’t, and yet she couldn’t get past that. And if she treated him that way, how will she treat me, her own son? Perhaps it would have been a good thing if Jordan was there. He could have seen what I’m dealing with.

I’m in a foul mood the rest of the day. It only improves when I see my mom walk through security at the airport. The nightmare trip is finally over. It’s been a terrible week. It’s left me feeling even more miserable than before.

Now I’m on my way to have another dreadful conversation.

——— 

“I’m surprised you texted me,” Sebastian says from across the table.

We’re meeting at a local coffee shop. I texted him after Sunday dinner asking if he can meet today.

“I thought it would be good to catch up,” I say.

He gives me a look to indicate he knows I'm not telling the truth. “We haven’t spoken for months and every time we’ve been in the same room you’ve ignored me. So, you’ll have to forgive me if I find it strange that you want to catch up now.”

“The last time we spoke was when you came and found me in the library. Do you remember what you said to me back then?” I ask him.

“Um, not really. I think I told you about Jordan seeing Kate.”

“That’s right, you did. But you also came for another reason. You came to bury the hatchet. You apologized for what happened, but I turned you away.”

I don’t want to directly ask him about the video. I have a feeling if I do, he will just lie. But also, what if he didn’t send it? I don’t want to give him any ammunition either.

“Sounds about right,” he says.

“Well, I’m here to bury the hatchet, if its not too late.”

I figure this is my best shot at keeping the video hidden, by trying to mend fences. I hate myself for being here. I hate that I’m trying to mend fences with an awful human being, who doesnt deserve to be treated with respect. But I have to.

“Why now?” he asks me.

“Because I’ve been reflecting a lot on this past year, and how much has changed. You were part of that change. I know things didn’t end well, but I want to put that behind us. It’s now almost the end of the school year and you’re graduating soon. I don’t know if our paths will ever cross again and I don’t want to part ways on bad terms.”

I hope our paths never cross again.

“Well, I don’t want to part ways on bad terms either.”

“So, does that mean we’re okay?” I ask.

“It does.”

“Thank you.”

“So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, why don’t you tell me why you really called me here.”

“I’m sorry? I don’t know what you mean.” Crap.

“Noah, you know exactly what I mean. You called me here because of Jordan.”


*** JORDAN ***

I can’t concentrate. All I keep thinking about is my volleyball meeting and then seeing Noah. I was going to text him, but he beat me to it. He asked if we can meet and talk when I’m back in town. I suggested that I come over after my volleyball meeting. He agreed.

Right now, I’m heading to that team meeting. I just want to get this over with. I know I could have just emailed the coach, but I need to do this in person. I want Sebastian to see me back out. I don’t want to think I’m hiding from him. I hope that will placate his stupid vindictive ego, but who knows. The only downside is I know my teammates are going to ask why I changed my mind. I honestly don’t want to have that conversation. I know what I'm going to say, but still I know some of them will be disappointed.

As for myself, am I disappointed that I’m dropping out? No. In the end Noah matters more. I just hope this is enough.

“So, feeling confident today?” One of my teammates, Liam asks when I arrive.

“I’m feeling sleepy,” I say not answering the question.

“Crazy long weekend?”

“Yeah, just busy with school and, you know, with exams coming up.”

“I know what you mean.”

I have similar conversations with a few other teammates. Like the one with Liam, I don’t really answer the question. The coach has a few announcements before he gets to the team positions. Unfortunately, captain is last.

“So, Jordan and Chris are vying for Team Captain,” the coach says. Chris of course is Sebastian’s friend.

“Actually Coach, I’ve decided to withdraw my name,” I say.

“What?” I hear Liam say. A bunch of people are surprised.

“Oh,” the coach says. Hes also surprised. I think he also wanted me to be captain next year. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

I look over at Sebastian. He has this smug look on his face. It confirms that indeed he is the one behind the video. Since there were only two people in the race, and I dropped out, Chris wins by default. After the meeting I try my best to take off as quickly as possible, but my friends catch up to me.

“What the hell was that?” Liam asks.

“Why did you throw in the towel?” another one chimes in.

“I figured school will just be crazy busy next year,” I say, “and I am not sure I can handle the added responsibilities. Plus, Chris is a great guy

“No, he isn’t,” Liam cuts me off. “He’s terrible!”

“You don’t know that,” I say.

“We do. He’s arrogant and rude. You would have made a great captain.”

“Thanks. But there is always fourth year,” I say.

“Fourth year will be even busier than third year!” one of them correctly points out.

“I’m sorry I let you down guys,” I say.

“Don’t worry man. You’ll just have to suffer with us next year. Are you going to join us for some drinks?” Liam asks.

“I can’t. I have a lot of work to do. Let’s meet up some time this week!” I say.

One meeting down, one more to go. That’s the one I’m really nervous about.


*** NOAH ***

Strength.

Tonight, I need strength. But it is nowhere to be found. In my core, I feel weak. No matter what I do, I feel cold. It’s as if the icy air has seeped right into my bones, chilled my soul. A sweater, a blanket – neither work. But still, I sit, wrapped in a blanket, on the couch, and wait. I wait for Jordan. At exactly 7 o’clock he knocks on the door.

“Hey,” I say in a mellow tone as I open the door.

“Hi,”

“What happened to your key?”

“Oh, I figured, maybe, um, it would be better to knock.”

He seems nervous. His tone is also soft, conciliatory in a way.

“Come in.”

We sit down on separate couches across from one another.

“Did your mom make it back okay?” he asks.

“She did,” I nod.

That’s good. How was her visit?”

“It was okay,” I say weakly. That’s an understatement. “How was your trip back home? Aiden told me you went to see your mom.”

“I did. It was good. A spur of the moment thing. But um … I actually went to tell my mom about us. I realized I was being a hypocrite asking you about coming out to your family, when I hadn’t done the same. So, I told her that I’m gay.”

And what did she say?” My heart is pounding.

“She said it was fine. That she was happy for me, for us. It went much better than I could ever have imagined.”

I manage a weak smile. “That’s really good to hear.” I truly am happy for him.

“I know I’m lucky. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. Aiden told me about your mom, and her reaction to his announcement. And I’m sorry. I know this is really difficult for you. You have to believe me, I never meant to push you or put any pressure on you. If I did, honestly, I’m truly sorry. I’ll never do that again.”

I shake my head as it drops. I’m made such a mess of things.

“You have nothing to apologize for Jordan,” I say looking at him. You’ve honestly been perfect. The entire time you’ve been so supportive. I’m just the ingrate. I’ve just been taking and … not giving back. Everything I said the other day … it was all wrong. You were right. You didn’t pressure me into going to the club. I kissed you. I wanted to be close to you. That was my choice. And yet, I blamed it on you. I demanded you drop out of the race. I disinvited you to Jenn’s place. And you didn’t deserve any of it. All you were trying to do was help. And how do I respond? Like a selfish ass.

I … I want to say I said all that stuff because I was angry but … but that’s just an excuse. I can’t justify my actions. I shouldn’t have said those things. You didn’t deserve any of it. And I honestly, I don’t know how to tell you how sorry I am. Honestly, Jordan, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize. I was wrong. And I understand if you can’t forgive me.” I needed to say all that. I have to own my mistakes.

“If I’m being honest, what you said really did hurt. All I was trying to do was help you, to be a good boyfriend.”

“I know that now,” I say.

“You taking ownership of what you said though really helps. And I understand. You were angry. You were stressed. There was a lot going on. None of this is easy. And so, I forgive you. We both said things we shouldn’t have. I’m really sorry for the comment I made about Sebastian. That was out of line and I shouldn’t have said it.”

“You have to know I would never sleep with Sebastian,” I say. That weakness is again starting to take hold of my body.

He looks surprised. “Of course I know that. Why would you think that I would think otherwise?”

“Because of what you said. You suggested I would sleep with Sebastian —”

He cuts me off. “What? I never said that at all!”

“You said Sebastian would finally get what he wants.

“Yeah, I meant he would finally break us up, not that you would sleep with him. I would never imply that, Noah, especially after how he treated you.”

Oh. Jenn was right. Now I feel like an even bigger fool. I place my hands over my face as I shake my head.

“I’m sorry Jordan … I’m really sorry … I’m such an idiot … but … why are you apologizing then?”

“For saying you trust Sebastian more than you trust me. I know thats not true and I shouldn't have said that. I saw Sebastian today. I dropped out like I said I would.”

There’s another reason why I feel awful.

And I’m really sorry about that too. I hate that you had to do that because of me,” I say. I feel like my body will collapse at any moment.

“I did it for us,” he says. “Did you end up talking to Sebastian?”

“Yes,” I say.

“What did he say?”

I don’t think he will release the video.”

“So, he admitted it was him?”

“No,” I say.

“I don’t understand. How can you be sure then that he won’t release the video?”

“I just am. You’ll have to trust me on that.”

“Okay. If you say so than I trust you.”

“Thank you.” I’m struggling to breathe.

“I’ve really missed you these past few days,” he says.

“I’ve missed you too.” I feel faint. I can’t look at him.

“So, does this mean that we’re okay?” he asks.

I pause for a moment. I keep my eyes on the floor. This is so much harder than I thought it would be.

“I really do love you, Jordan,” I struggle for air. I have to stay strong. I can’t cry.

“And I love you too,” he says getting up from the couch. He kneels down beside me and takes my hands in his. “What’s wrong?”

My body feels limp. I can’t be selfish. He deserves someone so much better. I have to do this.

“Jordan … I … I …” Breathe, Noah. Breathe. “I can’t … I can’t do this … it’s not fair to you … I think … I think we should … I think we should break up …”

So, Jordan finally comes out to his mom. And her reaction -- quite different from what we've seen from Noah's mom.
I really wanted to highlight the juxtaposition in this chapter. Jordan's mom is pretty awesome. Noah's mom ... not to much.
Noah, in the end, does meet Sebastian ... but something happens.
Noah also apologizes to Jordan and he realizes his mistakes -- but then ...
As always, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2018 Ethan; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments



Good.  Breakup.   I hate Noah now more than ever. 

 

 

 

Anyway.  I'm glad Jordan has a good mom.  And this chapter was a good one. 

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Oh my god! I think Noah had some kind of "transaction" with Sebastian for him not to release the video...!!!!

😱

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Wow, that was a chapter full of ups and downs - very intense! So much happened. Just when I thought everything will turn out to be alright - there comes another hit!

You really know how to turn a story around and then shift it again. A really awesome read! (Aiden was again amazing and I loved the description of his new look! :))

 

I don't quite understand why people can hate Noah so much. Jordan's way of thinking is more relatable and comprehensible to me - and it seems to quite a few other readers as well. When I read Jordan's thoughts and listen to his words, I feel like - as I put it in a comment earlier - his kind, good soul is shining through. I think that is what makes me love his character so much.

Noah's thoughts seem to be withdrawn and locked, even when we see the story unfold from his perspective. I can understand why he is that way and that's more than ok, but for me some feelings or insights to his inner logic seem to be missing. What makes his soul - with his unique qualities - shine? (It can be difficult when your boyfriend's soul shines so bright.)

 

I like the difference in the characters of the guys, that is one bit that makes your story so good to read! Thank you!

 

PS: Seems Jordan was - once again - sitting on the coach: "....he says getting up from the coach. He kneels down beside me and takes...". ;)

Edited by cocoon
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1 hour ago, Ethan said:

And dammit! Why do I keep making that stupid mistake? That's it. No one owns a couch in this story anymore. From now on everyone has a sofa. 

 

Chesterfields my man! - use the proper language of Noah and Jordan's country 😉

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6 minutes ago, jagboi said:

 

Chesterfields my man! - use the proper language of Noah and Jordan's country 😉

 

A Divan

Edited by Fitzhugh
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@Geoffrey257 @Fitzhugh @Onim @ColumbusGuy

I'm not sure if I should - but I'll take it as a compliment that I have some of up so riled up at a fictional story. Maybe I did do something right 🤔 (even if perhaps evil). 

 

Sometimes it's because you love someone you have to make a difficult decision. And by doing so, perhaps for the time, you're not being selfish. (yes i know that doesn't make much sense, but I hope it will eventually!) 

 

There is SO MUCH I want to say in response to these comments, but I fear, I'll ruin something. So, all I'll say is I THINK (and hope) that a lot of the concerns/frustrations you guys are expressing right now will be addressed in the coming chapters -- especially in regards to Noah. Whether Noah is selfish/a prick/an ass -- I hope to shed some light on that soon. Some of you may still be angry -- but over time, I think that will change. Let me know if I'm wrong. So, please do stick around! 

 

One final point -- Noah has been handed a lot from his parents -- but one shouldn't forget he is independent too. He can be okay on his own. He can take care of himself. Again, it is more of losing everything else that he is afraid of - not of having to support himself. Because he can. 

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1 hour ago, jagboi said:

Chesterfields my man! - use the proper language of Noah and Jordan's country 😉

Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard anyone use that term. Maybe it's not common where I'm from in his big old country. 

 

1 hour ago, Fitzhugh said:

A Divan

I had to Google that! Cause I was totally like 🤨

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32 minutes ago, Ethan said:

-- Noah has been handed a lot from his parents -- but one shouldn't forget he is independent too.

Apparently Noah has forgotten how to be independent. At this point we're left wondering just exactly what he has to lose? Homophobic parents? His family? That gnawing in his stomach from fear that someone will out him?  At some point in time he's just going to have to reach down, find his testes, and grow up. I'm seeing such a radical imbalance in where these two are in life, maturity, and love that maybe this is really best for Jordan.  I've said it before but sometimes the real happy ending is that two people don't end up together.  

Edited by spyke
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44 minutes ago, Onim said:

Make no mistake...the story is compelling and definitely has our attention...AND IS VERY WELL WRITTEN!! Otherwise, you wouldn't be getting all these different opinions on the characters...NOTICE: No one is leaving for the exits...we're all still here, waiting and longing for the next chapter...you've got skills, Sir Ethan!:thumbup:

 

Thank you. We all bring our own experiences to any story which is why I think we react in different ways -- and I can see a lot of passion out there. I guess sometimes I feel I have to defend Noah because I have a soft spot for him -- perhaps because some of his traits and experiences are based on my own life! So I understand why he is the way he is (plus because I also created his character). But I know I haven't always cast him in the best light. There is still a fair bit more of story to come so we will see how people feel when this is all said and done. 

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Poor Noah: He's facing a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If he comes out, he loses his parents at the very least, not to mention his family's financial support. If he doesn't come out, he continues to live a lie and to remain at the mercy of a blackmailer, not to mention the friction his decision might generate with Jordan (but he wouldn't lose Jordan, as Jordan has already decided that being with Noah is more important). Noah has to realize that there is no good answer to his dilemma, as he will experience loss no matter how he chooses. (Jordan isn't absolutely sure his mom will be OK with his orientation, though even Aiden says she will be, whereas Noah's mom makes clear that she'd rather be dead.)  As neither of his choices are good, Noah should settle on the option that makes him the most happy; but instead, he's making the choice most driven by fear: I am profoundly disappointed in Noah for that reason (and for his willingness to relinquish Jordan to that fear), just as Jordan makes the commitment never to give up on Noah. The boys end the chapter even farther apart from where they started. 

 

By the way, I say we rename the coach "Basil Chesterfield" and sit on him whenever we want to!  😂

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Now hours later after a stormy reaction over prick Noah resolution i came to think that douch Sebastian  blackmailed him somehow.

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