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    Ethan
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Noah and Jordan - 34. Chapter Thirty-Four

*** JORDAN ***

I can’t concentrate on anything. After dropping off Noah, Brody and I return to my house. He's talking, but I have no idea what he’s really saying. I’m not fully paying attention. My mind just isn’t there. My brain is clouded. All I can think about is Noah. He came. He came for me. I never would have thought he would actually come. It felt good to see him again, talk to him again, after such a long time. And yet …

After Brody leaves, I go straight to bed. I’m beyond exhausted, both mentally and physically. But I can’t sleep. Again, all I think about is Noah. I keep thinking if Brody is right. Did Noah come here to get back together? Or is this just about being friends? I honestly don’t know. I can’t answer the question.

The problem, I realize, is that nothing has changed. Noah still isn’t out. A few months ago, I was okay with that. I was okay with waiting with him in the closet. But now things have changed. I’ve gotten a taste of what it feels like to be open to the world, and I like it. I like this feeling. I don’t want to go back. So, even if Noah says he wants to get back together, what would I say? Would I tell him that I still love him? Or would I tell him I can’t go back into the closet? I don’t know.

After an hour of tossing and turning I call Aiden. It rings, and rings, and rings and then goes to voicemail. I send him a text instead. “Guess who came to visit me today? Noah. Call me!” But he doesn’t. Bastard!

And so, I keep thinking. At some point in time I realize no matter what happens, I want to be Noah’s friend. I don’t want him out of my life. I know a few months ago I was adamant that I couldn’t be friends with Noah. It made no sense. How could I just be his friend and see him every day and not remember what we had? How could we just pretend like we were never something more than just acquaintances? But now, having him here, having him help, I realize I don’t want him out of my life. I don’t know why he came, but I know that I don’t want him to leave on bad terms. Life is short, and I want to be happy. If I’ve learned anything from my dad’s death, it’s that I don’t want to have any regrets. And I know if I let Noah leave again, I will regret that decision.

At some point in time I finally manage to fall asleep. I wake up almost exactly at seven in the morning. For some odd reason I can’t seem to turn off my internal clock. Today that’s a good thing. That means I win. Noah has to stay at my place tonight. I know that might not sound like a good idea. But if we’re going to be friends and move on, we need to be okay around each other. Otherwise, this won’t work.

After I pick up Noah, we head to a restaurant to have breakfast. I thought it might be weird talking to him, that there would be this distance, but there isn’t. It’s as if we picked up right where we left off. It’s proof we’re meant to be friends. Though, I purposely avoid the topic of Brody. I don’t want to talk about him. I kind of feel guilty. Even though I’m within my rights to move on and date, it feels as if I’ve done something wrong. I think it’s best we overall just avoid talking about dating. Though, I really am curious if he ended up dating girls. But that is none of my business.

Before we go any further though, before we can be friends, I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room. We need to talk about us.

“As much as I hated being away from you, I think the time apart helped. I think we needed that time apart. I’ve moved on. I’m happy with Brody. I feel like I finally have my life in order. I feel … like I can let go of the past. And it seems like you’ve moved on too. Clearly, we’re not the same people we were back then. So, what I’m trying to say is, if you’re still open to the idea, I would gladly be your friend.”

It is only a fleeting moment, but just for a second it feels as if Noah’s heart is breaking. But the moment doesn’t last long. He quickly smiles. “I’d really like that. I just don’t want you to hate me anymore.”

My eyes open wide. I’m completely taken aback by his remark. “I don’t hate you, Noah.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

“But I don’t. Why in the world would you think that?”

“For what I did. One of the reasons why I wanted to come here was because I wanted to apologize to you. I should be the one apologizing! I wasn’t fair to you. I should have known what I wanted, what I was comfortable doing, before I got involved with you. It’s not like I didn’t know my parents are super religious. I feel like all those months I was lying to you, dragging you along, giving you false hope. And at the same time, you were nothing but supportive and loving. And I feel I took advantage of all of that, of your love and generosity. And … honestly it still makes me feel awful. I just … I … I didn’t deserve you.”

I just shake my head. “Yeah, all of what you said right now is total and utter crap. None of it is true.”

“What?” he says shocked.

“You can’t blame yourself for having the parents that you do. You didn’t choose them. And you couldn’t have known just how intolerant your mom was going to be. You were upfront about your family challenges right from the beginning. If you lied to me about that, then yes, then I would say you should apologize. But you didn’t. I knew the risks as well when we started dating. I accepted those risks. You didn’t lie to me. You didn’t drag me along. You didn’t take advantage of me. Well, in bed you did,” I say with a wink. That was probably inappropriate, but we have to be able to joke about our past too, right? “Being serious, you helped me. You were there for me. You were also loving and supportive. You helped me grow and become a better person. I actually should be thanking you.”

“First you apologize, now you’re thanking me, I don’t get you, Jordan. What do you have to thank me for? For being an ass?”

“I have you to thank for helping me realize there is so much more to me than I knew. For pushing me to explore an area of my life I didn’t even know existed before. You helped me become comfortable in my own skin, to not fear loving another man. My relationship with Brody now … and any other man after that … I have you to thank. Without you, I don’t know if I would’ve ever gone down this path … or if I would’ve ever taken that risk at all.”

“So, to be clear, you’re thanking me for making you gay?” he asks with a smile.

“That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“Yet, I’m the one who also wanted to hold us back.” His smile disappears.

You had your reasons. We each have to make our own choices.”

“We do.”

“I honestly hope you’re happy,” I say. I really do. Again, I want to ask about his dating life, but I shouldn’t. I feel like that would be crossing a line. Maybe that’s something I ask him once we’ve spent more time together.

He pauses. “I’m learning to be.”

What does that mean he is learning to be happy? It sounds so depressing. “You deserve to be happy.”

He smiles. Thanks. So do you. I’m glad you found someone who makes you happy.”

Am I happy with Brody? He’s a nice guy, but is he the one? No. He’s just a guy I’m seeing for now, a placeholder until I find someone like you. That’s what I should say to Noah. But I don’t. “I know you hate him, but he’s a good guy. He has a good heart.”

“I never said I hated him!” he protests.

“Of course not,” I say to annoy him. “All right, two rules. One, if we are going to be friends then we’re not allowed to apologize about the past. What’s done is done. We’ve both moved on. We’re both sorry, not sorry, whatever. Deal?”

“Deal. And what’s rule number two?” he asks.

“No more serious talk about our past, our history, or our parents for the day. None of that is allowed. Youre only here for a short time, let’s spend it having fun. A stress free day. Sound good?”

Sounds good.

After breakfast we take off to see the city. We go to the Old Port, the part of downtown by the river. It has a very older European feel to it. We walk along the streets, catch a few buskers performing, and simply enjoy the day. The time just flies by. We talk about nonsense the whole time. I’ve never found it hard to talk to Noah. Even after all this time I find I can be myself. I can say stupid things, act like a dork. I don’t need to filter myself. I like the way I feel when I am around him. I’ve missed this feeling. The conversation just flows on endlessly.

“Can you believe it’s already almost the end of July?” I ask him.

“No, the summer has just flown by.”

“Yeah … just a few more weeks until school starts again. You looking forward to it? Wait, of course you are nerd boy.”

“Seeing how you get As in everything, I find it odd you always call me nerd boy. You’re also a nerd! But yes, I am. I feel like I could go back to a regular routine. Plus, I miss having Jenn around. Life is just so much quieter without her.”

It is! She is a loud one. It’s your final year. Nervous?”

“I’m not really nervous, but I guess I have to start getting serious, as my dad tells me all the time.”

“Still thinking about applying for your master’s degree?”

“I am. I’m just starting to research schools to see which ones are good, and what the application process is. I was also thinking of maybe taking a year off, travelling, maybe working abroad, and then coming back and applying the following year.”

“That would be amazing, a year off. Where would you go?”

“I don’t know. Maybe London, or Australia, who knows. It’s just a random thought, nothing actually serious. I doubt I’ll do it. That’s just me fantasizing. What about you? You’re going into third year. Excited?”

“I wouldn’t say excited. It’s pretty much all core courses now, so my workload is going to increase by a lot, which is never fun. But I’m sure it will be okay. Also, you shouldn’t just dismiss your traveling idea. It could be a great opportunity. If I didn’t have two years to go, and then I hope med school after that, I would seriously consider it. You should seriously think about it.”

“It’s just a thought for now. We’ll see.”

After exploring the city on foot for several more hours we decide to head back home. Sitting in the car, the windows rolled down, I change the song on my phone and turn up the volume. My phone is connected to my car’s stereo. Then I start to beat my hands against the steering wheel, as I start to sway with the music. Noah can see what’s coming.

“Oh great!” he says.

“You so know you want to!” I say.

“I’m okay,” he says laughing and shaking his head.

I start to sing. “Nice to meet you. Where you been? I could show you incredible things … Come on! Join in!”

He just looks at me like I am totally mad. I am. “I’m okay. I know how much you love Taylor Swift. You go ahead.”

Well, his loss. I keep singing. We come to a stop at a red light and a car pulls up next to us. There is an elderly lady sitting in the passenger’s seat. She turns my way to hear the commotion and smiles. So, I start singing to her, complete with over the top hand gestures. “Got a long list of ex-lovers. They'll tell you I'm insane. Cause you know I love the players. And you love the game!

Noah just sinks into his seat. “You are insane.”

 

*** NOAH ***

I didn’t think it was possible I could fall more in love with Jordan. I thought I had hit the limit. But clearly the road is long ahead. Today was simply perfect. Every moment he reminded me just how much he means to me, of just how much I love him. I was going to tell him at lunch today, tell him that I came out to my parents. But he made it clear. He’s moved on. He’s happy now. He wants to be friends. Only friends. He also made it clear he didn’t want to talk about our past or our parents; he just wanted to have a fun day. And I have to respect that. I want him to have a carefree day after so many stressful ones. I feel I owe him that. But I also owe him the truth. I just need to figure out a way to tell him.

After exploring most of the city during the day, we arrive back at his house in the evening. His mom is at the door. Shes about to go out.

“Hey, you two,” she says as we walk in. “How was your day?”

“It was amazing, I say. “This is an absolutely lovely city.

Jordan fills her in on all the places we visited. “Where are you going?”

“I wasn’t sure if you guys were going to eat out, or stay in. So, I was just going to go to the grocery store to grab a couple of things. I’ll be back shortly. Dinner will be ready in an hour, if that's okay.”

“Ah, it’s up to you,” Jordan says looking at me. “Home cooked meal or restaurant?”

The answer is obvious.

“How about instead, we go grab groceries and we make dinner, and we let your mom take a break,” I say. “She did just get home after doing a twelve-hour shift at the hospital, while we were off gallivanting.”

“Oh, no, don’t worry about me,” she says. “I’m fine. You two go and have fun.

“It’s the least I can do to repay you for your hospitality. You’ve both been so nice and helpful,” I say.

“Honestly, I’m fine. You’re a guest, you’re here to relax,” his mom says.

“The other day you told me to treat this like my own home. In my own home, I cook. I’m not going to take no for an answer,” I say. Jordan’s mom looks absolutely exhausted!

“He is stubborn,” Jordan says to his mom. “And a really good cook.”

She looks hesitant. “This feels so wrong. But I have heard wonderful things about your cooking.”

So, he told his mom about my cooking, eh? “Honestly, it will be our pleasure,” I say.

“Okay, this still feels wrong but … go for it,” she says.

“Anything you’re in the mood for?” I ask her.

But before she can even blink, Jordan starts jumping. “OH! Can you make that um, you remember that Indian style chicken thing, with the other thing, you made once? And like it had like you know, like … ah … what’s it called!?

Way to be descriptive! “You mean butter chicken?”

“YES! And we had it with naan. Oh, it was so good!

“Sure. But is that okay with you?” I ask his mom. I’m cooking for her, not him!

But again, before she can even flinch Jordan is at it again. “OH! And that mac and cheese you make. I’ve been craving that for so long!” He looks like a kid in a candy store.

“JORDAN!” his mom scolds him. “Noah is not your personal cook. Stop it!”

That takes the bounce right out of his step. I love it!

“It’s okay. I don’t mind,” I say. I’m used to his antics. But are you okay with this rather bizarre menu?” I ask him mom. Who eats butter chicken and mac and cheese?

This time she’s able to answer without Jordan interrupting. “I am. Honestly, whatever you want to make, that’s fine. You don’t need to make multiple things.”

“Okay. Let’s go, Jordan!” I say to him. Time to shop!

–––  

A trip to the grocery store with Jordan is always an adventure. He wants to buy everything. To be mean, not that I need any, I tell him to go find parsley for the salad. Last time, he ended up picking up cilantro. I’m curious if all these months later hes learned the difference between the two.

I see him walking up to me confidently with something green in his hands. Well, at least he found a herb!

“Boom. Parsley! Nailed it,” he says handing it to me.

It is in fact parsley. I’m proud of him. But I’m not going to tell him that. “Yeah, I asked you for cilantro this time,” I say trying not to smile.

For a moment he isn’t sure. “No! No! No! You said parsley! I checked it twice this time! Jordan do good!”

But not so good in English, clearly. “Jordan, I’m pretty sure I said cilantro. Why would I even need parsley?” I don’t even really needy cilantro. Though, I could put some in the butter chicken.

He just shakes his head. “I know you’re lying.”

“Honestly, I’m not,” I say. Keeping a straight face is so hard!

I think he bought it.

“Oh, I guess I heard you wrong,” he says looking a bit dejected.

That’s when I start laughing.

“You, sir, are an awful human being! I knew you said parsley!” he says. “I knew it!”

“Maybe,” I say shrugging my shoulders. “We’ll never know. Okay, we should keep moving, we have a lot to get!”

Does he listen? No. He has to get back at me for that whole parsley joke. He keeps picking up random things off of the shelves and putting them in the cart.

“Oh, how about some lima beans?” he asks. “Who doesn’t like lima beans?”

We don’t need lima beans. But if you want them, sure.

“Kidney beans?”

If you’ll eat them.

“Canned chick peas?”

“Your choice,” I say. I know he wants me to say no, but I’m not going to. He can explain to his mom why he bought random beans when we get home.

“Fine,” he says putting back all the cans. But he’s not done. When we walk by the pharmacy, he grabs the cart and heads to the counter. A youngish looking guy is standing on the other side. “Hi, excuse me, my friend over there,” he says pointing to me, “he has a problem that he’s really embarrassed about and needs some help. He has pubic lice. Do you know what he can use to get –”

“No, no, I’m okay,” I say grabbing Jordan’s arm as I try to pull him away from the counter. The guy at the pharmacy just looks confused. Old Noah would be embarrassed. New Noah is not. “I took care of it already. If this guy would just stop sleeping around town, then maybe he wouldn’t pass on such awful things to me.”

Jordan’s mouth drops. He did not expect that. But he’s not one to back down either. “Well, then maybe you should stop sleeping with my best friend!”

I can’t tell if the pharmacy guy is confused, bewildered, or excited.

“Tell him to stop being so hot. I just can’t help myself. Anyway, I think we should let this nice man get back to work and go and pay for our groceries. Shall we?”

“Lead the way.” Not even two steps later Jordan leans closer to me and says in my ear. “So, you think Aiden’s hot, eh? I knew it.”

“I’m so going to enjoy cutting you in your sleep tonight,” I respond. “Sleep with one eye open, buddy.”

Jordan looks pleased with himself.

“I guess now we’re even,” I say.

“Maybe,” he says with the same shrug I gave him earlier. “We’ll never know.”

–––  

“Okay, can you grab me a pot to boil the pasta?” I ask once were back at his home and in the kitchen.

“Yup.” He hands me the smallest pot they have.

“And what exactly am I supposed to do with this? Make pasta for a mouse?”

“I dunno,” he shrugs.

“Pass me the bigger one. Oh, and I’ll need a skillet.”

“Here,” he says passing me what clearly isn’t a skillet.

I just stare at him. “This is a saucepan.”

“I knew that. I was just testing you.” He puts it away and passes me a skillet this time.

“Okay … and spices for the chicken. Where does your mom keep those?”

“That I know. Right here,” he says opening up a cabinet by the stove.

“I’ll need salt, pepper …” I lose him after pepper.

“Um, how about you just grab what you want.”

I shake my head. “You’re a sad person, Jordan. I’ll start on the butter chicken. Can you boil the water for the macaroni and grate the cheese in the meantime?”

“That I can!”

After I remind Jordan a second time to throw some salt into the boiling water, he turns his attention to the cheese. Well, when I say he turns to the cheese what I should say is he starts to eat the cheese! He eats more than he grates. “Dude! Stop eating it all! I need some to actually put in the mac and cheese! Otherwise it’ll just be macaroni.”

“I barely had any!” he says stuffing his mouth.

“Give me that!” I say taking the bowl from him. “Can you pass me a strainer?” He just looks at me bewildered. “You know what a strainer is, don’t you?”

“Yes. I just don’t know where it is …” he says sheepishly.

“You do live here right?” I ask him. “Or, is this also the first time you’ve been in this kitchen?”

“Ha, ha, ha. Look at me, I’m so funny,” he says sarcastically. “Let me go and ask my mom.” He returns a minute later.

“You are the worst kitchen helper ever,” I say. “I hope you know that.”

“I’m awesome and you know it. I’m going to go and put some music on. Maybe that’ll make you less cranky,” he says.

“I’m not cranky!” Maybe just a bit.

“Sure, buddy.”

He slowly dips his hand into the bowl of grated cheese, takes a fist full and brings it to his lips. He starts eating it with his mouth open. “Nom, nom, nom.”

“Have some more.” I take a few strands out and flick them into his face.

“Now who’s wasting cheese,” he says smiling at me.

“Go put on some music!” I say waving him off. I know it might seem like I’m angry, but I’m not. Both of us are just joking. I’m having a great time, and I can tell Jordan is too.

He turns on the radio. The song ‘All About that Bass’ by Meghan Trainor is playing. I like the song. But what makes it really interesting is when Jordan starts dancing and singing along.

“Because you know I'm all about that bass. ‘Bout that bass, no treble. I’m all about that bass. ‘Bout that bass, no treble!”

I just look at him and laugh. “Didn’t you already embarrass yourself in front of that old lady?”

He just keeps singing. “I'm bringing booty back! Go 'head and tell them skinny bitches that …”

Jordan stops when he hears his mom clearing her throat. He turns around to see her standing by the door. “I thought I would see how things were coming along, or if you two need any help.”

“I’m okay,” I say. “The food should be ready in another fifteen minutes or so. But I can’t speak for your son … he may need some help.”

“Oh, don’t worry about him, Noah. It’s too late. The doctor said he was just born that way.”

Jordan’s mouth drops. I start laughing out loud. I honestly love him mom.

“Whatever, you guys just can’t appreciate talent when you see it,” he says turning off the radio.

“How about you use that talent to set the table?” his mom asks.

“Maybe I just will.”

The three of us talk while we wait for the food to cook. Jordan’s mom is hilarious; she makes so much fun of her son! I love her!

“All right, I hope you like everything,” I say as we sit down to eat.

“Jordan mentioned you were a good cook, but this is excellent,” she says. “The butter chicken is amazing. And this mac and cheese is also really good!”

Again, this is the most bizarre menu selection ever! Who eats butter chicken with mac and cheese? Jordan, that’s who. Weirdo. He actually puts some of the butter chicken sauce on his mac and cheese and mixes the two together!

“The two actually taste really good together,” he says.

I try it as well. Oddly, it’s not bad.

“The mac and cheese would’ve been better if Jordan hadn’t eaten all the cheese!”

“Oh, I should have warned you about that. Never get Jordan to grate cheese. He eats most of it,” she says. “I always have to buy extra.”

“Now I know for next time,” I say.

“Mom, make sure you ask him for the mac and cheese recipe,” Jordan says. She gives him a stern look. “What? It’s always so creamy and cheesy and delicious!

“Any other suggestions?” his mom asks him.

“Not that I can think of at the moment. And don’t worry, I still love your cooking too, Mom!”

“You know, you should learn how to cook from Noah. It will save me a lot of time.”

“Oh, I tried to teach him, but it was a disaster,” I say.

“It wasn’t that bad!” he says in his defence.

“Do I need to tell your mom about the time you tried to boil rice?”

“They were perfectly fine!” he says.

“What did he do?” his mom asks.

“He made one cup of rice, but pretty much filled the entire pot with water.”

“In my defence, it was still edible.”

“It was mush!”

“Delicious mush!” he says laughing.

“At least you got him to try, thats more than I can say I’ve ever managed,” his mom says.

 

*** JORDAN ***

After we’re done eating I clear the table.

“Thank you for a wonderful meal,” my mom says to Noah.

It really was a great meal. I didn’t realize it until now, but I also missed his cooking!

“It was my pleasure.”

“I helped too, you know!” I interject. I really did nothing.

“So, you’ll be able to make it for me next time?” she asks.

“Um … we’ll see. If I feel like it.” I have no idea what he did. I really wasn’t paying attention.

“Why don’t you two go and relax, and I’ll clean up the kitchen,” my mom says.

That’s okay we’ll handle it. Besides Jordan is the one who made most of the mess. He should clean it up. Let’s go, buddy,” Noah says hitting me in the arm.

“I can’t make you cook and clean now,” she says.

“You’re not. And don’t worry, I’ll make sure he does all the work,” Noah says pointing to me.

“We’ll be okay, Mom,” I say. “Soap or wash?”

“I’ll soap. You wash, he replies.

We stand next to each other by the sink. The area isn’t huge; our arms keep hitting each other constantly. Of course, I also hit him just to bug him.

“Your mom is really nice. And stop that!” he says when I hit him in the arm. “I know you’re doing that on purpose!”

“I think she likes you more than me!” I reply. I know I shouldn’t be so physical with Noah, I should set limits, but I can’t help myself.

“I’m a likeable guy,” he responds.

“Thanks for doing all this,” I say.

“I didn’t do anything. And stop thanking me. Friends don’t thank each other.”

“I know, but still. Friends don’t fly so far and then come and cook too! Plus, today has been a lot of fun. You’ve kept my mind occupied the whole time.”

“You’d do the same for me, I’m sure … well, except the cooking part. Please don’t cook for me.”

“So, you in the mood for some dessert?”

He suddenly drops the pot he’s holding into the sink. “Crap!” He starts to fumble.

Of course! It hits me a few seconds later. Sometimes we used to refer to dessert as sex. Shit! “We have ice cream I think, or we can go grab something,” I quickly add.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Okay, we’ll go out,” I say. I hit him in the arm again to change the subject.

“Don’t make me throw water on you, because you know I’ll do it!” Noah says.

When we’re done washing he starts drying the dishes while I put everything away.

“You know, I’m curious about something,” I say to him.

“What’s that?”

“How did you know where I live?” I never told him my house address. “Or if you had made it on time, how to get to the funeral home?”

“Aiden told me. I was planning on sending flowers, and so I asked him for your address and about the funeral home.”

“Oh, that makes sense. That’s been bugging me for a while now.” It really was bugging me!

“The great mystery solved.”

“Did he know you were coming to visit?” If he knew and didn’t give me a heads up …

“No, he didn’t.”

Gotcha. So, you messaged him after you found out about my dad?” I ask.

Um no, Aiden’s the one who actually told me about your father.”

I did not expect him to say that. “Aiden told you? I assumed Jenn told you.”

“She messaged me as well, but Aiden messaged first.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you two were still speaking.” I’ll have to ask Aiden about that.

“We haven’t been. That was actually the first time I heard from him.”

“Oh, okay. So, after he messaged you, you decided to call me then.”

“That’s correct.”

Huh. Interesting. Now I’m curious. “Did he suggest you call me or was that your idea?”

He pauses. “Does it matter?”

“I’m just curious.”

He suggested it.”

“Oh. Okay.” Interesting. I wonder why Aiden would do that.

“I hope you’re not angry with him.”

“No, no. I just find that interesting. Anyway, back to more important things. Dessert. I know just the place. They have the best waffles and ice cream. See, I can be decisive when it comes to food! Let’s go!”

 

*** NOAH ***

I was such a fool. I wish I could take it all back. All that time hiding or wondering what others would think. I still remember when I was dating Jordan, I sometimes made a big deal about being seen together in public. I always thought people would notice two guys hanging out having dinner, or a movie, and they would know somehow that we were a couple. I was an idiot. Here we are, sitting down, having dessert, and no one cares. We are just two guys, two friends, having a good time. It makes me realize I wasted so many good opportunities with him.

“These are really good waffles,” I say to Jordan.

“Told you. I love this place. But my waist hates it. I’m gaining weight.”

No you’re not. You look like you actually lost weight!” I say to him. Trust me, I know. I still remember the feel of his body.

“No. I’ve been eating so poorly, and barely working out. I haven’t gone for a run in a week!”

“Well, you’ve been busy,” I reply.

“Yeah, I guess. I’ll start again next week.”

“Just be careful on the treadmill, okay?” I tease him. “I won’t be there to save you.”

“Oh, right. I forgot about that.”

“I’m never going to let you forget!” His fall on that treadmill in many ways is what started our friendship.

“Well, as long as you don’t jump out of nowhere, I’ll be okay. Actually, Im such an idiot, the last time I was working out …” His phone starts to ring. “Hang on a second. I should take this.”

He gets up and walks away. I’m assuming it’s Brody. Oh Brody, why do you have to exist? I hate the fact that Brody gets to be with him. Though, at the same time, I’m glad Jordan has someone and isn’t alone like me. He deserves to be with someone.

I grab my phone and text Jenn. I’ve been sending her messages back and forth all day about how my trip is going. She is angry I still haven’t told Jordan that I came out to my parents.

“Sorry about that,” Jordan says coming back to the table a few minutes later. “It was my boss. He just wanted to see how things were going and if I’ll be back on Monday. Anyway, I was telling you about the stupid thing I did. I almost dropped a dumbbell on my foot! It was so close.”

“You really need to be more careful.”

“Yeah, I do. If I break my foot again who will be there to take care of me this time?” he says.

Awkward. “I’ll send Jenn. You’ll be better in no time.”

“Ha! Probably. You know I was thinking, and sorry to go back to this again … I’m just curious. If Aiden hadn’t asked you to call me … would you have?”

He’s still on this? Clearly, its a big deal to him. “Um … I don’t know. To be honest when he suggested it, my first thought was that it probably wasn’t a good idea. I wanted to, but I just felt because of the way we left things, it wouldn’t be appropriate. You were already down, and you were clear you didn’t want to be friends, so I didn’t want to make things worse, you know?”

“Yeah, no, I get that. So, what made you change your mind?”

“Aiden. He said you would be fine, and happy to hear from me. And I guess he was right.”

“He was. Did he suggest you come here too?”

“No, that was my decision. Though I wasn’t sure that first day we spoke on the phone if you were asking me to come. You got cut off. But it almost sounded like you were asking.”

“I was going to ask. But I felt bad asking you to fly half way across the country just for me.

“It’s what you do for a friend,” I say. “Plus, this way I can visit Jenn too.”

“Yeah. Anyway, you ready to go?”

“I am.”

On the way back to his house he seems distracted. He is still talking, but his mind seems somewhere else. Or maybe we have run out of things to talk about. So, we sit silently, listening to the radio. At one point in time the Ellie Goulding song from the movie ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ comes on. Jordan moves his hand to change the station. It’s an awkward song for ex-lovers to listen to. But I beat him to it. Instead of changing it, I turn up the volume. He looks my way, one eyebrow raised. If I’m going to do this, might as well make it as weird as possible.

“You're the light, you're the night. You're the colour of my blood,” I start singing. “You're the cure, you're the pain. You're the only thing I wanna touch.” Of course I touch myself awkwardly when I sing that part.

“What’s gotten into you?” Jordan asks.

“Nothing. Just enjoying the music.”

We come to a stop at a red light. Two girls, probably our age, are in the lane next to us. The air conditioning is on, but I roll down the window.

So love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do. Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do.” As I sing, I make dramatic hand gestures. The two girls look our way. I turn to Jordan. “Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do. What are you waiting for?”

He smiles. “Oh what the heck. Fading in, fading out. On the edge of paradise …

I look at the two girls. Both are laughing. They must think were insane. I wave to them as we drive off.

“Now whose crazy!?” Jordan asks looking my way.

“Oh, it’s still you, buddy.

“Interesting song choice.”

“Why? It seems like a perfectly normal song two platonic male friends would sing.”

“Of course,” he says smiling. He’s back.

 

*** JORDAN ***

By the time we get home it’s quite late, and I can tell Noah is exhausted. I show him to his room. It’s the room next to mine. It’s actually an office, but there is a bed there too. “If you need anything, help yourself. There’s an extra blanket and pillow in the closet. Feel free to take it if you need it. Have a good night, Noah.

Thanks, Jordan. Um … if you have a moment ... I wanted to talk to you about something before you head off to bed.”

He looks serious. I then remember he wanted to talk at lunch too, but I cut him off. Oops.

“Of course. What’s on your mind?” I ask.

That’s when my phone starts to ring. It’s Brody. I look at my phone then at Noah.

“Answer it. I can wait.”

“I’ll just be five minutes. Sorry,” I say exiting the room. I haven’t spoken to Brody all day. We just exchanged a few messages here and there. I’m sure he wants to know how my day went with Noah.

Unfortunately, the conversation takes a lot longer than five minutes. I can tell Brody isn’t thrilled I spent the entire day with Noah. I get this strong jealousy vibe from him, and to be honest, I find it very off putting. He doesn’t outright say he is unhappy, rather he makes a few snide comments, which annoys me. If he has something to say, he should be direct. Still, I assure Brody that Noah and I are just friends, nothing more. But I don’t think he believes me entirely. If he can’t trust me then we’re going to have problems.

By the time I make my way back to the guest room Noah is fast asleep. It seems he fell asleep waiting for me. I grab a blanket and put it on top of him. I stop and look at him for a moment. He’s changed so much these past few months. He’s more confident. Even earlier today at the pharmacy. The Noah I knew before would have been mortified at the lice comment. But he wasn’t. And again, instead of saying he is straight, he implies he is sleeping with my male friend. He didn’t seem to care if the pharmacy dude knew he was gay. That confuses me. I don’t know what to make of that. Was it all just a joke? I turn off the lights, and close the door. Whatever he wanted to say will have to wait until tomorrow.

I head downstairs. I’m tired, but I know I won’t be able to sleep. Besides, I promised Aiden I would call him later. He messaged me earlier when I was at breakfast with Noah. He was completely surprised. I told him we would talk later. It’s a beautiful night, so I decide to head outside. I figure this way I can talk to Aiden with ease and not worry that Noah will wake up and overhear. The walls are thin.

“Hey, Jordan.”

“Hey, man. How are you?”

“I’m okay. I hear you have an unexpected visitor.”

“I do. He’s sleeping in the guest room right now.”

“Oh. He’s staying with you as well?” Aiden asks.

“Yeah. He booked a hotel room, but I convinced him to come stay here instead,” I say.

Ah. How long is he there for?” Aiden asks.

“He leaves tomorrow.”

“A short trip. You must have been surprised to see him. Did he just show up at the funeral? OH! That’s why he asked me about the funeral home!” It’s like a light bulb has just gone off inside Aiden’s head.

No. He didn’t make it on time. His flight was delayed. So, he came to my house instead. I was shocked to see him. I didn’t expect it at all … it was completely out of the blue. We started talking, but then Brody showed up.”

Oh. That must have been awkward. Did he know who Brody was? I figured Jenn would have told him.”

“No, she didn’t. We agreed a while back that she wouldn’t talk about Noah’s dating life with me, and about my dating life with Noah. We figured that would be the best. It seems like she was true to her word.”

Gotcha. So, how do you feel now that he’s back?”

I sigh. “So many things, Aiden. So many mixed emotions. The first thing I wanted to do was hug him. I’ve missed him so much. I didn’t realize just how much until he was in front of me. But at the same time, I remembered all that pain, and so I kept my distance. But then we started spending time together and … all of the other stuff melted away. And it was almost just like it used to be.”

“That’s good. Right?” he asks.

“I don’t know. Noah told me it was you who told him about my dad. And that you asked him to call me.”

“I did. I hope you’re not angry. I know I crossed a line, but I thought it would help.

“I’m not angry. He did help. I'm just curious why you asked him to call.”

He takes a deep breath before answering. “When I called you, I realized how down you were. I tried talking to you, but I knew it wasn’t helping. I knew how close you were to Noah, and that you shared a lot with him … and I figured, maybe, he could help. I actually got the impression that you wanted him to call. That you wanted to talk to Noah. And clearly, it seems like him calling did help.”

It did, it helped a lot. But was that all? Was it just for him to call me, or were you hoping for something else?”

Again, he breathes heavily before answering. “Look, I know you’re moving on, and I’m so happy for you. But I also know you still miss him a lot. And that you want him to be part of your life. You’re not really good at hiding your emotions. And so, I thought, perhaps, if you two talked then maybe you guys could eventually at least get back on speaking terms. And that maybe that could perhaps lead you two to reconcile.”

“Well it worked, were talking.”

Again, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

“Part of me wishes you hadn’t asked him to call.”

“Why?”

“Because he wouldn’t have come here then.”

“But I thought you were happy to see him?”

“I am. I really am. Today has been wonderful. I don’t think I’ve felt so good inside, so free, so alive, in a long, long time.”

“That’s fantastic. What’s the problem then?”

“The problem is … the more time I spend with him … the more I want things to go back to the way they were. This morning, I told Noah we could be friends. I thought it would be okay. If my dad’s death has taught me anything, it’s that life is short; there is no point in being angry. I should live my life to the fullest. So I thought, okay, I can be Noah’s friend, enough time has passed. Everything will be okay. But then I spent all of today with him. And as the day wore on, I realized I want more. Being friends isn’t enough.

“We were making dinner tonight, and we had this moment when we were close together. I was eating cheese and he flicked some in my face and … honestly … I had to refrain myself so much. All I wanted to do was just grab hold of him and kiss him right there and then. I wanted to rip off every shred of clothing and just take him right there. But I couldn’t. Then a while later we were washing dishes in front of the sink … and we were so close … his body kept touching mine … and it was driving me crazy! I was ridiculously hard! It actually hurt!

“The thing is ... I’m always going to want more. Friends isn’t going to be enough. And as happy as he makes me, realizing that I want more but can’t have it, makes me feel awful inside. It’s like he will always be within reach, but every time I move forward, he moves forward too. I’m torturing my soul. But I don’t want to be away from him either. I just don’t know what to do …”

“Tell him all that.”

I sigh. “What’s the point? It won’t change anything. I told him all of this once and he still left. He still isn’t out to his parents. I think he’s still trying to date girls. I can’t ask him and be rejected again. I did it once, and it broke my heart. I can’t go through that again.”

“I understand all that, but you’re the biggest risk-taker I know. How do you know he’ll reject you? The fact that he came all this way means something. Doesn’t it?

“I don’t know. I don’t know what it means. My gut tells me he will just walk away again.”

You won’t know until you try, Aiden says.

“You know, this whole time I thought he called on his own.”

“What difference does that make if I told him, or if he decided on his own? He called in the end, that’s what matters.”

“It does matter. I thought he had finally realized his mistake on his own, and that he was reaching out because he realized it was the right thing to do. But I was wrong. He did it because of you.”

True, but you’re forgetting one thing, he came there on his own. I didn’t tell him to do that. That was all him. So, you have to give him some credit,” he says.

Perhaps. “Why is life so fucking hard, man?”

“If it was so easy, life would be boring.”

“But it doesn’t need to be this difficult either.”

“True. So, what are you going to do? Are you going to talk to Noah and tell him how you feel?”

“I don’t know. I need to think about it.”

“Well you don’t have much time. As you said, he leaves tomorrow.”

 

*** NOAH ***

I have no idea what happened. One minute I was awake … and the next I wasn’t. The next thing I remember is waking up and checking my phone. It was three in the morning. I tried to go back to bed, but I couldn’t. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t fall back asleep. My mind just kept thinking about the wonderful day I had with Jordan. The day was perfect. I don’t remember feeling so good, feeling so carefree in the past few months. Last night, I was determined to tell Jordan that I came out to my parents. It felt like the right decision. But maybe Brody calling at that moment, maybe falling asleep, maybe earlier letting Jordan talk first, all of that’s a sign that I shouldn’t. Maybe that’s the universe telling me to shut up, get through this morning, get on the bus and leave. Maybe. I honestly don’t know.

“Good morning. You’re up early,” Jordan’s mom says when she walks downstairs.

It’s five in the morning. Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to come downstairs. His mom is wearing her scrubs, which means she is off to work soon.

“I’m still a bit jet lagged.”

“Would you like something to eat? Or some tea?”

“Some tea would be nice, thank you. I can make it.

She smiles. “You made dinner last night. The least I can do is make you tea.”

I’m just not used to sitting idle.”

It’s good to be idle sometimes. Would you like some eggs or anything else?”

“No, I am okay, thanks.

“What’s the plan for today?” she asks as she pours water into a kettle.

“Not much. My bus leaves in a few hours.”

“You came for too short a time. You should come back again soon.”

“I’ll try,” I say. I don’t think that will happen.

“This home is always open to you; you’re welcome to come back whenever you want.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you.”

“It was nice of you to come for Jordan. I think it really helped him a lot. This was the first time in months I’ve seen him like this. It feels like he’s finally back to his normal self. You really bring out the best in him.

What does she mean ‘finally back to his normal self’? I thought he had moved on? “It was my pleasure. It was good to see him again.”

I know this might not be my place. And I apologize if I’m overstepping, but … you should tell him before you go,” she says.

Tell him what? She can’t possibly know. There is no way. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

You should tell him that you still love him.”

“I …” I don’t see a point in hiding the truth. “Am I that obvious?”

That makes her smile. “Yes. The way you look at him, the way you smile. It’s obvious. At least to me. It might not be to Jordan.

“It doesn’t really matter though. He’s moved on … he has Brody now.”

“Do you see that deck outside?” she asks pointing towards the back door. “He spent day and night building it. Then when he started to date Brody, he started to build that shed in the corner. Do you know why?”

“No.”

“To distract himself from thinking about you, she says pouring water into a mug.

He built that to distract himself from thinking about me? But I thought he had moved on?

“I didn’t know that.”

Jordan has made progress, and I’m proud of him, but he hasn’t moved on. You weren’t just any relationship to him. He still loves you too.” She places the mug, milk and sugar on the table beside me.

He hasn’t moved on? Is she saying what I think she is? Is she telling me to go for it? “I …” I don’t know what to say.

Again, it’s probably not my place to say anything but … Jordan told me about your parents and why you broke up, and I understand. I can’t imagine that is easy for you. And I’m sorry you have to deal with that. As a mother I can’t imagine not being there for my son. But I shouldn’t judge. Everyone is different and has their reasons.

“That all said,” she continues, “I truly believe you only find your soul mate once. And something tells me you two are meant to be together. I felt that way the first time Jordan showed me that picture. And seeing you two together reinforced that feeling. You’ve had such a profound impact on Jordan. He has matured in so many ways this year. When you two were together, he was the happiest I’ve ever seen him. Even last night, seeing you two in the kitchen, the way Jordan’s face lit up when you were around him … I’ve never seen him like that before. And from what I can tell, you haven’t been happy without him either. And you may not feel this way, but you also deserve to be happy.”

How did she know? It’s as if shes able to peer right through my façade and deep into my soul. “How did you know that?”

“When you asked me about the photo yesterday, the way you reacted when I told you what I said when I saw the picture … your facial expression changed. For a moment you looked broken. Your eyes were full of pain. I could tell something was wrong.”

Wow, nothing gets past her!

“I was remembering my mom’s reaction when she saw the same picture.” What’s the point of hiding it?

“You told them?” she asks surprised.

“Yeah. My mom’s reaction was nothing like yours. She ripped up the picture, told me I am dead to her, and kicked me out of the house.”

She places a hand on her chest and pauses. “I … I’m so sorry, Noah.”

“It’s okay, she has a different mindset. It’s just the way it is, I say a tear rolling down my cheek.

“Oh, Noah.” She walks around and gives me a hug. “It doesn’t have to be that way. I hope one day she comes around and accepts you for who you are. Otherwise, she’ll truly be the one at a loss. I’ve only known you a short time, but I can tell you are an extraordinary young man. Any mother would be lucky to call you her son. I know it’s not the same, but you will always have a place in Jordan’s heart, and mine as well.”

Honestly, she has to be the best mom ever. “Thank you … Jordan is lucky to have you.”

“I’m the lucky one. And perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to call you son as well.”

 

*** JORDAN ***

I can’t find him. Noah doesn’t seem to be anywhere. He isn’t in the guest room, the family room, or the kitchen. Did he just leave without saying goodbye? I make my way through the house again. But there is no sign of him. His bag is even gone; his shoes are not by the door. I can’t believe he would just leave like that. How could he do that?

I go upstairs to grab my phone. Maybe he messaged? Nothing. I put the phone down and look out the window. Honestly, why would Noah do that? Why would he just leave? I’m so disappointed in him. I’m so angry!

Wait. Is that? Calm down. I see him. He’s sitting outside on the deck. I feel really stupid.

I run downstairs and out the door. “Hey.”

“Hey. You look out of breath,” he says.

“I was looking for you in the house. I thought you just left without saying goodbye. Your bag and shoes are gone.”

“My bag’s right here,” he says pointing to where his bag is sitting beside his chair. It’s such a beautiful morning, I thought I would enjoy the deck and read while you were still sleeping. And I wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye.”

“I … It doesn’t matter. I’m glad you’re still here; I wanted to ask you something.” I need to know. I need to know why he came. But how do I even start? Perhaps being straightforward is the best. “Why did you come here, Noah?”

He is surprised with how direct I am. “To pay my respects, I told you that.”

“That’s it? You just came back to be my friend, nothing else?”

Hes silent for a moment. His face doesn’t change.

“I want to show you something,” he says. He takes out his wallet and pulls something out. “Open your hand.”

He places what looks like a ripped up picture in my palm. When I start to turn the pieces over I realize what it is. It’s the picture I gave him on Valentine’s Day. Why would he do this?

I look back up at him. “You ripped it up? Why would you do that?

Why did he give me this? What is he trying to say?

“I didn’t rip it up. My mom did.”

Wait, what? “Your mom?”

Yeah. I told them. I told them I’m gay.”

WHAT!? Holy shit. I look back up at Noah. “Wait, you came out to your parents?” My heart starts pounding in my chest.

Yes. And that was my mom’s response.”

I look back at the picture. “Oh, fuck … My head may just explode. My thoughts are going in all directions. What does this mean? What does this mean for us? Is he back? Calm down. One thing at a time. His mom rejected him. It was what he feared the whole time. “Shit. I’m … I’m so sorry, Noah.”

“I’m not. I told them everything and I told them I’m not going to change. I told them this is who I am and this is who I want to be. My mom replied that there is no room for a fag in her life. She said unless I change, I’m dead to her and that there is no space for me in her home. So, I left.”

Fuck that’s bad. I can’t even begin to imagine what he must be going through. “I’m so sorry, Noah. I can’t imagine … for your mom to say that … it’s … you don’t deserve any of that. You don’t need them. Screw them. She doesn’t deserve to be in your life if she’s going to act like that. I’m so proud of you for telling them.” I’m about to hug him, but he stops me. He puts his hand on my chest.

“As for your earlier question, no I didn’t come here just to be friends. I came here for you. But I know you’re with someone else now. You’ve moved on, and I have to respect that. I had my chance and I blew it. And it’s not fair now for me to ask you to choose. I won’t do that. Heck, let’s be honest, I don’t even deserve you. And besides, none of that matters. You’ve made it clear that you want to be friends, that our relationship is over. Again, I have to respect your decision –”

“Noah, but –” I say trying to cut in.

“I have to say this, Jordan,” he says talking over me. “That all said, if one day, you find yourself single again, and you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and only if you really want to, then maybe we can try again. And if you don’t, you still want to just be friends, or not friends at all, that’s fine too. I’ll respect your decision. But if you do want to try again, then I promise you this, there will be no more secrets, no more lies and no more hiding. We would be out to everyone. The world would know we’re a couple and that we’re madly in love. And if anyone has a problem with that, they can go fuck themselves. And that includes my family. I’m never changing myself for anyone again. I’m never going to pretend I’m someone I’m not. I’m gay and I’m damn well proud to be. And nothing is going to change that.”

It’s like I am on a roller coaster. My emotions are all over the place, hitting highs and lows all at the same time. He is out. He is finally out. The world knows. It’s what I’ve wanted for so long now. And he wants me back. He wants to get back together. I … I can’t believe it. He doesn’t want me to choose, but I know what I want. My brain might be saying one thing, but my heart knows what it wants. I’ve known since the moment I first saw him sitting on my doorstep.

I step forward. In one quick motion I place my hand on his back and pull him close to me. Then, I do something I’ve been longing to do since I first saw him. I bring my lips to his.

I choose him.

And there you have it! I know not everyone will be happy, but I do believe they belong together.
As for how long it took Noah to tell Jordan, he was going to several times!
I purposely delayed the revelation, because I wanted Jordan to realize on his own just how much Noah means to him (without also knowing he is out)

Finally, I wrote this chapter initlaly back in 2015, which is why all of my musical references are old! They all still worked, so I kept them.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, please!

Copyright © 2018 Ethan; All Rights Reserved.
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So happy this was just posted.  It appears to have stuck closely to the original version and I am more than happy for that. 

 

FYI I just reread the last five chapters of the original.

Edited by Hunter of Porn
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21 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

You did very well to keep us hanging for so long - and thank you for not making us wait for another chapter. Great work! 

 

Yes! I should have added, I could have left this off at a cliffhanger, and not revealed Jordan's action. But that didn't feel right.

I thought for once (and only once) I would be nice. 😌

 

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27 minutes ago, Hunter of Porn said:

So happy this was just posted.  It appears to have stuck closely to the original version and I am more than happy for that. 

 

You're right - I did stay close to the original here. I made mostly subtle changes. 

There will be tweaks though, of what's left to come. (On purpose, I'm not saying how much is left!) 

 

OOPS -- totally typed in a spoiler from the next chapter. I'm just going to delete that ... this is what happens when you work on 2 chapters at the same time 🤐

Edited by Ethan
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HELL YES ------ FANTASTIC.......

 

now the question is, does Noah choose Jordan since he is still with Brody?  I soooo want this to happen for them and for them to get back on track, but am hesitating to hope with Noah's always wanting to protect everyone and just being a nice guy.....

 

as I say every time --- ready for the next chapter!!!!!

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48 minutes ago, Starrynight22 said:

Well. That was a sweet ending scene.  

 

I can't tell ... did Noah win you over? Happy for the reunion of NoJo? Or .... 

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33 minutes ago, Dyaus said:

crying buckets.. I'm out of words... It was really touching how Jordan's mum shows her love and support for Noah... 

 

She is pretty awesome. Better than Noah's mom for sure!

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6 minutes ago, Ethan said:

 

 

Soon. I'm almost done Ch. 35. I'm aiming for Monday. 😃 (Going to try to be actually social this weekend 😧)

 

All work and no play is not the way to go --- enjoy your weekend -- relax -- we will be here waiting when you are.........

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14 minutes ago, Ethan said:

 

 

Soon. I'm almost done Ch. 35. I'm aiming for Monday. 😃 (Going to try to be actually social this weekend 😧)

Have fun!

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43 minutes ago, Ethan said:

 

I can't tell ... did Noah win you over? Happy for the reunion of NoJo? Or .... 

No. But I won't beat a dead horse.  

 

You write really well though. 

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2 hours ago, Starrynight22 said:

No. But I won't beat a dead horse.  

 

You write really well though. 

 

It's not over yet. Who knows, maybe I'll change your mind. I'm always the eternal optimist 😌

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2 hours ago, everett Weedin jr said:

Whatever you write in the future after this novel  (and I fervently hope that you will keep writing), please please let there be affectionate bantering and horseplay in it.  They are your consummate authorial strengths and should be exercised for the delight of your readers (and you as well, I would think).  It's not just your narrative, your plotting, that brings Noah and Jordan back together in this chapter. You write them together.  They are believably and beautifully together in your writing of their dialog and their physical interactions and their attitudes of concern for each other and for Brody.  In no passages is Brody "together" with Jordan.  He is never more than physically proximate.  You imagine the union of Noah and Jordan thoroughly and therefore convincingly.

 

And now for a question about yet another (I assume) Canadian idiom.  After the splendidly detailed grocery shopping and cooking and dining, Jordan asks Noah:  "Soap or wash?".  Noah, unfazed, replies:  "I'll soap.  You wash."   Hmmmmm.  ""Wash or dry?" would make sense to a USAer's ears.  Or even "Wash or rinse?".  Can it be that in Canada, "wash" means "rinse"?  I realize that the English and Americans are two peoples divided by a common language.  But Canadians and USAers?  When Canadian and USA diplomats confer, are there two interpreters in the room with them?  Inquiring minds want to know.  Thank you.  

 

You are too kind. As for if I will continue writing -- to be honest -- I don't know. I doubt it. I'm not very clever when it comes to coming up with original ideas. I did write a short story, and I was going to publish it here as well, after I finished this ... but I'm not sure if I will anymore. I might. But after that I probably will stop (at least for a while). I find writing to be therapeutic, and enjoy it, but the posting experience can be stressful at times too (for a variety of reasons). 

 

As for your second question, honestly, I don't know. I think you could say 'wash' or 'rinse here', either or really works. It could also be a regional thing. I know in some parts of Canada (and similarly in the US) terms change depending on where you are in the country. 

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