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    Jwolf
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The English Year - 11. The Second Cut is the Deepest

Possibilities don't build certainties.

I woke up with a headache unlike any other I’d faced that year. I’m not sure if it was the mixture of different alcohols, or if we’d just had that much to drink, but my hangover on Saturday morning was like the aftershock of a class five storm.

I sat up and immediately felt nauseous. Without even thinking, I sprang out of my bed, ran to the restroom down the hall, and made it into a stall just in time to throw up into the toilet.

After puking until tears came out of my eyes, and promising the porcelain gods that I’d never drink again, I showered, brushed my teeth, and got dressed.

By the time all of the tasks that made me feel like a real person were complete, it was almost eleven, and I had several missed calls from Pete, Amanda, and a 972 number I couldn’t rightly identify.

Between the voicemails and the texts, the message was clear… I was wanted at brunch that morning. I called Pete back with no intention of going to brunch, but fully aware I could be talked into it.

“The boy who lived,” he said with a smile I could hear from the other end of the line. It was hot hearing him quote one of my favorite movies in the English accent in which it was intended.

“I could say the same about you, sir,” I replied. “When did you finally crawl out from under my bed and go home?”

“What do you mean?”

“When I went to sleep, you were passed out under my bed,” I replied.

“No,” he said. “No, sir.”

“Wait, what?”

“I woke up shortly after everyone left your room. You were in bed, yeah, but you weren’t asleep.”

My mind suddenly began to race. I saw Pete last night after everyone had left? In my blackout, I had thought I’d gone to sleep when he had passed out. I had managed to keep most of the details in my mind up until that point, but I guess once the room was clear, my drunk brain was able to take over and push any semblance of a memory out.

“We hung out when I woke up,” he said. “You don’t remember?”

“Clearly I don’t remember,” I croaked, my voice sounding like a fourteen year old boy counting pubic hairs in a locked bathroom.

“Oh, wow,” he said.

“Don’t ‘oh, wow’ me.” I felt defensive. “You’re the one that passed out under my bed during a rager.”

“Which we didn’t make it to, mind you,” he pointed out.

“I know. Because of you!”

“Still… I’m not the one who blacked out.”

“Will you just tell me what we did,” I said, feeling a panic setting in. What had I said to him? What had I done? Or worse still, what I had tried to do to no avail? “Or didn’t do. I guess.” I added, unsure of how awkward I sounded.

“Nothing,” he said, his voice slightly defensive. “The same thing we always do.”

“Which is?”

“Are you ever sober when I’m around?”

“What can I say?” I snarked. “You drive a man to drink.”

“We hung around on your couch and played with Mister. I told you why Dakota had yelled at me on the front porch. You asked me some questions… none of this rings a bell?”

It didn’t. None of it. And that made me nervous. What had I said to him during my blackout? I was known for being pretty inappropriate when my drunk subconscious takes over, so it terrified me what I might have said to Pete. Surely I confessed my love to him. Surely I propositioned him. Hell, for all I knew the bad taste in my mouth that I’d woken up with that morning had been the bad taste of Britain.

“It’s fine if you don’t remember,” he said. “I wouldn’t have expected you to.”

“Next time, try to be more memorable,” I quipped, trying to sound flirtatious.

“Oh, really? Is that what you tell all your guys in the morning?”

“Maybe one morning you’ll stick around and find out,” I said. He didn’t respond, so I cleared my throat and pressed on. “So what are you doing?”

“Dakota’s about to take a shower. We’re going to run to the liquor store and get a bottle of Pimm’s, and then we’re going to set up a make shift picnic on the Green.”

“Sounds like a big ball of fun,” I said trying not to sound too sarcastic. I wondered what had happened to brunch plans from all of my messages, but I decided not to question it.

“It should be,” he replied. “Because you’re coming.”

“When did I agree to that?” I asked.

“Last night, when you were blackout.”

“I did not.”

“How would you know?”

“Good point.” I heard him laugh on the other end.

“Fine, sir,” I said standing up. “I’ll join. But just this once. And you’ll have to tell me what Pimm’s is.”

“Oh, you’ll find out.”

“Should I come over now?” I asked. I had planned on having a beer to ease my head, and for whatever reason, the thought of having it alone made me think I was one forty ounce away from enrolling at Promise’s rehab.

“Yeah,” he said. “Dakota just got up.”

I told Pete I’d grab something to eat and head over. The firing squad was waiting for me downstairs, in their predictable formation, tossing a predictable ball, and predictably arguing about where to go for lunch.

“Look who decided to join us this morning,” Austin said, tossing the ball towards Roberto.

“Where were you last night, douche?”

“Who taught the Mexican to curse in English?” I asked, sitting down on the armrest next to Roberto.

“Argentinian, asshole.”

“I was here last night,” I answered, brushing Roberto aside.

“You most certainly were not,” Hutch said, receiving the ball from Roberto.

“And how would you know? You came up from your freshman fishing expedition long enough to find out?” I asked, aware that I was feeling feistier than usual that morning. That’s what morning vomit will do to you, I guess.

“Me and Hayley were manning the door,” Hutch replied. “We saw you leave. You didn’t come back.”

“I came back at like one or two,” I answered. “And I came in the back.”

“That’s what he said,” Brian chimed in. I gave him a glare.

“I know one of you has something snarky to say, so let’s hear it and I’ll be on my way,” I said. Realizing I had rhymed the phrase, I turned to Hutch and winked. “That was for you.”

He caught the wink in his hand and put it close to his heart.

“Where are you off to?” Austin asked.

I turned my head sideways. They knew where I was going. There was no point even saying it out loud and hearing for myself how ridiculously whipped I sounded.

“That guy says jump and you ask how high,” Brian said after I didn’t answer, and instead gave them a look. The concern in his voice was as earnest as I’d ever heard it. He was right, but I never would have admitted that. There was a difference, though. When you like someone, you want to spend time with them. Damned if they don’t like you back.

“It isn’t like that,” I shook my head defensively. “We’re just hanging out with his friend from out of town.”

“That tall girl?” Hutch asked.

“Yes, the tall one.”

“They were pretty heated last night,” Hutch said. “Out on the porch.”

“Oh yeah?” I asked. “Were you and Hayley out there for the fight?”

“We kind of went off a little and let them do their thing. She really ripped into him.”

My curiosity boiled over. I hadn’t even thought to ask any of the brothers if they’d overheard Porchgate 2008. Surely someone would have overheard. I could get the lowdown on the fight without having to ask Pete himself what had happened; not that I trusted him to tell me everything to begin with.

“You have to tell me exactly what was said.”

“And what do I get out of it?” Hutch asked. I gave him a glare that could end all glares. It was my patented Bitch Face and it usually got me what I wanted. “Okay, okay. So they were walking up the steps, right, and she says something about him hanging off his new boyfriend. He got really defensive and was like ‘What is that supposed to mean?’ and she said she was just joking, but if he was going to get mad about it, there must be something there. And then he said to her, he said ‘Don’t be jealous about things that don’t even exist’ and she flipped. She was all like ‘You’re the one that tried to kiss me when you left for England. What the fuck was I supposed to do with that? I’m not some jealous fat girl anymore hanging on to you. This is why you’ll never have a lasting relationship with anyone because you assume the worst in people and push them away… yaddie yaddah.”

“Wait,” I said, isolating the one thing I’d heard and playing it in my mind over and over again. “He tried to kiss her?”

“From what I gathered. When he was leaving for England. And at that point, it was too little too late for her, I guess,” Hutch said. My heart sank. I knew there was more to that history. I knew there had to have been something there that I was missing. I didn’t think the missing link was on Pete’s end, but then again, Pete had proven time and time again that he was unpredictable.

My face must have read my disappointment like a full-paged novel. I felt Hutch squirm on the seat next to me.

“I’m sorry, mi maricon,” ‘Berto said softly, making an insult sound so sweet.

I forced a smile and took a deep breath. I didn’t want my brothers seeing me sweat, so I picked myself up and forced my face to fix.

“Well,” I said barely containing my newfound rage. “I have to go hang out with a Brit and a tall girl he apparently can’t keep his lips off of.”

So much for not showing my rage. I walked out of the room slowly and down towards Jefferson Hall, the whole while thinking about Pete leaning in for a goodbye kiss.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about the scenario, however. First and foremost, knowing that he’d tried to kiss Dakota didn’t negate any of the things he’d done with me. It wasn’t like there was a gay/straight score that I was keeping, and if so, I wasn’t really sure what side would be winning. Just last night, Pete had tripped me into falling onto him; he’d danced with me closer than guys I’d let fuck me before; we’d wrestled like lesbians in a kiddy pool of jello. We’d done things that clearly pointed his sexual compass in my direction.

So why was I so bothered by his attempted kiss with a girl? Maybe Pete was the rare breed of true bisexuality. Maybe he wasn’t sure what he wanted, and was simply open to the idea of love. Or maybe I was reaching. Maybe I was wrestling with a straight guy and digging myself a hole that would only lead to a well of disappointment.

The one thing that nagged at me most, however, was the fact that Pete had waited until he was leaving America to make his move on Dakota. As I approached his building, I thought about it carefully. He’d known for months that she liked him. He’d played her along, probably with the same moves he’d put on me. He’d given her just enough to hang around, but never enough to make it worth it.

Until he had an out. He didn’t make a move until he was getting ready to leave. I couldn’t blame Dakota for being pissed. I’d be pissed too. It made me wonder if Pete was really that cowardly that he’d string someone along until the very last moment. But why? So he wouldn’t have to face their rejection? So that he wouldn’t have to let himself go long enough to feel vulnerable? If he liked her, if he liked me, why was he biding his time? Was I destined to receive a goodbye kiss at an airport, all the while knowing the guy I was in love with was flying away minutes later? Was that my future?

I successfully put away my anger as I knocked on Pete’s door. There was no use fuming about it when I had a fun filled day of fun planned with Pete and Dakota, and I couldn’t back out now. Instead, I put a smile on my face and scanned his body as he opened the door in just a pair of shorts.

“Sorry,” he said, letting me in. “I had just showered when you called.”

It was easy to forgive a hot shirtless Englishman and forget that the girl he’d tried to kiss was one shower stall away.

“Your hair looks atrocious,” I said sitting down on his chair and looking at him as he sprawled out on his bed. He ran his fingers through it.

“You’re the second person to tell me that today,” he smiled. “I guess I need a haircut.”

“I can cut it,” I said without thinking.

“You cut hair?”

I didn’t cut hair.

“Yeah,” I said.

He narrowed his eyes at me.

“I don’t think so. We’ll go to Procuts or something,” he said. I heard the shower turn off.

“Oh come on,” I said. “Why pay for a pro cut, when you have a pro right here who can cut it for you. Free of charge.”

“Free, huh? Sounds even sketchier.”

“Fine… I’ll charge you a beer. A bargain beer for a professional haircut.”

“Just let him do it!” I heard shouted from the bathroom. “And pour me a Natty Light. I’m coming out!”

I turned my head and smirked. “She’s spoken,” I said. Pete got up and took out three Natties from the fridge.

“Want one?”

“Why not,” I said, ignoring the queasiness that was still permeating my stomach. A minute later, just as the foam was subsiding in our cups, Dakota came out of the bathroom in a pair of Gap Jeans and a sexy blue bra. She was surprisingly comfortable showing off her new svelte body, and after one look at it, and I couldn’t blame her for it.

“Wow there,” I chuckled, my voice sounding mostly startled. “I didn’t know this was a topless party.”

With both Dakota and Pete parading around shirtless, I suddenly felt overdressed. I took a sip of my drink.

“Not used to seeing boobs, huh?” she said, squinting her eyes. “Living in a frat house and all.”

“I’ve seen my share,” I said cheekily. She smiled at me and took the beer that Pete extended.

“Probably more than Pete’s seen, right Pete?” she smiled at him as he gave her a glare.

“What’s the plan for today?” Pete asked, changing the subject rapidly.

“Well, we’re going to finish these,” Dakota said confidently, her eyes wide. “And then have another.”

“I second that motion.”

“Perfect,” Pete said. “Then you two are going to go get Pimm’s from the liquor store while I swoop into town and get a haircut.”

“I thought Corbin was cutting your hair…” Dakota said. I looked at her puzzlingly. She smiled. “The walls between this room and the bathroom are surprisingly thin, even with the shower running. Last night, I could clearly hear Pete choking the chicken while he was ‘using the rest-‘”

“Okay, thanks for that,” Pete interrupted, just as the air quotes came out. The damage was done. I’d gotten the picture. And it made me squirm. “I am not letting Corbin cut my hair.”

“Why not!?” I asked.

“Because, you don’t cut hair. And you’re drinking. That’s got to be against some sort of code.”

“Oh, whatever. Like my barber hasn’t knocked back one or two before trims,” I countered. “You just want a couple inches taken off. Cleaned up on the sides. It’s easy breezy.”

“And I’ve cut my mom’s hair a million times; I’m here to help if needed,” Dakota added. I watched Pete’s face turn from stoic disapproval to acceptance. He couldn’t go up against the both of us. Beer, or no beer, we were cutting the guy’s hair.

“Fine,” he resigned. “But I want you to cut it now before you drink anymore.”

I looked at Dakota and gave her a devilish glare. A second later, we both chugged what remained of our early morning beers.

“Too late,” Dakota laughed. Pete didn’t look amused. Instead of saying anything, he finished his beer and reached for another.

“If I’m going to let this happen, I need to be wasted myself,” he said. A minute later, he took a set of keys and a beer to the bathroom and shotgunned a full Natty. He came out wiping his mouth, and grinning.

“I think I’m ready,” he croaked.

“Okay, ready,” I said trying not to crack up too badly. Pete shook his head. I pulled his computer chair out from under the desk and put it in the center of the room.

“Pour us another while we gather supplies,” Dakota instructed. Pete commenced to pouring three more Natties while I went into his bathroom and pulled out a pair of scissors and a hand towel. I admit that I rummaged around a little ‘looking’ for the scissors that were clearly in the drawer right of the sink- aren’t everyone’s?- just to see what else was lying around. Nothing but the basics: toothpaste, shaving cream, cheap cologne. The one thing that was noticeably missing: condoms.

When I got back into Pete’s room, Dakota had set him up in the chair with a t-shirt over his lap, a towel under his chair, and a comb.

“Your subject awaits,” she swept her hands towards Pete.

“Subject or victim,” he replied.

“You can always get it fixed,” I said. “Now, do you usually get your hair cut dry or wet?”

I marveled at my own hair IQ, considering the closest I’d ever come to actually cutting hair was watching Sheer Genius on Bravo.

“They usually do it dry,” he said. “I think.”

Dakota mouthed: “I’d do it dry.”

It surprised me, considering I always got my hair cut wet. But with a vote of 2-1, how could I argue. I set down my scissors and the comb Dakota had handed me next to the beer on the table, and gently began fingering Pete’s hair.

There was something intrinsically intimate about running my hands across his scalp. I moved slowly, sensually, aware of the millions of nerve endings I was tickling as I went. I stopped after a second, not wanting to appear too creepy. I cleared my throat.

“Um, how much do you want off?”

“Just make me look good,” he said.

“He’s a hairstylist, not a plastic surgeon, sweetie,” Dakota quipped. I looked down at Pete’s head and mapped my moves in my mind. It was longer in back, and that was where we clearly needed to start. The rest would be about shaping his hair, not going in too short, but really just trimming, evening, and cleaning up what had overgrown into dry-ish split hair.

I took two fingers and pulled the hair on the very back of his head into them. I looked at my fingers and decided that the hair at the base of his neck should be pretty close to the skin. Dakota stood behind me, breathing, watching, and judging.

“I think right about there,” she whispered, pointing to the exact spot I was planning to snip. She held the other side of the lock I was examining so that it wouldn’t fall to the ground. Teamwork. I took a deep breath, pulled the scissors to Pete’s head, and made the cut.

I moved my hand, and there it was. A straight cut of hair across his neck. I looked at Dakota and exhaled.

“The hardest part is over,” she said. The next snip was easy as well. I just followed the line I had created at his neckline. It was after the third snip that the Dakota stopped being my spotter, and started being the photographer, taking digital pictures of Pete’s hair progress.

Things didn’t get dicey until after the first layer of hair was cut. Pete was relaxed. I was relaxed, and Dakota was snapping photos like Gilles Bensimon at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

“Okay,” I breathed. “How do you want your layers?”

I knew from instinct that the second layer had to be shorter than the first. But how much shorter? How was I going to blend the layers together? Did I need to make vertical cuts in order to get all the layers the same? How does one even make vertical cuts? I decided to stick with my technique. Again, I started in the middle, took a lock of Pete’s hair, planned my snip, and then I cut.

As soon as I did it, I knew I’d fucked up. I felt my hand slip at the end, and so did the scissors, creating a cut that was angled downward and close to the scalp on one side. Very close.

I looked at Dakota who had breathed in. She immediately snapped a photo.

“Oh shit,” I breathed out.

“What?” Pete asked, sounding genuinely concerned. I felt his neck tense up.

“Nothing,” I recovered.

“You don’t say ‘oh shit’ if you don’t mean ‘oh shit.’ What happened?”

“There was a snip,” Dakota explained, circling to look at Pete. “It isn’t bad. I promise, it isn’t bad.”

“Let me see,” he said calmly. I took in a deep breath. This had been a bad idea from the start. Who let’s someone who’s never cut hair, not to mention is two beers in and probably still drunk from the night before, cut their hair? A drunk Brit, that’s who. And now I was going to pay the price.

He stood up and walked into the bathroom. Dakota gave me a look as if to say it couldn’t get worse. I wanted to cry. A minute later, holding a small handheld mirror, Pete returned with a stoic, serious look on his face.

I waited for it. I waited for him to curse me out. I waited for him to say he didn’t want to hang out with me ever again. I was braced.

Instead, he sat down, back in the same position and said: “You may as well finish now.”

I took in a deep breath and swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat. I was mortified to say the least. Shaking, I took the scissors and quietly continued to work, this time double, triple checking every snip before I made it.

Dakota was on my right, consulting the entire time. She offered her opinion on length, sheer angle, and depth of layers. Almost an hour later, we examined Pete from the front and side, and minus the bald spot near his neck, the haircut looked passable.

“It’s about what you would have gotten at Walmart anyway,” Dakota said encouragingly. I tried to smile.

‘I’d still do you’ I wanted to say. Instead, I told him that he still looked handsome. “Like one of the guys in Westlife.”

He smiled at that.

“You know what will cheer us all up? A good old fashioned beer race,” Dakota said, walking towards the fridge. She pulled out another three beers, leaving Pete with only a couple left.

“When we’re done with these, we hop on over to the ABC for some Pimm’s, and we start our day of adventure.”

“I’ll need a drink to survive this haircut,” Pete said, his voice far from cheerful. I felt bad for marring such a beautiful guy, but the drunker I got, the funnier I thought the situation was.

On our way to the ABC, after Dakota had smoked Pete and I in the beer chug, I cracked a joke about his new mane.

“Now you have a blemish like the rest of the common folk,” I said, trying to make him feel better.

“Yeah, well, enjoy it today,” he said, almost bitchily. “I’m getting it cut proper first thing in the morning.”

I swallowed and kept walking in silence. I felt sort of guilty for mauling Pete’s hair, but at the end of the day, what was done was done, and I really needed him to move on.

His attitude softened as he explained to us what Pimm’s was.

“It’s the official drink of England,” he said as we checked out of the ABC and walked across to the Kroger to get mixers. The liquid inside of the clear bottle with a white and red wrapping was dark reddish-brown, almost syrupy. It resembled Southern Comfort, and I wondered if that’s what it tasted like.

“What does it taste like?” I asked as we meandered the aisles at Kroger in search of lemonade and fresh fruit.

“It tastes like slow gin, I guess,” he surmised. I wasn’t sure what slow gin tasted like either, but I didn’t feel like asking. I decided to wait until I tasted the concoction for myself.

An hour later, we ventured back to Pete’s room. Adam was still out, and I wondered aloud if he ever came home.

“I hardly ever see him,” Pete replied with a shrug. Part of me thought there was more to that, but I let it go.

“So this is what we do,” Pete said. He filled the pitcher he’d bought at Kroger with the bottle of Pimm’s Cup. Next he poured about a cup of the Simply Lemonade into the pitcher. I watched as he diced an entire cucumber and dropped it in. Finally, he sliced some strawberries and one whole lemon into wheels and dropped them in. He stirred, fished out three clean solo cups and poured each of us a little to taste.

“Ready?” he asked. I smelled it and at first it smelled like really strong herbal tea. It didn’t smell bad, but it didn’t smell good. It almost reminded me of Yager, but spicy.

I brought it to my lips and took a small sip. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all. I would have liked it a little better if it had been really cold, I’m sure, but as it was, I could stomach it.

“So…?” he asked.

“You know I like it,” Dakota replied. He must have cooked some up for her during their year of fun in Dallas.

“It’s good,” I said unconvincingly.

“You don’t like it.”

“I like it,” I assured.

“You don’t have to drink it if you don’t like it,” he said. “I have vodka.”

“I love it,” I said, finishing what little he’d put in my cup and holding it out for him to refill. “It tastes like England.”

“And you like the taste of England?” Dakota asked with a raised brow.

“What I’ve tasted so far,” I said, pressing my tongue to my top row of teeth, and glancing at Pete suggestively.

“You two are sick,” he said, filling up my cup. He handed it back to me and I made a point to make eye contact with him.

“To tasting England,” I said flirtatiously, not caring one bit what he or Dakota thought.

We sat around drinking and getting to know each other for a while. We kept talking about going outside and enjoying the cool fall day, but every time we made any strides towards the door, our cups were refilled and our departure was delayed.

What really got me about Pimm’s Cup was that it wasn’t too sweet, but just sweet enough that you didn’t notice how much alcohol you were consuming. It was almost like drinking a mix between an Arnold Palmer and a Mint Julep, hitting the spot perfectly, but getting you drunk along the way.

By the time we ventured out into public, I was sloshed, and I knew most of Dakota’s back story. She’d grown up in Sherman, Texas. Her family was well-to-do and respected in the small town- enough so that she had no trouble financing four years at SMU before moving to DC for law school. She was a TriDelt legacy, but had pledged Zeta at SMU, something that spoke volumes based on what I knew about that sorority.

“Did you know any SMU Kappas?” I asked her. Her face turned, and I should have known better than to ask. Just like they were the crème de la crème at OD, I’m sure the srat queens were less than beloved at SMU as well… at least by other girls.

In getting to know Dakota, she really got to know me. The questions spewed out of her like they were coming from someone who’d read a dossier on me.

What are you involved with on campus? Why’d you pick OD? Why Chi Beta? What do you write about for the Founder? What is Fancy Ball?

And after the surface questions came the hard hitters.

Do you have a boyfriend? When was the last time you had a boyfriend? What’s the longest relationship you’ve been in? Are you one of those gays that wants to get married one day?

“Of course I want to get married,” I said. “What would be the point of dating around if I didn’t want to find someone I want to settled down with… eventually.”

I didn’t say that the guy I wanted to marry, at least for the time being, was sitting across the room, controlling the music and making sure our drinks were never empty.

“Okay, folks,” Pete said. “It’s time to take this show out of the bedroom.”

“And where should we take it,” Dakota asked.

“Apparently there’s some sort of activities fair going on The Green,” he replied. “We could check that out.”

“Those things are stupid every year,” I said.

“What are they?”

“They get a bounce house and a gladiator wrestling thing and like an obstacle course or something. One year, they gave out donkey rides.”

“That sounds amazing,” Pete said, swiveling in this chair. His eyes were wide, like a little kid getting ready for the carnival.

“They’re stupid,” I said.

“What is it for?”

“It’s for sobriety awareness.” I was aware how disgusted I sounded.

“But we’re already drunk,” Dakota observed.

“Exactly,” I shrugged. “We’ve failed. There’s no point in going. We’re unaware of sobriety.”

“Just because we’re drunk doesn’t mean we can’t bounce a bounce house,” Pete said.

“We’re not children, Pete,” I said. He stood up and pulled my hand from right out of my lap and tried to pull me up. I played the brat and sank down in my seat.

“Come on… up, up,” he said cheerily pulling me out of my seat. “Fine. Stay here. But we’re taking the liquor.”

“All of it?” I slurred.

“All of it.”

“You can’t take liquor to a sober event,” Dakota scolded.

“Watch me,” Pete said, packing the vodka and the rest of the bottle of Pimm’s into a back pack. He also put the bottle of lemonade and three fresh cups in his bag.

“Ready?”

“I can’t argue with that level of preparation,” I said, standing and following Pete and Dakota out of the room. Pete’s backpack clanked together as we ventured out of his bedroom and into public. We walked across Washington Street and through the quad where we landed on Gentleman’s Green, a large expanse of grass between the gymnasium and the student center. On the far edge, following a grey stone walkway, was Sorority Bridge that led to the five srat houses.

On the green were a number of child-centric attractions, customized for the larger college student. There was a huge bounce pad, almost like an inflated trampoline. A couple of co-eds were sending each other higher and higher by strategically bouncing at different spots on the pad. My stomach turned just watching them, and I knew if I got on, I’d hurl in no time.

What caught Pete’s eye was the inflated obstacle course.

“We’re doing it,” he said, walking briskly towards the oversized gadget.

“Fuck no,” I replied, following Dakota. I hesitated to even walk with those two. By the time I got to the course, they were already taking their shoes off and putting them neatly beside the bag of goodies.

“Watch the stuff,” Pete instructed. I could handle that. I listened to the official time keeper read of the rules to them. No kicking. No pushing. If you get stuck, the only word you should yell is ‘Stop’ and they’ll send someone in for you.

I watched as they geared up, ready to race. The course was simple. Pete and Dakota dove through a donut and slid through the first obstacle: a belly slide with dozens of hanging inflated udders blocking their way. When they got through about twelve feet of that, they had to climb up a steep ladder, walk across a narrow plank with steep drops on either side, and then slide down to victory. If one fell off the plank, which Pete did twice, one had to crawl back around and climb back up the ladder. It was a bounce house course on steroids, and I was cracking up the whole time watching these two grown adults, almost six feet tall, slither and slide their way through.

“Your turn,” Pete panted after Dakota had thoroughly smoked him through the course.

“Hell no,” I said.

“Oh, come on,” he pressed. “It’s not that bad.”

I could feel my stomach turning just having this discussion with him, and so I held my ground.

“I can’t. I’m afraid of… inflated things.”

“That’s not a real fear.” Dakota’s face expressed just how little she believed me, as if I’d told her I’d just won the lottery or something.

“Okay fine,” I replied. “I just don’t want to do it.”

“Like hell!” Pete shouted. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground and Pete was straddling my chest.

“Get his shoes!” he yelled. Dakota pulled my shoes off as I struggled beneath the weight of an Englishman determined to get me into an inflated obstacle course. At some point, I gave up the struggle and enjoyed the view of Pete kneeling over my chest. He was in perfect position to drop his trousers and let his pecker dangle just inches from my mouth. If I wasn’t so annoyed at the thought of going into that childish obstacle course, I might have suggested the idea.

A minute later, Pete got off me and dragged me over to the two donuts that started the course.

“Okay folks, you’ve heard the drill,” the time keeper said. “It’s basic. No pushing, kicking, or shoving. There’s an emergency exit halfway through if you don’t feel comfortable climbing the ladder. Win like a gentleman, and we’ll all be fine.”

“What if I don’t want to go in there,” I said to the guy.

“He wants to,” Pete interjected. The guy looked at us like we were crazy. He picked up and cleared his stop watch, told us to get ready and then said “Go!”

I sprinted towards my donut, in pace with Pete. I let him crawl into his, and just before I crawled through mine, I stopped and started laughing. He was already sliding through the belly crawl by the time he realized I hadn’t gone in.

“Hey!” he shouted from inside. I bent over with laughter at him racing himself. Luckily for both of us, there wasn’t a line formed behind us like there was for some of the other attractions.

“Come on, man,” he shouted. I realized that he was fully turned around, facing me from within the contraption. “That’s no fun.”

“Throwing up in there is no fun for me,” I said with a crooked eye.

“You aren’t going to throw up,” he said. The next thing I knew, he was out of the ride, and pushing me into my donut. I could see Dakota snapping pictures out of the corner of my eye.

“Let me go!” I shouted. At one point, Pete had his arms wrapped tightly around my waist and was physically lifting me into the entrance of the ride. I kicked, screamed, and did my best to make my body heavy.

“This is ride rape!” I shouted. “No pushing!”

“He said nothing about ride rape!” Pete shouted back. I knew Dakota was finding this highly amusing, as did the ride official, I was sure. In the end, Pete forced me through the donut. I crawled through the belly maze and stood up by the ladder. By that point, Pete didn’t trust me enough to go ahead of me. I turned and saw him standing by his ladder, waiting for me to crawl up.

“Oh fine,” I said, I reached over and hoisted myself up. Instead of walking the plank, I crawled it.

“You’re a cheater,” Pete said, keeping in pace with me.

“And this surprises you, how?” I asked. He smiled. We slid down the slide together, and faced the barrage of jokes coming from Dakota at the end.

“I’ve never seen two people finish a race so fucking slowly,” she joked. “And there was something slightly arousing about Pete, you forcing Corbin through that hole.”

“You’re a sicko,” he said, walking over to our shoes.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing one apparatus or another. At one point, I took my sexual frustration for Pete out on him on the gladiator wrestling pad. It was an inflated pad, we both put on inflated vests, and wielded inflated hammers, knocking each other over with the weight of condensed air.

It was therapeutic.

By the time we retreated under a tree to covertly drink our to-go liquor, I was spent. It was almost like Pete and I had spent the day at the fair or carnival— and I was one oversized teddy bear short of enjoying it.

“So, Corbin,” Dakota said as we leaned back and enjoyed the late afternoon breeze. “Why is it that a catch like you doesn’t have a boyfriend?”

The question caught me off guard. I looked up from the blade of grass I was fingering and made eye contact with Pete. It was a total accident, and I wasn’t seeking his eyes out. They were just there. Staring me in the face. Reminding me that he wasn’t, in fact, my boyfriend.

But it was days like this that made me think he could be. It was our lunches. Our pre-games, our walks to and from chorus that made me think I could be a good boyfriend to him. It was the fact that we texted from dawn until dusk, went out together, danced like whores together in the middle of a crowded room. It was the fact that I loved him…

And yet his eyes were right there reminding me that we weren’t boyfriends. And the question slapped me that much harder because of it.

“I don’t know,” I said simply.

“Have you ever had a boyfriend?”

“I dated a guy in high school. He went to a different school because I wasn’t ready to come out yet. Stupid me,” I added. “All my good friends ended up being gay anyway.”

They both chuckled at that. Sensing that this conversation was about to get really deep, Pete laid back and played with some of the leaves he’d picked up. I could see him squinting towards the sun, and I knew he was listening intently to my answer.

“I guess the right guy here just hasn’t come along. I’ve kissed a lot of toads, though,” I said.

“You’re just waiting for that perfect prince?” Dakota asked.

“If he’s out there, I’m sure I’ll find him,” I said, not taking my eyes off of Pete. I couldn’t have been more obvious. If he’d been looking at me instead of into the sun, he would have seen it.

“What about your soldier?” Pete asked. Dakota raised an eyebrow.

“You have a soldier?” she asked.

“And he has a freshman,” Pete said, sitting up. “Our little boy gets around.”

And then it hit me. It wasn’t that Pete was afraid to make a move. It was that he thought I had all these other guys in my coffer. I had them all lined up. He didn’t want to be another throwaway guy, I thought. It made sense to me. He wanted something real, and he thought I was only after something fickle.

“My soldier is a place holder until something good comes along,” I answered honestly. “Also, he’s a cadet.”

“You said you like him,” Pete said defensively.

“I said I liked him. Key word was liked… past tense…” I replied. Dakota’s head turned back and forth, as if she wasn’t the one who’d started this entire exchange.

“And the frosh?” he asked.

“The frosh was… the frosh was a mistake,” I admitted. I looked down at the grass. This was my chance to show Pete that the frosh was a condition of his royal rejection. If Pete had hooked up with me when he had the chance during orientation week, I wouldn’t have even considered hooking up with Lee.

“Wait, you’ve hooked up with a freshman already? School’s been in for what, three weeks?”

“Something like that,” I said. “And it was a one time, orientation week thing. Everyone does it. It’s practically a tradition here.”

“I didn’t hook up with a freshman,” Pete said to the ground, almost under his breath. I sighed audibly before I had the chance to catch myself.

I looked for Pete’s reaction, but he gave me none. Instead, he returned to his laying position on the grass. I took a sip out of the flask and wondered if I’d played that situation smartly, or if I’d ruined things forever. I decided not to dwell on Pete’s reaction, partially because I was drunk and the conversation changed, but mostly because there was nothing I could do about it. I had hooked up with those guys, and for whatever reason Pete perceived, the fact remained I couldn’t take back those hookups. I could only hope that he’d forget about them eventually.

The rest of the afternoon was spent shooting the shit in a big way. Part of me was annoyed at Pete for questioning how much I liked him. If he thought one lay with a frosh was a problem, then he was an idiot. It was clear, if not then, then surely by now, that I was into him. How could he think that a cadet miles away or a freshman I wasn’t even speaking to anymore could even compare.

And the drunker I got, the more annoyed I became with myself. How had I let it get to that point? How had I let my messages be so muddled that Pete thought making a move on me was somehow impeding on these fictitious relationships?

I decided that night, as I showered in preparation for going out again with Pete and Dakota, that I had to be more forward. I had to make a move. If I didn’t, he’d always think I liked someone else. He’d take my flirting for general niceness, and I couldn’t have that. I needed him to know that I wanted his dick, his touch, his kiss, and that anyone else that he thought was part of the equation was subtractable.

If showing him that meant turning up the heat, that’s exactly what I’d do. Short of coming out and telling him that I’d kiss the tip if he wanted me to, I decided that I would flirt my ass off until he got the clear and concise picture.

“What are you up to tonight, Corbs?” Hutch asked, stopping by my room while I was getting dressed.

“The same old,” I replied. “Going out with Pete and Dakota. She wants the full on OD party crawl.”

“That should be fun. So, Shipwrecked? Old House? The Country?”

“All of the above,” I answered, pulling a polo on over my wife beater. I decided to go with my slimmest polo, my skinniest jeans, and my sexiest hairdo. “What are you up to tonight?”

“I don’t know. I told Hayley I’d take her to dinner.”

“Really?” I interrupted the thought. “Like a date, dinner? Or like, I’m famished, dinner?”

“It was more like a ‘I want you to keep sucking my dick so I’ll agree to dinner’ dinner,” Hutch said. I laughed.

“Well, good luck with that,” I said. “If I know anything about freshmen, it’s that they aren’t to be messed with.”

“And I think freshmen at this point know not to mess with you,” he said, looking at me. I shrugged, knowing full well what he was referring to. I was yet to physically see Lee since the infamous outing, but I could only imagine what he was going through. Still, I couldn’t be coerced into feeling guilty about what I’d done, not even by Hutch.

“I’m gonna head out,” I said quickly to Hutch as I slipped my leather Abercrombie flip-flops on. “How do I look?”

“You look like a gay Backstreet Boy,” he said. “If that’s not too redundant.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I said. I lifted my arm, smelled under my pit and confidently ushered Hutch out of the room.

That night was much like the night before. Camera out, Dakota chronicled every last move we made.

We began at the Sigma Nu shipwrecked party. On our campus, SNUs were among the worst of the worst, but every year, the gentlemen of Sigma Nu threw a pregame that attracted every level of Greek elite. There was so much alcohol inside their house that night that I’m sure they were responsible for at least half of the morning after pills administered the next day. It was the one time of the year that you would find members of the Big Four fraternities, not to mention representatives from every sorority, inside the Sigma Nu’s ‘wrecked ship’ of a party.

From there, we went to Old House for a brief kickback. I made the rounds, talking my way back into the good graces of Lambda Chi’s and their Chi Omega girlfriends.

“You’re coming to Tropical next week, right?” my friend Drew asked me over whiskey and water shots. “Three story waterfall, t-shirts, the works.”

“Yeah, you bastards still owe me a t-shirt from the fish I swallowed last year,” I said.

“Rumor has it a fish wasn’t all you swallowed last year,” he replied. I shot a look to Pete and caught Dakota laughing out of the corner of my eye. “And I’m pretty sure you got a t-shirt anyway.”

“How I earn my t-shirts is none of your concern,” I said to Drew with a smirk and a smile. He winked at me, hit me across the ass and left me wondering how this guy still claimed to be straight.

From there, Pete, Dakota, myself, and the Polaroid camera walked back to campus to catch a shuttle bus to the country.

“I want to catch someone falling into that fire,” Dakota giggled, much drunker than I thought she was. We walked through the historic district, dodging Clifton Hill PD by walking through alleys.

“Every alley is sketchier than the last,” Dakota observed, following Pete and I. I saw the flash of a camera from behind me and I turned in time to see Dakota shoot another picture.

“If you’re gonna take a picture in an alley, take a picture,” I whispered. I figured this was the perfect time for me to turn up the volume. If Pete didn’t know I liked him after three weeks of pining, yearning, and wanting, there was no time like the present to throw a Hail Mary.

I pulled Pete in by the neck, wrapped my leg around him so that my foot was on wall and my back was on the other. I made a face towards the camera, and a second later, the photographer snapped a picture of me forcing myself on Pete.

Holding onto his body felt natural. His neck was thick, his arms were wide, and his stance was strong, even with me hanging off of it. I could tell that he was a little uncomfortable when I first pulled him in, but it wasn’t like I’d kissed the guy… he relaxed enough for the second picture, and by the third, he had wrapped his arms around me and was smiling as wide and flirtatiously as I was.

“Okay, you two,” Dakota interrupted. “This is getting weird. Let’s move on.”

Reluctantly, I let go of Pete and followed Dakota through the alley and to the street. We had to run, cut, and push to the front of the line to get onto a packed shuttle, but I was proud of Dakota for following my lead and getting aggressive.

“It’s dog-eat-dog out here,” she said as three of us crammed into a two-person seat. “What happened to women and children first?”

“Chivalry is dead,” Pete said.

“I’ve got a child here,” I shouted in my best Billy Zane impersonation.

“Titanic!” Dakota shouted, and we both erupted into laughter.

“You’d think you two were the old friends,” Pete observed with just a hint of something circling towards jealousy. I didn’t care. Maybe charming up his best friend would help Pete see that I was perfect for him.

We hung out in the country. Nothing eventful happened that night, minus a couple dozen gin bucket shots and an encounter with a guy I used to like named Nick Persons. The guy was an aspiring DJ, and his special brand of flirting- although his sexuality was still in very big question- involved having me up to his room for half an hour to listen to some of his beats.

By the time the last busses were pulling up to take people back into town, the three of us were drunk, soaking with sweat, and ready to crash.

“I’m hungry,” Dakota announced after the entire bus sang “Oh Shenandoah” at the top of our lungs. “Actually I’m starving.”

“I’m tired and gross,” I slurred.

“Let’s go get food,” Dakota repeated.

“I want pancakes!” Pete shouted, sounding like a child waking up on his birthday.

“No one is going to take us to get food,” I told them. “Unless we go to the Stop-In.”

“What’s the Stop-In?” Dakota asked.

“Yeah, what’s the Stop-In?” Pete repeated. When he asked me what the Stop-In was, I had almost forgotten he’d only been on campus for a few weeks. As drunk as we got all too often, I was surprised I’d never dragged him to the small gas station just off of campus that sold ridiculously gross food really late into the night.

I lead Pete and Dakota from the bus stop down the main hill that served as a picture for so many of OD’s brochures. The hill sloped steeply past the president and dean’s respective houses.

“Shhh,” I warned the others. “If we wake up the president, we’re screwed,” I warned, as if waking him up was a real thing.

At the bottom of the hill, to the left was a dimly lit gas station. It was sketchy to put it mildly, but the promise of a Stop-In dog or Stop-In nachos kept us creeping towards it.

“Okay you guys,” I said, stopping them just before we crossed the street that took us off campus and into town, where we were more vulnerable to Clifton PD. “I’ve had a million friends get their drunk-in-publics from coming here.”

“Oh no,” Pete said, raising an eyebrow. “I don’t want a drunk in public.”

“I can’t afford a drunk in public!” Dakota almost panicked. I forgot that I had been dealing with two really drunk people, and I was surprised I was managing to keep my shit together so well.

“Just don’t act ridiculous, and we’ll be fine,” I said. I led the troops across the street, past the gas pumps, and into The Stop-In. The guy behind the counter was one of two guys that were always behind the counter. One, the day shifter, was an older black man who always spewed some sort of advice. He was also the kind of guy who would ask if you were sick if you didn’t pick up any alcohol.

The night shift guy was an Indian gentleman. Tall, skinny, and awkward as fuck. He eyed us as we went straight for the hot food station.

“What the fuck is this?” Dakota asked with disgust looking at the silver box that contained the gold.

“Hot dogs,” I said, grinning. “Or, more specifically, Stop-In Dogs.”

“What the fuck is a Stop-In Dog?”

“It’s a hot dog that tastes like nothing you’ll ever eat ever again in your life ever,” I said, my voice growing more and more exuberant.

“I love hotdogs,” Pete said, reaching under the counter and pulling out a hotdog bun. They both followed my lead in creating a disgusting chili-cheese hot dog. I filled mine as high as it would go with chili and cheese, onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños. Pete’s was even worse with a dollop of coleslaw on top of his. Dakota kept it as classy as possible with cheese and ketchup.

I paid for the dogs with those two keeping as quiet as possible. I burst into random laughter on two occasions, and I could tell the guy behind the counter new I was drunk. Of course he knew. It was almost three a.m. on a Saturday night and I was excited about a chili-cheese dog.

We left The Stop-In with no incident. I told the guys to walk straight and calmly across the street as I spotted Clifton PD circling to our left.

“We’re on the run,” Pete said once we were back on campus. He went into full sprint up the hill, face planting just below the president’s house.

Dakota and I erupted into laughter.

“It’s a good thing you’re holding the wieners!” Dakota joked, turning to me.

“When it comes to wieners, I keep a firm grip,” I said. Dakota squealed at my joke and followed Pete up the hill. It took several minutes and a few near misses before we all made it up the hill and back to Jefferson Hall.

As usual, Pete’s room was empty. Adam was nowhere to be found.

“He must have a girlfriend,” Dakota said.

“Or boyfriend,” I corrected.

“Does your suite mate speak fag, Pete?” Dakota asked.

Pete shrugged, sitting down and taking his sweater off.

“It’s still a little unclear,” I told her. “Let’s just say he’d be a pro at eating this hotdog.”

I smirked. It was clear what I was saying. Pete looked up at me with wide eyes as I fished my hotdog out of its case.

“And are you a pro at eating hotdogs?” Pete asked. I gave him a look, took my chili cheese dog and stuff nearly half of it in my mouth. I could feel the length of the hot dog hitting the back of my throat, searing a portion of the skin, but I didn’t care. Pete had said it like a challenge, so I took it as a challenge. I watched his eyes widen as half of the phallic snack disappeared from thin air.

“Holy fuck,” Dakota breathed. A smile I’d never seen crept onto Pete’s face. I pulled the dog out and took a reasonable bite.

“Impressive!” Pete said. I smiled.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” I asked, not to him in particular, but definitely to him.

“Y’all are sickos,” Dakota said. “Corbin, you’re in time out.”

“What did I do?”

“You can’t fellate hotdogs! It’s not classy,” she said.

“Pete dared me to!”

“I did not! I just asked if he was a pro!”

“Pete, daring is scaring! You’re in time out too,” she turned to him with a finger up. She told us we’d have to eat our snacks silently, which was impossible because the both of us were laughing the entire time. When Dakota wasn’t watching, I pulled my hotdog to my face and made a very suggestive look at Pete. His eyes got wide, very wide, as I continued to demonstrate my moves on a greasy disgusting hot dog.

“Will you stop!” Dakota scolded. I gave her a guilty look.

“Sorry,” I replied with a smile.

“Oh, you are not sorry at all.”

“You’re right,” I laughed. The three of us shot the shit even more, acting like we’d been the three best friends anyone could ever have for years and years. I’d forgotten that the girl sitting before me was possibly my one biggest rival in my quest for the Englishman. She was too fun to begrudge, too nice to hate. And the more I spent time with them, the more I realized what she meant to him.

But I also knew that she was watching me. I knew that she thought the same about Pete and I. I knew, deep down, she was wondering how someone who had been in her best friend’s life for less than a month could mean so much to him in such a short amount of time.

At nearly four a.m., Pete finally passed out in his bed after the three of us unsuccessfully tried to watch The Devil Wears Prada all the way through on Youtube.

“I guess I should walk home,” I told Dakota, not taking my eyes of the peacefully sleeping Pete. He was curled up on his side, facing the wall, his knees pulled up, and his hands under his head.

“I can walk you,” Dakota said.

“You don’t have-“

“I want to,” she interrupted. “I want to talk to you.”

I swallowed. I knew what the conversation was about. It was going to be a woman to woman warning, I could almost tell. The way she insisted on walking me out made me wonder.

She didn’t say anything until we got outside of Jefferson Hall and were slowly walking up towards my house. The alley was quiet, sketchy, and still.

“Did you have a good time here?” I asked, breaking the silence and the awkwardness.

“I did,” she replied. “A really good time. It was nice to meet you. And to catch up with Pete, you know.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Listen, I just want to thank you for taking care of him. For being a good friend. I know he can be a lot for um… some of us to handle.”

I turned to look at her.

“What do you mean?”

“Look, Corbin, no one who’s seen the two of you together is an idiot. There’s something there,” she said.

“There really isn’t,” I countered.

“Maybe not anything physical, but come on. You’re on the same page as that guy. He’s deep into you, and you… god… you’re drowning.”

I swallowed again. I could feel something rising from the pit of my stomach and up to my chest. It made my cheeks warm, whatever it was, and it sparked a little bit of moisture in my eyes.

“Nothing is ever going to happen,” I choked.

“Do you really think that?” she asked me.

“Do you think something will?”

“Look, I waited a year to get my chance with that guy, and by the time my chance came, I had already moved on,” she said. I guess Hutch had interpreted the fight correctly. She’d pined and pined, and finally, when she’d given up, Pete made his move. It wasn’t fair to her, but it was her reality.

“Pete’s not the kind of guy that gets it right away. Hell, I don’t think he’s the kind of guy that gets it at all. When he kissed me last May, when he tried to at least, I didn’t talk to him for weeks, and he had no idea why. Finally, he called me and asked why I was shutting him out, and I told him it’s because he’s an idiot who strung me along for a year and then left with a kiss.”

I felt really bad for Dakota hearing her relive her failed attempt at getting the guy. But did she really deserve that much sympathy? I would’ve killed for a kiss at that point, even one with no future, sealed by a last call and a boarding pass. She was complaining to me about something I hadn’t experienced yet, and resentment was starting to seep into my sympathy.

“I guess what I’m trying to tell you is be careful, okay? Pete’s not the kind of guy that’s going to understand what you’re doing. He’s the kind of guy that’ll give you a sign, a hint, a little hope, and then he’ll run a hundred miles an hour in the opposite direction.”

I swallowed for the third time as the steps of my house came in to view.

“I doubt he can run that fast,” I smiled.

“I’m not saying this to be mean, and I’m not saying this to hurt you. I just don’t want you to go through what I did.”

“No, I appreciate it,” I said. I shrugged. “I just… it’s stupid, and it’s ridiculous, and I’ve told myself a million times that a guy like Pete isn’t going to go gay for a guy like me, but every time I make that realization, he does something… something happens… there’s a spark. An electricity.”

“I know, babe,” she replied. “I’ve been there. I’ve been shocked by it. And I don’t think it’s a matter of him going gay for you, sweetie. Fuck, I’ve had my questions about him since day one. I think it’s a matter of him being vulnerable for you. That, I’m sorry to say, isn’t going to happen. Hell, I’d see him going gay a million years before I’d see him letting himself go. You deserve someone that’ll let themselves go.”

I nodded. We stopped under the glow of my fraternity house’s street lamp.

“You didn’t have to walk me all the way up,” I said.

“I know, but I needed to get that off my chest before I left.”

“Well thanks,” I said. I managed to keep it together through a hug and a goodbye and the promise that I’d come by before she left in the morning. When I got up to my room is when my keeping together fell apart.

Dakota had meant well, I was sure. But hearing the words ‘won’t’ and ‘ever’ cut deeper than I’d thought they would. I’d thought it before, you all know that. But hearing them said out loud, by someone who knew Pete so well… well there was no arguing with that.

And as I tucked myself in and tried to fall asleep, I thought about all the things I would trade just to get the chance to be with him. Everything, I thought. I’d risk it all for the possibility of showing him how good we’d be together.

But possibilities didn’t build certainties, and at that point in mine and Pete’s relationship, there were only four things that were certain.

First, I was certain that I loved the guy, possibly more than I’d loved anyone ever in my entire life. Being with him made me happy. His presence made me a better person. I was in love with Pete, and for the first time in a month, I allowed myself to realize it. The second certainty was that he was in love with me. I knew it in my gut. Pete cared about me, and there was no denying it. Regardless of what anyone said, I knew deep down inside, somewhere he probably wasn’t even aware of yet, Pete really did have feelings for me.

But then there was the third certainty, reiterated by weeks of trying, and punctuated by the words of Hurricane Dakota.

I may have loved Pete, and he may have loved me, but the way in which I needed him to love me, wanted him to love me, wasn’t there. And I knew, deep down, as I fell asleep that night, that Pete would never give me what I wanted from him. He would never cross the threshold into caring about me the way I needed him to care. It was impossible, maybe because he was straight, maybe because vulnerability wasn’t in his DNA. Whatever the reason, I was certain that the way I loved Pete would never be requited equally.

And it was time to accept that.

Which leads to the fourth and final certainty. I knew I needed to accept that Pete would never requite my love, but I was certain that I never would.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this chapter. I hope you enjoy it! As usual, leave your reviews and comments in the review section, or head on over to the message boards and tell me what you think. Happy holidays!

Copyright © 2016 Jwolf; All Rights Reserved.
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OH MY GOD, this stringing me alone is hurting my eye's!!!! This is terrible. Everyone keeps telling Corbin "No, not ever" and i'm like GAWD. KISS HIM DAMNIT and i betcha everything would click!! :D :D I can only hope we find out sooner then later what this whole mess of a relationship will yeild.

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I'm really curious about Pete's background, particularly his upbringing. Being British, the default, I guess, would be the stereotype staid, conservative, largely unloving environment. Will we get any of that at some point? I don't see it as critical, I'm just curious.

Just so you know, the ending knocked me on my ass. :/ Not exactly a great place for Corbin. So it's up to Pete to surprise us all.

The chapter was definitely worth waiting for. :2thumbs: Thanks!

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On 12/24/2012 05:40 AM, Mark M said:
OH MY GOD, this stringing me alone is hurting my eye's!!!! This is terrible. Everyone keeps telling Corbin "No, not ever" and i'm like GAWD. KISS HIM DAMNIT and i betcha everything would click!! :D :D I can only hope we find out sooner then later what this whole mess of a relationship will yeild.
Hey Mark! I'm glad you're enjoying the story-- even if the suspense is hurting your eyes. Trust me, there are a lot of things that happen in the coming chapters. Expect some big changes in Corbin's mindset. Until then :)
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On 12/24/2012 05:58 AM, Swhouston44 said:
Come on... make Corbin grow a set and give the Blighter a kiss for goodness' sake!

Good story so far...

Thanks for following the story :) And thanks for the review. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.
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On 12/24/2012 06:47 AM, Conner said:
I'm really curious about Pete's background, particularly his upbringing. Being British, the default, I guess, would be the stereotype staid, conservative, largely unloving environment. Will we get any of that at some point? I don't see it as critical, I'm just curious.

Just so you know, the ending knocked me on my ass. :/ Not exactly a great place for Corbin. So it's up to Pete to surprise us all.

The chapter was definitely worth waiting for. :2thumbs: Thanks!

Conner! THanks for the review. I'll start with the ending. A bit of a downer, but trust me, things don't stay down for very long. These two are in each other's lives, so there's really no escaping it. As for Pete's background, one of the pivotal moments comes when his sister comes to visit. Of course, that's a few chapters down the line, but I'll be sure to drop some tidbits about his upbringing until we get there. Thanks again!
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My heart is bleeding for Corbin. He seems to have reached the top of 'the hill' in his understanding of things between him and Pete. Are they the right conclusions? Probably not but there comes a time when everyone has to decide what they are going to do and do it. Corbin has been precariously balancing on a tightrope when it comes to Pete and every time it seems he is about to fall off Pete grabs him and steadies him. A confusing and frustrating place to be. I'm with Conner that I feel that there is something within Pete's past or his upbringing that is effecting his current state of mind with Corbin. I further believe that Corbin's adventures with the Freshie and the Soldier is effecting Pete's tentativeness towards Corbin. Maybe in Pete's eyes Corbin is a player and Pete fears being hurt. Maybe Pete is testing Corbin to see if he can be faithful in his feelings towards him. Whatever the reason(s) may be I still side with Conner that it is directly and emphatically tied to Pete's past.

I don't believe that Hurricane Dakota was being devious or self centered when she spoke with Corbin on their walk to his house. She simply spoke of her dealings with Pete and was honest with Corbin. It was a heartfelt talk and one she felt he needed to hear and understand out of her concern and fear that he would go thru the same thing she had with Pete. I can see a real connection and bonding between these two. Maybe it is all tied to the fact that she has been in Corbin's shoes once before and wants to spare him the heartache and hurt that she went thru or maybe its just one friend giving another friend advise. Whatever it is I don't believe that she was intentionally trying to hurt or make Corbin stop his pursuit of Pete. Just trying to give him information so he can make a good decision and protect his heart.

Glad to see a new chapter. As always, it was a great chapter full of frustrations and excitement.

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On 12/24/2012 10:57 AM, CW Prince said:
My heart is bleeding for Corbin. He seems to have reached the top of 'the hill' in his understanding of things between him and Pete. Are they the right conclusions? Probably not but there comes a time when everyone has to decide what they are going to do and do it. Corbin has been precariously balancing on a tightrope when it comes to Pete and every time it seems he is about to fall off Pete grabs him and steadies him. A confusing and frustrating place to be. I'm with Conner that I feel that there is something within Pete's past or his upbringing that is effecting his current state of mind with Corbin. I further believe that Corbin's adventures with the Freshie and the Soldier is effecting Pete's tentativeness towards Corbin. Maybe in Pete's eyes Corbin is a player and Pete fears being hurt. Maybe Pete is testing Corbin to see if he can be faithful in his feelings towards him. Whatever the reason(s) may be I still side with Conner that it is directly and emphatically tied to Pete's past.

I don't believe that Hurricane Dakota was being devious or self centered when she spoke with Corbin on their walk to his house. She simply spoke of her dealings with Pete and was honest with Corbin. It was a heartfelt talk and one she felt he needed to hear and understand out of her concern and fear that he would go thru the same thing she had with Pete. I can see a real connection and bonding between these two. Maybe it is all tied to the fact that she has been in Corbin's shoes once before and wants to spare him the heartache and hurt that she went thru or maybe its just one friend giving another friend advise. Whatever it is I don't believe that she was intentionally trying to hurt or make Corbin stop his pursuit of Pete. Just trying to give him information so he can make a good decision and protect his heart.

Glad to see a new chapter. As always, it was a great chapter full of frustrations and excitement.

Hey! THanks so much for such an awesome and thorough review. I totally agree with you on Dakota. I think she could clearly see the trap that Corbin was falling in and felt compelled to warn him. I agree that Pete definitely has his reasons for caution, and that's one of the things that Corbin has to take into consideration in the coming chapters. Maybe I'll jumpstart our study of Pete here pretty soon, but a lot is revealed when we meet his sister. Until then :) Thanks again.
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While it seems like Corbin and Pete are hopeless (since 11 chapters seems like an eternity) in all actuality, it's just been 3 weeks of their "real" lives. If we're frustrated, imagine the pure hell Corbin is experiencing on a day-to-day basis. Lol!

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On 12/24/2012 03:16 PM, TheGameMaster said:
While it seems like Corbin and Pete are hopeless (since 11 chapters seems like an eternity) in all actuality, it's just been 3 weeks of their "real" lives. If we're frustrated, imagine the pure hell Corbin is experiencing on a day-to-day basis. Lol!
Hey thanks for the review! And thanks for making an awesome point. That's actually something I was reminded of while writing this chapter because I had to go back and calculate how long it's been... less than a month, and our boy is this far in. I will say, the title is the English Year, so we have plenty of time to go. Thanks again...
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I was just thinking about this story the other day. There was a dude buying two cases of Natural Light at Walmart. It was only 8:30 a.m. For some reason it made me think about this story.

I liked this chapter. Yes Corbin seems to be having a rough go of things right now but he seemed more together here than the last few chapters. I guess that means its time for him to fall apart again. I do hope that Pete gets it together soon and realizes that Corbin is the right one. I guess we have the better part of a year to go now huh.

I'm glad to see you post again. Don't run away so long this time. :thumbup:

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On 12/24/2012 04:50 PM, Carrie76 said:
I was just thinking about this story the other day. There was a dude buying two cases of Natural Light at Walmart. It was only 8:30 a.m. For some reason it made me think about this story.

I liked this chapter. Yes Corbin seems to be having a rough go of things right now but he seemed more together here than the last few chapters. I guess that means its time for him to fall apart again. I do hope that Pete gets it together soon and realizes that Corbin is the right one. I guess we have the better part of a year to go now huh.

I'm glad to see you post again. Don't run away so long this time. :thumbup:

Thanks for the review! And thanks for thinking about this story whenever you saw a guy clearly getting ready for a bender. That's sort of flattering in a way. I'm glad you think Corbin is keeping it together here. You know I like my characters to show shades of growth. Until next time. :)
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Glad you added another chapter. I am really enjoying this (what a long ways from "Nowhere Man") and hope you have lots more to come. Corbin's frustration level is so excruciatingly painful, barely relieved by Pete's unwitting (?) flirting with him. Dakota's presence has been a realistic addition to the equation. Onward!

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On 12/25/2012 01:08 PM, charlieocho said:
Glad you added another chapter. I am really enjoying this (what a long ways from "Nowhere Man") and hope you have lots more to come. Corbin's frustration level is so excruciatingly painful, barely relieved by Pete's unwitting (?) flirting with him. Dakota's presence has been a realistic addition to the equation. Onward!
Hey! Thanks Charlie. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. There is a lot more to come! And I'm proud to hear the word realistic. Thanks for the review and the support! More soon.
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Hey Jon! Merry One Day After Xmas! Hope you had a good one! :)

 

I ditto everything Clockwork said. Wish i got here faster....lol

 

It was a real eye opener when Corbin may have realized that Pete may think he'll be just another Lee or just another Soldier and that's why he's been so unreachable. I feel bad for Dakota b/c she went thru the same shit Corbin is. I mean, ohmigod it took Pete a friggen YEAR to even want to KISS Dakota??!! Is he a friggen monk? lol Then I think back to Connor's review mentioning Pete's past. So maybe something happened there to make him really wary of others. He does send out mixed signals though. He always seems to be coming on to Corbin w/o really coming on to him, you know what I mean?

 

I did love the whole inflatable obstacle course scene; that was really hysterical! I can see Dakota being a really good friend to Corbin also. She's not the enemy; Corbin has to realize that. And she really didn't have to tell Corbin anything about her pining for Pete for a year. She did it out of the goodness of her heart b/c she saw that Corbin is going through exactly what she did and she wanted to save him some heartache. And yeah, unrequited love really sucks. Maybe Corbin just has to take the bull by the horns and plant a big one on Pete. Maybe that will open Pete's eyes up. lol

 

I am amazed though that Corbin feels so strongly for someone after only three weeks. And since, as you stated, this is "The English YEAR" we have a lot more pining to go through! lol =)

 

Oh, and I was I guess surprised that after drinking the entire morning and afternoon away, they were all able to drink until three or four a.m. Amazing! These college kids! lol I woulda been passed out by one p.m. Boy do they ever have stamina. hahah

 

Hey, have a terrific New Year's Jon! See you in 2013! :)

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On 12/27/2012 01:08 PM, Lisa said:
Hey Jon! Merry One Day After Xmas! Hope you had a good one! :)

 

I ditto everything Clockwork said. Wish i got here faster....lol

 

It was a real eye opener when Corbin may have realized that Pete may think he'll be just another Lee or just another Soldier and that's why he's been so unreachable. I feel bad for Dakota b/c she went thru the same shit Corbin is. I mean, ohmigod it took Pete a friggen YEAR to even want to KISS Dakota??!! Is he a friggen monk? lol Then I think back to Connor's review mentioning Pete's past. So maybe something happened there to make him really wary of others. He does send out mixed signals though. He always seems to be coming on to Corbin w/o really coming on to him, you know what I mean?

 

I did love the whole inflatable obstacle course scene; that was really hysterical! I can see Dakota being a really good friend to Corbin also. She's not the enemy; Corbin has to realize that. And she really didn't have to tell Corbin anything about her pining for Pete for a year. She did it out of the goodness of her heart b/c she saw that Corbin is going through exactly what she did and she wanted to save him some heartache. And yeah, unrequited love really sucks. Maybe Corbin just has to take the bull by the horns and plant a big one on Pete. Maybe that will open Pete's eyes up. lol

 

I am amazed though that Corbin feels so strongly for someone after only three weeks. And since, as you stated, this is "The English YEAR" we have a lot more pining to go through! lol =)

 

Oh, and I was I guess surprised that after drinking the entire morning and afternoon away, they were all able to drink until three or four a.m. Amazing! These college kids! lol I woulda been passed out by one p.m. Boy do they ever have stamina. hahah

 

Hey, have a terrific New Year's Jon! See you in 2013! :)

Thanks so much for the review, Lisa! Solid as usual. I think you're right about some thing and definitely right about other things. Pete's whole background is going to shed new light on certain aspects of his life. Of course we're no where near getting the full story, but I plan on dropping tidbits here and there. And you're spot on about Dakota. The girl that she's based on actually is one of my good friends. I see her every time I go to the east coast and whenever she's in Dallas, she gives me a shout (last time I didnt know she was in town until I accidently stalked her facebook and made her come visit me at work :) Until next time, happy new year!
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I struggled through the chapter, knowing what it was leading to. Corbin has etched a spot in my heart, and I feel his hurt, his insecurity, and even his fears. The epiphany Corbin had about Pete's feelings about his past, his "boyfriends" gave a great insight into their relationship. I hope Pete overcomes his hesitation, his inability to commit, and let himself become close to Corbin. I see lots of parallels between Pete and Kyle and Corbin and Cooper and their relationships, thought process. I look forward to seeking how this works out for both Corbin and Pete. Thanks!

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On 01/07/2013 01:16 PM, GeR said:
I struggled through the chapter, knowing what it was leading to. Corbin has etched a spot in my heart, and I feel his hurt, his insecurity, and even his fears. The epiphany Corbin had about Pete's feelings about his past, his "boyfriends" gave a great insight into their relationship. I hope Pete overcomes his hesitation, his inability to commit, and let himself become close to Corbin. I see lots of parallels between Pete and Kyle and Corbin and Cooper and their relationships, thought process. I look forward to seeking how this works out for both Corbin and Pete. Thanks!
Hey GeR! Thanks so much for the review. I'm glad you're in it with Corbin. That is the point. Just like cooper, it's his journey, and there are going to be ups and downs. Until next time! Thanks again.
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Myself, I am waiting on some sober Corbin and Pete togetherness and see how honest they can be when they are not into the booze. Dakota made a lot of sense in one way, but in another I think she was a little off the mark. In my opinion I don't think Pete kissed her after a year because he wanted her, I think it was more a kiss of " told you I am not gay". She realises that in some ways, but in others she is still the best friend first and feels like she has "dibs" on him even though she does not mean it in a malicious way.

Corbin is going to have to step up on his own and do it sober and seriously without all the rough housing and joking. A fun relationship is great, but serious feelings have to be put out there and dealt with.

 

My rant is over, I am caught up now, and ummmm, I think you promised another chapter! ;P

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On 01/10/2013 08:43 AM, joann414 said:
Myself, I am waiting on some sober Corbin and Pete togetherness and see how honest they can be when they are not into the booze. Dakota made a lot of sense in one way, but in another I think she was a little off the mark. In my opinion I don't think Pete kissed her after a year because he wanted her, I think it was more a kiss of " told you I am not gay". She realises that in some ways, but in others she is still the best friend first and feels like she has "dibs" on him even though she does not mean it in a malicious way.

Corbin is going to have to step up on his own and do it sober and seriously without all the rough housing and joking. A fun relationship is great, but serious feelings have to be put out there and dealt with.

 

My rant is over, I am caught up now, and ummmm, I think you promised another chapter! ;P

Haha. It's on the way! I agree that they need some sober interaction, which they get soon. But that doesn't necessarily straighten things up, so to speak. Remember their study party?? And Dakota's work isn't done because she's come and gone. I agree that she may feel slightly entitled, but I don't think it's in a malicious way at all. More on that to come as well.
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OMG...11 chapters and it is the same thing every chapter...he loves me...he loves me not...ge loves me...he loves me not...

My momma used to say and I quote "Either shit or get off the pot!!!" How much longer until something actually happens??? I want to stay with this story, but it's getting so predictable...

Pete and Corbin get drunk...Pete and Corbin flirt but don't quite do anything...Pete and Corbin pass out...Pete and Corbin have a hangover...and it all starts over!!!

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On 06/03/2014 08:00 PM, Gene63 said:
OMG...11 chapters and it is the same thing every chapter...he loves me...he loves me not...ge loves me...he loves me not...

My momma used to say and I quote "Either shit or get off the pot!!!" How much longer until something actually happens??? I want to stay with this story, but it's getting so predictable...

Pete and Corbin get drunk...Pete and Corbin flirt but don't quite do anything...Pete and Corbin pass out...Pete and Corbin have a hangover...and it all starts over!!!

Hey Gene. Thanks for the review! I'm glad you've stuck with the story up until now. It's tough to binge read a story like this that was meant to be taken in as a kind of weekly. It's like Netflix watching breaking bad, you know? With that said, there are some changes and surprises in the chapters to come, so I hope you'll stick with the narrative. Thanks again!
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On 12/23/2012 at 10:15 PM, Jwolf said:
On 12/23/2012 at 8:47 PM, Conner said:
I'm really curious about Pete's background, particularly his upbringing. Being British, the default, I guess, would be the stereotype staid, conservative, largely unloving environment. Will we get any of that at some point? I don't see it as critical, I'm just curious.

Just so you know, the ending knocked me on my ass. :/ Not exactly a great place for Corbin. So it's up to Pete to surprise us all.

The chapter was definitely worth waiting for. :2thumbs: Thanks!

Conner! THanks for the review. I'll start with the ending. A bit of a downer, but trust me, things don't stay down for very long. These two are in each other's lives, so there's really no escaping it. As for Pete's background, one of the pivotal moments comes when his sister comes to visit. Of course, that's a few chapters down the line, but I'll be sure to drop some tidbits about his upbringing until we get there. Thanks again!

HIS SISTER? I can't. 

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