Here’s my flash with the Free Fiction Friday Group!
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING
( IYLS )
David and Jesse are childhood friends who get separated in their teens but meet up again at university in Newcastle, Australia.
They soon find out that though some things remain the same, other change… oh boy, do they change.
He cleared his throat. “As soon as I saw you, I was just so fucking happy to have my best friend back. It was like the years just fell away. Like we’d never been apart. But a couple of days in, I panicked, realizing I’d let you totally back in, and by doing so, given you the ability to hurt me again.”
It was my turn to reach across the expanse of the table and take his hand in mine. “I’ll never walk away from our friendship again, Jere. I promise.”
“I won’t either.”
We sat there for a moment holding hands, silently regarding each other, and I knew his throat was as clogged with emotion as mine was. Neither of us was comfortable with it, but we were both helpless to fight it.
Clearing his throat again, he gave one last rub of his thumb over my knuckles before releasing my hand. “So will you come camping with me?”
CHAPTER 20: CAMPFIRE CONFESSIONS
“What is it about camping that makes the humble barbecued snag taste so good?” I asked, my voice made deep by the rather large chunk of sausage lodged in my mouth that I was trying to talk around. I didn’t really expect an answer—Jeremy was too busy, hunched over the plate on his lap, hoeing into his own sanga.
Closing my eyes, enjoying the combined flavors of the sausage, bread, butter, and BBQ sauce, I remembered other camping trips with Jeremy and his family. Licking my lips, I could almost hear Mrs. H., rousing on us for the amount of butter we slathered on our bread—we both liked it so thick that when it was wrapped around the hot snag it melted, making the sandwich a soggy, buttery mess. That’s as far as our similarity in taste went though, as I preferred BBQ sauce on mine, whereas Jere liked to have both BBQ and Tomato sauce, and he sometimes even added mustard to the mix. He swore by it, but if you asked me it sounded gross.
Swallowing the last bite of my second sandwich, I scooped up a spoonful of baked beans from the steaming bowl resting on the chopping board that was acting as a table over my lap, blowing on them before tipping them into my mouth. Mmm, so good. Something else that always tastes better when you’re camping. The slow-building hot tingle on the sensitive skin just inside my lips was answered by a spreading heat in my belly, warming me from the inside out, and both sensations made me glad we’d decided to add a bit of chilli to the beans.
The mauve of twilight was giving way to the black of night, and I leaned back in my chair enjoying the cooler evening air and the rhythmic sounds of the waves crashing on the sand only a stones-throw away. Our only light came from the fire, which we’d let die down to do our cooking, and its soft cocooning glow gave me a sense of isolation—as if we were the only two people on the beach. I felt weary, in fact, I was bloody knackered. Five nights with next to no sleep for one reason or another, combined with just having spent three hours surfing, had really knocked the stuffing out of me. Still, it was a good weary. My stomach was full, my cock was sated and asleep for the first time in a week, and best of all, my heart was happy—I had my best friend back.
Under the cover of semi-darkness, I stole a glance at Jeremy, only to find him looking at me rather intensely. Thinking he must be wondering if I really wanted to be here with him, I smiled to let him know I was glad I’d decided to come along, that I was overjoyed he’d not given up on me, or our friendship. I was beyond relieved our friendship meant enough to him that it outweighed his feelings of nervousness and discomfort. That it was important enough to him that he was honest with me about his feelings of vulnerability, which had seen him acting so weird. Now if I could only stop lusting after him life would be perfect!
Maybe if I got to know Phillip better it would stop me seeing Jeremy in that light. From the little bit of conversing we’d done, which, admittedly, hadn’t been a lot, he’d seemed like a nice guy. There wasn’t the fireworks I’d felt when I met Eric, and most definitely not the atomic explosion that had gone off inside me when I’d seen Jere again, but maybe something could grow from the liking. I sighed, trying to drum up some enthusiasm within myself for the idea.
Sneaking another look at Jeremy, my breath hitched. He looked so goddamn gorgeous in the flickering glow of the fire with his skin turned golden and the highlights in his hair to sun-ripened wheat. His lashes were casting deep shadows on his cheeks as he closed his eyes, tipping his head back to drink from his bottle of water. I watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed, doing a bit of convulsive swallowing of my own as I bit down my desire to kneel before him and attach my lips to the long column of his throat. Stifling a moan, I thought of how he would taste of salt and the ocean, and how his skin would feel under my tongue as I moved from the smooth flesh at the hollow of his throat up to light stubble that graced his jaw. Fuck, stop right there, Sadler. Think of Phillip.
It sounded good in theory, but in practice… well, in practice, I was having trouble recalling Phillip’s features. All I could see was Jere’s gray eyes and smiling lips. Lips I longed to kiss… Fuck, I am so screwed.
“When did you know?” My eyes shot open, his sudden question taking me by surprise.
“Pardon?” I asked, turning to watch him as he poured us both a mug of coffee, adding a hefty slosh of rum before passing it to me.
He turned away from me in his camp chair, his body hunched over as he rummaged around in the esky by his seat, his bent over posture muffling his words. “When did you know?” he repeated. “That you were gay, I mean.”
Turning back to me he thrust a pack of biscuits at me. Tim Tams. My favorites. And he’d even kept them cold in the esky, just the way I liked. The ordinariness of grabbing a couple of biscuits combined with the very personal nature of his question had me reeling.
“Um, I wondered a bit for a few years because I didn’t get excited about girls the way all the guys I knew seemed to, but the summer holidays after I turned seventeen, I knew for sure,” I muttered, taking too big of a slurp from my hot brew, my eyes smarting as the liquid burned my tongue and throat.
“Why made you sure? Like… um… How did you know?” The pitch of his voice told me he was as nervous of asking the questions as I was of answering them. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, choosing instead to stare into my cup as I chewed on the chocolate-y sweetness of the biscuit. I tried to formulate my reply, but I must have taken too long as he rushed on. “Have you ever been with a girl? You know… like all the way. Not just kissing like you did with Nicole at the bonfire. Like… have you ever had sex with a girl? ‘Cause if you haven’t, how can you be sure? How did you know? How did you find out?”
Finally, he fell silent, and even in the lengthening shadows I could see the rapid rise and fall of his chest and the color flooding his cheeks, and knew how hard it had been for him to give voice to his questions. He needed me to answer. I wanted to answer.
“Well, um… okay.” My voice was quiet, but I knew he could hear me. I felt I should look at him as I spoke but my courage failed me, and I gazed, instead, into the embers of our fire, a fleeting thought that we would need to stoke it soon crossing my mind, making me smile at the randomness of it. “Yes, I’ve been with a girl. I actually lost my virginity to one, and though I’m not repulsed by tits and pussy, they just don’t do it for me, so yes, I’m sure. How did I find out? I stumbled onto some gay porn on the Internet, and well, um, I don’t think I need to tell you what affect it had on me. That might be a bit TMI,” I said, chuckling, trying to lighten the moment and ease our mutual discomfort.
“Oh, okay. Thanks for telling me. Um, sorry if I, um, embarrassed you,” he murmured into his cup.
“No, it’s okay. What about you? When was your first time? Have you had any girlfriends?” I asked, relieved to be able to deflect the spotlight from myself.
Having finished the last of my Tim Tams, I raised my fingers to my mouth, sucking them clean of the chocolate which had melted onto my fingertips one by one—it was one of my favorite things about eating them in the first place. Thinking Jeremy was taking a long time to reply, I turned in my seat to face him, my forefinger still between my lips to find him staring at me, his mouth hanging open.
“You okay?” I asked, wondering why he was gawking at me. He’d seen me lick my fingers clean a thousand times over the years.
“Um, oh yeah, just thinking,” he answered, clearing his throat. “Me, well, um, yeah. I’ve kinda lived by the saying, ‘variety is the spice of life’.”
“Is that a nice way of saying you’ve been a bit of a slut?” I teased, chuckling into my rum coffee.
“No!” he protested. “I just find it hard to say no when they keep offering it to me. Saying no would be like only having a green salad at an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
And then we were both laughing our heads off.
“You are such a slut, Hammond!” I choked out.
“Am not. I’ve had a girlfriend. Met her in Italy.” He defended, trying to balance his cup as his shoulders continued to shake with his laughter.
“Italian, hey?” I prompted. The part of me that wanted to know everything about him was dying to know more, but the other self-protective part wanted to remain in blissful ignorance—what I didn’t know couldn’t wound me.
“Yeah. I met her cousin, Roberto, first. Literally fell on top of him in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan when I was trying to photograph the glass domed ceilings. Well, anyway, we became friends and he invited me to join his family for a Sunday lunch. I met Adriana there. It was funny, though, ’cause every time I looked into her eyes I could see Roberto too. The whole family were like the spit of each other. Everyone says Tommy and I look alike, but our similarities are nothing compared to Adriana and Roberto’s family. Cut Adriana’s hair off and she could be Roberto. Put him in a dress and he could be Adriana. Freaky.”
“Holiday fling?” I asked, trying to keep my tone light and easy, but it hurt to think of him in the arms of someone else.
“Yes, I suppose so, but I really liked her.”
A stab of jealousy ripped through my gut to hear his fondness for the girl in his voice. I knew it was out of place, that I had no right to be jealous, but what was logical and rational didn’t seem to be getting much of a look-in with my reaction to his words.
Knowing I wasn’t ready to hear any more, I faked a yawn and stretched. “I’m going to have to call it a night, mate. I didn’t get much sleep last night.” The reason for your lack of sleep yet another reason why you have no right to be jealous, Sadler.
Rising to my feet, I walked over to our makeshift washing tub and quickly rinsed my plate and cup, moving to help Jeremy toss a few logs on the fire to hopefully keep it burning throughout the night. I made quick work of brushing my teeth before climbing into our tent, making sure to lie with my back to the center so he wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. He didn’t take long to join me and I barely heard his whispered ‘goodnight’ before I succumbed to my body’s need for rest.
I half woke, feeling too warm, my hand moving of its own volition to the hem of my sleeping bag, intending to push it off me when I encountered flesh.
Warm flesh that wasn’t mine.
Suddenly, I was wide awake, my body frozen, my eyes staring sightlessly at the dark wall of the tent, my every nerve cell hyper aware.
My heart began to beat a frantic rhythm against my ribs, the blood pounding in my ears so loudly that it drowned out the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach. God, even my skin didn’t feel like my own anymore. It felt hot, stretched, and uncomfortable. I wanted to shed it like a too tight t-shirt on a hot summer’s day.
Don’t panic. Why are you panicking? Stop panicking. I worked to control my breathing. Deep breath in. Nice and slow. Exhale out. And repeat.
Minutes later, having gotten myself under control, I realized I was being stupid. I was being offered an opportunity to enjoy the closeness of his body, an opportunity I may never know again.
Sighing in pleasurable relief at my little realization, I relaxed my torso, letting my arm rest beside his as it draped over my waist. When moments later, I felt his hand grope absently for mine, his thumb drawing small circles on my palm as his knuckle brushed against my abdomen, I was unable to stop the smile that spread across my face.
Lying as still as possible, I closed my eyes, savoring his scent and the feel of his warm exhalations on the nape of my neck as it ruffled my hair enticingly. God, how I longed to roll over and kiss him and draw his sweet breath into my body. I could feel the warmth of his skin through our t-shirts and the hard muscles of his chest as he pressed against my back, and I yearned to be closer still.
I was in heaven and hell at the same time.
Throwing caution to the wind, I succumbed to my desire and nestled farther into him, my heart surging to feel his thigh move behind mine. It felt so right—like a hand to a favorite glove. It felt like home.
And so I lay there in my heaven-hell for what could have been minutes or hours—time really had no meaning—memorizing the feel of his body, and his every breath, sigh, and soft murmur.
All too soon I felt his sharply indrawn breath, and knew by the way his body stiffened against mine, that my moment was over. Knowing him as I did, I guessed he was undoubtedly freaking out about having cuddled up to me during the night, and not wanting to make him any more uncomfortable than he probably already was, I pretended to be asleep to allow him to make a graceful exit.
His rolling onto his back away from me left me feeling hollow and empty, and my heart silently screamed in protest as my body let him go. With every last bit of discipline I possessed, I kept my torso relaxed as I felt him shuffle around, gathering his gear, his every movement seeming to take him farther from me. I bit down on my lip to stop myself from flinching, my spine protesting at the effort to remain still as he slowly unzipped the door of the tent.
I stayed where I was for a long while after he left, pushing my face into my pillow feeling a little ridiculous at the level of grief I was experiencing at the loss of him. My head knew I was being foolish, but my heart and gut were definitely on a different page.
With one last shake of my head, I kicked my legs free of the sleeping bag and reached into my duffle for my boardies and a light jumper. While slipping them on the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and hot cross buns wafted in, and I sniffed appreciatively. My stomach rumbled quietly, and I smiled to myself—I always seemed to get so hungry whenever I went camping.
“You’ve been busy,” I observed as I crawled out of the tent.
“Morning, sleepyhead, I was just about to come and wake you.” With a wink and a grin, he passed me a plate with a mug of coffee resting in the center, surrounded by three hot cross buns absolutely slathered in butter, just the way I liked them. “Breakfast is served.”
“Great! Thanks, Jere.”
I took a large bite out of one of the buns, moaning appreciatively as a blend of warmed raisins, spiced bread, and melted butter filled my mouth. Neither of us spoke as we ate our buns and drank our coffees, though plenty of moaning was heard. Had either of our mothers been present, we’d have earned ourselves a cuff around the ears, for our sloppy manners.
Licking the last of the butter from my fingers, I turned to Jere. “So are you ready for a surf?”
“I’ll probably sink, but yeah,” he chuckled. “North point, let’s go.”
We each grabbed our wetsuits, and wriggled our way into them. To my surprise, Jeremy stepped behind me and grabbed the zipper from my fumbling fingers, pulling it up the last few inches. Stunning me further, he gave my butt a light smack.
“Come on, plugger, our perfect waves await.”
Is it just me or are things hotting up a little???