I had an oops last week…..
But I”m back again so I hope all is forgiven!
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.
I won’t tell him. Not yet… I can’t risk it. It’s too early… But then my mother’s words echoed from the night I had come out to her. ‘Always be true to yourself, David. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Hetero, bi, or gay isn’t what’s important. Character, is what’s important. Attitude, heart, standing up for what you believe in and for those you love. Those are the things that matter. If someone has a problem with you for being gay that’s more a reflection on them and what they lack in character, than it is about you and the person you are. Always be proud of who you are. I certainly am. You’re a good person, son.’
My heart was pounding so loud I felt sure he must be able to hear it. Fuck, telling Jere is one hundred times harder than telling Mum was. Feeling a droplet of sweat roll down the back of my neck, I made myself look Jeremy in the eye. “Bobbi is a girl, and she is my friend but she isn’t my girlfriend. I don’t have, nor have I ever had, a girlfriend.” I took a deep breath. “And that would be because I’m gay.”
CHAPTER 13: SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
There. I’d done it. The words were said and there was no undoing them. I held my breath, looking deep into his gorgeous gray eyes and in an instant I knew, without a word passing his lips, I was accepted, not judged.
“It doesn’t matter to me, Davie, who you like to screw. That’s nobody’s business but your own.”
“God, Jere, I’m so relieved,” I blurted.
“You don’t, um… you don’t… you know, um, go to glory holes and stuff, do you, man? You’re careful, aren’t you? Safe sex and all that. I don’t want to lose you now I’ve found you again.”
“God, no! Not all gays go looking for random anonymous sex. Though, I might add, we gays might have the reputation for it, but you straights are just as bad. You guys have more massage parlors with, um, ‘happy endings’, strip-tease joints, and brothels, not to mention picking up at pubs and clubs etc., than we gays have gay bars or glory holes.”
“True.” He chuckled, lying back down. “Speaking of gay clubs, you’re not going to drag me along to one, wearing a mesh singlet and skintight white leather pants or something, are you?”
“Hahaha, still the comedian, I see.” I gave a snort. “But, hey, don’t dismiss the white leather pants, Jere. Your cute arse would look hot in them!”
I got a pillow thrown at me for my efforts. “Get some sleep, Sadler, you’re obviously a little delusional.”
Shuffling a little, I looked over at him, watching him yawn, the roller-coaster ride that had been his twenty-first finally catching up with him. Lying like this with him brought back a flood of memories of so many nights spent sleeping at each other’s houses and camping trips where we’d shared a tent. Nights where we’d whispered to each other long past our bedtimes. I was still smiling when I, too, drifted off.
As we pulled up in front of the white and gray federation cottage that part of me still called home, I turned to him, giving him one last warning. “Um, Jere, Mum’s as, um… enthusiastic as ever, and she’s really excited about us bumping into each other again so…”
“It’ll be cool, Davie. Don’t get your undies in a twist. She can’t be any worse than my Mum, and trust me, when I tell her, she’ll probably be on the next plane down here, so be prepared,” he joked, giving the back of my hand that was resting on my knee a quick pat. I saw the move coming and braced myself, and was glad I had when a pleasant warmth radiated out from where his hand made contact with mine.
My musings were cut short by the sound of his car door opening. Following suit, I clambered out of the car, turning to close the door when Mum’s shriek made me just about jump out of my skin.
“Oh, my God! Jeremy Hammond! Look at you!” she cried as she almost galloped down the veranda stairs and short path to our front gate to greet us, acting more like a sixteen year old than a woman in her early forties. “Oh, my dear Lord, look at you indeed,” she repeated as she cupped his face, smiling up at him. “All grown-up, and so tall and handsome. Why I think you’re almost as tall as David!”
Instead of being embarrassed, Jeremy was lapping up the attention, looking like the cat that caught the canary as he bent down to kiss her proffered cheek. God, does nothing faze him? Had it been me on the receiving end of such a gushing welcome, I’d have been as red as his Mitsubishi Lancer and more than likely, shuffling my feet in embarrassment.
“Hey, Mrs. Sadler, you haven’t changed a bit,” he said, his head tilted to the side as he smiled at her, dimple and all.
“You always were a charmer,” she said, chuckling. “I’d be willing to place a bet on that cheeky dimple of yours having gotten you out of trouble more than once.”
Grabbing his hand, she led him up the path. “I am so glad you two have found each other again. You have no idea how much David has missed you,” she prattled as she ushered Jeremy into the house, leaving me to trail behind them. As he stepped onto the veranda, his hand still firmly in Mum’s clasp, he looked over his shoulder at me, grinning. I rolled my eyes at him and shrugged. Hey, I’d given him fair warning.
It warmed my heart to see how happy she was to see him and how at ease he already was, despite his earlier reservations about coming with me for my usual Sunday dinner with her.
I sucked in my cheeks, suppressing a smile as she dragged him through the house, the delicious smells of her roast wafting about us as she showed him all the renovations we’d done. Poor Jere, maybe I shouldn’t have told Mum he’s an Industrial Design student. He, ever the charmer, oohed and aahed in all the right places, and I was grateful to him for humoring her. Every now and then he threw me a glance, silently pleading for me to rescue him, but all I did was smile innocently at him in return. That’ll teach you for teasing me about gay bars and white leather pants, Hammond!
Half an hour later she relinquished her hold on him, shooing us out of the kitchen that Jere now knew every square inch of. At one point, I’d thought she was going to have him inspect each and every shelf of her walk-in-pantry.
“Phew, Davie, I’d forgotten what a tornado your mum can be,” he whispered as we walked shoulder to shoulder down the hall to my old room.
“I heard that, Jeremy Hammond!” Mum called in mock anger from the room we’d just left.
“Um, great to see your hearing is as good as ever, Mrs. S.,” he called back, laughing unabashedly. All I could do was shake my head at him, amazed. He could still charm the birds from the trees.
A wave of shyness washed over me as we entered my old room which was decked out in shades of pale blue and white. On the wall opposite the door was my noticeboard which had about a dozen photos of us at various ages pinned to it along with the stubs of concert tickets, funny birthday cards, and numerous other bits of memorabilia I’d felt compelled to hang on to. Fuck, he’ll probably think I’m a pussy now, having hung on to all these photos.
“Oh, my God, do you remember this trip,” he exclaimed rushing to the board and taking down a photo of us standing on either side of his Dad. Our eyes were wide with awe, as Mr. Hammond held a huge fish, that was taller than either of us, in front of himself, its tail fin skimming the sand. “That was one hell of a fish. How old were we? Can you remember?” he asked, turning to me, his eyes alight with excitement.
“Seven. We were seven,” I replied, relieved he didn’t seem to find it silly that I’d not only kept the photos, but also displayed them.
I joined him, looking over his shoulder at the image. We both looked like little feral heathens with hair that more closely resembled a bird’s nest than anything else. I smiled, recalling how Jere’s Mum had chased us with a brush, but even at seven we’d been too fast for her. I couldn’t recall us combing our hair once in the whole three weeks we’d camped by the beach. A small sigh escaped me as I studied us both—Jeremy looking mischievous, with freckles sprinkled across his nose, and his skin a deep tawny shade, and me, smiling shyly and as white as the driven snow. I shook my head at my pale seven-year-old self, convinced that even then I’d repelled the sun.
“God, that was a good summer wasn’t it?” he asked, a faraway look in his eye. “That was the first summer Dad put us on a surfboard. Remember?”
“Yeah, of course I do,” I answered quietly, needing to lower my voice to disguise the emotion that all of a sudden clogged my throat.
I wanted to hug him, just to reassure myself yet again that he was real and this wasn’t some fantastic hallucination, but I was worried he might feel uncomfortable. He seemed okay with my being gay, but I didn’t want to push things and have him misinterpret my actions and think I was groping him. For the time being it was probably better I let him initiate that sort of thing.
“God, man, I know I’ve said it a hundred times already, but I am so fucking happy to see you again.” And then his arms were around my shoulders, the heat of his torso warming me through the flannelette shirt I’d borrowed from him to wear. His hair was brushing against my cheek, his scent in my nose, and for a moment I forgot myself, and with my hands grasping his hips, I let my head fall to his shoulder, my nose lightly nuzzling the crook of his neck. It just felt right. I felt as if I was a yacht which had been sailing for months on stormy waters, but had now made its way into the safe harbor of home. “I’ve kept heaps of our shit, too,” he whispered, clutching me to him. “I’ll show you later.”
We stood there, in front of my desk, time momentarily forgotten. I inhaled deeply, holding his scent in my lungs, my lips puckering for a kiss of their own accord, only millimeters from his throat. One tiny movement and my mouth would be on his warm inviting flesh… Christ! What am I doing?
Giving his hip an affectionate pat, I stepped back, hoping the blush I could feel on my cheeks wasn’t too obvious. Just in case, I bent down, resorting to my old safety net, and retied my shoelace, my heart pounding so loud I was convinced he could hear it.
“Do you still surf?” he asked, and I was both relieved and surprised to see not one iota of discomfort in his demeanor.
“I haven’t in ages, but I still have a board.”
“Cool, want to come with me? Hopefully the surf report will be good, and we could go before uni tomorrow or Tuesday. What do you think?
“Okay, sounds good,” I replied, still trying to get my shit together. I couldn’t believe I’d almost forgotten myself and kissed him.
“Boys,” Mum shouted and I’d never felt so relieved to have her call me. “Dinner’s ready!”
“Coming,” we both yelled back at the same time, and turning to each other we laughed, both of us choking out. “Snap!”
I inhaled deeply, enjoying the aromas of the roast dinner laid out on the table before me, my mouth watering in anticipation. I loved Mum’s roasts, and this one was going to taste even better than usual because Jeremy was here to share it with us.
Looking up, I met his gaze and he smiled at me, gathering his plate, glass, and cutlery in his hands. I cocked an eyebrow at him in query, but he just winked at me before sauntering around the table to plonk himself down beside me.
“That’s better,” he said with a grin, and I couldn’t help noticing his gray eyes were sparkling with mischief. How the hell does he make his eyes do that? He was sitting next to me to eat, same as he always had and it just made me feel so flipping happy that I couldn’t wipe my answering smile off my face—I probably looked like a idiot, but I didn’t care.
Mum’s smile was almost as big as mine as she handed me the first platter. “Come on, dish up, you two, before it gets cold.”
We traded dishes back and forth, each of us heaping our plates high and every single time his fingers brushed against mine the same pleasurable warmth travelled up my arm. Jeez, he’s like a cell battery recharger, or something.
About six bites in, I was turned toward Mum, answering one of her questions, when I caught Jere pilfering a wedge of potato off my plate out of the corner of my eye. Ignoring it, I continued answering her question. Two bites later, he was doing it again, this time my pumpkin was his victim.
“Did you just nick food off my plate, Jere?” I demanded, wanting to sound serious, but my smile might have spoiled the effect.
“Yep,” he replied unashamedly, emphasizing the ‘p’.
I laughed, pulling my plate a little away from him and shielding it with my forearm. “Eat your own.”
Not a minute later, when I had momentarily let my guard down to have a drink, he stabbed his fork into another of my roast potatoes wedges, quickly shoving it into his mouth, making his cheek bulge.
His eyes smiled at me unrepentantly while he leisurely chewed, then swallowed. All I could do was stare as he smacked his lips and made an exaggerated ‘Ah’ sound. “What can I say? It tastes better off your plate.”
“But yours is exactly the same!” I protested, shaking my head at him.
“Doesn’t matter. Still tastes better off your plate.”
“Okay, I’ll swap with you, then,” I replied, still shaking my head as I reached for his plate.
His hand snaked out to lightly grasp my wrist.
“No point to that, Davie. I’m gonna keep eating off your plate, and you know you’re going to end up sharing with me, same as you always have, so you may as well just give in now.” He grinned knowingly, his fork hovering over a gravy-laden chunk of my roast beef.
Knowing he was right, I sighed in defeat, pushing my plate toward him.
Mum’s chuckle had us both turning in her direction. “Some things never change,” she said with a shrug and a smile.
Is it okay for me to say I love my boys?