A Romance Is Born
I want you, Jake’s inner voice said. When no reply came from the man standing less than two feet in front of him, he realized thankfully that he hadn’t spoken aloud. It was a bad habit of his- talking to himself- that sometimes embarrassed the hell out of him. In this case it would have been disastrous.
In the meantime, his nose detected the most delicious scent that had nothing to do with the hamburgers on the grill behind him. It was coming from Dylan’s direction. What was it? He sniffed again. The aroma was like being in the middle of a forest on a bright summer day, warm and woodsy, sunlight and pine needles. And something else. Sexy man meets outdoors, perhaps?
Still gazing at that perfectly-constructed face with those exquisite, limpid eyes Jake felt inexplicably happy.
And talkative, like his tongue was loosened at that moment and he had to explain himself. “Marc’s mom and mine are sisters.” The random words tripped out in an unexpected answer to an unasked question. Hear me, it said; I have a voice, a nice voice, according to some. Finally trailing back into the silence stretching between them.
On second thought, Dylan’s eyes weren’t completely blue, Jake realized. They were an unusual steel shade that was cerulean in the center and faded to silver at the edge of the irises, surrounded by thick, dark blonde lashes sweeping away into near transparency. The arched brows were the same tint, answering one question. Dylan’s flaxen hair was natural and not out of a bottle. The back was cut collar-short and the long tresses on top covered his forehead in a smooth, careless wave of pale softness.
Definitely, I’m in love, Jake thought.
Or at least seriously in lust, he amended absently. To be in love meant… it meant more than staring… ah, shit, he was still staring into Dylan’s eyes which had now crinkled in amusement.
“So you live in Merced?”
“No, uh, I’m from Madera. It’s um… southeast… about forty miles down the 99 freeway. Closer to Fresno.” He wanted to kick himself over how insipid he appeared, like a stammering child. And still he couldn’t pull himself away.
He sounds nice. He looks terrific. He smells magnificent.
Jake suddenly felt his dick stir behind his jock strap. Oh no, now was not the time to get an erection. Anything but that. He tried to adjust without using his hands, hunching forward a little to hide it and counting on the tightening strap to contain him. He hoped to god nobody else was watching them either. Think of something else. Mmm, he was hungry. Dinner smelled good, but Dylan… Shit, not working. His hard-on was swelling so fast he felt like it was going to bust through the laces of his board shorts. Breathe, Jake. Keep him looking at your face. Calm down. Stop blushing.
“Are you alright?” the melodious voice spoke again.
Jake laughed awkwardly. “Sorry, I’m having a zone-out moment.”
Or a lot of them. He swiveled his hips in a way he thought wouldn’t be obvious and blushed harder. Stop gazing at him as if he’s some kind of delicacy, he ordered himself. Oh, well he was certainly all that… He cleared his throat nervously and dug his fingernails into the palm of his hand to distract himself. Soft, go soft. Please.
Dylan thought of the information his best friend, Marcus, had shared on the phone about this odd kid. How Jake had lived in Aleppo Park until four years ago, and they were more like brothers than cousins. His dad was a hard-ass whose expectations of his youngest son were impossibly high, and there was little chance the two of them could coexist peacefully for the three months until school began again. “Oh, by the way Dylan, you both attend the same university. Maybe you’ll recognize him.”
“Marcus says you go to Long Beach State,” he now offered. “49ers forever, right? Are you a sophomore?”
Jake shook his head and forced himself to fully focus. But not overly much; he was finally getting himself under control. He and Dylan- straight Dylan- were having a real convo here and he needed to get his shit together. So what if this real-life Adonis couldn’t be a boyfriend. They could end up friends, which was what Marcus wanted: for them to meet and talk so Jake would feel at ease hanging out with his crew. He had a feeling that the direction his summer took depended a lot on them hitting it off.
“I will be this upcoming year; a microbiology major,” Jake stated, beginning to relax now that the crisis was over. “You?”
“Mechanical engineering. It’s strange I haven’t seen you around campus…”
I would definitely remember you if we’d crossed paths, Jake thought with a yearning sigh. He was delighted both at Dylan’s interest in him, platonic as it was, and the prospect of having a new friend at Cal-State. “It’s a big place; 32,000 students, right? So maybe not as weird as you think. Are you in the dorms?”
“Not by choice,” Dylan admitted. “I waited too long to look for an apartment last year, and I didn’t want to commute back and forth over an hour each way so I was in Parkside Commons with three friends.”
“Los Cerritos Hall for me.” Jake frowned. It was no wonder they didn’t run into each other; the two residences were pretty far apart. “You know how it is being a freshman- low man on the totem pole and living at school is mandatory.”
Dylan made a face. The halls- Cerritos and Los Alamitos- were the old style dorms from yesteryear with communal showers that were usually assigned to freshmen. He’d live there himself his first terms and hated the lack of privacy.
“Maybe you can get into a better place in the fall,” he suggested.
They discussed several classes they’d had in common, albeit in different years, and traded off assessments of the professors. Dylan was relieved to note that Jake had lost his stunned look and was acting more normal, and he took stock of him.
Hmm, maybe five foot nine or ten but wiry with a nicely sculpted torso. Dylan observed how Jake’s muscles rippled across his chest and shoulders down into powerful arms. With distinct tan lines there, he might be some kind of outdoor athlete. His thighs under his shorts also looked strong, and his calves had a light coating of silky brown hair descending to his ankles where it thinned out abruptly into highly arched feet. The fuzz on his forearms was similarly sparse, leading Dylan’s gaze back to Jake’s bare chest where a few straggling hairs were sprinkled around his rosy nipples. He had a narrow treasure trail disappearing into the top of the black fabric that encased his slender hips.
Now that the blush had diminished, Jake’s skin was a soft creamy-gold without a single blemish, hinting of good nutrition. His nose was narrow and gave his nostrils a delicate look with cheekbones a model would die for that made the hollows of his face striking. The famous dimple on the right side deepened according to how widely he smiled. Dylan had always thought that Marcus had pretty eyes, but Jake’s were a clearer jade if that was even possible and his lashes were darker, giving him an exotic appearance. His fluffy hair was medium brown streaked with caramel and sleekly gelled and tousled into lightly-curled layers that must, Dylan suspected, give the boy fits in inclement weather.
With his perusal over, Dylan asked him about sports. Jake revealed that he was attending school on a baseball scholarship, playing for the Dirtbags, the unusual moniker for the Long Beach team. “It’s much different from high school. Not that I was any kind of star at home, but I spent most of my first season here on the bench. It’s worth it, though, to be able to attend a university that’s close to my aunt’s and not a local school.” He shuddered at the thought of living at home. “So here I am.”
In kind, Dylan said he had been swimming competitively his whole life and lettered in water polo at Aleppo Park High School. “Unfortunately, the university doesn’t have a swim team, but I hear the city does. I’ve been too busy to check it out.”
Jake smiled at the thought of Dylan in a tiny pair of tight speedos flailing around in the pool throwing a ball back and forth and instantly decided to mark his university calendar to attend every home water polo meet possible. He didn’t care if Dylan wasn’t gay; he was enjoying his company as much as he liked looking at him. His thoughts drifted to speedos and Dylan’s fine ass in them. Jake tensed again as his cock began to take notice.
Just in the nick to time a loud “come and get it” interrupted the boys’ talk, as well as his thoughts. Teenagers from all over the yard descended on the patio for burgers, coleslaw, potato salad and all the trimmings, and Dylan excused himself to greet five new people entering through the gate. As he hung back to center himself and shrink a bit before fixing himself a plate, Jake surreptitiously followed Dylan’s gorgeous frame with his eyes. He waited until the taller boy grabbed his own dinner and meandered over towards Marcus before joining them, thankful that sitting with his cousin could be more easily explained than following Dylan around like an adoring puppy.
Marcus had a glow on his face that went beyond the light sunburn from the day’s surfing at the beach. Once he returned from buying ice he had looked for Jake and couldn’t help but notice how he and Dylan were deep in conversation. Now, as they scarfed down on the food, it was obvious the two were already more than acquaintances. Marcus felt rewarded by how closely Jake was listening to his classmate and responding to questions. Dylan and Noah were his closest companions besides his cousin, and he wanted them to like each other. This was going to be the finest summer ever; the people he loved the most all assembled in the same locale to surf and party the days away.
Jake felt like he was floating. Not only was Dylan easy on the eyes but also easy to talk to. He had a beautiful mind to go along with that exceptional body and a large range of interests to discuss and keep the listener entertained for hours. Maybe a bit on the serious side but he had a healthy sense of humor and knew how to laugh at himself. He appeared to have the instincts of a more-mature person that were straightforward, getting to the heart of the matter in a gentle, non-aggressive way. Jake couldn’t imagine Dylan hurting anyone’s feelings, yet he knew how to stand up for himself and wasn’t a pushover either. His swagger, while evident, was not boastful or in your face. The only detraction that Jake could see was that he wasn’t into men.
Too late for it to make a huge difference because Jake had already lost his heart.
For the rest of the evening he kept tabs on him, careful not to be obvious about it. Dylan was the first to volunteer his aid to his parents in cleaning up the party fare; Jake was the second and insisted even when Mrs. Moore tried to shoo him away with protests that he’d already helped enough. Dylan went swimming right after the kitchen and patio area was put to rights, and Jake slipped into the shallow end of the pool seconds later. For a short while he chatted up two girls he’d known from high school before approaching him to casually inquire if he surfed. His answer in the positive led to an hour-long discussion on the pros and cons of board styles and where the best breaks were at certain times of the day. Noah instigated a pool volleyball game, and Jake made sure he was on Dylan’s team, joking that nobody in their right mind would turn down having a water polo player on their side. Chicken fights? Some girl he just met straddled his neck and they grappled with Sage on Noah’s shoulders while he watched Kelsey flirt with Dylan.
Kelsey. Aside from clinging to Dylan, her only preoccupation for the evening seemed to be glaring at Jake with narrowed eyes and a sneer on her mouth that sapped all beauty from her. He had no idea why she didn’t like him. Maybe she was just unfriendly because he was an interloper and she was wary of strangers or it was her nature to look down on others. But that would mean a snap judgment on his part, and he didn’t want to mistrust one of Marcus’ friends like that. In the two days he’d been in town the only thing she’d said to him was ‘goodbye’, giving him a cheerful little smirk every time she watched him depart from the beach. He didn’t think she had a problem with him being gay because he was sure no one except the Walkers knew. That she felt intimidated by Jake was clear by the dark looks she threw him, but he was confused over what he’d done to earn them.
On the other hand, he’d had a front-row seat all night to Kelsey messing around and trying to get Dylan’s attention. Given that she seemed to have the maturity level of a sixth grader, she thought everything he said was worth giggling over. She batted her eyes coyly and was constantly touching him. Dylan didn’t seem to mind, and the idea that he might like her cut into Jake like a sharp knife. Dylan with any girl would hurt his feelings, but this one in particular seemed so wrong. If it came down to a battle for the tall blonde, he knew who would win. But why was she acting so territorial when she didn’t have a reason to suspect he was a threat? When he wasn’t a threat to her. Period.
It was the autumn of his senior year at A.P. High School when Dylan first became aware of Kelsey Burns, the tiny brunette two grades behind him and captain of the JV cheerleading squad. They often passed each other on the pool deck at water polo competitions after the junior varsity team finished for the day and the varsity players took to the water for warm-ups before their own meet. At home games Kelsey would usually join Sage Caldwell, sister of his ally and team-member, Spencer, to watch and cheer them on. Since Sage and Noah, his best friend, had been in a long-term relationship for months and Noah was homies with Marcus and Luis Gonzalez, they soon formed a tight-knit group of teens with similar interests.
As for Kelsey, Dylan considered her a nice enough girl. He read the sparkle in her eyes and knew what she longed for, but she didn’t excite him in a romantic way. Not then. Call it karma or the laws of physical attraction. He was much too busy getting into a good university and enjoying what looked like a vigorous senior year experience. He wasn’t one to slag off and take easy electives; no, his classes included calculus and a rarely-offered Physics II. He upped his swim training and became a water polo starter and the regional backstroke winner in the 200 and 400 meter races, as well as manning the same position in relays. He had lots of female friends to hang with and take places- girls like Kelsey who was his homecoming date. But he didn’t have a steady girlfriend and imagined it would happen in the future when life was less stressful. He stuck to situations where he could be part of a pack and got in deeper with his male friends.
And now here was a new one, the Nielsen kid who came out of nowhere and filled a hole in him that he hadn’t even realized needed filling. They clicked immediately, so fast, in fact, that it took his breath away. Jake was a genuinely nice guy. He seemed honest, didn’t give into peer pressure and wasn’t overly modest. His sense of humor was quirky with a strong streak of practical joking in it, and he didn’t mind being teased. He had a healthy self-awareness that didn’t rely on allowing others to commiserate with him and lay on a lot of false praise to make him feel better. The best part about the friendship was that it was portable and he could take it back to college with him.
It was nearing 11:30 when Jake said his thanks and goodbyes to Dylan and prepared to haul his stumbling and hiccupping cousin out to the truck.
“Are you good to drive?” Dylan asked, peering into his face.
“I only drank one beer, so I’ll be fine.” Jake smiled forlornly over the semi-conscious form of Marcus. “I don’t know how many he had.”
Dylan chuckled. “Him? He’s a light-weight. He gets hammered after two.”
Jake grinned at him. “That’s my cuz.” They exchanged fist taps and the skin-to-skin contact was like sparks cascading over his fingers. “Great party. See you soon.”
“It’s cool, Jake.” Dylan looked at Marcus swaying and shook his head. “Put Sleeping Beauty to bed when you get home.”
“First thing,” Jake snickered with a quick wave of his hand and was out the door.
Jake spent most of the weekend existing in his own personal bubble of happy thoughts, at least when he focused solely on the memories of meeting Dylan. Thank heavens he let Marcus talk him into attending the party, shuddering at how he almost begged off. He hoped the other boy felt the same flash. Well no, that wasn’t going to happen because Dylan was not gay, so wrap your hard head around that one and stop daydreaming. At least he could wish that his own overly eager stabs at friendship hadn’t scared him away but if his memories served him correctly, they were good.
Jake relived their conversations time and again, over-thinking for hidden meanings. The two of them had bonded so tightly it made his head spin. It was as if meeting him was a powerful, life-changing event, and he had to find out why this person, this hetero man made his senses sing. Perfect Dylan. Totally hot, drool-worthy Dylan. You’ve already got me in the thrall of your magic and I’ll do anything you want.
Jake tried to convince himself that fantasies did no real harm unless he acted on them, and that was a no-go. It was the little hole in his midst of his heart pinging from rib to rib where logic told him he was going to get hurt. Badly. A place he’d briefly dwelled in another world that taunted him with where this would lead, none of it good. As much as his common sense said to smarten up and back off, his heart battled back against the sound advice.
In the midst of the conflict between id and ego, Jake walked around in a Dylan-infused haze where he didn’t want to forget. The calm blue-gray eyes that were the window to Dylan’s soul swam in front of his own sight and beckoned exploration. A trace of pale stubble stained his square jaw and a wide, sensual mouth that was fascinating. Oh yes, Dylan’s pretty mouth.
It was in the privacy of the shower where Jake could let his fantasies come alive. Of imagining those beautiful bright blue eyes of Dylan’s staring directly up into his from where he knelt at his feet. Water cascading down the liquid, brown muscles of Dylan’s strong shoulders and back as he leaned into Jake. How his soft, pink lips would open invitingly when he took Jake’s cock into that wet warmth and begin to suckle on it. Jake shuddered in pleasure. Dylan’s tongue swiping across the spongy tip and darting into the slit to taste his precum before slithering around the crown to bathe the highly sensitive sweet spot in back. Hands slick with soap that would fondle his ball sac and begin to slide up and down rapturously on his shaft.
Jake spread his legs farther apart and writhed as the sensations of suction and friction began to build on top of each other, inching his excitement ever higher. His own fingers sifting through the blonde’s streaming hair in encouragement. He could feel Dylan swallow and swallow again until the head of his cock was lovingly nestled in his throat, gently being squeezed and massaged as his release rose and overflowed. His balls pulling up inside as his orgasm hit him like a freight train. Jake threw his head back with a muffled scream, his hand a blur on his arched, seven inch length, and he unloaded against the shower tiles again and again. Shaking the delusion out of his head as he slipped to his knees on the shower floor in exhausted frustration.
He had to stop thinking about Dylan. Even though it had only been two days since he met him, he knew he had it bad. Maybe not real love, but the deepest crush he’d ever had on another boy. Miguel, well, his was a friendship that might have blossomed into something deeper, but they’d never gotten the chance to invest, so nothing magically romantic or close to binding, soul-searing lust ever came of it. What he felt the real last time- the only time he ever got caught up in urgently wanting someone else- even that was paltry compared to now. This was an overwhelming pressure in his chest, he felt dizzy and his moods swung from high to low. It was wonderful and terrible all at once.
“Are you okay,” Marcus asked thirty minutes later when Jake made his appearance in the kitchen after his shower. “You seem a little… I don’t know… off. Jumpy maybe.”
“Or tired,” Avery guessed, smiling as he pulled a large bowl of chicken salad from the refrigerator. “It’s been a stressful week for him, Marcus. Finding out he’s been exposed for no understandable reason and the confrontation with his dad would be enough to level anyone, but then having to drive down here on such short notice. Why don’t you give Jake some space and let him work it out.”
Jake smiled at his uncle in relief for circumventing an explanation. Of course, Marcus didn’t know he’d jacked off just now or the reason why. “I’m still soaking it all in. I am so damned happy to be here with you guys, you have no idea.”
Aunt Pat stepped up behind him and wrapped her arms around his chest. “That’s alright, Jacobaby. Family takes care of family. You know, like in Lilo and Stitch.”
“What are we, five?” Marcus rolled his eyes, grabbing the basket of sandwich buns to set them next to the salad.
Pat swatted his ass playfully as he strolled by. “Attitude adjustment, sir. Stop bagging on my favorite Disney movie.”
Jake grinned and hefted a fruit platter from next to the sink to move it over with the rest of the food for their light supper. He was still getting use to the refreshing atmosphere of his aunt and uncle’s home where a dark pall didn’t hang in the air and he didn’t have to watch every word, worrying that a punishing blow was going to come out of nowhere. True that maybe part of his stupor had to do with Dylan, but Avery was right. He was still recovering from his escape from home and his father’s bigotry.
An hour after dinner, the Walkers’ telephone rang in the kitchen. “It’s for you,” Marcus announced. “It sounds like David.”
The caller was, indeed, his older-by-five-years brother, David. “Finally.” He sounded both angry and reassured.
“And thanks for asking but I’m doing well,” Jake laughed back. “What kind of greeting is that?”
“The kind you deserve, you little ass, for not calling Adam or me and telling us you were okay.” David tried and failed to bite back his annoyance at having spent the past four days diligently searching for his youngest sibling. “On Wednesday night, Dad phoned me in an uproar demanding to speak to you and screaming nonsense obscenities about pictures and you being a fag. It took a lot of persuasion on my part to convince him that you weren’t here and I didn’t even know you’d run off.”
“Yeah, well…” Jake’s face flushed hot and he closed his eyes tight to keep from crying. He was mortified that his brother had found out about his homosexuality in such a crude way and wondered if he’d just lost the rest of his family.
David grudgingly gave over to a less-accusatory tone. “God, Jake, why didn’t you call us and tell us what happened?”
“Well, I…” Startled, Jake felt Pat’s arm reach across his shoulders in a hug of solidarity, and he flashed a grateful smile at her and the rest of the family assembled, he deduced, by Marcus’ summons. He pushed the speaker button so they could all hear. His aunt and uncle said their hellos.
“Look, kid, what are you doing right now? Adam and I can be at Aunt Pat’s in ninety minutes. We need to talk.”
At the panicked look on Jake’s face, Pat spoke up. “Yes, David, I think that would be a good idea as long as the both of you go easy on your little brother. He’s had a rough couple of days and doesn’t need another scolding.”
After promising to behave, David signed off by saying they would see them in less than two hours. Jake agonized every single minute. He loved and admired his brothers so much; he always had. But what if they didn’t want to understand what he was? He cringed at the memory of hearing David call him a fag. Was that all he would be to them from now on?
(To be continued...)