If Dylan Isn't Gay It Can't Be Real
David and Adam swept in from the road as the sun set. David lived in Venice Beach and taught physical education in one of the inner city Santa Monica middle schools for which he was well-suited with his lofty six-foot-four, two hundred pound physique and calm manner. Adam, age twenty-two, resided in Fountain Valley forty miles up the 405 freeway and was seeking full-time employment after earning a degree in business economics. He was smaller in stature than David but still towered over Jake. Both had the Nielsen curly brown hair but their eyes were closer to their father’s dark hazel hue than Jake and Carolyn’s jade.
Adam swept Jake up in a hug at the door. “It’s good to see you, baby bro,” he mumbled hoarsely. “We were so worried.”
Jake looked over at David and saw tears in his eyes, realizing for the first time that the earlier reprimand stemmed not from irritation but from deep concern. “Hey, hey, I’m alright,” he chimed in brightly. “I drove down all by myself and everything.”
Avery ushered the brothers into the living room, and Pat brought them sodas. They both stared at Jake almost as if he was a ghost, despite the fact that they’d been together two weeks before at Adam’s graduation from USC. It made him blush and shift uncomfortably in his seat.
David took a sip of his Coke. “Jake, how come nobody in the family knows you’re here?”
“Mom does,” he piped up rashly and then wished he hadn’t. He pushed his hair behind his ears nervously. “But please don’t tell Dad. With how irrational he gets, I don’t know what he would do if he found out she helped me escape.”
“Escape what?” Adam stared at him in confusion, and David turned to give him a withering look.
“Come on, Adam, do you really have to ask? Jake is right; Dad can be a real ass when he chooses to be. I know you had your share of slaps and punches growing up so don’t act like it’s a surprise.”
“But this is different. Jake ran away.”
“And it’s a good thing he did,” Marcus stated vehemently. “You should see the bruises…”
David chided his middle sibling, “Like we didn’t want to? Jake's just smarter than us. He knew when to run instead of standing there, taking it.”
Avery raised his hand to forestall the brewing argument. “Please, guys! Let him talk.”
Jake nervously cleared his throat. “Dad found out… um… he found out something about me.”
“Yeah, that you’re gay,” Adam coaxed. “That’s not exactly a State secret.”
Humor glittered in David’s eyes. “Those must have been some pictures.”
“Geez, does everyone already know?” he asked, his mouth twitching into a smile despite his reddening face.
“We’re your brothers,” Adam answered. “We grew up with you, remember? Heck, we probably figured it out long before you did. I saw the way you looked at some of my friends.”
David was nodding. “Gary Scott, captain of the football team. I was a junior, so you were… maybe twelve.”
“The summer before you went into the eighth grade,” Adam smirked, “We’d walk around the block to swim in Frank Victor’s pool. I used to pick your jaw up off the floor. He was gay too, and I had to tell him to stop perving on my baby bro.”
Jake sat there in utter astonishment. He didn’t remember Frank very well, but Gary had been a cutie of coiled muscle and hair products. Everyone laughed at the expression on his face.
“You’re among friends here.” Patricia laid a hand on his knee. “No need to worry.”
It didn’t take long for Jake to explain what happened when he went home after college, and he showed them the fading-to-green contusions for good measure. They sat in momentarily stunned silence.
“Shit, Jake, I am so sorry.” Adam winced.
David turned to him accusingly. “And you ask why he ran off?”
“Enough, boys,” Pat warned, her green eyes big. “What’s done is done.”
“I swear, Dad scared the shit out of me. Er… sorry.” Jake quickly glanced at his aunt, contrite about his swearing. “Dad hinted he wasn’t done with me, and I didn’t want to stick around to see what he meant. Especially after he started spouting off about conversion camp. When Mom told me to leave I didn’t hesitate.”
“It was the wise thing to do, and I’m sorry for yelling at you,” David apologized, ruffling his hair. “What are we going to do about Dad?”
Adam put his hands up defensively. “I’m not going near him. Four years after moving out, I’m still seeing a therapist once a week trying to deal with how we were raised. And now that all us kids are out of the house, I hope Mom sees what the man has done to all of us and leaves him.”
“But we can’t just abandon her,” Jake exclaimed, looking around at their anxious faces. “Without us there, she’s next.”
Pat spoke up. “Your mom is stronger than you think, Jake. She called while you were in the shower, concerned because your cell phone number doesn’t work anymore, and I told her we changed it so he couldn’t track you. She’s finally begun to notice how George’s irrational behavior has cost her all three of her children and she isn’t happy about it. Don’t be surprised if she makes some huge changes this summer. She knows what she’s doing.”
“So what happens next?”
The brothers looked at each other. “My apartment has three bedrooms,” David suggested. “Penny won’t mind Jake moving in and giving him the extra one. I just have to buy a bed.” Penny was David’s live-in fiancée.
“Yes, but I’m closer to his school,” Adam asserted. “If he lives with me, he won’t need a dorm next year, and he’ll have more money for stuff like books and lab fees. Venice is too far away for him to drive.”
“I’m not that much further than you- maybe only five miles or so.”
“Wait a minute, boys.” Avery’s voice was firm as he looked from one person to the next. “We already said Jake could stay with us, and to be honest, I think he’s better off here. David, aren’t you teaching summer school? What would Jake do all day with nobody around? Same for you, Adam. Just because you convinced your father now that you don’t know where he is doesn’t mean he won’t try again.”
David sputtered. “Well, what about you? Dad knows how close Jake and Marc are. He’s just as likely to come down here and drag him home.”
“Just let him try,” Marcus exclaimed, his face hard. “Jake isn’t a little kid. Uncle George can’t force him to go anywhere.”
“Hey,” the subject of their argument shouted to make himself heard above the rumble. “Jake is right here. Don’t you think he should have a say in where he spends the summer?”
The room went silent.
Jake swallowed, bracing himself for their disappointment. “Adam and David, I love you both,” he acknowledged. “Mom made the right choice, and Aunt Pat and Uncle Avery offered. I’d rather stay here. It’s only been three days and already it feels like home. Besides, you are both terrible liars. The first time either one of you talks to Dad and he asks, he’s going to know where I am. It will be hard enough for you two to zip your lips without me living with you.”
“Besides, he has me here, so what more could he want?” Marcus laughed in relief that Jake wasn’t going to up and leave him. “You think you can compare to his favorite person in the whole world? And surfing- don’t forget the best breaks within a hundred miles. He’s making new friends here too.”
Adam and David both fired throw pillows at their younger cousin to shut him up.
It was six o’clock on Monday morning and Jake and Marcus were driving south on the I-5 freeway headed towards San Onofre State Beach. The night before, Jake had suggested getting some early surfing in before the Memorial Day crowds jammed the coastline, and they were eager to hit the waves. He suggested that Marcus invite all his friends and secretly hoped that Dylan would join them. Luis was already on the sand and had texted that surf conditions were outstanding with five-foot swells out of the southwest and clean conditions.
Jake yawned as his Ford Ranger changed lanes to go around a slow Toyota. “Is everyone going to be there?” He kept his voice light.
“Everyone I could reach. But don’t count on the girls showing up. Sage likes dawn patrol, but you can’t get Kelsey out of bedbefore eleven, and she gets pissy when Sage isn’t around to pick her up.”
“I’m sorry, but I think Kelsey has perfected the art of getting pissy whenever something doesn’t go her way.” Jake took a sip of steaming coffee from his thermal mug.
“Really? What makes you say that?” Marcus sounded surprised and a little hurt.
“Oh, maybe because she hasn’t said one polite thing to me since I arrived. In fact, all she does is glare at me like I spit in her breakfast cereal. You should’ve seen her at the pool party.” Jake realized his voice sounded bitter and tried to make himself calm down. “What’s up with her and Dylan?”
Another bolt of surprise went through Marcus’ green eyes. “Dylan Moore? I’m not sure, bro. She does seem pretty aggressive where he’s concerned. I know she wants to be with him in the worst way and isn’t shy about letting people know. They went out a couple times when we were seniors and make a cute couple. At some point it’ll probably happen but for now he’s too busy with school. He puts up with her because it’s easier this way.”
Jake kept his gaze pinned on the road and the traffic surrounding them, so Marcus didn’t see the pain in his eyes when he alluded to Dylan and Kelsey getting together. But, of course, what should he expect? Dylan was a handsome man and, despite Kelsey’s acute anger and jealousy, she could be somewhat attractive when she wasn’t glowering. They had history together. This was college, after all, not high school, and they were at the age when pairing off became perfectly acceptable.
Marcus apparently hadn’t noticed that Jake died out of the discussion for awhile because he was still talking. “… and they’ve been friends for almost three years. You know, cheerleader and jock. Besides, it’s all that inbred shit with her being Sage’s BFF, Sage dating Noah and him and the rest of us hanging out with Dylan.”
“What the…?” Laughter bubbled out of Jake in spite of himself. “‘Inbred shit’? What are you, a bunch of hicks?”
“You know what I mean.” Marcus blushed. “Like sisters falling in love with two guys who happen to be brothers?”
Jake laughed until tears were falling. “No, I have no idea at all what you mean. But it’s funny as hell.”
Marcus finally saw it from Jake’s point of view and joined in the humor. It took until the highway exit before the boys could quiet down. He spoke merrily after a pause, “He likes you by the way.”
“Who?” Jake had been entirely turned around by the giggles and lost track of the subjects of the conversation.
“What?” Jake stammered, blushing furiously. If he hadn’t been concentrating intensely on driving the narrow lane leading down to the parking lot he would’ve run off the road. His cousin couldn’t mean it the way it sounded. No way.
Marcus was looking out the passenger window at the calm sheen on the horizon, and he didn’t see Jake’s reddened cheeks or hear the near-panic in his voice.
“When I contacted him yesterday, he texted me back and said you’re chill. Any time we all want to hang is alright with him.”
Breathe, Jake told himself fiercely. Of course, this wasn’t some kind of romantic revelation. He was talking friendship and hanging out together- that was all. Dylan was straight. Remember that or you are going to get hurt just like last time. No, he decided, it was going to hurt worse because Dylan meant more to him.
“Hey, bro, are you okay?” Marcus asked, concerned, as Jake turned into a convenient parking spot near the cliffs. He had been acting weird all weekend.
The younger boy gave him a huge grin. “I’m great.” He pulled his keys out of the ignition and opened the door. “Let’s go.”
Two hours later Jake was squinting into the sun bouncing off the waves from his vantage point on the sand. Marcus, Noah and Spencer had all managed to take off on different sections of the same long tube, and he was comparing their flow. They were around the same six foot height, so there was no size variable. He could see that Marcus hadn’t lost his affinity for stepping in a circle around various parts of his board to keep it balanced, and Spencer, with his long blonde hair, gave off more of a surfer vibe while Noah had a natural flair.
He became distracted by a small crowd of surfers who were clearly natives about fifty yards down the beach surrounding three men in their mid-twenties. The larger group of mostly teens was arguing over territory and the right to surf at this break with the trio, obviously recent college graduates who weren’t from around here. Perplexed over the rivalry, Jake shook his head, wondering why it was so important to keep the localism alive and well. Not that he would be keen on their beach being overrun by throngs of out-of-area barneys, but what problem was created by a few dudes just enjoying the surf over a holiday weekend?
“It’s pretty stupid, isn’t it,” a low familiar voice suddenly uttered from his back.
Startled by Dylan appearing out of nowhere, Jake jumped. Damn but he wished that he would stop walking up behind him. Not that he wanted Dylan to stay away; far from it. But at least give a guy some warning by announcing his presence.
“I used to be the same way when I was… maybe, um… thirteen.”
He turned around in time to see Dylan in gray floral board shorts snap his beach towel out next to him and sit down. Mmm, his tanned chest and shoulders were so ripped from the workouts he got in the pool. Staring deep into his azure eyes, Jake smiled before remembering himself and averting his gaze. Just being around the blonde made him tingle all over.
Dylan returned the grin. “Yeah, back in the day when the complexities of the world could be explained by whether you were ready for the 5th period math test, if the cute girl who sat behind you in English thought you were cool and how much acne you had.” He indicated the crowd that was getting louder and more raucous. “Some of them haven’t matured much past that. You see them down here day after day, and this is all they do. I love the beach but there’s more to life than surfing.”
Jake noticed that Dylan didn’t appear loaded down with the necessary equipment to sit the lineup. “So where’s your stick?”
“I don’t have enough time today. My uncles are taking my family and me to an Angels’ doubleheader in a couple hours.”
Baseball was something Jake knew about. Even though he had moved three hundred miles away for four years, he never stopped rooting for Anaheim’s American League team. He had no delusions that his own skills were good enough for professional ball, not even in the minors.
“Hey, no prob. That sounds like more fun, and everyone can use some one-on-one bonding time with the male relatives.”
Dylan threw him a mystified glance about the ‘bonding’ comment before he realized that Jake was totally sincere and relaxed into conversation and watching their friends out on the water. “Awesome.”
The two of them picked up where they’d left off the Friday before, and Jake lost track of time. If there was ever a person he could feel totally comfortable being around, it was Dylan. They shared the same values and general school experiences. Well, at least except the one that Jake wasn’t willing to discuss with anyone yet. But in order to do that, he’d have to tell Dylan he was gay, and those words just wouldn’t spill themselves.
By the time their three friends trudged up from the surf, exhausted but satisfied, Dylan was nearly ready to leave. Their discussion had wound its way back to surfing again, along with some gentle competition.
“I’ll have to bring my board next time. We can compare our styles out on the sets.”
“What d’ya drive?” As far as Jake was concerned, nothing could compare to his own.
“A Haydenrides Blakcat four-fin, six and a half feet.”
“Australian, right?” Jake wouldn’t admit it, but he was impressed. New, that brand of surfboard retailed for around a thousand dollars.
“She’s a sweet ride,” Dylan agreed. He threw Jake a cocky leer. “You can show me what you got, Madera.”
“Just remember, Dylan.” Jake took up the challenge with a grin of his own. “You can take the boy off the beach, but you can’t take the beach out of the boy.”
Friday night, Marcus ducked his head through Jake’s open door. “Do you want to see a movie?”
Jake shrugged. It had been a long week, and he was tired. He’d unpacked everything and spread out comfortably in his new room. He had surfed the day before late in the afternoon, again without Dylan present, and even though he enjoyed the open water and thrill of being on his board, he was a little distracted by his longing to spend time with him. He had even spent two days job-hunting without success.
On top of all that Jake fielded phone calls from David and Adam, asking after him, and he dutifully reported that he was undetected so far by their father. His brothers hadn’t heard his resonating thunder either, which was a good thing, because it meant he was safely up in central California. A clandestine talk with his mother revealed George was ever more frustrated over his vanishing and had begun to wonder if his son was dead- not that he cared. His unacceptable, so-called queer practices were bound to get him noticed by the wrong sort of people.
“What’s playing and who’s going?”
“The usual gang. We’re still debating on what we want to see.”
“I’m up for anything worthwhile, you know that, Marc. Just let me know when.”
In the end, the eight young people stood in front of the multiplex marquee at the Palmtree Pavilion mall, embroiled in an impassioned argument between Piranha 3DD which Luis, Sage and Spencer wanted to see but had received terrible reviews, a stoner movie Noah and Marcus were partial to called High School, and Battlefield America about the back streets dance culture in Long Beach. Jake was intrigued with the last because he had a few friends at Long Beach State that danced, and to his surprise, Dylan backed him up. Of course, Kelsey wanted to see whatever Dylan did, so the choice was made.
“Why would you want to see a bad film about flesh-eating fish,” Dylan teased Sage. “Especially when you think about how much time we’re in the water.”
“That’s the ocean, fool,” she answered back, laughter brimming in her blue-green eyes as she tossed her head. “There aren’t piranhas in the ocean.”
“No, there are sharks,” Kelsey retorted quite seriously, “which are a hundred times worse.” She frowned at her best friend, apparently ruffled by her teasing. “And don’t call my Dylan a fool.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist, now batting her eyes playfully, and Jake nonchalantly turned his face away so he wouldn’t have to watch. He couldn’t understand why Dylan let her get away with such cloying sucking-up, and her possessive need to put her hands all over him made him sick to his stomach.
The kids purchased tickets and went inside. Making their selections of candy, popcorn and drinks at the counter, they sauntered down the hallway to the last theater at the end. Jake trailed along behind the rest, letting them lead a way to an empty row and only paid special attention to the seating arrangement to make sure he didn’t sit directly next to Dylan. He didn't think he could bear being so close, their skin literally touching on an armrest, and unable to hold his hand. Luis and Spencer, best buds, picked their way on the narrow ledge of concrete, followed by Noah and Sage. Next came Kelsey, clasping hands with Dylan. Jake let Marcus precede him and took the last chair.
As she sat down, a glare of triumph blazed from Kelsey’s face in Jake’s direction and his eyes went kind of misty with hurt. This had nothing to do with how much he was into Dylan and being gay or that the older boy wasn’t; it was bad manners. Kelsey’s desire to prove superiority was shown by her determination to prevent them from even being friends. Jake felt like he should say something, but it would make him look petty and just feed into her childishness, so he stared at his knees. He was only dimly aware that Noah was assessing him with a thoughtful expression and didn’t see him lean down to speak to Sage or her bend over towards Kelsey.
“What?” she shrieked. “I’m not doing anything.”
More quiet whispers had Marcus watching, although Jake ignored the girls.
“Oh, whatever,” Kelsey said scathingly. “What drama queens you all are! What, I can’t have a little fun?”
“Your so-called fun seems kind of mean-spirited,” Noah interjected darkly from around his girlfriend. “And you’re dissing one of my friends.”
Kelsey stuck her tongue out at him in what was supposed to be a playful manner, but nobody else was playing. Dylan turned and stared at the group. “Hey, hey, do I hear fighting?”
She looked embarrassed for a few seconds before giving him a warm smile. “It’s nothing more than a joke. We’re cool.”
“Hush, y’all,” Luis ordered from the end of the row. “Movie’s starting.”
A couple hours later, Noah, Marcus and Jake were sitting in the O’Brien’s enormous family room on the other side of Aleppo Park. His father was employed as a bank executive and made quite a bit of money. His mother was a suit at Osiris Corp and traveled a lot, and he had three older sisters who had all flown the nest. Amongst them, they left Noah on his own a lot, but he was generally a good kid who never realized the trouble he could’ve gotten into when he was younger.
It was nearing midnight, and they were shooting the breeze. For the most part, the crew had enjoyed the film, and there was some animated discussion afterwards about Long Beach in general and how realistic the plot was. Noah then invited everyone to his house, but Luis and Dylan both declined, saying they needed to get home in time for curfew. Spencer, Sage and Kelsey stayed for an hour before departing themselves.
“Do you want a beer?” Noah offered, holding up three Becks. Jake shook his head, but Marcus reached out for one.
“I’ll drive home,” Jake said. They were using Marcus’ old Mustang, but he was used to it.
“So what was tonight about?” Marcus asked Noah. The redhead raised his eyes in question and Marcus clarified. “The argument at the cinema between Sage and Kelsey before the film started.”
Marcus stared at Jake earnestly. “Oh, I noticed how much of a bitch she’s being to your cousin and told Sage to make her knock it off.”
Marcus turned to Jake. “Is she being that difficult?”
Jake flushed painfully, his heart crashing against his ribs. He knew it would never do to reveal his feelings or discuss his foreboding about Kelsey. Not even to the person he trusted most in the world.
“It’s nothing. Kelsey has a personality conflict with me for some reason. Not everyone I meet is going to like me. I can live with it.”
“It isn’t nothing,” Noah maintained. “For all her throwing around terms like ‘drama queen’, she’s the one who needs to act her age. I just wish Dylan would fuck her already and get it over with. We would all be happier.”
Jake looked away and cleared his throat. “Uh, Noah, where’s your bathroom.” He had to get out of there.
He stood in front of the oval mirror in the small half-bath, breathing deeply and hanging on to the vanity for dear life. It was already ten minutes since he’d stumbled through the door with tears in his eyes, and he had rinsed his face with cupped hands of cold water until it lost that blotchy look and his nose stopped running. Calm down, he told himself. You can do this. You have to.
He felt a fierce desire for the dreamy college student, but just because he’d fallen for him didn’t mean Dylan was his. Jake knew he was up shit creek without a paddle. He was entirely head over heels in love with a man for the first time in his life. A real man, not some cute dancer with flirtatious eyes who put out half a venture before pulling back and declaring they didn’t have enough time to make a full-go. And definitely not some poser who claimed he was a friend and then turned around and… no, he wasn’t going to think about him anymore. That was long ago. At least this time he was clear-headed.
Dylan was all he would ever want in a boyfriend and, try as he might, Jake couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities of the two of them together. The achingly sweet wonder of an adoring and monogamous someone truly wanting him, a man he’d enjoy spending time with. Living together, sharing their hopes and dreams and growing old. And cue up the romantic music and ending credits. Even as he argued with himself over the wisdom of crushing on a straight guy, Jake knew the harsh consequences if he let this fantasy continue; he had lived them before.
A knock interrupted his reverie. “Are you coming out or camping in there all night?” It was Marcus.
“Uh, I’ll be there in a moment.”
Taking another deep breath, Jake opened the bathroom door. Marcus was staring at him with a funny look on his face. His eyebrow hitched upward as he grinned. “What is going on, Jake? Is there anything we need to talk about?”
“Like what?” Jake was almost ready to duck back behind the door.
“Like why you’re acting all emo.”
Jake followed Marcus back to the family room and tried to put on a happy face. Noah was pulling another two beers from the fridge. “I am not emo.”
“Okay, but you have to admit that you have been kind of out of it for the past week.” A thought came to Marcus and he snapped his fingers. “Hey I know why you’re so moody. While we were surfing the other day I’ll bet you saw some cute surfer dude out in the lineup. Huh? Huh?” He elbowed him in the ribs.
Noah reared up like he’d been punched in the face. “Surfer dude” He was so bug-eyed he looked comical but nobody laughed. Dead silence filled the room. He stared at Jake as his lips began to work into an amused smile, despite his shock. “So, is there something you two aren’t telling me?”
Marcus flushed crimson and opened his mouth in denial, hoping to salvage the situation. He flicked an I’m sorry apology in Jake’s direction with his eyes and was met with a shrug and heavy sigh.
Strangely, Jake was beyond caring if Noah knew he was gay. At some point he had to stop hiding and come to terms with being out of the closet all the way or nobody else would, and his old friend was a good place to start. He knew that most likely the news would get right back to Dylan, but so what?
Jake had done nothing to be ashamed of. Whatever feelings he had for Dylan he kept to himself. He hadn’t been obvious when he checked the other man out. He hadn’t made a pass at him. His secrets were his own, and no one else’s business. If Dylan was bigoted, it was better to find out now. After the reaction by his parents, almost anything else would seem tame.
The hardest part of getting through the admission was going to be answering questions about why he’d concealed the truth. Well, it could hardly be called concealing when he hadn’t been in town for much more than a week. But it felt right. This was a new life here in Aleppo Park, one he wasn’t going to run from.
“I got this,” he muttered to his cousin. "It's okay."
He signaled to Noah for a beer. One wouldn’t hurt, and he needed the liquid encouragement. The three of them sat near each other, settling into the softness of the matching couch and armchairs in blue and gray floral chintz.
“You remember my dad, don’t you Noah? Big, scary as shit and never met a person he couldn’t pigeonhole in some way?”
Noah nodded. Before the Nielsens had moved north, his own family had resided in the same neighborhood as Jake and Marcus. All of the children were afraid of George. He was the type of man who never returned balls that accidentally landed in his back yard and flattened the tires of bikes left near his driveway.
“I’m gay and he… uh… found out.” Jake didn’t even blink.
Noah’s eyes popped open in amazement. Well, he wasn’t all that much in awe. Noah already knew something awful had gone down at the Nielsen home before Jake’s arrival. He thought back to that first afternoon on the beach and the A-shirt his friend had worn under his wetsuit to hide the bruises on his torso. Yes, he had seen them despite Jake’s best efforts, and it wasn’t hard to fathom where they’d come from. He wasn’t shocked that Marcus’ cousin was gay. In fact, it explained some of the questions he’d always had about Jake very nicely. Not that the other boy had been obvious about it.
“I’m not sure if you’re incredibly brave or really stupid,” he commended.
“Jake isn’t the one who told him,” Marcus chuckled somberly and related the tale.
“So you have some kind of psycho-stalker who took pictures of you with a boyfriend and mailed them to your dad? Fuck that!”
“Dad, being Dad, freaked out big time,” Jake finished. “He made threats I’d be stupid to take lightly. I’m much safer staying with my aunt and uncle than worrying over what he’ll do next.”
“I’ll say,” Noah intoned. “He’s capable of pretty much anything. I remember being on the wrong end of his temper a time or two before you moved away. Your father is a bastard.”
As much as he hated to admit it, Jake was forced to agree.
“But,” Marcus exclaimed, raising a finger in the air. “That still doesn’t explain your uncharacteristic pouting and girliness.”
Jake let out an honest chuckle. “I do not pout.”
Noah shook his head. “Uh, yes you do, Jake. Geez, I should’ve known you were gay… like eons ago. So wazzup?”
Jake knew Noah didn’t mean anything by what he said and didn’t take offense. Right now, he wanted out of the Twenty Questions but knew Marcus wouldn’t just give up. He decided to play it off as a joke and dramatically crossed his arms over his chest. “Nothing,” he sniffed.
“Whatev, cousin, I will get the story out of you somehow.” Marcus smirked at Noah. “Jake can’t keep secrets for very long. Sooner or later he’ll tell me.”
Over my dead body, Jake thought.
(To be continued...)