The next evening the crew decided to meet at the beach for some late surfing. Dylan had called up his friends, worried because Jake was so down in the dumps after his confrontation with the coach and thinking that being around them would get him out of his funk. It wasn’t just at work; Jake was pulling back from him, and Dylan was afraid that the latest round of bigotry was going to make him start questioning everything about himself and why other people victimized him so much.
Dylan had already requested and received a copy of his assistant’s contract from the center and went over it with a fine-toothed comb. Then he showed it to his father who was just as angry when he explained what Coach was trying to do to Jake. Nowhere in the writing could they find a clause about community role models and how they were to conduct themselves outside of day camp hours. His father told him that if the behavior by one couple was going to be judged, then similar behavior by the others needed to be just as circumspect and held to the same rigid guidelines. It was all bullshit on Abel’s part because he didn’t like their relationship, and Mr. Moore declared that if the boys couldn’t fix this on their own, he was going down to the center and filing a discrimination complaint.
Back from vacation, Kelsey couldn’t wait to see Dylan. She had gone to Texas with her mother and father to visit both sets of grandparents and had the time of her life. Through it all she couldn't keep her mind off the tall blonde man back home and told her numerous cousins how he was her boyfriend, but most of them knew her well enough to see through the charade. Their skepticism made no difference to her. She’d spent hours tanning in the hot San Antonio sun until her skin was a glowing bronze and she was wearing a new bikini that showed off her curves to their best advantage. She returned home to Aleppo Park determined not to let anybody stand in her way.
Kelsey was one of the first people to arrive at the beach and pulled her vegetarian Chipotle burrito out of the bag, wondering why everyone around her was acting so strange. When Sage and Spencer picked her up they kept darting nervous glances at her as she regaled them with stories of Texas and how glad Dylan would be when he found out she was back. When she asked what was wrong Sage just shook her head and her brother smirked. Now it was Noah who was struggling not to laugh, and it didn’t appear to be over something anyone had said to him.
“What?” she asked him, but he just grinned, told her it was nothing and looked out into the water.
Across the way, Marcus Walker, whom she recognized by his build and unkempt hair, was making his way towards them with some girl she couldn’t identify from the distance. As they got closer she saw it was Dylan’s little sister, Erin. Hmm, so maybe in her absence they had begun going out together? That was okay with her. Kelsey and Erin hadn’t moved in the same circles at school where they were a year apart, but she’d been nice to the girl because of their mutual connection. In any other dimension Kelsey wouldn’t even give her the time of day, but it was definitely a friendship she needed to maintain to stay on Dylan’s good side.
Where was Marcus’ cousin, Jake? They were always together. Kelsey felt this warm happiness burst inside her, hardly believing her luck if stupid Jake Nielsen was already history and choosing not to hang with them anymore. Maybe the information she had given Dylan about Jake having a crush on him had started a fight, and the group had kicked him out. Careful, she told herself, it was only one outing, so don’t get your hopes up. But come to think of it, where was Dylan?
“Hi, Kelsey,” Erin called out, running up to her. “Everyone said you went on vacation.”
Kelsey and Erin made polite conversation for a few minutes as she revealed facts about the trip she’d taken. Luis arrived and set down his surfboard near the others, also shooting her a shrewd glance. This was getting freaky.
A few minutes later, it was as if the air around her began to throb. Her friends seemed to intuitively retreat, sort of in communal expectation, getting ready to duck out of the way. Nobody actually stopped what they were doing, but all the same, the atmosphere held its collective breath. Kelsey happened to glance towards the lot and froze.
Dylan had arrived… with Jake. His Ranger pulling into the parking space caught her attention, and she stared at them while they got out and held a brief discussion, gesturing about the boards and gear in the back. They finally decided to leave it behind and trotted towards them empty-handed but for their McDonalds food.
The two began to horse around in some kind of agility competition, tripping each other up in the sand. Jake purposely careened into Dylan who stuck out his foot, but the smaller boy was too savvy and avoided it, grabbing Dylan around the waist to fling him sideways. The blonde stumbled almost to his knees before righting himself and charging him. Back and forth they went, their movements full of mischief and playful, without a care in the world, but strangely intimate.
Dylan must have decided to end it because he whirled around to pick Jake up and tossed him over his shoulder, yelling like a madman. “Put me down,” she heard Jake demand with a laugh, and when Dylan dumped him back on his feet, he kissed him lightly on the lips.
Dylan. Kissed. Jake.
Oh no, no, no. Kelsey thought she must be dreaming… or stuck in some nightmare. But there could be no doubt of the truth when Dylan took Jake’s hand firmly in his own and intertwined their fingers to lead him the last couple of steps around the boards. They heartily greeted the group of teenagers on their towels eating dinner who waved back, one eye on the couple, one on her.
Dylan wasn’t gay, she screamed inwardly. Yeah, Jake was, but not her Dylan.
But why, then, were they holding hands. Why the kiss? Dylan was gazing at Jake the way she had always dreamed he would look at her, like the boy was his everything and nobody else mattered. It was so wrong, so conniving of Jake, and poor Dylan just fell into it because he was a nice guy and so naïve. That had to be the answer. She didn’t know how he’d done it, but in the space of the sixteen days of her absence Jake had managed to convince Dylan that he was gay too.
This was so fucked up that Kelsey wanted to throw her dinner in their faces and jump up and down in hysterics before grabbing Dylan’s hand and spiriting him off where nobody would ever find them. Or rush Jake and rip his curly hair out of his goddamned head. She wanted to sink the plastic knife that came with her food into his chest as his blood spilled all over the sand while she just stood over him watching him die.
Jake noticed Kelsey right away and his spirits fell. Damn, she had returned. He honestly hadn’t missed her one iota and secretly hoped she would do all of them a favor and stay at whatever place her parents had taken her off to for the previous two weeks. That was sadly not to be.
He stared at her, wondering what she would do for her next move. She stared back at him, her mouth open, struggling not to give in to her need to cause drama. Moreover, behind all the innocent smiles directed at his boyfriend, murder was brewing in her eyes. It made him feel only slightly better that the plans she had hoped to set in motions for her and Dylan had been shoved, screaming, out the proverbial window.
Dylan felt the hostility radiating off the small girl but decided to be polite anyway. “Hey, Kelsey, when did you get back?”
“Two days ago,” she said evenly. Her universe had been turned upside down, but she couldn't let anyone know. For now she settled on numbness and pretending that she didn’t care. She remembered that night five weeks before when she’d accused Jake of keeping her off Dylan’s yacht and Sage’s dire warning; she absolutely could not risk an outburst against Jake that would bring her expulsion from the gang. She almost literally bit her tongue and fixed a smile on her face.
Despite her nonchalance, Dylan could almost see the thoughts crashing through Kelsey’s head. Oh, this was not good. Every once in awhile she would flick him a look of quiet desperation, and he might have felt sorrier for her if she hadn’t also been glaring at Jake with so much jealousy and hatred, it marred her face. She hadn’t been around to witness the birth of their relationship, but she would have to be a fool not to see the changes, and her rapidly shifting emotions worried him. Kelsey had the ability to cause real trouble for them, and the one who would be hurt the most was Jake. Nobody, not even this girl, was going to be allowed to get that close.
It took them another fifteen minutes before everyone’s meals were squared away. Jake and Dylan had purchased chicken nuggets and french fries and were, gag, feeding them to each other with Jake perched in his lap and laying his head affectionately on his shoulder. Dylan put a fry halfway in his mouth, and Jake swooped in for a kiss, biting off a piece. They traded back and forth for a few minutes, but Jake kept throwing her confused glances. Finally he leaned in to say something in his boyfriend’s ear which Kelsey didn’t hear. The playful banter soon stopped and Jake moved off to Dylan’s side.
What Kelsey couldn’t make out was Jake’s careful warning about her. “Hey, Dylan, Kelsey looks really pissed at us, so maybe we should save the PDA for later?”
Dylan laughed. “PDA?” What’s that? It sounds like a degree.”
Jake flipped a french fry at him. “You know very well. Public display of affection, and it’s so not going over well with her.”
Dylan sighed, carefully hiding his irritation from Jake. It was bad enough that his boy no longer would kiss him before or after their sessions at day camp, but even their lunch hours had become strained. Jake was convinced that Coach Abel was spying on them and would use their picnics as an excuse to fire him. And now he wasn’t even allowed to kiss and hold Jake away from work when his body was craving him so badly that he ached. Because of the envy of some girl who didn’t even matter? This was crazy talk.
Jake took in Dylan’s silence and realized he was angry. He loved Dylan, he really did, but his whole body was on overload right now. Overwhelmed, like a throbbing nerve too close to the surface. Everywhere he turned people were hating on him for being gay and, more specifically, for his feelings for this man. His father he could escape, but the dealings with his coach made his head ache. Then, along came Kelsey back from vacation to glare daggers at him. He could see her wishing him dead with her eyes, and the intensity scared him. Why did being with Dylan have to cause so much turmoil?
He dipped in towards Dylan with another soft kiss on the cheek and begged, “Please, I don’t want to antagonize her.”
If Dylan usually had problems saying no to Jake, he really lost it when he got that sad puppy look in his green eyes. It was a matter of picking his battles, and giving in for now was better than losing outright. “Okay, for you I’ll dial it down. I don’t want trouble with her either. Now, let’s hit the water.”
Everyone but Kelsey grabbed their sticks and headed for the waves, even Erin. Kelsey had heard comments through dinner that Marcus was teaching her how to surf and recalled how Dylan had tried to talk her into learning a couple summers back. She hadn’t been interested in spending all that time in the water on some floating piece of fiberglass, looking like an idiot as her tan and hair got wrecked. She wondered if the offer was still good and anticipated the idea of getting Dylan alone and proposing he teach her now.
Marcus was sitting the lineup with the rest of them, watching in pride as Erin kicked her board off the corner of a nice barrel and maneuvered herself into a full stand for a few seconds before falling off.
“So, She-Devil returns,” he muttered to Jake as the gentle swells lapped at them.
Jake turned pain-filled eyes to his cousin. “Tell me about it. Damn, just once I’d like for something to go right, you know?” he sighed. He had already told Marcus, Pat and Avery about what was happening at the center, and they were as angry as Dylan’s father, ready to go down there and kick some ass.
“Are you and Dylan having problems? Because if you are, I’ll…” Marcus watched just inside where the sets washed into soup as Dylan congratulating his sister on her quickly-emerging skills as a surfer. There was nothing grom about her style.
“No,” Jake was hasty to say. “I think we’re good, but he doesn’t like what Coach is doing either. It’s everything. My dad’s homophobia, and him and Mom getting divorced. The threats at work, and Kelsey being so damned spiteful and resentful.”
“Ah shit, Jake, everyone has a bad day now and then,” his cousin soothed. “Yours just got bunched up all at once, but it will get better. Don’t freak out on Dylan. Even though I’m not into guys, I can see how much you mean to him. I notice him looking at you, and it’s like he’s lit up from the inside. I have never, ever seen him so gone on anyone the way he loves you, and I’ve known him for almost four years.”
“Thanks, bro, that means a lot to me,” Jake choked out, slapping fingers with Marcus. He smiled, admiring Dylan’s beautiful body and how the salt water on it dazzled in the sunset as he paddled back out towards them. He’d heard it with his own ears, even if it wasn’t from his boyfriend’s lips. Dylan was in love with him.
Marcus was right, he was lucky to have him, and whatever was going wrong could be fixed. He had to stop stressing on every little problem, trying to be so damned self-sufficient and let Dylan lend him the strength and security he needed. Kelsey would always be a bitch, and they would have to put up with her until she either changed, doubtful, or pissed Dylan off to the point where they stopped hanging with her. He hoped it was sooner rather than later.
Dylan aimed his stick over a rising swell, but it had a bit of a lip on it that hit him right in the face. On the other side, he suddenly found himself in the line next to Jake. His boy’s eyes were sparkling like freshly mown grass, and Jake reached over and grabbed him by the arm to bring him in close.
Jake needed to make up to his boyfriend for the misunderstanding earlier and nothing said ‘I’m sorry’ better than a kiss. Although it was hard to keep still on their boards, he nevertheless lifted up in front of Dylan and pressed against his mouth gently. Dylan grabbed him by the waist to secure them tighter and felt Jake’s lips part. His tongue dove into the familiar cavern and found Jake’s. He tasted salt water and a slight sweetness left over from their dinner drinks.
Jake moaned into Dylan’s mouth and wrapped his arm securely around him, not even caring if the swells pulled him off his board and into the sea. All he wanted was this man. He heard him groan back, and the kiss exploded between them as their mouths locked together in bliss and sensation. His other hand came up and cradled Dylan’s jaw, and the loving warmth that passed between them did their talking for them. They ignored the snickers around them and the good-humored admonishment from somewhere off to their distant left to ‘get a room, guys’.
Kelsey wouldn’t have known from the distance one surfer from another except for the two who were floating so close together they looked as if they sitting were on the same extra-wide board. It was disgusting. Jake and Dylan were sucking face like stupid high school crushes, like they were the only two people in the world. She was not going to stand for them. There had to be some way to break them up because she couldn’t bear to be around Dylan if Jake was there too. The new kid had to go.
The sun was just going down in a blazing ball of salmon gold when the surfers began filtering up from the shore. Marcus and Erin were the first to arrive and walked to the outdoor showers, stripping off their wetsuits. A few minutes later Erin returned alone, seeing as Marcus was fastening the surfboards on the rack attached to the top of his car so they wouldn’t get sandy again.
“So your brother is a fag?” The words impulsively popped out of Kelsey’s mouth without her permission and, once said, could not be taken back.
Erin narrowed her eyes. “Yes, Dylan is gay,” she ventured. “What’s it to you, bitch?”
“Nothing, I’m sorry,” Kelsey purred, all full of fake remorse. “Really, I shouldn’t have said that. I was being rude.”
“Rude doesn’t even begin to cover it, so don’t try that shit with me,” Erin said between clenched teeth. “You think I don’t see through you? You meant every word.”
“I’m so sorry, but I honestly didn’t.” Kelsey tried to backtrack. “I hear other people that I know use it, and it’s turned into a very bad habit. I’m just surprised, especially about him and Jake hooking up.”
Erin still wasn’t completely convinced. “You better watch out what you say about my brother, Kelsey, especially to me. And as far as he and Jake go, that’s their business. I think they’re cute.”
Kelsey snickered and Erin went on. “Anyone who goes to the lengths to make Dylan happy like Jake does is alright with me. I know you’re jealous because you wanted him for your boyfriend, but as you can see, he made his choice. You need to either get out of the way or get lost.”
Kelsey turned the biggest smile she could muster on Dylan’s sister. “For your information, I am not jealous,” she cooed, “but I have my doubts about Jake. He showed up here out of nowhere in May with some fucked up shit about pretend trouble with his dad, and we never did learn the details. The first thing he does is latch on to your brother. I may not be what Dylan wants, but I can plainly see that Jake is using him.
“And who is to say what really happened up in Madera or Merced or wherever he came from?” Kelsey widened her eyes dramatically to let anxiety for Dylan pour off of her. “Maybe he’s lying. Maybe he caused it. He might even be in trouble that’s his own fault and running from somebody he fucked with. Nobody will listen to me when I explain that Dylan could get hurt because he’s such a sweet guy and too trusting. People take advantage of boys like him, Erin. Jake is very smooth and has everyone wrapped around his finger. I’ve done my best, so if they want to hide their heads in the sand, let them.”
Erin looked troubled for the first time. She hadn’t been around Jake anywhere near as long as the rest of them, so she couldn’t answer to any of Kelsey’s challenges. Maybe what the tiny girl said was true. She had no idea if Jake was a trouble-maker hiding behind some hard-luck story. On the other hand, he was Marcus’ cousin, and the two boys were very close. She really liked Marcus, and she was afraid if she said anything negative about Jake, he might get angry at her. It was all so confusing, and she didn’t have anyone to talk to about this new dilemma. Erin would have to think carefully about what to do next before checking this out with either of them.
Kelsey noted the baffled frown on Erin’s face, giving signs of her inward battle, and smiled to herself. Mission engaged. The satisfactory end of it could wait another day.
It was Thursday and Jake was just getting ready to leave for lunch but had to help one of the players work the knots out of his cleats. He felt a shadow pass above him and looked up to find Coach Abel standing next to him.
“Jake, may I see you for a moment before you leave?”
Coach’s need to ‘see him for a moment’ was occurring with alarming frequency. After every session, morning and afternoon for the past three days, he had been summoned for the short chats over nothing other than to listen to inane observations that could have been handled just as easily with a quick question or two out on the field. Coach also stared at him all the time during drills with a scowl on his face and never had a good word to say to him anymore.
Someone, and Jake had no doubt who was behind it, had also taken it upon himself to gossip about Jake and Dylan behind their backs, and all of the day camp employees seemed to be aware that they were more than just friends. A few coaches and assistants decided to act like assholes and weren’t shy about sharing their judgments, but Jake used the skills he learned from his altercation with Tony to overlook their harassment. It all appeared to be a clever guise for intimidating him without explicitly doing so, and Jake was determined not to let the man get to him.
Keeping his head down, Jake rolled his eyes to himself so nobody else noticed. “Please give me a moment to help Maury here with his shoes.” He finished picking apart the tangled laces and gave the child a big smile and a pat on the head before walking to the baseball office. “Yes, Coach?”
“We have some problems.”
For the next thirty minutes the man talked about the players’ stats and berated him for teaching methods that had been perfectly fine up until the week before. Jake knew exactly what the coach was trying to do but let him finish.
“Sir,” Jake protested hotly when Abel finally fell silent, “these are the identical exercises I have been practicing with the boys since the start of camp, and all of us assistants do everything the exact same way. I’m not even the one who set up the drills; Manny and Evan organized them during their training in May. If there’s a problem, maybe one of them could help you understand better.”
The coach glared at Jake trying to decide if he was flouting his authority but could find nothing insolent in his demeanor. Jake stood there quietly, his back straight and gaze level, and both of them recognized the criticism for what it was. Seeing as how Jake was not going to bow to his will, Coach sighed and dismissed him.
Damn, now he was late for lunch- again, Jake thought. He scurried to the parking lot to find Dylan missing and hoped he’d gone ahead to their private spot. Sure enough, his boyfriend was there.
“I got held up by the coach again,” Jake called angrily through the bushes, kicking at a rock. “This is getting ridiculous.”
“Is it the same as all the rest? Just worthless complaints to keep you on edge?”
“No, it’s worse because now he’s questioning my teaching skills. I used to love working here, but now I can’t wait until camp is over.”
“Please don’t let it mess with you, okay?” Dylan begged, pulling on Jake’s hand, guiding him down to perch in front of him on the striped blanket. “We’re more than half-way finished with camp, only three more weeks left, and then his opinions won’t matter to anybody.”
“I know,” Jake sighed. “But I was hoping to get a good commendation from him for the future. Like, in resumes and even next year at college to help me get a spot on the team. Coach will never give me a fair chance now.”
Dylan refused to be pessimistic and wrapped his arms soothingly around his boyfriend. “His is not the only recommendation that counts. The parents fill out survey cards, and the admin guys have a say. We also get graded by the other assistants.
“I guess so.” Jake shook his head morosely, and his hair tickled Dylan’s chin.
“It’s awful he’s being such an ass, but it’s not the end of the world,” Dylan urged. “You know I have your back, baby.”
Jake held Dylan closer and smiled into his chest at the endearment, the first he’d ever used.
“I love you,” he whispered.
Jake went completely still realizing what he’d said. So many times he’d wanted to shout out those three words so Dylan and the rest of the world would know exactly where they stood, but he’d always hung back, afraid he was rushing the other boy. He just kind of blurted them unintentionally, without thought or warning. He guessed it was a good thing that they came up so naturally now and not in the heat of sex, but still, he was worried about Dylan’s reaction.
Dylan’s fingers sifting through the coarse strands of Jake’s hair went still and he felt tears well up in his eyes. He had longed to hear the man he loved declare his feelings, and now he was no longer afraid to share his own. “I love you too, Jake.”
Food forgotten, Jake attacked Dylan’s mouth and knocked him flat on his back. Tongues sucked and tangled, Dylan’s hands palmed his back and shoulders to cling to him as if he wanted to get underneath his skin. It had been nearly two weeks since they started going out as a couple. Even though he had never been in a relationship before, and he was nervous about the What Comes Next, each passing day showed Jake that being with Dylan wasn’t a mistake.
It was the most astonishing part of his life. He tried to swallow his increasing fear of showing off his body and having sex because it made him feel stupid and immature. Sometimes he even wondered what Dylan saw in him. He knew he would never force him into anything he wasn’t ready for, but it was like they had reached a plateau and either they climbed higher or fell off.
Dylan held Jake’s face in his hands and kissed him speechless. Kissing, stroking arms and faces, he wanted so much… more? Better? Deeper? It was hard to describe, but what they shared now, while sweet and powerful, wasn’t enough. He knew their relationship was still new, but he couldn’t help but ache for his beautiful boyfriend. More and more he desired to be with Jake in a bed somewhere safe and concealed from other people where they could explore their passion and love for each other. But how did two guys get solitude when you didn’t live alone and had to follow household rules? Somehow he had to find an isolated place with enough privacy to teach Jake that losing his virginity to the right person was a glorious experience and not to be feared.
Their passion made them both so hard and needy. Dylan badly wanted to touch him or at least grind together, but they were too much out in the open. After what Jake had shared about his coach, Dylan wouldn’t put it past him to follow them into the park or make something up… anything to get Jake in trouble and kicked out of the program. They were going to have to be doubly careful until the situation was dealt with. But it was so hard to resist his sweet little boyfriend whom he adored with all his heart. He loved only him and once again they had to pry themselves apart and focus on nutrition before returning to the torture of separating.
Dylan or Coach must have said something to the top bosses because half an hour after the beginning of the afternoon session Mr. Towers arrived, sitting quietly in the bleachers and watching the assistants working with the campers. At first Jake was jumpy from the scrutiny, but he soon forgot the administrator was even there. He settled down into the familiar routine of throwing, catching and base positions and how to get that extra few feet out of a batted ball that could make a difference between a run and an out. At some point Mr. Towers walked down behind the backstop to converse with Coach, and presently the assistants also were questioned… all but Jake. Whatever the outcome of the discussion, Coach Abel didn’t look happy, and Jake wasn’t asked to stay after for a change.
Dylan ran up to him in the parking lot and he had a big smile on his face. “You’re cleared, I think,” he called to Jake.
“How do you know?” he asked. He struggled to control his elation in case Dylan was wrong.
“Mr. Towers stopped by the pool on his way to the office and said not to worry about Coach. Someone got in his shit, and it all worked out for the best like I said it would.”
Jake pulled Dylan into a tight hug, grinning so hard it hurt. “Thanks. You are so awesome.”
Dylan kissed him on the tip of his ear. “I have a surprise for you.”
“What,” asked Jake, squirming a little because this all seemed too good to be true and he was still afraid Coach would leap out at him from behind a parked car; that was how unnerved this whole encounter had made him.
“Well,” Dylan drawled, unlocking the door of his Honda. “My parents are taking Erin and meeting up with friends tomorrow to go to Disneyland. I can’t go because we have day camp meetings in the morning, but I was wondering if you wanted to come over to the house afterwards and hang with me.”
Alone, Jake reflected. They would be alone. He felt his face turn red because there was no doubt what being alone with Dylan would mean. Time to spend with his love, and no outdoors, no Coach or parents, no Marcus. He tried to downplay his nervous-as-hell overreaction because this was exactly what he had been dreaming of for the past week. Except…
Dylan was continuing with his encouragement. “Finally, we’ll have a house to ourselves all evening. Maybe you can even stay the night if your aunt and uncle are, you know… okay about it.”
“I could try,” Jake said shyly. He knew they would get naked together and touch each other. They might even have sex. Oh god, was he ready for this? Dylan seemed to think he was or he wouldn’t be asking him over like this was the greatest gift in the world. He wanted so badly to please him, to throw off this last vestige of childhood and step out and be a man. When he didn’t have to focus on the details the idea turned him on. It sounded incredible. It sounded… scary.
Dylan was so lost in the fantasy of making love to Jake that he didn’t even notice how quiet he’d gotten. He proposed that Jake drive over to his house in the morning and they’d go to work together. His family was leaving early too to avoid lines. The day camp meetings ended at twelve, and the rest of their day would be free. What could Jake do but agree?
“Pack a bag tomorrow, just in case,” Dylan whispered in his ear as he gave him a hug goodbye. “I’ll text you later.”
“Okay.” Jake freed up a bright smile and looked in Dylan’s eyes. “I love you.”
Dylan nipped his earlobe. “I love you too, baby.”
Jake arrived home from camp in a better mood than he’d been in all week. He had missed all the affectionate little things between him and Dylan, but now that Mr. Towers had intervened and supposedly settled the bigotry problem all was going to be well. Even if a host of new worries was on the horizon because of Dylan’s invitation, at least one issue was resolved. He walked through the front door to a shout from Aunt Pat that his mother was on the telephone.
Jake liked talking to his mom. He never thought he would admit to missing her the way he did, and their chats every couple of days helped him feel connected to her. She didn’t have much time with this call; she wanted to let Jake know that she liked her new life away from George, and he wasn’t protesting the divorce. What peeved him the most was that he wasn’t going to be able to keep the house and would also have to find a new place to live while it was being fixed up to sell. Carolyn was busy removing her belongings, and friends had begun to volunteer to accompany her so she wouldn’t have to be alone with her husband. It was kind of interesting how many people sensed there was trouble in the marriage, and she was the last to figure it out.
Jake told her about what was going on at the rec center. “You’re a smart boy, honey,” she told him. “I know you’ll do the right thing, but don’t let that nasty old coach treat you like you’re nothing.”
“Love you, Mom,” he replied. “I can’t wait until you move here so we can see each other more often and be a family again.”
“Me either. I can’t wait to meet your Dylan.”
And to that Jake had to smile. His mother had come a long way.
The next morning Jake drove to Dylan’s and parked his truck on the street. He’d packed his board shorts, a change of clothes and his toothbrush into a small bag which he left in the cab, and he jogged to the door to meet Dylan. He found the Moore family in a flurry of activity to get out of the house and on the road, but Dylan was ready to go. The kiss he gave Jake made his toes curl and his face burn in a blush when he caught the Moores trying not to stare. Erin arched her eyebrow at them before breaking into giggles, and the boys boogied out the the door to poorly-disguised warning of, “Be good you two,” from Dylan’s father.
“What did that mean?” Jake asked in confusion as he opened the door to Dylan’s red Honda.
Dylan smirked back. “I don't think Mom and Dad are stupid. They know what we're going to do while they’re at Disneyland.”
“Oh, okay.” Jake didn’t know why that didn’t make him feel better. He’d told Aunt Pat he would be very late arriving home that night, and she had given him the same smug smile.
The meetings were boring, especially since each week seemed to cover the same topics and never varied. Coach Abel made it obvious that he was ignoring Jake while the rest of the assistants looked on in bewildered study, but on the other hand he didn’t yell at him nor try to impede his departure either. When he met Dylan in the lot, the taller boy suggested picking up a pizza for lunch, and they purchased a large combo and an order of hot wings.
Driving into his neighborhood, Dylan could tell something was wrong with Jake. He was too quiet and staring out the passenger window, his mind a thousand miles away.
“Are you okay?” he rested his hand on Jake’s arm.
“Yeah, sure, I’m just tired,” Jake hedged. “It has been a long week.”
Dylan knew it was only half the truth, but challenging Jake would definitely be the wrong move at this point. Maybe it was just shyness, but he was fairly certain he knew what was needling his boyfriend. He required patient reassurance that what he was feeling was normal. Making love for the first time and losing one’s virginity could be terribly confusing and traumatic for some guys, and if Dylan had to talk him through it, it was no big deal. What mattered were not Dylan’s own sexual needs but putting Jake at ease and getting him over his discomfort. He had never forced himself on anyone and he wasn’t about to start now.
Dylan pulled plates out of the cupboard and suggested that Jake find a movie for while they ate. There was a stack of rented films on the video console, and Jake chose the new Ghostrider DVD because he’d never seen it. Dylan offered him a beer which he declined and requested Coke instead, and they dug into the pizza and saucy wings. They watched the groan-worthy film comfortably together, making snarky comments about the plot and how bad it was compared to the original. Once the food was gone, Jake lay back against Dylan’s shoulder. Soon he was reclining fully on the couch, relaxed, his head in his lap as the older boy ran his fingers through his curls. It felt calming and, because he was already in half a food coma from their large meal, it didn’t take Jake long to fall asleep.
He wasn’t sure at first where he was, but when he opened his eyes and tried to stretch he couldn’t move. Dylan was also out like a light, curled half-upright around Jake’s shoulders, his head on his hip. Jake stayed put for a few minutes, but he’d had a lot to drink and needed to pee. The television was still on and the Ghostrider film was running in a video loop asking them to make a selection. The clock on the DVD player said 5:45, and he was shocked he’d slept so long. Gingerly he tried to unwind his body from his boyfriend’s and, finally freeing himself bit by bit, located the powder room down the hall.
Dylan had awakened and was stretching when he returned. The sight of that flat stomach and golden skin made Jake lick his lips before catching himself in the contradiction.
“Hey, Jake, there you are.” Dylan jumped off the couch and came around to throw his arm over his shoulders in a friendly way. Slowly, he told himself, don’t scare him off.
“Are you hungry again?” he asked, trying to talk about normal things and make him less nervous. “Mom says there are leftovers in the fridge, and knowing her, I’m sure there’s plenty. Or we could go grab fast food or grill something.”
“Whatever is in the refrigerator is fine,” Jake agreed quietly, not wanting to make additional work for Dylan. He wished he could kick himself for how timid he was acting. Where was his self-confidence? “I’m not all that hungry.”
Leftovers turned out to be lasagna which they reheated in the microwave, and soon their dishes were rinsed in the sink and the serving pan soaking. The silence between the boys wasn’t exactly strained but it wasn’t contented either. Dylan decided to take charge. He sat in the large armchair his father usually occupied and pulled Jake into his lap for a talk.
“You don’t need to be afraid of me, baby. I love you too much to ever make demands that you aren’t comfortable with. I know this is a big deal for you, so let’s back off a little, okay?”
Jake nodded, grateful for his understanding. He leaned back against his wide chest and played with Dylan’s fingers resting against his stomach.
“Do you want to swim?” Dylan asked. “Or we can use the spa.”
Visions of hot, bubbly jets of water pounding against his sore muscles made Jake long to choose the spa, but almost immediately the idea was ruined by another image of naked bodies frolicking in the water. Embracing, skin on skin as their fingers twisted nipples and teased fluttering, sensitive holes between their butt cheeks. Dylan pulling him in close, and their thick cocks growing rigid and erect together. Rubbing frantically, the head of Jake’s dick stroking under Dylan’s balls as the underside of his shaft was tortured by Dylan’s long pole. Both of them giving in to the mounting desire to cum…
Okay, maybe ruined wasn’t the right word.
Panting with desire, Jake fought to stay still, regulate his breathing and not writhe in Dylan’s arms. The erotic thoughts made his cock begin to fill up in spite of his apprehension, and with clarity, he realized how they could help him overcome his anxiety. But just like that, dread and frustration overtook him again, and the parading doubts in his head grabbed his heart and twisted it, telling him that he would never be strong enough to break free. He tried to latch on to the fact that Dylan would know instinctively what he was feeling and not condemn him. Jake struggled to keep from crying. Fuck, he was acting like such a baby.
“The pool sounds good,” he whispered in regret, knowing he was giving in to his fear and loathing himself for it. After all the times he and Dylan had wanted to be alone together, to at last get an empty house, and he was spoiling it for them both. He desired him but was almost afraid to and knew he was overthinking.
Dylan didn’t seem to notice, or if he did, he didn’t mind. Jake changed into his board shorts in the bathroom, and presently they were in the pool racing each other and roughhousing. Dylan explained some of the rules for water polo while demonstrating the various shots and the eggbeater kick to keep his feet off the pool bottom. Jake tried it out and found it hard to get used to without proper training and practice.
The swimming proved to be a good intervention for most of the discomfort Jake was feeling, and an hour later they were ensconced on Dylan’s family room couch still in their board shorts playing the latest Max Payne video game. It was nearly dark by the time they got bored with Max’s drama and following him and his troubles around São Paulo, Brazil. Dylan decided to leave the lights off as dimming pinks and purples washed across the walls.
While Jake had slipped to the floor to sit in front of him, Dylan was still lounging on the couch. Now he pressed his back into the upright cushion and patted the seat in front of him, bidding Jake to stretch out flat. “Just lay still,” he told him softly once the boy was in position. “Let me know if you don’t like something I’m doing and I’ll stop.”
Dylan began by leaning over and swiping Jake’s lips lightly, waiting for him to open his mouth. Once he did, he pushed his tongue inside and gave him a long, sultry kiss that took his breath away. His fingers gently trailed down his cheeks and across his jaw. The touch was very arousing, and Dylan followed his fingers with his lips, kissing from one side to the other and sucking gently at the hollow of his throat where he left a barely-visible love bite. Jake was beginning to get into the seduction and his own hands swept up into Dylan’s blonde hair and held on, causing the older boy to smile.
Carefully Dylan slid his fingers down the slim boy's neck to his shoulders and bare chest. Searching for a nipple, he rolled it beneath the pads of his fingertips, and the soft friction caused it to shrink into a hard knot. It was hard-wired to Jake’s cock, and he moaned, his hips bucking. His member blossomed in his jock strap, hard and thick, and a pearly drop of precum welled at the tip and was immediately soaked into the fabric of the jock.
Dylan’s mouth fastened on the other nipple and he used the flat of his tongue to lick across the nub in a sensual torture. Jake was wriggling against the couch cushions and pillows as the most delicious ripples sheared across his groin. For several minutes he let them wash over him, kissing anywhere he could reach on Dylan almost in rapture. He felt Dylan’s hand move down his abdomen and hover just above the waistband of his board short, fingers seeking the ties. He could not believe how turned on he was or that he wasn’t pushing Dylan away.
The laces came undone, and Dylan opened the flaps of the shorts. Jake could feel the slight breeze hit his damp skin underneath where the edges came apart, and still he made no move to stop his boyfriend. He was so hard, near bursting, and his cock needed relief. Dylan’s mouth left off his nipple and found Jake’s lips again, sucking on his bottom one to distract him. Then his hand was inside the shorts, pulling the strap aside and fluttering over his throbbing erection. He threw his top leg overtop Jake’s and began to thrust into his thigh. The squeaks and moans coming from his boy spurred him on.
For the first time in his life a hand besides his own was touching Jake’s hard penis. Dylan wrapped his fingers around his erection and let the precum coat them as he stroked. Up and down three times, and Jake’s hips rocked furiously as the pulses behind his navel rushed together, and his orgasm was suddenly filling every nerve. The shock of it whipped through Jake like a storm. With a murmured gasp of “Dylan”, his balls lifted high, his stomach went taut and his release filled the caressing palm.
Dylan shuddered and thrust violently against Jake. He was catapulted into his own climax by the vision of Jake’s green eyes going blank in ecstasy as he wheezed and gasped for him, every muscle in his torso straining. His boyfriend had no idea how sexy he looked at the virtual moment of release, but Dylan did. His muscles tightened and streams of cum spurted from his cock and coated the inside front of his board shorts.
“There,” Dylan whispered as he came down and snuggled into Jake’s hair. “See how easy it is?”
Too easy. That was what Jake thought. Not that it wasn’t the most incredible thing he’d ever felt, having Dylan’s sturdy hand grasping and pumping his cock. Sweating, shaking, and three measly thrusts, and he had cum like the blushing virgin he was. He was still holding on to Dylan for dear life as the spasms subsided, and he swallowed hard and fought back tears.
Dylan only had to take one look at Jake to know all was not well. “Jake?” he asked gently. “What’s wrong?”
Jake turned his head and refused to look at him. “Three strokes? That’s all it took for me to get off, and I didn’t even touch you at all. Some boyfriend I am. You probably think all I am is a big tease.”
Dylan took Jake gently by the chin and forced him to look at him. “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve never done this before, so I wouldn’t expect you to be able to hold back. Just because you didn’t use your hands on me doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. Here, feel.”
He took Jake’s hand and pushed it against his shorts so he could feel the wet spot over his softening cock. “You did that to me. I've never touched anyone besides myself either, and giving you pleasure was enough to make me cum just as fast.
"You are so sexy," Dylan said sincerely, staring into his jade eyes. "Your innocence is sweet and something I hope you never lose. You are everything I want for a boyfriend. Don’t sell yourself short.” Jake nodded and tried to smile.
Dylan offered to let Jake shower to get the sweat, cum and chlorine off his body. Once in the bathroom, he pulled the sticky, sweaty jock strap away from his flaccid dick, still feeling disgust for how brief a time he had lasted. He wanted to trust in Dylan to be honest without temporizing it with excuses. Trust was hard for him, and he could imagine that Dylan was saying it only to keep from hurting his feelings. He tried so hard to have faith and put the bad thoughts away, if not forever, than at least so they wouldn’t cause problems for the rest of the evening, but…
By the time he finished getting cleaned up, Dylan had also washed up and was in the family room dressed in khaki shorts and a t-shirt. The stress in Jake’s face was back, and it broke his heart. Dylan sighed, realizing it was going to take more time to make him believe in himself. He had plenty of that, and he let Jake crumple in his arms, wrapping him into a big hug to hold him close and dear. He suddenly thought about the rest of the night and was hit by the decision Jake had already made.
“You aren’t going to stay, are you?”
Jake shook his head in misery. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Your parents aren’t here, and even though they seem to expect this, I still don’t think they would like it. It feels wrong lying to Aunt Pat and Uncle Avery.”
They were excuses, made up justifications to avoid the real reasons he couldn’t stay overnight. Jake wanted to, damn, he longed so much for the courage to just let go and let Dylan in the whole way, but something inside him wouldn’t allow it.
Dylan hid his sigh of disappointment and kissed him just below his ear. “It’s okay, Jake,” he whispered. “I love you, and we have forever to work this out, and the time will come when you won’t be so scared. Don’t worry about it.”
Easier said than done, Jake thought. All he could do was hold on, trembling in Dylan’s arms. He hoped someday he would grow up and that Dylan would wait for him. Nobody could be that patient forever.
(To be continued...)