The Ice-Capades and An Exit Of Sorts, Part 1
Jake lay in bed the next morning listening to the sounds of his aunt’s family moving around downstairs to start their weekend. He felt like shit. No, not sick, not physically. He felt terrible about the night before. How ungratefully he had treated his boyfriend after the trouble he went to setting up their private time together, and then he had fled as if Dylan’s promises meant nothing to him. While he slept he had watched the evening’s events march by like a parade through his dreams, and they had led to some deep soul-searching. Well, that and his research.
After he left Dylan’s, Jake had plugged in his laptop at home to look up online information on sexual maturity, desire and libido. Forget Freud and all that other gobbledygook on the id and ego. That wasn’t what he was hunting for. It took several hours and deep determination to ferret it out, windows open all over the place on his browser as he jumped from website to website, but he found it at last. An EU-funded medical team, made up of various doctors from Denmark, Switzerland and Britain, had conducted a psychological study on adolescents and published some interesting statistics linking their life’s experiences to, uh… timing in bed. Security in childhood equaled fewer issues with sex later on. Not to mention that what Dylan had told him about his orgasm was true. There was nothing unusual about how quickly and easily Dylan had made him cum in his hand. Hell, some virgins didn’t even need for their cocks to be touched at all to send them over the edge. He should be lucky the rest of his body wasn’t so sensitive as to cause such embarrassment.
Some boys lost their virginity all at once. Others lost it in degrees. The first time going down on another guy or having someone suck you off. Letting your lover make love to you or initially topping someone else. His only foray so far had been the night before when a hand besides his own finally stroked his cock to a release that was so amazing he was getting hard again just remembering. Dylan had been so considerate and gentle with him, easing him past his hang-ups in a way that proved how much he loved him, and all Jake did was selfishly bemoan in own inadequacies.
Well, no more! Jake was determined to let loose a little, grow a backbone, and stop whining and allowing his anxieties to dictate his life. He knew one thing; if he didn’t get this under control it was going to rip him and Dylan apart.
He got up and showered, and it wasn’t long before he heard from his boyfriend. Apparently Sage and Kelsey had put their heads together and come up with the idea of ice skating in the afternoon. Noah, pitting the downfalls of angering his girlfriend and going without sex for the next week against appearing weak and led around by the nose in front of his friends, wisely opted for Sage’s plans. The rest of the crew was a little less enthusiastic.
“I don’t know how to skate,” Jake protested. Noah had texted Dylan who messaged Jake, and he’d responded with an urgent reply of “Are you crazy?” So Dylan called him and wasn’t getting much further.
“You mean you never did any kind of inline stuff as a kid?” he asked, surprised.
“The rollerblading craze was before my time, old man,” Jake teased. “I think Marcus wanted to hold a birthday party at a roller rink once when he turned eleven but only because the girl he liked in his fifth grade class was taking figure skating lessons so she could go to the Olympics. Aunt Pat had to explain the difference between the types of skates to him.”
“Ah, come on, baby, I promise I won’t let you fall down. It will be fun. Aren’t you even getting a little tired of surfing?”
“I should wash your mouth out with soap!” Jake exclaimed. “You know the OC isn’t known for its ice skating.”
“Don’t say it,” Dylan groaned, holding the phone away from his ear because he did not want to hear his friends’ oft-repeated mantra about how extraordinary the southern California beaches were.
In the end, Jake chose to not make an issue of the activity and decided it might be fun to have Dylan teach him to skate. Sure, gliding around to music while he struggled to stay upright on an oval of ice sounded like tons of fun. Balancing on a single blade that would just as soon dump him on his ass; oh, he could already hear the laughter. The only part he liked was knowing he would be in Dylan’s arms.
They arrived early for the afternoon session at the Ice Palace in Aliso Viejo, the only rink in the south county and staked a claim on a table near the food court before the middle schoolers took over the place. The Zamboni was still out on the floor, smoothing the icy surface. Since Erin had not returned from Disneyland, Marcus was a little grumpy. He only consented to go because Dylan was forcing it on his cousin. Who, as Jake reminded him so eloquently, said the only reason he was hanging out with the gang was because Marcus had chided him on ignoring them. If skating was compulsory for Jake, then the same was doubly true of him.
Luis, Noah, the twins and Kelsey joined them, having all arrived in one vehicle. Jake couldn’t help but notice that, while most of the group was dressed in jeans and t-shirts and armed with assorted pieces of cold-weather gear to protect their heads and hands, Kelsey was dolled up in tight black leggings, a short pink and black flounced skating skirt and a hot fuchsia, midriff-baring, spangled top with long sleeves. She carried her own ice skates in a zippered bag and threw off a superior air. When no one paid her any undue attention, she pouted.
They paid their skate fees, and Dylan led him to the rental counter where Jake prayed with all his might that they didn’t have a size ten and a half skate that would fit him. Naturally they did, and Jake pulled on the heavy, ugly boots and laced them tightly over the two pair of thick socks Dylan had suggested he bring to protect his feet against blisters.
He tried to make a joke. “I hope you know that the contract I signed with the college for my baseball scholarship probably contains a proviso that makes risky sports like ice skating illegal.”
“Risky sports?” Spencer scoffed loudly, unrolling his tall frame from the bench and flashing a huge smile. He, Dylan and the girls were all balancing on their skates like pros and exuded self-confidence. “What is so risky about skating?”
“Broken ankles,” intoned Marcus. He, Noah and Luis were eyeing each other apprehensively as he ticked off injuries one by one. “Skinned knees, frostbite, concussions, did I leave anything out?”
Noah piped up, “Don’t forget dismembered body parts because some fool didn’t see you laid out flat on the ice and ran…”
“We get the point, Noah,” Spencer said hastily as several others grimaced at the mental pictures.
“It’s not like sky diving, Jake,” this from Dylan. “All you have to do is learn to keep your ankles locked.”
Knowing he couldn’t sit forever and with an assurance he didn’t feel, Jake gingerly stood up for the first time. Instantly his ankles wanted to turn inward, and he felt the ligaments stretching. He winced a little, wondering how he was ever going to navigate around the rink without falling on his face. He heard Kelsey snicker in the background.
One fortunate part was that the skates didn’t slide at all on the floor, and Dylan pointed down at the thick rubberized pads of the food court. “It keeps amateurs like you a little safer so you don’t collide with a table and hurt yourself,” he appeased. He and the Caldwells passed amused looks over their heads.
“Can you imagine it being icy in here and carrying food?” Sage teased, rolling her eyes and dramatically miming a fall backwards with hands full. She giggled at the boys’ horrified facial expressions. “Crash test dummies, ice skating version!"
Noah had some important advice. “Just be careful at the entrance of the food court. People come flying in off the ice.”
“Good to know,” said Luis, pulling on a pair of navy blue gloves.
Kelsey wasn’t looking at anyone but Dylan and the verbal help being given to salve the reticence of most of the men was lost on her. “Dylan,” she purred. “When you get tired of Jake falling on his ass every three seconds, let me know and I’ll go a couple of laps with you. We used to have a great time here two- three years ago, remember?”
“It wasn’t my ideal of the perfect way to spend a day,” Dylan retorted evenly, ignoring the invitation. “But it wasn’t bad.”
“Wasn’t bad?” Kelsey rolled her eyes dramatically. “You used to do all those throws and stuff. It was lots of fun.”
“Throws? As in that figure skating shit?” Marcus’ eyes popped open and he glanced back and forth between his friend and Kelsey, for whom he spared not an ounce of friendship. The words were on the tip of his tongue to ask again precisely when Dylan discovered he was gay, but Jake interrupted him.
“I don’t plan to spend my entire afternoon falling on my ass.”
“Probably not.” The short girl was still gazing at him with a self-satisfied sneer masked in fake pity. “But all the same, some people take to it better than others. Some never do.”
Jake stared back at her and scowled. Oh, just bring it, girl. There was no mystery in why Kelsey wanted to go skating. Her attempts to lure Dylan away from him were so obvious, and he couldn’t believe how nobody else besides Marcus noticed her superficial behavior and simpering smiles. He was not going to put up with Kelsey flirting with his man any longer.
“Come on, let’s get this over with,” he said to Dylan, grabbing his hand and wobbling towards the edge of the ice just as a man on the loudspeaker announced that free skate was commencing.
It took him a good hour and painstaking trips around the ice in the slowest lane with a near tumble or two before Jake began to even feel even somewhat comfortable on his feet. Dylan was thorough in his instructions, showing Jake the basics of skating and making it look easy. It was anything but for the boy who was used to equalizing his weight on more than just a fraction of an inch’s width of metal jutting from the bottom of his foot. Dylan demonstrated how to use the angled ridge on the front of the blade as both a wedge to push into the ice to take off in a line and as a drag to slow him down and stop. Jake was intrigued by the way the edge really was knife-like; he could only go forwards and backwards with not slip to the side unless he cut sharply or picked up his foot and turned it.
Mostly he leaned upon Dylan and clutched at him desperately in the early stages, not that either of them objected. They giggled over his helplessness. Jake gave up any semblance of pride, realizing he had to put his trust in Dylan not to let go and skim away from him, and Dylan enjoyed playing teacher. Truth be told, the older boy lost himself in Jake’s vulnerability and the manner in which he clung to him so he wouldn’t trip. Dylan also savored the small triumphant glances Jake sneaked at him once his ankles adapted to the rigors of balancing on the sharp rims and he could move under his own power without losing his footing.
“You’re getting better at this,” he encouraged his smaller boyfriend, carefully letting go of his waist to take his gloved hand as they circled the floor. “More confident. See, you just need to listen to me when I tell you it will be okay.”
Jake smiled softly, his dimple deepening, knowing this wasn’t just about the skating.
In their insular moments of skating instruction, he had already apologized profusely for acting all emo and running out of the house the night before. Until Dylan tipped his chin up and, with a gentle kiss, told him to stop obsessing over it. There was nothing to forgive; it was the past, over and done with. Dylan didn’t even seem angry.
“Look, I understand, Jake. You are shy, it was a potentially awkward experience, and you didn’t know what the hell you were doing…” Jake turned beet red and shot him a semi-reproachful look, and Dylan hastened to add, “…which is a good thing, because it means I’m there first. I love being the only one to ever touch you like that.”
Jake had allowed Dylan to escort him to one of the far corners of the ice and hold him in his arms quietly. “I just want you to believe that it will get better. Trust me.”
“I do, Dylan, and I know it will.” He looked up the man who meant everything to him, his cheeks rosy with cold, and pecked at the corner of his lips. “I know I overreacted and being so new at this takes patience.”
“I will be patient, baby. Shit, I remember the first time I was with a girlfriend. It was a disaster.”
Jake cleared his throat noisily and shuddered. “Um, Dylan, if you don’t mind, I’d rather not listen to a girl-sex story.”
“Oh sorry, I wasn’t thinking.” Dylan squinted down at him with those azure eyes and a sheepish grin. And then they went back to being instructor and student in a sport neither of them truly wanted to participate in that day.
They went a few more rounds before Dylan used a small loopy jump and his momentum to swing around in front of Jake and glide backwards. He took him by both hands.
Jake stared at him in dismayed awe. “That’s just not right,” he huffed. “Here I can barely stand up in these damned things and you can skate backwards?”
“Jealous?” Dylan joked at his pouting.
“Easily, but this is nowhere near as fun as side-by-side,” Jake was willing to admit. He lowered his eyes coyly and pretended to shiver.
Dylan shook his head in mock-exasperation. “You are such a baby.”
He switched directions again and had gone to grab Jake’s fingers when Kelsey whooshed up from behind to plant her hands at Dylan’s waist and push him ahead of her into the skate lane. Windmilling frantically, it was all Jake could do to maintain his stability and not be knocked to the ice by the sudden change in momentum. Twisting out of her grip, Dylan veered off course with a dark look in the girl’s direction and sprinted back to his side to steady him.
“What the fuck is wrong with her?” Jake spat after taking several deep breaths to calm down. He was warmly nestled in Dylan’s arms with his nose pressed into fragrant woodsy scent of his hoody. “Is she trying to get me killed?”
“No, she’s just being Kelsey.”
Dylan decided the best thing to help Jake get over his scare was a large cup of steaming mocha, and they skated to the edge of the ice and stepped into food court. Noah and Sage joined them, followed soon by Marcus. The kids sat sipping hot drinks and watching the skaters in their colorful jackets, gloves and head coverings float by. With the near-freezing temperatures inside the rink, it was hard to imagine the hot sunshine of a mid-July day outdoors.
Jake was looking through the plexiglas divider and saw a familiar figure in hot pink whirl past on the ice, matching earmuffs holding some of her butt-length brunette hair in place. In that moment Kelsey spied most of the gang inside the food court and came to an almost instant stop, causing at least three other skaters to suddenly swerve around her to avoid a collision. They exclaimed over her lack of skating etiquette before realizing she just didn’t care when she jetted away, leaving them cursing in her wake.
She crossed onto the protective rug just ahead of Spencer and Luis and a few minutes later they were huddled around the table, all talking at once about their skating experiences.
“Dylan, can you teach me how to surf?” Kelsey asked him in a short lull in the conversation.
Everyone turned to stare at her and the voices died away. Jake looked down at the table with a rebellious gleam in his eyes, gripping his empty cup so hard he crushed it. Her callous insensitivity was seriously getting on his nerves.
“No, Kelsey, I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Dylan turned his head away, embarrassed. Why couldn’t she realize that she was never going to get what she wanted from him, and at this point every gesture on her part was not only pushing him away, but the rest of their friends as well?
“I’m done here,” Noah announced, gathering his and Sage’s trash from in front of him. “Let’s go skating.”
The kids were about to flow out when the announcer came on the mike and asked the crowds to clear the floor for couple’s skate. Kelsey slowed and waited for Dylan and Jake to catch up with her.
“Hey Dylan,” she called out to the tall boy with his blonde bangs falling into his mesmerizing eyes. “You haven’t skated with me all afternoon.”
He sighed and shook his head. Walking past her, he entwined Jake’s hand firmly in his. “No, I promised Jake already.”
Kelsey bit her bottom lip in annoyance. Damn it, the whole day was being ruined by Jake. No matter what she did, Dylan would not leave his side, and she was getting tired of playing the game his way. It was time to up the ante.
She twisted a smile on her face and turned to an unwilling Spencer, pulling on his arm. “Come on Spence, let’s go.” He smiled grimly and let her direct him into the weaving mass of couples circling the rink, followed by Noah and Sage. She took off like a shot. “Skate faster,” she yelled at him.
Two laps around the oval, and they were directly behind a slowly gliding and completely unaware Jake and Dylan. Spencer, like Jake, was on the outside, and Dylan and Kelsey held the inner lane. Maybe sensing mischief, Spencer frowned at her maneuvers and tried to slow down, but Kelsey had a mind of her own. Seconds before she struck, he realized what was up and yanked on her hand, hoping to guide her away from them. Instead, it just fueled her own plans where she dropped Spencer’s hand and grabbed hold of Dylan’s free one and pulled. Spencer had no choice but to careen into Jake, and they both went down, followed by a knot of young teenagers who had been right on their tails and couldn’t avoid the boys suddenly sprawled on the ice in front of them. With a victorious smile she flew down the floor with Dylan in tow.
Angrily Dylan threw her grasp of him off and made a fast circle in the middle of the floor to quickly return to Jake. In relief he watched his head pop up. He and Spencer both looked unhurt even though they were sitting among a pile of bodies, all of them tangled up in everyone else’s feet. Jake tried to rise as the other skaters skirted the area. Sage and Noah had zoomed over to help, and Luis and Marcus, who had been watching from the sidelines, joined them.
“I’m sorry,” Spencer was wheezing an apology to Jake as Dylan reached down to give him a helping hand up. “I had no idea what she was doing until it was too late.” Jake’s face was a mask of fury, but he nodded at him to show he forgave him.
“Esa chica es una malvada bruja,” an enraged Luis was rambling at nobody in particular. “Si no mantenerla lejos de Jake y Dylan va a causar más problemas y tal vez incluso conseguir alguien herido.”
Dylan didn’t remember much of his three years of high school Spanish, but some of it translated into Kelsey being an evil witch and causing trouble. He hovered over Jake who swore he was fine although his elbow was bleeding through his hoody. Spencer appeared winded and grabbed at his shoulder in pain, but none the worse, considering what could have happened.
“English, homey, English,” Sage automatically reminded the Hispanic boy with the red-streaked hair.
Luis, still wounded over being the unintended cause of the fight on the beach, was so agitated at the short girl he was sputtering. “I said, if we don’t keep her the fuck away from Jake and Dylan, somebody is going to get hurt.”
Everyone glared at Kelsey as she slid to a stop, her doe eyes wide in false innocence. “I am so sorry,” she lied. “I thought I saw Dylan trip and tried to grab his hand so he wouldn’t fall.”
Nobody believed her. Nobody answered her. Instead, Dylan balefully announced that he, Jake and Marcus were leaving.
Jake stood at his full five foot ten inches and glared down at her, seething. Although he wasn’t showing it, the skating stunt had rattled him because it showed how desperate she was to walk all over him or anyone to get her way. It wasn’t that she was oblivious. She simply didn’t care that she was intruding where she had no right, and it seemed to include stealing Dylan from him if necessary. Well, Dylan wasn’t hers and never would be.
“I have tried to be nice, Kelsey,” he raged caustically. “I have gone out of my way to not piss you off for your sake as well as your friends’. Now, I’m telling you. Keep your fucking hands off my boyfriend.”
“That won’t be a problem anymore,” Sage hissed, looking right at her. “We are so over this.” She looked at the rest of the crew. “Does everyone else want to leave too?” They nodded, and she grabbed Noah’s and Spencer’s hands and stormed past Kelsey to lead them off the ice.
“What?” Kelsey gulped, not understanding why none of them thought her little prank was cute.
“Save it, princess,” Marcus muttered and skated to the food court after them.
“Dylan?” she tried, desire and disbelief tricking her into believing she didn’t see the disgust in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do this,” he stated, twisting to face her as he put a protective arm around his trembling boyfriend. “This is going so far it borders on obsessive. Jake and Spencer are lucky they weren’t badly hurt, and it would have been all your fault.” They turned and left her on the ice alone.
The next morning Dylan woke up at nine to already scorching temperatures in the mid-eighties and climbing humidity. It was guaranteed to be a triple-digit day. If the weathers pattern kept up, they’d be in for some serious thunderstorms by the end of the week. The beaches were going to be packed, and he meant what he said the day before to Jake. He was getting a little bored with surfing and needed to cut back for a week or so. What he really wanted to do was float around the pool with his boyfriend all day, but that was selfish, seeing as how the rest of the gang would be suffering just as much in the heat. So he arranged for everyone to show up at his house to swim. Everyone but Kelsey.
“Don’t worry about her,” Sage told him by cell. She had phoned him after he texted her with the invitation. “What she did yesterday was so over the top. How’s Jake?”
“He was shook up a little, but he’s mostly okay. He scraped his elbow and knee and feels a little sore.” They had eaten an early dinner with the Walkers who were very concerned when Jake told them about the pile-up. “How is Spencer?”
“He has bruises all over him from those kids falling on him. Mom and Dad freaked out when they saw him last night. They said they don’t want Kelsey hanging with us anymore. Luis is right, she doesn’t seem to know when to quit.”
Dylan had to laugh at how the usually-despised parental edicts could be useful for keeping Kelsey out of everyone’s hair. He didn’t care what it took. Kelsey’s jealousy knew no bounds. Jake had explained to him how scary it was that she was taking no responsibility for her outrageous behavior, and it was plain she hated him. Dylan had to agree and promised that he wouldn’t force him to socialize with her in the future.
There were no arguments from anyone else either. Noah brought Sage and Spencer whose shoulder, legs and upper back were blotched with purple-blue contusions. The other four boys looked at the large one between his shoulder blades and declared it was in the shape of a Tweety Bird, big feet and all. “I tawt I taw a puddy tat,” Sage joked of her brother.
So it was that the seven remaining college students had a wonderful afternoon trying to stay cool in the heat, and Dylan’s sister and parents returned from Disneyland to find a house full of guests, and nobody missed Kelsey at all.
Except for Erin.
(To be continued...)