Jealousy, Betrayal and Lies
I turned eighteen in April and became a man, at least in the eyes of the law. With high school graduation nearing and me getting ready to go out into the big, bad world, it certainly felt as if I was leaving my childhood behind. The sense of growing up seemed strange as I contemplated a phase where I would be in charge of my own life. I had two months of school left followed by the summer, but I could see huge changes looming ahead of me. Once Michael left home and went away to college I would have to find a new place to live. It was time to think about getting a job and making distant plans to move out. Michael was anything but pleased with me.
I couldn’t persuade him that this wasn’t about unhappiness over commitment or wanting to ditch him. I loved him so much, but I couldn’t reside in his parents’ home unless he was in it too. Michael refused to understand that it was simply a change in location and I would be here when he came back to Santa Bella for the holidays or the occasional weekend. In fact, it would be better because I’d be living in my own place where we didn’t have to hide how we felt about each other from his family. He could stay with me part of the time if he wanted. Suggesting we make the best of the next four months, I even compromised and delayed my plans to move out until after he left for college. But he wouldn’t listen.
His next suggestion was that I transplant myself to Eureka, the city closest to CSU Humboldt, but I didn’t think that was a good idea either. It was an unfamiliar area, and I couldn’t stay in the dorms with Michael because I wasn’t a student there. As a freshman, his dorm residence was required, so how did he expect us to spend any time together? Hey, I didn’t make the rules. In this argument, he had no leg to stand on, but instead of agreeing with me and moving on, he took it personally. Reminding him that he was the one who chose such a distant university hurt his feelings and only made things worse so I kept my mouth shut.
I knew his biggest fear was how we were going to maintain our relationship from one end of the state to the other. Nobody said it would be easy, but if you discounted the miles, ours wasn’t going to change. It wasn’t like we would stop loving each other. There was still text messaging and Skype. Maybe our sex life would suffer a bit, but as long as we were faithful to each other, did it matter what my address was? But to listen to Michael you would think he was moving to butt fucking Egypt and we’d never see each other again.
I’ll tell you, it got tense. He took everything I said personally and I couldn’t cheer him up. No matter how much I cajoled and promised, despite pointing out that lots of high school seniors would be facing the same dilemma by leaving boyfriends and girlfriends behind in the fall, he decided to turn this into a huge ass debate, hoping he could wear me down. He refused to grasp that I needed this; I had to learn to deal with life on my own. His spoiled self-centeredness was starting to grate on my nerves. There are times when you just don’t get your own way.
In spite of everything, though, I was so in love with Michael it was scary. And he loved me.
Over the spring my self-confidence had increased, and I could honestly pinpoint Michael’s belief in me as the impetus. He made me feel as if I could do anything. With my growth spurt and the adult changes my body was undergoing, it seemed as if I was getting bullied less at school, much to my relief. Lamont Shores and his cronies could just stick it. In fact, even the taunting I still received bothered me a lot less, and usually I simply shut it out and went my own way.
I couldn’t even begin to express my appreciation to the Capshaws for their help. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without Michael when my mother died. I would have either had to drop out of high school to support myself or been shuttled off to some teenage shelter… if I was lucky. There are other ways for boys my age to get by, especially with my looks and body type, and the idea of letting myself be being pimped out made me sick to my stomach. In my eyes, Donna and Robert had saved my life. I could tell they truly wanted the best for me as if I was their own child, more than my own mother had ever put herself out for me.
I had begun weekly counseling sessions soon after her death. My therapist’s name was Zeke Carter, and he was about forty-four years old with a very tall, thin build and prematurely graying hair. However, his face was youthful, and he gave off a sincere, trustworthy demeanor, probably a necessity in his profession. I had told him everything about my childhood— being abandoned by my father at age six, my mother’s codependence and narcissism and the abuse I’d received in my youth, including the molest and rape.
We spent long hours talking about bullying, my self-consciousness and why I was targeted so much at school, and it didn’t take a genius to see that I was predisposed to verbal abuse because of my traumatic past. The subject of dating came up and, and I told Zeke I wasn’t interested. When he pressed the issue, I said I was too shy so I wasn’t appealing to most girls. Besides, achieving good grades at school kept me too busy to get involved with anyone. I didn’t care whether he believed me or not. I had no intention of discussing my homosexuality or my boyfriend. He asked me about friends and seemed concerned when I told him that Michael was my best and only.
He was my happiness. Best friend, lover, brother. It sounds corny, but we really completed each other in every way. Sometimes it was a challenge because, with as much love-making as went on behind our locked doors, the longing stares and whispered endearments we shared outside the bedroom often seemed like we were shouting “I love you” in front of his parents. I truthfully don’t know how we kept it a secret from them. Michael was so deathly afraid of them finding out he was gay, even more of them learning of our love for each other, and yet, they never caught on. Doing chores together often meant finding swift, reckless moments to kiss and wild dashes upstairs when the task was complete. I sincerely felt as if I could get by without food or sleep as long as Michael held me in his arms at night.
Love-making between us was always intense and satisfying. He was constantly horny, a living, breathing sex machine. We would be driving home from school and, like clockwork, his dick would begin to harden in his pants making me fantasize over where it would lead. Walking through the door of the house, we would shed the stresses of the day to meld into each other like liquid fuel, kissing, sucking and teasing, as our passion ignited. Giving a whole new meaning to the term lip-service, he’d slide his mouth over my body, working my erect nipples, playing with my balls, teasing my cock by pulling down my jeans with his teeth to lick my inner thighs.
Groaning incoherently, clothes flying everywhere, we’d adjourn to the bedroom for some fervent thrusting against each other. The friction of our cocks, hard and slick with precum, always brought us to out-of-control orgasms, and then we would lie together afterwards, spent and tired and making plans for our future together. Mutual 69-ing was even better, and nowhere did my cock feel more at home than in Michael’s mouth as my cum coated his tongue in streams and I shuddered in ecstasy. I loved his rigid shaft just as much, loved his cream spurting across my taste buds and we joked about our high-protein diets. We were soulmates in every sense of the word. I could easily see us doing this together for the rest of our lives.
I loved waking Michael up in the middle of the night to find my lips encircling his rigid dick. I was getting good at blowjobs, and I would tease him by licking his balls and suckling them tenderly in my mouth. I would gently teeth his pole, then switch it up and strongly suck as I almost pulled off him, swirling my tongue against the flared ridge of his knob and dipping it into the hole. He would cum hard within a matter of minutes and would cry out so loudly he’d have to stuff a pillow in his mouth. With his parents right down the hall, they must have been very heavy sleepers to not hear us. It was a shame he couldn't tell them the truth about being gay, but I could see his point in not wanting them to know we were sharing his bed. I never wanted to give up sharing his bed.
My absolute hottest fantasy was getting fucked by Michael. After the way we had celebrated my mother’s birthday in March when I gave him my virginity, I couldn’t get enough of his dick in my ass. He really was an expert at getting me loosened up and open, and oh god, when he rimmed my hole with his talented tongue, I was in seventh heaven. As small a muscle as it was, it brought out the slut in me, and Michael loved making me beg. I thought his cock was the perfect size, a medium-width seven and a half inches of curved silky steel, and he’d drive into me and keep me on the edge for half an hour until I begged for release.
We had a monogamous relationship that I would have staked my life on, so we always barebacked, flesh on flesh, nothing between us. The magnificence of Michael cumming deep inside me, the way he released his hot seed way up into my gut, had no match. We would lay naked in bed face to face, his cock tethered within me, my convulsing staff wedged between our bellies. Writhing and stuck together with cum and sweat, we would cling to each other and moan in rapture. Nothing else mattered but us.
It wasn’t too long after our first time that the love-making Michael and I shared almost came down around our ears. Our region was going through a hot, dry spell, known locally as a Santa Ana when the fierce desert winds howl in over the mountains. It was a Saturday; the temperature had been in the high nineties for three days straight, and Michael and I had shucked our shirts off as we did chores outside. I was sweaty from mowing the front lawn when his mom, Donna, came out with cold Pepsis for us to quench our thirst. She smiled at me and then gave me a startled double-take, but I was distracted and thought nothing of it at first.
Almost immediately, Mr. Capshaw- Robert- was out in the front yard with us, gazing at me with an amused, slightly uncomfortable half-smile on his face. Michael was, by now, curious enough to stop washing his Nissan and sauntered over to find out what was up with the scrutiny.
“Say Dax,” Dad began, clearing his throat, “would you like to explain the bruise on your shoulder?”
I colored slightly and glanced over at the so-called bruise, already knowing what I would see. It was one of the frequent love bites, complete with almost-invisible teeth marks, Michael had given me, this one from an episode of ecstatic fucking the afternoon before. Placed intentionally in that not-often-viewed spot a couple inches above my armpit, the idea was that a shirt would hide it from prying eyes. But I had forgotten all about it in the heat of the afternoon, and there was no denying it now.
“Uh, it’s just a hickey… sir.” I tried to look innocent and not blush, but my mind was whirling. I hoped I wouldn’t be called on to answer a ton of questions that could lead to Michael and me getting in trouble.
“Just a hickey,” Robert murmured, and I froze. “Where and when? Or maybe I should say, when and who?”
I felt like a deer in the headlights over the third degree. Michael was standing behind his father, and his face was pale and going whiter. He was making frantic hand motions that I only saw vaguely out of my peripheral vision because I was afraid if I stared directly at him, he would catch his father’s notice. However, I had no intention of telling the full truth.
My hand came up to wipe sweat off my neck in an awkward pause, and I hemmed and hawed for a moment. “It’s no big deal. I was making out with a classmate yesterday afternoon.” Which was more or less the truth.
Dad took a deep breath. “Finish mowing Dax, get cleaned up and then come find me.”
He went back inside the house, and Michael suddenly erupted in laughter. “Oh god, Dax, I think you’re going to get The Talk. Condoms and STDs and respect, oh my! Welcome to the family.”
I could find nothing funny in it. “Thanks for your vote of confidence, asshole. And what if he starts asking more questions and I accidentally say something so he finds out about us?”
“You probably shouldn’t worry.” His humor refused to dampen. “If I know Dad, he won’t be asking questions, he’ll be telling you to keep it in your pants and be careful.”
That’s pretty much what happened. I blushed my way through the embarrassing lecture but Robert respected my privacy so I didn’t have to give up any additional information. I left him satisfied that I wasn’t going to impregnate some innocent high school girl or catch something contagious. But I berated Michael at bedtime that night for being so careless and tried unsuccessfully to keep him from marking me again. He just laughed as he took my cock into his mouth, and then I stopped complaining because I suddenly had nothing worth bitching and moaning about… except the bliss of cumming in his mouth.
The first week of May we were striding out to Michael’s car in the parking lot after school when I felt him tense up next to me. My eyes traveled in the direction of his angry gaze, and I saw this striking, slender black-haired boy lounging against Michael’s Nissan. “Who is that?” I asked, my eyes going wide in awe. I felt a subtle sense of danger here.
In answer, Michael grabbed my hand firmly and interlaced his fingers with mine. I tried to pull away, but his grasp was firm, and I was shocked at the sudden unrequested familiarity. Half the student body was making its way to the parking lot at the same time as us, and he was holding my hand right in front of them.
For the past four months, we had kept our relationship on the down-low at school at my request. Michael knew, because of the taunts and threats I encountered every day, that I wasn’t emotionally ready to out myself and reveal that I was gay. I already put up with enough innuendo, and I didn’t want more abuse. And now, with him pushing our relationship into the limelight, it was all I could do to make my legs move toward his car. I could hear snickers around us; more than a few noticed us holding hands, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach over the undoing of our secret.
With one careless move, I was now out. Abso-fucking-lutely shit! Shit!
“Who is he?” I asked again, feeling anxious and unsettled. For Michael to be thrown off so much that he forgot his promise to me, there must be a lot of control in this tall stranger over him. I hung back in deep worry and mistrust, feeling a chill stealing over me that no amount of self-confidence would warm.
“Isaac Cramer,” Michael huffed angrily, marching with measured steps and pulling me along. “My ex-lover who dumped me right before you moved to Santa Bella.”
I knew him by name. Michael had been very honest and forthcoming about his former boyfriends. All of them were short-term, innocuous little flings, good for nothing but kissing and some exploratory touching. All but Isaac.
He was the last boyfriend before me and a prime-grade-A user and player. An elite class unto himself, gorgeous in a predatory way and overly domineering, Isaac had kept Michael strung out in an emotional limbo for months. My beloved had fallen head over heels for the guy and was constantly at his beck and call, and the more Isaac mistreated him, the more Michael was willing to do to keep him. Often that meant submitting to verbal abuse and demeaning himself for the older kid. They were together for nine drama-filled months, and in the end it didn’t matter; Isaac disposed of him for someone else and completely cut the ties.
We pulled even with the car, and I tried to remember everything Michael had ever mentioned about Isaac who was openly frowning at me in suspicion. “Hi, honey,” he said to my boyfriend in a smooth, falsely-light voice that dripped with curiosity but didn’t hide his jealousy towards me. “Why don’t you introduce us?”
I flinched when I felt Michael’s arm go around my shoulders, positive that the affectionate display was simply for the new boy’s benefit. As for me, this was getting worse by the second. More than simply holding my hand; it seemed as if my back was being stared at by the whole school. Outright laughter bubbled up behind us, someone yelled “Ha-ha, Stephenson’s queer”, and I smoldered inside at Michael’s betrayal. But there was no way to loosen his hold on me, and finally I resigned myself to just standing still and accepting it.
“This is Dax Stephenson, my boyfriend,” Michael stated firmly, smiling warmly at me. I had to give it to him; he looked proud of me, and I knew it wasn’t an act. The light shining out of his golden eyes when he gazed at me and the firm grip on my shoulder spoke volumes of the esteem he held me in. I almost expected him to kiss me, but thankfully he refrained. That would’ve been too much for me.
I smiled and muttered a ‘hi’ as Isaac turned to inspect me, but he didn’t return the greeting. He had a firm jaw and cold, light blue eyes to go with the jet-black hair, subtle features and a slender but toned body. He gave me a lazy, dismissive glance and then focused all his attention on Michael.
“I just got back from college freshman year,” he addressed him with a sultry smile. “You would not believe how much I missed you up there.”
“Oh?” Michael asked skeptically. “Probably about as much as you missed me the last five months of high school last year after you ditched me, Isaac, and then refused to tell me why. Or when you started fucking Cesar Trevino the day after we broke up. Or how about all last summer when you blocked my cell phone number?”
Wait a minute. I thought Michael said he fell in love with me that February, so why was he still going after his ex in June? You know, on second thought I didn’t even want to hear the reason, I just wanted to get away from this kid. But I was also curious about him. I could vaguely hear Isaac making up some lame-ass excuse about splitting up that he hoped would pacify Michael even though I wasn’t paying attention. I would have been better off listening, but that came later.
“Where do you go to school,” I asked politely, feeling left out and trying to insert myself in the conversation.
“Humboldt,” he answered nasally, giving me an impassive glance as if my question was more of a bother than anything else. “You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s in…”
“Eureka,” I finished, turning to stare at my boyfriend. “Where Michael is going next year.”
Oh my god! Of all places he could have possibly chosen to attend college next semester, why was he going to Humboldt? Where Isaac was? Before I could digest the coincidence of his choice of schools, I heard Isaac’s happy cheer.
“Really, Michael? I know we talked about it when I was a senior but I thought you would change your mind.”
With that, Isaac began the subtle innuendos about how much he regretted what he’d done to Michael the year before and how happy he would be to see him at his alma mater the following fall. It all seemed manipulative and self-serving, but I was picking up a definite vibe of lament that my lover seemed to be actually listening to. I kept waiting for him to scoff at his deceit or just walk away, but he didn’t.
I was so incredibly hurt that Michael would even think of applying to a university where this intruder studied that at that point I shut them both out. Why hadn’t he told me Isaac went to school there? Was he hiding it on purpose because he secretly wanted to see Isaac again and hoped he would get away without me knowing? Was he really over this asshole as much as he said he was? Or was I just the convenient temporary boyfriend, a placeholder, someone to fuck until he could go to Humboldt and hook back up with Isaac?
I could hear them discussing other subjects now, mostly about ‘old times’ I hadn’t been part of. They chatted for twenty minutes and then Isaac left. We got in the car and drove home.
“So, Isaac goes to Humboldt too?” I asked nonchalantly.
“Yeah, we talked about it at the beginning of his senior year when I was a junior,” he answered like it was no bid deal. “I forget what he’s majoring in, but he said Humboldt was a really good university for it. Then I didn’t even think about it until now. When it was time for me to apply, Humboldt just seemed to stick in my head.” He laughed. “Maybe it’s like ESP.”
I didn’t know what was so funny. Either Michael had totally missed the hungry looks Isaac was throwing his way combined with the spiteful glances in my direction or he wasn’t taking this seriously enough. He looked amused more than anything. I didn’t say another word to him, but my mind was stretching out in lots of directions. I was so upset I shut myself up in my room for most of the night, and for once I didn’t have to negotiate with Michael for time when I pleaded a heavy homework load.
However, I couldn’t focus on my homework. All I could think about was Isaac and the power he wielded that could cause serious damage to our relationship if my boy let him. More than anything I was reading a new excitement in Michael I couldn’t describe. I tried to keep the jealousy at bay and not let my imagination drift, but the ex’s sudden appearance and obvious desire for Michael scared me. If I allowed my imagination to string it out to the far end of the spectrum, I saw big trouble on the horizon.
The fallout from Michael’s brief show of affection was swift and cruel. The anti-gay rhetoric I’d received from people like Lamont Shores was bad enough, but now Michael had supplied the proof of it. I was suddenly finding myself violently steered into walls and lockers or tripped by somebody running past me. It seemed everyone was snickering at me. I had bruises all over me from hard nudges by elbows. I couldn’t turn my back on my stuff for even a second without someone dumping a drink on it.
Why I was such a target more than the other gays and lesbians at the high school I couldn’t fathom. I knew of at least twelve others, including two dating couples, at Santa Bella High who didn’t get hated on the way I did. I had to assume it was about my bashful manner, body shape and naiveté, and I fumed in outrage at Michael.
Michael did look contrite over it even though his apology was a far cry from the explanation I needed. “I’m sorry, Dax,” he said sincerely when I asked why he grabbed my hand. “I wasn’t thinking.” How could he not be thinking when I had drummed into his head for almost four months how important it was not to show me affection at school?
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Isaac began showing up at the end of class almost every afternoon to wait for us. He flirted overtly with my boyfriend, his aim seemingly to wrestle Michael away from me.
“Hey, honey,” he’d say, and Michael just stood there, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“His name is ‘Michael’,” I amended, hoping ‘honey’ would back me up.
“It’s just a nickname,” Isaac taunted. “Don’t be so up in my shit over it.”
I glared at him, but when I looked at my boyfriend he was smirking as if he was getting some kind of pleasure out of us fighting over him.
Whatever Isaac’s aim, it didn’t appear to be working. At home, away from him, Michael was as loving as ever. We had less time after school now that we had to stand in the school parking lot every afternoon until Isaac got tired of talking because Michael refused to be the first to depart. I was tense and hated myself for it, watching to see if I had any cause for alarm. Isaac made me so jealous I couldn’t stand it.
Isaac just wouldn’t give up. Maybe not with the words I wanted to hear, like ‘leave us alone’ and ‘go away’, my man tried to make it clear that we were committed to each other and he was in love with me. Isaac would mouth artificial platitudes and give me nasty looks behind Michael’s back. He all but ignored me and was very rude, but Michael didn’t so much as reprimand him. He didn’t even seem to notice.
I got tired of the lovey-dovey looks and discussions of times past which didn’t include me and finally resorted to going alone to the car while they talked. Michael sometimes invited him back to the house with us for snacks and video games, giving us even less time together, and I felt the definite intrusion into our little nest. Or we’d meet after school to go out for some treat or entertainment, meaning more of a chance for Isaac to be rude to me and flirt with Michael. I hated it, despised the intrusion and Isaac’s insincerity. I could feel his envy and fury surrounding us, choking me, as he made fun, criticized or glared at me with silent dislike.
I valiantly tried to talk to Michael two weeks after we met. “Can’t you see how much he hates me?”
“Just give him a chance, babe,” Michael pleaded. “Isaac doesn’t make friends easily.”
“Really, Michael?” I said sarcastically. “Because his superior attitude and the way he pretends I’m not there makes him so lovable.”
I laughed harshly. “Are you fucking listening to yourself? Obviously you’ve forgotten what an asshole he was to you during your junior year, or you wouldn’t be defending him.”
“I’m not defending him,” Michael said, starting to get angry. “You’re just…”
“What? I’m what? Envious of the time you too spend reminiscing and blocking me out? Scared of how you let him control you? Yeah, I am, because you don’t see the menace he is to our commitment. I’m sorry you don’t want to look at the truth, but he’s insidious and desperate.”
“Oh come on, Dax. Don’t you think that’s a little over-the-top dramatic?” He tried to take me in his arms, but I wasn’t buying it and skipped away to avoid the kiss.
“Just don’t be surprised,” I warned darkly, “if he ups his game.”
But Michael wouldn’t listen.
Three weeks after meeting Isaac for the first time, Michael did something completely out of the norm. For six solid months we had been going everywhere together, almost never apart. But on that Tuesday he dropped me off at the house and just drove away. I didn’t see him again for over two hours. I called him on his cell, and it went directly to voicemail. He didn’t answer my texts. By that point I was talking to myself, trying to say it was nothing to be upset about but not really believing it. The one and only inconsistency in the whole equation was Isaac, and I wanted to kick myself for even going there. I paced out my anxiety in the family room.
At five o’clock Michael came home and practically knocked me down when he found me in the kitchen getting a glass of juice. There was a scent on him I didn’t recognize immediately, and my concern amplified over what would make him smell that different. He was so horny, pushing me up against the counter as he caught me up in a hard embrace of deep kisses that left me breathless and moaning. His lips were all over me, his tongue violently sucking on mine and raping my mouth. He possessively marked a tender spot on my neck near my shoulder even as I tried to protect myself from his teeth. He had promised and, like the held hands at school, what I wanted didn’t matter.
Michael had me trapped in the corner, kissing me in distraction with little groans and whimpers. He slid his hands under my clothes to touch me so wantonly that he had me aroused in no time. Stripping off my t-shirt he sucked on my nipples until they were hard, red and over-sensitive. I strained for more of his mouth and hands on me and let him cup my ass to pull me firmly into his erection so he could thrust. My knees went weak, and I could barely stand, only holding myself up by the pressure of his tight body against me.
He begged me to go to bed with him, his eyes wild with lust. Part of the domination was really turning me on, but I was also getting scared. Not of him, but of the circumstances behind his behavior. I mean, there had never been anything routine about our love-making, and I was used to him being assertive during sex. But this felt entirely different, as if Michael was using me more like a fuck toy than a person. His jumpiness was spinning my brain out of control into violent thoughts, and to cool him down I gave in to his wishes.
Kissing all the way upstairs, Michael crashed me backwards through his bedroom door and pushed me down on the sheets. He barely took time to lock the door behind us and began yanking off our clothes. Once he got me naked, he was all over me, groaning as if in pain. My cock was already erect, but he was fisting me anyway.
“Michael, bro, slow down,” I urged.
“I can’t,” he panted and took my mouth again so frantically it left me dizzy and my lips feeling bruised. “Dax, oh shit, Dax, I need you so much.”
My cock throbbed with arousal, wanting relief almost as much as he did, but Michael’s agitation was starting to creep me out. Bad omens flooded me with fear because his mother was due back from her real estate office in about twenty minutes, and we had a list of self-imposed rules we used to prevent discovery of our sex life. One of them was no fooling around so late in the day because it was too close to his parents’ arrival home after work, and for the first time he just was flouting it as if he didn’t care.
This was taking on a surreal quality. I wondered if Michael was smoking bud. It was hard to believe because he was usually so anti-drug, but it would definitely explain the horniness. My mouth went dry when I recognized it as part of the scent on his clothes, and I knew he was high. Shit!
Hopelessly trying to find any excuse that didn’t include the name ‘Isaac’ attached to it, jealousy was rearing up strongly inside me. If Michael had gone to see him, and I was almost certain he had, why not take me? True, Isaac hated me, but if it was an innocent visit, Michael would have insisted.
Michael continued to twist on the bed next to me. “Suck me off, Dax, please.” His eyes were black and huge in desperation. He straddled my chest and thrust his dick in my face. He tried to force me to take him, and I resolutely shoved him away.
“Stop it,” I yelled, rolling out from under him to move to the corner of the bed. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I need you, babe,” he panted, his hands reaching out to me, his eyes like slits. “Please Dax, I’m so hard it hurts.”
The weird vibes he was radiating were fucking with my emotions. Visions of Michael and Isaac together were coalescing in my mind, curling around my guts like a viper, and I tried to push them away. What the hell had gone on to drive Michael into this kind of risky, irrational frenzy where I couldn’t even talk sense into him? I had always had the ability to calm him down before.
“I wanna fuck you so bad,” Michael moaned. He was laying on the bed next to me, his cock hard as steel and pulsing with his heartbeat, and I could see the visible effort it took for him to refrain from jacking off. He kept pulling at himself.
Needing answers, I suddenly wanted to rage at him and beg him to tell me what was wrong. But aside from the weed, part of me already knew. The other scent on him was Isaac. It was so damn difficult not to jump to conclusions when it meant questioning whether he had been faithful to me, especially because I was almost certain what I would hear. My doubts had finally found a way to the surface, and it was like a rug was being pulled out from under me. There in my mind was the image of them meeting up to have sex.
“Yeah, okay,” I replied. “I guess I need to be fucked.” I put emphasis on the last word, knowing with dead certainty that he already had.
Michael wasn’t paying attention and immediately went to the drawer we kept our supplies in and I all but gasped. We had our own rituals… things we always did no matter what. Hugs, kissing, foreplay… he didn’t bother with any of frantic touches and fulfilling strokes that aroused us both. Another red flag! I went to tweak his nipple and he slapped my hand away.
“Don’t you want me to touch you?” I whispered, wishing I could cry. Tipping, tipping, my whole world felt like it was falling off its axis. The more disjointed Michael acted, the more my loss and betrayal wanted to boil over.
He shook his head miserably. “Not now. I feel like my balls are going to burst.”
He reached for the lube in the nightstand, and I saw the condoms scattered underneath.
In all our time together we never used protection. I trusted Michael, but suspicion gnawed at my gut. I could not tear my eyes away from the foil packages as he grabbed the tube of KY and began to shut the drawer. “Get a condom,” I said, my heart aching. My voice hitched regretfully in my throat.
Michael eyes swiveled to mine. “Dax, I…” He tried to fake confusion, then brotherly confidence. “You know we don’t need…”
But it wouldn’t play. I glared at him and did not back down. “Get a condom, Michael.”
“I didn’t, Dax, please believe me.”
He had my full attention now. In six words he had confirmed my fears, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’d spent the afternoon fucking Isaac. Jumping directly through my unasked questions into a half-hearted denial, his mouth opened again without a sound once he understood the enormity of his words. We stared in horror at each other across the bed, his blushing face reflecting all the guilty, sorrowful confessions he couldn't make. The lengthening silence was all I needed to confirm the worst. My heart clenched in pain such as I’d never felt, knowing that he and Isaac had screwed me over.
“You let him… Why?” I pleaded, tears flooding my eyes as I jumped up off the bed. “Fuck you. I love you, do you know that? You’re my whole world, Michael.” I hastily grabbed my clothes, pacing, my hands tearing through my hair in frustration and the most god-awful pain. “I can’t… shit… believe you… you fucked us up… shit. With that asshole of all people! Fuck you!”
His face was scarlet but he didn’t say a word. He wouldn’t even look at me. He just shook his head mutely.
I was full-on crying now, my tears dripping down my neck, and I could barely breathe. My voice rose to a froggy squeak. “You said together forever, you cheating bastard. Don’t just sit there. Answer me, and tell me the fuck why!”
He lay on the bed in his beautiful naked glory, his shrinking erection mocking me, his eyes imploring me to understand. I didn’t want to understand. I wanted to make the last three hours go away. “Fuck you, Michael! Go to hell!” I turned on my heel and walked out of his room, slamming both bathroom doors on the way.
Michael didn’t come after me. I dressed quickly and threw myself down on my bed to vent the pain and loss in sobs that burst out of me unheeded. Rage, anguish and terror of the unknown future flooded my senses. For seven months he had been my best friend and protector. We had been lovers for four. Michael, why? My body longed for him to comfort me, but the thinking part didn’t want to ever be with him again, and my skin crawled at the thought of his touch.
I don’t know how long I cried. Donna knocked on my bedroom door to say dinner was ready, and I told her I wasn’t hungry, my lingering lack of explanation begging her to just go away. The room darkened, and I took small comfort in it, memories of Michael and me jumping through my thoughts. He left me alone and didn’t attempt entry, didn’t even text me, and I used it as further proof that I had ceased to matter to him.
At some point I reached a decision that I couldn’t stay there. I got up at around eight o’clock and quietly let myself out of the house to go for a long walk. I didn’t even know the route I was following, I let my feet take me through unfamiliar neighborhoods into places in Santa Bella I’d never been. I cried so hard I often couldn’t even see in front of me. I could hear my cell phone finally begin chiming with text messages, and I ignored them. I just drifted.
My blind wanderings brought me to a distant street where the houses were old, tiny and a bit rundown. I was pretty much lost. Three teenagers were shooting hoops on a cracked driveway, and I recognized them as half of Lamont Shores’ gang at the same time they identified me. Not Lamont himself, but three of his buddies, all linebackers on the football team. This gang was my life’s nightmare, homophobic to the hilt, and always on the lookout for a way to get me alone so they could teach me a lesson. The boys sized me up immediately- by myself and in unfamiliar territory. My shitty day just went from bad to infinitely worse.
“Hey, faggot! Come here,” one of them sneered, eying me with interest. I came to a dead stop twenty feet away.
“We told you to move it, cocksucker,” taunted the tallest of the three when I made it plain I wouldn’t join them.
No way was I going to obey. It wasn’t a beating I feared. I’d heard too much about being literally choked giving forced blowjobs, let alone the possibility of rape. I wouldn’t put anything past Lamont’s friends.
The three of them, all well over six feet and built like brick walls, advanced on me. I looked around in the dark, and the street was empty except for them and me. Nobody to come to my aid, and nothing to protect myself with. My only chance was to run.
My heart in my throat, I tore into the nearest yard and around the side through shrubbery. There was a five-foot gate, but I wasted no time to see if it was unlocked. Lamont’s friends were right behind. I pulled myself up and started to draw my feet forward to sail over it, hands on top of the warping wood, when one of them touched my ankle. I drew my knee back and kicked out, catching him in the cheek. He let go with an angry oath and the crunch of bone and I scrambled. Suddenly I was free and clear, separated by the thin wooden entry.
I didn’t stay around to see if they followed and took off. Not even paying attention to where I was going, listening as the ruckus awakened every dog in the vicinity to a cacophony of barking, I sprinted through the back yard. I vaulted over the wall into another enclosure, and then a second gate brought me out to a new street. Lamont’s friends might have been big and strong, but they weren’t fast, and after hurtling a second set of yards, I felt I was safe. My t-shirt hem and the knee of my jeans were torn, I had a nasty cut on the back of one hand from a loose nail and splinters in my palms. A stitch in my side from running so fast caused me to curl over in pain and pant heavily, but by holding up a little, it managed to work itself out. I was really none the worse all considering and thought myself lucky.
I tried to get my bearings but I was completely turned around. It was 11:45, nearly two hours past curfew, and I finally resorted to using my cell phone to call Robert Capshaw, Michael’s father. Fifteen minutes later he picked me up, his face a mask of surprise. “Hey, Dax, what are you doing all the way out here?”
As joined at the hip as his son and I were, I’m sure he had all sorts of questions about why I was out so late by myself and why I called him instead of Michael. All I could do was shake my head and mumble a wretched, “Sorry.”
Bleak memories of my fucked up afternoon compounded by visions of Michael’s face and my near-disastrous confrontation with the gang collided with exhaustion, and I huddled in the car seat and began to sob. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I completely broke down on the way home, much to Robert’s distress. Even though he kept asking me what was wrong, I couldn’t even begin to clarify all that had ruined my day- ruined my life- except to say I’d run into bullies from school. I wouldn’t discuss the details.
Michael was pacing the family room floor when I walked in, and his eyes brightened in relief at the sight of me, then went wide when he caught sight of my torn clothes and disheveled appearance. “Dax, where have you…”
My glare sent him a challenge to back off and I went directly to my room without a word to anyone. Donna knocked and offered food, but I was too tired to eat and just wanted to climb into bed. I needed to sleep and try to forget.
Michael entered behind me without asking, and I seethed in resentment when I felt his presence. The absolute last thing I needed was a protracted discussion where I’d have to listen to him defend himself and I would have to find my own excuses for running away.
“Get out,” I said in a tightly controlled voice. I walked into the bathroom looking for tweezers so I could remove the slivers from my hands.
“Where did you go?” Michael inquired anxiously when I returned. “You scared Mom and Dad… and me.”
I decided to ignore that last, and my tone was icy. “It’s none of your damned business anymore what I do.”
“Please listen, Dax,” Michael begged, jumping on the topic I expected him to broach. “I’m really sorry about today, but this is just a big misunderstanding.”
I regarded him scathingly. “A misunderstanding, huh? Isaac’s been back in town for what- three weeks? And for the first time ever, you just drop me off at home and disappear all afternoon. Once you finally come back, you smell like weed and him and you start going all bat-shit sex-crazy. So tell me what’s to misunderstand!”
I could see it in Michael’s eyes; that he instantly knew I’d already figured every single element out on my own. But that didn’t stop him from trying to justify. “I didn’t…”
I gazed at him as tears filled my eyes again. How much did I have to cry before they stopped on their own? “Yeah you did, bro. I warned you about Isaac. I told you he was trying to break us up, but you just wanted to bury your head in the sand.”
Michael looked as if he was going to cry too. “It isn’t what you think.”
I stared at him in shock, wondering just how stupid he thought I was. My voice rose. “Oh no? It isn’t what I think? You fucked Isaac. Or you let him fuck you.”
Panic flew into Michael’s face. “Ssshhh! Mom and Dad…”
My face scrunched up in disbelief, and I struggled not to throttle him. “Don’t you dare tell me to shut the hell up! I’m not the one who cheated on us and fucked me over; you are. Why don’t you just save your lies for some other misguided fool like Isaac! Let him try to make you happy because I certainly didn't.”
Michael stared at me for a good half-minute, silent for a change. At last: “I’m sorry, Dax.”
It was too much, and I again felt the emotion rising inside. I put my hand up to ward off his apology. “Sorry! How does that change anything between us? It’s just a word the losers say to get out of trouble.” I had to take several deep breaths to calm down enough so I wouldn’t pound him into the floor.
“Answer me one thing, Michael. Did you ever once, the whole time you were with him, think about me and how much I loved you? Or remember that in order to love someone you have to be able to trust him? You destroyed that for us.”
This time Michael said nothing and just stared at me. I could hardly talk, the hurt was so bad. “Just go away.”
I waited until I heard the door close before going back to work on my hands. It’s nearly impossible to see splinters when your eyes are full of tears, and half an hour later I was still trying to extract the small, nearly invisible pieces of wood. I gave up, throwing the tweezers against the wall. I showered, locking the connecting door to Michael’s bedroom, and then stripped down for bed. The loneliness and pain inside was aching and intense, the hopelessness just as bad, and it took a long time to fall asleep.
I dreamed of Michael that night. I was sucking his cock, and no matter what I did I couldn’t make him cum. He and Isaac were laughing at me, and then they were joined by Lamont’s gang to call me names and throw things and chase me. I was running and running with nowhere to hide. I awoke in a cold sweat, not knowing where I was. Since January I had only slept in my bed twice- I had the flu- and it felt alien. And then of course, I started to cry again.
The next day in school I was dragging myself to fourth period when I heard the word ‘faggot’ spoken quietly off to my left. I looked over, and it was one of the gang who had pursued me the night before. I have been called names like this for years, I’m used to the epithets and tags, and I don’t let them wear on me.
But at that moment, something broke inside of me. All I could think of was that this was Michael’s fault. He had managed to ruin so much between us by putting his hand in mine that afternoon in the parking lot, his arm around my shoulders for the world to see and despise. And finally, deceiving me to hook up with Isaac. I decided then and there that I was tired of the jokes and labels.
I charged him. I just dropped my backpack and ran at him, catching this beefy six-foot-two slab of muscle at the shoulders and driving him into the lockers with a roar. He was, of course, bigger than me, but I had added pounds, inches and power in the past couple of months and was no longer a wimpy, scared lightweight. Besides, I had the element of surprise and his momentum on my side. I banged his head sharply against the locker door before my fist plowed into his face. He returned with a hard punch to my midsection that nearly dropped me, but then other students began to pull us apart. I was gasping for air and glaring at him, and he was spurting blood and calling me every foul name in the book.
We both got sent to the vice-principal’s office to explain ourselves. Of course, he made up some bullshit lie about how I was some psycho fag, which wasn’t the smartest thing to say to an administrator. It sort of proved my side of the story. Then two senior girls I didn’t know walked in and said they’d witnessed the whole fight, the other kid had started it and and I reacted in self-defense. They were so plainly flirting with me. I smiled back, grateful for their help. I would get detention and be allowed to return to class, but the vice-principal would have to call my guardians. The other kid was suspended.
The story was all over school by the end of the day. I met Michael in the parking lot as usual, and together we left for a tense, agonizing trip home. My hand was swollen and the knuckles were grazed and bruised. When we pulled up in front of the house, we sat in the car with lots to say and no possible means to talk about it. He didn’t even have the decency to reassure me of his love and tell me his cheating hadn’t changed his feelings for me. After ten minutes of silence, I got out and went up to my room.
Dax has every reason to hate me. I hate me. Weak where I needed to put our love for each other first, and I failed him. I let Isaac fuck me and broke my lover’s heart. He trusted and believed in me, and for what? An hour’s time with my ex to see if there’s anything still alive in our relationship? How did it get so messed up?
This all started three weeks ago when I saw Isaac in the school parking lot after school. It annoyed me that he was waiting for me, and I don’t know what made me grab Dax’s hand and put my arm around him except my pride. Isaac hurt me seventeen months ago, and I wanted to prove I was over him. I have a new boyfriend now, a better one who would never do to me what Isaac had done. I love Dax and I’m proud of him. But I was wrong to hold him. After all my promises to be careful, I had exposed him to ridicule in front of the entire school.
Then Isaac began stalking me. He’d wait in the parking lot, saying he wanted to be friends again but acting like more than friends. He was so rude to Dax, and I should’ve told him to grow up and stop treating my boyfriend like dirt. At every meeting Dax would finally get tired of it and walk away, but did I show him my support by following and driving off together? No. Dax even warned me that Isaac wanted me back, and I wouldn’t listen to reason, even though all the signs were there. The constant texting and phone calls, wanting to spend time with me without Dax around, and calling me ‘honey’ And, of course, Isaac had to bring up Humboldt, and the hurt, surprised look on Dax’s face almost killed me. I was so blind.
Isaac messaged me several times a day wanting to know how I was and asking details about my relationship with Dax. Who he was, how we met, where he lived? I gave him all the information on the way my parents became his guardians and what he meant to me. Sticking the knife in and twisting it, I bragged about Dax and me sleeping together every night and how mind-blowing the sex was. Isaac stabbed that same knife into my heart when he dumped me during my junior year for some twink. I wanted something of my own to hold over him. I imagined the hot jealousy in his face, and it made me feel good. I had no idea of the danger and where it might lead.
Isaac told me he’d only had short-term, non-monogamous relationships since high school, and currently didn’t have a boyfriend. It should’ve been a warning sign, especially with how he treated me when we were together. Isaac is a manipulative bastard. But I started to believe he was telling me he’d made a mistake in dumping me, and I guess it messed with my self-esteem. So stupid! So blind!
I mean, shouldn’t the past stay in the past? He chose separation, and I chose Dax. We all have to live with shit. What Dax and I have is amazing, and I don’t… didn’t want to fuck it up. Like I constantly reassured my boy, we would be together forever.
Yesterday during fifth period, Isaac sent a text asking me to meet him at his house after school. I knew better and shouldn’t have gone. I knew where it might lead because last year when we’d have sex that was our rendezvous spot. I gave in to my curiosity and decided to see what was up. He met me at the door with a kiss, and that was another hint that it was time to walk away. But I didn’t. Playing with fire, ya know?
We smoked some weed together and, in our horny states, he said something about wanting to make sure he was really over me. I kind of let him talk me into it. I didn’t fight him when he kissed me deeply, and that led to him touching me that got me totally turned on. It was different from being with Dax, and the edge of risk made me lose perspective. Like I knew it was wrong but didn’t resist. I gave Isaac an awesome blowjob, and by then I was so baked I let him fuck me. He made me bottom which I’ve never done with Dax, and I guess I missed it. Isaac was by then starting to act selfish and finished before I could cum so I had to jack myself off. He’s always been a dickwad, and I don’t know why I expected him to change.
After that it was all over and I realized that I’d cheated on Dax. With Isaac. Oh god! He couldn’t stop smirking at me because he got exactly what he wanted- the proof that Dax wasn’t the center of my universe and he could have me any time he asked. I watched- no participated in- my relationship with Dax going down the toilet. I felt like such an asswipe, but the damage was already done.
Something in Isaac’s face made it all too clear that he was going to tell Dax about my infidelity which was precisely what he had engineered in the first place. Yeah, I’m that stupid! My whole system went into overdrive from the enormity of my mistake. I hoped to at least get through the rest of the day before the truth came out. I didn’t have any answers other than knowing I had destroyed everything between Dax and me if he found out. In the end, the only thing I could focus on was how I was going to fix this mess without Isaac getting to him first.
I think Dax knew as soon as I got home that something was wrong, but it was telling me to use a condom that was the clincher. How could I be so foolish to think I could keep my cheating a secret? Dax saw through my bullshit; he’s always known me far better than anyone else, and lying just made it so much worse. It’s been a long time since I saw Dax cry, and I did that to him. I betrayed the love and innocence of my best friend.
And then Dax just disappeared for six hours. He didn’t come down for dinner, and my parents got suspicious about us fighting. I told them we’d had an argument but I couldn’t go into detail without compromising myself and Dax. Yeah, like I’m supposed to admit that he’s all emo because I cheated on him when they don’t even know we’re gay and having sex. The next thing I knew it was nine o’clock and he wasn’t in his bedroom, and none of us had any idea how long he’d been missing. I was so freaked out over his state of mind because I’m all he’s got, and I had just dropped this mammoth load of shit in his lap.
Dax called my dad at nearly midnight asking to be picked up in some weird-ass neighborhood miles away, and Mom threw me these angry, mistrusting looks while we waited. Almost like she realized this was the kind of love-threatening, duplicitous fight that ruins relationships, and all I could do was sit there acting innocent and pretend it was mere sibling rivalry.
But, oh god, the accusations in his eyes when he walked through the door! I have never seen such hurt there. Such betrayal and raw pain. Dax told me that he’d already figured the whole situation out and knew where I was this afternoon and who I was with. Yeah, I already knew that but listening to him confirm it felt like the bottom dropping out of my world. He said he couldn’t forgive me. I ruined everything between us. He was the best part of my life; I loved him, and I fucked it up. I let Isaac mess with my mind and drive Dax away.
Over the last twenty-four hours I have seen Dax fall totally apart and do things I never would’ve expected a week ago, first running away and today getting into a fight at school. I guess I understand both, how difficult it must have been to listen to my excuses yesterday and just try to act normal. But fighting? That is so not Dax. Rumor has it that the other guy called him a fag, and it stands that a person can only take so much, especially since it was one of Lamont’s friends. Dax just went off on him, and again, I’m to blame for outing him.
I miss Dax with everything inside me. I grieve for his warm, lithe body cuddling into me in bed at night and the little squeaks he’d make when he awoke each morning. I think he had a bad dream last night because I heard him cry out in his sleep. That kills me—he used to have night terrors when he first moved in, but they stopped when we began sleeping together and my lies have resurrected them. I long for the way we used to sneak kisses while taking out the trash or cleaning up dinner for Mom at night and all the devilish, delightful ideas he’d have for hooking up after school. Now, he won’t even look at me.
I remember staring at his naked form before he’d climb in the shower, planning how I would surprise him by jumping in with him so we could frolic under the spray and make out. Since Tuesday he dresses in his room and locks the bathroom door between us. Instead of the notes he’d leave in my school locker or text messages telling me how much I mean to him, I have to put up with empty silences and daggers of hatred penetrating me from his eyes when he thinks I’m not looking.
I miss the way he anticipated my moods and adjusted according to them. When I’d had a difficult day at school or was out of sorts, Dax gave me tenderness and let me lean into his strength until I felt better. If I was afraid, he knew the right words to get to the heart of the matter and make me see I had nothing to fear. I could always be myself around him, and he never made me feel less of a man or caused me to doubt how much he loved me. And yet, in the course of two hours, I piled fear and sorrow on his shoulders, stripped him of his dignity and pierced his heart. So yeah, I loathe myself because I don’t deserve Dax.
I have never felt so confused or unsure of myself or needed someone to talk to so badly. And the only person I can talk to is the one I can’t- Dax. I have so fucked everything up. I know he really loves me. Or at least, he did. And what if the fighting and running away isn’t the end of it? What if he gets depressed or suicidal? Jesus, what have I done?
There were actually a few times in those first days when I thought it would be easier on everyone if I was dead. I certainly wanted to be. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape the pain, not even with avoiding Michael at home and school to the point of the Capshaws regarding us suspiciously or going to my lonely bed at night to try to sleep through the nightmares. I tried drinking myself senseless, and I even bought some pills from a kid at school I didn’t know who had a reputation for being a drug dealer. The ache would always be waiting for me when I awoke in the morning or came back to consciousness after getting blitzed.
I had lost my boyfriend to this stranger who just hustled his way in and took him away from me. The worst part was that Michael just let him do it, apparently without a fight. I didn’t want to know the details on who said what to whom when; the important thing was that he dropped me off at home, went over to Isaac’s and they had sex together. Ask anyone, and that is the kind of deceit that ruins relationships. Michael had ripped my heart to shreds. How could I be expected to just forgive him and pretend it didn’t happen? I’m pretty sure I never even heard a real apology, at least not the kind that was meaningful. Yeah, he said he was sorry, but it sounded more like he just regretted getting caught.
Can you fix what's made to be broken? I can't fix what's made to be… Whispers tend to crucify my mind, I'm fighting but I'm blind… Mistakes have cost me years, do they cost you? My heart is tattooed on my sleeve. I know it's blinding, no, it only hurts to breathe.
Or at least, that’s what Scott Stapp from Creed said.
I had to keep telling myself it wasn’t my fault and I’m not a loser, and that’s what finally made me step back from the edge. I might not have much to boast about, but I have brains, goals, and the willpower to work through the problem. What Michael did finally provided the motivation to make me take a hard look at myself and plan for my future. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t live in that house for another three months, sharing Michael’s air, looking at his guilty face and knowing his disloyalty.
The weekend after he cheated on me, I went job hunting and miraculously found a summer kitchen position at a seafood restaurant near school. It wasn’t much, just minimum wage, but enough to set me back on my feet and give me job experience. I also had the insurance money I banked after my mother’s death, so I was good for awhile. I signed up at Seaview Community College for the fall semester, no major in mind yet, but it’s a two year school so I didn’t have to declare myself until I was ready to transfer. At least I was making some progress in sorting out my future. It wasn’t going to have Michael in it like we’d planned, but I couldn’t sit on my ass feeling sorry for myself.
The most uncomfortable part of my day was the drive to and from Santa Bella High. There was no getting away from Michael, and often we sat in agonizing silence for the ten minute trip. Mostly I pretended he didn’t exist. After the first couple of days he tried to carry on as if nothing happened and initiate conversation but I ignored him. It was mostly inane chatter anyways, nothing of any substance. Maybe he was hoping to wear me down, but at the time he simply came across as an annoying bother.
I don’t know why he thought it would work, but at the end of the week he asked me to give him another chance. For a few amazed minutes I considered it, eyes wide open and all. My heart yearned for him, and I kept trying to tell myself that maybe we had too much going for us not to make an attempt. But in the end I couldn’t do it. I had begun to look at him with a new, more grown up appraisal. He really was a spoiled and immature child, and he didn’t seem to have any idea of the scope of his infidelity.
“No,” I told him, lightly amused by his temerity but forcing myself to be stern. “You really don’t get it, do you Michael? What you did with Isaac crushed me. The lies? The betrayal? This isn’t some small wrinkle in our relationship that I can automatically forgive and gloss over.”
“But Dax…” We were sitting in his car in the driveway, sweating in the hot sun.
“I said no.” I was much more insistent this time. “You slept with Isaac when we were supposed to be faithful to each other. How would I ever be able to trust you in the future when I would constantly question every move you made, especially with you going to the same college as him in the fall?”
“We used to share so much,” he whispered, his golden eyes wet with misery. “I miss being us.”
“There is no us, not anymore. You killed ‘us’ when you cheated on me.” I took a big soggy breath. “I loved you more than anyone I’ve ever cared about, but I can’t be with you. We’re done. What we used to have is gone… permanently broken. Even if I wanted to, I’m not strong enough to hold it together. I can’t do it.”
He let it go for a while, but he didn’t drop it. The next day when he again began begging me to take him back I was forced to get angry in order to silence him, and still he wanted to push. At that point, unable to tune him out and with Michael teetering on the edge of getting his ass kicked, our discussions dwindled down into tears on his part and cold, steely glowers on mine. To tell the truth, his whining like a bitch and pleading for mercy got to be very soul-scarring, and he fairly well ruined whatever was left of my love for him. And to make matters worse, his pettiness and lack of responsibility ended up nearly killing our friendship too.
And then the other shoe dropped.
Twelve days after the meltdown, I came home from the first Sunday evening of my job to find a desperate Michael and his parents in the family room in deep discussion. It ceased instantly as I walked in and all eyes flew to me. Michael looked as if his whole world had fallen on top of him. The Capshaws had aggrieved expressions on their faces, partly angry, partly sad, and lots of questions they needed answers for.
Apparently, Isaac the nuisance wasn’t done yet. It wasn't enough for him to come between me and Michael; no, he had to further ruin my life by trying to get me kicked out of the Capshaws’ house. He had come around earlier that day to say hi to Donna and Robert and just happened to let it slip that, not only were Michael and I both gay, but we had been enjoying a romantic, sexual relationship right under their noses. To say the folks were shocked was putting it mildly.
But this was, again, Michael’s fault for not telling them the truth about himself a long time ago and deceiving them about us. Not to mention, trusting Isaac enough to share intimate details with him. It had been a trade between us, my silence and hiding our sex life from Robert and Donna in return for him keeping our love secret at school. Unfortunately for Michael, I honor my promises and he doesn’t. None of this would have happened if he’d listened to me.
Robert stared right at me and demanded to know: were we having sex?
I looked at Michael who was shaking his head ‘no’ and whose eyes were pleading with me to lie. I’d had enough of his self-serving ways and deception and being false with his parents. He had hurt me, and I wanted Michael to feel the same pain.
“Yes sir, it's true,” I told them, glaring at Michael. “We have been sleeping together since the beginning of the year.”
All hell broke loose.
“He’s a liar,” Michael screeched, pointing at me in horror, scarcely able to believe I’d confirmed Isaac’s story. I had to wonder how different this reaction was from when his ex… okay, his other ex since I was now one too… first brought up the subject with Donna and Robert. Or was I the only one who deserved his scorn?
“Dax is being an ass and trying to get back at me,” he went on. “He’s just jealous.”
Jealous? Of what? If it hadn’t hurt like hell all over again, I might have found it funny. I was shaking my head in disbelief when he looked at me with disgust in his eyes. I shrugged at him like, ‘this was what you wanted, remember?’
By then Robert had gone a deathly shade of white. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just shocked but I was afraid he was going to pass out. Donna’s skin tone was more of a mottled pink, like she was mortified.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, tears stinging my eyes and profusely meaning every word. “Robert… and Donna, just so, so sorry for my part of the lie… you have no idea.”
I turned around and just walked upstairs. Like I wasn’t already inundated with the craziness my life had turned into, I couldn’t deal with anymore, and I just shut down by telling myself I didn’t care.
I was in my room throwing my clothes, school gear and my laptop into backpacks and bags when Donna hesitantly walked in fifteen minutes later. I’m sure it was obvious to her that I was packing, but she just came up and hugged me. I began to cry. “What’s going on here?” she inquired softly, her face sad.
I told her everything. About my confusion over my sexuality the first time I met Michael and how I tried to deny my feelings for him. He had become my best and only real friend, showing me a world I never knew existed. Then, after my mother died, I appreciated with all my heart the way she and her husband had taken me in and set me back on my feet. They were the first people to show me real affection and make me feel wanted.
“I never meant to cause all this trouble,” I pleaded with her. “I swear, I didn’t know I was gay and would end up falling in love with Michael.”
I brought up the night in January when we had first fooled around, and even though it embarrassed both of us, I was beyond feeling ashamed about the sex. Michael had soothed me and sorted me out, and it all fell in place after that. He built me up in all kinds of small ways that showed how much he loved me. He had changed my life for the better.
I hated keeping our lifestyle a secret but Michael had promised me confidentiality at school, only to out me trying to impress Isaac. It was interesting that I didn’t have to provide a lot of details about Michael’s ex; from his irresponsible and vindictive behavior of that afternoon she already knew who and what he was, and she was sympathetic to what I’d suffered.
“Isaac came back from Humboldt and ruined everything.” My voice was bitter. No, I wasn’t referring to him tattling on us- that was the least of my worries. “I thought Michael and I would always have each other. Isaac walked into our relationship to purposely destroy it and take him away from me because he wants him back. And Michael was weak and let him do it.”
I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Donna hugged me again, told me to go to bed and not worry about leaving. I was emotionally drained and did as she said. I locked my door against Michael again because now, as well as being my ex-boyfriend, he probably hated me too. I had confirmed Isaac’s story and exposed him to his family as surely as he’d done the same to me at school. I figured in that respect we were even. Michael could never make up for destroying our love.
I. Am. So. Stupid.
The last thing I ever thought I’d have to worry about was Dax acting like an asshole and outing me to my parents.
Okay, I knew I wasn’t being fair. Dax didn’t do that, Isaac did when he came over to the house. Mom and Dad have never liked him, not that they knew what he was to me. They thought we were just friends, but the mistrust has always been there.
So today when he showed up unexpectedly they weren’t exactly happy. Neither was I; for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what he planned, but his appearance made me nervous. I guess I was right to be suspicious.
He said he was in the neighborhood and just dropped by, then spent the next half hour bending my parents’ ears with stories about Humboldt they really didn’t give a damn about. At that point he said he was leaving because he had things to do, and for some inexplicable reason I was glad to get rid of him. Like my brain warning me he was going to cause trouble.
He stood up and crossed over to where I was standing to walk him outside, and all of a sudden he kissed me on the cheek. He just fucking kissed me. Mom and Dad stared at him in dismay, and I was so afraid of their reaction I froze. Then he looked at them and acted all innocent and asked, “You didn’t know Michael was gay?” He turned to stare at me and said, “I’m surprised you never told them, Michael. So I’ll bet they don’t know Dax is gay too and until he dumped you two weeks ago you guys were sleeping together, do they?”
The parents were so shocked they couldn’t even move, so Isaac let himself out. I saw the smirk on his face, and I know why he did it. It’s to make sure that Dax and I are a hundred percent broken up, but it’s more. Isaac is jealous of him. It wasn’t enough to fuck up my relationship with him; now he wants to mess with him even more and hope Mom and Dad will kick him out. And the most shitty part? I should be angry at him, but the person I was angry with is Dax.
He came home from his first night at his new job. Mom and Dad had spent the past three hours talking to me and telling me they knew I was gay a long time ago. That was nice to know, but then they asked why I didn’t tell them about Dax. I couldn’t say anything. Part of me hoped he would come home and deny everything. As much as they hate Isaac, I probably could have gotten away with convincing them that he was just making stuff up. But when Dax confirmed his statements, it was all over.
Dad stayed with me, and I have never seen him so angry. He chewed me out good over being so disrespectful of their rules to be having sex behind their backs. He damned well knew it wasn’t Dax who initiated it, and I told him about the thunder storm in January but it didn’t make a difference. He was so pissed because my boyfriend was underage when we started sleeping together. I’m seven months older and supposedly should know better, so it looked like I was taking advantage of him.
Then Mom came out from talking to Dax, and if I thought he was mad, it was nothing compared to her. She wanted to know all about Isaac and what happened between us two weeks ago. Oh my god, Dax told her everything. All about our relationship, all about Isaac attempts to break us up and even him fucking me. So I got to listen to an hour lecture about cheating on my boyfriend. Like that wasn’t the most messed up thing in the world? They just found out I’m gay, and Dax and I have been making love for four months upstairs, but what Mom is focusing on is how crushed Dax is over what Isaac and I did, and how could I be so cruel to him? And I’m thinking, hey, I’m your son. Why are you taking his side? But that’s how they are. Like Mom said before she finally told me to go to bed, they raised me better.
She’s right. They did. I have so completely fucked up everything I valued two weeks ago, I don’t even know me anymore. I have destroyed Dax. He’s like a ghost of what he used to be. He cries all the time and can’t even be in the same room as me without looking like he’s going to be sick. I took away everything he used to cherish and believe in. He has hated lying to my parents all this time, and on top of everything else Isaac and I did to him, he couldn’t take anymore.
But like all crises the first anger passed, and when I stopped to think about it, what he had done was pretty brave. He had to know that telling the truth was going to get us both in trouble. But probably more than even I realized, he knows how fair Mom and Dad are. He realized they weren’t going to get up in my shit and throw me out of the house. Where all that would happen to me was getting yelled at, he’s the one who stood the chance of being kicked out, but he was honest anyway. I know I acted like an ass, but I had to admire him.
Just the other day I heard a Coldplay song from 2002 called Warning Sign. Sadly, the lyrics reminded me of what I’ve been going through with Dax. It’s about a man who breaks up with his lover only to discover afterwards that he made a mistake.
A warning sign
It came back to haunt me, and I realized
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover
Come on in
I've gotta tell you what a state I'm in
I've gotta tell you in my loudest tones
That I started looking for a warning sign
When the truth is, I miss you
Yeah the truth is, that I miss you so
And I'm tired
I should not have let you go
The song ends with the lyrics: I crawled back in your open arms.
Only, Dax’s arms aren’t open, and I can’t crawl back in them. They are closed tight because I fucked up and cheated on him. I left him to cry himself to sleep at night. To make sense of this world alone. To take everything from him, and when he finally tried to do the right thing, I called him a liar. When I’m the liar.
Okay, I probably should be trying harder to make up with Dax and win him back, but he’s so stubborn and pigheaded. I hurt him so badly that he will never listen to reason. He pretty much told me last week that he won’t accept any kind of explanation and there were no second chances. I want to think that if I had the opportunity to explain all this to him it would make a difference. I could change his mind. But I have as much pride as the next guy, and telling him that I know it’s my fault would be like eating glass. Besides, he’s big on trust, and I’ve abused his faith in me so many times over the past five weeks, I can never make it right. So as selfish as this is going to sound, I don’t think I have a lot of choices here.
And then, there’s Isaac who I think wants me back. That is more or less what he told me when I was letting him fuck me. What he was trying to tell me when he came by today. If I’ve ruined everything with Dax, what do I have left but to go back to him if he is willing to work on our relationship? A man has needs, and it makes me sound like an insensitive ‘ho, but I’d rather have a current boyfriend I can sleep with than an ex-boyfriend who wants nothing to do with me.
The stupidest thing is that two weeks ago, for one brief shining minute of pure insanity, I almost believed I could have both of them in my life. But Dax would never share me, and he’s made it clear that the relationship is over. Isaac seems sorry that he dumped me last year, and it’s kind of hot in a perverse way how he manipulated events so he could get me back.
If Dax doesn’t want me, at least someone does.
Except for my still-broken heart, I guess I should be grateful how the mess worked itself out. Michael never even bothered to apologize. No matter that I almost certainly wouldn’t have accepted the words, but it would have been nice to hear them. All I wanted was to be put on autopilot to get me through graduation and the following weeks when I could leave the Capshaws and pretend Michael didn’t exist. Yeah, like I would believe that.
Once the dust settled after Isaac’s big announcement and I explained to Donna about falling in love with her son, I was granted a reprieve for my honesty, even somewhat for my loyalty to him. It turned out that I was right and Michael was blind; his parents had long suspected he was gay, accepted it and were waiting for him to bring it up. They just didn’t like the way they were forced to find out, and Isaac had done himself no favors by forcing the issue. When they didn’t kick me out, I discovered Robert and Donna truly cared about me. I lived in their home for another month in order to graduate from high school, and the decision to move was my own. They even co-signed for an apartment for me when the time came.
I guess the way I was completely ignoring Michael helped- obviously, there was no way we were sleeping together when the only looks I could give him were glares of contempt and most of the time I ended up leaving the room if I had a choice. His parents took my side even though he was their son because they felt sorry for me, and the shabby way he’d treated me was a huge issue for them. Cheating is wrong, even between teenagers who, according to most adults, are too young to understand real love. They knew Michael had been selfish and mean, and they couldn’t do enough to make up for it.
So we were getting ready to graduate, and things weren’t much better between Michael and me. The fact that his parents didn’t turn their backs on him helped him get over my honesty about us and forgive me. Yeah, the sky didn’t fall in over his big secret. Not that I cared or felt I owed him anything. I still could barely handle listening to his voice or stand to look into his face.
After the first sting of his disloyalty dulled into a raw ache, we started talking and decided to be civil to each other for the final month, at least for his family’s sake. But it fucking hurt to be near him, and I begged whatever other-worldly being in the cosmos to take away the memories of us together. I guess the gods hate me too because I still remember all of it. I didn’t want to feel anything except oblivion, and I wasn’t even given that small grace.
I was so lonely. When you have somebody you love who takes up your entire life and he suddenly betrays you, that’s when you find out how empty it can be. Driving back and forth to school had been bad enough, but the rest of the time was excruciating.
It appeared that Michael finally took my refusal of his offer to get back together seriously. We use to spend the three or so hours after school before Donna and Robert arrived from work making love in one way or another. Now, Michael would often leave me at the front door and take off, apparently for Isaac’s. I was assuming that they had become a couple again or at least fuck buddies which baffled the hell out of me, seeing as how he had been trying to work his way back into my good graces. I never questioned where he went. He would return home with a smile on his face and his hair mussed, and I would burn, knowing at least one of us was getting his sexual needs satisfied. It got so bad I went back to hanging out at the library after the last school bell rang and hitchhiking home just so I wouldn’t have to hear my footsteps echo around that big house.
But even worse was at night when I’d have to sleep next door to Michael’s bedroom. Even through the walls, I felt his arms around me in my dreams. It was always pretty much the same: a nightmare bringing me back from slumber in the early hours of the morning to find my face wet with tears and my groin burning with need. It hurt like hell to wake up alone, and I wanted more than anything to be with him, but I refused to give in and act like everything was okay. I was constantly horny and gave myself so many handjobs, I lost count. Jacking off didn’t help much either because all I could fantasize about was my cheating ex-lover. How he could find it worthwhile to climb into someone else’s bed and tear down what we had was something I couldn’t fathom. But if Isaac is who Michael wants, I’m not going to stand in his way. I didn’t have the strength to fight them both; I can’t even abide the idea that Michael is lost to me.
We graduated four weeks ago, and last Saturday I moved into my new place. It’s not big or all that great, but at least it’s my own. The Capshaws helped me and even gave me dishes and linens and some old furniture from their garage and attic. I have a job to keep me busy and started making payments on a used truck. I even had new topics to discuss in therapy with Zeke- codependency and being gay. My life is kind of sad because Michael was really my only friend, and I don’t hang with anyone. I hope it gets better when school starts in August. Being out is scary, but Seaview is a big school that covers a lot of the small communities around us, not just Santa Bella. Hopefully some of the people I meet won’t know I’m gay and judge me for it.
I haven’t seen Michael since I moved out. I changed my cell phone number because he wouldn’t leave me alone. He goes to Eureka to start college in six weeks, and then it will be easier when he isn’t around all the time to remind me that I was in love with him. I heard through the grapevine that Isaac convinced him to get back together. They truly deserve each other.
(To be continued...)