This takes up where Chapter 4 ends so some of it was covered in the original Chapter 5.
I woke up the following morning before my alarm clock went off feeling well rested.
I shouldn’t have been surprised really. The Fine Arts Presentation ended before nine, and Jesse’s mother wanted him to go directly home. Without any opportunity to be alone, especially under the gaze of his family, all he and I could do was speak in general terms. I offered my praise for the good work he’d done on stage in his drama presentations and dances. He thanked me for showing up, and even his eyes were silent lest he give any of his feelings away. There was some lingering curiosity from our fellow-students, but neither of us was inclined to further entertain them by displaying our affection publicly. Our stares across the parking lot spoke our regret for us, and then he was gone.
My dad’s house was… no surprise… dark. It was odd being home at this time of night with nothing to do, so I used the occasion to study for my upcoming finals. We seniors had to take them early due to next week’s graduation and all the end-of-year activities. Jesse sent me a good night text, and I went to bed early enough to get a full eight hours of sleep.
So here I was, awake and thinking about Jesse’s dance from last night and wondering if it was going to change my life here in Calberia. Should I worry or be happy about it? For once I had behaved fearlessly and didn’t worry over who knew or what the other students had seen and interpreted. Also with Jesse’s family in the audience, it was as if he was announcing his intentions loud and clear, and I wished that courage could carry over so that I was able to proudly introduce him as my boyfriend to my family. But… just no.
Not for the first time I reflected how much easier my life would be if Jesse was female. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he’s a man. I adore his lithe body with all its masculine parts as much as I appreciate how we can be dirty and nasty together. Two male friends who don’t have to worry about offending more sensitive ears with our jokes and bullshitting. I enjoy being with him as two men in love, but there’s no getting around the fact that if Jesse had been a girl I wouldn’t need to tiptoe around my father. And it was going to get worse before it got better.
I was in an almost impossible situation where, as my living arrangements stood now, I’d probably never be able to do anything other than hide my attraction for Jesse and skulk around to see him, all the while afraid of detection. At least Uncle Carl had added me as a full-time employee over the summer so leaving high school in a week would allow me to cram as many hours on his boats as I could get. Jesse was looking for work too, and I might even have to take on a second job to earn enough money to move out. That was the goal, but once college started in the fall, taking a full load of classes, playing football for the Hope Ranch team and working full time was going to be exhausting. Frankly, I couldn’t see how I’d manage, but in order to live openly with my boyfriend, I would have to find a way.
I arrived at school and very little seemed to have changed for Jesse and me, although we caught a few inquisitive glances. I think our classmates were waiting for us to take the first step, and that we didn’t made some of them second guess what they had witnessed at the FAP. Maybe, they rationalized, Jesse had been actually staring at one of the girls sitting behind me, not at me directly. Possibly my intense scrutiny was due to him being my best friend.
It was a quiet day… until I trotted into the parking lot after the bell rang to find Jesse leaning tensely against his Cherokee reading what looked suspiciously like another stalker note. He hadn’t even heard me approach and jumped when I put my hand out to take it from him. He listened sheepishly when I read out loud.
“Haf fun w/Ur faggot boy 4 now but Ur days are #’d.”
I felt myself go pale. Of the twelve or so threats that Jesse had received over the last four and a half months, this was the first one to ever mention me.
“He must have been at the FAP last night,” Jesse whispered in anguish. “He saw me sing to you and that’s why he’s dragging you into my problem now. I’m so sorry, Shane.”
I shook my head and resisted balling the note in my fist because all of them were evidence against this wacko asshole. “I don’t care about that, Baby. What I care about is getting this guy locked up or whatever it takes so he can’t bother you anymore.”
He didn’t answer me, and I pressed him. “Are you scared now?”
I looked into his pale brown eyes and saw it. He was frightened, but not for himself. For me. Good enough, I’d use it if he was finally willing to talk to someone in authority about the harassment.
“Let’s go see Mr. Peabody right now,” I suggested, knowing the principal was still in his office. “Get the ones out of your locker. I’ll back you up, okay?”
“I can’t today,” Jesse answered, taking the note back from me and folding it into his binder. “I promised my sister I’d come home right after school because she needs me to watch my nephew for a few hours. She has to go to Santa Barbara and buy a textbook for a summer class at the university she’s enrolled in.”
I sighed, hoping this wasn’t one of Jesse’s avoiding tactics again. “Can’t she postpone? This is important.”
Jesse paused in thought, and for a fraction of a second I actually believed he might do it. Then his face fell. “No, I don’t want to ask her to put it off. This can wait one more day.”
“Alright, but remember, you promised so we talk to him no later than tomorrow.”
He smiled, and I swear, the look he threw me was self-satisfied, like he’d once again bargained his way out of trouble. I didn’t want to snap at him and start another argument, but even scared about the threats, he wasn’t going to do anything about them unless I forced him. I was tired of it all. Mostly I was tired of being scared too.
Jesse and I had decided not to see each other that evening. Jenna, his sister, was known for changing plans at the last minute, especially if she had a willing babysitter for her son. Her errand of a few hours could magically expand into running into friends on campus and deciding to go out for dinner and a movie. As for me, it was one of the few nights when I didn’t know my father’s plans ahead of time, so he might arrive home right after work or he might spend the night with his girlfriend. Even if he hadn’t been my boyfriend, it wouldn’t be wise to have Jesse in the house alone with me should Dad bother to show up.
It was 7:30 and my mind was fully engaged in studying for a difficult 2nd period Trigonometry final I would be taking on Thursday, two days away. I had solid A’s in every subject except math where my grade was teetering between a B-/C+, and if I got a high score on the exam I might even get an A- because of the extra credit I’d slaved over for two hours after school.
My phone lit up with an incoming call, and of course it was Jesse. “Watcha doing?” he chirped.
“Cramming for my Trig final.” I stretched out the kinks in my back.
“Is your dad home?”
“Hmm, I’m not sure,” I answered, suddenly curious. I stepped into the hall and listened to silence as I made my way to the living room to look through the blinds. Except for my Impala the driveway was empty.
“No. He must be with Jillian again.” Usually if my father wasn’t home by seven he wouldn’t be here at all.
“Why don’t I come over then and keep you company? Jenna got back an hour ago and I’m bored. Besides, we haven’t had a chance to spend any time together since last Friday.”
He was right about that. I’d worked all weekend for my uncle on the Sorsha Lynn, including a longer-than-usual charter up the Pacific coastline on Saturday where we didn’t put into port until almost nine o’clock. On Sunday he’d spent the evening with his family at some relative’s birthday party, and last night was the FAP. It had been four days since we’d made love.
Still, the day had been exhausting. I was tired and needed to study. “Not tonight, Jesse.”
“Ah, come on, Blondie. Just for a little while?”
We bickered back and forth while I tried to convince him how important the test was for me and why I needed so much study time for it. When we hung up I thought that was it. Fifteen minutes later I heard a knock on the front door at the same time that my phone buzzed again.
“It’s me outside,” Jesse crowed. “Let me in.”
Groaning inwardly I got up and opened the front door to find him lounging on the porch looking smug. “Hiya, Blondie. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to see you, so here I am.”
He tried to pull me into a hug and I stood there stiffly. To tell the truth, I was irritated that he wouldn’t take me seriously. He thought he could just come over when I specifically asked him to stay home.
Jesse pouted at me in fun. “Don’t tell me you’re mad,” he said, letting his voice drop seductively. He lifted his backpack off his shoulder. “See, I brought my books too. We can cram together.”
Yeah, like that was going to work. Except for the Brontë sisters project, every time we tried to get together to study, we ended up fucking or going down on each other. It was like we couldn’t be in the same room and keep our hands off each other without a chaperone.
I brought this up. “You know what will happen, Jesse. I wish you would listen to me when I’m trying to be serious and not override my decisions. I meant what I said about my Trig grade. I have to raise it.”
“I know something else you’re good at raising,” he smirked, looking down at the bulge in his jeans.
“See?” I exclaimed in frustration, turning and marching into my bedroom. “That’s exactly what I was talking about. Thanks, Jesse, you have proven my point.”
He followed on my heels, trying to keep from giggling. “I’m just yanking your chain. But honestly, what’s the deal with your math grade? You’re just going to a community college next year. You don’t need straight A’s.”
I was going to retort that the reason I wasn’t attending a university was because of him until I realized I was the one pushing Hope Ranch, not Jesse. My mouth snapped shut. Part of what he said made sense, but I had perfectionist tendencies, and getting a good grade in Trig was a challenge to me. It was a personal goal.
I made Jesse sit on the chair in front of my computer stand while I took the bed, and for a little while we did get some work done. Presently Jesse began to act restless.
“Hmm, I was wondering if you would mind waiting to tell the principal about the notes until after we finish finals on Monday. That’s only three extra days, and we’d be done with our testing so however he chooses to handle it won’t interfere with study.”
My head shot up. Okay, here we go again. I guess I should have known better than expect him to simply cave in to my suggestion for being the right thing to do, but seriously, the way he was stringing it out terrified me. Nearly vibrating in anger, I settled for giving Jesse a black look.
“Well hell, why settle for waiting for Monday? Why not until the day we graduate? Or even better, don’t tell anyone at all? Isn’t that what you’re after? Let’s keep this a big secret, and when some ass walks up to you in the parking lot and beats the shit out of you we can pretend like it was a fucking surprise.”
“Shane, that’s not what I meant…”
“Bullshit,” I shouted. “You are so full of it, Jesse. I worry about you every single day. That some whacked out creeper is out there waiting to hurt you, and la-de-da, it’s nothing to you. Just give up some of your macho pride for a change and let someone who has experience with this kind of thing help you instead of carrying it by yourself.”
“But there is so much going on for the end of school.”
“Not tomorrow there isn’t,” I pointed out. “It’s a normal school day. You can talk to Mr. Peabody either before or after school and get it over with. Just think of how good it’s going to feel to get the weight off your back once you do.”
He nodded but he wasn’t happy. I put my book down and massaged my temples. I hated fighting with him, and with these threats, that’s all we ever did anymore.
“Come here.” I scooted over and patted the bed beside me. Yeah, this was going to lead to make-up sex. Or at least, remind-Jesse-that-I-loved-him-and-convince-him-that-I-knew-what-was-best-for-him sex.
He flew to my side and bounced, landing next to me. He kissed me softly on the lips. I kissed him gently back. Then he crushed me to him tightly, and we shoved our tongues inside open mouths to dance together.
Kissing and touching, we had each other undressed in record time. We stretched out next to each other, our bodies slithering together in joyous abandon, all the parts meshing and creating friction that aroused both of us into sweaty, panting, primitive beings. After the lapse of four days, after the stress of the notes and studying and particularly after fighting, I needed to be inside Jesse and show him he was still mine forever.
“I want to suck you,” he husked, tears in his eyes because the need was his own as well. “Please.”
I reached up and gently wiped the tears away, giving him a smile of contentment. Flattening myself on top of the sheets, I spread my legs for him.
His mouth was so wonderfully warm as his lips circled the head of my cock and his tongue lapped at me. He hollowed his cheeks to suck precum from my slit and I swore I saw stars behind my eyelids. Sliding his lips over my balls to pull on them made my groin lift off the bed in rhapsody, and when he began to bob over me, he took the tip almost into his throat before gagging. I could feel his whole mouth stretching for every millimeter of my shaft, and my tingling nuts told me that if he kept this up I was going to cum in his mouth.
“Enough,” I moaned. “It feels too damn good, Baby, and I won’t last much longer.”
Jesse and I exchanged positions, and I fetched the lube and a condom out of my drawer. Even hard and aching as I was, I took time to kiss and nibble all the sensitive parts of his body. That place on his throat just below the hollow and across his collar bones, his brown nipples that shrunk down into such cute little peaks and swirling my tongue in his belly button. He was whimpering and thrashing by the time I reached his ass.
A lubed finger found his rosebud and pushed inside. His channel gripped me in moist silkiness as I opened him up. With two digits I found his prostate and played tag with it, making Jesse moan and the lean muscles of his abdomen clench. I was turning him on with my sly little taps, and his body was humming and taut with anticipation by the time my third finger slipped in.
When Jesse was nearly to the point where the sensations were crashing into him more than he could stand, his eyes would rapidly shift back and forth under his lids and the muscles of his thighs and abdomen would tense. It wasn’t the same as orgasm, but it was a good non-verbal signal that he was tired of me teasing him and needed my dick up inside him.
He was there now, and I unrolled a condom on my erection and lubed up, shivering at my own light touch through the latex. I lifted his ankles to my shoulders and gently pushed against his bud through the muscular guardians into his tight, hot hole.
I knew exactly how long to lie still and allow him to adjust to me, and when he was ready he had a favorite way for me to seat myself. I rolled my hips into him and rotated at the same time.
"Oh god, Shane!" He dug his fingers into my shoulder and moaned once I was fully in.
"What, it doesn't feel good?" I joked hoarsely, teasing him because I loved hearing the answer. I pushed his blue-black hair out of his sparkling latte eyes.
"Oh shit, Blondie, you know it does… it feels so damn good.”
I pulled his legs down and he wrapped them around my thighs, laying himself open for me to plunder. My hips surged forward, in and out of his velvety soft chute. I stared into his eyes, afraid to lose this contact with him and loving the expression of bliss on his face. Harder I drove into him, each jab raking his prostate as he lifted his hips to meet me. I watched shudders race through him.
I reached between our bodies and took his dick in my hand. Stroking it expertly, I watched Jesse’s eyes roll back in his head. “Oh fuck, ooh, Blondie,” he shouted, and he went off like a geyser, spraying cum all over our torsos. His ass clasped around my dick convulsively, and I rode right over the edge with him, streaming cum into the condom with a crescendo of groans, panting gasps and writhing limbs.
“Are you alright?” Jesse asked me after I tossed the condom in the trash and collapsed next to him. “It got pretty wild at the end.”
“I’m always wild around you,” I wheezed. “You drive me wild.”
He snickered. “Flattery will get you everywhere. But we are pretty good together, aren’t we!”
“Perfect is more like it. I love you Jesse.”
“I love you too, Shane.”
We cuddled and kissed, homework forgotten. As usual, I wished he could spend the night with me, knowing we could make it happen if it weren’t for curfews and parental rules. I didn’t want him to go home because I hated sleeping by myself, but all too soon the point was reached where Jesse was going to get in trouble if he stayed any longer. We redressed and I walked him out to his Jeep. We made out for a few minutes of long, sensuous goodnight kisses that would have to suffice for now, and then I headed in for bed.
By the time school started the next day I was no longer angry at Jesse for visiting me the night before. It was pointless to hold a grudge and stay mad. We also continued to pretend like his performance at the FAP was just that… an act. I really think the students were much too busy getting ready for finals and the end of the school year to bother with us, and that suited me just fine. The upcoming week was going to be stressful.
Jesse was subdued for most of the day, and I was waiting at his Jeep when he strolled across the parking lot. Before he even had a chance to greet me I spoke up. “Grab the notes and let’s go.”
With a discontented sigh he reached into his backpack and pulled out the zip-lock bag. “I already have them.”
We went to the administration office. Mr. Peabody’s secretary was tidying up her desk, looking as if she was preparing to leave. “We’d like to see the principal please,” I spoke up when Jesse didn’t.
“He’s in an important meeting,” she said, smiling as she continued to shuffle paperwork. She grabbed a notepad. “I can set up an appointment for you tomorrow if you’d like.” She pursed her lips as if trying to place us. “You’re seniors, aren’t you? How about right after your 2nd period final?”
Jesse was just about to agree when I broke in. “Look, this is really important. Can we wait until he’s done?”
“Well, I don’t know…”
Between the almost grateful look on my boyfriend’s face, thinking he’d freed himself from my influence, and the predicament of more waiting I was ready to explode. “My friend here has a whole baggie full of harassing notes that have been left in his locker and car since the beginning of the semester. Some homophobic creeper is threatening to hurt him. We can’t wait until tomorrow.”
Now the woman was paying attention. “Let me see them,” she ordered, and Jesse reluctantly withdrew the bag from his bag. She sorted through them, reading several, and her face turned pale. “Have a seat, boys.”
She picked up her telephone, pressed a button and quietly said, “Mr. Peabody, I’m sorry but I need to interrupt you. We have a situation you need to deal with immediately.”
Leaving us in the waiting area she disappeared through a door behind her. A few minutes later she emerged with the principal who also looked agitated. Several teachers stepped around him, eying us carefully before heading off in various directions. “Boys,” the administrator said, sweeping up his arm to encompass us. “Please come into my office.”
Jesse was still acting like this was a waste of his time, so when we were finally seated in front of the principal I took the lead in explaining the letters. I told him everything: how Jesse had originally suspected me because of the timing of my starting week of school coinciding with the first note and how worried I was that this wasn’t an innocent hoax. By the expression on Mr. Peabody’s face, he didn’t think so either, and presently we were joined by two County sheriff’s deputies, Officer Erickson of the near-arrest fame being one of them.
He smirked at us as he walked in, and I gulped loudly, hoping our case wouldn’t be diminished due to our prior contact. I could hear Jesse’s teeth chattering even though it wasn’t cold in the office. But Erickson, like the other officer, became deadly serious when he learned of the situation and read the notes. Shortly later we were joined by a detective who announced he was in charge of the case. So it was a case now. Thank God.
“This last message,” Erickson said, looking up at Jesse and me. “The one referring to the ‘faggot boy’; is he talking about you?” He stared at me expecting an answer even though he already knew it.
Even though my stomach clenched in anxiety, I had to face up to it. “Yes sir, Jesse’s my boy.”
They conferred. “Do you think both boys are in danger?” the detective questioned his cohorts calmly.
Oh shit. The principal had already called Jesse’s mother and she was on her way to school. The last thing I needed was for them to contact my dad too. “You can’t get my father involved,” I begged. “Focus on Jesse. They aren’t after me.”
The other cop was staring at me and I think he understood the meaning behind my words. “Okay, Shane, but if you notice anything strange or you start getting notes, you must let us know immediately.” I nodded in relief.
Of course, when Jesse’s mother arrived she was fully informed and allowed to examine the warnings in all their homophobic glory. She didn’t make one negative remark about Jesse being gay and didn’t even act surprised. It was exactly as he claimed after the prom; it was like she already knew.
“I found out you were gay when you were sixteen,” she addressed Jesse, wiping a smudge of dirt off his face. “Maybe I should have told you then, but I wanted you to be ready to share it with me, not feel forced.”
“I thought you knew last month when Shane picked me up for prom and you insisted on taking our picture,” he smiled. “I was getting ready to tell you. I was worried about Grampa finding out and getting mad.”
Sandra laughed. “He knows too. You can’t hide that sort of stuff from him, Jesse. His body might not work the way it should but his mind is as sharp as a tack. And it’s okay; as you can see he isn’t angry either.”
His mother addressed me with a loving grin. “So you are Jesse’s boyfriend. Even if I didn’t know he was gay, I knew he had someone important in his life. The past four months are the happiest he’s been since he was little. I see joy every day in his eyes so I know you two love each other.”
Both Jesse and I blushed in embarrassment at her enthusiastic affirmation, and I nodded, delighted over the way his family accepted him. In fact, I was a little jealous, but now was not the time to reflect on what my parents didn’t give me that his did. I was enveloped in a big hug from her, and her eyes so much like Jesse's told me everything. She was happy for us.
Ms Capps had explained that Jesse had talked to her in April about the notes but didn’t seem overly upset by them. She was somewhat irritated that he’d hidden the extent of the threat from her, but everyone agreed how it being out in the open made Jesse a lot safer. Hopefully less of a target too, although nobody could guarantee it yet. Another definite benefit was how the cops’ direct questions and demeanor finally impressed upon Jesse that maybe he shouldn’t have been so nonchalant over them. Whatever. I was just happy that someone would be watching out for him in the future. Maybe now they'd catch the bastard.
Three hours later we were released with a series of instructions of what to do and not to do. A cop was going to the Capps’ home to look into security, and a deputy would be swinging by on a regular basis to stake out the area in case someone was hanging around. Jesse was advised not to go anywhere without a companion, and I volunteered to take him back and forth to school. Mark Butler and his friends were going to be questioned, and of course, if he received another note he was to let someone know immediately.
Officer Erickson said for us to go about our lives as normally as possible. If one of our classmates approached us about the notes, it was fine for us to acknowledge their existence and tell a detective. Maybe one of them had information that would prove useful. Above all, he told Jesse, don’t take chances and pay attention to his surroundings.
“I told you so,” was all I said as I passed through the door. I knew that mocking him would hurt his feelings, and where was triumph in that? I followed my words with a quick kiss, knowing that the campus was empty of students and I was secure. Separating in the parking lot where a deputy waited to escort him home, I headed out in the opposite direction to eat dinner and study. We texted each other all evening.
‘I’m sorry for doubting you,’ he sent me along with a smiley face.
‘It’s okay’, I messaged back. ‘You’re safe- that’s what matters.’
Our first two finals were the following morning, and we seniors only had half a day of school. We were strolling out to my car at noon when Mark Butler put himself in our path.
“What the fuck, Capps,” he demanded. “You sent the cops after me? You really are a…”
Jesse’s normal self-normal self-confidence failed him right then and he backed up in fear. I immediately jumped in to defend him. “Jesse has been getting threatening notes in his locker and on his car. The cops asked if anyone was harassing him and your name came up. If you don’t have anything to hide…”
Mark’s mouth dropped open in shock. It was the way that he looked at the both of us, like this news was the last thing he expected. However, a second emotion quickly passed through his eyes that was inscrutable and I was immediately wary, particularly when his guard went back up in a way that reminded me of a hunted animal.
“Come on,” I told Jesse. “Let’s go.” I could feel Mark’s eyes on our backs as we walked away.
“What’s that about?” he asked, half turning around.
I grabbed his arm. “Don’t look at him,” I ordered. “Call the detective when you get home.”
We drove into Santa Barbara and got tacos for lunch before I went back with Jesse to his house. Now that he was out to his family we didn’t have to hide our relationship, and I spent the afternoon watching a DVD with him in his living room. Half an hour after I arrived his grandfather shuffled out of his bedroom.
“Hi, Grampa,” Jesse greeted him in a level tone of voice, but I could see his mouth tighten as if he expected to be scolded. “How are you feeling today?”
“Fine, Jesse-boy,” he said. The tall man gazed at me without expression. “So this is your friend.”
“This is Shane,” Jesse corrected. “He’s my best friend and my…”
“Boyfriend,” Mr. Capps smiled. “I don’t mean to be rude, but whatever you are, be proud of it, Jesse.” He stared at me again, and I saw a grin edging his mouth. “I don’t bite.”
“Boyfriend,” I confirmed, hopping up to shake his hand. He pumped mine warmly in both hands.
We talked a little while longer as Jesse’s grandfather asked me about classes and graduation. He was happy to hear I played football and would be going to the same college as Jesse. After about half an hour he looked tired and Jesse helped him back to bed.
I ended up staying for dinner, but we had another day of finals the following morning so I left at seven. As I pulled away from the Capps home a police cruiser appeared and stopped at the house. The sheriff’s office was doing its job protecting Jesse.
Friday was all about our second set of finals and graduation practice in the afternoon. I worked for Uncle Carl over the weekend, and Jesse and I were only able to stay in touch by cell phone, too busy to see each other. Monday was a duplicate day of Friday.
Jesse was never without me or a family member by his side except when he was in class where he wasn’t exactly alone either. Still, after five days, there had been no break on the case, but then, Jesse hadn’t received another note either.
Dad was supposed to go to Jillian’s after work on Monday night, and Jesse got permission to come over to my house after our rehearsal. I made him pasta for dinner and we talked about our graduation in three days. Classes were over for the both of us, and it was like a load off our shoulders. I couldn’t wait for Thursday when we left high school forever and celebrated with a night at Disneyland.
We were cleaning up dinner when I heard a car door slam outside. Looking through the living room window I saw my father and Jillian approach the front door. Shit!
“What do I do?” Jesse asked, an expression of dread gracing his face.
There was no time for any deception on my part and I shrugged. Dad knew Jesse was my best friend if he remembered me mentioning his name, and I could only hope for the best.
Dad appeared startled by Jesse’s presence. I tried to play it cool. We were both fully dressed, and the Xbox and two of my video games were on the living room floor, indicating the innocuous way we’d spent our afternoon. There shouldn’t have been any trouble unless Dad chose to be an asshole.
He glared at the both of us. “Is this the boyfriend?” he demanded angrily.
My eyes flew open wide, and Jesse backed up before his wrath. Jillian glanced at the three of us uncertainly.
What. The. Hell.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, a drop of sweat trickling down my spine.
“Don’t lie to me,” my father scoffed, taking a menacing step towards me. “I have friends in the sheriff’s substation who informed me that some kid at your high school is being harassed because he’s gay. Your name came up in the report, Shane. So I want the truth. Is this your boyfriend?”
I took a big breath and let it out slowly. There didn’t seem to be any way out of this, and my father wouldn’t believe me even if Jesse wasn’t my lover. I might as well get it out in the open.
“Yeah, he is. This is Jesse.”
My father moved in my direction and I saw him raise his fist as if he was going to strike me. “Ken,” Jillian screeched, lunging at him desperately and grabbing his hand. “Don’t you dare hit Shane. Use our head and think about the repercussions.”
He struggled against her for a few minutes before giving up. “Repercussions?” he jeered. “Okay, try this, Shane. As of tomorrow you find a new place to live.”
Embarrassed at being scolded in front of Jesse and distressed over being kicked out… again… by a parent, I bristled and I could feel how close I was to losing my cool. “Oh, that’s just great. I graduate in three days and you’re kicking me out with no place to go. What the hell is wrong with you people?”
Dad pulled against Jillian’s restraining grip, and she flashed me a look that said I was pushing it to engage my father in an argument. She didn’t agree with him but they had been together long enough for her to recognize the warning signs of a full-blown temper tantrum.
“Wrong with us?” Dad glared at me as if I’d grown a second head. “What the hell is wrong with you? How many times have I told you not to fuck around like this in my house?”
“Fuck around?” I asked, heedless of his anger, keeping my anger cloaked in a deadly calm tone. “All we’re doing is eating dinner and playing video games.”
“Don’t be stupid. You know perfectly well what I mean. Do you honestly think I don’t know what goes on here when I’m not home? You and your cocksucking boyfriend…”
Jillian gasped, and Jesse’s eyes went wide as he began to tremble. I took two steps sideways to place myself between them. If Dad got a notion to start hitting again I didn’t want Jesse to bear the brunt of his anger.
“Jesus, Dad,” I shouted. “I’m bi. That’s all. I’m not sick, I’m not perverted, and I didn’t do anything to make myself this way. So what if I’m in love with Jesse. We aren’t hurting anybody. Why do you have act so ignorant? You and Mom both.”
“Why you…” He tried to interrupt, but I refused to let him say anything. My breathing was coming out in harsh gasps, and I could feel my eyes begin to water. My voice was squeaking several octaves higher than I normally spoke, but I was on a roll.
All the pain, loneliness and despair over being dumped in Calberia with nobody in my corner that I had been holding inside of me for way too long needed release. And then to be treated as if I should worship my father and deny myself the love that Jesse was willing to give me was absurd. I was already getting kicked out of the house, so I had nothing to lose.
“Loving Jesse isn’t a crime any more than being bisexual means I’m a monster, so why does everyone hate on us so much? I’m committed to him and he’s the only one I’ve been with since I moved here.” I grabbed his hand, and I saw my father’s eyes bulge. “He loves me which is more than I can say about you and Mom. He is the kindest, most loving person I have ever met.”
“Well, you can take your boy-loving, faggoty ass out of here, do you understand?” Dad raged. “Grab whatever you need for tonight and leave the rest of your stuff. You can collect it later. Just get out.”
“Ken, don’t,” Jillian warned, but he wasn’t listening. In tears I dragged Jesse back to my bedroom to pack up a few items I knew I’d need over the next couple of days.
“Are you alright,” he asked, hugging me tenderly while I cried on his shoulder.
“Yeah,” I sniffed. I wrapped my arms around him and let go for a few minutes, allowing my tears to rid myself of every fucking thing my father had said and done to me over the past half a year.
Time was wasting. I raised my head to smile at Jesse tentatively and dried my eyes. He was worth every single drop of water, and we were going to be together. That was what mattered, and I didn’t have to hide anymore. I could live my life in the daylight and be proud to be Jesse’s boyfriend. Fuck my dad!
Ten minutes later I was ready to go. I passed Dad and Jillian, and her arms were crossed over her chest angrily. My father was doing everything possible to ignore her resentment. I didn’t even give him more than a glance as we rushed by, slamming the front door behind us. Part of me was even glad to leave. This house had never been a home. Not a real one.
“Oh my god,” Jesse breathed as soon as we rushed to my Chevy. “What are you going to do now?”
“I have no fucking idea,” I muttered, wiping my face. “I guess the first thing is to get you home.”
We drove across town with Jesse on his cell phone. I was in a daze and not paying much attention to him. We were turning on to his street when he spoke to me next.
“Mom says you can sleep on the living room couch for tonight,” he chirped. “Tomorrow we’ll figure out something else.”
I sighed, grateful for at least a temporary bed. Tomorrow I’d go see my uncle and see if he had any ideas.
It was fully dark when we pulled up to Jesse’s house and black as pitch in his front yard. Jesse sprang from my car before it even came to a complete stop, and I heard movement from nearby. Thoroughly unnerved already because of my father's behavior, I turned off the ignition just as I became aware of a second person outside my vehicle.
“Hi, Jesse,” a garbled voice said from the passenger side. I screwed up my eyes to try to see the speaker but there wasn't enough light.
“Mitchell,” Jesse drawled in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
As I reached for the door handle everything that Jesse had told me about this stranger coalesced in my mind. Mitchell Butler was Mark’s older brother who had enjoyed tormenting my boyfriend last year before he graduated. What the hell was he doing in Jesse’s front yard in the middle of the night?
“Delivering a message in person since you’re too stupid to take the ones I wrote seriously.”
The ones he wrote. The messages Mitchell wrote. With instant clarity I realized that Mitchell was the penman of Jesse’s threatening letters. I spilled out of my car as fast as I could move, nearly tripping on the uneven dirt driveway in my haste to protect my boy.
“Get away from him,” I shouted wildly. “Leave Jesse alone.”
For some strange reason, Mitchell was not paying attention to the fact that my car had to have a driver. Like Jesse had been transported home by some kind of space-age auto-navigation device. At the sound of my voice he pivoted, stunned into suspension and giving us precious seconds.
At the same time my cry had been heard and alerted the occupants of the house because the front door of the house crashed open. There stood Jesse’s mother bathed in the light of the living room accompanied by a stocky young man a couple of years older than us. He pushed past her, slamming his body against the screen door on a dead run towards us.
Jesse took a longer time to digest the meaning behind Mitchell’s threat, but at last it dawned on him that his security was at stake and he moved back a few paces from the older boy just in time. I was already on their side of the Chevy about four yards away when I saw the flash of a knife in Mitchell’s hand.
“Run Jesse,” I yelled, and he bolted around me.
It was just enough to distract Mitchell. Less than a second later, the sturdy person from the house tackled him, taking him to the ground easily. Caught off guard, he dropped the knife and I kicked it away before I leapt on him too. In rage, my fists gave way and I pummeled him thoroughly, all the pent up anxiety of five months of terror behind them.
“Whoa, Superman,” the other man cautioned with a grin, capturing my hands. “I think you got him.”
I looked down and Mitchell was out cold. Already my adrenaline rush was dissipating; my knuckles had blood on them and were beginning to ache. Shit, I didn’t care, not if this was the maniac who had been threatening Jesse all this time, not if the ordeal was finally over.
As we sat on Mitchell and kept watch to make sure he didn’t threaten Jesse, Ms Capps’ telephone call connected her with the 911 operator. We were told a sheriff’s car would be dispatched right away. It was only a matter of minutes when a cruiser pulled up to investigate, and in the meantime I discovered the man who had valiantly thrown himself into protecting my boyfriend was his cousin, Chad.
So that was how Jesse’s stalker ended up getting arrested. Mitchell had some mental illness and drug use in his background, and he had been fixated on the younger boy all through high school. Upon graduation, he could no longer directly monitor what happened at school on a day-to-day basis, but he received enough information from his brother, Mark, who didn’t take kindly to Jesse’s vow to himself to stop letting people push him around.
No, Jesse couldn’t stop the words that the Butler brothers used against him, but he could control how he reacted. His first mistake, if you will, was ignoring the bullying, and when Mark complained to Mitchell that Jesse didn’t seem to care what he said, the older boy decided to make him care.
But just as Jesse didn’t pay attention to Mark’s verbal threats, he didn’t pay attention to the written ones either. By the time June rolled around, Mitchell was enraged enough to become dangerous. He decided that Jesse needed to learn a lesson. And that strange gleam in Mark’s eyes in the school parking lot? He knew immediately who was behind the notes, but he wouldn’t have said anything. Mitchell was family.
Luckily, I was with Jesse the night that Mitchell was pushed over the edge, and the County sheriff’s office took charge. He’d be going to the hospital to get stitched up, but then he was heading for jail, and considering the charges, the detective was nearly positive there would be no bail involved. It seemed that Jesse was out of harm's way. I declined a trip to the ER myself to have my hands looked at. They were battered and bruised, but I was okay.
Ms Capps and the rest of the family gave me a hero's welcome, making over me like I was some kind of savior for alerting them and keeping Jesse protected. I was grateful and embarrassed, but deep down, I was exhausted. Noting that I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, Sandra sent the family to bed while she fetched sheets for me to crash on the sofa. I was never so happy to close my eyes.
But as I was falling asleep, or maybe it was in a dream, a chilling thought came to me that almost made me sick to my stomach. Inadvertently, my father might have saved Jesse’s life. Our argument was timed perfectly for me to get Jesse home exactly when Mitchell was there and waiting but not quite ready for him, seeing as how I didn’t think he had the knife out yet. Had I just been dropping Jesse off with my mind set on returning home, it was very likely I wouldn’t have heard Mitchell talking to Jesse over the noise of the engine. Nor would I have left the car. So because I was spending the night at the Capps’ home, Mitchell was behind bars and Jesse was finally safe. Out of danger.
Early the next morning I came awake to find Jesse sitting on the floor next to my head. It was still nearly dark outside. “Hey, hero,” he whispered, giving me a kiss on the cheek.
I stretched. “Hi, Baby, is it time to get up?”
“No. Mom just left for work, and Jenna is putting on her makeup so she can leave in twenty minutes.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “How about you meet me in my room after she goes?”
“Okay,” I mumbled, stroking his jaw. “I’ll be back there later.”
I guess I must have fallen back asleep because the next thing I felt was the sensation of chilled air wisping against my skin and then warmth again as the blanket settled. Hands on my boxers fished my semi-rigid cock through the fly just before a humid mouth descended on it and began to suck it into full hardness. Jesse’s tongue wrapped itself around the head and licked the precum welling from the slit and his lips slid up and down my shaft. Deliriously, my hand found his blanketed head to hold him in place. Minutes later I was muffling my moans with the blanket as I shot ribbons of cum into Jesse’s mouth.
His head appeared from under the covers, licking his lips and his eyes blazing in the dawn light. “Breakfast is served,” he announced, giggling. “That’s the least you deserve for being my protector and keeping me alive.”
I scooted back as far into the upright cushion as I could to let Jesse lie beside me, and we made out, our hands roaming over each other, until it was nearly time to get up. Then I flipped myself to position my head at Jesse’s groin and wrapped my lips around his thick flesh, sucking him down my throat and into oblivion. We kissed some more, and I relaxed into Jesse’s arms and scent, thankful to be with him and that he was free of Mitchell's aggression at last.
Needless to say, there were two very happy and sated high schoolers showing up on the football field for graduation practice at eight o’clock. We had every reason to gloat over our change of circumstances in the past twenty-four hours.
With Mitchell caught and my secret from my father blown wide open, there was no reason to pretend anymore, and when Jesse and I weren’t running through the graduation program we were wrapped around each other or strolling the field holding hands. Sure, some ninety pairs of eyes were on us, but who the hell cared. We’d gone through enough shit in the past five months, and I no longer minded who was disturbed with my sexuality. Get used to it because Jesse and I were going to be together into eternity.
I received a text message from Carl to stop by the marina after he was done for the day. I had driven Jesse that morning even though he no longer needed protecting, and we were back at his house making lunch. I was fairly sure I already knew what this was about. Jesse seemed to know too and said he would accompany me.
The crew was still cleaning up from the day’s fishing charter, and I joined in washing down the deck of the Sorsha Lynn. Jesse pitched in putting away some of the fishing gear we kept on board, and I could see the crew liked him. Presently, all was ship-shape, and I went below to talk to Carl.
“Hey, Shane,” my uncle greeted me, and upon spying Jesse he waved at him too. “Come on down, you two.”
He pointed out an ice chest and told us to help ourselves, and Jesse brought out two cold Dr. Peppers. I sat down at the dinette table and waited. Carl had an amused grin on his face.
“I got a telephone call from your mother early this morning,” he informed me with a sharp look.
“Oh yeah,” I asked, wary. This was unexpected, and I could just imagine the news that had shot through the parental grapevine.
“She wants me to fire you.”
My jaw dropped and my eyes goggled. Jesse looked about the same and squeezed my hand hard, worried.
“It seems as if you had an altercation with your father last night,” he hinted, now chuckling. “According to Lisa, you were, and I quote, ‘flaunting your relationship with your boyfriend in front of your dad’.”
Jesse’s face turned to stone and he sputtered angrily in my defense. “That’s not what happened at all. We were eating dinner and playing on the Xbox. Shane’s dad showed up and started challenging him, and when Shane told the truth he kicked him out of the house.”
Carl nodded. “I figured it was something like that. So, what’s going on?”
“I’m homeless,” I shrugged. “Dad let me take a few changes of clothes last night but told me I have to empty out my room. I can’t go back to Mom’s, especially after what she told you. So I have no idea where I’m going.”
I sobered instantly, just realizing what I said. It was true. I was homeless, and even with picking up more hours from Carl over the summer, I didn’t have enough money to support myself.
“So how would you like to move in with me and Elaine?” he asked, studying me carefully. “We have a fourth bedroom downstairs that we aren’t using, and you would have your own bathroom. We’d charge you a small amount for rent, food and utilities, but it would be a place of your own. You can work the summer, go to college in the fall and we’ll decide then what to do next.”
“You aren’t firing me?” My voice cracked with emotion even though I shouldn’t have been surprised.
He laughed. “Of course not. Like I told you, I don’t care what your parents think. Not only are you family, but you’re a good employee. It doesn’t matter to me who you’re with as long as it doesn’t affect your work.” He glanced at Jesse and smiled.
Carl didn’t have to ask me twice. I threw myself in his arms. “Oh, thank you, Uncle Carl. You have no idea what this means to me.” Then Jesse and I grabbed hold of each other and jumped up and down as Carl laughed.
The following day after graduation practice we went to my dad’s and stripped my room of all my belongings. Elaine was waiting when we arrived at their house, and I dumped boxes in my new bedroom to be unpacked later. Declining dinner but giving her hugs and kisses of thanks, Jesse and I went out to celebrate.
The next night was graduation, and Jesse and my new high school friends yelled and cheered as I crossed the stage erected in the football stadium to get my diploma. Neither of my parents showed up and the applause I heard in the stands came from my aunt and uncle and Jesse’s family. Frankly I didn’t care. With each cruel, thoughtless rejection by my mother and father, I turned my back on my need for their approval just as surely as they turned their backs on me.
Jesse and I were at Disneyland way later having just finished the Star Tours ride when I happened to spy a familiar face. Or three faces in a group of four. Standing almost directly behind us was my Sacred Heart best bud, Gordie, another former friend, Randy Dawson, his current/my ex-girlfriend, Danae, and another girl I didn’t know who was apparently Gordie’s girlfriend. Gordie’s eyes opened wide when he saw me, and a huge smile broke out on his face.
“Shane, dude,” he yelled excitedly. The others stared up at me in shock, unsure of what I would do. All of us from my old high school knew that Randy had poached Danae from me as soon as my back was turned. They looked like they wanted to melt into the sidewalk, but Gordie joyously threw his arms around me in a giant hug. I could tell he was genuinely happy to see me.
The rest ambled over to where we stood, and there was a minute of strained, silent embarrassment, like when you meet up with people you haven’t seen in months and don’t know what to say. Jesse turned to me with an anxious frown, and I squeezed his arm soothingly as I quietly explained I had attended school with them when I lived down south.
Introductions were quickly made. “This is my boyfriend, Jesse,” I said proudly, putting my arm around his waist.
Danae’s face turned fuchsia and Randy grimaced. Gordie’s girlfriend whom I suddenly remembered was named Megan tried to smile but couldn’t quite manage it. Gordie was the only one who didn’t seem to mind. He slapped and bumped Jesse’s hand, and his smile never went flat. Yeah, I guess he’s still a good friend even if we don’t live in the same city anymore.
“So dude,” Gordie exclaimed, nearly falling all over himself with excitement, “What are your plans? You coming back to Rancho Martinez for the summer?”
“No way!” My face scrunched up in disgust. “I wouldn’t live with my mother if you paid me. She has turned into such a bitch. I’m working for her brother on his boats, and she tried to get me fired because I’m gay.”
“Fuck that,” Gordie sympathized while the other kids looked at their feet. I also felt Jesse startle, as if he understood what I was implying. “So where are you going to school next fall?”
I smiled at Jesse, and the look of adoration he gave back made my heart soar. “Hope Ranch Community up near Calberia. Jesse and I are going to school together.”
“I thought you had a football scholarship for back east.” Randy spoke up for the first time and his tone was mocking. Suddenly I wanted to get away from these creeps. I could care less what they thought of me.
“I did,” I acknowledged. “I gave it up. I’ll probably get scouted in two years, and then Jesse and I will move to wherever I end up playing.” I squeezed Jesse a little harder. “No way am I going to leave my boy.”
I could see by the sour faces on all but Gordie that they thought I had made a big mistake, but that was their opinion, not mine. I was just being polite, and these people who were no longer important in my life? I didn't give a fuck what they thought. Jesse was the best thing that ever happened to me. We had been through a lot and he was my future now.
We conversed a few minutes longer, and Gordie told me to keep in touch, much to his girlfriend’s dismay. They sauntered off with disgusted looks back, and I kissed Jesse on the cheek.
He nudged me in the ribs. “Gay, huh? I thought you were bi.”
I put my hands on his shoulders. “Whatever you need me to be,” I replied, and then I began to sing. Not great mind you because I can't carry a tune, but he got my meaning. “And if you want another kind of love I'll wear a mask for you.”
“You’ve come a long way, Blondie,” he exclaimed enthusiastically, squeezing my hand.
“Um, maybe,” I retorted. I stared into his eyes. “I love you, Jesse. I hope you know how much.”
He giggled. “Enough to get kicked out of your dad’s house, wrestle crazed stalkers to the ground and stand up to your old friends? Yeah, I know how much. And I love you too.”
With another kiss, we wandered off, hands clasped together. Surely, somewhere there was another thrilling Disney ride I hadn’t taken Jesse on where he would have to cling to me. Maybe I’d buy him a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. Oh, and there was that quiet little restaurant that overlooked Pirates of the Caribbean where we could probably make out if we got a table in the back.
I contentedly considered my future. Who needed parents when I had Jesse’s family and their blessing? He was my family. Work over the summer, college in the fall, but my life finally felt complete and I couldn’t wait. I had my lover by my side and we made each other happy. I knew I’d found my forever and Jesse was it. That’s what love is all about.
© 2013 by Janelle Caves