See the big dude sitting next to me on the bed with tousled dirty-blond hair falling over his eyes? See how his big hands hang between his spread legs, his long fingers flying on the controller with precision as they hit the buttons?
See the way he’s biting his bottom lip between his teeth while fighting aliens on the screen in front of us as if his life depends on it?
So fucking hot, right?
His name is Ares Carter. If I were to choose between Iron Man and Ares Carter to give me mouth-to-mouth, the decision would be a no-brainer.
Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the glorious world of Noah Jensen.
“So, what do you think?” Ares asks. He pauses the game, then drags his fingers through his hair before side-eyeing me.
The question startles me out of my thoughts, causing my fingers to freeze on the controller.
Breathe, Noah. Then he shifts his arm brushing mine, and I hold my breath for a few seconds. His boxers start to slide up, exposing more of his thighs. My body tenses, my blood leaving my brain and rushing to my dick. His toned thighs play a starring role in my dreams. Sitting next to him is pure bliss and hellish torture.
I love and hate it; hate because I can’t do anything about it. Love it because there’s no other place I’d rather be.
He nudges me in the ribs with his elbow. A shiver rolls down my spine at the contact, sending heat to my dick.
Shit. Shit. FUCK.
I tug down the white Iron Man T-shirt I’m wearing to hide the boner, then start chanting inside my head. . . One Mississippi, two Mississippi. . . by the time I get to ten, everything’s almost back to normal down south.
Ares will be the death of me.
“You okay, Jensen?”
I swallow hard and nod, then shift subtly on the bed, putting distance between us. I can’t even remember what we were talking about before, so I blink at him, meeting his amused gaze. His eyes remind me of gray clouds right before a storm rolls in.
Jesus. I hope I don’t look like a colossal idiot. “What do I think about what?”
He rolls his eyes. “Focus, Bruh. You’re my wingman. I need you.” He says the latter in a husky, pleading voice.
I’m sure it’s not intentional on his part, but I can’t stop my stupid body from reacting to that voice.
My fingers grip the controller as I try to bring my emotions under control.
He needs me.
“So, I’ll pick Livvie up at seven,” he interrupts my inner chant. “Then we’ll head to Mirabelle’s Grill for dinner.”
And there lies the crux of my problem.
Ares has it bad for Livvie.
Me? I’m crushing on Ares so bad I can’t see straight.
He likes her and I like him. I more than like him.
Fuck. My. Life.
“Sounds great,” I say, infusing as much enthusiasm into those two words as I can manage.
He studies me with a frown. “We cool though, right?”
“Why wouldn’t we be cool?”
“She’s your best friend and I just swooped in and-”
I wave my hand, cutting him off. “Chill, Carter. She’s like a sister to me, so if you do anything to hurt her, I’ll make your life a living hell.”
He rubs his hands together, his trademark cocky grin making an appearance.
“Maybe you can bring a date too? That dude you’ve been chatting with on that app?” His brows dip in a frown as he adds, “We could double date?”
“Double date . . .Yeah. Sure.” I choke on the words. “We’ll meet you guys there.”
“I like her a lot. I need a buffer, you know, in case I make things weird.” I’ve never seen him this nervous. It’s cute, to be honest.
I snort. “You’re like the King of being Suave.”
He looks doubtful for like two seconds. The look is gone, replaced by an easy smile. “I am, aren’t I?”
I shake my head and chuckle. “Wow, so humble.”
He tosses the controller on the bed, stands up and flashes me a cocky grin. And all I can think about is I know the taste of that grin. And fuck, it tastes like Heaven.
Last Halloween, I went to Halloween Party a kid from school was having. Alcohol flowed like water. People got drunk. Someone suggested a game of Blindfold where two people wearing a blindfold went inside the designated room. They’d kiss or whatever, then come out and try to identify the person they kissed.
Ares and I ended up in the room. I didn’t know it was him at that time. Our hands fumbled as we reached for each other in the dark. I remember the sound of his gasp as our lips blindly sought each other. The way his hands trembled as he cupped my face, running his palms against the light stubble on my jaw.
“I’ve never kissed a dude before,” he whispered hoarsely. It was hard to tell whether he was nervous or excited.
I didn’t say anything for fear of him knowing he was kissing, me, his best friend. It’d make things awkward later. So I dug my fingers into his hair and pulled him down. My morals may be a little crooked when it comes to Ares, but just look at him. Can you really blame me?
So. . . where was I?
Ah yes. The Kiss that made my previous kisses seem insignificant. Within seconds, Ares hips were pressed into mine, his hands gripping my head as he deepened the kiss. The hard bulge in his jeans told me how excited he was.
It was quite an eye-opening experience.
Now, I’m watching him stretch his body. Sinewy muscles roll and tense, reminding me of the first time I saw him at school on my way to the lab. Ares was sprinting across the field with a lacrosse stick in his hands. He was all focus and speed and intensity as he did a split dodge, then passed the ball to one of the guys in his team.
So when Coach announced try-outs for the lacrosse team, I showed up. I’d never played lacrosse in my life. I remember asking myself, how hard would it be. I had speed and I’d like to think I was quite sporty. Running with a stick in a field while avoiding being knocked over by guys who were bigger than you was nothing. All I had to do was to focus. Get it done.
Turned out I was wrong. The try outs were gruelling. I made the team. I’ve worked hard to stay on the team ever since.
Ares strides forward confidently and stops at the doorway. He reaches up and grips the pull-up bar above his head. With his back to me, he pulls himself up, the black wife beater sliding up to display his trim waist. I swallow hard, my gaze landing on the two indents peeking out where his boxers hug his hips.
Subtly, I adjust myself in my shorts then sit and greedily feast my eyes.
What? You think it’s wrong for me to look at him? Well, I don’t. Not when he’s shamelessly putting himself on display. I regret nothing, other than the case of blue balls in my shorts.
“Show off,” I say, when I’ve had my fill.
He laughs. He swings his body forward, before releasing the bar and landing on the floor with the Iron Man three-point pose.
And there goes my boner again.
He faces me and shrugs, lifts his arms and kisses one bicep then the other.
“You should workout with me and the guys. Your arms are too skinny.”
I frown, conscious of my much thinner frame. “Fuck you. They’re not skinny.”
He walks to me, breaching my personal space and grasps one of my biceps. His mouth curls up and I want to wipe that smile off his face. Preferably with my mouth. His eyes shift to hold mine captive. “Skinny.”
Have you ever taken a minute or two, and wondered about life? Wondered how someone can play such a huge role in your life, literally taking over your life without them noticing how much they affect you? How that someone can make your heart skip several beats to the point where you feel like you’re having a massive heart attack with just a look?
Ares is my someone.
In an attempt to save my sanity, I shove his hands away from me and walk to the door.
“See you later?” he asks. I pause and look over my shoulder to find him adjusting himself in his boxers before dropping back on the bed.
I cough to dislodge the lump in my throat. “Um, I have a family thing today.” His brows dip in confusion.
Ares and I go for a run every evening. It’s our thing.
Today, I’m breaking tradition. I need a few hours away from him to just think and regroup.
“I promised my mom and sister a night in. Mani-pedis and shit.”
The look of confusion on his face clears. “Sweet.” He grabs the controller, his focus switching to the screen in front of him, and mutters, “Never had one of those before. I should join you next time, just for the experience, you know. In case I die like next month. . .”
My heart beat accelerates, my mind replaying his words. Join me next time? What does that even mean? “Of course.”
I walk out of his room and head downstairs, my thoughts in a jumble. I’m probably reading too much into his words, but holy shit.
When I get home, Mom and Sophia are already sitting on the brown couch in the living room with their feet ankles-deep in white bowls filled with water. Little bubbles from the jet pop and fizzle every few seconds.
“Smells like Sylvia’s Spa in here,” I mutter, glancing around just in time to see Sylvia walk into the living room with towels in her arms. “And I love it,” I add quickly when I see her frown.
Sylvia is my mom’s best friend from school.
“Just in time,” Mom says, patting the spot on her left. “Grab a bowl from the bathroom upstairs and join us.”
Ten minutes later, I’m sitting on the couch with my feet inside the bowl. I pull out my phone from my shorts pocket and tap on the DAF app-date and flirt- on the screen.
I stare morosely at my empty inbox and sigh. Seriously, where the hell are all the gay men? I’ve been using this app for over two months. I haven’t even come close to finding a great match. Sure, I’ve gotten a few matches here and there. Some from guys who’re eager to explore their sexuality. A few from married guys who’re looking for a side piece, then run back to their wives when they are done with their adventure.
Sorry, Fuckers. Noah Jensen is no one’s side piece.
When I came out to everyone two years ago-at home and school- I knew my life would change. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I was up for the challenge, though. But lately, I’ve been feeling hope dwindle slowly.
I’m about to shove the phone back inside my pocket when the screen lights up with a message notification from Mace26. I almost squeal in surprise and to be honest, glee. We’ve been writing on and off-mostly off and not for lck of trying on my part-the past two weeks or so. In my last message I asked him if he wanted to meet for coffee or water or something. Whatever caught his fancy. I thought I’d messed my chances when he didn’t message back and given up.
Did I mention he’s one-word answers kind of dude?
I tap on his profile photo. An image of a jaw and throat fills my screen. A very hot jaw and throat. I have no idea how he looks like. I really understand wanting to remain anonymous on this dating apps.
I sigh, trying to think of a way to ask him if he’d like to go on a double date with me and my two best friends. I don’t want to look like I’m too eager. At the same time, I AM eager. I’m seventeen. I’ve never experienced the all consuming kind of love where you feel like you can’t breathe until you touch the person your heart belongs to.
I’m tired of being alone. I need someone to talk to, cuddle with, have sex with. . . and I don’t care if it makes me seem like a needy person. What can I say? I’m a growing boy. Growing boys need to let off steam too.
Heat pools in my crotch just thinking about being intimate with someone. And not just anyone.
But he’s so straight, straighter than a straight line.
“Everything okay, honey?” my mother asks, interrupting my train of thought.
My gaze leaves my phone and meets hers, taking in the concerned furrow of her brow.
I open my mouth wanting to lay my current woes in her lap. She always knows what to say. I know she will understand because she is my mother, which is precisely the reason why I snap my mouth shut and push the words back down my throat. She worries about me a lot. I need to show her that I can handle my own shit and come out with my fists pumping the air in triumph.
I paste a smile on my face and glance at her. “Yeah. I’m spending the evening with my two favourite girls. I couldn’t ask for more.”
I can tell that Mom isn’t buying what I’m selling. Sophia too, given the slight narrowing of her eyes. They know me too well.
“Did that boy write back? The one on that app?” Mom asks, twisting her body in my direction.
I glance down at the screen and nod.
“And?” Sophia prompts impatiently. She’s two years younger than me, but I swear she acts like such an adult most days.
“Do you think it’s weird if I asked him to go out with me on a double date with Ares and Livvie?”
Sophia’s eyes light up. “Ares and Livvie are going out?”
“Yeah,” I reply with forced cheer. Sophia and Livvie are in Drama club, which seems to have made their bond even stronger.
She grins and sits back. “Oh, my gosh. Their kids are going to look amazing.”
I glare at her before I can hold back my reaction.
“What?” she asks. “They’re both hot.”
It’s taking all my strength to smooth the glare into something resembling a smile.
“Sure.” The image of Ares and Livvie’s kids running around in a backyard somewhere pops in my head. I breathe through the pain in my chest caused by that mental picture.
“Are you okay with them dating?” My mom asks, her eyes too keen. Her voice so gentle. Is it wrong to want to crawl on her lap and let her hold me; squeeze my troubles away the way she used to when I was a kid?
I nod and wiggle in another smile.
“Are you worried about Livvie being with Ares? I know he’s a ladies man, but I’ve seen the way he looks at Livvie. He really likes her.”
“He’s not a player,” I defend him. Mom raises a brow, clearly not buying it, but I’m feeling a little moody. I really don’t have the energy to argue. I want to just sit back and relax, push Ares out of my mind for the next hour or so.
Ares is not really a player. It’s just a front he puts up for everyone and people gobble it like the gospel. His last relationship lasted two years. He’d been so sure that she was the woman he’d spend his life with. When it ended, he was crushed. I fed him chicken soup for weeks, slowly bringing him back to life. He’s such a big romantic with big dreams.
Silvia enters the room, smiling at us. She grabs a stool and plants it in front of my sister, then lays a towel on her lap before placing Sophia’s hands in her lap. Without a word, she starts working on her nails.
Mom squeezes my hand, the one still holding my phone. “Prince Charming will walk into your life one of these days, honey.”
“He really doesn’t have to be a prince. How will I know he’s the one?” I mumble.
“You are my son. You deserve a prince, hell you deserve a king.” She winks at me. “You’ll know. He’ll sweep you off your feet and love you the way you’re supposed to be loved. With reckless abandon.”
“I hope so. I want to have the kind of love you and dad have,” I say, wistfully. My parents have been each other’s sweethearts since middle school. Nothing stood in their way of loving each other.
“You will, Noah. Never underestimate the power of Fate.” She winks at me, then sits back with a serene smile.
I glance down at the screen and quickly type. “You’re not opposed to double-dates, by any chance?”
Seconds later, a message pops up. “No.”
I grin wide, but I’m about to type my next message when another one flashes on my screen.
Tell me when and where. I’ll meet you there.
I stare at the message for a few seconds, momentarily surprised that he wrote more than two words.
I type out the address, then toss my phone on the coffee table. I spend the rest of the evening wrapped in lavender and peppermint oil, silently praying for strength to survive the double date.
These chapters are unedited and unproofed.