The rest of my day in that place was a constant sugar rush of painfully potent emotions. I had been literally shivering inside since Dustin had called me over to talk. I found myself pacing behind the counter, unable to keep my thoughts in order. I could hardly even breathe without whimpering softly to myself at the thought of that boy being with me. And God forbid if I were to look across that hall and actually catch sight of Dustin doing something....'cute'. Oh who am I kidding? He was always doing something cute. Even when he wasn't doing anything at all, he was doing something cute. Love sunk its meathooks in me pretty deep, until it was harder to break free than it was to leave them in. Why was I so uncontrollably tangled up in his irresistable charm? Why couldn't I just stop? Why did he have to feel anything for me in return? If he didn't, this would be a lot easier to dismiss. This isn't supposed to happen! He's supposed to be an innocent little boy. The idea of being with someone my age should repulse and offend him. He should find me creepy and old and weird. What am I doing? I am so going to hell for this. I just....I want my LIFE back! A life where these thoughts and fantasies were 'fun', and 'harmless', and carried with them no heavy consequences. Sighhhh....I LOVE this feeling in my heart, but I seriously miss the comfort that comes from knowing that it was just a dirty thought in the back of my fucked up mind. Something that no one could ever find out about. This was just so....UGH!
And then, as though he could hear my own thoughts getting the best of me, Dustin looked up from the stack of cds that he was putting away, and smiled at me from across the hall. There was a delicate blush rushing to his cheeks, and he lowered his eyes again. I don't know why, but I found myself smiling right along with him. It was automatic, and I couldn't stop, even when I realized that I was doing it. Dustin started giggling sweetly to himself as he tried to keep the feeling locked inside. All it took was the magic of his visible joy to make me fall flat on my face again. It was ridiculous to love someone with such a loss of control. My heart was overflowing with so much sentimental ooze that I could hardly stand without leaning against something. And, to be totally honest....it terrified me.
Dustin and I had been together for two weeks now. If together is what you can call it. Two completely 'hands off' weeks of hidden kisses, secretive whispers, and boyish giggles, between us. It still blows my mind to think that I was actually kissing those lovely young lips of his in the front seat of my car a few weeks ago. I had actually tasted his tongue, and felt his sizeable lump pressed against me. And boy did I think about it often. But I had been good. I had been responsible and careful and wanted to take things extremely slow with him and his heart. No matter HOW much my body was screaming inside for some kind of physical connection with this delicate angel, I was able to restrain myself from anything naughty. But I yearned for his gentle touch something awful. All day long. He never left my mind, not even for a second. And that made me starve even worse for some kind of intimate bond between us. It didn't have to be some kinda hardcore pornographic sexual interlude or anything....I just...I wanted to be able to hold him tight to my side when we walked out to my car at night. I wanted to kiss him goodbye when he got out to skip happily into his house. I wanted to hold his hand on top of the lunchtable in the food court, and rub my thumb back and forth over his long fingers and smooth knuckles. Geez, I just wanted to be able to stare at him the way I wanted to stare without having to worry if someone else would see me. But the slightest display of affection was...well...dangerous for us. No matter how much he encouraged it, no matter how badly I wanted it, there just seemed to be this huge monsterous beast of an obstacle standing between us at all times. And there were times that I was kinda glad that the monster was there. It helped me to keep control. I doubt that anything else, including my common sense, would.
But GOD, did I ever want more! I hid it with everything I had to give....but I craved SO much more.
The clock was ticking, and we were getting closer and closer to the end of my shift. I was getting anxious. Or was it just plain fear that was making me shake like this? Dustin wanted me to take him food shopping...and then help him inside with the groceries. And that's all I'm going to do, right? That's it. I'll help, I'll provide transportation, I'll carry a few bags inside, and then I'll leave. Easy. As long as Dustin and I are 'public', I can stay scared enough to keep me out of jail. That would help, but not much. Because, even though the idea of going jail used to be enough to restore complete faith in my ability to say 'don't touch'...all of that had changed since the night Dustin told me he loved me. My whole LIFE had changed since then.
"The boss man wants the floor vaccuumed before we go tonight. He 'swears' up and down that he saw *A* dust bunny in the corner or something. Heaven help us all...not *A* dust bunny!" Jack said, a bit of his bitter comedy helping him to relieve the tension of the day. "So do you wanna fix the shelves and have me vaccuum, or would you rather vaccuum while I fix the shelves?"
"You hate vaccuuming, Jack." I reminded him, calling his bluff.
"Hehehe, well, you could at least allow me to provide you with the illusion of choice." He giggled.
"Whatever. Just so long as I get to keep busy."
Jack looked over my shoulder for a second, then shook his head a bit with a smile. "You know...that jailbait across the hall is constantly looking over here. He must be trying to get your attention again or something, because it's even worse than usual tonight."
"Oh....really?" I said, instantly getting nervous about him noticing any behavior that connected us. "You...you know, I hadn't really noticed."
"You HAVE to notice, Eric. Hehehe, he absolutely adores you. He looks downright depressed over there on the days you're not working."
"Yeah...well...you know." Stop it Jack. Don't pry where you're not welcome. Just let it go and forget about it.
"What do you guys talk about when you hang out together?"
"Huh?" I wanted him to...just...STOP! Stop getting involved, stop thinking about it, stop watcing us. It's got nothing to do with him, so just....leave it alone. Please? I realize that I could have told him anything and he would have believed me. It's not like we were screwing each other in the mall bathroom or anything. Oh God...what an image that just put in my head! Anyway, I could have made up something, but my mind got clogged up all of the sudden. Locked up completely as it searched its so-called spontaneous archive of deliberate lies. I found myself lost for words. "What do you mean?"
"You two hang out all the time, you're practically his big 'brother' at this point, you two have got to talk about something." Jack asked, looking at me while I did my best to avoid his eyes.
"Nothing really. Just...stuff." I said, avoiding his eyes. I was trying desperately not to turn red, hoping not to tip off any hidden instincts he might have about this sorta thing. "Say, I think we need some more windex from the back if you're gonna wipe down the shelves and straighten stuff up..."
"I'll get to it, don't sweat it." I was assuming he'd go get it right away. I figured it would force him and his inquiring mind to concentrate on something else. Anything else. But he just stood there, and then he asked me, "You know, if I didn't know you better, I'd think you had yourself a little 'boy crush' on him, Eric. Hehehe, pervert!"
"What? That's ridiculous." I said, already feeling the burn of his accusation synging the hairs on the back of my neck. "We're just...friends. Geez, don't be so 'extra', Jack."
"Don't be so what? What the heck does THAT mean?" He said with a smile.
"It's...it's nothing. You wouldn't get it, ok? Just...just forget it." I had forgotten how much of a bad influence that boy had been on me the past two months. But I hadn't forgotten how much I enjoyed how it felt.
"Well, whatever you two are up to, it must be a lot of fun. He seems to be awfully wrapped up in you. He looks at you like you're Santa Clause or something. You'd better watch your back though. Those horny teenagers will fuck anything with a hole."
"Are you gonna straighten the shelves, or am I gonna have to take back my offer to vaccuum the floor?" I said, trying to sound like I was just playing along with the game. But deep down, I was shaken that Jack could tell that we were hanging out as much as we were. That he could tell we were close. That he wonders what I could possibly have to talk about with a fourteen year old boy on a daily basis. So.....people DO notice us. They DO see what's going on, don't they? I've been so lost in the feeling, so blinded by my affection and my attraction, that I honestly believed that we were invisible with our flirtatios behavior. That Dustin and I spending so much time together was as normal to everyone watching as it felt for the two of us. I was wrong. I was seriously wrong. And it hurt to consider the fact that...we might have to calm down on hanging out so much. Less time with Dustin...sighhhh...that's gnawing a hole in my spirit already. "GO already! I wanna get outta here when w close up shop."
"Alrght, alright, geez! I was just kidding, you know? When did you get so sensitive?" Jack grinned, and finally walked away to fix up the store. I took a peek across the hall, and saw Dustin already looking over at me with a smile. The second our eyes met, I saw his knees dip a little bit, and he had to bite his lip to keep from snickering to himself. He was so beautiful when he was being shy. He kept up a pretty good act of being 'cool' enough to not let his emotions shine through too clearly on most occassions. But every now and then, that bashfullness would overtake him and he'd be left squirming in his own skin while trying to keep his light weight body anchored to the ground. It made my heart inflate to epic proportions to see him being so cute. It was adorable to think that such an amazing boy actually thought that he had anything to be worried about. As soon as I heard Jack come closer, I immediately put a lock on that wonderful sensation, and looked down at the counter to keep from watching him. I shut down my emotions, straightened out my smile, and just forced the joy back into its hiding place. That painful spot right underneath my ribs, where it ached and moaned from being so starved of Dustin's love. How am I gonna dettach myself from all of this? And when? I've already gotten too deep to stop now.
I started running the vaccuum a few minutes later, the hum of it letting our few straggling customers know that they should be getting out soon. It only made me more nervous though, realizing that the minutes were ticking by faster than any other workday I've ever experienced in this place. And when Jack went to lower the gate in front of the store and close the register down...I knew it was almost time to be near him again. I was hoping that some form of adult conscience would start building its defenses, expertly steering me clear of any and all dangerous activity. But as I saw Dustin rushing around trying to finish up his last minute duties just so he could meet me out in the hall after work...the only thing I felt building up was excitement. Uncontrolled, unrestricted, unapologetic...excitement. I don't think I was ready for this.
I walked underneath the gate, and watched Jack close it all the way down to the floor, locking it up for the night. "Alright, so what time are you in tomorrow?" He asked me, walking forward.
"Um....I'm actually off tomorrow. So...I'll probably see you in a few days." I was slowly holding back from following him out, and he noticed right away. Jack stopped walking after a couple of steps, and turned around to see what was up.
"What are you doing?" He asked.
"Nothing....." I stalled my conversation, but Jack figured it out when he saw the lights of the music store going off. He gave me a look, as though to silently tell me that I was being 'pathetic' or something. Why did he even CARE??? Why is he suddenly monitoring us so closely these days! FUCK! Just go home, and leave us the hell alone! Jack raised his eyebrows, and I mumbled out an excuse. "...He...he doesn't have a ride home...so..."
"He's got the bus."
"I....I kinda promised him that...I would..."
"Whatever, man. I don't even wanna know." Well, why the hell did you ASK me then! It's not like I expected you to understand anyway. "I'll see you later, perv-boy!" And I HATE IT when he calls me a pervert! I'm NOT a fucking pervert! Perverts sneak into elementary school locker rooms to steal an 8 year old's underoos and pull them over their face while jacking off in the back of a dirty white van. Perverts get a boner and ask their nephew to sit on their lap so he can bounce around until they cum in their pants. Perverts just want sex from any boy, at any time, in any way they can get it! And it's true, I used to think that was me all the way....but you know what? It's not. I'm not just drooling over a tight hairless ass on some faceless boy anymore. I'm actually 'feeling' something here. I'm laughing when there's nothing to laugh about, dreaming while I'm awake, stealing glances at him from across the hall while he does the same to me. This isn't some random fantasy, this feels like...like actual love. Like every love that I've ever felt before in my life, with NO difference other than it's stronger than usual because Dustin is more perfect than any of the other relationships that I've ever entertained. His mischevious grin alone is enough to send me into orbit, and sex just seems like some possible added bonus to already being in love with the most beautiful creature on the planet. What's 'perverted' about that? What's unnatural about that? Am I just gonna pretend NOT to fucking notice how amazing he is, and continuously break his heart, just because he's a bit younger than what people think is appropiate. The people who think that don't even KNOW Dustin! They've never been exposed to his wicked sense of humor. They've never had an actual in depth conversation with him. They've never had him sit across a table from them, sunshine glistening in his hair, and just have him giggle and blush and stare at them as he sucks up every single word they're saying over a burger and fries. So who are these invisible judges telling him that he's too young for someone to find him attractive? Whoever they are, I certainly hope they didn't send Jack as a representative to speak for them. Because they're gonna have to do better than that.
Dustin came over the second his manager finished inspecting his bag. One of those things retailers do before they let you leave for the night. He was practically bouncing on his heels by the time she let him go, skipping his way over to meet me with the cheesiest grin ever invented. "Sorry. I'm ready." He said, short of breath.
The smile was almost blinding in its brilliance. He was really anxious to just...spend time with me again. As the adult, I'm supposed to pretend that I didn't feel it too, right? "Hehehe, come on. Grocery shopping, we will go." I started walking, and his energy kept him springing up and down with every step beside me. He was nearly running circles around me when we made it out to the car. I can't believe how easy it is to make him THIS happy. "Alright, so where are we going?" I asked after getting him to strap on his seatbelt.
"Um...I don't care. Just...somewhere far away." He said. "I wanna just ride with you for a while."
"How sweet..." I said with a roll of my eyes.
"I mean...we don't HAVE to. I just thought...you know...whatever." He was grinning when he said it, but he had this adorable way of always worrying whether or not he was 'bothering' me. If I had a quarter for everytime he asked if he was annoying me, we could buy ourselves an island and live happily ever after.
"I know a place. And it's not too close, I promise." I said, increasing the wattage in his already amazingly bright smile.
I was in no hurry to get there, believe me, and we just kinda coasted around for a while. Dustin could be a natural chatterbox when he was excited, stringing together one speedy run on sentence after another as I tried to keep from grinning like a lovestruck idiot the whole time. My heart would do backflips whenever I heard him speak. I loved his youthful voice, and the charm of his every word and expression. And every once in a while, he'd throw in a quick, "I'm sorry! Am I talking too much?" I'd assure him that he wasn't, and he'd pick up right where he left off, for another five minute ramble. It was so cute that it was hard to keep my eyes on the road. I wanted to actually look over at him and see the sparkle in his eyes, and the expression on his face, and the gestures his hands made. I was falling in love all over again, and since it was just the two of us alone...I began to wonder if I could just...let myself...enjoy this warm feeling. Just for a little while.
When we got to the grocery store, Dustin was almost all talked out. But I'm sure he'd get a second wind soon. We were walking from the parking lot into the store, and as I saw a gentle summer breeze blow back the long strands of his golden hair, showing me the beauty of his blue eyes...I lost myself in his subtle grace. I don't know what happened to me, but....he was just...walking close to me, and he was looking so gorgeous, and my mind was tying itself in a knot. So I just...reached out my arm to touch one of his slim shoulders...and pulled him into me to give him a kiss on the top of his blond mop. I don't know why I did it, but it was something that I just had to do at that particular moment. I couldn't help myself. God...when my lips pressed themselves against his head...and the sunshine scent of his clean locks intoxicated my senses...I suddenly felt weightless. My entire body tingled, and when he realized what was going on, he immediately wrapped his arms around my waist from the side. He pressed the side of his face against my chest, and just gave me the most lovable squeeze. Sighhh...am I creating an even bigger problem here by encouraging this? Am I pulling him in a direction that he doesn't wanna go? I should stop. Seriously. Let go. Well...maybe I'll hold him for just a few more seconds. Just until we get inside the store. I just needed a little physical contact to keep me sane.
He actually clung to my waist for a few moments longer after I had let him go. He nearly ran into the side of the door, and it was then that I realized that his eyes were closed. "Hehehe, shit. I'm sorry." He mumbled softly, blushing at his momentary loss of cool. "I'll grab us a cart!" He said with an unexpected burst of energy, and quickly moved away from me. I missed his warmth almost instantly. I looked down, noticing a single blond hair left on my shirt, and I honestly sighed to myself. Can you BELIEVE this??? I am sighing to myself in public over something as stupid as a single hair on my shirt. The only thing scarier than having my feelings spin out of control was the fact that I loved it so much. "Ok, come on!" I reached for the cart, but Dustin promptly smacked tha back of my hand to get me to let it go. "Mine." He giggled, and pushed the cart forward. I almost had another 'touchy feely' moment when he did that, but I let it go. No need to draw more attention to ourselves.
You know, after just a few seconds of being in Dustin's presence around other people...I began to feel the awkwardness creep in between us. But the strange thing is...it was my fault. It felt like I was forcing it. Like I was trying so hard to be ashamed of myself that I had forgotten why I should be. Dustin was totally fine being seen with me, and the people around us in the store hardly gave us a second look. I mean, it wasn't like I had his shirt up over his head and started rubbing his nipples in the frozen fod aisle. We were just...'together'. I felt silly trying to be self conscious when Dustin was so normal about it all. I just needed to calm down, that's all. I looked over at him, and he leaned into me with his shoulder, the cutest smirk on the edges of his lips. His smile was the only thing that helped me to relax.
"Hey, how much money do you have on you?" He asked me suddenly.
"Hehehe, no way! I'm not buying your parents dinner. This is your special night, not mine."
"I know, I know. I'm just asking, just in case I don't have enough for everything."
"Well, you'll just have to shop 'smart' then, won't you?" I said.
"Aww, you're mean." He grinned. "If you loan me five bucks, I could work it off later." He gave me a wicked look, and I rolled my eyes with a smile.
"Whatever." It was hard not to let him invade you with his charm. He could be so addictive. "How do you even know that you're gonna need five dollars? What are you cooking?"
"Um...I don't know. What do you like?" He asked, his baby blue eyes enchanting me with their purity.
"Hehehe, what's THAT got to do with anything?"
"Well, if you like it, I'm sure my parents will like it too."
"That's not necessarily so. They might hate it."
"My parents? Hehehe...trust me, they'll like it. They're all about 'encouraging their child's talents' and all that. I could make them a bowl of cooked roaches and they'd smile and try to keep it down just so they won't discourage me from trying agan." He giggled. "So...come on...tell me what you like." Then added. "Mind you, I'm a little bit new to this whole cooking thing. So there's not a whole lot I know how to make."
"Nice fine print." I grinned. "Well what DO you know how to cook?"
"Just spaghetti and cheesburgers." He sorta lowered his voice, realizing that it didn't leave me much of an option. He kept his smile, but his eyes showed that he was a little embarrassed at his limited experience.
"You know...I just so happen to love spaghetti."
He brightened up immediately. As though I had slipped a winning lotto ticket into his pocket. "You DO? Great! I can make an AWESOME spaghetti! You'll love it!"
"You mean your parents will love it."
"Whatever! I'll bring you some in a bowl tomorrow at work!"
"What? My dad's fat enough, anyway. I'll hide you some. Ok?" He was so anxious that I had to nod my head in agreement to keep him from bouncing around so much.
"Hahaha! Alright, alright...I'll take some. It better be good though."
"It'll be the best I ever made. Promise." He said pushing the cart again. "Ok, so I'll need the 'good' sauce this time. I might need that five dollars afterall."
"What happened to shopping smart?"
"That was before I knew you liked spaghetti. Now I've gotta make it special." He started pushing a bit faster, and I walked behind him to keep up. Then he stopped on a dime, and as always, I ran right into the back of him. "Hehehe, oops!" He grinned. The little brat got me AGAIN! He made sure to stick his butt out and arch his back so that he pushed himself tightly against the front of my pants. Oh God, I never got tired of feeling the sponge like softness of those cute little buns against me. They were firm and soft at the same time. How does youth manage to find that amazing balance? We sort of 'bounced' off of each other when he did it, and I blushed furiously as I tried to hide my excitement.
"Move..." I said, pointing forward, trying to keep a straight face and failing miserably.
"I know you liked it." He smiled, and pushed forward again. I took a little peek down, and watched a hint of those round little globes move up and down inside the back of his pants. Sighhh...every inch of him was adorable. I looked up, and he was looking back over his shoulder with a smile. Shit...he caught me. Why do I get the feeling that he's gonna tease me mercilessly about this?
We grabbed the noodles, he got some parmesan cheese, a pound of ground beef, and some frozen garlic bread. The more time I spent with him, the more I wanted to hold him. The more he smiled, the more I wanted to kiss those pouty lips. And after another purposely performed 'oops' incident, I learned to stay on my guard to keep it from happening again. Hehehe, not that he didn't try. He kept stopping, and sticking his ass even further out than before, and I kept stopping in time to keep from running into the back of him. Until one time, he stuck it out so far that he nearly fell backwards and I had to catch him. We both shared a lighthearted chuckle over that one. It's weird, but I don't think I ever had fun grocery shopping before.
We had no idea where the spaghetti sauce was located, and instead of going aisle by aisle to look for it, Dustin spotted a jar in somebody else's shopping cart. He looked around for a few quick seconds, and mischeviously snatched it out of the lady's cart to put it in ours when her back was turned. "Dustin!" I said in a loud whisper.
"Shhhh!!! Hehehe! Come on!" He said, pushing the cart down the next aisle before she noticed the missing jar. "Do you mind having garlic in your sauce?" He asked.
"The sauce she had, it says there's garlic in it. Is that ok?"
"Well, you kinda have to take what you can get when you STEAL it out of somebody elses cart."
"I could always look around for some other lady's cart to steal from if you wanna get a better selection." He smirked.
"Hehehe, just get in line, smartass."
And suddenly, out of nowhere, he giggles and whispers, "I love you, Eric."
"Hehehe...nothing." He turned away from me before his blush took full effect. I was left standing there for a moment before my brain sent the signal for my legs to move again. I felt a powerful jitter in the center of my chest. It was as though my emotions had suddenly become 'heavy', and hard to carry. He loves me. I mean...I know that he loves me...but he...he said it. Well, he said it before...but....wow. I don't know what struck me so hard about him saying it this time, other than it was totally unexpected. But...it felt so good that I didn't even feel like my feet were touching the floor. My heart swelled, my breath got shallow, and I almost got 'choked up' over it. My body was going haywire on me all at once. I stood behind him in line, unable to speak, wishing that I could just...lean in and give him a kiss on the cheek. Or take a single stroke of his blond hair. Or maybe just rest my hand on the small of his back, and rest my chin on his shoulder. Anything to come into direct contact with that beauty again. Geez...I can smell his candied aroma from here. What is that? Does he just always smell this good? This clean? Look at his neck. It's so smooth, so soft. You know...I'll bet that if I just pressed my lips to the nape of that neck and inhaled that scent, it would be an orgasmic rush to remember my whole life. Just...right there, behind his ear.
"I'm a little short." Dustin said as the lady rang everything up. I had to quickly snap myself out of my romantic trance to figure out what was going on. "Sorry."
"Oh, don't sweat it, it's ok. What do you need?" I asked.
"Ten dollars." He replied. I looked at the screen behind the register, which read 'twelve dollars and thirty seven cents'...and I gave Dustin a look as he grinned and hurried forward. "I'll bag up everything for us!" That sneaky little bastard!
The lady at the register was waiting, and with a sigh, I reached into my pocket and paid the rest of the balance. Dustin put everything into two plastic bags, and I gave him a playful shove once I got the receipt. "You 'played' me." I said.
"Did not. I TOLD you I might need some extra cash. Hehehe!"
"And what kind of dinner were you planning to buy with two dollars and thirty seven cents?"
"I dunno...but I would have had even less if I had to pay two bucks to take the BUS over here." He giggled so freely, it was beautiful. He knew that he could get me to do whatever he needed me to do for him, whenever he needed me to do it. But I didn't mind him taking advantage every now and then. Just to have him in my company was more than enough reward. We walked back out to the parking lot and back to the car. I opened the door for him first, and then went around to the driver's side to start it up. "Thanks Eric. Seriously, k?" He said sincerely.
I melted right away. "Anytime." We took off, and I made my way out of the lot to drive him home.
Things were quiet for a few minutes while Dustin fooled around with my radio. Even when he found a station he liked, he only left it on for a few songs before changing it again. It was the most action my radio had seen in a long time. I hardly ever paid it any attention until I had a teenager in the car beside me. "Stop already!" I grinned, lightly smacking his hand away from the radio.
"That song sucks! Lemme change it. Just ONE more time, then I'll stop. K?" He pleaded. And without me answering, he shifted through stations again until he found something he was happy with, and then sat back in his seat. "See? No touchy!" He smiled.
"Thank God..." I sighed. He was so gorgeous. Prettier than any teen magazine cover model. It was extremely hard to not just sit there and stare at him in amazement. Which made it hard to drive, let me tell you.
I had almost forgotten how long it had taken me to get all the way out to that grocery store. It was going to take us a while to actually come back to his house, and the whole time we were driving, he kept looking over at me with the most devilish grin on his lips. When I got the chance to take my eyes off of the road, they went straight back to connect with his dreamy gaze. My heart was torn between the comfort and joy in having him love me so much, and the concept of me leading his boyish heart into something that was supposed to be so...'disgusting'. I mean, there are LAWS against this kind of thing. People have spent millions of dollars, hours of time, and truly have gone out of their way to prevent such an 'unholy' union from ever being possible. Not just for me and Dustin...but for EVERYBODY on the planet! There has GOT to be something seriously wrong with this that I'm not seeing. Something sick. Something wicked. I know that the attraction to this young boy has blinded me to it, and my sexual fantasies have made it less shameful than it should be. But the more I searched for the hidden evil in my intentions, the more I tried to discover the unforgivable sin in everything that I was doing to this poor child...the more powerful my affections became. Because, to be totally honest, I was lost. I couldn't find my way out of the emotional confusion that was overwhelming me at every turn. As long as the 'bad' part of this situation refused to show itself...I was just going to fall deeper and deeper in love.
Another long pause happened between us, and Dustin then asked me, "How come you're being so weird these days anyway?"
"Hehehe, weird? How am I being weird?"
"I dunno...you're just...like...weird." Then he leaned over to put his head on my shoulder, "I can't have my boyfriend acting all strange, now can I?" Wow...'boyfriend'. There's no way in hell I should let him call me that. Even if it was extremely soothing to my soul in every possible way.
"Dustin...you know...maybe we should talk about a few things. Some...hard things." I started, and Dustin started to giggle. "You KNOW what I mean, goofball. Difficult things." He kept his head onmy shoulder, smiling comfortably to himself. Was he even paying my concerns any mind? "Dustin, sit up a minute, ok? Seriously."
He did as I asked him to, and gave me a slightly frightened look. "Did I....did I do something wrong?"
"No. No, you didn't do anything wro...."
"Because if it's about the ten dollars, I'll TOTALLY give it back to you on Friday! I swear!" He blurted out.
"Hehehe, no. Calm down. It's not the ten dollars." I said, but it didn't do anything to comfort my worried passenger. "I just think...we've been spending a lot of time together, you know? People 'see' that. And it might....look funny to them."
He wrinkled up his forehead a bit. "What looks funny about it?"
"Well, I'm a lot older than you, for one thing."
"So is my dad. It doesn't look funny when I go places with him."
I gave him a sly grin. "Look, I'm not trying to say that we can't see each other at all. I just think we should, maybe, tone it down a little bit. That's all." I was watching the road, but had to look back over at Dustin when he didn't respond. He had turned to look out the window, but the lights showed me his reflection in the glass, and he seemed a bit hurt. Dustin was no dummy, and he knew exactly what I was doing. He may have been young, but his perception rivaled that of most trained FBI agents.
"So...we shouldn't hang out so much any more. Right?" He was disguising his voice a little, trying not to sound emotional about it. And he kept his face turned away from me. "Sure. Whatever."
"Well...I don't want you to think..."
"No, it's fine. I mean...if you didn't wanna come out tonight, you could have just said you were busy or something. I wouldn't have 'hounded' you or anything." He said softly.
"Tonight has nothing to do with it. Dustin, that's not what I meant." I told him. "Baby..."
"DON'T call me a baby! I'm NOT a baby, ok?" He snapped.
"That's not...sighhh..." I had bowled myself right into the gutter with that comment. "...We have to keep this a secret, Dustin. You know that?"
"Keep what a secret? You haven't even touched me." He said sternly. "If you were fucking me every day I could see you getting upset..."
"Watch it, ok?" Why am I suddenly suppressing his urge to curse? He shot me a rather evil look when I said it. I guess I deserved that. He wasn't looking for a father figure, he already had one. He wanted a 'boyfriend'...and somehow I was talking myself out of being a good one.
"I KNOW what 'fucking' is, you know? They kinda teach us that in the fifth grade."
"Dus..." I tried to start again, but I was only going to dig myself in deeper. The hurt in his eyes was unbearable. He laid back against the seat, and started tugging at his earlobe again while he kept his face turned towards the window. "I'm sorry. Ok?" He didn't answer.
He was silent for a minute or two. Then he simply said, "No."
"No? No, what?"
"You said that we shouldn't hang out so much anymore. And I decided that I don't like that idea very much. So....no." He said defiantly. "I'm not gonna stop spending time with you just because some 'people' that I don't know or give a shit about see us and get jealous. That's just stupid."
I didn't say anything at first, and when Dustin looked over at me, I was smiling. "Hehehe...did you just tell me 'no'?"
I think it confused him a bit at first, but I had to snicker a bit at his determination. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing..." I tried to hold my smile back, but it only spread out wider, and when Dustin saw it, I think it caused him to smile a little bit too.
"Hehehe! What'd I say?"
"You said 'no'...flat out 'no'. Hehehe! Can't argue with that." I giggled. "I do believe that my 'boyfriend' has put his foot down."
"Damn right, I did." He grinned. And the moment of tension left him so fast that all traces of disappointment had vanished by the time his back hit the seat. Then, after a moment of silence, he looked up at the ceiling with a dreamy smile. "You are so extra, Eric. GOD, I love you!" He was so lost in his feelings that it was almost like he said it more to himself than to me. But I accepted it just the same.
"I love you too...'baby'." I smirked, and Dustin was quick to smack me on the arm. I took the opportunity to reach over and pull his soft blond locks up against me, and I kissed him on top of the head once again. He hugged up tightly on my arm, and then closed his eyes with a sigh as he, again, found his favorite spot to rest his head. Yeah, we had a few issues from time to time. So far they've all been small ones, and I always end up backing down because I'm so scared that his delicate feelings are gonna break right in front of me. But I won't lie and tell you that the fear of getting caught had disappeared. If anything, the closer I got to him, the bigger the fear became. And just riding with him on my side was enough to force my paranoia into overdrive again just minutes later. How am I ever going to get him to understand?
I allowed him to keep his head on my shoulder for the rest of the ride, but it made me nervous every time that we stopped at a red light. I was certain that somebody was gonna pull up in the lane next to us and see me hugged up with this teen boy and call the police. Luckily for us, the streets were pretty empty tonight.
So far, the worst part of this whole thing was the opinion of 'other' people. And in matters of a true and growing love...that doesn't weigh too heavy against the benefits of allowing yourself to surrender to the inevitable sensation of being swept off of your feet. In fact, it was a feather measured against the weight of a giant stone...that seemed to be sitting in the pit of my stomach when I finally reached his house and it was time to say goodnight.
I slowed down dramatically as I came to his front step, sorry to see our time come to an end. It actually ached me to see his house outside of the car window. It was like this abrupt cancellation of my ultimate fantasy...an unsympathetic crash into a solid brick wall. But I didn't want to let him know that. Any part of my infatuation could influence him to follow me out of some kind of weird 'idol' worship, and that would make me a demagogue of the worst kind. The last thing I wanted to do was lead him astray. Not a beauty like Dustin. I couldn't bear that. So instead...I sat there in my driver's seat, pretending that I didn't already miss his presence.
"Alright...so...I guess I'll see you later then?" I said, hoping to hide my disappointment.
"Later? I thought you were gonna help me carry this stuff inside?" He said it with such a sweet little whine that I was powerless to to keep from smiling warmly at him.
"Help you with what? You've got, like, two bags. And they're only half full."
"Yeah....but...." He said, looking for an excuse. "...I still gotta use my free hand to open the door with the key and everything...soooo..." Why did I get the feeling that I was being lured into a trap here? "..I mean...you don't HAVE to come in...you know, if you don't want to..." Sighhh, the one phrase that he knew would get me to crumble, if only just a little bit.
"You know, I'm ONLY gonna carry these to the door for you, right?" I told him, but he didn't answer. He just gave me a satisfied smile and open up his car door. "Dustin? I MEAN it, Dustin!" But he just shut the door behind him and started heading towards his front door. I guess I should grab the bags myself, huh?