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I woke early the next morning to find myself holding Jesse in the safety of my arms as though we hadn’t moved away from each other the whole night. He was snuggled against me, his head nestled comfortably in the small space where my neck and shoulder met my chest. He was softly snoring, and I could feel his warm breath each time he exhaled, as it lightly feathered over my bare skin. His legs were tucked in between mine, perhaps in an effort to have every part of our bodies in contact with one another.
Lying there holding Jesse, I thought back to the night before. I knew that what he had been through with Justin, and all that he had lost was still a source of constant worry and pain somewhere in his conscience. I knew that my actions last night outside the locker room had been minimal. I could have said more, done something more, but I also knew that what little I did do seemed to start to heal the deep wound that Jesse had been carrying around for all these years. Deep down I knew that I would have done whatever it took to protect him from ever being hurt like that again, even if it meant that I would have to tell everyone my own secret.
I was going to protect him, allow him to trust again, to feel safe again. I wondered how he was able to spend each day with that amazing smile on his face, laughing with his friends. It occurred to me that those friends he did have, only knew the parts of him that he allowed them to know, like how it was with my friends and me. I knew how it felt, not being able to be yourself, always trying to fit into the mold that was created for you. Only recently though, since Jesse had come into my life and turned my whole world upside down, had I really figured out just how much energy it took trying to be something you’re not all the time.
I didn’t mean just playing the part of the popular jock, but also, how each time I suppressed who I really was, a tiny part of my soul was crushed. I had denied myself what I really wanted for so long, and now that I was allowing myself to indulge in genuine feelings and honest emotion, it had become clear just how empty my whole existence had been. I had felt more deeply and more truly in the last week than I had any other time in the past ten years, and even including the tears and frustration, it had been the most fulfilling, satisfying week. This week had changed me, my life, and I knew that I would do anything I had to, whatever it took, to keep it this way.
I was happy now, here with Jesse, and he seemed content to be with me too. Maybe the way that he was nuzzling deeper into my embrace was an indication of that, and I pulled him closer to me, if that was even possible. We had put up our walls, trying to protect our secrets, trying to prevent the pain that comes when someone you were certain cared about you turns their back on you, but only ended up losing ourselves in the process. Hiding who you are, trying to be something you’re not, eventually takes its’ toll on you. I silently promised myself that I would always be my true self with Jesse, always be honest and real, and that I would always protect him and keep him safe. He deserved nothing less from me, and I was determined to be a source of happiness and joy in his life, not one of pain and sadness.
It was the content sigh he released that brought my thoughts back to the present. I had been awake for a while, just thinking, but now my eyes were closed and I was enjoying the closeness we were sharing. They say that a sound or scent can take you back to another time. The scent that was just his had penetrated my senses, and it was powerful, the way it could make me feel so complete. I guess after being only a part of who I really was for so long, the feeling of being whole was becoming a necessity for me.
I needed him. It had become clear to me, like it was so simple, but I had always found a way to complicate things. He filled the void I had lived with for too long now. I knew that with him by my side I would finally get to be the real me. I knew that we could help each other to be happy. He was taking me to a place that I would never leave. In reality, I had only just dipped my toe in to test the water and I was by no means ready to dive right in, but I was fully aware that eventually I would be fully immersed in a life that we would share. I had opened the door to this part of myself and there was no turning back now.
He yawned against my chest, stretching his body out. He was so long and lean, and beautiful, just perfect. Made purposely to fit in my arms. He turned over, spooning his body against mine, and as he settled back against me I wrapped my strong arms around him again. I buried my face in his golden strands, blissfully appreciating where I was, and visions of his perfect smiling face filled my head. The soft skin of his back felt warm against my chest and my hand ran gently back and forth across his stomach.
“Mmm…” he moaned, “I like that.”
I liked it too, the way it felt, holding him against me tightly, and I whispered softly, “Yeah, me too.” I could definitely get used to waking up with him in my arms, his body pressed against mine.
“Did I wake you up?” he asked yawning again.
“No, I was awake already,” I responded quietly, not wanting to change the calm atmosphere we were in. He snuggled back against me further, his entire body against every part of mine now.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” he wondered out loud. “I was fine Jess, besides, you needed the rest,” I said, concerned that last nights’ events had been just the start of something we would be dealing with for quite some time.
“You should have woke me up,” he tried to argue but I just held him tighter.
“I was keeping myself occupied,” I teased as my hand had resumed the gentle path across his stomach. I gently kissed the back of his neck, my nose buried in his soft hair.
“You weren’t taking advantage of me, were you?” he teased back and I shook my head no asking, “Would you really have minded if I was?” He laughed, that laugh I loved to hear, and I smiled against his neck before I placed more soft kisses along his hairline.
He moaned again with pleasure as my hands explored his bare chest. “I definitely like waking up like this,” he said, his voice slightly deepening, and I could hear the smile in his voice even though I couldn’t see the one I was sure was on his face.
“So what are we going to do today?” I asked him, curious to know, since we hadn’t really made any specific plans for our day together.
“Well, I was thinking…,” he trailed off. “Hmm?” I murmured, my face still exploring the back of his neck. “Mmm,” he continued, dropping his chin against his chest to expose more of his neck to me, “that I want… to go out tonight.” The idea shocked me a little. Actually, it shocked me a lot. It kind of sounded like he meant that he wanted to take me on a date. I was sure that he didn’t mean that like it sounded.
The truth is, that I’ve never actually been on a real date before. I had been someone’s date to a dance, but that was more like an escort, I guess. What it sounded like he was talking about was a REAL date; like an ‘I pick you up and bring you flowers and take you someplace nice, we look dreamily into each other’s eyes and then at the end, we kiss goodnight’ kind of date.
“Like a date?” I managed to get out, trying not to sound as unsure as I was feeling.
“Well, I guess you can call it that if you want to,” he said with absolution in his voice. He was tranquil, his thoughts composed completely, while I on the other hand, had an abundance of random crazy thoughts filling my mind. He was turning around to face me again, and when our eyes met, all the fear I had, any worries in my head just faded away. I loved that he could do that to me, make me feel like I could be a participant in my life by eradicating any hesitation I had, instead of merely being a bystander to what I really wanted.
“Stephen, will you go out with me tonight?” he asked officially, as if I could even say no to him.
I could feel the heat in my cheeks as I nodded saying, “Of course. I’ll go anywhere with you Jess,” and I would too. His lips landed softly on mine in a gentle kiss, and after a minute he pulled away and my eyes fluttered open again. I smiled at the thought that we would be spending the evening together, just the two of us. Even if we were in some crowded place, I knew that when he was around me, it was like we were in our own little world and I loved being there with him.
“Good,” he said abruptly, “I’m hungry.” As if I needed some evidence that his last statement was true, his stomach growled causing me to laugh out loud. “Okay, I believe you,” I joked. “Actually, food does sound pretty good right now,” I added, though neither of us made any attempt to get up. It seemed almost as if we could survive quite happily just being in each other’s arms.
He looked like he wanted to say something but he was holding back. “What is it Jess?” I asked him, hoping he could get whatever it was out in the open. There was a feeling of relief I saw cross his face, as if he would have to say what it was now that I’d asked him. “Thanks,” he said appreciatively, “…for everything.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked him. “I didn’t do anything.” He flashed me a look that clearly said we both knew that wasn’t an entirely accurate statement on my part. “Well, whatever I did, I would do it again and again,” I reassured him. Hearing those few words from me seemed to put him at ease and I decided that I should tell him what I’d been thinking about early this morning while he was sleeping in my arms.
“Jess,” I began, “I was thinking earlier, and I realized, that none of it matters anymore. It’s really so simple now that I think about it.” He looked at me as though he was really trying to follow where I was going with this, but he was unable to. I knew I hadn’t been very clear, but I figured he would understand what I meant as he heard what I was saying. “I guess that I should be thanking you. I mean since I saw you that night at the dance, I have been thinking a lot; and I figured out this morning, that I have been happier this week with you, than I have been since I can remember.”
The smile that was spreading across his beautiful face as he listened to my words was enough motivation to go on. “I’ll always keep you safe Jess. I won’t ever let anyone hurt you like that again, no matter what,” I said in a tone that told him I meant every word. After searching my eyes and my soul, he simply said, “I know,” before he placed a small kiss on my cheek.
“Come on, let’s go eat,” he said as he finally sat up. I followed his actions, curious to know if he would say more about my declaration, but he didn’t say anything further on the matter. When we got down stairs, and made our way into his kitchen he asked, “Cereal okay?”
I nodded answering, “Sure, whatever you have is fine.”
He flashed a smile in my direction saying, “You can say ‘no’ if you want to.”
This time, my reply was simple. “Not to you I can’t,” I said shrugging. He knew it was true too. At this point I would follow him anywhere, do anything he asked of me, and I knew he would do the same for me. There was a harmony between us finally, and it was incredible. Knowing that we could count on one another unconditionally gave us strength and courage to face our futures, as ourselves. No more hiding, no more pretending, just being us. Stephen and Jesse.
During breakfast we were pretty quiet, just appreciating the time we could spend near each other without having to deal with prying eyes and wondering glances. My curiosity getting the better of me I finally asked, “So what are we doing tonight?” Looking up at me from under his long eyelashes and with a mischievous smile he said, “I don’t know, we’ll just hang out. I’m sure we can think of something fun to do,” and nothing more.
“Well, you at least have to tell me something,” I reasoned. “Like what time we’re going and am I driving?” I asked, wanting any kind of clue I could get. His expression gave nothing away, and he just shrugged saying, “We’ll see,” as we finished our breakfast together.
We were in his room again when he suggested I could shower if I wanted to. I agreed, thinking that it sounded like a good idea. He gave me a towel and I went to the shower. I washed up quickly and brushed my teeth again before going to join him again in his room and get dressed. When I walked in he was sitting on his bed, still bare from the waist up, playing his guitar. He must not have heard me, and I took the opportunity to watch him do something he loved to do. I was learning that he was a very passionate person. When it came to the things he loved, he did them well, and with fire behind his eyes.
Like the sparkle that I had seen when he was interviewing me, again, he had that same look. Time could have stood still forever and I wouldn’t have minded in the least. At some point he looked up and noticed me watching him and smiled at me, a slight blush creeping into his cheeks when he asked, “What?” after I hadn’t said anything.
My response to his simple question was, “I can’t keep my eyes off of you.”
He set his guitar back on the stand he had, and said, “Come here.”
I moved toward him, no questions asked, although I was very aware that I only had a towel on still. As soon as he could reach me, he grabbed my hands and pulled me to him, his legs straddling my body as I stood over him. I felt his soft lips placing small kisses on my stomach as his arms came around me pulling my body into him. My fingers slid through his straight blond strands and then tightened in his hair when I felt his tongue tracing the muscles in my stomach.
I pulled his head away from my abdomen and leaned down to kiss him. This was definitely new to me, me kissing him, but it felt right. It was like I wanted to get as close to him as possible. I was initiating the contact our mouths were making, and as soon as I felt my mouth cover his, I pressed my tongue against his lips asking him to grant me entrance. He did, and I dipped my tongue into his mouth, and he responded as I felt his beside mine. It occurred to me, somewhere in the mist that had clouded my mind as our lips met, that his bedroom door was standing wide open and here we were, both only half covered and kissing each other.
As much as I didn’t want to ever move from my current spot, I pulled away from him. He looked at me, wondering what I was doing, why I had stopped kissing him, when I said, “Your parents might see us Jess. The door is wide open.” He smiled at me, understanding my cautionary attitude, but just said, “They went shopping,” before leaning back on his bed and pulling me down over him. I liked the feeling I got being over him. I was just enough bigger that my body could totally cover his, but there was a part of me that was still not sure what to do exactly. I knew what felt good to me, and I had definitely imagined myself doing things to him, but actually getting myself to do them was another story entirely.
What I really wanted was to feel him over me. I loved the feeling of his weight on me. I rolled over, pulling him over me, and as he settled down on top of me I felt like everything was right now. Just him and me with nothing to prove. I knew he would take control of the situation and that he would take care of me too. It wasn’t that I was submissive necessarily, or that I needed him to be in control, but it just seemed that we both liked it that way.
His mouth moving down over my throat caused me to tilt my head back instinctively and he explored the newly exposed area of my neck. He had settled between my legs and as his mouth moved back up to meet mine I heard the moan he let out in the back of his throat as his erection pressed against mine. The towel I was wrapped in didn’t provide much coverage and the way that he was moving against me made me think that the towel wouldn’t be in the same place for much longer.
Seeing Jesse naked was something I definitely wanted to have happen at some point. I had imagined him that way several times since that first time he kissed me, but I knew that I couldn’t even think clearly when he had his shirt off, or when his lips were anywhere near mine, so him being naked, I was sure, would have an even stronger effect. My thoughts, while for the most part were focused on the way he was currently whispering amazing things into my ear, were also trying to figure out what the likelihood was that we would even make it outside at all today.
“Jesse! Jesse!” we both heard as we jumped apart just in time before the little blond girl I encountered on my first visit appeared in the doorway. “Come see, come see,” she insisted as she ran over and grabbed his hand, making her attempt at getting him to follow her.
“Okay, okay,” he laughed. “Give me a minute,” he pleaded. He stood and made his way to the closet where he grabbed a t-shirt and I watched a bit awkwardly from my spot on his bed as he pulled it over his head. His eyes met mine in a silent apology for the unexpected interruption. As much as I had been enjoying what we were doing before she showed up, I think that the tiny part of me that was still feeling unsure was a little relieved.
Her eyes followed his gaze until they ended up focused on my barely covered body and he saw the uncomfortable expression on my face. “Umm Lily,” he said addressing the girl, “can you give me and Stephen a minute to get dressed please?”
She eyed him skeptically but then said, “Okay, but hurry up, and I’ll be waiting right outside,” and threw a pointed look in my direction before she walked through the doorway pulling the door closed behind her.
Shaking his head in disbelief over the little blond whirlwind that had, all in the matter of a minute, managed to come in, take over control of the room, state her demands, and make her dramatic exit he said, “You better hurry up, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t joking,” He made his way over to the bed where he sat down, waiting for me to get dressed.
“So is that your sister?” I asked in an attempt to ease the sudden anxiety I was feeling knowing that he was about to see me naked.
“Yeah,” was all he said since it seemed that he lacked his normal ability to speak since I had dropped my towel. I had turned away from him and was pulling my boxer briefs over the firm mounds that were my ass when I heard him gasp out loud. I knew he liked what he was seeing when I turned around to face him, now standing before him in only my underwear, and said, ”Jess?” before his eyes snapped up to meet mine.
“Sorry,” was all he said as I saw his cheeks flush pink. I finished pulling on my jeans and grabbed my shirt, pulling it on, before I said, “Don’t be sorry Jess. I like it that you like what you see.”
He smiled at my admission and said, “I’m pretty sure that has to be the understatement of the year,” and it was my turn to smile then. He rolled his eyes and smirked when he heard Lily knocking again. “Come in Lily,” he said as I watched the door fly open.
“Are you done yet?” she whined.
“Almost,” he said. “Come here,” he instructed and she walked over to him. “Lily, I want you to meet Stephen. Stephen, this is my baby sister Lily,” he said.
“I’m not a baby,” she insisted before turning to me and saying, “Hi Stephen.”
“Hi Lily,” I said as I stuck my hand out for her to shake. She eyed it curiously for a moment before slipping her much smaller hand into mine. “And you’re right, you aren’t a baby,” I added giving her a wink and she turned and stuck her tongue out at Jesse.
He just shook his head, but I smiled knowing that I had won her over in just that small exchange. “Is he your best friend?” she asked Jesse and his eyes met mine.
“Yeah Lily, he is,” he said truthfully while looking into my eyes. After a minute he finally asked her, “So what is it you wanted to show me?”
“Mommy bought us a hermit crab for our fish tank,” she said excitedly before starting for the door. “You’re coming too, right Stephen?” she asked me and Jesse rolled his eyes again.
“Yes, of course I’m coming. I wouldn’t miss it,” I said throwing Jesse a wink as I followed them out of his room.
At some point after we had been looking at their pretty impressive fish tank, I leaned over and whispered into Jesse’s ear, “I think I better head home.” He nodded in my direction before telling Lily that it was time for me to go home. She pouted a little but then hugged me goodbye and then I followed Jesse outside to my truck.
“So what’s the plan for tonight?” I asked him since there had been no mention of us going out again.
“I’ll call you later after I take a shower and we’ll figure it out,” he said.
“Okay,” I agreed under protest. He leaned in the window and kissed me on the cheek. “You know, you’re a great big brother Jess,” I said feeling pride in that fact. He laughed and said, “Well, you were really great with her. In fact, I think she might even be your second biggest fan.” I blushed hearing that.
“Oh! Hey you forgot your jacket upstairs,” he said. “Let me go get it, I’ll be right back,” he offered.
“No, it’s okay Jess, I’ll get it later,” I said and he giggled. I looked curiously at him, wondering what he found so amusing when he asked, “So is this what you always do? Am I supposed to wear it so everyone will know that I’m your boyfriend?”
I shook my head at that ridiculous idea and said, “Nope, you’re the first Jess, and if you want to wear it, that’s cool with me.”
“Really?” he asked, surprised that I had agreed to what he had fully intended to be a joke. “Okay, well I’ll call you later then,” he added before turning and walking into the house.
By the time I had made the ten minute drive from Jesse’s house to mine, I had realized that I was exhausted. I didn’t know if it was from the game yesterday, or the bullshit with Jeremy by the locker room, or hearing Jess’ story, or the fact that I was up pretty early that was making me so tired, but I decided that a nap sounded really good. After saying hello to my Dad who was reading the paper when I walked in, I excused myself and headed for my bed.
I must have needed some rest because the moment my head hit the pillow I was out. The incessant ringing coming from my phone woke me up and as I looked to see who was calling I realized that it was already five o’clock. I had been asleep for four hours already.
“Hello,” I said groggily into the phone, my eyes refusing to open again unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Hey, did I wake you up?” Jess asked.
“Yeah,” I admitted, “but it was time. I have been asleep since I got home.”
He laughed saying, “Well rise and shine. I’ll be there to pick you up in a half an hour, so you better be ready to go.”
“You’re picking me up?” I questioned him, realizing that he always seemed to be walking when I saw him.
“Yep, so get ready,” he said. “See you soon,” he added before he hung up so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to respond.
I dragged my sleepy body out of bed and peeled off my clothes. I hate sleeping in clothes because they always stick to you and you get stuck when you try and turn over. I decided that a shower might help me to wake up a little more and I made my way to the bathroom. It was weird. I was excited that I was going to see Jesse soon, but not a nervous excited, a good excited. I was happy.
I was in my room trying to find something to wear when he appeared in my doorway.
“Maybe we should just stay in,” he said suggestively, referring to my barely dressed state.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to decide it’s much more fun ‘staying in’,” I joked. “I’m almost ready,” I assured him as I quickly grabbed a navy blue sweater and a pair of jeans and threw them on.
“Nice choice,” he said as he finally approached me, leaving his perch in my doorway.
“Thanks,” I said. “Ready then?”
“Always,” he replied, grabbing my hand and heading for the door. “So is it cool if we go somewhere I want to go?” he asked.
“Sure,” I replied. I would do whatever he wanted. It didn’t matter to me, I was just glad to be spending some more time with him.
We headed out the door, saying goodbye to my Dad and we got in his car. While he was driving to wherever it was we were headed, we just talked, about music, movies we wanted to see, whatever. It was so comfortable and I kept remembering him telling his sister that I was his best friend. I felt it too, and though we hadn’t known each other long, I was enjoying finding out the little things about him as we went along.
He turned off onto some small deserted road and after we drove a little ways he pulled off to the side of the road and parked the car. I hadn’t questioned him at all, I trusted him, and this is where he wanted to go. When I looked around though and we were in a secluded place, I’ll admit the thought crossed my mind, that he brought me here so we could be alone together but then when he shut off the engine and stepped out of the car I followed him. It wasn’t until he went around to the trunk and pulled out a bag that I regarded him curiously for the first time.
“Ready?” he asked me, and I nodded. He took my hand in his and we walked together. The sun was down low on the horizon creating a magical purple hue across the sky. It was cool, walking along the river, and the breeze that blew softly around us seemed to be singing to us. When we finally reached the place he had planned on he stopped and put down the bag he had carried along with us. He unzipped it and pulled out a big soft blanket and spread it across the ground and told me to sit down.
I did as I was told, in disbelief, that he had planned all this for me. He lit a candle and set it down on the walk beside us. I could hear the river gently flowing as he sat down next to me. “Jess, wow,” was all I could say as he retrieved some food he had prepared for us from the bag. “You did all this for me?” I asked.
“Yeah, I wanted to do something special for you and I wanted to come to a place where we could be ourselves without having to worry about anything or anyone,” he answered and I couldn’t help myself anymore. I leaned over and kissed him sweetly.
He smiled against my lips and when I pulled away he said, “So you like it then?” as if there was any doubt.
“Jess, I love it,” I said as I wrapped my arm around behind him. “I can’t believe you did all this. It’s just perfect.”
We ate and talked about random miscellaneous things for a while and when we were full and he had cleaned up what little mess we had made we laid down together under the evening sky looking up at the bright twinkling stars that were hung in the cobalt sky. “Thanks,” I offered and he only whispered, “Anytime,” before I felt his mouth cover mine.
Ordinarily I would have been worried about being out where anyone could just happen by and see what we were doing, but two things occurred to me as I was being swept away to that place that only he could take me. One was that we hadn’t seen anyone, not one person, the whole time we were here and the other was that I just didn’t care that much anymore.
It started to get chilly and he finally said, “We better go, it’s getting pretty cold out here.”
I nodded in agreement even though
I personally was quite warm with the way his body had been covering mine for
quite some time. We walked back to the car and as we drove back to my house,
our fingers intertwined, we didn’t say much. No words were needed really
because we both knew what the other was feeling. Outside my house as we stood
on the front porch looking longingly into each other’s eyes I realized
that I didn’t want him to leave me. I had my arms around him, holding
him close to me, when I softly asked, “Stay with me tonight?”
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