I'm going to give him a piece of my mind! I kept telling myself that, but every time I looked at Mikey, I couldn't do it; I couldn't add to the hurt I'd already caused him even if it had been unwittingly. With my arm around his shoulders, I led him gently past the end of the giant car, stopping to look inside as we got to the open driver's door. I saw a bottle of pills lying on the seat, and my right hand clenched into a fist as it held my soaked and dirty shirt. My left arm gripped Mikey more firmly, and he turned his head to face me, his eyes flicking to the car's seat before coming to rest on mine.
"I didn't take any, Jay. I swear!" I knew he was telling the truth because, in the four months I'd known him, I'd discovered he couldn't lie worth a damn, and so almost never tried. Though somewhat subdued, his tone held nothing except remorse. I needed to talk about this later in the evening, but now wasn't the time for that. It was easy enough to figure out the why he'd done it—but I needed, desperately, the reässurance that he'd not do this again.
As soon as we entered the utility room from the garage, I saw the washer and dryer. "Mikey, I hate to say this—but your clothes are a mess. Can we wash them and my shirt? I don't want to face an interrogation later at home." I don't think he realized just how dirty lying on the wet sidewalk had made his pants and shirt—I'd have loved to see him before he did it. I think it was only then that he noticed I was half-naked.
God, he's cute when he blushes! Miles tried to avert his gaze from my chest, but it kept coming back to it as he led the way into the living room, turning on the lights as he went. By the light over the dining room table, I got my first look at Miles' house: all colonial-style wood dining table and chairs at the front, some `60s modern style end tables and cylindrical-shaded lamps flanking a green-flowered upholstered couch faced the fire-place and a large white-cabinetted television at the narrow end of the large rectangular space opposite the dining room end. On the floor in front of the screened fire-place was a large brown oval rag rug.
Miles picked absently at his pant legs, looking around a bit, before his face turned back to me. I tried giving him a smile to calm him down, but he only blushed deeper and looked away toward the long hall going to the bedrooms. "Um...dammit! Jay—I..."
I cut him off with one held-up hand, "No, Mikey—it's okay—I'm not going anywhere. Want me to put our stuff in the wash? If you hand me your stuff, I can do that and you can make yourself `purty' again!" I punched his shoulder lightly after I said it, and he smiled as I repeated his line from lunch yesterday. I pushed him before me toward his bedroom, but waited outside in the hall for him to take off his clothes and hand them to me as he hid behind the door. His arm was pale up past the elbow, but the skin was smooth from what little I could see. It was also bright red from the neck up.
The washer was easy to figure out, so I set it to a small load—just two shirts and a pair of pants—then noticed that my own jeans were muddy at the knees, so I tossed them in too. Now I had a problem—I was standing in Mikey's house in nothing but grey socks and my white briefs! I looked in the dryer, but it was empty, and so was the basket and clothes pole mounted next to the dryer's other side. A peek into the tiny half-bath by the back door revealed a few towels and washrags, so I dried myself with one and pulled it around my waist.
Fuck it—it's like the locker-room in gym! I was finding a little comfort in that before my brain added: Yeah—not as if Mikey hasn't seen you undressed before! Oh wait—he hasn't—he doesn't take phys ed! Headed through the living room I heard water running in the shower, and dashed into his bedroom. "Gotta be something I can wear in his stuff," I muttered.
I opened his closet door and stared at the space—wow, it was twice the size of mine! Still, it was mostly empty, so it didn't take long to see that none of the pants would fit since his legs were much longer than mine—when I saw the bell-bottoms way in the back, I had to giggle...at least I never wore those—they didn't go well with riding a horse!
I felt guilty as I opened his dresser drawers one at a time trying to find anything that might fit—pajamas, sweatpants...hell, even a nightshirt would do! One drawer I opened held his underwear. Christ! Where did he find these? There were a few pair of white ones like mine, but most were in bright colors: red, blue, yellow—even a purple—but none of the briefs had openings in the front like those I wore...I saw then that one still had a carton with a price sticker from Lazarus, Columbus' oldest department store...I just saw their outlet at the mall today—guess I'm buying my shorts there from now on!
I found a pair of cream-colored walking shorts with lots of pockets, and was grabbing a tee-shirt when I heard the bathroom door open and Mikey's voice call for me. "Where are you, Jay?"
I don't know why, but for some reason I ducked into his closet, pulling the door mostly closed, but not enough for it to turn out the light overhead. As quick as I could, I pulled on the heavy cotton shorts, and banged my arm on the overhead shelf as I tried to pull on the tee-shirt. "Shit—that hurt!"
"Jay?" Miles' voice was coming from the room now, but mine was muffled by the shirt as I attempted to wrestle into the slightly-large garment. With the shirt finally on, I started to open the door, "I'm in the closet, Mikey,"—but it didn't move more than a couple inches.
I heard the smile in his soft tone as he laughed. "What are you doing in my closet? I thought everybody had their own?" That was my Mikey, always with the jokes! Well, two can play that game!
"I'm coming out!" I said in a higher-pitched voice, and pushed on the door a little harder. Several things happened seemingly at once at that point: there was a painful cry of "OW—fuck!" as the door gave way suddenly, there was a loud thud, and I jumped out into the room...
To see Mikey sprawled on his floor, one hand massaging his right foot, the other hand rubbing at his nose and pushing up his glasses. He was wearing nothing but his purple underwear I'd seen in his dresser! I stood frozen for a minute—maybe an eternity or two—before I rushed over to move his hand covering his nose so I could see if it was bleeding. "Shit Mikey—I'm sorry!"
His hair was still pretty wet from the shower despite being towel-dried, but my attention wasn't on that; once I determined his nose wasn't going to bleed, I got captured by his eyes—brown, yes—but they had a tinge of green which seemed to deepen with strong emotions. My hand went up to brush his hair back, and I let it trail down his cheek, very slightly roughened by his shaved beard—and his lips—pale pink with what seemed to be a slight pout at all times. Damn!
I licked my lips, which had gone dry, but couldn't think of anything to say. My hand lowered further to brush his shoulder, and my eyes followed. Pale skin...so soft...covering strong bones and lightly-defined muscles...shoulders broader than mine, which were used to hard farm chores. Small, deeper pink nipples, erect with only a dozen or so hairs in the center of his chest...I felt myself stir in my briefs, and was glad Mikey's shorts were a bit large for me! A few dark hairs led further down to his abdomen, ending pretty quickly before they approached his navel...when my fingers brushed his nipple, he yelped and scrambled onto his stomach, face buried in his arms.
"Fuck Jay!....I'm naked here!" My eyes snapped wide open, my mouth dropping open—what the hell was I doing? I felt intense heat as all my blood rushed to my face—and jerked my hand back from where it had stayed when he rolled over. It was a couple seconds before I could recover enough to say anything...even to find the words to say.
"Mikey..." my voice was a barely audible whisper as I leaned forward to touch his hair. I stopped just short of touching him, not sure what he'd do—I didn't want—couldn't bear it—if he flinched away from me!
"Jay...please...just go make us some Pepsi or something! Please!" He was sniffling. What kind of idiot was I, what kind of friend, who made his best friend cry? I felt my throat tighten and tried to gulp in more air through the lump which had lodged there.
"God, Mikey...I'm so sorry—I won't do it again!" I stood up shakily and made my way to his bedroom door, and was about to go into the hall when his voice stopped me.
"Jay...it's okay—I just need a few minutes." His face was redder than I'd ever seen, and his smile was tentative, but it was there. I headed for the kitchen, detouring to turn on the TV on the way. The screen lit up its full 26" of living color. I switched to channel ten and swore.
"Damn it—we missed Flippo's Early Show!"
"What was the movie?" Jay called from his bedroom. I looked at the TV Guide lying on top of the set, and skimmed to the page for 4pm.
"Crap—it was that one where the giant praying mantises try to eat Chicago!" I headed to the fridge and pulled out two bottles of Pepsi, and got the metal ice trays out of the freezer. Once I finally found the glasses, I filled them with ice and poured the soda. "Got any snacks?"
Miles' voice came from the hall. "I thought we were gonna...oh!" Through the doorway, I saw him sink down onto the couch, hanging his head. "I ruined our date..."
I plopped down next to him, and handed him one of the red glasses, which had something about OSU basketball on them. He took one and stared into it dejectedly. He had changed into blue jeans and a pale blue button-up shirt. I poked him with my elbow after setting my glass on the low coffee table, turning sideways so I could get a good look at him as I spoke. I was pretty careful not to let my bare knee get close to his jean-covered leg...not sure if he'd be okay with me touching him again.
"Mikey, you didn't ruin our date!" His glance out of the corner of his eye was skeptical. "It was all my fault, Miles." He knew that I only used his real name if it was something serious. "I forgot that mom scheduled a dentist appointment today, and I had to turn in my note and leave after first period to make it. I didn't see anybody in class that I could tell to let you know."
Miles turned a little bit to face me too, and his leg came to rest brushing mine—and he left it there! "When you didn't call...on top of not seeing you at all...I thought you weren't coming..." Mikey started to add something else, but stopped himself. I reached over and offered my hand, palm up, so that he could take it or not, as he wished. I let my breath out softly when he laced his fingers in mine and placed our hands straddling our legs. I told him all about the dentist, lunch at the mall...and getting a flat and having to get it fixed...all of which took longer than I'd planned.
"Miles, when will you trust me? I don't know why it's so hard for you—but have I ever not done something I promised?" I felt his hand begin to tremble, and I gave it a soft squeeze. "Have I, Miles?"
He shook his head side to side. "No, Jay...it's just..." His words trailed off to nothing, and I used my free hand to raise his chin so that he was looking at me again. "Just what, Miles? I can't help if I don't know what to do."
"It's so stupid, Jay...but...I know my parents love me, but Dad never says it, and Mom says it all the time...it feels like it's just words now." I bit my lip so I wouldn't interrupt—he'd started, and I could see how hard it was for him to get this out—and it needed to come out, I think. "They work all the time, and I'm here alone most every day...
"I get anything I want—within reason—nice toys, clothes, books...but the last time we went on a trip together, was eight years ago—we went to South Carolina, to Parris Island to see my sister get out of Marine Boot Camp! I don't want things...I just want somebody to make time to be with me."
I squeezed his hand harder, and used it to pull him closer to me until we were leaning against each other—and my other arm reached around to stroke his back. I couldn't imagine parents like he described his—busy or not, Mom and Dad would stop and listen if I asked them to—I had absolutely no doubt about that.
"Mikey, I'm here for you...any time you want, all you have to do is ask—okay? I don't care what time it is, what the problem is—if you need to talk—call me! Promise?" He nodded against my shoulder, and I heard him suck in a deep breath.
"I'm such a wuss...how can you stand me?" I heard the washer stop spinning, and got up, pulling Mikey with me to head into the kitchen. I transferred our clothes to the dryer and set it for an hour; I couldn't help staring at him as I padded back into the kitchen, socks sliding on the fake marble linoleum. My stomach chose that moment to growl as I placed a hand on the back of his neck. He laughed.
"Because you feed me?" He leaned back into my hand for a moment before he punched me.
"You ask me on a date—and I have to cook?!" That spurred a five-minute argument over who asked who out—and after dissecting our conversations since Wednesday—I had to concede. "Okay, you win! How about this: we both fix dinner—and tomorrow I take you out for a real meal since it's gonna take an hour for our clothes to dry—and we'll both starve if we wait that long?"
"Don't give up on pizza yet!" I watched as Mikey pulled a rectangular plastic wrapped one out of the freezer—it already had pepperoni on it. "Twenty five minutes—we'll be eating!"
While the pizza was cooking, we tried watching TV, but there was nothing on except news and a few game shows. I grabbed the Guide and sat back next to him on the couch. It only took a few minutes to check out the Prime Time listings for our three local stations. It was obviously my task to read the shows, and his to vote. I didn't mind, since he leaned into my shoulder to see if I missed anything.
Eight o'clock: Sanford & Son beat out both the Western Sara and Donny & Marie...Eight-thirty: nothing...Nine o'clock: Rockford Files or local programming, which was never good. I raised an eyebrow and he shook his head. I tilted mine to the side—coïncidentally letting our temples brush together—asking why not. "Too hairy." When I burst into laughter, he retorted, "Doesn't have to make sense—it just is."
I threw the booklet onto the coffee table in disgust. "I'm not even asking about Police Woman at ten o'clock!"
The timer on the stove went off, and we went in to get fresh drinks and slice up the pizza. It was interesting to watch Mikey insure that each piece contained one slice of the large pepperoni, so that neither of us got shorted. That gave us about ten squares each, and I grabbed paper towels as he carried the pan back to the coffee table. We chatted about nothing in particular as we ate, the television going softly in the background, noise just to fill the silences which became shorter as time passed and we learned more about our hobbies and interests outside art class.
The empty pizza pan now cleared away, we stood in the living room, unsure what to do next. "Gin?" he asked.
"I've never drunk any..." I was shocked when Mikey hit me again!
"No, you dummy..." he said in a passable imitation of Fred Sanford, "I meant cards!" I grinned evilly, making him wonder if I was teasing him or not. I shook my head, and did the same to Poker, Hearts and Euchre. By now, he was showing signs of exasperation, and I just smiled wider. In desperation, he offered one last game: "Chess?"
It was his turn to be surprised when I nodded. "Set `em up, Joe...I'll be back in a second!" He peeked around the corner of the room to the left of the fire-place where he'd started to go when I accepted his challenge to play chess. "Where you going?"
I just waved for him to wait, and went into the utility room where I slipped on my cowboy boots and sprinted out to my truck. It was definitely colder out than it had been for the last four days, and I felt goose-bumps on my bare legs as I ran back into the house, white paper bags in hand. I put one in the fridge, and hid the other behind my back after peeling a few foil wrappers from its contents. I palmed a few as he returned to the couch to sit next to me. I put a hand on his arm and he jumped at the chill of my fingers. "I had to grab something from my truck...it's cooled off a good deal out there."
The chessmen were all set up...a cool set in gold and silver plastic shaped like Roman soldiers and other higher figures. "Nice set, Mikey!" His glance was all warm smiles when I said that. We'd only played a few minutes when he felt me shiver.
"What's wrong, Jay?" His eyes looked worried until I shook my head to tell him it wasn't serious.
"Just still cold from being outside..." I turned down his offer of a blanket, placing my hands in my lap so they wouldn't tremble so much. "Mikey...?" His shy smile greeted me as he faced me head-on. "I want to ask you something—you don't have to—not if you don't want—but I don't want to scare you off..."
"What, Jay—'spill it', as you said the other day."
"Earlier, in your room—why did you jump and turn away from me? Was I too bold? Did I scare you?" He could sense my hesitation and anxiety, so he leaned into me and put an arm around my shoulders, his fingers running through my blond locks. He said something, but I couldn't make it out until he repeated it the third time. I laughed once I understood.
"You were—hard? All I did was touch your chest!" He tried to move away, all hurt indignation, but I pulled him back gently, so I could whisper into his ear. "So was I, Mikey." I let my lips brush over his ear as softly as I could, taking in the apple-scented aroma of his shampoo.
"Will...can...if it isn't too soon...can we just lay here on the couch, together, until I have to go home? I'm still a little cold from being outside in your shorts!"
His smile was more like a grin when he lay back on the sofa and held out his arms. "So it's my fault is it?" I sat in front of him, stretching out along-side him, front to front, touching and not-quite-touching at the same time, our legs entwined, his jeans-covered, mine bare from mid-thigh down—our cotton-clad feet fidgeting against one another before we got comfortable. I sighed in utter relaxation as our arms wrapped around one another's chests, eyes staring softly just inches apart.
"What do I get out of providing your heat source?" He was joking, but I had a reward in mind.
"How about a kiss?" I whispered, moving my face closer. Miles nodded eagerly, and I watched his eyes close in anticipation. "Here it comes...ready?"
When he nodded, I ran a finger over his lips gently, and popped in one of the unwrapped chocolate drops in my hand. His face registered shock for a moment, then he smiled wider...but he didn't open his eyes and his sigh was ecstatic. "Not what I was expecting, but it'll do—for now."
"You prefer the other kind?" I asked in a low, throaty voice.
"Mmm-hmmm." Hearing that, I put the second unwrapped candy in my own mouth, letting it start to melt, before pressing my lips to his again—this time, when we met, I sent my tongue out just a little to brush his soft upper lip, and he opened a bit so that I could continue. I pressed more firmly with my own lips, and used my tongue to transfer the melted chocolate to his own mouth...being sure it was as thorough a job as I could manage and still remain conscious. Mikey melted into me, and his moan was a heavenly vibration which sent both of us into orbit.
Some time later, he noticed I had chocolate on my fingers, and proceeded to lick each one clean, swirling his tongue around each individually. We remained together, enjoying our contact, getting harder and softer, but being content to just enjoy it as another gentle measure of our bond until Rockford Files' intro music came from the television. "Time to go." I sighed unhappily.
"I know. What time tomorrow, Jay?" He punctuated that with another lingering kiss. If I didn't make a move now, his parents' could catch us when they got off work around 10. I sat up, letting my fingers trail down his shirt, which had somehow opened a few buttons.
"Depends...ya wanna come over for a while first—maybe goof around some?" When he nodded eagerly, I leaned in for another kiss. "I'll be by around 12:30 then."
Mikey followed me into the utility room, where I pulled our clothes nicely warmed from the dryer. He put his pants and shirt on top of the big white machine, and watched me as I put my grey cowboy shirt on over his tee. He smiled like an idiot. His eyes were riveted to my every movement as I dropped my hands to the waist of the walking shorts I'd borrowed from him. Even as I unbuttoned them and lowered the zip, he still stared. Only when I made a move to lower them, did he avert his eyes.
"I don't mind if you look, Mikey—it's like gym, only better because here it's okay to look." I waited to see what he'd do, and smiled when he turned his head.
"I don't want to turn away...but I think I should...for now." When I was changed into my black jeans, I put a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back around. I kissed him gently one last time before heading out the door.
"See you at 12:30 tomorrow—bring a change of clothes for later!"
Fifteen minutes later, I was pulling through the farm gate, with no recollection of how I got there.