Here is the next installment of Things Are Different. I didn't want to take too long between chapters considering where I left everyone at the end of chapter nine. Thanks for all your comments, I look forward to them, both positive and negative. As always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can put on an email notification list for the next chapter (and maybe some other things I am writing). Hope you enjoy this chapter.
Things Are Different - Chapter 10
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
I could not witness the expressions on the faces of the others in the room. My eyelids were squeezed tightly shut, trying to keep the tears in, another complete emotional meltdown in less than two days. I kept my face buried in my hands.
What must they think of me? What must Scott think of me? I had just scattered my mother's ashes around the living room. He must be running for the door by now. My grandmother must hate me and she doesn't even know the worst thing about me yet.
I should get up and walk out the door. No one would stop me. It's now or never.
There was a body close to me and I felt an arm ease itself over my shoulder. I flinched away ever so slightly, but it pulled me in.
"Jayson?" it felt like I was underwater and the voice called from the surface. I didn't respond. How should I respond?
"Sweetheart?" the voice was closer and clearer. It pulled me towards the surface of the ocean.
"It's okay," my grandmother said, "I love you." Those words did it. I leaned into her and even though I am bigger than her, I was completely engulfed in her embrace. I couldn't hold the tears back anymore. My shoulders shook, but my sobbing was silent.
"I'm sorry," I said when I was able.
"You have nothing to apologize for," she said into my ear, "there are others, including myself that can never say I'm sorry enough to you."
"Not you," I croaked.
"Yes, me," she told me, "and I will say it over and over again."
"You don't have to," I kept my face buried in her shoulder inhaling the unique aroma that was my grandmother, a warm human perfume of soap and lavender, like a blanket fresh from the dryer. Finding this kind of comfort in someone else was a new experience, it scared me a little. How could I live without it in the future?
"There is someone else that is very anxious to know that you are okay," she said.
I looked up to see Scott standing a few feet away. I wasn't sure how to interpret the look on his face, but he was still here. He must have seen the longing in my face, because when our eyes connected he rushed to me and Grandma yielded her spot to him. We wrapped our arms around each other and if it was possible I would have melted into him. I buried my face into his neck and took a deep breath of his distinctive aroma, as comforting as my grandmother, but with a deeper component that touched other parts of me. A pathetic sniffle escaped me as his strong calm settled me into his embrace. His lips were against my ear and there was a touch as soft as the kiss of a butterfly.
"Scott why don't you take Jay downstairs, while Mr. Chang and I clean up," Grandma said.
"I should help," I perked up and offered, pulling away from Scott a little.
"This is nothing a Dustbuster can't handle," she said, "besides; you two need some time alone together."
"Come on," Scott led me by the hand to my room. He propped the pillows up and made me climb into the bed with him; putting his arm around me he drew me towards his chest and held me protectively.
"I'm sorry," I told him.
"Will you stop that?" he admonished me.
"I was sure I scared you off."
"Nope," was all that he said.
"I'm sor--" I was silenced by his fingers on my lips.
"Shhhh..." he whispered to me.
Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side
Rainbow's are visions
They're only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we've been told and some chose to
But I know they're wrong wait and see*
I know it was Scott softly singing to me, but it was also the man I called Dad. When I was sad, upset or scared he would sing me the same song.
Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it's done so far
What's so amazing
That keeps us star gazing
What so we think we might see*
That man seemed like a stranger to me now. With everything happening so fast, all the sudden changes in my life, I was starting to feel like an alien in my own skin.
Silently to myself I kept whispering; I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Scott continued to sing and gently run his fingers through my hair.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.*
A light sleep eventually found me as I was comfortably ensconced in Scott's arms, my ear against his chest listening to the steady rhythm of his heart. My eyes popped open after, I don't know how long and sitting up I noticed that it was starting to get dark outside. Scott was silently watching me.
"I'm sorry," I looked down.
"I told you to stop saying that," he said.
"I'm sor --" I stopped, "I'm so fucked up." I shook my head.
"I told you before, we're fucked up together," he leaned in and gently kissed me on the lips, "remember me? The bridge diver?" I looked down.
"Why did you sing that song to me?" I asked.
"I'm sorry about that, there's a reason Vanessa does the singing," he gave me a little smile, "It just always makes me feel better. My Mom sang it to me when I was little." He looked away, perhaps thinking he said the wrong thing. I did cringe a little on the inside when he mentioned his mother. My mother never sang to me and she never would.
"My dad, the man I called that I guess, would sing it to me too," I said.
"He is still your dad, like Mr. Chang said," he tried to reassure me.
"I don't know what to think anymore."
"Here maybe this will help. It has mystical properties, or so I have been told," he pulled out a small bag from his pocket. Hesitantly I took it and removed the small object wrapped in tissue paper. Opening the paper revealed the heartline bear that I was looking at earlier. I couldn't help the sniffle that escaped and the tears that filled my eyes. No more crying I told myself.
"I could tell you liked it when we were at the market earlier, so I went back to get it when I had to use the restroom. She said it will give you strength and wisdom." he explained.
"I don't need them when I have you," I said and gave him the tightest hug I have ever given anyone in my life. He helped me put the cord around my neck. No more crying, I reminded myself.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
"See it is working."
"Thank you," I said, "maybe I should help them clean up. How long has it been?"
"Not long," he replied, "are you sure you want to go back upstairs now?"
"I can't stay down here forever and I guess I'm not running away."
"You were going to run away?"
"I guess I'm always ready to run away," I said, "the funny thing is, no matter how bad things got, I never did."
"I'm glad you didn't."
I just looked at him.
"Otherwise we would never have met."
A smile pulled at the corners of my mouth.
All of my defenses were down, a pile of psychological rubble. My past had confronted me, or really the lack of a real past had torn away what little foundation I had in my life. How much of what I thought was real was just a lie? Where could I find truth? I thought of the flood of relief I felt upstairs when I looked up and saw that Scott anxiously waiting. He sat beside me now and all I could think of was how much I needed him. A little doubt whispered from the reptile part of my brain; needing someone that bad is not a good thing. Another part of my brain argued that he did not flee as the ash drifted about; maybe he needs me, or at least wants me just as much.
Ash. What did I do? How can I clean up the mess I created? It seemed that Grandma forgave me, but how can I say I am sorry?
How do I apologize to my mother? Or do I? Should I?
"Jay?" Scott's voice drew my attention from my internal dialogue, "are you sure you're okay?" The concern visible in his face and in the sound of his voice could only be genuine. If I wasn't already falling in love with him, I certainly was now.
Okay? No I wasn't okay. Had I ever been okay? No, but I was starting to think I might be okay, eventually. I was taking too long to respond.
"Um -- no, not really," I replied honestly, "but better I think."
"We don't have to go anywhere yet," he said.
If I could, I would stay in this room forever, with Scott. I leaned forward and surprised him with a kiss on the lips. I had intended it to me a quick peck, but it turned into something much more passionate.
"Thank you," I told him.
"For what?" he responded breathlessly.
"For not running from me, for singing to me, for being so damn sexy and cute," I fingered the bear around my neck, "for this."
I was equally surprised when Scott grabbed my face and fixed his lips to mine. An involuntary moan of pleasure and of want escaped my throat. I could feel my body respond, everything else faded to the background, the sound of traffic on a distant highway. Even my little doubting voice that warned me away from anything that felt too much like happiness was muffled. In some ways I never felt better than I did at that moment. We fell back on the pillows with Scott on top of me. Our hands sought out all the contours of our bodies through our clothes as our mouths continued to explore tongue to tongue.
"Oh, crap!" Scott breathed as our kiss broke.
"What's wrong?" I asked concerned. Did I do something wrong?
"God nothing, nothing at all," he replied, "it all feels so good. It's almost too intense."
"Yeah," was all I could say. It was riding a wave that could carry us just about anywhere, including a sharp and jagged reef. Was I ready to risk going there? Hell yes, but no also.
"Maybe we should . . . you know, slow down a little?" Scott stared into my eyes.
"Yeah, maybe we should go upstairs. My grandma will be wondering what we are up to."
"I don't think she's wondering anything," Scott had a sly look on his face.
"You think she knows?" I was a little panicked now.
"She will if you go up there like this," he reached down and grabbed the very prominent bulge in my jeans. I involuntarily flinched in response. I didn't mind Scot grabbing me there. In fact I looked forward to further exploration; I was just not used to anyone touching me there.
"Sorry," he said seeing my reaction.
"Don't be," I told him, "I am looking forward to it. Besides, I think you have same problem." I reached down to feel the tent in his pants, a brazen act for me.
"So, yeah, maybe we should calm down a little first."
"I can't with you on top of me." Scott reluctantly rolled off of me, "I'm going to throw some water on my face, get cleaned up."
"Yeah, I bet," Scott smiled lecherously at me.
"I didn't know you were such a perv," I said going into the bathroom. I intentionally left the door open.
"I'm not a perv," he called out to me, "well, not much of one anyway," he finished in a mumble.
"See, just washed my face," I said ignoring his little confession when I returned. I wondered if he was a little pervy, or if I was?
"You really ready to go upstairs?"
"I am if you will be there with me."
"Wouldn't be anyplace else."
I held Scott's hand until we got almost to the top of the stairs. If she did not know, I didn't want to freak her out. Of course, it's not as if I probably had not freaked her out already by scattering her daughter all over the place. Scott was kind enough to not make a fuss when I let go of his hand.
She was sitting on the couch reading. There was no evidence of the disaster I caused earlier. Sitting down on the other end of the couch I stared at my hands, unsure of how to begin.
"I'm sorry," I said where else could I start?
"I already told you . . . you have nothing to be sorry about," she said to me, "I, on the other hand..."
"No you don't. Mr. Chang was right, you were there when I needed you most. I don't know where I would have ended up otherwise." I explained. It was at that point I realized Mr. Chang was not around and I swung my head searching for him.
"He left," she said answering my unspoken question, "said he would stop by again tomorrow."
"I should have tried harder to find her -- and you," she continued, "she wasn't even out of elementary school when she first tried drugs. No matter what we did it didn't make a difference. She finally left for good when she was seventeen."
"There were lots of times when we didn't have an address, so there was no way you could have found us," I said.
"How could we know," I could tell she was on the verge of tears.
"Like I said, you couldn't know. She didn't want you to know," I paused, "I'm sorry about the mess I caused."
"It was nothing a little vacuuming couldn't take care of. Besides, now she will always be in this house. She will never run away again."
"I don't think I've said it, but thank you. Thank you for everything you've done for me."
"I owe it to you."
"You took me in, knowing nothing about me and I could have been worse than my mom."
"But you aren't. In fact you are better than most people that are so-called 'good'."
"No, I'm not," I glanced at Scott quietly sitting on the edge of a chair, "in fact, I have to tell you..."
"I already know and it's okay," she said. I looked at Scott again to see him smiling ear to ear.
"Really?" I asked again and she nodded.
"You knew she knew?" I asked Scott.
"Um," was all he said.
"I told him he had to treat you right," Grandma interjected.
"When was that?"
"This morning, before you came up," Scott answered and I just stared at him.
"How did you know?" I asked her.
"I am an old woman and I have been around the block a few times. You always acted to nervous around Scott," she answered. I am glad she didn't say anything about Devon. "And I could see the difference in you last night. It was the first time you called me Grandma, so I knew something had changed. It was obvious, like a great burden had been lifted from you. Am I right?"
I could feel my face get hot and just nodded.
"You came home so happy."
"I am," I couldn't take my eyes off Scott, "so you're okay that I'm gay?" I think that was the first time I used that term out loud with anyone.
"We wouldn't be sitting here like this if I wasn't."
"Thanks," I said again.
"I know you are not big on them, but come here and give me a hug."
"You got it," I scooted over and wrapped my arms around her and held onto her like I did that tree; not because I was afraid I would fly away, but because I never wanted to lose her.
"Oh, wait," Scott suddenly sprang up and rushed off. Grandma and I shared a curious glance. When he returned Scott handed me the bag with the scarf.
"I don't know if you will like it, but I got you something at the market," I nervously handed her the bag.
"Oh my, it's beautiful," she unfolded the scarf and after looking at it she draped it across her shoulders.
"Really?" I asked apprehensively.
In reply she leaned to me with a kiss on the cheek and quoted, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple."
I looked at Scott and he continued, "With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."
"And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves," I finished, just as we had in the shop. This had to be definitely one of the happier moments in my life. Maybe it was because I wasn't used to utilizing those muscles, but my smile almost hurt. All I could think was don't let this stop.
"All right, now who's hungry for some dinner?" Grandma asked and on cue my stomach rumbled, eliciting laughs from both of them. It had been many hours since we left the market and our last meal.
"I would love to cook something, but I think we need a little celebration," she said, "both my daughter and my grandson are home for good and he has the nicest and most handsome, I may add, boyfriend a grandmother could hope for."
This time when we drove downtown Scott and I sat together in the backseat holding hands. It felt like heaven to be able to do it, but I couldn't help glancing up front for any sign of disapproval.
She took us to Jake's Famous Crawfish on Stark Street. Because it was a Saturday there was a long wait for a table, but it was worth it. She pointed out the tiled trough that ran the length of the bar so that a century ago gentlemen did not have to leave to relieve themselves. Scott and I chorused "ewww," before snickering when we thought about being at a bar with a bunch guys with their dicks hanging out.
Grandma rolled her eyes and muttered, "gay boys." That just made us laugh more. I am sure the other diners thought we were crazy.
Unfortunately like all good things in my life the evening had to end and it was eventually time to drop Scott off and head home ourselves. Once again we climbed into the backseat together and this time I did not have to leave wondering about what a kiss from Scott felt like. It was brief and in the dark of the car, but I knew I would feel its lingering tingle on my lips all night. If Grandma had not been present I am sure it would have lasted longer and involved some tongue, but I am not about to complain. I know I had a dopey grin on my face the whole ride home.
Scott promised to call me before he went to bed so I sat down and pretended to do homework. Instead I checked my phone every few minutes to make sure it was working properly or to see if I had somehow missed a call, even though it was sitting right next to my open text book. It didn't even finish ringing once when it finally did.
"Hi, I hope it's not too late," he said.
"I don't even know what time it is," I told him.
"You know it's stupid, but I miss you already."
That was how the conversation went, both of us saying nothing really with long pauses where we could hear the other breath. It was enough just knowing that the other was there breathing. Who knew how long it was before we both reluctantly agreed it was time to go to sleep and even then it took several attempts to actually hang up the phone. It was not until a hot shower and some much needed relief that I was finally able to fall asleep.
I did not pay attention to what time I went to sleep, but I woke up early, bright eyed and rested. Grandma was not even up yet and I found myself alone in the kitchen for the first time staring at a coffeemaker that looked like it was designed by NASA. So, instead I poured myself some juice and opened the door to the deck and a clear day with rows of mountains visible in the distance.
Looking at my phone I wondered if Scott was awake. Getting up at freakishly early hours is a habit that most people do not share with me, so I just sent him a simple "good morning" text. I sat in a still dew damp lounge chair and let the early morning sun warm my face.
"Coffee?" my grandma startled me when she came outside. I guess I had dozed off.
"Yes, please," I said, "I would have made it myself, but that coffeemaker is a little intimidating."
"Not once you are familiar with it."
I thought about it for a minute before saying, "kind of like you."
"Well, maybe not you per se, but everything here. It is just not what I am used to. You know what I mean?"
"I'm glad you are finally beginning to feel comfortable here. I was worried that you would get scared or angry or something and just run away . . . the way your mother did."
Before I could say anything, we looked to the front door in shock as the doorbell chimed. This early on Sunday morning could only mean one thing, evangelists of one stripe or another.
We were both a little surprised to see Mr. Chang at the threshold holding a big pink box with the words Voodoo Donuts on the side.
"Morning Jaybird. I knew you would be up early," Mr. Chang said with a smile. I had forgotten that he was going to stop by again today. I honestly did not know that to say. What did he think of me after last night? Did he know too?
"Voodoo Donuts! You didn't have to do that," Grandma ushered him into the kitchen.
"You can't come to Portland without getting Voodoo Donuts."
How come everyone knows about this sort of stuff except me?
"I brought extra, because I know Jaybird has an appetite on him. Where's your friend Scott?"
"At home, probably still in bed," I said.
"I would think he would have spent the night," I couldn't be sure, but did Mr. Chang just give me a wink?
"Let's sit down to some coffee and donuts," Grandma suggested.
"That is a mighty inviting suggestion," he said taking a seat and opening the box. Little was said for a few minutes as we drank coffee and I ate several donuts.
"So how are you doin' Jaybird?" he asked me?
I swallowed a mouthful of cream filled, fried goodness, "Better . . . good."
"I can tell," he toyed with his cup of coffee, "I don't think I ever saw you smile in Texas and all I have to do to see you light up is mention that boy Scott."
He was right. I couldn't help but smile when I thought of him, so I blushed behind my goofy grin and mouthful of donut.
"See," he said and my grandma giggled, "and don't you be ashamed of it neither. But . . . this is a much better place for the like of you than Texas. I'm glad your grandmother found you and I am happy you found someone special," It was a fight to keep my emotions under control. I didn't need another breakdown, even if it was from happiness. Three in as many days is too many.
"I . . ." I had to clear the tightness in my throat before continuing, "there were times I don't think I would have made it without you."
"That ain't true, but thank you," he said, "I wish I had you as my own son and don't think I wont' be checking up on you. I expect good grades and the missus will be expecting pictures and Christmas cards, got it?"
"I promise Mr. Chang."
"And it's Ben, not Mr. Chang."
"Yes sir -- Ben." using the name felt awkward, but I was sure I would get used to it.
Ben had a plane to catch so we had a brief and only slightly tear stained goodbye. He was a Texan and a real man and real men don't let you see them cry. Promises were made to stay in touch and I was told I had to get a Facebook page.
My phone rang as I was sorting through the remaining donuts.
"Hi," I said dreamily expecting Scott.
"Yo, dude!" Devon's voice startled me, "what's up?"
"Um, eating donuts," I answered caught off guard.
"I snuck away from church for a minute so I thought I would give you a jingle," he said, "sounds like you are having way more fun than me. Hey, I was thinking of ditching the family later and I was wondering what you were up to?"
"Uh," it's not that I didn't want to see Devon, I have a lot fun with him, maybe too much fun . . . but I didn't want to see Devon right now, "mostly homework, I kind of goofed off and I have to catch up. Won't you get in trouble if you ditch your family?"
"Yeah, probably," I could hear the disappointment in his voice, "I suppose I should do my homework too."
I had an incoming call and this time it was Scott.
"I got to run. See you tomorrow, okay?" I said hurriedly.
I quickly switched calls feeling guilty about cutting Devon off. I could not image having to endure church the way he did. It sounded like torture.
"Hi," I answered again.
"Hi," was the decidedly groggy response.
"Just woke up?"
"Not even awake yet."
There was even less of a verbal conversation than last night with the half awake Scott. Mostly it was more of saying not much of anything, just wanting to hear the voice of other, knowing he was there. That is until his sister apparently jumped on his stomach and informed him that he had to get up, because they were all going to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Unfortunately this meant that I was not going to get to see Scott again until Monday, though we would of course talk to each other before bed again. It also meant that I really could do my homework.
Devon was out front of the school leaning against a wall with Dani snuggled under an arm. It wasn't really sunny out, so at first his mirrored sunglasses did not make a lot of sense to me, until I got closer.
"Morning dude," Devon gave me a lethargic wave. His condition was one I had seen many times before: he was severely hung over.
"Good morning," I said a little louder and more cheery than I normally would. Devon gave a barely perceptible wince, while Dani let out a soft snort of a laugh.
"You are certainly in good spirits this morning," Dani said, "did you get laid or something?"
"No," I stated flatly, but almost, I finished to myself
"Morning everyone," Scott came up behind me, laying a hand on my shoulder. Devon waved again and winced.
"Boy, you too? Did you get laid?" Dani asked.
"Almost," Scott answered instantly, a big grin on his face. Shut up Scott, I thought to myself and hoped that it did not show on my face.
"Almost only counts in horseshoes," Dani told him.
"And shuffle board," I said, "and bocce ball and..."
"Okay brain, anyway I have to make sure Amy Winehouse here gets to class. Laters." She said leading Devon away. He must have been really feeling it, because he didn't even try to protest.
"He must have really hit the party circuit hard this weekend," Scott said, "and how are you?"
"Aside from the almost overwhelming desire kiss you, absolutely wonderful," I told him in a whisper.
"You know you can," he said.
"I know that, but I am not ready to be that out yet. I am just getting used to the idea of anyone besides myself knowing. I'm not ready for everyone to know yet."
"I understand and we will take things slow, at your pace. Though it is hard to keep my hands . . . and lips off of you."
"Same here. Good thing we have class to keep us distracted."
"You're the distraction."
"Come on or we will be late to first period."
At lunch Devon's sunglasses were perched on the top of his head and his eyes were only a little bloodshot.
"Drink lots of water and a couple of aspirin before you go to bed next time," I told him, "most of a hangover is dehydration."
"Somehow I never thought I would be getting hangover advice from you," Devon said.
I shrugged my shoulders, "I've known a few people that have a lot of experience with that sort of thing. They mostly just kept drinking so they rarely had hangovers." They didn't need to know the details, but I am sure they suspected that I was talking about members of my family.
"There is something different about you Jay," Dani said scrutinizing me closely. I involuntarily shoot a quick glance at Scott sitting next to me, I hoped she didn't notice.
"Um, I got a visit from an old friend from Texas this weekend," I offered as an excuse.
"It must have been somebody really special to put you in such a good mood," she was still watching me too closely.
"Yeah, very special," I said.
"Oh, is this like an old flame of yours?" Devon spoke up, "when do we get to meet her?"
"Ewww," I responded. Dani looked at Scott and I realized he had made the same sound. "More of a father figure," I added.
"You were there too?" she asked Scott.
"Uh, yeah . . . we were working on a class project together," Scott explained. I silently thanked him.
"Oh?" I was a little surprised to hear this from Devon, but he didn't say anything more.
"Which reminds me," Scott said, "we were wondering if you can help us with our presentation?"
"How so?" Dani asked.
Scott immediately went into a detailed explanation and I could barely get a word in. When he is excited about something he rolls on like a high speed train, not stopping until he gets to his destination. His enthusiasm must be contagious, because before lunch was over, Dani was already planning a multimedia presentation.
By the end of the day Devon seemed to be recovered enough that he snuck up behind me as I waited outside and wrapped me in a tight hug again, though this time it was accompanied with a warning, "Yo, man!"
It did startle me, but I didn't flail around this time, instead I called him a big jerk and laughed.
As I recovered from his friendly attack I saw Vanessa approaching and she looked like she was ready to start a fight. Maybe she would like me better if she knew about me and Scott? I still wasn't sure why she didn't like me.
"You! Mr. Bedroom Eyes -- come with me," she commanded in a tone you don't often hear outside of a dictator's torture chamber. I just looked at her bewildered, not entirely sure if she was talking to me. Mr. Bedroom Eyes?
"Yeah, you and don't look at me like I'm stupid and leave Double Dip Sherbet here," she told me. Devon just shrugged when I looked to him. Apparently I took too long, because she grabbed me by the arm and led me around the corner of the school.
"Okay, what's your deal?" her arms were crossed and I was backed up against the building, "spill it!"
"Don't give me that. All I hear about is 'Mr. Bedroom Eyes' then Scott blows me off all weekend to work on this project of yours and now he's acting all goofy . . . goofier than usual and won't tell me a damn thing. You better not be using him for some cheap thrill or so help me I'll rip off your testicles and shove 'em up your ass! Got it?"
"Um, got it," what could I say, "um, so Scott talked to you about me?"
"Oh for Christ's sake, don't act like you don't know Scott has a major crush on you," I stood there unable to utter anything intelligible. Apparently he did not tell her everything, though I was now wishing he did tell her everything.
"If you fuck with Scott, if you hurt him, I swear to God I will fuck you up," she had been inching towards me and she was pressed up against me. Despite the fact I was a half-a-head taller than her I would have gladly let the wall absorb me if I could.
"I . . . I . . . I would never do that," I finally managed to stutter out.
"Vanessa!" a shout interrupted the bullying I was receiving.
"Oh, hey Scott," she instantly turned all sweetness and nice. All girls, I have noticed, have that Jekyll-Hyde ability.
"Don't act all nice," he said, "I know you. What were you doing?"
"Jay and I were just chatting," she moved beside Scott and snaked an arm around his waist. He quickly and none too politely disentangled himself from her, much to my mildly jealous relief.
"Jay, what did she say?" Scott asked while Vanessa glared at me.
"Did you threaten him?"
She looked a little sheepish, then a little of her earlier bravado returned, "I'm just making sure you don't get hurt. You're like my brother. I'm looking out for you."
"It's not like that," Scott looked at me for approval, I nodded my head, "we care about each other, a lot."
She looked at me.
"I really do care about Scott and I would never do anything to hurt him." I added.
"If you do..." she started again.
"Van!" Scott scolded her and she stopped mid-threat.
In a very uncharacteristic volunteering of personal information I offered, "besides, if I haven't scared him off yet, nothing will." I was trying to be lighthearted and personable, two alien traits for me, but for some reason I really wanted Vanessa to like me. She gave me a curious look and Scott gave me one of his great smiles. I had to look down at my dusty All-stars or blush.
"So you two spent the weekend doing the horizontal mambo?"
"No!" we both chorused."
"Wow, sounds like denial to me," she laughed, "only kidding," she added seeing the hurt looks on our faces.
"It's not like that, at least not yet," Scott smiled devilishly, "and Van? Jay only just came out to his grandma, in fact you are like the fourth person in the world to know. So, you know, he's not ready to be totally out yet, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," she said, "so is Devon like the third person?"
"Huh?" I said.
"Scott said I am the fourth, so I assume the Pastel Warrior is like your ex or something."
"Devon?" I practically yelled, "he's totally straight. He's with Dani. He's not my ex and no, he does not know."
"Come on, he is way too good looking and look at the way he dresses and he always smells so good. He has to be gay." she protested
"Get real, show me a gay guy, not in his forties that would dress like that. How many pastel polos do you think he has?" Scott pointed out, "and I'm surprised you noticed that much about him, I didn't think he was your type."
"He's not," she said, "but you can't help but notice him. You know, Dani says they've never done anything."
"His dad is some super conservative Christian, so I'm not really surprised. That probably stifles a lot, though apparently not drinking." I told her.
"Whoa, watch out when he finally does. Mount St. Helens all over the place after all those years of repression," she added. The thought was both funny and disturbingly erotic. I couldn't and wouldn't ever say anything about the little drunken misadventure in my bedroom.
"Hey, is everything okay over here?" Devon came around the corner looking for us.
"A-okay Sherbet Man," Vanessa told him. Devon just gave her an odd look.
"Jay, your grandma is out front," he said laying a hand on my shoulder.
"Thanks, I better get going," I know I had to go, but I was trying to come up with a way to have some private time with Scott. It was like Saturday at the market, I wanted to touch him and kiss him so much, but I couldn't.
"I'll call you later," Scott said.
"Hey," I finally couraged up a little, "do you want a ride? I'm sure my grandma will drop you off."
"I was hoping you'd ask, but can I be dropped at the pool?"
We said our 'laters' to Devon and Vanessa and hurried off to the waiting SUV. Climbing into the backseat was our opportunity and our hands immediately found each other closely followed by our lips.
"Should I drive around a little bit?" Grandma asked smiling.
We giggled and took a moment to recover and rearrange ourselves.
"Thanks, but . . . maybe," he looked at me," . . . no." he laughed seeing the expression of want and embarrassment on my face.
The drive to the pool was too short, but the parting kiss in the car was delicious and kept a warm glow in my chest for the rest of the night.
*Everyone knows The Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog in the Muppet Movie (personally I thought the new one was almost as good as the original. If I watched TV I would say it would be great to bring back The Muppet Show.)