K. J. Pedersen

Copyright © 2013 by K. J. Pedersen




Elijah Christoffer Bengtsen

NOAH HARTFORD PARKS IN FRONT of an old Victorian-style house on Second Avenue. He takes me by the hand, leads me away from his old beat-up Cadillac, which he affectionately refers to as “The Beast,” and pulls me along the driveway. Dating back to the 1910s or before, his home is like most of the other houses in this part of town. A good two stories tall, it’s imposing and impressive, with large bay windows and a full porch. None of the lights are on except for one on the main level, a bathroom light, its yellow glow bleeding through translucent glass. An old-fashioned porch swing stands a few feet from the front entrance, a heavy hardwood set of double doors with ornately etched, frosted-glass panes. Outside, along the house’s west wall, cement stairs descend to the basement level, and that’s where he leads me. When we reach the landing at the bottom of the stairs, he fumbles in his shorts pocket for keys, unlocks the door, and reaches inside for the light switch.

I follow Noah inside.

I have the basement apartment to myself,” he says. “My parents are cool. They respect my privacy.”

Nice,” I say, surveying Noah’s pad.

A small studio apartment, the place is on the cramped side, but I’d love to have the same arrangement myself. His unmade bed, a double, is in the corner under the small basement window, which he has covered entirely with a thick black comforter, its corners tacked to the wall.

Noah notices me checking it out. “Yes, yes,” he says and flicks his hand, indicating the comforter. “You see, I’m a vampire.” He chuckles, then runs his thumb under one pointed cuspid for dramatic effect. “Don’t want the sun shining through.”

Next to the bed is an old sofa, draped in a tan slipcover; a worn, comfortable looking armchair; and a small coffee table. An ancient but solidly-built desk, its cherrywood stain scuffed and scratched, and a modern, faux-leather office chair are situated beside the door, directly across from the other furniture. A computer tower and 34" flatscreen television dominate the desktop. Beyond, on one side, I see the bathroom entrance. On the other side...a curiosity, a pub set consisting of a high triangular table and a trio of spindly three-legged chairs with low backs. Cupboards, a range, microwave, refrigerator and sink complete the kitchenette. And separating these, the dining and living areas, is a half-wall, its top serving haphazardly as a bookshelf. There are stacks of novels and notebooks strewn about it. The pale gray bookends on either side of the thick school texts, dictionary, and single-volume encyclopædia are replicas of the stone Olmec heads of Mexico.

Relatively speaking, Noah’s place is neat, appealing even. It’s the perfect setup for a young adult, and I’m definitely jealous.

Well,” Noah says, “it’s not much, Elijah, but it’s home.” He closes the door behind us, locks it.

We’re alone.


Excited and light-headed with all I’ve had to drink, I forget myself and go for it. I push Noah back against the door and try to thrust my tongue down his throat. He laughs, fighting me off playfully until he’s able to keep me at an arm’s distance.

Take it easy,” he says.

This is why you invited me here, isn’t it?” I say. “To fuck.”

Well, maybe not to fuck—”

I don’t mean fucking, Noah, not exactly, but.... You know what I mean!” I kiss the side of his throat. “I want you naked, in bed, now. We’ll see where things progress from there.”

Not so fast. We have all night,” he says, his eyes bright with good humor. “Besides, you’re drunk, brother—”

No, buzzed.”

Slow down.” Casually, he unbuttons his shorts and lets them fall. “Go on; sit on the couch. I’ll get us something to drink.”

He strips off the rest of his clothes except for his briefs and socks. His back is to me the entire time, but once he has his shirt off, he turns to face me. The lad has hair on his torso—a light dusting of it across his chest and on his abdomen. The golden brown fur trail beneath his belly button disappears under the fraying, black and gold striped waistband of his underwear.

Damn,” I mutter. “You’re too fucking hot, man.”

He nods. “You like what you see, then?”

You’re an otter—tall, and lean, and hairy!”

He laughs at this. “Oh, an otter, huh?”

How old are you, Noah, really?” I demand. “And don’t give me that horseshit story that you’re only seventeen and a senior at U. Park.”

But I am seventeen, brother!” he insists.

More like twenty-one!”

He retrieves his shorts from the floor, pulls his wallet from the back pocket, and hands it over. “My driver’s license. See?”

I take it, look it over carefully. “Really? You’re almost a month younger than I am. Bull.” But the evidence is right there in my hand.

C’mon,” he says, “take your clothes off.” He takes his license and wallet from me and tosses them onto the coffee table. “Get comfortable. Sit on the couch. Make yourself at home.”

I undress, enjoying the way he watches me, with such desire.

This is going to be great! I think as I pull the T-shirt over my head and toss it in his direction.

Noah catches it, sniffs at it, grinning all the while, and tosses it back to me. He whistles first, then adds, “Ah, nipples like quarters.” He lunges at me playfully and tugs at them—such merciless teasing!

Ow!” I push him away.

My jeans are next, and when I have them down around my thighs, he says, “You’re boning up, man.”

I should be embarrassed with the way it’s pushing out against my briefs like that, making it so perfectly clear that I don’t want to wait another moment to take him to bed, but I’m not. Too hot to be ashamed, I continue my strip show.

Whoa! Hold on! Time out!” he cries and caps one hand with the other, making a T. “You can keep your underwear on for awhile, at least, you horny pup.”

This time I feel my cheeks get hot with embarrassment and pull my briefs up over my erection again. “Better?”

He’s suddenly shy and whispers something I don’t quite catch.

What’s that?” I coax, smirking.

I have a thing for underwear,” he says again. “Kind of a fetish.” Then he pushes me back until I fall back on my rump, on the couch cushions. “Wait here. I’ll get us a drink,” he says. “You like wine?”

I nod.

Good, ‘cause that’s all I have,” he says. “But I have to warn you: It’s strong. Really strong.”

I grin. “Then bring it on.”

All right.”

From my place on the sofa, I watch him pad toward the kitchen/dining area, then stand again and step forward a foot or two so I can get a better view. His body’s nice and sleek. I like the way he moves, with a certain athleticism, different from Jason’s, yet every bit as genuine. He crosses the range, and in the hood above it I see the digital clock, its numbers glowing green: 23:32, military time. From the cupboard, he takes down two glasses, and moves along to the fridge. He opens it, leans over.

Cute ass,” I say.

He wiggles it for my benefit.

Damn!” I cry, wanting him now.

It’s red wine,” Noah says, turning to face me again. “Hope you don’t mind.” He fills the glasses, pads toward the couch, two glasses in one hand, the long stems between his fingers, and carries the wine bottle in the other. “Here,” he says, offering me one of the glasses.

We sit.

Down the hatch!” Noah empties his glass at once.

Whoa.” I’m impressed.

Now you,” he says.

I hesitate.

Coward.” He gives me this smug look, daring me to follow.

Fine.” I swallow it all; nearly choke, too. “That is strong,” I say through a coughing fit.

He pours another glass, hands it to me, and then pours more for himself. “You like it?”

It’s bitter,” I say. “Very.”

High alcohol content,” he says.

Ah. Right.”

Sit back. Enjoy.”

Reclining, my back against the sofa’s arm, I raise my right leg, and nestle that foot snugly against the slipcover, sliding it between the seat and back cushions, while letting the other foot remain on the oddly-patterned oval floor rug. I’m facing him, sitting lengthwise on the couch, sitting intentionally with my legs apart so he can see the thick bulge in my jockey shorts and know where my interest really lies. Seeing this, he responds in kind, sits back at the opposite end of the sofa, and sizes me up. He has a nice bulge forming, too.

Are you bi, or is Jessica just cover?” Noah asks, pressing his sock-clad foot firmly against my crotch, cock and balls alike, evoking pleasure and pain.

No, I’m gay,” I reply and adjust my position some to relieve the increasingly uncomfortable pressure on my testes.

Then, seeing my discomfort, he eases up. I move my foot up from the floor and place it between his legs. Rubbing my big toe and the inside of my foot slowly along the length of his shaft, he responds, does the same to me, and the two of us fall into an easy rhythm. Beautiful, I think, watching us, two boys, white socks and underwear.... I’m getting absolutely rock-hard.

So, what is the story with Jessie?” he asks.

She’s my girlfriend. And we get along okay. But there’s nothing really serious going on between us. Certainly nothing sexual. Well...she strokes it occasionally and makes me come.”

With her foot?” He jabs his toes at my perineum.

Ow! You shit!” I grab his foot, push it away. I’m hot and I’m annoyed and that hurt. “No. Her hand, stupid. You’re the first to get all frisky down there with your toes.”

Stupid, huh?” he says with a dismissive laugh and a roll of his eyes. “Just another fetish of mine.” He places his foot between my legs again, strokes the inside of my left thigh lightly, as if in apology. “A foot-job, man, is so much better than a hand-job, though,” he begins. “I swear.”

Sounds to me like you’re one very naughty boy, Noah,” I tease. “All into kink, are you?”

Not exactly,” he says.

Are you into spanking?”

A little.”

Rough sex and toys?”


Anal beads and double-headed dildos?”

Oh, gross! Fuck no!”

We laugh at this together until our sides hurt, repeating the refrain, “Oh, gross! Fuck no!” every now and then.

Finally, after we’ve calmed down, he asks, “If you’re not bi, what’s with the double life?”

That’s my boyfriend’s fault—”


What the fuck? Hell no—not Brandt,” I say. “Jason—”

Wait—I saw you with Brandt. You were at his side almost all night, except for when you were with Jessica.”

I laugh. “I don’t believe this!” I drain my second glass of wine, then lean toward him. “Dude, seriously, you’ve mistaken me for my brother.”

What? How?”

I have a twin,” I tell him. “Elisha. We were both at the party. We wound up wearing a plain white T-shirt and jeans, unaware of the other.” I slap the sofa cushions. “Ha! My brother! I don’t believe this!”


Yeah. ‘Fuck’ is right, Hartford. Oh, man, Noah, my boy, you’ve been lusting after my brother all night.”

Maybe so.” He leers at me. “Maybe so, Elijah, but it’s your cute little ass planted on my sofa.”

Sure the fuck is.”

What’s your boyfriend’s name?”

Jason,” I say. “If he was willing to open up about being gay, let Meg, his girl, down gently, and acknowledge that we’re a couple, then I’d be willing to be exclusively together with him.” Noah gives me this funny, amused look, and immediately I feel the need to justify myself. “It’s not like I’m totally promiscuous, Noah, going to bed with every cute boy who wants it. It’s just that on occasion a guy catches my eye and we hook up.”

Like me, tonight.”

Yeah. Like you. Tonight.”

Jason, huh?”

The handsome jock with the short, blond hair and clear blue eyes. The one with the nice chest, all tight against his T-shirt. The boy with the thick arms,” I say, describing for Noah those features that attracted me most to Jason, and as it became increasingly obvious friendship alone wasn’t what I wanted from him. “You saw him, I’m sure. You know, the one who got so drunk he was stumbling around, starting fights.”

Ah, right. Now I know who you’re talking about.” Noah reaches for the wine bottle sitting on the coffee table, and pours another glass. “Muscle boy. He’s your lover....”

Yeah, ‘lover’. More like closet case.”

I thought he was just a friend,” Noah says. “If you and Jason are a couple, does that mean your twin brother and Brandt are together—?”

Not a chance,” I say. “Brandt isn’t gay.”

The hell he’s not,” Noah says. “He seduced my boyfriend last year.”

Your boyfriend?”

Dustin,” Noah says. There’s a long, uncomfortable pause. “Dustin died.”


I’m sorry, bro,” I manage to say, though it’s hardly audible.

Happened last year,” he says. “After he and Brandt hooked up. Brandt tried to come between us. And succeeded. Dusty.... Jesus, man, I was so in love with him....” He pauses a second. “Anyway...listen....” There’s another long beat. “He went with Brandt, telling me he loved me, but that couldn’t resist Brandt. Telling me there was an ‘inexplicable, magnetic attraction’ between them. ‘Inexplicable’ my left nut. Lust is lust, right?”

How do you answer that?

Anyway...I guess Dusty must’ve tried to sneak out one night to see Brandt. He climbed out his bedroom window, must’ve slipped on the rain-slick shingles, and fell....” Another pause. “He landed wrong....”

I’m so sorry, Noah,” I say. “I just.... Look, I don’t really know what to say, man.”

Don’t worry about it. It’s old news. Happened last Spring. Things move on; life continues.” He looks away quickly, but I catch the sight of welling tears. “There really is nothing to say, I guess.” His voice is, with those words, suddenly husky.

I wait for what seems to be a very, very long moment while my new friend recovers and composes himself again.

Finally, I say, “Whatever his deal is with Brandt, Elisha has a boyfriend of his own—a skinny skaterboy named Mattias. He’s an immature little shit, but a good kid. And the two of them are totally into each other.”

Let me give you some advice you should pass onto your brother: Brandt Lyngdal isn’t somebody you want in your life.”

No kiddin’,” I say. “Sounds like he’s a boyfriend-thieving piece of sh—work.”

Among other things.”

THE BOTTLE OF WINE REMAINS on the coffee table only half-emptied, and it’s just as well. With all I’ve had to drink tonight, I really can’t take any more. Not without getting sick or passing out, anyway. Besides, I don’t want the alcohol sneaking up on me to steal my erection. Not that it’d be easy with the way Noah’s fondling it with his feet and toes.

We’re at it again, still sitting at opposite ends of the sofa, our legs apart, and he’s rubbing the ball of his foot against my hard-on, firmly along the ridge on the underside of my cock. The coarse cotton weave of his sock against that of my jockeys produces the most exquisite friction.

Oooh! Easy,” I tell him. “Gentle, boy.”

And what am I getting out of all this?” he asks with a mock innocent, mock pained look I find irresistible and thoroughly adorable. “I’m carrying all the weight here.”

Taking the cue, I return my foot to its former place between his legs.

Not bad,” he says, then draws in a sudden, sharp breath. “Fuck! Show off.”

And I’ve only just begun.” I pull his sock off with one hand and throw it at him. Tugging my underwear down up front, I hold the waistband under my balls with my thumb. My free hand, I place on his foot, bringing his sole harder to me. “Now you.”


I don’t know which feels better, his bare toes on me, or the naked smoothness of his long, narrow shaft between mine.

Okay—okay!” Noah cries. “Cut it out, unless you want four days worth of spunk all over your foot.”

You haven’t come for four days?”

That’s right. Four days.”

Shit,” I say. “I come at least twice a day. I’d go crazy if I didn’t!”

I wait a few days, sometimes even a week or more,” he says. “That way, I shoot harder.”

I’d like to see that.”

If you don’t stop now, you will!”

I ease up; it’s too early for that. There’s so much more to do.

Noah removes his other sock. Now he has me between both feet! Then between the big and middle toes of his right foot.

Noah squeezes.

Oh, god, Hartford!” I throw my head back. He keeps squeezing—such strength in those toes! Oh, god, it hurts, but so, so perfectly. “You’re right! This is better than any hand-job I’ve ever had,” I tell him, gasping, my hands on his feet, guiding him, prodding him gently for my pleasure. And he seems all too willing.

You want me to get you off now,” he asks, “or should we move on to the main event?”

For as much as I’m enjoying this, the truth is, I want full body contact...crave it, in fact. “The main event. Absolutely!”

He offers me his hands, pulls me to my feet, and leads me over to the bed, my waistband still tucked under my balls, and my cock still standing at the ready. He handles me then, briefly, before pushing me down onto the bed, on my back.

The next moment, he’s kneeling over me, straddling me between his legs. His cock is like mine, exposed, waistband under his nuts. He leans forward and his erection brushes against mine, nice and rigid. Then it’s crushed against mine. He thrusts forward, stops, thrusts again.

Stop playing with me, man!” I cry.

You don’t like to be teased, huh?”

Not like this.”

Noah pulls the covers up over us, over our heads, blocking out the light, and drawing us completely into our own little world. His hands are in my hair, stroking it away from my face, while his hair falls forward over both us, tickling my nose. My hands wander, are on his hips one moment, cupping his buttocks the next. He places his mouth over mine; opens it to me; our tongues tangle. But he’s one of those guys who’s a wet, sloppy kisser; who kisses as if he’s trying to inhale you, lips, tongue, face and all. I’ve kissed other boys—boys other than Jason, that is—usually college boys met at drinking parties, or, occasionally, shy high school boys who have no real sexual experience, and who only chance such an encounter when drunk or stoned or unusually emotional, needing affection or intimacy, and confident it won’t lead to anything beyond a hand-job or frottage. Most of those boys, it seems to me, kiss with abandon, and without skill. But Noah doesn’t quite fall into that category. His kisses with such desire and passion and feeling that I cannot help but forgive his unrefined manner and lack of technique.

And that’s when the underwear comes off, when the kissing is so deep, and the grinding so firm, that we’re afraid we’ll make a wet, sticky mess. Yanked down roughly, off our asses, down our long legs, fumbled with until they’re down around our knees, ankles...and then, finally, we’re freed of the final vestige of our clothing, our briefs, soon lost in the bedding. Together, we’re naked at last. And we take a long moment to savor it, embracing, the skin to skin contact, complete, with nothing at all between us.

Noah remains above me, and soon our embrace leads to more kissing and grinding. It’s a nice change of pace because Jason tends to be passive in bed, letting me take the initiative while he just lays there. It isn’t that he’s not good in bed—okay, he’s not. He’s kind of lame in the sack, actually. But it’s because he’s scared, not because he’s somehow sexually inept. See, he has it in his head that he shouldn’t want sex with another guy, and that freaks him out when we’re together. It doesn’t stop him from doing it, naturally, but it stops him from fully enjoying it...which, in turn, stops me from fully enjoying it.

Here I am having sex with a new boy I’ve never even seen before, and I’m judging him against my boyfriend. And it sucks, because I find my boyfriend wanting. I feel a pang of guilt. For all the faults Jason has, I love him, there’s no doubt.

Hey,” Noah asks, “you okay?”

Of course,” I say. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

I’m not making you uncomfortable, am I?”

No,” I tell him.

Good,” he says. “Because I like you.”

Yeah...?” I say. “‘Cause, you know, I think I like you, too.”

Noah kisses me down the length of my throat, lingers at the hollow, and kisses my collar bone. The kisses continue, down my chest, over my belly, stopping only when he reaches the wilds of my pubic hair.

He licks me and takes my cock in his mouth.

And again he proves himself superior to Jason. Noah’s teeth never scrape my shaft. I have my hands in his hair, in his braids, smoothing them out, and I guide him, thrusting forward, never gagging him.

He pulls off. “You like that?”


He takes me in his mouth again.

A moment later, as we change position, the covers fall over the side of the bed, onto the floor. In the light again, I see it. Noah’s cock is right there, just inches from my face. But I don’t go down on him. It’s something I’ve never tried; something I’m not quite sure I want to share with Noah first. It seems Jason deserves that. We’re boyfriends; he definitely deserves to be my first. Nevertheless, I give Noah a cautious lick, along the underside of his shaft, along the ridge, upward, before rolling my tongue over his tip.

Then I take control, throw Noah over onto his back, place my legs between his, push forward, separating his legs even farther until my knees are under his thighs. My cock pokes him, his perineum, and I push forward again. It slips, and my spit-slicked head glides smoothly over his opening.

Hey!” he cries. “You’ve just crossed over onto forbidden territory.”

Sorry,” I tell him. “It’s not like I’m trying to fuck you.”

I place my hand between us, bringing our cocks together in my grasp. Once aligned, I rub, then grind, establishing the right rhythm between us.

As the tempo increases, Noah’s hands find my ass once more, pulling my crotch in tighter against his own. Then he touches me, there, applying pressure slowly. I allow it, but can’t say that I really enjoy the sensation. At least, not at first.

When I do the same thing to him, he cries out, “Ow! You’re not supposed to push your finger into me.”

I didn’t!”

A little bit, you did.”

But neither of us stops.

As we explore new sensations, I slide my tongue deep into his mouth. I’m not the clumsy kisser he is, devouring all. And I pull back every time he starts to lose control. I tease him until he catches on and behaves himself.

Noah sighs between our kisses...our groping and thrusting.... His finger lingers against my opening—it drives me crazy! And I can’t take it any longer.

Oh, god, Noah!” I cry, shooting my load.

Then he lets loose “four days worth of spunk,” grunting over and over as it comes in violent spurts between us.

We lay there, me on top of him, for a long time, recovering, panting. We’re both damp with sweat. But he still smells really nice and clean. Soapy. I bury my face in his mane, sniffing. His shampoo smells like vanilla and mint.

He squirms out from under me. “I should turn out the light.”

Okay.” I roll on to my side, eyeing him, his soft cock, still ample, and our semen, which is still on his belly and in the furry trail that leads into his pubic hair. Our eyes meet and we both grin. Color comes to his cheeks then and he shyly places one hand over himself, partially obscuring my view. When he gets out of bed, turning away from me, I watch his ass. So nice. So firm. It’s funny because I feel more at the sight than just lust. I feel kind of light-headed, and silly, maybe even a little stupid—I’m drunk, I know that much—but I can’t help but realize what I feel coincides exactly with what I’d said earlier: I like Noah. A lot.

Lights out,” he says and flicks the switch.

Darkness. Only the pale green light from the digital clock in the hood above the range offers anything to see by, especially with the window covered by the comforter as it is. In that dim, ambient light, I see Noah in outline, at least his right side, as he approaches. He’s an angel in the darkness with half an aura about him, emerald green, and crowned with a corresponding halo.

I roll onto my back and the seraph slides into bed. Pulling the discarded covers over us, he crawls over me and there’s skin contact again. I feel his flaccid penis brush against my upper thigh. Then he’s between me and the wall and explains that he sleeps facing the wall because it comforts him.

I draw him into my arms, spooning him, feeling so drunk, and so light-headed....


I’ve awakened at the very edge of the mattress, facing an unfamiliar room and furniture, and then recall the hot lad whose bed I share. I roll over, toward the wall and Noah, hard again, and press my erection firmly in between his buttocks. I’m grinding—only half-awake—on autopilot.

He stirs. “Hey....”

Sorry, Noah,” I whisper in his ear. “Woke up all boned up.”

It’s okay,” he says and sighs. “Feels nice. Dusty used to do this, too.”

It does feel nice, but....

My head hurts,” I say. “I’m seeing things.”

It’s just the wine,” he replies. “You’re drunk.”

But no, I am seeing things. All around Noah I see an aura, complete this time. It’s golden, like the sunlight. When I lift myself onto my elbow, I see my arm, which is wrapped around his middle, is glowing, too. It’s a brilliant golden light, but right there, right against our flesh, like an outline or second skin.

My body feels weird: Light...insubstantial. It’s almost as if we’re floating, together, with my cock still between his buttocks. We’re still grinding and he’s moaning, softly.

Noah whispers my name.

My cock lengthens impossibly, snaking downward, between his legs. It then wraps around his thigh, lengthening still.

I reach between us, touch myself.

My mind is split between two sensations, that which I feel with my hand, my cock, a good seven inches, and that which surely inhabits my mind alone, my cock, far too thick and long. Like a viper, it’s entwining itself about Noah’s thigh and is tightening slowly.

Noah.... I feel really fucking weird.”

It’s okay,” he whispers. “You’re drunk. Just come and then we can go back to sleep.” He’s stroking himself as I continue.

Really fucking weird,” I insist.

“‘S’all good,” he says. “So just come, man.”

I’m almost there....

And so I come for the second time with Noah that night. Almost at once, sleep takes me.

WHEN I AWAKEN, I’M SICK, and feel like my guts are wanting to come up along with the wine Noah and I had shared; the vodka, punch, rum and Cokes Jason and I had downed together; and the spaghetti dinner Mom made. I jump up from the bed and rush headlong into Noah’s bathroom and embrace the cold porcelain bowl, heaving. And for all that? Nothing. Dry heaves.

I sit back—fall back, really—on my rump on the cool, rough tile flooring. I’m sweating profusely and it feels as if a fireball has erupted in my stomach. It gets worse. And soon I cannot take the pain any more. I lean over the toilet bowl again and try desperately to expel whatever it is. But I cannot. I cannot purge myself of whatever is causing me to be sick, that burning coal in my gut.

Then, suddenly, Noah’s hand is on my shoulder; it startles me. He kneels beside me in the darkness. “Elijah...?” he ventures cautiously.

What did you do?” I cry, turning to face him. “What did you put in the wine?”

Even in such darkness, I see his eyes widen. “Nothing! How could you say—?”

You’ve drugged me—!”

We drank from the same bottle,” he says. “You saw me pour the wine into your glass. You saw me do the same for myself.”


I warned you that it was strong,” he tells me. “You’ve had too much to drink tonight and it hasn’t settled well in your stomach.” He strokes the sweaty tendrils of hair back away from my face with both hands, placing the strands behind my ears. “Come back to bed, brother. You’ll feel better when you’ve slept it off.”

Noah stands and offers me his hands, to help me up from the floor.

I need water,” I say.

I’ll get it.” He brings me to my feet and leads me by the hand into the kitchenette. He takes a cup down from the cupboard and drops half a dozen ice cubes from the freezer into it. After he fills the cup with water, he hands it to me. “Sit. Drink slowly.”

I sit on one of the barstools while he retrieves our underwear. Returning, he pulls on his briefs while I sip the ice water, then he hands me mine.

After putting my underwear on again, I take a few more sips of water. It eases the pain in my gut a little, dousing the embers.

Come back to bed,” he says.

Laying there side by side on our backs, he rubs my belly, soothingly. I don’t feel that burning any longer. But I can’t fall back to sleep, either.

Some time later, I hear Noah snoring softly. But I’m not sure how long it takes for me to follow.

THE HEAVY BLACK COMFORTER COVERING Noah’s bedroom window blocks most of the sunlight, but not all, and what little gets through sears my eyes like some kind of high-energy laser weapon from a sci-fi movie.

I moan, roll away from the window and onto my back, then bring my hand up to shade my face from the late morning sun. I kick at the bedding. But even with the covers off, I feel as though I’m burning up with a fever. My stomach isn’t causing me grief the way it did before dawn, but it’s still sour.

Still, I know I’m sick.

Really sick.

Noah,” I say, “wake up.” I nudge him with my elbow.

Noah draws the covers about himself tighter.

It’s almost noon.”

Go back to sleep,” he mutters.

My head is killing me; I’d love to go back to sleep. But I can’t. I need to get home before my parents discover I never came home from Jessica’s party. So I get to my feet and go looking for my jeans.

Where’s my phone?” I ask Noah after turning out my front pockets. Then, “Wait, never mind. I forgot it. Left it at home.”

Oh,” comes his sleepy reply.

I pull on my jeans and find my shirt between the sofa and half-wall. “Hey, would you drive me home?”

Noah rolls away from the wall, toward me. He rubs the sand from his eyes, then lifts himself onto his elbow and growls at me with annoyance. “I’m in no condition to drive, man,” he says. “Come back to bed. We’ll sleep it off for a couple more hours. Then I’ll drive you home.”

A couple hours!” I cry, and immediately regret it because the rush of pain the outburst brings to my temples and across my forehead. “I can’t wait until two—!”

Call a cab,” he tells me.

Dude! I have like three dollars on me!”

Get my wallet off the coffee table,” he says. “I have a twenty—wait, sorry, I ate at Subway yesterday. Blew most of it there. Take the change. There’s gotta be like seven dollars and change left. Take it.”

The fare from here out to my house is twenty-five bucks.” I sit on the sofa, put on my socks and shoes. “Just drive me home, okay?”

I’ve gotta sleep this off,” he says.

Noah, please; I’m feeling sick!”

And I’m not feeling so great myself.”


He falls back back heavily into his pillow with an angry sigh. “Either be patient, come back to bed and sleep it off, or take the bus.”


Every bump in the road the bus rolls over, every pothole, reminds me how badly fucked up I am. Same goes for every stop, every acceleration, every turn, and when I reach the stop in Holladay closest to my house, I want to fall down dead, but have nearly half a mile walk still ahead of me.

It’s getting close to one in the afternoon now and the sun is beating down. Unlike the last couple of days, which have been strangely cold for April, today is shaping up to be hot, miserable even. Especially with this fever.

The garage door is open, I see, when I reach home. Neither Mom’s car nor Dad’s is to be seen. Dodged that bullet, I’m hoping. Then again they might be out looking for me, worried about where I am. Figure I’ll deal with that later. First, sleep.

I try to sneak in through the side door, but Elisha’s in the kitchen fixing a ham and cheese sandwich and sees me come in from the garage.

Where have you been?” he cries and gets up from kitchen table to intercept me.

None of your business.”

Who were you with?”

I’m going to bed,” I say.

Are you okay? Because you don’t look okay.”

I’m fine,” I say. Then warily, I ask, “Where are Mom and Dad?”

Dad took Missy out for lunch,” Elisha says. “I’m not sure about Mom.”

I trudge up the stairs toward my room. Elisha follows me closely.

You look like completely shit, Lije—”

Do they know I didn’t come home last night?” I demand.

No,” he replies. “When Mom asked about you, I said you were still sleeping.”

I owe one, then.”

Where were you?”

I throw open the door to my bedroom and turn quickly in an attempt to bar my brother entry. But I’m in no condition to fight when he shoves past me. My head is killing me. My muscles ache. I’m burning up. Defeated, I shuck off my clothes and throw myself down onto the bed.

Where were you?” he repeats.

I hooked up with a guy last night I met at the party,” I tell him. Why lie?


His tone of voice pisses me off. “I don’t need to take any shit from you, so just leave me alone.”

There’s a long pause where Elisha says nothing more...then, quietly, he says, “Your socks don’t match.”

I roll over onto my back to look at him. “What?”

The right one is longer than the left.”

I look down. White socks, different lengths. “Must’ve stolen one of Noah’s when I was getting dressed.”


Yeah. A senior at U. Park.”

He nods, scrutinizing me all the while. “What were you two doing—other than screwing—drugs? You look like—”

Fuck off.”

I’m serious.”

I had too much to drink and now I’m sick—”

Elisha hovers over me, presses his hand to my forehead. “It’s something worse than a hangover. You’re burning up.”

No shit.”

I’ll call Mom. We need to get you to the clinic—you need to see a doctor—”



I push him away, but the effort brings immediate consequences, and I cry out, my head throbbing. “You can’t call Mom. She’ll kill me if she sees me like this.”

Better to deal with her than with the fever you’re running.”

Just let me sleep.”

Elisha bites his bottom lip, looking worried. “Fine,” he says. “But if the fever hasn’t come down by five, I’m telling Mom and Dad that you’re sick and running a fever. You’ll be going to the doctor. And there’s nothing you can say to make me change my mind. Understand?”

I relent, then tell him to get the hell out of my room.