Soon James came out to the kitchen, he still looked kind of sleepy. "I hope I didn't wake you up," I said quietly.
"No, you didn't, I'm so used to getting up early it's hard to sleep late."
"Maybe you'll want to take a nap later, like at the lake."
"I could go for that." He was looking around, the room for something, appearing very sleepy.
"I came out here for something." Then he spotted his clothes left from last night. "Here they are, I'll get some wash started." He started moving more like his normal self. "Got anything you want to add to light colors."
"Yeah, just a second." I found some things needing washing, and brought them to him. Then he held up my running shorts from the day before.
"Did you sweat in these things or what?" He was holding my shorts out at arms length.
"Went for a run yesterday, felt great, but it was very hot."
"When did you go?"
"It was really hot yesterday about that time. I'd like to go with you only when it's cooler.
"Want to go this morning," I asked.
He gave me a hug, I knew his answer, it was yes. I did like running in the morning, when it was cooler, but I liked his hugs even more.
"Let me get this wash going, I'll change and then we can go," he said moving rather quickly.
I went to the bedroom, got ready, put on my running shoes and went outside to stretch. The morning was young, the air was serene, as the sunlight poked through trees, casting long shadows about the yard. The grass was a light gray green color wet with dew, but fresh and clean. Over in the woods cardinals were whistling to each other, and a single wood thrush, with his long melodic trills sang out from his secret location. I looked over at my neighbor's bird feeder, watching them flying about, chirping at each other in their sweet bird like ways.
James came out shortly, bounding down the stairs.
"You need to stretch first," I said, "here I'll show you." I gave him some hints on how to stretch, and then we were ready to go. I went the same route as the day before, starting down the highway. Traffic was light and not much of a problem. Then we turned down the narrow country road.
"You're doing great James, just try to relax your breathing some."
"How do you do that? He asked as he puffed, out of breath.
"First take deeper breaths, not short ones. Then try to develop a pattern or rhythm with your breathing. Try to relax the best you can, I know that won't be easy." His breathing did improve, he wasn't straining so much. "That's better. Now concentrate on your feet. Stretch out your steps, reach out and let your foot land naturally on the heel, not flat footed."
"Like this." I showed him how I was running then got behind him to watch his steps. "That's it James, now push off with your toes. Not too hard, but as natural as you can. Keep breathing deep breaths. Your doing great."
"Thanks Shawn. You're suggestions are working. I feel great."
"Concentrate as long as you can, soon you'll feel a rhythm develop that takes over." He was doing better than I anticipated. Normally someone doesn't make it much more than half a mile. We were coming up on the long down hill. "Okay, when we start down the hill, stretch out your steps a little further, and relax your breathing as much as possible. Try to catch your breath." He did just like I said, took longer steps, and wasn't straining to breath so much. "You're doing really good James. You let me know when you're tired and we can turn around and head back home."
"Not yet, I want to keep going."
"What ever." We made it to the farm. I was watching him, his breathing was fine, his stride was good, and I was impressed. We were running slower than I had the day before, but I didn't want to push him too hard.
"How far have we been?" he asked.
"About a mile and a half. You hanging in there?"
"It's beautiful down here," he said a few minutes later.
"That's what I thought yesterday, except I was so hot, there were a lot of things I didn't notice."
"I know we were out working at the same time that you were running yesterday, and it was so hot. You did drink plenty of water?"
"Looks like the road goes back into the woods again," he said.
"That's right, it's like a roller coaster ahead." We got through the roller coaster to the next paved road.
"That is one long hill." James said.
"We can turn around if you want."
"No I'm fine, I want to keep going." I ran slower, but we kept a good pace, and he was doing much better than just a beginner. Part way up James slowed more, until he started walking.
"You go ahead, don't wait on me."
"I don't mind, walking is good for you too."
"I just need to catch my breath," he said.
"It's okay, I understand, just take your time." We walked nearly to the top when James started running again. I stayed with him. We didn't say much till we reached the highway. His stride was shorter, but he still was maintaining. At the highway the traffic was heavier as cars zoomed by us.
"Just a little further James, we're almost there."
"I know, I can't believe how far I made it. How long did you say this was?"
"About six miles or so. Almost there now, just a little farther." I could see the drive; it was off in the distance. The last few hundred feet James was straining but determined to make it. We got to the drive, James stopped, bent over with his hands on his knees, straining for oxygen. I put my hand on his shoulder. "You made it."
"I know I can't believe it."
"You were pretty determined."
"Yeah, guess I was," he said completely out of breath.
"Come on you need to keep walking, don't stop." Reluctantly he stood up and walked slowly as we made our way down the drive to the house.
"I'll get us some water, you just keep walking." He looked at me, strained, tired, still out of breath, but he also looked relieved, and happy. He had accomplished something. I brought him some water, and a big pitcher to go. He stopped drank the whole glass, got another glass and drank that.
"Okay, we need to keep walking before you stiffen up."
"I'm so thirsty."
"I know just bring the glass with you, we'll walk up the drive."
"So how long do you keep walking?" he asked.
"That depends on how far you go and what kind of shape your in. I would say you really over did it here and you should probably keep walking for half hour or so."
"For me I walk at least ten minutes after a run like that. If I sit down it's very brief. You did real well James, I'm proud of you."
"Thanks Shawn, that means a lot to me." I saw him smile, something he hadn't done much of since Wednesday evening. We walked around the house, and up the drive. We were walking back to the house, almost at it, and James said, "I think I'll mow the grass."
"If you're hungry, I'll start some breakfast," I replied.
"Not hungry now, but I feel like I will be shortly."
"Sometimes running does that. I'm not always hungry myself, but your appetite will return."
"Go ahead and start breakfast, I think I'll be hungry when I finish the lawn."
I went up and got another pitcher for James. He was just starting, walking away from the house. I waited for him to turn back and held up the pitcher for him to see. He acknowledged me, so I set it there on the steps. As I was cooking breakfast, the smell of bacon started to make me hungry. I kept checking on James, I didn't want breakfast done before he finished, so I turned the bacon down, and let it cook slowly. I turned on some music and sat down there at counter, looking at all that was mine now. I loved being here, having a good job, and all the things I had here. It was a beautiful place and everything was working out well for me. I liked having James around, he was good company, and a good friend. Our friendship was different, and my feelings for him were still growing, my interest in him was evolving into love. I loved him as a friend, true, but I loved him in a different way. Just what that was becoming, I didn't know, I just knew I loved him. I looked out the window for a while not really thinking about much of anything. Then I spotted James mowing the grass and began to wonder how he was able to run so far. He had a strong build, athletic type, but never thought of him as a runner. After my shower I heard the mower stop running, and I went out to the deck to see him just finishing up. He put everything away, grabbed his water and joined me at our overlook.
"How's breakfast coming along? he asked.
"Slow, I didn't want it to be done before you finished the lawn." He just looked at me, almost thanking me with his eyes. He gulped down the rest of his water, and then held up the pitcher.
"Look drank it all."
"Good for you," I said." I'll get you some more."
We took a break to enjoy the outside air while it was still cool. The run must have drained both of us, as we panned around looking, not saying too much.
"Hungry yet?" I asked.
"Getting there. That run took away my appetite. I didn't know it would do that."
"For a short while, but then it comes back, hard!"
"How long have you been running Shawn?"
"About four years."
"You run so smooth. You have a natural talent for it."
"I wouldn't go that far, but I do enjoy it."
"In time I think I would too, but it was hard to keep going today. I had to keep pushing myself."
"And you pushed pretty hard too," I said in astonishment.
"It was a challenge, had to do it." I looked over at him, sitting there in his chair, starring off into the distance. The sun was shining brightly on his hair, the wind occasionally puffing it up. He looked tired, not completely well, as my mind went back to Wednesday evening. He said I was an Angel, but that troubled him and I was hoping that he would talk to me about that. I went in to finish with breakfast, while James took his shower. He came back out refreshed and with a smile.
"Look at this," he said, "You made bacon and eggs, toast, coffee, orange juice, looks great."
"Got hungry didn't you?" I said.
"Between the bacon smell, and that shower it brought me back to life."
"Good, I made plenty." We both started eating. It was so good, and I was so hungry. We both ate, getting seconds as well. We finished and James got up and took my plate.
"Want to go see my uncle today?" I asked.
"Sure why not."
"He lives right there at the lake, and we can go swimming after."
"Sounds good to me. Shawn I saw you get some stuff out for lunch, mind if I make our sandwiches?"
"Not at all, I'll call my uncle." I dialed the number waiting for him to answer
"Hi uncle Bob, it's me Shawn."
"Hi Shawn, how are you?"
"Haven't seen you in a while, when are you coming over."
"Today if that's okay."
"Would love to have you."
"Uncle is it okay if I bring a friend."
"Sure, you can. Did you find another girlfriend while Shelly is away in France?"
"No, he's a boy."
"Oh, so you have a boyfriend now." My uncle was always joking around, and I never knew how to respond to an embarrassing question such as this, and his statement rang true, caught me off guard, and I began to contemplate his words. He wasn't exactly my boyfriend, but he was something. Didn't know how to describe him exactly. I paused, "ah... well...ah, his name is James, and, ah... he's staying with me for awhile. It's a long story, but he really likes cars. I showed him your car you have here in the garage."
"So how did he like the Impala?"
"He loved it."
"Well then, bring him along."
"Great, we'll see you in a few."
I went to the bedroom got my bathing suit out and then some beach towels for us, and the sunscreen. James came in as I was going out.
"Got lunch ready, and brought plenty of water," he said.
"Mind if we stop at my uncles first, then go to the lake?"
"Nope. Would like to meet anyone who has a car like the one downstairs."
"Good. I'm just bringing my suit along, we can change at the lake."
"Sounds like a plan," he said.
I took as much as I could handle down to the jeep. James met me while I was on my way up for the rest.
"I got everything," he said.
I turned off the main road and down the winding driveway and pulled around to the back of my uncle's big house. There was a three-car garage on our left, the house was straight ahead, and a two-car garage on our right where my uncle emerged from.
"Hi Shawn, how are you?"
"Well you look great. Haven't seen you in a while."
"Thanks," I said. "Uncle this is James, James this is my uncle Bob."
"Please just call me Bob."
"Love your place here," James said as he looked around him in all directions.
"Shawn tells me you like old cars."
"Take a look over here," as he raised the door up to the other bay so we could see what he had.
"This is just a plane truck I drive everyday."
"And that's an old thunderbird next to it, about a 63," James said.
"Right you are."
"It's in excellent condition. Do you drive it very often?"
"About twice a week."
"James wait till you see what he has in the other garage." We walked over and went in the little side door. James was anxious to see and went in first. It was dark until my uncle flipped on the light.
"Cool you got a vet, and a nomad!"
"They are both in bad shape, so don't get too excited," my uncle said to him.
"These have to be like the coolest cars that there ever was."
"We'll get them looking like new again, won't we Shawn?" My uncle was speaking to me, as James made his way to the last car.
"Shawn," there was an urgency in his voice, a sound I hadn't heard come from James before, "this is a 65 mustang convertible."
"So what do think about these cars?" I asked.
"I don't know, it's totally awesome," he said making his way back to where my Uncle and I were standing.
My Uncle turned to me, putting his hand on my shoulder, but he was talking to James, "this guy here helps me but doesn't know the old cars like you do."
"James is good, with the engines too." I said to my Uncle, but I was looking at James, staring into his eyes, longing to be next to him, wanting to touch him. I stood there a minute, almost forgetting what I was going to say. "Ah...he took an alternator off, put a new one on in no time," I said with a big smile on my face.
"You were, helping me ya know," James said, and acted as though he was going to backhand me again, but missed me by a mile. It was a playful sort of thing.
Maybe so, but what about the kitchen? I said strongly.
What about the kitchen," he shot back.
"I didn't help you with cooking. That's your doing."
"You mean this boy cooks?" My uncle said, putting his hand back on my shoulder.
"You better believe it uncle. He glides around the kitchen, and can create dinner out of nothing."
"Owe," I said rubbing my chest, as James connected with me this time.
"What was that for?"
"For lying to your Uncle."
"Don't believe him uncle, he is only being modest." I turned and looked at James, caught his eyes looking at me. I didn't look away, couldn't speak, just stared into his eyes. I couldn't help myself, as I took a step over too him, and put my arm around his shoulder. "Didn't I tell you my uncle has some cool cars."
"Well at least you didn't lie about that." I gave him a hard look, but then smiled at him. I couldn't be mad at him even if it was just in play. He looked away, while I kept starring at him, then he looked at me with his eyes again. I loved that look.
"Well maybe he would like to see the house as well. Come on James, we can work on cars another day," my uncle said, following us out of the garage. It was a short walk to the back door.
"I would love to have a kitchen like this," James said. "Has a cooking island, you name it he has it." My uncle and me just sat back watching James take his own tour around the kitchen. He opened drawers, cabinets, the stove, even went inside the pantry. We both got a chuckle out of him until he returned to where we were both standing.
"I bet your wife loves having a big kitchen like this," James said.
"Actually she died a few years ago," my uncle replied," we had two daughters and they are both off in college now."
"Sorry to hear that, guess I shouldn't have asked"
"Fair question son, I would have done the same. You boys hungry I'll fix you something to eat"
"Sorry uncle, we already packed a lunch for latter on down at the lake, and just got finished with a huge breakfast."
"Well next time, make sure you come hungry and I'll fix you a big meal."
"Sure thing. Besides being a good cook, James here has a healthy appetite." I put my arm around him, "You fix it, he'll eat it. I don't know where he puts it all, but I have yet to see him not hungry. Except maybe after our run this morning."
"You didn't tell me James was on your track team."
"He wasn't," I said letting go of James. "In fact I don't think you had ever run that much before."
"Not really," James said.
"James impressed me this morning. We went on a six-mile run, and he made it the whole way. I think he did it by shear determination and will power."
"That's a lot of will power son. How did you do it?"
James just shrugged his shoulders like he didn't have an answer. I put my arm around him again, "well I'm proud of him for hanging in there like that." There was a pause; I was staring at him again, studying his face, looking at every detail. I looked at his hair, the blond mixing with the brown, becoming a golden color, and I almost ran my hand through his hair. He looked at me, and I was looking into his eyes, seeing his beauty, looking into his soul. His eyes shined back at me, like a mirror I could see myself, see that I was falling in love with him. Suddenly, I realized there was a passing of time, didn't know how much time, only that I had lost myself in him again, and let go of James, but I kept staring. "Guess we better go now," I said, but it was a dream that I was in and my voice was soft, like it wasn't really me speaking.
"Thanks for showing us around," James said. Shawn and I will come over sometime and give you a hand with one of those old cars."
"You're more than welcome to come over anytime," my uncle said. I was thinking it was just the two of us, that no one else even existed but hearing my uncle speak made me aware of someone else in the room with us.
"Nice meeting you," James said.
"Like wise," my uncle said.
"Goodbye," I said, heading for the door. We both climbed in the Jeep and drove off. I looked over at James, and he seemed a bit out of it, while being outside breathing the fresh air, was bringing me back. "You ready for the lake?" I asked.
"Better believe it. I'm more than ready."
"Be there in a second." I looked over again as I pulled down the trail to the lake. "Everything okay with you?"
"I just hate I asked him about his wife."
"That's okay, it happens."
"But I know how he feels. When someone you know for a while asks it's okay. When a stranger asks me about my parents, I feel like telling them to bug off."
"Don't worry about it," I said. You're not a stranger. You're part of the family in a way, and I don't think my uncle minded at all. Okay."
"Yeah, thanks." There was a pause, "I appreciate you making me feel better." He still sounded a little down, and it troubled my heart to see him this way. I wanted him to be happy, I just didn't know how to do it. His happiness seemed more important than my own, and I felt determined to do something, anything to make him smile again. I pulled the jeep around and backed it toward the lake. We climbed out taking the water cooler our towels and blankets down to the beach area, setting them down in the shade of the trees.
We went back to the jeep where I stripped there at my side of the jeep and changed into my bathing suit. James looked over at me a second then did the same, on his side of the Jeep. I walked down to the water and started wading in. It was nice and cool, and felt great. I went out to where the water was up to my neck. James came out to join me.
"I forgot to tell your uncle how much I enjoy this lake."
"That's okay, we'll see him again." We swam around awhile enjoying the water, then went to lay out in the sun, before the hot afternoon. We picked out a nice sunny spot and, I laid down on my stomach.
"You need some sunscreen on your back," James said.
"You just lay there, I'll put it on for you." He started applying it to my back. His touch was soft, very gentle. "You're still peeling a little from last week."
"I know, it's been bugging me all week." His hands smoothed out the lotion, covering my back completely. In fact he did it twice just to make sure. Then he moved down to my legs. That was like heaven. I liked it when he was rubbing my back, but now, his touch, his hands on my legs was turning me on so. I don't know why, it shouldn't have, but it happened, and there was nothing I could do to stop the sensations going through my body now, so I just closed my eyes.
"You have some of the strongest leg muscles," he said.
"No I don't. Lots of guys have stronger legs than I do."
"Anybody your size, with your build has little tooth picks for legs. Your muscles are good size, and very strong."
"Thanks for noticing. No one but Shelly has really mentioned it before." Then without thinking, I blurted out, "I probably shouldn't say this but I love your touch."
"What do you mean?"
"You know, the way your hand feels on my legs, it's wonderful." He was silent. "I hope I didn't embarrass you," I said, wondering if I had said too much.
"No, you didn't," he said, as he stopped what he was doing. I looked back over my shoulder at him, and he appeared deep in thought.
"Well, don't stop what you're doing just yet. I love your touch, it's so soft and gentle." So he went back to applying the lotion to my legs. Again he did them twice to be sure nothing was missed, but he lingered on, and I looked back again, to see him lost in a trance. "I hope I didn't say something I shouldn't have." His mind was far away, he was thinking to himself, if only I knew what that was. "James you can stop, I'll do you now."
"Oh, sorry, guess I zoned out there," as he handed me the bottle, and lay down while I sat up. I rubbed his back starting near his waist. He had well defined muscles either side of his spine and the way up his back. Then again I noticed them up near his shoulder blades. Our first time to the lake I felt his back, then later saw it. This time I could see and feel all at once, and I liked that. I had never touched a boy like that, never wanted to before, but now I was losing myself in him, paying attention to every detail, feeling his strong muscles, enjoying what I was doing. His skin was warm, while I looked at his tan back, running my hands all over it. I probably rubbed his back too long, more than I should have, but I really didn't care. When I finished his back, I moved down a little to do his legs. They were strong legs, full of muscles like his back. I didn't want to stop, wanted to keep touching him, wanted to rub my hands all over him, and show him that I loved him, but I held back from what I wanted to do. It was hard to stop, hard to break away from him, because I wanted to be close, but more than anything I wanted to touch his soul.
"You're welcome," I said as I finished and lay back down. I looked over at him, he had his eyes closed, breathing was slow and heavy. I think he was falling asleep. I closed my eyes and must have slept some because I woke up, very hot, the sun baking me. I propped my head up to look over at James. He was sound asleep. I carefully got up, being sure not to wake him up, and went to cool off in the lake. I stayed in the water a long time and cooled down. When I got out I moved my towel up the beach area close to the trees. It wouldn't be long before the afternoon sun was behind the trees and I would be in the shade. I put more sunscreen on my stomach, face and the front of my legs. The sun was still hot but shade was on its way as the breeze blew the tops of the trees, and at times put my face in the shade for a few moments. I lay there, as the sun started moving behind me, and more and more of my body was in the shade. It was still a hot day, so I went back to the water again to cool off. When I came out of the water I returned to my spot now completely in the shade. I couldn't wait for James any longer, I was starved, so I ate one of my sandwiches, saving the other for when James ate. I went back to the jeep got my clothes out and another towel I found, and made myself a pillow. Now I could lie there and stare out across the lake. I watched the breeze kick up and send the ripples down the water. The effect was hypnotizing, and put me in different state of mind. I watched the water and thought of nothing else. No other thoughts were in my head, only water, and wind. I was glued to the water until out of the corner of my eye, I saw him lift his head and look around. He spotted me up in the shade.
"There you are. I'll join you in a minute as soon as I cool off." He got in the water, while I went and moved the blanket and his towel up to where I was. He wasn't long. Without hesitation he went straight for his sandwich, and I got out my second one. He inhaled his first sandwich, and started on his second one. I had my chips and the drink there too. When I was done I laid back down staring at the lake while James finished his lunch.
"I like your pillow," he said, "think I'll get me one too." He took the empty cooler back to the jeep and returned with a pillow. We both lay there staring at the water, not saying a word. I was hoping he might talk to me about this past week, but I didn't know how to get it out of him. Maybe if I remained quiet long enough he would eventually talk. Not a good plan but the only one I had at the time. I starred out at the water forever. I watched it go from small ripples and breezy, to calm winds and smooth water. I had no conception of time and thought I might go to sleep again.
"Shawn can I ask you something?"
"What is it?" I looked over at him, but he was looking out at the water and I did the same.
His voice was sweet, soft, like the pedal of a flower. His words drifted to me then went straight to my heart.
"Somehow in just a weeks time I've grown closer to you than anyone else I've ever known." He looked over at me briefly, but then looked back at the water as he continued to speak very softly. "I can't say what it is or why, I just know it to be. I depend on you for support, and you're always there for me. You have given me so much of yourself, but mostly you have given me love. It's strange for two boys to talk about love. I mean I never did before."
"I feel like your a part of my life, and I'm a part of yours, and I just don't ever want that to change."
"It won't change," I said, "I'll always be your friend."
"I know, it's just that, it will be different. You know, when Shelly gets back." His voice trailed off at the end, and I immediately moved over next to him.
"Shawn I want you to be happy. I want the dreams you have, to come true." He said this looking straight into my eyes, and I knew now there was no doubt, that he was real, that he was the one I loved, but now wasn't a good time to get carried away. He needed something else, he needed to know that our friendship was going to last. I reached out my arm, turned slightly to him, placing my arm around his back. Then I held him and turned back the other way, lying on my back, pulling him with me. From his stomach up he laid on me putting his head on my shoulder, face into my neck. I held him, and stroked his hair, till I collected my thoughts. I knew then what had been bugging him. It was change. Not the change he was facing now, but the change that he would inevitably face later. I too was distressed at times, not knowing what would happen when Shelly returned. I feared the day when she had to leave, knowing it would be sometime before her return. That day came, and I felt like I had lost my best friend. I missed her at first and thought I would be looking forward to her return. Something changed. I changed, or maybe discovered something within me, something that was there all along. I didn't know how to explain my new friend to her. Didn't know if I would lose James as a friend when she returned or if we could somehow become friends together. It was all very complicated and becoming more complex with each passing thought. What I had once anticipated with great delight, had now become what I dreaded. It bothered me, and I suspected now that it bothered him too. I took a deep breath and prayed to myself, God help me this moment, help me to say the right words, or at least not the wrong ones. Amen. I could see the water, I looked out across it for an answer. I sought out a way to let him know it would be all right, but the soft rippling of the water gave no answer, not a word. At the moment I was uncertain how honest I should be with him. I didn't want to hold back, I wanted to tell him everything, and I was ready, so ready, just didn't know if he was. Certainly he must know. How could he not know? I began to speak while I continued to gaze out at the water. "James, remember this, no matter what happens, I will always, always be your friend for ever and ever. When Shelly comes back, things will probably be different than they are now, but then...maybe they won't."
"What do you mean by that," he said with his face still on my shoulder.
"Just that, I, ah, I'm not sure."
He looked up at me, but I couldn't look at him, just then. "Not sure about what?"
I felt my self take a deep breath, and as I paused he returned his head to my shoulder, face at my neck. "It's just that I, you know, I'm not sure. I'm kind of losing her, not so sure about us is all." I thought about it some more, I wanted to say more, wanted to tell him exactly what was on my mind, but how. "Something's happening to me, something's different, and I...I'm not sure, that I love her is all." I paused for a moment. Yes I addressed the question but not the real issues. In a very soft voice I said, "James, I'm scared too. I like the way things are, and I don't want them to change either. I have found a friend in you, that surpass any friend before. Things are different with us, and I am open with you. I never use to do that before. I wish I knew what to say... but I don't." I felt a tear run from my eyes, but I had to be strong for this moment, strong for him.
" I love you as a friend James Ryan, I always will."
He held on to me tight, then grabbed my chest and squeezed me with his hand.
He looked up at me a second, his eyes appeared red, there was fear in them, a look I hadn't seen before, but there was another look to them, concern maybe. It was a strange look, and I began to wonder if I had said something wrong, something I shouldn't have said, then buried his head again.
"It's okay James, everything is going to be fine. It will all work out somehow," I said, trying to be strong for him, the best that I could. I knew what we had was different, and it was going to take some time to figure it all out, but I knew in my heart, someway, somehow it would. I didn't know the details, but I knew somehow it would be fine. I closed my eyes, and when I did, I felt the tears that had pooled up inside them, and those tears started running down my cheek. I let my hand run through his hair, feeling the boy next to me, the boy that I loved. I could have held him forever, but he pulled away from me and sat back on his haunches, calves under his thighs, his feet tucked up under him sitting on them. I sat up too, and spread my legs wide apart and put them on the outside of his, moving closer to him, then put both hands on his legs. He put both of his hands on top of my shoulders and looked at me.
"I think I know how you feel," I said softly. There were tears falling from my eyes, and he took one hand on my cheek, wiping away the tears, then switched and did the other side. He was so sweet, and what he was doing, wasn't helping me to stop the tears, because, it was that tenderness inside him that touched my heart all the more. We looked into each other's eyes; I felt the urge to kiss him. Why I wanted to kiss a boy, I couldn't say. I never wanted to kiss any boy before, and didn't think I wanted to kiss James before, but I did now. The urge welled up inside me, I was so close and I thought for a moment that I would kiss him. I pictured it in my mind, his arms wrapped around me, holding me tight, and that sweet boyish face of his up against mine. Suddenly it seemed so right, so perfect a thing to do, that I could see it happening in my mind. The more I thought about it the closer I came to doing it. Just one kiss, it was all I wanted. I knew that I loved him, but wasn't completely sure of his feelings for me. I felt my confidence waning, and I was losing the battle inside me. The control I sought for my own destiny couldn't be found, or at least the courage to make it happen couldn't be found. I didn't make a move, no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn't move. He was looking at me, and I was wishing I knew what it was he was looking at. How did he perceive me, as just a friend, or something more? How would I know, unless I asked, and before I could say anything he began to speak.
"Now you know what has been bugging me all week. Remember Wednesday night when you said I was an angel, then I told you, that you were the angel."
"I remember," I said as I had both my hands on both of his thighs and I gripped them tight.
"When I said those words to you Wednesday, I realized how much I needed you and how much I was going to loose when Shelly gets back." He paused for a moment, his lips tightened, then he spoke again. It hurt inside me, but I didn't know how to tell you. It would be selfish of me not to want Shelly to come back, but that's how I feel. So do you hate me now?"
He lowered his head. I took my hand, brought it up under his chin and raised his head up until he was looking me in the eye. Very softly I said, "I understand how you feel. If it were me, I would feel the same way. I could never be mad at you for thinking that, no matter how selfish you think it may be. I don't want to loose you or loose what we have." I let go of his chin and placed my hand back on his leg while his head went back down and he starred at the ground. I gripped both of his legs tight for a second. "Do you understand what I'm saying?" He nodded his head yes. I ran my hands up and down his legs, feeling them, the strength that was there. I wanted so much to tell him everything, tell him about us, to let him know exactly where I was, but I couldn't. It was fear in a way, but maybe more a matter of timing, and it didn't seem to be the right time. I never told a boy that I liked them before. Never had feelings for a boy like this before. I didn't know what to say, or how to say it, but I had to say something.
"Now it's my turn to tell you something," and he raised his head up to listen to me. I saw the eyes that I loved to look at. I saw love, and I saw strength, but mostly I saw love. He was listening, as I spoke softly in a way, but I was also firm.
"A few times early in the week when you and I were close to each other, touching each other, I liked how you felt but I also wished it could have been Shelly there instead of you."
"I bet you do," he said, and gave me a weak smile.
"Well I'm sitting here with you now, I'm close to you and I don't wish you were Shelly. I'm glad it's you, and I'm happy to be with you."
"Shawn, that's beautiful. I don't know what to say." I took my hand, gently touched his face. I saw the look of love there in his eyes. A smile came to him, and I smiled back. "You're the sweetest guy I know", he said. Shelly doesn't know what she has. If she did, she would never have gone to France and left you alone."
I looked at him for a minute, thought I might say more, but then he got this funny look to his face like he was up to something, and then he raised up to his knees, threw his hands on my shoulders and leaned forward pushing me, till my back hit the blanket. He did it so fast that it nearly knocked the air out of me. He landed on top of me and buried his face in my neck. I put my arms around him and held him as tight as I could. He nuzzled his face between my neck and my shoulder, it almost tickled but actually felt really good too. I held him for a minute, then he rose back up sitting on his legs, and offered out his hand and I reached out and he pulled me up. We were both sitting now and he slowly stood up. Again he offered his hand and pulled me to my feet.
"I'm ready for the water now, how about you?" He said.
He moved slowly, "lets not run, I'm stiff from that long run this morning."
"I don't doubt that a bit," I said. I'll give you a massage later."
We walked out to the water together, when deep enough dove in to cool off. I washed off my face, and then swam around for a minute. James was there, just relaxing in the water. I swam up to him and stopped.
"You okay now James?"
"Just hang in there, it will all work out, you'll see." I wanted to say more, but it would have to wait. It just wasn't the right time yet. I swam part way out into the lake and stopped, encouraging James to come with me. We went together, toward the middle, then swam back. We were standing there in the water, resting, when we both heard it at the same time. Thunder. We turned around to look to the west to see dark clouds off in the distance.
"Guess we better go," he said in a calm voice.
"I won't argue with you about that." We got up to the beach, picked up everything and put it in the Jeep. Off we went down the back roads eyeing the clouds till we got home. It was starting to cool off slightly, as the sun ducked behind the clouds, and the wind picked up. After putting everything away, I asked James, "I wonder if I have time to take a shower?" James looked out the window again. I don't know what exactly he was looking at, but I would trust whatever he said.
"You got about fifteen minutes."
"Good I'll take a quick shower, then if you want you can get in right behind me. I hurried to the bathroom stripped and jumped in the shower. The water felt great, but this was no time to relax and enjoy. I quickly soaped up scrubbing the sunscreen off me, rinsed and turned off the water. I grabbed a towel putting it around me and walked out the door, directly to the bedroom where James was. "Your turn," I said, looking around for a pair of my sleeping shorts, but because it was still warm, I didn't want to put on a shirt. I looked outside, to see some really dark looking clouds. James better hurry up I thought to myself. I could hear thunder rumbling, louder than before and the clouds were moving fast. I went to the living room to watch from the couch and saw streaks of lightning, and thunder getting closer. The sky was very dark now, and all to the west completely black. James needs to get out of there. My mom always said for me not to take a shower during a thunderstorm. Don't know why exactly, except water and electricity don't mix. I got up and went all the way around the house closing windows and sat back down and watched, as lightening was closer than ever and the thunder rumbled almost continuously. I thought about going in, and telling him to hurry up, but I waited. Then a bolt of lightning hit about a mile away. That does it, I'm going in there. I started getting up, at the same time James came around the corner wearing just a pair of shorts.
"There you are, I was just coming to get you."
"I feel better," he said, as he sat down next to me. He placed his arm around my shoulder and drew me toward him. I laid my hand down on his thigh, and titled my head towards his shoulder, and we watched the approaching storm. I was a little afraid of thunderstorms, but I liked watching but them too. Nothing seemed to bother James, he was without fear. Suddenly lightning struck, with thunder right behind it, and I gripped James's leg for a second or so. Then the rain came, one by one, big drops hit, random in their timing, just two or three, then a break followed by one or two more, then six drops in a row. They all hit hard, like lead weights they came down, announcing themselves as they crashed into the roof. They were only messengers, hints of what was to come. I could look out the window and see the angry black sky and a line of impenetrable air. Almost like solid water, as if a wave were to wash over us, heavy and thick. The line of water marched toward us, suddenly upon us, ready to unleash its fury, except that the time slowed down. The wall of water got closer but only by inches. The random noise of drops hitting the roof stopped, but only for a moment. Suddenly the rain was there, pounding on the roof, and roaring out as it came down. James moved away from me and patted his leg, as he tugged at my shoulder at the same time, pulling me in his direction. My head landed on his thigh and I felt the coolness of his legs against my cheek. A reassuring arm draped across my side, hand on my chest, pulling me into him, where I was safe and secure. As I relaxed I felt my whole being journey to where he was, into his soul, where I became a part of him, and I grafted myself there. The world went on around me, but where I was, two might souls stood tall, like they had been standing together for centuries. It was where I belonged, where I needed to be and became all that I knew, for I knew nothing more, nothing less. The knowledge within me now, grew until it filled all that I could see and I was free as fear ran from me till it became a tiny speck. I closed my eyes, listening to the hard driving rain until it became a steady rain. I listened intently for a sound, any other sound but I heard only rain. Each single drop, just one, was only a whisper and by itself it could not be heard. A single drop of rain would come and go, and no one would know of it's existence, or that it ever fell from the sky. The hundreds and thousands of drops that I heard now, all of them together whispering a soft chorus, all of their voices murmuring, continuously and endlessly repeating.
The rain had brought to me a beautiful boy, a lost soul, wondering about in an endless sea. His whispers went unheard, his gentle murmurings were made in vain, and his cries fell upon the ears of the deaf. Today was a different day, as the rain fell quietly, softly cascading down, gently into my heart. I heard his cries loud and clear. I heard his whispers, each and every one, they came to me.
I began to wonder if any of this were even true, or if it was all just a dream. If I was dreaming then it was the most beautiful dream that I, or anyone else in the world had ever dreamed. I rolled over so I was lying on my back, opened my eyes and saw his chest, then I reached up and felt his chest with my hand. It wasn't a dream, he was real. I sat up and turned around burring my face on his shoulder right at his neck, and flung my arm across to his other shoulder. I felt love holding me, encircling all of me, filling me till I overflowed with it. I felt the urge to kiss him once again, except it was much stronger now. I didn't think I would be able to stop myself this time. It was going to happen and there was no changing it, almost as if I had already kissed him, that it was in the past, and impossible to go back and change history. I tried to move, but my limbs started to tremble, and my heart pounded so hard I thought all the world could hear it. Before I could pull back and look into his eyes, before I had a chance to touch his lips with mine, tears came. So many tears, I thought I might drown in them. I fought myself because I wanted to kiss him, and it was the only thing on my mind, and in my heart, but I also knew that I loved him. It was that love, so intense and so strong, that was causing my tears. I was fighting, trying to kiss him, trying to make it happen, but then I quit fighting. I let go, freed myself, as love won out. I let go completely, allowing the feeling to wash over me, bathing me in its light, but it didn't stop there. Soon I found myself in an ocean, it wasn't stormy, nor was it calm. Just a vast place with a force and emotion that took hold of me, and I became that place. I was there in its midst, as I lost myself, and love was all I could feel. I could have drawn from that energy and made it mine, but it was too strong. I wasn't fighting it, couldn't fight, just allowed love into my heart, and I felt to take over. It was no longer a choice, or decision to be made, love was there, right inside me and I was that love.
I re-entered the world that I had left behind, and slowly took back control of what use to be mine, yet I wasn't in charge. Something changed inside me, almost as if it wasn't me anymore. The old me, the me I use to know couldn't be found, but then I really wasn't looking. I had come back to a new place, a new world, and I had a knowledge that wasn't mine before. I felt peace inside and my spirit was calm. The battle was now over, and became a faint memory, as the thoughts in my mind now knew, what my heart felt all along. I noticed that the endless supply of tears had suddenly stopped, as peace flooded my soul. I didn't think I could explain my tears to him, it was more than I could explain. He held me there in his arms, quietly, giving me what I needed. It was all I needed.
"Thanks so much for holding me like you did," I said.
"You made me feel better somehow." I paused, "I don't know what I would do without you."
"You would do fine without me." I backed away from him and looked real serious at him.
"James, without you I would just shrivel up and die."
"You're being a silly boy again," he said. Yes I was indeed silly. I was falling in love with him, falling in love with a boy and if that was silly then I was king of the silly people, but I was also it's prisoner. I was being held captive by my love for him. We smiled at each other. "You hungry for supper yet?" he asked, wiping away the last of my tears.
"I sure am."
"Lets go see what we can make." We both went out to the kitchen to survey our food supply, looking first in the refrigerator.
"Not much in here," James said. Then he looked in the freezer. "Lots of stuff here, but it's all frozen." There was a pause, then he said, "I know, pizza. We can order a pizza."
"Sorry James, they won't deliver out this far." I was amazed that I was able to speak, I still felt it inside, was still trembling inside me, as I looked at him, admiring all the beauty that I could see. But there was yet more, a beautiful being inside of him, a soul, that had overwhelmed me.
We looked through all kinds of food but nothing came to my mind. James of course seemed to have an idea suddenly.
"Your mom gave you some canned food stuff?"
"Yes she did. It's all right here," as I opened the cupboard door for him.
"Thought so. There is enough tomato based canned items here to make a spaghetti sauce."
"Sounds great to me. Can I help?"
"Sure you can," he said with a big smile on his face. "Take out a package of ground beef, put it in a fry pan and turn the heat up on high." I did like he asked, while James picked out all different kinds of canned items.
"Good, Shawn. Now if you don't mind open each one of these cans." He had an array of different items on the counter. I open them up while he dumped them out into a big pot, and mixed things up. "Can you cut up an onion for me?"
"Sure I can." Actually I never had done it before, but watched my mom do it a hundred times. I cut off the ends, peeled off the old skin and started cutting.
"How small do you want them?"
"Real small, little bits, if you can." I started slicing making strips, then cut them into small pieces. It made me cry as I did it. It took me back to just a few minutes ago, when I was crying on his shoulder, and I couldn't tell if my tears were from the onion, or because of my love for him. I started shaking a little, and went real slow, stopping a few times, so that I wouldn't cut myself. When I was done, I picked up the cutting board and handed it to James.
"You did real good Shawn, thanks." I was almost proud of myself.
"What else can I do?"
"Here just stir these, while I get out some spices." He handed me the wooden spoon, and I stirred for a while. The beef was still frozen in one pan, the tomato base was in the other pan. I stirred the base up, but not much I could do with the beef. I got out a fork and just flipped it over. It was a frozen rectangle but beginning to thaw.
When James was done picking out spices, he moved them all next to the stove. He took over the pot with the sauce, and I watched as he added spices.
"How do you know how much of everything to add?"
"Actually I don't know. You experiment, find out what you like, and experiment again."
"So nothing is actually the same each time you make it?"
"That's right," he said, smiling at me. I was making progress with the beef but it was slow. Eventually it thawed enough that I was able to break it up into chunks. I turned the heat down to medium like I knew what I was doing even though I didn't have a clue. Eventually the beef broke down to smaller pieces until it was all cooking, then I drained the grease into an empty can. James added the hamburger to the big pot with the sauce, and because there was only one pot now, I went and sat down on a stool, and watched as James stirred things together.
"Spaghetti sauce is best if it cooks all day long," he said turning around to look at me. "Speaking of cooking all day, do you have a crook pot?"
"No but my mom has one."
"Do you think she would let us borrow one for tomorrow?"
"Sure. What do you have in mind?"
"I was thinking beef stew."
"Yum. I'll call her right now." I called, but got the answer machine, so I left a message about picking it up early the next day. I turned and saw James take a taste of the sauce. "How is it? I asked.
"Um, this is going to be good," he said. After stirring it forever, he put a cover on, and lowered the heat.
"Now that needs to cook slow for awhile."
"How long," I asked.
"At least an hour or so. Got anything that needs to be done?"
"No, not really."
"Do you want to play gin?"
"Sure but you'll have to teach me." I got the cards out, as James explained the rules of the game, and then we proceeded to play. An hour and a half went by real fast.
"Isn't it time?" I asked.
"Probably. Why don't you get a big pot for the noodles." I carefully walked from the sink, to the stove with the now heavy pot, and turned the burner up to high.
"We have time for another game," he said, and we returned to play some more. Soon the water was boiling and James put on the noodles. "Won't be long now," he said. We played a couple of hands, then, he got a colander out, and dumped the noodles in when they were done. We both got a big plate of spaghetti and sauce.
"This is really good James."
"Thanks bud. It is pretty good."
"You're going to have to give me some hints about spices. It seems to make a difference."
"That has everything to do with cooking. Once you learn a little about them, it's fun to experiment. We can go to the store in the morning if you like."
"Love to," I said. Actually, it really didn't matter to me, I just wanted to be with him.
"We'll have fun cooking tomorrow then," he said, then continued to stuff his face. I finished dinner first and started cleaning up, while James finished his. James went in to watch TV for a while, and I joined him, after finishing the dishes. There wasn't anything that interested either one of us, but we both sat there feeling the effects from the day's sun, and the big meal.
"Not much on is there?" I said.
"Not really. I think I'll brush my teeth and go to bed." James got up really slow. I had forgotten all about the run we had in the morning. I followed him into the bathroom looking for something I could use to rub him down with.
"What you looking for," he said.
"Found it. I got some dry skin lotion. Going to use it on you."
"What for? I don't have dry skin."
"No but you have some really sore muscles. I was going to rub you down."
"That would be great." I sat on the bed and waited for James to finish in the bathroom. He came out and lay down next to me, on his stomach. I started with his calf muscles, moving up and down one leg, easy at first, but then started to increase the pressure a little.
"Your muscles are real tight," I said, admiring them as my hand slid up and down his leg. I worked on his calf, rubbing harder as I heard James began to sigh.
"That feels really good, don't stop."
"Don't worry, I'm here for the long haul." I kept at it and increased the pressure even more. He began to moan, low and deep. "I'm not hurting you am I?"
"No, not at all. It feels great, like your working out some of the soreness."
"Let me know if I hurt you at all."
"I will. Right now it feels great. In fact you could go a little deeper and won't hurt." I ran my fingers down along the muscles pressing real hard. The muscles seemed to be loosening up as James continued to make sighs and moans. I worked down to his ankle and did the same on the other leg. Again light at first then harder. Again the same response from him. He loved this. More lotion and time for the thigh muscles. Same tactic but nowhere near the response.
"I take it your not to sore there."
"Just a little. The front of my thighs are what's real sore."
"That doesn't surprise me. You use those muscles to pick up your leg, and to extend out your calf. Why don't you turn over." I backed up a little so he could turn toward me, instead of, turning the other way, off the bed. I started right above the knee, and worked my way up his thigh, near his shorts then pressed down with my fingers and slowly ran my hand down to his knee. Then I wrapped both hands around his leg at the knee working on the muscles there. Then back up his thigh and down again. I was working on the leg farthest away from me, and when I finished, and started the leg closest to me. Light touch at first then I started with some pressure. I did not notice before but as I started at the top near his shorts, I saw the outline of his boyhood under his shorts. He wasn't hard, still soft, but I did notice. I continued working my way down his thigh to the knee then worked at the muscles there at the knee. Then back to the top again. There it was again. Why was I looking at his crotch? Couldn't really see anything, just an outline. Curiosity, maybe, but I knew I shouldn't be looking. It was wrong of me to look. I concentrated on what I was doing. I forced myself to think about my hands and what they were doing, as I pressed harder into his leg.
"There all done. How do you feel?"
"Tons better. Thank you Shawn." He sat up and gave me a quick hug, and lay back down. I went to wash my hands and brush my teeth. When I came back James was under the covers with his eyes closed. I turned out the light and crawled in. I reached out with my foot till I was touching him. I thought he was a sleep. He moved his arm reaching out for me. He found my arm, and moved up to my shoulder. He gripped my shoulder once with his hand, and then relaxed. He was falling asleep. That was something I should do. Go to sleep. I couldn't get over my feelings for him, how I loved him, how that feeling just wouldn't go away. I didn't want it to go away.
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead