Five years ago
I heard his boots cracking the fine layer of ice as he came from behind.
The frost had covered the grass the day before; the trees were all naked and asleep, and I could see thick clouds of my breath as I turned around and leaned my right shoulder against the wall.
“There you are,” he said.
“I didn’t realize anyone was looking for me,” I said.
“Nobody’s looking for you.” He leaned against the wall, too, and looked into my eyes.
“The class is about to start,” I said after a moment of silence. I could never handle the silence between us.
“I thought we could ditch it,” he said, his dark brown eyes sparking. A grin crossed his face.
My eyes widened. “Ditch it?”
“It’s the last day, Holden,” he groaned. “Loosen up. Live a little.”
“But… We still have two more classes.” The idea was ridiculous. All of his ideas were like that.
“Nobody’s gonna miss you,” he said.
With just a bit of an effort, he could talk me into anything. I was like that — gullible. Sure, let’s ditch the class together, Michael. We’ll walk down the endless city avenues, crack every bit of ice we find along the way, find a secluded little corner, and you’ll kiss me like you mean it. My eyes lingered on his full lips. Just this morning, we had both been the last in the locker room after PE and my cheeks flushed when he took off his T-shirt, his fine muscles flexing, skin slick with perspiration, cheeks red from all the activity. I’d stood there like a fool, gazing at his body, waiting for him to notice it so it would force me to break the contact and change my clothes — otherwise, I would stay there looking at him ‘till the end of times.
“What about Jess?” I asked.
“What about her?” His tone turned icy, and the grin faded away.
I frowned. That was an odd reaction. They probably had a fight or whatever. She’d tell me about it after school over a cup of hot chocolate anyway. I pretended I hadn’t noticed Michael’s tone. “Is she ditching the class, too?”
“Nah,” he said and turned so he was leaning his entire back against the school wall, his left boot creeping up and resting there. It was enough to distract me from my thoughts — that big, firm ass was packed so tightly in those harsh denim jeans. “I thought it would be just us.”
Just us? I swallowed, blinked. “I don’t know…” All I knew was that my fantasies were clouding my judgment. I’d follow him anywhere just to get a kiss at the end of the road. If he promised me to touch me at our destination, I’d cross the world with him, let alone ditch Biology.
“Suit yourself,” he said.
It wasn’t like I was refusing much, either. I’d see him sooner rather than later, even if he ditched the class without me. The three of us got together after school all the time.
“Have fun,” I said.
He didn’t move.
I wanted to ask him if something was wrong, but that wasn’t the sort of friendship we had between us. We were more like a couple of happy-go-lucky friends who could make fun of the same things. The more intimate kind of friendship I had was with his girlfriend. But I had to watch out for the appearances there — it wouldn’t look good if Jess and I appeared too close. Nobody knew I was gay, not even Jess, and it could escalate into drama after just a few misread signals.
For now, though, they were a couple, and I was their little pet. I was the one to tag along.
I didn’t mind it appeared that way. It got me closer to Michael. I’d see him every day and some of those days he’d be shirtless around the house. One time, when Jess and I came over, he was in his boxer-briefs, and I remembered it all too well.
When I closed my eyes, I could picture the tight black fabric packing his firm ass, the curves in the front making me short of breath, two smooth athletic legs going down, all muscle and exercise.
“You okay?” he asked.
I realized the pause had been too long. I swallowed and gave a jerking nod. “Fine.”
He stood upright and pushed his hands into his pockets, shoulders slouching. The first snowflakes appeared out of nowhere and we both looked up. A smile emerged on both our faces as we looked at each other.
How I wished he would press those full lips against mine, pin me against the wall, push his chest into mine, and let it happen…
How could he? He didn’t know I was gay. I knew he was straight. It was impossible for us — but I was in love with him nonetheless. I was so in love with him. Especially when he smiled; those were the moments when my heart tripped and hope soared through the roof.
Come summer, high-school would be over. We’d part ways once and for all. Maybe, if I grew a pair by then, I would make the first move. Maybe I would pin him against some wall and lean in. And then, if he rejected me, I’d go off to college knowing there was nothing I missed out on. I could live with that. There would be nobody I pined after all the bloody time. I would be free of him. He would make it clear he was off limits.
His eyes stayed on me for a long while. I looked up again, snowflakes as thick as any falling on my face, melting instantly.
“If I ditched the class,” I said, curiosity soaring. “What would we do?”
“Dunno,” he said. “Whatever we wanted.”
“Whatever?” Why was I so stupidly hopeful? And how was I so desperately hopeless at the same time? Falling in love made little sense to me. How could he and Jess pull it off? It was such a mess of emotions, none too good.
Unless he smiled. All the emotions were good when he smiled. “Whatever,” he said, his voice a tease. His hips swung back and forth in anticipation.
He’d often tease like this.
What if that was a sign? What if he was telling me to go for it? Maybe he knew how I felt. If I was being obvious, he knew what it was all about. Maybe he was too shy to say it or do anything, but he teased me as if to say: Yes, it’s alright, you can kiss me now.
My cheeks flushed. I clenched my fists. My heart-rate tripling from one moment to another. I took a step forward and shot my arms up, grabbed his thick winter jacket, and pulled him in.
When our lips touched, something exploded in me. It was magical; so much better than what I had ever imagined a kiss could be. Then fear shot through me and I let go of him, parting from those wonderful, kissable, lovable lips.
“What the hell?” he asked, thick, dark eyebrows curving down in the middle. “Did Jess put you up to this?”
“Wh…” My mouth dropped open. I took a step back. “What?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but I couldn’t stay and hear another word. I wouldn’t hear it next to the echoing rumble of my heartbeat filling my ears, anyway. I looked away and leaped forward, pushing him out of the way with my shoulder, closing my eyes before the tears appeared.
I heard his voice from behind, but not the words. My world was quaking beneath my feet and I rushed my way into the back of the classroom where I stared at the open book, images flashing in front of my eyes. Fear of him telling everyone about this filled my breaking heart.
My hands wouldn’t stop shaking.
What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I wait till summer? I wouldn’t care about anyone finding out then. It would hurt, but I wouldn’t be afraid.
It hurt like hell.
“… you okay?”
I looked up. Oh, God, Jess… What if he told Jess? She would hate me! I just kissed her boyfriend. What was I thinking? “Uh-huh,” I said. A nod followed, to make it extra believable.
“You don’t seem like it,” she said.
“It’s nothing,” I blurted. “Just… Biology.”
She looked around the classroom. There were six of us inside, and three were packing their stuff.
I blinked. “What’s…”
“She canceled,” said Jess, her look ever more confused now. “Everybody ditched.”
I blinked again.
Shit… I could have been out there with Michael, scot free, walking behind him, looking at his magnificent ass while he was looking away, had I not ruined it forever.
I grabbed my stuff and passed Jess with a brisk: “Laters.”
She’d understand once I had a good excuse. Unless Michael told her first.
My friendship was crashing and burning in front of my eyes, all the while my heart was shattering. What a stupid, stupid thing I was…
One More Spin will go live on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited on Tuesday, January 19.