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The alarm goes off again, but I ignore it this time around.
My boyfriend nudges me, and says sleepily, “Baby, turn it off.”
“You turn it off,” I mutter, throwing the blanket over my head.
Slade’s warm body drapes across mine as he leans over to stop it. He flops onto his back. “Aaron, get your ass up, or you’re gonna be late for work. If you wait too long you won’t have time to shower.”
Grabbing my boyfriend of two years, I snuggle in closer and kiss his neck. “You like it when I don’t shower.”
His face scrunches. “Usually, but not now, you’re ripe, babe.”
“I don’t want to go to work. This is the start of our summer vacation,” I whine miserably.
“If I have to work today, you have to work today,” he answers with sleepy laugh when I nuzzle his neck. “We have a lot of plans this summer and it costs money. Now, get that cute ass of yours out of my bed, and go to work.”
“Fine, Jones, I’ll go, but only if you give me a kiss.” I pucker up waiting for him to lean in.
“No, I have morning breath.”
“Me, too. It’s never stopped us before,” I tell him, puckering up again.
With a half-smile, he kisses me, playfully nibbling my bottom lip, and when I return the favor, he moans. I don’t know how much time has passed so I reluctantly check the clock. I have about ten minutes to get on the road, when I move from under Slade, he groans.
The lamp by his bed only partially lights his garage apartment. He mutters throwing the blanket over his head. Knowing I have to rush now, I wash up quickly, and run a brush through my shaggy, unruly mop of blond hair. My light brown eyes are a little red from lack of sleep.
Slade appears next to me placing his head on my shoulder. “Are you coming over later?”
“Yeah, but I’ll go home first to shower considerin’ you distracted me this morning from taking one.” I make a stupid face in the mirror making him laugh.
“Okay. I’m only working until three today, so I’ll be here. You know Pa’s gone fishing with Clay, Kev will be off somewhere with Shelly, and Mama has the other’s out shopping and visiting Auntie Bernie in Norfolk.”
“We could’ve had so much fun with everyone out the house if we both didn’t have to work,” I say wrapping my arms around his waist. Slade locks his arms around my neck, and kisses me lazily while his fingers skim through my hair.
He smiles slyly when we break apart. “We definitely could’ve had some fun.”
I stare into his sapphire-blue eyes and nearly get lost in them. “I gotta get goin’.”
“See you later, baby.”
With another kiss and a heavy swat to my ass, Slade ushers me out the door to greet the dewy morning. I’m off for another fun-filled day of selling/cutting lumber to inept homeowners.
I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like my other friends. Up until the age of twelve, we all felt the same way about girls… that they were gross, but I never out grew those feelings. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I’d started to put the pieces together. I was and am gay. I didn’t understand what it meant. However, the day I met Slade Jones, I began to understand. His family moved from Norfolk, VA to my small town of South Hill, VA to be closer to his grandfather. I thank God every day that they did.
When he walked into homeroom, I felt this instant connection to him. The feeling of everything I’d ever need or want was standing right before my eyes, and it scared the hell out of me. However, at fourteen, how could I even begin to comprehend what I was thinking and feeling?
The first two years of our friendship were the toughest. The more we hung out, the harder I fell for him, but I kept my feelings to myself. I couldn’t risk losing him, so, I had to be content with him just being my friend.
Everything changed the night that Slade kissed me. We were sitting outside cooling off on the bleachers during a school dance, when he leaned over, and his soft lips touched mine. He took my stunned silence as a rejection and ran. I chased him down. He begged me not to hit him, and started rambling. So, I kissed him to shut him up.
From then on, we were Aaron & Slade though no one else knew.
We haven’t talked about the prospect of coming out to our families and friends. I would rather not. I’m not ashamed but I can’t break my parent’s heart by telling them their only son is gay. Not after all of the things they’ve done for me. I might tell them eventually but not any time soon.
Around others, we’re pals, acting like straight teenage boys, talking about and dating girls. We made a pact never to do more than kiss the girls we take out. We date enough to keep people from asking questions. Keeping up the pretense that we’re both into girls is tiresome and takes a toll.
I love spending time with Slade because there are no worries or pressure. We can be our cheesy, stupid selves. But it’s hard getting that alone time with us both being athletes, students and working after school jobs. He has a large canlı bahis şirketleri family too. He’s the oldest of six plus his parents. So sometimes, it’s easier to hang out at my house, when we have the time.
The one major aspect of our relationship that I can’t wait to change is our virgin status. It’s hard sharing a bed with him knowing nothing is going to happen. I want Slade so much but I know he’s not ready. He’s shut me down each time I’ve tried. I have had plenty of nights when it was just my hand and me. In the past three months, we celebrated his 18th birthday, and our two-year anniversary, yet still nothing. Therefore, I’ve taken a step back with the hope that he’ll let me know when he’s ready. I love him enough that I’ll wait for however long it takes.
I don’t just love him. I’m in love with him. We’ve never expressed the word aloud to each other, I know he loves me, and I’m sure he knows I love him too. Most couples who’ve been dating for two years have already passed both of the precipices of sex and/or declaring their love, but we’re not the typical relationship, and I tell him this all the time. It works for us, and I don’t care what anyone else might think.
Driving to work, I think back to how I might not have met Slade at all.
When I was ten years old, I had a routine checkup at the doctors; he discovered a lump in my neck. I knew three things: it could be nothing, I would have to take a pill for the rest of my life, or it was cancer. The chance of it being serious like cancer was something I didn’t grasp at my age. After the biopsy and test, I learned it was Thyroid Cancer.
After having my thyroidectomy, I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy but I did have radioiodine therapy. It killed my taste buds. I could’ve had the hottest pepper known to man and I wouldn’t have been able to taste it. Because I couldn’t taste I barely ate, so drinking meal replacement shakes balanced out my diet.
I thought it was over. I was wrong.
During a follow up a few months later, my doctor discovered that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and told me I would have to undergo chemotherapy.
My little sister, Candace, never left my side. She watched over me like a hawk, helping Ma whenever she could. She read to me from her little books, watched television, or played board games with me. Even when I was mean, she was there. I knew she needed her big brother to get better so I could be there to watch out for her. So I did what could and prayed the cancer would go away.
Ma wouldn’t let me wallow in self-pity. She made me study and do homework. I kept up with school because of her. Dad was there too. He taught me so much. However, what stuck out the most for me, one day I asked him why he was crying because men don’t cry. And he told me, “A man can cry and still be a man. Don’t be afraid to cry, kiddo, especially when it’s for someone you love.”
We got through my illness and I’ve been in remission for over five years. I passed my yearly check-up seven months ago and have nothing holding me back. My life is smooth sailing.
My shift is finally over. I drive home knowing without a doubt that my ass needs to take a shower. I’ll pop in, spend about thirty minutes with the family, and then head over to Slade’s place.
Upon closing the front door, Dad calls out, “Aaron, can you come to the kitchen?”
Dad smiles when I enter the kitchen, but there’s something up, which has me on the defense immediately. He lets out a small sigh. “I wanted to tell y’all together, but your mama and sister got it out of me, so now it’s your turn to know too.”
I stand on the opposite side of the counter and mimic his posture. “Uh-huh?”
“I got the promotion I wanted,” he announces with a small smile.
“Awesome, Dad, I’m happy for you!” I walk over, giving him a huge hug and a pat on the back. I step back only to see the look is back on his face. “What’s up? Why aren’t you dancing around? You’ve wanted this promotion for months.”
“I know, but you haven’t heard the whole story. When I went for the promotion the job was based in Richmond, but now, it’s in South Boston.”
“South Boston’s not that far, Dad. It’s only about an hour away. It’s not that big a deal.”
“Aaron, not South Boston, Virginia… South Boston, Massachusetts,” Dad stammers.
My eyes widen. “You’re moving to Massachusetts for how long?”
Dad takes a few seconds before he replies, “Here’s the thing, we’re all going to move there.”
My first thought rushes to Slade. I’m not leaving him. There’s no way in hell!
“No, Dad! This is my senior year. I’m co-captain of the baseball team. I’m eighteen. I can stay here without you,” I state a little too loud.
“Watch the attitude, young man,” Dad snaps.
“I’m sorry, sir,” I reply looking him square in the eyes. “I don’t wanna move.”
“You have no say in the matter, kiddo. While you are in high school, your place is with your family. Besides, your mama will canlı kaçak iddaa never allow you to be away from her with your medical history. Yes, by the time we leave, you’ll be eighteen, and considered an adult, but you depend on your mama and me to provide for you.”
“Ma’s overreacting, I’m not gonna get sick again. The doctors said to go on living my life and I am. Why can’t I stay with Uncle Bobby?”
Dad grabs a beer from the fridge. “One, the doctors have said there is a very small chance that you could get sick again, even after the five-year mark. I know you’re not gonna get sick again but there is always that chance. Second, your uncle isn’t the best influence on you. He got you grounded for six months for that fiasco at the bar.”
“You can’t blame him for what happened. It was just as much my fault as it was his. How about Auntie Trish, can I stay with her?”
“She’s not gonna take care of a teenager. She loves you, but it’s not happening.”
“STOP! It’s final. You’re coming and I don’t want to hear another word about it. Do you hear me?” Dad asks, placing his hands flat on the counter.
Looking down, I say the only thing I can, “Yes, sir.”
Dad walks over. “I’m sorry, kiddo. I really am. But you’ll see this move will be the best for all of us.”
“I doubt it,” I mutter.
“We don’t leave until the last week of August. That’s plenty of time for you to hang out with your friends. Go on. I have to talk with your mama,” he says, opening the beer and walking out the kitchen.
I don’t take my intended shower; I instead make my way to Slade.
It takes me all of fifteen minutes to reach his house.
I hear country music playing from inside his garage apartment. Unfortunately, his younger brother, Kevin, is here working on his truck for the umpteenth time.
“When are you going to give up on that and get a new one,” I holler over to him.
“When I can’t get her to run no more,” Kevin answers while rubbing the sides. “Damn, I love this truck.”
“You’re the only one,” I tell him laughing as he kisses the hood. “You got serious problems.”
“Yeah, but this truck ain’t one.”
I chuckle and continue towards Slade’s room. I enter through the side door and find him lying on the bed. He’s shirtless, wearing shorts, cross-legged with his eyes closed. I shut the door behind me, and listen while he sings softly along to the twangy tune.
I watch him, wondering how I got so lucky to find him, only to leave him before summer’s end. All I want to do is run my fingers through his short, brown hair and kiss him until the world makes sense again. He opens those beautiful sapphire-blue eyes my way and smiles. Smiling back, I walk over and kiss him.
“Hey, baby,” Slade whispers, framing my face in his hands and kisses me again.
I lean my forehead against his. “Hey, Jones.”
“Why are you here so early?” He caresses my cheek, sniffs me, and says, “I thought you were going to take a shower.
“I wanted to see you. I couldn’t wait ’til later tonight.” I bury my face in his neck. My emotions are all over the place, and I’m about to lose it. “I thought I could take my shower here.”
Slade pulls away slightly. “Is my brother still outside?”
Exhaling slowly, I lay back against the headboard, “Yeah, he needs a new truck. That one’s a lost cause.”
“Yeah, but I can’t make fun ’cause at least he has a piece of shit truck. I’m the oldest and I don’t have wheels.”
“We all know why. Your driving sucks ass. How many tries did it take before you passed?”
“Four, but those fails weren’t my fault,” he says defensively, brows furrowing in that cute way when he’s annoyed.
I try hard not to laugh. “You ran up on the curb parallel parking, hit a mailbox, hit a parked car, and then you failed the written once, what makes you think none of those were your fault?”
“I’m Slade Jones, awesome driver that’s why,” he answers with a smile throwing his hands up.
“No, you’re not, and that’s why I won’t let you drive my truck. You barely passed this last time.”
He rolls his eyes and scoffs, “You’ll let me drive it before the end of the summer.”
“Yeah, sure, by the end of the summer, that’s not gonna happen.” I smirk. My demeanor changes and he notices it immediately.
Slade slides his hand into mine linking our fingers together. “Baby, what’s wrong?” Hearing the concern in his voice, I don’t cry as I rub my thumb back and forth over his. “Aar, what’s wrong?” He asks again.
I avoid looking at him. “Um, uh, my dad got the promotion today.”
He turns my head towards him. “That’s a good thing, right?”
With a shake of the head, I answer, “No. The promotion he got is relocating him to Massachusetts. We’re going with him.” He gasps. I continue with the last bit of news. “We leave at the end of August.”
Slade look at me and laughs. “I call, ‘bullshit’. Ha! Ha! Ha! Yeah, right, you’re moving to Massachusetts. Aar, the next time you want canlı kaçak bahis to joke. Try something a little more believable.”
The sad look in my eyes stops him cold. Right as he about to reach for me, there is a sudden knock at the door. I move to the other side of the bed before Kevin walks in.
“Hey, bro, I got the truck working. I’m goin’ down to the dam with Shelly and I’ll be back late. Tell mama for me, okay?” Kevin looks at the two of us. “What’s wrong? You look like you just watched some sad chick flick,” he asks stepping into the room.
“Aaron came over to tell me he’s moving to Massachusetts,” Slade answers reaching for the remote for the radio and turning it off.
“That sucks man, sorry. It’s not gonna be the same without you. You are like another brother to me.”
The sincerity in his voice is palpable. “Thanks, Kev; I feel the same about you too.”
“Shit, I gotta get Shelly. We’ve gotta have a guys’ night before you leave, Aar. Live it up without the girlfriends around,” he jokes.
I smile and say, “Sure, it sounds good to me.”
“Alright, I’ll see y’all later.” Kevin shrugs with a slight smile. He walks out closing the door behind him. Seconds later, we hear his truck start and him pull away.
Slade turns his attention back to me. “Aaron, I-I… do you have to go? Why can’t you stay with Bobby?”
“Yeah, after the bar brawl, Dad wouldn’t trust Uncle Bobby with supervising me make lemonade.” I give him a half chuckle. “He made it clear that I had to go.”
“What if we could talk him into letting you stay with my family?” Slade asks. The hope in his eyes is making this more unbearable.
The tears come to the surface. “It’s not gonna happen. Dad says I can’t stay here. What am I gonna do?”
He takes my hand and kisses it. “Baby, don’t worry. We’ll try to work something out to keep you here.”
Looking into eyes, I ask, “What’s gonna happen with us?”
“Aaron, we don’t have to talk about that right now. I just want to take care of you.” He smiles faintly. His eyes twinkle in the sunlight shining through the slits of the blinds with unshed tears.
A lone tear rolls down my cheek. Slade places his forehead against mine and tenderly wipes the tear away with the back of his hand. He gathers me in a huge embrace. He lays back with my head resting on his shoulder, my arm is across his waist, and my legs entwine with his. He combs his fingers through my hair. I breathe in the light mix scent of his natural scent and the soap he’d washed with. I bury my face into his chest and cry.
He holds me, rubs my back, and soothes me with comforting words. “Aar, it’s okay. Don’t cry, baby.”
“I don’t want to leave you,” I say, barely able to get the words out.
Slade titters softly, “I don’t want you to leave me either.”
I don’t know why but that makes me laugh. We laugh for a minute. I hug him tight. He plants several kisses to my forehead, nose, and lips.
We talk softly about nothing in particular. He’s making me feel better. He walks into his bathroom and starts up the shower. Stepping under the hot spray relieves most of my tension. When I’m finished, I put on the clothes Slade has waiting for me. He pops a cheesy comedy on, and gives me a much needed shoulder massage. After the massage, we cuddle and I fall asleep in his arms.
Miss April’s horn honks loudly. We realize we have but a few seconds to go out and greet her before she or one of his siblings walks into his room unannounced. We quickly get ourselves together. We pause at the door. Slade kisses me before pulling away. “With them back, I won’t be able to do that whenever I want. Ready?”
“Yeah, I’m ready.”
We step outside, shielding our eyes from the blinding sun, and walk over to greet his mom. Miss April is at the back of her SUV grabbing bags of food and clothing.
“Hey, guys. Slade, I grabbed you a couple more work shirts. Do you think you might need more than that?” His little brothers and sister bound out of the car fighting as usual. “Y’all shut up! You’re driving me bonkers. Grab some bags and get in the house now.”
Juliet, the baby of the family, and only girl runs over to Slade, and he picks her up. “Slay, Slay, I missed you,” the six-year-old squeaks. “Davy won’t leave me ‘lone. He pulled my hair all day. I tell him to stop but he didn’t. You tell him to leave me ‘lone.” She wraps her little arms around his neck, and he rubs her back soothingly.
If looks could kill, Davy, at nine-years-old would be dead. Everyone knows not to mess with Juliet because Slade would hand them their ass.
We’re alike when it comes to our little sister. Don’t fuck with her and there won’t be any problems. He might not be super tall standing at 5’7″, but he can be intimidating from all his years of playing football. I outweigh him by twenty pounds and stand 6’0″, and there are times when I find him an opposing figure. Therefore, Davy must be shitting bricks right about now.
“Is that so? Get your butt over here now and apologize to her,” he growls, setting Juliet down and crossing his arms. Davy mumbles an apology. “Nah, do better than that. I don’t think she heard you.”
“I’m sorry, Jules. I won’t pull your hair no more,” the boy states louder.
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