TITLE: Braedon Matthews
FANDOM: my own but it could be considered that Braedon is sort of based on Gale Harold
How much longer you gonna just sit there all hunched into yourself? Seriously, baby, it’s freezing, but still you sit. Just waiting. Your ass cold on the hard brownstone step, your knees hugged tight to yourself, bowing your head like trying to protect yourself from the harsh winter wind. While I sit, also just waiting, all safe and warm in Kelly’s psuedo-50s Diner's Delight directly across the street. Their red and white stripped awning snapping harsh with each next sudden gust. Baby, please go home ‘cause I am so tired, just so fucking tired of us doing what we’ve been doing for the last agonizing hour. You waiting for me, wondering why I haven’t come. Me watching you, knowing full well why I haven’t. Why I won't. I relive our sweet short history again and again even as I can only imagine you fearing for our future. I need you to understand. Jamey, there isn’t any, alright? There just isn’t any more future. Your worst fears, baby, even if you don't know it yet, have already come true.
Because, turns out, I am the man you were afraid I was, that I so hoped I wouldn't be. Because, thing is, while I know we’re over, that we have to be over, you don’t and it’s killing me. My deceit. If you even just scanned the storefronts right cross the street, you’d see me prominently displayed, all the better to see you, in one of the diner’s bright-red naugahyde window booths. Nothing stands between us except painted glass and afternoon traffic. But your eyes seriously suck, don’t they, baby? You could scan the fucking avenue all day long and never see me. I hide in plain sight; find safety within your deficiency, and knowing that’s what I’m doing shames me. Fuck, Jameson, look up, please. See how the sky's getting even grayer? It's for sure gonna rain. it could maybe even snow. Or is it maybe you do see but that you just don't care. Baby, please, call them, call your others. Let them come get you because then, and only then, will I be able to finally go.
“Sir…? my waitress asks.
“Another refill, thanks.” I tip my mug, emblazoned with bright-red double Ds, toward her and, with no further comment, she gives me what I need.
But not you! Not you, Jamey because still you sit, your olive-green duster --I remember when you bought it, I was with you when you bought it-- pulled tight around you, even as the first of the rain darkens the pavement. Understand, Jamey, please. I’m not coming and you need to find a way to let me go, to find your way home.
My first part-time job, this was back in the late ‘80’s, was at this legendary music store owned by twin brothers --Carl played bass, Jake rhythm-- who were legends in their own right in the local club scene in and around Atlanta. Beyond that, they had their store and they ran it with a kind of devotion that bordered on the neurotic. And with a military precision that any four-star general would’ve admired. Everything had its place and that was just where everything should be. At. All. Times. And what they didn‘t carry, they could always get. We even had a vintage LP section that brought people in from miles around looking to maybe find some long lost memory or, more likely than not, to discover a few new ones. This was the section where I spent not only too much of my time, but way too much of my money. And every LP I ever bought there, I still have.
Even though one of the brothers was always ‘in residence’ still, they hired us kids, some high school but mostly college, to help out. During the time I was privileged to work there, they had this one college guy doing weekends while me and Jeremy, we shared weekdays. His shift was 3:00 to 6:00pm and mine was 5:00 to 9:00pm and in that one hour overlap, we became friends. Even to the point of sitting next to each other in Algebra II junior year at dear ole St Pius. We double dated, partied together and, what with our shared interest in all things music, we basically made time for each other, learned from each other and, in many ways, took care of each other. For a time we even played in the same garage band that made us just enough money to get drunk on the weekends we didn’t have any gigs and made me just a little extra to service my growing interest in all things motorcycle.
So, basically, working for Carl and Jake was amazing, having Jeremy as a friend rocked and, since I’d discovered that I could pretty much have my way with any girl I wanted, life was kind of good.
Still, one night in particular stands out, one of my Friday shifts, when Jeremy called me wasted. Now little dude never called me at work, especially wasted, so he had me…concerned. He was obviously somewhere partying and was just as obviously feeling little pain. I could barely hear him over all the rioting going on in the background, he was practically yelling into the phone, “Don’t ever do this shit, Braedon, hear me? You gotta promise me, man, that you will never DO...this shit.”
The night had been slow; restocking the sheet music for the past hour had put me in a near Zen state, which was now vaguely disturbed. “What shit, Jeremy?”
“Crack, man. You have got to promise me, Braedon. You have got to promise me, okay? I am totally serious.” And he was totally serious, I could always tell.
“Whatthefuck? Jeremy.: Just a little of my calm slipping away. “Why you telling me this now? What’s crack got to do with anything?”
“I smoked some with Lonnie --"
“I know, I know, Braedon, but he was offering and well…since I never had, I figured whatthehell and swear dude, seriously, this shit is way too good, understand me? Shit is seriously too good. You’ll like it seriously too much and it’ll fuck you up so, you have got to promise me. Alright? Braedon?”
“We can talk about this when--”
“No. Now. Promise. Me. Now. I know you, I know your ways and you will like this shit waaaaay too--”
“Then maybe I should just give it a little taste. See what all the fuss is--”
“Not funny, Braedon. Not fun...ny! Really. Now Swear. SWEAR.”
And I figure whatthehell. Couldn’t hurt to promise the guy so, “Alright, man, calm the fuck down, alright? I promise. I promise.”
Say it? Christ! “Okay, alright, I’ll saaaay it. Crack cocaine will never pass my lips or be taken down into my lungs by any other means for as long as we both shall live. There, does that ease your paranoid little mind, wifey?”
Happily, he calms a little, saying, “Yeah. It’s…it’s just…I know you, Braedon. Shit would fuck you up and I don‘t wanna see you, ya'know--”
“Fucked up. So you’ve said. Anyway, thanks for looking out for me. Now, what about you? You alright?”
“Yeah yeah sure sure. Understand, I can handle this kind of shit waaaaay better than--”
“Uh...huh. Famous last words, Jeremy. Famous. Last. Words. Look, I gotta go, I got customers. Just call me tomorrow, okay?” And he does and everything’s fine and life goes on as usual. Miraculously, he doesn’t become a crack-head from his one and only encounter and interestingly, I never do smoke the shit. And I'm sure that’s only because of him. Whenever anyone would offer, I’d clearly, as if he were standing next to me, hear his warning and that would be enough.
Eventually we graduate high school and I move to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, while he moves to Chicago to attend The Institute of Art. We keep in touch for awhile and we lose touch for awhile. But never completely. And whenever something does bring him to mind, I’m always reminded of just how grateful I am to him for saving me the trouble of having to learn the hard way what he already knew to be true about me. Shit would have fucked me up. Addiction is something I am detrimentally inclined towards. And his warning has saved me from several.
But not from all. No, not from all. Because he wasn’t around a few months ago when I needed his sage advice warning me off an even worse addiction than crack. Just one little taste, that’s all I wanted. Swear. And I was so sure I could handle it, but my addiction was instantaneous. So complete, so much more fucking habitual than crack could’ve ever been that I am still amazed that I really didn’t see it coming, I must have been blind.
Just one little taste, just one and I, Braedon Matthews, a Pentecostal-raised straight man became obsessed with a beautiful, intelligent, exotic gay man who gave me his heart, his body, and his mind as much as he could and who I’ve always known I would eventually repay with desertion. How else really? Where the fuck were you, Jeremy, when I really needed you, huh? Where the fuck were you?
Can you imagine I’ll still come? Am I really the only one who realizes I won’t? Go home, Jameson, please and let me live my life without you. I can’t do this anymore especially since, really, none of this should have happened in the first place. You tried to warn me. Told me I’d break your heart and you were right. How did it come to this, baby? How did I let things get so fucked-up? Why am I doing this to you when all you ever wanted was to care for me? I don’t fool myself that you love me, but maybe…just maybe…I love you and that can’t work. Isn’t possible. I’m supposed to love a woman. To marry, to have a child with, to live my life with a woman and these past few months with you were only supposed to be about fun. But you knew better, didn’t you? Ain’t having no kinda fun now, are we?
“How about now?” my waitress asks, thigh-leaning against the edge of my table, looking down over me, pad and pencil in hand. Just waiting like us.
“What soup would you recommend?” I say, looking up at her and with just enough of a smile to get me one back, her soft brown hair, streaked blonde, pulled back in a easy ponytail, underscoring the diner's retro ambience.
She considers for a second before saying, “The navy bean with ham is real good and--”
“That’ll be fine and a small salad with Ranch and another refill, thanks.”
“Coming right up.” And she looks pleased, like by finally ordering something real, I’d made everything right in her world.
But I haven’t in yours, have I, baby? In yours, all I’ve done is make everything so messed up. I just don’t understand why they haven’t come for you yet? You’re really starting to make me worry.
When he comes in, dignified and alone, we watch him, everyone does. All eyes are on him and knowing that, he moves slow and easy, taking it all in stride and again, I am amazed at the way he commands attention without really meaning to. Without saying or doing anything, this small elegant man, with striking longish white-blond hair, owns any room, owns every room, just by walking through the door.
He nods lightly to a few people, waves to a few more, with his Mona Lisa smile perfected, as he moves toward his destination, a table set off to the far side of the restaurant’s mid-size banquet room. Away from all of us, giving him at least the appearance of privacy and where two of his others, Toby and Courtlan, are already waiting for him. Once there, even from there, from the edge of our current universe, he remains the center, the focus of nearly everyone’s interest. Jameson Gwynedd-Alden, entrepreneur extraordinaire. One of the heads of a Welsh family that can, rumor has it, trace its linage back a thousand years. And quite possible the most beautiful human being I have ever seen. And, trust me when I say that I’m not alone in thinking so.
“He’s ubiquitous, that one. Always at the center of everything and always in control of what goes on. Effortlessly. At least from what I’ve seen,” Tony, my current agent, speaks my mind as both his wife, Angie, and my girlfriend, Eileen, nod their agreement. “Always taking the lead, shaking things up. Can’t help but admire him for what he’s accomplished.”
And Tony’s right; Jameson’s everywhere, well known to anyone who’s a part of our particular little strata of society, whether in Los Angeles or Seattle, San Francisco or Chicago, but mostly here in New York. “Yeah, I've seen him around. Jameson, right?” I add to the conversation. ” L.A., San Francisco, here…”
“There...everywhere. Yeah, you are right, Braedon. And you’ll keep on seeing him,” Eileen says. “Helps that he not only knows everyone, has had dealings with most everyone, but that he’s also so entirely gorgeous--”
“You really think so?” I laugh as she gives me the ‘look’.
“And,” she adds, “there’s also the well-documented fact that he is richer than god, owning approximately half of this town. According to even the most conservative of estimates.”
“Only a slight exaggeration,” Jeremy, my old friend from Chicago agrees who, with his wife, Jennifer, is visiting for the weekend. It’s no different back home. And, from what I understand, he’s really pretty generous with all of those greater-than-god riches. Not that I’ve ever seen any of it, personally. But still, from what I understand--”
“Riches of theirs, Jeremy,” Jennifer corrects. “And mostly old money supplemented just a tiny little bit by new. From what I understand.”
“Well, I’ve never dealt with him personally, either,” Tony confesses, “other than to indulge myself in several of the best dining experiences of my life at a couple of different ’Gwynedds.” But I know people who have and I’m told he’s a very astute business man. Does things a little differently, but he’s a professional, a rare enough commodity in this day and age, and undoubtedly one of the main reasons he’s done so well. Why Whyndham Enterprise has done so well. They even say he has, now get this, that he has honor. Stunning.”
“Still, I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of any of his people, his others, Tony,” Eileen says. “They’ve all had a hand in setting-up the five ‘Gwynedds’ plus they share not only in the day-in, day-out operation of the restaurants, but also in their supper clubs and probably even in their galleries plus--”
“That’s right,” Angie says, “And let’s face it, they’ve put together some of the best of these kinds of fundraising events I’ve ever attended. Personally, I try never to miss a one of them.”
“As any cursory look at our bank account will attest,” Tony says.
“True, darling. I just can’t seem to help that I so adore the way Jameson and Caillen and their others work an audience. Swear, they could get a rock to bleed real blood-money.”
“Again, as even THE most cursory--”
“Shut up, Tony,” Angie laughs. “And anyway, did you ever notice how…?”
And I allow their voices to fade, finding it difficult yet again to keep my eyes off of him. I can’t understand it and I’ve given up even trying. But ever since the first time I laid eyes on him in L.A., maybe a year ago now, he’s occupied a prominent place in my daydreams and while all of that was controllable there, he just wasn’t around as much, ever since I’ve come east, he’s become a fixation. Do I imagine that he might have even had some minor role to play in my ultimate decision to make New York my permanent address? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but--”
“Braedon?” Eileen’s voice brings me back. “Braedon!”
“Yeah…yeah, sorry. Just kind of tired, I guess,” And even as I smile my apology, I watch him still as he leaves their table, heading out a side door going who knows where? ”Since you all are obviously so in-the-know, and while I apparently wallow-in-ignorance, enlighten me. Why does he always take-off like that? I’ve seen the woman, Caillen, doing it too, right?”
“He’s seriously claustrophobic. Didn’t you know? Neurotically so,” Jennifer says. “Quite possibly certifiably so. Not sure”
“I didn’t know. Wonder why?”
“Has something to do with when they were kids.”
“Kids?” I ask.
“They’ve all known each other since forever, since they were just little kids. And he’s like near clockwork, leaving after every 30-35 minutes when he’s in a place without the ability to see out. Or even to see out easily. Day time, night time, rain or shine, it apparently doesn‘t matter. Ten minutes or so and he’s back. Thirty-five– ten, thirty-five – ten. All night long. Caillen and Jayden are the same And Courtlan is too. Just, apparently, not as crazily neurotic. Toby, on-the-other-hand, doesn’t seem to have the same compulsion--”
“Toby wasn't there when they were single-digits, remember?” Eileen says. “He came after they were double-digits, all of 12 or 13 years of age.”
“Too true. I wonder what that means though?” Jennifer questions. “And you know, ’I've even heard that they know the way to all the windows in every major hotel or convention center from here to the west coast as if--”
“How do you people know all this?” I chuckle and as she explains, this time I pay attention because I’ve decide that from this moment on, I won’t just learn more about him but that I’ll actually try to become friends with him myself. We have been introduced, a couple of times over the year since I first saw him in LA, but now, I want him to be more than just a casual acquaintance. Because, as hard as it’s been to make myself understand it, I finally do. I want him. I want him bad and I need to find a way to have him so, I listen. I pay attention. I learn.
The more I realized how I felt about you, the more I realized how important you’d become to me, the more I pushed you away. Showing up late for our trysts, leaving earlier then I originally said I would, all running from you. And you knew. I could see the concern in your eyes every time like so unsure if I’d ever come back.
And this time, this time when I called, asking you to meet me, I knew, alright? I knew I wouldn’t show up, that I’d leave you waiting so, Jameson, please go home. Please, I can’t leave until you do, until I know they’ve come for you. And I want to go. Have you even called them? Do they even know how I‘ve stood you up, left you alone? Are they even aware what a piece of shit I am? Eventually, they’ll know, will realize how I set all this up just so I could desert you. Will you ever understand why? It’s because I need you to hate me since knowing you do will be the only thing that’ll keeping me away from you. I don’t want to ever see that hate in your eyes so, I’ll stay away. If I was a better man, I would’ve told you to your face, but I don’t have that kind of balls. I could never look at you and tell you I don’t want you anymore. So, please…
“Sir, can I get you anything else, some pie maybe,” my waitress, Maggie according to her name tag, asks while busing my table.
“Just a refill, thanks.” Might as well. I know I’m going to be here a little while longer at least. Even if I also know that sooner or later they will come for you. You’ll have to give it up, let it go, come to realize that you were right all along about what kind of man I really am.
He’s been mixing and schmoozing, chatting it up with everyone for well over his normal outside limit of 30 to 35 minutes and soon he’ll need to find his way to the windows. To the views. And I’d promised myself that this evening, I’d follow. I’ve debated back and forth long enough whether or not this is a good idea and have finally decided I don’t care. Good or bad. Right or wrong. Fucked up or not fucked up, I want him and that’s all that matters. Some things just are what they are and tonight is my time to act.
So, to that end, I arrive a little early, having already checked out the corridors surrounding the room where the dinner party is being held and, thankfully, there are only a couple of places where Jameson can escape to his views. And what with all of his people, his others, out of town, it seems like the timing is working to my benefit.
And sure enough, a couple of minutes later, watching as he leaves, I nonchalantly follow, leaving behind at my table Ryan with Stefan and Ethan with Cheryl, friends who can handle themselves just fine in my absence. No Eileen this time or anyone else I might have to contend with. I leave by a different door and circling back around, check the place I think he’d probably go first, but when he’s not there; I check the next most reasonable place, but not finding him either, I start to panic a little, my heart starts to pounding, my pulse to racing. So, imagine my relief when I do find him at the third and, frankly, the final place that I know to check.
He’s so focused on the nighttime view out over lower Manhattan that he doesn’t even sense my being there. I stay away, hang back, just for a minute, watching him before taking a deep breath and saying, “Jamey,“ and he startles, turning from looking out to looking at me and instinctively, he backs away into the corner. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean you scare you, I just--”
“Is alright,” he laughs, shrugging it off. He knows me now; we’ve become a little more than casual acquaintances over the past couple of months so, he isn’t concerned. “Really, Braedon, I was just so unaware. Probably shouldn’t have been, but I was nonetheless. Have you…uhmm, have you come to take in the view? This is an especially sweet one.”
I hesitate. I can’t help but be a little nervous, I'm totally coming at him from left field. “No, no no, not for the view, Jameson, I’ve…I’ve uhmm...I've come for you.” And before he can scan my words, before he can make any real sense of them, I step up into him, pushing him back, pinning him against the corner he’s backed himself into, my crotch, my cock hard, straining against his belly, my hands gripping along his back, pulling him against me and I hold him tight. How long have I wanted this? For far too long. And now. And now.
He moves his hands up along my chest, also gripping like crawling his way up me, finally laying his arms along my shoulders, his hands cupping my neck and he whispers, “Braedon?”
Using one hand to hold his face up toward mine, my palm along his throat, my other cupping the back of his head,protecting him from the hard marble wall behind him, I brush my mouth over his ears, his eyes, across his lips and I breathe him in, kissing into his hair the words I have so long wanted him to hear, “I will fuck you, Jameson. Understand me? I will. I will.” Holding him as tight to me as I can, I run my fingers into the white-gold strands at the base of his neck and then gripping him, jerking him hard, bringing his head back, forcing him to look into my eyes, I repeat, “I will. Understand me, Jameson, Fuck. Fuck please, I need you.”
But, despite how tight I hold him, he’s still able to pull his head forward, his forehead touching my chest and he murmurs “You say these words to me as if I have no choice in the matter. Yours is a command. A demand. As if I have no choice. As if I could not choose otherwise.”
He hides his eyes from me and, breathing softly but rapidly, almost like panting, he waits. He waits to see what' I'll do. And realizing what he means stuns me because of all the ways I have imagined this night ending, none involved any other outcome than my fucking him senseless because he wants me to. That any other possibility could even exist sends a sharp chill through me, rising in me from the base of my spine to the base of my neck and I shudder, realizing with sudden certainty that I’m now in a place I never wanted to be.
So, for a minute, I just wait with him, his face still buried against me, feeling him trembling. But then slowly, so slowly, he raise his face to mine, his mouth to my cheek and he says against my skin, “No.” As a kind of whimper. And nothing more.
And in that second, that sharp chill that has spread along my spine suddenly spikes straight through me, shattering into the air above me and, like shrapnel, falls back, impaling itself into me and it fucking hurts. 'No'. He said 'no'. Oh fuck, he said 'no'. Pushing him hard away from me, back into his corner, I turn from him, now realizing that it’s my time to look out into the dark of night, which has suddenly become nothing but a watercolor blur.
“Braedon? Please, understand.”
He sound so lost. And I find I don’t care. “Understand what, Jameson?” I say pretty calmly. With a calm, in fact, that surprises me. “You’ve made yourself perfectly clear so, just go the fuck away, alright? I'm sorry but I need a minute so, please…just go.” I feel him backing away then, see his reflection in the glass, him now a part of the watercolor blur, as he moves away from me and toward the hallway, his head down even as he is still looking at me, wary. Then he hesitates so, “Please, I’m fine, I just need a minute.”
“Understand,” he says, so obviously stranded somewhere between staying and leaving, “I can’t. You’ll end up breaking my heart, don’t you see? You won’t mean to, of course you won’t mean to, but I know you will nonetheless because, I know who I am, how I’ll end up feeling about you and I don’t need that. Surely you can see my reasoning, yeah? Because you won't, yeah? You won't feel the same about me as I will about you. You'll hurt me and anger will ensue. I don't need that. I‘ve never needed that, but have had to learn the truth of it from the hard experience of my reality. And what I’ve learned is to evade. The only way to protect myself is to evade. You can understand that, yeah? I know that you can.” And having made up his mind and having said his reasons, he nods his head and he is gone.
I wouldn’t have responded even if I’d had the time and I didn’t need to ask why. I know why he believes I’ll only end up hurting him, why I’ll only end up breaking his heart. The hard experience of his reality. All in the way of straight boys with gay boys and not a game he needs to play. anymore Or is it maybe just the way of it with him? Still, the pain of his rejection twists inside me, becoming instantly a cold and a very hard place that I know even in that moment, will stay with me. I may understand but that doesn't change the hard reality of my experience. Returning to the dinner party, to my table, I grab my shit, say my good-byes and I am gone.
I see him as I am about to leave through the lobby's wide revolving doors, see him waiting at the curb for his little limo to come for him. When it finally does, when he finally climbs into the backseat and it drives him away, I leave, deciding to walk, taking the long-way home.
A car slides into view, shiny and black, a dark slash against the gray of the slick rain-wet avenue. Finally they’ve come. Because still, you wait, still curled into yourself, you wait for them to finish the last part of their journey. Of our journey. From the driver’s side, Marcus steps out while Jayden does the same from the passenger side. Marcus slowly makes his way around the front of the car and to the curb, leaning back against the limo while Jayden, looking over the top of the car, almost leisurely scans the avenue and I hold my breath, but there’s no pause, no hesitation when his eyes drift over the diner’s windows and, realizing he doesn’t see me, I breathe again. Turning, he slowly walks to you and so, taking the last gulp of my coffee, throwing some money on the bill, I move to the glass front door where I can see without the car blocking my view. I need to see him with you. I need to know that you’re safe.
He stands over you and when you look up to him, taking his hands from his pockets, he gently brushes his thumbs under your eyes and it’s then that I know you’ve been crying. I can almost hear you telling him how sorry you are. Sitting next to you, mimicking your posture, he leans into you and he’s quiet. I can feel it from where I am, he’s here only to listen, there’s no anger, no recrimination but you need to confess. Angry words come from you, angry words thrown at the sky, angry words about me and I feel the pain of them deep inside me.
“He is beautiful, isn’t he?” my waitress says, coming up quietly behind me, startling me. I can only nod. If I tried to say anything, I’d give myself away completely. “I’ve seen you go up there with him, you know and, if you don’t mind my sayin’ so, you’d be better off without him.” I glance back at her and she offers me a little smile. “Yeah, I’ve had you pegged from the minute I saw you come through this door and I’m just sayin‘ they’re a strange bunch, him and his friends, and I have to imagine it’d just be best not to get too involved. Can only lead to trouble, you know? Heartbreak and such. He certainly does look like a heartbreaker to me, but you’d know best. So…listen, hope to see you again sometime.” And she moves off, off to another customer needing another refill.
One last look back, one last quick smile and she’s gone. And when I look back to the street, to the brownstone steps that lead up to the little condo that has become my home away from home, so are you. Jayden has already tucked you into the car, but before he joins you, he looks without expression directly over its roof at Kelly’s, first to the booth where I was and, not finding what he was looking for there, he scans along the front until he finds me standing behind my glass door. He looks at me, just for a second and nods to Marcus before climbing in after you. Marcus comes around the front of the car, and, after checking traffic both ways, he trots across the street, quickly reaching the curb. With a slight bow, he mouths, “Thanks for not leaving him”. Nothing more. Returning back to the little limo, he climbs in behind the wheel and he drives you away.
Pushing open the door, the tinkling bell signaling my departure, with one last smile to my waitress, I pull on my coat, my hat and, with my hands in my pockets; it really is cold out, I drift off down the avenue with nowhere in particular to go, trying to remember the last time I'd felt so alone. Maybe that night I walked home after you'd told me 'no'. At the corner, just before crossing, I turn back looking one last time at the brownstone steps that lead up to the place where I now know you really did love me.
The next time I see him, he comes to me. It’s a couple of months after the disastrous dinner party because honestly, and not unreasonably, I’ve been avoiding him and apparently, he’s noticed. I’m on my own, at my favorite neighborhood café, sitting reading peacefully at an outdoor table when he joins me before I really even notice and it’s too late to object. Seeing him, especially so suddenly, makes my heart skip, takes my breath away, reminds me why I wanted him so bad in the first place, but still, I play nonchalant. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Where you been? You haven’t been around. I was only just wondering why you haven’t been around is all.” I can’t help but notice how confused he looks, head titled, looking up at me the way cats do sometimes, questioning.
“Busy, Jamey. Just…busy, ya know? I’ve been in rehearsals for--”
“We’ve heard, sounds like a great part, a wonderful story, should be an amazing play. Really.” And he’s so earnest; I can’t help but smile, just a little. And so does he. “So look…look look, I’m sorry. I am. Really. I didn't want this. I--”
“This, what this is between us, between you and me right now, is just what I was trying to avoid, yeah? When I said 'no', ya know?. Losing you, which I have, is just what I was trying to avoid so--”
“You haven’t lost--”
“The fuck you say, Braedon? Of course I have. Anger keeps you from me and embarrassment keeps you from me so, we might’ve as well have fucked, yeah? Because I feel like my heart’s been broken anyway. Because what we have now is only the bad bit, the pain, or at least I know that’s how it feels to me anyway, but without the good bit, the being together. I don’t want this, Braedon. Plus, okay seriously, I keep hearing your words all running through my mind, I just keep hearing what you said to me and…and--”
“Jameson,” I lower my voice, I lean across the table coming in so close to him, “I don’t want--”
“Wait. Wait! How do I even know? Do you even still want me? Oh my god, how do I even know? Am I totally like embarrassing myself?”
“You aren’t. Listen to me, Jamey, you aren’t, okay? Please, understand me; I don’t want you giving yourself to me just because--”
“I’ve been thinking, I really have and I shouldn’t’ve said 'no'. I shouldn’t’ve. I should not have said 'no'. Knee-jerk reaction. So, how can I make this right?” Then, coming in even closer, he sighs against my cheek, “Braedon? Braedon, you still want to fuck me? Hummm? Do you?”
Throwing money on the table, I grab my book and his hand and nearly run us to my apartment which is, thank god!!! only halfway down the block. All I want is to get him home and into my bed. All I want is to make sure he knows he hasn’t made a mistake in trusting me. That what’s happened in his past isn’t what has to happen in his future, and that some of us, the rare few of us like me, really are better than that.