“Nervous?” he rumbled from the doorway.
“Yes and no,” I sighed as I fiddled with the buttons on my shirt. Leave them open or button them up?
“Looks more like yes to me.”
“He's not going to hurt you, you know.”
“No, not on purpose. But it's Alec so embarrassment is still on the table.” I sighed and pulled the shirt off.
“Yeah, no argument there. Of course you'll only be embarrassed by proxy, since he'll be the one with egg on his face.”
“No, not Alec. He'll tease me and leave us both looking like idiots.” I glanced at Bobby. A rueful smile crossed my face, “He excels at it.”
“Come on, he's grown up a lot the past few months; little credit.” He shifted from one side of the door frame to the other resembling a moving mountain.
“I know, he's your golden boy. You converted him and he's an all-star now.” I frowned as I flipped through the shirts in my closet.
“Hey, you're dating the guy, I'm just saying he's not the same smart ass you made out with on the first date.”
I put my palm on my forehead. “It was a kiss, Bobby.”
“You had your shirt off,” he reminded me while examining his fingernails.
“I spilled – you know what? You're as bad as he is!” I fumed while grabbing a light-blue button up from my closet and savagely pulling it on.
“Seems like you're the one's got it bad.”
“Yeah,” I sighed and tried to straighten my shirt, “Maybe I do.”
“I don't know.” I glanced out the window into the gloom, my reflection mirroring my confusion. “I think it's too soon to think love, right?”
“Don't believe in love at first sight?” Bobby shifted feet and the floorboards squeaked. He shifted his feet quickly a few more times, just to force the small noise.
“No, that's stupid. Love is something that takes time,” I replied.
“Been what, three months?” I glanced at him as he drew his brows together in thought. “End of August you met and now it's December, so – how long does it take, genius?”
“I don't know!” I snapped. “Just one day he wasn't there and the next day and ever since he's all I think about. I mean – and don't you repeat this, Bobby – but I feel like I've been high since I first went out with him. I haven't sobered up.” I shrugged and looked back at the empty window. “I wonder sometimes if I fell down a K-hole or something.”
“He's a little twisted, but harmless,” Bobby chuckled. “If Alec were a drug I think he'd be something over-the-counter with a possible side effect of nausea.”
“I haven't felt this good in a relationship in...well, ever.”
“So what's the problem?”
“The problem? How about problems?” I held my hand up and began to tick off the reasons. “He's meeting the dads tonight – that alone makes me want to tape his mouth shut.”
“Understandable, but still I don't see him going overboard. He'll probably be on his best behavior.” Bobby's eyes wandered to the ceiling in an obvious attempt to appear innocent.
“Bobby, please say you didn't threaten my boyfriend again?” I narrowed my eyes in frustration.
“Okay, I won't say it.”
“Bobby!” I growled.
“Okay, okay I didn't threaten him.” he held his hands up and chuckled, “But he has to know this is a big deal for you. I'm sure he knows that meeting his boyfriends parents for the first time is important.”
“Yeah...but.” I slumped my shoulders a bit and looked away from my brother who merely reached out and touched my shoulder, conveying both reassurance and the unasked question.
“I'm so busy enjoying him, what the hell does he see in me?” I finally admitted.
“Well, it ain't your tits.” Bobby grinned and I smiled at his lame humor. “Sash, I'm sure he's got all the normal reasons for liking someone. He thinks you're hot, right?”
“If this is going to be love, it has to be more than that.” I bit my lower lip, “I mean, I love his smart-ass humor, I do. His quick mind is a major draw for me but his humor a close second.”
“Don't all you gay guys dig asses or something?” Bobby continued to grin, enjoying needling me. Fair game I guess - I'd done it to him before.
“He's got a great ass, in my opinion. He's also nicely built, but not like...well...you.” I grinned before continuing, “He'd never get guessed as a football jock on the street. But then there he is walking along with me with my long hair and my camera...”
“Sounds like you know who you need to ask.”
“Yeah, such an easy question. 'Alec, can you just tell me why you bother dating me?' I mean, sure, easy as pie right?” I ran my fingers through my hair. “I'd look like some lovesick little – oh Christ this is stupid!”
“You're not helping!” I leveled a finger at him.
“What is the real problem here? You afraid to say you love him in case he don't love you back? Is that it?”
“Of course that's it!” I snapped and then inhaled in surprise. “Yeah, I guess that's it.”
“That's stupid,” Bobby said and shrugged. “I dunno if it's love, but he's got it bad for you, too. You guys can't be bumping uglies twenty-four seven so he must see something else in you.” He grinned, then added, “So to speak.”
I rolled my eyes and flipped him off. “I'm not that easy.”
“Um, first date, shirt off - remember?”
“Look, all I'm saying is nobody calls and texts as much as he does if he doesn't like you. He's coming to meet your folks and – hey I'm not going to stand here and tell you anyone can see he's into you because of how he looks at you and whatever; but if he's not falling hard then he's a great fucking actor.”
“He is a great actor!” I burst out laughing, “Haven't you seen the shit he gets away with?”
“Sasha, bro -” He put his huge hands on my shoulders and shook me until my teeth rattled and I began hitting him to make him stop. “You always catch him out, you always know when he's up to shit. What's that big brain of yours tell you?”
“I don't know if I can trust it,” I said quietly. “And that scares me a bit.”
“Look, it's high school. You might love each other and last, you might love each other and not. Maybe you'll just knock boots and part enjoying the hazy lust you guys seem to live in. Point is, if you don't get your head in the game you won't have time to enjoy any of it.”
Bobby turned and left the room and I sighed. Glancing at the mirror I adjusted the shirt once more and headed down the hall and into the dining room where my dads were setting the table. For a lot of people.
“Uh. Dad? We expecting a caravan to pass through and stay for dinner?”
“Oh, your father didn't mention?” said my other parent, emerging from the kitchen with an enormous bowl of salad.
“It just kind of happened!” said the first, hands held out and pleading to my other dad. “The weather was bad for Christmas so they suddenly decided on New Years...just bad luck I guess.”
“But...tonight? Alec is coming!” I ran my hands through my hair, “This isn't happening, this isn't happening.”
“So is April. Alec won't have the complete focus of your grandparents.”
“Which set is coming?” I asked. I could try to mitigate the situation based on which pair we'd be entertaining – they were very different. My chagrined father waved the plate in his hand, set it down and invited me to count the chairs with a sweep of his hand.
“Both? Both sets? Are you freaking kidding me?”
“Sasha, what's the big deal?” came the absent parent's voice from the kitchen, who then emerged through the doorway with an armload of salad dressings.
“This is the first time you guys have met Alec,” Bobby rumbled. Was he smirking? That evil...he was!
“Sasha, is there something we need to know?” The dressing containers tumbled to the table as my father looked at me with concern.
“Uh. Oh. Oh no, this is a disaster...” I mumbled.
“Look, if it will make you feel better,” my dad said as he engulfed me in a hug, “I'll leave the shotgun in the closet tonight.”
“You don't understand,” I groaned into his shoulder. The doorbell went off and Bobby headed to the door. I hoped that Alec was either early so I could prep him, or had got sick and would miss out entirely on this travesty in the making. Alas: it was April.
A duet of greetings from the parents welcomed her. She was all smiles as she gave Bobby a peck and hugged my dads. She approached me with her usual winning smile. “Sasha, looking good! I'm so looking forward to meeting your guy!”
“That makes one of us,” I mumbled.
“Aww, he's nervous. Don't worry, I guarantee your boy is way more nervous than you are.” She smiled and headed over to help with the table setting. I sneered mentally; she didn't know Alec very well, did she? My phone vibrated and I snatched it from my pocket. Please, please Alec...be sick.
I think I'm being followed. Guy looks like Mr. Magoo.
Oh no. I replied quickly, Stop texting and driving!
I'm serious. I'm going around the block.
Car doors closed outside and I went to the door while the parents and April engaged in pleasant conversation with Bobby looking on benignly. As if my life weren't about to become a storm of embarrassment. My father's parents were making their way up the walkway, Grandma holding Grandpa's arm while he tapped along with his cane. And his bowler hat. And his enormous, round glasses. Oh no, Magoo, you've done it again.
“Sasha! You better call the police!” My grandfather raised his cane for a brief moment in defiant emphasis before resuming his approach. “Some fuckwit in a car held together by rust spots is driving around here like a goddamn fool!”
“Herb! Language!” my grandmother scolded.
“Oh! Shit, sorry.” My grandfather covered his mouth briefly and then paused before asking me, “Did you put enough fucking lights on the house? Gave the electric company a gift for the holidays, huh?” Then they were hugging me and passing inside.
I whipped out my phone. Park next door!
I took my grandparents coats while they eagerly made conversation with everyone else. I stood by the window, counting the last minutes before Alec arrived and the circus began. Alec's little car pulled up across the street, but my thoughts of rushing out to warn him, and maybe beg him to go home with sudden flu-like symptoms were dashed as a long, older Cadillac pulled up. My second set of grandparents had arrived. They climbed out and made their way towards the front of the house, but my grandfather periodically stopped and looked back over his shoulder. I greeted them, smiling and trying not to let it show that I felt sick with worry about the evening.
“Sasha, there's a very strange person across the street,” my grandmother Buchanan said calmly. “He is opening and closing the door of his car, but not getting out.”
“Pretty lights,” my grandpa commented.
“I'll see what's going on, Grandma,” I smiled. Bobby took their coats and I stepped out onto the porch. New snow had just begun drifting down, swirling in small eddies on the sidewalk and generally making the neighborhood look like a winter postcard. Then, of course, there was Alec's car. The dome light came on and then went out accompanied by the sound of a rusted door closing and twanging as the outer shell reverberated against the frame. The car coughed to life, then died. I frowned.
I walked to the sidewalk and saw Alec clearly, his head on the steering wheel, shaking from side to side. He then began hitting his head against the wheel until the horn gave a weak bleat. I covered my mouth out of instinct to hide the smile. He was rubbing his forehead and I felt a giggle bubble up in my throat, and with a smile on my face I stepped off the curb. I walked around to the passenger side because the driver's door handle was so rusted that if you pulled up, it stayed there. The passenger side opened door with a groan and I slipped into the car and sat down.
“Oh, hi! I was...”
“Trying to figure out if you should fake being sick?”
“No! No,” he shook his head, “I was thinking if I drove around with the windows down that the cold air might actually make me sick. No sir, no lying about the sick thing.”
I laughed. “You may as well come in, my grandpa Wilson already called you a fuckwit and he hasn't formally met you!”
“Why do people make snap judgments about me?” he whined. “You know, I think people's brains go into some weird zone when they're behind the wheel where they make these sudden decisions about people's characters. And wits. If my wits are fucking and I'm not? Something wrong with that.”
“And just who might you be fucking?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No one,” he smiled, “Except my hand.” He followed this up by dropping his hand on my lap. “Oh, look, my hand is bored with me.”
I picked up his hand and held it between my own. “Alec...wait.” I felt his hand and glanced up at him with wide eyes, “Alec, is your hand sweaty?” I glanced up and my eyes opened wide. “Are you – ? Alec Kutsenko, are you nervous?”
“No, I pissed on my hand on the way over – of course I'm nervous!” Alec rolled his eyes.
“Oh come on, I do get nervous you know.” He gave me an embarrassed smile and I grinned at him.
“Could have fooled me, you being an ice-water-in-your-veins kind of guy.” I let my thumb glide over his knuckles and his smile flickered.
“What if they don't like me, Sasha? What if they – I don't know – don't want me to see you anymore or something?”
“Would you let something like my parents stand in your way?” I whispered, a smile playing at the corners of my mouth.
“Of course not!” he said with his typical false bravado. “I mean, of course they'll love me, who doesn't? But still...” He glanced down and when his eyes met mine they were more troubled than I thought possible for Alec.
“What is it?” I asked softly.
“I just -” He squeezed my hand and then brought it to his face. Holding the back of it to his cheek while avoiding my eyes, he said, “Your parents have to be so proud of you. Honor roll, colleges sending you love letters and you're into all these artistic kinds of things...” He brought his eyes up slowly to meet mine. “Why the hell do you hang around with me?”
“What?” I asked with a stunned expression, my hand involuntarily pulling back.
“I mean it. Your parents will take one look at me and realize I'm a dead end for you, and then what?” He licked his lips while I listened in sick fascination. “Look, they can ask me what I think of you and I can honestly tell them you're smart and funny, compassionate and a great listener, as well as being able to hold a conversation. Hell,” he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, “I'd have no problem telling your dads how sexy you are. How sweet your smile is and how I'm in no rush just so I can enjoy every second with you. But then what? What can I possibly give you? What can you see in me?”
“This is surreal,” I said with a smile spreading across my face.
“What? That I'm being serious here? What?” He began to shift his body around and turn more towards me, his nerves clearly showing.
“You. You're surreal. The idea that you could ever have a crisis in confidence is surreal. How you make me feel, how confused you make me when you're not here and then when you are here – everything makes sense again.” I smiled and leaned into him, kissing him slowly until I felt his slight tremors stop. Leaning back just enough to see his eyes, I stared into their depths.
“Alec, I love you.”
“I knew it! You...wait, what did you say?” His mouth finally stopped moving and sort of just...twitched. I put a hand on the side of his face and smiled, and realized I was completely relaxed and that I finally had the answers.
“I said 'I love you'. I love your mind and your sense of humor. I love how we both seem to be on the same wavelength, even if we don't say what we need to until we're convinced we can't hold it in one more second...” I kissed him again and then put my head on his shoulder while I held him. “I love your determination, I love how you stand up to people for what's right. I love that you fought for me without knowing me or even if you'd like me. I love the way you look.” I leaned back and looked into his eyes again.
“I love your mischievous smile and your totally in-shape body. I love you, all of you.”
“I...” Alec stared at me and, for the briefest of moments, I feared I had stepped too far, too fast. But that was squelched immediately because it was all true – and the truth should be out there for him and anyone else who cared to see.
“Have I rendered you speechless?” I smirked, finally, finally, secure with myself. “I didn't think that was possible to do.”
“I -” He smirked and shook his head. “I've been wanting to tell you how much I love you for about a month but I wasn't sure if I should. I wasn't sure if that was what you felt and I didn't want to pressure you to, you know, say it back out of reflex or something.”
“I guess I can add 'considerate' to the list of things I love about you then?” I brushed my fingers along the side of his face.
“You can add that I love you back.”
I smiled widely and shrugged. “I know. It's something else I love about you.”
“So, how come Magoo's car is in front of your house?”
I giggled. “My grandparents decided to come tonight since they couldn't on Christmas, what with the weather we had.”
“You're related to that guy? He was scary, looked like a member of the near-sighted mafia.”
“The near...” I burst out laughing and then pushed my door open with a squeal. “Come on, smart Alec.”
We walked across the street through the lightly drifting snow, hand in hand despite the cold. “Jesus, your dads went the full Griswold, didn't they? Should I tell your dad the twinkling ones aren't twinkling?”
“I don't think he'd get your silly movie references.”
“More importantly, you do.” He smiled at me and then a sly look passed across his face. “Just so you know, I have a plan B.”
“And that would be?”
“There's a milk crate in my trunk. If they don't like me, I can use it to reach your window.”
“Assuming the trunk hasn't rusted shut by then.”
“The...uh...it rusted so bad the lock for it fell out when I pushed the key into it last week...you know...when I put the milk crate in there.” He smiled. “On the bright side, that won't stop me from getting to the milk crate.”
We crossed the porch and I held the door for him as we stepped into the house proper. Heads swiveled and I turned Alec towards me with a touch on his arm. Taking his coat, and seeing him in the light of the house, I realized how nice he looked. But more than that – hair well-styled and grown out since football was over, shaved, all that – he was wearing a very nice dark suit complete with collar and tie. He wore shiny, black shoes and I smiled as I turned to put his coat in the closet. He'd been so concerned he'd dressed like he was interviewing for Harvard.
I took his hand and moved towards the crowd. “Dads, Grandparents and April, this is my boyfriend, Alec Kutsenko.”
“Oh my god, you're so cute!” April gushed, and gave him a hug.
“Oh, thanks,” Alec murmured.
“Thirteen,” Bobby nodded.
“Bobby,” Alec replied.
“Sasha was right, he's adorable. Where's my shotgun again?” Dad stage whispered.
Alec made his way to each set of my grandparents and shook hands and allowed himself to be pecked on the cheek. My dads both hugged him and invited everyone to sit down.
“So April,” Grandpa Magoo – uh – Wilson - said as he swirled his glass of scotch, “Has Robert been treating you properly? Like a gentleman?”
“Yes, sir, he's actually quite a gentleman – believe it or not!” she giggled and touched Bobby's arm.
“Robert, how long have you been seeing this young lady, now? What are your intentions?”
“Dad! They are high school seniors and this isn't 1940!” Dad said and turned to April. “I'm sorry for my father. He means well.”
“Of course I mean well, why should you have to say that?” he replied indignantly.
“Because your question has implications, dear!” his wife replied, patting his arm.
“Oh, don't worry!” April bubbled, “We both had sex ed and always use protection!”
An uncomfortable silence descended on the table, with the exception of April who seemed to realize something was amiss, but couldn't put her finger on what, exactly.
“So, Alec, tell me about yourself.” My father handed the salad bowl to Grandpa Buchanan and hoped that Alec would help get us past the awkward moment.
“Uh, I had sex ed too and...Ow!” He cried out as I kicked him under the table. Bobby smiled widely.
“I knew it.” He rumbled.
“You know nothing.” I growled at him.
“What I was going to say...” Alec shot me a withering glance, “is that Sasha and I have been spending a lot of time together to see how we fit. What April mentioned is a big step and we want to make sure, before we get to that point, that we know how it will work for us.”
“You get lube,” Bobby threw a hand in the air, “Why am I telling you? Dads, the gay son needs sex advice – or his boyfriend does.”
“Robert, keep a civil tongue in your head!” Grandpa Magoo burst out.
“Oh, my God.” I whispered as I lowered my head into my hands.
“You know, having been adopted myself, I've always felt especially connected to my grandsons,” grandpa Buchanan offered. “I remember April, but now tell me – Alec, was it? - How did you meet our Sasha?”
“Well, sir, I met him at the beginning of football season. He's a photographer for the school and he was taking pictures of the team.”
“For the school paper, isn't that right?” Grandma Buchanan chimed in.
“Yes, Grandma.” I said quietly.
“So was he taking your picture more than the others? Is that how you knew?” Gram pushed.
“No, I wasn't that obvious, Gram,” I protested.
“Actually, we bonded over poetry.” Alec said with a grin. Bobby snorted food through his nose and Grandpa Wilson looked completely confused.
“I'm sure it's nothing I could imagine, dear. Was it romantic?” Grandma Wilson asked.
“It was Blake. He helped me with his poems; I was having a hard time understanding them.” Alec gave me a twitch of a smile. “He actually likes poetry.”
“I was hoping football would have brought you together. Not something as...well, not poetry.” Grandpa Wilson said.
“Dad...” My dad gave his father a warning glance.
“Now don't get me wrong. Things like that weren't done in my day. I'm not saying that was right, and I realize some things I say don't really carry my true intentions. I meant no harm, just that, well, if two boys liked each other I'd think football, a boy thing, would bring them together.” Grandpa Magoo lifted his scotch and the table was quiet. Until Bobby's voice rumbled.
“There was a kid on the team. He was saying things to Sasha, bullying him. He and a couple other guys beat the crap out of Alec for standing up to them.” Bobby hunkered forward across from his grandfather. “The way I said it isn't poetic, but what you should know is Alec actually bled to get the chance to see if he could date Sasha.”
“What?” Both dads turned to look at Alec, who now squirmed.
“It's true,” I said taking his hand under the table. “Some of those guys hurt him badly, and he knew they would for standing up to them. He did it anyway.”
“He's stubborn like that,” Bobby agreed.
“Theirs but to do and die; into the valley of Death, rode the six hundred.” Grandpa Buchanan said quietly.
“What's that, Dad?” my father asked.
“It's a quote, son. Poetry. It's called 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It came to mind, hearing about someone facing certain death – well, pain – and yet going on as if they had no choice. Not really apt, I suppose.” He reached for his glass while his wife chimed in.
“That makes it more striking, because he did have a choice. Didn't you, dear?”
“No, ma'am.” Alec replied soberly. “There was no choice. If I hadn't done what I did, Sasha might have kicked me in the shins and that hurts more than they ever did.”
I colored and shot him an apologetic look.
“So, then, Alec. Is Sasha a gentleman with you?” Grandpa Wilson asked. The table groaned in response and he looked about in bewilderment.
“He is, sir, a complete gentleman. He always holds doors for me, brings me fresh flowers -” Alec paused, perhaps noticing that my hands were over my face again. His fingers pulled at my own, drawing a hand down and into his grip. “The truth is, he's always a gentleman in every way. He's considerate, gentle and the kindest person I know.”
I hate how he makes me blush in embarrassment, and then does it again for opposite reasons. I gripped his hand.
“Sasha, what are your intentions with this young man? Or can I ask that?” Grandpa stared the table down while my dads shook their heads in surrender. I glanced at Alec, full of himself for having made me blush. Alec could deal with quick barbs, even the occasional kick under the table but I knew one way to shut him up.
“Well, Grandpa, it's like this. I love him.” The dads and Grandma Buchanan smiled. “He makes me happy, and sometimes I wonder what I'm doing when he's not around but – almost like magic – I feel better and more confident when he's with me.
“So my intentions are to love him as well as I can, and to enjoy this as much as I can for as long as I can.” I glanced at Alec and gave him my best devilish smile, “Alec, are you feeling all right? Your face is splotchy.”
“Probably not the first time.” Bobby muttered.
“That's a fine answer, Sasha, a fine answer!” Grandma Wilson beamed. “Stan, how about some more of this wine?”
The table settled into noises of cutlery on plates, items requested and passed and intermittent conversation. Dad was just starting to ask for help to clear the plates when my father's cell phone chimed. I stood and collected some plates and empty serving bowls to bring to the kitchen. Alec attempted to help but I pressed him back down into his seat. Dad called out he was putting coffee on and my father called out to get everyone's attention.
“I know we kind of put this together because the weather was so bad last week. We'd love to ring in the new year with you, but I just got the weather alert on my phone that the winds have shifted and we're expected to get a ton of snow.”
April moved to the front windows and pulled the drape aside to reveal fat flakes drifting down, the yard covering itself with a winter blanket. Immediately the grandparents swung into action with hats, coats, scarves and mittens. I pulled Alec aside and whispered in his ear, “I don't think your car will start, will it?”
“Sure, the only thing in it with no rust is the battery.” Alec assured me.
“Thick-headed boyfriend,” I muttered as we stepped out on the porch with my departing grandparents. The Buchanans hugged and smiled before heading down to their car. I escorted my grandma, since she wasn't embarrassed to have a hand. I stayed close enough that Grandpa could grab me or vice versa if he slipped. Once done I headed back for the other set, only to find Alec walking my grandma.
“Grandpa,” I said as I fell in beside him, “did you get that claw for the end of your cane from the VA? For gripping the ice and snow?”
“Said it was in the mail. Probably has to come from the damn Chinese anyway.” Alec came around the car to where I was as my grandfather tossed his cane in the back seat. Turning to say goodnight he spotted Alec's shitmobile.
“Whoa, hold your horses! Don't you go falling in love with her, she's all mine.”
“You...” His eyes narrowed behind the huge lenses. “Fuckwit,” he sniffed.
“Magoo,” Alec smiled and inclined his head.
The door slammed and we went back to the curb, Alec cheekily waving goodbye. As the taillights disappeared at the end of the block, Alec turned to me. “They hated me, didn't they? I couldn't stop myself.”
“You had your moments.” I conceded, “But I think it went all right.”
“Did I embarrass you?”
“Of course you did!” I laughed and covered his surprised mouth with mine.
“Well, I guess I better...no, one more.” He kissed me deeply, crushing me to him and then pulled away, breathing hard. I wasn't sure I was still breathing. He backed across the street to his car, watching me and ginning like a fool. Oh well, I guess if he was going to get home, it was now or never. I turned and went inside, passing Bobby and April as they left to take her home.
“Do you think his piece of shit will make it home?” Bobby asked as he narrowed his eyes at the falling slow.
“I suggested his car wouldn't start,” I shrugged as Alec's car turned over and caught, something underneath rattling hollowly.
“Sometimes he's still a nub,” Bobby rumbled and stepped off the porch with April in tow.
“Bye, Sasha,” she said and waved. I waved back. Alec's car gunned and groaned forward a bit, tires spinning, and I shook my head and went inside.
I shivered as I crossed through the living room and dining room, entered the kitchen and snagged a cup of coffee to warm up with.
“Alec is quite the catch, sweetheart. Just adorable,” my dad said, sipping from his cup. My father came in gave my dad a quick peck before moving to me for a hug.
“I agree - that boy is nuts for you.” He leaned back, holding me by the upper arms, “He obviously respects you and cares a lot. I approve.” He messed my hair.
“Thanks. I just told him tonight, you know...”
“Aww. Did he say it back?”
I related the conversation from the car, a tightening in my chest as I swelled with emotion. My dads were very happy for me, but we were all a little startled as there came a knock at the front door. We three walked out of the kitchen, my father reaching the front door and admitting a shivering Alec.
“Oh, hi Mr. Buchanan. Uh, my car won't start.”
“Oh, well, why don't you come in and call your folks? I'm sure you can hole up here tonight – the weather will only get worse. Hang up your coat and put your shoes near the radiator.”
“Thanks,” Alec said as my dads settled in the living room and turned on the TV. Alec toed off his dress shoes and walked over to me, water droplets on his face from the melting snow.
I took his winter coat and dress jacket from him and put them in the hall closet. I turned and Alec had his phone pressed to his ear, nodding. He walked over to my dads and let them know that his mom wanted to speak to one of them. I watched Alec, who was unaware I was observing him, and took in how naturally he fit in this house. The pants showed his butt off well but were a tad short and his dress socks were very thin and wet. His shirt was loose and revealed nothing of his body underneath.
Dad handed the phone back and Alec returned to me, a smile on his face. “Snow plow went by. I was almost on the street when Bobby told me why my car didn't start. I felt so stupid!”
“Let's get you into something warmer.” I tugged on his tie and he followed me down the hall to my room. He stopped, looking around at my stuff and I went to my dresser to find him sweats. He started to loosen his tie and I held a finger out. “Stop.” He stopped.
I dropped the sweats on the bed and walked to the door, nudging it so that it wasn't quite closed. One of Bobby's tricks. I turned and took an appraising look at Alec, eyeing him up and down. He struck a silly pose, tossing his tie over his shoulder like some half assed model and I, of course, laughed at him. I stepped forward as he pulled on his tie again and I slapped his hand lightly away. I took the tie in my hand and pulled him into a kiss, and used the tie to keep him close and extend the kiss. His arms slid around me and pulled me closer as his tongue parted my lips. His breathing was quick and shallow, or was that mine?
I slowly broke the kiss, both of us darting in for quick snatches, lingering tastes. His eyes sparkled and his lips were puffed from the force of our encounter. I smiled at him, and slowly undid his tie.
“You looked very handsome in your suit.”
“Oh? I was going for irresistible.”
“For that, you need my help.”
“I do?” The ends of his mouth curled up.
“Yeah. Let me help.” I finished undoing his tie and laid it across the back of my chair. I reached out and undid each button on his shirt; he watched me with amusement and a look that was undeniably lust. I felt a smile forming on my lips and then I tugged his shirt quickly, pulling the front up and out of his pants. I smiled more fully and finished with the buttons, then pushed the shirt back from his shoulders.
“I can't get my hands through, the cuffs are still buttoned.”
“I know,” I replied as I placed a hand on his chest and another in the hair behind his head, pulling him into me for another kiss. Only, kiss doesn't seem to do it justice and making out sounds too childish. It was a caress, a touch that made my heart shake with emotion. I pushed harder and opened my mouth, pushing into him and then pulling him to me. His labored breathing, his pulse hammering through the feel of his tongue entwined with mine... I broke the kiss, tilting my forehead to his. The hand behind his head had drifted down, using the shirt to keep his hands to his sides, but now pressed at the small of his back. My other hand pressed across his chest, gliding across the soft cloth of his undershirt.
“A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth, and love, and beauty,” I said to him breathily, staring into his eyes. “All concentrating like rays into one focus. Kindled from above.” A quick kiss for punctuation. “Such kisses as belong to early days, Where heart, and soul, and sense in concert move. And the blood's lava,” I kissed him again, my hand moving to cover his pounding heart. “And the pulse ablaze.”
I placed my lips over his to quiet him, and then stared deeply into his eyes. “Each kiss a heart-quake – for a kiss's strength, I think, must be reckoned by its length.” I pressed on his lower back and slid my arm up his chest and behind his head again, pulling him softly into a kiss, a brush of our lips, that by steady advances became closer and more fervent. I pulled his lower lip between my teeth, and then pushed full force on him again and again until we were breathless – and even then, I kissed him once more.
My head on his shoulder, his breath heavy in my ear, he whispered, “What was that?”
“Lord Byron,” I panted. He giggled and I belatedly realized he must have been talking about my lips attacking his. He leaned steadily on me, the heat of his chest burning through my sweater. He nuzzled his face to mine, and turned his lips to my ear and whispered.
“The slowest kiss makes too much haste.”
I leaned back, a smile on my face. “And where did you hear that?”
“I was looking things up. Kisses with you, no matter how long, are always over before I want them to be. Seemed like a good quote.” He smiled, “You didn't think I read that in a book, did you?”
“Too much to hope for, I guess,” I sighed dramatically.
“I mean it though,” he said softly. I pulled his left arm forward and undid the cuff, then the right and laid his shirt on the chair with his tie. I glanced at him and placed a finger on my chin.
“What?” He glanced down and then back at me.
“Well, you'd be uncomfortable with a sweatshirt over a shirt and tie. I'm trying to come up with a good excuse to get your shirt off.”
As if it were on fire, he pulled the tee over his head and threw it on the chair. I quirked an eyebrow at him, “If I'd have known it was that easy...”
“Don't think I'm weird,” Alec said and, as my eyebrow climbed higher, rushed to add, “weirder. But when you had my arms pinned, sort of? When you were kind of, you know, in charge? I liked that.”
“Really.” I said, drawing the word out. I reached out and pulled on his belt, his body moving to keep balance while I tugged the buckle open, and then set my eyes on his as I unbuttoned his pants. He swallowed. I may have too. Sliding the zipper down, I moved my hands to his hips and pressed out before letting his pants drop. This wasn't new territory, exactly, as I had seen him down to his underwear the first time we went on a date. But the context, oh the context, was completely different this time. I pushed him in the center of his chest, so that he fell back on the edge of the bed and then I kneeled, lightly tracing his thigh as I drew the slacks down and off one leg and then the other.
He shivered, and I think I did too. I pushed one sock down his calf, using two hands to engulf his leg while locking my eyes to his. Tossing it aside I pushed my fingers down his other calf, starting at the knee, and traced his skin all the way to his toes. He laid back with his elbows supporting him on the bed, his body open to me. It's funny, the things you notice. The high, delicate arch of his foot, something I might think of in connection with a nimble dancer but not a football player. The texture of his skin under the sparse leg hair. The tremor of his inner thigh, almost as if my eyes were like fingers, gently touching his skin. His stomach - not ripped but simply flat - now buckled as he leaned forward. I placed my hands on his thighs, feeling his warm, firm muscles and his jump at the intimacy of my touch. I leaned forward to kiss again...
“Oh, shit! My dads!” I stood quickly and Alec grabbed the sweats and pulled them on with all the fervor the situation called for. I pulled warm socks from my dresser while I called out, “In my room!” and tossed them to Alec. He quickly began pulling them on, just as my father nudged the door open.
“Oh, good, I thought that suit was a little light. Listen, door open, okay? And grab a candle, the power is going out around town so you want to be prepared.”
“Okay, no problem.”
“Alec, you look splotchy again. Feeling all right?” my father smiled. Crap! Busted!
“Uh, yes. Sir.” Alec looked down and busied himself with putting the second sock on.
“Come on, Sash, let's get a candle set up for you just in case.”
“Okay, Dad.” Oh, here it comes. I am so screwed!
I followed him into the kitchen and he pulled down a box of candles just as the lights flickered and went out.
“Almost,” he muttered. Working by the dim light coming in from the window over the sink, he used the long-nosed lighter we kept for the grill to light a candle. He then placed it into a special holder with a built-in bowl. Lighting another candle, he repeated the process as my dad came into the room.
“Went out while I was on the toilet. No time for a courtesy flush,” he grumbled.
“Well, no watching the ball drop. April's mom called; they are putting Bobby up in the spare room – like we didn't see that coming.”
“How long do you think it will take April to change rooms?” Dad asked as he turned the coffee pot off. He liked to shut things off after power losses.
“About as fast as it would take Sash.”
“So...” my father leaned back against the sink. “Sasha...you know we trust you.”
“We should play Monopoly by candle light, wouldn't that be fun?” Dad said with a smirk. This was worse than I thought, they were enjoying this! “So, did you get a glimpse of their intentions before calling his name?”
“Oh yeah, like there was any real question. He was even quoting poetry.”
“Sounds serious,” my father pushed away from the sink and put a hand to my face. “Sash, like I said, we trust you. I'm not going to ask you to sleep in separate rooms, it's not really going to fool anyone. Just, please, remember what we've always said. Be careful, and respect yourself.”
“This is so embarrassing.”
“Emb...you think this is embarrassing for you? How do you think we feel?” My dad laughed. “I look at you, Sash, and see the baby we brought home from halfway around the world. Now, you're old enough to become a man of the world. In fact, I'm going to bed knowing my baby is downstairs and that – no matter what I do...” he shook his head.
“No more embarrassing than having your dads on the second floor while having the downstairs bedroom. Just so you know, your bed moves across the floor in time with the mattress squeaks!” I said quietly. Didn't want Alec to overhear.
“Point taken. I put an extra blanket on the table, take it with you. Goodnight, Sash.” They both gave me quick hugs and I pulled the blanket off the dining room table to take with me. The candle lit the way, throwing odd shadows and changing the entire feel of the house which was filled with the silence that only happens when the electric world is gone. No hums from clocks or coffee pot ticking. Just silence as I made my way back to my room, setting the candle on the dresser and then the blanket at the end of the bed.
“Were we busted?” Alec asked.
“Oh yeah.” I closed the door quietly. Alec stood and I moved to open the blanket. As I did, my mind was filled with images of Alec by flickering candlelight – and this time, I would see all of him. I opened the blanket as Alec came up behind me. Glancing down I saw a handful of condoms and a bottle of lube.
“Are we in trouble?”
“I think we're about to have a very happy end to the old year,” I said as I lifted the items for him to see. “If we play our cards right, and don't rush, it could be a pretty happy new year too.”
“This time,” Alec said as he turned me by the shoulders to face him. “I get to undress you.”