DAMIAN GARZA typed the last letters of the e-mail, then settled his hand on the mouse. The arrow hovered over the Send button. Damian hesitated, then slid it over toward the Delete button, but he didn’t click that one either.
He couldn’t make such a request of Alex. Could he?
He pictured Alex’s hazel eyes twinkling with humor and trust. He thought of the way the sun streaked Alex’s caramel-brown hair with gold threads. He imagined Alex’s lean, bare chest warm against his own, their legs and arms tangling, their naked skin rubbing together with tantalizing friction….
Damian swallowed. Yes. He had to experience that, if Alex was willing. They only had a few months of college left, then life was sure to separate them even farther than it already had. If Damian was ever going to ask, it had to be now.
He navigated the arrow back to Send and clicked it. With a sharp breath, he pushed his chair back from the desk.
The request was made. God help him.
ALEX MURPHY leaned against the wall in the corridor of the Engineering building at UC Santa Cruz, stifling a yawn. Professor Whalen was late as usual, her office door locked. Tired of reading the same campus movie posters and housing ads over and over on the bulletin board, Alex considered walking away and e-mailing the professor the latest draft of his programming project so she could review it later. It was past noon, and his mouth watered for one of the mesquite turkey sandwiches they sold in the Memorial Union’s deli.
He’d give her five more minutes. Might as well check messages while he waited. Sliding his pack to the floor, he retrieved his phone from the side pouch and opened the e-mail application.
His mood improved upon glimpsing a new message from Damian, the subject line merely the word “Question.” His buddy attended Fresno State, a three hour drive away from Santa Cruz, and they didn’t see each other as often as Alex would have liked.
Alex opened the message.
This is a crazy request, Damian had typed, not even bothering to start with Hi Alex. As Alex kept reading, his heartbeat accelerated, thundering in his ears like the Pacific surf.
I’m bi. I’m basically certain about this. I’m sorry I never said anything before, but hopefully you can understand how hard it was for me to face.
I’ve never done anything with a guy, not even a kiss. I really want to—kissing and more. And I want it to be you, because I trust you, and you’re cute (weird to hear me say that, huh?), and at least I know you’re gay.
We’ll be done with college soon, and this is when I’m supposed to try these things. I feel like my time’s running out. Is there any chance you’re interested in hooking up for a weekend, no strings attached, just for fun and to give me some experience?
I told you it was crazy. It’s okay if you’re not interested. No hard feelings. But I’ll drive over and see you anytime if you do want to.
Let me know. Thanks, man.
“Holy shit,” Alex whispered.
As he tried to catch his breath and reason out whether hooking up with Damian would actually be smart, his body was already sprinting toward accepting. A few flashed fantasies—tangling his hands into Damian’s dark hair, drawing Damian’s tongue into his mouth, watching him arch and gasp in orgasm—were enough to send heat rushing to Alex’s groin.
No, no, no, he couldn’t get distracted like this. He had to think carefully. Alex was super busy this term; he had projects to finish before he could graduate and find a job. And, given the student loans he needed to pay off, he’d better get himself fully employed soon . Plus, ideally his new job would be somewhere more exciting than the few sleepy areas of California in which he’d spent nearly his whole existence so far. His life had been irritatingly lacking in excitement lately—but then, fooling around with Damian would be exciting… oh, hell.
“Hi, Alex. Sorry I’m late.”
Clutching the phone against his chest to hide the message—and his backpack against his crotch to hide his erection—Alex lifted his gaze and met the round, congenial face of Professor Whalen. “Hi,” he echoed, unable to remember for the moment why he was here.
She unlocked her door. “Let’s have a look at that program. And I have some updates on the Swiss job.”
Computer science. Right. College degree, impending career—all that stuff he was supposed to be thinking about. Alex tucked the phone into his pocket, and, with his mind in a scramble and his cock aching to be touched, he followed the professor into her office.
SITTING at his kitchen counter, Damian tried to read the assigned chapter of his organic agriculture text, but failed to grasp a word. He closed the book and moved to the corner of his living room that served as a mini-studio away from campus. Picking up a charcoal pencil, he tried to sketch a few more preliminary lines of his intended painting for an art class—his other major, besides agriculture. But his hand shook and his eyes were unable to comprehend the big picture. He chucked the pencil back onto the easel’s tray. Taking out his phone, he checked his messages again, but of course Alex hadn’t answered yet. It had only been half an hour.
Damian left his apartment to walk around the block, his phone tucked into the back pocket of his jeans. The April sunshine warmed his feet through his black canvas sneakers, bright enough to make him squint. He wished he had thought to bring sunglasses. A mild valley scent of traffic emissions and flowering citrus infused the breeze, but he couldn’t relax and enjoy the weather. His mind was obsessed with the possibility that he had just sabotaged one of his favorite friendships.
And what about his parents, back home at the orange groves in Rancho Amantes, barely two hours away? What would they think if they found out? Jesus.
Exactly, he thought. Jesus was who they’d think of. In their view, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all got sick to their stomachs at homosexual behavior. Damian loved his modest, blue-eyed mom and passionate, hard-working dad, but their lack of comprehension about modern sexual standards frustrated him. It was their fault in the first place he’d fought his bi inclinations this long.
They were paying for half his college tuition; and the post-graduation plan for Damian, understood by both himself and his parents, was that he’d return to the farm and help them out, likely for the remainder of his days. He was welcome to get married and bring his wife there to work too and raise their children, but Damian suspected there wasn’t going to be a lot of opportunity for gay sex in Rancho Amantes, even if he went looking for some.
However, he was a grown man now, and his parents never had to know what he did in bed. That was largely why he’d asked a trusted friend for this favor, not just any guy.
But what was Alex going to say?
As he crossed a busy street on the edge of campus, his phone rang, jangling him into a renewed panic. He leaped onto the sidewalk, stepped into the shade of a palm near someone’s house, and pulled out the phone.
Alex, flashed the screen.
A call. Not even an answering e-mail or text. Shit. Was that good or bad?
Damian cleared his throat and answered. “Hi.”
“Wow. Damian.” Alex sounded impressed, though possibly was only stunned. Damian couldn’t tell.
Bowing his head, Damian stuffed his hand in his pocket and turned to face the palm tree. “Yeah. Um, sorry about that. Surprise, huh?”
“Like I said, it’s fine if you’re not interested. I just had to ask. But—”
“Damian,” Alex interrupted. Now he sounded amused—Damian heard a laugh filter through the syllables. “Calm down. Take a deep breath.”
Damian obeyed, pulling in and releasing the breath audibly. “Right.”
“Now.” Alex’s voice dropped to a rich, sexy purr. “How soon can you get over here?”