In case it isn't clear, I've seen and touched naked guys before. I've done the whole 'beast with two backs' thing. I've never really seen any of those guys again, because a hook-up app is for, duh, hooking up. Not dating. I tried. You can probably point to a bunch of factors as to why there was never a second meet up – I'm probably part of the problem somewhere or sometimes, but I haven't met anyone with any kind of spark outside of the kind you get from hooking up.
Claudio hasn't even taken off his shirt and I like him. I like talking to him and hanging out, and that seems like a really good thing. So should I take him out on the beach and get naked with other people? Seems like a hard no, except for the context. We're not going out to make mad sex on the beach or even really to look at each other. It's kind of a...bonding thing. Realistically, if he agreed, we'd drop our shorts by the edge of the water before going in or even take them off in the water and throw them back on the sand. I don't know how body shy he is.
So...then it would seem like it was okay. If we were sneaking away to fuck under a pier, I might...actually say no. I mean, I think I want to. I think I know I want to. I mean...I want to. At some point. But I just don't feel like...I feel like I've done those things, and I want to do them again, but maybe I want the other things, too. The laughing and the hand-holding and the personality that makes him who he is. Maybe I want the parts that have been missing.
Jim went out first, checking to see if anyone was still hanging out at the tables or fireplaces, then heading down to the water to ensure we were going to be alone. Once confirmed, Kim headed out behind him, and they disappeared into the gloom, mere outlines in the moonlight.
“So. You going to wait for your boy, or get in the water so you can watch him strip?” Bry asked.
I raised an eyebrow at him. “Why have I never noticed how devious you are?”
“It's situational,” he said with a shrug. “If I didn't know she'd talk so much every house on the shore would know we're out there, I'd ask Shana. Big mouth, but she looks good.”
“Your summer fling?”
He shrugged and grunted. “I could hook up with a clear conscience, I guess. People do it all the time.”
I tilted my head. “But you don't like her, and you know she likes you.”
He looked up at me. “Yeah. It's the only thing. I guess it's like taking advantage. I know it's not going anywhere – even if it's only a vacation thing. I'd be being a dick to get laid with her, wouldn't I?”
I got up to answer the knock on the door, but before I did I looked back to Bry. “If she knows the score, then it's okay. If she wants you like you want her, but you both know you'll probably never get together again, then I think it's okay. It's honest. For what it's worth.”
I opened the door, and Claudio was standing on the stoop, grinning, in his work tee shirt and shorts. I let him in, and Bry waved from the bed as he got up. “I'll be out in the water. Maybe see you there.” With that he slipped out the back door, and Claudio and I were alone.
I wasn't expecting him to push me against the wall and kiss me like he owned me, but hey, I wasn't complaining. He pulled his head back and grinned again. “Just had to get that out of the way. It's been building up.”
A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. “Nice to see you, too.”
He glanced at the room and back to me. “Where is everyone?”
“Uh, bit of tradition I guess. We do this night swim – go skinny dipping in the ocean.”
His eyes sparked. “Want to?”
“Uh, yeah! I mean, wasn't sure how you'd feel about it.”
He grinned again. “Let's do it. I mean...” His smile faltered a hair. “Unless the empty room has a different meaning.”
I pushed my fingertips along his cheek and leaned in, planting a soft kiss on his lips, then put my forehead on his. “Not yet it doesn't. Are you good with that?”
“Totally,” he said, as if waiting for permission to speak. “I just, you know, get here late at night, and all of a sudden the room's empty, so...had to wonder if this was your way of texting at 3am to ask WYD?”
I chuckled. “I know that's a classy way to hook up,” I said, twisting my tone to show I was kidding. “But no. I just wanted to see you.”
He leaned back and smiled widely. “This is going to sound stupid, but I like that better. Come on, before we change our minds!”
So we dashed out the back door and ran across the sand until we could feel the dampness of wet sand on our feet. From there it was a matter of a few quick movements and throwing ourselves into the water once we'd walked out a few feet.
Jim and Kim were standing back to front up to her shoulders in the water. Bry was a few feet away, and we moved closer to them.
“Water is fucking cold,” Bry said.
“That's your excuse for those tiny nuts?” Jim teased.
“Please. Kim, try and tell me it doesn't feel like there's a pair of peanuts pushing into your butt right now.”
Kim laughed loudly, looking back over her shoulder at Jim. “Hey!” Jim protested. “You're supposed to defend my parts and pieces.”
“I can confirm they all work,” she said, grinning back at us.
I tried to keep moving in the water, as Bry was definitely right that it was cold. But the feel of water moving everywhere, especially over areas that normally were covered up, was really making me want to tolerate the cold. The water, aimlessly shifting around me whether I moved or stood still, running between my thighs, over my shoulders, splashing salt on my lips or sliding past my legs felt...amazing. It was a tactile overload, or nearly so.
So when Claudio jumped on my back and wrapped his legs around my middle, almost knocking me over, my senses definitely went into overload. The slickness where our skin slid against each other versus the feeling of him trying to tighten his grip on my middle and his arms around my neck – nearly choking me – was a tremendous mix of input, and I struggled to understand what I liked and didn't for a moment.
I steadied myself on the sandy floor, and he hitched into a better position, with me slipping my hands under his knees, and then he hung off my back, and I was more aware of his soft genitals pressed against me. It wasn't erotic – it was too cold for anything to get hard and not cold enough to freeze anything. Yet it was intimate. Almost casually so, and yet I was sure it wasn't common. Not something he just did anytime.
I was staggered by a wave, and he lost his grip on me as we fell into the water. This seemed to be a trigger of some kind, because, with the excuse we needed to move to stay warm, Bry started a splashing fight. He was right, it was a little warmer to be swimming and moving in the water, but I was missing the casual intimacy of having had Claudio on my back.
“Okay,” Kim announced. “My tits are going to shrink like you boys' balls. I'm going in – avert your eyes, straight boys!”
She climbed from the water and pulled a towel from the sand to wrap around herself. Jim was right behind her, tugging on his gym shorts, and they made their way across the sand.
“Don't look,” Bry teased me.
“I've seen you naked before,” I reminded him.
“Exactly. Don't want your memories of me damaged by the shrinkage going on here.”
He walked from the water, and there was just enough light to see his skin shining and the pleasant curve of his behind. I whistled at him just to mess with him, and he tried, hilariously, to twerk for a moment before grabbing his shorts.
“I'm going to try and get a shower, if they aren't doing that already. See you up there. Maybe a movie?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
He headed up the sand, and I turned to Claudio, who was now shivering and smiling at me.
“C'mere.” I pulled him close and kissed him lightly a few times before hugging him. He felt good in my arms, but the temperature of the water was getting to me more and more, and I wasn't getting the same sensations I was earlier. Even his body pressed to me only staved off thoughts of getting out of the ocean for a few moments. We walked out of the water and picked up our shorts. I pulled mine on as he did, and we walked up the sandy beach to the side of the building, where a spigot was placed for washing off feet.
Back inside, I got us towels, and I loaned him dry shorts, now that his were developing wet spots. Kim and Jim were already dressed for bed and lounging, and Bry took a quick shower. Claudio and I opted to lie together on the bed while scrolling through online offerings for movies. Bry joined us a few minutes later, and when everyone was settled, we started up a movie.
I don't really remember what it was about; I was focused on feeling Claudio lying against me, warm and pleasant. His shirt smelled a little like the food from his family restaurant, but it was something I was growing used to associating with him. I turned from the screen and snuggled into him and drifted to sleep.
Kim was up early. She woke Jim, and they headed out for breakfast and a scheduled couple's massage. Claudio went to use the bathroom, and Bry asked if he should go find someplace to be.
“Nah, Bro,” I said, waving him off. “Long as you're not uncomfortable.”
“Me? First time I can remember waking up with you and not being fucking cuddled. That's his job, now.”
“Aw. I can cuddle you if you want,” I said with a laugh.
“Fuck that,” he said and snorted with good humor. “No, it's just...you know. Short time. You and I go home, and where does that leave this? You should take advantage of that.”
I didn't have time to explain that I was happy, for now, with how things were between myself and Claudio and that I liked having them both with me; first, that would be too much to share, and I think I'd done enough of that. Second, Claudio flopped next to me and asked what we wanted to do about breakfast.
“We have cereal,” Bry offered.
“What? No. Let me look,” Claudio said, getting back up and going to our fridge. I looked at Bry, and we shrugged and looked back at Claudio, who was pulling out eggs and some salsa we had intended to eat with chips, except that someone forgot to buy chips. I got up and went over beside Claudio.
“What are you doing?”
“Huevos rancheros, mi am- ah, uh, you know. Breakfast.” He looked at me and smiled widely, though he was blushing.
“What was that? You were about to say something,” I asked in a low voice, moving my lips closer to his ear.
“You're hearing things.” He leaned back and looked at Bry. “Does he do that a lot? Thinks he hears things?”
“Sometimes he just makes shit up,” Bry replied.
“Uh huh.” I looked at Claudio. “Just so you know, my Spanish will get better.”
“I hope so, because right now it's terrible,” he said, grinning again. He cracked two eggs into a pan, got them cooking, and at some point added in salsa. He scooped them onto a plate and started on the next set. “Eat,” he said, “don't wait for me.”
I put the first plate at the table for Bry, and he sat down and took a taste. “Not bad at all,” he commented.
“It's shit,” Claudio said. “You really need fresh ingredients, but I'm cooking for gringos, so you get what you get.”
“Got it; don't compliment Claudio,” Bry said and rolled his eyes.
Claudio laughed. “Sorry. We always make everything; there is a big difference between canned stuff and fresh.”
He scooped his second set of eggs onto a plate and handed them to me, but I told him I'd watched him and I thought I could do it, so I sent him to eat. I cracked the eggs and cooked them a bit before adding in the salsa, and I was at the table just before Bry finished.
“Bro. I either need to learn to cook or marry someone that does,” Bry said, leaning back in his chair.
“Better to learn,” Claudio said. “That way if they leave you, you can still cook.”
“I'm going to shower,” Bry said as he stood. “Want to head into town for coffee after?”
I glanced at Claudio, and he nodded, his mouth full of food. “Sounds like a plan.”
Soon Bry was in the shower. We finished our eggs then went to sit out on the small deck. Claudio leaned his head onto my shoulder and sighed. “Where are you going for college?”
I grunted. “A few hours from here.”
He made a humming noise. “Not, like, a country away then.”
“Nope. Driveable,” I said, hooking my arm around his shoulders.
“I don't have a car,” he said. He shifted his head to look at me. “Going to come back to me just so I cook you breakfast?”
I smiled and shrugged. “Not the worst reason.”
He turned his head back and looked out over the beach to the water. “Have you dated much?”
“No. Not really. You?”
“Not many chances to date.” He sighed. “I wish there was a way you might stick around.”
Bry appeared behind us, pulling on his shoes, and we stood to join him for the walk to the bus stop. As we rode the bus on the short trip and Bry quizzed Claudio on other things we could do in town, I thought about what he'd said. It's true I hadn't really dated, but part of that was opportunity. Hookups aren't dates, and I'd been unlucky at best in turning a hookup into anything more. The thing is, I guess I'm supposed to be horny as fuck all the time and getting as much ass or cock as I can. I mean...I'm horny, but not 24/7.
There's a million little quotes about the chances you don't take, and I began to wonder – was this a chance? Is there a way I could take it so I could see what happens? Immediately I heard my mother in my head, talking about dating while on breaks at college, because she wouldn't want me to date in college – I should be studying, not getting off. So by that logic...summer really was the best time to try for something, right? If I was right, then what do I need to do to give this thing between me and Claudio a chance to grow into...whatever it might turn out to be?
“I'm being stupid,” I said to Bry as we lay in deck chairs a few days later.
“I don't know. I mean. It was a pretty good day.”
“Yeah. We had fun, but...that's kind of a long way from missing him. Right?”
Bry looked over at me and raised his sunglasses. “Bro. I have some skin in this now. His sister is fine, and if you don't miss him, how am I gonna do more than slide into her DMs?”
I dropped my chin as I glanced at him and then looked away. “You're no help.”
He chuckled. “Look. He seems really cool. He seems to like you back like he's into you. I mean...you haven't gotten a lot of that. So it kind of makes sense, right, bro? Why wouldn't you chase that feeling? Don't we all?”
I glanced at him and then away. “I guess when you say it like that.”
“That's all we do sometimes is chase that good feeling. I think that's probably what gets people to give things a try to begin with – something goes right, and they follow it to see what happens. I know it's what I do. I...like the vibe from someone that's into me like I'm into them, and so far it hasn't worked out that well. But how else is it supposed to work? How else do you meet people and get a chance with them? You can only do so much through your phone before you have to spend actual time with people, and sometimes you find out shit that you can't deal with – like they cheat.”
Agreeing I said, “Or that they want nothing more than to hook up and it's too bad what you want.”
“Well,” he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice, “I wouldn't mind a few hookups, but yeah...it's not always about that. I guess when it's about vibing and hooking up, you've got something.”
I grunted in response. Claudio and I weren't hooking up, but the vibe between us...that felt pretty good. The other day, after Claudio had made breakfast, we'd gone into town for coffee and then gone to the end of town where there weren't beaches and tourists. We'd gone to a park and hung out with his brother Mauricio and played soccer with them. Bry and I weren't so good at the game, not compared to those guys, but we had a good time.
Claudio's sister, Marina, showed up later in the day. When Bry took a break, she sat beside him, but to talk to him afterwards, he got the impression she was pumping him for some details on me, but that wasn't stopping Bry from being into her. She and Claudio both had thick hair, but hers was longer in a feminine style, while Claudio's was just...a lot. I mean, he had a lot of hair on his head. His legs had some muscle and some dark hair, and there was just a tiny patch near the center of his chest, but his head? That was a fucking dense spot for hair.
When we got done playing, we walked over to a small market and got drinks and sat out front on picnic tables just easing through the day. As the day wore on toward evening, we started walking idly back through town.
“So on our day off, my grandparents cook at home – outside. We get together, plenty of food. You guys want to come with us?” Claudio asked.
Bry looked to Marina. “Is that cool?”
She moved her mouth a little before responding. “You have to be careful. If you guys kiss or hold hands, you might give our grandparents a stroke.”
I glanced at Claudio, and he laughed. “I think I can keep my hands off him for the evening.” I raised an eyebrow. He grinned and said, “Only because I have to. Of course.”
“Jesus Christ,” Bry groaned.
“None of that,” Marina said. “The grandparents are very religious.”
“Yep,” Mauricio said with a grin. “If they ask if you've been baptized, just say yes – trust me, you don't want them to bring out the water barrel.”
I looked from him to Claudio, and his little grin was enough to give that away. “Very funny, Mauricio. I thought you were nice.”
“I am nice!” he protested while laughing. “But I like a good panic from new people around my family as much as anyone!”
You could hear the people in Claudio's back yard from the street. We walked along the side of the building, a narrow space between houses, to a small gate that let us into a modest-sized back yard with an outbuilding partially hidden at the far end. There were several people seated and standing. A small canopy had been erected, and off to one side was a grill with an old man flipping food on it. Marina went into the house through the back door. Sandy bounded up to us and gave a perfunctory hello, but was quickly back on duty looking for handouts.
“Ah, ahora están los niños ,” an old woman said from a seat by the grill where she had a small table with different ingredients laid out before her. “Claudio, quién está contigo?”
“ Abuela, estos son mis amigos Bryson y Rion. Están aquí de vacaciones,” Claudio replied.
“Bien, bien, bienvenidos,” she said with a smile.
“Gracias,” I said, trying to remember the proper pronunciation my Spanish teacher had tried to drill into us.
Marina reappeared with a few items from the kitchen in her hands, and Bry leapt into action, asking if he could help her. She let him, and I saw their grandmother give a little smile of approval.
Looking to Claudio I asked, “Anything I can do to help?”
He shook his head. “Come on,” he said, tilting his head to encourage me to follow. We went over to a small table where Mauricio was seated. “Keep my brother company. I'll go get us something to drink.”
I sat down and Mauricio leaned back a bit and smiled. “Nervous?”
“Uh.” I glanced around. “Not too bad, no. Why?”
He shrugged. “Claudio doesn't bring people back to eat with us. I've done it. Marina did once, and my mom about had an aneurysm.”
I frowned. “She doesn't like the idea of her dating?”
Mauricio grinned. “The guy had on an ankle monitor.” He laughed. “Marina didn't know, because the guy had always worn pants, but that day he wore shorts. He kept telling her it would be okay, but of course...it wasn't.”
I stared at him. “What happened?”
“Funny, it wasn't the ankle monitor that did him in. He got mad people weren't speaking English, and he thought everyone else was rude for speaking something he couldn't understand, even if he wasn't part of the conversation.”
“Oh.” I paused. “I mean, I guess it sucks if you don't know what people are saying, but if you're going to a house where people usually speak another language, then you kind of have to expect that.”
“Right?” he said with a grin. “Besides, he would have been a lot less happy to find out what we were actually saying about him!”
I dropped my mouth wide and laughed with him. “I really thought you were nice! You're evil!” I said around my laughter.
He waved his hand at me. “Don't worry. Claudio will probably translate for you, if anything gets said.” He leaned forward, and I copied him. “It's not like they know why you're here. Like...who you guys are to each other. Now. Tell me about your friend.”
“Bry?” I asked, glancing around until I saw him with Marina, following some directions she was giving him. Looking back to Mauricio I said, “He's my best friend. Single. Treats people well. Hasn't been treated well in his relationships, but he's the best. Always has my back, and I have his.”
Mauricio leaned back and nodded. “He's the one the family might talk about. He and Marina look a lot more like something is happening between them than you and Claudio.”
Claudio reappeared with a small bucket with bottles half buried in ice. “I found some Jarritos. Manzana, Tamarindo, Guava – what flavor do you want?”
“Manzana,” Mauricio said.
“I wasn't asking you,” Claudio said with a roll of his eyes.
I chuckled. “I liked the tamarindo the other night. I'll have that.”
“Good choice,” he said and handed me a bottle. He grabbed one for himself and then tossed one to Mauricio.
“Mauricio was telling me about the guy Marina brought to meet your family,” I said.
“The guy with the ankle monitor? Oh yeah, that never gets old,” he said with a laugh.
“Claudio, tu ropa limpia está en tu cama, no olvides guardarla,” a middle-aged lady said to him.
“Hi,” she said to me with a smile. “Are you one of Claudio's friends? I see another boy, too.”
“Yes,” I said, standing up and holding my hand out. “I'm Rion. My best friend Bryson is,” I turned and gestured to him beside Marina, “over there helping out Marina.”
“Oh, so nice. Are you here for vacation?”
“Yes. I met Claudio when Sandy knocked my coffee over on the beach,” I said with a chuckle.
The corner of her mouth scrunched up as she looked at Claudio. “I keep telling you, don't let her off the leash. She's crazy.”
“Where is Sandy?” Mauricio asked.
“Your Papa took her to the dog park. He said she needs exercise, but I know he's just smoking a cigar.” She looked at me. “Men always think women don't know what they are up to.”
“Uh.” She grinned widely and laughed before pointing at Claudio and repeating what she'd said before, I think, although it was still too fast for me. As she walked away I asked what she'd said.
“She told me my clean clothes are on my bed and to put them away,” he said. “I forget them in the dryer a lot.”
“He just wants someone else to bring the basket to his bed,” Mauricio said with a laugh. That turned into accusations of laziness hurled at each other, then Marina showed up and started pointing fingers about the lazy men of the house, which got turned on her quickly. I couldn't follow all of it when they switched into Spanish, but the intent was pretty clear, and it was funny. Later, after the food was gone, some of the adults started to dance a little to the music from the speakers in the window of the house, and Bry made a comment that he liked one of the songs. Next thing you know we're all – me, Mauricio, Claudio, Bry and Marina – working together for like an hour to get coordinated enough to post a video of us dancing together. It was fire, no other way to say it, and so much fun.
When we'd gotten back to the room, Bry had asked me if I had Claudio's Insta, and he found Marina's from there. Of course that meant he had to follow her and like her pictures and inevitably slide into her DMs.
As the sun began its long slide from the sky, I thought about that day and missed the whole vibe of the family being together. They were loud, and they laughed a lot, and they teased each other – but it wasn't like the way things were at my house or at Bry's. Bry's house was, like, tense. Mine was more...secretive, I guess. My mom was great about stuff like fighting for you, but she also wanted to shove her nose into everything. It was almost claustrophobic.
But Bry had a point. The vibe was...something I wanted more of.