I bounced the ball and threw up a shot, halfheartedly. It bounced off the front of the rim and ricocheted almost straight down and rolled back toward me. I stopped it with my foot but didn't pick it up. I stood still for a minute or two, just trying to figure out what I was feeling. Seth always told me I couldn't see things that were right in front of me, but I never took it as an insult. Now, though, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was missing a lot of something and I just couldn't figure out what.
I turned and smiled. “Hi, Gray. What's up?”
He walked up to me, hands in his pockets and shrugged.
“Not much. Just wanted to see if you were home.”
I tilted my head. “You could have called or texted—wait, where's my phone?” I said, patting my pockets.
“Probably in your room, Logan.” Gray smiled at me in that way that makes my stomach a little uneasy.
“Think you know me so well, huh?” I replied, trying to ignore my fluttering emotions.
He let his head tilt from side to side, smiling but not voicing the 'duh' so obvious in his body language. I debated what to say next, and felt badly that I was struggling to find things to say to Grayson. He saved me by picking up the ball and bouncing it a few times before hitting a short jumper. Retrieving it, he bounced it back to me.
“Bring it,” he said. He spread his feet out, ready to defend and my competitive nature and love of basketball reared its head. A smile crept onto my face and I began to dribble the ball and Gray defended me as he always did, pushing me hard for every inch.
We played for almost an hour, our movements becoming less sharp as the game dragged on. By the time we decided to call it a draw—since we lost track of the score at some point—we were both sweating profusely and collapsed on my rear steps. We'd tossed our shirts aside sometime before, but we now used them to mop our faces.
“Let's get a drink,” I suggested, and we turned to go inside. As we did, our sweat-slicked arms bumped from shoulder to elbow and I tottered, my legs suddenly feeling like rubber.
Once inside I grabbed glasses for us and then the pitcher of water we kept in the fridge before joining Gray at my kitchen table. We guzzled down a glass each, quickly, and then sipped the second.
“That's funny,” he said.
I raised my eyebrows in response.
“We both drink a whole glass and then ease up.”
I glanced at my glass and then back to him. “How do you notice little shit like that?”
He shrugged. “I don't know. I'm weird, I guess.”
I shook my head and sipped my water, but my mind was turning again. Before I could get far, though, Gray was speaking again.
“So...I wanted to talk.”
I shivered, a sudden chill running across my skin. “What about?”
He pursed his lips and then pulled them in before speaking. “Seth.”
My eyes drifted away from Gray's face. I nodded. “Yeah. It's been, what? Three weeks?”
“Twenty-five days, as of this morning.” Gray shifted in his chair and my gaze drifted back to him. He said, “And he's hanging out with Foster McGuire.”
Yeah,” I said, sighing heavily, “I know. I didn't even know he knew Foster but, they seem pretty...close, now.”
“And farther than ever from us,” Gray said, finishing my unspoken thought. “Which brings me to, well, what I want to talk about.”
I sipped again and then leaned back in my chair, fixing my gaze on Gray and nodding at him to continue. His expression was determined, and I think a little embarrassed if the red spots on his cheeks were any sign.
He let out a long breath between compressed lips before speaking. “Seth asked us for time and space and we both gave it to him. I know we were hoping, since he was high and angry when he said it, that he'd come back. That maybe we'd be able to patch things up. But...” Gray paused and leaned forward saying, “I told you when he and I were at work—and every time since—it's like he has us packed off in a box somewhere like none of this—like we—don't matter.
“At first I thought he was just giving me the cold shoulder at work, but he hasn't spoken to either of us in almost a month. I don't mean to sound like an asshole, but how long do we just wait?”
My thoughts tumbled around for a moment and I glanced away from Gray before asking quietly, “Wait for what, Gray?”
“Us, Logan. We have barely touched in three weeks and I know why; we both love him. But...I don't think he's coming back.”
I swallowed and closed my eyes. “I guess I have to choose, don't I?” I said, opening my eyes and shifting my gaze to his face.
His features softened and he said, “No. I would never ask you to leave him behind. I still hope something will happen to salvage...something. But, while we wait for him, he's moved on and has a new friend and every passing day it seems he's farther away from us. I'm broken hearted to have him cut me off, Logan. But I'm going to lose my shit completely if there isn't an us, either.”
His words resonated deep within me and I lurched to my feet, holding my arms out to him. He was up quickly and in my arms and...for the first time in weeks, I didn't hurt so much.
“I'm sorry,” I said, my lips moving right next to his ear. “Us hanging out the last few weeks is the only thing holding me together and...I meant what I said. I want to be a good boyfriend to you. I'm just...I still feel so guilty.”
His arms tightened. “I do, too. But if he won't even give us the chance to explain anything, what are we supposed to do?”
“I guess we have to work on us, huh?” I leaned back and met his gaze; it was so loving and so worried all in one. My heart sped up and I closed the gap, kissing him and tasting the salt on his lips before his mouth opened and the simple kiss escalated into something pent up. All my emotions from the past few weeks—the guilt, the shame, the hurt and confusion—for one golden minute it all vanished under the rush of being kissed by someone who desperately wanted to kiss me back.
Breaking the kiss, we were both panting. We stayed close, only our foreheads touching and our gazes locked. In that moment, a puzzle piece suddenly fit for me; I needed Grayson. Seth had proven to me before that he would only move on his own time, even though I'd pestered the hell out of him the time before when he pulled this crap. I felt badly about how things went with Seth walking in on Gray and I, but Gray had a point as well—we had apologized and begged to speak to Seth, to explain, and he'd refused. We wanted to make things right—as right as they could be—but he wasn't having any of it.
But right in front of me was someone who loved me and whom I loved back. His kisses were so different from Seth's, but there was no denying how alive and...I don't know, wanted I guess, his kisses made me feel. But it was more than that because I could always feel Seth's desire, too, back when our relationship was new. Gray, though, his emotions were right there, right up front when he kissed. Every time our lips touched, I knew exactly how much his lips wanted to be pressed to mine.
It was amazing. The emotions rushing through me eclipsed the depression I'd been mired in and my body temperature rose. With a jolt I realized neither of us had put our shirts back on and I was suddenly conscious of the feel of his chest pressed to mine and his hands on my skin as he pulled me tighter to him. I let my hands move, exploring the skin of his back in small, tentative motions. Even though we had an aborted attempt at oral sex about a month ago, I'd never really had the time to just touch him.
Suddenly he broke the kiss and pulled me tightly to him and put his chin on my shoulder. He shuddered and said, “I love you. So much.”
I crossed my arms behind him and pulled just as tightly. “I love you back.”
As we stood there I wondered about the difference in kissing Seth and Gray, and wondered if it was the kind of love Gray had for me; if it was different. I thought back, trying to trace how I'd felt when kissing either Seth or Gray and there was a difference, absolutely. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was, exactly. After the events of the Valentine's dance, where I'd kissed Gray for the first time, Seth had never pushed escalating our relationship sexually. Did that mean anything? Maybe I should talk to my uncle Gary.
I got out of the house early the next morning, a rainy Saturday, and headed over to see my uncle Gary. He lived with his husband, my uncle Ian and their daughter Olivia, whom everyone called Olive. On the way I kept turning everything over in my head and struggling to spot what I was missing. I hoped like hell I figured it out before I got there because talking about this kind of stuff wasn't easy for me, even with Grayson. I forced myself to do it with him, though, because he deserved it and I knew that...but I also knew that people leave.
I'd lost my friends for a while, but they'd come back. Seth had promised me he'd stand by me, and I would for him as well. But whenever he got really mad, he avoided me. I did that to him once, too, but it only lasted a few days, not the month I was dealing with now. So I was beginning to realize that Seth might have left me behind for good and my anxiety about losing people was back twice as strong as it had been—and, right or wrong, I was currently worried about losing Grayson.
He hadn't done anything to make me think that at all; it was the situation with Seth that was rattling my cage. Before, I'd been supremely confident that Seth and I would be friends until forever was over. That gave me a lot of stability and he'd reassured me that we'd always support each other. But, with him being hurt, it felt like he'd abandoned me and all my old worries were bubbling to the surface.
I sighed, pausing at the bottom of the steps to their home. I had no clarity. No blinding realization. I felt a huge hole where Seth had been part of my life and a whole lot of worry that I'd end up losing Grayson, too. Irrational, sure. Maybe even stupid. But emotions aren't based on sound reasoning, are they? Gathering myself I climbed the steps and hung my coat and hat and toed off my sneakers in their mud room before rapping on the door and entering into their kitchen.
“Hello?” I called out.
“In the den, Logan,” came the voice of my uncle Gary. I padded through the house and found him in the small room hunched over a card table.
“Hi, Uncle Gary,” I said, taking a seat.
“Hi, buddy,” he said, peering at me over his reading glasses. He turned his attention back to the table and I leaned forward to see what he was doing. A jigsaw puzzle. “Want to help? I'm just getting the outside pieces all together.”
I leaned forward and began sifting through the pieces, looking for the ones with flat sides that belonged on the outside edge. We worked in silence for a few minutes, separating the outside pieces from the rest and trying to find a few that would go together.
“Where is Uncle Ian and Olive?” I asked.
“Dance practice. Or rehearsal. Or whatever,” he said, grinning and taking his glasses off and waiving them. “Every time I call it practice I get corrected.”
“Oh, okay,” I said, looking back down at the puzzle.
“You have that look, Logan.”
I glanced up at him and nodded. Sighing I wiggled around in the chair, not really uncomfortable but more on edge with the discussion I thought I needed to have. I didn't even question that he knew something was up—what would be the point?
“Uncle Gary,” I said, slowly feeling my way forward to articulating my problem. “I'm...well, it sounds stupid, but I'm having boy trouble.”
“With two boys—that's hard enough. Three is another animal entirely.”
“Yeah,” I said, softly.
“Need to talk?”
I nodded and cleared my throat before facing him. “Promise this stays between us?”
He held off saying I'd never asked that before or making any comments about how he'd always kept my trust. Instead he just nodded, then sat back to wait, idly chewing on the temples of his reading glasses.
“Okay,” I said, letting out a long breath. “So, Seth and I started to date a few months ago. We...well, we did what I've always done, I guess: held hands, kissed, hung out. That sort of thing. But...” I glanced at him, sitting calmly, my face flushed with heat. I glanced away and then blurted, “I would always stop at kissing.”
I cleared my throat again. “Um. When we'd kiss, sometimes Seth would...I knew he was ready for more. I, um, wasn't.”
“Well, that makes sense, Logan,” he said, his voice compassionate.
“I was thinking,” I said slowly and keeping my eyes anywhere but toward him, “that I was still getting used to the idea of being...bisexual.”
“I think so, too,” he said, his voice filled with certainty. “It's no small thing to realize a part of you that you thought was well-defined isn't quite so concrete. I'd imagine, if you'd accepted this about yourself earlier, you'd have been more willing in mind, as well as body.”
“Um. What?” I asked, looking up at him.
He smiled. “When you kissed, you boned up, right?”
I flushed, a nervous smile pulling at my mouth, and nodded.
“It's okay, Logan! Don't be embarrassed, it's what we guys do when our bodies are aroused; hell we do it when our underwear is too tight or, I don't know—it has a mind of its own.” He smiled at me and shrugged. “The thing is, sometimes our minds aren't as stimulated or sometimes there are other considerations. It's a fair statement to say guys think with their dicks, sometimes, but it's also true that we can retain some higher brain functions with a hard on.”
I chuckled nervously and nodded at him. “I get it. And, yeah, I think that was my problem, then. I was new to the idea and I wasn't sure I wanted...well, maybe kissing was enough for me, you know? I mean...shit!” I paused and ran my fingers through my hair.
“I know what you're saying, and either one could have been right,” he said. “For some, kissing is where they stop when it comes to unusual or unknown situations. For others maybe it's hand holding, and for others it's oral sex.”
I glanced at him quickly and then back to the floor. “Um, no. We only kissed, but I could tell he wanted more. We talked about it and he said he could wait until I was ready...and then Grayson happened.”
“Ah. I've always been curious about this part.”
Unable to look at him I asked, “Why?”
“Threesomes are something guys talk about a lot. Maybe some women, too, I don't know. But usually it's in the context of a one night stand or a fantasy. Some people are into open relationships where they treat sex with other people as...well, that's not like you guys, not like all three of you dating at once. That just sounds complicated.”
I nodded and glanced at him. “It was. I didn't realize it before, but it was.”
“Was?” he asked, his tone gentle.
“Yeah. Um...” I cleared my throat again, my throat feeling clogged and it took me a few moments to be able to speak again. “So going back, see, Seth and I were at this spot where I wasn't ready yet and he was being patient, sorta. Then there was the Valentine's dance at the school and some of the guys on the team talked me into the kissing booth—remember?”
“Sure. There was a lot of pushback on that booth; some parents felt it was unseemly to have that available at the school. I doubt it'll be repeated next year. Sorry to interrupt; go on.”
I reached out and idly turned a puzzle piece in my fingers to give me something to focus on. “So Grayson came to the kissing booth and made his donation. And then he...pointed at me.”
Uncle Gary let out a low whistle. “That was brave.”
I sniffled. “Yeah, it was. The thing is, um, there was this way he was looking at me. Embarrassed for sure, but he was so...he looked at me like...”
“Yeah, I get the picture,” he said, chuckling softly. “It's magic the first time you realize that look is for you. It's also magic every time after that, Logan.”
I swallowed and forged ahead. “That look hit me pretty hard. It was really intense and—I'll skip ahead and just say he got his kiss. But after that, Seth and I had this strange conversation where he told me that the reason I didn't want to do more was that I already had what I needed from him and he said—implied—it would be selfish of him to...that if we did more, it would be just for him.”
I fell silent and placed the puzzle piece I was holding down on the table and tried to match it with a nearby piece. No fit. Uncle Gary slipped his glasses on and started shifting the pieces around before speaking.
“I think what he said was wise, if it were true. You said you were conflicted about your reasons for not doing more with Seth.”
I nodded. “I still don't know for sure, but I think it was because I just wasn't there, yet. I love Seth, Uncle Gary, I love him a lot.”
“You know,” he said as he found a matching pair and where it fit on to the outer edge he was working on. “There are different types of love, even different types of romantic love. What you felt for Seth was blossoming and, given time, might have reached what he was looking for.”
“I did,” I said quietly. “I reached that place, after Grayson joined us.”
“You were going to explain that?”
“Oh, right. Um, so , after I kissed Grayson at the dance, Seth explained how important that kiss was to Grayson. I knew that, actually, because of the way Grayson looked at me, like I said. But I guess Seth had been cultivating Grayson as a friend and I figured out that it was Seth that put Grayson up to getting in line at the kissing booth.”
“Do you think Seth wanted some relations with Grayson?” he said, interjecting.
I glanced up, pausing. “Well, not right away. I think...I guess I didn't think too deeply about it at the time. I was okay with it firstly because it'd give me more time to figure things out and get comfortable with whoever I was becoming, you know?”
“Sure. Hand me that piece? No, next one,” he said as I sorted through the pieces to hand over the one he was looking for. “What was the other reason?”
“Well...kissing Seth is great and I love it. Kissing Grayson...there is something else going on, there. I can feel it all over, but I don't know how to explain it.”
“So you went along with things partially so you could kiss him again?”
“Okay, it's as good a reason as any and it wasn't your idea so you weren't misleading anyone. What then?”
I sighed and tried to join two pieces together, but again they didn't fit. I frowned and said, “We went through that little incident where the guys didn't understand what was going on. Then...everything settled down, really. Everything seemed fine—instead of just being friends, or friends first, Seth and I were right back to making out but now I had the bonus of making out with Grayson.”
“Was that together or only in pairs?”
“Uh, only in pairs.” I frowned at him and asked, “How do three people kiss?”
“Take turns, I guess. You were saying?”
I looked at him with suspicion, but he ignored me and resumed placing puzzle pieces together.
“Well, a month ago Seth had a dentist's appointment and Gray and I were going to my house after school. I slipped in dog crap on the front lawn—”
“The Yeates's dog again? Your dad hates that they let him run loose.”
“He digs under the fence,” I replied. “They try to keep him in but they said that he's a hound so he's always trying to roam around.”
“Yeah, um, so I slipped and some of it got under my shirt and grossed me out. So I went in to take a shower and while I did that Grayson was getting us drinks and stuff.”
“Did you have plans to do anything in particular?” he asked, looking over his glasses at me.
“Not really,” I replied. “Maybe some video games or basketball until Seth was available. Then we'd watch a movie and...um...have a cuddle puddle.”
“What sort of puddle, now?”
“Cuddle puddle. Stop,” I said, a smile touching my lips. “It's just where we cuddle together, no body fluids or anything.”
“'Cept maybe some spit?”
I grinned. “Maybe.”
He chuckled and looked back down at the puzzle. I took that as my cue and was thankful that he was looking away from me.
“So when I got out of the shower, Gray was waiting in my room. I, um, just had a towel on...”
He lifted his gaze to me and said, “I think I know where this is going. Sex?”
I nodded slowly.
“Were you okay with it?”
“Yes and no.”
“What does that mean?”
“I mean...it felt great. I was totally into it, even though I—we—didn't plan it. Grayson even asked if it was okay, if he could, you know, touch me. It was amazing.”
“So what's the problem?”
I sighed deeply. “Seth walked in. He was...unhappy.”
Uncle Gary grunted. “I'll just bet he was. Am I correct in thinking this is still unresolved?”
I nodded morosely. “He hasn't spoken to me in a month. He said he just needed some time and space, but the only contact he's had with me or Gray was to ask Gray to work for him the other night. Outside of that all he's told us—all he keeps saying is he needs time and space.”
Silence filled the room and I glanced at my uncle to see what sort of response he was having to all this. He was moving his lips around, but keeping them pressed together, and I assumed it meant he was thinking.
“How much time to you intend to give him?”
“We think we've run out of time. See, he's been hanging around with this other guy, Foster McGuire. It almost looks like, as Gray says, he's put us in a box and totally turned his emotions off as far as they relate to us.”
He went back to pursing his lips and moving them around. “What about Grayson?”
I blinked in confusion. “What about him?”
“Has he...have you...” he rolled his hand in the air, unwilling to ask.
I blushed. “No. We both were hoping Seth would come back.”
“Hmm. More credit than I'd usually give to a horny boy.”
I frowned and said, “Grayson loves me. He respects me and Seth, too. He didn't mean to...he didn't mean for what happened to...”
“Well of course he did!” he burst out, laughing. “Logan, people don't randomly engage in sex without wanting to! He just didn't plan on the fallout from all this.”
“Yeah, okay, maybe that's true,” I replied defensively. “But neither of us planned it out in advance or anything. Gray didn't mean to hurt anyone. And...I could have told him no.”
“Ah. Well, I hate to break it to you, Logan but...you're a teenager. It doesn't excuse it, I realize that,” he said, holding up a hand to forestall me. “But when you're fourteen and someone has their hand or mouth on your dong, well, it's hard to consider all the ramifications.”
“But I stopped with Seth!” I protested.
“Yeah. Interesting, huh?”
“What do you mean?” I asked warily.
He leaned forward and picked up a puzzle piece and then hunted for a few minutes for another. I moved a few pieces around while I waited, but my patience was about shot. Finally he placed two pieces in front of me.
“Look. You thought that you and Seth fit together,” he said, fitting the two pieces together. “The problem is that, when you look closer, you see some things aren't quite right. Like, how the colors don't line up and the edges are a little off.” He illustrated this by pointing out the inconsistencies of the two puzzle pieces.
“But, sometimes,” he said, separating the pieces and placing them together in a new fashion, where they fit perfectly, “sometimes people still fit, just not the way we expected them to.”
I thought about that for a moment. “How can you tell if someone is the right fit, then?”
He leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh. He removed his glasses and folded one temple down and then twirled them around by the other.
“You know, buddy, that's the big question right there. I think it feels different for different people and the best thing I can say, Logan, is that they have to treat you with respect and allow you to maintain your own self-respect. I like that Grayson didn't do what someone who didn't care for you may have, which is just try to get in your pants with Seth out of the way. I think that speaks volumes, especially for a teenage boy.
“It's hard to just say 'wait until you're ready' because, frankly, I think most of us aren't ready for things that happen, most of the time. Take Olive, for instance,” he said, bringing his gaze to meet mine. “We did all the paperwork and took the courses and then we just waited and waited. When she popped up all of the sudden, well, it turned our world upside down.”
I tiled my head. “But, you love Olive. You're happy you have her, right?”
“Oh, absolutely. All I'm saying is...waiting for the perfect moment sometimes means you miss out on having any moments. You can't have your life on hold while Seth figures out where he is, and frankly a month of giving you the silent treatment is a little at odds with his professing love and friendship.”
“Well, we did kind of...cheat, I think.”
He tilted his head from side to side. “Did you make rules? Had you guys talked about sex and how it would work?”
“Well, no...but I think we all thought it would be...together.”
Uncle Gary leaned forward and placed his elbows on his legs. “Logan, I won't insult either of us by asking if you've watched porn.” I blushed mightily and he continued, pretending not to notice. “If you've ever watched a threesome, someone is usually left as the odd man out. Oh they try, but the fact is things end up a little lopsided.
“If you want my advice, take Grayson by the hand and don't let him go.”
I leaned back in my chair and turned that over. I already knew that I needed Grayson. I also knew that Uncle Gary was right—Grayson wasn't pressuring me, only being respectful and supportive and asking me to do the same. It saddened me that Seth had made this choice but I couldn't make it for him. I stood and thanked my uncle for helping me work through things.
“Sure thing, buddy,” he said as he stood and hugged me. “Hey, Ian and I were going to take Olive to see Pirates of Penzance tomorrow afternoon. The Binghampton Opera has a matinee—want to come?”
I grinned widely. “Yeah, definitely!”
He grinned back. “Want to bring a date?”
I pushed my feet into my sneakers and pulled out my phone and sent Gray a text.
'Are you home?'
While I waited for his response I put on my coat and hat. Outside the wind was blowing and the rain was swirling around. Leaves were caught and the ground was littered with twigs from the downpour.
My phone buzzed and I checked the screen. 'Just leaving work, we lost power. Come over?'
I smiled and told him I was on my way. The walk there was very wet and in no time I was thoroughly soaked. As I rounded the corner to Gray's block, I saw him mounting the steps to his home and I called out to him and broke into a run. He held the door for me and we stood, both dripping, in his hallway.
“Hey,” he said, smiling at me.
“Hey,” I said, returning his smile.
We might have stood there just staring and smiling if his mom didn't let out a huge sneeze and break the moment. Glancing over Gray's shoulder I spotted her exiting the bathroom door, wrapped in her robe.
“Oh, Logan, hi sweetheart,” she said, sniffling and sounding congested. “Grayson, I'm going to go lie down. You guys get out of those wet things and get something to eat, okay?”
“Okay, Mom,” Gray replied as he turned to her. “Do you need anything?”
“No, baby, I'm fine. Thank you, though.” So saying she shuffled down the hall and entered her room, closing the door behind her.
Gray cocked his head and said, “Laundry is downstairs, we can put our stuff in the wash and then go up and get some sweats or something.”
I nodded and followed him as we squished toward the kitchen and the basement stairs. We paused in the kitchen to put our shoes by the radiator to dry out and then we left wet footprints down the steps, still squishing with our wet socks. I pulled my coat and hat off and hung them up. I paused, remembering about the play—actually an operetta, technically—that Uncle Gary had invited me to. He'd said I could bring a date, but I was a little nervous.
Gray and I knew each other through sports, not drama. Would he be willing to sit through something he wasn't interested in just to hang out? Depending on his choice, what would that mean? I sighed, unhappy with not having the answers and security I needed and decided the only way to know was to simply ask him.
“What was that big sigh for?” he asked from behind me. I turned to find him without his shirt, his coat tossed on top of the dryer. Water dripped from his hair and tiny drops dotted his skin.
“Um. I went to talk to my uncle Gary this morning,” I replied.
“Yeah. He invited me to go see this show tomorrow in Binghamton. He said I could...bring a date.” I grimaced and then rushed forward, “I know we've never done anything like this, but I love these kinds of shows and I was hoping you'd come with me.”
I avoided his gaze for a few moments, but my curiosity at his silence was more than I could stand. I lifted my chin until his face was in my line of sight and he was smiling at me with his eyes dancing. I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it.
“You mean like an actual date? Not just going to a game or hanging out?”
“Well,” I said, drawing the word out. “My uncles and my cousin will be there. So, not completely...”
His expression struck me as enigmatic, despite the smile he continued to wear. His eyes, an unusual mix of light green and light blue, were focused on me. Limpid yet damp, those beautiful eyes locked me in place. His lower lip quivered and his smile widened and slowly he shook his head.
“I always wondered if Seth had told you, even after the dance. I guess he never did, though.”
I tilted my head to one side. “Told me what?” I asked, my wet clothes sending a chill through me. I pulled off my shirt and tossed it in the open washer.
“That I've had a crush on you since about fourth grade.”
I paused. “That's...a long time.”
“Yep,” he said, undoing the top button of his pants. “At first I didn't know to call it a crush. I was just like, 'Logan's cool and stuff! I want to be like Logan!'” he said, laughing as his voice went into a higher register as he imitated his younger self.
I smiled at him and chuckled, while reaching down to pull off my socks.
“So I joined everything you did. Every sport, every club, every stupid rec team...and eventually, I discovered you weren't just a pretty face.”
My face burned and I looked down, smiling in embarrassment. “Stop. I'm not that great.”
The sound of his pants hitting the washer echoed in the room and his bare feet entered my line of sight.
“So, see that's the coolest thing about you. With your looks and, well, other things...”
I glanced up to see him flicking his gaze between my face and my groin and blushed harder.
“You could be a real asshole and get away with it. People always forgive the pretty ones, you know? I guess you guys must have your own problems with people falling for you left and right—it's easy to see how a person could end up thinking other people's feelings aren't that important since they are always subjected to them, right? So many douches and people just let them walk all over them. That could have been you.”
“I couldn't do that,” I demurred, embarrassed that he thought I was on some stratospheric level of appearance. I was just me. I slid out of my jeans and tossed them in the washer. Turning back to face Gray, he'd closed the gap and stood close by, locking his gaze with mine.
“You're right, you couldn't. Because you're good, Logan. I fell in lust with your body, but I fell in love with your soul. If you think, after all those bruises and scrapes I got just to try and get your attention, that I wouldn't sit through a show just to be with you...you haven't been paying attention.”
Warmth spread over my body and, yes, I was a little embarrassed—but I was not ashamed. Gray was entitled to see me in his own way, even if I didn't think it was really all that accurate. But the fact that I now understood so much more about him and how he thought...well, I had another piece of the puzzle, didn't I?
“Your underwear is wet, Logan.”
“Huh?” I glanced down and, yeah, they had some spots on them but weren't drenched. The sound of cloth hitting the washer echoed again and I glanced up to see Gray retreating, nude, for the stairs.
“I want to warm up. Meet me in my room?”
I pushed my underwear down and threw them in the direction of the washer. Or dryer. Or the wall, I don't know. Gray giggled as he took the steps two at a time and I followed him enthusiastically. We ran all the way up to his room and I barely took the time to close the door before I tackled him onto his bed and we began to wrestle. We twisted, giggling, and shortly we were trying to tickle one another. We were evenly matched, but playing with him like this seemed like the most natural thing I'd ever done.
Eventually, though, the fact we were naked and in bed caught up with our playful attitude and, as a result, the playfulness shifted. There was an awkward pause, an actual moment in time where I could say the mood changed—a mere second where we balanced on the edge—and then it was gone. He pulled me toward him and we began to kiss. At first they were light kisses, but they soon progressed palpably and the sexual tension was way out of my range of experience. My body felt like I was burning from within, and each contact point with his skin was almost more than I could bear. Our bodies pressed together and our hands were moving, fingers tracing and hands grabbing, our legs creating a delicious friction as we ground against one another.
In a moment of crystal clarity, I knew that Gray and I fit together like two people should. In one single breath, in the flurry of touches and gasps, I felt loved, respected, desired and whole. This was who I was. This was what I was looking for. I had never been more complete with any one person than I was right that minute.
I lifted myself up, planting my hands to either side of Gray's chest. He looked up at me, eyes glazed and a soporific smile on his face.
“Why'd you stop, Logan?” he asked breathily.
Looking into his eyes, boring into them with my own gaze I said fervently, “I'm in love with you, Grayson Anderson.”
His breath caught and then his smile bloomed into something so free and beautiful that my heart felt as if it would burst from my chest just watching it.
“I'm in love with you, too, Logan Whitmore.”
I began to methodically place light kisses on his shoulders, chest and stomach as I worked my way down. I rubbed his thighs with my hands and paused, staring at his erection. My gaze flicked up to his face and he watched me, his mouth open and eyes wide. Never breaking our eye contact, I put my mouth over his dick. He gasped and his legs opened wider and I nestled there, feeling the ridges and veins with my tongue and growing excited with the heat and unique taste that registered on my tongue.
“Stop, stop,” he panted mere moments later. I lifted my head, wondering if I'd done something wrong. He pulled his legs up and tugged me down by my arm so that we were side by side. With the briefest of kisses, he wiggled down the bed until he, quite suddenly, had me in his mouth again. Just as the first time, I felt a jolt run from my achingly hard dick and straight to my brain. I gasped involuntarily and opened my legs wider out of instinct.
His hands were rubbing my legs and tracing over my butt and pulling my waist closer to him. I groaned and leaned forward and the wet tip of his dick hit my cheek and, so reminded, I took him back in my mouth and his body jumped with the contact. It didn't take a great deal of time for either of us to reach our sticky end and, even though I knew it was going to happen, the silky feel on my tongue still came as a shock. I'd never wanted to try my own spunk, but Grayson's was better than okay with me.
We lay on our backs for a moment, catching our breath. Slowly, Gray turned himself around to lie with me, though he on his side. He snuggled in closely and began to lay butterfly kisses on my shoulder and clavicle, his leg tossed over mine and moving slowly up and down. I shifted my arm and slipped it under him, drawing him closer and he responded by shifting his kisses closer to my neck. As he did I felt my body beginning to respond to him and I turned to look at his face.
“That was amazing,” he said before placing one of his light kisses on my lips. Staring down into my eyes he asked tenderly, “Are you okay?”
“It was completely amazing,” I agreed and brought my hand up to cup his cheek. “And yes, I'm fine. I'm better than fine. I was ready.”
He looked relieved and then put his head on my shoulder while idly dragging his fingertips across my chest. We laid in silence, the feeling of his naked body pressed to mine filling me with excitement and, oddly, peace. I'd never been body shy, and now I was discovering a wonderful peace that came from having someone naked and exposed, just as I was, and knowing that it was natural and good to have nothing between us.
Eventually the room grew chilly. Gray pulled the covers up over us and, settling his head on my chest, we napped.
I'm not sure how much time passed, but when I woke it was to Gray getting out of bed and padding to the door. He opened it a crack and called out into the hall, “Sorry, Mom, we were taking a nap. What did you say?”
I watched him, the muscles in his legs and butt flexing as he leaned to one side with his head sticking out of the door and one foot touching the floor with just his toes. I could hear his mother, but not clearly, and his response that we'd be right down. Closing the door he turned and paused as he saw me checking him out. He dropped his chin forward and looked at me, saying, “Are you perving on me?”
“Damn right,” I said, grinning.
“Good,” he said, smirking and walking over to his dresser. “Mom made dinner, she suggested you call home and get permission to stay. I guess the rain knocked out power in a few places. She also said...” His voice trailed off as he glanced at me as I pulled the covers back and sat up. In fact, his glance turned into more of a stare.
“What?” he said, jumping and flashing an embarrassed look at me.
“What else did your mom say?” I asked, stretching and enjoying watching his mouth open slightly. “Gray!”
He shook. “What?”
I smirked and stood up and crossed the room. Glancing in his dresser I grabbed a pair of sweat pants and pulled them on. “There. Now you can think again.”
“Shut up,” he said, blushing. I looked down at his body intently and he responded by pulling on sweatpants of his own.
“Spoil my fun, will you?” I asked and dug my fingers into his ribs. He squealed with laughter and we were soon tussling, tickling and carrying on. It must have lasted at least fifteen minutes before I surrendered under his assault.
“I win!” he crowed and kissed me.
“Kind of feels like I won,” I said, grinning up at him. “So, what else did your mom say?”
He paused, thinking and then his face lit up. “She suggested, since we forgot to start the washer, that you stay over.”
“I love your mom.”
“I know, right? Let's eat!” he said, gaining his feet and then holding his hand out to help me up. He tossed me a tee shirt and then he donned one himself before we trotted down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“There you guys are,” his mom said, her voice scratchy. “I just made spaghetti, nothing fancy.”
“Smells great,” I replied, smiling at her. “Thank you.”
“You're welcome, angel,” she said. “I ate while you guys were thumping around up there, so I'm going to take my tea into my room and lie back down. Call your mom before you eat, okay Logan?”
“Yes, ma'am,” I replied.
“Ma'am? Who are you talking to?” she asked and then broke into a wheezing cough. She gathered up her cup and headed back into her room and closed the door behind her. Gray started to fix plates for us and I called my mom and explained the situation. She was fine with me staying, and in fact she said she preferred it as she'd heard there were some electrical lines down, but she didn't know where.
Gray and I sat down and ate our fill, chatting a little about the operetta. I filled him in on the story and the kinds of things Gilbert and Sullivan had written so he'd have some point of reference for the show. He was showing some interest and it made me feel good that he might actually enjoy it instead of suffering through it just to hang out with me. Eventually, though, the conversation turned.
“So, you had a visit with your Uncle Gary?” he said. He didn't have to flesh the question out; I'd told him before that I'd gone to my uncle when I questioned my sexuality and he'd been a touchstone ever since.
“Yeah. We had a good talk.”
“So...?” he asked as he picked up our plates and took them to the sink to rinse. I sat back in the chair and sighed.
“I told him about the problem,” I said.
“You told him I—” he paused and glanced down the hall at his mother's door and lowered his voice. “You told him I blew you?”
“What? No!” I said, shaking my head. “He knows there was some sex involved, but we didn't get into specifics. Just that Seth walked in on us.”
“Oh. Well, that's not as bad, I guess,” he said, not sounding convinced.
“It's okay, he won't say anything.”
Gray finished rinsing and placed the dishes in the dishwasher and came to the table to take our silverware and glasses.
“So...what did he think, then?”
“Well...he made some good points, even though they kind of feel like cop-outs to me. Like, we didn't make any rules about what we could do as couples and what needed to be all three of us or anything.”
“It's a fair point,” Gray said as he dropped the silverware into the dishwasher and retook his seat. “I mean, we kissed without all three of us being there and making out is the next thing to copping a feel, right?”
I shook my head. “I just kind of felt like sex was something where...a line in the sand, you know? It was a big step.”
“Oh, I know,” Gray said, nodding. “As much as I love making out with you, I'd been talking with Seth about wanting to take that next step. He said you weren't ready, but that we'd talk. Only, we never did.”
A slight frown settled on my features. “He said I wasn't ready? I mean, yeah, I hadn't been but...you'd think he'd have said something to me, eventually. After all the three of us had been dating for a few months.”
Gray shifted in his chair. “How close did you guys get? You know, before I was in the picture.”
I shrugged. “We made out pretty intensely but, well, when he'd touch my dick I just kind of shut down. But, that was before you. After the Valentine's dance, Seth never tried...again,” I said, thinking to myself.
“Maybe he thought he was being respectful?” Gray asked.
“Maybe,” I conceded. “Or maybe he wasn't ready, anymore.”
Silence hung in the air and it was broken by Gray saying, “I don't understand why he'd do that, Logan. He said he loved us both and you don't kiss someone like he did us if you aren't attracted. Do you...think I was the problem?”
I shook my head and reached for his hand. “No. Seth told me we should include you and I agreed. It wasn't you...I think, maybe, it was me.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, doubtfully.
“Well, like I said, I hadn't been ready. I was still adjusting to the idea of being bisexual and Seth and I had a little disagreement about it. But, in the end, he said he'd stick by me and wait for me to be ready. Thinking about it, though, that's the last time it ever came up—the night of the Valentine's dance. I don't know if he was waiting for me to say something or...the part that doesn't make sense,” I said, “is that he told you we'd talk about it and then never did. Hey, why didn't you bring it up with me?”
Gray squinted his eyes a little and said, “Seth was there first. I kind of followed along, some I guess. Deferred to him. I talked to him, because he knew how long I'd wanted to be part of your life and, I felt, he knew you more intimately than I did. But why would he push it off?”
“I don't know.”
Eventually Gray went down and put our things in the wash, then we went back to his room to watch a movie. He told his mom we were turning in and we wished her a goodnight. Once in his room, he pulled his shirt off and tossed it on top of his dresser and turned on his TV.
“Do you want to get changed for bed?” I asked.
As the Netflix logo appeared on the screen he turned and pushed the sweats down off his hips and let them puddle around the floor.
“I was thinking the bed would be plenty warm with you in it, so...I'm changed. How about you?”
Of all the stupid questions...
The show was really well done. The theater was an old one with lots of baroque styling and gold leaf paint and the acoustics were awfully good. Gray and I wandered out to the lobby during the intermission and, after hitting the bathroom, were talking in an alcove about the show.
“I'm pleasantly surprised with the show,” he admitted. “it's kind of funny, if you pay attention.”
“Isn't it witty?” I asked, grinning. “The singers are really good. I'm so glad you came with me.” I took his hand in mine and squeezed lightly.
He flashed me a crooked grin. “I'm glad you invited me.”
“Uh, hi, guys.”
We turned and were both kind of shocked to see Seth, even though I'd recognize his voice anywhere. Gray glanced at me and then said hello to Seth, his voice cautious.
“Hi,” I said. “I, um, didn't expect to run into you here.”
“And miss this? No way,” he said with enthusiasm. “Sora got tickets and I'm introducing Foster to theater.”
I felt a pang that he'd not thought of me first when it came to our shared love of theater. A shadow crossed his face and Seth said, “Oh. I guess, I...” he moved his hands helplessly.
I was mustering a response when Gray suddenly burst out angrily. “That's such a shitty thing to do, Seth.”
“Well, it's not like—”
“Not like he's you're friend?” Gray interrupted, his voice a growl. “I'm the one that screwed up. I apologized and even though it hurts that you dropped me, I guess I understand. But none of this was Logan's fault.”
Seth's face pinched in a frown. “Hey, I wasn't the one that had sex behind your back.”
“Yeah? I wasn't the one that said we'd talk about it and never did. Then the only call I get from you is to work your shift? Even then you said we'd talk, but you went right back to—” Gray held his hands up as if in surrender. “Fine, okay, you know what? This is what you want? Fine. But let me remind you that you claimed I was still your friend and you still loved me, and then you shut us both out of your life.”
“I said I needed time and space!” Seth grumbled, his voice beginning to get louder.
“Is a month enough time, Seth?” I asked, quietly. I glanced at Gray and then turned back to Seth. “I guess a public space isn't the best place to have this conversation, but I guess it's the only way we get to talk to you. I could have understood a week or two, Seth, but it's been a month.”
“Is has not!” Seth scoffed. He looked back and forth at us and Gray grunted that he'd meet me at our seats and left. Seth watched him go and as he did, his face changed.
“Yeah,” I said softly. “That says it all. Look, Seth...I'm sorry for what happened. Even right now, when I'm so mad at you, I still love you. You're so special to me and I never wanted to hurt you.”
Seth looked down at his shoes and said, “I know. I feel the same way, Logan. For both of you.”
“Then...why, Seth? I understand you were hurt, but you went away high and angry...I thought you'd reach out.”
He winced and said, softly, “I guess it really has been a month, hasn't it?”
“It has,” I confirmed. “Gray and I felt it every day.”
“Felt what?” he asked.
“You being missing.”
He looked aside and said, “Gray's wrong. It's not all his fault.”
“I know,” I said, nodding. “I have some responsibility, no matter how much he tries to protect me. I accept that.”
“No, that's not what I meant,” he said. Hesitantly he brought his eyes up to me. “Do you remember the conversation we had after the Valentine's dance?”
I nodded that I did.
“When you kissed Grayson, I could see something special happening. I mean, I recognized...it's hard to explain,” he said, waving his hand. “It was like watching fate happen.”
“Does that have something to do with why you didn't want to talk about us having sex?”
He nodded slowly. “There was something between you two that you and I didn't have. I didn't see it at first, but the longer we were together, the more I saw it. I tried to ignore it, I probably could have done it for a long time if things stayed the way they were. Don't get me wrong,” he said, holding up a hand. “I'm sure, physically, I could have taken that step. But I knew something was...off. I should have talked to you about it.”
“Maybe,” I said weakly and shrugged. “I'm not sure I'd have believed you.”
“Well...with me gone, you guys are solid, right? I mean, you guys got closer?”
“Only in the last two days,” I admitted. “We kept thinking you'd come back. But the longer you ignored us...well, the idea of losing you both was just more than I could take, Seth.”
“You haven't lost me, Logan.”
“You said that before. That we'd be best friends, first. That you'd never go away. Then this thing happened and you did go away. It's...it's been hard. I know we all had some guilt, here. But...what now?”
Seth shook his head. “I feel so foolish. I thought I had it all figured out, but I never stopped to think how I was affecting you guys. I honestly wasn't trying to lock you guys out, long term. I guess I just got wrapped up in... ” He stopped for a moment, then looked embarrassed. Finally, sighing heavily, he said, “I'm in love with someone.”
I felt my chest tighten, but I forced myself to speak. “Well, that's great, Seth. Who is it?”
Seth reached out tentatively. “Logan, I don't love you any less. I just love you differently. I'm sorry for the way I dragged this out; I was being selfish. I wanted to explore this new relationship and I ignored my friends to do it, even though I really didn't realize how long this has been going on. Can we...work this out? Can you forgive me?”
“I'm sure I can. I want to. But I feel a little...uncertain.”
“I can understand that. I know I have some work to do. Just telling you won't give you any confidence in me right now, but I'm going to do it.”
I nodded and wet my lips. “I'd like that. A lot.”
“I know this might not be the best time to ask, but,” he said, hesitating and looking off in the direction Gray had gone. “I know I have a lot of work to do to fix things. Talking here, right now, isn't going to work with Gray. I'm going to fix it but, please don't tell him, okay? I'll surprise him.”
“Surprise him?” I asked. “You're going to surprise him with an apology?”
Seth brought his green eyes back into my view and said, “I'm going to have to sneak up on him, I think, since I blew my chances at just talking. That part, I screwed up and I realize it, now. It's my turn to fix things, but don't tell him, okay? Let him and me work this out—and I promise I'll make the first move.”
“Gray will forgive you, eventually,” I said. “He's hurt, too. We both have been feeling pretty guilty; it's what took so long for us to get any closer.”
“You look good together. It looks right.”
I smiled and glanced in the direction of our seats as the lobby lights dimmed and then brightened again to indicate we should return to our seats. “Maybe it was fate, Seth. If fate wanted Gray and I to be a couple and not part of a three way...whatever, then it happened. But I want you back, Seth, and I know Gray does, too.”
“As a friend, right?” Seth said, tentatively.
“I told you, and I meant it. Whatever way keeps you in my life.”
Moisture stood in Seth's eyes and the lobby lights dimmed again.
“Let's talk after school this week. I have a boyfriend I want you to meet and...I'll fix things with Gray.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
Quick as a flash Seth was hugging me and sniffing in my ear. “I'm sorry.”
I held him fast and said, “Me too.”
We broke the embrace and, with a final glance, headed our separate ways, returning to our seats. Gray wore a nervous expression on his face and I smiled at him reassuringly.
“So...did you get him back?” he asked.
“He said we'll talk this week. It's a start.”
Gray looked away and nodded. “So...is he going to be your boyfriend again?”
Gray's lip was quivering and my heart broke for him. Maybe it was because he'd tried to be with me for so long, maybe that affected him, but I was pretty sure he thought I was trying to replace him with Seth. The lights dimmed once more, the final warning, and I reached over and took Gray's hand, lacing my fingers in between his and pressing our forearms together.
“The last few days I've been trying to put everything together like a puzzle. I was wondering where people and love fit and I didn't even know what the picture looked like that I was trying to put together.”
“What?” he asked, confusion lacing his tone.
“This is the picture,” I said, leaning into him and holding our interlaced hands together. “You and me. It doesn't even matter that Seth has a boyfriend because I already have one.” I squeezed his hand. “You're my missing puzzle piece; you're a perfect fit.”
Gray looked down shyly and then brought his gaze back toward me. “You're the perfect one.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head and smiling at him. “I just got lucky with you.”