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Chapter Seven – Stiff, Stiff, Stiffer
Carter took the glass of wine from the table with a methodical gesture, brought it to his lips and took a long sip of … nothing.
“Do you want more wine?” Aron asked him.
“Just give me the bottle,” he mumbled.
He needed more than that, but he had to make do with whatever he had at his disposal. So he just drank straight from the bottle, while Aron continued to just watch him in absolute shock and silence.
“You knew that,” Aron eventually spoke. “That is why you were so pissed.”
He could not talk right now. He was way too busy drinking wine straight from the bottle to reply to that. Okay, maybe he was starting to feel a light buzz … Nope. He could handle his liquor a bit too well, it looked. Perhaps just another thing in common with Alex. Good alcohol tolerance.
“Do you have anything stiffer?” he looked at the wine bottle with regret.
“Alex, don’t get drunk. C’mon, for how long are you going to run away from this? We’ve never had this conversation about Carter. Maybe it’s time to have it. I want to tell you one thing before you go ballistic or, whatever, drunk. I intend to talk to him if he ever wakes up from that coma. And, while I do care about what you think and I love you very much, Carter is my best friend, and I must settle things with him. It was completely out of character for him to act the way he did. I deserve an explanation, and I’m going to get it.”
Carter could feel the muscles in his legs going all soft. And something was happening somewhere in the middle of his chest again, but he had no intention to go there, to be honest.
“Carter is your best friend?” he needed the confirmation on that.
“What?” Aron looked at him like he could not get it.
“You said it like he still is your best friend. Not ex-best friend.”
“If you want to fight, fine. But this is one decision you cannot make me come back from. No matter how much you pout. You are my husband, and you should support me, even if you don’t always agree with me.”
“I don’t want to fight. I just want to know,” Carter rested the empty bottle against his forehead. There was no way for him to face all this on a clear head. But the cool sensation was making his tangled thoughts a tiny bit clearer right now.
“Okay. You know,” Aron spoke, still a bit irritated.
Carter had no idea how to react to that. Aron? Crushing on him? How? Why? When? Why? Oh, no, he was repeating himself.
“Fine,” he placed the empty bottle carefully on the table. “I mean, I’m fine with it. I mean, with Carter still being your best friend. Not with you crushing on him, though. That is weird as fuck.”
Of course, it was weird as fuck. And how come he had no idea about it? He was trying hard now to remember things, situations that should have given Aron’s crush on him away. But, at this point, he was just coming up empty. And there was no amnesia to blame it on. Anyhow, there was a solution to that, and, until he could clear his head and decide what to do, a bit of info could not hurt. Or it could. But he needed to hear Aron out.
“You have no reason to be jealous,” Aron spoke. “It’s all in the past. But he is still my best friend, and, despite his homophobic tendencies, he might come to live with the idea of me being gay. I need to make him see things how they are. He was such an important part of my life for so long. The fact that I’m married to a guy shouldn’t matter this much. He just needs some adjusting, that’s all.”
“Stop making such a case for him,” Carter cut Aron short.
What the hell. Frankly, now he was feeling embarrassed. Aron wanted so much to forgive him that he was willing to just forget about all the idiotic things Carter had said at the wedding. Carter wasn’t so sure he was supposed to be forgiven.
“Well, I have to. He’s not here to defend himself,” Aron replied. “And who knows? Maybe …”
Aron didn’t speak the words and just looked away. Carter got up, thankful he was not drunk and walked over to Aron. He wasn’t sure how to comfort the guy, seeing that they were actually talking about him. So he just awkwardly embraced him. Aron hugged him back, and for a few seconds, they stood like that.
“Better?” he caressed the other’s back slowly.
Aron threw him a grateful look. Excellent. Now he felt even more of a douchebag than before. He went back to his chair.
“Care to tell me about it?”
Curiosity was needling him to ask. He had to ask.
“About me crushing on my straight best friend?” Aron chuckled. “Are you sure?”
“100%,” Carter nodded.
Maybe he was blind. But a weird kind of blind, the kind that could see things, except for important stuff like his best friend crushing on him.
“Well, where do I start?” Aron said slowly, as his eyes became a tad unfocused, smiling at the memories.
“From the start,” Carter shrugged. “When did you fall in love with him?”
“Ah, that’s a difficult question,” casino şirketleri Aron laughed. “I cannot really tell. Maybe since forever. But I’m not in love with him now,” he added quickly, stealing one nervous glance at his husband.
“Stop fretting. I can take it.”
Well, not exactly true, but he needed to know, and that was final.
” I realized something was not quite right about it all, one night when we were in 9th grade.”
“When you were 14 years old?”
“Yeah, about that time. Carter was so upset that night. I can still remember everything like it was yesterday. He had just seen some girl he liked kissing another boy. He was so inconsolable. It is true that he had a tendency of being overly dramatic, but when you’re only 14, it’s not like you have too much of a choice but to be overly dramatic. He was sleeping at my house and, for the entire evening, while we were supposed to go to sleep, like good boys, he just complained about that girl. Before eventually wishing me good night, and after making very strange and elaborate plans of how to impress the girl or just beat up the boy who had stolen her from him, he told me this: I wished so much my first kiss to be with her. And he fell asleep after that, and I just stood there, without turning off the lamp, and stared at him. At his lips. And all I could think of was how that girl could be so blind and not see how awesome Carter was. And that moment I knew who I wanted my first kiss to be with.”
Carter could feel his throat getting drier and drier. And the bottle was just so, so empty.
“And?” he dared.
He remembered that night, too. Particularly a strange thing, like the dream he had had right after falling asleep. Like he had just walked into that dream.
“I did a stupid thing. Not that I exactly regret it, in retrospect. Maybe it was then that I started to realize I was gay. Not immediately. I was still a kid. But maybe it was a good thing.”
Aron was staring at his hands.
“C’mon, Aron, what did you do?”
Carter was pretty sure he was holding his breath right now.
“I got up from my bed,” Aron began talking after a few seconds, his eyes still lost or, better said, fixed on a vision floating in front of him from times past. “I tiptoed to Carter’s bed, and I looked at him, for several minutes, I think. Or less. It all felt so surreal. He was deep in sleep. His chest was rising and falling. His lips … Damn, I can’t believe I’m telling you all these.”
“I cannot believe it, either,” Carter mumbled, cradling the empty bottle to his chest.
“Should I bring you some water?” Aron made a move to get up from his chair.
“No,” Carter manipulated the bottle to point at Aron. “Sit down and confess everything.”
“It’s like I’m being grilled by the police,” Aron joked.
“Shut up and talk,” Carter said, this time more irritated.
Aron opened his mouth to comment on the absurdity of that request, but he was a wise man. He knew when not to dally.
“I stared at him, and I just thought of how beautiful he was to me. The most beautiful person in the world, that very moment. So I just leaned over him, and I placed my lips on his mouth. I had no idea about kissing, either. But I supposed it was enough to count as a kiss. So, there you have it. I stole my best friend’s first kiss. What’s the verdict, judge?” Aron made a small attempt to joke, but it was clear to Carter, clear as day, that the guy was nervous.
He remembered that night. All too well. The dream he had had, the girl’s soft lips on his, all well in his imagination, he, the chosen boy, not the other. Funny thing, he could not remember her name, or her face, or anything about her right now. Only the sensation – the imaginary sensation – of her lips on his.
And now, at 32, 18 years later, 18 frigging years later, he was learning that it had not been his imagination, but a real thing, and it had not been that girl, but his best friend?
He got up so fast that the chair dropped with a loud thump on the kitchen floor.
“I think I need a bit of air,” he said and walked stiffly out of the room, still holding the empty bottle close to him, like it was the most precious thing in the universe for him right now, a link to the real world, because if that crazy body swap had not managed to convince him he was crazy, this … this could not be real.
He took a seat on the steps outside. The street was quiet at that hour, and there was no one around to see him just sitting there, looking most probably like a perfect lunatic with an empty bottle held close to his chest.
And he just felt betrayed all over again, just like that time when Aron had told him he was marrying some guy.
What was he to do with that information? Aron had been the first guy to kiss him. No, that wasn’t right. The only guy to ever kiss him. And the first person to ever kiss him.
It seemed childish to be mad. And he wasn’t. He was just … confused. He didn’t know what to feel, casino firmaları what to make of it. He had been curious about it the moment Aron had mentioned his old crush. And now he only had more questions. Why did Aron have to be so …
Gay? Was this really why he was fretting over things? When had he been bothered, ever, by such things? Live and let live. Make love, not war. Blah, blah, blah. Still, he believed in such things.
Everything was such a mess because of Aron. Because, if Aron hadn’t liked guys, it would all have been straight and simple. Straight, he snorted. But it was not like Aron could help it, right? He could not just choose not to be gay.
Damn, everything was so confusing. What if he was the one fucked up in the head? Aron had said that he had realized he was gay because he liked Carter more than just a friend. Wait. Did that mean that he had made Aron gay? Was it something he did? They had always been close, but …
No, that was stupid. Even he knew that. He groaned and slumped his shoulders. What the fuck was he going to do now?
He froze as he heard Aron opening the door behind him. He wasn’t ready to talk to him right now.
“Hey,” Aron sat down and touched his elbow gently.
“I’m okay,” he mumbled. “It just came as a shock, that’s all.”
“You really don’t remember, do you?” Aron asked, with a mix of hurt and disappointment in his voice. “We should take you back to the hospital, run some tests, maybe …”
Carter could feel Aron’s mistrust. Alex must have been a class A diva if no one believed him that he was amnesic. And the truth was, he wasn’t. He was just not Alex.
“And?” he asked. “When did you fall out of love with Carter?”
“When I met you.”
There was no trace of hesitation in Aron’s voice now. God only knew what Aron could see in Alex. Oh, okay, he knew what. The guy was beautiful, and not only by gay standards. But his personality seemed to be the problem. Or maybe Carter was just jaded about the guy stealing Aron from him. But he was not that much of an asshole not to admit that he was unfair. For their teenage and youth years, he had basically friendzoned Aron. Unconsciously, yes, but still. And if there was one thing Carter had always hated was this friendzoning thing. He had never tolerated girls doing it, and now he was finding out that he was the one who had friendzoned his best friend.
“Well, at least, you’re not crushing on him anymore,” he tried to be philosophical about it.
“No,” Aron confirmed. “You’re the only one for me.”
The other’s touch was gentle. Aron slowly guided him so they could face each other. Carter could not deny that the way Aron moved his thumbs slowly, caressing his jawline, had a calming effect. Aron brought their foreheads together and exhaled.
“I’ve never been unfaithful to you. The moment you walked into my life was the happiest. Until that moment, I felt like … I was just running. Away from something. Not one moment towards something. And then you happened. And you made me the happiest man alive.”
Maybe it was the wine, but Carter could not remember ever feeling so touched by a romantic confession. Some girlfriends had been optimistic enough to drag him to chick flics, but more than half the time, he had just dozed off or thought about other stuff.
But this, this felt real, and the worst part was that he wasn’t Alex, and, no matter how much of a douchebag that guy was, he deserved to hear this from his husband. He had his work cut out for him all right. If he wasn’t pushing Aron away, he was forcing his best friend to become a cheater. If he was pushing Aron away, he was just making his best friend unhappy. What the fuck was he supposed to do?
Aron, apparently, had no idea of the turmoil Carter’s mind was in right now. And he had his own agenda because he leaned in closer and began brushing his lips against Carter’s.
There was no way to fight this. Carter drew a long breath and exhaled, making Aron stop.
“It’s okay,” Carter mumbled. “At least you’re not in love with Carter anymore.”
He should have felt relief at that simple statement, but, as Aron’s kiss deepened, he could not help a small sensation of … loss. It went away, as Aron’s tongue probed his mouth, and he had no other choice but to open wide.
He was supposed to still be a little upset over Aron stealing his first kiss. But the truth was, back then, at 14, and right now, Aron was an incredible kisser. How else could the memory of that kiss from such a long time ago be so vivid in his mind? He could feel the guy’s hands on his back, holding him gently, his fingers moving ever so lightly, comforting him.
For lack of anything else to do, he let his hands rest on Aron’s shoulders. His broad, solid shoulders, on which, Carter had once thought, all the weight of the world could rest. He missed his best friend so much that even this he could accept. Kiss back, like he meant it. It was just a kiss.
A gay kiss. Yet, still, he güvenilir casino did not have it in him to push Aron away. It was more than just a kiss. And not because it was heated, and there was so much tongue in it, or because it felt so good. But because it was … a real kiss. The only fraud was he, no one else. And playing nice meant protecting Aron’s marriage to that douchebag. Aron loved his husband. And the least he could do was to try to behave like Alex for a while. Like a loving husband.
It was so damn hard to keep a line of reasoning with that nifty tongue caressing the inside of his mouth like it was making love to it. It was pretty strange to touch Aron’s face like he was on the point to stop him. It was pretty strange to be in this situation, period. Never before had he caressed the person he was kissing and felt short stubble instead of a smooth cheek.
Regardless of how much of a homophobe he was, he was kissing back now, and even the small burn from Aron’s stubble felt … nice. Well, he was a homophobe only when it came to Aron and his marriage. But it didn’t matter. He was practically repenting his sins by letting Aron kiss him. By kissing back.
He moved his tongue, too, and Aron made a small, frustrated sound. Soon enough, he was pushed on his back, right there on the stairs, with Aron on top. The guy was quick to sneak one hand under his t-shirt and touch his chest.
No, that was not the right term to describe what Aron was doing to him. His rough hand was grabbing Carter’s right pec, teasing the nipple, catching it lightly between two fingers, and playing with it.
Fuck. The sensation was almost unbearable. Like he was weak in the knees, but hard between his legs. Wait, wait, wait. Okay, so it was Alex’s body. A gay guy’s body. It was entirely normal to have his nipples teased and get a hard-on. He just needed to accept that explanation once and for all.
Aron was humping him through the clothes, and Carter could feel the man’s huge erection rubbing against his. Damn, he was sure this was how bad decisions happened. With a tongue in his mouth, nasty fingers now pinching both his nipples – how on earth did that happen, because he could not remember? – and a guy’s cock making good on his.
“Get a room already, people!” an angry shout made them stop.
Carter felt pretty much confused when he looked at a grey haired guy in jogging pants waving at them with both arms, like he was a strange giant bird, from across the street. He also wore a weird hat, like the kind one would take fishing.
Was that the uniform of the cock block police these days? It was pretty lame, but the cock block police were pretty lame, no matter which way he looked at it.
“No worries, Mr. Armstrong,” Aron waved back while straightening himself up and helping Carter to his feet, too. “I’m taking my husband inside right now.”
“You better,” the elderly man shook his head energetically. “There could be kids, you know!”
“I know, Mr. Armstrong,” Aron said, obviously interested in appeasing the man. “We will just get back inside right now.”
“Good,” the man nodded, and began jogging again, but he continued to watch them, from beneath his fishing hat, with hawk-like eyes.
What a fucking douche! Carter thought. Aron smiled apologetically and made a small sign towards the door. Was Aron really fleeing the scene without fighting back? He shrugged.
“Hey, Mr. Armstrong,” he yelled at the nocturnal jogger. “Watch me take my husband inside,” he added with a smirk, and planted one hand firmly on Aron’s ass, as the guy was already heading back to the house.
Aron half turned to look at him. Carter challenged him with his eyes.
“I can barely wait to sink my teeth in this tight ass,” he shouted and stared back at the nosy neighbor.
Mr. Armstrong didn’t have the chance to express his indignation. The sidewalk must have magically tilted because one second later, the guy was plastered on the ground.
“Mr. Armstrong, are you all right?” Aron made a move to walk towards the guy, while Carter guffawed.
“I don’t need your help!” the man struggled on the ground, like a giant tortoise. “Young people today,” he mumbled as he gradually made it on one side with difficulty. “They think they can do whatever they want.”
Aron was still walking towards the man, while Carter was holding his belly with both hands. Eventually, Aron made it to the man and helped him to his feet, while profusely apologizing. Carter leaned against the door frame and watched. The neighbor was now holding Aron’s arm with one gnarly hand and was telling him something in a low voice. Aron seemed to listen intently.
Okay, maybe he could just head back inside on his own. But somehow that would have seemed like a dick move. Never leave a comrade behind. Especially Aron. Maybe the guy needed backup? The neighbor was clearly bent on telling Aron not to kiss his gay husband in public.
Before he could decide on a strategy of extraction for his best friend caught in the line of fire, Aron said goodbye to the neighbor and walked back to him with a purposeful stride. Something in the way Aron stared at him made him stand straight. The look in the man’s eyes was not a good sign, either.
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