"You just started dating, it shouldn't be too hard to break things off, especially if you tell her the truth," Seth suggested.
"I can't do that!" Jacob lamented. "First, she was so excited. Second, I still don't want anyone else to know. If I break up with her without giving a reason she'll be devastated. I’ll feel like such an asshole."
"You are the asshole, remember? You haven't been dating long, how devastated could she be?"
"How devastated would you be?"
They sat in silence.
"Fuck. If I break up with her, how am I going to keep up the charade with the other girls? The only reason they're leaving me alone now is because I'm dating Sarah."
"You are NOT going to be sleeping around with girls just for appearances," proclaimed Seth.
"No, of course not, I wouldn't want to anyway. But how do I explain that without giving myself away?"
They went back to sitting in silence, trying to find ways around their predicament.
The reality of what just happened hit Jacob like a ton of bricks. He did like Seth. He really liked Seth. It’s probably why he had hated Seth so much to begin with. He didn’t want to turn back. He didn’t want to deny it anymore. It felt too good. But Sarah went to his dad’s church. Sarah’s parents knew his parents. Everyone in church probably already knew they were dating. Jacob suddenly felt trapped. Even if no one found out about Seth, breaking Sarah’s heart would get him in enough trouble. He had dug his own grave.
"I don't like it, but it might be our only choice for now," Seth finally spoke up.
"You keep dating Sarah." Seth sighed and pressed himself against the bed again.
"Weren't you the one opposed to me dating her in the first place? You said if I hurt her you'd never speak to me again." Jacob looked intently at Seth, trying to understand him.
"Okay, first? I was jealous. Of course, I was jealous! Jeeze! I didn't want you dating anyone! You had only just kissed me and run off the night before. Anyone would be pissed." Despite his words, Seth looked a little embarrassed. "And second, well, it's a shitty thing to do to a person. Sarah's a nice person. She's very trusting. It will be taking advantage of that, but-" Seth stopped himself but then seemed to find the words he was looking for. "I feel like being a little selfish, okay? If you dating her means she doesn’t get hurt yet and I otherwise get you to myself, that feels like the best solution right now. We'll make it up to her somehow when the time comes."
They descended into silence yet again. Seth was right. Sarah would provide good cover, and he knew his parents would be thrilled with him dating her. They would overlook other possibilities.
Finally, Jacob agreed, "Okay. I keep dating Sarah. This can't possibly blow up in our faces."
Seth reached out and took Jacob's hand, knitting their fingers together. "We'll figure it out together," reassured Seth as he squeezed Jacob’s hand. Jacob had never felt that kind of affection before. It was strange, but not bad.
"This whole day sure went in a direction I did not expect,” sighed Jacob. “So. Now that we’re being truthful and shit, will you tell me who punched you?”
“You did, asshole,” Seth jabbed, but Jacob could hear from his voice that he was smiling now.
“You know what I’m talking about.” Jacob wasn’t about to let Seth wriggle out of it this time.
“It was stupid.”
“I still want to know.”
“It was just some jerks outside the Target down in Nampa. Me ‘n Jessica go shopping down there sometimes. We’re less likely to run into anyone we know. I was wearing a rainbow shirt I had just bought - Target has been getting things like that lately - and some dude called me a fag across the parking lot. I gave him the finger and me and Jessica headed to her car. We didn’t see them coming. They must have run across the parking lot to reach us -” Seth stopped mid sentence. His grip on Jacob’s hand tightened. “Jessica was on the other side of the car. She saw them first. One guy grabbed my shoulder and turned me around. He punched me in the face. Another one punched me in the gut and I fell down. Then I think they were kicking me. I think I could hear Jessica screaming. I wasn’t really aware of much at that point. I was just trying to protect myself. Jessica said she threatened to call the police and the dudes ran off.”
Jacob was stunned. Seth hadn’t done anything. “They just… attacked you for your clothes? That’s assault! Have you reported them?”
“Like they’d do anything. I don’t even remember what they looked like. Jessica probably does. She said we should report it too, but I just want it to be done. I don’t want to have to think about it. I was lucky to not end up in the hospital this time.” Seth paused and lifted his shirt. Blue and purple bruises darkened the skin across his chest and abdomen. “The black eye is the least of it.”
A hot rage slowly started to boil under Jacob’s skin. It was one thing for him to be scared for himself - he had his position on the team, and his dad’s position in the community to worry about - but random violence just because Seth existed was more than Jacob could take. No one deserved that. That was not the message Jesus gave, not even in his Dad’s church. There was no way beating up a kid like Seth was the will of God. Jacob suddenly found himself angry at his father, and the possibility it was what he preached that had gotten Seth injured.
He had always been scared of being found out, and worried that he would disgrace his parents, but he had never been angry at his dad for his beliefs. It seemed only natural. For the first time he thought of his father as the enemy, as a person in the way of his happiness. There was nothing wrong with Seth. There was no reason for him to endure that kind of pain. Even Jacob’s dad would have to agree with that, right?
“You really wont go to the police?” he asked Seth.
Seth was rigid next to him. “No,” he said. “I don’t want it to drag out. I just want to forget it happened. It’s not like it will make it better. It will just make them angrier. It’s not the first time I’ve been hit for being gay, it’s just the worst time.”
Jacob felt the phantom pain on his own knuckles from splitting Seth’s lip only a week before. He looked at Seth and he could still see the faint evidence of it. “I’m so sorry. I guess, I’m no better.”
“You had your reasons. You’re still an asshole, but I did corner you.” Jacob couldn’t accept that.
“I know it doesn’t mean much, but I wont let that ever happen again; not from me, or any other assholes who have a problem with you.”
“That’s nice of you to say,” sighed Seth, “but you wont always be there. You don’t have that kind of power, and no one’s supposed to know about us, so…”
The resignation in Seth’s voice twisted Jacob’s heart in his chest. He wished he could contradict him, but he knew Seth was right. There wasn’t much he could do without outing himself as well.
“Well, we should go back down to the party before anyone gets suspicious right?” said Seth, conspiratorially. Jacob could hear a note of sadness in his voice though, and it tugged at his insides. “We shouldn’t be seen heading down at the same time. I’ll go first.” Seth let go of Jacob’s hand and got up.
Jacob felt the distance immediately. This little bubble was about to be burst and they would have to go back to pretending not to know each other again. Jacob would have to go pretend to be straight again. He would have to pretend Seth’s presence didn’t make his heart beat like a hummingbird again. He stood up and grabbed Seth and pulled him up into another kiss. He was a good head taller than Seth, and he had to bend down slightly to do so. Seth wrapped his arms around him and squeezed.
Seth broke the kiss first and pulled away. “Gotta go. I’ll see you at school.”
And Seth was out the door. Jacob was left alone in the room. Wasn’t this what he came up here for in the first place? The room felt very empty now. What had Jacob just done to himself?
“Goddammit,” Jacob breathed, missing the feel of Seth already. Don’t take the lord’s name in vain, Jacob.
Jacob sat alone in the darkness. What did he just do? He could hear his heartbeat in his ears as realization began to spread through his brain. He had admitted he liked Seth. He was still dating Sarah. Did that mean he was cheating on Sarah with Seth? Or was he cheating on Seth with Sarah? Seth knew about Sarah, so he supposed it must be Sarah getting the shittiest end of the stick here. They were using her. Guilt ripped through his chest at the thought. He wasn’t lying when he told her he liked her. He did. She was kind. She didn’t deserve this, but what else could they do? He would have to tell her eventually, but he knew he wouldn’t have the guts to do it yet. Seth liked him. As much dread as he felt thinking about what all this meant, he had an eq
Monday morning practice brought relief to Jacob's nerves. He always felt better on the court. This was his place, his purpose. The familiar feel of the bumpy rubber texture in his hands before a free-throw was comforting. He extended his arm and released the ball from his fingertips. It flew through the air and he felt at peace. The ball swished through the net of the basket, not even close to the rim. That was bliss.Practice ended and brought Jacob back to the present. For the first time since he joined, Jacob ended with the rest of the team. He didn't even notice their presence. They were just other guys; it's not like they were Seth. They were different now. The world was segregated into Seth and Not-Seth.Bret noticed Jacob was with them. "Look at you! Not doing overtime today? Finally giving the rest of us a chance to catch up?" It was no secret tha
Jacob followed Seth up the cement walkway to his door. On his last visit to this house, he had been angry, apprehensive, and a bit guilty. He hadn’t been aware of anything but the possibility someone would soon out him if he didn’t get ahead of the situation. How things had changed in just over a week. He was still apprehensive, but this time it was an exciting, arousing apprehension that brought a blush to his face and amplified his senses.He noticed the boxwood bushes that lined the yard between Seth’s townhouse and the next, and the overgrown rose bushes in the small garden along the front of the house. The yard was otherwise completely empty. The house was pale grey with bare windows curtained on the inside with heavy drapes. The houses on either side were freshly painted, with pale yellow on one side and sky blue on the other. Seth’s house looked worn, with knicks and de
The bottom dropped out of Jacob’s stomach. The aroused excitement he had been lost in moments before had been transmuted into terror. He was done. This was it. He had gotten greedy and now his life would be ruined. He struggled back into his shirt. He was ready to bolt out the door and all the way back home. He fumbled with his belt, too stressed to handle the small buckle.Seth reached out and stopped his hands, then guided them out of the way so he could buckle Jacob’s belt for him. “It’s gonna be fine,” he said, more confidently than he looked. “We’ll explain.”“Explain how his son was just about to be screwed by another dude?”“I was about to be screwed, huh?” chuckled Seth. “My dad knows about me. He’s just… h
Tuesday.Jacob changed in his room after school. He was used to his dad hosting dinners and social functions with church people; it had been happening for most of his life. He dressed in his nice clothes, put on his Church Son persona, and prepared for an evening of small talk. He was used to it.These dinners had never been about him before. Sarah would be there. The Williams’ would actually want to know something about this guy who was dating their daughter. What had Sarah told them? Surely she wouldn’t have said anything about his reputation at school. What would they talk about? He still barely knew Sarah. He hadn’t spent much time with her outside of school yet. One dinner with a partner's parents was enough for one week. He didn’t think thi
Jacob pulled on his home game jersey over his head. It did not seem fair that Forge would have to play Middleton first. Middleton High School’s Vikings had taken the state title two years in a row and took the consolation the year before that. Forge had only had a high school basketball team for the last two years. This was the first year there had been seniors on the varsity team.Jacob was apprehensive but the rest of his team seemed overly confident after their triumph over Columbia without his help. They had never beat Middleton. The Middleton Vikings were generally unbeaten. Preston beat Middleton the year they got the consolation trophy, but Preston hadn’t been able to beat them since.The Middleton team had rock-solid plays, but they had lost all their strongest offensive players to graduation last year, which could give other tea
Brett passed the ball to Jacob, who went up for a three point. Jacob’s new guard backed into him, a legal move, causing him to step back on his right foot. His ankle screamed under him. As the ball left his hands he knew it was over. They hadn’t made a single basket since Middleton called the time out.After the ball hit the rim, Middleton caught the rebound and took off to the other end of the court. Jacob did his best to not limp as he hurried to catch up to guard his man. They scored eighteen points in the last fifteen minutes. Forge was just too tired to mount a strong defense anymore, and Jacob was struggling to not trip over his own feet, let alone get any more baskets. Middleton did not end the game with a strong lead, but they didn’t need it. They won. The whole team crowded together to celebrate before lining up for the post-game handshake. The locker room was already deserted, but the air still smelled of sweat, and steam from the showers clung warm and heavy to Jacob’s skin.“They sure get out of here quick,” Seth commented. “Do they even wash up?”Jacob laughed. “Sort of.” He winced as Seth helped him to sit on a bench. “It’s more of a rinse.”Seth kneeled down and began unlacing Jacob’s shoes.“You don’t have to do that,” Jacob argued as he put a hand out to stop Seth.“I said I would help.” Seth removed the ice pack from Jacob’s ankle and set it on the bench.Jacob glanced down at his boyfriend, curious what Seth was thinking, but a curtain of curls hid Seth’s face as he worked. His boyfriend. Was Seth his boyfriend, though? They hadn’t yet had that conversation.Jacob peeled his jersey off. He was still swe
Your Secret's Safe with Me Hot Showers
The locker room was already deserted, but the air still smelled of sweat, and steam from the showers clung warm and heavy to Jacob’s skin.“They sure get out of here quick,” Seth commented. “Do they even wash up?”Jacob laughed. “Sort of.” He winced as Seth helped him to sit on a bench. “It’s more of a rinse.”Seth kneeled down and began unlacing Jacob’s shoes.“You don’t have to do that,” Jacob argued as he put a hand out to stop Seth.“I said I would help.” Seth removed the ice pack from Jacob’s ankle and set it on the bench.Jacob glanced down at his boyfriend, curious what Seth was thinking, but a curtain of curls hid Seth’s face as he worked. His boyfriend. Was Seth his boyfriend, though? They hadn’t yet had that conversation.Jacob peeled his jersey off. He was still swe