The Year We Grew Up – Chapter Eight.

Outspoken. 

There was a silence, no conversation, you could still hear the music playing in the lounge, people talking and laughing, but it was quiet. I was staring, staring into a deep dark pool that mesmerised me, staring into Zack’s dark brown eyes, fixed by a magnetic force, completely captivated. I don’t think I have ever felt like this before.

“Well shall we go join the party,” he said, smiling again.

“Oh yeah… sorry… I was just… I don’t know, I mean yes, I’ll introduce you to everyone.” He must think I’m either drunk, stoned or a total numb nuts, why couldn’t I just act normal with him?

“You were just what Mikey?” He asked.

Thinking quickly now about what to say, the answer just popped right up. “No, I was just gonna say, I don’t have your number. I know your address, I know you’re name, Zack Clifton, but you never gave me your number.”

“You didn’t either Mikey, you never gave me your number, and my name’s not Clifton.”

“It’s not? But it said Clifton on the bell.”

“Yeah, that’s because I never got around to changing the name. Clifton was the guy who let me have the attic after he left for the states.”

Another mystery, one more thing I didn’t know about Zack. Do you think it’s always the same when you fall for someone? You want to know everything there is to know about them, but instead you just accumulate more and more questions.

“OK, well can I have your number please and a name to go with it.” I smiled my nicest cute smile.

We exchanged phone numbers, Zack told me his name was Petrovich, I thought that was Russian or eastern European at any rate, he explained it was Croatian. I led him down the hall to the lounge, pointing out the bathroom and bedrooms on the way.

“So which is your room?” Zack asked.

“There,” I pointed to the half open door on the left. “I share with Josh.”

“Can I take a peek?” Zack smiled as he asked.

“Sure, of course.” I opened the door and surprise, surprise, Josh was sitting on his bed talking to Calvin. “How’s it going guys?” I asked walking into the room, Zack was right behind me.

“Zack,” Calvin said, “I didn’t know you were here as well.”

“Calvin, small world huh,” Zack replied. “You saw Colin then.”

Calvin nodded.

“So how do you guys know each other?” Josh posed the same question that was on my mind.

“Simple,” Zack replied. “Calvin here is a male model.” Zack turned to me a broad grin on his face, but I was looking at Josh. His jaw dropped, I suppose all sorts of ideas were turning around inside his head. We had already agreed that Calvin was extremely good looking, why would it be strange if he was a male model, but then maybe Josh was thinking porno?

Still grining he continued his explanation. “Not a professional, just part time.” He paused a moment weighing up the effect of his words. I was begining to realise that Zack liked his little jokes. “Colin and I are on the same course at art college, Calvin here, was a model for ‘Life Studies’ and he’s a terrific model.”

Calvin smiled at this, Josh seemed just a little relieved, I doubt he could have coped with being in the company of a porn star.

“Come on then,” I said to Zack. “There’s loads of people still to meet.”

I lead Zack into the lounge, it’s weird but I actually took hold of his wrist, I don’t know why I did that, maybe to drag him away from Calvin.

Steve and Mark were still sitting on the floor in the far corner, both looking more than a little wasted. Aaron was with Sammy dancing, no perhaps not dancing, more wrapped around each other and moving slowly to the music in a sort of wavy body motion.

I noticed Mandy brushing Julie’s long hair away from her face. They were in the opposite corner, each holding a drink and talking in a close intimate way. The twins were hovering over Mark and Steve, they looked just a tiny bit bored, maybe because they had lost Calvin to Josh. They were chatting with Colin and looked very pleased when I introduced Zack. I guess they liked meeting new people, rephrase that, they liked meeting hot guys.

I wasn’t about to let them hook onto Zack so I made some excuse about getting something to eat and left them to make do with Colin. I did tell Colin that there was still food left in the kitchen, I kind of gave him an escape route if he wanted to lose the twins.

Back down the hall and in the kitchen alone with Zack I decided now was the time to confront him. Actually that’s not the right word, or maybe it is, I don’t know, what I had to find out was whether he felt the same about me as I felt about him.

“Zack,” I said. “You wouldn’t string me along would you? You must know I like you. Ever since we first met, but I wasn’t sure how you felt. Hell I didn’t even know if you… you know… if you even liked boys. Oh shit, help me out here Zack, I’ve never done this before.” I looked at him like a little lost child looks to a grown up that they want to take hold of their tiny hand and lead them home.

Zack put his arm around my shoulder and squeezed me close into his side. I had never been so close to another boy before, not in this way, it felt good. “I feel the same,” Zack replied, and it was like a warm wave washed over me in that instant, I hadn’t made a mistake, he felt the same. I wanted to kiss him, I turned my head towards his, but I was so uncertain, I’d never kissed a boy before.

Perhaps there is a guardian angle up there looking down on you, or perhaps it’s cupid, but Zack inclined his head towards mine and his lips touched mine as he closed the gap to kiss me. His tongue glided gently across my lips and into my mouth. He turned his whole body to face me, wrapped me in a hug, both his arms around my shoulders. The kiss deepened as our tongues met the played together. I touched his head and moved my hand through his hair. I’d literally waited all my life for this moment.

In that instant I was so happy tears started forming in my eyes. When finally we pulled back from that kiss a tear glided down my cheek and Zack looked me in the eyes and brushed away the tear with his hand, then kissed my damp cheek, kissed the tip of my nose and kissed me on the mouth again.

“Hey,” he said after we ended our second kiss. “Would you like some quiche?”

“You mean your hungry,” I replied.

“Yes,” he answered, and he took a paper plate and scoped up a piece of Ali’s super quiche. He cut the tip of the triangle off the trapped it on the end of his fork, then looking at me he brought the morsel of quiche to my mouth and I closed my lips around it.

There is something so sensual about being fed in that way by the boy you’ve fallen for. I could not ignore the fact that I had a real strong hard on. Zack just smiled, I don’t know if he knew I was hard, I wasn’t about to look down and draw attention to it just to see if it was noticable. Instead I watched him eat the rest of the piece of quiche, I just observed him, his mouth, his lips, so beautiful.

“It’s great quiche,” Zack said finishing his plate.

“Yes,” I replied. “Ali made it, she’s a really good cook.” That made me think I hadn’t seen Ali and James, they weren’t in the lounge, so the only place they could be is Aaron’s bedroom. “Help yourself to another piece Zack, it’s OK.”

It’s funny how one thought leads to another with only the flimsiest of connections, quiche to Ali to where they are, which then led to sex. Doesn’t everything eventually lead to sex or is that just me?

I wanted to be in bed with Zack, I watched him, I looked at his body, I virtually undressed him and imagined lying next to him, naked, skin against skin. All of a sudden I was aware that Zack had finished eating, had put his plate down, and had his hand on my arm.

“What are you thinking Mikey?” He asked.

“I was thinking about you, about us,” I answered.

“What exactly?” He smiled and I’m sure he knew exactly what I had been thinking, but he wanted to play it out.

I grabbed him around the waist and pulled him into another kiss. Then holding him at arms length I whispered, “I was thinking how much I want to be with you, I was thinking how I would like to be lying next to you, touching your bare skin.”

“Wow Mikey,” he looked straight at me. “I’ve got such a huge hard on and you’re making it worse.”

Then we both started laughing. “Beer?” I asked, when things had calmed down a bit.

He nodded and I took two beers out of the little fridge. ” Looks like that’s it for the beers,” I told him.

As if Zack was some sort of super hero it seemed that he could see right inside my head. His super power was mind reading, because next he came straight out and asked me, “Mikey, does everyone know you’re gay?”

The one huge thing I’d been hiding all my life. “Nobody knows Zack, I’ve never told a soul.”

“That’s not good Mikey. You can’t keep something like that to yourself forever. You know that don’t you?”

“I know it, but I don’t know how my friends will take it. Will they look at me differently after I tell them? Will they treat me differently?”

“Well first up Mikey, they’re your friends, of course they will look at you differently, but they won’t treat you any different. They might say ‘oh great so at least you won’t be stealing my girlfriend,’ but you will still be the friend you’ve always been. I’m sure of it, even more so after seeing how everyone is here tonight, all together enjoying the party.”

“Maybe you’re right and I’m just a huge coward, but I can tell you one thing for sure, if my dad found out he’d go ballistic.”

“Well yes, OK. I don’t know your dad or your family, but one thing at a time, I’m sure you can trust your friends. You must have known each other a long time, it certainly looks like that, and you must have shared stuff together. That is not all going to disappear because you tell them your gay.”

“And what about you?” I asked him. “Have you ‘Come out’ ?”

“Everybody at college knows, my friends, Colin, Calvin knows. It’s not hard for other people to guess, well except for you maybe.”

I smiled, “Yeah, I’m a complete idiot when you say it like that.”

“You’re not an idiot Mikey, your my boyfriend.” Zack smiled and took hold of my hand with his and brought my hand to rest on his heart. I was sure I could feel the ‘ba boom, ba boom’ of his heart beat, it was so sweet.

“We’re boyfriends?” I questioned. “You mean it, your my boyfriend, for real?”

“For real Mikey, if you want me, I’m yours.” For the first time looking into Zack’s eyes I saw a sadness and a longing, I can’t exactly describe it. It just made me think that as much as I thought of myself as suffering under the weight of my secret, and at the same time I thought of Zack as this solid character that wasn’t afraid to colour his hair and was in command of the situation, worldly wise compared to me. Now I saw a vulnerable side of Zack, a Zack who it seemed might need me just as much as I wanted him.

I kissed him, on the mouth, on his forehead, on his chin. I brushed my hands through his hair, I held him. “Of course I want you Zack, I love you.”

That’s it, I said it, it’s what I felt, those three little words. “I love you,” I repeated, just so he would know it was real.

“I think,” he said looking at me very seriously. “I think we should go and tell everyone, right now.”

I was stunned, but it made sense, when would there be a better moment. I secretly thought to myself, if it doesn’t work out I could always just say I was drunk.

It’s always great when something works out like it was meant to happen, like that was the exact right time and place. Arms around each other and a beer in the other hand we walked down the hall and into the lounge. No time for reflection, no time for doubt or hesitation. Everyone was crowded in the lounge, I looked around, no one was missing, and the music was playing very quietly.

I looked out through the lounge windows it was black outside except for the orange glow of the street lamp opposite. I hadn’t realised just how late it was, but people were pretty much lounging around like you do near the end of a party.

“I want to make an announcement whilst you are all here. Are you listening? Because I don’t want to repeat it”

I got nearly everyones attention, there were some mumblings along the lines of ‘get on with it’ and ‘speech Mikey’. I took a deep breath and Zack squeezed me close to him. “Well most of us have known each other long enough and that includes those I’ve only met recently. What I’ve never told any of you until now, is I am gay.”

Silence, it was like the word needed time to pierce the fog in the aftermath of the party. “I’m gay and Zack here has just become my boyfriend.”

I couldn’t believe the reaction. There was some clapping and cheering and Aaron came over and shook my hand and said “That’s great Mikey, it’s great,” and he kept shaking my hand, it seemed like he was never going to let go. The girls all came and kissed us both and Colin patted me on the back and whispered something to Zack. I think he said ‘Lucky you’. There was a sudden explosion of activity and I really can’t remember everything or who said what, but I remember it was Josh who rounded it off by proposing a toast.

“Here’s to Mikey and Zack!” He said. “Two of the best guys in the world.”


 

next – after the party, what happens now…

Chapter Nine – The Next Day