Kissing Is Easy
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by Allison Cassatta
Category: Romance/Gay Fiction
Description: It should be just another day for best friends Parker and Toby, not much different than any other day they've spent hanging out over the past fifteen years. But it isn't just another day. Toby thinks Parker is freaking out because his girlfriend broke up with him. He has no idea that Parker is actually losing his shit because he just figured out he has feelings for Toby. At least, he has no idea until Parker kisses him. Now Toby's the one flipping out. Terrified of what his family might do if they find out he's gay, he's stayed in the closet for years and had no intentions of coming out. Now Toby has to decide what to do: keep Parker as a friend and live his life in fear? or take the plunge, stand up for himself, and take a chance on love.
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [81 KB]
Reading time: 51-71 min.
One, two, three, I counted to myself, heart pounding, pulse racing as I followed behind him. My mind fought to prepare me to do something that would take more bravery than I knew I had. And today could very easily be the day my life changed... forever.
I could kiss him. I could.
"Sorry about Sam," Toby said as he dropped his backpack next to the concrete steps of our favorite decayed throwback from old American industry.
We'd left the campus halfway through the day, before we'd have to stare at the balding head of our English Lit professor. I wasn't in the mood. I'd spent half the night fighting with Samantha, wondering what the hell I'd done wrong and how the hell I was supposed to make it right. How did I fix what was broken in me so I could just be happy for once in my fucking life?
"You know you deserve better, right," Toby said.
I sighed. "Yeah. Sure." I dropped my bag next to his.
Toby plopped down on the steps, elbows pressing against his knees, tattooed arms steepled, fists locked under his chin. His big, blue eyes stared out at the thick line of pine trees not thirty feet in the distance. His black combat boots tapped out a flawless rhythm in the dried dirt beneath our feet, kicking up dust clouds that clung to his baggy denims.
I stood there with my hands shoved down in the pockets of my corduroys while I stared. Not really at him. Not really at anything. I wasn't worried about Sam, but Toby had no way of knowing that. He only saw the distance, saw what he thought was a morose expression on a face that normally beamed and smiled and laughed. He thought I was pining over my ex, not stressing over my newly-realized feelings for him.
"Guess it just wasn't meant to be, huh?"
My jaw clenched. I ran my fingers through my wind-knotted brown hair until they reached the nape of my tense neck. "Guess not."
Shrugging it off, I started to pace a little circle. I'd purposely let the conversation die. It wasn't the time to bring up the thoughts that had been racing around in my head. I didn't know how to tell him the breakup didn't hold a candle to the feelings I had for him.
Honestly, I wasn't exactly sure what those feelings were. I mean, in some way, even if only friendly, I loved him. He'd been my best friend for fifteen years, after all. He'd been with me through the good and the bad, and I'd had some of the best times of my life with him. It wasn't until my ex-girlfriend had said some pretty damaging words that I started questioning myself, my sexuality. I started looking back at all my failed relationships, and in some small way, they all seemed to involve Toby.
He always had to be with me. I didn't make plans unless they involved him. I guess it got old after a while and the myriad ex's just hadn't wanted to put up with it anymore.
Ironically, none of those breakups had ever really gotten to me like the breakup with Sam had.
"We'll go do something tonight," he said after a few minutes of intense silence. "We'll go see a band or something, get your mind off of her."
"Yeah." My eyes swung his way, but I didn't stop pacing. "I'll be okay." I just couldn't look directly at him, fearing maybe he'd see something in my eyes I didn't want to share. "Just, got a lot on my mind. That's all."
"I feel ya, bro."
No, he really didn't.
Staring at the graffitied brick wall beside him, I read "so and so loves so and so" in more than a hundred different styles and colors, secretly spying a place to write "Parker kissed Toby" with today's date beneath it. That is, if I could ever man up and actually do the deed.
Whatever. It kept my eyes away from the complication my best friend had become.
"I wonder how many people have made out in this very spot," I mumbled.
He laughed. "Dude, I so don't want to think I might be sitting where someone fucked and then jizzed all over the concrete." His nose curled and he slid off the steps.
"What? It's gross," he said as he leaned against the railing.
"Nothing, man." I shook my head. My laughter had died down. My eyes actually met his. Weird how his disgusting sense of humor could lighten the mood. Mark that down as yet another thing I loved about being around him.
A hard breeze rolled through the clearing, ruffled his dirty-blond spikes and sent a strong whiff of his bodywash blowing past me. I closed my eyes and inhaled that scent. That was the very first time I'd ever really paid attention to it. But then again, I started noticing a lot of things I'd never paid attention to before. I'd spent nearly every waking moment of my life with Toby, and never once had I thought about him the way I did now.
Over the years, since we'd been friends, I'd looked at him a million or more times, but had never realized how piercing his eyes could be when he set his stare on something, or how his brows arched into a crease when he really thought hard. Now, when I looked at him, I saw the firmness of his jaw and the fact he didn't have a hint of facial hair. I saw freckles, for God's sake! I'd never seen freckles on him before!
"So what are we gonna do?" Toby said as he hefted himself from the railing.
"What?" I shook my head as if I'd been flung out of a dream and back into a reality I wasn't quite prepared to deal with. I swallowed down my hysteria so it could twist more knots in my stomach. "Do?"
"Tonight, what are we doing?" He started toward the rusty old stop-wall that'd been put up around the building more than twenty years ago. "You said you wanted to go out, get your mind off her."
"Yeah, I do."
"So... what are we doing tonight?"
Pacing back and forth a few feet in front of him, I took a deep breath and said, "I, um... I don't know." I couldn't focus enough to think, let alone plan a night out with him.
Hands shaking. Pulse racing. I couldn't do it. I couldn't ruin this friendship over my stupid curiosity. "Yeah, I don't know."
"You okay?" he asked.
"What?" Everything stopped; my heart, my legs, the breath in my throat. No, I wasn't okay, not even close. "Yeah. I'm fine." Listen to me, my brain didn't even have the capacity to process anything more than one-syllable words. I was screwed! Hosed! Completely toast! So not okay at all!
His eyes narrowed on me.
I raked my unsteady fingers through the mess of brown hair hanging from my head.
Toby's hand gripped my shoulder. "Dude, you're not fine. I've known you for fifteen years, Parker. You look like the same scared kid who fell off the slide in second grade."
The corner of my mouth curled into an uneasy smile as I was taken back to the day we'd met: that spring day when poor engineering and a bit of clumsiness won me a broken arm and a new friend.
Round three, I'd run around the quiet, weird kid who'd been sitting alone by the slide. I'd just wanted to feel the wind in my hair again. I'd wanted to feel the adrenaline rush as I slid from the sky back down to the earth. The pitch of the slide, the bent edge, the khaki pants I'd been wearing had all led to me getting dumped over the edge and into the weird kid's lap. My arm had gotten hung on the way down and my body had been wrenched back.
I'd screamed bloody murder as tears poured from my eyes.
Toby never laughed or made fun like most kids would've. No, he'd actually stayed there with me half on top of him and half hanging from the slide. In between screaming across the playground for our teacher, he'd told me help was coming and I'd be okay.
"Hey, Earth to Parker," he said as he snapped his fingers in front of my face. "You in there, bro?"
The memory faded away but the weird boy was still there, just like he'd always been. I stared into his cool blue eyes, let everything go. I didn't take another breath or have another thought. Something in my head clicked. Something said go for it, and the moment I'd been stressing over, coercing myself into, had finally arrived.
One, two, three.
My hands clamped around either side of his face and with a ferocity I never expected to have, I pulled him toward me.
I had no more than a split second to reconsider what I was doing, to think about the possible repercussions. My eyes yo-yoed back and forth across his face. I took a deep breath and I....
I kissed him.
My mouth locked over his, tongue teasing the seam of his tightened lips. I had to close my eyes. I had to forget, if only for a second, that I had pulled my best friend, a guy I'd known forever and then some, into a kiss. I knew if I saw him I'd come unglued and, for fuck's sake, that could only make matters worse.
I let go of my insecurities the best way I could and opened myself up to feel everything; our lips pressed together, the way my heart felt like it would pound right out of my chest, the way every inch of me throbbed from my racing pulse, the way his cheeks felt against my palms. I held on to him a little tighter. His lips parted only slightly and my tongue finally breached the barrier. I didn't panic. Neither did he. In fact, what I felt more than anything was an absolute lack of panic....
Maybe this was right after all.
Stumbling backward, mouths sealed tighter than the Hoover Dam, my body pressed against his and I slammed Toby against the rusted metal wall behind him with a thud so hard it forced an "umf" to wedge our lips. The kiss grew hotter the more my tongue toyed with his and for a moment I thought he was into it. He never once tried to stop me, never acted like he didn't want this.
He also never returned the kiss.
His eyes shut. Behind us, the metal wall squealed in protest as I pressed harder into Toby's body. My hands moved down, cradling his throat, thumb stroking back and forth over the hard line of his jaw. My tongue whirled and swirled, invaded space so personal only Toby and his dentist knew every nook and cranny.
A moan rumbled in his throat. I felt the vibration against my palms. Felt a sudden, startling excitement growing between my legs, and I swear I even felt his downstairs business starting to rise.
God, I didn't want to stop. I actually liked it. Not only did I like it, but kissing him turned me on and I didn't want anything to stop us. I didn't want our lips to break apart.
His palms pressed against my shoulders and he shoved me backward. The kiss broke with me gasping, eyes widening. My feet shuffled, but I didn't lose my footing.
"What the fuck?" Toby growled.
I struggled to focus on his face. It started as a blur, features taking shape one at a time. His brow furrowed, lips curled in disgust. Then, I saw the tick in his jaw, the utterly pissed off look in his eyes as he stomped forward.
He gave me another hard shove.
I stumbled backward again.
"Why did you do that?" he demanded, voice loud and condemning and full of rage.
That time when he shoved me, I did lose my footing; fell straight on my ass, even skidded across the ground a bit. My palms burned and itched from raking against the rough dirt. My heart sank to my feet, throat dry, pulse pounding in my ears like a matching band.
I was absolutely speechless.
"What the fuck was that?" His forearm wiped my kiss from his mouth. The disgust on his face felt like a punch in the gut. "Well?" The loud bark in his voice made me jump.
"I don't know!"
"What were you thinking? Did you think I'd just kiss you back, that I wanted you to kiss me?"
"I don't know!" I bit out as I pushed myself up from the ground and dusted off my cords. The volume of my voice rose high with anger and embarrassment. "I don't know! I don't fucking know!"
I couldn't look at him. I'd screwed up and I couldn't face the mistake I'd made, couldn't undo what I'd done, and nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, would ever make either of us forget about what had happened in the clearing. I'd soiled our place, our old, abandoned factory.
Pacing in my safe little circle, I silently kicked myself in the metaphorical ass. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I guess I could've let the feelings go and lived happily ever after with my confusion, could've kept it all to myself, but no, I didn't, and to what cost?
I grabbed my backpack from the ground, slung it over my shoulder, and started to stalk away.
Toby lifted a smoke from his pocket, flung open his Zippo. Lighter fluid and fresh pine and the scent of his body wash colored the breeze whipping by my nose. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Then I smelled his cig, and though I didn't smoke, I liked that I could smell it because it meant he hadn't left me standing there alone and discarded.
Eyes staring down at my black-on-black Converse, my fingers had a convulsive obsession with the pasted sprigs of my hair. They combed through my mop again and again because that's the nervous habit I'd picked up from watching every move my dad had made when I still wanted to be like him.
The silence began to smother me. Smoke from Toby's cigarette filled the air. The cool evening sun beat down around us. I could barely see him for the bright beams of light peering through the surrounding pines, but I knew he was glaring at me. He'd made it more than clear he didn't want a damn thing to do with me, and despite my gut-clenching need to stay and work things out with him, I'd go. After all, I knew to pick my battles, and this one would surely end in one bloody knock-down drag-out war.
Without trying to look at him, I mumbled, "I'm sorry," before walking away again. I was going to leave him standing there. I was going to walk away, but his hand gripping my arm stopped me from taking another step.
"Where are you going?" he said in a mellowed voice. I thought I heard sorrow, or maybe concern.
I shrugged. "Home, I guess."
"Why did you kiss me, Parker?" Nice and even. Calm.
"I don't know."
"Stop saying you don't know!" And he was angry again.
"I don't! Now, let go of me!"
"You tell me what made you do that! I need to know!"
Yanking my arm away, eyes wide, I stared straight at him. At first I didn't know what to say. Then the switch flipped and I got mad, not "beat the hell out of someone" mad, but mad enough to curse and yell and....
"I kissed you because, for some fucked up reason, it felt like the right thing to do! I kissed you because something in my screwed-up head said you might be a little more understanding than anyone else!" I pulled my backpack up on my shoulder and walked away from him, yelling back, "Guess I was wrong!" My feet pounded almost as fast as my heart, and just as I rounded the corner, I gave him one last pointed look and calmly said, "Excuse the fuck out of me for thinking you might understand."