chrisLate night in Cicely. Or early morning, whatever you prefer to call that magical time between 3 and 4 AM. Stars twinkling way in the sky, glittering in the darkness, full moon shining through the windows of the Cicilians. It shines on Maggie O'Connel, bush pilot, dreaming of engines, planes and eagles. It shines on Ed Chigliac, director, dreaming of movies, film and Woody. It shines on Maurice Minnefield, ex-astronaut, dreaming of money, power and more money. And it shines on me, Chris Stevens, DJ, artist, philosopher, rummaging through their houses looking for teaspoons.
I approach the cabin of Joel Fleishman, MD, probably dreaming of injection needles, New York and Maggie O'Connel. I notice the light is still on. Hm, no dreaming happening there. I knock on the door.
Looks like he's getting used to living in Cicely. Three years ago, his door would've been locked. Twice.
"It's me. I need some teaspoons."
"Second drawer from the left."
That's Joel Fleishman, helpful as always. Not that he'd get out of his lazy chair or anything. Wonder what he's reading. Probably something us mere mortals can't understand. I take a quick look as I pass by him on my way to the kitchen. See? Forester. Which one, I wonder. A Room With a View? Not a very good book. Not a very good writer either, in my opinion. I get the spoons and turn back to leave, but for some reason, I have to ask him a question.
He sighs. "Maurice."
It takes me a few seconds to realise he means the title of the book is 'Maurice'. I grin.
"Wonder if 'our' Maurice knows there's a book named after him."
"I have a feeling he wouldn't want to know. He'd probably try to have it banned."
"Why? What's so scandalous about it?"
"It's about ... two guys. Together."
Together? I frown, not understanding. Oh. Like that. Heh. He's right, Maurice wouldn't like that. Hey hang on ...
"So why're you reading this?"
"Why wouldn't I? This is my cabin, I think I have the right to read what I want, don't you?"
Whoa, struck a nerve there.
"I wasn't accusing you of anything, it's just that I never saw you as the kind of guy who ..."
Damn, he's really enjoying seeing me agonise over this.
"... who would like to read about that."
There. Smooth and clean. Then why is he grinning like he won?
"Why not? It's a good book. It's got romance and everything. Like Romeo and Juliet."
"Yeah, but ... I mean, with Romeo and Juliet I can put myself in the skin of the character. That's exactly what makes a book good and I don't think I could do that with this one."
"Maybe you cant', but I can."
Is he saying what I think he's saying? I need to sit down for this. He doesn't seem to mind, doesn't even glance up from the pages. I drop the spoons on the floor, forgotten.
"You mean you've ... you know?"
He sighs again. "Yes, I mean that I've ... 'you know'. With a guy, yes."
Wow. I fall silent for a second and he goes back to reading. Another sign he's adapting to life in this town. He doesn't pay attention to weird behaviour anymore. Joel Fleishman. Making love. To a guy. Okay, so not necessarily making love, but still …. I know the image should bug me but somehow it doesn't. Just makes me curious.
Again, he doesn't even look up from his book.
"Why did you make out with a guy?"
"I was curious. I was young. It was the Seventies."
"So what's it like? I mean, is it better than with a girl?"
Finally I've caught enough of his attention to make him put away his book.
"It's not a matter of better or worse. It's just ... different. I can't really describe it, you'd have to experience it yourself."
"So show me."
Whoops. Did I say that? I panic. Badly. I try to think of a way to take that last sentence back, but fail. Then I catch his eyes. So brown they're almost black. The moment I notice the almost mischievous twinkle in them, the panicking part of my brain short- circuits and all I can think of was him.
Why doesn't he say something? Why does he just sit there staring at me? I can feel the panic rising again. I hardly even notice him changing his position so he's sitting up, looking straight at me.
Whoops. Did he say that? I don't know why I'm so surprised. I mean he just told me he's gone even further with other guys, right? Then why am I so surprised he's willing to kiss me? I decide to stop analysing and just go for it before I lose my nerve.
I bend forward a little and, closing my eyes, I brush my lips against his. I fell his hand come up behind my head, pulling me closer. My first urge is to pull away, but it feels so good I don't. His breath tickles against my skin. Doesn't feel so different up to now.
I decide to be a bit bold and open my lips a little. He takes advantage of the chance and slips his tongue in. My eyes almost fling open with the electricity I feel as his tongue touches mine. He was right, it does feel different. Heavier. More intense. Better? Maybe. Definitely worth exploring further, though. He teases my lips apart with his tongue and gently licks and sucks my bottom lip. I can't suppress a shiver.
I don't know which one of us pulls away first, but I know I immediately regret it. It feels like I've just lost something very important. I suddenly realise what I've done and mumbling some excuse, I stumble outside.
It isn't until I'm home again that I realise I forgot the spoons. Never mind. I'm not gonna get much creative work done tonight anyway. On the other hand, it means I'll have to go back there tomorrow to get them. I just know this is gonna be a long, sleepless night. And the fact that I can still feel his lips against mine doesn't make it any better.
I've been able to avoid him all day, thank god. How I managed to get through my radio work is beyond me, but as far as I can tell, nobody noticed. I'd have thought it'd be written all over my face. It felt like that, anyway. God, what was I thinking?
'I think the question is: with what were you thinking?'
Oh, great, there's that little voice again. Go away.
'Cause you're always telling me things I don't wanna know.
'I only tell you the truth.
Exactly. Now, go away.
'Not until you admit the truth.'
'That you liked that kiss.'
Yeah, okay I liked it. A lot. That's exactly the problem.
Because ... because he's a guy!
My point? My point is that I'm straight!
'You're pretty sure about that.'
Of course I am! I mean, you're me, you know how many girls I've been with and I've never been with a guy.
'Yet. You've never been with a guy yet.'
Oh shut up.
'What's the matter? Can't handle the truth?'
Why are you so desperate to make me admit what you say is the truth?
'Because it is the truth. I'm your subconsciousness, remember? I know what you feel better than you do.'
Okay, so tell me. What am I feeling?
'Curiosity. A fair amount of lust-'
'Oh, come on, tell me that kiss didn't turn you on even the slightest bit. Remember, pal, you can't lie to me, I'm you. Sorta. Kinda. Anyway, I wasn't finished yet. I also feel the start of something that might grow, if it gets the chance.'
'Give yourself the chance and you'll fall in love with him.'
What? No way. I mean, the guy's a very good friend, but ...-
'Aha, and what do you think you get when you add lust to friendship?'
*groan* 'So what happens if I just don't give in to this?
'Then you'll fall in love with him anyway, he'll never know, and in a few years he'll leave for New York again without ever knowing. And that's gonna hurt big time, buddy.'
Plain rejection will hurt more.
'Hello? Anybody home? You think he would've kissed you if he wasn't prepared to go further? Are you really this daft or do you just not want to see what's right in front of you?'
What? What's right in front of me?
'A chance at a steady relationship.'
But I don't want a steady relationship.
'Uh-huh. Tell me another one, pal. How many times do I have to tell you? I'm you. You can't lie to me.'
I hate you, you do realise that, don't you?
'Long as you do what I tell you to do, that's just fine with me.'
*sigh* Fine, so what do you want me to do?
'Atta boy. What you do is, you go to his cabin tonight.'
'And ... that's it. You're a big boy, you can take it from there, right? Don't tell me you've never seduced someone before.'
Never a guy. And never someone I considered a friend.
'Relax, you'll do fine.'
Isn't there any way I can like divorce you or something?
'Fraid not, buddy. you're stuck with me 'till the end of your days. Get used to it.
Oh boy, here I am. Standing in front of his door. I try to stop my hands from shaking by rubbing them together, but it isn't the cold that's causing it. Shit, I haven't been this nervous since the last time I had exams in High School. Relax, Chris, relax. Just knock on the damn door before you make yourself even more nervous.
Here goes nothing ...
"Hi. I ... um ... left the spoons here yesterday?"
"Yeah, I noticed."
He smiles. Shit, how come I've never noticed just how sexy that smile is?
Shut up, I wasn't talking to you.
'Fine then. Be like that.'
See? Now he's noticed something's wrong. "Yeah, fine. Just …" What happened to Chris Stevens, babbler? I can't seem to form a coherent sentence around this guy.
Oh, great, now he's laughing at me? "What?" I frown.
"Nothing, it's just … You look like a three-year old that's lost in a warehouse." His chuckles subside to a mere grin, and a very evil grin at that. "Chris, are you here only for the spoons or is there something else?"
'That's 12 words you've said to him tonight. And I counted 'um' as a word. Way to go, Stevens.'
Will you shut up already? What do you expect me to do, huh? Just kiss him and ravish him and …
'It's a thought.'
"Erm … Yes?" *nervous cough*
"Will you relax before you have a heart attack?" Hey, how and when did he get so close? Eep! "Relax."
I want to answer, but before I get a chance, his lips touch mine again and I know I'm lost. So soft, so sweet. It's even more intense than I remember, it's getting hard to tell which are his lips and which are mine. And I'm definitely getting turned on here.
Yeah, yeah, I know you told me so but right now I don't give a damn. This is better than anything I've ever experienced in my life.
My arms go around his neck ad I pull him as close as I can and deepen the kiss even more. He doesn't seem to mind, but goes along with it. His hands are wandering to strange places here. I-oh man, that feels good. Uh-oh, my knees are giving out.
The bed? Exactly at which point did we move to the bedroom? Strange things going on here. See? He's got my jacket off before I even notice it. My T-shirt is pulled over my head and before it even hits the floor, his lips are on mine again. I figure I'd better do something and start fumbling with the buttons of his shirt.
Praise the saints in heaven, I get it off without making a complete and utter fool of myself. So far so good. Now for the pants … Not so easy with his hands all over certain parts of my body. Oh boy, and concentration was never one of my bigger virtues anyway.
Eventually we manage to get all our clothes off and we're lying on the bed, so close I'm having trouble making out which limbs belong to who. Who cares anyway?
It's hours later when I fall asleep, happe, feeling this is gonna be the beginning of something very, very good.
'See? Told ya so.'
[*sleepy voice*] "Chris? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I'll explain later. Let's just go to sleep now." I snuggle up to him and fall asleep, forgetting all about annoying little voices.