Thanks to Jim for editing!
I first met James at a Christmas party my parents were throwing. He was the contractor they had hired to put together the new house they were building as an anniversary gift to each other. It would be a lot bigger than the two-storied, three-bedroom house I'd grown up in, which meant that there would be plenty of room for either me or my sister if we needed it, which wasn't something I was about to complain about, considering that at twenty-four, I was about to run back home with my tail between my legs.
Needless to say, it wasn't looking like my best Christmas ever. For someone who moved out at eighteen and never looked back, I was not exactly looking forward to moving back in with Mom and Dad, especially because I would have some explaining to do.
They lived in the small town of Park City, Utah. If you've ever been there then you know it's a great tourist spot for skiing, and it wasn't without its charms. But, for someone who grew up there, I'd have to say that it wasn't my favorite place in the world. Most of the locals I remembered were stuck-up rich kids who didn't give you the time of day.
My sister, Jen, was three years older, and she too moved out when she was eighteen. She ended up in Phoenix, and married a pilot a year later. As for me, I followed my sister to Phoenix. We always were close. I did the trade-school thing and got a job working as a paralegal in one of the local law firms. In my free time I'd help out with my niece, and the rest of the time I was busy getting myself in a world of trouble that eventually forced me to move back in with my parents.
Let me explain. See, my sister is the only one who really knows everything about my life. She's known that I had a preference for the same sex since we were kids. She always did bug me to tell my parents about it, but there was no way I was going to do that. Not even after I moved away from home.
Besides, by then I was still dating Ashley. A nice Catholic girl who grew up in the same neighborhood as me and then followed me down to Arizona to go to college. My folks loved her, and after a year away from home we moved into a small apartment together. I think everyone was expecting a wedding, including Ashley.
Then, I met Aaron.
Okay, it wasn't as innocent as just meeting someone. I loved Ashley, I really did, but more as a second sister than anything. We had sex, but there was definitely something missing from it, and it reached the point that I could hardly get it up for her anymore without closing my eyes and picturing broad shoulders, narrow hips and that one big difference between men and women.
So, I went cruising at a gay bar, and hooked up with one of the first guys I met. Aaron. What was supposed to be a one-time thing turned into a relationship. Aaron was a nice guy. Too nice. He knew about Ashley and he was okay with it for a while. But when he figured out that I wasn't planning on leaving her any time soon he started demanding more from me, which I was in no way prepared for.
Around the same time, Ashley was pressing for couples counseling because I didn't want to sleep with her anymore. She was too sweet to accuse me of cheating, but she turned feral when I refused the counseling. Then she wanted to know when I was going to marry her. Between Ashley and Aaron I think I'd succeeded in making a pretty good mess of things.
My sister warned me it would happen, but I never really was any good at listening to her. It was just before Halloween when I was seen walking out of a club with Aaron.
By Ashley's best friend.
After Ashley was finished screaming at me, she threw me out. I was paying most of the rent at our apartment, but I was really in no position to argue with her. Besides, Aaron was more than happy to take me in.
That lasted a whole two weeks before we figured out that other than great sex, we couldn't stand each other. He was a slob and I kept alphabetizing the soup cans in his cupboard. We drove each other crazy. It became painfully obvious that things weren't going to work out.
So, I moved in with my sister. It was only supposed to be temporarily; her husband was never home and she liked the extra help with her four-year-old daughter. But then, shit hit the fan again and I lost my job after the law firm went belly up when they lost a malpractice claim against them.
Merry-fucking-Christmas to me.
Well, I spent a month looking for another job with no luck, while my savings were slowly disappearing and I was still paying my half of the rent at my and Ashley's apartment. My sister told me that I could stay, but there was no way I was going let my life fall apart in front of her when she already had a husband who was never home and a four-year-old to take care of.
So Mom and Dad to the rescue.
Just before Christmas, I made the call. I explained that I'd lost my job and Ashley dumped me. My mom was devastated about Ashley, so when she began to threaten a phone call to my ex-girlfriend, I assured my mother that I deserved it, but I didn't elaborate. Then, after I convinced her that I would not be working things out with Ashley, she insisted I come home. I didn't even have to ask.
I arrived a week before Christmas, just in time for the annual party my parents had with all of their friends and extended family, and a few people from my dad's dental practice, where it was decided that I would be doing secretarial work until I found another job.
The party was at the old house, because the new one wasn't finished yet, and it was crowded. My sister was there, but she was too busy with my niece to help me fend off curious relatives wanting to know what happened to Ashley.
Once everyone seemed to know that I was single again, every aunt-turned-matchmaker started introducing me to eligible young women at the party. My mother was included among these matchmakers, so there was no avoiding it.
Before dinner I was able to sneak away for a little while, at least. I went to hide in my old room, which was the same as it was when I left it. Same gray wallpaper, same twin-sized bed. My old computer was there, and so was my old stash of well-used magazines under the loose floorboard in front of my desk. Let's just say that they weren't the same magazines that you'd find in any 'normal' teenaged boy's room and my sister had even borrowed them from me once or twice.
Earlier in the evening, I'd met James only briefly. My father had introduced him to me when people first started arriving. My first thought was, James, in his faded jeans and black mesh shirt, seemed entirely out of place among the sea of people in holiday sweaters and strong perfumes. When I found out who he was, my second thought was that there was no way I would have figured this guy to be a contractor that my dad would hire in a million years. He looked more like a guy off an album cover for a rock band.
He couldn't have been much older than me. He was tall and had a body that came from years of hard work, not a gym. He had short black hair that he kept spiky, several piercings up both of his ears, a hoop in his left eyebrow, and a stud in his chin. There was a spider tattoo on the back of his neck, and I was just guessing that if I got him undressed that I would find more surprises.
I'd never gone for the piercing and tattoo look myself, but I had to admit that James was a good-looking guy. On top of that appealing body he had great features: green eyes surrounded by long black lashes, sharp lines that seemed to make up his face, and full, kissable lips.
My introduction to James had been a brief one, but throughout the night, I managed to learn more about him. Apparently, he didn't have any family and my mother had invited him to join us for Christmas next week. Actually, invite would be too nice a word where my mother was involved. The poor guy probably had no choice in the matter.
I also leaned that I was not the only one that night who had to deal with would-be matchmakers. James was introduced to his share of possible mates, so I heard. I'd only met him at the door before I completely lost sight of him. That wasn't surprising with all of the people my parents had invited. They were everywhere. Including in my room when I went to hide in it.
At least, James was in my room.
He was definitely the last person I was expecting. Especially there, in my room. With my loose floorboard propped up, and one of my magazines in his hands as he flipped through it. An old issue of Playgirl.
I swear I about had a heart attack. The only person who I was 'out' to in my family was my sister. Not even her husband knew. I'd had those magazines stashed away for over six years and my very nosy mother had yet to find them. Leave it to a nosy contractor to stumble upon my little hiding place, and my biggest secret.
The asshole didn't even bat one of those pretty eyes when I walked in. He just stood there, glanced up, and flipped to the next page while I gawked at him, trying to remove my jaw from the floor.
"So this is your room?" he asked casually.
I tried to expel several things from my mouth, hoping that I would end up saying something clever, but instead, I ended up stuttering out an incoherent string of nonsense before I opted to snatch the magazine out of his hand and shove it back under the floorboard.
"What the hell are you doing in here?" I finally got out.
He was still stunned from my rude repossession of the magazine, and when I looked up from sliding the board back in place he finally got to see just how freaked out I was. And then he had the nerve to smile. It was a great smile of straight white teeth, but I wanted to wipe it off his face.
.... There is more of this story ...