The next day, Owen and I could barely look at each other.
Not in a bad way! Just, every time our eyes met we both blushed and giggled and images of everything that happened last night flashed through my head and I couldn't even remember what words were, let alone how to put them together to make....what were those things? Oh yeah, sentences.
It was nice waking up with him though, even more than the first day. I woke up first so I got to watch him while he slept. He wasn't a very attractive sleeper, honestly. His mouth was wide open and he was snoring lightly, but he was still beautiful to me. I could have just lay there and watched him for hours, and even though my bladder was about to explode I didn't wanna move. I was terrified that I'd wake him up and shatter the calm serenity of the moment.
Because this? This nice, warm, next morning afterglow? Not at ALL how I thought the morning after my first time would be. I'd always expected panic attacks and frantic full body scrubbings in the shower to wash away any visible trace of sex and depravity. And even then I couldn't see myself leaving my room for at least a few days, just in case someone could look at me and sense the homo sex. Which was reason three eighty four why I was never exactly eager to get laid.
But I didn't need to worry. When Owen finally opened his eyes he just looked around blearily for a few seconds before his eyes met mine and he slowly broke out into the biggest smile I'd ever seen. It made him look heart breakingly gorgeous, better looking than anyone I'd ever seen, but instead of getting intimidated all I wanted to do was do whatever I did to put that look on his face again and again.
And then I remembered exactly what that was and the blushing started. For both of us, so I guess he was having similar thoughts, the slut.
Oh god, am I a slut too? Can you be a slut if you only wanna have sex with one person? Even if you wanna do it again right after waking up with them, before you even clean off the dried, crusty mess from the last time? Except....I didn't really wanna do it again. Not right away. Because as great as it was, sometimes other things take priority.
"I-I gotta pee," I croaked out, then dashed into the bathroom.
Getting showered and dressed and packed wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. We kept looking at each other and blushing and smiling shyly and looking away, but when we passed each other we always managed to touch and once when I triumphantly held up the sock I'd been looking for for five minutes Owen chuckled and gave me a quick kiss. I didn't even feel half as weird being naked or topless in front of him as I did last night.
Neither one of us actually said anything until we were right about to go meet up with Cheryl and Aunt Karen in the lobby though. I reached for the door and Owen grabbed my hand and gently turned me around. Our eyes met and my stupid face heated up AGAIN, but instead of looking away Owen just bit his lip.
"I..." he started. He swallowed self consciously, then tried again. "Th-thank you. For...you know. Last night." He huffed out a laugh. "God, that sounds like bad movie dialogue."
I giggled softly. My eyes skittered up to his, but only for a second. I was much more comfortable looking at his neck right now. And honestly I was pretty proud I was able to do that. Apparently I'm fine with a dick in my ass, but eye contact is too much.
….I REALLY hope I never accidentally say anything like that out loud.
"But, I mean it," Owen continued. "And not just because it was sex. Not that it wasn't great! But...I just feel so close to you, in a way I never thought I would back when I was watching you in school and wishing I could just say hi to you. So....thank you."
My heart grew wings and tried to fly out of my throat. I quickly swallowed it back down.
"Th...thank you too..." I said softly. I brushed my hair back with my fingers and briefly looked him in the eyes. "You made my first....you made it better than I ever thought it could be. Just by it being you?" I shook myself internally, frustrated that I couldn't get it out right. But words were never my thing, and I figured if anyone knew anything about me, it would be that. So I just dropped my bag, walked over to Owen, wrapped my arms around his waist and rested my head on his shoulder. "I love you," I said firmly.
He hugged me back. "I love you too."
I relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
Whatever ridiculously good luck I'd been having this weekend decided to stick with me during the car ride home.
While we were walking to the lobby I got more and more terrified that Cheryl would take one look at me and see the 'Andy got some' written all over me. But she wasn't even there. Apparently, she got really sick during the night last night and was passed out in the car three seconds away from dying. At least that's what Aunt Karen said, but since it was followed up with an eye roll and a loudly muttered "teenagers", I didn't think it was really that bad. Either way, I spent the entire ride home warily watching Cheryl in case she decided to throw up all over me.
Thank freaking God.
We got home just before five in the evening. Aunt Karen dropped me and Owen off at his house, where she'd picked us up on Friday and where I'd left my bike. It was still the only thing in the car port, and I couldn't help smiling to myself picturing the Hummer glaring at the bike all snug and protected from the rain and getting body image issues from not being able to fit.
And then with a wave from Aunt Karen and a groaned "Kill me" from Cheryl, they drove away, leaving me and Owen alone in his driveway. I was suddenly nervous. And worried. Was everything gonna be different now? I was just getting the hang of how to be a boyfriend, I didn't have a clue how to be a boyfriend who just had sex. Were we supposed to do it regularly now? Was I supposed to offer? Or was he supposed to push for it? Gah! Why is everything that surrounds the sex so much more stressful than the sex itself?!
Owen grabbed my wrist, yanking me out of my thoughts and into the carport. I opened my mouth to ask him what the problem was, but it was suddenly filled with lips and tongue, which pretty much killed any possibility of talking.
"Sorry," Owen said quietly after he pulled away. "I've been wanting to do that the whole ride home."
"O-oh," I said dreamily, completely forgetting to look around to make sure no one had seen us. I was half surprised and half ridiculously happy that having sex didn't make his kisses any less breathtaking. That brought me back down from my kiss high. I still had no idea what the rules for 'sexually active boyfriends' were. I reached blindly for my common sense and courage, but I opened my mouth before I was completely sure which one I grabbed. "Um, do y-you wanna come inside-I mean! Come over! I can't invite you in because this is your house and that's what I meant, like come inside my house, not my...because we already did that-not that I don't wanna do it again! But...."
I sighed and admitted defeat. "I don't know how I'm supposed to act now."
"You don't need to act any different," Owen said. I was once again grateful for that way he has of knowing what's wrong with me without me having to struggle to explain it. "Just keep being the Andy I love." He grinned and kissed me quickly on the nose.
I giggled softly and rested my forehead against his. I felt relieved. Even though deep down I KNEW he wouldn't be expecting sex all the time now, it still felt like something needed to change. But maybe not. Maybe -and this might be a shocker here so prepare yourself- I don't really know crap about how relationship things are 'supposed' to go.
"You're always reassuring me," I sighed.
"You make it sound like a bad thing," he whispered back.
I shrugged. "No, but...I feel kinda bad that you're always holding me together. I-it seems like it'd get....old."
Owen's arms tightened around me as he pulled his head back so I could see his face. "I LIKE holding you. Together or any other way." He flashed me a quick grin, then gave me a more serious look. "I like being the one that gets to give you what you need. That gets to help you and be there for you. It's all I wanted since the first time I saw you."
I sank into him and just let him hold me, trying to let his words banish all my stupid insecurities. I had no idea why this was coming up now. Unless it was the sex knocking lose some emotional weirdness. Which actually makes a lot of sense, so maybe that WAS it. I shook my head. I'm not gonna ruin the best vacation of my life by turning into a mess at the end of it because my boyfriend likes being there for me. Even though I still had trouble seeing what the hell I brought to the table, I didn't doubt that he loved me and he wouldn't love me if I didn't. Even if all I did was fulfill his need to take care of someone, well, he fulfilled my need to be taken care of. There are way worse things to base a relationship on.
"I love you," I said.
"I love you too." He kissed me on my forehead this time, and I laughed when he pulled away with a bunch of my hair stuck to his lips. He rolled his eyes and brushed it away, then combed it behind my ear with his fingers. "Shut up," he grumbled, the smile tugging at his lips killing any chance of me taking him seriously.
I laughed again, then reached out to touch his hair, just because I've always wanted to. I stopped about halfway there, then internally growled at myself. Goddammit, if can kiss him and be naked in front of him and have sex with him then I can damn well touch his hair whenever I want without being weird about it. I nodded firmly to myself, then ran my fingers through his ash blond curls.
"Your hair is so soft," I murmured, even though I was pretty sure I'd touched it before at some point, I was still amazed at how great it felt. I kept running my fingers through it, pulling it back from his forehead and letting it slowly fall back down. "I wanted to do this so many times this weekend."
Owen shivered lightly. Was that from me? Or the cold? The end of May, late afternoon cold.... Wow. That really was me. So cool.
"You can touch me whenever you want," he said. "That wasn't a sex thing," he added quickly.
I opened my mouth but this time he cut me off with more words instead of his tongue.
"And about the s-sex," he said, biting his lip. "You don't need to think I'm gonna be, like, expecting it all the time or something. The me not wanting to pressure you thing doesn't stop just because we did it once. I don't want you to just s-spread for me when you don't feel comfortable because you think you need to or something. We should only do it when we both want to." He was blushing slightly by the time he was done, but he still nodded firmly, like he was trying to drive the point home.
"And," he continued. "You don't always have to be.....I mean, m-maybe some time I could...spread for you?" He smiled slightly.
My throat dried up. "Um," I licked my lips. "O-ok."
Even as I said it, I was silently vowing to put that off as long as possible. It was one thing to let Owen fuck me. Enough of a thing, really. But it was a totally different thing to be the one on top. To be completely and solely responsible for any and all pleasure or pain that Owen got from it. It was the most terrifying thing I could think of. Even more terrifying than being outed to my dad. But I was realistic enough to know that if Owen wanted to try it that way bad enough, he'd wear me down eventually. Even though he'd never ask again if he knew I was thinking of it as him 'wearing me down'. Which was why I'd never let how much it scared me show. I didn't want him holding back with me, about anything.
"Ok to not feeling pressured or ok to-"
"Both!" I cut him off. God, if he was gonna keep saying it I was gonna start freaking out. "I, uh, and, you know I didn't-don't! Feel pressured. Not by you."
Owen looked like he wanted to ask if I was sure, but he held it in. Instead he just nodded. "Ok, good," he said with a smile.
I smiled back, relieved that he believed me and didn't bring the other thing up again. "Now I'm kind of glad I couldn't get the offer right before, even if I'm not exactly against being a slut with him again."
I froze. Did I.....just say that out loud?
Owen's eyes widened in surprise, then he grinned. "So...you wanna be a slut?" he teased.
God....dammit. Why does that never happen when I'm thinking about something innocent? I knew I was blushing horribly, but I tried to ignore it. "W-well," I said, glancing around. "Maybe not right now."
Owen laughed. I relaxed. Tension relieving joke accomplished. Way to go Andy, we'll make a real boy out of you yet.
"Hey, boys! Are you out here?" Nurse Amy yelled from the direction of the front door.
Owen and I jumped apart. Well, so much for no tension. We shared a panicked look, but quickly relaxed almost at the same time when we realized there was no way she could have seen through the walls of the carport.
"Yeah!" Owen yelled back. "I'm just....walking Andy to his bike!"
"Right," she yelled. I winced at how unconvinced she sounded. And then I winced some more when I remembered WHY she'd be unconvinced. It was so easy forgetting she knew when I had so many other things to worry about and she never brought it up. I wondered why she hadn't said anything to Owen yet, then I wondered why I hadn't told him yet. Probably because I didn't think it was my place to tell him, it was between him and his mom. Except it totally involved me and that was just an excuse because I avoid uncomfortable situations that I can actually have a chance of avoiding like the plague.
And I was comfortable with that.
"I should probably get inside before she comes out here and starts talking to us," Owen said disgustedly.
I held back a giggle. "And I should probably get home."
Owen stopped glaring out the opening of the carport and gave me an inside melting smile. "I loved going away with you. This whole weekend was the best ever. And not just last night. I loved just spending time with you away from here."
"Me too," I said, my own smile practically breaking my face. "I really hope we can do it again."
"We will," Owen said.
I was less sure, what with real life having a way of getting in the way of secret, forbidden romantic weekends. Especially for kids with no job or drivers licenses. But I didn't say anything like that. Plenty of time to be realistic tomorrow.
"I'll try to see you at school tomorrow," Owen said.
"I'll walk by the hall whenever I can," I said. Like I didn't do that all the time anyway.
"Like you don't do that all the time anyway," Owen laughed.
"Maybe you should be around more if you know I'm there," I shot back.
"I'll try," Owen promised.
I smiled, then leaned in to kiss him. After checking to make sure no one was around to see of course. I was just glad it was easy to fall back into the habit of being on guard 24/7 after the weekend. Owen kissed me back, then I got on my bike and left for home.
I actually had my hand on the doorknob before the worry hit me.
Would my parents be able to tell?
Sure, they haven't noticed the gay thing or the in-a-relationship thing, but there has to be some kind of sign that I'm not innocent, virginal Andy anymore, right? Something that only parents can see? The way my mom used to always claim she knew I was lying by the way chewed on the inside of my cheek? Which, by the way, she regrets telling me to this day because I stopped doing THAT almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Maybe she'll tell me what the non virgin "tell" is? Not that it'd matter I guess.....
I instinctively ducked my head to hide behind my hair, then scowled when it just stayed tied back. Then my face lit up, because Owen isn't around so I don't need to keep it tied.... I tried not to cackle gleefully as I untied the ribbon and let my hair fall gloriously in front of my face in a pitch black waterfall of secrets and concealment. There. Now if there WAS anything they could see it was completely hidden away.
I pretended that actually made me feel calmer, then turned the knob and went in.
"Hi! I'm home!" I shouted. Wait, did that sound like a defensive greeting? Ugh. Shut up Andy, stop making up problems that can't actually exist. My inner self, which thankfully had stopped sounding like Cheryl for some reason, shook its head in disgust. Defensive greeting...
"We're in the dining room, hon!" my mom called from, you guessed it, the dining room.
I took a deep breath, made sure I was firmly hidden behind as much hair as possible while still being able to see, then walked in.
Only to stop in surprise and renewed -ha! Like it ever really went away- panic as I saw that it wasn't just my parents at the table. Uncle Russel was there too. Gay Uncle Russel. Gay, haven't-seen-since-I-met-Owen Uncle Russel. Gay, haven't-seen-since-I-met-Owen-and-if-anyone-will-be-able-to-tell-it's-gonna-be-him Uncle Russel.
"Hey!" Uncle Russel said with a wave. "Cousin It! How have you been?"
I glared at him through my hair. I HATE when he calls me that. Mostly because he does it in front of Cheryl and then she starts in on it for like a week after he goes home. I only glared for a few seconds though. The second all three of them got up and started walking over to me I started chewing a hole through my lip. I wanted to run. The second they got close enough to me they were gonna SEE and KNOW and-
My mom cut off my thoughts -and breathing and blood flow to my upper body- with a vise grip of death hug.
"I missed you so much Andrew!" she cooed in my ear.
"O...k," I managed, slightly relieved. This was actually totally normal when I come back from Turtle Beach and if she was going right into her 'act like Andy's been gone for four years instead of four days' thing then she can't have noticed anything....not virginal about me, right?
"Let the kid breathe, Sarah," my dad chuckled. Uncle Russel caught my gaze and exaggeratedly rolled his eyes. I almost smiled. So far, all normal.
My mom finally let go and my dad immediately pulled me in for a manly, one arm around the shoulders man hug for men. Which was a lot better than the Mom Hug of Doom. But then he ruined it by rustling my hair and I ducked out of the way and glared at him as I tried to fix it.
I barely got my fingers through it once when Russel yanked on it. "Wow," he said teasingly. "I think it's actually longer than the last time I was here."
"Don't touch," I growled and pulled away with a scowl. Uncle Russel was always way more of an older brother than a friend of my dad or an actual uncle with me. Which made him my favorite relative -or "relative"- because he'd talk TO me and not down at me and take me to movies and play RISK with me, and also the one I hated the most because he was the only one that ever harassed me. Especially about my hair.
Russel grinned, but didn't come after me. "Seriously, it's good to see you again Andy. I completely forgot it was Turtle Beach weekend and almost came by yesterday, which would have sucked. I kinda miss you kid."
I blushed and gave up on the scowl. I was too relieved that everyone was acting normal to keep being angry.
"I've got dinner in the oven," my mom said. "Everyone sit back down and I'll go get it, then Andy can tell us all about his trip."
"Right!" Russel said. "I heard you made a new friend." He winked at me. "I definitely wanna hear all about that."
My heart froze. Did he know? Did it sound like there were quotation marks around 'friend'? And what's with that wink? Was it a I-know-your-secret wink? But....he does wink a lot. Especially when he's teasing me. Could it be a normal one?
This time my glare was for myself. Calm. Down. Acting guilty the second someone mentions Owen isn't the best way to keep your secret.
I didn't say anything, instead I walked over to the table and sat down at my usual seat. I wasn't too surprised to see the two and a half empty bottles of wine in the middle of the table. I sighed to myself. This was going to be one of THOSE dinners.
At least it'd cut down on the chances of them noticing anything, I guess.
Russel made like he was gonna touch my head when he walked by to get to his seat, and I flinched away. He giggled as he sat down. Great. He's GIGGLING. I eyed him warily, wondering how much of those empty bottles made their way into his glass.
Not that he was a drunk or anything, which might be the impression I'm giving off. It's just that when he comes to visit, especially after a few months of not seeing us, him and my parents tend to 'celebrate' a little much. They never get college kegger drunk, but if you've ever been around your family when they have three too many glasses of wine at the holidays you know how weird it can be being the kid around the almost drunk relatives.
While my dad sat down and we waited for my mom to come back, I studied Uncle Russel for any sign that he was suspicious. Except for the giggling, he wasn't acting unusual. He didn't look unusual either. He was still taller and thinner than my dad. His blond hair was still short and gelled and he was still wearing those same dorky glasses he always wears, the ones that make him look like a librarian that actually cares about his appearance. He was good enough looking, for someone nearing forty, I guess. But that's it. He just looked like a slightly aging nerd. Nothing at all like he just discovered a terrible secret that he was trying to figure out what to do with.
I relaxed another inch.
My mom started coming in with bowls and dished with steak and baked potatoes and vegetables on them, and in less than five minutes the table was set up and she sat down by my dad. We didn't talk as we passed around the food, but the second that was done they all turned and looked at me at the exact same time, like some creepy motion sensing display outside a Halloween store.
"So," my mom asked. "Tell us about your trip."
"Yeah, tell me about your new friend," Russel said. "I never thought I'd actually see you make another friend until you were out of high school."
"Russ!" my mom whacked him in the shoulder. "Don't say that, Andy wasn't that bad."
Thanks mom. I smiled slightly at the unexpected defense.
I caught my dad giving her a skeptical look. Then she saw it and burst out into giggles. "Ok, maybe he was," she said, taking another sip of wine.
I scowled. Damn demon rum.
"I-" I started.
"Wait," Russel interrupted. "First tell me how you even met in the first place. THAT has to be an interesting story."
I blushed again, but it didn't last long. My face was too busy breaking out in a cold sweat because I couldn't remember what lie I'd told my parents about meeting Owen. Crapcrapcrap.
"Andrew asked him out," my mom supplied helpfully. I loved her for that.....and wanted to kill her.
Russel's mouth dropped open and he suddenly seemed way more sober than he was a few seconds ago. "W-what?" he said, coughing softly.
I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
"He asked her out for Cheryl," my dad said, amused.
If anything, Russel just looked even more surprised at that.
"What?" he asked again, looking skeptically back and forth between my parents.
"I'm not kidding," my dad said, holding his hands up. "Cheryl told us herself, swear to God."
Russel seemed to think about that for a few moments. "Wow," he said eventually. "I'm impressed Andy. Seriously. I never would have had enough courage to ask a boy out in high school, for me or anyone else. I'm really glad you're getting over your shyness."
He gave me a warm smile and rustled my hair. "I'm proud of you, kid."
I blushed again, this time it was partly from shame, though. It felt wrong getting praise for something I didn't actually do. It felt even more wrong getting it for an outright lie. "Thanks," I said uncomfortably. It was all I could do, after all.
"You're full of it though," my dad said teasingly a few seconds later, pointing a potato covered fork at Russel. "You asked me out all the time in high school."
Russel laughed, then rolled his eyes. "That's because I knew you'd say no. I was building up my tolerance for rejection. Maybe if you'd done that too you wouldn't have cried on my bed every time Mary Carmichael turned you down."
My dad laughed. "I never cried!" He turned to me. "I never cried," he said, a smile still tugging at his lips. "I complained-"
"Whined," Russel cut in. "Very undignified. Unmanly. Honestly, it made me wonder which one of us was really the gay one."
"-I COMPLAINED," my dad repeated firmly. "I was thirteen and thought my world was ending. I handled it pretty well for that. But Baxters only ever cry over the girl they're going to spend the rest of their life with." He smiled. "I'm proud to say I've never cried over anyone but your mother."
"It's so nice to know that I make you cry," my mom said sarcastically.
"You know what I mean, sweetheart," my dad said. He reached across the table, his hand outstretched in invitation. She pretended to think about it for a minute, then placed her hand in his. They shared a warm smile.
My heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest.
Not because of the parental affection. I was actually pretty used to that. If this was Victorian England, no one would doubt that my parents were a love match. It was because of the way they all casually and easily just accepted Russel talking about his gayness, like it was no big thing. And it wasn't. He'd always been Uncle Russel, who had blond hair and happened to be gay. Never bachelor Uncle Russel with whom we awkwardly avoid talking about why he's not married because it makes us feel uncomfortable. For any other gay teen this would be the best house to grow up in, with acceptance practically begging to be reached out to and grabbed with both hands. For me, it was a special kind of hell.
Because I'd never have that.
Dinner stopped having even the tiniest hope of being enjoyable after that. At least for me. They got me to talk about my vacation. Heavily, HEAVILY edited of course. I had to talk about Nate, Vicky and Michelle a bit, because Aunt Karen knew we were hanging out with other kids and she'd probably tell my mom at some point anyway. Russel teased me about turning into a social butterfly, I flipped him off, my mom scolded me, my dad got that 'boys will be boys' smile on his face that he always did when I acted like a normal teenager. It was probably the highlight of dinner.
After that they all started talking to themselves and getting closer and closer to going over the line from 'family gathering tipsy' to 'epic party, bro!' drunk. I sat there sullenly, not even really being able to enjoy that no one noticed my un-virgin status. Every laugh and joke and casual reference to one of Russel's crazy ex-boyfriends or disastrous trips to 'colorful' gay bars just twisting the knife in a little bit more.
It never used to bother me this much, being around Uncle Russel. It was always in the back of my head when he was here that he'd have an acceptance from my dad that I never would, just because he didn't have any amazing super awesome special Baxter genes to spew into some girls womb. I didn't really know why it was hitting me so hard now though. Maybe because I was with Owen, or because we'd had sex, been as close as two people can be, and there wasn't anyone to be happy for me. Or maybe because it was all those casually told stories that Nate and Vicky had where everyone and their freaking mother accepts them and lets them just be happy.
Whatever the reason, it sucked.
Eventually it was time for Uncle Russel to leave. Which ended up turning into 'time for Uncle Russel to sleep on the couch because he drank at least a third of four fucking bottles of wine'. Either one was fine with me because I got to go upstairs, finally, while they all slumped down on various living room furniture to continue telling drunken stories that they've all heard before.
I practically slammed the door shut behind me when I got to my room. Then sighed when I caught a glimpse of the clock and saw it was almost nine. Christ. I had two freaking hours to try and get myself prepared to go back to school tomorrow. That....was not enough time. I sighed again. Totally figures though.
I took my phone out of my pocket, then sighed a third time when I saw it was dead. Well, at least nothing else could possibly go wrong tonight, unless the hot water heater dies and I'm stuck with a cold shower. The thought was somewhat comforting.
Then I plugged my phone in and saw I had fifteen missed calls and five voicemails.
All from Owen.
Panic raced through my whole body. FIFTEEN calls?! And most of them were in the same hour too. Jesus Christ! Was something wrong? Did something happen to him? Was he hurt or dying and trying to call me and wondering why he couldn't get me, why I wasn't there for him, why I'd abandoned him and left him to die in some dark corner while a serial killer ate his liver in the next room? Ok, maybe not that, but it had to be something horrible, right?
I frantically scrolled through my pathetic contacts list and called him, completely ignoring the voicemails for now. I needed to know if he was ok.
He answered on the second ring.
"Hey Andy, can you believe that?" he said, sounding dazed.
"What?!" I yelled. "Believe what? Is something wrong? Are you ok? Are you dead?"
I stopped after that, half wanting to take it back and half wanting to scream at him to answer, just so I could be sure.
"What?" he let out a tiny laugh. "I'm...did you listen to my messages?"
"Huh? No! I called to make sure you were ok!" I paused. "You ARE ok, right?"
"Yes. I'm fine," he said. I could hear the smile in his voice. "And, this might sound horrible, but I'm really happy you were that worried about me. It's sweet."
I actually relaxed at that. Even though I was way less than happy with how worried I was than he was. "Then...why did you call so much?"
"No!" I yelled. Not Nurse Amy! I like Nurse Amy! "Is SHE the one that died?"
"Andy," Owen said flatly. "No one died."
"Then what's wrong with your mom?" I asked, biting my lip hard to keep back the million and three questions that wanted to follow. Fifteen calls couldn't mean anything good.
"She knows," Owen said.
I waited for the rest of the sentence, but that was all he said. "She knows what?"
He hesitated. "About me-um, and you-I mean, us. She knows about us," Owen said, sounding more embarrassed than I thought the situation called for. Then what he said had time to fully sink in.
"Oh," I said. And then because this was totally out of nowhere and I had no idea what to say and maybe because I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that, apparently, no one was dead -although I made a mental note to ask about his dog, just to be sure- I added, "I know."
"Yeah, I'm sorry but-" Owen paused. "Wait, what?"
I flushed when I realized what I'd said. This one though? All shame. "Y-y-yeah. U-um, she told me she k-knew." I said softly.
There was almost a full half minute of silence. "And you didn't tell me?" Owen asked pleadingly.
I collapsed onto the bed and squeezed my eyes shut, hoping for some reason that this would be easier if I couldn't see anything. It wasn't. "I'm s-sorry. I didn't...." I didn't know how to finish that. I tried to think back to see if there was a point where I ever made a decision not to tell Owen, but if there was I couldn't remember it. "I'm sorry."
"When did she tell you?" he asked. I absolutely HATED when that perfect voice sounded like that. Not a single smirk or laugh or smile to be heard. It was even worse that it was all my fault.
"The first day I came to your house," I whispered, ashamed and guilty and why the hell didn't I just tell him?
"God, Andy..." Owen said.
I winced at his tone. "Do you...hate me?"
"What?!" Owen said. I flinched at how loud he was. "No! Of course I don't...." he sighed. "I don't hate you. Not over this. But, I've been worried for years about my mom finding out. She married an ex-minister for Christ's sake. Even if she's not religious some of that had to rub off on her, right? I was always scared that hating me for being gay would be it."
That hit me like a punch in the gut. I thought about how I'd feel if someone knew that my dad knew about me and was completely fine with it, but never told me. It wasn't a good feeling. And I hated that I was so wrapped up in my own miserableness that I never once thought about that.
"I'm sorry," I said again. Hating how I sounded more and more pathetic every time I said it. "I should have told you."
"You should have," Owen agreed. "But, I forgive you. And I'm not mad at you."
"Why?" I asked, incredulously, fully realizing I was throwing away a life preserver after going overboard in the middle of a hurricane. I just couldn't understand how he couldn't be hating me right now.
"Because I love you," he said simply. "And even though you kept it from me it wasn't really a lie and it all turned out ok anyway. And..." he hesitated. "I might be the one apologizing in a few minutes and...I wanna make it easier on myself?"
"I don't deserve you," I said softly. I didn't even care that it slipped out, that I was shoving how unworthy of him I was in his face when pointing out how pathetic you are is the exact opposite of keeping someone attracted to you-then the rest of what he said sunk in. "...what are you apologizing for?"
"Well," Owen said, I could almost see the wince, "see, it's...HOW she found out."
I blinked. "You leaving your tabs open?" That's what Nurse Amy said, right?
"Oh God, she TOLD you that?" Owen said, embarrassed. "Never mind. That's not...I mean why she told me she knew."
"Oh. Um, why did she?"
"Ok, so -and here's where you might get a little mad- I know I promised that she never goes in my drawers-"
I bolted up out of bed as the blood drained out of my face. "Please no," I squeaked.
"-but she....yeah. She found them."
I have no idea how it's possible to blush with no blood in your face, but I was doing it. Pretty easily too. "Oh fuck," I whispered.
"But...that's not the worst part. She, um..." he sighed. "Ok, she thought we did more than we did, and I kinda corrected her and told her that we didn't and then she was like 'oh, good, and that's ALL you've done, right?' and then I got really embarrassed and she noticed and said-"
"Oh fuck," I said again.
"Exactly. So, I kinda spilled everything. Not in detail! But....yeah, she knows ALL of it," Owen finished awkwardly. "Um, I'm sorry?"
It was the way he said it, like he expected me to tear his head off ever after everything he found out I'd done tonight, that actually kept me from flipping out on him. "I forgive you too." I squeaked out. Then quickly added, "but I can never see your mom again. Ever."
Owen let out a relieved breath. "Done." he said. "I...really thought you'd hate me. I know how much this bothers you."
I let out a shaky laugh. "I...I don't even think I know how much this bothers me yet. But," I swallowed down my embarrassment and fear and oh-god-someone-knows-we-had-sex-and-it's-Owen's-fucking-MOTHER, because this next part was too important not to say, "I love you too much to hate you."
"Me too," Owen said softly. And this time? I could definitely hear the smile. It made my whole body sink back into the bed. Huh. I didn't even realize how tense I was until then. "Um, can I ask you something?"
"Yeah," I said simply. Usually I get nervous whenever someone asks me if they can ask a question. But after all that? I didn't think there was anything worse anyone could say right now.
"Can you delete voicemails without listening to them?" he asked awkwardly.
"Um, no?" I answered. "Why?"
Owen sighed. "My first two are kinda....embarrassing," he admitted sheepishly.
First two....? "Oh! I completely forgot about the voicemails."
"Yeah," Owen said slowly. "I kinda freaked out when I saw the drawer was empty and...." he sighed. "You'll see."
"O..kay?" I said.
"You'll see," he said again.
We were silent for a bit. I dunno about him, but I was trying to figure out how to go the rest of my life without ever talking to Nurse Amy again. It wasn't going well. I didn't even know if she was ok with it or if she wanted to keep us from ever being alone together ever again. "Um, how did she take it? You know....the stuff about us?"
Owen let out a breath. "Way better than I ever thought. She told me she thinks we're both way too young, and we're forbidden from being behind closed doors together, ever, but she wasn't mad. Or that upset. She....accepted it," he said, like he couldn't believe it, even now. "Accepted us. And she REALLY likes you."
I let out a tiny laugh at that. "She told me that she was happy we were together."
"Really?" Owen asked. He sounded pretty delighted, so I didn't bother kicking myself for bringing up the me-not-telling-him thing.
"Yeah," I said. "She, uh, she actually tried setting me up with you a few weeks before that."
"She what?" Owen exclaimed.
I giggled. "Yeah. It freaked me out because it was, like, three seconds after I found out she knew I was gay."
"Oh god, that must have killed you," Owen said.
I nodded, even though he couldn't see it. "Yeah. I couldn't even remember how to breathe for a bit."
Owen laughed. "I'm sorry. It's not funny. But...it kinda is, you know?"
"It's maybe a little funny," I admitted. "Now anyway."
"Yeah," Owen said. "So...maybe you don't have to avoid her forever? I know you want to now! And I'll totally help you out with that. But, maybe, at some point we'll be laughing about this? Because now that I know my mom's ok with us I've got about a million new fantasies for us."
"F-fantasies? About your mom?" I asked.
"Not like THAT," Owen said. "I mean, like holiday's together and vacations and eating dinner together with my mom where we don't have to pretend we're only friends and worry about being found out. Having a place where we can cuddle up on a couch and my mom can tease us about it and then bring us some cookies. Being a real couple outside a hotel room. Stuff like that, you know?"
I swallowed hard around the lump in my throat. Cuddling in front of Nurse Amy sounded like the shortest way to Heart Attack Lane, but picturing sitting down for Christmas dinner at Owen's and being able to smile at him and hold his hand under the table and not have to worry about being discovered? That sounded amazing. "Y-yeah. That would be great," I said softly.
"It would," Owen agreed. "You know, as embarrassing as it is, now that I know you're not mad I'm really glad my mom found that drawer. I feel so......free. You know? Like I can breathe again. I was so depressed about going back to always watching everything I said or did after this weekend, and this is like, I dunno, the next best thing to being, you know, 'out'. Like Nate and Vicky."
I bit my lip. "Yeah. I guess I know what you mean. It's too bad that'll never happen though."
"...yeah," Owen said sadly. "I guess."
A tiny little...thing, went off in the very back on my head. It wasn't quite an alarm. Just a slight uneasiness. I didn't really know for sure what was causing it, only that I was suddenly very, very aware of it.
"And....about your fantasies....I really DO wanna do them, just, not right away, ok? I don't think I could face Nurs-uh, your mom without literally dropping dead on the spot right now."
Owen laughed. "I definitely don't want that. But," his voice got serious, "thank you. For being open to it at all. I really, REALLY, wanna do all that with you."
"I know," I said.
We only talked for a little bit longer after that. By the time we hung up I was exhausted and totally surprised that it wasn't even ten at night yet. I briefly thought about going downstairs to get a snack, but then I remembered the drunk adults and fought back a shudder. I think I'd rather starve. So, instead, I sent a quick 'hope you're feeling better' text to Cheryl -praying that she wasn't actually feeling better enough to text me back or call- and decided to listen to Owen's voicemails.
"Hey Andy, um, I'm not really sure, but I think my mom might have seen us kissing. She didn't say anything! So...don't freak out, ok? But, she told me that she needed to talk to me after I got inside and it seemed like one of 'those' talks, you know? And, I dunno, maybe I'm being paranoid. I'll call you later and tell you what happened. I love you, love.....ugh, that sounded better in my head."
I smiled at the end of that, and saved it. I just knew I was gonna end up playing that last bit over and over again. And I was perfectly ok with that. Then the next one started, it was left three minutes after the first one.
"Don't go home! The drawer! It's EMPTY! My mom found the...oh god, she found them! She NEVER goes in there! Fuck! But, shit, she's gotta know that your pair isn't mine and, god Andy! What if she called your parents!? It's all my fault! Shit! Just, don't go home until I figure this out. But don't come back here either! I need to find out what my mom did. Try hiding somewhere. Not Cheryl's because they'll look for you there first. Maybe under a bridge? No. That's stupid. Just, I dunno! Fuck! I'm so sorry! Please don't hate me? I love you, so, so much and-shit! She's coming! Save yourself!"
That one I deleted the second it ended. It sounded way too much like something I'd leave if the situation was reversed and I didn't like the way that made me feel. Plus, even though I knew how it turned out, it still scared me a little.
The next one was almost an hour later.
"Hey, um, I'm really, really sorry about that last message. Please, PLEASE delete it, ok? Um, everything's fine with my mom. She knows about us though. Um, it's kinda my fault. Which, I guess you already know. But, guess what? She's ok with it! She doesn't hate me.... Um, there's more, but I'll tell you when you call back. Shit, I really hope you didn't get that last one, but if you're hiding under a bridge somewhere, you should probably get home. My mom didn't call your parents and, uh, they might be worried, or something. I'm sorry if I got you in trouble. Or scared you. Please don't hate me, ok? Love you. Please call. Ok? Bye. Um, yeah, bye."
That one made me giggle, but I deleted it anyway. I felt bad for Owen and, again, could totally see myself leaving that exact same message.
After that I decided to read, but I couldn't focus. My mind kept going over everything that had happened in the past four days. All the fear and fun and hornyness and relief and everything in between kept running through my head like a coked out Kenyan.
But the one thing I kept coming back to was Owen. The way he sounded in that last message. The way he sounded at the end of our call. I didn't know why I kept thinking about it. Only...it should have been good, you know? A relief. He knew his mom knew, he forgave me, I forgave him, and -once I was sure I wasn't going to insta-die when I saw Nurse Amy- we even had a place where we didn't have to be on guard all the time. But that 'thing' in the back of my head wouldn't shut up. I didn't know what the hell it was trying to tell me. All I knew was I should be feeling nothing but happy relief, mixed maybe with some fear about school tomorrow.
So, why the hell couldn't I shake this feeling of foreboding?