Read Something Like Summer Online

Authors: Jay Bell

Tags: #romance, #love, #coming of age, #texas, #gay, #relationships, #homosexual, #sexuality, #mm, #coming out, #lgbt youth, #lgbt fiction, #lgbt romance, #tasteful

Something Like Summer (9 page)

Sorry.” Tim grinned. “I
took too many of those pills. You should try them. They make you
feel great.”

I might take you up on
that,” Ben said, remembering the mellow buzz that had followed his
tonsils being removed.

Tim yawned like a lion in
the Savanna heat. “I feel grody. Would you mind running a bath for

Bored,” Ben reminded

Oh. Once I’m in the tub
you can come in and keep me company,” Tim offered.

Surely Tim was aware of how
erotic such a situation would be for Ben. Was he offering more than
it sounded like or was he just being playfully flirtatious without
any real intentions? Regardless, Ben rose to run the bath without
revealing any enthusiasm. If Tim thought he could easily arouse
Ben’s appetite... Well, he could, but Ben wasn’t going to give him
the satisfaction of knowing it.

Once the tub was full of
steaming water and bubbles, he waited outside the door while Tim
climbed in. It took much longer than it would for an uninjured
person, but once he was settled he called for Ben. The shower
curtain was half-closed, obscuring from view everything from the
waist down. It hardly mattered. Tim’s impressive upper body was
enough to evoke an unquenchable lust in Ben.

Ben sat on the toilet, for
lack of a better place, directly across from the bathtub. Aside
from being the only seat available, it allowed him a more revealing
angle. There would have been nothing left to his imagination if not
for Tim’s injured leg. The cast was propped on the side of the tub
so that it wouldn’t get wet. The unfortunate side effect of this
was an obscured view.

I’m guessing this isn’t
how you usually spend your weekends?” Tim asked.

You mean watching
straight guys take baths?” Ben replied innocently enough. “Oh,
you’d be surprised. It’s a fairly common occurrence.”

Tim’s laughter echoed in
the small tiled room. “Well, what do you do besides

Ben shrugged. “Hang out
with Allison Cross. She’s my best friend.”

And what do you usually
do together?”

Shop, mostly. Hit the
movies sometimes or just drive around. What about you?”

Me and my friends? Same
stuff you do, I guess. We don’t shop, but we drive around and try
to find somewhere to hang out. There’s been a couple of good
parties this year, too.”

Ben didn’t know anything
about that. He was rarely invited to any parties. Such things were
the mysterious domain of the popular kids. He had almost forgotten
the crowd Tim ran with. How the nice person in front of him could
be cronies with the biggest assholes in school was hard to

Haven’t been on any dates
yet?” Ben asked, even though he knew otherwise.

Yeah, that too,” Tim said
without any great enthusiasm. “Shit. I still haven’t called Krista
since this happened. She’s going to be pissed.”

Who’s that?”

My girlfriend. Krista
Norman. Maybe you know her?”

I think so,” Ben said
evenly as an image of an anorexic witch sprung to mind. “Wow, and
you haven’t called her for a week?”

Tim shrugged, slipping
further down into the tub. “I guess I should have, but it just
seems pointless right now. The pain killers pretty much kill my sex
drive, you know.”

Ben didn’t know, but now he
could safely assume that Tim wasn’t hoping to initiate something
with his weird choice of social setting. Such a shame. It would
have been a scene right out of those magazine stories. The straight
guy starts talking about his girlfriend and gets aroused,
eventually turning to the only other warm body around…

She never puts out
anyway,” Tim continued. “She’s a real cock tease.”

Ben swallowed a laugh,
Tim’s line fitting the fantasy all too well.

That sucks. You’ll
probably score major sympathy points, though, when she sees you

Hey, yeah! You’re right!”
A lazy smile came over Tim’s face as he considered the

Ben cursed his mouth and
brain for conspiring against him. Soon after he was sent upstairs
to fetch a new outfit for Tim, which was fun and only helped to
further the feeling that they were a young married couple. Was Tim
at all aware how this felt for him? Did he care, or was all this
just a blur of opium-induced numbness for him?

As the afternoon faded into
evening, the pressure outside finally peaked and exploded. The sky
opened with a grumble of thunder and a hammering of rain. They
killed the air conditioner and opened the windows, enjoying the
rhythmic sound of water pummeling the leaves outside.

Ben busied himself in the
kitchen, attempting to make a simple dinner of spaghetti and
meatballs. He had gone over the process a dozen times with his mom,
who was becoming increasingly puzzled at his sudden interest in

The pasta sauce wasn’t a
problem, since it came from the supermarket in a jar. The meatballs
were trickier since the meat wasn’t fully defrosted. Ben sculpted
them into balls as best as he could, his hands stinging from the
cold. Timing was something he hadn’t considered before he started.
The pasta was finished boiling before he had even started frying
meatballs or warming up the sauce. He took the pasta off the heat
but left it in the water in the hopes of keeping it

After an hour of effort, he
ended up with pasta that was much too soggy and meatballs that were
slightly burnt on the outside but barely cooked on the inside.
Because he couldn’t mess up the sauce, and as he had done with his
pancakes, he used a generous amount of it paired with Parmesan
cheese to help cover up his mistakes.

Ben set the dining room
table, but abruptly changed his mind, feeling it revealed too
blatantly his domestic fantasies. That and the result of his labors
didn’t seem worthy of such a formal presentation. He brought the
plates into the den instead and placed them on the coffee table.
MTV serenaded them in the background as they began their

Tim reacted to the food
like a ravenous stray dog. He tore into it at a speed that promised
he wouldn’t be tasting very much of anything, much to Ben’s relief.
They were halfway through their meal when the power went off. A
vehement snarl of thunder followed the sudden silence, the storm
proclaiming its role in the outage. There were a few minutes of
scrambling in the dim light until matches and candles were found
and lit.

Romantic,” Tim joked as
they resumed eating.

Isn’t it?” Ben tried to
chuckle casually.

It’s funny. It’s like
fate has some crazy plan in mind for us. You running into me that
day and dragging me to the hospital. Then you take care of me, do
all the stuff you’ve been doing, and now this.” He gestured to the
nearly empty plates in front of them. “Dining in candlelight. It’s
so close.”

What do you

Well, you know. If you
were a girl it would be perfect.”

Ben raised his head to make
eye contact, and for one electrical moment, Tim looked at him as if
he were just that. Then the amorous expression was replaced by one
of confusion followed by a few sniffs. “Is something

Ben sniffed a couple of
times himself. “Shit! The garlic bread!” He darted into the kitchen
or at least intended to. With the lights out he ran into a number
of walls, probably dislodging a multitude of crucifixes. Eventually
he spotted a glow that revealed itself to be the smoldering remains
of the bread loaf. He felt around for oven mitts, took the pan from
the oven, and tossed the charred bread into the sink, running water
over it for good measure.

With the emergency over,
Ben leaned against the kitchen counter and took a deep breath. If
only he were a girl, huh? On one hand Tim’s words meant that he was
the wrong gender and didn’t stand a chance in hell. On the other
they also said, with a few physical differences aside, that Ben was
everything that Tim was looking for in a guy. Girl.

* * * * *

The lawnmower sputtered and
chugged, running off fumes now. Ben eyed the three remaining strips
of grass yet to be mowed and hoped he could finish without having
to refill the tank. He broke into a run, pushing the mower ahead of
him with all his strength. A few strenuous moments later and the
lawnmower gave one final protesting cough before dying just seconds
after the last blades of grass had been sheared.

Ben smiled in satisfaction
as he surveyed his work. The yard didn’t look perfect, but then it
never did. As he cast his eye over the lawn, a movement drew his
attention to the house where his mother stood in the window. She
was peering at him intently as she had been all day, treating Ben
with suspicion ever since he had come home this morning. She had
assigned him an unmerciful number of chores and regularly checked
on him as he worked, as if to catch him doing drugs or whatever
else she suspected. Once the mower was put away, he stepped into
the kitchen which connected to the garage.

All done then?” his
mother asked as she handed him a glass of Kool-Aid.

Yeah, with everything,”
Ben gasped after chugging the drink. “I’m going to take a shower

Afterwards you can help
me make dinner, since you’ve been so interested in cooking

Yeah, all

Ben took his time in the
shower, since it was apparently the only time he would get any rest
today. Some way to spend a Sunday! After he relieved himself
sexually, he stood tranquilly under the stream of hot water for
what felt like half an hour. Eventually he reluctantly turned off
the water and stepped out. Wiping the steam from the bathroom
mirror, he eyed himself as he dried off, wondering all the while
what Tim would think of his body. Was it good that Ben was so
slender because it was more like a girl? Or would it be better if
he had muscles that could compete with Tim’s?

Once he was downstairs
again, his mother switched off her usual decorating TV program and
hustled him into the kitchen.

Chili,” she announced as
she began pulling ingredients from the cabinets. “This is one of
the easiest things to cook.”

Ben helped her to reach
some of the items on the higher shelves. His mother was so short
that she actually made him feel tall. He had inherited his small
build from her, as well as the blond hair. Really, he didn’t
resemble his father very much. “What did you eat last night at your
friend’s house?” she asked casually as she turned the oven

I tried making spaghetti,
but it didn’t turn out so well.”

So you cooked for his
whole family?” His mother turned her lie-detecting gaze on

No, they were out of
town.” There was no point in lying. He never managed to get away
with it. His mom saw through it every time.

You didn’t mention that
when you called last night,” she said. “You were supposed to be out
with Allison but ended up at some guy’s house. Someone we’ve never

Ben shrugged, knowing that
the less he said the better.

Did you actually know
this guy, or did you meet him at a bar?” she pressed.

Ben laughed, feeling
relieved at finally understanding the source of her

I wasn’t at a bar, Mom. I
don’t even have a fake ID. I met Tim at school a few weeks

His mom didn’t respond.
Instead she showed him the proper way to cut an onion, probably
while rethinking her strategy.

I just want you to be
safe,” she said as she slid the diced onion off the cutting board
and into a frying pan sizzling with ground beef. “If you need
something, like condoms or lube, you just have to ask.”

Ben fought to hold back his
laughter. His mother was imagining all sorts of illicit sex, when
the most that had happened last night was a few board games. He was
pretty sure that a condom wasn’t required to play Scrabble or

He’s not my boyfriend,
mom. He’s straight.”

She set down the can she
was trying to open with a loud thunk. “Then why are you cooking for
him? And how come you haven’t been home all week? What exactly do
you two do together?”

Now she was back to
suspecting drugs. She would be twice as shocked to learn that he
had in reality been doing many of the same chores that he had
tackled today.

I just really like him,
that’s all.”

Oh, Benjamin,” she said
sorrowfully. “You need to find someone who can return your
feelings. You’re just going to end up getting hurt.”

That’s what everyone
keeps telling me,” he responded tersely.

You haven’t met any other
gay boys at your school?”

He shook his

None? Maybe we
get you a fake
ID. We could go to the bar together.”

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