Out, out, damn spot. It kept repeating in his head as he stood there washing his hands in the motel's stained sink. There wasn't any blood--thank God--just semen and lube and sweat. But it had to come off, had to disappear so he could go back to his lie of a life.
Tears burned his eyes, like they always did afterward, and the faucet spit at him. He sniffed, swallowed, tried to pull himself together, and turned off the water. His hands still shook against the yellow porcelain even when he leaned on them. Desperately, he wanted to take a shower. A scalding, hour-long shower could've helped strip away his feeling of filth. But this motel should be condemned, and he just wanted to run.
He cleared his throat, scooped the boy clothes from his bag, and put on the briefs, jeans, sweatshirt, and socks. He set his plain blue ball cap on the sink while he did up his sneakers. Sitting on the edge of the scum-ringed tub, he gave himself a second to take a deep breath. Then he stood and looked in the mirror.
His breath stuttered in his chest at the sight of himself, but he looked, stared, because he had to. Not one tiny fleck of makeup could be on him now. No concealer, no blush, no eyeliner or mascara. Not even the stain of lipstick could still exist. There was a wet halo of blond hair around his face, but that was the only evidence that he'd washed it. He was clean.
He took the elastic band from his pocket and pulled back his thick, shoulder-length hair. The curls he'd added were long gone now. Combing it with his fingers, he managed a mostly neat tail at the base of his skull before securing it. Baseball cap now on his head, he checked himself over one last time.
The top half of his face--perfect nose, gray-blue eyes, high cheekbones--was hidden in shadow. His lips were swollen, but everyone would assume it was from kissing--not from sucking the cock that had later fucked him. He made sure no one ever thought that.
He carefully packed up his other clothes and shoes and put them into his bag. He wanted to shove them in, tear them apart, leave them here.
But he couldn't. As much as he hated them, he loved them. When he'd covered the last bit of lace with another pair of jeans, he zipped the bag and stood with it in his hand.
He wiped at his eyes, cleared his throat again, and opened the bathroom door. The lock popping sounded like a gunshot even over the sound of the ancient TV across from the bed. He couldn't look at the bed--at the occupant--and headed straight for the door.
"Aw, come on. Go put that silky thing back on, and we'll start all over."
He reached the door and turned the knob, his heart pounding.
"I'm good for another round, sugar. You know you want it."
He shook his head. "No."
Door open, he stepped through into the cool night of late October, only to halt when something hit the concrete near his foot. "Fuck you, then!" A condom. A used condom full of spunk and still shiny on the outside.
The one that had been inside him.
He covered his mouth to contain a sob and closed the door behind him. His eyes burned all over again, and he let the tears fall. He ran for his truck, digging his keys out of his pocket. Ignition, reverse, forward, and he was on the highway heading toward campus.
Filthy tranny whore!
The voice made him jerk the wheel and gasp, but there was no one here. That voice was two years old, and no doubt Michael had forgotten all about him by now. He was probably cuddled up with his ugly little wife in their fixer-upper with their bratty kids while Truman Durant fled the latest scene of his own shame.
He wiped his eyes, taking deep breaths. This had to end. He couldn't keep doing this to himself. Why couldn't he just go get laid like any other guy?
He could try being with a girl again. It had almost worked last time. He'd just been too drunk. If he was good and buzzed, he could do it. So what if it wasn't great? Like this was great? His ass hurt, his cock felt raw, and he was probably going to have to ice his shoulder from how that jerk had kept pulling his arm back. Letting some chick blow him or ride his dick had to be better, right?
At least after that he'd feel sick for a different reason.
There was something wrong with him. Gay he could handle, but this? This wasn't right! Something inside him was broken--and the bag beside him was either the cure or another shot of disease, because he couldn't stop. Every time he tried, he just failed.
He'd managed a month this time. Managed to get through the end of the fall baseball season. A month before it was all he could think about. An obsession. An addiction. Was there a rehab for this?
There was something so wrong with him.
He felt beautiful in those clothes. Every time. Just getting them on, doing up his hair and makeup, made him feel so good. When other men saw him, smiled at him, touched him, he felt like there was a sun burning inside him. A glow and a heat that he needed. That was all he really wanted, to feel like that.
But then he let them say disgusting things to him.
Let them fuck him.
Let them use him.
He just let them!
A pathetic little sound escaped him, and his gaze strayed to the other side of the divider lines. It would be so easy to just release the wheel. Just close his eyes, open his hands, and step on the gas. One little nudge and the little blue truck would cross into oncoming--
He swerved. He braked.
Jesus Christ, he'd nearly... He gasped a breath, sudden tears blurring the lights all around him.
"No," he said like a moan. "I-I can't. I can't do that."
He couldn't keep doing this if it made him want to do that afterward. His life might suck, but he didn't want to die. He didn't!
Swiping at his eyes again, thrusting the tears away, he focused on driving and getting his damn head where he needed it to be once he got back to the house. His frat brothers were not going to look at him and wonder anything other than how he'd managed to score yet another weekend with some hot chick in a motel room outside of town.
He wouldn't let anyone see anything other than that.
"No weeping, for fuck's sake." He cleared his throat and sat up straighter.
Straight. Yeah. How good his life might've been if he'd just been born straight. Those bastards didn't know how easy they had it. Unless the clothes thing would still be there if he was straight? Jesus, he just couldn't win.
With no further suicide attempts to slow his progress, he made it to the frat house by five a.m. It was Monday, but he knew only one or two guys would be awake this early. Jack Sloan, their chapter president, would be up for work at his dad's garden center. Parker might be around if he had come back early from his weekly trek up north where his girlfriend lived.
Maybe what Truman needed was to fabricate a girlfriend he visited too. Actually, it would be nice to have a single guy he could meet instead of an online account for anonymous tricks. He might feel like less of a whore then. Of course, that would require liking one of the guys he managed to find, which hadn't happened in the six months since he'd lost everything. Not one of them had ever made him want to stay or ask them to stick around. He dressed up, he got screwed, and he moved on.
Sighing with the hopelessness of it all, Truman parked his truck, grabbed his bag, and walked inside. He snapped out of his funk fast by nearly breaking his leg on somebody's skateboard. The idiot had set it right there inside the front door like some kind of early warning system against intruders. Dave. Dave would do something like that on purpose just so he could laugh at someone in pain.
"Hey, man," Jack said. He stood in the doorway to the kitchen in a pair of blue boxers and white socks and nothing else. Bastard looked like an ad for morning sex while he held a cereal bowl and spoon. There was a spot of milk on his chin that needed licking off. "Do I even need to ask how it went?" His grin was almost infectious.
Let the lying commence.
Truman made himself smile and touched his mouth to make sure it curled the right way. "Damn, dude. Prettiest little brunette you've ever seen was so into sucking me off, I've got bruises all over my hips." One set of injuries explained.
"Goddamn." Jack shook his head. "You pretty boys get all the luck."
"You're not--"Jesus, shut up! You seriously going to tell the guy he's not so bad? That you like his big brown eyes?
"I'm not what?" Jack asked and blinked those damn eyes all innocently at him.
"You're not...eating the last of that, are you?"
Jack shoved another spoonful into his mouth and smirked as he chewed.
"Maybe, but I'm not hungry anymore."
Truman grunted and walked toward the stairs because he wanted to say he was starving, but that only made him think of the emptiness inside him that nothing seemed to fill, and every time it got to aching and throbbing and acting like a black hole to suck everything else into it, he went off and had one of his fucked-up weekends.
Never stopped starving, though.
He got to his room on the third floor and went inside quietly. Last thing he wanted was for either of his roommates to wake up and ask for details. Usually he used his drive back to come up with some sordid adventure, so he needed more time today to think up a story. He'd planned the bit about the enthusiastic cock-sucking as soon as he'd seen the bruises on himself. Whatever. He was suddenly too damn tired to care that the fingerprints were backward because he'd been pulled back onto a cock, not held down and sucked.
Lenny and Grant were still curled up in their beds, the space heater sounding like a small plane about to take off. Ohio weather was unpredictable, but it had held steady with the cold for a week or so now. The third floor had baked them when he moved in back at the tail end of August, and obviously planned to freeze them this winter, but it did have the most room. He still wasn't sure why Jack had offered it to him, a brand-new freshman, but Lenny and Grant were decent roomies. They'd never tried to go through his footlocker or asked a lot of questions, at least.
Truman unlocked the old army trunk he'd gotten from the surplus store back in high school and shoved his bag inside. Part of him cringed for not cleaning up his clothes right then, but he couldn't deal with it. Maybe later he'd drive them down to the dry-cleaner in North Canton where he was less likely to run into anyone he might know.
For now, he just toed off his shoes, took off his baseball cap, and loosened his hair so he could catch a few more hours of sleep. Then it would be classes he had to pass to keep his scholarships, working out to keep his body in top condition even though baseball season was over, and lying to keep his reputation clear of suspicion so he could live here and not in his truck again.
Just another day in hell.
Stasi Manolis gave in to temptation and slid down the handrail separating the staircase outside Crouse Hall. He'd just impressed his mythology professor by reading aloud in class from Homer's Iliad--in Greek, which they all thought was so cool--and now he was actually eager to hit the library and get a start on his homework. That way he'd have the majority of the weekend free for the party he'd heard the jock frat planned to throw. With some determination, he'd get every last one of his Gamma Lambda Nu brothers to go with him.
He and his pack of queers would show those jocks a thing or two about tolerance while drinking them under the table.
Stasi laughed at himself as he walked across the commons toward the library. He almost didn't want to go inside now that he was out. It was cool today, but the sun shone brightly on an abundance of red, orange, and gold leaves all down the brick road bisecting the main part of campus. But he knew he'd just sit around daydreaming if he didn't get into the library. And he really wanted to make that party.
Truman Durant would be there, and that tall, blond god was the answer to every fantasy Stasi had. It didn't matter at all that he was straight and a total hound when it came to women. It didn't matter that he was friends with some of the biggest bigots on campus. He knew how to wear a pair of jeans and had gorgeous long yellow hair and a set of killer blue eyes.
Not to mention the man had a package that had Stasi wanting to drop to his knees in worship. Wonder what ol' Truman would think about that?
Stasi's cell phone started vibrating in his pocket. He was in such a good mood, he answered his mother's call immediately. "Hello, Mother," he said in Greek.
"Anastasius? My son?"
He smiled. "Did you mean to call a different son?" She did have three to pick from, after all.
She clicked her tongue at him. "You answered so quickly."
"I just got out of class and I'm...heading to another one now." If she knew he had free time, she'd talk to him all afternoon. He loved her, but he did have things to do.
"Well, I was calling to see how you are since you've been too busy to call lately."
He rolled his eyes. "Sorry, Mom."
"It's fine. You're all grown-up now." The way she said it sounded like a tragedy. "I understand."
He let himself laugh, knowing she would tell him--
"Oh hush. Such a terrible boy."
"I'm a wonderful boy."
"Yes, you are still my baby."
He chuckled again. "So what can your baby do for you?"
"I was just checking in with you. Being a curious mother. Demetrios brought someone home with him last weekend. A nice girl. Loud, though. So have you met any nice gir--" She sort of choked herself off from finishing that word. "Boys? Any nice boys?"
"Thank you," he said quietly, smiling serenely.
She sighed. "I'm trying."
She cleared her throat delicately. "So? Have you?"
"Yes, I've met several nice boys. I live with all of them in the fraternity house, but I'm not dating any of them." She didn't need to know he'd hooked up with two of them and three of their friends in the last two months.
Hmm. I'm a little bit of a hound too, apparently. He almost laughed at himself again.
Free from the curious, confused, or disappointed eyes of his family members--all sixty-four of them--he'd been living and loving with dizzy abandon. Bastian and Mpenda saw nothing wrong with getting together with him or each other whenever lust demanded release. There was safety and comfort in having a friend available, really. And he'd received and shown interest in some of the other guys' friends since moving in too.
What he hadn't found was someone to call his boyfriend.
"When you find a nice boy, though, you'll bring him home, yes?"
He paused on the sidewalk, the sun on his face, and closed his eyes for a moment. He couldn't help saying it again, "Thank you."
"Oh stop. You are my son. I love you no matter what you decide to be."
That was close enough to perfect after everything they'd been through when he came out to the family four months ago. So many of them really were trying.
"I'll bring him home if I ever find him. I promise."
"Excellent! Then you go to your class, and have a good day, my heart."
"Good-bye, my son."
He pocketed his phone, noticing a couple of pretty girls smiling at him. Because he was cute or because he spoke a foreign language? Or both? He grinned at them but kept walking, glad he didn't need to pretend interest anymore.
It wasn't as though he had ever done a very good job of acting straight, but now he just didn't worry about it. Maybe there were still parts of campus and the city of Akron where he kept his rainbows in his pockets, but he felt much freer to be himself now that he was on his own. Most members of his family were making an effort--two of his cousins had also come out, which made him feel even better--but being away at college meant he could be who he really wanted to be without worrying about his grandmother having a heart attack.
The stuffy smell of overly cool air and dusty books greeted him as he walked into the library. He saw a few people he knew from various classes and smiled or waved, but none of his friends were around.
He headed into the center of the main floor, where the long tables and somewhat comfortable club chairs were. Since he had things to read, he chose a horrifically orange chair, made sure the stain on the corner of the seat was dry, then plopped down into it. Not bad. He fished his mythology book from his pack, wanting to read more of the Iliad since he was still in the mood for it. When he sat back, though...
Truman Durant was at the table across from him.
Stasi just stared. Tall and lean, with the prettiest face he'd ever seen, Truman Durant was sex on legs. Stasi had met guys he'd thought were cute or hot, but Truman was sexy. There was a grace to the way Truman moved, like he should've been a dancer instead of a baseball player. Truman did make tight white pants and a baseball cap look like really fun foreplay. Stasi grinned.
Then he realized Truman was staring back at him.
Stasi lost the grin and looked down at his book. Opened it. Turned it around so the words were right-side up. It didn't pay to stare at the jocks. No way was he going to get something started this far in advance of the party. He wanted to force a little tolerance out of the jocks, and it wouldn't help his goals if he started by pissing one of them off.
He couldn't resist one more peek at Truman.
Even from this distance, he could see the blue of Truman's eyes. From behind a pair of tortoiseshell reading glasses. Reading glasses! Stasi bit his lip to keep from smiling again, but that didn't stop it completely.
Truman was beautiful in a way that would probably get Stasi punched in the mouth if he ever said so. The tall blond was laid-back and liked to party, but there always seemed to be this barely-in-control something about him. Not nervous exactly. Well, sort of. Like he had a secret.
It made Stasi want to investigate. A hands-on approach. Very thorough.
He watched now as long fingers combed through golden hair, and he had to swallow hard. It was those fingers tucking a lock behind an ear and a quick flash of blue eyes over the rim of those glasses that made Stasi gasp. Oh, the man was just too hot!
Maybe Truman secretly liked guys sometimes?
Stasi rubbed at his shoulder, rucking up his sleeve. Then he flexed his arm, making the muscles bulge. From under his lashes, he peeked at Truman just in time to see him lick his pink lips. Score! Stasi grinned, flashing his dimple, and quietly chuckled when Truman planted his elbow on his book and hid behind his hand and his hair.
Excited by this long-distance flirting with his number-one fantasy, Stasi waited to see if Truman's eyes would find him again. When they did, Stasi sat back, opening his legs to relieve a little pressure. He bit his bottom lip and lifted his hips, staring right at Truman, the straight guy who kept watching. Stasi wiggled his ass in the chair as he settled. Truman kept flicking glances from his book to between Stasi's legs.
Oh, he wanted, all right. Was he getting hard too?
Truman didn't sit back, but he did spread his knees farther apart. His hand left the desktop and headed for his groin, only to halt, then come back up. He shot a look around the area. Stasi couldn't hear it, but he could tell Truman had just let out a huge sigh.
So, okay, Truman was interested but nervous. That was understandable. He was on the baseball team and lived in the Phi Delta Kappa house with, like, half the football team. Neither could possibly be all that gay-friendly. And sure, maybe he wasn't gay, maybe bi, or maybe one of those straight guys who was just horny and willing to try something different sometimes. Bastian insisted those guys were a myth, but Mpenda said sometimes a dick didn't care who sucked it.
If Truman was curious or open-minded, Stasi would definitely volunteer to show him whatever he wanted about man-on-man sex.
Stasi waited for Truman to look again, then slowly licked his lips while staring at Truman's package. Truman sat back and crossed his legs. Then he brought his book into his lap, propping it against the desk like a shield.
Stasi chuckled quietly.
The look Truman sent him then... Aw, God. He looked so scared! Hungry but terrified.
Slowly, deliberately, Stasi laid his hand on the arm of the chair and slid it down to the edge. He pointed toward Truman for a second and watched the guy staring, then turned his hand over and made like he was reaching for Truman.
Even from this far away, he could see Truman shiver.
He wanted Truman to see acceptance and protection, something that said, It's okay, baby, but he guessed that didn't make it across. Suddenly Truman stood, stuffing his books into his bag as he rose. His chair fell, but he ignored it as he scratched his glasses off his face and ran to the door. A flash of gold hair in the sun, and he was gone.