Teaser Thursday- Accepting Me

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If Landon mentioned his boyfriend one more time, I would probably scream. Or throw his box of books out the window. Without opening the window.

Don’t get me wrong. I was happy my friend had found a new guy. Landon had only lived in town a little while. He and his dad moved around a lot for his dad’s job, and even though Landon was an awesome guy to hang out with, some people just plain didn’t want to be friends with the new kid. Especially if the new kid was openly gay.

He’d met this guy V.J. at a basketball game when our team played against V.J.’s school, and since then Landon hadn’t talked about much else except V.J. It was kind of fun at first. I’d never seen Landon all blushy and stuff before. It got old pretty fast though, when he couldn’t have a conversation without bringing V.J.’s name in after less than a minute. I was glad he was happy. I just didn’t want to hear about it every five seconds.

I was going to have to get used to it, because Landon was moving in with my family. His dad’s company was shipping him off to someplace in the Midwest, and Landon wanted to finish high school in our town, so they’d talked to my parents. My parents liked Landon and hadn’t had any problem letting him move in. He was at our place most of the time anyway.

“You’d better not bring him over here to have sex in my room,” I said while I sat cross-legged on my bed and watched Landon try to find space for his books on my bookcase. Our house only had three bedrooms, so he and I would be sharing. My little brother Tyler got to keep his own room.

“Yeah, Shane, because I’d totally do that.” Landon looked at me and rolled his eyes. “After his dad walking in on us, we might not be having sex anywhere for a while. What’s up your ass today anyway? Every time I mention V.J. you have this look on your face as if I’m making you smell dog crap.”

“Sorry.” I wasn’t, really. I couldn’t be sorry for something I wasn’t doing on purpose. “You mention him kind of a lot. Maybe we can talk about something else. Like how weird it’s going to be for you to open Christmas presents here.”

“I’m opening them at home.” He paused. “Dad’s house. Whatever I should call it now. He wants to have Christmas morning be just him and me.”

“Okay.” Not having him at my house first thing Christmas morning would be less weird for me, too. Landon was a good friend, but I hadn’t made up my mind how I felt about him moving in.

He crammed a few books onto one of the shelves. “You need to find someone to go out with. Then you wouldn’t get so ticked when I talk about V.J.”

“I don’t get ticked. Just bored.” The thought of having “someone” was beyond boring. Just trying to figure out how it would even work made my stomach hurt. I’d watched my friends have boyfriends or girlfriends, and it seemed to be a lot of work. And a lot of hanging on each other and agonizing about kissing and sex.

None of it interested me at all. My friends and my parents asked me all the time why I didn’t date someone, and the only answer I had for them was that I just plain wasn’t interested. It didn’t make sense to them.

It didn’t make sense to me either, really. Everyone else I knew was pairing up or between pair-ups and wishing they were paired up. The older I got, the more couples I saw around me. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t figure out why they wanted to be joined at the hip to someone.

Teaser Thursday- Fresh Meat

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By four o’clock, I’d changed my clothes five times and still wasn’t happy with what I’d put on. I’d ended up in the same outfit as that morning, because none of the alternatives I’d tried seemed any better. Even though I didn’t figure Larry would care a lot about what I wore, I wanted to look good for him.

Finally I gave up and headed to the beach.

Larry was waiting for me exactly where he’d said he would be. My heart gave this weird little jump when I saw him. I wasn’t sure if it was happiness or love or lust, or some combination of all of them. All I knew was I was glad Mom had agreed to let me go, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a chance to see him.

“Glad you’re here.” His smile lit up brighter than the sun. “I’m glad your mother didn’t change her mind.”

“My dad tried to ground me,” I said.

He raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t sneak out or anything, did you?”

I shook my head. “My mother said I can still go. My father doesn’t know, and he probably won’t like it much. I don’t care. Can we get going, please?”

“Sure.” He squeezed my hand, then quickly let go when someone walked past us. I didn’t blame him. I was kind of disappointed, though. “I’m parked over here. We’ll go into the city, have supper, maybe check out the aquarium or something. Then when it’s dark, we can check out the lights before we come back here. Did your mother decide what time you had to be home?”

“I thought you and she had already sorted that out.” Had I been wrong? Maybe I’d convinced Mom of something that wasn’t true. Then again, she hadn’t remembered either, so I hadn’t exactly lied.

“She said nine, I said ten, she said she’d think about it.” He headed for a silver sports car. Some foreign thing which I should have known the name of but didn’t. I glanced at the license plate. It was from Oregon. Without meaning to, I memorized the number. Any time I saw a number written out, it stuck in my brain. I wouldn’t need to remember Larry’s for any reason I could think of, but if I ever did, I had it.

I walked beside him, half wishing my friends could see me getting into such an amazing car with a guy like Larry. Then again, they wouldn’t have cared about the guy thing. If Larry had been a gorgeous woman with a great car, Eddie and Shawn would have drooled so much they’d be standing in puddles. To me, Larry was more gorgeous than any woman. I knew my friends wouldn’t see it that way.

“She said ten,” I told him. “I have to be home by ten at the latest.”

He nodded. “We’ll make sure you’re home in time, then. I want you to be able to go out with me again sometime, and I don’t think that will happen if I bring you home late.”

“Probably not,” I agreed.

We got into the car and Larry headed south. On the way, I tried to talk to him more about himself. I still didn’t really know anything about him. I didn’t find out much during the drive. Every time I asked him a question, he turned it back on me. I didn’t know whether he used his power on me or whether it was just that I didn’t usually have anyone who wanted to listen, but I kept talking until we rolled into the city.

Then I shut up, because the buildings were huge. Even though Boston wasn’t far from home, I’d been telling the truth when I’d told Larry I’d only seen the city on trips to the airport. My fifth grade class had taken a field trip to Boston. I’d been sick and Mom had refused to let me go, even though she and Dad had already paid for it. I’d tried a few times to persuade them to take me and the kids to the city for a day and they’d always turned me down. Amber wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

Driving into the city with Larry, I tried to look in about a dozen different directions at once. Larry laughed as I craned my neck to look behind us. “Overwhelming, huh?”

“A little. Mostly I’ve just never seen anything like this, and I can’t believe I’m really here.”

“You are.” He rested his hand on my knee. I breathed deeply through my nose and stared out the window to calm my hormones. If Larry noticed, he didn’t mention it. “You’re here, and I’m here with you. And I’m glad I am.”

“M—me too,” I stammered.

“Good.”

Teaser Thursday- Life Skills

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The kiss took Brian by surprise, especially the intensity of it. Trista usually only kissed him like this at the end of their dates and sometimes not even then. She had made it clear that kissing was the only thing she planned to do with him, at least while they were still in high school, and she preferred to make sure they wouldn’t want to keep going.

This time, she didn’t seem inclined to stop. Neither did Brian, but he broke the kiss and stared at her. “What was that all about?”

“I can’t kiss my boyfriend?” She raised an eyebrow. “Sorry if that isn’t as good as Javier kisses.”

“You’re not Javier, and he isn’t you.” Brian pulled away from her and went to the fridge. “I don’t know what you want from me, Trista. Do you want to change things? Just tell me. I don’t want to, but I don’t want you upset and hating me either.”

“Did that kiss feel like I hate you?” She sat at the table. “I don’t know what I want, Brian. Well, yeah, I do. I want you to myself, the way it was before you met Javier. Maybe I’m being selfish. I don’t think so. I think you’re the selfish one.”

“I would be selfish if I told you and Javier that you could each only date me. I’ve never said that. Never.” He took a breath. His temper was rising and the last thing he wanted to do was get pissed off at Trista. She had a right to be upset if she didn’t like how things were going between them.

“No, you’ve been honest and told us we can see other people too. And yet neither of us usually does.”

“There isn’t anyone around here that Javier wants to date.” He paused. “I know other guys have asked you out.”

“And I told you, I don’t want to go out with any other guys.” Her voice sounded choked, and Brian realized she was close to crying. He hoped she wouldn’t. He was never sure how to deal with her when she cried. “I’m trying this date with Craig, but I really do feel like it’s only going to be a friends thing. Did you miss the part where I told you I’m in love with you? I know you aren’t in love with me, Brian. If you were, it wouldn’t even occur to you to date someone else. That doesn’t mean I have to like the way things are.”

“What do you want me to do?” he asked again.

She shook her head. “I don’t know. Break up with one of us, I guess. Except I’m afraid that if you do, I’ll be the one you break up with, and I don’t want that. So I just don’t know.”

Teaser Thursday- Fresh Meat

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The mall was pretty busy. A lot of people were probably doing their back to school shopping. I didn’t recognize any of the people I saw as we walked from the parking lot into the air conditioned building, but I kept watching faces so if anyone I knew was there, I would be able to avoid them before they spotted me.

We went into one of the big department stores and headed for the men’s department. I didn’t know how much I was allowed to pick out, so I just stood there until Eloise started loading me up with jeans and pants and shirts. We spent about two hours there while I chose things I would actually wear and tried them on. I ended up with almost as many clothes as I’d had at home. I tried to argue with Eloise about spending so much, because I didn’t think she really had any reason to. I wasn’t her kid or anything. She just smiled and said, “Money isn’t a problem, Tobias. We want you to be comfortable.”

We took the clothing bags to the car so we wouldn’t have to carry them around, then went back into the mall to check out a shoe store for some new shoes for me. I’d been wearing a pair of sneakers someone had left at Jed’s, which weren’t exactly comfortable.

I spotted Larry near one of the restaurants and froze.

“What’s wrong?” Eloise had gone a few steps farther. She turned to look at me. “Tobias?”

I shook. I couldn’t breathe. I just shook my head and pointed.

Eloise hurried back to me. She didn’t look where I was pointing. I needed her to see him. “Over there,” I whispered.

Then she finally looked. Her eyes widened, then she closed them for a moment. When she opened them again, she said, “We need to go home. Jed wants us to leave now.” I must have looked confused, because she said, “Mates have a bond and can communicate through it. I told him Larry’s here. He’s sending the trackers to take care of it and wants us to leave.”

Right. We couldn’t do anything about Larry ourselves, even though he was leaning against the wall chatting with a guy who looked even younger than me. Maybe he was going to do the same thing to that kid. I knew better than to go after Larry myself. Seeing him scared me so much I could barely stand up, never mind walk. But I couldn’t let him hurt someone else.

After a couple seconds, I managed to make my voice work. “Security guard.”

“What?” Eloise looked confused.

“He’ll hurt him.”

Apparently she caught on. “Okay. Come here.”

She led me to a nearby bench and motioned for me to sit. I did, peering around her to keep an eye on Larry. If he started to walk out of the mall with the kid, I would have to do something.

“Stay here.” Eloise spoke quietly, the way Jed had when he’d calmed me down the first day I’d been with them. “There’s a security guard right over there. I’ll go tell him something that will persuade him to get Larry away from the boy. Stay right here, Tobias, and keep your head down.”

I nodded and looked at the floor, though I wanted to watch her talk to the security guard and see what the guard did in response. If I looked up, the security guard might see me and recognize me. Worse, Larry might.

After a minute or so, Eloise came back. “I told him you’re my grandson and you had a run-in with Larry last week and you’re concerned his intentions may not be good.” She took my hand and pulled me up from the bench. “He’s talking to Larry now and making sure the boy doesn’t leave with him. We need to get out of here before Larry sees you. We’ll go somewhere else for shoes.”

“I don’t care about shoes.” I wanted to cry. The only reason I didn’t was it would have shown even more weakness than I was already showing.

I trudged to the car behind Eloise, who kept glancing back to make sure I was there. She tried to talk to me on the ride home. I didn’t answer. I didn’t have anything to say. Part of me wanted to go back to the mall and kill Larry. Part of me was ashamed of how frightened I’d been. Neither part wanted to talk.

When we arrived home, Jed met us at the door. “The trackers are out looking. Larry had left the mall by the time they arrived.”

“They’d better find him.” I pushed past him to go inside. For a change, I didn’t want to be outside. I wanted to hide.

I went up to my room and looked out the window at the little bit of ocean I was able to see. It didn’t do as much to calm me down as it had. Larry was still around. Not only that — he was apparently looking for a new victim.

I didn’t know which pissed me off more, that he was still trying to hurt people or that he had apparently completely forgotten about me.

Teaser Thursday- Accepting Me

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I talked to my parents about a lot of things. They were that kind of parent. They didn’t judge and didn’t come down hard on me when I’d done something they didn’t approve of. All they did was talk to me and help me solve problems. If I’d done something they thought I shouldn’t have, they gave me consequences that made sense.

Sometimes they didn’t even give me a consequence, because whatever I’d done came with built-in punishment, like when I was seven and stole a candy bar from a grocery store. My parents didn’t punish me, exactly. Instead, Mom took me back to the store, found a manager, and made me pay for the candy bar and return it, since I hadn’t eaten it yet. Admitting to a total stranger that I’d stolen, and losing even a little bit of my allowance, did a lot more than grounding me or something would have. I hadn’t stolen anything since.

My parents were awesome, but I didn’t know if I should talk to Dad about this. He might not really want to hear it.

“Relationships just bug me.” I paused. “I don’t mean bug. I mean… You know, this isn’t as easy to explain as I’d hoped.”

“Try again.” He probably had a pretty good idea of what I meant, but he wouldn’t fill in words for me.

“I don’t have a problem with other people’s relationships. I just don’t want one of my own.” I started paying a lot of attention to the dishes in the sink, because focusing on something else made it easier to talk than looking at Dad. “I don’t understand why people want to pair up. I mean, why go to all the trouble when you can just be friends and not have to deal with fighting and messes and stuff?”

“Messes?” He chuckled. “You mean emotional or you mean the wet spot?”

“A little bit of both.” Dad joking about sex didn’t bother me. Like I said, my parents didn’t think teens should have sex, but they were realistic enough to know it happened and were open about discussing it. “Okay, let’s start there. Why do people have sex anyway?”

“It feels good,” he said. “And when you’re with someone you really care about, it strengthens the connection between you. People enjoy being close to each other, physically and emotionally, and sex is a way to be close to someone you’re in love with.”

“Okay. Why do people want to be in love with each other?”

“Wow.” He paused. I still didn’t look at him. “I don’t really know how to answer you, Shane. I’m going to have to think about that one.”

“Okay.” When my parents said they’d think about something, they actually did. Sometimes they came up with an answer after Tyler or I had forgotten we’d asked a question. Dad might not be able to answer this one, but if he couldn’t, he would at least say so.

“Shane, I need to ask you something,” he said. “I hope you’ll try to answer. If you can’t answer, it’s fine, just tell me.”

“Okay.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear his question. My chest got a little tight and I held my breath waiting to hear what he would say. I kept working on the dishes, even though they were pretty clean by now.

“I’ve never heard you talk about a girlfriend. I thought for a while maybe you were gay and weren’t ready to accept it yet, or maybe you just weren’t ready to tell us. Now, after what you just said, I have to wonder. Do you think this is something that will change as you get older? The not wanting or understanding romantic relationships, I mean.”

I held up a finger to let him know I wanted to think before I spoke. As much as I wanted to avoid the question, I would answer it. I just had to figure out how.

Teaser Thursday- Listening Skills

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“It isn’t.” Brian paused again. He was about to take a heck of a chance. He just hoped it would work out. “I think there’s a lot I don’t know about you because I haven’t bothered trying to find out. And that’s kind of suckish of me. I mean, if you’re my boyfriend, I should care enough to find out what kind of pizza you prefer, what you’d rather do for dates, all that kind of stuff. And I haven’t asked.”

“I can actually tell you if I don’t like something or if there’s something I really want to do,” Javier said. “I know how to talk. I haven’t said anything because so far, everything’s going pretty well as far as I’m concerned.”

“Okay.” Hearing that should have made Brian feel better. For some reason, it didn’t.

“You don’t believe me?” Javier tapped Brian on the knee. “Hey. Are you more upset about Trista than you’re letting on, or are there problems with us too?”

“I’m bummed about breaking up with her.” Brian didn’t want to lie to his boyfriend. He just wasn’t sure he should tell the whole truth.

“And you think there are problems with us.” Javier leaned over to look into Brian’s eyes. Brian had to force himself not to look away. “Talk to me. I know you aren’t great at serious discussions, but I think if we don’t talk, we’ll be breaking up too. I don’t really want to do that.”

“Neither do I.” He had to tell Javier what he was thinking. It wouldn’t be easy, but if he didn’t say anything, Javier would probably just get up and leave. “It started with the pizza. I realized I didn’t know what kind you liked, and then I realized I didn’t know a lot of things about you. If we’re together, I should know things. I should ask.”

“You had the same problem with Trista.” Javier grimaced. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to bring her up. But she talked to me a lot about feeling as if you didn’t care what she wanted. You decided what you and she would do, and sometimes she went along with it.”

“She told me things she wanted to do, though, and we did them,” Brian argued. Hearing he’d done the same thing to Trista as to Javier ticked him off, both at himself and at Javier for bringing it up. “She told me things.”

“You never asked, though, did you?” Javier paused. “She told you things because she’s that kind of person. If she wants something, she lets people know. But did you ever ask?”

“Crap.” Brian leaned back against the wall and glared at the ceiling. “I’m a bigger jerk than I thought. Why do you even want to keep dating me?”

Javier thumped him on the shoulder. “You aren’t a total jerk. You just don’t always think. Big deal. Everyone’s like that sometimes. I don’t usually speak up about things I want because that’s just the way I am. Big family, not a whole lot of money, you learn to be quiet about what you want and just make sure you get what you need.”

“So I don’t ask and you don’t say anything. We have to work that out if we’re going to keep dating each other.” He wasn’t even sure Javier wanted to keep dating. “We have to talk about stuff. And I have to listen when you talk. You’re right. I had the same problem with Trista. She kept telling me she wasn’t happy, and I kept not listening.”

“Yeah, listening’s kind of important.” Javier paused. “You know, you’re upset you and Trista broke up, and so is she. But the truth as far as I can tell is you gave her something pretty good.”

Yeah, I gave her the choice to go out with another guy. From Trista’s point of view, it probably was a good thing. Brian thought it sucked. “Yeah? What did I supposedly give her?”

“The chance to choose,” Javier said. “The chance to be happy, even if it makes you unhappy. That’s pretty awesome, when you think about it. You could have waited for her to break up with you or kept telling her to deal with things the way they were. Instead, you let her go.”

Teaser Thursday- Life Skills

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By mid-afternoon, he had finished the proposal and had given up on Trista. She’d said she would call to let him know whether their date was still on. He had taken that to mean she would call either way. Apparently he’d been wrong about that. The fact that she hadn’t called told him that she didn’t want to see him at all.

He could have called her to find out what was going on, but he didn’t see the point.

He printed the proposal and put it in his backpack so he would have it to show Mr. Spiretti on Monday, then went back to the living room to watch TV with his mother and Ron. “I thought you had a date with Trista,” Ron said.

“Yeah, I thought so, too.” Brian flopped down in the recliner, with his feet hanging over one arm of it. “She and I had a disagreement yesterday. She said she’d call today and she hasn’t yet, so I guess we aren’t going anywhere.”

“Why don’t you give her a call?” his mother said.

“She said she’d call me. I don’t want to bother her if she’s still upset about yesterday.” The truth was, he didn’t see the point in calling her. If she wanted to go to the stupid soccer game with him, she would have called. It wasn’t his problem if she couldn’t bother letting him know what was going on.

“What happened yesterday?” Ron asked.

Brian definitely didn’t want to explain to his mother and stepfather what he and Trista had argued about. Especially since Ron would probably side with Trista.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “We’ll work it out. Or not.”

“I hope you do,” his mother said. “You and Trista have been together a long time, and you were friends even before that. It would be a shame if the two of you broke up.”

“I guess. Can we please change the subject now?” He nodded at the TV. “And the channel. No offense, but I don’t actually want to watch a show about how to make the perfect soufflé.”

“We were going to go out to eat anyway.” Ron got up and brought the TV remote to Brian. “You can come with us if you want, since you aren’t going on your date.”

“No thanks. I’m sure you two will have a wonderful time without me.”

“Are you sure?” his mother said.

“Yeah. I’ll be fine.”

“We’ll probably be out late,” Ron said. “We might see a movie afterward. What did you and Javier see last night?”

Brian named the movie. “I wouldn’t recommend it. It was kind of stupid. I only went because Javier wanted to, but I wouldn’t go again if you paid me.”

Ron laughed. “I guess we won’t see that one, then. Give us a call if you decide you’re tired of hanging around here by yourself. Otherwise, we’ll see you when we get home.”

“Thanks.”

Teaser Thursday- Accepting Me

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Instead of going into the living room, I decided to go to my room. Landon and Tyler were arguing about the TV, which meant I’d be able to have some time alone. The thing about having Landon living there which would take the most getting used to was not being able to have time alone in my own room unless I told him to stay out. And telling him that would seem weird considering it was his room too.

Right now, I decided to take advantage of having time alone. So I went into my room, closed the door, and flopped down on my bed.

Staring up at the ceiling, I tried to figure out why I was so upset. Dad had said right out he didn’t think anything was wrong with me, so why did I still worry he might think something was? He hadn’t judged me, but I still felt judged.

Maybe I was just judging myself. I was okay with the way I felt, but I knew not everyone would be. Some people would consider me a freak, and some wouldn’t believe I didn’t want romantic relationships. I wondered if Landon felt the same way sometimes about being gay. Being gay was more acceptable than not being anything, but plenty of people still didn’t approve of it.

If I’d thought he would understand at all, I would have asked him. But he was one of the people who always teased me about finding someone. At school or the mall he pointed out girls and guys he considered cute and encouraged me to talk to them.

Maybe if I told him doing that was the same as me trying to talk him into going out with a girl, he’d back off. He might at least understand why I had a problem with it. I just didn’t know if I was ready to tell him.

After a while, I decided to stop thinking. It was giving me a headache, and I wasn’t solving anything. I kept staring at the ceiling and tried to shut off my brain so I didn’t get stuck in a thought-loop.

Teaser Thursday- Fresh Meat

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I hadn’t decided yet if I actually liked guys. Girls didn’t fascinate me as much as they did my friends. I still noticed them, though. Then again, I was younger than Shawn and Eddie by several months. Maybe when I was older I’d be more into girls. I hoped so. I didn’t want to think about what my friends, and especially my parents, would say if I turned out gay. I didn’t think finding guys hot had anything to do with how old I was.

“That guy’s weird,” Eddie said. “He’s been here a few times lately.”

“I haven’t seen him.” I started to look back over my shoulder and stopped myself. I’d calmed down my first reaction to him. I didn’t know if I’d be as successful again.

“You just haven’t been here at the same time as him. Your stupid mother keeps making you go home early.”

“Shut up.” I shot him a look that made him look away fast. I wasn’t always happy about Mom telling me to be home in time to help with Peri and Amber, but I didn’t want Eddie whining about it. And he had no business insulting my mother. Mom wasn’t stupid, just overwhelmed.

“I think that guy’s kind of a creep,” he said after a few seconds. “I mean, he’s a lot older than us, and he’s hanging around a place where kids go? Kind of weird, don’t you think?”

“Maybe he just likes pinball, dummy.” The guy hadn’t looked too old to me. I didn’t think he looked much more than twenty or so. Which was still older than us. It just wasn’t ancient or anything.

“He was looking at you, wasn’t he?” Eddie made a face. “That’s disgusting, man.”

“I guess.” I didn’t quite dare to ask if he meant the guy’s age or the guy checking me out. Knowing Eddie, he might have meant either or both.

Another reason not to let on that sometimes guys interested me. I’d lose the few friends I had.

“Just watch your back.” Eddie gave a little laugh. “Or maybe I should say watch your ass.”

I wanted to slug him. Instead I just said, “Dude, stop being a dink,” and kept walking.

We finally took over our favorite machine. I had the top three scores on the game, and Eddie had the next two. I sent him to the change counter for quarters while I stayed put so no one else took our game.

“Hi.”

Before I even turned around, I knew the voice behind me belonged to the guy in the white T-shirt. I couldn’t have explained how I knew; I just did. I was almost afraid to look at him, but my parents’ constant manners drills got the better of me. Not responding to someone who’d spoken to you was rude.

I took a deep breath and turned. Up close, those piercing eyes turned out to be grey. His hair was shaggy, light brown or dark blond depending on how you looked at it. It kind of shone under the overhead light. His shirt outlined his chest and abs, and the tattoo stood out against the tan skin on his arm. Seeing him more clearly, I couldn’t do much about the sudden bulge in my shorts. I just hoped he wouldn’t notice.

My mouth went dry and for a few seconds, I couldn’t talk.

He looked amused. “Yes, I was speaking to you. Hi.”

“Um, hi.” Yeah, I was great at conversation.

He held out his hand. “I’m Larry.”

“Tobias.”

When I shook his hand, something like a lightning bolt shot through me. Startled, I looked into his eyes, and the electricity grew stronger. I wouldn’t have been able to look away if I’d wanted to. Fortunately, I didn’t want to.