Missed Connections: I Swear to You

Sloan Parker

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When roommates Grady and Mateo give in to their growing lust, it’s the best sexual experience of their lives. But are they really gay? Is this just sex or something more? It takes time for confused Grady to figure that out, but ...
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When roommates Grady and Mateo give in to their growing lust, it’s the best sexual experience of their lives. But are they really gay? Is this just sex or something more? It takes time for confused Grady to figure that out, but once he does, he’s determined to have all of Mateo. Too bad tracking down brokenhearted Mateo proves impossible.

So what’s a horny gay virgin who wants only one man to do? Grady posts an ad online to encourage his friend out of hiding and into his bed. Once he gets Mateo between the sheets, he’s sure he can convince him that what they had together was no college experiment. But Mateo’s been hiding from something—or someone. Grady is determined to tear down all Mateo’s walls so he can find out what happened to him and help heal his wounds, and in the process show his best friend that he won’t run. Not this time. He swears.

Excerpt
Grady turned his pickup truck onto the narrow dirt driveway and glanced over at his roommate in the passenger seat. The side of Mateo’s dark head was plastered against the window, his eyes closed, lips parted in sleep.

“This sucks,” Grady whispered under his breath. He so didn’t want to wake him.

It had been one hell of a shitty day, and Mateo deserved at least another hour or two of the ignorant bliss that came with sleep.

Grady sighed and tapped Mateo’s thigh with the side of his fist. “We’re here.”

Mateo flinched awake, banging his elbow on the armrest as he bolted upright. That had to feel damn near perfect after what he’d gone through a little over an hour ago.

“Sorry, man.”

Mateo blinked and shook his head as if to say it was fine.

He had drifted off halfway through the drive to Crystal Spring Lake, which was situated in the middle of forestland and farm country, fifty-five miles from their university in West Clinton, Ohio.

It had been pushing midnight by the time they’d left their dorm room, tossing some clothes and shit into their bags, heading out without telling any of their frat brothers or hockey teammates where they were going.

Or why.

As the truck came to a stop, Mateo nodded toward the north end of the property. “The guesthouse?”

“You know it.”

It was odd that he’d asked. They always stayed in the one-room, pale-blue house that sat off to the side of the main cottage.

Maybe what he’d witnessed earlier had him feeling even more out of sorts than Grady had expected.

And why not? No matter what a guy felt about the girl he was seeing, when he caught her in bed with another guy, it fucking stung.

Mateo wrenched open the passenger door and got out.

Grady followed suit. Despite how warm it had been that day for early May, it was frigid at the lake at this time of night. Good thing he’d had the sense to grab their coats on their way out an hour earlier. Mateo hadn’t been thinking too clearly when he’d stormed into their dorm room after catching his girl with a freshman from their hockey team, the guy’s dick buried inside her.

Mateo paused in front of the truck like he was too exhausted to move another inch. He stared at the guesthouse, then out over the moonlit water.

The lake was just a speck on any map, and the nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away through the dense forest. Only a dozen houses sat around the perimeter of the lake. The two that Grady’s family had owned all his life weren’t anything elaborate, but it felt good to be away from school, to inhale the clear, crisp air, and stand in the piercing quiet.

With the moon barely a sliver of light in the sky, it was like they’d stepped into another world.

Maybe Mateo felt the same. He inhaled deeply like he was able to really breathe for the first time since they’d left the city, and then he walked to the shoreline and continued to stare out at the dark, still water.

Grady grabbed their bags and the case of beer and set everything on the porch of the guesthouse, then headed down to the shore. They stood almost shoulder to shoulder in the sand, though Mateo was a touch taller. They had the same dark hair, but in contrast to Mateo’s darker skin, Grady’s paler complexion always freckled easily in the sun.

The cool breeze picked up, blew across the surface of the lake, and smacked into them. Mateo closed his eyes and lifted his face into the wind. With his hair swept back off his forehead, he looked like he did whenever he peeled off his helmet after a game, his black hair sweaty and slicked back.

His voice was low when he finally spoke. “Grady?”

“Yeah.”

He waved that off like he’d changed his mind on what he’d been about to bring up. “Let’s take the boat out.”

“Sure. Let me go grab the key from the house.”

“No.” He shook his head again. “We fire up the motor this late, and the neighbors across the way will be bitching your dad out.” With a tilt of his head, he gestured to the back of the property. “The canoe.”

Grady looked toward the shed that sat behind the main house where the canoe and oars were stored. He shrugged. “Okay.” It didn’t matter that they’d probably come close to freezing their asses off out on the water. If this was what Mateo needed, Grady would do it. He’d row through a blizzard for Mateo.

They’d been coming out to the lake since they’d met in the first grade. All through school they’d spent their weekends there, hiking through the woods looking for tree frogs, and doing cannonballs off the dock to see who could make the biggest splash. In high school they’d progressed to taking either the canoe or the motorboat out on the lake and talking about which girls they wanted to fuck. They’d even moved to the guesthouse during the first three summers in college, both of them working part-time at the honky-tonk joint about a mile away. Grady knew Mateo had nowhere else to go. Asking his aunt and uncle if he could stay with them wasn’t an option.

“They’re just gonna say no.”

He’d lived with them since he was three months old, but the minute he’d left for college, they’d practically forgotten he’d existed.

Fuck ’em.

Grady had made a point of telling Mateo he didn’t need them. He had Grady’s family. Hell, Grady’s parents had done more for Mateo during one season of hockey--buying his gear and driving him to practice--than his aunt and uncle had ever bothered to do.

Without another word, they headed for the shed. It wasn’t long before they had the canoe launched and were rowing away from the cottage, Grady seated in the bow and Mateo behind him in the stern. In the center of the lake, they stopped and let the canoe drift on the nearly still water.

There were no sounds of traffic, no guys bitching at each other, no blaring video games. Just the sporadic hoot of an owl in the distance.

Grady swung around to sit facing the back of the canoe. Mateo hadn’t taken his eyes off the water.

“Fuck her,” Grady said as he pulled out two beers. “Who needs her?”

Mateo nodded but said nothing.

Grady twisted open one of the beers and handed it to him, then opened his own. He guzzled it down, not knowing what to say or do.

He never felt this uncomfortable around Mateo. Then again, they didn’t spend their days talking about this kind of thing.

Not that shit didn’t ever get serious. Sometimes late at night in their dorm room, after a party, when they were both drunk, they’d talk about stuff they had never talked about with anyone else, that they’d only admit because they were alone, drunk, whispering in the dark. It was then that Mateo would admit how scared he was he’d fuck up in school and ruin his one chance to make something of himself, to prove to his aunt and uncle they were wrong about him. And maybe to prove to himself he could do it.

Grady hadn’t known what to say to that. He had tried to tell Mateo his aunt and uncle didn’t know crap about him, but he’d never gotten through.

Or maybe he had. Maybe Mateo needed those words from Grady, and that was why he’d brought it up in the first place.

And now, sitting in the canoe, Grady was yet again at a loss for what to say, for what Mateo needed him to say. So he drank his beer and waited.

Eventually Mateo looked away from the water and stared down the mouth of his beer bottle. “I just finished reading this book about the psychology of introverts.”

“Yeah?”

That wasn’t a surprise. Mateo was always reading like he was on a deadline. Yet it wasn’t just what was assigned for his classes. He devoured books the way the guys at the frat house inhaled pizza.

He also kept to himself a lot. He rarely said more than two consecutive sentences to anyone--except Grady.

It was that quiet, mysterious thing he had going on that girls found irresistible, thinking they could be the ones to get him to open up. He didn’t even need the two sentences to get most girls in bed with him. He’d just flash them those serious dark eyes, and they were all over him.

Of course, it also could’ve been the story of how he’d gotten to Ohio from Mexico that did the girls in. Most people on campus had heard the rumor that Mateo was the famous “miracle baby.” At three months old he’d been smuggled into the US with his parents, hidden under a false floor in a van, only to end up in a car crash ten miles north of the border. He was found lying unharmed amid the twisted metal, crammed between the bodies of his dead parents.

That story always had the girls batting their pity-filled eyes at him.

Morons. They never bothered to see who Mateo really was.

Maybe Grady would always know him better than any woman.

When Mateo said nothing more about the book he’d read, Grady didn’t push him on it. When he wanted to talk, he’d talk.

The silence stretched on for so long Grady practically jumped in his seat when Mateo finally spoke again.

“It said introverts usually prefer a small number of close friends over lots of casual ones.” There was something very damaged and hurt and vulnerable about the way he sounded right then. Even in the low light of the moon, the look on his face matched the sound of his voice. “Most of their relationships can get pretty intense.” He drank a long swallow of beer. Then another until the bottle was empty. He tossed it over his shoulder into the boat. “Who needs her?”

“Exactly.” It wasn’t like he’d been seeing her that long anyway. Grady handed him another beer.

Mateo didn’t say anything else for a while, just stared off into the dark, impenetrable water once again. When that beer was almost gone, he said, “You know that thing we’ve been doing after your history class?”

Shit.

With that one question, he was violating their unspoken agreement not to talk about it--about what they did every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when Grady got back to their dorm room.

So far those afternoons had been the best sexual experience of Grady’s life, and all he did was spend those few minutes touching only himself.

With forced nonchalance he said, “Yeah.”

“Was I cheating on her?”

“No fucking way! We were just beating off at the same time. It’s not like we were doing it to each other. We weren’t even on the same side of the damn room.”

Mateo nodded, downed another long swallow.

Of course, it hadn’t just been beating off, and they both knew it. The way they’d watched each other, focused on the other man’s dick as he worked it over. They had matched their rhythms so it was exactly like they were doing it to each other. And neither one would look away until the other’s pulse of cum shot out as he came.

For Grady it had all driven his arousal higher, made him come harder than anything else.

To his relief, they didn’t say anything more on the subject. They kept on twisting open beers until they were both drunk, cursing at the fish who sporadically breached the surface of the water, laughing at how every rustle of brush and crack of a twig from the acres of wooded land surrounding the lake had them jumping out of their seats.

They finished off the last of the beers a few hours later, and then Mateo passed out on his side on the canoe floor. Too tired and drunk himself, Grady ungracefully ducked under the thwart that stretched across the canoe’s middle and squeezed in beside him. Sometime in the night Grady’s arm became a pillow, protecting Mateo’s head from that hard, wet floor.

When they awoke, the lake was covered in fog, the sunrise a brilliant orange burning through the mist. The sorrowful call of a mourning dove was punctuating the quiet stillness.

Without a word they got up and arranged themselves on the seats.

As if they had to summon the energy to move, they sat there holding on to the oars, facing each other, both staring off into the separating fog, watching a pair of swans take flight and breeze across the surface of the water.

“Thanks,” Mateo said in a low whisper.

“No problem.”

He nodded, then looked Grady’s way.

Grady added, “I always got your back.”

Copyright © Sloan Parker

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