"I don't wanna wait, I just wanna know
I just wanna hear you tell me so
Give it to me straight, tell it to me slow."
- Someday, Rob Thomas
The leather gloves were stiff and a little too big. Sam flexed his fingers, squeezing the tough material into a loose fist.
"Sorry. Those are kind of old." Adam said as he tugged on his own worn gloves. "I'll get you a new pair when I go to town. Some that actually fit you." He grinned and Sam just stared at his mouth. In his dream, Adam had kissed him. It hadn't felt like a dream, and Sam hungered to taste that kiss again.
"I have a thick jacket you can use in the mornings." Adam grabbed a hammer and a small bag of horseshoe nails off the wooden shelf in the tack room. "It gets pretty cold and you'll want more than just a sweatshirt."
Sam didn't respond. Adam spoke as if Sam had already agreed to stay on. But he'd only said he would stay one more night and think about it. Still, Adam made no mention of Sam possibly leaving tomorrow.
"Come on." Adam headed for the large opening at the far end of the barn. "It's pretty far out there, but we should have plenty of daylight to get the fence done."
Sam followed him out of the barn to the pickup, then climbed into the passenger seat.
"It's kind of a bumpy ride." Adam warned as he cranked the truck to life. "By the time we get back, you'll be glad for a soft bed to crash in."
Sam nodded silently.
"You ever work fence before?" Adam backed the truck around and drove past the barn to a large wooden gate that opened into a huge pasture and stopped the truck.
"No." Sam said quietly, then popped open his door. "I'll get the gate."
He closed the door behind him and walked to the gate, unlatched it and swung it open wide. Adam pulled the truck through then stopped inside the field as Sam closed the gate and returned to the truck.
"Fencing isn't rocket science." Adam said as the truck rolled slowly down through the pasture. "Just takes common sense." He glanced at Sam and grinned. "And you seem like a common sense kind of guy."
Sam smiled and looked out the passenger window. Don't bet on it, he thought. The truck bounced and jumped over the uneven ground. Sam gripped the door to steady himself. Adam looked at him and grinned again.
"Told ya it was bumpy."
"Yeah." Sam gripped the door tighter. "You called it."
Adam laughed. Sam closed his eyes briefly and fought the tingling sensations that Adam's laugh ignited. God, how was he going to spend the rest of this day and the coming night alone with this man? The very second he displayed any 'give' at all, Adam would reel him in a little more...until he was close enough for Adam to embrace him. And once he'd given up that much...Sam knew it would be over for him. There would be no more fighting or resistance.
He glanced at Adam discreetly. Regardless of how desperately he wanted to give in to Adam, he had to fight it. He couldn't let himself give up even the tiniest bit of ground. He would get through this day, and the night, and then he had to leave. In a moment of weakness he had allowed Adam to convince him to stay. He wouldn't let that happen again.
"God, this is embarrassing." Sam groaned and twisted the claws of the hammer free of the embedded wire. He stared at the wooden fence post in frustration.
Adam watched the young man, struggling not to laugh and doing a poor job of it. He couldn't help it, Sam was just too adorable and cute, his frustration twisting his beautiful face.
"Don't sweat it." Adam laughed lightly. "Sometimes the nails are nearly petrified into the wood and it's hard as hell getting them out. Hand me the hammer." Sam gave him the hammer. Adam worked the claws under the wire around the embedded horseshoe nail. "Come here, grab it like this." He had Sam grab the handle like a pry bar. "Now reef down as hard as you can."
Sam looked doubtful but did as Adam instructed, using all his weight. The wire groaned and stretched a bit but the nail refused to budge. "Shit." Sam panted, releasing the pressure. "This is pathetic. Can't even pull a damn nail from a post."
Adam laughed and shook his head. "Trust me, it isn't you." He assured. "These nails can be some stubborn suckers when they want to be. We're gonna both have to yank on it at the same time."
Adam stepped up behind Sam. "Grab the handle." Sam complied and Adam reached around each side of the kid and grabbed the hammer in between Sam's hands. A sudden tension stiffened Sam's body as his back pressed against Adam's chest. Adam's face touched Sam's hair. It smelled like shampoo. A funny, tantalizing sensation spiraled down through Adam's body and shot back up, exploding through his head. His breath quickened and he closed his eyes briefly, trying to force his pulse to calm. It didn't work.
Clearing his throat anxiously, Adam said, "Okay. On three, put your weight into it." His heart was beating a hole in his chest and he wondered if Sam could feel the force of it against his back. "One...two...three."
They both yanked down on the handle of the hammer, reefing back full force. The nail screeched as it loosened from the post then suddenly ripped free. The sudden release of tension sent Adam and Sam stumbling back, losing their footing and hitting the ground. Sam landed on Adam with a grunt then toppled onto the grass, his air knocked out of him slightly.
"Damn." Adam released a short, gasping laugh.
Sam lay on his back, sucking in air. Adam rolled over, pushing up on an elbow, and stared down at Sam.
Sam nodded. "Yeah." He gasped softly. "Just knocked the wind out of me a bit."
Adam grinned, tugged off his glove and plucked a dead leaf from Sam's hair. He gazed down at Sam's face, transfixed by its perfection and loveliness.
Oh God, Sam, I want to kiss you and never stop.
The want and need burning in Adam's eyes was like bolts of lightning stabbing into Sam's heart, mind and body. Adam's fingers lingered in his hair.
Sam tried to look away, but Adam's empowering eyes held his, unyielding. A heat was spreading through him, getting hotter, burning him alive from the inside out. If Adam kissed him now...Sam was sure his heart might literally explode.
For a brief moment, Sam thought that's exactly what he was going to do as the strong emotions churned in Adam's dark eyes.
Don't let him kiss you. Get up. Now!
Sam tried to move but his body felt locked in place. Adam's fingers raked lightly down his cheek. Sam trembled, helpless against the feelings and emotions Adam brought to life inside him.
Adam licked his lips anxiously. "Well..." He murmured unsteadily, a tremor to his voice. "We're not getting any work done this way." He cleared his throat nervously then pushed himself up, standing to his feet. He reached his hand out to Sam.
After a moment of hesitation, Sam clasp his hand and let him help him up off the ground.
They went back to work, tearing off the old, damaged wire and nailing up new strands. Their conversation was minimal and Sam wouldn't let himself look at Adam directly. He could feel the powerful emotions in Adam's eyes when the man looked at him, and Sam didn't trust his own resolve. If he looked in Adam's eyes and saw those feelings again, it would weaken him more. And he was struggling enough as it was.
When they finally made it back to the barn, it was late afternoon and the sun was sagging low in the sky. Around the perimeter, heavy rain clouds lingered.
"Storm's coming." Adam murmured as they walked from the barn towards the house.
Sam looked at the sky. There was a crisp chill to the air.
"Possibly some snow." Adam added quietly.
Sam glanced down the drive as they approached the porch steps. He should have been long gone by now. Agreeing to stay another night had been a bad decision. Careless. Even irresponsible. Nothing could come of this. So why was he lingering? Stalling his retreat?
Sam flinched and realized he was standing, unmoving, at the foot of the steps, staring down the drive. He glanced at Adam who stood on the porch staring down at him.
Adam glanced quickly towards the drive, an uneasy look in his eyes, then turned them back on Sam. "You coming?"
One last glance at the gravel drive and Sam turned towards Adam. "Yeah." He whispered and climbed the steps.
Sam perched on a stool at the far end of the counter as Adam lightly breaded two steaks and placed them in a cast iron frying pan sizzling with hot oil. The kid looked as if, at any moment, he might well cut and run. Adam could feel a part of him desperate to flee Adam's presence. And Adam was desperate to keep him there.
"I'm no gourmet chef." Adam admitted with a grin. "But you can survive on my cooking." He chuckled and shrugged. "Not sure what a consolation that is."
A smile played around the corners of Sam's mouth, but there remained a level of wariness in the kid, as if he were afraid to relax and make a show of enjoying being here with Adam.
"I'm sure it'll be good." Sam said quietly.
Adam smiled and nodded. "Ah, thanks for the vote of confidence." He turned the burner on medium-low and covered the pan with a cast iron lid.
A sudden, hard gust of wind hit the side of the house and Sam jumped reflexively, then let go a nervous laugh. "Scared me."
The lights flickered. Adam glanced around. "Guess I was right. It's gonna storm."
Rain pelted the windows as the strong wind whipped the drops hard against the glass panes. The lights flickered again.
"Will the electricity go out?" Sam wondered low.
"Possibly." Adam opened a drawer and took out a flashlight. He held it up. "Just in case." He took out a few candles and set them on the counter as well.
Sam smiled. "You're prepared."
Adam chuckled and shrugged. "You live in the country long enough, you learn to be prepared." He glanced at the cook stove. "Unfortunately, I have yet to switch to a gas stove. So if the electricity goes - so does our dinner."
The lights flickered heavily, going out completely for a few seconds then coming back on, only to flicker again.
"I think we can kiss our steak dinner goodbye." Adam murmured as he glanced towards the ceiling at the shuttering lights. He glanced at Sam. The kid was looking around anxiously. Adam smiled and frowned. "Don't tell me you're scared of the dark?"
Sam met his eyes quickly then looked away, laughing uneasily. "No...it's just...storms kind of freak me out."
"Really?" Adam grinned. "I love them." He stepped forward and handed Sam the flashlight then leaned closer and winked. "Don't worry, my friend, I'll protect you from nature's fury."
Sam gazed into his eyes, and Adam became suddenly aware how close his beautiful face was to his own. If he moved in just a few more inches, his lips would touch Sam's and he thought the kid might just let him steal that kiss. But as he took a moment to contemplate the act of thievery, Sam's face suddenly vanished into blackness as the lights went out and stayed out.
The sudden darkness felt thick as tar. Sam sat deathly still, afraid to even shift. Just seconds ago, Adam's face had been mere inches from his own. Had the lights not gone out...he sensed he would be tasting Adam's kiss right now. And though the notion swarmed him with all kinds of wonderful sensations, he was ultimately grateful for the power outage. He couldn't be kissing Adam. That was the doorway into that place Sam longed to go, but could never allow himself entrance.
Adam's kiss was the turning point, the one thing that would crush Sam's resistance. As long as he avoided the kiss...he might stand a chance. But twice now, in this one day, Adam had been on the bare verge of delivering that kiss. And Sam had done nothing, in either instance, to discourage him. Why did he just wait for it - when he should be dodging it at all costs?
"The flashlight, Sam." Adam said from close by in the darkness.
Sam snapped on the flashlight. A bright beam flooded the kitchen. Adam still stood next to him. He grabbed the candles off the counter.
"Lets move to the living room." Adam said. "Shine the way."
Sam slid off the stool and led the way to the living room. Adam set the candles up along the mantle over the fireplace, grabbed a box of matches and lit the candles. He squatted down by the hearth and began fixing a fire in the fireplace. Sam stood back and held the flashlight beam down on the floor, watching Adam. When the fire was burning bright, Sam turned off the flashlight and set it on the myrtle wood coffee table in front of the sofa.
Adam stood, dusted off his hands, then turned towards Sam and smiled. "Much better. At least we won't freeze."
Sam stood motionless gazing at the fire. "You're...very handy in a crisis."
Adam laughed and shook his head. "Well, thank you, kind sir." He chuckled. "But this is hardly a crisis." He moved around the coffee table. "It's just a little wind and rain."
A fierce gust of wind hit the side of the house, rattling the windows. The raindrops were like rocks being sailed at the glass.
Sam nodded slowly and raised his eyebrows. "Just a little wind and rain?" He murmured. "Sure."
Adam laughed and nudged Sam's arm. "I told you, I'd protect you. No fear."
Ducking his head, Sam smiled. "I'm not scared."
"Maybe you should be." Adam spoke low, ominous, moving closer to Sam. "Haven't you heard about the things that go bump in the night?" He spider-walked his fingers up Sam's back.
Sam jumped away from him, laughing nervously. "Quit that."
"Why?" Adam grinned. "Thought you weren't scared."
"I'm not...it just..."
"Just what?" Adam pressed.
Sam rolled his eyes and laughed low. "It tickles, all right."
Raising his eyebrows, Adam's grin widened. "Really? Hmm...that's something to know." He took a step towards Sam.
Sam held out his hand in protest. "Don't." He smiled anxiously and backed away. "My brother used to tickle me and I hated it."
"Of course." Adam grinned. "That's why he did it."
Sam held up both hands and shook his head. "Just...don't, okay?" He couldn't let Adam touch him, and certainly not that up close and personal.
Nodding slowly, Adam backed off. "Okay. As you wish." He grinned as his eyes moved slowly over Sam.
Pleasant chills prickled Sam's skin. He hated how good it felt to have Adam look at him that way. It was easier when he felt unwanted and undesired. There were no temptations, no dangers of going too far, no fear of inciting feelings and emotions he couldn't capitalize on. But he didn't have those luxuries with Adam. Everything was present and bubbling at the surface, about to boil over.
Adam grabbed the flashlight off the coffee table. Sam flinch as if he were reaching for him. "Jumpy." Adam grinned and snapped on the flashlight, shining the light on his own face ominously. "Be right back."
Adam left the living room and returned to the kitchen. Sam stared after him then walked to the fireplace. He watched the flames, becoming entranced. The storm beat at the house. Sam glanced around the dark room, anxiety pinching his gut. He didn't know why storms put him ill at ease. Maybe it was the lack of control, the sense of chaos, being at the mercy of a force so much greater than himself. He liked being in control. Needed to be in control.
He could hear Adam in the kitchen and see the occasional flick of the flashlight beam. When Adam returned, he brought with him a bottle of wine and two scotch glasses.
He held up the glasses and shrugged, smiling. "I don't actually have wine glasses. But these will do."
Adam sat down on the sofa and set the glasses on the coffee table. He worked the cork out of the wine bottle then filled each glass half full. Sam watched him, making no move to join him on the sofa. Adam glanced up and smiled, holding out one of the glasses.
"Come on." He said. "Have a drink with me." When Sam hesitated, Adam lowered the glass some. "Don't tell me you don't drink wine. It's good for you." Adam grinned. "Even the bible says so."
Sam looked at him doubtfully. "Quoting the bible to get me to drink? That's original."
Adam laughed and shrugged. "I'm an all original man." His smile softened, as did his voice. "Come on, Sam. I'm not talking about getting shnockered. I'm just talking about a glass of wine."
"Shnockered?" Sam smiled. "Is that even a word?"
Adam shrugged. "It is now." He chuckled.
Sam gazed at Adam, and couldn't stop the smile from pulling at his lips. Everything about Adam was infectious...his personality, his sense of humor, his smile. Sam tried to resist it, not let Adam see how easily and completely he got to him. But the smile incessantly found it's way to Sam's lips whenever he was in Adam's presence for very long.
He was losing this battle and he knew it. And that should have been enough to send him running. Yet here he stood, in Adam's living room, about to drink wine with the man. He was on a slippery slope and sliding down fast. Playing with fire and trying not to get burned. Rather than stopping it all right here and now, Sam kept reaching for just a little more, telling himself there was still time to pull back, that he hadn't passed the point of no return and would stop before he got there.
Like an addict playing the game of I can quit whenever I want. But he couldn't. He wasn't in control.
And as the addiction destroys the addict and those who love him...Sam's carelessness would ultimately destroy not only himself, but Adam as well.
If he let it continue. If he allowed Adam to invest his heart.
"Well?" Adam held up the glass to him once more, inviting Sam to join him.
Sam rubbed his hand over his mouth, feeling trapped and yet sensing no desire to escape.
The fire light danced softly on Sam's face as the young man hesitated to take the wine. Adam was struggling to keep the mood light, make Sam feel at ease, when he desperately wanted to toss aside all pretenses and just tell Sam point blank how he felt, what he wanted and needed. But the kid seemed to always be on the edge of running away. So he had to play by the rules, take it one step at a time. Open his heart to Sam a little at a time and pray he walked in of his own free will.
Sam approached the sofa tentatively and perched on the edge of the cushion with space between him and Adam. He took the glass Adam offered him and stared at it with uncertainty.
Adam smiled. "It isn't poison, Sam. See?" Adam took a drink from his own glass.
"I didn't think..." Sam started then stopped when Adam laughed softly.
"I was kidding." Adam held Sam's stare. Flames flickered and danced in the kid's eyes. Oh Sam, you make it so hard to play by the rules. The urge to kiss Sam was staggering. Adam looked away and sipped at his wine.
Sam hesitated a moment longer then raised his glass to his lips and took a small drink.
Twisting his glass in his fingers, Adam gazed into the fire, not really trusting himself to look at Sam just now. "You mentioned a brother." Adam said quietly. "Where does he live?"
"Idaho." Sam took another sip of his wine.
Adam looked down into his glass and swirled the wine. "And your parents?"
A heavy silence gripped Sam. Adam turned his head and looked at the kid.
Sam shrugged as he stared at his glass. "California...I think. I don't really know anymore."
"You don't keep in touch?"
Sam licked his lips. "No." He whispered and raised the glass to his lips again, took a bigger drink then licked his lips again. "They never really...understood me. The way I was. And they didn't seem to want to try to understand."
Adam turned his attention back to the fire. "I'm sorry." He said quietly. "That's rough."
"Yeah." Sam murmured and suddenly downed the rest of his wine. He twisted the empty glass in his hands then reached over, took the bottle of wine and filled it three quarters full.
Adam turned and looked at him as he set the wine bottle back on the coffee table, then raised an eyebrow. "You may get shnockered yet."
Sam shrugged and took another big drink from the glass then twisted the glass back forth in his hands as he watched the crimson liquid swish gently against the edges.
Adam stared at him long. There was a shimmer in the kid's eyes and Adam thought maybe he'd made a mistake bringing up Sam's parents. "Sam." Adam murmured. "You do know there's nothing wrong with you...right? Your parents' inability to cope doesn't mean you're the one with the problem." He reached over and stroked the back of his fingers down Sam's cheek. "You hearing me?"
Sam nodded slowly but wouldn't look at him as he took another drink of the wine, nearly emptying his glass again. The shimmer in his eyes thickened. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand then grabbed the bottle of wine again and refilled his glass.
"Okay." Adam took the bottle from Sam and set it out of his reach. "I think you've had your quota for the night."
Sam drank from his glass, his eyes wet as he stared at the fire.
"I'm sorry, Sam." Adam said softly. "I didn't mean to bring up a sore subject...I didn't know it was like that between you and your parents." He cocked his head and gazed at the younger man. "Forgive me?"
Swallowing thickly, Sam pressed his lips together and cleared his throat. "There's nothing to forgive." He whispered then looked at Adam. "I'm not upset with you."
Adam sighed. "I don't know how your parents make you feel, Sam." He murmured. "But if they make you feel anything less than perfect...then they're wrong."
Lowering his eyes, Sam stared down into his glass. A tear slid down his cheek and dropped into his wine. He sniffed and wiped at his face. "Were you always...gay?" He whispered thickly.
Adam frowned, uncertain. "What?"
Sam licked his lips. "I mean...was there ever a time when you didn't know?" He lifted the glass and took a small sip. "Did you ever like girls?"
Shaking his head slowly, Adam's brow pinched with a puzzled frown. "No." He said quietly. "I pretty much knew right from the start that I liked boys. Even back in kindergarten, when the other little boys were trying to steal kisses from the little girls...I was trying to steal kisses from the other little boys." Adam smiled softly. "As you can probably guess, I wasn't invited to too many birthday parties...or asked to play in any little boy games."
Sam gazed blankly at his glass. He didn't smile at Adam's words.
"Was there a time when you liked girls?" Adam asked quietly.
"No." Sam whispered. "But still...I didn't know I was gay until I was sixteen."
Adam frowned, puzzled. "If you never liked girls...how could you not know before you were sixteen? If a boy doesn't know before, he begins to figure it out about time he hits puberty and his attractions kick in full force."
Sam shrugged. "I don't know." He spoke low, soft. "I mean...I knew I liked boys, but...I didn't know it meant I was gay. It just didn't...compute, I guess." He swallowed tightly and squeezed the glass in his hands. "The way I felt...it really confused me. And when I tried to talk to my parents about it...they refused to hear. Braden was the only one who listened. He helped me understand what..." Sam licked his lips slowly as a tear swelled and slipped free, trickling down his cheek. "He helped me understand what was happening...why I felt the way I did."
Adam reached over and squeezed Sam's wrist gently. "It sounds like you have a great brother."
Nodding slowly, Sam's gaze rested on Adam's hand. "I do." He whispered. "The best." He continued to stare at Adam's hand as it lingered on his wrist. "He never looked at me like...there was something wrong with me. Never treated me like I was different. He just...loved me for who I was."
Adam squeezed his wrist again, with affection, caressing his skin lightly with his thumb. "Everyone deserves to be loved for who they are, Sam."
"That's what Braden always told me." Sam murmured. He gazed distantly at the fire. "He made me feel...normal. Made me believe I would meet a boy someday who would...love me the way I was." Sam's lips tightened somewhat as he dropped his eyes to his glass once more. "And I believed him." He shook his head slowly as more tears filled his eyes. "But he was wrong."
The anguish inside Sam resonated outward and infected Adam. A tightness clenched his chest as his own eyes began to sting. What had happened to this kid? He fought the intense desire to pull Sam into his arms and hold him close, hold him tight, assure him he was safe with Adam. But he resisted the urge and simply held Sam's wrist gently, caressing with his thumb. Sam didn't seem to mind.
"What do you mean he was wrong, Sam?" Adam asked slowly, quietly. "What happened when you turned sixteen?"
Sam closed his eyes briefly, squeezing them shut gently. Another tear slid down his face and Adam's heart ached for the young man. Sam opened his eyes slowly and tears swam in their clear depths. Sam's voice thickened and tightened as he whispered, "I met Jase."