Right Here Waiting
“Don't you forget about me, baby
Don't you forget about me now
Some day you'll turn around and ask me
Why did I let you go.”
- Don't You Forget About Me, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS
* * * *
“It must have been love but it's over now.
It must have been good but I lost it somehow.
It must have been love but it's over now.
From the moment we touched, 'til the time had run out.”
- It Must Have Been Love, ROXETTE
When the bathroom door opened, Mason could swear a different man emerged than the one who had excused himself from the kitchen barely ten minutes ago. There was numbness to Noble's movement – yet a strange peace in his tear damp eyes. What could have changed so drastically in such a short period of time?
“Are you okay?” Mason asked again, quiet.
“Yeah.” Noble murmured, that numbness infecting his voice. His eyes focused and set on Mason. “I'm going to...go home. I'll talk to Rebecca tomorrow.” A notable hesitation, then, “In fact...there's something I need to talk to all of you about.”
Mason frowned, pulse quickening. “What is it?”
Shaking his head, Noble whispered, “Tomorrow. Right now...I just want to go home.”
Nodding, Mason replied, “Okay.” He squeezed Noble's shoulder affectionately. “I'm sure everything will work out fine. Rebecca's just upset. More with me, I'm sure, than you.”
“What did she say to Jonah.” Noble asked softly. “That made you get after her?”
Mason rubbed his hand over his mouth and shook his head, Rebecca's choice of words still cutting his heart. “I'd rather not repeat it.”
Noble nodded slowly, almost knowingly, as if he could guess what she had said to the man.
Do you still want to marry her? The question was right there. Are you even still in love with her? But he pulled the words back. There was no doubt something was different about Noble, and lately his attentiveness to Rebecca seemed almost nil. As if he was barely aware of her at all.
Mason walked Noble to the door. The young man was silent until he stepped outside then turned around. “Do you think...Jonah will really leave...for good?”
An ache tightened Noble's voice that thoroughly baffled Mason; the man seemed more concerned about Jonah leaving – than clearing up this mess with Rebecca.
“I think so.” Mason said, and his own voice squeezed with emotion. It tore him up that Jonah felt so unwelcome in his own family. He looked at Noble. “I want to ask you a question, Noble. And please be honest with your answer. Whatever you say, it's all right.” The young man tensed instantly, and Mason had to wonder just what, exactly, Noble thought he was going to ask. “Do you feel...uncomfortable around Jonah...because he's...gay?”
A very fleeting, barely detectable glint of incredulous passed through the young man's eyes, for which Mason had no interpretation. But it was gone in an instant and he glanced off, away from Mason. “No.” he replied with a depth of sincerity that Mason found heart warming. “Why would I?”
When the boy turned his eyes back on Mason, there was a filmy sheen to them as if he were barely containing a well of tears. Noble...what is wrong? Mason licked his lips slowly, wanting to ask the question but sensing Noble wasn't at the point yet where he would open up – and might just run away from him. “Well, some folk feel very...on edge when they are around gay people. I was just wondering if you...”
“No.” Noble said again, shaking his head slowly, eyes cast down.
Mason studied his face. Something was right there, he could feel it , just below the surface. And he had the feeling he should be able to see it plain as day, but for whatever reason...it was hidden from him. “Do you think...people go to hell for being gay?”
An instant tension seized the young man. His breath quickened notably.
“Do you think my son is going to hell?” Mason added softly, his throat tight. He knew what Rebecca believed, even what Colleen believed, but for reasons he couldn't explain...he wanted to know what Noble believed.
“I, uh...” Noble swallowed thickly, and the sheen in his eyes thickened. “I don't think...it's my place to say. I think that should be between the person...and God, and...shouldn't be anyone else's right to make that call.”
Mason nodded slowly. “I agree.”
Noble met his eyes, holding his gaze hard. “What do...you believe?”
“I believe we serve a loving God.” Mason said. “And I can't believe His love is reserved for a select few. I believe He loves us all...unconditionally.”
A wall of tears rose up in Noble's eyes and he looked away quick, clearing his throat. Again, Mason wasn't sure how to interpret the boy. “I like that.” Noble whispered thick. “I like the idea...that God loves everyone...as is.”
“I believe it's more than just an idea.” Mason said softly.
Noble nodded slowly, his eyes averted. “I hope you're right.” he whispered again, then rubbed his eyes quick and moved away from the door. “I should go. I'll...be back tomorrow...talk to Rebecca.”
“Okay.” Mason murmured. “If you need anything...at all...just give me a call.”
“Thanks.” Noble mumbled and almost seemed to hurry down the walk towards his car.
Closing the door, Mason turned around. Down the hall, Rebecca came out of her room. His gut tightened, preparing for another confrontation.
“Did Noble just leave?” Rebecca asked, a tightness to her voice and pinch to her brow.
“Yes.” Mason said.
A flicker of anger sparked in her eyes and she started to move around Mason and head for the door. He caught her by the arm, halting her. “What-” She frowned hard, then met his stern eyes.
“You can talk to him tomorrow.” Mason told her. “Just let him go for now.”
“He's my fiancé.” Rebecca reminded. “I can talk to him now if I want.”
Mason held onto her arm firmly, without hurting her. “Give him some space, Rebecca.”
“How could he just leave? After the way he talked to me?”
“He apologized.” Mason said tightly. “You're the one who stomped off to your room like a spoiled little brat, slamming doors.” Only when Mason heard Noble's car start then drive away did he finally release Rebecca's arm.
“What's going on now?” Colleen stepped out of the kitchen.
Rebecca hugged herself and backed away, tears glistening as she stared Mason in anger. “What is it with men today?” she cried. “Why are you all treating me like shit?”
“Rebecca!” Colleen stared at her daughter.
Stepping forward, Mason dragged his hand over his mouth. “Sis, have you stopped for two seconds and considered how you've been acting? You can't just talk to people the way you have today and expect no repercussions.”
“I didn't say anything to Noble to make him talk to me the way he did.” Rebecca insisted. “And Jonah...he had no right to bring up Keith.”
A long sigh seeped out of Mason. “Maybe what he said...was long overdo.”
“It was his fault!” she cried. “I don't care what he says! I don't ever want to see him again!”
“Well, that shouldn't be a problem.” Mason spoke low, his temper straining. “He left, and went back home.”
Rebecca trembled. “Good.”
Squeezing the back of his neck, Mason glanced at Colleen – who seemed at a loss for words – then fixed his eyes on Rebecca. “Rebecca, as far as I'm concerned, you're my daughter.” he spoke slow, controlled. “And I couldn't love you more if you were my own flesh and blood. But Jonah is my son, as well. And I've held my tongue for far too long concerning the way you treat him. As long as you're in this family, Jonah is your brother, whether you like it or not. And you will treat him respect – as he has always treated you.”
“Was today an example of how he treats me with respect?” Rebecca said low, bitter.
“You barged into his house, Rebecca.” Mason's voice rose a notch. “Verbally attacking him, jumping to conclusions. You can't treat people that way and expect them to just take it. To get respect – you have give it.”
A tremor ran through the young woman and she shook her head, not giving an inch. “I really don't care if he respects me or not. I just want him to stay away from Noble. He doesn't need to be calling him or trying to hang out with him. Noble don't need friends like...him.” The last word fell from her lips with distaste.
“Rebecca.” Mason felt tired and just wanted this conversation to be over, but he refused to give in and just let her have her way. That wouldn't be helping anyone. “It's your prerogative if you don't agree with homosexuality. But as I said, Jonah is your brother. And I won't stand for you talking about him in a vile manner. He is a human being and he is my son. And if you can't respect me enough to keep that in mind...then you can find somewhere else to live.”
The girl stared at him in shock, as did her mother. Rebecca turned away quickly and returned to her room. Colleen stared after her daughter then looked at Mason, her face tense. “Don't you think that was a bit harsh? You would kick out your own daughter?”
Mason's breath rushed through his nostrils. “She isn't going to learn respect by being coddled and spoiled. The worst thing we can do for her is fall down and kiss her ass every time she throws a tantrum. She's an adult, Colleen. And a Christian. I think it's well past time she started acting like both.”
“Twenty. Premium.” Jonah passed the gas station attendant a twenty dollar bill then leaned back against the seat, his fingers hooked on the lower half of the steering wheel as he stared blankly through the windshield.
Why are you running away?
“I'm not.” he whispered dully. “I'm going home.”
So why does it feel instead like you're leaving home?Leaving everything behind?
A hard sigh pushed out and he closed his eyes – and instantly saw Noble's face, so close to his as their lips touched, everything in the man's eyes telling Jonah what he wanted to know. His beautiful body laid out on his bed in full surrender, offering himself to Jonah in complete abandon.
We were so close, baby. So fucking close. Tears burned behind his eyelids. We almost had it all...you were almost free.
Jonah's eyes squeezed tight as a pressure swelled in his chest, formed a knot in his throat. Just call him, talk to him. As far as he went with you...you know something is there. He wants this too. You know he does.
On reflex, his hand dropped to his pocket, but no phone. You threw it in the suitcase, dumb ass, remember? It was just as well. He couldn't make Noble's choices for him. If the man wanted to talk to him, he knew how to reach him. But Noble wouldn't call; he had too many voices in his head telling him that everything about Jonah was wrong. And the guy couldn't help but listen.
Hard lessons had taught him obedience.
Visions of Noble's scars resurfaced. He could only imagine what the guy had went through as a kid – and didn't want to imagine it. Be thankful for your dad. And Jonah was. His dad hadn't blinked an eye when he'd learned his only son was gay. There had never been any shame, or guilt thrust on Jonah. Just a hell of a lot of love and understanding and support.
Jonah swallowed hard. Warm tears seeped from beneath his lashes. Please, dad, show Noble some of that now.
“You're good to go, sir.”
Jonah jumped and opened his eyes, wiping his face quickly with the back of his hand. He cleared his throat and sat forward. “Oh...uh...thank you.”
“Have a good day.” the attendant lightly smacked the roof and stepped back as Jonah started the car.
“Yeah, uh...you too.” A good day. It had started out that way. Beyond good. Fucking out of this world fantastic. Jonah pulled away from the pumps as the car rolled up to the entrance to the street. Had it really just been that morning that Noble had showed up at his door, so determined to just leave the package and walk away? It seemed an eternity ago.
He never really wanted to leave. He knew what would happen when he came out there.
“Maybe.” Jonah whispered. He squeezed the steering wheel until his arms ached and knuckles began to whiten with strain. A couple even popped. The car idled, motionless, though the street was clear. He could hear his own breath rushing through his nostrils, his pulse thumping in his ears, blood racing through his veins. The feel of Noble's body straddling him again was suddenly so vivid, so real, it felt as if the guy were right there in the car, in his lap.
A static breath sucked sharply down Jonah's throat and his eyes clamped shut, jaw clenching as his whole body responded to the memory; the man's hunger as evident as his own, his fingers raking through Jonah's hair, lips sucking at his mouth...so hungry for just a taste of the heaven he'd been denying himself for so long.
“Fuck.” Jonah choked as the burning ache in his heart merged with the fire in his crotch. “Dammit.” He released his grip on the steering wheel then slammed it with his fists. “Dammit!”
Tears burned his eyes, seared his cheeks. His stare drifted back down the street, the way he had come. Go back. Talk to him. Make him listen. Jonah shook his head slowly, his heart squeezing tighter, forcing broken sobs up his throat. What? You're gonna run away because a little girl yelled at you? Aren't you one tough son of a bitch.
Jonah squeezed his eyes tight and leaned forward, pressing his forehead against his hands. Noble had made his choice. Maybe a part of him did want to be with Jonah...but that part of him would never take control. He would always turn and run from Jonah, every time. And it hurt too much to hold him, love him...and then have to let him go. And it would happen, over and over again until both their hearts were a pile of rubble. Because Noble couldn't stay away...and Jonah couldn't turn him away.
“Just let it go.” he whispered. “Let him go. He was right...he can't be the man you want him to be.”
Guiding the car out onto the street, Jonah steered it in the direction he had been going and pressed down on the gas, an emptiness consuming him as his heart began to disintegrate in his chest.
Surely the carpet had to be wearing thin beneath his feet as he paced a path back and forth at the foot of his bed, hands flexing anxiously, palms rubbing his legs then flexing again. His phone lay silently on the night stand. Perfectly quiet. Yet the lack of sound was deafening, causing a piercing ring in Noble's ears.
Fear and anxiety ground his guts into knots then chewed up the knots. Shouldn't he have replied by now? One way or the other? Even if he had left already...he would've still had his phone with him. Was he angry at Noble for leaving right in the middle of...
Maybe he's just fed up with your fucked up mind. Can you blame him if he doesn't want to deal with your shit?
“Come on.” His voice squeezed and pinched, nearly suffocating his words. “Dammit, Jonah. You asked me to go. Freaking answer already.” He needed his reply – soon. It was taking all his effort to hold the voices at bay. If Jonah would just text him back, or call...he was sure that's all it would take to block them out – possibly for good. But the longer he took to get back to him...the stronger those voices grew, picking at his mind with their claws, breaking it open so they could pour in their poison.
“Baby, please.” The sudden strain in his voice coincided with the sting in his eyes. Please don't just leave me like this. What am I supposed to do then?
He finally dropped down on the end of the bed, leaning on his knees. His fingers laced and clenched as his left heel tapped nervously. He couldn't stop it. How could a decision like this be met with...nothing? He didn't know if he could summon the courage to make it again if Jonah just ignored him this time.
And you thought he would trip over himself getting back to you. Didn't you get a nasty surprise?
Dropping his head, he unlaced his fingers and slid them through his hair. It wasn't arrogance that had caused him to expect a speedy reply – but simply Jonah himself. Back at his house, he hadn't hesitated to make good his opportunity to be with Noble. And it stunned Noble now that the man had yet to respond. It wasn't as if days had passed and Noble had been ignoring him. This same day, Jonah had taken him to the bedroom and then to heaven. Just today he had asked him to go with him. Why would he change his mind so suddenly? Even in light of their interruption and Noble's departure?
Maybe he went for a jog, and left his phone at home. Give him some time. Don't panic just yet. It doesn't make sense that he wouldn't reply.
But that nagging fear was there, chewing on the back of his mind, spitting what ifs at his brain. What if Jonah didn't reply? What if Rebecca showed up at his door and wanted to make up? He hadn't given his fight with Rebecca a second thought since he'd learned Jonah was leaving. Had barely given it a thought before. Still, he had went to Mason's to talk things out with her – until she decided all gays should be rounded up and locked away. That kind of killed his will to patch things up. Even so, he had apologized. Maybe she deserved his apology. Just because he wasn't screwing around with another woman, didn't mean he wasn't still cheating on her. In fact, he was pretty sure she would view this as worse than cheating with another woman. A deeper, more personal betrayal. And he wanted it to stop – one way or another.
He only had two options; be with Jonah and break it off with Rebecca...or be with Rebecca and have nothing more to do with Jonah.
Noble glanced at the quiet phone. This was a decision Jonah would make for him.
Evening shadows pressed at the windows by the time Jonah walked into the house. He took the suitcase to his bedroom and dropped it on the bed. It occurred to him to check his phone, see if his dad had left any messages, but even if he had – Jonah knew what they would be. And he didn't want to hear it, not right now.
He sat on the bed next to the suitcase and stared at it without opening it. He was afraid if he took out his phone, he would call Noble. The guy was feeling more and more like an addiction – especially after today. Just one taste of the man...and he couldn't get enough. He craved him – his touch, kiss, smile, that look that cried out I want you, please take me.
Once they had hit the bed, Jonah had been certain Noble would be with him when he came back here. Just the thought of having the man to himself for the entire weekend...even now it made him quake inside.
“If you had just said yes, baby.” he whispered. “I would have taken you away, and never made you go back.” He sighed and stood up, grabbing the suitcase and setting it on the floor. The last real meal he had eaten was the blueberry pancakes with Noble, and he needed more. But his stomach hurt so bad he didn't think it would be a smart idea to try and eat. He laid down on the bed, more tired than he had ever been. God, what a fucking long day. How did it start so good and turn so shitty?
The images returned as soon as he closed his eyes. Every second he'd spent with Noble that day – in excruciating detail. His body and heart began to ache in unison until he was curled on his side, hugging his stomach and trying not to scream from the pain slowly ripping him apart.
Noble watched the dark ceiling of the bedroom slowly lighten as dawn crept in, washing away the night shadows. Fading with them was all hope that his unprecedented reach for Jonah would be met by the man reaching back. For whatever reason – he had let go. And the quiet of the bedroom, the silent phone, the rise of the morning sun – it was all telling Noble he needed to do the same.
The hurt in his heart tried to push out of him in the form of a flood of tears, but nothing came. He felt empty. If it wasn't for the unimaginable pain coursing through his veins and arteries, pumping in and out of his heart – he would have thought he'd died in the night. And found that he wished he had. Surely even hell itself couldn't hurt this much.
It's your own fault. You should have never went there, never crossed that line. You knew better. You knew it was the wrong decision. When you willingly step out of God's will – you pay for it dearly.
His blank eyes followed the faint patterns in the ceiling paint.
Maybe sex was all he really wanted from you, did you ever stop to consider that? He sure as hell didn't hesitate to try and get down your pants. He tried it the very first time he met you. That should have clued you in. How stupid are you?
Noble closed his eyes and swallowed hard. It hurt even more to think Jonah might have just been using him. Would he do that? Just take what he could get and then walk away?
Why would he leave a message on my phone and beg me to call him back if he just wanted to drop me? He wasn't using me. He wasn't!
But what difference did it make, really? He hadn't replied. He had clearly changed his mind about wanting Noble to go with him. After Rebecca freaking out on him, maybe he just decided it was too much drama to be worth his time.
It doesn't matter anymore. You know what you have to do. What's right.
Noble sat up slowly. Something he should have done from the start.
Get rid of Jonah. It's the only way. Then get help and get on with your life with Rebecca. That was the plan from the beginning, before Jonah ever came into the picture. He just had to get back on track and everything would be okay. It would.
But first...he had to erase all traces of Jonah.
Feeling sick inside, but telling himself he would be better once everything was taken care of, he opened the nightstand drawer and gathered up all the pieces of the Styrofoam cup, took them out to the kitchen and held them over the trash can. His hands shook. Though the cup was destroyed, all the pieces still made up the rugged heart encasing his name.
Just get rid of it! He doesn't care about you!
Noble's fingers slowly splayed out, and as the pieces of the cup began to slip between and fall down into the trash, the tears finally came, falling in time with the broken pieces of cup. His hands slowly dipped down allowing all of it to dump into the garbage.
Now the other. Get rid of everything. This is for your own good. Deal with this now, boy, before it takes hold of you and casts you into hell.
“Yes, dad.” he whispered, choking on a sob, his mind growing numb. “You're right. You were always right.” Another sob lodged in his throat and he could barely catch his breath. Just let me suffocate. “God hates fags. They will all burn in hell.” Just let me die, God, please...it hurts too much to breathe.
Noble walked numbly back to the bedroom. Picking up his phone, he entered his voice mail, hesitated, then deleted the entire thing. If Jonah's voice wasn't on there – he couldn't be haunted by it. Couldn't be tempted to listen to it over and over again. He's of the devil, boy. Stay away from him – or pay the consequences. “No worries, dad.” Noble cried softly. “He doesn't want me anyway.”
Sliding down to the floor, Noble pressed his back to the bed and buried his face in his arms, the cell gripped tight in his hand. A strangled cry wrenched from him and he threw the phone hard at the wall where it smashed and fell to the floor, broken and useless.
Like me, Noble thought bitterly, tears welling up again. Just a waste of space on this fucking earth.
Crawling slowly to his feet, Noble walked over to the phone. “I never really wanted you anyway.” he choked and leaned against the wall, shoving his forehead into the hard paneling and squeezed his eyes shut. “I hope you never come back.” he cried, hugging his stomach hard as his body tightened with a rush of sobs. “Just stay away. I don't want you here!” The lie falling from his trembling lips like a lead weight, smashing into the bottom of his heart and breaking it open.
“Noble?” The somewhat peaceful boy who had emerged from the bathroom the day before – was gone. The tense, stressed young man had returned – in an even worse state than before. Mason stared at Noble as the boy stood in the doorway, an emptiness in his eyes that unnerved the older man.
Would you look after him? He's dealing with things he shouldn't be trying to deal with alone.
“Noble.” Mason reached out and took hold of the young man's arm. “Come in, son. What's wrong?” The faint blotchy skin around his eyes, and slight redness to his eyes themselves, alerted Mason the boy had been crying – a lot. “Noble, what is it?”
Noble's throat worked and his eyes glossed with a fresh sheen of tears. “I need...help.” He managed to focus on Mason as despair resonated out of him. “Please help me...I don't...I don't want to go to hell.”
The young man seemed about to drop and Mason grabbed him, pulling him into his arms. Noble broke, clinging to him – as desperately as Jonah had clung to him yesterday – and cried against his shoulder.
“It's okay, son.” Mason murmured gently, holding the young man tight, secure. “Whatever it is...you're not alone anymore.” He pressed his lips to his hair and whispered, “Tell me what it is, son. I'm here for you. I'll always be here...no matter what.”
Noble trembled in his arms, real fear resonating forth. His breath shuddered up his throat as he choked out two words on a broken sob. “I'm...gay.”
A sudden numbness spread through Mason's mind, his pulse spiking. His arms tightened around the young man as he murmured against his hair, his voice distant, “It's going to be okay, son. You're going to be okay. You don't have to be scared.”
Noble clung to him more desperately, an endless well of tears pushing out of him.
Oh God, Mason thought as all the missing pieces to this puzzle began to fall into place one by one...forming a picture he wasn't sure any of them were ready to see.
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Erotica
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Short Story / Gay and Lesbian