Total Eclipse Of The Heart
I would rather have you hate me
Knowing who I really am
Than to try and make you love me
Being something that I can’t.”
- God Knows I Tried, RAY BOLTZ
* * * *
“If I could make sweet love to you
All through the night
All the problems of my world
Would slowly fade away.”
- Hold Me Now, DAN HILL
* * * *
“If it was up to you
You'd say you need protection
When all you really need is me.”
- What's It Gonna Be, BRYAN ADAMS
That text on your phone was from him.
His mind went numb so suddenly he just stared blankly at the man when he turned away. Only a faint heartbeat pumped in his chest as his pulse slowed to a near stand still. A mental paralysis gripped him and though his mind screamed at him to grab the phone, he couldn't seem to make his body obey.
The text was from...Noble?!
A sudden breath shot down his throat and his mind cleared, his hand snapping out and snatching the phone off the table so fast he nearly dropped it.
“Oh, by the way.” Keith turned back and Jonah jumped a little. “I'm looking for a place outside the city. If you hear of anything, maybe you could let me know?”
Jonah's chest heaved, the phone squeezed in his fist. “Uh...yeah...sure.”
“Let me give you my number.” Keith walked back to the table. “Do you want me to just put it into your phone?”
Eyes lowering to his cell, Jonah swallowed hard. His hand seemed unwilling to release it, as if in letting go of the phone, he might lose Noble's message.
“Huh?” Jonah glanced up then cleared his throat. “Yeah.” his voice rasped and he forced himself to hand over the phone. His eyes never left the device as Keith added his name and number to the contact list.
A notable hesitation resonated from the man as he started to hand the phone back then faltered momentarily. “Please...extend my best wishes to Rebecca and...Noble.”
“Of course.” Just give me back my fucking phone! “I'll be sure and do that.”
“Here.” he handed Jonah the cell.
It took great effort not to rip it from the man's hand, and only when it was safely back in his grasp did Jonah feel a bit of relief.
“I'll see you around.” Keith gave a small wave and walked away.
Jonah watched him for a moment to make sure he was really going this time, then looked at the phone. He snapped it open, went to his messages then hesitated when he saw Noble's name on the only unread text. His heart began to pump harder, slamming back and forth between his spine and chest wall like a ping-pong ball.
What are you waiting for? Read it!
A quiet fear gripped him but still he slowly opened the message. His eyes read the words but his mind refused to compute them. 'If you wait till this weekend, and promise to come back – I'll go with you.'
His heart smashed into his ribs.
I'll go with you.
The reality of what he'd done by leaving his phone off twisted his guts with nausea.
If you wait...if you wait...I'll go with you...
The truth of those words sank in with a suddenness that propelled him to his feet, knocking his chair over with loud clatter. “Fuck!”
No...no...no...what did you do? What the fuck did you do?!
“Dammit, Rebecca!” Down the hall, the front door slammed. Swearing sharply, Mason hurried after Noble, rushing down the short hall to the front door, jerking it open.
Don't leave him to himself.
The young man was headed for his car in quick, stiff strides. “Noble!” Mason sprinted down the walk and caught up to the man just as he yanked open the driver door, grabbing his arm. “Wait, son.”
Noble jerked loose of his grip, face pinched, tears streaming. “Just leave me alone!” he cried and went to slide into the car when Mason pulled him back and slammed the door.
“No!” He clutched both of Noble's arms as the young man jerked against him, in a near frenzy. Mason grabbed him and pulled him into a strong embrace.
“Just let me go!” Noble choked, fighting his arms. “I don't want to be here!”
“I'm not letting you leave like this, Noble!” He held the boy tight as he struggled against him. He clutched the back of his head, pulling his face to his shoulder, pressing his lips to the young man's hair. “I'm not letting you go, son.” Noble shook in his arms, his struggles easing up a bit, as he cried against Mason's shoulder. “We'll work this out.”
Shaking his head, Noble pulled back out of Mason's hold and dropped back against the car. “Work what out?” he choked, raking his hands through hair. “It's over! I told you she wouldn't love me anymore. She hates faggots.”
Mason's gut twisted. “Noble, son...she's just upset. She'll calm down and we'll talk rationally.” But was that true? Her question – though posed in a desperately improper manner – was legitimate. What had Jonah meant in his text? Had the two of them...
No, Mason insisted silently. No, that didn't happen. Something may have happened, but surely not...that. Now wasn't the time to question the boy about it, though. And he was truly pissed at Rebecca for voicing it as she had. That had been exceedingly uncalled for. Noble was barely holding it together as it was. Dammit, the questions could fucking wait.
“Come on, baby. Answer your phone.” The cell pressed hard to his ear. His jaw tightening, causing an ache to shoot up into his face, Jonah shoved his hand through his hair, tears rising, blurring the sidewalk. “Answer, dammit!” he choked hoarsely.
He ignored the stares of the coffee shop patrons and passersby, and paced back and forth in front of his table, chair still laying tipped over on the concrete.
'You've reached Noble Richman. Leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.'
Just hearing his voice – even recorded – nearly dropped Jonah to his knees. “Baby, I'm sorry.” he choked out into the phone. “I didn't get your message. My phone was off. Please call me back, Noble. Please don't think I didn't want you to come with me. Please...there's nothing I want more than for you to be here with me, baby...just call me back...I'll come get you, right now. Please...call me.”
His hands shook as he slowly closed the phone then shoved it in his pocket. He wiped his hand over his wet face and choked on a swell of sobs building in his throat.
God, please...please don't let me have fucked this up.
There was no way in hell he could just sit and wait for Noble's call. He would lose his mind. “Fuck it.” he whispered thickly and sprinted for his car. I can't wait, baby. I'm coming to get you now.
Noble slid down the side of the car and sat on the patch of grass between the curb and the sidewalk, and dropped his head in his hands. You shouldn't have told them! Any of them! Why didn't you just stay hidden? No one knew! No one even suspected! Why did you tell?!
Sobs piled in his throat, choking him. His hands shoved up over his head as he pressed his face against his forearms, squeezing fistfuls of hair. It was over. Everything was over. His life was over!
“Noble.” Mason squatted next to him, his arm sliding across his shoulder protectively, but even he couldn't protect him now. “Son, it will be okay. I'm here for you, and we're going to get through this.”
“I wish I was dead.” Noble whispered, body shaking, startled and even frightened by the truth in his words.
“Don't say that.” There was a tightness in Mason's voice. “Noble, don't ever say that. Don't ever think it. You're not alone. I won't let you be alone.”
I'll always be alone. The thought punched at his heart as the message he'd send to Jonah played through his head. A message that had been disregarded, ignored...unwanted. What do you care? Forget about him! What you did with him was a sin! Sending the message was wrong! That isn't what you are! You can change.
His stomach twisted and pinched. What would it be like to stand face to face with Jonah and not feel anything for him? All the attraction gone without a trace? It's what you want. What you've been praying for.
He pushed his head harder against his arms and cried, telling himself again and again that he didn't want to want Jonah. That he wanted everything back the way it was, with Rebecca. He still loved her. He had to. It was God's will. She was the answer, the one that would fix him, make him feel what he was supposed to feel. And it had been working – until Jonah showed up. If he had just stayed away, then...
Then what? That dream you had the night before your engagement party...that was before you met Jonah. You were slipping before he ever came into it and you know it.
“God.” Noble choked, clenching his hair.
“Noble.” Mason said softly. “I know it feels like the end of the world right now, but I promise you, it isn't. It will get better, son.”
He shook his head. “No...it won't.” He shoved back against the car and pushed himself to his feet again, breath quick. He could feel the panic pressing at the edges of his mind. “It'll never...get better.” Tears streaked his flushed face. I can't breathe...God, I can't...He leaned against the car, struggling to draw in air that was no longer available. “I can't...breathe...” he gasped. Then Mason was bending him down, telling him to take deep breaths, helping him as Jonah had done out in front of the church. The memory tore through him and he choked on a cry.
“Noble.” Mason said firmly, his voice strained with concern. “Son, you need to calm down, take deep breaths. You're going to be okay.”
Noble gripped his knees, the ground swaying and swimming below him. Tears dripped from his eyes in a steady stream, the droplets catching on the blades of grass, sliding down to seep into the ground.
I want Jonah! The thought crashed through his mind, shattering his heart. Why did you leave me! His knees buckled and he dropped to the ground, crying. Why didn't you wait for me...I would've went with you...I would have.
His thoughts broke and crumbled when a hand touched his face, soft and soothing. “I'm sorry, Noble.” Sincerity. Warmth. “I'm so sorry, baby.”
Rebecca's arms slid around him and then he was clinging to her as Jonah fell away into the far reaches of his mind. He held onto the woman and let him go. “I'm so scared.”
Her hands stroked his hair. “You don't have to be scared, Noble.” she murmured. “We'll get you help. Mom is calling Pastor Rick right now.” She drew back and cupped his face, wiping at his tears with her thumbs. “You're going to be okay. God will heal you.” She kissed his face. “You're just sick, baby. But you'll be better soon.”
You're just sick. A numbness seeped across the surface of his mind. She was right. He was just sick. And God healed the sick.
The drive back would take him three hours – and that was pushing the speed limit. The time on Noble's text put it back to late afternoon yesterday. He had still been home. Still in the damn house. Had he left his phone on even a few more minutes...would he have gotten it?
Noble had sent it not two to three hours after he'd walked out. It was the last thing Jonah had expected. There was no reason to think he might be missing a call or text from Noble if he turned off his phone. No reason. What had caused him to send it? Something had to have happened that altered his mindset, because he had been crawling back into his cage when he'd left Jonah's yesterday.
Had he had a falling out with Rebecca? After the way she had come out there and lost it on him, Jonah wouldn't be surprised if she'd done the same to Noble.
“Baby.” he whispered as he quickly stopped in front of his house and left the car in a hurry. “Please still be in the right frame of mind when I get back.” But his guts were winding and knotting with anxiety and dread; Noble surely thought he had just ignored him...and left without him.
No, baby, don't think that way, please. Just hold on, and I'll be there soon. I'll fix it, I will.
A tiny voice in the back of his mind told him it was already too late, he had missed his window of opportunity. But he refused to accept that. The message itself was all the proof he needed to know what Noble truly wanted in his heart.
Jonah hadn't even unpacked and grabbed up his suitcase, locking his door on the way out.
Behind the wheel, he tugged out his phone and again made the call. Still no answer. He started to put it away when it occurred to him that unless Noble was at his dad's house – he wouldn't know how to find him. He knew that Noble lived in one of the apartment complexes in town, but had no idea which one. He'd never been to his place.
Wanting to get on his way immediately, Jonah nevertheless took a moment to do a quick internet search on his phone, praying Noble's number and address wasn't unlisted. When the search results on the White Pages site popped up – Noble's name was there; Right phone number, state, city. Right Noble.
Jonah quickly added the address in with Noble's number in the contact list then snapped the phone closed and dropped it on the passenger seat. He cranked the engine over and pulled away from the house.
“I'm coming for you, baby.” he whispered tightly. “Just hang on.”
When Noble sank down in the chair at the kitchen table, he seemed a different man than the one who had sat their just a short while earlier and confessed. And this man caused a deeper anxiety to take root in Mason's gut than had been there before. What Rebecca, and even Colleen, surely perceived as a calm in the boy – Mason interpreted as resignation...submission.
Though he responded outwardly...Mason could see the young man withdrawing inward. Pulling into himself. And that wasn't a good place for him.
You're just sick...but you'll be better soon.
Mason shifted his attention to Rebecca as she sat next to Noble, holding his hand, assuring him God would heal him, that he would be okay. Her demeanor had changed quickly – no doubt with Colleen's insistence that Noble needed prayer and direction, rather than persecution.
The young woman's words raked harshly against Mason's heart. Jonah's acceptance of who he was would always be a foreign concept for them. And one they would never embrace. And in turn...never embrace Jonah.
Colleen was still on the phone with Pastor Rick but finally hung up. She came to the table and sat on the other side of Noble, taking his other hand. “Sweetheart, Pastor Rick has asked us all to come down to the church. He wants to pray with you, then discuss a positive course of action to help you get better.”
Noble just sat there silently, staring at the table. He nodded slowly.
“There is a program sponsored by the church.” Colleen told him. “A program designed to help Christians with...this kind of affliction. Pastor Rick wants you to consider entering into it.” She squeezed his hand. “Would you be willing to try it?”
Noble's throat worked but no compliance emerged.
“Noble.” Mason drew the boy's focus, needing Noble to look at him. “Son, is this something you want to do?” he asked sincerely. “It's your choice. If you don't feel that it's right for you...you don't have to do it. No one expects it of you.” He knew it wasn't true as soon as the words left his lips and Rebecca's head snapped up, a measure of anger pinching her face.
“Of course he wants to do it, dad.” she said, the tightness in her voice evident. Her eyes shifted to Noble. “It's what's best for you, Noble. This program will help you get rid of these...sinful feelings. They aren't really a part of you. It's just the enemy trying to trick you into thinking you're...” She couldn't even say it, as if to let the word slip out would truly confirm Noble's condition.
Mason swallowed thick as he noticed the tightness in the skin around Noble's eyes, though the rest of him appeared calm, even relaxed to a degree. The boy was anything but calm and relaxed.
The late afternoon sun stabbed through the windshield and blinded Jonah as he pulled up at the curb and killed the engine. He squeezed the steering wheel and looked up at the apartment building, then glanced at both sides of the street; Noble's care wasn't there.
Still, Jonah yanked the keys from the ignition and opened the driver door, climbing out; he didn't know where Noble parked his car – he could be home. He shoved the keys in his pocket and approached the building in long, quick strides, heart racing so fast he could barely catch his breath.
Noble hadn't called him back. Hadn't answered the numerous texts he'd sent as well. “Come on, baby.” he whispered as he entered the small lobby of the apartment building. “You have to know that, after everything, I wouldn't have intentionally ignored you.”
A nagging fear inside reminded Jonah the fragile state Noble had been in when he'd left his house. It had to have taken a shit load of courage for him to send that text at all. And then to receive no answer...
“Fuck.” Jonah hissed tightly. “Why the hell did you have to turn your phone off?” He took the stairs to the second floor and walked down the hall, reading door numbers. The end apartment was Noble's. He paused outside the door, his hands flexing anxiously. What would he do, exactly, if Noble was here? But he knew. If Noble opened that door, Jonah didn't give a fuck if Rebecca, her mom, the whole damn church congregation was in there – he would grab the guy and kiss the shit out of him. Then perhaps drag him to the bedroom, kick the door closed in the face of anyone who protested, and proceed to...
He rubbed a stiff hand over his mouth and shook his head. First thing's first. Just see if he's home.
The light rap on the door was met with silence from within the apartment. Jonah glanced around then knocked again, louder. Nothing. His gut began to twist around on itself. Come on, baby, just be here. He racked his knuckles hard against the door once more, then leaned close. “Noble? It's me. Come on...open the door.”
Still nothing. Jonah sucked his lips between his teeth and bit down, face tight. Shit. He glanced down at the door knob, then grasped it. Expecting it to be locked, he was startled when it twisted easily in his hand. He pushed it open slowly and stepped part way in. “Noble? Are you here?”
When silence greeted him, he closed the door behind him and walked slowly through the apartment. Each room met him with emptiness and silence. Obviously the guy wasn't home. But why wasn't he responding to Jonah's calls and texts?
The answer came in the shattered cell laying on the floor near the baseboard of the bedroom wall. “No...” Jonah's throat knotted instantly when he noticed the nick in the wall where the phone had hit – hard – before shattering and dropping to the floor. “Baby...”
The room blurred as he saw – as clearly as if he'd been there – Noble crying and throwing the phone at the wall in hurt and anger. He'd been waiting for you to text back, or call. He was waiting for you, dammit! You fuck!
“No. Baby...” he went to the broken cell and squatted down, gathering the phone up. His head ducked as hard sobs forced up his throat. Fuck! He stood slowly, clearing his throat. “Where are you, baby?” he whispered thick. He considered calling his dad, but he didn't feel like explaining why he had driven all the way back just to see Noble. But if Noble wasn't here...he was probably there.
Jonah opened the drawer of the night stand, found a small notepad and pen next to Noble's bible. He took out the pad and wrote a quick note, tore the paper loose then laid it on Noble's pillow with the broken cell on top.
“I'll be back, baby.” he whispered and wiped his face. “I'll fix this, I promise.” He swallowed thick as he walked out of the bedroom, tears burning, determination pinching his brow
I'm not letting you go, Noble. Not now. Not when we were so close to...having it all.
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Erotica
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Short Story / Gay and Lesbian