One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
“When I think that I'm moving on
Suddenly things stand still
I'm afraid 'cause I think they always will
And I'm looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I'm looking to know and understand
It's a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I'm almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I'm deep in despair.”
- Looking For Space, SHAWN THOMAS
His mind and body had went numb the moment Jonah left the booth, and when Mason had returned, nothing was mentioned of his son having been there. Or what was said. Of course Mason surely knew most of it – he had clearly been the one to set this up. Which made Noble wonder where the man truly stood in all this. Jonah may be his son...but would he really help him this way?
Maybe you're the one he's trying to help.
The thought hit and stuck, refusing to be dislodged, as he entered his apartment. Mason had dropped him off out front but hadn't asked to come inside. Better to leave you alone to mull over what just happened. He tried to summon anger, even a sense of betrayal, at the man for joining forces with Jonah to tempt him deeper into sin. So why, instead, was he feeling something akin to gratitude? Gratitude for what? He wasn't having a difficult enough time with everything as it was...he had to throw the man in his face? Literally.
Noble closed the door and dropped back against it, eyes closing tight as he shuddered at the remembered sensation of Jonah's lips grazing his, taunting him with a kiss that never delivered. But you wanted it to. Oh man, did you ever want it to.
A tight groan knotted his throat and he pushed away from the door with a heavy sigh. Was there even any value in trying to convince himself he didn't crave that kiss? But in admitting he wanted it...that didn't make it right. It just brought to light his weakness.
As with Mason, he struggled to summon negative feelings for Jonah and what he'd done today. But he was having a hell of a time dragging them to the surface. What, exactly, had Jonah done – but show him support? Display care and concern for him while allowing him to make his own choices? That was more than Rebecca had afforded him.
Stop it. Don't be in such a rush to be fooled. Maybe Rebecca's right about him and all this is just a carefully construed ploy. But Mason knew his son, didn't he? He wouldn't help Jonah play games with Noble. That just wasn't who Mason was.
“God.” Noble moaned, beginning to develop a headache. “why can't you just speak clearly? Why does everything have to be a puzzle for us to put together? Just one crystal clear sign would be greatly appreciated-”
“Noble.” Rebecca stood up from the table. “I'm glad you're home.”
I'm not. The thought snagged his mind before he could resist it. He entered the kitchen slowly, almost cautiously, as if she might suddenly grow claws and fangs again and rip out his throat. Or your crotch. Wearing your cup, buddy – 'cause this one takes cheap shots.
Guilt assaulted him at such thoughts, though he couldn't entirely disagree with them – which made him feel even more guilt. Didn't Rebecca have every right to tear into him? He was the one doing everything wrong, betraying her love. Shit, not an hour ago, he'd sat in the diner booth with the boner of the century, silently pleading with a man to kiss him.
“I...wasn't expecting you to come by.” Noble admitted quietly, truthfully. He half expected him and Rebecca to be through – after yesterday. Hoping? No, not hoping. He was just messed up in the head right now, but he wasn't wishing to end things with Rebecca.
Go on...keep telling yourself that. Noble groaned inwardly, growing annoyed by the consistent voice. Shut up already.
“I...overreacted yesterday.” Rebecca said. “I'm sorry. I guess...I'm not sure how to deal with all of this, Noble. I don't know...if you even love me anymore. Or if you even want to get better.” Her tone was soft, gentle. All traces of hostility that had been present yesterday seemed to have vanished – causing Noble more guilt at thinking as he did and...wanting what he shouldn't. “You seem more concerned at...defending Jonah...than you do defending...us.”
Words abandoned him as he stood there, shame seeping through him. This couldn't be easy for her either. There was a part of him that wanted to assure her that they would get through this, that they would be okay and would get married and live happily ever after. But when he tried to summon the words...he again felt Jonah's hand on his neck, his soft lips and warm breath on his ear as he told him he wasn't going anywhere, but that Noble could do what he felt he needed to do – but he would stay right there, ready to catch him when he was pushed too far.
Even now...just the memory of it quickened his pulse, warmed his body. How could he make promises to Rebecca that he knew he couldn't keep? Or perhaps it isn't that you can't keep them – but simply that you won't.
Rebecca sighed when Noble just looked at her. “I came over to see if you still wanted to meet with Jack Hayden.” she murmured. A sense of defeat steeped her words when she added, “You don't have to, Noble. Only you can decide if you want to be helped.” she moved past him to the kitchen doorway. “If you decide to go...the meeting is scheduled for noon.”
Noble stared at the tiled floor. “Why do you hate him?”
“Who?” Rebecca hesitated in the doorway.
Noble turned and looked at her. “Jonah.” he spoke low. “I know it isn't just...because he's gay. Or you would hate me too.”
Tears glossed her eyes. “He...tricked me.” she whispered. “He tricked me into believing...he liked me. I didn't know he was gay.” She licked her lips and stared at her hands. “I was sixteen...in a relationship with someone else. But...he was just a boy. And Jonah...was a man. And so...handsome and...charming. He...” she shook her head. “He swept me off my feet. I didn't even see it coming. I thought...I was in love with him and that...he loved me too.” She swallowed thick. “And by the time I realized I was just a source of entertainment to him...it was too late.” she raised her eyes to Noble's face, tears welling thicker. “I'd already lost the one who truly loved me.”
Noble's mind and heart went numb with a cold chill, his pulse pumping harder.
“I guess that's why I got hostile about him...and you.” she bit her lip, chin trembling. “Because I see him doing the same thing to you, Noble. And I'm scared that...that by the time you come to your senses and realize what's really going on...it's going to be too late for us.” She leaned up and kissed his cheek, whispering softly, “You're a wonderful man, Noble. I don't want him to hurt you the way he hurt me.” Tears seeped down her face. “Please be careful, baby. And don't fall for everything he tells you.” She didn't say anything more as she moved away and walked to the front door.
When he heard the door open, he stepped out into the short hall. “Rebecca.”
She paused and turned slowly. A fresh sheen of tears glistened her eyes. “What, Noble?” she whispered thickly.
“I'll go.” You asked for a crystal clear sign – maybe this is it.
Mason wasn't certain if he was surprised or not that Noble attended the meeting with Jack Hayden. On one hand, he hadn't honestly expected his brief interaction with Jonah to cause an instant change of heart in the boy. He had a lifetime of issues to deal with, as he'd told Jonah, and they were intricately woven through his heart, mind and spirit. And they had to be unraveled carefully, rather than simply ripped out. So even though Mason was positive the boy was going through a battle inside, struggling to figure out his feelings for Jonah and about himself, it was really no shock when he entered the church with Rebecca.
The young woman held Noble's hand as they walked down the aisle together. Mason gazed at the two and had a surge of uncertainty as to whether or not he was doing the right thing in lending aid to Jonah. Was there a chance that Rebecca and Noble were truly meant to be together?
The question was vanquished as soon as they approached the front of the sanctuary and Mason looked in Noble's face. The young man hadn't been coerced to come here, but whether even he knew it or not at the moment – this wasn't where he wanted to be. There was a distress in his eyes that hadn't been there earlier and Mason glanced discreetly at Rebecca, unable to quell the thought – What did you do? What did you say to him? Noble looked as if his heart had been clamped in a vice and slowly crushed...like he'd just lost his best friend...or his greatest love.
However Noble had envisioned Jack Hayden, he had been wrong. The man was pleasant, with a warm smile and kind eyes that assured Noble – without a word being spoken – that he understood what he was going through, and he was there to help.
The man was tall, decently handsome and nicely dressed, his dark hair cut fashionably short. He held out his hand to Noble. “It's good to meet you, Noble.”
Shaking his hand, Noble couldn't prevent his anxiety from showing through. “It's...nice to meet you too, Mr. Hayden.”
“Please.” Jack chuckled and squeezed Noble's hand affectionately then released him. “Call me Jack.” They were in the pastor's office, and Jack motioned him to sit in one of the cushioned chairs before the pastor's desk. Noble didn't know if he felt more at ease – or uptight – about being alone with the man. A part of him wanted the others in there with them, but another part of him felt more relaxed, as if maybe he wouldn't be scrutinized for every little word he said. “I wanted to talk to you alone first,” Jack said, resting on the edge of the desk, “before I had the others join us.”
Noble nodded silently.
“I've been where you are, Noble.” he said gently, “And I understand how...nerve racking it can be to feel as if all eyes are on you and every word you speak is being analyzed to death, even criticized.” he sighed. “I won't pretend that this is going to be easy. I will have to ask you some questions that you may not want to answer, especially in front of your fiancee and family. But one of the most important things you can do...is be honest – with yourself and your loved ones. When you start trying to hide things...that's when you begin treading on dangerous ground – spiritually.” He looked at Noble intently. “Are you ready to do that...be completely honest?”
What questions would he ask? Was he ready to be that honest about...everything? Would there be questions about Jonah? Would he have to say – exactly – what they had done together?
“Noble?” Jack spoke low. “You won't get better until you're willing to be one hundred percent honest.”
One hundred percent honest. Noble glanced at Hayden. Are you one hundred percent honest, at all times, with your wife and kids? Do you ever have setbacks that you don't admit to? Was he really healed...or just a hell of a good actor?
“Yes.” Noble whispered. “I'm ready.” But was he really? Did he even want this? Yes, you do. If there's any chance you can be healed – then that's what you want, what you've always wanted. Noble stared at his hands anxiously. “If I don't get healed,” he trembled. “Do you think I will...go to hell?”
“Don't concern yourself with such things, Noble.” Jack said. “You will be healed. The bible tells us - if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my father which is in heaven, for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” he reached out and squeezed Noble's shoulder with assurance. “You have enough people who care for you, who are agreeing in prayer that you will be healed. It is still a process, but it will be a successful one if you listen to God's word and have faith in those who love you.”
Those who love you. Unbidden, Jonah's face rose up behind his eyes. Who wouldn't love you? The man's voice, his words, pushed into Noble's mind though he struggled to keep them out. After all that Rebecca had told him about Jonah, and what he'd done to her – could he even trust anything the man told him? Was he just a conquest to Jonah? Making him believe he cared...to get him to drop his guard? But if so, why would Mason...help Jonah trick him? Despite what he did or didn't know about Jonah – Noble did know what kind of man Mason was. That piece of the puzzle just didn't fit.
“If you're ready to begin, I can have the others come in now.” Jack said, then left the office when Noble nodded.
Leaning forward, he stared at his hands then ran them up over his head and clasp his fingers behind his neck. Please don't do it because you think God hates you the way you are. God loves you...Who wouldn't love you?...You're perfect.
Tears burned and Noble squeezed his eyes shut, struggling to dispel the thought that he would rather be with Jonah right now...than here – trying to fix what somehow no longer felt broken.
He was doing his level best to follow his dad's advice and not do anything rash. But leaving the diner earlier that morning – without Noble in tow – had taken a sheer force of will. And to be that close to kissing him full on...to feel those much coveted lips grazing his own...it had made it so difficult to think with a clear mind. He'd had to leave when he did, or else he might have taken Noble right then and there. And Jonah was fairly sure that would have fallen deep into the rash territory that his dad suggested he stay out of.
Even now, every second was a battle not to rush to the man, snatch him up and run away with him. He had felt Noble's desire to fall into him this morning, the guy had been nearly trembling with anticipation, craving Jonah's kiss, his touch.
Are you sure he really wanted it as much as you wanted him to want it?
Jonah sat on his front steps, hands clasp as he leaned forward on his knees. “Yeah.” he murmured. “Damn sure.”
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian