Kiss Of Life
The way things work themselves out
And all emotional,
Once you know what it's all about, babe...
And undesirable... for us to be apart
Never would've made it very far
'Cause you know that you've got the keys to my heart,”
- Back At One, BRIAN MCKNIGHT
* * * *
“In every flood, in every flame
Nothing I fear, can stand in Your way
You, You, You are my rescue
Wherever I am, whenever I fall
You lift me up, You Never let go
You, You, You are my rescue.”
- You Are My Rescue, ROYAL TAILOR
For that one moment – the world fell away. He was suspended in mid air, floating above the earth. Why this kiss was different from the many Jonah had administered in the bathroom, Noble didn't know. Perhaps because it wasn't stolen in secret, but boldly taken for all to see. And within it – a sense of ownership. The man stepping out into the light and claiming what was his – and to hell with anyone who didn't agree.
Noble couldn't move, couldn't even consider if it was something he wanted to resist out in the open. A hazy film coated his mind and somewhere amidst it, he felt his fingertips hook in the waistband of Jonah's pants, mostly just to steady himself.
The kiss seemed to go on for hours, though it surely couldn't have been more than seconds, possibly a minute or two, before Jonah's lips eased out of it but lingered against Noble's mouth. “Should I run like hell?” Jonah whispered, a twitch to his lips.
“I think you should.” Noble bit his lower lip, fighting an all out grin.
“I'll be okay.” he whispered, his eyes darting discreetly towards Rebecca who was – momentarily – shocked to silence. “Run for your life.”
Clearing his throat, Jonah stepped back, releasing a breath and licking his lips. “Well, I'll be going.” he said, backing towards the door, a triumphant smirk quirking the corners of his mouth. “And let you all get back to your little...exorcism.” he cast Noble a wink then slipped out the door.
Noble absently rubbed his lips together then licked them slowly, the sensation of Jonah's kiss leaving them tingling and sensitive. Unfortunately, he could feel the effects in his nether regions as well. The way Jonah had kissed him just then – so brass and bold – it had been the sexiest, most erotic thing ever. Even the prospect of facing Rebecca's fury couldn't quell the thrill of that moment.
To his own shock, Rebecca didn't say a word, but simply walked out. Noble rubbed the back of his neck anxiously as all eyes rested on him. He knew what was expected of him – to run after Rebecca, grovel for her forgiveness, attempt to explain away what just happened. But he didn't move. Couldn't move. To try and pretend that things could be fixed between him and Rebecca would be doing her more wrong than just admitting the truth. He had no clue where to go from here – where Jonah was concerned – but he did know he couldn't make as if he didn't want the man.
“Don't you think...you owe her an explanation?” Colleen spoke up, her tone adopting a brittle edge uncharacteristic for the woman. But what did he expect, really? Her daughter had just been spurned before everyone. A sliver of guilt pricked at him; perhaps he should go talk to her. Not to try and erase what just happened, but tell her the truth of how he felt.
“Yeah.” he murmured, casting a quick glance at Mason. At the moment, the man's face remained expressionless. Though Noble had no doubt he was reprimanding his son in his mind, perhaps telling him he could have handled the situation with a bit more finesse. And perhaps that were true. But Noble couldn't totally hate Jonah's method of dealing.
His gaze slid around and was caught by Jack Hayden's stare. Where he expected stark disapproval, even disappointment...he discovered something else, though he was fairly certain the man had no idea it was hovering there so close to the surface.
“This is a disaster.” Colleen hugged her waist tight and looked at Mason. Noble was gone, having left the office to search out Rebecca. “How could Jonah do that? It was uncalled for.”
Mason nodded slowly and released a heavy breath; thanks a lot, son. Your little stunt got me in a pickle too. “I admit, he could've...handled it differently.”
“Handled it differently?” Colleen stared at him. “Mason, he...” she shook her head. “Noble is very confused right now. This definitely isn't helping him. And then for Jonah to make that snide remark about this being an exorcism?”
Mason touched her arm. “Hon, calm down.”
“Calm down? He just humiliated Rebecca.” she bit sharply. “I get that he's your son, but Rebecca is my daughter. And I'm not going to stand here and pretend to condone what he just did.”
What no one seemed to notice – was Noble's consent. The boy hadn't tried to pull away or resist. In fact, Mason hadn't missed Noble's hold on Jonah as well. But he kept that to himself. He had no wish to bring anymore pressure down on the young man. He was struggling – with accepting who he was. And at the moment, Jonah was strong enough to bear the brunt of the attacks. If he hadn't been prepared for it, he wouldn't have entered the heat of the battle. But he'd done so expecting to draw fire.
Pastor Rick was speaking quietly with Jack, then faced Mason. “I wasn't, uh...aware...that Jonah was...”
“Gay?” Mason said.
“Yes.” Rick nodded, then cleared his throat. “Have you ever spoken to him about it? About how God feels concerning homosexuality?”
Mason could feel his blood pressure rising, but forced himself to remain calm. “When my son was fifteen...his best friend committed suicide because of the pressure of ex-gay programs and an overall sense of being rejected by his family and church.” Mason stared at him dully. “The last thing I was going to do was make him feel unaccepted or unloved for who he was. And now...he's a grown man who is well familiar with God's word, and can decide for himself if he wants to embrace who he is, or try to change it.”
“Of course. I'm sorry about his friend.” Rick murmured. “But how do you feel about him...embracing such a lifestyle?”
Releasing a controlled breath, Mason replied, “Well, first of all, I don't see it as a lifestyle or a choice. Jonah was born this way. And as far as how I feel about it...my son is alive, healthy and happy. And that is all that matters to me. If being gay is wrong, then God can deal with him about it.” Rick, Jack and Colleen just stared at him. “And if that's a problem here at this church, then I will find someplace else to worship.”
He found Rebecca in the small foyer room, just inside the entrance doors, talking on her cell. Her back was towards the door to the sanctuary, and Noble paused. She wiped at her eyes, and her voice was thick as she spoke into the phone. “Thank you. I think it would...be good for him if you were here. He just...he needs help.”
Noble's pulse quickened, heart pumping harder and harder. “Who are you talking to?”
Rebecca gasped and spun, cell dropping away from her ear. She stared at Noble and slowly raised the phone again and murmured, “I have to go.” she paused then added, “I look forward to seeing you again too. Bye.” She closed the cell.
“Who was that?” Noble insisted, gut tightening.
“Your father.” she said, eyes dull.
“You had no right to call him.” Noble whispered tightly.
“No right?” Rebecca shook her head. “You need help, Noble. You're sick.”
Noble rubbed his hand hard across his mouth. “I'm not...sick.”
“How can you say that?” Rebecca asked incredulously. “You just stood there and let him...do that. What is wrong with you? I mean, did you think it was amusing, humiliating me like that? Is this something you and Jonah planned?”
“No.” Noble sighed heavy. “Nothing was...planned.”
“Don't you see what's happening, Noble?” she said tightly. “He is manipulating you. Every time you're alone with him, this is what happens. He convinces you that you're like he is, that you want to be that way.” her face pinched hard. “All he is – is a selfish bastard!”
“No he isn't!” Noble bit back sharply, eyes hard. “He is a good man. I don't know what really happened between you and him, but that has nothing to do with him and me. And I'm not going to judge him on something that happened years ago before I even knew him.”
Rebecca stared at him, chest heaving. “You don't know what really happened?” she said low, angry. “You think I'm lying to you about what he did?”
Noble just stared at her. He didn't know what he thought, actually. “All I know is that what you've told me doesn't line up with the man I know him to be.” he shrugged. “Maybe he was different then, I don't know. But like I said, I'm not going to stand in judgment of him for things that didn't involve me.”
Rebecca hugged her waist and looked at him, eyes wet and rimmed in red. “So what are you saying, Noble?” her voice thickened. “That that's it? We're done? You would rather...be with him?”
“Becca,” Noble's voice softened. “This is who I am. Denying it isn't going to change it. I don't...” he licked his lips and swallowed thickly. “I don't know, really...how I feel about it. It isn't easy for me to just accept it. But...”
“It isn't easy because in your heart you know it's wrong.” Rebecca stepped towards him. “It goes against nature. You can't possibly think this is something God created. We live in a fallen world, Noble, and this...thing...is a product of that. Just as people are born with birth defects, or born alcoholics, or with some brain malfunction that makes them serial killers or child molesters...these aren't of God. They're like...a glitch in a world that is too often ruled by evil. You can't believe that just because you're born this way...it automatically means it's what God wants for you, or that it's his will for you to be this way. It's simply wires getting crossed in the human makeup...that's all.”
Stepping back, Noble's eyes filled with tears. “So now...you're comparing me to...psychos and perverts?” he shook his head, “It's good to know how you really think of me.”
“Noble, I didn't mean it like that.” she insisted. “I'm just saying...since the fall of man, the things of this life aren't perfect. Just look at the world. Evil runs rampant, and it reaches into all facets of life.” she came forward and touched his arm. “I just want you to be okay.” her grip tightened a fraction. “lets go back, and we'll talk to Jack. He can help.”
That look of wistful envy he'd detected in Jack's eyes rose up. The man wasn't fixed...healed. He was just shoving it down and trying to ignore it, then convincing himself he was better. Noble didn't want to live his life that way, in a constant battle to trick himself into believing he was someone that he wasn't. He'd already lived too many years that way.
“No.” he said quietly, drawing his arm from her grip. “I'm not doing this, Becca. This program. Any of it. I can't pretend this isn't a reality for me. I have to deal with what is, rather than trying to bury it and make as if it doesn't exist...as if I don't...feel the way I do.”
“So you're just...giving up?” she whispered. “On everything? Us? God? Your Christianity? Just throwing it all away because of a feeling?” she shook her head, tears welling. “He's really worth all that to you? Worth your very soul?”
Noble's stomach twisted and knotted with stress. He rubbed his eyes, wetness dampening his fingertips. “I'm not...throwing anything away.” His throat hurt from the pressure of emotion. “I'm just...trying to understand all this. Who I am...”
“I know who you are, Noble.” she said. “You're my fiancé, a wonderful man who – not very long ago – was as excited and eager to be married as I was. You're the man I wanted to spend my life with, make a family with. Noble, you would make a wonderful father, and you deserve to know how it feels to bring life into this world.” she licked her lips, eyes shimmering, “but if you go down this path...you will never experience that. You will never have a real family...as God intended.” she touched his arm again. “God made men to be with women, Noble. He created us to sync perfectly. A woman's weakness is a man's strength, and a man's weakness is the woman's strength. He created male and female, that's how it's supposed to be. How could...anything else...work? When you disrupt God's order, everything gets out of sync. You will never be happy in such a situation.”
Turning away from her slowly, Noble slowly slid his fingers through his hair, vision blurring. Maybe he should have had Jonah stay. This wasn't going so well. “I can't just...ignore how I feel, Becca. They're feelings that have been there for a long time. I just...I tried to bury them, deny them, insist they were just a lie of the devil...”
“That are a lie of the devil.” Rebecca insisted.
“No.” Noble choked and turned back to face her, brow pinched with frustration, tears rising. “I've been with God long enough to know when He's the one convicting me...and when it isn't him. He has been in my heart my whole life. I can't embrace sin and be okay with it, not deep down. There is always that...sense of knowing that it's wrong. But this...” he shook his head, choking on a sob. “I don't feel that with this. It doesn't feel wrong...when I'm around Jonah-”
“Enough!” Rebecca held up her hand, eyes glaring. “I can't force you to face reality, Noble. And I thought maybe Jack could help, and he could – if you'd just listen to him. Maybe your father can get through to you.”
“I don't want him here!” Noble cried. “You call him back and tell him not to come.”
Rebecca walked to the door that led into the sanctuary. “I'm not going to do that, Noble.” she said. “Maybe if there are enough of us, we can break this hold the devil has on you.” she stared at him, sadness in her eyes. “You need help, Noble. I'm not going to give up on you.”
“Becca.” he ground tightly, choking on a sob. “I don't want him here.”
Ignoring him, Rebecca walked back into the sanctuary, leaving him alone. Fuck! Noble's face twisted and before he could think, he punched the wall – instantly realizing his error as pain shot through his fist and up his forearm. “Fuck.” he choked and cradled his hand against his stomach. He dragged his good arm across his face, wiping at the tears, then used his shoulder to shove through the exit door.
A soft tsk caused Noble to jump when he stepped out on the small concrete level, and looked quick to the right of the doors. Jonah lounged in the shadows of an alcove, arms crossed loosely over his chest. He shook his head slowly as his arms dropped down and walked over to Noble.
Noble just stared at him. “I thought...you left?” Noble cleared his throat and wiped at his face again with his good arm.
“Run away like a scaredy cat?” he smirked and shook his head. “You really think I was going to just take off and leave you with all the fallout?” He touched Noble's hand. “Let me see.” being careful, he drew his hand away from his stomach and inspected his knuckles, which were already beginning to swell. “Nice work there, Ali.”
“It was stupid, I know.” Noble mumbled, wincing with each movement of his hand.
“True.” Jonah murmured and smiled. “But look on the bright side. At least all you hit was the wall.”
Shaking his head, Noble dropped his gaze. “You were listening?”
“I was. I know...it's impolite to eavesdrop.” he raised Noble's hand to his lips and kissed it softly. “There now, it'll be all better real soon.” Noble smiled and Jonah touched his damp face. “It took every ounce of will power not to bust in there and have my say as well. Not that I care what she thinks of me, but because she has no right to make you feel wrong about who you are.” his fingers slid up through Noble's hair. “But you were doing just fine. I'm proud of you, baby. You've come a long way, in a short amount of time. You're a lot stronger than you know.”
Noble swallowed hard, lips tightening. “I don't feel strong.”
“The strongest rarely do.” Jonah murmured then leaned close and kissed his mouth lightly. “And thank you...for standing up for me.” he smiled against Noble's lips. “I'm beginning to think you might actually like me.”
Ducking his head, Noble licked his lips and grinned. “Nope.”
Jonah pinched his fingers with about an inch of space between them. “Not even that much?”
Lifting his eyes, Noble smiled and touched Jonah's fingers, closing the space a little more. “Maybe that much.”
Chuckling, Jonah rubbed his lips together then gazed at Noble, eyes glowing with love. “I can work with that.”
Rebecca returned without Noble, her face tight. And Mason steeled himself for the explosion.
“Where is Noble?” Colleen asked. “Did he find you?”
“Yes.” Rebecca replied sharply, angry eyes cutting to Mason then back to her mother. “He thinks...this is just the way he is, and that he needs to figure out how to accept it.” her eyes shimmered but still burned with fury. “It's Jonah's fault! He's got him confused, and manipulated, thinking he's...” She glared at Mason. “How could you just stand there and let Jonah do that? Don't you even care what he's doing to Noble?” her eyes narrowed slightly as if just remembering something, and took Mason's phone from her pocket. “How did he get your phone, dad? Did you know he was going to text Jonah?”
Mason stepped over and took his phone from her hand, slipping it back into the inside pocket of his jacket. “Jonah sent me a text and asked me to give the phone to Noble.” he admitted openly. “He wasn't trying to stop Noble from doing this, he was just giving him scriptural encouragement.” That wasn't entirely untrue.
“And you did it?” she asked incredulously. “You just gave him the phone?”
Colleen, Rick and Jack were looking at him, and he could sense their disapproval as well as see it. “Do you really think that was the wise thing to do?” Colleen asked. “We're here trying to help Noble. And you're...”
“What?” Mason raised an eyebrow, lips tightening. “Conspiring with the enemy?”
“I wasn't going to say that.” she insisted. “But the reality is...Jonah is not good for Noble right now.”
Rebecca hugged her waist. “Do you even want us to get married anymore, dad?” she asked thickly, voice tightening with resentment, “Or would you rather see him with Jonah? Is that what you want now?”
Honestly? Mason didn't have a concrete answer for that. Just looking in Noble's eyes, he saw plainly what the boy wanted. And who he was in love with.
When he didn't answer immediately, Colleen stared at him, “Please tell me that isn't true.” she said quietly, “Noble looks up to you. He needs you on this side, to help him find his way. But if you're telling him it's okay to take that path...he's going to listen to you.”
Jack cleared his throat and stepped forward. “It's understandable that you might have mixed feelings about all of this, Mason...with having a gay son. So you may not understand the importance of keeping Noble focused on the right path. I mean no disrespect in saying this, but...perhaps you shouldn't make anymore judgment calls concerning Noble – especially where your son is concerned. Not without consulting us first.”
Mason forced his fists to remain at his side – rather than laying the man out – and chanted to himself over and over, 'He who angers you, controls you.' He smiled dryly, “I see.” he glanced around. “If that is the unanimous agreement, then I don't suppose I need to be here, now do I?”
“Please, Mason,” Rick spoke up, “I'm sure Jack didn't mean-”
“I know exactly what he meant, pastor.” Mason said. “And don't think I missed the shift in you either when you learned that Jonah was gay – or that I accept him for who he is.”
“Mason,” Colleen said quietly, “Don't you think you're overreacting?”
Good Lord, no wonder Noble was constantly on the edge of a breakdown. He sighed and shook his head. “I think I'm done here.” he walked to the door then looked at them all. “Just to be clear...there is no one – no one – that I will take sides with over my own son.”
“Does it hurt bad?” Jonah carefully wrapped Noble's hand with stretch bandage. He glanced at Noble's face. “Looks like it hurts.”
They stood in the kitchen of Noble's apartment and the young man leaned against the counter as Jonah tended to his injury. “Yeah.” he said tightly, face pinching a little. “It hurts.”
“Well, I know you have to have some form of pain reliever around here.” Jonah said, then smiled, “Something tells me you get a lot of headaches.”
Noble laughed softly and nodded, “In the cabinet above the sink.”
Retrieving the small bottle of Advil, Jonah filled a glass half full of water then brought both back to the counter. He popped the top off the Advil and shook out two round tablets, then picked them up in his fingertips. “Open up.” His lips twitched as Noble stared at him wryly but parted his lips and allowed him to slip the pills onto his tongue. He handed him the water. “Now drink.”
Noble took the glass and touched it to his lips, sucking in the liquid and swallowing the pain killers. Jonah watched his mouth as his tongue slid out across his lower lip, leaving a slight glossy sheen in its wake. “Thank you.” Noble's slightly rough voice betrayed Jonah's effect on him. He pressed his lips tight and Jonah had to use every ounce of internal strength not to grab that mouth in another kiss. “I was an idiot to punch the wall.” he looked at his wrapped hand.
“It wasn't idiocy.” Jonah murmured and couldn't take it any longer. He leaned a hand on the counter and tipped his head, kissing him softly – such warmth in those lips, sweet intoxication. “You were pissed. And sometimes...pissed is good.” he lingered against Noble's mouth. “It shows you got fight in you.”
He stepped back and Noble lowered his eyes. “I don't know what to say to her.” he whispered. “When she throws it in my face that I cheated on her...the guilt makes me feel like I need to fix things with her, like...I owe it to her to do what she wants, because I'm the one in the wrong.”
“Noble.” Jonah lifted his chin then slid his thumb over his cheek. “You can't make life decisions based on guilt and a sense of obligation. I mean, what we did...it wasn't right, under the current circumstances. But that was more my fault than yours. Maybe to some degree...I did take advantage of you.” he rubbed his hand lightly over Noble's hair and leaned closer. “But I didn't mean to.”
Noble touched his brow to Jonah's temple then laid a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth, weakening Jonah's knees. “You didn't take advantage of me.” he whispered. Jonah shifted his face just a bit, waiting. Noble took the cue and kissed his full mouth.
Agonized groans rolled up Jonah's throat and he pressed closer to the man, pinning him gently against the counter. His hands dropped down to rest on Noble's hips as their kiss lengthened out and Jonah's mind went hazy with visions of Noble's bedroom, the two of them on his bed-
Noble pulled away and cleared his throat, moving out from between Jonah and the counter. Gripping the edge of the counter, Jonah hung his head, trying to catch his breath and bring his body under control. Don't push him. He's coming around, but could have a setback if you try to rush him. He straightened then dragged his palm slowly over his mouth, releasing a sigh. “I'm sorry.” he murmured, “I didn't mean to...”
“It's okay.” A slight tremor quaked Noble's voice. “You're not the problem...I am.”
“How are you the problem?”
Drawing a deep breath, Noble released it slow. “I...I know how I feel. But...I don't know how to...live it.” when he raised his eyes to Jonah, tears lingered. “How do I just...forget...everything I've been told, and...taught?“ A real fear hovered behind his eyes and Jonah longed to eradicate it, but he knew it wasn't that easy. Consciously, Noble was in the right place. But subconsciously...he was still in the heat of battle.
Drawing Noble into his arms, Jonah kissed his hair. “You don't forget, baby.” he whispered, “but rather overcome.” he lifted his face and kissed him. “And you will.” He stroked his fingertips against the man's warm cheeks. “Until then...until you're ready...” he released an exaggerated sigh, then winked softly, “I suppose I can get by on mere kisses and hugs.” And a hell of a lot of cold showers.
© Copyright 2017 AMS1971. All rights reserved.
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian