Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005 15:15:01 -0400 From: Cronos <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Say You Love Me 5 Okay Phoenix here. This is the 5th installment. Give me an email at email@example.com to tell me what you think. Or post a message on the group. Now for the Dedications: First to the Goddess Herself- Madison Aysha Dante. For not exiling me from your group to parts unknown. And for being kind enough to join my group and urge others to do so. Second,to Juilianj19 aka darrianajp for being the first person to join my group. Also the first to post a message to inspire me. Luv ya! Thirdly, to my Advice Guy brwnboiatl aka browny for being the first to IM me with the kind comments and advice. If I'm ever in Atlanta I'm definitely gonna have to meet you. Fourthly to calistroke23, for such inspiring words of encouragement.Girl I hope you continue writing. Don't worry can't be any worse than mine.lol Maybe I could post it on the site. I'm sorry for yur loss but I'm sure Phoenix is happy knowing you cared for her. Yeah, I read your profile.Oh I took yur advice, hope this is easier on yur eyes!lol. I really hope that this chapter is as worthy as the people I'm dedicating it to. So hold on to yur hats...here goes!! Chapter 5 - "The Date??" JESSIE'S POINT OF VIEW- THURSDAY NIGHT After Monday, the rest of the week rolled on. I hadn't seen Brad outside of English Lit. the whole time. But he was real nice to me in English Lit. Guess football practice was taking its toll. I saw him in my Dreams on a regular basis though. I had finally come to accept the fact that I was attracted...sexually to Brad. I mean, I always thought he was hot, but before last week I was too scared of him and his reputation, to dare to think of him sexually, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Brad being friendly to me wasn't exactly helping the situation. I knew I would have to control myself tomorrow when he came over. If he saw me pop a boner, looking at him, there was no telling what he would do. He was going out of his way to make me feel at ease but let's face it. He was a big, macho jock. If he found out I was Gay he might definitely flip. He might very well be homophobic too. It was around ten'o clock and I was about to turn in. The last few night's sleep weren't exactly restful, and I was beat. Just as I was about to hit the sack, my phone rang. "Hello", I answered, a bit drowsily. "Jessie, Hi it's Stacy." Stacy.... What was she doing calling me now? We'd just hung out this evening at Joe's Cafe. Then I shoved my selfish thoughts of sleep aside. Stacy was my best friend. She always was there for me when I needed her. The last few days she was awfully quiet and brooding. She would only answer Josh and me in one word sentences when we asked her anything. What was worse, she'd never start any conversations on her own. She was so different from the fun , talkative girl we knew and loved. She would just stare into the air, contemplating. Josh and me could tell something was wrong, but we figured we'd have to wait for her to tell us. *Stacy could have quite a temper*. I decided to approach this carefully, "Yo, Stacy what's up?" Stacy answered, "Jessie, I needed to talk to you. Its important otherwise I wouldn't have called so late. It's about Brad." Ok, so NOT what I was expecting. "Huh, Brad???", confusion evident in my voice. Stacy continued, "Yeah. I think I might have figured out the reason why he's been acting so out of his fashion lately." Ok, the girl now had my absolute and complete attention ( Quite an accomplishment. Not many girls can do that. Heheh). I so wanted to know what was up with Brad ( not to mention how long it would last ). Then a thought came to me. I wondered if this had anything to do with Stacy's out of fashion behavior lately. Something else then occurred to me. Stacy's weird behavior started just after Brad's. Was Brad actually looking at Stacy in the corridor on Monday? When the quarrel with Josh took place. Was something going on with those two? I mean Brad was a hot, horny 17 year old (footballer no less) and Stacy was one sexy brunette.( Hey I'm gay, not blind ). Did Brad spare Josh an ass whooping because he was Stacy's friend. Then, a thought that made my throat clench, occurred to me. Was Brad only being friendly to me because I was practically Stacy's liitle brother? I knew I could never BE with Brad THAT way, but it still stung. I mean Brad was now someone I could actually begin to like ( even if he'd only like me as a friend ). Were all the jokes and smiles he'd shown me all fake? Or..Pity? I jumped to the only conclusion my limited logic could come up with: Brad and Stacy were together....had to be it. Maybe Brad was so mad at Josh because he thought Josh was tryin' to hit on Stacy. Stacy's strange brooding intensified whenever Brad was around. I didn't realise I hadn't said a word to Stacy. She reminded me of her presence. "Jessie, are you there?" Better get this over with, "Yeah Stacy, I'm here. So what do think is making Brad act this way?", I asked. I so did NOT expect her reply. "You" Me! What did she mean? I responded, "Me? Honestly Stacy, I think it's YOU." I then gave her all my so called evidence to plead my case. "WHAT!....huh...ah..God! ME?.", the poor girl responded. I asked tentatively, feeling like a total ditz, "So you two aren't involved?" She continued, "Honestly, I haven't the slightest notion of ever hooking up with someone like Brad Summers!! I mean, the guy's drop dead gorgeous, but he's got one hell of a personality. Actually, that was why I called.....Jessie, please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm a little worried about you....and Brad. Is something going on between you two?...if something is, I want you to tell me right now." My turn, "Stacy..ah..girl you gone nuts?!?! What do you think's going on?" Stacy: "Well I think you an-" I continued, "Wait, don't even answer that, don't even think it!! God!" I told HER not to think about it, but that didn't stop ME from thinking about what she was implying. ( Hey do as I say not as I do! ). I was immediately hard. It only added to my frustration. Stacy: "Jessie I want the truth. Don't play coy with me. Brad's only been acting the way he is since Mrs. Jameson made you switch your seat to sit next to him. He's suddenly got a sense of humour and a conscience, at least with you." I couldn't believe what the girl was implying. I mean Stacy's intuitive, but she couldn't be right. She was my best friend and she may have known I was gay, but I didn't want her to entertain such thoughts. She had always stated what she felt about Brad and his group of friends, and I felt that if she thought I was involved with Brad ( like that could ever happen in this universe..sigh ) she'd think less of me. I had to stop her from thinking these bad, bad thoughts. Only happy, happy thoughts would do. ( So I'm a twighlight Zone fan. Deal with it!! lol ). I thought I found a flaw in her argument. Well, time to see if I had the debating talent. I continued, " What, your'e crazy. Brad doesn't have a conscience and sense of humour only with me. What about his friends huh? And didn't he save Josh from an ass whooping?" I was so not gonna run for class president. I didn't have the brain power to debate. Then again.....my straining cock wasn't exactly helping, I probably wasn't getting enough blood to my head. Stacy was ready with a comeback. Stacy: "So smart. He's nice to his friends because, get this, there HIS FRIENDS. And...about Josh. ...Well that took me a while to figure out. All week actually." Oh, so that was what was up. I was honestly relieved. In these times, I was worried if Stacy had gotten herself knocked up, worse, if someone had forced themself on her, if she was pregnant or any of the other umpteen teenage maladies. Still I was a bit pissed at her. Honestly, why did God make girls so much smarter than guys anyway, huh? I continued the conversation, "Okay, Stacy, what exactly did you THINK you figured out?" She was only too happy to counter my Josh Defence. Stacy: " For a while I was stumped. Really. Brad Summers, WALKING AWAY FROM A FIGHT!! From a fight that someone else was picking no less. I was all like oh my God! 'The Lord's Comin' soon'. I tried to remember some of the other fights Brad had been in. Rick, Damien, Zach...he'd beaten them up for much, much less." I sighed. That was true. Brad had gotten suspended for all three incidents. Stacy ventured on, Stacy: " I remembered Brad telling his buddies off so they'd back away from Josh. Still I was confused. Why? Then it struck me. I remembered seeing something else. Want to know what I remembered seeing?" I sighed, "No, Stacy, can't say that I do, but I'm sure your'e gonna tell me anyway." Stacy: "You got that right. He may have been talking to his buddies, but HE WAS LOOKING DIRECTLY AT YOU WHILE HE SAID EVERY WORD. He wasn't sparing Josh because he felt sorry for him. He was doing it because of you." I gasped. She was right about seeing what she saw. I'll give her that. I couldn't lie about Brad watching me while he spoke. But honestly "because of me"? The ever persistant Stacy continued, Stacy: "Which, brings me back to my first concern. Is something going on between you two? I know about the Dream. You told me remember? I know you find him attractive. Jessie, are you two....(she hesitated here)...doing anything you shouldn't be doing?" That one took me by surprise. Not that I wouldn't be interested ( damn! All this talk of Brad was really making me horny. I hadn't been so sexed up for quite a while ). I shoved the naughty thoughts aside and talked to Stacy, "Stacy, I won't lie to you. I do find him attractive. S'matter of fact I'm leaking like rusted faucet right now. But I'm not....doing ANYTHING with Brad. Even if, you know, I find him attractive, I can't exactly do anything on my own you know..it takes two (or more lol) to tango. Even if I want to and Brad doesn't, believe me, I can tell he doesn't, nothin's gonna happen. He doesn't even know I'm gay. Besides he's hasn't done anything to make me suspiscious.(okay that wasn't completely true, but I wasn't gonna tell her about that...that *look*)." Stacy: "Don't kid me Jessie. I've seen the way he looks at you. Think I missed the look in English Lit. on Monday." Fuck!!! There was nothin' that could get past this chick. She went on, Stacy: "What's even more disturbing is I've seen that same look before. I've gotten some of them myself, actually. From....well a certain type of people. Bad people, Jessie. That's what has me scared. When I saw how Brad was eyeing you, I knew he was attracted to you, lusting over you. I was beginning to worry that he was forcing you into doing....stuff that you didn't want to do." Will the suprises never end?!? I had to end this, "Stacy nothing's going on. Really..I swear. Besides I don't think anyone like Brad'll ever go for someone like me" Stacy, "What!?! You obviously haven't been looking in a mirror lately. If you weren't gay I'd probably jump you myself, and that's sayin' somethin'. Anyhow, that brings me to my next point. Jessie, don't get mad, but you have this look about you...you don't look all girly or twinkish..but you do look vulnerable. The fact that your'e attracted to him makes you vulnerable. It could make you a target. Don't get me wrong, you don't look weak or anything. I'm glad nothin's happened. I just don't wanna see you get hurt. Jessie, promise me if anything ever happens you'll tell me" Since there was no chance of that happening I said, "Ok". Stacy: "Just be extra careful around him. Remember we don't exactly know why he's so nice, especially to you, all of a sudden. Stay away from his friends. Theyr'e bad news Jessie, real bad news. I know you have to study with him for the project tomorrow. That's the main reason I called. He called it a 'Date'. I want you to be safe. I know your parents usually work late and they hang out on Fridays. You'll be alone with him. Do you want me or Josh over?" I panicked, "No! I don't want Josh over. You know how he can get. I'll be fine, really. Besides, he's not gay, he won't try anything." Stacy: " Jessie, I don't exactly know yet if he's gay or not. Even if he is gay, he could be suppressing it, and that could make him doubly dangerous. Just because someone does it with someone else...you know guy/guy....girl/girl doesn't make them gay. People experiment..especially teenagers. All I know for sure is what that look meant. I just don't want him experimenting on you and something going wrong. Do you want me to come?" What was she now, a psychologist? I sighed, "No Stacy, I'll be fine. I need to learn to deal with my own problems on my OWN. I won't always have you or Josh to rescue me. Just let me handle it." Stacy reluctantly agreed. We said our goodbyes and I decided to sleep. Only problem was...I couldn't. All this talk of Brad made me super horny. I had to jack off to ease the tension. Didn't do anything about the dreams though. I still dreamt of Brad, only this time, we had shifted to the backseat..... *** BRAD'S POINT OF VIEW-THURSDAY NIGHT Man, what a week. I can't remember since when I've ever been this tired. I had been having trouble sleeping ever since my run in with Jessie last week Friday, and boy was it taking its toll. After Monday, the problem just intensified. I remembered how everything started on Monday. I was in the corridor chillin' with Chad, Jon and Devon, talkin' bout how tough training was, minding my own damn business when Jessie and his friends came strolling along. I still didn't know what he thought of me, and as he'd probably freak out if I called out to him (in front of my friends no less) I didn't do anything. He was walkin' with Stacy and Josh, someone who I'd never really liked(let's face it I hated the guy..thought he was so tough). Just then Mr. Mckenzie decided to give me one more reason to hate him. He walked away from Jessie and Stacy and decided to get all up in my face, staring me down like I was public enemy number one. Needless to say I lost it, I decided to teach the son of a bitch a lesson, "What the fuck is up with you Mckenzie!!", I demanded walking up to him. "You tell me!! Why you be messing with Jessie!?!", Josh responded. That one caught me by surprise. Me, messing with Jessie? Was Jessie still afraid of me like that? Did I actually scare him more by being nice to him? Damn...I probably did. He probably went running to Josh, and Hero that Josh is probably was up in my face about it. It turned out I wasn't the only one upset. My boy Jon had my back, "You be trying to start somethin' Mckenzie", Jon quipped. The cocky bastard Josh went on, "Naw..naw. I'm here to finish somethin' mother fucker!" Just as I was about to get in on the action and kick his sorry ass...something happened. Jessie entered the scene, "Josh man", he began, "calm down..its no big deal..really. Brad didn't do anything. Come on lets go". He and Stacy then began struggling to hold the fucker back. That's when it occurred to me(hey I'm not a typical dumb jock). Jessie must have told them about what had happened over the weekend, and being the dumbass that he was, Mckenzie must have jumped to a stupid conclusion. I had to put a stop to this soon. Firstly after some incidents last year I couldn't risk another suspension. Secondly coach wouldn't let me off the hook. Thirdly...Jessie. He obviously didn't mean for this to happen and he'd probably hate me to kingdom come if my boys beat up Josh. Even now I could see him struggling to contain Josh. I watched in amazement..for a little guy he sure was strong to hold Josh back like that. Try as I might I couldn't take my eyes off him. Even so I decided to call off the guys, "Ah ..leave the fucker alone.", I said watching Jessie all the while I spoke. I wanted him to know I was sparing Josh. Devon spoke up asking me if I was gonna let Mckenzie dis me like that. Was I? Yes, but for Jessie's sake, I'd be more than happy to kick his ass if he wasn't so close to Jessie though. I continued, "We got better things to do than this. Besides...hit shit and it splatters. Lets go." We walked off. The motherfucker just couldn't take a hint that I'd spared him a beating, "THIS ISN'T OVER SUMMERS!!!", Josh yelled. Just then Jessie spoke up. I felt a thrill run through me when I heard what he said, Jessie: "Oh, yes it is Josh. What the hell were you thinking. There were four of them. Four! No way you could take on all of them. I told you that he didn't do anything yet!" That confirmed it. Jessie hadn't set up Josh to beat me up. I was a little stung at the ending though, "I told you that he didn't do anything yet!", Jessie had said. "Yet?" I hoped after this morning he still didn't expect me to do anything bad to him. The day rolled on and finally at 7th and 8th periods English Lit was up again. I entered Jameson's class and took my seat, waiting for you know who to come in. Which he did, only Stacy and the Prick came in with him. They went over to the corner and sat down. Jessie however turned and came up walking to my seat. At this time I saw Jos- The Prick glaring at me. I returned the favour. Just then Jessie sat down. I decided I'd better cut it out. It mightn't go down too good for him to see the look I'd been givin' Josh. I put on the best friendly face I could manage(which suprisingly I didn't find too hard to do) and spoke up, "Hey what's up?" He said nothin' much. We didn't get a chance to talk then 'cause Jameson came in with our tests. It was a pretty hard one too. While she passed round collecting our papers I decided to talk to Jessie, "I think that was the hardest one yet.", by way of conversation. Judging from past experience, I expected him to give me one of his typical one word exchanges. What can I say he's full of suprises. "Yeah tell me about it. And what makes it worse is that you know the next one will be even harder. Damn She never lets up! If I'd known that this would be anything more than an elaborate storytime I'd have never signed up", Jessie ranted. I was flabbergasted. It probably showed too 'cause he then asked me, "What's wrong?" I assured him nothin' was wrong but how shocked I was that he could actually....talk. Then I started to ponder, Well it was his talkative habit that had put him next to me afterall. And to think I actually didn't want his talkative habit to get me into trouble.Now here I was taken away by his voice. Whilst I was pondering, Jessie stared laughing Okay...something ticked. I was suddenly swept away with the sight of seeing him laugh. I probably looked all goofy staring. I remembered a thought I'd had earlier, If only I could make him laugh like that. The realisation, that in some way I had probably just did, hit me. Too bad it didn't last long. He suddenly stopped. Before I could say anything Jameson spoke. I swear she said the sweetest words I had ever heard her say. Do go on Mrs. J, Jameson:: "Class I have an important announcement. I am assigning you your first coursework assessment. This will be a partner project. Don't bother switching seats, your partners are your seatmates. Here is the question: It's based on Romeo and Juliet. As you know the play ended up a tragedy, culminating in the deaths of the two protagonists by suicide. They each believed that they could never be together and rather than living apart chose to pursue suicide. I want you to relate it to modern circumstances and explain if such an action is justifiable. You have 1 month. I expect exemplary work. There will be no extensions. Oh, and 25% of your Mid-Term grade depends on this. I trust you know who your partners are, look next to you if in doubt. That's all." This meant that I'd have to spend time with Jessie, maybe get to know him better. We talked some more, and eventually agreed to start later that week, on Friday after I finished football practice. I offered to drive us so we wouldn't have to walk. Just then I saw Josh and Stacy walkin' up. "Walk, hey tell you what I'll just drive us....well guess it's a date. Bye." With that I left. I didn't want to risk anything with Josh. It was only when I reached home that evening that I realised what exactly I'd said, "Walk, hey tell you what I'll just drive us....well guess it's a DATE. Bye." DATE?? Why the blue blazes had I said that?? It was all I thought about the whole week. And here I was on Thursday night, tommorow we had to study together at his place. Now that I was on the verge of the abyss, I could no longer deny it. I was definitely......attracted to Jessie. I had only to think of him laughing and I'd get hard. The dreams, the fact that I thought he was beautiful and the desire to be around him proved it. What I couldn't understand was....why? I wasn't gay. I couldn't be. No one could say I was in denial. I still liked girls. I couldn't even say I was Bi. Jessie was the only guy that I ever thought about this way. So if I wasn't gay or bi what was I? This was tearing me up all week. And now tommorow I had to face....him. I know guys messed around, hell even I'd done it once or twice, but I never felt anything like this before. The weirdest thing was I had done abolutely nothing, nada, nil, zilch with Jessie and still I had all these feelings. I'd just have to try and make it through tommorow as best I could and be a brave little soldier. *** JESSIE'S POINT OF VIEW- FRIDAY Well, Friday at last. Today, immediately after English Lit. Brad would be coming over to my place to start a little somethin' on our partner project. I'd have to spend the entire evening with him...alone. It would be the first time since last week. I honestly didn't know how I felt about that. I mean I knew all about Brad's past behavior..but that was, well in the past right. I knew I liked the way Brad was now, I don't know how he behaved outside of school, but he was being nice to me. I figured if a guy like Brad could be nice to me the least I could do was be nice to him. Once, again the day rolled on and English Lit. snuck up on me again. Since my first run-in with Brad it seemed my entire school schedule revolved around English Lit. It was currently the only class Brad and I shared. I never really got a chance to see him outside of English Lit. Well, that was gonna change today. My only worry was....would it be for better or for worse? I walked into class with Stacy and Josh. They went to their corner and I went to sit next to Brad. Well at least he and Josh weren't trying to bore holes into each other with their eyes... "Hey how you been?", Brad greeted. "Me? Great. How you been?", I asked. Took a while before he answered, "Five by five." I swear I had no idea what he meant, so I just decided to nod and smile. He went on, Brad: "I'm just worried about my test results. I kinda need to do real good in this class...or else I'm offa the team." I decided to be encouraging, "I'm sure you'll do fine. I mean it's not that hard, at least not as hard as Jameson makes it out to be." He brightened a little at that. Just then Mrs. Jameson decided to enter into the picture and prove me wrong. She was dishin' out results. I crossed my fingers and checked my sheet.....wow! A minus. Hmmm and thought Jameson really had it in for me. I glanced over at Brad, he didn't look to happy. "Hey, how'd you do?", I questioned him. He didn't respond at first...just handed me his sheet with an embarassed smile. D-, ouch! I guess this was not gonna go down to good for his football aspirations. I glanced at him, I'd seen him angry( boy did I ever see him angry), surprised, happy...but never sad. I decided then and there that this just wouldn't do. Brad snapped me out of my thoughts, Brad: "It's the Shakespear that kills me. I swear I just can't figure out what the fool's tryin' to say sometimes. Man that dude's lingo is wack!! You'd think after a couple of hundred years this stuff woulda get outdated by now?" Well I guess I'd figured out what we'd be workin' on later, "Brad, maybe I can help you out, what grade you tryin' to make?", I asked. Brad, "I need a C, at least, but I don't think I can-" "But nothing, come on I know you can do this. You answered the questions on "To Kill A Mockingbird" just as good as I did. Your problem is you just don't understand what Shakespear's tryin' to say. Since our project's on Romeo and Juliet, later we can review it and I'll help you translate into modern English. We have a whole month so we better do this right, from scratch.", I responded. Brad: "Wow...thanks. You really mean it? I'm real slow at this and the stuff is pretty dry and borin'." I assured him that I did indeed mean it and I'd go as slowly as it took for him to understand it. The class dragged on, albeit rather slowly..and with the sound of the bell, we were set free for the weekend. I told Brad I'd meet him at his car in a couple of minutes. I wanted to catch up with Josh and Stacy first, and knowing Josh, it wouldn't do to for him and Brad to be near each other. Things still hadn't settled down from Monday. Josh greeted me, "Yo, Jess, me and Stacy gonna hang at Joe's. Wanna come? Triple Fudge Sundae, my treat?" I had to dissapoint them, well him, Stacy already knew why I couldn't come, "Can't actually, I gotta work with Brad." A look of distaste flashed across his face but he quickly wiped it off. Josh: "Hey, no problem. Stacy and me could just run to Joe's, pick up a few things, meet you guys in school and hang." "Uh..actually wer'e kinda going to be studying at my house", I said. Josh: "Oh, well me and Stacy could walk you home and we could all chill at your place" Ouch! Strike two. I went on, "Actually, Brad's giving me a ride home." Josh: "Hey come on man, we ain't been anywhere since...I can't remember when. Can't you study with Brad some other time? You've got a whole month for that stupid project." I explained to Josh I wasn't gonna work with Brad on the project exactly with Brad. How he needed a C to stay on the football team..and I decided to help him improve by the time our next test rolled around. All this time Stacy was quiet. A pity Josh wasn't, Josh: "What?! Your'e blowin' us off cuz of Brad and his dumb jock syndrome? I thought you hated the guy? Now he's your best bud? You know how long Stacy and me waited for you at Joe's last week?!" I honestly forgot about that. Stacy had hassled me about it, but Josh had never quarrelled with me about anything before. He didn't stop either, Josh: "We were supposed to study for Jameson's test. Only problem was you weren't there. You wanna know what grade I got, F, that's right FAIL. But I don't see you running to help me. Didn't even bother to ask." He was right. I was too caught up with Brad. I had to explain, say how sorry I was, "Josh, man-", he cut me off, Josh: " I mean I could understand that...you were dealin' with Brad that weekend and you were busy, but now, what he's your best friend now?" I tried to calm him, "Josh Brad's not really a bad guy, if you get to know him-", Josh: "Oh yeah....so tell me, what exactly do you know about him? How long have you KNOWN him?" Ok he had me there, and he knew it. "Josh, Brad really needs the help, or he'll get thrown off the football team", I tried to explain. Josh: "Brad's a total jerk. You know what, never mind. Just thought you'd be smart enough to know who your real friends were." Now that REALLY pissed me off, just who the hell did he think he was talking to me this way?!? "Josh, your'e a selfish son of a bitch, can't you stop thinking 'bout yourself for one frickin' moment? We can always hang out any time, but Brad doesn't have that time to spare.", I argued. "Fuck you", was all he said. He started to walk away. Stacy told me she'd call later and ran off behind him. I heard her ask him if he still wanted to hang at Joe's, Josh: "Lemme alone Stacy, I'm not in the mood!" All I could think about were the last two words he'd said to me. "Fuck you", the words echoed in my head. In all the years we'd known each other he'd never even raised his voice to me. He never said those words to me before, even as a joke. I mean here was the guy who taught me how to ride a bike, came to all my birthday parties growing up, laughed at all my lame ass jokes, stuck up for me in the face of bullies...I instantly regretted telling him that he was selfish. He'd done everything he could to make the last 11 years of my life as fun as possible...and never ever asked for one thing in return. Except to buy me...my favourite Triple Fudge Sundae at Joe's. I realised just how long I was making Brad wait and turned to exit the building through the hallway. I was almost in tears by now. It wouldn't have taken anyone too long to realise I was on the verge of crying. I made to enter the hall and saw someone standing in the doorway. It was Brad. God! How much did he see or hear? "Hey Jess, you okay man?", he asked. Josh always called me Jess. Josh and Jess, had a nice ring to it he'd often joke. The memory of it made it even harder for me to speak, "Yeah man, I'm o-okay. How long were you standing there?" "Long enough", he said, "Look, if you can't help me today, it's all right. We can do this some other time" I reassured him and we headed to his car. We drove on in silence and finally reached my house. Brad parked his car whilst I opened the door. I let him in and without further a do we settled down to work. Well that is he settled down but I didn't. After four hours I still couldn't get my mind off Josh. Finally Brad spoke up, Brad: "Hey Jess", Jess again, "You wanna talk about it?" "Huh, what? Do you need me to explain something on Act 3?", I asked. Brad: "Uh...no. But maybe you could talk to me about what happened between you and Josh. It might help you feel better. I mean I heard everything. I wasn't eavesdropping, I swear. You were just takin' so long and well I came to see if somethin' was up." He moved over and sat next to me. Brad: "Well?" I perused his face. He really did seem to want to talk so I explained how Josh and me grew up together and how we never, ever quarelled. He was virtually my big bro. And how the worst part was I didn't know exactly what I'd done to get him so mad at me. I was shakin' slightly by now. I didn't know how much longer I'd be able to keep it in. It felt good to share it with someone. "The worst part is I know he probably hates me now, and there's nothing I can do", okay that was when I lost it. I started to cry and shudder a liitle. I'd never forget what happened next as long as I lived. Brad had his arm around me, trying to keep me from shakin' so hard but I still couldn't stop crying. Brad: "Come on Jess, he doesn't hate you, man. He's just a liitle upset. He'll get over it. You'll see." No good I was still crying. Damn, why'd he have to call me Jess. That was when it happened. He tilted my face up with his free hand and said, "Jessie, you've been friends for a long time. He just needs some time to chill. That's all...trust me." Then all of a sudden our eyes locked. That same stare from the Dream and the time at the Park in his car. His face was so close to mine I could feel his hot breath each time he exhaled. "Shh..come on Jess don't cry" Next, the unthinkable happened. He lowered his lips onto mine and kissed me. Long and deep. I jumped a little and tried to pull away, but he held me with his hand behind my head. It was nothin' like the kiss in the Dream. This kiss was soft and gentle. It caught me by surprise and I stopped crying. Just then I heard the front door opening. I broke the kiss and exclaimed, "My parents!" Brad was instantly offa me and started packing up his things, "I gotta go" was all he said and he was gone out the back door. I rushed upstairs to wash my face still dumbstruck by what had just happened. Where on Earth had that come from?