Today’s 25% excerpt is from my popular short story, MORE THAN SEX.
Richard looked at Philip sitting across from him, calm and relaxed, and in that moment he saw someone different from the man at the office who, in recent months, had always walked away from confrontation with him. This was a different man from the one who accepted his bullshit and took the hurt inside. This man was so sure of himself that, for a moment, Richard felt as if he had slipped back in time to the man he had first met five years earlier.
Blinking to clear the disassociation, Richard sighed and began his confession. He’d come this far — no way was he going to chicken out now.
“I suppose I should begin with an apology for all I have put you through. I’ve been.” He paused. “I suppose you could say out of control. I… I never meant to hurt you. I know I have and for that I am truly sorry, but I was… afraid and it was easier to push you away than to admit.” Richard hesitated, took a sip of his wine, needing that momentary false courage. Then he looked Philip in the eye and continued, “To admit to you that I had fallen in love with you.”
“To admit to me? Perhaps you mean to admit to yourself?” Philip asked calmly.
Too calmly. In a flash of understanding, Richard realized that Philip had known. He had probably always known. And, God, he had been waiting for Richard to come to terms with it. That was why he had taken all Richard’s shit.
Richard felt a little hysterical. He took a deep breath, feeling Philip’s eyes on him all the while.
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that you understood. You know me so well. Too well.” Richard took another gulp of his wine. “Yes, it’s true it was hard to admit it to myself, that I was drawn to another man. To learn I was not the man I’d always believed myself to be. Had never been that man. That was hard. And when I did finally see it, I ran. From myself, and especially from you.” Richard looked down at his hands and saw they were shaking slightly. “Can you forgive me for what I put you through?”
“Perhaps. If you tell me what you want from me now.”
Richard held the wine glass between his fingers, twirling it around and watching the colors flash through the liquid. For a moment, he was afraid to look into Philip’s eyes, afraid they would be hard and unforgiving. If they were, how could he ask for what he wanted? He squared his shoulders, looking up to meet Philip’s eyes. He was almost shocked to see only quiet composure. He took a breath and tried to speak as calmly as he could. “I want to know if you can forgive me. I want to know if you have any feelings for me. If we have a chance.”
Philip pursed his lips and Richard couldn’t take his eyes off the luscious swell of them. He wondered what they might feel like to kiss. What the hell was he doing? Fantasizing about a man who might just be about to kiss him off!