13-year-old Neil Swenson has lived a life of restriction, sadness and denial.
Now, he's moved to Mississippi and is hoping things change.
They walked back to the church, where the pastor and Neil’s father were waiting for them. Tory saw that his parents were there as well. They’d probably been looking for him, he guessed. He took a quick glance at his watch and was sure his father was eager to get home. It was almost time for his game.
Neil’s father was smiling. Tory wondered how often that had happened recently. He didn’t look like the sort of man who wore frequent smiles; he looked like someone more accustomed to frowning than smiling.
When the boys reached the group waiting for them, Mr. Swenson spoke to his son. “Neil, Pastor Hendly has arranged for me to meet with his bishop. There’s a need for a traveling pastor in this parish, one who fills in when needed when pastors are sick or on vacation or sabbatical. I’m going to interview with him tomorrow. I think I may get a job!”
Tory saw Neil take this in and several expressions cross his face. When Neil spoke, after looking at the other adults there, he sounded very reserved. Tory already knew he was shy from having spent only a few minutes with him. Now, he had the impression that having all these people listening to what Neil was going to say was going to be difficult for him.
Neil spoke hesitantly. “Does that mean we’ll not live here, that we’ll be moving all over the place, going wherever you were needed every time there was a temporary opening, if you get that job?”
Mr. Swenson shook his head. “No, I know that wouldn’t work for you and your school. You need to be in a permanent spot, and you’re too young to be left alone. However, these people, Tory’s parents, have volunteered to have you stay with them on the occasions I’d be away overnight. In fact, because the meeting with the bishop is in Jackson, I’m going to drive up there this afternoon and stay in a motel this evening so I can meet with him first thing in the morning. So, you are going to stay with the Edgertons tonight, and that way we can learn if this would be a comfortable fit for both you and them if I get the job.”
Tory watched Neil react to this. He expected Neil to be upset. If this was happening to him, if his parents told him he was being dumped on strangers with no advanced warning to spend the night, he’d be pissed. And he’d let them know about it, too! Neil, on the other hand, was smiling! And, he kept peeking over at Tory, then dropping his eyes.
Tory smiled then, too, realizing what Neil’s smile meant. Then he stopped. Without looking, he knew his father was watching him. His teenager’s sense of caution told him that looking happy about anything would make the man suspicious. No, he needed to act surprised and maybe even a little upset at the idea of having some strange kid foisted on him, with the possibility being that it might turn into a semi-regular occurrence as well.
Acting upset was difficult, because the more he thought about it, the more excited he got. When he’d found out Neil’s father was a pastor, he’d been upset, thinking the boy was probably like Frank Bromely, a goody-goody, possibly with a pompous, holier-than-thou approach to life. But then, when the boy had said he hated church and what went with it, all that changed.
Tory’s feelings for Neil, unfocused and new when he’d first seen the boy, had bloomed when they’d met and then spent some time together. Neil seemed very repressed, seemed awkward when speaking, and perhaps even frightened of who knew what. But Neil’s looks still excited Tory, and being with him just enhanced the excitement. After spending some time with him, it was more than just his looks that had Tory’s emotions in a frenzy. And now, the thought of having the boy in his house with him—he was finding it difficult not to be jumping up and down in elation.
He cooled his ardor by thinking of his father and how he’d react if he had any idea what Tory was thinking and feeling. And then there was that other small problem: he had no idea if Neil had any interest in boys at all. From what he’d read on the internet, most boys didn’t. But somehow, Neil seemed so perfect to him that it didn’t seem fair if he didn’t. He had to! And he was going to be at Tory’s house a lot!
What Tory needed to do now was convince his father that, for him, Neil being there would be a burden, but one that Tory would suffer with all the grace he could because he knew his father wanted him to. The fact of the matter was, Tory knew why his father had opened their house to the boy. It was because by doing so, he was helping the church. His dad loved to be thought of as someone who’d go the extra mile to help his church in any way he could.
Mr. Swenson presented this arrangement to Neil not as something the boy should consider but as a done deal. He didn’t need feedback from the boy. The boy would do as he was told, as expected.
The men discussed the logistics of the rest of the day. It began to get complicated, with directions and times and all, and Tory interrupted.
“Why don’t I just ride over to Neil’s house with them, Neil can get his stuff, and then I can show Mr. Swenson how to get to our house?”
And that’s what they ended up doing after a little more discussion. The drive to the house Mr. Swenson had rented with a short-term lease, with Neil in the front seat and Tory in the back, was silent. Tory found this remarkable. The rides in his family’s car were never silent. Of course, Tory himself was partly responsible for that, but in the Swenson car, even he was silent. Somehow, the space around Mr. Swenson seemed to create a cold, barren and depressing ambience which discouraged any human interplay.
Tory found Neil’s room filled with boxes. Actually, it was a bit gloomy, with bare walls, a bare-wood floor and one small, dirty window. There was a narrow twin bed and a dresser with one leg missing, replaced by several ancient paperback books.
Neil looked at the room and then at Tory and reddened. Tory said, “Hey, you just moved here. When you’ve had some time, you’ll probably have the place looking like the Taj Mahal.”
He grinned, which of course got Neil doing the same. With a bit more energy, the boy threw some clothes for the next day in a backpack, then got some things from the bathroom, and said, “I’m ready.”
Tory had been watching. Now, he stuck his head out the bedroom door, checking for Neil’s father, then came back and whispered, “I see you aren’t taking any pajamas. Good. I don’t wear any, either.”
Then he turned and scampered out of the bedroom, laughing.
I was frozen where I was, blushing furiously, and torn between wanting to leave the pajamas I’d totally forgotten about where they were or packing them along with my other stuff. Should I take them? Could I not?
In the end, I packed them. The naughty, dirty, absolutely thrilling thought that ran through my mind was that, if Tory really meant what he’d said about his own pajamas, then I wouldn’t have to put mine on, either. But then I returned to Earth, sure I was blushing red as lady bugs; I chastised myself for such wickedness but couldn’t help but grin at the same time.
Was this what it was like, becoming my own man as I intended to do? And if so, was it good or bad?
Maybe I was about to find out.
I was surprised when we were in Tory’s house. Our house in Sala, even when my mother was alive, wasn’t very welcoming or cheery. My mother was a scientist and not a bit interested in frills and baubles. Décor was the last of her worries. When she was in the house, she was still thinking about her work. And of course, Father was always severe in his thoughts and deeds. Frivolity and gaiety were not part of his world. Our home had reflected that, being as stark and cold as his nature.
But Tory’s house was not like that at all. His mother was really warm and nice, welcoming me into her home and making me feel very comfortable there. His father did the same. Tory seemed to have some wariness when it came to his father, but he seemed very nice to me.
When we ate dinner, he said grace, but it only took a short time. Sometimes with my father, it took five or more minutes, and the food was cold before we even began eating it. I think he liked it that way. He liked things to be hard; he liked us to suffer a little.
But not at Tory’s house! We talked around the table during the meal, and religion and religious thoughts and beliefs weren’t even mentioned. Tory had told me the church they went to was important to his father, but that he cared about the social part of it as much as the faith part. That was much different from my own father’s view. He didn’t care at all about being sociable.
During the meal, I kept sneaking glances at Tory. He was so beautiful! He had thick, glossy, dark-brown, almost black hair that was messy. My father never allowed me to look messy. He thought it would offend God. But Tory looked like pictures I’d seen on the internet of boys our age. His hair was just sort of there on his head, and it looked so good that way!
His face was just handsome. I don’t know how to say much more than that. But he could have been on TV or in the movies; he looked that good. His face had a summer tan already, though summer had just begun. Maybe it began earlier here than in Sweden.
His good looks were complemented by the sort of impish smile that was always present on his face. And the bright blue eyes that seemed to twinkle.
I thought he was probably outside much of the time, even during the school year. He looked fit, like he was used to lots of physical activities. He carried himself with confidence, too, standing straight, moving with effortless grace.
Looking at him, I kept getting butterflies in my stomach—and even lower. I wasn’t supposed to think about that, ever, but how could I not when it kept stirring? And even getting hard? And not going away? I had to stop taking all those peeks at him! But my eyes just wouldn’t cooperate.
Tory’s mother had made an apple pie for dessert. It was fantastic! Her top crust was a lattice work instead of a full crust, and I could see all the cinnamon and brown sugar and apples inside. And it tasted as good as it looked. I wondered, with cooking like that, why Tory wasn’t fat. He wasn’t, though; he was slim and tall and, well, thinking like that gave me that feeling again, and what had finally gone down, sprung up again.
Before we left the table, Tory’s mom started talking to me about sleeping arrangements, and luckily, that was the perfect topic, because what she said certainly caused my embarrassment to deflate.
“We have a spare room, Neil,” she said, “and that’s where you’ll sleep. Why don’t we go up and look at it?”
So she and Tory and I climbed the stairs. There was a hallway, with hers and Tory’s father’s room on one side and two rooms on the other and a bathroom on the end. One of the two rooms was Tory’s, the other the spare room. Mrs. Edgerton opened that door, and I looked in. It was full of boxes, sewing things, sports equipment and all sorts of stuff. What wasn’t there was a bed.
“We’ll have this fixed up for you, maybe even by your next visit. But until then, you can share Tory’s room. Will that be all right with you, do you think?”
If I hadn’t been talking to her, I’m sure my problem at the dining room table would have recurred. But looking at her and answering, I was OK. I assured her that that would be fine, and maybe even better than sleeping in this room, as I could get to know Tory better this way.
Tory was standing behind his mother, and his face changed when I said that. He got a really devilish look in his eyes, and his impish grin turned into a naughty smile. I looked back at his mother, trying to ignore him. It worked. A little.
We played Monopoly before it was time for bed. I’d never played before, but Tory was a good teacher, and we had a lot of fun. The game was still going when it was time to go upstairs, and Tory said that happened a lot, and the point wasn’t to win or lose, but to have fun playing it. He folded up the board, and I helped him put all the parts back in the box.
“Can we play again sometime?” I asked, and he said of course we could with such confidence that I knew he expected I’d be back a lot, and that made me feel really good. I was loving being at his house.
We said goodnight to his parents and climbed the stairs. I was getting a little nervous, but I didn’t think I needed to be, because Tory was being so nice. Still, it was a new experience for me even if it was as exciting as anything I’d ever known.
He opened the door to his room, saying, “We’ll be sleeping in here together tonight.” Tory sounded as excited as I felt.
I didn’t trust my voice. I just nodded, but from the feel of my face, I probably was blushing.
“Have you had any sleepovers before?” he asked. He sat down on his bed and patted a spot next to him. I knew he wanted me to sit there. Wow, that made me even more nervous. And excited. I slowly went over to the bed and sat.
“No,” I said. “My father wouldn’t have approved of anything like that.”
He was quiet for a moment, just looking at me. I couldn’t keep my eyes on his. I just couldn’t. He was too beautiful, too full of life, and his eyes… well, I just couldn’t. I looked down.
“He never lets you just be a kid, does he?” Tory asked, his voice sounding sad.
He had so much compassion in his voice that it made me want to tear up. That’s the last thing I needed! So I stood up and started looking around the room, looking at the stuff he had so I wouldn’t have to look at him.
After a moment or two, he said, “I’m sorry.”
“What? Why are you sorry?” I asked.
“I hurt your feelings. I know you’re shy. I need to be more careful. But… Well, I really like you. I like how you look, and I like how you act. I like you. And I want us to be really good friends. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings.”
“You really like me?” No boy had ever said that to me before!
“Yeah, I do.”
I walked back over to the bed and sat next to him again. Then I took a quick glance at him and said, “Why?”
“I just said.”
“But you don’t know me at all.”
“What I do know, I like,” he said, then grinned. “And I hope to get to know you better. We’ll both do that if you’re going to be sleeping over a lot. I hope it happens all the time. I like having you here. Even if it does make me feel sort of funny.”
I sat up a little straighter. “Feel funny? How.”
“I shouldn’t have said that,” he answered. “I sometimes do that, say things that are in my head where they should stay.”
“But feel funny how?” I wanted to know! I wondered if he felt anything like what I felt. No, he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.
He was watching me, and now it was his turn to blush. Then he said, “Well, if you have to know, it makes me feel like my stomach’s all nervous.”
“Really?! Me, too!” And then it was my turn to blush.
He was really looking at me now. Staring. Then, he did just what I’d done: he stood up and sort of wandered around the room. I could tell, he was thinking. Like he was deciding something.
He came back and sat down. When he spoke, he sounded very nervous, much more than before. And what he said made me as nervous as he sounded!
Tory wasn’t used to being befuddled, but he was just then. Did Neil feel what he felt? For the same reasons? Could he ask him?
That was the real question. Could he tell Neil that looking at him made Tory feel things, gave him sexy feelings, and made him want to do more than just look? Neil was shy and easily frightened. If Tory said something like that it might end all possibilities of even being friends with him. That would be a huge risk to take, because, as well as wanting to do sexy things with him, he also genuinely liked Neil and did want to be good friends with him.
Too, what if Neil got scared and ran to the only adults around, Tory’s parents, and told them what Tory had said. Then the shit would hit the fan sideways! Tory’s dad didn’t even think he should be jerking off. What would he say if he learned Tory had his eyes on another boy? That Tory was interested in other boys? It didn’t bear thinking about!
But the boy was right here! Right now! And he’d just said Tory made his stomach feel the same thing Tory’s did!
So it was no wonder that after he sat down next to Neil again, his voice sounded nervous. He’d decided to test the waters as innocuously, as safely, as he could.
“Uh, Neil? I make your stomach feel funny? Just like you do mine? What do you think is causing that?”
One look at Neil told Tory that Neil didn’t want to talk about it anymore than Tory did. And that was enough to tell Tory that he was moving too fast for the shy boy. They had to get to know each other better first.
But Tory was thirteen and sitting next to the most desirable boy he’d ever met, one who had his body aching with desire, and so he decided that hurrying that process along as much as he could, as carefully as he could, would be worth the risk.
Instead of talking about what he really wanted, Tory said, “Let’s talk about that some other time. Right now, we have to figure out the sleeping arrangements. There’s plenty of room in the bed for both of us. I’d like that. It would be fun! But if it would make you nervous sleeping next to another boy, one who finds you attractive, then one of us should sleep on the floor, and that someone should be me.”
Tory looked at Neil and wondered if Neil could read something in his eyes. Did Neil know how much Tory wanted them to sleep together? Did Neil want that, too? Tory wished he could just come out and say, ‘Let’s sleep in the bed together,’ but was afraid it would be way too forward and would scare Neil.
While Tory was dithering in his head, Neil asked him a question. “Have you had sleepovers before?”
“Yes, but not for a few years. When I turned ten, my father started to worry. He’s very much against homosexuality and even jerking off because he says the Bible forbids it. And so, when I got old enough for him to start worrying, he stopped all the sleepovers. But I had them before that. And,” he grinned at Neil, “we always shared the bed!”
To Tory’s surprise, Neil said, “I’d like to do that, too.”
Tory smiled. “Great! I want to, too.”
But then Neil frowned. “But if your father was afraid you’d, uh, do something when you were ten, wouldn’t he be even more worried now? We probably shouldn’t sleep together, huh?”
Tory was still smiling. “Probably shouldn’t, but we have an excuse—there’s only one bed and the floor’s too hard—and besides, we can always say we didn’t know each other at all before today and wanted to be close enough to talk and start to become friends without making much noise.”
Neil smiled, too. “You think of good excuses,” he said.
“Lots of practice,” Tory said. Then, “Do you want to get ready for bed?”
Neil blushed. Tory saw that and didn’t like it that he kept making the boy uncomfortable. He had to stop asking questions like that!
“OK, backspace,” he said, before Neil was forced to answer. “I’m ready to go to bed. Did you want to stay up longer? I mean, we can if you want. We could do something, I guess, but it’s getting late, and I’m tired and so, how about it? I’m ready. Let’s go to bed.”
And Neil laughed. Tory thought that was marvelous. The boy was comfortable enough to laugh! But then Neil stopped laughing and said, “Uh, Tory? Do you… uh, I mean… well...” Neil seemed really nervous now, and while Tory thought it was cute, he also felt for the boy, seeing his discomfort.
Then Neil, apparently gathering what courage he could, just blurted out, “You said you sleep in the nude. Do you?” And then he blushed even harder than before.
Tory made himself look bewildered. To sell it, not having much faith in his acting ability, he said, “I’m shocked! I never said anything like that!” and then grinned to show he was teasing.
“But you did,” claimed Neil, sounding defensive. “You said I’d not packed any pajamas, which was OK because you never wore them! You did!”
“Oh, that,” Tory said with exaggerated nonchalance. “Well, that’s right, I don’t. I just sleep in my boxers. But if you want to sleep nude, I’m all for it. That would be extra special, cherry-on-the-top special for me.” And he grinned his fantastic grin again. But, knowing he’d be making Neil uncomfortable, he quickly said, his voice softer, “Neil, you can wear whatever you like. Pajamas, underwear, a business suit and tie, galoshes, whatever. However, I’m wearing my boxers, unless, of course, you do choose to be naked, and then, because I’m the host and you’re the guest, I guess I’d have to follow suit just to make you comfortable. And by following suit, I don’t mean a business suit, either.”
Tory was enjoying this, and he saw Neil relax, perhaps because it was so obvious what fun Tory was having. “OK,” Neil said, “I always wear pajamas at home because Father always comes in to hear my prayers, and I have to kneel beside the bed, and I’d never let him see me in just my underwear. But if I’m going to see you in your underwear, I guess it’s OK for you to see me that way, too.”
Tory nodded. “The other thing you’re not going to see me doing is saying any prayers. I stopped doing that when my parents stopped coming into my room at night. I was probably eleven then. Haven’t said them since. I got tired of all the religion they were forcing down my throat, so when I could, I stopped paying attention to it. I don’t pay attention when Dad says grace, and I don’t listen to the sermons. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this. You might think that makes me a heathen or something and not want to be my friend.”
“I do want to be friends!” Neil declared. “I’ve been sort of feeling the same thing but haven’t been brave enough to do any of that. But I promised myself, when we came to America I was going to start standing up to Father. It won’t be long before I tell him that when I’m in my room he has to knock and get told to come in before he does. And that coming in to listen to prayers is something you do with a little child, not a teenager. I don’t know how that’ll go, but I’m going to do it.”
While Neil was saying this, Tory had closed the door and begun undressing. His shirt was off and so were his shoes and socks. Neil stopped speaking when Tory began unbuckling his belt. Tory then dropped his trousers and stepped out of them. He had on boxers, white with little red hearts on them. Tory saw that Neil was watching closely. Tory started to turn away but then didn’t—just stood there and let Neil stare at him.
As Neil stared, as he ran his eyes all over Tory’s body, Tory’s boxers started to push out.
“Darn,” said Tory, “that happens all the time. I’ll bet you get boners, too. Don’t you?”
In a hollow sort of voice, his eyes still on Tory’s boxers, Neil said, “Father says I shouldn’t. He said that’s wicked. He says sex is only for having children—and only after being married. With a woman. Your wife.”
Neil was red as a beet at this point. Tory’s boxers were pushed out even more. Tory said, “But do you? Get boners? You must, whether your father approves or not. In this country, we have sex education at school. Probably Sweden does, too, but you wouldn’t with religion-based home-schooling. But I’ve had it, and they talk about all this stuff. They say boners, erections, are normal for kids our age, that everyone gets them, that it’s just part of growing up, and there’s nothing wrong with having them and we shouldn’t be embarrassed by them; we wouldn't be normal if we didn’t have them. So, you must have them, too! Don’t you?”
Neil was still blushing, but he nodded. Then he even found his voice. “And I’ve always wished I had someone to talk to about them—and about other things, too.”
Tory walked over and put his arm around the smaller boy’s shoulders. “You do, now, Neil. And so I guess I do, too, with you. Isn’t that neat?”
I couldn’t believe this was all happening!
Tory was so nice! And he made me feel things that I had felt before, but now I was feeling them so much stronger! Now he was talking about sex, which was so, so naughty, but he didn’t make it seem that way. He made it seem, well… he made it seem normal, but it was still exciting.
I was so hard, him with his arm—his bare arm—around my shoulders, talking softly to me, with his boxer shorts all pushed out, and a little gap in the fly where I could see just a peek of pink flesh inside, just a little, and…it was almost too much.
And he was asking me, did I ever have erections, which he called boners, which was such a great name for them. Boners!
I had the hardest one ever. All he had to do was look to see, even in my long pants, that I had one. I don’t know how I even had one then, because it felt like all the blood in my body had rushed up to my face. But he was waiting for an answer, and I had to say something.
“You don’t have to answer,” Tory said, still speaking softly, like he was comforting a small child. That was exactly what I felt like just then.
“I know you’re shy, and I’m going way too fast, but you just turn me on, uh, I mean, I just like you, uh, well, darn it! I don’t know how to say anything without it having meanings that make it worse. Heck, I just need to say it. I really like you, and you’re so sexy without even meaning to be, and you turn me on, and there’s nothing I can do but admit it. I know you probably don’t feel any of that, and maybe I’m scaring you, and please don’t tell my parents, and I’m sorry, and maybe I should sleep on the floor. I deserve it.”
“But I do!” I said. “I do feel that!” I couldn’t stop myself! All my emotions were running away with me. Here he sounded sad and mad at himself for being honest, for saying what he felt, something I’d never been able to do. And so I said it! I said I felt the same things! How I did that, I don’t know, but it was my emotions doing it because I was so carried away.
“I do feel what you’re talking about. I feel it about you. I can’t help it. I see how beautiful you are and how nice you are to me, and I’ve got an erection—well, a boner—right now! Just looking at you, I’ve had them a lot all day. Now, with only your boxers on, you’re…you’re…” I stopped, unable to say what I felt. But I had to say the most important thing. “I do want you to sleep in the bed with me. I want to be in just my underwear, too! I want to lie next to you, to feel your skin against mine. And I think if I keep talking like this, and feeling what I’m feeling, I might just explode!”
I saw Tory’s eyes get really big, and then he stood up. “Come on, then. Let’s get in bed. We can talk more there.”
I was really feeling nervous and excited now. Tory turned on his bedside light and turned off the ceiling light. Then he sat on the bed, watching me. I think I was shaking, but also determined. I wanted to do this even if it scared the heck out of me.
I took off my shirt, and I heard a gasp. I turned to look at him, and he said, “Sorry. It’s just that, well, you say I’m beautiful, but I’m not anything like you are. You’re amazing!”
“No, I’m not,” I said, and I really meant it. I was just normal. He was the amazing one. But knowing I was just normal, it made it easier to just keep going. My shoes and socks first, just like he’d done, and then my pants. I should have been really embarrassed because I still had my boner, and I wasn’t wearing boxers—just briefs—which made it much more obvious, and I was embarrassed, but only a little. He’d been able to stand in front of me with his boner, and so I thought, I can too, and I did. Well, I didn’t stand in front of him showing it off, but I did take my pants off and then hurry to the bed in my underwear. He stood up and pulled back the covers. All of them. All the way.
“I only use a sheet here in Mississippi in the summer, and then only late at night. So I just go to sleep with no covers at all. But maybe you want one to hide under?” He laughed when he said that to show he was teasing, not being mean at all. I really liked how he did that.
I didn’t answer, just lay down on the bed, and he did the same. I was on my back, my head on one of his pillows, and he was next to me. Our arms were touching. Both of us had boners.
“I’m scared,” I said. I was. My heart was beating so fast it felt like a tap dancer going crazy in my chest. I might not have been able to say that before, but both Tory and I had just been really honest with each other, saying what we felt and being careful not to hurt each other, both of us showing our vulnerability. I realized how good it felt, being able to do that with Tory. It meant I was able to tell him I was scared now.
“I’m nervous, too,” he said, “but not scared. It’s just that this is so new. It’s new for both of us. I’ve never done anything like this before, either. But I knew I wanted to, and to be with you when I first saw you in church this morning. It’s been in my head all day long. You have that effect on me. But look—”
He stopped talking for a moment, and I took a breath. I couldn’t be sure when I’d taken my last one. I really was scared, so scared I was trembling, but that wasn’t all fear. Some of it was excitement, too. I wasn’t sure what I was scared of. I knew he wouldn't hurt me. Maybe it was just the newness, as Tory’d said. Or maybe it was the realization I was entering a new part of my life, one my father would loathe.
When he started talking again, it was with a different voice. He actually sounded younger. “Look, this is new for both of us, and we shouldn’t do anything that either of us won’t like. I think we have to do something else, instead. We have to decide what we want to do. And I’ve just had an idea.”
I liked the idea of thinking about this first. I did want to do things. I could barely wait to touch him, to feel how soft his skin was, to rub my hand on his chest and stomach. But somehow, I wanted there to be limits, too. I wanted some sort of control, not wild abandon.
“What’s your idea?” I asked, my voice sounding breathy.
“Well, we’ve both never done anything, so everything, every bit of everything, will be brand new to us. So, I think it makes sense to try things out, but not just skip from one thing to another till we get to a grand climax and we’re all done and we haven’t really appreciated any one part of it. What I mean is, I want to touch you, and kiss you, and feel the parts of you that no one else has felt. But I think we should take one thing at a time and really see what it’s like. And we can’t do that if we’re rushing ahead. If we’re eager to get to the next step. I don’t think we should just do something for fifteen seconds and move on to something else.”
I liked what he was saying! “So what you’re saying is, we should take the time to learn what we’re doing?”
“Exactly! This will be a learning experience. What we need is a lesson plan. That’s what the teachers at school call their preparation for the day. So, we need to decide what we’re going to do first—and then second, and third. What I think is, we might not ever get to the second part today. Maybe the first will be enough for tonight. If we take our time and do it right.”
“Yes! Tory, you’re a genius besides being like Baldr.”
“What the heck is a Balder?”
I laughed. “Baldr is the Norse god of beauty and innocence. And that’s you: beautiful and innocent.”
He scoffed. “Well, I don’t plan on being innocent much longer!”
I was really into this now. “OK,” I said. “How do we start?”
“Well, I want to run my hands all over you. And I also want to kiss you. And I think it’ll take some time to do both. But one of those maybe should come first. That’s my idea, but it might not be yours. We’re a team, and we both get one vote.”
“What about ties?”
“I don’t think we’ll have any. I think we’ll agree on everything.”
I don’t know where I got the nerve, but he was saying we were equals, treating me like an equal, and he’d expressed his opinion, so I felt it was OK to express my own.
“Kissing,” I said. “I’ve been looking at your face since we met, and your lips are just perfect, and I’ve been wondering what it would feel like to touch them with mine. So, my idea would be, spend this first night learning what it’s like to kiss a boy. And not any boy. Kissing a boy I’m attracted to. That’s my one vote.”
He’d turned out his bedside lamp, so he couldn’t see me very well, which meant he had no idea how hard I was blushing, having said that. I was never so forward with anyone else. He was allowing me to do that, even pushing me to be more outspoken. But it still embarrassed me when I did it.
I could hear a smile in his voice along with rising excitement when he replied. “Kissing. Yeah! That’s my vote, too. See? No tie.”
And so kissing is where we started.
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