The warm, salty breeze from the bay blustered through the car’s rolled-down windows providing momentary relief from the sweltering heat of the parking lot. Even for southern California, the mid-November heatwave was unrelenting. It was 4:30pm, and Dominic, who we all called Dom, was late. Seven of our fraternity brothers had decided to cut Friday classes to head to the desert park for a long weekend of rock climbing, scrambling, and, of course, heavy drinking. We split into two cars for the drive, five heading out earlier that day, and Dominic and me meeting them at the campsite.
I looked down at my phone, expecting to see some kind of message explaining his delay, but it was Dom, the shittiest texter I knew. He was the kind of guy you could text in the morning, and hear nothing back until later that evening. That was, of course, assuming he hadn’t started the conversation by texting you in the middle of the night. It was never “wyd” or anything carrying that sort of connotation, although the frequency of his late-night text to me increased dramatically after he learned I wasn’t, strictly speaking, ‘straight.’
I tapped mindlessly through Snapchat, seeing our brothers’ stories posing next to the park entry sign—they had already arrived, and we had yet to even leave. A thud against the car made me jump, dropping the phone into the footwell of my Escape. My hand grasped my chest as I inhaled deeply, peering to my left to find Dom distorting his face past the point of terrifying, looking instead ridiculously stupid. Yet still, his striking features managed to somehow enable him to retain some level of attraction, even in this crazy state. His sharp jawline outlined a handsome face, now absent its forced distortion and replaced by his classic dimple-producing side smile. His beautiful blue eyes, hidden slightly by his black-framed glasses. Dom’s build was similar to mine; both just over 6’3 and athletic, although he was slimmer in frame whereas I was more muscular.
Having calmed myself from my instinctual fright, I opened the door to greet Dom.
“What the fuck, Dom?” I asked jokingly. “You’re thirty minutes late.” He opened his arms wide and we briefly embraced, as was typical in our friendship.
“What? You didn’t notice? I got it for you,” Dom said with a wink while stroking a hand through his fresh mid fade. “I thought for sure you’d notice I looked different than how you were imagining me in your fantasy last night.”
“Surprisingly, I don’t spend all my time checking you out, cocky bitch.” I shot back. “Besides, you know I was out with Natalie last night. Why fantasize when I had a girl with me—all alone—late at night?”
“Yeah? I didn’t realize you two were still talking… Let’s hear about it.”
“Yeah, sure. But get in. We can catch up as we drive.”
Dom tossed his gear in the back of the car and hopped in the passenger seat. As we left the lot and started on our way towards the campsite, I caught Dom up on the latest in the year-long saga that was Natalie’s and my relationship, finally clarifying that nothing had actually happened between us the night before, but letting Dom spend nearly five minutes guessing what Natalie and I could have been up to.
Nothing was ever official between Natalie and me, largely because our romantic feelings for each other developed and waned at different times, but the physical chemistry always remained. Not until last summer had we ever acted on it, but shortly after we secretly swore to never let it happen again. Besides Dom, Natalie was my closest friend, and I couldn’t risk that relationship over some stupid FWB situation, especially when our first and only time hooking up was predicated on my overly intoxicated self having just seen Dom being lead upstairs at a party by the girl who was grinding on him.
The week before that summer party, I had, for lack of better words, came out to Dom. The two of us had steadily grown closer ever since the first day we met and instantly became best friends. It had gotten to the point that Dom always had to be close to me when we were out, whether it was sitting next to me at dinner with friends or chapter, or joining me during my daily routine, be it cooking, shopping, etc... Sure, he was still terrible at texting, but when he was with me, Dom would never check his phone, often leaving it in another room or his car, giving me his full attention.
I ‘came out’ to Dom because my feelings for him were clouded in a shadow of taboo, not primarily due to the same-sex nature—it was Southern California after all—but because of our fraternal bond through our chapter. I knew, however, I could never discern how I truly felt for Dom without knowing that attraction between us could even be possible. Was there something more, or was this just another ‘homiesexual’ act that Dom was putting on? I guess I hoped that sharing with Dom that I had been attracted to guys in the past, and thought that I was again might provide the space for Dom to share the same.
He didn’t. But it was clear that something was still left unsaid between us. Numerous times, Dom opened his mouth as if to speak, but shut it again. He was holding my hand as we sat facing each other on the couch. Except for the occasional glance up, he couldn’t bring his eyes to meet mine, leaving them instead to watch his hand cover mine and hold it tightly. We sat in silence for a while, before he squeezed my hand and thanked me for sharing, saying how incredible it made him feel that I would share something so personal with him. When he left shortly after, I didn’t know what to do but crawl into bed, my eyes blurred by the tears forming in them. It wasn’t rejection, but it definitely wasn’t reciprocation.
We hardly talked in the days between then and the summer party, but he was quick to pull me aside and catch up once he saw me walk into the house. It was obvious he was intoxicated, and for the first time, I felt awkward talking to him. Maybe it was because it was clear he was avoiding the massive elephant in the room that was my ‘coming out,’ maybe it was just the natural outcome of me realizing I wanted more in our relationship. Within a few minutes, a girl walked up to Dom, smoothly grabbed his hand, and pulled him into the other room to dance. Natalie, who had just passed Dom and the girl, placed a cup filled to the brim with an orange-red concoction in my hand—I knew it would taste sickly sweet but would get the job done nonetheless.
“You look like you could use this,” Natalie said, moving into the space that Dom had occupied. She knew everything about me—well, almost everything at least. I had told her of my previous feelings for guys before, and I don’t think it would have taken a genius to put two and two together about how I felt for Dom.
“Bottom’s up,” she said, touching the rim of her cup to mine carefully so as to not spill any of my drink. My gaze was clearly looking straight over her shoulder and through the doorway that Dom and the girl had exited the room through. Even in the mix of tangled bodies and dim lighting, I could make out Dom’s face as he ground into the girl’s ass, hands pulling her waist in close. For a second, I could have sworn he was smiling and looking straight back at me, but Natalie’s cheers snapped me out of focus and drew my attention back to her.
“You always know when I need you the most,” I smiled back at Natalie, meeting her eyes. I brought the cup to my lips and felt Natalie’s hand tipping the bottom farther up, accelerating the speed of my chug. I cringed slightly at the intense sweetness of the drink, the artificial sugars leaving a slight residue in my mouth as I finished the last of the mixed drink and dropped the red plastic cup on the ground. I glanced over her shoulders again to see the girl in the other room leading Dom away from the speakers and towards the stairs.
“Want to get out of here?” Natalie asked her hand now on my chest.
“Yeah,” I responded, letting Natalie take my hand in hers and guide me back towards her place.
We drove down the desert road with the windows down, letting the hot air rush into our faces and Dom’s playlist spill out of the car. As the sun began to set behind us, the rocks on the outer edge of the park lit up in spectacular reds and oranges. Dom had decided to break into the case of beer in the backseat—the five other guys would have been at camp for at least the past hour and a half even after their fiasco of having to run the hardware store to pick up a new sheet of plywood for the beer die table, and Dom didn’t want to be too far behind everyone when we arrived.
We shot the breeze as we drove, talking simultaneously about nothing and everything at once. How were classes? Got anything else planned for the weekend? Had you talked to the hot new girl who just switched into history?
As I drove, I could feel Dom paying closer attention to me as he progressed from drink one to two, to three. His gaze burned the side of my face and body as he looked me up and down, glued to me. Mine focused on the road except for the occasional glance towards him that was instantly and continuously met by his deep blue eyes. While he gripped his beer in one hand, the other was left on his thigh, mindlessly caressing it. Fuck, I wanted it to be mine—for it to be my hand that was resting on his thigh as I drove us away from the town, from the college, and towards the unknown. I wanted him to be mine.
I swallowed hard and breathed deeply, forcing myself to calm down. The thought of holding him rekindled the fire inside me that I had always used to feel around him before that summer night at the party. I had forced myself to push back this feeling ever since then, but I couldn’t any longer. A bead of sweat formed on my forehead as my blood rushed below my waist. I could feel my member begin to twitch as my mind flashed from visions of my hand on Dom’s thigh, to my hand sliding further and further up it.
My phone dinged, breaking the trance-like state that my hormones had forced me into. It was the guys—they needed us to pick up a couple more gallons of water. Just in time, we had reached the entrance to the park where the final convenience store was located. As I was checking out, I noticed Dom sliding a small package off the shelf and into his pocket, but I couldn’t quite make out exactly what it was. Dom wasn’t the type of person to steal, was he? I forced myself to ignore the urge to ask him about it when we got back into the car.
We heard the guys well before we saw them, their shouts and cheers echoing through the rocky hills that lined the winding road into the campsite. The park was unseasonably empty, but all the better for us. With no other campers nearby, we didn’t have to worry about quieting down as the night went on. I parked the car a few yards from the table where the guys were tossing die. Dom and I hopped out to cheers from the others, glad that we had finally made it. They passed us both margaritas, well, at least that's what they called them. The state of their intoxication and our relative sobriety was made abundantly clear when the first sip confirmed my suspicion that the cup was full of nothing more than ice and cheap tequila.
Dom and I both cringed and coughed at the realization, amusing our drunk brothers.
“Bottoms up?” Dom asked.
“Yeah, let's get this over with,” I replied, downing the harsh liquor.
Dom convinced the guys to switch up the game to beer pong, his go-to party game that he used as an excuse to get close to whoever piqued his interest that evening. Before anyone could protest, Dom grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him, announcing that he and I were partners, and bragging how none of the other guys stood a chance. Two of the guys, Jack and Ryan, finally had enough of Dom’s confidence and accepted his challenge. While the four of us set up the table, the other three brothers stumbled back towards their car to grab their sleeping bags and the firewood. Ryan shouted over to them, asking where everyone was sleeping—there were three tents set up for the seven of us. One of the brothers at the car responded that they were arranging the tents with Ryan and Jack in one, the other three in another, and Dom and I sharing the third.
“You put the lover boys together? They’ll keep us up all night with their fucking,” Ryan shot back, causing a chorus of laughter. Thankfully, I was just far enough from the lantern on the table that no one could see how my face had shifted to a deep red from embarrassment. It wasn’t a new joke in the chapter, per se, but it was my first time hearing it since Dom and I talked over the summer.
Dom, smooth and quick-witted as ever, replied, “At least Wes can still get it up for me. How’s it feel knowing you can’t make Jack hard anymore?” Ryan spat the drink from his mouth as he laughed. Ryan and Jack were much like Dom and me: inseparable. But that was to be expected from them. They had gone to the same high school, dormed together since freshman year, and were in the same pledge class. It was far from the first time someone had made a joke about them secretly being lovers, but it was clearly just that: a joke.
But what wasn’t a joke was the way Dom touched me as he fired off his rebuttal. His arm stretched around me, grabbing my waist with his hand and pulling me in close to him. Sure, this could have been just been playing into the joke that Ryan had made as the action was clearly visible to everyone, but what wasn’t seen by anyone was how Dom slid his hand across the small of my back, lifting the edges of my shirt with his fingers as he went, and allowing just a single finger to drift across, skin to skin. I inhaled deeply, shivering slightly as goosebumps formed across my body. As he reached the end of my back, his finger found its way ever so slightly into the elastic waistband of my underwear, hooking it and pulling it mere centimeters away from my skin before releasing. The snap of the waistband after he released it was inaudible but clearly tangible. I peered over my shoulder to my right, seeing Dom’s face still smiling and looking forward across the table at Ryan and Jack. His expression showed no acknowledgment of what he just did, but I think that was on purpose.
God, the games this boy plays with me, I thought to myself. From the comment at the parking lot, the intense staring during the ride, to now having him feel me up. Maybe that late-night text last night meant something more than I had thought? I hadn’t seen it until this morning, but Dom had texted me at about 2:30am, hours after Natalie left. It wasn’t much, just “I’m looking forward to our trip :) .” I had presumed he just meant ‘our’ as in the seven of us frat brothers, but maybe he was being more ***********ive with whom he was referring. Could he have meant just me and him? It didn’t take long to figure out.
“Drink up, Wes,” Ryan said. I looked at him, slightly confused until I realized that I had completely missed the fact that our game had started and Ryan had managed to sink a ping pong ball into one of the cups aligned in front of me. I stepped towards the center of our side of the table, retrieving the ball from the cup and putting the drink to my lips. As I began to swallow the warm beer, I felt Dom approaching from behind. He had picked up the ping pong ball that Ryan had overshot and was handing it to me. He was close enough that our feet were intertwined—his left leg positioned directly between mine. The smell of his deodorant mixed with a slight sweat from the desert heat wafted over me. It was intoxicating. I finished the beer.
“This is for you, Wes,” Dom said quietly beside my ear—almost at a whisper—holding the ball in front of me. I could feel his warm breath on the side of my neck. It was clear he wasn’t merely referring to the ping pong ball. As he spoke, he leaned into me from behind. I felt the warmth of his waist against my ass before I felt the pressure, and certainly before I made out his hard cock that he began slowly grinding into me.
To be continued…