Julian has visibly paled and is shaking slightly. I don’t know if it’s from anger or shock. Seeing him in such a state has my rage immediately abating, heading south for the winter. Weary, I run a hand over my face.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap…. I just… I’m exhausted and stressed, and to be honest, I’m not used to having people do things for me.” He’s still shaking like an autumn leaf in a strong breeze. Oh God. Did I break him? I grab his hand and half drag him around to the alley between the theater and the now closed drug store.
It’s dark, and no one can see us unless they step into the alley themselves. Without stopping to think of the consequences, I pull his shaking body close to me and wrap my arms around him. He fits perfectly against me, like a matching puzzle piece. I rest my chin on top of his head and tell him again I’m sorry for my outburst.
I realize his trembling has subsided. He’s not hugging me back, but he’s not trying to break free of my embrace, either. I’ve tread into very dangerous territory here. Unsure what to do, I slowly let my arms drop and take a small step back, where I meet the cold brick again.
What else is there to do other than apologize again and hope I didn’t royally fuck things up by hugging him? Hanging my head, I let the “sorry” slip through my turned-down lips and turn to leave the alley.
Before I can leave the shadows, his spry body is up against mine, pushing with such force that I can feel the rough texture of the bricks through my clothes. His long, graceful artist’s fingers are in my hair, roughly pulling my head down to meet his. Soft, warm lips meet mine in a gentle caress, unlike the frenzied actions of the rest of his body. He’s grabbing at my hair, rubbing up against me. My mind is in a complete fog.
It’s a fantasy come true. He nips at my bottom lip, surprising me. His wet, seeking tongue coaxes my mouth open, and I sigh as he explores the formerly uncharted territory. I’m acting on instinct, sending my own tongue out on an exploratory mission—Lewis and Clark have nothing on me. I taste the sharp tang of metal as my tongue touches his lip ring. It wakes me out of my hormonal haze.
Eyes wide, I push him away from me. My head spins wildly, looking to see if anyone has caught our tentative dance. Thankfully, there is no one waiting to cast stones at us. My head keeps shaking.
I have to do something. Say something. I know it’s going to hurt him, and God, the last thing I want to do is hurt him. I want to drag him down to the dirty ground and run my hands along the expanse of his sinewy frame, telling him how beautiful he is, how his kiss set my entire body on fire. But I can’t. I can’t let the secret out. No matter how much I want this man, how much I want to confide in him and learn about him and have him teach me… I can’t. I hope he can forgive me for what I’m about to do. I have to force the words past my still tingling lips. My traitorous tongue trips me up.
“Jules, I’m not… I’m sorry… but I’m not gay.”
Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.
When he’s trying not to stare at teammates in the locker room, he’s busy hiding another secret—that he starves himself so he doesn’t get bumped to the next weight class.
Enter Julian Yang, an Adonis with mesmerizing looks and punk rocker style. Befriending the flirtatious artist not only raises suspicion among his classmates, but leaves Ian terrified he’ll give in to the desires he’s fought to ignore.
As secrets come to light, Ian’s world crumbles. Disowned, defriended, and deserted by nearly everyone, Ian’s one-way ticket out of town is revoked, leaving him trapped in a world he hates—and one that hates him back.
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Genre - LGBT, YA
Rating – PG-13
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