Alex - Chapter 10 

 

 

 

It had been August of that year when Mike Trent asked me and Phoenix to share an apartment with him and Chris Devereaux. The two guys they had shared the pad with the previous year, had decided on different living arrangements at the last minute, and now Mike and Chris were sweating it out while they looked for someone else to share the rent costs.

 

I had spent most of my weekends with them that summer, and liked them all well enough. Mike was a major goof – and was planning on becoming a nuclear physicist. Chris was just the opposite. Straight laced, and quiet. He was a junior, and was elementary ed. Major.

 

For Phoenix, the decision to move in was a no brainer. “Alex, it’s like gonna cost two-hundred and fifty bucks a month less to live off campus, even if you do have to buy your own food.”

 

Still, for some reason, the thought of living away from the dorms, where there were literally hundreds of eyes watching you all the time, made me uneasy.

 

“I’ll let you know by tomorrow,” I had promised them. I had been invited over to the Henderson’s for supper that night, so I thought I would bounce the idea off them to get their feedback – maybe even pray with them about it. Before I even had a chance to say anything that afternoon, Dottie Henderson picked up my vibes, and asked me what was up. When I told her that I was thinking of sharing an apartment with the guys, she said she thought it was a wonderful opportunity, but that I should make a “pros” and “cons” list before making up my mind.

 

We did pray about it before digging into her world famous taco salad, but that didn’t really make me feel any better.

 

 

 

“Pro:” two-hundred and fifty dollars that I didn’t have to give to the school every month.

 

“Con:” I would have to get up fifteen minutes earlier on account of the apartment being farther from classes.

 

“Pro:” No more getting sexiled.

 

“Con:” Phoenix and me might end up being alone in the house together. (It had always been a struggle for me to keep my eyes above Phoenix’s waist when he would get out of the ocean with his board shorts clinging to him.)

 

“Pro:” two-hundred and fifty dollars – more money for God’s work.

 

“Con:” can’t think of anything else.

 

“Pro:” The guys really need a fourth person. It’s like I’m God’s answer to their prayer. Maybe God’ll use me to witness to them, and make them his disciples too.

 

I sat back and looked the list over. Two-hundred fifty bucks is two-hundred fifty bucks, what more can I say. Besides, it’s ridiculous for me to think that I can’t live in the same house with the best friend I had at USC. We’re both committed Christians. I’m sure the Lord will help us avoid situations where we could get into trouble, I reasoned. Since that time last year when we kissed, which was the only time we ever kissed, we haven’t even come close to letting anything happen between us.

 

 

 

Looking back now, I couldn’t believe how naïve I had been.

 

 

 

The very first week of school, I heard the bathroom door opening after whoever was in there was leaving. When I got to the hall, I saw it was Phoenix, and my eyes went straight to the bulge in his bikini briefs. I saw him hesitate ever so slightly and I quickly averted my eyes to the floor, then stooped and picked up a small piece of paper that was lying at his feet in a feeble attempt to get him to think I wasn’t looking at him. When I stood up, I held the trash up where he could see it, and moved into the bathroom.

 

I spent the entire time in the shower, berating myself for slipping up like that. From now on, I would wait to hear the bedroom door close after the bathroom door opened before I headed out of my room.

 

That night we were all sitting around playing a game on Chris’s Xbox 360, and I swear Phoenix was playing by memory, because every time I looked in his direction, he was watching me. In fact, the entire next week I was noticing how when we were in the same general area, he would often sit with his legs spread wide, the loose shorts inviting me to look for his hidden treasure. Try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to keep myself from stealing glances once I figured out that he never wore underwear under them. That scared me, because I found that I was beginning to check him out more frequently too – and not just above the waist either.

 

Then one evening, I was watching Jeopardy. Mike and Chris were out of the house. I knew Phoenix was around, but since he had just showered, I figured he was heading out for the night too.

 

I didn’t even hear him walk into the room; he just sat down beside me on the sofa. His body heat was distracting me from concentrating on the show. My hands were beside me on the sofa cushion, thinking that it would provide some sort of a barrier between us, but when I felt his hand rest on top of mine, my breathing nearly stopped.

 

“The Love Boat,” he animatedly said in answer to the question Alex Trebeck asked the Jeopardy contestants.

 

I looked over at Phoenix, and asked him how he knew that.

 

“My mom has a whole collection of the shows on DVDs,” he answered with a smile as he interlace his fingers with mine.

 

Desire filled his eyes. Confusion swooned in my head. He leaned forward, lips parted. I quickly turned my attention back to the screen. The brush of his lips on my cheek sent a jolt of electricity through me.

 

“Phoenix,” I started. “I don’t think we should,” I protested, keeping my gaze straight ahead.

 

“Don’t think we should what?” I felt his hand leave mine.

 

“I don’t think we should do that. We’re both Christians,” I protested.

 

“It says in the bible we’re supposed to greet each other with a holy kiss. There’s no law in there against showing someone that you like them.”

 

“I just don’t want to stir things up that I’m trying to put behind me.”

 

I picked up the remote and found an action flick to divert our attention.

 

 

 

All the next week I thought about what Phoenix said about there not being any law in the bible against showing someone that you like them. He was right, but somehow I just knew it would be a bad idea to let something get started between us. In spite of my fears, every night the next week, I spent time on the sofa watching the TV, secretly hoping that Phoenix would join me and hold my hand like he had. No luck. It seemed like every time he wanted to watch the TV he sat in one of the other chairs in the room. He wouldn’t even look at me when I said something to him, or asked him a question.

 

Two weeks had gone by, Phoenix was still keeping his distance, and my imagination was cooling down. I was no longer watching the tube for the sole purpose of hoping Phoenix would sit beside me. Then on Saturday night, it happened. I had just settled in to watching a movie, and I heard him come into the room. In my mind, I began playing this game, where I made myself believe that if I didn’t initiate it, I would somehow be innocent of any wrongdoing in God’s eyes if things got out of control.

 

I slid my legs off the sofa cushion beside me and put them on the floor. Without making eye contact, he sat down beside me.

 

“What’s on?” he asked, a hint of nervousness in his voice.

 

“It’s an old Hitchcock movie. You got something else you want to watch?”

 

“Yeah,” he whispered, “you.”

 

Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. He reached his arm around my shoulder and leaned against me. Not knowing what to do with my right hand, I nervously laid it on my thigh. He reached over with his right hand and absentmindedly began tracing his finger tips between my fingers. The movie began with a tense scene, but Phoenix’s warm breath on my cheeks, kept me distracted from it.

 

I glanced over at him. His shirt was opened, revealing the center his sculpted bronze chest. He was looking at the TV screen.

 

We sat, fingers interlaced, and watched the movie in its entirety. As the credits began to roll, I was thinking about going to the kitchen to get something to drink, but before I could move, Phoenix, pivoted around, placing his knees on either side of my thighs, and sat on my lap.

 

His arms were draped around my neck, and I felt my lips involuntarily part as he leaned in to kiss me, tenderly at first, and then more forcefully. Even with the sudden pangs of guilt washing through my conscience, I couldn’t stop myself. His tongue lapping inside my mouth felt so incredible. I wanted this, but I couldn’t understand why.

 

After my high school pal, Phil Johnson, had become a Christian, he avoided anything that had to do with intimacy with guys, like it was easy to do. I had tried once to kiss him, but he broke away, and later explained that he didn’t want to do that anymore, since he no longer saw himself as gay.

 

Lip locked with my best college bud, I determined in my mind, that I wouldn’t let this get out of hand. When Phoenix began to grind on my lap, though, desire for more consumed me. I never wanted anything worse in my life. I lifted my t-shirt and pulled him against my chest. He held the sides of my head as we explored each other’s mouths with our lips and tongues.

 

We must have been going at it for thirty minutes, because the next movie was well underway when we heard Mike walk in the front door. Phoenix spun around as he slid from my lap and onto the floor, hoping that Mike hadn’t seen us. But by the way Mike just stood there, I figured he had seen more than he should have.

 

Guilt again flooded my mind as I jumped up and headed for the kitchen.

 

“Hey, Mike,” I mumbled, my eyes darting to the floor as I scurried past him.

 

I saw his eyebrows shoot up as he noticed the dark wet stain in the front of my shorts, and felt my face grow hot.

 

I remember having prayed earnestly that night for forgiveness; not so much for what we had done, but more so, because of what I had wanted to do. Just that past Sunday, Reverend Bender’s message had touched on lust, and he had quoted from somewhere in the bible that Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, it’s the same as if you had actually slept with her. Somehow, I figured that that meant looking lustfully at guys too. No matter how hard I prayed that night, pangs of guilt still tore at my soul. I prayed for Phoenix, too, who I had reasoned had seduced me. I wondered if he felt guilty for what he had done.

 

 

 

It was rare for all four of us guys to be in the kitchen at the same time, but that next morning, while Phoenix and I were trying our hardest to pretend that nothing had happened the night before, Mike came sauntering in.

 

“Hey guys, do anything interesting last night?”

 

“We just watched Rear Window – so no, not really,” I answered him.

 

“Were you guys… like…” Just then, Chris came around the corner rubbing his head and telling us not to make any noise.

 

“Fresh pot of coffee on bro,” Phoenix announced without looking at him, trying to steer the conversation away from what Mike had started.

 

I went back to putting cream cheese on my bagel, but looked up when I heard Mike whispering to Chris. Chris’s astonished gawk said it all. A huge smile spread across his face, as he looked over to Mike. “Honest to god,” Mike told Chris. Phoenix busied himself, stirring creamer into his coffee. Now that it was certain that Mike knew what we had been doing when he came in last night, I determined that I wouldn’t let it happen again.