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
“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
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
“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
“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
“I just don’t want to stir things up that I’m trying to put
I picked up the remote and found an action flick to divert
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
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
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
“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
“Hey guys, do anything interesting last night?”
“We just watched Rear Window – so no, not really,” I
“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
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.