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Blake sat up so he could face Ethan. His stomach still did flips, but this time he blamed it on the smiling guy across from him. “It’s nothing special, just a small Italian place.  I figured you could never go wrong with Pizza.”

“Certainly not with me.” Ethan reached out and started to rub Blake’s hand with his thumb. “And you don’t need to take me to dinner. I’ll split it with you.”

“What if I want to?” He had hoped this would be a date. “I’ve never really gone on a date–at least not with a guy–and well, you did drive all the way to see me. It’s the least I can do.”

Lifting their hands, Ethan entwined their fingers, twisted around and lay with his head in Blake’s lap. “I’d say it’s more than that. Did I ever mention I was a hopeless romantic?”

Blake laughed remembering how they met. “Was that before or after you asked me to sneak away from the party to show me Jason’s guest room?”

“Hey, I asked if you’d seen the rest of the house, not did you want to see the bedroom.”

Blake snorted when he watched Ethan try to look innocent. “And the tour conveniently began and ended with the bedroom. ”

“Actually–” Ethan pointed his finger at Blake and closed one eyelid “–I said I wanted to get something from the room.”

“Mints do not count as an innocent side trip to your room.” The conversation had taken a different turn and Blake wondered why he protested. If Ethan hadn’t started there, they might not have sat and talked.

“Hey a boy needs to be prepared and it turned out I needed them.”

Ethan’s ‘need’ had been him inching closer and asking if he Blake’s lips were cold. “Please, you made a need for them when you kissed me.”

“You looked like you needed a kiss.” He twisted again and sat back up.

“I did.” More than he had realized at the time. “As I’m sure you figured out.”

“Trust me, driving home the next day, I knew.”

Blake felt the tightness in his shorts and knew they needed to change topics or his dinner plans might be in jeopardy. “That’s such a romantic thought.”

The smile Ethan had worn since he arrived never faltered. “Okay you got me there.  But I was sore in places I didn’t know could be sore.”

“Maybe we should try something a bit less vigorous this weekend.” He tried to hide a smirk, but knew he failed. “You said your legs hurt and coach ran us into the pitch this week.”

Ethan raised both eyebrows, then looked down at Blake’s visible excitement. “I said they were sore, not too tired to rest on your shoulders.”

“That’s sooo romantic.” Hot, but hardly romantic.  Blake leaned closer and kissed Ethan. “I really want to take you to dinner and I get the sense that if we start down that path, we won’t make it in time.”

Ethan cupped the back of Blake’s head and drew them closer. When their tongues met, Blake moaned. As thoughts of dinner faded, Ethan pulled away and jumped off the bed.  “Let’s go for a walk.”

Stunned by the rapid change, Blake stared at Ethan’s outstretched hand. When he didn’t take it right away, Ethan shook his hand until Blake grasped it. After he pulled Blake to his feet, Ethan tugged him toward the door.

“I agree with you, we won’t make it to dinner if we stay here.” He unlocked the door, then turned around before he opened it. “Besides, it isn’t every day I get to be seen with a hot soccer stud who’s planning to take me to dinner.”

Blake grabbed the keys off the desk next to the door. He wanted this, wanted to be secure enough to go out with a guy on a date, but faced with actually doing it, his doubts returned. Having Ethan next to him made it easier, but what about after Ethan left?

A touch on his cheek snapped Blake out of his thoughts. “You okay?”

The intense stare held none of Ethan’s usual playfulness and Blake knew he had caused the change. “Yeah, sure.”

“No you’re not.” Ethan slowly pulled his hand back. “You’re worried about people finding out, aren’t you?”

“I’d be lying if I said no.” Blake’s two mindsets skirmished inside his head. Only one of them could win in the end. Though he felt sure Ethan wouldn’t leave, Blake also knew that if he failed to move forward, they’d never see each other again. Ethan might deny it, but it would destroy their chemistry if Ethan needed to hide himself or his personality. “But I know this is right. If I can’t do it now, with you, I’ll never be able to do it when the campus is full. It’s just…”

He stared at his keys as if he could find the answer etched into the metal.

“Just what?”

Keeping his head down for a few seconds more, Blake wanted to be sure he had the right words. When he tore his gaze away from the desk, he turned and made eye contact with Ethan. He’d only get one try at this.

“I’ve thought about this for a year, ever since I got to Graydon and I saw how the team accepted Jason and Peter were a couple. I thought when I met someone I wanted to hang out with like…you know… boyfriends, I thought it would be easier.

Ethan put his hands around Blake’s waist. “It’s never easy, but you have friends to support you. That will help.  As for everyone who can’t accept you, do you really care what they think?”

“No, I guess not.”

“Exactly. I’m proud of you for doing this, but make sure you’re doing it because you want to. I’ll still like you if you need to wait. Besides,” Ethan winked at him, flashed the hundred watt smile that Blake found so disarming. “We’re not going to carry signs announcing you’re gay.  That’s tomorrow.”

The anxiety didn’t evaporate, but his determination managed to push it aside. If nothing else, Ethan would make his life interesting. “Sounds like a plan.”

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