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Soccer Background Cover 3.2 Titled copy

As the door slowly closed, Blake felt his body unclench. He’d forced himself to hold Ethan’s hand as they walked across campus. Not because he didn’t like it, but it still terrified him. Coming out to his teammates had been hard, but he knew he’d have supporters there. Out in general? It gave him more respect for people like Peter and Ethan who’d been out since they started college.

Ethan twisted until their bodies almost touched. Then, as if he decided they were still too far apart, Ethan pulled Blake closer. “Tonight went well.”

Blake let his boyfriend bring their lips together. The kiss ended quickly and Ethan leaned back. He never moved his hands from around Blake’s waist, but his eyes said enough.

“What’s wrong, Blake?”

“Nothing.” He’d barely kissed Ethan back so he knew saying, ‘nothing’ wouldn’t be enough. “Sorry. I was distracted.”

“Distracted? Wow, here I though my kisses were distracting.”

Despite the attempted humor, Blake could see the hurt in Ethan’s face.

“No, that’s not what I meant. Kissing you always makes me feel…better…happy….”

“Horny?” Ethan wiggled his eyebrows, getting a laugh from Blake.

“Nah, not that. Try very horny.” He leaned in and made sure he gave Ethan a proper kiss.

“Hmmm. Much better.” Moving back, Ethan flopped on the bed. “So what’s going on in there? Still thinking about dinner?”

“No. Yes. Some, but that’s not all of it.” He moved toward his bed and lay down next to Ethan. It still made him smile how easily he accepted Ethan’s presence next to him. “Dinner went well enough.”

Ethan levered himself up and sat crossed legged facing Blake. “Well enough? Everyone was cool. What would have made it better?”

“Actually, Ted at the end of the table gave me nasty looks all night.”

Cocking his head to the left, Ethan closed an eye. “Are you sure you’re not looking for danger where none exists?”

“No, Ted’s a dick. I’ve caught him making gay jokes – well, I assumed they were gay jokes based on what I’d heard. And his two slapdick buddies, Alan and Mick, just laugh, so I assume they’d rather not have a gay teammate, let alone two.”

“Okay, so there are a few ass-munches on the team, you know they’ll never say anything to you. Not with everyone who’d come down on them hard if they did.”

“No, my point is that things went well, but it’s not all Shangri-La.”

Ethan snorted. “That’s a Jason word.”

Smirking, Blake shrugged. “Guilty. Actually it’s never really been the team I worried about. That’s like an island of safety. When I’m not on the pitch it feels riskier.”

Ethan’s lips went tight and pulled to left. He nodded slowly, his eyes focused on the wall. “I wish I could say there are no risks to being out. I mean I’ve never had anyone gay bash me, but I have friends who’ve been harassed, bullied and one even got punched in the face. And of course there’s Pete.”

“Yeah.” Blake never worried about someone doing to him what Jordan did to Pete. “People get mugged and beaten who aren’t gay, so there’s risks to everyone.”

“True, but this is one more reason for it to happen.” Ethan stared at Blake and a fake smile curled his lips. “Wow, that’s a mood killer.”

“Sorry, it doesn’t really matter.”

“Whoa.” Ethan scooted closer. “Nothing else matters more than you feeling safe – well maybe you being safe, but you know what I mean.”

“Thanks, but I’m fine.”

“No, stop. I cut you off.” He grabbed Blake’s hand and started to rub it gently. “What else is bugging you?”

Struggling to collect his thoughts, he tried to ignore the contact with Ethan. “The problem is I like to plan things but I can’t control this. I mean, I’ve already got a contingency plan worked out in case Ben doesn’t want to room with me after I tell him.”

“I don’t understand why you don’t just move in with Jase and the others.”

“Ha!” He shook his head then kissed Ethan’s fingers. “You just want me to move in because it will be easier for us to stay together when you visit.”

“My turn to be guilty. But why don’t you move in with them?”

Blake had had this conversation with himself so many times he didn’t remember if he hoped Ben took it well or not anymore. “It’s complicated, but it boils down to I like being normal.”

“Normal.” Ethan’s smile disappeared as he repeated the word. “You mean pretend you’re not gay?”

“No, no.” He cupped Ethan’s face and pulled him closer for a kiss. “Everyone in that house is something of a local celebrity. After what happened to Pete, well he and Jason are all over the news again now that Jordan is on trial. There have  been news crews by several times already. But Jason and Darryl would be news worthy even if nothing had happened to Pete. They were junior captains of the soccer team that won the league championship for the first time in ten years. Dean’s a star because he was one of the top 100 in the country before he committed to play for Graydon.”

“So you think you’re not good enough?”

Blake shook his head. “Not that either. The school year hasn’t started and it’s already the hang out for the team. Imagine when everyone’s back. I need less distractions if I’m going to keep up my GPA.”

Ethan’s smile returned. “You surprise me every time I think I have you figured out.”

Before Blake could answer, Ethan started to kiss him again. When Ethan’s tongue nudged Blake’s lips, he quickly forgot about Ben, housing, or any negative reactions. He focused on how Ethan tasted, the way his tongue excited him, and how his body reacted to the feel of his boy friend’s body on his.

“If this is how you react,” Blake said when Ethan paused to pull off his shirt. “I’ll have to surprise you more often.”

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