Just a Bit Confusing

By: Alessandra Hazard


Ryan leaned back against the side of the pool. “He makes Zach happy,” he said with a shrug. “So I guess Tristan is all right. Actually, I think—”

“I’m gay,” James blurted out.

Silence.

He didn’t dare look at Ryan.

“What?”

James shrugged, wrapping his arms around his chest. “I’m gay,” he repeated quieter.

He inhaled as the familiar weight and pressure of Ryan’s hand appeared on his neck. Reluctantly, James turned his head to meet his friend’s eyes.

Ryan was staring at him, his black brows furrowed and his jaw set. “Why haven’t you told me sooner? Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I do,” James said, averting his eyes.

Ryan took his chin with his fingers and tipped it up. James wasn’t short by any means, but the three inches Ryan had on him forced him to look up a little.

“Jamie,” Ryan said, managing to sound both soft and angry. “Did you really think I would care?

I don’t give a shit, you prat.”

James produced a wan smile. God, why did it still hurt so much after all these years? He’d known Ryan wouldn’t care, but as long as Ryan didn’t explicitly say that, he could have a futile, ridiculous hope that Ryan would. Well, he couldn’t now. Not anymore.

“It just isn’t something people know about me,” James said.

“I didn’t think I was  people,” Ryan said sharply, a possessive edge to his voice.

James gave him an unimpressed look, his smile becoming more genuine. “We’ve talked about it, you big baby. I’m not your little brother and you don’t have to know everything about me.” Ryan had always been like that: overly protective and possessive of him ever since they were kids. Like a big brother, even though Ryan was only a month older than him. He’d never quite outgrown it.

Jamie couldn’t deny that a part of him liked the intensity of Ryan’s affection for him, but mostly it just made him uncomfortable as hell, because that affection was very brotherly. It made him feel like a sick pervert for wanting to suck Ryan’s dick while Ryan thought of him as his brother.

Ryan snorted. “That’s a pretty important thing, don’t you think?”

“Actually, no,” James said calmly. “My sexuality doesn’t define me.”

Ryan’s expression remained stony. “Bollocks. If you really thought that, you would have said something every time I tried to hook you up with some girl.” A curious gleam appeared in his eyes.

“Why now? Why are you telling me now?”

James opened his mouth, then closed it. He stared at Ryan, taking in his strong jaw and classically handsome face, his intense emerald green eyes and black unruly hair, the set of his firm lips, his wide shoulders gleaming with drops of water. He wanted so much to lean in, to hide his face in the crook of Ryan’s neck and confess everything. He was tired. He was so damn tired.

But of course he couldn’t. That would just make their relationship awkward. Their friendship was too old and strong to be broken by something like that, but it didn’t mean it couldn’t be ruined by the awkwardness of unrequited love.

No; he couldn’t tell Ryan anything. Ryan was happy with his girlfriend. It wouldn’t be fair to burden him with this.

There was only one thing he could do: he should genuinely try to move on. He should go out and meet people—fall in love with a man who would see him not as a little brother but as someone sexy and lovable.

“You were right,” Jamie said. His voice sounded firm. A Grayson. He was a Grayson. The Graysons stood firm in their beliefs. The Graysons smiled even when it hurt. James smiled. “I want to be loved. I want a real relationship, but I’m not ready to come out yet. For the time being, I want you to cover for me if my parents look for me while I’m with my boyfriend. That’s why I’m telling you now.”

“A boyfriend?” Ryan said after a moment.

“Yeah,” Jamie said. “I’m gonna get a boyfriend. I want to.” He pulled away from Ryan and got out of the pool. It felt like his lungs were full of water. His back to Ryan, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath in—

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