Copyright 2013 Theo Fenraven
This may contain material meant only for adult readers.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, spending time with Ren. When I was out in public, photographers were there, trying to get pictures. They didn’t care what I was doing, they were snapping away. They took pictures of me buying coffee, walking with friends, even buying a fucking lamp. I found it very annoying, but I’d decided long ago not to make a big deal out of it.
But that was when I wasn’t trying to form a relationship with someone. Now, I was aware every minute they were there, lurking, waiting.
“You understand I can’t be seen with you as often as I’d like,” I was telling him at my place one afternoon. He’d taken time off from the store, and we’d spent most of it in bed. Earlier, he’d accompanied me on my coffee run. He was careful to keep his distance, but I knew the pictures would be online in hours. “They’re going to label you ‘a mystery male,’ implying we are lovers.”
“We are,” he said, licking my shoulder.
I slipped my tongue into his mouth for a languorous kiss. “I’m trying to avoid the issue by not waving it in front of their fucking cameras.”
He rolled away from me. “Will….”
I followed him, laying my head on his shoulder and wrapping my arms around him. “I know, babe. It’s the world I live in.”
“But I don’t live in it, and I want to feel free to go out with you without having to get nuts about it.”
We’d discussed this issue over and over, and was there never a resolution. Ren wanted to be half of a couple, and I liked him enough to try and accommodate that. Except I made every effort to avoid appearing to be exactly that. The stress of it was slowly killing us.
∞ ∞ ∞
I was invited to a charity art show. Ren saw the expensive vellum lying on the desk. “You going to this?”
I was pulling off my T-shirt. “Hadn’t thought about it.”
“I would like to go,” he said, looking at the gold printing. “I like this artist.”
I tossed the shirt aside and looked at him. “You want to go with me, you mean.”
He sighed and dropped the invitation. “Yes, I want to go with you.”
I suddenly wanted to give him that more than anything in the world. Pulling him into my arms, I kissed the top of his head. We’d been going out for a month and had been photographed together on three different occasions. The rumor mill was churning away. They already had his name and where he worked. That didn’t bother him much but it was making me very nervous.
I had never been so closely associated with another man socially, and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yeah, there were rumbles on some of the obvious web sites, like Oh No They Didn’t (ONTD) and Just Jared (what, you didn’t think I knew about them? Please), and mostly they didn’t care. The people who frequented those sites were perhaps more open-minded and accepting than the average person walking down the street. But what if People put me on the cover and said, “Will Crawford is gay?”
The thought made me shudder.
I wasn’t ready to come out, not officially. As I’d told Ren, my friends and family knew and within that group, I felt safe and protected. The greater world could be cruel, and already some of the remarks I’d read had made me uncomfortable.
And what of the effect on Ren? His business? I didn’t think he had any idea what could happen if we came out as a gay couple.
“Are you going to let this get in our way?” I asked, unbuttoning my jeans.
“I’m trying very hard not to.” He glanced in my direction. “My sister’s birthday is Sunday. I would like you to come with me.”
Biting my lip, I skinned out of the pants and threw them across a chair. His sister was the dark-haired woman I’d seen several times at the bookstore. I’d met her. She was nice. “Bathroom, then we’ll talk.”
“Avoiding the issue,” he mumbled as I left the room.
He meant for me to hear him but I did not acknowledge the words. Instead, I planned on taking a very long shower.
Next chapter posted Friday! 🙂