My attempts to ignore my feelings were futile.
I, Dean McAllen, had a crush on Brad Michelson, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Like water from rain it flowed over me, effortlessly and without regret. And through it all, I only had one question:
Why did I have a crush on Brad? Why was he doing these things to me? And why was I stupid enough to allow my emotions to consume me? I was not dumb—at least, not in mind. But matter?
I shook my head.
In matter, it could be said, I was consumed by the ever-longing need to be wanted. To belong.
To be loved.
As I lay there, on my bed, that afternoon, I dwelled upon the realties at hand and tried to piece together exactly why Brad Michelson was consuming my heart, my brain, and my soul, and came to a few simple conclusions.
The first conclusion was that I was at the mercy of my hormones. Still eighteen and full of testosterone, the sight of a man was enough to give me pause—and, quite frankly, a rise. Add in the fact that Brad was handsome as hell and nice to boot and he was a dream come true for any boy from the Mormon Midwest. The fact that he had dozed in my bed right next to me probably didn’t help much either.
It could be said that I was the man of the hour—that, through time and principle, I was meant to feel this way about the man who’d just come into my life. Yet, because of that, I wondered: was it right?
Right, I remember wondering, to have a crush, or right to have a crush on him?
Straight men weren’t game. Any reasonable gay man knew this. And yet—I wanted so badly to get to know him better. To touch him. Feel him. Taste him.
His lips were like candy—pink with lines and oh so fine—and imaging them on my own sent my thoughts racing.
With a shake of my head, I rolled onto my side and pulled the blankets over my prone form—not wanting, or willing, to accept the fact that I was so dumb.
Are you, though? my conscience offered. Are you really?
The boner I had would’ve said otherwise.
“Goddammit,” I mumbled. “Just… goddamn.”
The sound of the shower sounding in our attached bathroom entered my ears.
I groaned in frustration.
I knew I would learn at some point to get over this stupid feeling of longing, yet right now, I just wanted someone to tell me that everything was all right, that everything would be okay.
I wanted validation.
I knew I was not unattractive, per se. If anything, I was simply average in looks—pale-white, of European descent, and dark-eyed and haired. I looked exactly like everyone else who’d immigrated to the United States from that part of the world. Brad, though—he was something else. And because of that, I knew that, even if he were gay, I wouldn’t have a shot in hell.
Sighing, I tilted my head to regard the work-in-progress staring back at me from my laptop and tried, with little success, to keep from thinking how much of a failure I was going to be because of all this.
“You’re not a failure,” I was quick to remind myself. “You’re just… stuck, is all.”
What an ample word to describe not only my work, but my life.
As I rolled over, and as I threw my legs over the side of the bed, I thought of all that had happened over the past week and felt only one emotion:
I had come this far, from so very far away, and had managed to make it through my first week on my own. I’d moved cross-country. Enrolled in school. Managed my own affairs. Made my first new strides.
Made a friend.
It was for this reason that I knew I couldn’t fuck things up with Brad—knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could not afford to waste a friendship over feelings I had for someone who would never return them in a million years.
Because of that, I knew what I had to do.
I had to get over myself—but, most importantly: I had to get over Brad.