XVII. I Need You Now
My heart was racing in my chest. There were so many words I wanted to say. So many questions, so many apologies, but only one thing came out of my mouth. “What are you doing here?” It was barely a whisper, but I knew he’d heard it based on the way he’d walked by me and closed the door before locking it. He meant business.
He cupped my cheek and I could see vulnerability in his eyes. “We need to talk,” he repeated, his eyebrows furrowing as something that resembled hurt swam in his eyes. My heart sank. “Noah I...why did you do it? Especially over text after what we’ve been through. I don’t understand. Did I say something or do something wrong or-”
“Of course you didn’t do anything wrong, Madison,” I said as I placed a hand on top of his that was still cupping my cheek, unable to hear him beat himself up. He was so close I could kiss him. “Look, I really really want to be with you, but I just...I can’t, okay?”
“What is it, Noah? Why did you pull away so suddenly?” He softly pressed, his voice sounding like pure music to my ears. “Are you stressed being closeted? Is it your church or-”
“No, Mads, it’s just...” I trailed, the truth burning on the tip of my tongue but I swallowed it down. Madison had his father while I didn’t have either one of my parents, and though his father may be homophobic, I didn’t want to be the one who broke up their relationship. I looked down. “I can’t talk about this, I’m sorry. Please just drop it, okay?”
“I will if you tell me you feel nothing when I do this.” Before I could blink, his lips were on mine in a tender, intimate kiss. Without realizing it, our lips were moving in perfect sync and his hand had travelled from my cheek to gently gripping the back of my neck. My heart flipped. I’d missed this. After a few moments, he pulled away and looked into my eyes, begging me to say something, but I couldn’t. There was no words in the world to explain to him exactly how much I’d missed him or how badly it hurt me to be away from him or to simply tell him I loved him. But before I could even begin to construct a sentence, his eyes turned hard and cold as his jaw set. “Looks like I’ve got my answer,” he flatly said before he turned and made a move toward my door.
My heart dropped. No. No. I knew that if I let him walk out that door, he’d be out of my life. For good. And that wasn’t an option. I quickly grabbed his shoulder and turned him around, but his expression hadn’t changed. “Noah, I-”
“Of course I feel something when we kiss. I feel everything when we kiss or touch or when we’re simply together, and I hated being apart. It was pure hell, so I’m not about to let you walk out of that door, Madison. Not now, not ever because...” I trailed before I cupped his cheeks, committing to the words that were about to come out of my mouth. “Because I love you, Madison and it killed me to hurt you the way I did.”
The coldness melted from Madison’s features as he became soft again. “Then why did you do it?” He whispered as he placed his hands on top of mine, the feeling of his hands on mine making my knees weak. “Why put me through the heartbreak? Why ignore all my calls and texts and leave me wondering what I did wrong? Why make me hate myself?” My heart instantly broke for him and I felt guilty and stupid for putting him through all of that because I was afraid of his monstrous dad.
His dad. The reason this all happened.
The man I was tired of being afraid of.
And it was time for Madison to know.
I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye. “I did it because your dad made me.” Silence was my only response as Madison pulled away from me, his eyes full of disbelief as he slowly backed away from me.
“He what?” He lowly asked, an anger pulsing through his words I’d never heard before that caused a shiver to run down my spine.
“He caught us making out on some security footage and blamed me for making you gay. So he made me break up with you in front of him or else he’d out me to my Nona and God knows who else. Look, I’m sorry for being such a coward and not fighting hard enough. I was just so scared that I panicked and thought I could find a work around but-” I was cut off my Madison’s lips coming into rough contact with mine. I pulled away out of shock. “Madison, what are you-”
“I need you to calm me down or I might beat him down for threatening you,” Madison begged before he kissed me again. I found myself smiling against his lips before I gave in, allowing him to kiss me as much as he needed. By the end, he was breathing heavy as he rested his forehead on my own.
“Are you okay?” I softly asked. “I know it’s a lot, especially since it’s your dad.”
He responded by pulling me into a tight hug and burying his face in the crook of my neck. “I’m so sorry he did this to you Noah. No one should ever fear being outed and I’m sorry he threatened to do it to you. I know it must have been scary.” I found myself smiling and holding him tighter.
“I’m fine as long as I can call you mine again,” I softly said, causing him to pull away with a smile on his face.
“Who said I ever stopped?”
My heart melted as I intertwined our hands and kissed the back of his. “I missed this.”
“Me too,” he admitted. “It’s just, gosh, why did he do this? Why does this bother him so much? I mean we’re not even that religious.”
I shrugged. “Some people are just afraid of what they don’t understand.”
He scuffed. “I’ll make him understand that no one messes with or threatens you and gets away with it.” He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close as he kissed my forehead. “No one.” He looked so cute when he was revenge hungry.
“Look, Mads, I appreciate this but I don’t want you to beat up your dad for me, verbally or physically.”
“But Noah, he-”
“I know what he did, Madison. It’s just...you have a dad, someone who seems to care about you but just goes about things the wrong way sometimes. I don’t have that anymore. And...and I’d just hate to be the one to tear you two apart.”
I hadn’t realized my gaze had found the ground until Madison gently hooked his finger beneath my chin and made me look him in the eyes once more. “Noah, you’re not the one who broke us apart, he is. And if he can’t try to meet me half way, then it’s all on him. He might be my dad but...if he can’t accept this part of me then I don’t think I want him in my life.”
“Woah, that’s a big statement there, Madison,” I advised.
“And so is ‘I love you’, so I guess we’re both making big strides, aren’t we?” He playfully smiled.
I rolled my eyes and punched him. “Shut up.”
He laughed before he laid down on my bed and beckoned me over with him. “These Netflix movies aren’t going to watch themselves.”
I chuckled and settled in next to him, loving the way our bodies perfectly fit together. “Do you want me to stay the night?” He softly asked in my ear as the movie started.
“Tomorrow’s Saturday and Nona’s going to her water aerobics class in the morning,” I answered.
“So what I’m hearing is that you want me to spend the day with you?” He asked as he held me closer.
“Do what you want,” I nonchalantly said as I cuddled deeper into him. “I just know that I wouldn’t complain if you stayed.”
“Then I think I will stay just to make you happy,” he said before placing a kiss on my cheek.
I tried to stay awake to watch the movie, but I found myself drifting to sleep after the first fifteen minutes. What could I say? Connor had us whipped.
“Good night, Noah,” Madison said as my eyes fluttered closed. “I love you.” My heart jumped and I felt warm tingles move through my veins.
I offered him a drowsy smile. “I love you too.”
I woke up to a barrage of kisses scattered across my lips and face. My body instantly warmed with tingles as Madison softly whispered, “Wake up, sleepy head. Risveglia il mio amore (Awaken my love).” I couldn’t stop the smile that grew on my face, causing him to chuckle before he gently cupped my cheek and softly pressed his lips to mine in a soft kiss. I sleepily kissed him back before the kiss broke. I slowly peeled open my eyes and looked at him. The morning light always managed to hit him just right to make him look like an angel. Sometime last night, he’d lost his shirt and put on a pair of my pajama pants, but I didn’t mind one bit.
“Ah, he’s finally awake,” he grinned, causing me to lazily return the gesture before I stretched out and rubbed my eyes.
“So he is,” I said, my voice rough and scratchy from sleep. “What time is it?”
Madison looked at the clock behind him and chuckled. “Just past ten thirty.”
I let out a low whistle. “Would you forgive me if I put all the blame on Connor?”
“Maybe I would if he weren’t the reason we’re here right now,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his warm, familiar body.
I closed my eyes and hummed in response, getting lost in the comfort he brought me before the words he’d said processed in my head, causing me to shoot up onto a propped elbow. Madison groaned in discomfort due to the odd position it put his head and neck in. “Sorry, babe, but what do you mean?”
Madison folded his arms behind his head and looked up at me. “Have I ever told you how beautiful you look in the morning?” He mused. “I mean, the tousled hair, the tired way your eyes shine, and not to mention how the light hits you just right-”
“Thanks, Mads. But you can flatter me in a sec. Tell me what you mean about Connor.”
“Oh yeah. So early Friday evening before the normal dinner rush, your friend rushed in asking for me. Since I was working the register, I asked him what he wanted. I was weirded out when he started asking me about you like how I knew you, your general description. I was worried he was an assassin or hit man or something so I stopped talking.”
I found myself laughing, causing him to raise an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, Mads. But who would waste their hard earned money hiring someone to assassinate me? I’m basically a sitting target. That’s like hiring a cat to catch a dead mouse. There’s no point.”
“Ha, ha. Very funny, Bruno,” he flatly said. “But anyway, after I closed off, he told me he was Connor, and I vaguely remembered you mentioning something about your best friend Connor, so once again I asked him what he wanted. All he told me was that you needed some cheering up before he gave me his number and told me to wait for him to text me when you were home.” Suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. Connor’s unusual cheerfulness after practice. The way he was constantly on his phone. Madison showing up. It all made sense.
I found myself laughing. “I would hate Connor if I could. But I think I hate you a little more,” I teased before I punched him in the arm. “I mean, it took my best friend harassing you for you to come check in on me? Low blow, man,” I joked, not mad at him in the slightest bit.
“In my defense, I definitely would’ve come earlier, but based on how you were ignoring me and how heartbroken I was, I was afraid that you didn’t want to see me or you were mad at me or...or hate me.” He broke eye contact with me and looked at the ceiling.
I found myself smiling down at him and gently cupping his cheek so he was looking at me once more before I gently kissed his nose. “Madison, I could never hate you. I don’t think there’s anything you could ever do to make me hate you unless you like set an orphanage on fire purposely or if you watch TVD without me.”
Madison chuckled before he craned his head up and gently kissed my lips once more. “I promise I won’t do either, my love. I wouldn’t be able to stand myself if I did anything to make you hate me.”
“Me neither,” I said as I swept his hair from his forehead. “Come on. Let’s make the rest of this day count.”
And we did. The rest of the day consisted of food, make up make out sessions, and binging Netflix or simply enjoying each other’s company. It was nearly four when Madison gathered up his stuff, plus my pajamas he’d been wearing per my request. “Your Nona will be here soon. I better go.”
“Madison, you don’t have to leave because she’s coming home,” I argued as I kissed his cheek. “Just as long as that door stays closed...” I trailed my words dying on my tongue as I sighed. I couldn’t keep doing this. “I’ll come out to her soon. I promise. I’m ready for her to know I’m just waiting for the right moment.”
He smiled down at me as he hooked a finger under my chin. “I’m happy for you, but don’t do it just for me. Do it for yourself too, okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed. “Does that mean you’ll stay?” There was a hopeful tone to my voice that mirrored that of a young kid asking their parents to stay up five minutes later than their bedtime.
“I still have to go. I have somethings to take care of.”
I nodded in defeat and he gave me one final kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay Mads?” I offered.
“Can’t think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon.” He gave me one more look before he disappeared out of my door, the sound of the front door opening and closing followed soon after.
I instantly felt lonely and missed him like crazy, which kind of scared me. “I’m screwed,” I muttered to myself with a humorless chuckle as I threw myself onto my bed. “I’ve fallen for him too much.”
I spent the rest of my day trying to come up with a story for creative writing, but yet again each idea was met with the “delete” button. Nona came home and popped in for a second before she announced that she was going to have some relaxation time between herself and her knitting needles, and I knew from experience that I shouldn’t interrupt that time under any circumstances.
I was literally about to take my laptop and hurl it across the room when my phone went off. It was Madison. I smiled as I answered it. “Miss me already?” I joked as I leaned back on my bed and stared up at my ceiling.
“N-Noah,” Madison’s voice softly said from his side of the line, obviously weak from crying. It was almost unrecognizable. I instantly shot up.
“Madison, what’s wrong?” I quickly asked, panic and worry spreading through my body like wildfire.
“N-Noah, I-I...” he trailed before he burst into tears. My heart raced and my arms yearned to wrap around him and comfort him the way he’d done for me so many times.
“Madison. Take a deep breath and tell me where you are.”
“I’m a-at home, just please hurry Noah. I-I need you now.”
Without wasting another second, I jumped out of bed and out of my bedroom door. “Don’t worry, Madison. I’m coming for you.”