In all honesty, I’d actually forgotten that my parents were in the room having just been stood up to by my boyfriend. They let the kiss go on for a little bit (which was rather nice of them, considering) before one of them pointedly cleared their throats, effectively disrupting our moment.
I looked at them in a mellow manner.
Eli and I now stood close together, one arm around each other. I think my parents saw, in that moment, just how serious I was about this guy, that I wasn’t going to let him go and that he wasn’t going to let me go. So, they did the only thing they really could do.
They gave in.
“Alright, fine. You’re no longer grounded and you can go to rehearsals again.”
It hit me then that I had been fired.
“Oh, well...turns out that’s not a concern anymore, actually.”
“What?!” Eli exclaimed as he turned to face me, the movement causing his arm to leave my waist. “What the fuck does that mean?!”
I could tell my parents shared that same sentiment.
“The director fired me,” I explained.
Eli stared for a solid minute with his mouth hanging open while anger raged in his eyes, and then his expression suspiciously cleared and I saw determination instead of anger. Well…no, more like angry determination.
“Nope. No. Unacceptable. Come on. We are fucking fixing this, too.”
“Eli, it’s fi—”
“Lucas Michael Sullivan, you stand there, look me dead in the eye, and tell me that you’re well and truly okay with no longer being set designer for our school’s theater group. Tell me that, show me you mean it, and I won’t do this.”
But of course I couldn’t, and he knew this, because building those sets, being a part of that group, it’s what led me to him in the first place. It’s where we met, for Christ’s sake. No, of course I couldn’t let that go.
He nodded once, curtly.
“Exactly what I thought; come on.” He grabbed my hand and led me towards the front door. I was overcome with attraction towards him and it was too strong for me not to say something.
“You know, Eli, not to be one of those guys or anything, but you’re really sexy right now.”
Eli’s anger gave way to amusement as he laughed and came to a stop facing me.
“Luke, babe, first of all, you’re my boyfriend, so you’re always welcome to call me sexy any time you like. You don’t have to feel guilty about it. Second of all, sweetheart, you will never be one of those guys. I’ve dated those guys, and believe me, you, love of my life, are a thousand times better; you, light of my life, are far more considerate than they could ever even think of being. So.” He gave me a kiss. “My precious, I’m glad you find me sexy.” He smacked my ass playfully, grinned, took my hand once more, and led me to his car all the while I endlessly, repeatedly swooned over him and his words and his love for me all the way to the school.
As it was about four in the afternoon, the theater group was there just about to rehearse. The director spotted us as we came in, and rushed right over. Well, he’d spotted Eli.
“Oh, Eli, thank GOD you’re here! I…” he noticed me and his relief faded away into disapproval. “I fired you. You no longer belong here.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, actually,” Eli spoke.
The director looked at him.
“Look, I get it. You two are all lovey-dovey but I have a show to run! And I cannot, will not, entertain flimsy set designers who don’t have the brains to think before they act! That’s that!”
“You’re gay, right, Mr. Nadeau?” Eli asked.
His expression took on a look of both suspicion and disconcertment.
“Yes…what of it?”
“Do you remember what coming out felt like?”
The man looked uneasily between the two of us, clearly uncomfortable that he was missing the point; he liked to think himself a genius when it came to conversation, always knowing what the other meant. The man was a bit egotistical.
“It wasn’t easy, right?”
He looked at me to see if I’d clarify but I just shrugged as if I didn’t know either. Of course this was a lie, but, still. Have I mentioned yet just how ridiculously much I was falling love with Eli all over again? I literally have no words to describe just how much I’m falling in love with Eli all over again.
“Did you decide the moment, or moments, to come out?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s difficult, sure, but you were in control. My boyfriend,” gah, I loved hearing that, “didn’t get that chance. He was forced out twice before he was ready. The first time was entirely my fault; I did it accidentally when I kissed him on school property, forgetting where we were.” He turned to me now. “I am still so very sorry about that.”
I gave him a smile, falling in love with him just for being distracted from his point so easily.
“Really, Eli, it’s fine. I’ve been so happy. If coming out like that meant keeping you, then it’s really not a bad thing at all.”
Red crept into his cheeks.
“Aw, you sap.”
Yeah, I tried.
I wanted to kiss him so badly now…and I would’ve, too, if…
“Okay, hello!” Mr. Nadeau clapped his hands with impatience, ruining the moment. “Got a play to direct, could we get to it?! Sounds like he’s fi—”
“The second time,” Eli interrupted as he turned back towards the director, “was last night, done out of revenge by his brother to their parents. Their parents proceeded to ground him. Do you understand, Mr. Nadeau? They grounded him for being gay. Then you fired him for being grounded for being gay. So basically all he’s hearing from the adults in his life is that being gay is something to be punished. Is that really the message you want to send him? He’s been one of the best set designers this theater has ever been blessed with and you’re willing to just throw that all away??”
Mr. Nadeau looked at me as if he was now seeing me in a new light.
“Perhaps I was a bit too…rash…in my judgments. Okay. You can be set designer again. You’ll have to work with the other guy I hired, though.”
I was so excited I’d barely heard that last part, and though my heart sank a little at the thought of having to work with this new guy, I took it.
“That’s fine, Mr. Nadeau, thank you!!”
“Eli, rehearsals starts in two minutes. Be on stage, we’re starting from the top, off book.”
As the director walked away, I turned towards my boyfriend.
“What on Earth did I do to deserve such an angel?” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes at that.
“I am no angel, Luke. Now come here and kiss me before I don’t see you again for another couple of hours.”
Of course I obliged. Of course I never wanted to stop kissing him. Of course that became a problem pretty fast. Of course neither one of us could really get ourselves to actually care that we were basically wasting time and holding up the rehearsal until our director forced us to care.
…Even then, it took some effort to pull apart. We eventually got it, though!
When I got backstage, my heart froze in my chest. Turns out the other guy they’d hired was Austin. When he saw me, he looked none too pleased. Ditto, asshole, I thought bitterly.
“What the hell are you doing here?! You were fired! This is my job!”
“I was hired back, obviously,” I commented dryly.
“Listen here, you little shit, if this is some revenge scheme of yours, it’s not going to work!”
Before I could answer, the curtain to my left flung open and Eli appeared, looking increasingly pissed as he made his way over to us.
“I thought I heard your voice. What in the hell are you doing here?!” When he stopped, he pulled me behind him in an attempt to protect me. “You stay the hell away from him, you lying piece of shit!”
“Eli, hon,” I gently placed my hands on his upper arms. “It’s okay.” My heart was having an ecstatic grand ol’ time with this.
“He’s the reason I lost you! That is not okay!! That is so fucking FAR from okay, Luke! How the hell are you so calm about this?!”
I really wasn’t.
“I know, but I’d like to put that behind us because, Eli,” I turned him around to face me, “you have me now. You got me back. You gave me back my faith in us, which, trust me, is a huge thing that’s never been done before. I’m not going anywhere, I am yours. Besides, you heard Mr. Nadeau. I have to work with him.”
I leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. In his ear, I said softly:
“I love you with everything I’ve got; if he tries anything, I will holler. Okay?”
He melted against me.
“Okay,” he said quietly. “I love you too, though.”
“Mm.” I proceeded to nuzzle his neck, the way I knew he liked.
He giggled softly, melting against me even more. If I kept this up, he’d likely be a puddle on the floor.
“Ooh,” more giggles, “oh, okay, oh…s…oh, god st…stop…” giggles continued. “Oh Luke.”
“When you like it?” I murmured. “No way.” I thrilled at the way he started to try to give back.
Austin looked like he was going to throw up and even mumbled “God, kill me,” under his breath as he looked away.
“Eli!” Mr. Nadeau yelled just as I got it into my head to try to convince Eli (way too soon, actually) to skip this rehearsal and go with me some place…any place…to be alone. “Get your god damn ass out here!!”
Eli snapped back into reality, snapping me back into reality, and back into some sanity.
Thank god for adults, sometimes.
“Be there in a sec!” Eli promised, then returned his attention to me.
He pressed a hard kiss to my lips, murmured his love for me, kissed me again and again…and one more time, threatened Austin immeasurable pain if he messed with me or my work in any way, kissed me one final time, and disappeared through the curtain. I studied it for a while, wishing him back then reminiscing over the days long ago when I’d been so excited just to be close to my crush on the other side. I couldn’t believe how much better things had gotten; it still partially felt like a dream.
“Are you going to stand there trying to telepathically will your boyfriend back here or are we going to go to work?” Austin sniped.
I slid my gaze over to Austin, decided to just let shit the fuck go (I’d gotten back what mattered most, and that was enough for me) and launched right into my plans. He tried to find fault with them at first, and then ultimately agreed with them, saying how I actually had a talent. The compliment was surprising.
After rehearsal, Eli and I headed out on a date. He took me to our mutually favorite restaurant, took me bowling after that, and then took me home where he told me to pack a bag. I looked at him like he was crazy.
“Dude, it’s Friday tomorrow, we have school.”
“Actually, hon, we don’t. Tomorrow is prom-slash-the spring formal,” prom was for juniors and seniors, spring formal was for the underclassmen; we’d gotten the tickets for the prom already but in all the commotion I’d forgotten about all of it, “and the school board has given us the day off for the kids to find tuxes and dresses and what not. You and I are going to go to my parents’ lake house that’s a two hour drive away, that is if you want, and tomorrow we’ll spend finding tuxes to rent.”
“So…we’re going to find tuxes in a town two hours away??” I asked him.
“Prom is being held in that town this year.”
“Okay. Hm, lemme see here…” I pretended to think about it, then said (which made him laugh): “yes, yes, yes. Yes, Yes. Yes and yes. Oh, and yes! Did I mention yes, yet? ’Cos yes.”
Once his laughter subsided (and my giggles), he kissed me.
“Good God, how I love you, you silly goof; now get in there and get packed. I’ll wait.”
“You can come in, if you want.”
“I do want, very much want,” oooh, that sure triggered some things, “but there’s someone I gotta call and I can use the time while you’re packing to do it.” He gave my hand a squeeze, pressed another kiss to my lips, “But please do hurry back to me.”
I actually did hurry.
My parents stopped me on my way back out and asked where I was running off to. I told them, with great trepidation, the truth, and was shocked when they actually let me go. In a daze, I went out to Eli’s car, set my stuff in the back, and got into the passenger seat in the front. Eli had apparently completed his call.
“You’re looking shocked, sweetheart. Are you okay?”
I slowly looked over at him.
“I told my parents the truth about where I was going…I told them I’d be alone with you for the night, and they just…let me go. I was so sure they were going to forbid me.”
Eli smiled at this and I couldn’t figure out why.
“You seem to think you’re gonna get lucky tonight or something.”
My eyes widened.
“Oh! No! I swear to God I—”
His kiss melted me into a puddle of incomprehensible emotions.
“I’m teasing you,” he said softly, worsening my feelings as his lips hovered mere inches from mine. “The lake house can get pretty romantic, actually.”
I swallowed hard, trying harder still not to envision…things (and failing miserably).
“Yeah?” I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to be alone with him. Not that kind of excited. Well…okay…that kind of excited, too, if I’m being perfectly honest.
His smile returned.
“Oh, yeah.” He closed the gap between us again, kissing me deeply. I let myself get lost in it while my heart raced a mile a minute at the prospect of…well. You know.