Now That You're Here - The College Years
Matt pulled into an empty parking spot and put the truck in park, but didn’t make a move to turn it off or exit the vehicle. David looked over and reached out to touch him, but pulled back at the last minute. He’d been made fully aware of Matt’s change in attitude the moment he woke up and reached for the younger man and had to watch Matt jump out of his reach. The back and forth was really starting to get to him. He was having trouble keeping up. After about five minutes of sitting in silence, David couldn’t take it anymore.
“Babe…I mean Matt, what’s wrong? I thought you wanted to go see your grandmother.”
“I do, it’s just that…what if…do you think they’ll…” Matt stammered, at a loss for words.
“What? You think that if you walk in there, they’re going to take one look at you and know that you got a blow job from a guy last night? That’s not how this works,” David sighed in frustration.
“I know that…but do you think that if we walk in there together, they’ll know?”
“Know what? Matt, there’s not really anything for them to know, is there? I mean, it’s not like we’re together, right? You made sure I knew that the moment I opened my eyes this morning.”
Matt could hear frustration and possibly a little bit of anger in David’s voice, and cringed, knowing that he was the cause. “I’m sorry. I know I keep going back and forth and I don’t mean to. It’s just…”
David waited for Matt to finish his thoughts. When he didn’t, David pushed. “It’s just what?”
“I’m scared, David,” Matt finally whispered, turning towards David with tears in his eyes. “I’m so fucking scared all the time, you know? And I want to be with you, I really do. Last night was amazing. I just don’t know if I’m ready to give up everything I ever thought my life would be. And when I’m with you…when you’re holding me and kissing me…I feel like everything is going to be alright. Like our being together is the right thing for me and that no matter what happens, it’ll all be okay. But then, when I’m not in your arms and my brain has time to think about the reality of being with you…of having to tell my parents…I just get so scared. I don’t want to lose my family over this. I don’t want to lose the job that I was raised to do without ever getting the chance to do it. And it terrifies me to think about walking inside with you and having my family know that there’s something between us. What if they look at me and immediately know that I care about you…care much more than I should?”
David wanted to take Matt in his arms, but he knew that he couldn’t. Not out in the open parking lot of the hospital. Instead he had to settle for reaching out and taking his hand, offering as much comfort as he could with the simple gesture. “Trust me, no one is going to look at you and know anything. I promise you that. And I know you’re scared. I wish there was something I could do to make this easier for you, but I can’t. You need to figure out what is right for you all on your own, no matter how much I want to push you into wanting me as much as I want you. But you don’t have to figure things out right now, and I know that I keep pushing you and I’m sorry. I don’t mean to. I guess I’m scared, too.”
“You’re scared? What do you have to be scared of?”
“Losing you,” David admitted softly.
“I know it probably sounds silly to you. We haven’t even known each other that long. But I really like you. I haven’t felt this kind of connection with anyone since… well, since Ricky. And I’m not saying that to make you feel bad or anything. It’s just how I feel. And being with you the last few days has been great, even with all the back and forth stuff. I’m just scared that one of these days you’re going to pull back and that’s going to be the end of it.”
“Don’t even finish that thought. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re still trying to deny who you really are, and that’s your choice. It’s the wrong one, but ultimately it’s your decision. But don’t tell me you’re not going to pull back when we both know that it’s a serious possibility.”
Matt’s eyes were wet once again with unshed tears. “I don’t know why I keep doing this. You’re amazing and I’d be a fool if I let you go. Please, just be patient with me a little bit longer. I’m trying so hard to deal with all this. I really am. And there’s this huge part of me that wants to pull you into my arms and never let you go.”
“But then there’s that other part,” David replied dryly.
“Yeah, but it’s a very small part,” Matt pointed out.
“It doesn’t matter how small it is. As long as it exists, there a chance I could lose you.”
Matt hated the sadness he saw in David’s eyes and he wished once again that he could just be who he was meant to be without the fear of losing his family. He took a quick look around the parking lot and when he was satisfied that no one was around, he leaned in and placed a soft kiss on David’s lips, wishing he could deepen it. But he didn’t have that kind of courage. When he pulled back, he was relieved to see a small smile on David’s face. “You’re right. We don’t know what’s going to happen. I really like you, too. We do have a connection. I feel it, too; otherwise we wouldn’t even be here right now. I can’t promise you that everything is going to work out the way you want it to. All I can promise you is that I’ll always be honest with you and do my best to keep from hurting you.”
David squeezed his hand. “That’s all I can ask for. Now, do you want me to wait here for you? Or, I think I saw a small restaurant down the road. I could take the truck and go grab coffee or something. You can just let me know when you’re ready to leave.”
“Of course I don’t want you to leave. I want you to come in with me. I want you to meet my grandmother. She’s awesome.”
“But I thought you were afraid…”
“No, I was just being an idiot. They already know that I have a friend from school staying with me. They’re not going to know anything by looking at us. And I really do want you to meet her,” Matt assured him.
“Well, then let’s go,” David said, hating that he had to let go of Matt’s hand. He’d go inside and turn on the charm and make sure Matt’s family fell in love with him. Then all he had to worry about was making Matt fall. Unfortunately that was going to be the hardest part of all.
Brian and Justin were curled up on the couch downstairs in the basement, enjoying the quiet afternoon. Chris and Zan had taken Sophia to a movie, Steve was working, and Jason and Zac were locked away in Jason’s temporary bedroom. It was nice to have a little time to themselves. They’d been surrounded by people for three days and were ready for a break. They had been wrapped in each other’s arms for almost an hour in silence before Justin spoke.
“So, are you okay with David now?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I mean, we still don’t know that much about him, but he seems cool. And we know that he doesn’t come from a serial killer family,” Brian chuckled.
“That’s true,” Justin agreed. “The Jackson family doesn’t have any skeletons in their closet. Only money.”
“I wonder what it would be like to have that much money. To be able to buy whatever you want, spend whatever you want and not have it matter.”
“I can’t even imagine,” Justin said. “Do you think Matt knows who he really is?”
“I don’t know, but I think he should know. Don’t you?”
Justin did think he should know, considering the real relationship between Matt and David, but since Brian didn’t know about that, he had to be careful of his reply. “I don’t know. They’ve only known each other for a couple of months. No one knows how much money I have in the bank except for you. Is it really anyone’s business how much money their friends have?”
“I guess not, but then again, this is completely different. We’re not talking about having a little bit of money to fall back on. We’re talking about being part of one of the richest families in the United States,” Brian pointed out. “I think that’s a bigger deal.”
“I don’t know…privacy is privacy, you know? Everyone has the right to it. I think I’d rather just stay out of it and mind my own business.”
“I know I should probably stay out of it, but I don’t know if I can,” Brian admitted.
Justin chuckled. “Yes, you can. You just have to keep your mouth shut.”
“Or maybe I could casually mention to David that I put two and two together and see what he says. Maybe Matt already knows and it’s not even an issue.”
“Casually, Brian? Really? When have you ever done anything casually?”
“I promise to be good. Now that’s enough talk about David and Matt. We’ve got something much more important to talk about.”
“We do?” Justin asked in confusion.
“Yes, we do,” Brian replied as he got up, pulling Justin along with him. “We need to talk about the blow job that you’re going to be giving me in the next few minutes.”
“Oh really? And how do you know that I’m going to be giving you a blow job in the next few minutes?” Justin asked, his voice teasing as his cock stirred.
Brian waited until he had Justin backed up to the bed and then gave him a gentle shove, knocking him down. “I know because I can see the future…and right now all I see is us, in a very hot 69.”
Justin’s stirring cock went straight to hard as his mind flashed to the image Brian had given him. He quickly stripped off his sweats as he watched Brian disrobe. Within minutes they were lost in each other, taking full advantage of their time alone.
Chris and Zander were sitting on a bench watching while Sophia played on the swings with one of the little girls that lived down the block from them. They had gone to see a matinee and then decided that it was too nice to go right home, so they stopped at the park a few blocks away from the house. Zander was watching Sophia closely, enjoying the happiness he saw on the little girl’s face when Chris spoke.
“I need to tell you something. I was going to tell you last night, but by the time we were alone, you were naked and you know I can’t concentrate on anything while you’re naked,” Chris teased.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed that. It’s one of the reasons I got naked while you were locking up the house last night. I wasn’t in the mood for talking,” Zan laughed. “What’s up?”
“Well, Zac came to me pretty upset yesterday morning. You know Jason’s still struggling with what happened, obviously, and he’s not ready to go back to school. He spoke to the Dean and the professors are going to work with him so that he can finish the classes online and not lose the time he put in,” Chris explained.
“That’s great,” Zan exclaimed. He knew Jason was worried about that. “So why was Zac upset? Is he trying to push Jason into going back to school tomorrow? Because that would be a horrible thing for him to do. Jason isn’t ready.”
“No, Zac would never push him to do that. We all know Jason isn’t ready. Zac was upset at the thought of Jason returning to Pittsburgh.”
“But Jason’s not going back to Pittsburgh…wait…is he going back to Pittsburgh? Does he want to go back? I know his parents are there, but I kind of just figured he’d stay with us until he decided what to do next.”
“And that’s why I love you,” Chris said, glancing around to make sure no one was paying attention to them before giving Zander a quick kiss. “Jason didn’t want to ask us if he could stay. He said we already did enough for him. I set him straight. I figured you wouldn’t mind.”
“And that’s why I love you,” Zan smiled. “I’ll talk to him later and make sure he knows that I feel the same way that you do. I hope no one else needs us for awhile. Our house is filling up pretty fast. At this rate, we’re going to need to put on an addition.”
“I know. Remember when we bought the house and wondered if it was too big? I never imagined our lives would turn out this way.”
“I never imagined it either,” Zander agreed. “But I wouldn’t change a moment of it.”
“Neither would I.” Chris looked deeply into Zander’s eyes. “You have no idea how much I love you.”
Zander felt his eyes tear up at the depth of Chris’s feelings. “Actually, I think I do.”
“Zander, Chris…watch how high I can go,” Sophia called to them, effectively interrupting their moment.
“Amazing Sweetheart,” Zan called back before turning back to Chris. “I guess our special moment is over.”
“For now. What do you say we leave Sophia with Brian and Justin tonight and go out for dinner? Just the two of us?”
“That sounds wonderful, but we can’t. Your biggest fan is coming to dinner, remember?” Zander reminded him.
“Oh yeah,” Chris sighed dramatically. “Another night spent surrounded by teenagers. What has our life become?”
“You just said you wouldn’t change a moment of it,” Zan laughed.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t long for a few stolen moments with the man I love,” Chris replied.
“We can go out tomorrow night. Since it’s a Sunday, the store closes at six. I’m sure Steve wouldn’t mind watching Sophia for us. It’s not like he ever goes out…anywhere. I’m actually starting to worry about him. He needs a life outside of work.”
“I know. I actually talked to him about it the other day. He said he just doesn’t feel like going out right now. I think he’s still really hurt over the way his parents turned their back on him. He talked to his brother on Monday, but his father still won’t budge. If Steve wants to be welcomed back into the family, he has to agree to go back to school,” Chris growled. He was still so upset at Steve’s father.
“I’m still so surprised that his father is being such an ass. Steve was always the shining star of the family. How can anyone turn their back on their own son?” When Zander saw the strained look cross Chris’s face, he cringed. “Sorry…I chose to walk away so I sometimes forget…”
“It’s okay. I don’t understand it, either. But we’ll help him get through this. And I’m sure Steve will come out of his shell once everyone’s home from school for winter break. He’s probably just lonely with everyone gone.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. I just worry…about all of our boys.”
“Me too, babe. Me too.”
They continued to sit there watching Sophia a little while longer, each one lost in thought. They did worry about their boys, and hoped that having the support they offered so freely would be enough to help the young men through their rough patches.
By the time Matt and David got to Brian and Justin’s house, David was a nervous wreck. He knew it was stupid, but he had idolized Christopher Kinney for years and was terrified that he was going to make a fool of himself. Matt must have sensed his nerves because while they were still sitting in the truck, and he was staring at the house, he felt a warm hand take hold of his.
“Are you alright?” Matt asked.
“Yeah,” David laughed nervously. “I know it’s stupid, but I’m freaking out.”
“It’s not stupid. A lot of people get overly excited if they get to meet someone they idolize. Trust me, if one of my favorite actors was in there, I’d probably be throwing up in the bushes. It’s just weird for me because it’s only Chris. I mean, I love the guy. I really do. He’s awesome. I just can’t imagine anyone being so excited to meet him. Then again, to me he’s just Chris, Brian’s brother. Most of the time I forget he’s an author.”
“Forget he’s an author? I think I’m leaning more towards forgetting he’s a person,” David laughed and then took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m good. Let’s go.”
When they got to the door, Matt did his usual knock and then walk in, calling out to anyone within earshot.
“In here,” Chris called out from the kitchen.
Matt followed the sound with David close on his heels, and found Chris in the kitchen putting burgers and hot dogs on a plate. He looked up and smiled the moment they walked through the door. “Hey guys, how’s it going? How’s your grandmother doing?”
“She’s doing better,” Matt replied as he walked over and gave Chris a hug. “Still as crazy as ever. Chris, this is my friend David.”
Chris reached out to shake David’s hand. “Hey, David, it’s nice to meet you.”
“You too,” David replied shyly. “I’m such a big fan of your work. You’re amazing. I couldn’t believe it when I figured out you were Brian’s brother. I’ve tried to get to a couple of your book signings, but you’ve never come close to El Paso and something always seemed to get in the way when you were anywhere close.”
“That’s sweet. Thank you, and sorry about the signings. I generally don’t go too far away from Zander. You’ll understand why when you meet him,” Chris laughed. “I hope you guys are hungry. Zan made a ton of food and turned a little get-together into a party. Matt, why don’t you go say hello to the others and leave David here with me? We can chat for a bit while I’m getting everything ready for the grill.”
Matt looked over at David and could tell that he was over the moon. He obviously didn’t have any issues with being left alone. He just nodded his head and went in search of everyone else, mostly Justin. He’d wanted to talk to him about what happened the night before. He’d been freaking out over it all day and couldn’t bring it up to David. They had enough going on between them. He found the blond in the backyard in the middle of a conversation between Zander and Brian. He walked over to stay hello and try to steal the blond away.
“Hey Matt, how’s your grandmother?” Zander said, spotting him first.
“She’s doing good. They’re hoping to release her to the rehab on Monday,” Matt offered.
“That’s good. She’s going to the rehab here in town, right? Chris and I will have to stop by and say hello once she gets settled. I’m not sure if she’ll remember us. We haven’t seen her since your parents' twenty-fifth anniversary party, but she was such a sweet lady.”
“Oh, she’ll remember you,” Matt laughed. “She’s still got all her marbles and we just talked about you guys a few weeks ago. She calls you and Chris that sweet homosexual couple. You guys made quite the impression.”
“Well, it’s always nice to be remembered for our sexual orientation,” Zan laughed. “We’ll definitely stop by.”
“Where’s David?” Brian asked.
“He’s in the kitchen with your brother. Chris told me to leave him there so they could talk. David is in heaven,” Matt explained before turning to Justin. He knew he should wait until his friend was alone, but he couldn’t wait any longer. “Hey, Jus, can I talk to you for a second?”
Justin looked at Matt, noticing the tension in his features. “Uh…yeah. Sure. I was just going to go downstairs and grab my cell. I had left it charging earlier. Why don’t you come with me?”
“Okay,” Matt readily agreed.
Brian watched then walk away and then looked over at Zander. “I hope he’s alright.”
“Is something going on with him? He seemed a little out of it on Thanksgiving, but I just assumed that it was his grandmother’s fall that caused it,” Zan said.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I know that something has been bothering him for awhile. Justin’s been pretty worried about him.”
“Hmmm…well whatever it is, you know Chris and I are here if he needs us,” Zan offered.
Brian laughed. “Where did you and my brother pick up the super-hero gene? I mean, taking in Chris’s little brother and your sister and cousin is one thing. We’re family. But you just seem to want to help everyone. Don’t you ever get tired of picking up the pieces for everyone else?”
“Of course not. Your brother and I are very blessed to have each other, our family, and money in the bank. Why shouldn’t we share that with the people we care about who don’t have all that we do?”
Brian shook his head as he pulled Zander in for a big hug. “I love you guys so much.”
“We love you, too,” Zan replied as he happily returned the hug.
Justin waited until they were down in the basement with the door shut before turning to his friend. “Okay, what happened?”
“Well, I’m gay,” Matt sighed.
“O…kay. I thought we’d already established that,” Justin said in confusion.
“We did…but after last night…it just feels bigger. Like talking about it doesn’t make it so, but doing something about it does,” Matt explained.
“Doing something about it? You did something about it? What happened between you two last night and why am I just hearing about this now?”
“You’re just hearing about it now because I couldn’t just barge into your room last night and tell you about it and you guys left so early this morning. I’ve been dying to tell you. I almost went into the bathroom at the hospital to call you,” Matt replied.
“Okay, so what happened?”
“Oh yeah…um…it probably won’t seem like a big deal to you, but David gave me a blow job,” Matt admitted softly.
“It is a big deal. It’s a huge deal,” Justin exclaimed. “It was your first time. My first time was a blow job, too, and it was huge. I was already out of the closet, but it was still a big deal. So, how was it?”
Matt couldn’t control the smile that took over his face. “It was amazing. I never thought it would be like that. I mean…well, we’re guys so we’ve all…”
“Jerked off,” Justin finished for him when he hesitated. “But there’s no comparison. Even a hand job from another guy is better than jerking yourself off. So what happened afterwards? Did you reciprocate?”
“No, I didn’t have to. He got off getting me off,” Matt told him shyly. “He just kissed me for like another hour and then I fell asleep in his arms. It was perfect.”
“That’s awesome, Matt. What happens now?”
“That’s the thing. I don’t know. I was so happy last
night, but then I woke up this morning freaking out. And I pushed David away
again. I don’t know what to do. Eventually he’s going to get tired of me
constantly freaking out and give up on me.”
“I don’t know, Matt. He seems to really like you. But you need to figure out what you want to do about him. It’s not fair to him that you keep going hot and cold. I’m having a hard time keeping up and I’m not the one interested in you,” Justin pointed out.
“I know,” Matt said softly. “I don’t know what to do. I’m trying so hard to work this all out in my head. And when I’m with him, I think that I have. Last night…after it was over and he was kissing me, I was ready to call my parents at the condo and confess. But then this morning…oh Justin, I’m so scared. I’m really just so scared all the time.”
“Have you told David this?”
“Yeah, we talked about it earlier. He said he’d be patient, but…do you think you could talk to him for me? Maybe find out if he’s getting ready to give up? Let him know that I really like him and I’m trying to work things out? Please?”
“I guess I could,” Justin agreed. “I don’t know if it’ll do any good, but I’ll try.”
“Thank you!” Matt exclaimed as he threw his arms around Justin. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re the only one I feel comfortable talking to about this, and I know it’s stupid considering who my friends are. I just can’t explain it. I’m just not ready for anyone to know yet.”
“I know, and I can kind of understand that, but you have to make a decision soon. Not only for David’s sake, but also for your own. Trust me, as hard as it is to come out, being out is such a relief. It’s an amazing feeling when you can stop hiding and just be yourself,” Justin assured him.
“I can’t even imagine. Look, I know I need to do something soon, and I will. It’s just hard to let go of everything I’ve ever thought about myself. I planned a life around a certain way of thinking. Changing that, seeing my future differently is hard. I just need a little more time. I just don’t want to lose David in the process.”
“You really like him, don’t you?”
“Oh my God, Justin, you have no idea. I knew I was attracted to him from the moment I laid eyes on him and I haven’t been able to get him out of my head since, but now? Now that I’ve really gotten to know him these last few days? He’s awesome! I’m going to kick myself if he gives up and walks away from me. He’s the reason I’m even considering coming out. He makes me want to jump out of the closet right now, but I’m trying to be reasonable. If I do it for him, I may resent him later for it. I need to take the time to be sure it’s what I want before doing anything that is going to change my entire life. That’s why I need him to be patient with me.”
Justin could see such fear in Matt’s eyes that it broke his heart. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk to him and make sure that he knows you’re worth the wait, although I suspect he already does,” Justin promised. “Now we’d better get back upstairs before they send the swat team out for us.”
“All those hot guys in uniform? Maybe was should wait here?” Matt teased.
Justin was startled by Matt’s reply. “Wow, you really are gay,” he laughed.
Matt smiled. “Told you so.”
Justin laughed as they went back to join the others. The barbeque was in full swing by the time Justin was able to get a few minutes alone with David. They had been sitting around with Brian and Dane until Dane challenged Brian to a quick game of horse. Everyone moved to the front of the house where the old basketball net hung, each taking sides before the game started. Justin had gestured for David to stay behind.
“What’s up?” David asked once they were alone.
“Not much, really. Matt kind of wanted me to talk to you,” Justin explained.
“Uh oh, should I be worried?”
“No, not at all,” Justin assured him. “Matt’s just worried that your patience is going to run out before he can work everything out in his head.”
“Listen Justin, if I’m completely honest with you, can I trust you to keep what I have to say to yourself? I’m not ready for Matt to know this yet, and I’m sure Matt’s not ready to know.”
“Um…yeah. Okay,” Justin replied, hoping that whatever David wanted to say wasn’t bad.
“Matt doesn’t have anything to worry about. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t know how this happened, but I’m really starting to fall for him. I know it’s too soon. We’ve only known each other for two months and he ignored me for most of it, but I can’t seem to help myself. These last few days have been amazing and it’s just making me want him more and more. This morning, after I got the cold shoulder once again, I was ready to jump in my car and head back to Texas, but I couldn’t do it,” David admitted. “I can’t just walk away. Especially after last night.”
“Last night? You mean after you…” Justin began but then stopped himself.
“He told you about that, huh?” David chuckled.
“Yeah, sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I guess he just needed someone to talk to,” Justin said.
“No, it’s cool. I know he’s really confused right now. I’m glad he has you to talk to. Is he really freaking out about what happened? Is he sorry that it happened?”
“No, he’s okay. I mean, he’s a little freaked out but he’s not sorry it happened. He…um…he said it was amazing,” Justin told him, his cheeks turning pink.
“Really?” David asked as a warm feeling spread through him. He kind of thought it was amazing, too. “I’m just never sure with him, you know? One minute he seems to want me as much as I want him, but the next minute he’s pushing me away and keeping me at arm’s length. I don’t mind waiting, as long as I know there’s something to wait for.”
“There’s definitely something to wait for. He really likes you, David. He’s just having a hard time wrapping his mind around all the changes that are going to take place in his life. He’s almost willing to come out just for you, but he has enough sense to know that something like that could make him resent you if things don’t work out. He needs to make sure he’s doing it for himself. If you give him time, he’ll come around.”
“That’s good. I don’t want him coming out for me. I want him to do it because he wants to be honest with himself and everyone around him about who he is.”
“Can I ask you something? If it’s too personal, you can feel free to tell me to mind my own business,” Justin said tentatively.
“No, Matt doesn’t know who my family is,” David said, already knowing what was coming.
“How did you…?”
“How did I know that was what you were going to ask? Well, first off you were afraid it was going to be too personal and considering you know what happened between Matt and me last night; we’ve already crossed a pretty big personal line. Secondly, I thought I saw recognition in Brian’s eyes when I told him about the company. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone approached me,” David chuckled. “And I know that he’ll have to know one day, but I was kind of hoping to keep it to myself for awhile.”
“But why? It’s not like he’s going to suddenly not like you because of your money,” Justin said.
“Justin, you have no idea how hard it is to be part of the country’s richest family. I never know if someone likes me for me or because they saw my family on the news and want something from me. The last guy I dated seemed to be really into me for about two weeks, and then gave me the sob story about how he couldn’t afford to buy a new car and his kept dying on him. I can’t take that chance every time I meet someone new,” David explained. “And that’s just from my point of view. Anyone who gets involved with me…well, let’s just say that they better not be shy. I’ve somehow managed to keep a pretty low profile while I’m at school, but in my normal life, my family is kind of in the public eye. I’m not sure why. It’s not like my father is a huge movie star or anything. I mean, basically he’s just a computer geek.”
“A very wealthy and important computer geek,” Justin pointed out.
“Yeah, that’s the problem. If Matt thinks for a minute that dating me would put him in the spotlight…”
“He’ll run away screaming,” Justin finished for him.
“Absolutely. I’m hoping that he’ll come out before he finds out the truth. Otherwise I’ll lose him for sure,” David sighed.
Justin could see the concern in David’s face and felt bad for him. “David, I can see why you’d be worried, but can I offer you some advice?”
“Sure, I need all the help I can get. You know Matt better than I do.”
“I think you need to be honest with him,” Justin said. “If you sit him down and talk to him about it, you can explain it to him and assure him that you’ll do whatever it takes to protect him. If he finds out on his own…well, he might end up running scared and then you could lose him.”
David thought for a moment. “You’ve got a point there. Alright, I’ll talk to him about it, but I think I’ll wait until we get back to Texas. I don’t want to take a chance of screwing up the weekend and ending up on the couch. I’ve enjoyed sharing his bed.”
Justin laughed. “I’m pretty sure he’s enjoyed it, too. Wait; was that rain I just felt?”
David looked up just in time to get a big raindrop on his face. “I think so.”
“Shit, you wanna help me get the rest of this stuff in?”
Justin and David started packing everything up as fast as they could before the random drops turned to rain. Within minutes, everyone had come around from the front yard and started helping, too. By the time the skies really opened up, everyone was inside.
“I’m glad we were done eating,” Zander laughed before turning to Chris. “Babe, I’m gonna take Sophia upstairs and get her ready for bed.”
“Okay, I’ll go straighten up the kitchen and put everything away,” Chris answered.
Steve jumped in. “I’ll help you, Chris.”
“I guess I’ll pick out a movie,” Brian offered.
“Not alone you won’t,” Justin replied. “We are not watching another one of those old movies you love so much.”
From there, everyone went about their business doing what they needed to do while Dane, Matt, Jason, Zac and David sat in the living room flipping through the channels on the TV and talking about whatever popped up. Slowly Zander, Chris and Steve made their way back to the group and it was decided that no one really wanted to watch a movie. They were having too much fun debating on the many current events going on around them. Jason had the remote and was just about to turn off the TV when something caught his eye.
“Hey, that’s the computer guy, isn’t it? He’s like a cajillionaire or something?”
“Oh yeah, Jackson Technologies,” Zac said. “Turn this up. I want to hear it.”
David held his breath while everyone sat around watching the story on Entertainment Tonight about his family, praying that he wouldn’t be mentioned. He looked over at Justin pleadingly.
“Jas, why don’t you turn this off and…” Justin tried, but everyone just shushed him.
Donald Jackson, the father of six children, is the only son of Peter and Linda Jackson of Tampa Florida. He grew up with modest means; his father was a janitor, his mother a waitress. Jackson knew that money was tight and wanted to make sure that he did something with his life so that he didn’t have to struggle like his parents had. As much as he loved and respected his father, he didn’t want to follow in his footsteps, so he worked hard through school and walked away with an academic scholarship to Virginia Tech. From there he pushed himself even harder, walking away with a double major in both Computer Science and Business, but that was only the beginning. He had big dreams for his future and he wasn’t going to let anything or anyone stand in his way. Not even Theresa Johnson, the beautiful young woman he’d met in his senior year at Tech. No, he wouldn’t let Theresa stand in his way, but he did let her ride alongside him while he worked to secure their future.
The two married the year after they graduated college and have been happily married ever since. Theresa worked as a teacher for the first couple of years, until the children started coming. Raising six children isn’t easy though, so she put her career on hold to be home with them. They struggled at first, with Jackson doing whatever it took to slowly build his business. He turned his garage into a computer lab and after spending his days working for a local computer programmer, he spent his nights in the lab trying to create the ultimate program in internet security. His tenacity paid off and now, almost thirty years later, Jackson is considered one of the richest men in the country.
We caught up to the Jackson family in New York at this year’s tree lighting ceremony and he agreed to speak to us briefly before whisking his family away for a late night dinner . He attributes his fame to hard work and the love of his family. He claims that anyone is capable of great things as long as they have the drive to succeed. According to his wife, he’s a loving husband and proud father and grandfather. She says that despite his drive to succeed, he always made time for her and the children. Jackson, his wife and their children and grandchildren were more than willing to smile for our cameras. The only family member noticeably absent from this family gathering was Jackson’s youngest son David, who is currently finishing up his senior year in college before joining his father in the family business. If David Jackson is anywhere near as talented as his father, we’re going to be hearing about Jackson Technologies for a very long time to come.
David sat there in horror through the entire segment while photos of his family during different times in their lives flashed across the screen. There was no way that he wasn’t just outed to everyone in the room.
“Um…wow,” Jason said softly in the otherwise silent room. “I uh…I guess you didn’t need to watch that, huh?”
“Smooth J, very smooth,” Zac laughed.
David looked over at Matt and could see his confusion and what looked like fear. “Matt…” he began, but stopped when Matt got up and walked out of the room. He looked to Justin.
“So, your family was in New York for the holiday. That was nice,” Justin said as if nothing was out of the ordinary. “Why don’t you go run and see where Matt went and we’ll look through the movies again. Maybe we can agree on one this time.”
David seemed frozen in place for a moment, but then suddenly got up and walked out through the same door that Matt had moments earlier. Justin watched him until he was gone and then looked around the room to see everyone staring at him.
“What?” he asked innocently, trying to buy time. Brian didn’t seem shocked by the news, of course, but he did look concerned.
“Did you know about this?” Zan finally asked.
“Yeah, Brian figured out who he was yesterday. I just talked to him about it outside before it started raining. He doesn’t like people knowing because he said that he gets treated differently when people know how much money his family has,” Justin explained.
“That makes sense,” Zan said.
“Yeah, but why did Matt run out of here like that?” Zac asked. “What difference does it make if his friend has money?”
“I’m sure it was just a knee-jerk reaction,” Justin offered carefully. “You know, you think you know someone and then suddenly you find out this huge secret. I’m sure David’s fixing it right now.”
Brian continued to watch Justin closely, but didn’t say a word. Justin refused to look him in the eye as he went to the entertainment center, trying once again to find a movie to watch. They all needed the distraction.
David found Matt standing outside by his truck in the rain. Luckily the rain had slowed down to a drizzle so he wasn’t completely soaked. He approached him carefully, so as not to startle him. “Hey,” he said softly as soon as he was close enough.
“You’re famous,” Matt whispered.
“Not really, my father is,” David tried.
“No, you are. You are the son who was noticeably absent from the holiday in New York. You’re the son that is finishing up his senior year at college before taking over one of the biggest companies in the country. You are following right in your father’s footsteps, making you famous,” Matt replied.
“Please what? Please what, David? Please don’t be mad at you for not telling me? Please don’t be mad at you for letting me think that you’re just some nice guy who likes me and wants to be there for me? Oh, or better yet, please don’t be mad at you even though, despite the fear and denial I’ve been living with for my entire life, you allowed me to get involved with someone whose family is so famous, they end up on Entertainment Tonight just because they were seen out on the street in New York? I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking of me.” The pain in Matt’s voice was unmistakable.
“Babe, I swear…”
“Don’t call me that,” Matt barked as he wrapped his arms around his body, the light rain making him shiver.
“Matt, look…we need to talk about this. Why don’t we go back to your house and…”
“No, I don’t think there’s anything left to say,” Matt replied bitterly.
“Matt, please just hear me out. Just give me five minutes to explain why I didn’t tell you who I was,” David pleaded. “I planned on telling you. In fact, I just told Justin that I was going to tell you as soon as we got back to Texas.”
“You’ve talked to Justin about this?” Matt asked incredulously. “He knew?”
David realized his mistake the minute the words were out of his mouth. “Brian figured it out yesterday morning while we were at your house. He put two and two together when I mentioned Jackson Tech.”
Matt laughed bitterly. “Well apparently I’m not as bright because you were able to keep lying to me.”
“I didn’t lie!” David exclaimed, losing his patience. “I know I should have told you and I planned on it, but I never lied to you. You never asked me about my family. All we ever talk about is you and your family.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that I was so self centered.”
“That’s not what I meant,” David sighed, trying to reign in his anger. “I just meant that we’ve been so busy talking about you and what you’ve been going through that we never really talked about my family. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the way it is.”
“Look, I don’t think…”
“Matt, please don’t do this. Please don’t push me away because you’re scared. I promise you that we will sit down and talk about this. I promise you that I will protect you. Just don’t turn away from me.” David could see Matt softening. “Let’s just go back to your house and talk. If you’re still mad at me after hearing what I have to say, I’ll get in my car and head back to Texas tonight.”
Matt eyed David wearily. He knew there was no way he was going to let David take the five hour drive. Not when it was already after eight o’clock at night. Besides, if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he really wanted him to leave anyway. He was so upset when he heard the story on ET, but as the enormity of the situation started to sink in, he began to realize that he might have overreacted a bit. Storming out of a room full of people probably wasn’t the best move, either. Damn, he was really making a mess of things. He didn’t know what to say.
“Matt? Can we just go talk?” David prodded when Matt didn’t respond to his request.
“Um…not right now. We’ve got to go back inside. Everyone’s probably…well, I don’t know what they’re thinking right now. I probably shouldn’t have walked out like that. Let’s just go back inside and hang out for a little while so nobody wonders…I mean. I just don’t want them to think that…my reaction was…”
“So, you don’t want me to go back to Texas tonight?” David asked, wanting to clarify.
“No, it’s late and it’s a long drive. Besides, we definitely have some talking to do,” Matt said. “But just so you know, you’re not off the hook. I’m really upset with you right now. I had a right to know what I was getting into before we…well, before…”
“I know. You’re right. If it makes you feel any better, I had no intention of letting things get too far before telling you. I’m still amazed that I’m here. Up until recently, you wouldn’t even talk to me. I wouldn’t have taken you anywhere that would have drawn attention to us, though. I know what I can do and what I can’t in regards to the press. I’d never put you in a position where you’d be outed on national TV.”
“I know…I mean, it doesn’t sound like something you’d do. Sometimes I forget how little we actually know about each other. I’m so comfortable with you that I forget I haven’t known you for years.”
“That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me,” David replied as he reached out and pulled Matt to him, hugging him tight. He was so happy when Matt wrapped his arms around him and hugged him back. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain. Let’s go back inside and hang for a bit so we can get out of here. I’m looking forward to having you all to myself tonight.”
“David, I don’t know if I…”
“Shhh, we don’t have to do anything. I just want to be with you. I’ll even sleep on the floor if you want to punish me,” David teased.
Matt barked out a laugh. “I don’t think that will be necessary. Do you think I can get a kiss before we go back inside?”
“You don’t ever have to ask,” David said softly before giving Matt exactly what he wanted. Neither one of them saw the face peering out the window watching them.
End of part 10
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