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Authors: Emily McKee

Tags: #Fiction, #Gay

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BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
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“All right, Ash, spill right now! What’s going on with you and that jealous little hottie?”

Ash must have swallowed wrong because she started choking and coughing into her hand.
Getting up from my seat, I patted her back and said, “Deep breaths, Ash. In through your nose and out through your mouth.”

When she started to calm down
, I sat back down in my seat.

Ash took another sip of her drink and this time I waited for her to swallow before I tilted my head and
smirked my lips in question.

Setting her glass of iced tea down on the table
, she whispered, “What do you mean?”

“Well
, it’s obvious to anyone that you two like each other. So what’s going on?”

Shaking her head back and forth
, Ash said, “No, Jason doesn’t like me. He kind of looks at me like another sister…”

“What about you?”

She sucked in a breath. “But I’ve had a crush on him for as long as I can remember. Ever since freshman year of college when I first saw him, I knew he was—” she waved her hand back and forth “—is
it
for me.” Letting her head fall forward in defeat, I heard Ash let out a breath.

Her hands were fisted on the table
. I placed my hand over both of her tiny ones. “Ash, that boy really likes you, I can tell.” Ash looked up into my eyes. As soon as the words left my mouth I thought back to when I thought Jason might have thought Ash and I were a couple.

With my eyes getting big
, I yelled, “HOLY CRAP! I’M A GENIUS!” and jumped up from my seat, my arms flailing around in the air.

Giggling
, Ash said, “All right, genius! Sit down before we’re kicked out of the restaurant. You’re still hungry, aren’t you?”

Oh my god
, I’m starving!

I sat back down in my seat
, feeling the glare of the other patrons. Looking around the restaurant, I said, “Sorry everybody, but I’m a genius.” I turned my attention back to Ash. “I seriously am, though!”

Rolling her eyes
, she said, “All right, genius, what now?”

Smiling at her
, I said, “How about we date?” I watched as her mouth fell open and her eyes got big. I waved my hand in the air. “Fake date.” I could tell she still wasn’t getting it, so I elaborated. “Look, I get enough shit from the guys on the team for why I’m not getting any pussy. You and Jason really like each other, but neither of you hotties will do a thing about it.”

Opening her mouth to speak
, I placed a finger to her lips and continued. “Look, you might not think that hotass likes you, but Ash, he was glaring at me and probably thinking of a million ways to kill me and get away with it in that beautiful little head of his.” I tilted my head to the side. “I wonder about how big his other head is?”

I hadn’t meant to say it out loud
, because the next thing I knew Ash was slapping me on the arm, shrieking, “Oh my god, Derrick!”

“What?
Oh come on, Ash, you’re totally thinking about it now!” I watched as a bright red blush appeared on her face and I started to laugh.

She slapped me again.
“All right!” Then in a smaller voice she asked, “You really think he likes me?”

I nodded.
“Ash, that boy
really
likes you.”

Biting her bottom lip
, she closed her eyes and nodded her head. Opening her eyes, she whispered, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

I was amazed that she
agreed. “Really?”

Looking straight into my eyes
, Ash nodded her head. “Yeah, let’s do it.”

I winked at her.
“See, you’re already the best girlfriend ever!”

Chapter 2

Patrick

“Hold the mother
-effing phone. Are you serious, Britt?”

Blonde hair with bright pink highlights was jumping up down in the middle of our living room screaming for joy.
I joined in on the excitement and anticipation of the journey ahead for her. I grabbed ahold of her hands and her bright blue eyes looked up into my chocolate brown ones and I saw a twinkle. A bright, big twinkle.

Sure
, to the outsiders we were probably fucking weirdos for jumping up and down, screaming our heads off. However, we didn’t give a rat’s ass, because my roommate, Britt Thomas, had just gotten a signed deal with a record company.

In the middle of our jumping up and down, screaming like girls
… well, because obviously we were, Britt stopped bouncing and I realized the twinkle was gone from her energetic eyes.

Stopping with her
, I looked down and noticed tears forming and her eyes kind of reminded me of the ocean—with the clear blue water and the fact that her tears would taste like salt. I really want some Salt n’ Vinegar chips right now.

Tilting my head
, I asked, “What’s the matter, babe?”

Sniffing
, she wrapped her tiny little arms around my waist and began to cry. I didn’t understand where the hell this Britt rainstorm had come from all of a sudden. I mean, I didn’t remember hearing about it on the internet or the news. Maybe I should have checked Twitter or Facebook?

I kind of felt a little awkward.
I always hated seeing other people cry and I hadn’t cried since I said goodbye to Momma when I was younger. Shaking those memories from my thoughts, I rested my chin on her head and rubbed my hands up and down her back. She buried her face in my shirt and I just let out a breath.

I knew for the love of all that was Lady Gaga and her little monsters that this bitch was going to get mascara all over the brand new limited t-shirt I had just gotten from the mall.

Ugh, well, good thing I got it in every color available, I guess.

Burying her head a little deeper into my chest
, I heard her sniffle. Quickly swiping the handkerchief from my pocket square, I nuzzled its way to her face so she could blow.

Grabbing my hands and muttering something that sounded like a
thank you, I said, “No problem, babe.”

Standing there for a few minutes
, I thought about how in the hell I was going to be able to get the mascara stain from my t-shirt. I mean, I ain’t no Houdini, but I definitely would need to work my magic on this shit.

The t-shirt was fucking awesome.
It was green, and everybody who knows me knows that it’s my favorite color. There’s a design going up the front with swirly thingamajigs and a fucking pocket square. I mean that screams, “BOSS!” Or muh name. Whichever is coolio with yours truly.

Lifting her head from my chest
, Britt looked up into my eyes and started to bite her lower lip. Placing my hands on her cheeks, I used my thumbs and wiped away the mascara. Every single time I wiped, I felt my heart break just a little more. Not only for the fact that my best friend and awesome roommate was crying… but also because I had literally just spent $50 on a fucking-a t-shirt that I would be forced by Diane Von Furstenberg and Betsey Johnson with scissors to throw away.

“Babe?”

I watched how she scrunched her nose and her chin quivered.
I watched how she bit on her lower lip and my heart broke. It shattered and I knew it would be a struggle to put the pieces back together. But like Momma said, “I want you to struggle.”

Taking a deep breath
, she hiccupped and said, “I have to move to L.A.”

Dropping my head
, I let out a breath. I didn’t want to let her go. I was tired of having to lose the most important people in my life. I mean, I still had Grandma and Grandpa, and they were my everything, but Britt was the first person I told my secret to. I knew she would love me either way. I remember the conversation exactly.

***

Sitting on her parents’ couch with our cowboy hats on, we were watching the country music awards. They just showed the scenes for what was going to happen after the commercials and I could feel my heart beating. Not only was I nervous as hairy ball sacs to tell Britt, but my heart was also beating because the gorgeous, sexy, scruffy Jake Owens was going to be performing.

I could already feel my dick twitching with excitement to see his muscles on the HD screen.

Thank you
, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas for the High Definition! Thank the almighty who ever invented it in the first place!

Untangling myself from behind Britt
, I sat up on the couch. Cracking my neck, I grabbed my glass of orange juice from the coffee table and took a healthy sip. I watched as Britt picked up a tortilla chip in her hand and dunked it in the salsa. She balanced a few tomato chunks on the chip and popped it in her mouth.

Ok
ay, this is it.

Taking one more sip of my orange juice
, I swallowed and said, “I’m gay.”

By that
time the award show had come back on and Luke Bryan was introducing Jake Owens for his performance.

I watched
, stunned, as Britt grabbed another chip and dunked it into the salsa. Getting just enough tomato on her chip, Britt put it in her mouth. Munching away on her chip, Britt never took her eyes off of the television when she asked, “So who do you think is hotter? Luke Bryan or Jake Owens?”

Looking at my best friend
with her eyes glued to the TV, I smiled and felt tears forming in my eyes. This was Britt, and if I questioned our friendship whatsoever, I didn’t have to after this moment.

Sucking in a breath
, I asked, “Can it be a threesome? I can’t choose between the two hot country crooners.”

Turning her head to look at me
, Britt took a swig of her soda and laughed. “Oh my god, I didn’t even think of that! Yes, definitely a threesome!” Laughing, she took another swig of her soda.

I turned to watch Jake Owens perform his single
, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” when I felt a chip hit my shoulder. Turning to my best friend, I saw she was staring at me with a smile on her face.

I was just about to open my mouth when I felt Britt wrap her arms around me and she kissed my cheek.
Letting out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding, I wrapped my arms around her waist. Breathing in the warm vanilla spray I had grown accustomed to, I felt at home.

Britt was a part of my home.
She became my family. She was no longer a friend, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever was. There’s this quote, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” and I knew Britt was in mine for a lifetime.

Feeling moist lips leaving a kiss along my neck
, I knew I would have a mint scented lip-gloss stain. “I’m going to be all sticky now!” I protested with a laugh.

Leaning away from my neck
, she smiled. “You’ll survive, Miss Diva.” Slowly Britt stopped laughing and closed her eyes. Opening her eyes, I saw unshed tears in them, and giving me a small smile, she whispered, “I love you, Patrick.”

Closing my eyes
, I lowered my head. I was so lucky to have Britt in my life. Through every struggle I had ever had, Britt was always there for me. She gently lifted up my head with her fingertips. My tears fell freely onto my face.

Britt wiped away the tears on my face.

Catching my breath
, I whispered, “I love you too, Britt babe.” And I always would.

Staring back at my best friend
, I thought about when Britt and I first met and how in that moment my life changed forever.

***

Sitting outside with the sun hitting my face, I watched as cars drove by in the front yard of my grandparents’ house. It had been just a week since Momma died. The funeral was the hardest part of the entire thing. Not that her death was a “thing,” but death is something else, you know? You’re in a fog the entire time. Of course you get up, get ready, do everything you’re supposed to do. However, you don’t actually feel like you’re living. In a way a piece of you has died along with them and slowly but surely you “move on.” You get used to the fact that their body is no longer on this earth but in some way their spirit is.

Always will be.

Of course I had said goodbye in the hospital, but to know that she was actually in that carved, wooden box was a huge struggle for me. My grandparents had decided that a picture of her, papa, and me would go on the top of the box. A remembrance of a time when she was healthy and beautiful. It’s a contradiction though really, because I think physically and mentally, Momma was beautiful. However, the time that she was struggling for breath, struggling to stay alive for me, was the most beautiful time. She never once complained or felt sorry for herself. She thought about everyone else’s needs and how everyone else would move on after she was gone. Gone from us physically, but never mentally.

As I sat in the pew in the front of the church
, I listened as the pastor talked about how amazing my momma was. How she lit up a room. How she brought good to the bad. The only thing I could think about was how I wished he actually knew all of those things about her and wasn’t just preaching them. Once he had finished, it was finally my turn. I had written Momma a letter that I wanted everyone to hear. I wanted everyone to remember her the way I would always remember her.

Breaking me from my memory
, I hear a little girl ask, “What are you doing?”

Looking up from the blades of grass I’m pulling on between my fingers
, I see a little girl with bright, blonde hair and these beautiful blue eyes looking down at me with a curious face. She’s smiling at me and she has her hands on her hips.

Shaking my head and sniffling
, I say, “Nothing.”

I just want to be left alone but I know that’s not going to happen because out of the corner of my eye
, I see her sit down next to me., “I’m Britt Thomas,” she says.

Lifting my head and turning in her direction
, I say, “I’m Pat Christiansen.” I extend my hand to introduce myself but she looks down at my hand and then looks back up at me like I’m a weirdo. I think maybe she doesn’t want to be my friend, but the second I take my hand away from her, she jumps into my lap and wraps her arms around my neck and gives me a huge hug.

I don’t know what to do and I’m guessing she’s an alien or something.
The second I think that she lifts her head away from me and says, “Well, give me a hug, best friend.”

***

With tears forming in my eye I asked, “We’re still best friends though, right?”

Nodding her head and laughing
, she said, “Of course, silly! Where would you be without me?” She slapped me on the arm. “More importantly, where would I be without you?”

Shaking my head
, I said, “Probably in a hole or jail because of all of the fashion crimes you’ve committed.”

Britt laughed at me.
“Yeah, probably.”

Looking around at our tiny hole of an apartment
, I couldn’t help but feel sad. Britt and I had created so many memories here together, but I wanted her to be happy and I knew moving to L.A. would do just that for her.

Looking back at Britt
, I said, “You wanna start packing?”

“Not really.”

“There’s wine!” I sang.

Lifting her eyes to meet mine
, I saw mascara all over her face. I tried to clean up the hot mess. “What do you think?”

Smiling up at me
, she asked, “Chinese?”

“Of course.”

“Cookie dough ice cream?”

I had a crazy look on my face.
“Would we have it any other way?”

Shaking her head
, she smiled up at me and said, “No, we wouldn’t.”

I smiled down at Britt and kissed her on the forehead.
Wrapping my right arm around her shoulder, I walked us into the kitchen. While Britt got the wine in a box from the fridge… Yeah, that’s right. Don’t judge us. Not only is it cheap and some good shit, but it also lasts longer than a normal bottle of wine, I got down two pimp cups for us.

Placing the box on the counter
, Britt took her cup and poured as much wine into it as would fit. While I did the same, Britt went over and plopped down onto the old ratty couch we had. I knew desperate times called for desperate measures. After I ordered the Chinese food, I pulled the cookie dough ice cream from the freezer and the chocolate fudge brownies from the pantry my Grandma had made for us.

Face down in the couch cushion
, Britt mumbled, “Brownies?”

Smiling down at my pathetic best friend
, I said, “It’s an emergency.”

Quickly lifting her head from in between the cushions
, she looked shocked. “Wait! We’ve never done this before.”

I nodded.
“I know! I was holding it for a post break-up, but you’re always breaking up with the poor bastards and yours truly is way too busy to be in a relationship right now.” I paused briefly. “So this is our emergency.”

BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
5.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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