Read A Beautiful Struggle Online

Authors: Emily McKee

Tags: #Fiction, #Gay

A Beautiful Struggle (6 page)

BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
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After she left the room, I walked over to Patrick
. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Leaving Patrick’s room
, I saw Iz sitting on the couch, holding a bottle of water, waiting for a taxi. Grabbing one from the fridge for myself, I sat down next to Iz. “It seemed like you two really hit it off tonight?”

I started to nod my head but realized she wasn’t looking at me
, so I said, “Yeah.”

Turning to look at me
, Iz smiled and said, “I’m glad. You two looked like you were having some fun.”

Nodding my head this time
, I said, “Yeah, I really like him, Iz.”

Smiling at me she said, “I’m glad,” and then the doorbell rang
, signaling Iz’s ride was here.

“Well
, I guess I better get going, then.”

Standing up from the couch
I walked Iz to the door.

Leaning up
, Iz kissed me on the cheek and said, “Take care of the hot mess, will ya?”

Chuckling
, I said, “Yeah, I will.”

“Al
l right, well, I’ll talk to you two tomorrow, I guess.”

“Definitely,”
I said, waiting for Iz to get in the taxi before I closed the door. Locking it, I then walked back to Patrick’s room to check on him. I decided to take off his shoes so he was a little more comfortable and then covered him up with the blanket.

I
turned to leave his room and then I heard, “Please stay.”

I saw Patrick sitting up in bed.
His hair was all disheveled and his eyes were half closed. With my hand on the knob, I uttered, “I am staying.”

Shaking his head
, he asked, “Will you stay in here with me?”

My body responded before I could even think about the consequences.
I walked over to his bed. “Yes,” I whispered. I saw the biggest, lopsided smile come across his face. I knew that instant the choice I had made was all worth it.

He scooted
over so I had room. I sat down and slipped my shoes off. Laying down in bed, I turned to Patrick to say good night, but he was already asleep. He was laying on his side, facing me, with a little smile on his face.

Letting out a breath
, I smiled and said, “Sweet dreams, Patrick.”

Just as I was about to fall asleep I heard Patrick say, “Sweet dreams
, Derr,” and I knew that whatever struggles we were about to face would all be worth it in the end.

Chapter 6

Patrick

“Ugh.”
Groaning, I tried to sit up in bed. I quickly realized I would rather just lay there in agony. I couldn’t believe how much I had drank last night. I was just so damn nervous when I met Derrick.
Oh my god, Derrick!
Sitting up in bed, I yelled, “Derrick!” at the top of my lungs.

“Yeah?”

I saw Derrick standing in my doorway with just his jeans on. “What the fuck?” I yelled, jumping out of bed. Placing a hand on my chest, I had to calm my rapidly beating heart. First off he scared the fucking shit out of me, and second—
goddamn motherfucking shithole! Wow, was he gorgeous shirtless.

“I’m sorry.
You asked me to stay last night instead of Iz, so I stayed,” Derrick said. He waved his hands back and forth. “I didn’t think if you would remember the next day.” He looked at me. “I’m sorry. This was a mistake.” He headed into the hallway. “Maybe I should just get going.”

Before I could think of anything
, I grabbed his hand. “Stay.” Derrick tilted his head. “Please?”

Slowly he
relaxed. “Okay.”

Smiling at him
, I gave his hand another squeeze and then let go. I grabbed the water and bottle of aspirin then sat on the bed. Looking up at him, I felt like I had some explaining to do. “I’m sorry about last night. You just made me really nervous so I decided to drink a little bit, or maybe a lot, to calm my nerves.” Popping the pills into my mouth, I took a chug of water and swallowed. “I don’t normally act like that, but you made me nervous.”

He chuckled.
“It didn’t seem like I was making you nervous last night.”

Shrugging my shoulders
, I muttered, “Well, you did.”

Bumping shoulders with me
, Derrick said, “Just so you know—you made me nervous, too.”

Turning to him
, I smiled. “You want to get some breakfast?” I knew it would be a struggle to be around food right now, but I wanted to get to know this man. I needed to get to know him. I wanted to hear everything about him. Hear every word he had to say.

“Uh
, yeah, sure.”

He didn’t seem too sure of himself
. “If you don’t want to, then we don’t have to.” I paused. “It’s just my grandma makes the best breakfast in the whole wide world.” Looking over at my clock for a quick second, I realized she would be walking into my apartment any minute, telling me breakfast was ready. I looked at Derrick. “In fact—”

“Sweetie!”

Derrick’s shoulders straightened up and he looked nervous.
Grabbing his shirt at the bottom of my bed, I tossed it to him.

Catching the shirt
, Derrick mouthed, “Thanks,” and just as he put the shirt on, Grandma came walking in.


Swee—Oh!” Looking between us, Grandma waved her hands, flustered. “I can come back later.” I jumped up from the bed. Thankfully I was still wearing my clothes from last night. Walking over to Grandma, I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a big squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.

I nodded towards Derrick, who was standing as straight as he could. I found this ironic, since he was anything but straight. I suppressed a chuckle. It was important that Derrick feel comfortable around my family, and at the moment, he was anything but.
“Gram, this is Derrick. Iz introduced me to him last night and I wasn’t really feeling good. He was nice enough to take care of me last night.”

Gram’s eyes lit up
and she walked over to Derrick, extending her hand to him. “Thank you, Derrick, for taking care of my little smartass over there.” She turned around to wink at me. Looking back at Derrick, she said, “And thank you for taking care of my drunk grandson last night. I really appreciate it.” She smiled at him.

My jaw fell open
. “Grandma, I didn’t—” but she put her hand up and turned to me.

“I don’t want to hear you lying to me
, Pat. Grandpa and I saw the lights from the taxi and peeked out the window.” Turning back to Derrick, she gave him a wink and said, “We saw this hunk of a guy carry you up the steps while Iz let you inside.” She sidled over to me and talked every so sweetly. “So, you ready for some breakfast? I made some apple walnut pancakes with
bourbon
syrup.” She paused for emphasis. “I made them
especially
for you.”

Letting out a laugh
, I muttered, “Uh, yeah, sure. Thanks, Gram,” and smiled at her.

Patting me roughly
on the cheek, she smiled. “Nothing but the best for my grandson.” She turned to Derrick. “I’ll see you two downstairs in a few, then?”

“Yeah
, definitely. I’m starving,” Derrick said with a smile.

“Al
l right, well, I’ll see you two downstairs then.” Turning to look back at me, Grandma mouthed, “He’s cuuute! Good job!” After I winked at her and smiled, Gram left.

The second Gram left
, Derrick said, “I really like her.”

I lowered my voice
. “If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. I don’t want to put any pressure on you.” I really did want him to go. We had this instant connection but I didn’t want to scare him off.

“Hey
, look at me.” Derrick stood close beside me. I looked up into his eyes. “Look, I like you, Patrick. I want to get to know you.” He gave me a big smile.

I nodded.
“Okay, let’s go.” Then I realized I was still wearing my clothes from last night. Looking down at my outfit, I looked back into Derrick’s beautiful brown eyes. “Give me like ten minutes and then we can eat.”

He started to say
okay, but his stomach had other things in mind because it started to growl.

Laughing
, I said, “Okay, let me just go brush my teeth and then we can go.”

Derrick sat on my bed.
“No promises. I’m starving!”

Running into my bathroom
, I brushed my teeth in two seconds flat. I started to leave the room, but I saw that I looked atrocious. I knew I needed to change, so I quickly grabbed some boxer briefs, a pair of jeans, and a red long-sleeved shirt. Changing, I walked back into the bedroom and asked, “Ready?”

Derrick was rubbing his fingers together and looked shocked when I asked him.
Sitting up straight he said, “Um, yeah.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.”

I knew he was trying to just leave it but I wanted to know.
Walking over, I sat down next to him and stayed silent. I knew he would talk when he was ready.

It seemed like we sat there on my bed forever
, but then Derrick said, “It’s just—I’ve never done
this
with another guy. I haven’t even really came out. I mean, a few friends know, but that’s about it.” He hesitated. “I really like you, Patrick, but I don’t want to bring you into something where I can’t even be honest with myself.” He gestured between us. “This is a struggle for me. I mean—this is who I am—but I don’t know how to tell my parents or any of that, really.”

I took his hand in mine.
“Look, Derrick, I like you, too. I want to get to know you.” Nodding my head towards my front door, I said, “Like you said, Derr. It’s just breakfast.” I paused briefly. “How about we just be friends for now? We get to know one another. No catch. Nothing. What do you say?”

Giving me a small smile
, Derrick nodded his head and whispered, “Okay.”

“Ok
ay.” I placed my hand out for him to take, but I realized we were just going to be friends.
For now.
So waving my hand I said, “Come on. You’ll love my gram’s cooking.”

Letting out a sigh
, Derrick said, “Well, okay. Here goes nothing.”

***

Reaching for my glass of orange juice, I was just about to take a sip when Gram asked, “So tell me about yourself, Derrick.”

“GRAM!”
I yelled. I couldn’t believe she was doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that old lady more than anything else in this world, but she really had no clue how to play it cool sometimes.

Waving her hand
, she said, “Oh hush, Pat.” She smiled at Derrick. “I’m just trying to get to know this sweet boy.”

Stabbing his pancakes
, Gramps said, “Oh, come on, Ev. Do you really need to interrogate poor Derrick here?”

Grabbing my gramps by his
jaws, Gram kissed him on the cheek. “I’m just trying to get to know Derrick, that’s all.” She smiled sweetly at him.

Placing my elbows on the table
, I let my head relax in my hands. For a few seconds I just stared at my grandparents. Even after fifty plus years together, they were still in love. Gram always used to tell me a bed time story at night and I loved hearing the story about her and Gramps.

They were high school sweethearts.
During the summertime, Gram would paint outside on her front porch and Gramps delivered the mail to each house. He would just stare at her, and one time he rode his bike right into her mailbox. While he did end up with a broken arm, he also found the love of his life. He always said, “It was a small price to pay.”

I couldn’t help but look over at Derrick.
I saw he was staring at me with a small smile on his face. I wondered just what exactly was running through his mind. I wondered if they were the same things running through my mind, thinking that maybe he could be it for me. Thinking we could have what my gram and gramps have.
I guess only time will tell.

Hearing my gram giggle
, I looked over and saw Gramps giving her a kiss on the cheek. Smiling once more at them, I grabbed my drink and took a healthy gulp. I was glad I was feeling a little bit better, so I attempted to take a few bites of Gram’s delicious pancakes.

“So
, Derrick, where did you grow up?” Gram asked.

Grabbing for his napkin
, Derrick finished the bite of pancake he was chewing. He took a sip of coffee. “Well, I grew up in Rhode Island. I actually got a football scholarship and decided to come here. I’ve played football for as long as I can remember.”

Nodding her head
, she asked, “And are you an only child or do you have siblings? What about your parents?”

At that I saw Derrick stiffen.
I knew that would be a difficult subject for him, but he plastered a smile on his face. “I’m an only child. I’m actually adopted.”

I didn’t know that.

“Ah, they must be so proud of you.”

“Yeah
, I think they are. I’ve done pretty well for myself so far.”

“And how are they with you and everything?”

I knew that was crossing the line so I said, “Gram.”

Looking over at me
, she asked, “What?” She turned back at Derrick. “Oh, I’m sorry for prying.”

He shook his head.
“No, it’s fine.”

Biting her lower lip
, Gram started to talk about something else. It was kind of just noise in the background, because while I listened to the conversation here and there for the rest of breakfast, I kept looking over at Derr. I knew he wasn’t really paying attention to the conversation, either. I could practically see his brain running a mile a minute. I just wondered what he was thinking about. I knew he was struggling internally with something. The only clear thought that came to me was,
I want to be there for him. I want to be the person he can lean on through the ugly times.

***

Closing the door behind me, I looked up at Derrick. “Do you want to hang out today?”

Nodding his head
, Derr smiled and said, “Yeah. Sure.”

“Al
l right, well, let’s go up to my apartment.”

Walking up to my
place, I felt some trepidation in my steps. I wanted Derrick to open up to me but I knew I’d have to tell him about my coming out process. I was fine with that. I unlocked the door and we walked inside. I was glad to get out of the cold, even though we were only in it for about two minutes, if that.

Closing the door behind me
, I asked, “Do you want a drink or anything?”

Shaking his head
, Derr said, “No, I’m good.” Pausing, he smiled. “Thanks.”

“Yeah, sure
.” I gave him a quick smile. Walking into the bathroom, I grabbed some aspirin. The effects of my drinking from last night were just now taking over and I could already tell it was going to be a bad one. I was surprised I hadn’t thrown up yet. Or maybe I had and I just didn’t remember. Grabbing a bottle of Gatorade from the fridge, I downed the pills and half the amount of the bottle.

Sitting down on the couch next to Derrick
, I was getting ready to ask him what he wanted to watch on TV when he said, “I haven’t told my family.”

I stayed quiet. I could tell from the little bit that we
’ve known each other that this moment right here was a big step for him. So for as long as he would talk? I would listen.

BOOK: A Beautiful Struggle
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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