Just a Bit Confusing

By: Alessandra Hazard

Chapter 2

James wasn’t sure when exactly it had started—when he had fallen in love with his best friend.

He couldn’t remember a time he didn’t love him. Even when they were kids, he’d had a pretty bad case of puppy love: Ryan was the first real friend he’d made on his own, the only one who wasn’t impressed by James’s family and liked him, James. Ryan was everything he wasn’t: daring and pushy, reckless and determined. But as the years went by and they grew up, James’s puppy love shifted into something else. Something it was never supposed to be.

His early teenage years had been confusing as hell, because he couldn’t  figure out what he wanted from Ryan every time Ryan touched him. At the time he still thought his love for Ryan was brotherly, but popping a boner when Ryan threw an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close was hardly something a brother would feel. A brother wouldn’t wank thinking of Ryan’s mouth and hands on him. A brother wouldn’t feel lovesick whenever Ryan smiled at him. It had been embarrassing. It was mortifying. It was  awful, because he knew Ryan didn’t feel the same way. Ryan’s affection for him was easy, friendly, and brotherly. Even at thirteen, Ryan had a girlfriend already.

Ryan was straight as an arrow. If Ryan found out what James wanted, he would probably be weirded out and uncomfortable.

At thirteen, James still hoped those inappropriate feelings and urges would pass within a few months.

By twenty-two, he didn’t have any hope left.

He had thought he was coping well enough. But seeing Ryan with Hannah, seeing the way he looked at her, drove the final nail in the coffin of his silly, irrational hopes. Ryan was in love with her.

Even if Ryan fell out of love with her, he would never want James that way. Ryan would never love him back. No matter how ingrained in him this love was, it was one-sided and always would be. He needed to accept it and try to move on. Not every love was returned; that was the cruel reality.

His phone buzzed in his pocket, making him flinch.

James pulled it out.

He had a new text from Ryan.

Sorry about Hannah. I did want to hang out just with you. It’s been ages.

It had been. Ever since they’d both graduated and acquired full-time jobs, ever since Hannah’s entrance in Ryan’s life, the time they spent together had been shrinking rapidly. It scared him. Were they drifting apart?

A part of him told him it was a good thing. If they stopped living in each other ’s pockets, it would be easier for him to move on.

Except…except he didn’t  want to move on. He didn’t know what sort of person he would be without Ryan. It was fucked up, but it was the truth. This love, no matter how hopeless and painful it was, had been a part of him for so long. It was a part of what made him James Grayson. Jamie didn’t know who he would be without it.

Let’s hang out tomorrow, he texted back.

He received a reply almost instantly, which made him smile. Yeah, he was pathetic like that.

I’ll be at the house. The weather’s still good. Grab your trunks. We can hang out at the pool.

The house Ryan was referring to was his family home, or rather, Ryan’s eldest brother ’s house.

Ryan had moved out of there a few years ago and acquired a place of his own, but since Ryan’s workplace was close to Zach’s house, he lived half of the time at Zach’s for convenience’s sake.

James didn’t mind hanging out there—he’d been there hundreds of times over the years and he liked Zach.

Or you can borrow mine, Ryan sent before he could reply.

You’re gross,  James responded.

You love me, Ryan sent back.

James closed his eyes as the familiar bittersweet feeling filled his chest.

“I love you,” he whispered, because sometimes the urge to say it became too much. Sometimes he needed to say it, even if there was no one to hear him.

Even if there was no one to say it back.

Chapter 3

James loved watching happy couples. It was nice to see that happy endings did exist. But watching Ryan’s eldest brother kiss his boyfriend on the chaise lounge by the pool also made him incredibly envious and painfully aware of Ryan’s tall, strong body a few feet away, leaning against the side of the pool lazily. Ryan was completely relaxed, his head tipped back and eyes closed as the sun touched his smooth, glistening skin.

Top Books