Dante Mathers, college student, fifth year, has a track record for being dishonest with himself, and is about to undergo the biggest, scariest change of his life.
Dante’s forced himself to go out with girls in the past and he does it again when he’s approached by the beautiful Serena one day on campus, desperate to prove to himself that he’s “normal.” But when he loses a drinking contest and is dared to go to the next campus GLBT meeting by his best friend, he’s not sure how to handle it. Sure he could blow it off and say he went, but something nagging at the back of his mind compels him to go anyway. After all, he’s had problems with intimacy in the past and his first crush was a boy in high school. But is he really forcing himself to go, or is he finally starting to be honest with himself? No need to over think this, Dante tells himself. It’ll be get in, get out. No need to talk to anyone. Easy, right?
But then he meets Sven. Sexy, toned, wearing a leather jacket with spiked up bleach-blond hair, Sven’s bad-boy flare sticks out on campus and catches Dante’s eye. But there’s more to Sven than his punkish looks, and Dante’s about to find out all the sultry little details.
“I’m Mandy, and I’m bi.”“My name’s Cole, and I identify as gay.”
“Terry, and if you can’t tell I’m gay, you need your brain checked, okay?”
The room chuckled, and then everybody’s gaze fell on me. “Uh…” I coughed. My throat felt like it was filled with sand, and I practically had to spit out my next words, “I’m Dante.” That’s it, just Dante. Now move along…
Fortunately when he realized I wasn’t going to say any more, the man next to me piped up with his introduction.I whistled a sigh of relief. When I got out of this frigging trust circle, I was going to wring Greg’s scrawny neck!
The guy next to me nudged me in the shoulder, and I nearly flew ten feet out of my chair. I looked around the room. Introductions seemed to be over, and now everyone was just talking.
“You’re a fourth year, right?” he asked. His voice was smooth and rich. It reminded me of syrup, or tree sap.
“Fifth.” I swallowed. “I’m only finishing up electives this semester. I already have a job in my field.”
“Ah, must be nice.” He threw back his head over the edge of his chair and sighed. “In this little town it’s hard to find an internship close to home. I’ve been going through hell trying.” He grinned. “What’d you study?”
“Ah, that explains it. There are so many old folks and people who work with their backs around here. You’ll be in business for a long while yet. Or did you have plans to leave town?”Part of me wondered if this was the kind of small talk I’d thought about making with that girl before. This guy was a hell of a lot better at it than I would’ve been. But whatever his motives, I didn’t mind. Greg was the only close friend I had on campus, and he hated talking about school life and work. The change of topic from girls and clubbing was refreshing.
“Nah, not leaving.” I shook my head. “Born and raised here in the country and no plan on leaving. I stick to my roots.”
He nodded. “I feel the same.” He held out his hand to me. “James.”
“Dante.” I took his hand warmly.
“So…” James leaned back in his chair and gestured at the whole of the room. “I haven’t seen you at one of these before.”
“Hey, it’s cool if you don’t wanna talk about it. Just making an observation. This place is so no pressure.”
It certainly didn’t feel like no pressure to me, but maybe it was the overwhelming guilt that made my stomach feel like it was tangled in knots. I wasn’t going to lie—I’d been curious in the past, but nothing ever came of it. Then again I’d never had a girlfriend either, which was why Greg had thought this would be so hilarious. I found men and women attractive in their own way, but that hardly made me gay or bisexual. Damn, if Greg knew how much stress this was really causing me inside, he’d probably look at me like I’d grown another head.
“Terry over there…” James set a hand on my shoulder and pointed to the guy who’d introduced himself earlier. “Biggest flamer in the whole damn school, and proud of it. You’ll see him at every drag show, and he’ll probably win. Sets the rest of the competition on edge, I tell ya.” He chuckled and pointed to another guy sitting three seats to my left. “The guy with the lumberjack beard is Carl. He’s quiet, not too wild. You two would probably get along.”
“Why are you telling me all this?”
James laughed. “Because you’re new, and I can tell you’re the shy type. Just put yourself out there. Nobody here bites…” He winked. “Often. Ah, I just noticed Seven is missing. Bummer. Not surprised, though. He’s a shy guy too. He’d be the perfect one for you to talk to. Better than me.”
“Seven?” What kind of a name was that?
~About the Author~
I can mostly be found staring into the screen of my PC or laptop into all hours of the night, hyped on caffeinated soda and likely procrastinating something important by losing at Internet Checkers or browsing the web (The day I win a game of Internet Checkers is the day I can write more than a few pages at once without procrastinating). When I’m not doing that, I’m either out being my nerdy self or, of course, writing. I’ve been writing since the fourth grade, and have no plans to stop. To me, one of the greatest pleasures in life is being able to create worlds and characters whose lives I can share with others.