This is a valentine story starring the main characters from my work in progress. It’s like a story-before-the-story. Set in high school when my MCs first get together…
Happy Valentine’s Day
Rick checked the display on his phone. Friday, February Fourteenth, 6:51 am. Valentine’s day. He hauled himself out of bed, pulled on a long sleeve black t-shirt and his favorite jeans. He combed his hair forward, arranged his long bangs in a point to the left of one eye, and spiked the top. A thin line of black eyeliner on his lower lids and he was ready.
In the kitchen, Rick’s mom was so busy with his little brother and sisters she barely looked up. He had time to toast an english muffin and smear it with butter before the alarm on his phone chimed, and he rushed to the bus stop.
At school, girls carried roses and couples exchanged cards. The student council sold pink heart-shaped lollipops for a dollar. Rick shook his head at the offer. He was single, now, anyway. No one to buy lollipops for.
He thought about Cole, and searched for him in the crowded hallway. Not that there was anything romantic between them. Not really. A few months ago, when Rick had been dating Stacey, Cole had seemed… jealous. When Rick realized that, something had changed. He began to notice the sexy curve of Cole’s jaw, his long elegant fingers, his wide bony shoulders covered in soft creamy skin.
Cole had been Rick’s best friend since fifth grade. They were like brothers, but the way Cole looked at him now wasn’t brotherly, and Rick kind of liked it.
At lunch, Cole slid in to the seat across from him and smiled. “Hey. Didn’t see you this morning.”
Rick smiled back. “Yeah. Where were you?”
Cole shrugged. “Here. Must have missed you.” His gray eyes sparkled at Rick. “Happy Valentine’s day.”
Rick snorted out a laugh. “Yeah, you too.” He took another bite of his sandwich to hide the thrill Cole’s words gave him. He’s just goofing around.
Madison and Abby arrived, lunch trays in hand, and dominated the rest of the conversation with gossip and questions about the history exam they had next week. The few times Rick caught Cole’s eye, that same little spark of mischief was there, and he looked away quickly.
Sixth period was the only class they shared. Cole sat in front of him. As everyone began their work he turned around. “Hey, can I borrow your notebook? I forgot mine.”
“Sure.” He pulled out a thin notebook and passed it to Cole, who smiled and whispered, “Thanks.”
The class worked quietly. Rick was careful not to look too often at Cole’s shoulders, or at the back of his neck where the sandy brown hair swirled into fine blond whorls.
At the end of the hour Cole handed the notebook back and they walked out to the hall together.
“Hey you still want to hang out tonight?”
Rick nodded. “Yeah, for sure.”
“Awesome. You coming for dinner?”
“Uh, yeah, I can. Is that cool?”
“Yeah. See you later.”
The bell rang and Rick jogged down to study hall. He loved having last period free, it gave him a chance to finish his most tedious homework at school instead of hauling it home. On Fridays he always did his history chapter outline.
He opened his history book, pulled out his notebook,and flipped through to find an empty page. On the first blank sheet there was a small note, halfway down, in Cole’s handwriting. Rick read it and his face flushed. He looked around the quiet classroom, pulse pounding in his ears, then read it again.
I don’t have the balls to tell you this to your face, so I hope you get this note. I like you, and not just as a friend. Like a boyfriend. I think I might love you. Even if you don’t feel the same, I still want to be friends. I just had to tell you. Please don’t hate me.
Rick’s back pricked with sweat and he darted his eyes around the room. No one had noticed him. He read the note a third time. By the last bell, he’d memorized it.
He walked to the buses in a daze, trying to recall the signs he missed, the hints he’d ignored. How long had Cole felt this way? Months? Years? As his bus pulled out he saw Abby, holding her hands out, questioning. Had he asked her for a ride home? He couldn’t remember. Too late now, anyway. He shook his head at her from the bus window and she shrugged, turned away.
At home, he told his mom he was eating at Cole’s, probably sleeping there too. She agreed easily, he’d slept there so many times it was almost a second home to him, nothing new. He paced his bedroom, mind racing and stomach fluttering. Cole likes me. He really was jealous of Stacey. Rick thought about his ex-girlfriends, Jessica and Stacey, how hot they’d made him. He thought about Cole, and the way he’d been feeling lately when they hung out. Which is real? Both? Cole likes me. Maybe loves me.
At Cole’s house Rick sat at the neatly set table and ate lasagna and garlic bread while Cole’s parents asked them about school. He avoided Cole’s worried eyes and tried to ignore the knot in his stomach. He likes me. Like a boyfriend. After dinner he helped Cole clear the plates and load the dishwasher, but said nothing.
Finally, they went upstairs to Cole’s bedroom. Rick waited for Cole to make a move, or to say something. Anything, just to prove what he’d read was real. He thinks he might love me.
“Rick, I…” Cole ran a hand through his hair, nervous and twitchy, not like him.
He really meant it. Rick took a step forward. “I read it.”
Cole stared at him, mouth slightly open and hands limp at his sides.
“I think, maybe… I feel the same way.”
Cole’s mouth curved up in a shocked half smile.
Rick closed the distance between them and slid his hands along Cole’s ribs, pulling him close. He’d never done this with a guy. But this wasn’t any guy, it was Cole, and Cole liked him. Maybe loves me. He leaned in and pressed his lips to Cole’s, kissed him once, twice, didn’t move away. Cole’s breath shuddered out and Rick waited, only centimeters from his best friend’s mouth. When Cole moved to kiss him back, Rick lost all control.
He kissed Cole the same way he’d kissed girls: slow and deep. Cole whimpered and arched his body into Rick’s, and he knew then this was real. This was no game or experiment. Cole liked him, maybe loved him. And he loved Cole right back.
He pulled his mouth away and pressed his forehead against Cole’s. “Happy Valentine’s day.”
Cole laughed, a relieved sound, and threaded his fingers through the hair at the nape of Rick’s neck. “Happy Valentine’s day.”
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