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“The best way to get what you want out of someone is to do whatever they want,” Matthew whispered to me. I didn’t realize at the time that Matthew was bestowing upon me his biggest secret.
It was 1990, and he stood behind me while I stared at the frat house door. What he said was some sort of last-minute, good luck wisdom for rushing Rho Theta Nu. I had put on a stupid, boxy suit my dad owned from the 80s, and I was not looking forward to trying to get guys way cooler than me to like me, even with Matthew, the president of the fraternity, on my side.
“I’m doing this for you, you know,” I said.
“And later you can have anything you want,” he purred softly. He kissed the back of my neck, and I flinched away, glancing around for onlookers. I didn’t want to let anyone know I was like that.
“Congrats, bro. You’re a Rho Theta Asshole now,” my brother said at the dinner table after a successful rush. He sat across from me while his girlfriend Alexis sat to my left, quietly eating from her bowl while maintaining a polite level of interest in our conversation.
I rolled my eyes at Ras and glanced at Alexis and her pretty blonde hair and tight fucking body, sitting next to me while I poked a spoon at my chili—the only thing Ras knew how to cook that tasted any good, and dinner that night was the last bits of a batch that had lasted a week.
“Your brother’s the one that nominated me. Or voted me in or whatever,” I said to Alexis.
“Just further proof the house is full of assholes,” Ras interjected. He shoveled three hefty spoonfuls of chili into his mouth in a row.
He was the cool guy back then. The one who was successful and smart and had luck in relationships. He was athletic and handsome and a fucking asshole.
“He’s not always an asshole,” Alexis defended, though with little conviction. She wiped her mouth with her napkin and then smiled at me. “I’m happy for you. When do you move out?”
:”I guess soon.” I hadn’t actually expected to make it in, but I suppose I’d committed myself already to Rho Theta Nu.
I pushed my glasses up my nose with a finger to the corner of the frames. They were thick and out-of-fashion, but I didn’t really care. I couldn’t see much without them. Ras got all the eyesight too. Son of a bitch.
Speaking of said bitch, she trudged into the room in her annoyingly small, rapid steps. Yet somehow every one seemed heavier than the last. Her light brown hair was pulled tight to her head with a tiny bun held in place in the back by black bobby pins. Her eyes were brown and bright despite the scowl on her face.
“Which one of you boys told your father you’d bring him orange juice? He’s been waiting 20 minutes.”
Ras jumped up. “Oh shit. Sorry, Mom.”
The way she visibly relaxed when she saw it was Ras who’d been the one to fuck up made me roll my eyes again. I dug back into my food, forcing myself to eat because if my mouth was full, I had an excuse not to answer when she inevitably turned her attention on me.
When Ras took off down the hall with Dad’s OJ, that’s when she struck. She tossed a dish towel over her shoulder, and even though I couldn’t see it, I could feel her looking me over with sharp eyes from her place across the kitchen.
“Your father’s lighter went missing. Have you seen it?”
I took my time, slurping chili off my spoon and taking a bite, slowly chewing, and then finally swallowing and wiping my mouth. “Nope.”
She stood quietly for a moment. “I thought you had a friend coming for dinner. What’s his name? Michael?”
“Matthew. And he didn’t want to eat chili. He’s a vegetarian.”
“I bet he’s skinny as a rail too,” she said in a huff. She turned to the sink and started on the dishes. “What does he like to eat? I’ll—”
The doorbell rang. I dropped my spoon into my bowl with a clank and jumped up to get the door, happy to put a wall between myself and my mother. Not much put a spring in my step back then. But Matthew did.
I opened the door with a smile, and Matthew, seeing my face, smiled back. Something inside me perforated, and I quickly filled up with the dopamine that poured out. It was all I could do to keep from telling him to smile at me forever. It was the only thing I wanted.
Matthew’s eyes found my unbuttoned collar. “Oh,” he said. “You took off your tie. After all that hard work I put into getting it on you.” The amused creases by his eyes let me know he was joking. He reached out and touched the collar. His face became a little more serious. “And you have a stain.”
“What?” I pulled my chin back as far as I could while he pulled the collar out in an attempt to show me the spot of chili on my white shirt. “Great.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He dragged his finger down to my first fastened shirt button and fiddled with it until it was undone. His eyes shimmered with mischief and he looked up at me from under his gorgeous lashes. He spoke softly, above a whisper. “It’s a good excuse to see you without a shirt.”
A lopsided smile plastered itself to my face. “Yeah?”
“So can I come in?”
I stepped aside quickly. “Yeah, yeah. Come on in.”
The living room was over-decorated with chickens, plaid, and white wicker in the form of various baskets full of ceramic eggs and the most uncomfortable matching set of sofas and tables that existed. The pendulum of the clock ticked in a pleasant rhythm over the entertainment center my mom had made me paint white last summer, insisting I needed to get “out of the house” after a girl had broken up with me.
“Somebody likes cocks,” Matthew said, poking the beak of a rooster statue on top of the stereo speaker.
I scoffed. “Don’t be gross. Come on. My room is this way.”
We had to walk through the kitchen to get to the hall that led back to my room. My mother shut off the sink when we stepped in. Ras was in the middle of clearing the table. He opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes fell on Matthew.
“What’s he doing here?” he asked.
Alexis stepped around the table and rescued my unfinished bowl from him. “Ras, they’re friends,” she said gently. She smiled at us both, and I melted all over again. I wasn’t crazy about everyone, but somehow I was in the room with the two people my body went craziest for.
“Hi, Matthew,” Alexis said. “How was Rush?”
“Fantastic. We have the best new edition so far,” he replied, clapping his hand on my shoulder.
“New addition? Lai, did you join a fraternity?” Mom stepped closer, and her voice wavered on the edge of hysterical. She looked him over with appraising eyes. With acid in her tone, she greeted him. “Hello, Matthew.”
“Mrs. Martire,” he said, sounding delighted as though it was a surprise to see her in her own kitchen. “It’s lovely to finally meet you. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it for dinner. It does smell delicious.”
“Apparently you wouldn’t have liked it anyhow,” she muttered.
She hadn’t always been that way. There was a time before Dad had cancer that she was all smiles, mostly fake ones, but that bitterness for the world stayed hidden behind them instead of on display. I liked her scowling better. I could respect the honesty even if we fought like rabid animals more often than not.
“Let me help you with the dishes,” Matthew said.
She shook her head. “Lai will do them. I’m going to go lie down and watch my programs with your father. Don’t be loud.” She said it to me and to Ras.
I stayed quiet until she was gone. But she came back. “It was nice to meet you, Matthew. Let Laisellus know what you like, and I’ll make it next week.” She said it more gently than she’d ever said anything to me. I stepped away to take my bowl back from Alexis and I took it to clean it up in the sink.
Ras and Alexis finished cleaning up and went back to the living room. Matthew stepped up next to me at the sink.
“You’re learning,” he said. He reached to take the bowl from me.
I pulled it away. “I’ll do it.”
He quietly appraised me for a few seconds, and I glanced over to look at his face. He was three inches shorter than me, and there was something electric in his gaze that made me need to look at his eyes, dark and beautiful, magnetic and daring. Confident. Sexy. Dangerous.
“You’re the reason I made it in,” I said, referring to the event earlier. “You told Adam to bid on me, didn’t you?”
He put on an easy grin. One that made me feel silly for doubting him. “I promised you it would be as genuine a process as possible, didn’t I? I’m not sure why you don’t want the help I can give, but this win was all on you. I swear it.” He took the bowl from me, this time successfully.
I let my mouth hang open, having trouble objecting to his help. “My mom told me to do it. She wouldn’t like me letting you help.”
He pressed a finger to my lips. My heart thumped in my throat like maybe it could bust out and kiss him the way I wanted to when he stood so close.
“Then she won’t find out,” he said. Matthew turned to the sink and helped me wash the rest of the dishes, and when we finished, I showed him to my room.
I hadn’t shown him sooner because I was embarrassed. My room was full of all the tell-tale signs of a nerd, Star Wars paraphernalia pretty much anywhere you looked, most of it vintage from seeing it and being obsessed with it when it first came out. The one thing Ras and I could really bond over, even to that day.
My other nerdy hobby was on display on my bedside table: an erotic novel with a very typical cover and a “Happy 20th Birthday” card signed “Mom and Dad” from that summer wedged into it to save my page. It was the only thing out of place, if you could call it that, as I maintained an immaculate living space, things put where they belonged, carpet vacuumed every other day, shelves and blinds dusted just as often, bed made, laundry cleaned and ironed and put away, and decor routinely rotated when I got tired of it (not that I could ever get tired of Star Wars).
I stepped into the middle of the room and did a slow spin with my arm out to show Matthew that… this was it. I had a full-size bed pressed into the corner, with the door and my dresser on the opposite long wall, and the closet on the opposite short wall, the window lining up with the center of my bed where I sometimes woke up from kicking it in my sleep.
Matthew shut the door on his way in and his face showed nothing but delight as he took in everything.
“Big room,” he said.
“Really? I always thought I could use a bigger one.” I had a lot of stuff.
“It’s twice the size of the room I grew up in. Though I did tend to have the whole house to myself, so I suppose it never bothered me.”
I took a seat on the edge of the bed, watching him as he wandered the room, carefully picking up Star Wars nick-nacks and examining them while he spoke. “So your mom and dad were never home?”
He glanced at me. “I never knew my father, and I’d wager my mother didn’t either.” He shrugged and set the X-wing back in its place, adjusting it until it sat in just the same position it had been in to begin with. “My mother regularly left me alone for a week at a time. She had more important things to do, I guess. I didn’t mind.”
“I’d love it if my mom left me alone for a whole week.”
He chuckled, and putting his hands into his pants pockets, he meandered toward me. Once he got to my side, Matthew sat on the bed next to me.
“So what do you want from me?” he asked, and when he saw my confusion he took my hand and continued. “I mean from earlier? When I said you could have anything. Have you thought about it?”
“Oh,” I said. I thought about it, looking at his face. “Not really.”
“Not at all?” Matthew tilted his head, and his eyes glanced over my lips. “I can make a few suggestions.”
He leaned toward me, and I thought he would stop to say something in a raspy, sultry voice, but instead, he kept going until his soft mouth caressed mine, slow like he always was until I finally got the courage to kiss him back. But this time, my parents were in the next room watching L.A. Law, and my heart beat my ribcage like a frantic marimba solo.
Matthew eased me onto my back, and climbed over me, legs on either side of my hips, to bend down and kiss me more. When my hands didn’t know where to go, he put them on his waist or his hips or his arms. When my glasses got in the way, he plucked them gently from my face and carefully set them on the table. When my shirt was in his way, he unbuttoned it and pushed it off my shoulders.
He unfastened my belt and reached his hand into my pants to caress the bulge in my underwear, and when I whimpered, he sat back with a huge smile. “Any ideas yet?”
“Maybe a few,” I said, my hands pushing up from his knees, across his thighs, to his hips.
“I’ll do all of them,” he said. “Anything you want. Even some of the things in this book.” He lifted my novel from the table, and I blushed.
“Shh. You’re not supposed to know I read that.”
“That bad, huh?”
He licked his lips, and with that cat-like smile, he slithered down to kiss me again, once, nipping at my lower lip. “If it makes you feel better, I can forget you read those novels. I can forget you can read at all.”
I snorted. “I’ll settle for…” It was hard to get myself to just say it, but I gathered up the courage. “A blowjob.”
“Predictable,” Matthew said. “Just one?”
“You can really only do one at a time, right?”
He laughed. “We’ll just play it by ear then.”
And that’s what we did. He let me blow my load in his mouth while I laid on the bed, and then a while later, I shushed him incessantly while I fucked him on his back. I froze when I heard people in the hall, but eventually, with some coaxing, I didn’t care anymore, at least not in that moment, and when we were done, we both faced the window, and I spooned him, unable to bring myself to request a reverse in cuddle positions.
In my hazy post-coital near-sleep, my thoughts wandered back to earlier that day, and what Matthew had said to me before Rush, and I found myself thinking: what did Matthew really want from me?