by A. J. Jensen
Joshua, a college Freshman and Kane, a Junior first cross paths.
Joshua was sitting on a bench.
He had been waiting outside the university building for almost three hours before he finally decided to get up and look for the housing he would be living in until graduation. This was his first time being away from home, and he was already a nervous wreck. Joshua had never lived on his own. Although he would have a roommate according to what the receptionist at the registration office had told him. This was still a big step into the real world for him.
The large courtyard was overflowing with students and their families talking amongst one another smiling, laughing and others were waving at anyone who passed by. Joshua stood up from the steel bench and reached into the back pocket of his jeans, and withdrew a small white sheet of paper with writing scribbled across it. He looked it over carefully and read the apartment number assigned to him. Joshua reached down and grabbed his large duffel bag off the ground next to his feet, and started making his way around the campus. After what seemed like an eternity of walking, Joshua still couldn’t find them. He groaned.
Joshua shielded his eyes from the warm setting sun and watched as more cars pulled into the campus parking lot that had looked almost full already. Most of the cars Joshua suspected, belonged to students who had driven to the university themselves. The rest belonged to parents who dropped their teenagers off. Young men and women stepped out of the vehicles with a bag or two dangling from each hand or shoulder. Some, mostly girls, pulled suitcase after suitcase out from the trunks of their father's overpriced vehicles. Parents were saying their final goodbyes with tears in their eyes. They gave their sons and daughters hugs and kisses before they left them to begin a new journey in college.
The scenes that played in front of him reminded Joshua about all those special animal programs he used to watch on Animal Planet back home. The one's about those mother birds that taught their children how to fly, until she knew they were ready and released from the warmth of her nest, and into the big bad world that awaited them to fend for themselves. The mother birds knew they had done everything they could possibly do to teach their children how to survive on their own. No matter how hard or sad it might have been to let them go, children had to grow up sometime and didn’t need their parents to protect them forever.
Joshua continued to walk, his eyes focused on the sheet in his hand and wasn’t paying attention to what was ahead of him. He crashed into something solid. The force of the impact was strong. So strong that his ass and bag hit the pavement so hard Joshua thought he was going to break it. He looked up surprised.
“What?” His hazel eyes widened as he took in the sight standing over him.
“What the fuck?!” A guy in a black, short-sleeve, buttoned-up shirt and dark jeans growled at him through electric green eyes. The first two buttons at the top of the shirt were undone. Joshua noticed some dark curly hair reaching up his chest. “Watch where you're going!”
“I-I'm sorry,” His heart hammering, Joshua scrambled to stand up. He was so shaken he nearly tottered back off his feet, but steadied himself. Joshua waved his hands in front of himself in surrender, and took a few steps back and away from the young man. “I-I didn't mean to bump into you. I'm really sorry.”
“Well, you did!” The young man gritted his teeth and folded his arms over his chest, his shoulders casting a shadow over Joshua. Incredibly wide shoulders. Joshua couldn’t help but look at his muscles. “And what exactly were you doing that you didn't see me standing here? It's not that hard to miss me, don't you think?”
Joshua turned away for a moment, flushing with embarrassment as if he had just been caught checking him out. His cheeks turned a deep red. Joshua took another glance at the sheet biting his lower lip nervously. This was the first day of his college life experience and he was already making enemies. Way to go, Joshua!
“S-Sorry,” Joshua said after a few moments, one hand patting his heart to calm himself. “It's just that I...um...barely graduated from high school this past year. This is my first time attending college, being on my own, and away from my parents. It's all new to me, so I—“
Joshua wasn’t sure if there was anything else he could possibly say that would have made any difference with this guy. It was Joshua’s mistake after all. If he hadn't been so focused on the sheet in his hands, and had watched where he was going by taking quick glances at his surroundings every few seconds, none of this would have happened. He would not have collided with this guy in the first place.
“Well you should be more careful,” The young man chastised angrily, cutting him off. Joshua flinched a little and almost lost his balance again, but this time the stranger reached out to steady him. His touch lasted only seconds. But it was enough. Joshua thought he saw the corners of his mouth rise in what looked like a smile but he couldn't be sure. Very hot lips. The young man continued. “This isn't high school anymore, kid. There are no parents here to protect you either. You're in college now. I'd be a little more cautious if I were you.”
“I know. I usually am—careful, I mean—but I was reading this paper that was given to me when I registered for fall classes during the summer, and...” Joshua waved it in front of him, flushing under his piercing green gaze. Why am I babbling like this? “I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I've been trying to find the housing for a while now, and in this enormous campus, it's impossible.”
“So, you're a freshman?” The young man's tone changed as he smiled, revealing white teeth that reflected brightly in the dusty air. He took a step towards Joshua. That smile alone almost made Joshua melt where he stood. It was perfect. Now that he was standing so close, Joshua took in his height. Joshua wasn't that tall. He was about five foot six, and if he could guess, the young man was about four inches taller than him.
“Y-Yeah,” Joshua said in a soft voice, blushing at the sudden change in the young man's tone. It was like his clothing, soft, rich, almost beckoning compared to earlier. The dim light of the sun fell gently on his short, brown hair and shoulders almost like an aura—very appropriate for a guardian angel. Joshua thought as he pushed away some messy strands of black hair from his face. He had to clear his throat before he could speak, his mind filled with images of solid, rock-hard abs under that snug shirt. He rolled his eyes. “I know that's a lame excuse. You've probably heard it so many times, huh?” Joshua said. Then with a grin added, “I'm such a klutz.”
“Pretty much,” The young man shrugged, his arms were still crossed. He walked over to a large oak tree Joshua hadn't even noticed was there until now. He leaned against it, and laughed. The sound of it made Joshua get a warm sensation run throughout his body. The young man brought a finger up and tapped his lips lightly as if he was thinking of what to say next. “Now that you mention it, I’ve actually heard it ten times today,” he pointed at Joshua. “Eleven with yours. That's why I shouted when you bumped into me. Sorry if I scared you. I didn't know, and you are certainly no klutz.”
The word sounded wrong coming from his lips. He had a strange way of speaking, as if English weren’t his first language, although Joshua couldn’t identify any accent. He grinned at his gallantry but had to blurt, “That’s ‘cause you don’t know me.”
The young man smiled again, and Joshua was lost in his stare. And for a second he had an odd certainty that he’d argue, but I do know you...
“Maybe not,” The young man replied. But I'd like to, he thought to himself, the smile never once leaving his flawless face. What was it about this kid that made him feel so comfortable to be around? If it had been any other person, he would have pummeled them to the ground as soon as they had touched him. But no, not this kid. This kid was different somehow. The way he looked in that yellow t-shirt, converse and jeans. And the way he stared into his green eyes with those remarkable hazel ones. So innocent. He was beautiful. “Don't worry about it, kid. It happens.”
“I'm not so sure about that,” Joshua smiled and met the young man's eyes. He started to feel a strange connection towards him, and didn't know why. Something Joshua had never felt with anyone else before. Not his one and only ex-boyfriend, Caleb. Although they had only dated for almost nine months during their senior year, Joshua thought they were happy together and in love. He was wrong. Joshua had found Caleb making out with another guy from their school one night; a jock who Joshua knew had been in the closet ever since conception.
Ever since that night, Joshua didn't think he could ever trust anyone to get close to him like that again. He would usually stay up late every night during the entire summer thinking about how unworthy his life was, until now. He felt different with this guy standing before him. But what if he wasn't into guys? Joshua wondered to himself. This guy was too perfect to play for the 'same team'. So why did he feel this way towards someone—a guy—he knew he could and would never have? Joshua shook his head. “It wasn't your fault. I'm just so nervous about this whole new college life experience, you know?”
“I know what you mean. We've all been there at one time or another,” the young man laughed, staring deep into Joshua's eyes. He was trying to read the expression on his face to see if Joshua had felt something too. No matter how strange it sounded. He didn't care. It was the way Joshua kept taking quick glances at his arms and body the entire time as if he hadn't noticed him doing it. He was sure there was something there and not just in his imagination. Maybe there was hope for him, yet. He stretched one long arm towards Joshua, and smirked. “I'm Kane by the way.”
Joshua did the same. Once their hands met, his heart raced and he thought it was going to burst out of his chest. He stared directly into Kane's eyes. To his surprise, Kane had very soft hands. Like silk over smooth stones, and so warm just to touch. Oh God. This guy really was too good to be true.
Kane was the type of guy anyone could easily fall in love with. The kind of guy every girl dreamed about and wanted—tall, dark and handsome. Joshua imagined himself waking up next to a guy like Kane every morning. Those large, strong arms holding him tightly, caressing him, his back against Kane's massive body. Joshua would never want him to let go.
“And you are?” Kane asked into the silence that followed when Joshua hadn't responded. He couldn't help but smile to himself. This new kid was getting cuter and cuter every second that passed by. Kane was learning so much about Joshua in the few minutes they had spent together. He raised an eyebrow. “Hey. Are you all right, kid?”
“Huh?” Joshua finally said, snapping out of his own little world he'd manifested in his mind, and realized Kane was still holding his hand which looked small compared to Kane's. Joshua had been trapped somewhere between fantasy and reality. He wished with all his might this could come true, but knew none of it would. Kane was straight after all. But a guy could dream, couldn't he? Joshua shook his head. “Sorry. What did you say again?”
“Your name?” Kane repeated. He wanted to know what Joshua was thinking about. If he could guess, it almost looked to him like Joshua had been daydreaming or something. He grinned. “What's your name? I'm Kane.”
“Oh. Right?” Joshua smiled guiltily like a kid after being caught with his hand in a cookie jar. He felt the blood rush into his cheeks. What's wrong with me? “I'm...um...Joshua. My name is Joshua.”
“It's nice to meet you, Joshua,” Kane dropped his hand and tilted his head to one side. He narrowed his green eyes, curious about what had occurred inside Joshua's mind just now. “Where’d you go? You seemed lost for a second.”
“What do you mean?” Joshua asked as he glanced at a young couple no older than him walking together, side by side on the sidewalk next to where Kane and him stood. The guy was wearing a black-polo shirt, khaki shorts and black sandals on his feet. He had short, messy blonde hair that was apparently product free, Joshua thought, but it still looked quite nice.
Joshua wasn't lucky when it came to his hair. He always needed to use more than one styling product at a time usually to get his hair to his liking. He used gel, mousse or paste usually, and pomade for that additional wet-look shine. Joshua hated that, but was always happy with the results.
The girl on the other hand, was wearing a pair of dark Capri’s and a yellow tank top that showed off her beautiful figure, and sandals that revealed her perfectly pedicure feet, which must have cost her parents a fortune. Her brunette hair was up in a pony tail, and a green shoulder bag was hanging against her chest and around her back. They were talking and laughing at something one of them would say, their hands entwined, and looked like they were in love.
Joshua wished he could be doing that with his boyfriend this very moment. Of course, he needed to find one first. Joshua was sure he'd seen a few good-looking guys he knew were 'like' him the whole time he sat on the bench. And this was college after all, so Joshua knew he could and most definitely would find a boyfriend during his time at Wesmer University. Or was he fooling himself with such thoughts? Joshua had never been that lucky when it came to dating girls. Although that idea had never crossed his mind since the fifth grade when he knew he was into boys. Now when it came to dating guys, that's where the real trouble was. Joshua had had only one boyfriend, and that didn't last long. He sighed. “Nowhere. I'm fine.”
“O-kay,” Kane said. He didn't believe Joshua for one minute. There was something he wasn't telling him, and was keeping it from him. But Kane didn't want to push the matter farther, so he let it go. He shrugged. “If you say so.”
“What's that supposed to mean?!” Joshua asked a little too loudly, and crossed his arms over his slender chest. This guy was good. It was like Kane could read his mind and knew what he was thinking, or something. Was he that transparent when it came to certain things? Joshua wasn't sure. “I said I’m fine.”
“Nothing, nothing,” Kane shrugged again, holding back a laugh that was desperately wanting to escape. This kid was something else. But that was exactly what made Kane want to get to know Joshua even more. Kane saw himself falling in love with a guy like Joshua, and building a future together. I wonder if he is seeing anyone? Kane thought to himself, and hated himself for those words once he had thought them. He ran a hand through his thick hair. And just like that, all his hopes of ever having a chance with Joshua started to slip away as fast as falling for him had come. He shook the thoughts immediately away. His heart falling to his feet, and he asked in a shaky voice in a way that wasn't too obvious. “So, you were looking for the apartments, right?”
“Um, yeah,” Joshua said with a hopeful expression on his face. Relief passed through him like a weight lifted from his body. He was thankful to find somebody that knew their way around this 'astronomical' prison they called a campus. “Do you know where I can find them?”
“Really?” Joshua asked wondering if Kane was going to tell him or make him find out on his own. He stared at his feet, and then back up. “Where are they?”
Kane stood there contemplating if he should take Joshua there himself, or simply point him in the right direction. Kane knew the university inside and out. He had already attended two years, and would begin his third term when classes started in the next couple of days, but he wasn't sure if Joshua would want him to go along with him even if he offered. Kane was also surprised Joshua was still speaking to him instead of turning around and running in the other direction from the moment he'd yelled at Joshua for bumping into him. But he never did, and Kane wondered why.
Kane shook his head. The thoughts replayed over in his mind. What was going on here? He blinked, and then sighed. He couldn't put his finger on it. “You won't find them here on campus.”
He did not just say that? Joshua thought. “What do you mean I won't find them on campus?” Joshua looked at Kane with a look of confusion all over his face, he knew. He asked once again. “Then where are they?”
Kane smirked. For a moment he felt sorry for him. Joshua had spent most of his day, it seemed, looking for the dorms on campus. “I'm sorry to break the news to you, kid, but—”
“But what?” Joshua asked even more confused than before. He didn't know what Kane had meant by that, or where he was going with it. Joshua just wanted to get to his dorm and lay down after a long day of being on the road and taking a self-tour of the entire campus for the past six hours. He was exhausted.
Kane didn't want this to get any worse for Joshua than it already had, but there was no choice. He had to tell him. He placed his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “The only things you'll find on campus grounds are the classrooms, lockers and lunchroom.”
Joshua's jaw dropped. “You've got to be kidding me?” He said, anger radiating throughout his entire body. He began to feel it build within him like an over-heated car that was ready to blow at any time due to lack of water to cool it off before it was too late. He wanted to scream.
“I wish I was,” Kane said regrettably. Poor guy. He lifted his right arm, and motioned his hand towards the direction he was referring to. “The apartments you're looking for are across the street, about two and a half miles away.”
Joshua followed his gaze, and there across the street in the far distance, he saw them. White buildings. At least that‘s the color they looked like to Joshua from this distance. He squinted to try and get a better look to no avail. Joshua turned away from Kane, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and held it. He started counting from one to ten under his breath. Something his mother had taught him and his little brothers to do when they got upset. When Joshua finished counting, he let out his breath slowly, and turned back to face Kane. Joshua pointed a finger at the buildings, and asked a little calm. “Are those really the apartments that belong with this university?”
“I'm afraid so,” Kane replied.
“I thought they were like apartments anyone looking for a place of their own could lease out or something. Not for college students.” Joshua said. He felt so humiliated for not realizing it in the first place that that's where he needed to go. If he had known, Joshua wouldn't have wasted his whole afternoon looking for them. He could have been relaxing on a bed by now and resting after the five hour drive his parents had to take to reach this destination when they dropped him off this morning.
“It never occurred to me that those belonged with the university,” Joshua cursed to himself, and hoped Kane hadn't heard it. “See, they didn't give me an address or name of the apartments when I registered, so I figured they'd be on campus.”
“Well, whoever gave you that paper must of been a douche for not providing you that important piece of information. I mean seriously, who does that? That fucker!” Kane spit the last words out. He didn't know why he felt so overprotective of Joshua. Like he already belonged with him and no one else. A guy he had barely met. Kane just felt like he had to for some reason. He met Joshua's eyes, his face calm. “Well, I'm heading there now. Would you like a ride?”
What? Joshua was speechless. He stood on the sidewalk, paralyzed, his shoes cemented to the pavement underneath his feet. Did I hear that correctly? Joshua couldn't respond to what Kane had said. He didn't know how. Not to mention the fact that Kane would be staying at the same apartments as he was. Joshua hadn't seen that one coming. Then again, Kane did look like the type of guy who would rather live alone in an apartment or a house somewhere.
“It's okay,” Joshua finally spoke after what seemed like an eternity. He took two steps towards Kane, closing some of the empty space between them. He smiled. “And thanks.”
Kane folded his arms. He was caught off-guard with that last sentence. Kane hadn't expected Joshua to say “thank you” to him. He furrowed his eyebrows. “For what?”
“For calling the man that didn't give me an address a douche,” Joshua paused, and then grinned. “And the other word, too.”
“Oh. That,” Kane said as a smile crossed his face. He waved a hand in mid-air as if he was swatting a fly that wasn't there, or Joshua couldn’t see. “It's nothing, really. I just hate when people do stupid shit like that. Like they don't care. As long as they get their paychecks.”
“It's a big deal for me,” Joshua said in a voice so soft that sounded like it belonged to a small child's and not a grown boy's. He shrugged as he said, “It's just that, um, nobody has ever done or wanted to do something like that for me in my entire life. Especially not someone I barely met.”
“Like I said, it's nothing,” Kane looked away, embarrassed. His cheeks felt hot for a moment. Nobody had ever made him blush since he could remember. No matter how hard a person had tried to so many times before, they couldn't do it. At least not so easily as Joshua had done just now. Kane met Joshua's eyes again, and smirked before he changed the subject back to his original question. “So would you like a ride to the apartments, or not? Like I said, they're about two and a half miles away, and you look exhausted. I won't mind.”
“Oh. Um,” Joshua said in an uncomfortable voice. He looked around for a few seconds. When he finally turned back to face Kane, Joshua noticed he was waiting for an answer with hopeful eyes. Oh God. Those pair of emeralds. It was like they could almost see right through him. Joshua had an odd feeling Kane usually got what he wanted. But then again, Kane had helped him enough. What's the worse that could happen? Joshua picked up his duffel bag off the ground, and smiled. “I-I guess that would be fine.”
“Awesome!” Kane said a little too enthusiastic than he meant to. But it was too late. It had already come out. He cleared his throat. “I mean great. Ready?”
Joshua couldn't help but smile at him. Why did Kane have to be so hot as hell? I couldn't even say “NO” to a simple ride. This might be harder than I thought. He nodded. “Yeah, okay.”
“Cool. Let's go. My car is right over there,” Kane pointed to a black Corvette parked on the other side of the parking lot. Of course it had to be black. It even looked brand new. Exactly who was this guy?
Kane swung the set of car keys around his thick index finger as they began to make their way towards the car. The Corvette beeped when Kane pressed a button on the small, black device in his palm. The communication from the system in the car made the front and back lights flash twice, letting them know it was safe to approach the vehicle and get inside.
Once they reached the car, Kane followed Joshua to the passenger's side, and opened the door for him. Joshua definitely hadn't expected that. He looked up at Kane surprised. Could there be more to this guy than just his designer clothing, money and nice ride? Or should I say hot ride? He thought to himself. Joshua's heart started to beat ten times over the normal rate.
Joshua was about to open his mouth and protest, but Kane just dismissed it with a smile. He took the bag from Joshua's hand as if it had weighed nothing, and motioned him to get inside. When Joshua did, Kane shut the door, and opened the back door of his car. He dropped the bag on the black leather seat, then made his way around towards the driver's side, and got in.
Kane brought the car roaring to life. Joshua could feel the car vibrating underneath his feet. The sound of the loud motor reminded Joshua of a noise a beast would make after waking up from a very long rest, and ready for a meal. Joshua put his seat-belt on as Kane pulled out of the parking lot, and drove off.
Chapter 2 coming soon...