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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2040726-Once-Bitten-Twice-Shy
by beetle
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Gay/Lesbian · #2040726
Jaime and Luka both make mistakes . . . can they both learn to forgive, or is it over?
Summary: Written for the prompt: Your characters are meeting somewhere. One arrives before the other. The first to arrive has an encounter with someone else, and when their partner arrives they take what they see, and perhaps hear the wrong way. How does this play out in the relationship? Will it break them up? You get to decide if this makes or breaks your couple. We are going to use both characters for POV this lesson. Start with the person already waiting for the date to begin, and when their partner arrives, tell the rest of the story from their perspective. Sight will be key in this scene.




Jaime sat uncomfortably at the bar, craning his neck every which way, peering at all the dancing bodies between his own and the door.

No Luka.

Sighing, Jaime turned to face the bar reluctantly, his eyes seeking out the mirror behind said bar. In its reflection he could still see the door, without straining his neck and looking like a total nervous wreck.

He was very aware of the men around him, all dancing, chatting, and laughing, some even making out. It was a bit disconcerting. He’d never been to a gay bar before—or any kind of bar—and his anxiety was near the roof. The Klonopin he’d taken before leaving was doing next to nothing to calm his nerves. And without Luka to distract him, his anxieties, social and otherwise, were raging nearly unchecked.

Meeting his own gaze in the mirror, almost lost amongst the many bottles of booze, Jaime sighed.

“Now that’s a shame,” an accented voice said suddenly, causing Jaime to start and look around. A tallish, young guy in mirrored sunglasses, with skin the color of freshly-perked coffee and bleach-blond dreads, was smiling at him from around the neck of a bottle of Red Stripe beer. “A face as pretty as yours shouldn’t be so long.”

Jaime blinked, confused. “Uh. . . .”

“Gorgeous,” the guy laughed. “You’re nothin’ less than gorgeous.” He made a show of glancing to either side of Jaime. “I think it’s also a shame that you’re here alone. Would you allow me to rectify that?”

Jaime blinked again. “Um.”

“That is, if you are here alone?” The guy briefly pushed down his sunglasses, revealing dark, dancing eyes that swept up and down Jaime rather boldly.

Jaime blushed. “Actually . . . I’m waiting for someone.”

“And, fortunately for you, he’s arrived!” the guy exclaimed over the techno blare, moving closer to Jaime and sliding an arm around his shoulders. Jaime, unused to being touched—except, at this point, by Luka—was too startled to even flinch away. Or even to stop the guy from leading him away from the bar and the dance floor, toward the bathrooms, talking a mile a minute.

“—never seen you here, before. Not that I come here often. I’m Rory, by the way,” the guy—Rory—leaned in to breathe against Jaime’s ear, his breath moist and warm . . . a stark contrast to Rory’s beer, which was resting against Jaime’s collar bone.

Now, Jaime began to move away. “Listen, I—” he began, but Rory’s arm around him tightened.

“What’s your name, darlin’?” Rory purred, his tongue flicking out to lick Jaime’s ear lobe, and Jaime shuddered, flinching away from the taller man who, it seemed, was having none of it. The arm that was around Jaime shifted, and suddenly the ice-cold bottom edge of the bottle of Red Stripe was tracing a chilly, wet circle around Jaime’s nipple through his t-shirt. The unexpected stimulus made him shiver and think of Luka, and the times that ice cubes had been a part of their foreplay. . . .

And Rory’s tongue was in his ear, which sent all kinds of confusing signals to his body. For a few disoriented second, Jaime stood stock-still amid the shifting bodies surrounding them, and Rory continued to trace his nipple with the bottle, nibble at his ear and—alarmingly, out of nowhere—he put his free hand on Jaime’s crotch and began to stroke.

A low, inadvertent moan escape Jaime at this new contact, and his eyes fluttered shut.

“That’s it, baby,” Rory murmured, hot and humid as he got them walking once more. “Come with me.”

Then the arm over Jaime’s shoulders was tightening as he was lead almost implacably, inescapably toward the bathrooms.

The guys they passed began to take notice and started to hoot and whistle and clap, and Jaime blushed, mortified. But, like a catalyst, the sound of their applause snapped him out of his complacence and he stopped, not ten feet from the bathrooms.

“What’s the matter, sweet-thang?” Rory asked, peering at him over his mirrored shades. His eyes were still dark and dancing, but a little impatient, now. Jaime shrank away from him, as much as the other man’s iron-grip would allow.

“I—I—have a b-boyfriend?” Jaime stammered, and Rory’s eyebrows shot up. He seemed amused. “And I’m—meeting him here?”

“You don’t sound like you’re too sure about that, darlin,’” Rory said rather condescendingly.

“Well, I can be sure for the both of us,” a low, calm, but ice-hard voice said from behind Jaime. Relieved, he shrugged Rory’s arm off him, hard, and turned around to see Luka, standing there, his eyes as calm and ice-hard as his voice, his mouth curved in an unpleasant smile. He was staring at Rory, and if looks could kill, the other man would’ve been dead in a pool of his own blood.

Rory, who’d turned with Jaime, glanced between the two of them.

“Uh,” he said, holding up his hands in a no harm, no foul gesture. “You must be the boyfriend.”

“I must be,” Luka said flatly.

Rory’s face split in a shit-eating grin. “Sorry, bro. Didn’t realize he was taken. I saw a pretty face, all alone at the bar and, well, you know how it goes, right?”

Luka didn’t answer, and Jaime was reluctant to do more than move to stand by his side.

Rory’s grin faltered when Luka merely continued to stare him down. “So. Anyway. No offense intended. I’ll just let you two lovebirds have some alone-time. Nice meeting you,” he said, ducking into the dancing crowd. In moments, he was submerged and gone, not a dreadlock to be seen.

Jaime looked up at Luka, who was still staring off into the crowd where Rory had disappeared.

After a few moments, without saying anything, or even so much as looking at Jaime, he turned, and left, shouldering his way through the happy, gyrating crowd.

*


“Luka!”

Luka kept walking till he reached the exit. Once outside, the cool air felt bracing on his heated, flushed skin. He paused for a second in the doorway and looked up at the stars.

Then he stalked off to his truck.

He’d just buckled himself in and started it when Jaime opened the passenger side door and hopped in. He shut the door meekly, and put a hand on Luka’s, where it rested on the gearshift.

“Please, Luka,” he said softly. “At least look at me.”

For long moments, Luka sat staring ahead of him, at the back exit of PrimeTime. At last, he looked at Jaime, and the rage that made his heart beat hard, his eyeballs throb, and his hands shake didn’t know whether to grow, or to dissipate. All he knew was that Jaime was beautiful . . . and vulnerable.

Part of Luka wanted to strike out at that vulnerability . . . to hurt the way he’d been hurt.

But another part of Luka wanted nothing more than to pull Jaime into his arms and hold him. Be reassured that Jaime was his and his alone. . . .

In the end, he did neither.

“You let that creep touch you,” Luka said, looking back out the windshield and gritting his teeth. Another large part of Luka wanted to go back into PrimeTime and beat the shit out of the guy who’d touched what was Luka’s.

“I didn’t mean to,” Jaime said earnestly. “One moment he was talking to me, and the next, he was all over me and dragging me away from the bar.” Sighing, Jaime squeezed Luka’s hand. “Everything was so noisy and bright and confusing, and I couldn’t focus on what was happening—”

“That’s no excuse.”

“I didn’t mean it to be an excuse, just an explanation.” Jaime shifted in the passenger seat, leaning closer to Luka. “I’ve never . . . no one’s ever tried to do to me . . . whatever it was Rory was trying to do to me. I didn’t know how to respond.”

“How about telling that bastard you had a boyfriend, hmm?” Now Luka turned a glare on Jaime, which made him quail. Something that made Luka feel guilty and triumphant, all at once.

“I did tell him, Luka.”

“Not until he had his fucking hand all over your crotch!”

“I told you, Luka, I was confused since that’d never happened to me before! I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t do anything at first! Then I came to my senses and told him I have a boyfriend.” Jaime blinked and a tear rolled down his face. One that he hastily wiped away. “Please don’t hate me for not knowing what to do in a situation I’ve never been in before.”

“Regardless of whether or not you’d been in that situation before, the first words out of your mouth to that slimeball should’ve been: Piss off, I have someone.” Luka felt wet heat building behind his eyes, but he blinked it back. “If that’s not something that comes naturally to you. . . .”

“Then, what? You’ll keep giving me the cold shoulder? You’ll break up with me?” Jaime demanded, suddenly angry. But more tears rolled down his face. “Don’t forget, Luka, it was your idea to come here! I didn’t want to go to a club. I don’t drink and I can’t dance. But you insisted we come here! Then I get here, and you’re an hour late, leaving me alone in that . . . viper-pit, to be either ignored or groped by strangers! Why?”

Luka laughed ruefully. “Oh, so now it’s my fault you let some scumbag touch you? Is that how it’s gonna be, then? Every time I run a little late, you let the first guy who gives you the eye, do whatever he wants with you?”

No! Luka—” Jaime huffed out an irritated breath and hung his head. “I was flustered and shocked and—I froze. Plain and simple. I’m not saying there’s any excuse for that, just a reason. I don’t do well in social situations, and you know that about me. I’ve never been hit on or—whatever Rory was trying to do back there. I froze, Luka. Out of fear and anxiety and confusion. And I’m asking you to forgive me for that, and accept that I don’t always know how to react in social settings when I’m flustered. Which is almost always. I’m always afraid I’m misreading the situation and that I’ll do the wrong thing.”

“What’s to misread? He was all over you, Jaime!” Luka shook his head angrily though, quite against his will, his anger was fading, to be replaced by hurt and . . . fear. Fear that, only a few months into their relationship, he’d already lost Jaime, somehow. Or worse, that he’d never had Jaime to begin with. “I thought . . . I thought we loved each other—”

“We do!” Jaime exclaimed forcefully. “I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known. So much that thinking about it and feeling it hurts because it’s so big and scary and all-encompassing. I would never purposely jeopardize what we have just to get groped by some creepy bar-fly! You have to love me enough and trust me enough to believe that, and accept that it was not something I wanted and it will never happen again.

Luka looked away from Jaime’s intense, sincere, hopeful face. “I’ve been burned like this before, you know. I promised myself that I’d never let it happen again,” he says quietly, and Jaime’s hand slowly slid off of Luka’s. “I refuse to let it happen again.”

“So . . . you either stopped trusting me, or you never did.” Jaime’s voice was still and composed. Too still and composed. Luka knew that that composure was a front for Jaime’s hurt and sadness. His disappointment. But he couldn’t look at Jaime. Couldn’t say the words Jaime wanted him to say because he wasn’t sure he could mean them, anymore.

He had to protect himself, didn’t he? Had to shield his heart, no matter how much he might want to open it completely, and trust that Jaime would treat it well?

He couldn’t just . . . let it go . . . right? Couldn’t just accept that, as Jaime had said, he hadn’t known how to react and froze out of fright—being totally unable to process what was going on because it had never gone on for him, before? And that, now that he knew what to do, Jaime would never allow it to happen again?

How could Luka accept all of that?

The passenger side door opened and shut gently. By the time Luka could summon the courage to look, Jaime was long gone.

*


Luka had been standing at the front door to Jaime’s building for nearly an hour, his finger hovering near the buzzer, before one of Jaime’s neighbors, Mrs. Lansky, came out with her excitable pug, Winston, and held the door for him to go in.

“Thanks,” Luka said absently, as he went in. Mrs. Lansky smiled a bit anxiously.

“Any time, Luka. And say ‘hi’ to Jaime for me, will you? I haven’t seen him in weeks—he never answers his door anymore when I knock, and I . . . worry about him.”

Luka frowned. “Weeks? How many weeks?”

Mrs. Lansky gave it some thought. “Why, at least three—probably closer to four.” She sighed. “I know he’s an anxious boy, and he doesn’t get out much, but he used to at least go for walks, or knock on my door to say ‘hello,’ and play with my little Winston.”

“I see,” Luka said, looking down the dimly lit hallway and up the stairs toward Jaime’s second floor apartment.

It’d been almost four weeks, to the day since the incident at PrimeTime.

In that four weeks, Luka and Jaime hadn’t spoken or written to each other.

“Anyway, tell him I said ‘hi,’ and make sure he’s alright, will you?” Mrs. Lansky called after Luka, who was already dashing up the stairs two at a time.

“I will!” he called back. “I will!”

At Jaime’s door, hand poised to knock, Luka paused, and listened.

No music. Jaime always had some kind of music playing or movie. The background noise calmed him, he said.

But now, there was no noise, whatsoever.

Sudden dread and fear racing up his spine, Luka leaned against the door and knocked. “Jaime? Jaime, it’s—me. Luka. Are you home?”

No answer. And still . . . no answer, five minutes later, after repeated knocks.

Maybe he doesn’t want to see me. I couldn’t blame him, after the way I treated him . . . have been treating him. Or maybe . . . maybe he’s not home.

But that latter thought made Luka shake his head. Jaime was in there. Had been for the past month, maybe waiting for Luka to come to his senses, or, worse: despairing that Luka would never come to his senses.

Have I come to my senses? Am I ready to—can I get past this silliness?

For the first time in a month, Luka received an answer from within. Not from his cynical brain, but from his sore and bereft heart.

It may take a more time, but I have to get past it. Because it may have taken him a minute to know how to react, but he did tell that asshole he had a boyfriend. Because I refuse to let some random shit-heels ruin the best thing I’ve ever had. Because I love Jaime, and I don’t think I can live without him. This past month has been slow torture. . . .

“Jaime . . . I’m coming in. Even if I have to break the door down to do it. But I’m hoping I won’t have to. I’m hoping . . . that you still love me enough to let me in,” Luka called, his voice a shaking wave that broke on the beach of his hopes. “I’m sorry, Jaime. I fucked up. But I . . . I still love you. I’ll always love you. Let me in.”

After another minute of no response—but perhaps, if he wasn’t just imagining it, the near-inaudible click of a disengaging lock?—Luka held his breath, reached for the knob, and turned it.

END

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