Authors: Aria Grace
Published by Surrendered Press
Copyright © 2012 by Aria Grace
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is fictitious. All references to ancient, historical events, persons living or dead, locations and places are used in a fictitious manner. Any other names, characters, incidents and places are derived from the author’s own imagination. Similarities to persons living or dead, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
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Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, December 2012
Bonus Excerpt from More Than Friends:
Walking into the dorm building that I’d be spending my first year of college in was the most terrifying experience of my life. I’d studied the bio of my new roommate, Brett Garrison, and he was exactly the type of person I didn’t get along with. He came from Los Angeles and was some big shot on his high school football team so I knew that he’d probably think of me as easy bullying material. They all did.
Apparently, he had some injury during the spring that kept him from playing college ball but that didn’t mean his ‘tough jock’ mentality was lost. I was more of an academic type. I didn’t play sports that required coordination beyond using a game
controller and I wasn’t muscular. My mom called me lithe. The kids I grew up with called me a fag. I’m not gay but I guess small features and a lack of arm and chest definition were enough to consider me effeminate by most standards.
I wished more than ever that some of my friends had decided to escape the rain and come to school with me in Northern California. But, I was alone. It was the first time in my life that I was going to be away from my family and friends. Even the camps I’d attended as
a kid always included at least two or three buddies.
I walked into my n
ew room to find an enormous guy sprawled on the lower bunk, snoring like a freight train. I was relieved to have a few more minutes of peace but I knew I had to meet him eventually. Feeling awkward about being in the room with a sleeping stranger, I dragged in my luggage and let the door close loudly behind me. Having flown in from Portland, I didn’t bring much other than clothes and my laptop.
I fiddled with my computer bag while Brett woke up and groggily greeted me.
“Hey, you must be Mike. Good to meet you.” He hopped up from the bed and reached out to shake. His thick hand looked like it would crush mine so I instinctively winced as he grabbed it. Surprisingly, he didn’t take the opportunity to assert his dominance. He just shook my hand like a normal person. So far, so good.
“And, you must be Brett. Sorry I woke you.” He wiped the sleep out of his eyes and I pictured him working out on a beach with hoards of women gawking.
Brett was a typical jock with short blond hair that was shaved on the sides and a little spiky on top. He appeared to enjoy the sun because his blue eyes were the most dominant feature on his tanned face. They seemed friendly enough that I felt some of the tension leave my body.
“No worries, man. I got in late last night and was unpacking for most of the day.
Just wanted to take a quick nap before dinner. What time is it?” He walked back to the bed and grabbed his phone to check the time. “You hungry?”
“Uh, no, thanks. I should probably unpack and get settled. I’ll grab something later.” I looked around the room to determine where to start.
There was a desk and dresser on each side of the room. A set of bunk beds sat right in the middle, dividing the large space in half. It reminded me of the way my brothers often pinned a sheet down the middle of their room to designate sides.
The dresser on the left had some pictures on it and the desk was already set up with a laptop and speakers s
o I walked toward the right. “Is this my side?”
“Yeah, I hope you don’t mind. The room was set up like this so I just left it but if you want to change anything, go ahead. I don’t really care.” The bunk
beds seemed a little silly but it did make the room feel larger than it would have with the beds separated so I just shook my head.
“No, this is fine with me. I guess you want the bottom bunk?” I was silently praying he would say yes because being higher and somewhat hidden would probably be the only privacy I’d get all year.
“Yeah, I don’t trust these flimsy boards. And, I tend to come in late so I don’t want to bother you by climbing up after you’ve gone to sleep.” I wanted to tell him that he didn’t have to worry about any late nights from me but I was sure he could tell. Some things don’t need to be pointed out.
I unloaded my computer on the desk and quickly put my clothes into the dresser, waiting for him to leave so I could relax. He sat on his bed tossing a football into the air while watching me unpack. It didn’t take as long as I expected so when I turned around, he stood up and said, “Let’s go.”
“Okay,” I muttered as I followed him into the hallway. I didn’t want to risk running into any of his friends but I didn’t have a reasonable excuse for staying behind...and I was really hungry.
I felt like a child walking next to him. He was at least 6’4” and had to weigh 240. He looked like he was solid muscle so the 140 pounds of my 5’9” frame was definitely intimidated.
I had wavy brown hair that was cut shorter than usual but still covered my eyes and ears when I felt the urge to hide. My blue eyes were the only proof that I was actually a Higgens. My dad had eyes that my brothers and I all inherited. Of course, they were the only kids to get his height and build.
As we walked across campus to the main cafeteria, he asked a ton of questions about where I was from and what I liked to do. He didn’t make fun of me or make me feel inferior, which was a nice surprise. He seemed genuinely interested in hearing about the online comic strip I drew with a few friends back home and confided that he liked to draw too but had never shown anyone his work.
I was surprised by how much we had in common. He didn’t act like any of the jocks I’d known growing up. I quickly realized that even if we weren’t ever best friends, I didn’t have to worry about him kicking my ass for sport on a daily basis. Thank God for small miracles!
Once school started, we quickly settled into a regular routine. Brett woke up at the crack of dawn and went for a run and then we’d go to the nearest cafe for breakfast before going our separate ways for classes.
He was really smart and studying to be a biologist. We had English Lit together on Mondays and Wednesdays at eleven but that was the only class that overlapped. I’d completed several general ed classes at the community college during my senior year in high school so most of my classes were math and engineering focused.
I met a few guys, Colin and Josh, which were on the same engineering track I was on so we
hung out most nights to study and work on an app. The app started out as an extra credit project but we realized it actually had a market value.
would connect people that were looking for partners for gaming tournaments. It was designed to be an add-on to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Between the three of us, we were confident we could have something ready for beta testing within a few months.
While I spent every evening in,
Brett went out most nights and didn’t come back until after midnight. That gave me a lot of time to study and work on the app.
College life was more fun than I expected and rooming with one of the “cool kids” gave me some clout around the jocks. It was like living with my own personal body guard. I was starting to feel safe and almost like I fit in when the first email arrived.
It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was working on a physics paper when I got it.
Subject: Watch yourself
To: Mike Higgens
Stay the fuck away from Brett. He’s not yours. Whatever is going o
n between you guys...end it or I’ll end you.
It didn’t make any sense. I know why people
assume I’m gay and I’ve learned to ignore it over the years. I knew who I was and I liked girls, even though I’d never actually had a girlfriend. But, that was mostly by choice since I couldn’t
to say two words to a pretty girl without making a complete fool of myself.
What I didn’t understand was what they meant about Brett. There wasn’t anything going on between us so I assumed the email was a stupid prank. Maybe one of his buddies was giving him a hard time for hanging out with me so often? We’d graduated from just breakfasts together to lunch a few times a week and maybe his friends didn’t like that I was associated with one of their own.
The next morning at breakfast, I asked if he had a girlfriend that he hung out with every night. I wondered why he never brought any girls to the room and was going to offer to work out a schedule to give him privacy when he needed it.
“No, no girlfriend. Actually,” he looked around the cafeteria casually and picked at the bottle of orange juice in front of him, “I’m gay.”
I was just taking a drink and ended up choking on my juice, spitting it all over my plate. I wiped my face and waited for him to laugh and tell me he was kidding. He looked nervous for the first time since I’d met him.
I didn’t know what else to say. He had his choice of every gorgeous girl on campus and he didn’t want any of them. The email was starting to make a little more sense, even if I was obviously not the right person to receive it.
“Yeah, I don’t really tell people until I feel like I can trust them. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner but it
never really came up.” I was still speechless but knew he was waiting for me to say something.
“Hey, that’s cool. I’m just surprised. So, are you out with your boyfriend every night?” I tried to sound casual, as if I was perfectly comfortable talking about my gay roommate’s sex life.
“Kinda. Well, usually. But not a boyfriend. Just guys that I meet. Nothing serious.” He was eating again and the nervousness of telling me seemed to be completely forgotten.
, you’re with
guys every night? Like
night?” I couldn’t believe that was even possible. How many gay guys were there on campus? We were in a liberal school that was just across the bridge from San Francisco but still it was shocking.
“Yeah, it’s no big deal.” He seemed to be a little uncomfortable with my judgment so when he turned the conversation back on me, I let him. “What about you? You got a lady that you’re bringing home while I’m out?”
“No. I wish. I mean, there isn’t anyone in particular that I’m interested in but I’m not really good with girls. I get...flustered.” I could feel my cheeks flush and felt stupid admitting that when he obviously had never experienced inadequacy in his life. He must’ve had a line of people, well, guys, waiting for their turn with him if he was with someone different every night.