Chapter 1: Josiah
The engine of the car timidly echoed as I sat quietly on the passenger seat, scrolling through my phone while I waited for my brother. I pulled the sun visor down and looked at my reflection in the small mirror.
My pale face was coated by the golden sunlight. My grey eyes sported a ghostly tinge of green around its circumference which I haven’t ever noticed before.
My name’s Leo. I’m a freshman student from a university which my brother also attends. Ashton and I have always had a strong brotherly bond, especially since he was just short of a year older than I was. He finally emerged from the house and we began speeding through the road to school after he asked me if I forgot anything.
Both of us are student athletes. He played the power forward position for the university’s basketball varsity team while I, on the other hand, am still a substitute tennis player, but I’m definitely getting there. The annual competition is just months away so most of the student athletes have already started training daily right after school hours.
The tennis lawn was situated directly beside the basketball gyms within a mini-compound in the university where most of the training was held. The basketball team’s training usually stretched longer than any other sports as it’s the biggest deal when it comes to sports in the university, especially since it’s kind of what we’re known for, so I usually headed to their gym to watch my brother’s matches whenever I’m done with my own training to wait for him.
Ever since the first time I stepped into the basketball gym, I’ve had a major crush on one of Ash’s teammates. His name is Josiah — his friends call him Joss, and he played the center position for the team. He was the tallest among his teammates and he was unfairly handsome to the point that it’s kind of offensive. I always loved his deep-set, almost almond-like hazelnut eyes, and the way that his dimples would boastfully show whenever he smiled even slightly. I would always find myself zoning out and just staring at him as he moved around the court, even if the ball wasn’t with him. His defined arms would inadvertently flex whenever he dribbled the ball, and his muscular legs tensed as he ran in wide strides across the court.
We weren’t friends, but my brother introduced me to him once. He was really friendly and nice, which probably explains why he was friends with almost everyone.
Ashton finally pulled over at the drop off area of my building before leaving for his class. I met with some of my friends and we headed to class together talking about nothing in particular. The day went by rather quickly, and I headed towards the tennis lawn right after we were dismissed from my last class.
I swiftly changed into more appropriate clothes before taking my tennis racket and heading into the common area beside the lawn where a couple of my training buddies were sitting. Heavy training was actually supposed to start next week, but our coach had other plans. We were worked to the bone today, being commanded to do drills after drills, and practice match after every practice match, and I felt like my arms were about to fall off by the end of the training. I took a brisk shower before slinging my duffel bag across my shoulder and heading towards the basketball gym to wait for my brother.
Fortunately, they were wrapping up the game when I sat on one of the benches by the stands. They collectively headed to the washroom after the shrill whistle of the coach was heard and I decided to just keep myself busy with social media as I was waiting for Ashton to come out.
I finally saw him approaching me in a half-run. I fixed my stuff and we were about to head outside when Joss materialized behind my brother’s back.
“Hey.” he tapped my brother’s shoulder before turning to me.
“Hey Leo! How’s it going?” He lifted his fist for a fist bump and I copied his movement.
“Everything’s good, Joss! I just finished training too.”
“That’s cool, man. You going home already? We’re having a small pool party at my place tonight, you’re more than welcome to join us if you’d like.”, he said.
I debated actually taking him up on his offer since I didn’t have anything to do and I didn’t want to spend my Friday night alone in my room but maybe he was just being polite. I also didn’t want to embarrass myself.
“That’s nice of you to offer but I don’t want to be a bother to your friends.”, I said with a smile.
“Why would you be a bother? Come on dude, it’s Friday! It’ll be fun, trust me.”, he said.
“I mean, sure! If it’s good with you, Ash?”, I exclaimed before turning to Ashton.
“Of course. You can’t drink though, mom would kill me.”, he said. I rolled my eyes and we headed to the parking lot together.
Joss’s house was humongous. He lived in an exclusive village, and we had to pass through a couple of guard houses before we were able to reach his street. The gate automatically opened and we were immediately greeted by the most istanbul travesti beautiful garden I’ve seen in the world. His house was practically a mansion. Ashton followed Joss and they parked their cars in their outside garage.
“Wow Joss, your house is beautiful.”, I exclaimed.
“Thanks man. Come on, let’s go inside.”
A foyer narrowly stretched from the door to the living room. It was sleekly designed with black and white furniture and an extremely expensive-looking crystal chandelier floated just above us. Ashton and I followed Joss to a glass sliding door at the other end of the living room where the pool was. Beside the pool was a mini wooden hut where we deposited our bags and hung out waiting for his other friends to arrive.
We talked for a while about random things, but I couldn’t help but notice the way that Joss would give you his full attention when you were talking to him. He would stare at my eyes the whole time, and my knees would feel weak. I even stuttered quite a bit because of it.
Eventually, his other teammates arrived one after the other, and they were more than thrilled to find out that I was joining them tonight.
“Hey, the tennis star is here!”, one of them said.
I laughed as I casually nodded at every one of them. Ashton introduced me to everyone, and sooner than later, we migrated back to the pool area where Joss was putting up food that was literally enough for 20 people. We were only 7, including me and Ashton, but basketball players like to eat, I guess.
As soon as the music started to blast, everybody took off their shirts, and I was basically forced to do the same as I was the only one with a top on. I was confident with my body, working out regularly with my brother, but damn, literally everybody was hot as hell. They were all physically active too, obviously, so it’s going to give me and my boner hell tonight.
Joss definitely caught my attention yet again. His well-developed chest was perfectly proportionate to his chiseled abdomen. Just below his navel was a tuft of treasure trail that ended where the flap of his board shorts started. Damn…
I was talking to Tomas, and we immediately got along very well. He was very interested about how training for tennis was any different than theirs, and we talked more about sports before Joss came over and handed me a crisp cold beer.
“Hey! No drinks!”, Ashton shouted from the hut.
I grabbed the bottle, albeit a bit embarrassed, before shouting, “I can handle a few, Ash, stop being such a mom!”.
Everybody erupted in laughter. Joss’s dimples showed as he was looking at me and I felt blood slightly rushing to my cheeks. I downed half the bottle in order to conceal it.
“Hey, slow down, man. We don’t want you getting drunk early, eh?”, he said.
We started going into the pool with a beer bottle in each of our hands. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I didn’t bring any swimwear, so I was in nothing more than my boxers. The wet and gorgeous sight in front of me wasn’t helping my situation at all too, and I thanked all the gods in the heavens that we were underwater.
Their attention was on me most of the time since I’m the new guy, and I just mostly talked about sports and school. I didn’t have a particularly interesting life, but I could tell that they weren’t faking their interest.
“You gotta teach us sometime, man.”, Tomas said.
Things got a bit more rowdy after a while, and one of them asked me if I had a girlfriend. My heart started pumping out of my chest as I didn’t know them enough to gauge how they would react, but I don’t think there’s any point in denying ’cause I’m out and they’d eventually know so I looked at Ashton. He smiled and nodded.
“Uhh, I’m gay. But no, I don’t have a boyfriend. Never had one yet.”, I timidly said.
There was a mix of reactions at first but the guys cheered and whistled after a moment of pause.
“Damn man, I never would have thought. You look super straight.”, one of them said.
One thing I like about the university is that we were progressive and nobody really gave a rat’s ass if you were queer, but maybe I just expected a few rough reactions from the basketball guys. I’m glad to be wrong, though.
“Well I kinda had 15 years of practice.”, I quipped. Everybody laughed and we were all back to having a good time.
“Question, if you had the chance to fuck any one of us, who would you do?”, Tomas asked out of the blue before earning a collective boisterous laugh from all the guys. Heck, even Ashton was laughing. I felt the all familiar heat rise to my cheeks.
“What the fuck, Tomas?! But seriously, Leo, who would you pick?”, one of them said.
I didn’t know how to react. I opened my mouth but nothing came out.
“Uhh, oh god. Are you seriously asking me that?”, I laughed nervously.
“Yeah! It’s all fun, don’t worry.”, Tomas answered.
“Hmm… at first glance, I think I’d go with… Joss.”, I whispered.
He raised his hand, as istanbul travestileri if in celebration, and playfully gloated in his teammates’ faces. I wanted to shrink, dig a hole in the ground and hide under there forever.
Our eyes met. He smiled and playfully winked at me as if saying that it was all just for fun. I smiled back at him.
The rest of the night was honestly so fun. They didn’t treat me any differently, and they actually had a lot of harmless and genuine questions about it. They were all pretty cool, and I was really glad I took Joss up on his offer to come with them tonight. I think I made quite a few friends and I really got along with them well.
“You’re pretty cool, man. Hope you can come next time too.”, Joss said as he gave me a goodbye bro hug.
“Of course. Thanks again, Joss. See you around!”, I said.
Ashton was driving us home after a while, and I kind of just relived everything that happened tonight. I wish I had cool friends like Ashton.
“Don’t even think about it, Leo. He’s straight.”, he joked.
“W-What are you talking about?”
“You’re smiling like a fucking idiot. He has a girlfriend.”, He teased.
“I know that! I just had a fun time!”, I whispered in a lie.
“Right… well I think he really liked you, just not in the way you wanted.”, he laughed and me along with him.
“Your friends are really cool, you know.”, I said.
“You know what? They really are.”
The following week passed by all the same in a breeze. I kept myself busy with all the training and school work, especially since our midterms are just around the corner and it’s not like I can take my subjects lightly. I didn’t fail to attend all of my training sessions despite my other responsibilities though, Ashton would always tell me to honor my commitments, especially when it’s for sports.
After training, I would either study with my friends at a Starbucks or I’d go straight to the basketball gym to wait for Ashton. The scene at the gym was different to me because of the pool party. I would usually just idly wait by the stands until they finished training, but now whoever was off the court would call me over and tell me to wait by the benches beside the court instead. I slowly felt like I was now part of their group, and it’s cool.
When their training would stretch much longer for the day, we would grab dinner together before going home. Sometimes it’s Ashton and a few of his friends, but most of the time it was just me, Ashton, and Joss. Our house was on the same way as Joss’s village from the university, so none of us had to go out of the way when we wanted to grab dinner before going home.
Eventually, I felt more and more comfortable hanging around Joss because he was so naturally funny and friendly. I don’t know if it’s just because I have a major crush on him, but he never fails to make me laugh. No wonder everybody likes him.
There are moments however, when I would sense a fleeting, almost ghostly tension between us especially when Ashton wasn’t around. He’d stare at me completely when I talked, almost as if he was zoning out, and there’s a certain voice in my head that tells me to submit to his stares and look away. I have to slightly tilt my head up when I talk to him, and the way he looks at me makes me feel things I’m not supposed to be feeling towards a friend.
I just finished training and I was about to head to the basketball gym when I saw Joss waiting just outside the covered tennis court.
“Hey Joss, your training’s done already?”, I asked.
“Hey Leo, yeah. Coach let us off early today because of an emergency. Anyway, Ashton had to leave ahead of you so I guess I’m your ride today.”, he smiled.
“Ohh, you don’t have to, Joss. I can call an Uber instead.”, I suggested.
“Why?”, he looked at me and I inadvertently looked at his plump lips that looked so inviting at the moment.
“Uhh, I don’t want to bother you…”, I whisper.
“Your house is on the way to mine, dude, it’s no bother at all.”, he said. I nodded and we started walking to the parking lot.
He started the engine and took to his phone for a while before looking at me. He wore a dri-fit shirt that struggled to hug his muscular arms and torso. His shorts were compressed from his sitting position and his pale thighs were just sitting there waiting to be worshipped.
“I’m kinda hungry though, wanna grab dinner before we go home?”, he asked.
“Sure, I’m hungry myself.”, I answered.
We drove to the mall and made small talk. In the middle of our conversation, I realized that we were basically going on a date and my heart started beating faster for my own good.
He took me to a Japanese buffet and he lined up for the both of us. He paid for our tickets. I wanted to pay for mine but he insisted.
He handed me a clean plate and we started filling our plates with all kinds of sushi and other Japanese food and delicacies. We ate heartily and we were able to go through enough travesti istanbul rounds that I’m sure we got back what we paid for if not more.
A stray piece of rice dangled from the corner of his mouth because of the sushi so I called his attention and gestured at the spot with my finger.
He wiped it off with a tissue twice but he managed to avoid the spot both times.
I mechanically stood up and wiped it off him. Without giving it any thought, I licked and ate the piece of rice. I don’t know why I did it, maybe because I didn’t want to waste food, but all the same, I regretted it immediately.
His eyes widened for a second before smiling at me playfully.
“I just didn’t want to waste food.”, I lamely replied after a few seconds of silence.. He nodded and raised his eyebrows coyly.
“Hey, wanna watch the Marvel movie?”, he suddenly asked.
“You mean like… right now?”, I asked.
“Yeah, why not? I’m kind of not in the mood to go home yet.”, he said.
“I didn’t know it premiered today. Sure, I’d love to watch it!”, I said joyfully. I cringed at myself.
As expected, he lined up and came back with two tickets, two huge buckets of popcorn, and two drinks.
“At least let me pay for this one!”, I said as I helped him carry the food inside.
“Dude, don’t worry about it. Come on, it’s starting.”, he said.
I watched his broad back from behind as I momentarily stood frozen with how he was treating me. He’s probably like this with all of his friends, but I just couldn’t help feeling giddy and special since this whole thing is slowly starting to be more and more like a date. I sighed and beelined my way behind him as the trailers started to roll.
We were totally engrossed in the movie when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I completely forgot to let Ashton know where I was! I attempted to fish my phone out of my pocket but it slid out of my hands and fell on the floor just below Joss’s seat. He was about to stand up and reach for it but I told him I got it.
It was lodged on the back end at the other side of his seat so I had to position myself in front of him to reach it. As I was standing up, I lost balance which made me grab his upper thigh for support. Our eyes met as I was kneeling in front of him, and his eyes almost bore into mine as he looked down at me in my position. I was inexplicably glued to my spot. He never took his permanently stoic eyes off of me, and I bit my lip reflexively.
I couldn’t take the intensity of the situation so I looked away and went back to my seat, digging the backseat with my body and trying to hide myself from whatever the fuck happened just now.
After a while, he tilted his head towards mine.
“Did you like that?”, he asked in a gruff voice, which made all the hairs on my body rise.
“W-What?…”, I asked dumbly, swallowing the lump in my throat.
“The movie.”, he chuckled.
I didn’t even notice the credits rolling on the screen in front of me.
“Oh.. yeah… the movie’s good, yeah.”, I nervously answered.
Our parents were almost never home as both of them had an irregular working schedule since they worked at an airline. Most of the time, dinner was up to us so grabbing food together before going home became a thing for the three of us. Joss didn’t have to join us almost every single day but he still did.
He was a naturally sweet guy, not just to me but to all his friends. It was part of his personality and it certainly didn’t help me in getting rid of the stupid feelings I’m beginning to feel for the guy.
He would sling his arm around my nape casually when we walked around the mall, trapping me under the heat of his muscular arm. I usually just pretended that I didn’t care, but it was the only thing I could feel and think about whenever he did it.
One time, after finishing our food, he stretched his arm and rested it on the backrest behind me as he casually slung his thigh over my upper knee while he talked to Ashton in front of him. I’m sure it was a habit that he did all the time with friends, but the little skin contact sent sparks throughout my body the entire time.
When we hung out as a group, he was really the one I spoke to the most. Sometimes, I’d catch myself staring at him and I realize that I’m actually starting to really really like him, and not just in a cute and happy crush way. I would always force myself to give up any sort of hope because otherwise, I would just be setting myself up for a heartbreak especially since he has a girlfriend, and he’s apparently straight as a ruler.
The three of us were eating together at the food court when we noticed that Ashton has barely touched his food and was on his phone the whole time. Joss and I were talking when Ashton pressed his phone against his ear and excused himself.
He came back a couple of minutes later apologizing and asking Joss if he could drive me home tonight instead. It seemed that he and his girlfriend had a little quarrel.
“Do you wanna go home, Leo?”, he asked.
“Is it okay if we stroll around for a bit first?”
His arm snaked around the back of my neck once again before pulling me closer against the side of his torso as we walked in a slow pace aimlessly.