Here’s a little story I wrote about a couple characters from By Heart.
Jason has been around for a couple of books, but Kyle is someone introduced in By Heart. Kyle has a fairly similar story to Dustin’s, with parents who don’t really accept him for being gay. Those of you who have already read By Heart know what happens to him, so I won’t spoil that for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
That being said, this story does contain some spoilers for By Heart. So, I hereby issue a
It was a very long and very strange drive back home from New York after Vince and Dustin’s wedding, but thankfully it was almost over. Jason was beyond happy for both of them. Vince’s career was at its peak and, from what he had heard, Dustin was reconnecting with his mother who he hadn’t seen in years. Jason hoped one day Kyle would have that same kind of closure.
He was the reason the drive back to Florida felt so surreal. They had danced together at the wedding, but neither of them had taken it any farther. Jason had been tempted to kiss Kyle that night on the dance floor in the indoor arena Jason and his crew had built for Vince. God, it would have been so easy. They’d been so close, almost too close. They’d both been drinking, too. Almost too much. Jason knew Kyle had wanted more, though he was worried it might have been the alcohol behind the glitter in Kyle’s eyes and the laziness of his smile.
Plus, he knew Kyle wasn’t very experienced with relationships. Jason worried that maybe he wanted to have something more with Jason just because Jason was someone who cared about him. Kyle had never had that before. Maybe they would start some sort of relationship and Kyle would realize it wasn’t actually what he wanted Jason in his life for. Maybe he would realize he actually only wanted Jason as a friend. Then what would happen? Could they even go back to a friendship at the same level they were at already? Would he completely lose Kyle from his life? And what would Kyle do? He had nowhere else to go yet. He had been living with Jason ever since his parents learned he was gay. They hadn’t exactly kicked him out of the house, but they had made him so upset that he had chosen to leave immediately. Going back to them would destroy him utterly. They might not even let him come back.
Jason knew what he wanted. He desperately wanted Kyle in his life any way he could have him. He would definitely prefer to have a relationship that was more than friendship, but he would never think about hurting Kyle, and pushing him would be in the same category as hurting him. Jason wouldn’t betray their friendship or Kyle’s trust in him by pushing for more than he would be given.
He loved Kyle and he knew it.
“I’m going to start looking for a job when we get back,” Kyle suddenly announced, pulling Jason from his thoughts.
“Why?” Jason asked, surprised. He glanced over briefly to the passenger seat where Kyle was gazing at his cell phone.
“I can’t just live with you and help with the horses in exchange for room and board forever,” Kyle stated. “Plus, it seems they shut off my cell phone. Guess they didn’t want me on their plan anymore. It’s not working. I’ll have to get a prepaid one when I can. I know I’d never be able to get a phone plan myself and afford it.”
“I could pay you as a stable hand and for riding my horses,” Jason offered.
“No,” Kyle replied quickly. “I’m already enough of a pain for you. I need to get another job so I can pay you back for all you’ve done for me.”
Jason had to admit that, if their situations had been reversed, he would probably feel the same way Kyle did. “We’ll stop somewhere and get you one of those prepaid phones,” Jason said with a nod. “Then you can borrow my laptop to look for jobs. Pretty much everywhere has online applications, and you’ll need a phone number they can call you at to set up your interviews.”
“Thank you,” Kyle replied quietly.
Jason resisted putting his hand on Kyle’s leg, though just barely. “It’s not a problem at all.”
It was a big problem.
“What the hell?” Kyle demanded just before they pulled into the driveway at home. “That’s my car!”
Jason saw the tow truck leaving the driveway as he slowed to make his turn, and they both watched as it pulled out and drove the other way down the road.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
Jason paused just inside the driveway and looked at Kyle, who was staring back in the direction the truck had taken his little gray car with his mouth hanging open.
“I’m guessing that was something else your parents were paying for?” Jason asked gently.
“I thought they were still expecting me to buy it from them at the end of the year,” Kyle sputtered. “How am I supposed to get a job without a way to get to it?”
Jason reached over and squeezed his hand. “We’ll figure it out. Okay?”
Kyle met his gaze and hesitated for a moment. Then he clenched his jaw and nodded. “Okay.”
Jason returned the nod and continued up the driveway.
“I guess I should have seen this coming,” Kyle muttered. “I mean, I guess I really was a spoiled millennial and didn’t realize how good I had it.”
“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Jason replied, trying to reassure him. “You said you were going to buy the car from them, so you weren’t planning on them taking care of all your expenses forever.”
“But it’s not my fault, either,” Kyle went on. “They never asked me to pay them for anything. When I offered they wouldn’t let me pay them back. They didn’t want me to pay rent. I don’t even know how to do taxes because their accountant took care of everything. I didn’t know how to be independent because they didn’t let me learn.”
“That doesn’t sound fair,” Jason agreed. “Just know that I’m here to help.”
Kyle sighed and nodded. “Thank you.”
Jason felt like Kyle probably needed some space, so he let him head to the house while Jason checked in on the barn. He was surprised that he still liked his barn after having it for a few years. Usually he got bored with buildings, which was something that had gotten him into architecture. His mom had expected him to be an interior designer based on his habit of rearranging his bedroom on a regular basis as a kid, but it was the actual construction of entire buildings that had grabbed his interest. Anyone could decorate the interior, but getting those permanent features just right took more thought and creativity.
At least that was how he saw it.
He was lucky in a way that demolishing buildings and rebuilding cost so much money or he would be tearing apart his house, barn, and indoor arena every couple of years. As it was he was considering adding on an entire wing to the barn so he could have more wash stalls, a different feed and hay storage arrangement, and a bigger tack room. But he’d only just broken even on Vince’s project when all was said and done, and his current project wasn’t a huge one, so investing in himself would have to wait.
He wandered through the barn, greeting horses and people alike. He only had two horses himself. There was Danny, his star who had gotten him to the Olympics, and there was Treasure, a very golden chestnut. Both were former racehorses. Treasure was a bit behind Danny in her training, but Jason was hoping to get her more experience soon.
The other ten stalls were occupied by horses being boarded at the stable. The people there caring for their horses and working in the arena were his boarders and their instructors who paid Jason to conduct their lessons using his facilities. He didn’t make much money off the arrangement, but it covered the costs of keeping the property from falling apart and the horses fed so he didn’t mind.
When he thought Kyle had had enough time to himself, Jason headed back to his house.
Kyle hadn’t been sure where to start when it came to figuring out his future. He needed a job, but he needed a phone to get contacted about applications he put in online, and he needed a car to get there. He should have known his parents would do this to him. They had made it clear they didn’t love him, that was for sure. At least he’d been able to empty his bank account after leaving home. They hadn’t taken their names off his account when he’d turned eighteen, and he now knew that they surely would have taken the money he’d been saving since the time he was born and his parents had started his savings account for him. There hadn’t been a fortune in it, but it was a few thousand dollars he could count on. So he could buy the phone. Maybe even an incredibly cheap used car someone had sitting alongside the road with a “for sale” sign on it. He could just get some retail job or something and put money away so he could eventually get out of Jason’s hair.
He couldn’t stop thinking about how they had danced at Vince and Dustin’s wedding. He’d wanted so much more for so long, but he’d been too afraid to make the move. If Jason had, he wouldn’t have held back, but Jason hadn’t. He kept telling himself that Jason just didn’t want to push him, but the dark voice in his head was telling him that Jason didn’t see him that way. To Jason, Kyle must seem like some helpless child. Here Jason was, technically running two successful businesses, and Kyle didn’t even have a job. Jason had helped him out big time by coming to his rescue the night everything had gone to hell, but that didn’t mean anything.
Kyle sank down to the couch in the living room, his head buried in his hands. Why did it hurt so much to feel so alone? His parents didn’t love him as their own child anymore. Someone he knew he had feelings for didn’t have them for him.
What had he done to deserve this?
Jason’s quiet, concerned voice was too much. Before he could stop himself, he started sobbing and couldn’t stop.
Then suddenly Jason was beside him, holding him in strong arms, promising him everything would be just fine. Kyle wanted to beg Jason to kiss him, to give them a chance at something more, but he couldn’t. He wanted to kiss Jason and let him know right then and there how he felt, but he couldn’t. He was trapped in his misery, unable to do anything but cry until he was utterly and completely exhausted.
When he woke up in the extra bedroom the next morning he just assumed he’d gotten himself there and had been too exhausted to remember it.
It took a month, but Kyle was able to get a full-time job at a local major hardware store working in the garden department. It was about fifteen minutes from the barn and Jason was happy to drive him to and from work. Without telling Kyle he started planning his own meetings around Kyle’s schedule so he’d always be available to drive. On the rare cases where he had a conference call he couldn’t reschedule, he let Kyle drive his car.
For a few months everything seemed to be going just fine, then Jason overheard Kyle having an argument over the phone with his mom one night after Kyle had said he was going to bed.
“I only called to find out if I could still buy the car,” Kyle said, clear annoyance in his voice. “I’m not coming home, Mom.”
Jason knew he should keep walking past the room he had given to Kyle, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. He needed to know if he’d have to go punch someone for Kyle. No one was going to hurt Kyle further and get away with it as far as Jason was concerned.
“No, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up being gay,” Kyle spat. “And no, I’m not going to find a nice young lady as you say. Do you even realize how rude that is to women? People don’t exist just to date other people. I’m gay whether you and Dad like it or not. I have been since I was born. You can’t change that.”
There was a very long pause broken periodically by Kyle attempting to speak. Apparently his mom was having a rant of her own.
“You tell her,” Jason wanted to yell, but he merely murmured it.
“Fine,” Kyle finally snapped. “Sell the fucking car. I don’t care.” Another pause, then, “I’ll stay out of your life if that’s what you want then!”
There was a thud, then Kyle let out an anguished cry. Jason reached for the door and stopped as he heard sobs from the other side. He hesitated, wanting to hold Kyle and comfort him but also wanting to give him space. On one hand, he knew he loved Kyle and wanted to do his best to make him feel safe and okay. On the other hand, Kyle had said he was going to bed which meant he had wanted privacy for this. After all, how could he have expected any other ending to a conversation with his mom? And he knew where to find Jason if he needed to.
Finally, Jason’s need to comfort won out and he slipped into the room.
Kyle looked up at him, his eyes red and puffy. He was sitting on the bed, a pillow clutched to his chest, its sky blue case spotted in places by tears that fell from those pain-filled eyes. He hastily wiped more tears from his face and sniffled.
Jason walked over and gently sat down on the bed beside Kyle. “Are you okay?”
At first Kyle nodded, then he shook his head. “My mom doesn’t love me. I feel so alone.”
Jason felt his heart break. He reached out and pulled Kyle into a hug with one arm, then both arms. Kyle still clutched the pillow but tucked his head under Jason’s chin, his face to Jason’s chest, and cried.
“You aren’t alone, Kyle,” Jason whispered. “I’m always here for you. I promise you. Okay?”
Kyle just nodded and continued to cry.
After a few minutes Jason’s back started to ache. He carefully laid back on the bed, pulling Kyle gently down with him. Kyle didn’t seem to mind. He continued laying against Jason’s chest, sniffling occasionally but no longer openly sobbing. After a moment he pushed the pillow to Jason’s other side and rested his arm next to his head on Jason’s chest.
Jason told himself Kyle just needed comfort, it was nothing more than that. The intimacy meant nothing else. Kyle was taking comfort in the one friend he knew he had even as he lost so much. But Jason’s didn’t stop himself from running a hand up and down Kyle’s back and resting the other one over Kyle’s hand on his chest.
“I’m sorry I seem to cry so much,” Kyle finally murmured.
Jason squeezed his hand. “Kyle, you’re going through hell right now. I’d be worried if you weren’t upset.”
Kyle was quiet for a moment, then whispered, “Thank you. Thank you for not abandoning me.”
Jason shook his head. “Never, Kyle. You mean too much to me.”
He heard Kyle’s breath hitch and he realized what he’d said, realized again just how incredibly close they were. Kyle lifted his head. His eyes were still red but they were dry now. His gaze was soft and a little curious as he looked down at Jason.
“You mean a lot to me, too,” Kyle told him softly. “Not just for helping me. I really don’t know why or how. I just know that you do.”
Jason stopped thinking of the negative things that could happen if they took this further than friendship. They’d been brought into each other’s lives for a reason. They had to have been. He let go of Kyle’s hand and reached up, cupping the back of Kyle’s neck and feeling the softness of his hair. Kyle didn’t resist as Jason pulled him down into a soft, gentle kiss. Whatever tension was left in Kyle fled as he seemed to melt right into Jason. And Jason smiled, relieved somehow. He didn’t know what would happen next to them, but he’d enjoy this, every moment that he got with Kyle.
Kyle woke up with someone’s arm draped over him and it took his sleepy brain a moment to realize it was Jason snoring softly beside him, spooning with him. He had no idea what time it had been when Jason had finally commanded him to sleep, but it had been after he’d bawled his eyes out for a solid fifteen minutes then made out with Jason for almost an hour.
Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration. It hadn’t been what Kyle imagined making out to be. This had been so many soft, tender, sweet kisses and caresses and murmured words. Their hands had not gone below the waist, or even underneath clothing. Some of the kisses had involved a bit of tongue, but not much. Kyle had given Jason every opportunity to press for more, but he hadn’t. That had reassured him that Jason wasn’t making a move on him just for some benefits to their friendship.
There was real feeling. It wasn’t about lust and sex. It was real.
Which was honestly a little surprising.
His alarm went off from somewhere across the room. He groaned as he realized he didn’t know where he’d chucked his phone the night before after the call with his mom.
Jason’s hold on him tightened for a moment. “Morning already?” he asked with a yawn.
“For me at least,” Kyle replied. “I have to get to work.”
Jason pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Let’s get you to work then.”
Aware of his morning breath, Kyle turned and gave Jason a kiss on the cheek in return, then got up. Jason left to get dressed and Kyle managed to get his phone out from under his dresser after only a few minutes of struggling and a small amount of rug burn. As he dressed he tried not to think about the strange worry that waking up beside Jason had sparked in him. What if Jason expected more before Kyle was ready? He’d been in an emotional state last night and would have gone with it, but with his logical brain kicking on now, he worried that Jason would expect too much of him.
Those worries followed him to the kitchen for breakfast, and when Jason wrapped his arms around him from behind and pressed a kiss to his neck, Kyle felt them grow.
“You okay?” Jason asked, possibly sensing his tension – or maybe just checking on him after the night before.
Kyle took a deep breath and decided that communication and honesty were the best things in this situation. “I just… I want you to know that I don’t… have any experience… you know. I’ve never seriously been with anyone before.”
“You’re a virgin?” Jason asked frankly.
Kyle coughed at the term. “I guess, if you have to label it. I was never interested in girls and I was scared shitless about my parents finding out I liked guys so I never got with either for anything. You’re already the first guy I’ve kissed.”
“I feel special now,” Jason replied, then he gently turned Kyle around to face him. Despite the teasing tone to his voice, his expression was kind and his smile tender. He kept on hand on Kyle’s hip and reached up to cup his cheek with the other. His voice became soft as he assured him, “I won’t push you for anything you aren’t ready for. I would never do that to you.”
Kyle nodded. “I know. Thank you.”
Jason kissed him lightly. “Let’s get you to work,” he said again.
They were driving down the driveway when Kyle admitted, “I used to think you were one of those horny players who always want sex with everyone they can get it with.”
Jason shrugged. “I used to be. But I’ve never felt connected like this to someone before. I’ve been feeling it since Rio, but I had given up on it. To be honest, the night you came to stay, I had this girl over who I planned to fuck maybe once or twice, nothing serious. Then I checked my phone while she was in the bathroom and everything changed. I chose you. Told her I had a family emergency and she needed to leave. She kept texting me for a while, but I think she finally got the hint. I’ve been so stuck on how I felt for you that I never even went out to find sex elsewhere to distract myself.”
“Wow,” Kyle whispered, actually surprised. “I didn’t realize you were crushing on me when I was crushing on you.”
Jason reached over and squeezed his knee. “I guess this was meant to be.”
It was probably the slowest moving relationship Jason had ever been in. They made out, hard, the third night. So hard, in fact, that just rubbing against Jason’s thigh through their underwear had gotten Kyle off after barely twenty minutes, something he was clearly very embarrassed by. Jason had done his best to reassure Kyle, but had ended up finishing himself off in the ten minutes Kyle was in the bathroom changing and probably worrying about returning to Jason’s room. Kyle had ended up returning only moments after Jason had finished. Seeing Jason cleaning up, Kyle had become even more awkward for some reason.
“Please don’t be embarrassed,” Jason had finally told him as they lay in bed. “I’m really flattered that I turn you on that much. Honestly. I’m not just saying that or being sarcastic. That was so fucking incredible to witness.”
“It’s just because I’ve never made out with someone before,” Kyle muttered. “I wasn’t expecting to react that way.”
Jason spooned against him and kissed his neck. “Still,” he breathed against Kyle’s skin. “Hot as fuck.”
Kyle finally relaxed. “Yeah. It was.”
The next night Jason gave Kyle his first handjob and was able to make it last until Kyle begged him for release. Then he’d let Kyle explore his body and was impressed by how quickly Kyle learned.
He mastered blowjobs just as quickly a few nights after that. Jason had to admit that the first one hadn’t been the best he’d ever gotten, but by the third time he was an utter gasping mess unable to form coherent words besides “fuck,” “Kyle,” and “amazing.”
It was three months before they really had sex, but Jason was actually okay with that. He never imagined he would be happy with blowjobs and handjobs from someone he was dating for three straight months, but with Kyle everything was different. Even sex was different. Before Kyle, Jason always did the fucking. Now he found himself wanting to be fucked by Kyle just as much as he wanted to drive himself deep into his boyfriend.
And he knew it was because he loved Kyle. He knew someday they would get married. Maybe adopt a couple of children. He knew Kyle adored kids and he didn’t have a problem with them most of the time. Maybe they should start with a dog first though.
Kyle’s parents didn’t try to get back into his life and they both accepted this happily. On the other hand, Kyle was welcomed with open arms by Jason’s family. It was a rare occurrence when Jason introduced someone he was dating to them, so they all realized the serious nature of the relationship.
He also got a text one night from Vince admitting, Dustin and I were taking bets on how long it took you guys to get together. Congrats. Hope to be at your wedding someday.
Jason smiled and glanced at Kyle laying curled up beside him. You’ll be the first people I invite, he texted back, then wrapped his arms around Kyle and sighed.
This was good. He was happy.