Bedeviling Boys — Jimmy & Aaron

I spent the past few months finishing up my two-part Colony series, and am not quite yet ready to work on my holiday story idea yet. So I thought I’d dust off a story I started a while back and see if I couldn’t make it work for me.

The short answer is I couldn’t.

I had to set the story aside (again) because, when I’m writing it, I feel as if there’s no real chemistry between the two main characters. Jimmy and Aaron are both young gay authors who have released memoirs with the same publisher. Jimmy has idolized Aaron since he read the man’s first book years ago, and wrote his own story following much the same formula that Aaron does. The problem is that Jimmy made up his memoir, and now that he finally meets Aaron, he’s afraid the truth will come out.

Let me give you a sneak peek. Maybe you can tell me if there’s chemistry between the two guys because, to be honest, they’re bedeviling the hell out of me.

Jimmy and Aaron, excerpt
Copyright © 2013 J.M. Snyder

In the open doorway stands Aaron Owing, a portrait of casual sexiness in slightly baggy jeans and an oversized cable sweater the bruised color of stormy skies. His shoulder-length hair has a mind of its own, falling forward at inopportune moments only to be pushed back from his face carelessly or tossed to one side with a negligent gesture. Each time it moves, Jimmy sees strands of pure gold streaked through the chestnut depths. A pair of thin, wireframe glasses define dark, almond-shaped eyes, and the barest hint of a goatee frames his angular jaw, so subtle it might be shadow if it wasn’t for the way Aaron keeps running the back of his fingers along one side as if to smooth it down.

When he laughs, his mouth spreads into a beguiling grin and those eyes twinkle as he looks around the room. Is it Jimmy’s imagination, or does Aaron’s gaze linger a moment too long on him?

Well, maybe not on him exactly — Jimmy isn’t much to look at, with near-black hair cut close to his scalp, a fringe of bangs trimmed just above his eyebrows, his wide eyes, pug nose, and little twist of a mouth set in his still baby-ish face. With Aaron looking, he resists the urge to touch his own round cheeks — there’s no stubble there. His father is part Cherokee, his mother part Asian, which means Jimmy will probably never have to shave a day in his life. It took years to grow hair on his balls and he doesn’t think he’ll ever get any on his chest.

There’s a whole chapter in his book devoted to his hang-ups with body hair. It’s one of the only parts of the book that’s true.

Then he notices Aaron isn’t looking at him so much as his book. A new copy of Cum Get Me stands propped in front of him, proudly displaying what the reader’s supposed to think of as Jimmy’s taut body from the neck down. The cover depicts a bare-chested man dappled with water spray, wearing nothing but a tight pair of wet swim trunks clinging to an erection.

Suddenly he’s embarrassed. Aaron Owing isn’t just looking at the book — he stares at it. Jimmy wants to knock it over, face down, and hide the cover from view. It isn’t even his body. What if Aaron picks up the book and says something about it? Something snide, something funny?

Or, God forbid, shows Jimmy his own copy?

Jimmy slides down a little in his seat and hopes he can’t be seen over the top of the book. Meeting someone he idolizes is one thing. Meeting him at a book reading where Jimmy’s peddling copies of a sex memoir? Not so hot, actually.

From where he slouches down, he can no longer see Aaron. Good. He still hears the guy’s laugh, though. It’s infectious, spreading through the room like the flu and coming closer with each step. Jimmy fiddles with the books in front of him, straightening the pile so the covers all line up together, busying himself until the reading begins. He hopes he’s first. He doesn’t want to go after anyone else and have to live up to someone better. He hates readings. He’s terrible at them.

The laughter stops right in front of the table. Jimmy glances up and sees Aaron looming larger than life before him, directly in front of his book. Fuck.

For a moment, Aaron still talks with the guy he came in with and doesn’t take any notice of Jimmy. Sliding down a little farther in his seat, Jimmy wonders if maybe he could slip away, fake a bathroom break or see if there are any cookies left on the complementary snack table set outside the room. Before he can move, though, Aaron taps the table, easily snagging Jimmy’s attention and rooting him to the spot. The guy talking with Aaron waves goodbye and heads for a seat in the front row. Jimmy stares after him for a moment before realizing Aaron is staring at him.

Snapping his gaze to Aaron, Jimmy meets that frank look, his mind blank. All the things he dreamed of saying to this man, all the meetings between them he conjured up, all the flirtations he wanted to banter back and forth, they all disappear as he watches Aaron watch him. “Um,” is the most he can manage. It sounds weak to himself.

Then Aaron smiles and winks. Winks. Jimmy’s knees buckle even though he’s already seated, and his hands curl uselessly around the stack of books before him. Tapping the book between them, Aaron says, “I read your book.”

“Me too,” Jimmy whispers.

He meant to say, I read yours, too, but before he can correct himself, someone calls out Aaron’s name farther down the table. Aaron turns, grinning, then hurries down to catch up with someone else.

Stupid! Jimmy thinks, chastising himself. Of course he read his own book; he wrote the damn thing.

I read your book. Not I liked it. Just I read it. And that wink. Jimmy’s face burns from both.