There are all types of love in this world
but never the same love twice
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lads, boys, men.
Besides my da and my brothers, I had never thought of them in any other way than someone who could potentially be my friend, or enemy, or opposer on the rugby field. Someone to play chess with or banter with or wrestle with. On occasion confide in or discuss a brooding matter on my mind.
I had never in my eighteen years old life thought of them that way, the way I’d thought about women, girls, lasses. It was not conscious, it just hadn’t occurred to me to ever go there in my mind, nothing had ever piqued my curiosity or made me ask myself, what if.
No, my only experiences were with girls and there had been quite a few at that. As I grew older, holding hands turned into fumbling underneath sweaters in search of soft skin, and pecks on the cheek evolved into open mouthed kisses, panting and longing for more. But before it could become anything more with anyone, I was sent to boarding school in Paris, France.
Getting a proper education was something of great importance to my family, had been for generations, and my parents wanted nothing but the best for me. The choice of sending me to a foreign country for my first year at university had multiple reasons. One being the chosen school was the absolute best if you were a foreign exchange student wanting to excel at the french language. The main reason, however, had more likely something to do with the company I started keeping senior year in high school. Running around with those thugs (as my Da called them) all hours of the night, and my grades steadily dropping, it was obvious that I had become restless and desperately needed a change of scenery in order to not stray too far in the wrong direction.
Arriving in my new country, it didn’t take more than a few weeks for me to feel right at home. A combination of the atmosphere at the university, the people there, and Paris itself, made me miss home back in Scotland much less than anticipated. Everyone was very welcoming and kind and it didn’t take long before I found myself a member of the university rugby team and part of the chess company. So, yes, I was happy and enjoyed myself to the fullest, besides getting on with my studies quite well.
The small dorm room, situated near the university, wasn’t much. The bed was a bit too narrow and short for my large frame. Lying down on it my choices were to either have both feet dangling off the end of the bed, or one, since I usually slept on my stomach with one leg hitched up and my arms on either side of my head. A desk stood by the window at the foot of the bed overlooking a big lawn stretching towards the university library, and a small bookshelf on the opposite wall from the bed.
I didn’t mind, I had never needed many worldly belongings to feel content. If I had friends and good company, peace of mind, and books to devour, it was more than enough for me to feel happy.
Until one person put everything I thought I knew about the world, about myself, on the edge of a precipice and dared me to truly look. To see .
The first time I saw him I was sitting in the library at one of the long tables in the reading area, trying to make sense of a philosophical text I found more or less impossible to wrap my head around. A far too loud discussion coming from the entrance caught my attention and I looked in the direction of where the voices were coming from.
It was the first time in my life I had ever thought of a man in the terms of beauty. But this one was both a man and beautiful, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t look away.
It was impossible not to stare at the way the afternoon sun, peeking through the large windows, caught the silver and gold in his lustrous, coal colored hair, the sides fading with precision into his perfectly trimmed stubble. My eyes were drawn to the widow peak hairline, the only thing deceiving his refined appearance, then travelled over his face to his chiseled jaw, high cheekbones, and full lips.
God, he was gorgeous.
The way he gesticulated wildly with his hands when he talked, apparently upset or agitated by something the other person had said, spoke of confidence and authority.
The way he carried himself, his back straight, broad shoulders underneath a navy blue cotton sweater, dark indigo well worn jeans sitting on his narrow hips just so . But still, despite his casual choice of clothing, there was nothing casual about his posture, about what he exuded.
The only word I could think of in that moment was regal.
Unlike me, who normally didn’t pay much attention to the way I presented myself. Hair messy, a bit too long and too curly, ripped jeans and t-shirt on a daily basis, my appearance could best be described as disheveled. It didn’t even come close to the look of this man, who was nothing short of uniformly brilliant.
And then, before I was able to construct a single coherent thought, he was gone and I was trying to remember how to breathe.
What the fuck was that?
The second time I saw him it was a full week later, this time in class. Our professor in philosophy had brought in a guest speaker on the subject of epistemology for the second half of our freshmen year, and to my utter dread and equal amounts of delight, in walked Dr. Jean Simon Adeoye.
My heart nearly stopped in my chest and something started to flutter unnervingly in my belly when he entered the grande aula where our classes were held. So that's who he is, I thought, Jean Simon. Dressed in a dark suit and white crisp shirt, he was positively breathtaking. I once again found myself mesmerized by him, just staring, knowing full well I shouldn’t.
When he started speaking he did so in a deep assuring voice, his posture exactly as I remembered it, regal , and his movements and gestures during his lecture were calm and highlighted every word he spoke. Not that I was able to focus on one single syllable, so taken was I by him, his very presence. And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
The third time I saw him wasn’t in person, it was in my dreams. Afterwards, I couldn’t remember what had actually happened in the dream, but images stood out to me clear as day. Midnight dark eyes staring into mine, a brush of soft, yet firm lips on my neck, fingers tentatively touching skin, feelings of pleasure and happiness… I woke up face down on my pillow, my cock achingly hard, pressing down into the mattress, and it took me a minute to come to, my head buzzing, my throat dry and my heart hammering in my chest.
I turned on my back, trying to sort out the very conflicting thoughts and feelings swimming in my head, making me close to dizzy. I was not attracted to men, I am not attracted to men . One dream didn’t exactly make someone gay , I kept reasoning with myself. But why the fuck am I lying here with a hard on from a dream about a man, about him ? Why has he occupied every single thought since the first time I saw him? Why in God's name does he take my breath away, in a way no one else has ever done?
Eyes tightly shut, I let one hand drift down my belly and into my sleeping shorts. As I started stroking myself I tried to think of something else other than the dream. I thought of women, of the girl who’d kissed me in the kitchen at the party I’d been to last weekend, tried to conjure the feeling of her soft breasts pressed against my chest, her eager fingers under my sweater, how she’d pushed herself against me, her breath hot in my ear. But no matter how hard I tried, images of him , of Jean Simon, kept creeping back into my mind. I could feel him, all of him, almost as if he was there with me in my bed, kissing me, touching me, loving me… And God the way those thoughts made everything so much more intense … With a low groan I spilled myself, came harder than I had in a long time, the ripples of pleasure so powerful my whole body was shuddering from the effort.
Had it ever felt that good?
I couldn’t remember, not with the images of his beautiful face and body still fresh in my head, myself still aching with want. I kept thinking I should feel something else, something along the lines of appalled or at least embarrassed, but I couldn’t. All I could feel was desire. A longing I didn’t know how to deal with.
A few days later we actually met.
I was out with some of the guys in my class and we were doing the usual rounds; stopping at bars and clubs, drinking and dancing, all of us getting delightfully drunk, somewhere between intoxicated and full on plastered. But the night was young, we were young and unattached, carefree, and fully aware of the pleasures this town had to offer boys on their way into manhood. And what it had to offer was beyond fantastic, it was bloody amazing.
Throughout the night I had not a single thought about him , (well almost not) having spent the night more or less fighting off propositions, and giving in to some of them. I had found myself being dragged into a dark corner in one of the nightclubs by a pretty blonde, all rosy cheeks, golden locks and eager hands. She and her friends had been dancing with us and making eyes at me since we got there. Before I knew it, she had her arms draped around my neck and her hips moving in a very tempting way against me; the feeling of her soft young body not altogether unpleasant. When her lips crashed into mine, I kissed her back, but as my eyes shut I wasn’t with her anymore. I wasn’t kissing this pretty young girl, I was kissing him. It made no sense to me but there it was, I didn’t want to kiss her, I didn’t want to be here with any of them.
I wanted to be with him .
More confused than ever before and extremely frustrated at myself, I quickly made excuses that I had to leave (up early the next morning, rugby practice, class at the crack of dawn, something along those lines) and exited the club. My boys notch in heel making fun of me the entire way to the next stop which happened to be a bar close to campus. Had I known it was mostly attended by teachers and professors, and guest lecturers, I might not have agreed to go inside with them.
But there he was, Dr. Jean Simon Adeoye, the man I had been having thoughts and fantasies and dreams about for the past two weeks. Propped up on one of the barstools, seemingly alone, sipping on a gin and tonic, from the looks of it. Dressed in a plain white shirt, the sleeves rolled up a bit, and khaki colored chinos, paired with brown leather shoes, he looked amazing. Irresistible. Hotter than hell. The skin on his neck and forearms was positively glowing in the flickering candle light, his posture was relaxed but still confident, and all I could think was Christ I want him.
My Da had told me once, that when you met the right person, you would simply know without a doubt in your mind that this is the one for you, but that there also might be a few almost rights along the way. He had taught me to have faith, not only in God, but in myself, to trust my instincts and if I did that, whatever I was feeling, it wouldn't be wrong, it simply couldn’t. As I approached Jean Simon in that bar, drawn to his being as a moth to a flame, those words echoed in the back of my mind. Whatever this was it was meant to be, it was just as right as anything else.
Leaning over the bar to place my order I tried to pretend I hadn’t noticed him but then he spoke.
“Don’t I know you from Dr. Martin’s class in epistemology? I don’t think we’ve been introduced?"
I cleared my throat, heart beating furiously in my chest, his voice alone making the hairs on my arms stand up and my toes curl in my shoes. Slowly turning towards him and looking up I saw him smiling broadly, all white even teeth and plump lips, his dark brown eyes sparkling as he stretched out his hand.
“Jean Simon Adeoye. A pleasure to meet you.”
Mustering all the self control I possessed I took his hand, almost the same size as mine, his grip warm and steady as his fingers closed around mine.
“James Fraser,“ I managed to respond, sounding almost as myself “nice to meet ye too.”
He held my gaze, and my hand, a little longer than necessary, or was I imagining things? Maybe. But when he finally did release his grip I saw him swallow, his easy smile faltering a bit, and he blinked as if to shake himself free of a thought or an image.
"Fraser you say, as in frasier, the french word for strawberries?” The french rolled easily off his tongue when he spoke, elegant, seductive almost… Christ, he undid me with just about nothing at all. I swallowed, tried to refocus on the conversation as he continued. “Does your family have a connection to France by any chance?"
Trying my best to regain my composure I laughed and made an effort to respond in the most casual way possible.
“Actually we do, dinnae ken much about it though, no more than what ye ken yerself. I can tell ye a great deal more about the long line of Lairds from which I stem from.”
“Oh is that so?”
I nodded and took a sip from my whisky. “Not that interesting to be honest,” I added with a laugh, wanting to steer the conversation away from myself. “What about yer name then? Adeoye?”
“Well, since you ask, it just so happens my name means crown. It originates from a Yoruba tribe, in Nigeria. Quite fancy wouldn’t you say?”
“Aye, quite,” I agreed, thinking fancy didn’t even begin to describe what I thought about him.
“I can’t help but notice,” he continued, swirling his drink in it’s glass, but not taking his eyes off mine “From your accent I gather you’re from Scotland?”
I smiled. “Aye, I’m Scottish, born and bred.” When he looked at me with an interest that spurred me on, making me bold, I added, “As if my red hair wasn’t telling enough.”
“Well yes,” he cleared his throat and dragged a hand along his jawline and god in heaven bit down on his lower lip as he studied me, his eyes traveling from my eyes to my hair, “you do have very nice hair.”
Dark, dark brown eyes met mine again, this time it seemed as he could see exactly what I was thinking. The blush that had been on my cheeks since we talked about strawberries deepened even further. Either he didn’t notice, or pretended he didn’t, because he raised his glass and said “Here’s to Scotland, and it’s fine people!”
I took my glass and clinked it with his.
“I’ll drink to that, and to…” I hesitated, cursing at myself, why hadn’t I asked where he was from when he told me about his name? His accent was most definitely British but his name was not. Unable to find the right words to ask him without making a complete fool of myself I paused, hoping he’d fill in the blank for me.
He just laughed and took a sip from his drink before settling the glass down on the bar again. I tried to not stare, but seeing him swallow sent a rush down my spine I wasn’t anticipating, and I tightened the grip on my own glass.
“I was born in Oxfordshire so yes I’m British, but my father was from Nigeria. My mother's last name was Simon and she met him there working for Doctors without borders. He was a doctor too, and followed her back to the UK when she had to go back home. Her parents were from France, hence Simon, but she was born in London. Anyway, they settled in the british countryside and had me.” He shrugged and averted his gaze from mine. “Quite the romantic story really.”
His smile faded despite the last comment as he looked down into his drink. I detected there might be something more to this story, a lot more, but I was afraid to ask. After all I was merely a student, he was my teacher (well sort of) and we didn't know each other at all.
“That’s enough about me,” he broke the silence with a low chuckle, “tell me about the plans for your studies.”
The generous smile was back, as was the spark in his eyes, eyes I found nearly impossible not to completely lose myself in. I started to talk about my courses and plans for the future and he listened with genuine interest, asking me questions and commented with thoughts of his own. It was the first time I could remember being truly engaged in a conversation with an adult this way, with someone who treated me as an equal and not a kid. It was wonderful and it made me feel important, respected, not to mention completely infatuated by him.
After a few minutes we moved over to a quiet corner of the bar where the music was not so loud and the noise from the crowd simmering to a mere background noise. The conversation, as well as being in his presence, was pleasant, and comfortable, and as the night went on it felt as if we’d known each other for centuries.
My friends had left some time ago, I had barely noticed, and they seemed oblivious to the fact I was more or less coming on to someone almost twice my age. Another remarkable thing about being here , I thought, no one seemed to raise as much as an eyebrow regarding who you were dating, or sleeping with, it was nobody's business but your own. It was a striking difference from the sometimes close-minded views back home, which was both a surprise and a relief to me and it made me wonder if I had always felt like this, the way I felt around Jean? Had there been moments before I had been drawn to boys but denied it because that wasn’t something I was used to or had any reference for? I honestly didn’t know. All I knew was that this, right here now with Jean, was heaven. And that when his outer thigh pressed against my leg under the table and his hand brushed against mine, it wasn’t scary, it was exciting, and I wanted more.
During a lull in the conversation I took a deep breath. My skin felt electric, his nearness too far away and if I wasn’t mistaken he wanted to be here with me as much as I wanted to be here with him. When I felt his fingers grace the outer seam of my jeans and his breath warm against my ear as he leaned in closer, I swear I stopped breathing.
“I know this might be a bit out there,” he said, his voice low and hoarse “and please tell me if I’m overstepping in any way, but would you like to go for a walk with me?”
I almost laughed in response, so innocent yet full of promise was his suggestion. I managed to keep a somewhat straight face and turned my head, his face only inches from mine, so close it became blurry in the dim light, his eyes peering into mine. In a strike of boldness I put my hand on top of his where it rested on my thigh, burning a hole through the fabric of my trousers. His thumb was stroking gently, seemingly encouraged by the fact I hadn’t flinched in the slightest.
“Aye,” I breathed, forcing myself to speak “I would like that verra much.”
It was the middle of October and outside the air was crisp and the sky clear. Looking up I could hardly see any stars, due to all the street lights. Back home the sky was eternal, endless and pitch black and and I used to imagine I could see stars all the way to the end of the universe. It seemed like a lifetime ago I had last looked up at the stars from my home, as if I had been an entirely different person then. Maybe that was true.
Jean came up beside me and we started to walk in silence. I had thought perhaps out in the fresh air things would feel differently, but they didn’t. There was an aching need within me, a wanting aimed at him, and I had no idea what to do about it, how to make the first move, his hand so close to mine as we walked but not quite touching. It wasn’t that I was scared, well not entirely that, it was more an uncertainty about how this was done. Did I take his hand? Put an arm around his shoulder? Wait for him to do something? Did he even want to do something? My mind was spiraling with questions and possibilities, hopes and wishes, not knowing exactly what I did want.
I tried to focus on being right there in the moment, tried to enjoy this time with him, tried not to think too much.
Walking beside him, it became apparent I was taller than him, but not by much. He was almost as broad-shouldered though, and there was a certain way he carried himself, a confidence in his step, that only made me feel more attracted to him, completely enthralled by how beautiful he was. Again that word I had never imagined ever thinking about a man.
Lost as I was in my own thought I hardly noticed that he stopped walking. His hand on my arm woke me from my broodings.
“Jamie,” he said, halting us both.
I turned towards him and saw that he had stopped by a bench at the corner of the park stretching towards the university.
He gestured for us to sit down. As his hand found its way up my neck and into my hair there was no longer any need for words or thoughts of what to do, I just gasped at the feeling of his fingers there.
“Jamie,” he whispered again “please tell me if you don’t want to do this.”
I could hardly breathe, let alone speak, so I just nodded.
He put his other hand on my cheek and leaned in closer. It was almost too much, his scent, his touch, the way he said my name...and then the brush of his mouth against my bottom lip, not really kissing, just feeling. I wanted to scream in frustration. My blood was boiling, I could feel my fingers twitch, not knowing what to do with my hands I grasped at his shirt underneath his open jacket.
“I want ye to kiss me,” I breathed out, not recognizing my own voice, “please.”
A whimpering sound, ( from me?) as he finally took my lip between his, teasing, tasting, his tongue tentatively trailing the seam of my mouth before I parted my lips and invited him in.
He pulled back, just a little.
“Christ, aye, I’m sure.”
He must have heard the frustration in my voice because when he leaned in again there was no hesitation, only hunger as he claimed my mouth with his. Oh god was all I could think, if anything at all. Was this how it could be?
I felt his kisses everywhere. From the tips of my toes, to the back of my skull. It flooded me, enfolded me, until I didn’t know what was what. His grip in my hair had tightened and his other hand was roaming my back and the side of my torso, leaving fires on my skin in its wake. All I could do was hold on to his shirt, pulling him closer and closer still.
Both of us broke away at the same time, panting and flustered, and he leaned his forehead against my shoulder.
“Jamie,” his voice was breathless, his lips restless against the bare skin of my throat “you are amazing.” His hands had found their way underneath my sweater, drawing patterns just above the hem of my jeans, my skin prickling with goosebumps at his touch.
Christ I thought, my feelings spiraling in all directions. A part of me wanted nothing more than to do more . Wanted desperately for his hands to find its way further down, to where I was painfully hard and throbbing by now, my dick twitching at every lick of his tongue on the sensitive skin underneath my ear.
Another part didn’t. Had absolutely no idea what I wanted, how much I wanted.
“You can touch me you know,” he said, inching himself a little closer.
I didn’t know exactly why but I pulled away, my palms pressed against his chest.
“I’m sorry. I just… it’s a bit overwhelming s’all...” My words trailed off, staring down at my hands, internally cursing myself, still imagining how good it would feel to take this further, to go home with him, to let him…
But he only stilled, inhaled deeply and took my hands in his, and squeezed them ever so slightly.
“No I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Jamie, I was too forward. I shouldn’t have pushed this or done more than you wanted.” In the corner of my eye I saw him shaking his head.
I didn’t know what to say, just reached up and touched his cheek, wanting him to look at me.
“Ye didna push anything,” I said, and tried my best to sound reassuring. “I liked this, a lot. It’s just new tae me, ye ken.”
He met my gaze and nodded, smiled tentatively.
“Okay,” he said, threading his fingers with mine.
“Can I walk you home?”
“Aye, ye can.” I leaned in this time and kissed him gently, before we walked back to campus, hand in hand.
We saw each other one last time, the night before he went back home to Oxford. I didn’t hold back this time. For one night we were everything , I let him love me, and I loved him back and I allowed myself to think that he was the one, that he was that right person my Da had talked about.
It was impossible for me to imagine anything could ever feel as good and perfect as what happened that night. When he gave me his mouth, or fused his body flush with mine, or brought me to heights of pleasure with his hands and lips and tongue I had only read and dreamt about, I thought nothing else could ever be better. So yes, even without speaking the words out loud, I did love him, desperately and deeply, and in my mind, I truly believed he felt the same, that he was the one.
The morning after when I woke in his bed, in the rented apartment he’d stayed in during his time in Paris, and I found it empty, my first thought was that he’d gone out for coffee.
And then I found the letter.
My dearest Jamie,
I am not sorry.
I cannot be sorry for this time I had with you and I will forever hold you dear to my heart and in my memory. You are a rare and beautiful soul who will one day make someone so very happy, but I am not that someone. It is not our ages, or where we live, or anything that trivial. It is just not meant to be.
I can only hope that you will remember me as I will remember you, fondly and without regret. You are young and wonderful and you will love and live and thrive and have a glorious life, a life you could not ever have with me. I would be nothing but a burden to you. I know all this with certainty, because you, my amazing boy, are extraordinary and you will achieve greatness.
I do not mean to break your heart, but if I did it will heal, as will mine. In time.
Eventually he ended up being right, about everything. But back then reading his words, naked and weeping like a bairn, wrapped in the sheets still smelling of him, of us, my heart did break and it stayed broken for the duration of my time in Paris.
It took some time, quite a lot of time, to heal, to mend my shattered heart, to make sense of what had happened between us, before I could properly move on. Eventually, he did become a memory, an experience I treasure and remember fondly, and not with pain. I never saw him again but I kept his letter, as a remembrance of that first burning kind of love you should be lucky enough to experience, at least once.
The heart is a strange thing that way, it has the ability to grow the more you love. And it doesn’t ever forget the ones you let inside. Not ever.