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Ben: A Family Dinner

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“You came in late last night. Where were you?” My mother calmly sipped her coffee at the dining table as I rushed through the kitchen, trying to scrounge up something for breakfast.

“I was hanging out with Ben. It went late.” I rummaged through the pantry, “Sorry.”

“Late until two in the morning?” She set her mug down on the table.

“It wasn’t that late.” I found a half-eaten granola bar.

“You can’t be going out late so often. You still have school in the morning, remember?” My mother stood up and crossed over into the kitchen, “Do I know this ‘Ben’?”

“You haven’t met any of my friends, Mom.”

“And you don’t see a problem with that?”

I stopped moving for a second, turning towards my mother. I was taller than her, thanks to the genetics of my dad. Her green eyes were shielded by a pair of glasses, while mine were fortunate enough to not need any help to see. We were close, I guess. My dad always worked, so she had to stay home with me as a kid. The move to Omaha had strained our relationship a little bit. I guess I had been going out a lot.

I sighed, “I can talk to him today. Talk about meeting his family, or whatever.”

“I’d like that very much.” She leaned in and kissed me on the cheek, “Have a good day at school, sweetie.”

“See ya’, Mom.”

I grabbed that half-eaten granola bar off the kitchen counter and went into the garage. I walked my bike out to the edge of the driveway and rode off into the sunrise.

* * * * *

Ben and I had been going back to the hotel for a few weeks now. Andre usually gave him one or two customers whenever we came inside, and that was enough to satisfy Ben for the night. As I walked into fourth hour, I saw him in the corner with a large sweatshirt on, undoubtedly covering his obscenely large gut. His arms and chest were a bit thicker than they were the other day.

I walked over to him and the rest of the Squad in the corner. Ryan was there. He wore one of his signature button downs and khaki shorts, his hair swept to the left like always. You had to admire his loyalty to the look of a 1950’s socialite. He smiled as I walked up, “Eric! Do you know anything about amino acids and proteins? I have an exam next hour and I have no idea what the fuck is going on.”

I laughed, “Good morning to you too, Ryan. And, I mean… I guess so. I wasn’t the best at Biology when I took it, but I was alright.”

“Can you teach me literally everything about the construction of a protein? You’d be an absolute life saver.”

“Jesus, Ryan.” Ben rolled his eyes, “Give him a second to catch his breath before you jump down his throat.”

“Bruh, I’m fucking desperate! Wolfe doesn’t actually teach us anything in his class. No one knows what’s happening ever.” Ryan turned to face me again, “How much can you teach me before the bell rings?”

The bell rang. Ms. Velasquez came into the choir room and ordered us to take our seats.

“Damn. Sorry about that, Ryan. You’ll do great! Just go over your notes as much as you can.” I went over to my seat, “And make sure Velasquez doesn’t see you. She’ll kill you.”

The Winter Concert was two weeks away now. And we were still awful with this tribal piece. The altos always missed their entrances, we couldn’t understand Ms. Velasquez’s conducting, and Wyatt was always sharp.

“It’s actually a G Flat in the chorus.” I pointed at the sheet music and leaned over to Wyatt, “I think you’re singing a G Natural.”

“I know what I’m doing, Virginia.” He huffed.

I looked at him for a second, “My name is Eric.”

Wyatt crossed his arms and rolled his eyes. I made it a point to not talk to him after that. By the end of the period, one of the altos was having a mild anxiety attack and Mrs. Simons was banging her head on the piano. No one wanted this concert to happen.

“OK, class,” Ms. Velasquez set down her baton on the stand in front of her, “We’re gonna take a break. I just need a little air for a second. Mrs. Simons?” Ms. Velasquez turned to the woman at the piano.

Mrs. Simons picked her head up, “Yes?”

“Would you care to join me?”

I furrowed my brow at the exchange in front of me. A weird atmosphere of strong sexual tension fell onto the room and I think I was the only one to pick up on it. I shrugged it off.

The directors left one of the senior sopranos in charge, but we still went off and did our own things. Some sat down with their phones and others pulled out their unfinished homework. Ryan ripped open his backpack and started rifling through his Biology notes. It didn’t look like he was having a fun time. I crossed over to the tenor section and sat down next to Ben.

“I have to tell you something.” I whispered.

He sat up, “What? Did you ever find anything out about that crazy bitch with the gun from the other night?”

“What? No. My mom wants to meet you.” I replied.

“That’s it?” Ben laughed, “Here I thought it was something important.”

“This is important! My mom likes to interview my potential friends. If she doesn’t approve of you or your family, she’s not gonna let me hang out with you. No more of…” I hesitated for a second. 

“No more of what?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Wait, do you actually like helping me with this stuff?”

“Gross!” I felt myself blush, “No, I don’t… like helping you. That’s insane.”

“Oh.” Ben leaned back in his chair, a wide grin on his face. “You a freaky bitch.”

“Don’t be disgusting.”

“Jesus, Eric. It’s not that big a deal.” Ben sat up in his chair again, “Parents love me! Plus, my mom has been saying the same thing. She wants to meet you and your family, too.”

“My dad works late. You won’t be able to meet him, probably.”

“That’s fine. Bring your mom by my house Friday for dinner. It’ll be fun. My mom can cook and my brother’s gonna be in town, so you can meet him, too. He’s chill. And, maybe we can,” He leaned into my ear, “Find something else to eat.”

I pushed him off me, “We’re not gonna go find someone for you to eat with my mom in the same house. Plus, the Program just gave you a couple of customers the other day . They’re not gonna give you more.”

“It doesn’t have to be from the Program!”

“Sure! We’ll just order a pizza.” I stood up, “I can have the pizza and you can have the delivery boy.”

“Now you’re talking!”

I scoffed and started to walk back to the baritone section.

“Eric, I’m joking. My mom cooks enough to feed a village. I’ll be too stuffed to even think about finding anyone else.”

I turned around and looked him in the eye. He ate two people about thirty-six hours ago, and it did nothing to dampen his handsome features. I sighed, “You promise?”

“Cross my heart.”

I paused for a second, “Fine. I’ll tell my mom.”

The bell rang and Ben turned away to grab his backpack, “See you Friday!”

I walked out of the double doors alongside the rest of the student exodus. As we spilled into the hallway, Ms. Velasquez and Mrs. Simons rounded the corner. The ponytail that Ms. Velasquez usually wore was gone, and her short hair swept over her shoulders. The glasses that Mrs. Simons usually had were nowhere to be seen. They brushed past me and threw open the choir doors.

“Hey, Eric!”

I looked back at the doors and saw Ryan. I stopped in the middle of the hallway so he could catch up. 

“I have a feeling that I’m gonna bomb this test in a few minutes. My grades can’t take another failed exam so I was hoping that you could maybe… tutor me?” He asked softly. He had a kind of glimmer behind his eyes. I couldn’t really tell what it was. 

I thought about that for a second. I wasn’t the best at Biology, but Ryan seemed pretty desperate. “Um… Sure thing!” I saw a little smile tug at Ryan’s lips, “I can tutor you, I guess. When are you free?”

“Uh…” Ryan faltered, “Wanna meet up on Friday?”

“Oh. Sorry.” We turned a corner, “I have a dinner to go to on Friday. What about Saturday?”

The small smile on the edge of Ryan’s lips disappeared, “I work all day Saturday. And I have church on Sunday. Friday was my one free day.”

“Sorry, Ryan. We can try to schedule something next week.” I started up the stairs to my chemistry class, “See you tomorrow.”

He gave a half-hearted wave goodbye and kept walking down the hallway. Ryan was usually a bubbly and happy guy. He wasn’t like this. I thought about his proposal for Friday, but I set it aside. The dinner was more important.

* * * * *

Friday came sooner than I had expected. My mother fussed over everything in preparation for the night, even though Ben assured me that his family was really low maintenance. He was back to his lean, toned self by the time Friday rolled around. 

We pulled into their driveway at around 6:00. I was dressed in a blue polo and long khaki pants that I hadn’t worn in years. My mother wore a billowing red top and black pants with the tag still on. I stepped out of the beat up car with a pan of brownies in my arms.

“Woah.” My mother breathed, looking up at the house in front of us. She and I stood in the driveway of a large, two-story ranch house. The windows decorating the front of the house loomed over us. Wrought iron lights glowed against the lampposts in the evening air. Two creme pillars supported an arch, leading to the front door. 

“You never told me he was rich.”

“The house looks a lot different in the daylight.”

I stared at the elegant house in front of us. I drove Ben home all the time after he dined on a few customers from the Program. It was a wonder how I never realized how big it was. There was a window on the front of the house that I assumed was in the attic upstairs. Its light was on. 

Suddenly, the front door swung open and a woman in a dark green top with ruffled sleeves stepped out, “Oh!” She stepped off the porch, “You must be the Palmer’s! I’m Lorraine, Ben’s mom.” Her blonde hair bounced as she walked over to us. She shook my mother’s hand, her gold bracelets jangling noisily as she did.

“Hi, I’m Katy. We didn’t know if we were supposed to bring anything, so I baked a pan of brownies, just in case.” My mother waved me over.

“Hi, Mrs. Harper. I’m Eric.”

“Oh, please. Just call me Lori. It’s a lot shorter.” She joked and we laughed, “Well, come on in! The food’s almost ready.”

I looked back up to the attic window. Strangely, the light was off.

When we walked inside, the luxurious accents of the exterior perfectly matched the details of the interior. A set of leather furniture huddled around a brick wall with a flat screen TV hovering above. A wall of windows looked over a patio and a wide backyard. I could see the wine-stained sunset as I stood in the entryway with the brownies still in my arms.

“Why is everyone rich here?”

“Dave! We found the company!” Lori yelled into the kitchen, “I can take that off your hands, dear.” She took the brownies from me and walked into the kitchen.

Dave, presumably her husband, peeked around the corner. He was dressed in a black button down with his sleeves rolled up. His jeans were a bit muddy at the edges and he had a pair of cowboy boots on his feet. He also wore a cream colored apron around his waist, dashed with dark sauces and dressings.

“Howdy!” Dave walked over and shook my hand, “You must be Eric. Ben has told us so much about you.”

“All good things I hope.” I joked.

Dave chuckled then turned to my mother, “And you must be Mrs. Palmer.”

“Katy, please. ‘Mrs. Palmer’ makes me sound so old.” 

Pleasantries and small talk were exchanged for a while in the living room before the oven in the kitchen started beeping. Lori put on a pair of oven mitts and took out a large roast chicken. I could pick up rosemary and garlic as she pulled it out. She set the pan on a trivet in the center of a long dining table set for six.

White china sat atop a dark crimson tablecloth with shining forks and knives on either side. On top of the plates were folded, red napkins with the same design as the tablecloth. In the center of the table sat a massive bowl of mashed potatoes, a boat of creamy gravy, a dish of green beans, a plate of roasted asparagus, a platter of sliced sweet potatoes, a basket of bread rolls, and another huge roast chicken. On the counter lay several assorted pies and pastries alongside our little pan of brownies.

I stared at the prepared feast quizzically.

“Are we supposed to eat all of this?”

“I know it looks like a lot. But, knowing my boys, it’s still probably not enough to fill them up.” Lori took off the mitts, “Red or white, Katy?”

“White, please.” My mother replied, slinging her purse across the back of her chair.

Dave opened up their refrigerator and Lori grabbed three wine glasses from the cabinet. As Dave began pouring the wine, I could hear the front door open then slam. 

“The entire musical is a fever dream. There is no actual plot and there’s barely any dialogue. The story is progressed through a constant stream of nonsensical songs and crappy dancing and the audience is expected to understand what's going on.” I heard Ben argue from the entryway.
“But, it’s Dr. Seuss, man.” A deeper voice answered him, “You can’t hate the musical that’s just for Dr. Seuss.”

“I don’t care. Fuck Dr. Seuss and his shitty musical.”

Ben walked into the kitchen in a slimming grey polo and jeans. He looked nice. But then I saw the man behind him and I almost dropped my jaw. He was dressed in a black jacket and aviator sunglasses. He had Ben’s red hair, albeit straighter, and he was even more muscular than my friend in front of him. And he was stunning.

“Will!” Lori gasped and threw her hands around her eldest son, “It’s so good to see you!”

“Missed you, too, Mom.” Will smiled. 

“We were just about to sit down. You two came just in time.” Dave said, sitting down at the head of the table, “Ben, do you wanna introduce your friend to your brother?”

I stared at Will as Ben walked him over to me.

“Will, this is Eric Palmer. He’s a friend from school and I think that he’d agree with me when I say that ‘Seussical: the Musical’ is the worst musical that a high school could put on.” Ben went on as I stuck out my hand to Will.

“Oh, don’t bother,” Will then caught me up in a bear hug, “I’m a hugger, sorry.”

He smelled faintly of sea salt and conditioner. He stood a few inches taller than me, so my face was buried in his shoulders as his stFrong arms kept me close in his embrace. I could’ve died right there and I would’ve died happy. 

“Alright boys, dinner’s ready.” Lori called out.

Will brought his arms down and walked over to the table. I still stood there, a little dazed. But, I eventually sat down at the table with the rest of Ben’s family. I sat next to my mom on her right and next to Ben on his left. Will sat right across from me.

“Dig in, everybody!” Dave announced, bringing his napkin down to his lap.

The next hour was filled with clinking silverware and hearty conversation. Dave talked about his job at the manufacturing plant in Lincoln. Ben and I openly complained about the Winter Concert and how we’re going to bomb with the tribal piece. Lori and my mother had a lively conversation about the newly elected mayor of Omaha.

Then there was Will. I learned that he had graduated from Westside three years ago and he had been going to the University of California-Berkeley for school. He was the lead in the musical for all of his four years, he was the most talented of the tenor voices in choir, and he was the captain of the basketball team for his Senior year.

I was entranced by this man. From what he was telling us, he seemed perfect. Talented at everything, perfect with everything. As he talked, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. 

We talked for what seemed like hours, and the food slowly disappeared from the table. The bread rolls vanished from their basket. The potatoes steadily disappeared alongside the gravy boat. The asparagus and green beans were gone in a flash. And the roast chickens were reduced to a pile of bones.

My plate was piled high with chicken scraps and smeared with butter and olive oil. My stomach pressed against my pants. I can’t remember the last time I ate so much. I shifted in my chair, trying to make myself comfortable as my stomach bowed out.

Ben’s plate was in a similar state, and I could tell that his belly was almost in the same situation as mine. But, Will had definitely surpassed our gluttony by tenfold. His plate was a wasteland of bones and crumbs. During the first few minutes of dinner, he had practically inhaled the larger of the roast chickens. He had guzzled down a pitcher of ice water, yet he continued to demolish the various foods in front of him.

“And I thought Ben could get hungry.”

“Oof,” Dave sat back in his chair, “That was really good, hon.” He set his hand down on Lori’s thigh.

“Yeah,” Ben sipped on his water, “That was amazing. Thank you, Mom.”

“Well, don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. We still have dessert.” Lori stood up, “A lot of dessert.”

“That’s all good, Mom.” Will sat up and thumped his subtly bloated stomach and I could feel myself grow tighter in my pants, “I can definitely eat more.”

Lori smiled and gave a short laugh as she brought over two of the pies from the counter. Dave followed her and brought down the other two pies, balancing our pan of brownies on his forearm. 

We ate for another half hour before I threw in the towel. Unsurprisingly, Ben and Will continued to devour the desserts until there was nothing edible left on the table. Will leaned back in his chair and rubbed his bloated gut underneath the table. Ben did the same, even though Will obviously ate more than his little brother.

“That--” Will stifled a hiccup, “Was amazing. Thank you, Mom.”

“Hey, I baked everything, mister.” Dave leaned over, closer to the table, “So you should be thanking me.”
“It was delicious, Dave.” My mother wiped her mouth with her napkin, “Thank you.”

“Oh, it’s my pleasure. Now, do the adults want to retire to the patio? We have another bottle of wine.” Dave stood up and grabbed his glass.

“That sounds like a wonderful idea.” My mother stood up and pushed her chair in.

“I can show you the house, if you want, Eric.” Ben proposed as we both stood up from the table.

“Yeah, sure.” I put a hand on my stomach, “Thank you, Dave. The pies were delicious. And Lori, that chicken was to die for!”

“Thank you, Eric. That’s very sweet of you.” Lori grinned and took another wine bottle from the refrigerator. She led my mother and Dave to the back door, glass in hand, and they all walked onto the patio.

“Should we clear the table?” I asked.

“Nah,” Will stood up and stretched, his shirt riding up along his bloated stomach, “We’ll take care of it later. Don’t worry about it.”

I absentmindedly rubbed my stomach, “God. That was so good. Your parents can really cook.”

“A bit full, Eric?” Will pointed at my roaming hand on my belly and grinned. I quickly put my hand away, “Please, it’s fine. You’re a hungry guy.” He walked over to me and leaned in close to my ear, “I can appreciate a guy with an appetite.”

My cheeks grew red and I could feel myself stiffen up. This man… I could only imagine what he could do to me. I blinked, but for the moment I closed my eyes, I imagined him on top of me. We lock in a kiss. I start to kiss his neck as he rips off my polo. I unbutton his shirt and he throws my shredded shirt to the side. I work on getting his belt off. He takes off my pants. All the while, we’re still kissing passionately. Then he turns me over and thrusts his stiff cock into me. I moan and he starts rocking back and forth. 

Will smiled and left the kitchen. I stood there, petrified. Ben looked at me in confusion, then at his brother in the living room, “You good, dude?”

I kinda woke up from the haze, “Yeah,” I cleared my throat, “Yeah. I’m fine.”

Ben and I walked up the stairs beside the front door. As Ben led me to his bedroom, I looked down into the living room to catch a glance of Will. He and I locked eyes for a second before Ben shut the door to his room.

“Sorry about that.” Ben apologized, sitting back on his bed. His room was tall and wide, almost as big as Bryson Venderson’s room. A model airplane hung from the ceiling on a thread. A cardboard box of vinyl records sat beside his dresser. Several framed posters of eighties rock bands covered the walls and a platinum electric guitar hung above his bed. 

Ben was talented. I knew that. Almost everyone knew that. His singing entranced the entire class, including that of the directors. I’ve seen tapes of show choir performances, and he’s almost always given a solo. He can move, too. Ben’s dancing was clean and smooth, refined and transcendent. I guess it was obvious that he wanted to go into the music industry. With a voice like that, it’d be stupid if he didn’t at least try.

But, even with the obvious signs in his room, I felt doubt. It was small and hesitant, but I could still feel it in my heart. The posters dripped with anxiety. The guitar that hung above his head every night looked like it sang in tragedy. Its strings coiled in hesitation. 

“Sorry about what?” I thumbed through the records on the floor.

“My family. Specifically Will.” 

I turned my head and looked at him on the bed, “What did Will do?”

“Oh, please. I saw what he was doing to you in the kitchen after dinner.” Ben stood up, “He likes to string guys along because he thinks it’s fun. He’s aware of his effects on people, so he makes it into some kind of game.”

“Oh, c’mon. He’s fine. I’m just tired and I--” I stood up and a loud gurgle echoed through the room. I would’ve expected it to be Ben’s stomach, but I felt a pressure at the top of my belly. I put a hand on my gut, “Oof-- BURP! ” 

My eyes widened as a wet belch passed my lips. I brought a hand to my mouth and my face got hot. Ben stared at me for a second. Then he started laughing uncontrollably, “Jesus fucking Christ, Eric!” He laughed, “Oh, fuck.” He stopped for a second, then he looked back at me and started his laughing fit all over again.

“Shut up, Ben,” I hiccuped, “It’s not that- urp- funny.” 

“I’m gonna piss myself!”

“Big surprise!” I sat down on the bed with a hand on my gut, “I’m human.” I hiccuped again, “Fuck, these hiccups.”

Ben straightened up and walked over to me on the bed, a wide smile still on his face, “I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“To have heartburn?”

“To belch like that.”

I rolled my eyes and rubbed my stomach, “What can I say? I ate too much.”

Ben sat there for a second, looking at me and my stuffed stomach, “Lemme see it.”

“What?”

Without another word, Ben lifted up my shirt. I was surprised, to say the least. My usually flat stomach was sitting a little bit over my waistline. I’ve never been this stuffed before. I poked at my belly and it was firm, like a dense ball resting in my lap.

“Do you need any help?”

I looked up at him, “What?”

“I said ‘Do you need any help?’” Ben smiled. I looked down at my bloated gut, another loud gurgle sounded from its depths. 

“Sure.” I acceded, laying down on the bed. Ben then began rubbing my stomach. He pushed in a little sometimes and I let loose a few low belches. His hands were rough and coarse, but that didn’t bother me. If anything, that made the experience even better.

I quietly chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Ben asked, still rubbing my stomach.

“I just find it ironic. I’m usually the one that’s rubbing your stomach. This probably isn’t even that much food for you. You’ve eaten much more than I have.” I grinned lazily.

“I mean, yeah. But that was still a lot of food.” He lifted up his shirt. I could tell that he was sucking in his gut a little bit to keep up appearances. Ben breathed out and let his stomach go. His gut spilled over his pants and he moaned in relief, “Jesus, that feels good.” It rumbled as we sat there, staring at it.

“Alright, I guess it’s my turn.” We laughed as I sat up in his bed and put a hand on his stomach. 

He belched thickly, “I swear, you have magic hands-- BELCH! ” 

Then something happened. I wasn’t sure what came over me when I did it. I fell into his eyes and drowned in him. Maybe it was the food, or my hands on his stomach. But, in that moment, I felt something take over me. It grabbed the reins of my brain and drove me forward.

We kissed.

It was short, maybe a few seconds. But in those seconds, my heart leaped out of my chest. I was overcome with a wave of electric pleasure. Fireworks exploded behind my eyelids. Drums pounded in my ears. My stomach twisted itself into knots, but I didn’t want it to stop. I wanted to be with him. I wanted Ben… so much.

But, the kiss ended. It ended with Ben pulling away and shoving me back on to the bed, “What the fuck, Eric?! What the fuck was that?!” 

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have an answer for what just happened, “I… uh--”

“Jesus, I-- I didn’t even see that coming!” Ben stood up and put his hand to his forehead.

I just sat there on his bed.

“I don’t swing that way, Eric. I… fuck.” He started pacing, “We’ve known each other for, like, two months. Two fucking months! I don’t know anything about you.”

“I’m sorry.” I murmured. I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t think of what else to say to calm him down, “I didn’t mean it.”

“Shut up, Eric!” He shoved me back onto the bed. He kept his hand on my shoulder and stuck his finger right into my sternum, “You fucking try anything like that ever again and I’ll fucking kill you.” With that, he threw open his door and left me alone on his bed.

I sat there. Alone on his bed. God, I regretted everything. I didn’t think that I could do something like that. My crush on Ben had been building for a while. I kept it all in me, and I guess it welled up. I succumbed to the pressure in me and I fucked it all up. I didn’t think that… that…

I laid back on the bed and readjusted my polo over my stomach. I didn’t even hear him come in.

“Hey, Eric.”

I sat up, my arms propping me up on the bed. Will stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe. He stared at me as I laid on his brother’s bed. During dinner, I had noticed a few similarities between Ben and his older brother. Sure, they had the same hair, but they also had that same look of perpetual hunger on their faces. I saw it in Suite 409 and I saw it again as Will shut the door behind him.

He held a bottle of beer in his hand. He drained the rest of it and set it down on the dresser. Will gave a small burp and pounded his chest.

“Oh, uh--” I sat up, “Hi, Will.”

“How are you holding up?” He asked, walking over to me. 

I gave him a confused look, “W-What?”

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on you, I swear. But, I heard your little encounter with my little brother.” He sat down beside me, “And I feel bad for you.”

“God, I didn’t mean it, I swear.” 

“Yeah, you did.” He put his hand on my knee, “Trust me, I don’t care. If anything, I’m mad at my brother for humiliating you the way he did.”

I glanced at his hand on my knee, “You’re… what?”

“Ben was never the smart one. He wouldn’t know a hot guy if he punched him right in the mouth.”

Before I could say something, Will leaned in and kissed me. Hard. He tasted like oranges. I grabbed the back of his head and he brought a hand up to my shoulder. I backed up onto the bed. He crawled on top of me. 

He didn’t feel like Ben when I kissed him. Where there had been electric fireworks when I kissed Ben, there was a hot passion in Will. It was like there was a fire in my heart that grew hotter and hotter as Will and I touched each other. I slipped my hand underneath his shirt.

Will broke away for a second, “Do you want it?”

God, I couldn’t think straight. The image of Will filled my mind, I couldn’t think of anything else. I nodded quickly then went back to kissing him. He was straddling me now. He straightened up for a second as he shucked off his jacket and threw it on the floor. I undid my belt, “I want you so bad.” I breathed. I ripped off my polo.

He reached down and took my belt off. I reached up and felt him stiffen up in his jeans. I grinned as I unbuttoned his pants and pulled them down. I groped his ass, clad in dark blue boxers. Will kissed my neck. I moaned as he grinded on me. He suddenly flipped over onto his back.

“Suck me off, Eric.” He demanded. I obliged.

I sank down and pulled off his boxers. His stiff cock greeted me. The nine-inch member jumped with excitement as I slowly licked it, not breaking eye contact with the man ahead of me. As I brought the dick into my mouth, Will moaned loudly. I worked him up and down. I almost gagged the first few times I brought it to the back of my throat, but I learned to ignore the reflex soon enough. 

Will braced himself against the backboard of the bed. I continued to suck on his cock. After a few minutes, he was close. I could tell. I worked him faster. He grabbed my hair and shoved me down on his cock as he climaxed into my mouth. 

He almost screamed as he orgasmed. I dutifully gulped down his load. I tried to get it all up quickly so I couldn’t focus on the taste. It was warm and thick, that much I could tell. But, in the end, I thankfully didn’t get enough to discern a taste between cock and cum.

I brought my head up as Will went limp. I crawled back up to him and kissed him, “You like a guy with an appetite, right?”

“God, that was amazing.” Will breathed. He kissed me back.

I climbed on top of him and brought my hands down on his chest. I pinned his arms down to the bed, “What are we gonna do next?” I asked seductively, breaking away from Will for a split second.

“Don’t know.” Will replied, “Kinda… hungry.”

Without warning, I was plunged into darkness. It was hot and humid. I was stuck somewhere, sticky and wet, “What…? What is this? Will--?” I was pushed back. The back of my head was pushing up against a moist wall of flesh. I could feel my shoulders follow me. I could feel a wet tongue rub up against my chest.

“Oh my fucking God, he’s eating me!”

I started to kick my legs. I pounded on his chest with my arms as best I could, but with my shoulders in his mouth, I couldn’t really move. I swore under my breath. I yelled again as he gulped me down further, pulling my chest into his mouth. His esophagus pulled my head down. His throat was hot and tight. I could barely move around as he continued to suck me down.

Then Will took off my pants. I felt the cold air of Ben’s bedroom sting my bare skin. He gulped again. His tongue probed my belly button. I could feel his strong arms grab my bare ass. I had sunk deeper into his throat. My head pushed up against the cardiac sphincter, the first valve of the stomach. If my head passed through this valve, I wouldn’t be able to get out. Not unless someone pulled me out or his body rejected me.

I thrashed around in his throat. By now, my arms were deep into his throat, so I kicked and flailed around as much I could. I prayed for someone, anyone to come in and get me out. I couldn’t die this way. Not this way. 

I still had so much to do with my life. I needed to get into Yale, start my writing career, move to California, meet my soulmate, star in a Marvel movie, get married on the coast, live until I’m one-hundred, and die under mysterious circumstances. I needed to see my dad. One last time. I needed to tell him how much I loved him. I needed to tell him that I didn’t blame him for not being there. God. I just needed to--

I suddenly felt a tug on my feet. I inched back up slightly from Will’s throat. 

“I’m gonna live.”

His teeth gently scraped against my back as I was ejected from his body. My arms were free now, and I shoved against his shoulders. I felt his front teeth dig into the back of my neck. I wrenched my head out from his mouth and I fell onto his chest. 

I gasped and Will coughed fervently. I stood up with my hand on my neck and I turned around to see Ben behind me.

“Really, Eric? My brother?” He asked.

I didn’t answer. Instead, I stared at the man in front of me. He was sweating profusely and he rubbed at his throat. He let loose a low burp, “Sorry, Eric. No hard feelings- urp. Right?”

I stood up and punched him right in the nose. He yelled out in pain and brought his hands up to his face. I grabbed him by the chin, “Was that all I was to you? A snack? A fucking snack?”

“Hey, don’t sell yourself short.” Will sneered, “You were also an amazing blowjob.”

I threw his head back against the backboard. I walked over to the dresser where his beer bottle still sat. I grabbed it and smashed it on the edge.

“Woah! Eric you can’t--” Ben put his hands up in defense but I stormed past him to his brother on the bed. I stuck the broken bottle right against his throat. I pressed it into his Adam’s apple. He let a low, quiet whimper escape his throat.

“You ever… even look at me again…” I dropped down closer to his ear, “And I will stab you in the fucking throat and let you bleed out on the floor.” He shut his eyes tightly, “Do you fucking understand me?!” I screamed into his ear.

“Yes! God, just get off of me, faggot.” 

I stood up from the bed. I threw the bottle down on the floor. Will was scared now. His handsome features were damp with sweat and fear. I looked at him and I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t even see what I thought I saw in him an hour ago.

He was a freak.

“Eric.” Ben tried to stop me, but I simply grabbed my clothes off the floor and left his bedroom. 

“I’m taking a fucking shower.”

* * * * *

I was in the bathroom for half an hour. Me being already naked, I just got in and ran the water. I rinsed off all of the saliva and sweat from my body, but that only took a few minutes. I spent the rest of the shower curled up in a ball, sobbing. 

I thought he wanted me. But, I was nothing to him. He just wanted to add me to his body count. I was disposable. I was worthless. And yet I still believed that he wanted me for me. Not because I happened to be in the same room as him. But because he actually liked me. I can’t believe myself for not seeing it sooner.

I should’ve seen this coming. In what universe does a guy like me end up with a god like him? I was a fucking idiot to think that a man like Will Harper wanted to be with me. Guys like me end up alone. Gods like him end up with whoever they want. I was delusional to think that I could ever be with him. 

After the hot water turned cold, I turned off the shower. But, that didn’t stop me from crying. I choked on my tears as I stepped out of the shower. I dried off with one of the many towels that the Harper’s had in their closet. I took another towel and I screamed into it. I pulled up my pants and threw on my shirt again. After I buttoned the top, I stared at myself in the mirror. My face was red and a bit puffy. My green eyes stung red. I wiped away a tear track and calmly tried to regain control over my breathing. 

I made sure to rinse my face with cold water to get rid of the puffiness. And I made sure to stop crying entirely before I opened the door. As I walked into the hall, I brought a hand up to the back of my neck. I felt a gash in my skin, probably from when Ben was pulling me out. 

My mother was standing by the door with the empty pan of brownies. Dave and Lori stood across from her and Ben sat on the stairs.

“Thank you so much for inviting us. This was really fun.” My mother smiled.

“Oh, please. Any time.” Lori laughed, “We should do this again soon. This was nice.”

My mother looked up at me on the balcony, “Ready to go, Eric?”

Ben suddenly stood up, “Actually, Mrs. Palmer, we were wondering if Eric could spend the night?”

“What is he doing?”

My mother turned to Lori, “We don’t have anything tomorrow. It’s fine with me if it’s fine with you two.”

“Of course!” Dave assured her.

“Eric is welcome over any time.” Lori continued.

“Well, then. That’s alright with me.” My mother waved me down, “Have fun, OK?” She kissed the top of my head, “See you tomorrow.”

“I love you, Mom.”

She smiled, “See you later!” She waved goodbye. The Harper’s and I waved back as she turned the corner and got into the car.

“Well, it’s late.” Lori turned to me and Ben on the steps, “Dave and I are going to bed. But, you boys can do whatever you want.” She stepped up to Ben and kissed him on the cheek, “Good night, sweetie.” She leaned over and squeezed my shoulder, “Good night, Eric.”

Dave and Lori retired to the master and we just sat there on the steps for a while. My heart still sat in my stomach. The tears behind my eyes were being held back by dams, but there was so much. God, I wanted to crawl back into the shower. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.

“Get up.” I looked at Ben standing above me. He had his shoes on and he threw on a jacket, “We’re going out.”

I looked back down into the carpet, “Where are we going?”

“We’ll find someplace.” He gave me his hand, “Are you gonna come with me?”

I stared at his open invitation. I really just wanted to stay on the steps. I wanted to forget this entire night and just move on with my life. I wanted my dignity back. But, I still found myself grabbing his hand and following him to the garage. 

We got into his car without a word. Ben got onto the freeway and I still said nothing. I leaned against the window and watched the headlights drive past us. I imagined that they were fireflies, racing against each other in some sort of competition. The stoplights that loomed over our heads were lanterns in the night sky. The moon was a spotlight.

Ben pulled into an ice-cream parlor parking lot and killed the engine, “All right, we’re here.”

I looked up at the restaurant. Its windows glowed like the hotel, “Why are we here?”

“Because ice cream fixes everything. Duh.”

He got out of the car and walked towards the doors. He turned around once he got up on the sidewalk, “I’m not waiting for you, you know!” He yelled into the lot.

I stared at him. Ben gestured towards the doors with emphatic gusto and waved me over. I reluctantly got out and met him at the door. We went inside and ordered our ice cream. I got a chocolate mixer with brownies and fudge and Ben got a turtle pecan cluster. Once it arrived at the window, we sat ourselves down in the corner next to a black window and tucked in.

“Are you OK, Eric?” Ben asked, scooping another bit of ice cream into his mouth.

“Just peachy.” I replied.

We sat in silence for a moment, “Eric.” He set down his ice cream, “I am so sorry.”

I looked up, “What do you mean?”

“I shouldn’t have been so hard on you for kissing me. It was harmless. I shouldn’t have made you feel that way. I was an asshole.”

“Please.” I stuck my spoon back into my dish, “I shouldn’t have kissed you. So, don't apologize.” I dug into my ice cream again, “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

“And I should’ve better protected you against my brother.” He brought his hand up to his forehead, “I should’ve known.”

“That he was gonna eat me?”

“That he was a predator.”

I was kinda taken aback by this, “Wait. You didn’t know?”

“I thought I was the only one in the family.” Ben shook his head, “God, you could’ve died! I’m so sorry, Eric. I should’ve known. I--”

"Hey!” I stood up and crossed over to the other side of the table. I sat down next to Ben in the booth, “Shut the fuck up.” I set my hand down on his shoulder, “You are not responsible for his actions. He was the one that put me in his mouth. You couldn’t have known!” 

“But, I could’ve--”

“No. You are not at fault. If you want to blame anyone, blame your asshole brother. OK? Don’t you dare think for a second that this is your fault. Because it’s not.”

He gave me a somber look, “You’re not mad?”

“No. God, no.” I grinned, “I have no reason to.”

Ben sighed, “I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to you, Eric.”

I felt that tug in my heart again. I felt that electric surge in my veins again. Those fireworks from before came back, but they weren’t as loud this time. Ben would never love me the way that I wanted him to. But, he still loved me. He still cared for me. 

I put my arms around him and we hugged in the shitty ice-cream parlor for a few minutes. All the while, those dulled fireworks ran up and down my veins. The drums pounded in my ears. I wouldn’t give this up for anything.

“Ugh.” Someone groaned. Ben and I broke from our hug and turned to a greasy employee in front of us, “Can’t you faggots get a room or something? People are trying to eat.”

He was dressed in a black uniform with a ratty black visor on his head. Greasy blonde hair fell in front of his eyes. His face was a battlefield, full of feuding zits and freckles. 

I turned around to Ben, “Still hungry?” I asked, “Babe?”

He grinned, “Yeah. I got room, babe.” I turned back around to face the employee and Ben hugged me from behind. I laughed and he kissed me on the cheek. His electricity made me smile. He looked up at the employee, still laughing along with me, and he licked his lips.