Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: “You make my heart beat faster, and it scares me.”
At Full Speed, #15
Bruce didn’t rush him, a gesture Jake appreciated more than he knew how to express. To show that Bruce’s sensitivity didn’t go unnoticed, Jake leaned into his body when Bruce patted his hair with the towel, then plugged in the hairdryer.
“I’m afraid I can’t style your hair to your usual neatness, but if that’s okay, I’d love to do this for you,” Bruce said, a small smile tugging his lips upward.
“Does that mean I overdo my styling, or are you just being kind?” Jake asked. He’d never have dared to ask a question like that before. Not that he’d ever been in this position before either.
“I like your hair no matter how it’s styled. I’m just not good at these things.” Bruce pointed at his own short hair. “Hence why I wear my hair so short. Can’t go wrong with that.”
“I could show you?” Jake ventured as Bruce tugged gently at a few strands of Jake’s hair. “If you want, that is.”
When Bruce wrinkled his nose Jake hurriedly lost eye contact and brought a few inches between them. What had he been thinking?
Bruce laid a finger underneath Jake’s chin and tipped his head up until he couldn’t do anything but gaze into Bruce’s brown eyes. He swallowed to hide his trembling lower lip, but tears still prickled his eyes. God, he was such a wimp. No wonder everyone always beat him up. He probably brought forth something primal in other people, something that showed him as weak, as some sort of prey, so no one could withstand the temptation.
“Whatever it is you’re thinking, you can stop that train of thought.” The firmness in Bruce’s voice startled Jake. “Thank you for your offer, but I really like my hair the way it is. I’ve always worn it short because I’m lazy that way. I only have to rub a towel over my head and I’m done. I like it that way, okay? Your offer was fine, Jake.”
Heat burst through every vein Jake possessed. Why couldn’t this day just be over? No matter what he said it was wrong. He assumed things about Bruce he had no place to presume. All because he’d picked the wrong guys a few times. How fucked up could anyone get?
Bruce shut off the hairdryer, laid it aside, and pulled Jake into his arms. Solid muscles surrounded him, anchored him, and eased his tension. “Sunshine, stop bashing yourself. We’re all right, and if you allow me, we’ll get through this together. You don’t have to tell me anything today. Maybe it’s for the best we leave the topic of your past aside for now. You’ve gone through enough. Just know that whenever you’re ready, I’ll be there to listen.”
Jake’s breath caught. A moment later he burst into tears, stammering, “I-I’m sorry. For cry—crying yet again. Someone needs to close the waterworks, but my brain isn’t listening to—to anything I say.”
Bruce’s chuckle reverberated through Jake’s chest. He burrowed even deeper into the offered embrace and warmth when Bruce replied, “Maybe your brain knows you need to let the tears flow.”
“How can you be real? You make my heart beat faster, and it scares me.” Jake drew in a shaky breath before he continued, “Not in a bad way. I’m not scared you’re going to hurt me—”
“That’s not true, Jake,” Bruce cut in. “You are scared I’m going to hurt you. I hope that deep down you know I’d never do anything to hurt you, and I think you do because you’re opening up to me, but you’re struggling with it because of your experiences. If it helps you, you definitely make my heart beat faster, and that scares me too. I don’t fall easily, but you’re pushing all my buttons at once.”
Jake glimpsed up at Bruce through wet lashes. He whispered, “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
“I’m sorry you haven’t heard enough kind words, but I’m glad I can be the one to change that. Would you like to cuddle on the sofa for a while?”
Jake nodded. Together they quickly straightened the bathroom. Then Bruce took Jake’s hand and led him into the living room. There Bruce sat, drew Jake between his legs, and reclined with Jake half on top of him. Jake pressed his ear against Bruce’s chest and listened to his steady heartbeat. It didn’t take long for the regular thump-thump to lull him into a light sleep.