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Taking Him On (CHO #2)

Excerpt from Chapter Four

    Sometimes it was hard to figure out how someone was feeling, and even if I figured out the how, I still hadn’t a clue about the why. But it wasn’t like that with Matty. Whether he was happy, sad, excited, worried, it was right there on the surface, for all to see, and the bits that weren’t obvious he’d tell me straight up. I’m angry with you, Noah, because you keep trying to decide what’s best for me without asking me what I think.
    I knew sometimes he hid his feelings from me. He’d told me he always kept the worst of it from me, because I wouldn’t be able to cope with it, and it passed quickly anyway. I hated that he was right, that he knew me so well. I hated not being able to cope with the really bad stuff—the bits his therapist worked through with him. Was it even possible to heal the damage his parents had done? When he was struggling to keep it together, it broke my heart, and seeing him cry was like eating glass—chew, swallow, brace for pain, slowly bleed to death.
    “Stop thinking.”
    I looked up at Matty’s scowling face. “I wasn’t,” I lied. His eyes widened, and he pursed his lips. “All right,” I conceded. “I wasn’t thinking about anything bad…mostly.”
    Matty sighed and rolled off me. He stared up at the ceiling. “This isn’t gonna work, is it?” he said.
    “What?”
    “Smooches.”
    My arm was underneath him, and I wiggled it until he rolled part-way back. He kissed my shoulder and huffed hot breath over my skin.
    “We can totally do smooches,” I said.
    “Nah. It’s all right.” He sighed again, a huge sigh, like he was trying to inhale all of the air in the room. “We’ve both got a head full of crap.” He leaned back a little so he could look at me. “I just want to cuddle. Is that OK?”
    I smiled. “Always.”
    “Cool.” He snuggled closer. “You’re right, you know.”
    “About?”
    “Us not being ready.”
    “Right?” It occurred to me that it was a cunning ploy to change my mind.
    “Yeah,” Matty said quietly. “D’you think it’ll happen before I go to London?”
    I closed my eyes and swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in my throat. “I dunno,” I answered honestly, although I was hoping it would too. “I love you, Matt.”
    He squeezed me once and then relaxed completely, seeming to melt into me. He didn’t say the words back, but having him in my arms was all the reply I needed.

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