The first day of classes started fucked up and went downhill quickly from there. I worked until after closing the night before at the restaurant and then overslept since, naturally, I hit the snooze on the alarm about five billion times before I actually bothered to roll out of bed. My housemates left me barely enough hot water for a shower, so I skipped washing my hair and jammed a black knit cap to hide my messy mop of curls. Of course, those selfish bastards had only left a couple of swallows of coffee, so I was way under-caffeinated, and after circling campus twice before finding a parking place for my motorcycle, I didn’t have enough time to stop to buy any.
I skidded into the classroom just under the wire and felt the glare of the professor on my back as I mounted the steps towards a couple of empty seats on the last row. Promptly at the top of the hour, Professor Fowler started to call the roll just as a couple of women strolled in, and he stopped to scold them, “I expect punctual attendance, ladies.” They gave half-hearted apologies and rolled their eyes at each other as they walked to their seats.
The roll call resumed, and I reached into my backpack for a pen and my notebook. A sudden chilly premonition ran up my spine, and I looked at the empty door to the class for some reason. It was suddenly filled with a couple of massive guys laughing about something. They bumped fists, and one of them continued on down the hall while the other one came into the lecture hall. He flashed a million-dollar smile at the teacher, all white teeth and dimples and was rewarded with a smile and nod in return, the professor totally allowing him to slide on being late. He quickly surveyed the room for an available spot and locked eyes with me.
He was honey-gold perfection: tanned skin; chin-length blond hair; tawny, caramel-colored eyes. Tall, maybe six-three or more, broad shoulders, wearing loose-fitting jeans low on his slim hips and a thin black sweater that fit tightly across his muscular chest and arms.
He quickly climbed the steps towards me, a tiny smile playing around his full lips, moving with lithe grace and assurance. A brief alarm encoded in my DNA flowed from the pit of my stomach to my balls which tightened in fight-or-flight panic as I channeled primitive ancestors spotting a huge predatory cat stalking us.
Unable to look away from him, I watched as he bounded up the stairs and dropped into the seat next to me. He jerked his chin at me and growled, “S’up?” with a look in his eyes that there was a shared joke that only he and I got. “Hey,” I muttered, and broke eye contact, swallowing hard.
The fluttery feeling in my stomach was growing, and I had a hard time focusing on the teacher as he read the names from the roster in his hand.
“Zachariah DiPasquale,” he called.
I raised a hand and said, “Zach.” The professor made a note on the sheet, and I thought I heard a whisper of approval from the guy next to me, “Okay… Zach… yeah!” but surely I only imagined it.
He pushed all my buttons and checked all my boxes. This was not good. With classes, two part-time jobs and obligations to my family, I did not have time for a relationship right now, and I was not inclined to be a notch on some party-boy’s fucking bedpost.
Something about him made me think I should recognize him, but any man this handsome would have made a big impression on me if we had met before, even on a campus as large as the University of Eastern Pennsylvania. I tried to place him as the roll call dragged on. Maybe he had been in the restaurant? Or we shared one of those humongous 300-student classes as freshmen?
He had not responded to any name yet when Professor Fowler stopped reading, looked right at him and said, “And, of course, Trevor Wellman.” Heads whipped around to look at him, and I realized why he seemed familiar. Trevor Wellman, star forward of the university’s hockey team. I don’t follow the sport, but at UEP he was a Very Big Deal.
Professor Fowler continued, “Mr. Wellman, I think you have some documents for me from the Athletic Department about away games and classes you’ll be missing?”
“Oh, yeah!” Trevor pawed though his backpack, and pulled out a packet of papers that he carried down to the front of the room, oblivious that everyone in the room was eyeing him and whispering to one another.
Keeping my head down as he returned to his seat, I made twitchy little doodles in my notebook. Slouching next to me, he again went through his stuff, then asked me, “Do you have an extra pen?” He smacked his head lightly. “Moron here went off without one.” Even his baritone voice, with a strong Boston accent, had a golden, honey-like timbre.
I handed him the one in my hand without looking him in the eye.
“Wait, dude! I don’t want your only pen,” he said.
“S’okay,” I mumbled. “I have another.” I could see the corner of his mouth cock up in a smirk as he realized I was unable to look away from the nipple that pressed against his sweater.
As I leaned down to search through the backpack at my feet for another pen, I cautioned myself, Don’t play this dangerous game, dickweed. No fucking good will come from it.
Sitting up, my shoulder brushed against his thigh, and a spark of electricity coursed through me. Flustered, I dropped, the pen, and we both leaned down to get it.
Our faces were only inches apart, and I could feel Trevor’s hot breath against my throat. His golden eyes darkened and became heavy-lidded, his lips slightly parted. For a flash of a second, I had the weird sensation he was about to kiss me, and I shot upright in my seat after grabbing the pen. As he sat up, Trevor gave me a bright, easy grin, tucking his hair behind his ears then turned his focus back to the teacher.
I was confused as hell by my powerful reaction to him. The room felt a hundred degrees warmer from the heat radiating off his body. A woodsy, leathery scent of pure masculinity drifted over me from his direction. The air between us seemed to crackle. I swear that if the lights were turned off, everyone would see visible sparks arcing between us.
Professor Fowler droned on about course expectations, but I could barely focus on him. When Trevor leaned forward to catch some point, I looked at the back of neck, a golden patch that my mouth ached to taste. I thought to myself, You could make time for him. Skip meals, don’t sleep, drop a couple of classes. Whatever it takes to feel those huge hands on you, to kiss those lips.
Oh, yeah, this was definitely Very Bad.
As soon as class ended, I snatched up my stuff and bolted out of the room before he had a chance to say anything. If I stopped to talk to him, I was sure to say something stupid or to do something stupid.
Maybe just to be stupid and stare at him, mouth open.
I was about halfway across the quad when someone grabbed me from behind. Startled, I whipped around to find, of course, Trevor grinning at me. “Wow, you are speedy, bro!” he exclaimed.
“What?” I said, stupidly.
“I had to run to catch up with you.” He held up the pen. “You forgot this.”
“Umm… okay… you didn’t have to do that.”
He jammed his fists into his pockets, the January sunlight picking out amber highlights in his hair. “I thought you might need it.” He was standing very close to me, close enough that he could have whispered to me and be heard.
“I have other pens, but thanks.” I tried turning to leave, but I was pinned by the intensity of his gaze.
“So, DiPasquale, huh?”
“What about it?” I asked.
“When I hear a name like DiPasquale, I think of those guys on ‘Jersey Shore’. You watch that?”
My jaw dropped. “What the fuck?”
His eyes filled with alarm, and he quickly took a step back. “I didn’t… I just…” he stammered.
“You think that because I have an Eye-talian name that I must be some Guido with red wine stains on his wife-beater?” I yelped. “What an arrogant, asshole-y thing to say.”
“What if I said that you must be some hairy-knuckled idiot who is only in college because he can put a puck into the basket? Huh? What would you say to that?”
He nervously smiled again, “Actually, it’s a net.”
“What?” I barked.
“I’m a hairy-knuckled idiot who can put the puck into a net, not a basket.” He had again moved awfully close to me.
“What the fuck ever,” I grumbled.
“Please accept my apologies for the shit I said. I am really, really sorry.”
Trevor looked so guilty and so sincere, not to mention so gorgeously fuckable, that I found myself infuriatingly inclined to forgive him.
“It’s rude,” I mumbled, somewhat pacified.
“Say I’m forgiven for being a bastard and that you won’t overreact anymore.”
“Fuck!” I snapped, angry again. “Who are you to tell me what I should feel and put limits on how I act. You don’t know me!”
He held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. “I keep stepping on my dick here.” He ran his hands through his hair and tucked it behind his ears. “We had a connection in class, and I know that you felt it.” He took a deep breath. “Can you ignore all of the obtuse comments I made in the last two minutes, and let’s start over?”
“Obtuse”? If he has a brain to go with that face and that body, I am so screwed… in every sense of the word.
Trevor held up his hand for a fist bump like he had shared with his friend before class.
I left him hanging until he dropped his hand, and I observed sourly, “I’m not part of your posse.”
“Yeah, fair enough. I’m really sorry. I just don’t want to start off wrong with you,” he asserted softly.
“Start what? What do you want?” I asked cautiously.
“Could we meet for a beer sometime? Or go for a coffee?”
The thought of Trevor and coffee made my knees buckle, since I hadn’t had my morning cup, but I shook my head. “Too busy. Between work and school and family stuff, just don’t have the time.”
“I have a crazy schedule, too, but I really want to get to know you.”
“All the more reason. It just won’t work since you already have a load of stuff with hockey.”
“Do you follow the team?”
I shrugged, “Not really, no. I know that there is a team, but that’s about it.”
Trevor’s face fell, and he looked stunned, as if it had never occurred to him that he wasn’t the Sun that everyone orbited.
“Is that all?” I asked, looking at my watch. “I’m running late.”
Trevor just stood there, brow furrow, looking confused.
“See you in class,” I called to him as I hurried off, thinking, Fuck! That’s the most boneheaded move you’ve ever made, Guido. I couldn’t help but notice that there were ten or so people standing just out of earshot that had watched Trevor the whole time. Must suck to be everyone’s idol.
I heard Trevor laugh behind me. He called, “Hey, DiPasquale!” As I turned around, I saw a huge, cocky grin on his face. “You said you were busy, but you didn’t say you weren’t interested.”
I like to win; I like success; but I don’t believe in luck. Believing in luck is for sad-sack losers hunkered over the nickel slots in Atlantic City.
Me? I take the high percentage shot. I fight the battles I can win, fuck the rest. When I see something I want; I calculate the angles; I learn the territory; I prepare, I adapt, I improvise.
I almost always win. Sometimes stuff happens I can’t control, but I don’t call it bad luck. I just move on.
That’s how I ended up as one of the stars on the championship hockey team at the University of Eastern Pennsylvania, and at a hockey-crazy school, that makes me a Big Man on Campus.
My dad laced me into my first pair of skates when I was only three years old and signed me up for a kiddie hockey team a year later. I loved flying around the ice, skating on my blades as naturally as walking in shoes. Dad was patient when he taught me how to play the game that he grew up loving so much. We lived in Boston and sometimes went to the Bruins games at the Garden, but we never missed them on TV. I learned so much from him, not just about hockey, but about caring and compassion, about honesty and decency. Everything I know about being a man I learned from his teaching and from his example.
He died of cancer when I was fourteen. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. I will always regret that he didn’t live long enough to see the success he set me up for.
My mother on the other hand…
What can I say about my mother? She is a piece of work.
I never understood why my parents got married. Or why two years later they decided to have a kid. I don’t remember that they had a lot of fights, but they never talked much either. Dinners were brief silent affairs in the Wellman house in the Back Bay, and afterwards, dad and I would go into one room to watch sports on TV while my mother went somewhere else to do her own thing. She never came to any of my hockey games that I recall, and after my dad died, my coach and his wife would take me to awards banquets or events that other kids went to with their parents.
While I was still mourning my dad, mother started up with the first of a series of men that have gone through her life since then… slick, unpleasant men that blew in for a while, from a night to two or three months. They ignored me for the most part, which was fine with me. Mother and this parade of druggies and drunkards used one another shamelessly, all parties calculating how much they could extract before moving on. Certainly my mother has never done anything that did not benefit her exclusively.
I came out to my mother when I was sixteen. I walked into the room where she was watching some dumb game show. She had a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other; I can still see that today, pretty much standard operating procedure for her. After I told her I was gay, she looked at me for several seconds without saying anything. I stood there, shaking and nervous, my hands clammy, sweat dripping down my face. The silence went on so long, I wasn’t sure she had heard me, but she took a long draw on the Marlboro. Exhaling twin plumes of smoke through her nostrils, she huffed a little sigh and said, “Trevor, your capacity to find new ways to disappoint me is astonishing.” She took a gulp of her vodka martini and turned her attention back to the program.
That’s all there was to that.
What is odd is how all of her crap influenced my attitudes towards sex and relationships. I hate one-night stands, and after a brief wild period just after I came to UEP, have never given into the many temptations that are part of the perks of being a hockey idol. That always left me feeling hollow inside. It makes sense when I think about it based on what I saw from my mother over the past seven years. I never, never, never want to be like her, using people. It’s the gratuitous cruelty of it all that sickens me.
The weird part is how much I crave a meaningful relationship considering that I did not grow up with one as a model. Last year I met a guy named Josh at the shore when I was working there over the summer. We spent every night together for three months, and while I never thought that he was The One, I was still left with an aching void in my chest when we drifted apart as the end of the summer approached.
I was in no hurry to get to class that first day of Winter Term. The hockey team was having a great season, with high expectations of another championship at the end of it. I would be graduating in a few months, with highest fucking honors, thank you very much, and looking to be drafted into the NHL a few weeks later. Life was pretty damn good.
My best friend and team mate, Garrett, had a class a few doors down from mine, and we took our sweet time getting there. I swaggered into class, dazzled Professor Fowler with display of the pearly whites and immediately felt a shiver of something. I don’t know what it was, but all of my senses ratcheted up about two zillion degrees, and I zeroed in on the last row of seats in the room.
I saw him sitting there watching me. The seat next to him was empty, and all I could think was That seat is mine, and you are mine. Mine!
He was definitely my type, maybe even the most perfect embodiment of my type I have ever seen. After being surrounded by jocks all day what pops my cork is a long-limbed sensitive musician type, really pretty much the opposite of me. I guess that is what it’s all about. Opposites attracting, his yin to my yang and all that.
At first, all I could see was his handsome face, olive skin, full, sensual lips, and a halo of dark curls tumbling out from a black knit cap. Then I could see a scuffed leather jacket over a dark hoody, and as I dropped into the seat next to him, I could see long legs in tight jeans. From a few feet away, he was all dark skin and dark hair, a couple days’ growth of scruff along his jaw and upper lip, but up close his eyes were a shockingly light greenish-blue, like beach glass, totally unexpected. Having looked into those eyes for a few seconds, I could see intense depths under a cool, detached surface. He projected both strength and vulnerability at the same time.
When I saw a candy-apple red motorcycle helmet on the floor on the other side of him, I was in serious danger of popping wood right in class. If he had a guitar case with him, I probably would have pulled his cock out and blown him while the teacher lectured on.
As Professor Fowler continued the roll call, I learned his name was Zach. I had never though before what a “Zach” would look like, but the name fit him perfectly. I felt light-headed sitting next to Zach, as if I had just been slammed into the boards by a 250-pound defenseman. The air around us shimmered and distorted like a desert mirage. How could the rest of the class not see this?
He dropped his pen on the floor between us. We both leaned down to pick it up, and we again locked eyes. His smoldering glance burned through me, and as his lips parted, the idea rumbled through me that we were about to kiss.
As soon as class ended. Zach grabbed his helmet and backpack and tore down the steps out of the room like he was on a power play breakaway. Cramming stuff in my own pack, I was quickly in pursuit, chasing him out of the building and across the quad. I was almost sprinting to close the gap his long-legged stride made. As I chased him, I had to admire his fine ass.
He wheeled around when I reached him, snatching his earbuds out. In the sun, his light-colored eyes surrounded by long dark lashes were more arresting, and the cool, even look he leveled at me made me think of a whole slew of naughty things that could arouse his passion.
My friend Garrett has a list of lines he uses to seal the deal with chicks he has pegged for a quick bumping of the uglies: I lost my number, can I have yours? Should I call you for breakfast or just nudge you? Can I take your picture to prove that angels do exist?
They are cheesy but they work, mostly because Garrett is a stud hockey player. I wanted more than that with Zach, but instead of saying something witty and charming, I blurt out the first moronic thought that pops into my head.
As soon as it was out of my mouth, I heard sirens and saw flashing lights. Danger… Danger… Danger!
The escalation I saw in his eyes from too-cool amusement to DEFCON 1 outrage was frightening. His fury was entirely justified, and I could only throw myself on the mercy of the court and plead temporary insanity on account of how clouded my brain was just being next to him.
Complicating the issue was that I was so turned on as Zach vented his rage at me, and my brain was further weakened by all the blood rushing to my cock. All I could think about how much passion he would bring to bed: nights of frenzy, afternoons of ecstasy, whole weekends of rapture. Zach was furious with me, but damn fucking hell, he made me so horny that the zipper on my jeans was about to break.
As he finally calmed down a little and seemed to be willing to overlook the fact that I could turn out to be just a jock with zero social skills, I prepared to throw down my trump card.
Zach brought up my schedule with the hockey team, and I pivoted that to my status as a star of the team.
His reaction: Meh!
I had no idea what to say to that. No fucking clue. Anywhere on campus people recognize me because of hockey. The game could attract a different guy to my bed every night from now to graduation, probably five or six different women if I inclined in that direction, but the one guy I wanted just shrugged and said, “So?”
What the fuck?
I only had one plan: prepare, adapt, improvise. I’m not beaten if I don’t accept defeat. The game’s not over until the buzzer sounds, and we were hardly past the face off. If this hot stud wanted to run, I was fully prepared to pursue him until I made him mine.
I stood still and watched his sweet ass all the way across the quad, thinking You want a chase, you got a chase.
Okay, babe. Game fucking on!