For your Friday reading pleasure, here’s a taste of Four Corners. To stick with our theme, this is a flashback scene that takes place in a bar:
It was at a bar that I wound up coming out to my oldest friends, in fact. We were at Dickie’s Pub, which was a blandly decorated sports bar with a limited beer selection, but it was cheap, and Kyle liked it because the girls who worked at one of the women’s clothing stores at the nearby strip mall would come in after work. On this night, Kyle and I were both spectacularly drunk, daring each other into doing shots of whiskey so cheap it might as well have been battery acid. Adam was playing designated driver and Brendan had never been a heavy drinker, so it was just the two of us doing the shots.
Kyle threw an arm around me and pointed to a blonde woman standing on the other side of the bar. “I would like to fuck her,” he said.
He got murmurs of approval from Adam and Brendan, though Brendan was quiet about it—he was engaged to Maggie by then.
Kyle turned to me. “What about you, Jake-Jake?”
I laughed. “I don’t want to fuck her.”
Kyle nodded. “All right. Blondes are not your thing. You see anyone here you would like to fuck?”
And because I was drunk and I wasn’t thinking, I pointed to a guy in a leather jacket with neatly trimmed stubble. “Leather daddy at two o’clock.” It was the sort of thing I would have said to my friends at school, but in my stupor, I’d forgotten that none of these guys—my boyhood friends, my brothers—knew I was gay. It was only when all three of them stared at me, mouths agape, that I figured it out. It struck me as hilarious for some reason, so I laughed. “Oh, whoops!”
Kyle guffawed. “Why, little Jacob Isaacson.”
Brendan’s eyebrows came together as he frowned, which made him look like my father. Or maybe that was the confused disapproval in his eyes. He said, “Ew, really, Jakey?”
I threw my arms in the air. “Oh, hey, by the way, I’m gay!” Nothing in my whole life had ever been funnier, and I doubled over, laughing so hard I had trouble breathing.
Kyle whacked me on the back when I started coughing. “Woah, there, sport.” He lifted my chin and looked into my eyes. “So is this true, Jakey? Are you gay?”
“I’m here and I’m queer,” I said. It was still funny until I noticed how serious everyone’s faces were, Adam’s in particular. “Uh. You guys don’t hate me, do you?”
Kyle was the first to answer. “No. Why would we hate you?”
“I always kind of suspected,” said Brendan.
And that was that, I figured. Kyle and I went back to doing shots like nothing had happened. At 2:00 am, we all piled into Adam’s car, which was how I came to be sitting in the passenger seat as he pulled into his own driveway, figuring he’d just shoo me across the street. Except when he put the car in park, he stayed in his seat.
“You.” He sounded angry. He opened his mouth as if he was going to speak again, but no further words were forthcoming.
“Right. Well, good night.” I moved to get out of the car.
He reached over and put a hand on my thigh. That hand felt like it was made of lava, so hot did it feel on my skin. “Jake. Wait.”
“You are…. So does this mean you’ve fucked guys?”
“Yes, indeedy.” I was still riding that drunk. The alcohol was making my head spin, and also made everything funny, most especially the so-very-serious expression on Adam’s face. I giggled. “I even let a few fuck me.”
Adam’s face seemed to cloud over. He turned away. “Oh, Jakey.”
“Whatever.” I felt my stomach sink. “I don’t want any of your homophobic bullshit. See, this is exactly why I didn’t want to tell you. You’re an ass, Adam. Thank you and good night.” I moved to get out of the car again, this time because I felt like I was crammed into a space about the size of a shoebox with Adam, whom I’d spent the last eight or so years loving and lusting after, and I could feel the panic cutting into my buzz.
“No, I didn’t mean…. Like, I get it, but—no, don’t get out of the car, just let me say this one thing….”
I didn’t wait for him to explain himself, because suddenly I was mad. I got out of the car and slammed the door. Then I ran across the intersection to my own house.
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Since childhood, Jake, Adam, Kyle, and Brendan have been teammates, best friends, brothers. Then one day, when they were twenty-five, Adam disappeared without a word, devastating his friends—none more so than Jake, who had secretly loved Adam since they were teenagers.
Now, five years later, Adam is back, and he has his mind set on Jake. But those years of anger, hurt, and confusion are a lot to overcome, and Jake doesn’t find it easy to forgive. He isn’t sure they’ll ever fit together the way they did. Jake, Kyle, and Brendan have moved on with their lives, but Adam’s high-profile career keeps him in the closet—the same place he’s been for years. Still, his apologies seem sincere, and the attraction is still there. Jake desperately wants to give him a chance. But first he has to find out why Adam left and if he’s really back for good.
Kate McMurray writes romance novels and is sort of a beer snob. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, in a neighborhood where, on the one hand, there are many excellent craft beers on tap, but on the other, the local parents are insistent on letting their kids into bars, which sort of changes the mood. Her latest novel Four Corners is available now from Dreamspinner Press. You can also visit her on the Internet at www.katemcmurray.com.