From 10.14.19 – 10.17.19, I am posting short stories centered around characters from previously released novels. All of these short stories were once released in a compendium titled ‘Four Short Stories from the Books of Chase Connor,’ but it is not longer in publication. You will be able to read these stories in the posts themselves, or you can download a PDF of the story to read on the go. If you download a PDF, feel free to share them with friends, family, whomever you think might enjoy them. The copyright belongs to me but I am giving everyone permission to share them as they see fit. You may not reprint them, claim credit for the work, or modify the work in any way but you are free to read them as much as you want and share them as much as you want.
These stories may contain spoilers, so if you have not read the books these stories are based around, you might want to read the books first.
Today’s short story is centered around Alex from the ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude‘ series. This is a scene from the first book, told from Alex’s point-of-view. Hopefully, it will give you a little more insight into the character.
Alex Short Story
Cooper was the quietest person I knew. Sometimes you could be in the same room with him and not even know he was there if he wasn’t in your direct line of sight. He was too mindful. Too thoughtful. Too…everything. Cooper was perfect. Spending any time with him at all made my body feel overwhelming things. It made my heart ache. But in all of the best ways. My best friend in the whole world was the most wonderful person on the planet, as far as I was concerned. Even if he could be so quiet that it seemed like he wanted people to forget that he was there. But I would never forget. Even if he was out of my line of sight, I knew he was there. It was like my body continuously called out to his and desperately wanted his to answer. Even on the opposite side of the room from me, I knew he was there. My body just knew it, whether there was evidence of his presence or not.
I didn’t like it when Cooper was out of my line of sight. When I couldn’t see him, I ached in places that I couldn’t quite understand—at least not on a logical or intellectual level. I knew it was love. But love wasn’t a big enough word for how my body longed for his. How my heart longed for me to turn my head and put him in my line of sight. Let my eyes caress the warmth of his skin that was just a shade lighter than my favorite caramel candies. Then let my eyes rise to his and see him look back at me and smile in the way that only Cooper knew how. The smile that said: “I see you, Alex. I know who you are more than anybody else does. I understand you.”
It’s fucking unbearable. Being in love with your best friend. When your best friend doesn’t even know you exist as a sexual being.
Day after day, at least on the days that I saw Cooper—which was almost every day—it was a struggle to not pull him into me and try to climb into him. That sounds weird—but I just wanted to feel his body so close to mine that we were practically one person. I wanted to feel his skin against mine. His breath against my lips. His mouth on my mouth. I wanted to feel the hardness of him digging into my thigh as his body reacted to mine. Hell, I would have been happy to just have him lace his fingers through mine and hold my hand.
Even when I didn’t see Cooper in a day, I struggled to not text him and confess that I would never love anyone as much as I loved him. I would pledge my unwavering love and devotion to him. I would take an oath to go to the ends of the Earth on a dangerous quest to win his hand. I would cut off my own ear. I would prostrate myself before him day after day if he would just do something as simple as hold my hand in a way that wasn’t just friendly.
When I had those thoughts, it was inevitable that my mind began to wander to other ways that I wanted to know Cooper and his body. In class, I’d gaze at Cooper, and my mind would race with images of us in a variety of passionate acts. But…I knew that he was daydreaming as well. And it wasn’t about me. It was about Thom. That’s where Cooper’s desires lay. I saw his moony-eyed looks at Thom in math. I saw the way his Adam’s Apple bobbed in his throat as he swallowed hard and took in Thom’s physique. And I knew those thoughts he was thinking—because I thought them, too. Just not about Thom. And then Cooper would drift off into a reverie about Thom, and my heart would shatter.
It didn’t keep me from having my own daydreams, though.
It never would.
Cooper and I had become friends in freshman year when he transferred to Dextrus Academy from public school. I hadn’t known him before that. But, that first day of freshman year, I was standing by my locker, talking to A.J., whom I had met a week earlier in orientation and found out would be trying out for lacrosse with me, and the door to Smythe Hall opened. And the late summer breeze blew down the hallway. Sunlight streamed in radiantly and haloed the kid walking through the door. Gangly, but with a quiet strength, his head held level, his back straight, his bag slung over his shoulder.
When the door finally slid shut, when this kid was a few yards away, striding down the hall, I was no longer blinded by the brilliant sunlight. But then I was blinded by sheer and sudden…reverence. He was immediately an oddity at Dextrus. He was a black kid. Well, biracial. That was rare. Still kind of is. I was utterly enamored with and also concerned for him. Would people treat him poorly due to his skin color? Something about the way this kid held his head and shoulders, the way his one hand held the strap of his backpack—I knew this gangly, lanky, beautiful kid would have no problems. And if he did—I pitied the guy that messed with him.
It was weird to see a scrawny kid and think: “I bet he doesn’t take shit off of anyone.” But it was just true. I knew this kid was not like the other kids at Dextrus Academy. He wasn’t putting off an air of arrogance or superiority, he had a quiet confidence and strength that I could feel as he passed my group of friends and me. As he passed, his head slowly turned towards me, probably because I was staring. And I suddenly felt so self-conscious and aware that I had been staring, which might have given him the impression that I was thinking mean things about him. But…he just smiled.
It was like watching the sunrise.
Like hearing a choir of angels.
It wasn’t a conscious effort, it just happened.
I smiled back so widely that my face hurt.
He nodded…and then he was gone.
Fucking hell. I was in love. I was only fifteen at the time, but I knew that I was gay, even though I was still closeted to everyone. And I knew love when I felt it. And this new kid had my heart with a single look and a smile.
When I went to AP Biology first period, which was actually a sophomore class, the kid was seated at a table. Battling against all of my nervousness and the somersaulting of my gut, I walked over to his table and slid onto the stool next to him. He looked up, saw me, realizing the kid who had slipped in next to him was the kid he had smiled at in the hallway, and he smiled again. There wasn’t a single fake thing about that smile. He seemed genuinely happy to see my face. And I never wanted to stop looking at his.
“I’m Alex Johnson.” I had held my hand out.
“Cooper Weissman.” He took my hand.
God. His skin was so soft, and his handshake was so firm for such a scrawny guy. His fingers slid against the back of my hand, and I almost shivered. He was absolutely intoxicating.
“Weissman?” I cocked my head.
“Like Mr. Weissman?” He said. “The Comparative Lit professor? He’s my father.”
“I have him next class.”
“I’m sorry.” He winked slyly.
“My dad’s the headmaster.”
“Sweet!” Cooper had smiled. “In case I don’t do well, you can get him to flub my grades.”
We both had laughed at that and turned our attention to our teacher as he started class. Obviously, Cooper did not need my help. In fact, that was obvious from the first few minutes of the first lecture in Biology. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, nonchalantly taking notes, his eyes always on the teacher, ever present and mindful. I knew within ten minutes that Cooper, if not quite an actual genius, was pretty damn close to being one. He didn’t need anyone’s help with anything. I wanted to be jealous, but instead, I was just in awe. And entirely enamored.
From that first day of freshman year, I spent every minute of every day with Cooper—at least when he was available. He probably spent as much time at my house as he did at his own. And my parents adored Cooper. My mother loved his kindness and polite demeanor. My dad thought he was the smartest student Dextrus Academy had ever seen. Cooper was always welcome at our home due to the fact that my parents adored him. In fact, it was at my house, during the summer before sophomore year, out by our pool, that I came out to my best friend.
Moment of honesty. Cooper and I were laying out in the loungers by the pool. My eyes had drifted over to him, laying there in his swimsuit, the almost caramel color from his chest so enticing. His eyes closed happily; his mouth turned up in a smile. Lower places on his body calling out to me. I had to tell him that I was gay and pray that, one, it didn’t make him hate me, and two, maybe he’d want me in the same way that I wanted him.
“I’m gay, Cooper.” I had sat up and spat it out before I knew what I was doing.
Slowly, excruciatingly, anxiety-inducingly slowly, he propped himself up with his elbows, looked over at me, and then finally said:
Then he laid back down. He didn’t ask if I was interested in him in a sexual or romantic way. Simply put, he confirmed that we were in the same tribe as always. We were more of a team now than ever. But…he didn’t say that he thought I was good looking. Or sexy. Or that we should date. Nothing was different other than the fact that now we both knew each other’s sexual orientation. It was a relief. It made my heart break.
“So…this doesn’t change anything.” I had said softly, looking down.
“Well, you admitted it first, so I think that means you have to go get us sodas.” Cooper had quipped.
By that, he meant I should get a soda and bring him anything except for a soda. I laughed and went towards the house. But the laugh was subterfuge. Because I couldn’t say what I really thought. I couldn’t even force myself to tell my friend that I was in love with him. And now that we both knew we were both gay, I wanted him to want me like I wanted him. I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. I had thrown down a bear trap, and Cooper had walked right over it.
That was the day that I started to call him “Coop.”
Saying “Cooper” made my heart ache.
Saying “Coop” made being in love with my friend hurt a little less.
There was now “Cooper,” my best friend who I loved with every fiber of my being, and there was “Coop,” my best friend that did not think of me as a sexual or romantic human being. I compartmentalized my own friend. If that isn’t fucked up, I don’t know what is. I only ever said the name “Cooper” in my own head when I was all alone and felt safe doing so.
And now that he was laying on the futon in the corner of my basement bedroom, quiet as a mouse, but obviously still awake, my heart was killing me. Earlier in the evening, I had brought up the new transfer student coming to Dextrus Academy. I had told Cooper that Martin had said that the new student looked “fruity.” That wasn’t true. Martin didn’t even know about the transfer student. I had thrown down another gauntlet. I had told Cooper that I wanted to know if the new student was gay so that maybe I could date him.
In my wildest fantasies, the way I saw that playing out, Cooper would get incredibly jealous, angry even. He would grab me by the shoulders, stare fiercely into my eyes, and tell me that he would kill someone before I gave myself away. That I was his and only his. Then he would kiss me, and I would melt into him. Then we’d…do things. Preferably in front of a fireplace as sappy music played, but that was negotiable.
“Coop.” I breathed out the word. “You awake?”
Coop’s voice came back to me immediately, pretending to be annoyed, but mostly amused.
“If you need to masturbate, Alex, just do it.” He teased lowly. “Just try to keep your moaning quiet.”
My throat tightened at the thought of stroking myself with Cooper in the same room. It did things to the lower parts of me.
“Come here,” I said throatily.
Yes, come over here. I wanted Cooper to get into my bed, look me in the eyes hungrily and wrap me up with his body. Then masturbation wouldn’t be a necessity anymore.
“Pass.” He chuckled.
Goddamnit that hurt.
“Come talk to me, assface.” I somehow managed.
Coop sighed and climbed out of the futon and shuffled over to my bed. I threw my covers back, hoping that Coop would see me there, bare-chested, only in my boxers, and it would do something to him. Make him feel some kind of way. Have a revelation. Instead, he slid into bed next to me, snuggled in, and pulled the covers up to his chest.
The urge to grab him and shove my mouth over his, to push my body along the length of his, to just take what I wanted was overwhelming. But, if I did that, and Coop didn’t want me to do that, I would be horrified. And it was clear that he did not see me in that way. I might have mentioned that. Coop loved me deeply. As his best friend. He had never indicated that anything about me was attractive in any other way. Was it because I was white? Was I not defined and muscled enough? I worked out a lot to make myself more desirable. Did he think I was ugly? Were all my jokes and ruses too much and they didn’t come out as the signals that they were, but more like the ribbing one would get from a very best friend?
God, I had so many questions.
And the answers were within Coop.
The person I loved above all things.
Right next to me in bed.
But…that was a lost cause.
I swallowed my pride. My desire. My love. And I actively decided to stop lusting after someone who obviously didn’t lust after me in return.
“Do you think that maybe Martin is right?” I whispered.
Darkness requires whispers.
“I wouldn’t trust Martin’s opinion about anything.”
Of course, “Martin’s opinion” shouldn’t be trusted; the whole set up had been a lie. However, I had wanted Coop to tell me that he didn’t want me to think about any guy if it wasn’t him. That’s what I wanted.
“But…what if?” I turned to face him.
Was he going to tell me that it was ridiculous to fantasize about another guy I’d never even seen, let alone met, when he was lying right there, and we could have each other?
“Then ask him out, I guess.”
And there it was. Coop was not going to tell me that he wanted me to himself. He wasn’t going to demand that I think of him and only him. Because he didn’t feel the same way about me. That was when I decided that I had to find happiness—even if it would only be a fraction of how happy Coop made me—somewhere else.
“You’re the only person that I’ve ever come out to, Coop,” I whispered.
“Well, what’s one more?”
I didn’t have an answer. I was at a loss. And my heart hurt.
“Fine.” He sighed. “I’ll see what I can find out for you.”
Coop was really going to help me find some other guy to try and love. It should have made me happy. It had the opposite effect. Up until that moment, it was the saddest I’d ever been in my life. I smiled as widely as I could so that I wouldn’t cry.
“Really?” I asked.
“But you’ll tell me before you Grindr him, right?”
In case I change my mind. Because I’ll change my mind.
“Excuse me?” Coop snorted.
“You’ll tell me what you find out before you tell him you have a friend that’s interested, right?” I explained.
I didn’t really want Coop to set me up with the new guy. I didn’t even know him. However, I knew he could never compete with Coop.
“I didn’t volunteer to be your pimp.” He rolled his eyes with a snort and looked up at the ceiling.
“Please?” I pleaded, hoping that something would make the switch flip in Coop’s brain. “Well, not my pimp, but hook me up.”
One last chance, Coop. Tell me you love me as much as I love you.
“If I say ‘yes,’ can we go to sleep?” He asked.
My heart fell.
“Yes.” I had to force myself to reply.
“Then…yes. I guess.” He shrugged.
It was done. Coop didn’t think about me in that way. He was going to talk to a guy about going out with me. Because he didn’t want to go out with me. He didn’t want to feel my body against his like I wanted to feel his against mine. Coop was merely my best friend. It hurt so bad, I didn’t know what to say. So, I smiled again.
“You’re my best friend.” I wasn’t being nice. I was confirming the fact to myself, reminding myself that that was all Coop would ever be to me.
“Gross.” He stated blandly as he flipped the covers off of himself. “But you’re my best friend, too.”
That was the first time someone had said I was their best friend, and I wanted to die. It was also the first time that I realized that Coop would end up dating, loving, and having sex with someone besides myself. As Coop went back to the futon and slid back under his own covers, anger welled up in me and my eyes watered. Thinking about Coop with any guy besides me physically hurt. As I willed myself to drift off to sleep, I rolled to my side and curled up, my tears dropping from my eyes onto my pillow.
I made a promise to myself. I would hate any man who got to love Cooper in a way that I didn’t.
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